Biography, Autobiography, Memoir discussion

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Biography, Autobiography, and Memoir read in 2018

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message 1: by Koren (new)

Koren  (koren56) | 3012 comments Mod
Post any reviews or observations about any Biography, Autobiography or memoir you have read this year.


message 2: by Jerry-Book (last edited Jan 01, 2018 07:40AM) (new)

Jerry-Book | 52 comments Maximinus Thrax: Strongman Emperor of Rome
Maximinus Thrax Strongman Emperor of Rome by Paul N. Pearson
By Paul N. Pearson

I gave it four stars.

He was a Thracian and a commoner. He rose through the ranks to become a general. He was a giant. At age 60 he may have been Rome's best general. This was the middle of the third century AD. Rome faced threats from barbarian tribes such as the Germans and Dacians as well as the Persian Empire. The Empire was ruled by Alexander Severus the boy/emperor who was in turn controlled by his mother. On a campaign against the German tribes, Alexander Severus and his mother unwisely decided to pay a bribe to the Germans rather than fight them. This action made the troops unhappy and they revolted and killed the Emperor and his mother in 235 AD and re-placed him with General Maximinus.

The author had many obstacles in writing this biography. There was only one true source for this period, the historian Herodian. I thought he ingeniously filled in the gaps by reviewing what archaeology tells us about the period. For example, if Emperor Maximinus fought a battle in German lands was there archeological evidence of the battle such as weapons, coins, and debris? As the author notes Emperor Maximinus faced many problems as Emperor: first, he was the first commoner to become Emperor, second, he was not a Roman but a Thracian, third, he had no education or training as an aristocrat, and fourth, many resented how he came to power in a military coup overthrowing the Severan dynasty. Nonetheless, the author notes Emperor Maximinus eliminated the German and Dacian threats with successful wars. However, as the author notes the wars were expensive and the necessary taxation created resentment. His end was peculiar. A revolt started in Africa due to resentment against Emperor Maximinus' heavy handed administrator in that province. Even though the African revolt was squelched and the new Emperor Gordian killed the Roman Senate had accepted the revolt and dethroned Emperor Maximinus who was in winter quarters with the army on the northern frontier with Dacia. One would think with his army and with the death of the rebel Gordian Emperor Maximinus could easily have regained the throne. However, his comeback to Rome was delayed when he attempted to conquer the walled border city of Aquilera which is near present day Croatia. His seige stalled and the army lacked food. Part of the army became resentful and assassinated Emperor Maximinus. Of course, the army knew the Roman Senate had declared Emperor Maximinus an enemy of the state. Even though he may have been Rome's best general, I don't understand why he became bogged down with the seige of Aguilera. It was a tremendous miscalculation. In addition to this mistake, he may have been a great general but he did not have any political gifts and he failed to appoint good subordinates in Rome and Africa. I think he should be compared to the Byzantine Emperor Basil I, the Macedonian. Like Maximinus, Basil I was a foreign commoner who rose through the ranks. Like Maximinus he was a successful general. Like Maximinus he assassinated the prior Emperor in 867 AD and took over the throne. Like Maximinus, Basil I had no education. Unlike Maximinus Basil I was a "great" administer and established a successful dynasty. Thus, Emperor Basil I shows it was not impossible to be a successful Emperor even though you were a foreign commoner. The author faced many obstacles in writing this book. There were few sources. Since Maximinus was assassinated, his reputation was maligned by his successors. The author does have to engage in some detective work to try to ascertain Maximinus's acutal height, his appearance and the location of his battles.

In summary, perhaps the career of Emperor Maximinus illustrates the Peter Principle "managers rise to the level of their incompetence". He rose to be a successful general. Due to that success, he was acclaimed Emperor by the troops, a role he was ill-equipped to fulfill. His career and his fate helped usher in a bad time for the Roman Empire which almost led to its destruction.


message 3: by Koren (new)

Koren  (koren56) | 3012 comments Mod
Promise Me, Dad: A Year of Hope, Hardship, and Purpose by Joe Biden
4 stars

Most people probably know that our former Vice President didn't run for president because he was grieving the loss of his son from brain cancer. This book is his story, which he kept private until now. There is some political stuff here, mostly about his dealings in the Middle East, which he was dealing with at the time. If you are looking for his opinion on our current political state of affairs there is no mention of it in this book. Mostly, he tries to stay positive, which is probably his nature. I dont think he has an unkind bone in his body. Made me wonder if things would have turned out differently if he had run for president. Maybe we will find out. He hasn't totally ruled out running in the next presidential election, although he will be close to 80 by that time.


message 4: by Julie (last edited Jan 04, 2018 12:17PM) (new)

Julie (julielill) | 1361 comments Cartoon County My Father and His Friends in the Golden Age of Make-Believe by Cullen Murphy
Cartoon County: My Father and His Friends in the Golden Age of Make-Believe
Cullen Murphy
4.5/5 stars
Somehow this book ended up on my hold shelf, I know I must have ordered it but had forgotten all about it. What a wonderful surprise this book was to me! I love comics and this was a look at a slice of life that is disappearing. Cullen Murphy, the author and comic strip artist; writes of the heydey of print comic strips and the artists that lived in Connecticut including his father, John Cullen Murphy who drew the Prince Valiant comic for a time. If you love comics or just a good book, I think you will enjoy this look back at the wonderful artists and the work they did.


message 5: by Diane in Australia (last edited Jan 22, 2018 12:50PM) (new)

Diane in Australia | 338 comments Lighting Out for the Territory How Samuel Clemens Headed West and Became Mark Twain by Roy Morris Jr.
Lighting Out for the Territory: How Samuel Clemens Headed West and Became Mark Twain
Author: Roy Morris Jr.

3 Stars

The author takes us from 1853 when Sam Clemens, 17, left home to begin work as a printer's apprentice on the St. Louis Evening News, up to his marriage to Olivia Langdon in 1870. The main focus is on the six years between 1861-1867, which include Sam's time in the Nevada Territory, California, and Hawaii.

Twain loved to embellish the truth, just a bit. As he said about his book "Roughing It", where he recounts the adventures of these years, it is "mostly a true book ... with some stretchers" thrown in. But the author takes a different approach, "One of the central aims of this book, with the help of contemporaneous letters, diaries, and reminiscences, is to separate the fact from the fiction - to "de-stretcher" it, if you will - a noble ambition but one that in Mark Twain's case is more or less a full-time occupation." page 3

If you'd like to read a fact-based account, of these years, this is the book for you. Seeing as I love non-fiction, the author's approach was perfect for me. If you're a huge Twain fan, you'll really enjoy this. If you aren't that interested in Twain, you may be bored by this.

When I give 3 stars that means I liked the book. I enjoyed it. I'm glad I read it.


message 6: by Selina (new)

Selina (literatelibrarian) | 2537 comments Grace: A Biography by Thilo Wydra

Another biography of Princess Grace. It talked a lot about Grace's German ancestry on her mother's side probably because the author was also German, which seem downplayed by other biographies.

Then a lot of focus on her films, which I haven't seen all - there were eleven in total. You can tell this author is a real fan. But the interesting part - her life as a Princess, is not really given much treatment just get the impression she would rather have continued acting. It does go into her death and speculates she could have been drunk not had a stroke like some others thought and it was just an accident, her daughter Stephanie wanted to go out with a racing car driver and they were having an argument that day, instead of using the chauffeur for some strange reason her mother drove and went off the cliff. It was not found the brakes had failed or anything wrong with the car. So I guess its always a bit of a mystery, another is that they were not even wearing seatbelts, but I suppose back then people were not as safety conscious as they are now, and people still thought they could drive even after having a few.

Grace's compelling and contradictory personality which was in private warm and generous but outwardly remote and aloof was sort of explained with her Dad being Irish and her Mum being German/Prussian...the sort of control like a volcano covered in snow.
Another thing is she didn't fit in with the rest of her family and never could please her father. Its not really explained why she married the Prince and if they had much in common it seems like they were incompatible personalities as well, she had many suitors who were very disappointed when she chose to marry the Prince!


message 7: by Julie (new)

Julie (julielill) | 1361 comments You Don't Look Your Age And Other Fairy Tales by Sheila Nevins
You Don't Look Your Age: And Other Fairy Tales Sheila Nevins
3/5 stars
Filmmaker and television producer, Sheila Nevins writes about life as a woman living and working in this day and age through short stories based on true life scenarios. I did enjoy this interesting book, some tales more than others and I think all women can empathize and share similar stories.


message 8: by Diane in Australia (last edited Jan 22, 2018 12:52PM) (new)

Diane in Australia | 338 comments Where Soldiers Fear To Tread At Work in the Fields of Anarchy by John S. Burnett
Where Soldiers Fear To Tread: At Work in the Fields of Anarchy
Author: John S. Burnett

4 Stars

This book is about the hastily conceived flood-relief to Somalia in 1997-1998. The author was told that the situation was safe, and if it started to go downhill, he'd be evacuated. Lies upon lies. He's very lucky to be alive ... no thanks to the folks that were supposed to have his back.

The volunteers seem to be very expendable, just so long as the United Nations, and the NGOs (non-government organisations), keep that donor money flowing in. Politics and money are the ruling forces behind decisions that could mean life, or death, to some hapless volunteers. Not to mention the folks they are supposed to be trying to help.

I won't go into any further detail, but if you are unaware of what goes on behind the scenes, read this book. Even if you are aware, read this book.

4 Stars = It touched my heart, and/or gave me much food for thought.


message 9: by Selina (last edited Jan 12, 2018 10:50PM) (new)

Selina (literatelibrarian) | 2537 comments Every Little Step: My Story by Bobby Brown

A very self serving autobiography but, well it's his story. I was interested about reading his marriage with Whitney Houston. He also talked about their daughter Bobbi Kristina who died, and his many other children with numerous different ladies, so I lost track a bit.

While the Houston clan were messed up and controlling, the Brown clan were anything goes. His mum was a drug dealer, his dad a construction worker. Bobby grew up in the 'projects' surrounded by violence and predators on a daily basis. Performing/entertaining was his ticket out but years of drug abuse, partying and in general riotous living takes its toll. Obnoxious to the end, but while some people like that and admire it, I think like most performers they are one thing on stage and another off it.


message 10: by Koren (new)

Koren  (koren56) | 3012 comments Mod
Selina wrote: "Every Little Step: My Story by Bobby Brown

A very self serving autobiography but, well it's his story. I was interested about reading his marriage with Whitney Houston. He also tal..."


I saw Bobby Brown on a show where a psychic medium channeled Whitney and Bobbi Kristina. I think the psychics name was Tyler Henry. I always thought Bobby was kind of a jerk, but after I saw him on the show I felt sorry for him. His tears seemed genuine and it has to be hard losing your daughter and the woman you love to something that could have been preventable.


message 11: by SouthWestZippy (new)

SouthWestZippy Ladies of the Field Early Women Archaeologists and Their Search for Adventure by Amanda Adams

2 stars
A brief summary of Seven female archaeologists who were determined to make their own way in life by searching and finding adventure. You can see some of the research done but the overall felt blah. It lacked depth and that the fact it was a brief look at each woman, it did not give enough attention to each one of them. Also the fact that we needed to be aware of what was expected of a woman in their time as well what they wore and about other protocols over and over became annoying.
I had never heard of several of these women before I read the book so that helps keep it a solid two stars.


message 12: by SouthWestZippy (new)

SouthWestZippy The Autistic Brain Thinking Across the Spectrum by Temple Grandin
3 stars
A highly initiative look into the Autistic Brain. I found the book to be insightful and thought-provoking but it is a dry read. The Visual-Processing Problems part of the book was fascinating due to the fact that I am Dyslectic. I found similarities to helping the Dyslectic to find a way to help themselves focus through colored lenses. I also like the fact that she leaves you with the understanding that each person should find their own way of dealing and helping themselves.
One of my favorite quotes and taken from the back of the book. "In dealing with autism, I'm certainly not saying we should lose sight of the need to work on deficits, But the focus on deficits is so intense and so automatic that people lose sight of the strengths."


message 13: by Koren (new)

Koren  (koren56) | 3012 comments Mod
SouthWestZippy wrote: "The Autistic Brain Thinking Across the Spectrum by Temple Grandin
3 stars
A highly initiative look into the Autistic Brain. I found the book to be insightful and thought-provoking but it is a d..."


Temple Grandin has always been a 'dry-read for me but is the foremost authority on autism.


message 14: by Koren (new)

Koren  (koren56) | 3012 comments Mod
The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore
5 stars

In the 1920's girls were hired at factories that painted radium on clock dials to make them glow in the dark. After a few years, girls started showing up with incurable diseases. The company denied that radium was killing the girls. There is case after case presented and the stories are just heartbreaking. It makes you wonder how many similar things are going on in the present time where companies say something is safe and later we find out it isn't.


message 15: by Koren (new)

Koren  (koren56) | 3012 comments Mod
Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End by Atul Gawande
5 stars

Having worked in nursing homes and assisted living for 30 years there wasn't much new here, but there are a lot of stories here that were interesting. I found the chapter about assisted living facilities was spot on. I thought his story about his own father was a little long but otherwise it is a very informative and interesting book.


message 16: by Julie (new)

Julie (julielill) | 1361 comments Koren wrote: "The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore
5 stars

In the 1920's girls were hired at factories that painted radium on clock dials to make them glow ..."

On my list- I am glad you loved it.


message 17: by Koren (new)

Koren  (koren56) | 3012 comments Mod
I'm Hosting as Fast as I Can!: Zen and the Art of Staying Sane in Hollywood by Tom Bergeron
2 stars

After reading the reviews, I think I am the only one that didn't really care for this book. But if you like Tom Bergeron you just may like it. Judge for yourself. Here is my review:

Boring, boring, boring. This was first I did this and then I did that. The humor does not translate well to the printed page. I was looking forward to reading behind the scenes at Hollywood Squares and Dancing With The Stars but there isnt really anything interesting here.


message 18: by Diane in Australia (last edited Jan 22, 2018 01:17PM) (new)

Diane in Australia | 338 comments The Guns of Muschu by Don Dennis
The Guns of Muschu
Author: Don Dennis
goodreads.com/author/show/37957.Don_D...

3 Stars

This book was written about a 1945 Australian Z Special commando mission on Japanese held Muschu Island, off the coast of Papua New Guinea. One of the members of that commando unit was the author's uncle.

It all begins when the pilot of an Australian military plane had to ditch his aircraft in the water near Muschu. As it went down he was able to glimpse two large guns beneath camouflage nets on that island. The men were picked up by an American torpedo boat, and duly reported what they had seen.

This caused great concern because it could affect preparations for a coming Australian operation against the Japanese on the PNG mainland at Wewak Harbour. Therefore, it was decided that a Z Special Patrol would land on Muschu, and do reconnaissance.

During the night of 11 April 1945 that unit landed on Muschu. Eight men went in, but only one returned. The book covers what happened during that mission. The author has his uncle, and his diaries, as a resource, but he has done extensive research above and beyond that. This true story is well told, and held my attention from beginning to end.

3 Stars = I liked the book. I'm glad I read it.


message 19: by Koren (new)

Koren  (koren56) | 3012 comments Mod
Son of a Gun: A Memoir by Justin St. Germain
3 stars

This was written by the son of a woman that was murdered by her boyfriend. There is very little here about the crime. It is more about relationships and how he dealt with his mother's murder. The author admits his faults. He has not been the perfect son. It was interesting in the beginning but half way through I got bored with it and toward the end it seemed to be a bit repetitive.


message 20: by Julie (new)

Julie (julielill) | 1361 comments Walking Through Walls by Philip Smith
Walking Through Walls
Philip Smith
3/5 stars
In this non-fiction book, Philip Smith, an editor and artist writes about his life growing up with his father, Lew Smith, a decorator and psychic healer. Yes, this is non-fiction though it does read like fiction and in this very interesting account, he details his father’s highly unusual life as he helps heal people psychically using pendulums and also has the ability to talk to the dead. As I read this book, I did and still have my doubts about his father’s abilities but I think you’ll have to read this book to make up your own mind.

Has anybody else read this because I would like to get someone else's view of this book.


message 21: by Fishface (last edited Jan 22, 2018 09:55AM) (new)

Fishface | 1702 comments Couldn't stand to wait any longer; I started I Had to Survive: How a Plane Crash in the Andes Inspired My Calling to Save Lives last night and it's starting out excellent. Canessa's thesis statement is that leaving the fuselage of the Fairchild and hiking out of the mountains to save everyone turned out to be a perfect parallel to what he does for a living now -- treating infants with heart defects. They are fine as long as they stay in utero, but as soon as they're born it's suddenly a matter of life or death.


Diane in Australia | 338 comments Where Heaven and Earth Meet by Christine Du Fresne
Where Heaven and Earth Meet
Author: Christine Du Fresne

3 Stars

This book is about a 51 year old Australian woman who takes a five month trip through central Asia. It was published in 2004, so, you can draw your own conclusions as to how much has changed since then.

She set out in search of Shambhala, "....a legendary earthly paradise where love and wisdom reign, and injustice is unknown" (3). Its physical location is widely debated, and each central Asian culture claims a different mountain as Shambhala. Mount Belukha, in the Altai mountain range, is one of those sites. So, Christine decided to take a circuitous route to Mt Belukha, and go to as many of the other 'Shambhala' mountains as she could. "I didn't expect to stumble across a golden city.... I was interested in the idea that a place which has been given such enormous spiritual significance might be a very special plast to visit." (3)

She travels alone, uses local transport, and relies on the kindness of the folks she meets. She gives bits of history, tells of the wonders she sees (both natural, and man-made), the people she interacts with, and the nuisances she endures. It's not a sugar-coated tale, nor is it full of complaints. She shares her thoughts, and emotions, in a very down-to-earth, conversational tone.

She carried video equipment, and her films were made into a documentary entitled "Shambhala: A Central Asian Journey". Her daughter is a film producer, and was the one who suggested she do so.

When I give 3 stars that means I liked the book. I enjoyed it. I'm glad I read it.


message 23: by Fishface (new)

Fishface | 1702 comments Julie wrote: "Walking Through Walls by Philip Smith
Walking Through Walls
Philip Smith
3/5 stars
In this non-fiction book, Philip Smith, an editor and artist writes about his ..."


This sounds like a really interesting read.


message 24: by Koren (new)

Koren  (koren56) | 3012 comments Mod
The White Cascade: The Great Northern Railway Disaster and America's Deadliest Avalanche by Gary Krist
4 stars

Interesting story of an incident that took place in the early 1900's. At least 100 people died in an accident that may have been preventable. I would have liked to have found out more personal information about the people that were on the train but I'm sure that information was not available. Even so, to have felt more like I knew the characters would have made it more enjoyable.


message 25: by Fishface (new)

Fishface | 1702 comments I Had to Survive: How a Plane Crash in the Andes Inspired My Calling to Save Lives, Roberto Canessa and Pablo Vierci
5 stars!!!

I can't recommend this one too warmly. (After reading a book about the Andes crash survivors, especially in January in Michigan, all you want is to get warm again.) Beautifully written, thoughtfully presented, impossible to put down. There was a bit of a contradiction between Canessa protesting that he's just an ordinary schmo and all his patients' parents saying he's God's gift to humanity, but that's only a quibble. For those of you interested in disaster psych, here is a beautiful example of how it can unfold and make a person's life richer and more meaningful. I just wish all 16 survivors would write their own memoirs. Thanks, Dr. Canessa, for taking the time to write this one. I will read it again and again. The way he described finally tasting normal food again, after 72 days without it, is just one of many moments in here I will never forget.


Diane in Australia | 338 comments From the Land of Green Ghosts by Pascal Khoo Thwe
From the Land of Green Ghosts
Author: Pascal Khoo Thwe

4 Stars

I love when I finish a book, and my first thoughts are, "That was a good book." Pascal's autobiography was a pleasure to read. I felt he was able to tell of his life in a way that was like weaving on a loom. It was a joy to watch it all come together. I read a lot of autobiographies and, trust me, very few writers are able to set the tone in such an enticing manner.

If you have read the description, you already know the main points of Pascal's life, so, there's no need for me to go back over all of that. I'll just leave you with a quote that will touch all book lovers hearts. In the Foreword, John Casey wrote, "Pascal took me to meet his friends studying English literature. They told me they mostly studied novels, and had to make do with a single copy among (sometimes) a hundred students. One student brought out, with great care, his chief treasure - a fragile object wrapped in a silk cloth. It was a battered, much annotated photocopy of Hemingway's The Old Man and the Sea. It was enough to bring tears to the eyes."

4 Stars = It touched my heart, and/or gave me much food for thought.


message 27: by Koren (new)

Koren  (koren56) | 3012 comments Mod
Producer Lessons Shared from 30 Years in Television by Wendy Walker Producer: Lessons Shared from 30 Years in Television by Wendy Walker
4 stars

Written by the producer of The Larry King Live show on CNN, the author started her career with an accidental meeting with Ethel Kennedy and working for her for a summer and was fortunate enough to land the job working for Larry King for 18 years. Along the way she has met some very interesting and famous people and been present at some historical events. She has such a positive attitude so dont go looking for any dirt or gossip here. Sometimes it comes across as a 'look who I know' memoir, but she has such a likeable personality that I didn't hold it against her. At the end of each chapter is an inspirational life message, which I am sure helped her be a success...by being positive and an inspiration to others.


message 28: by Julie (new)

Julie (julielill) | 1361 comments The Doctor Wears Three Faces by Mary Bard
The Doctor Wears Three Faces
Mary Bard
3.5/5 stars
I have always been a big fan of Betty MacDonald and have read her books. I did not know that her sister was also a writer of several books and was very excited to find this one. In this book, Mary describes her married life to a very busy doctor and raising a family, along with remodeling a home and the endless problems with all of it. She has a similar writing style to her sister and puts a lot of humor and wit into her writing. If you enjoyed her sister's books you will enjoy Mary's spin on life.


message 29: by Selina (new)

Selina (literatelibrarian) | 2537 comments A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley

This was made into the movie Lion, but I thought I would read the book as I did fall asleep half way into the movie so missed some bits.
Indian boy Saroo got lost on the train when he was 5 years old far from his village and ended up in Calcutta where he lived on the streets and then was picked up at a juvenile centre, then orphanage and adopted by Australian parents. 25 years later he started searching for his birth family on Google earth and managed to find them again.

I enjoyed reading it although Saroo is not a descriptive writer and tells his story matter of factly, I imagine how it must have been frightening for a 5 year old to be lost in the big wide world and not able to get home. He did reveal more about his birth family's relationships that was not really talked about in the movie, that his birth dad basically abandoned the family for another wife as he was muslim and his first wife was hindu, and how that affected them all growing up in poverty when his older brother had to work and even steal to put bread on the table.
He did not get reunited with his dad though when he went back to India to find his mother, sister and other brother, still living in the same village.


message 30: by Peter (new)

Peter Flom | 2 comments Leonardo da Vinci by Walter Isaacson .

An excellent biography of an amazing man. Here http://peterfsblogs.blogspot.com/2018... is my review.


Diane in Australia | 338 comments Alan Turing The Enigma by Andrew Hodges
Alan Turing: The Enigma
Author: Andrew Hodges

5 Stars

I loved this book. I was almost afraid to read it after others said how difficult it was to understand the math sections, but I found those to be fascinating. If math had been taught this way in my schools, I would have enjoyed it a lot more. I even read some of the maths bits to my husband!

As to Turing's life, I very much enjoyed reading about that, too. I wish I had known him. The way his mind works just took my breath away. I found myself going back over paragraphs, just to make certain I would always remember his ideas, and the way he expressed them.

I can certainly relate to his personality quirks. I seem to have quite a few of the same ones. Nice to know I'm in such good company. Of course, he didn't see them as 'quirks', and neither do I.

As to his death, well, there has always been two schools of thought about what really happened. Either way, it was just tragic to lose his great mind, and honest heart.

Some may find the math bits too dreary, or feel the book is too long, but I am not one of them. It changed my way of looking at certain things. It touched me on a intellectual level, and an emotional one. As I said, I loved it.

5 Stars = It made a significant impact on my heart, and/or mind. It moved me. I won't forget it.


message 32: by Fishface (new)

Fishface | 1702 comments Family secrets: the dionne quintuplets' autobiography, Jean-Yves Soucy and Annette, Cecile, and Yvonne Dionne
4 stars!

This was a good (at times great) read about the strange, strange lives of the Dionne quintuplets. I knew they were raised in a kind of isolated fishbowl, like sideshow attractions. But a lot of this is news to me, and in a very odd coincidence, right after I complained on GR about how hard it is to find a book about someone who's been subjected to gaslighting, I started reading this book -- the memoir of 5 people who were raised from infancy in the glow of the gaslight and struggled for years to find the clear light of day. I could almost physically feel it as each sister got another piece of her freedom into her hands at last. This one is well worth your time.


message 33: by Diane in Australia (last edited Feb 09, 2018 07:58PM) (new)

Diane in Australia | 338 comments Wally's World by Marsha Boulton
Wally's World
Author: Marsha Boulton
Marsha Boulton

3 Stars

The book is mainly about Wally, with some life-stuff thrown in. I just wish there was a bit more about Wally, and less life-stuff. I guess Marsha wanted to illustrate how Wally helped her find strength to face the adversities that life dished out, and she had quite a few.

Early in the book, she talks about the dogs she had before Wally. After she, and her partner, Stephen, have been together for awhile they feel the time has come to get a puppy. They bring Wally home. Bull terriers are said to be 'almost indistinguishable from a 3 year old child in a dog suit'. She can easily attest to the truth of that statement. As you can imagine, there was never a dull moment in their life with Wally. It wasn't always laughter, sometimes they cried, but Wally never let them down. He lived life. Really lived it. Every moment of it.

If you like true dog stories, you'll like this. I did.

3 Stars = I liked the book. I enjoyed it. I'm glad I read it.


message 34: by Peter (new)

Peter Flom | 2 comments I just finished The Infidel and the Professor David Hume, Adam Smith, and the Friendship That Shaped Modern Thought by Dennis C. Rasmussen by Dennis C. Rasmussen. My review is here: http://peterfsblogs.blogspot.com/2018...


message 35: by Koren (new)

Koren  (koren56) | 3012 comments Mod
Coming Clean by Kimberly Rae Miller
3 stars

The author's parents were hoarder's but this book is more about how their hoarding effected her and not really an in depth exploration of hoarding. At the beginning of the book I wondered how a 6 year old could remember word for word conversations and it made me wonder how accurately the beginning of the book was.


message 36: by Julie (new)

Julie (julielill) | 1361 comments Chasing the Last Laugh Mark Twain's Raucous and Redemptive Round-the-World Comedy Tour by Richard Zacks
Chasing the Last Laugh: Mark Twain's Raucous and Redemptive Round-the-World Comedy Tour
Richard Zacks
4/5 stars
Not knowing a lot about Mark Twain, I found this book at the bookstore which looked very intriguing. This is not a full biography of Twain but encompasses his later years when he is facing bankruptcy after investing in the Paige typesetter. To get out of debt he agrees to a round-the-world speaking tour beginning in 1896 and traveling through Australia, New Zealand, India, North and South America with his wife and two of his daughters. This book describes his experiences in those countries, the people he meets and retells some of the programs and stories he gives during his speaking programs. The tour is fairly successful but he has bouts of illness and a tragedy happens towards the end of the tour. I found this very interesting and it really expanded my knowledge of Twain and his writings.


message 37: by Koren (new)

Koren  (koren56) | 3012 comments Mod
These Few Precious Days: The Final Year of Jack with Jackie
These Few Precious Days The Final Year of Jack with Jackie by Christopher Andersen
by Christopher Anderson
4 stars
For those who prefer to keep this president on a pedestal I would recommend not reading this book. Neither JFK or Jackie were perfect by any means. I knew that JFK had an affair with Marilyn Monroe. This book lists so many more. The story of the loss of 3 babies was heartbreaking. Somehow, through all their faults, we still love them and find their presidency magical. I dont think there is anything in this book that you couldn't find somewhere else if you have read other bios on JFK. It was a quick read for me.


message 38: by Selina (new)

Selina (literatelibrarian) | 2537 comments Fishface wrote: "Family secrets: the dionne quintuplets' autobiography, Jean-Yves Soucy and Annette, Cecile, and Yvonne Dionne
4 stars!

This was a good (at times great) read about the strange, stran..."

May put this one my list see how it compares with the one I read about the Lawson quintuplets.


message 39: by Koren (new)

Koren  (koren56) | 3012 comments Mod
Koren wrote: "These Few Precious Days: The Final Year of Jack with Jackie
These Few Precious Days The Final Year of Jack with Jackie by Christopher Andersen
by Christopher Anderson
4 stars
For tho..."



While reading These Few Precious Days, it struck me how times have changed. JFK had many affairs both before and after he was married to Jackie and it was kept hush, hush from the public, both by the white House and the press. Other presidents have done the same. Now it is totally the opposite, with people coming out of the woodwork to say a politician touched them while having a photo taken.

Thoughts?


message 40: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Hiland (danhiland) The Grapes of Wrath and Other Writings 1936-1941 The Grapes of Wrath, The Harvest Gypsies, The Long Valley, The Log from the Sea of Cortez by John Steinbeck The Log from the Sea of Cortez is such an interesting account after having first read About Ed Ricketts. It's a great example of how to combine biography with memoir. About Ed Ricketts is Steinbeck's extended eulogy for his friend, a marine biologist of some renown, who died in a car accident in 1948. Though the basis for the character "Doc" in Cannery Row, Ricketts' is here the focus of a partial biography, and one which lays the foundation for his part in the Sea of Cortez account. During March and April of 1940, Steinbeck, Ricketts and a small crew took the Western Flyer into the Gulf of California to collect live specimens of marine life. It's such a pleasure to read, as Steinbeck employs his gifts for description to the ocean, weather, life onboard the boat, the creatures they were collecting, as well as the inhabitants of the coastal villages they visited. I found the story a nice change of pace from Steinbeck's fiction, and a different view of the author.


message 41: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Hiland (danhiland) The Boys of My Youth by Jo Ann Beard Jo Ann Beard's "The Boys of My Youth" is a fascinating read. Apart from her laid-back, almost laconic style, the structure of her story reminds me of "The Year of Magical Thinking," by Joan Didion. In both books, any sense of a linear timeline has been discarded in favor of memories recounted in a way that more accurately reflects the way the brain brings past events to the fore, like that string of Christmas lights you try to pull out of a storage box- the cord dragging along other unrelated objects merely because they were close by. Beard's life story starts with a scene from her infancy, then zooms ahead to her tenth year- and from there you're on your own, as the story jumps back and forth, and with very good reason. The emotion-laden memories have their own way of presenting themselves, behind them all a theme related to the author's difficult relations with members of the opposite sex. Trust, respect, and love, or their lack, run like a thread through the book, balanced with self-effacing humor and sadness, in generous amounts. This is a story you'll want to return to, it is that deep.


message 42: by Selina (new)

Selina (literatelibrarian) | 2537 comments Koren wrote: "Koren wrote: "These Few Precious Days: The Final Year of Jack with Jackie
These Few Precious Days The Final Year of Jack with Jackie by Christopher Andersen
by Christopher Anderson
4..."


I dont know, I wasnt alive back in those days when people kept mum. If a politician touches you its always in the news. I recall the PM pulled a girl's pony tail and it made the paper. Wasnt it obvious at the time that the president was playing round anyway? Maybe they just thought it was nobodys business, but then again, to have an affair it has to be secret otherwise its not an affair. So the mistress would not tell if she wanted to keep her 'benefits'. The wife would have been kept in the dark unless she wanted to divorce the philanderer, but then she would be left with nothing, esp if the marriage had children, plus no source of income for the children. Some people think because Marilyn Monroe wanted to tell everyone JFK was a cheating scumbag, that she got bumped off.


message 43: by Lady ♥ Belleza (new)

Lady ♥ Belleza (bella_foxx) | 216 comments Selina wrote: "I dont know, I wasnt alive back in those days when people kept mum. If a politician touches you its always in the news. I recall the PM pulled a girl's pony tail and it made the paper. Wasnt it obvious at the time that the president was playing round anyway? Maybe they just thought it was nobodys business, but then again, to have an affair it has to be secret otherwise its not an affair. So the mistress would not tell if she wanted to keep her 'benefits'. The wife would have been kept in the dark unless she wanted to divorce the philanderer, but then she would be left with nothing, esp if the marriage had children, plus no source of income for the children. Some people think because Marilyn Monroe wanted to tell everyone JFK was a cheating scumbag, that she got bumped off. "

Yes, everybody KNEW, no one talked about it.


message 44: by Diane in Australia (last edited Feb 23, 2018 09:35PM) (new)

Diane in Australia | 338 comments The Lure Of The Quest One Man's Story Of The 1025 Mile Dog Sled Race Across North America's Frozen Wastes by John Balzar
The Lure Of The Quest: One Man's Story Of The 1025 Mile Dog Sled Race Across North America's Frozen Wastes
Author: John Balzar

3 Stars

John is a reporter who spent many months researching the 1998 Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race. He became acquainted with the mushers and their dogs, race officials, veterinarians, folks at the checkpoints, and many others.

A very TINY spoiler, well, not even really a spoiler, but I thought I'd hide it for those who would rather be surprised! ;) (view spoiler)

The 1998 race included 34 men, 4 women, and 530 dogs. John mushed 100 miles/160 km of the Quest trail, during the race, with a borrowed dog team.

The trail follows the old Gold Rush routes, from Fairbanks, Alaska to Whitehorse, Yukon, or vice versa, depending on the year. It is 1025 miles/1650 km long, and passes through the Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve. It is held in February, and has been doing so each year since 1984.

This race was created as an alternative to the Iditarod. Some thought the Iditarod was too fancy, and too famous. They wanted a race that was closer to the old traditions of dog mushing. The Yukon Quest is a tougher race than the Iditarod. It is a month earlier and, therefore, the temperatures are colder (-40 C/F). The nights are longer (17 hours). It crosses 4 mountain ranges, whereas, the Iditarod has only one. Iditarod mushers can use more than one sled, but YQ mushers cannot replace their sled without penalty. Because it is in such remote country, the YQ has less than half the number of checkpoints as the Iditarod, and some are more than 200 miles/320 km apart. So, they have longer runs between resupply, which forces them to carry more weight.

Just so you know, the Lure of the Quest, and Yukon Alone, both by John Balzar, are actually the same book. The only difference is that Yukon Alone has an Afterword.
Yukon Alone The World's Toughest Adventure Race by John Balzar
Yukon Alone: The World's Toughest Adventure Race

If you enjoy nonfiction books about life in the Far North, or dog mushing, you'll probably enjoy this book.

3 Stars = I liked the book. I enjoyed it. I'm glad I read it.


message 45: by SouthWestZippy (new)

SouthWestZippy Why I Jumped My True Story of Postpartum Depression, Dramatic Rescue & Return to Hope by Tina Zahn
5 stars
Taken from the books slipcover synopsis. " On July 19, 2004, an amazing story, accompanied by incredible video footage, broke across network and cable news programs." Tina Zahn is the focus of the incredible video footage as well as the officers who saved her when she jumped off the bridge that day. The book is her story of what happened to get her to the point of jumping.
This book is heartbreaking on so many levels. Tina's clueless Mother who has never been and never will be a Mother is not the only problem but one of many. I do like how Tina finally opens her mind and eyes to see and feel she needs to let go of the toxic people in her life on her terms.
I highly recommend this book.


message 46: by SouthWestZippy (new)

SouthWestZippy The Angel in My Pocket A Story of Love, Loss, and Life After Death by Sukey Forbes
3 stars
Taken from the back of the book. " After the death of her six-year-old daughter, Charlotte, Sukey Forbes struggles to come to terms with her loss as she chafes against the emotional reserves and strict self-reliance that are part of her blue-blooded New England heritage. "
I could not relate to much of the book. It has loads of family history, it used to show how she dealt with the loss of her daughter by looking at the family's past. You can feel the emotion of the dealing with the death of her six-year-old, coming to terms with her death and moving on. I could also feel the frustration with the Doctors on trying to find out what she had and after her death on showing what she had. Such a sad, raw story. Writing is so-so and it does drag on here and there but overall a book worth reading.


message 47: by SouthWestZippy (new)

SouthWestZippy Laura Ingalls Wilder A Writer's Life by Pamela Smith Hill
2 stars

I had no idea of what type of book this was before I started it. If I would have known I would have skipped it all together. It does have some new information, connects the dots on events and fills in the blanks on people. What I did not like is the speculation on many of the events in Laura Ingalls Wilder's and Rose Wilder's books and real life. Only Laura and Rose truly knew why they wrote what they wrote and left out what they did. Writing is dry and matter of fact lacks flow.


message 48: by SouthWestZippy (new)

SouthWestZippy 'Tis A Memoir (Frank McCourt, #2) by Frank McCourt
3 stars
This book picks up where Angela's Ashes left off. It was a fascinating yet slow read. The story just did not fly off the pages for me, I found myself waiting for him to move on and connect the dots of the picture faster. Still worth reading and enjoyed a peek into another person life story.


message 49: by SouthWestZippy (new)

SouthWestZippy Cabin Pressure One Man's Desperate Attempt to Recapture His Youth as a Camp Counselor by Josh Wolk
2 stars
I just could not get into this book. I don't know if it because I could not relate since I have never been to any type of summer camp, or I just did not get the humor. I also found him to be annoying so that did not help get into his stories. I would not recommend the book but many others who have read it liked it.


message 50: by SouthWestZippy (new)

SouthWestZippy Same Kind of Different as Me A Modern-Day Slave, an International Art Dealer, and the Unlikely Woman Who Bound Them Together by Ron Hall
1 star
Did not draw me into the story and left me struggling with what was going on. It was disjointed and lacked real emotional encounters. I just did not like the book even a little bit and I wanted to. The premise of the book sounded so fascinating, it just fell short, highly disappointed.


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