One of the most powerful books I have ever read and along with Unbroken, my favorite nonfiction read of the year. This book exposes the true corporate...moreOne of the most powerful books I have ever read and along with Unbroken, my favorite nonfiction read of the year. This book exposes the true corporate greed motivating Sea World as opposed to the science/ conservation image that they want the public to swallow hook, line, and sinker. Much like how Upton Sinclairs, The Jungle (another favorite of mine) exposed the seedy side of the meatpacking industry during the early 20th century, this book lays bare the Sea World behind the facade they put forth to the public so they will not know that their money is paying for the enslavement and torture of intelligent beings. When I first picked up the book I thought the title Death at Sea World referred to the death of popular Sea World trainer Dawn Brancheau but by the time I finished I realized that it could just as easily apply to all of the Orcas who have died at Sea World so that the public can get their entertainment fix and Sea World their money.
Before I started reading this book I was under the impression that this book mainly concerned the death of Dawn Brancheau. While it does address this incident it covers so much more. In the past it didn't even occur to me to think that Orca's should not be kept in captivity. I knew the rinky dink Miami Seaquarium by me was low caliber. The tanks were dirty and Lolita the whale looked sad in her undersized pool but didn't have any problem with Sea World. I had taken my daughter to Sea World when she was five and had a wonderful time. It looked clean and state of the art in technology. The performance pools for the whales were small but surely they must have huge tanks in the back where you can't see right? This was to be only one of many misconceptions I had exposed after reading this book. What I learned led me to completely change my mind and come to the conclusion that whales of any kind as well as dolphins should not be kept in captivity.
This book begins by telling the journey of two very different people who finally wind up at the same place, as champions for the Orca's that cannot speak for themselves. Naomi Rose is a scientist who studied Orca's in the wild for many years. After she finished school she was hired as the senior scientist for the Humane Society International. She did not start out against whale captivity but her many years of research in the field led her to believe that Sea World's assertion that whales live longer in the wild is incorrect. In fact Naomi studied and came to know the relatives of the very same whales being held in Sea World's tanks today. According to her not only do whales live longer in the wild, they exhibit almost none of the behaviors that they are forced to perform in shows. In contrast Jeff Ventre was a Sea World trainer. He took a job there under the impression that he would be involved in scientific research. He soon found out that there wasn't any science happening behind the scenes, it was all show business. He was making minimum wage while performing dangerous stunts that could potentially kill him. After watching numerous whales injure themselves and others and die he began to speak up at work which led to his eventual firing. He quickly came to the conclusion that the way Sea World was running it's whale program was disastrous for the whales as well as the the trainers.
The book goes on to document just how the whales are captured in the wild. Giant nets scoop them up. In one infamous incident, the whale round up at Penn Cove, eighty killer whales were caught in one net. This was the catch that netted Lolita who lives in Miami, the only whale still alive from that day. Many of her family were killed in the round up. Whales spend their entire lifetimes with their families. Calves stay with mothers for many years. This is an important fact that Sea World has tried to keep hidden from the public and even their own staff because the routinely break up families and force whales into artificial pods with sometimes disastrous results when the whales fight for dominance with their tank mates. Sea World also splits up mothers from babies before the baby is even two. One trainer recounted an agonizing night listening while a mother and baby cried and screamed for each other before they were split apart forever. Sea World also forcibly impregnates female whales much earlier than they would be in the wild and repeatedly. This causes stress on the mothers and babies. Some mothers do not survive the birth or die shortly after and some babies are never healthy and die young.
The book also goes into great detail about Keiko the whale who starred in Free Willy. Keiko was trapped in a tiny tank in Mexico and was becoming sickly. After the movie came out a bunch of support came through and plans were made to free him from Mexico and release him back into his pod in Norway. What I never knew was the extent that Sea World tried to get their hooks into him and block his release. Sea World was low on whale sperm and they needed Keiko for their breeding program since the public now frowned on capturing whales in the wild. In addition they had a vested interest in seeing the release plan fail because they didn't want anyone to get the idea that whales could be freed. Although they tried to block the plan, Keiko was released and died 17 months later, a fact they like to crow about. At lease Keiko got to experience the open ocean again and in fact swam over a thousand miles. How much his poor treatment in Mexico ultimately contributed to his demise is still debated. In any case Sea World used the incident as a further point in their case that the it would be cruel to release the Orca's in their care.
When Sea World soured on taking in Keiko because of his unsightly skin condition acquired in Mexico they set their sites on what would become the world's next most known whale Tilikum who was residing up in Canada. Another fact Sea World tried to keep under wraps was that Tilikum had killed his trainer Keltie Barnes which was why he was up for sale. Sea World was desperate to get breeding underway so they took him on even though they knew he was dangerous to humans. People who worked at Sea World were told that if they got in the pool with Tilikum they would come out a corpse. As for Keltie Barnes, everyone at Sea World liked to believe that her death was due to trainer error. In fact everyone who was injured by a whale was injured because of their own failing. It was never the whales fault because then Sea World would have to admit that it was too dangerous to work with them. So through the years many trainers were injured sometimes even in front of spectators. When uncomfortable questions were asked a whole host of lies and covers up were scripted to convince the public that the whales were just peachy and in fact liked captivity better than being free.
The years go by. Many whales die, some very young, and Tilikum makes human kill number two, a homeless man who snuck into his tank at night. Sea World seems to deflect this PR nightmare because no one seems to really care because he was a drifter and was trespassing anyway. The breeding program grows and is quite successful with Tilikum fathering many whales although inbreeding is becoming a bit of a problem. Sea World has some extra whales and they decide to lease/ sell four of them to a start up operation in Spain. Naomi Rose does what she can but fails to block the transfer. Lead trainer Dawn Brancheau goes over to Spain and helps set up the program along with some Sea World staff. While there she befriends a trainer named Alexis Martinez.
Then comes the day that Sea World has to finally face the music because Dawn Brancheau is killed by Tilikum. Sea World's trainer error story won't tread water this time because Dawn was too revered. Instead they try to put forth the idea that her ponytail floated in Tilikum's mouth instead of eye witness reports that saw him grab her by the arm and yank her in. Whatever the case Dawn has been killed violently and in front of the public. Sea World is facing negative exposure like never before. One of the the fall outs from Dawn's death is an OSHA investigation which Sea World blocks at very turn by making trainers unavailable for interviews and refusing to turn over requested documentation.
The book concludes with the big showdown in court between Sea World and OSHA in court. In the past Sea World has been able to pressure lawmakers into making investigations go away. They even got then California governor Arnold Swarzenegger to exert his political pressure to their advantage. This time if they hope to get their trainers back into the water with the whales they will have to go to court. PETA also throws their hat into the legal ring in an effort to free the whales now numbering in Spain. Things have gotten quite critical there because the whales tanks are falling apart and a whale named Keto has killed Dawn Brancheaus friend Alexis Martinez on Christmas Eve. That was another trainer death Sea World was desperate to cover up. Incredible! While the court case rages on scientists, journalists, former trainers, and animal activists unite to carry the fight on. They formed a group called super pod 2 and you can learn more about their mission here. https://sites.google.com/site/voiceof... It is quite clear that Sea World intends to carry on it's show while pushing for expansion into China. Whatever it takes to keep their bottom line and the death of a beloved trainer hasn't seemed to make so much as a dent in their business. Until the public says enough and affects the revenue stream of Sea World they will keep on keeping on. Thankfully the whales have champions like Naomi Rose who is a true hero and Jeff Ventre and many others who are dedicating their lives to free cetaceans from captivity.
No matter what your stance on the issue is I challenge everyone to read this book. It was incredibly eye opening. I hope that I get to see these animals in the wild where they belong in my lifetime. The best course of action would be for Sea World to suspend their breeding program and to move the whales that they have in captivity into sea pens where they can at least have room to swim. After their tireless efforts to ensure our entertainment it is at the very least what they deserve. Lolita's plight is of special concern to me since I live so close to her and her tank is the smallest. She is also isolated and this social, intelligent creature does not have the company of even one other whale. David Kirby's book has made me a convert. I hope to be able to join in in some of the work being done to free Lolita. This review is the longest I have ever written but this book saddened and enraged me. Even though my review is so long there is so much of the story I haven't even touched on. I urge everyone to read David Kirby's expose of the marine mammal display industry. PS. Ever wonder why Sea World names all their Orcas Shamu? Because they don't want the public to know how often they kill "Shamu". The original Shamu only lived to be six years old! Shame on them.(less)
The best book I have read all year and one of the best non fiction books I have ever read. I saw the interview with Louis Zamperini on 60 minutes and...moreThe best book I have read all year and one of the best non fiction books I have ever read. I saw the interview with Louis Zamperini on 60 minutes and immediately ordered the book. See it here: http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?i... While the interview made Louis seem likeable and sweet the book revealed the true nature of this American Hero. The man is a national treasure and everyone should read his amazing story. Just to start with, he was an Olympian runner. Then the war comes and he becomes an ace bomber. He survives a plane crash, thirty plus days at sea in a raft, numerous shark attacks, only to finally be rescued but by the Japanese. You wonder how things could get worse than being stranded in a raft with no food or water but they do, drastically so. This man cheated death so many times that the only conclusion that can be drawn is that GOD had a plan for his life. His religious conversion was inspiring. By the time I closed the book I had tears pouring down my face.
Laura Hillenbrand is an amazing author. She knows a thing or two about suffering and pain because she suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome. Many days she is not even able to get out of bed. It was only recently that she was able to meet the subject of her book face to face. Louis and Laura's friendship as depicted in the interview was extremely touching. It is clear that they hold each other in the highest regard.
I learned so many things from this book. I only knew the part of the story where Japan attacked Pearl Harbor. I was very surprised to learn how the Japanese culture influenced their treatment of prisoners. Of course I knew that we dropped the atomic bomb on Japan but this was the first that I heard that there were kill orders in place for our troops. If the bomb hadn't been dropped, all of the prisoners that the Japanese held would have been executed. When you think of WWII, you think of the brutality of the Nazi's but this book really opened my eyes to a part of history that seems to have been swept under the rug. I would never have known about the Rape of Nanking or the Baatan Death March if I hadn't read this book. The thing that I will most take away from this book is the absolute selflessness of that generation of Americans. The way they put their lives on the line without thinking twice about it is something that I find extraordinary. Louis Zamperini and the men and women he served with are shining examples of that courage. Thankfully we have a gifted author like Hillenbrand to remind us of the sacrifices they made so we could have the freedom that we enjoy today.(less)
I finished this book in record time because once I started reading I could not put it down.
The story takes place after the sinking of the Titanic. It...moreI finished this book in record time because once I started reading I could not put it down.
The story takes place after the sinking of the Titanic. It is told from the perspective of Grace, a twenty four year old, newlywed who finds herself in a lifeboat with thirty eight other souls when their ship is unexpectedly sunk in the middle of the ocean. Unfortunately for Grace and ship mates the life boat is a teensy bit overcrowded and there is no rescue in site. As the days go on the tension ratchets up as people come undone mentally and physically. Eventually some very disturbing things take place on the lifeboat requiring the survivors to answer for their actions.
I know some people probably won't like Grace but I admire her tenacity. I also enjoyed the skipping around of time periods. At times the action went from the lifeboat, to the previous time when Grace met her husband Henry, to the time after the survivors reached land. This was a quick, enjoyable read and I would highly recommend it to everyone. This would make an especially fun beach read.(less)
I haven't loved a Gothic ghost story this much since A Woman in Black. This novel somehow manages to combine historical fiction, romance, and horror i...moreI haven't loved a Gothic ghost story this much since A Woman in Black. This novel somehow manages to combine historical fiction, romance, and horror in such a wonderful way that I could not put it down.
In this novel Sarah Piper is hired by Alistair Gellis, who having survived horror in WWI is now interested in the paranormal. Alistair's regular assistant Matthew is on temporary leave and it's just as well because the haunting that they need to investigate is being done by the man hating Maddy. Maddy is very real ghost and very pissed off about something. Eventually Matthew joins Daphne and Fred, I mean Sarah and Alistair and they proceed to solve the mystery that is Maddy.
This story definitely had parallels to another favorite ghost story of mine, Stephen Kings Bag of Bones. Maybe that is why it was so quickly obvious to me what had happened to Maddy. It seems damaged people touched by death make the best ghost hunters. While the concept of the book was not completely original I still loved many aspect of it. I enjoyed the time period the book was set in, Maisie Dobbs fans should be all over this. I also loved the characters and was rooting for the developments of the relationships in the book. The back of this book contained an excerpt for the author's new novel to be released next year. I look forward to reading it in March(less)
I loved it! I read the entire book in one day, I could not put it down. If you love family sagas and historical fiction pick this book up now. I see t...moreI loved it! I read the entire book in one day, I could not put it down. If you love family sagas and historical fiction pick this book up now. I see this author compared to Kate Morton a lot whom I love but I wouldn't really say this was of the Gothic genre that she does so well. I recently read A Good American by Alex George and it was much more similar to that author's work. Both books are sweeping family dramas spanning 3 generations that begin when the family founders leave their respective countries unexpectedly pregnant, in shame, and penniless. They are forced leave for a fresh start when their families disown them. Both books feature a strong matriarch who builds a business from nothing through hard work and sheer determination. Both books have a dark skinned character who shows up just in the nick of time to save the business and who end up facing prejudice and paying for their dedication with their lives at the hands of thugs. The main difference between Wildflower Hill and Good American is that the heroine of Wildflower Hill has to deal with a lot of custody issues because she is separated from the father of her child and he is still alive. The end scene of Wild flower Hill where the granddaughter Emma tries to right her grandmothers pain was so moving to me. I highly recommend this book. (less)
I could not put this book down. I have to admit that I didn't even really know what it was about when I picked it up. I saw that there was a lot of bu...moreI could not put this book down. I have to admit that I didn't even really know what it was about when I picked it up. I saw that there was a lot of buzz being generated about the book and I was intrigued enough to want to see what everyone was going on about and I certainly was not disappointed. This is an immortal tale of love for the ages.
The story picks up when Luke, an ER doctor meets Lenore, nicknamed Lanny who has been brought to the hospital after just having killed a man. Luke is so taken with her and after a little demonstration that she performs, he is willing to give up his life and go on the run with her. As they make their escape, Lenore's story is revealed from the past and inter cut with Luke in the present. I don't want to reveal too much more because I really liked not knowing about the book when I read it. I wasn't sure what to expect and it made the story that much more enjoyable. There is also a twist at the end so you want to want to get busy reading before someone reveals it to you and spoils it.
I can't say enough about how enjoyable I found this book. I literally could not put it down once I started reading it and that is pretty rare for me. At the end of Discovery of Witches I was more relieved at finishing it than anything else. Like Discovery, The Taker is also the first in a planned trilogy. Discovery didn't leave me with the burning desire to know what happens next like I have for The Taker. I wish I could read the next book in the series right now but I will have to wait in anticipation until summer 2012. In the meantime I will have to be content with a the few teasers Alma is throwing out in discussion groups. HBO or Showtime needs to pick up the rights because The Taker could be as big as True Blood.(less)
I am on a 70's horror kick right now, having just finished Ghost story. I can't believe that I had never read this book. I think it was because I was...moreI am on a 70's horror kick right now, having just finished Ghost story. I can't believe that I had never read this book. I think it was because I was already familiar with the general plot not so much from the Kubrick film but from the miniseries in 1997. After Ghost story I just had the feeling that I really wanted to read this and I am so glad that I did. I literally could not put it down. I have read several of King's later works. Some I loved, Duma Key and and Bag of Bones and some I detested, Cell and Dreamcatcher. None of have been like The Shining. The story was tight and the horror just keeps coming and coming. No wonder this is considered the gold standard of the genre.
I am sure everyone has the plot down. Washed up dad who can't control his temper takes the care taker job at a secluded resort during the winter with his wife and psychic 5 year old son Danny who's powers turn on the the evil in the hotel. I didn't remember what a jerk Jack was before the hotel even got a hold of him. Wendy should have left him long before they ever arrived at the Overlook. The psychological unraveling of Jack is as unsettling to read about as what lies in the tub in room 217. Of course things don't end too well for poor old Jack or the Overlook for that matter. This book makes want to visit the Stanley Hotel in Colorado on which the Overlook is based, minus the tour of room 217 of course.
So which to watch after reading this book? The Kubrick movie which changes up the book quite a bit or the more faithful Stephen King sanctioned miniseries from 1997. I think i am going to revisit the miniseries since it was actually filmed at The Stanley. Now that I have finally read The Shining I am super excited to see what King has in store for his planned sequel. I am sure that a boy of Danny's powers had more than one adventure after surviving The Overlook.(less)
Thank you to Penguin Group for providing me with an ARC of this book to review.
In this book we meet the lead characters, Frank and Dora, a young coupl...moreThank you to Penguin Group for providing me with an ARC of this book to review.
In this book we meet the lead characters, Frank and Dora, a young couple, who have been carrying on a two year affair behind Dora's husband back. Frank is a battle scarred veteran of World War I who is still fighting the battle at night against the demons he brought home from the war in his mind. Due to the affair, Frank has been blacklisted from any university teaching positions by the cuckolded ex husband. A letter arrives from Frank's aunt whom he hasn't spoken to in years, leaving him her house in a backwoods Georgia town. Although she advises him many times in the letter to sell the house and to not live there Frank and Dora ignore the sound advice and due to their low funds take up residence in the house in Whitbrow Georgia. The plan is for Dora to teach the local children at the elementary school while Frank writes a book about his ancestor that used to own a plantation in the area but was killed along with his family in a slave uprising. Although Frank and Dora try to get along with the locals they find many things odd about the town, not the least being that the locals send out two pigs into the woods in a religious sanctioned ceremony and the pigs are never heard from again. I don't think it's too much of a stretch to connect the pigs to "those across the river". I won't reveal who those across the river because that is one of the many surprises of the book. I sort of had the gist of what was going on but there quit a few twists and turns that kept things exciting along the way.
I cannot say enough how much I loved this book. This is the most I have ever liked an ARC and this was the most enjoyable book that I have read in a long time. I could not put it down. I was hooked into the story from the first words of the prologue which made me want to know who the person in the cage was. The ending was so perfect too. I warn you to start it on a weekend because once it hits page 100 you will not want to stop reading. I also warn that it gave me one doozy of a nightmare which combined with the late night reading left me quite bleary eyed the next day. I really loved the historical time period setting melded with the horror and love story of Frank and Dora. The spooky feel of this book makes it perfect for late night autumn reading. I highly recommend this book and it would be a perfect choice for the R.I.P challenge being held over at Stainless Steel Droppings. If you have not read this book stop reading reviews before it is spoiled for you and get reading this book instead.(less)
This may be my favorite book so far in the cool down this summer with AC challenge. This mystery employs the "locked door" mystery style which Christi...moreThis may be my favorite book so far in the cool down this summer with AC challenge. This mystery employs the "locked door" mystery style which Christie made so famous. Ten, not so likable people, are trapped on an island with no way in or out and one by one they begin to die according to the rhyme "Ten little Soldiers". The killer has to be one of them but by the end of the novel all of the people have died so who was it? The mystery is all wrapped up neatly in an epilogue that explains the clever ending. I loved this book and never in a million years would have guessed how it all played out. It was confusing keeping all ten people straight at the beginning but I found Christie did a lot of reminding throughout of who was who so by the end everyone was quite clear to me. The scene of Vera confronting the hangman's rope stood out as an especially chilling moment. I would recommend this book to everyone who has not experienced a Christie novel yet including my eleven year old daughter. I can't wait for her to read it and hear what she thinks. (less)
This book may be out of print now and hard to find but it is worth it to find a copy. I had to get mine from a private seller at Amazon. I read a lot...moreThis book may be out of print now and hard to find but it is worth it to find a copy. I had to get mine from a private seller at Amazon. I read a lot of true crime but this book is so much more than that. It is about family dynamics, marriage, home maker vs career mom, cheating, divorce, and so much more.
The gist of the story is that Betty made her family her whole life. She put her husband through school and went about being the best mother she could be. Betty can be kind of a shrew but she goes through the years assuming all is well in her blessed life in La Jolla. One day her husband gets a new office assistant and decides that he doesn't want to be married anymore. Betty loses her mind and does a lot of unseemly things as does her husband and the new woman who has replaced her as Mrs. Broderick. Eventually things boil over and the result is Betty shoots the newly married couple as they sleep. The story of the psychological unraveling of the main characters is fascinating.
There are no sympathetic innocent people in the story except for maybe the kids. As the divorce dragged on, they became manipulators themselves. Bella Stumbo does an excellent job of being even handed in her storytelling. Her writing elevates this to a work of literature rather than another run of the mill true crime story. I would put this book up there with In Cold Blood. This book should serve as a cautionary tale for women who expect their husband and children to be their whole lives. Anyone who is dissatisfied with their mate and contemplating divorce should read this book to see just how bad things could get.(less)
I picked this book up when I saw Daniel Radcliff, Harry Potter himself was going to be starring in the screen adaption of the book. I loved this book....moreI picked this book up when I saw Daniel Radcliff, Harry Potter himself was going to be starring in the screen adaption of the book. I loved this book. I think it will be perfect for him to star in. I love the Gothic setting of the misty English manner on the moors. This is a slim little book perfect for a straight read through.
The story is about Arthur Kipp who is an old man and on his second family when we meet him. His stepchild asks him to tell a ghost story and he is so unnerved by the request that he snaps at his family. Wanting to make amends he decides to write his actual ghostly experience for his wife. As a young lawyer he was called to Eel Marsh house to settle the estate of Mrs. Drablow. What unfolds next is the story of what happens in the house and ultimately what became of his first family.
This a great Gothic ghost story. It was a quick read and I could not put it down. I would recommend it to lovers of the English ghost story. (less)
If you grew up in t he 70's run and read this book. Alison Arnigram is hilarious! I read Melissa Gilbert's book and even though I was super Little Hou...moreIf you grew up in t he 70's run and read this book. Alison Arnigram is hilarious! I read Melissa Gilbert's book and even though I was super Little House Fan, the book left me feeling luke warm. Alison's book on the other hand really delivers the goods and in such a loving way. Even when revealing a person's weakness, she makes it seem as that is the exact reason that they were so beloved. She is someone I wish I was friends with in real life. Who new Nellie Olson was so cool. After reading this book I will be watching Little House re runs in a whole new way. (less)