Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff

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Nothing we didn’t know, yet still worth a read……   ***

This is an interesting book. If you already believe Trump is unfit for the Oval Office, this helps validate that feeling. If you support Trump, I doubt if you will read it, or believe any part of it.

Michael Wolff had access to to the White House and the people close to Trump. He uses first hand knowledge, conversations, and hearsay to paint a picture of a man who many believe should not be President of the United States.

This review is not going to debate the issue of competency, but rather the writing in the book. Wolff repeats himself throughout the book and tends to ramble in parts. His sentence structure tends to be long and convoluted at times. The writing felt rushed and I was expecting deeper insights but was disappointed.

There is not very much in the book that the public does not already know or suspect, with one exception. I suspected Trump was easily manipulated by others but not to the extent Wolff describes. Especially by Jared Kushner and Ivanka, and at times Steve Bannon.

This one gets three stars. It is a good read, just failed to meet my expectation.

 

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The Woman In the Window by A. J. Finn

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Over hyped and a weak blend of old movies….  **

With endorsements from Stephen King and Gillian Flynn, I was expecting more from this novel. What I found was a mediocre blend of the Alfred Hitchcock movie Rear Window, the 1984 film Body Double, and a character mirroring  Rachel from The Girl On A Train. The cover is even a ripoff from the poster for Body Double.

Finn must have watched Rear Window and noted the types of people James Stewart observed and copied them into this novel, with only slight modifications. The book description calls this “a smart, sophisticated novel of psychological suspense that recalls the best of Hitchcock.” I would call it more of a ripoff of Hitchcock.

Body Double is one of my favorite movies and Finn takes the basic idea as one of his “twists”. Anna Fox, his main character is Rachel from The Girl On A Train, a woman whose observations are blurred by alcohol. The only difference being location.

The only thing that kept me reading was curiosity. I was curious to see if Finn had anything new to offer. He didn’t. His use of old movie references were the only good parts, because most of the films he refers to I have seen.

This one gets two stars. It should be one but one of my New Year’s resolutions is to not be so harsh.

 

 

 

Origin: A Novel by Dan Brown

OriginMuch ado about nothing……..  *

WARNING: POSSIBLE SPOILER. I say possible because I don’t think it is, but some might.

Dan Brown is known for his detail in describing places and things, giving us the history of both. The details combined with the various codes and symbolism made The Da Vinci Code a great read. Unfortunately, in Origin, Brown does too much of one and not enough of the other.

Each time a location is changed or a building entered, Brown spends way to much time on describing every intricate detail along with the history behind each. Take out all of the elaborate descriptions and this novel becomes a novella, which brings me to the story itself.

The plot is thin and falls apart once the “big reveal” is uncovered. What had been hyped throughout the book as something that will shake the foundations of all religions, turns out to fail in that regard. The questions of where we came from and where are we going are answered with information that is not new nor troubling.

One of the more aggravating aspects to the way Brown wrote this novel was having characters discussing information critical to the story without making the reader privy to the conversation until later in the book. This trick was used too many times. Also, for some reason Brown kept summarizing or repeating facts as if his readers are not that intelligent. Or maybe he knew after wading through long passages of descriptions and history lessons, the reader would forget what the story was about.

The story is very predictable. Brown has fallen into the trap of using what worked in his other novels to produce an unoriginal boring read. I figured out who the “bad guy” was fairly early, which made this an even more tedious read.

This one gets one star.

 

The Wanted by Robert Crais

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I wanted a good read, but was disappointed…..   **

We get Chinese take-out every Friday and last night the food was not up to the usual standard. My wife said, “I guess every one misses the mark sometimes.” Robert Crais, who I usually enjoy, missed the mark on this one.

The story is weak and some of the events are unbelievable. When the mother gets her son back only to let him go out for frozen yogurt and goes missing again, being one of the first. Elvis Cole and Joe Pike are not as compelling as in Crais’s other novels. Cole makes dumb mistakes, and Pike is mostly MIA.

The bad guys, named Stemms and Harvey, are the most exciting part of the book. Yet, their back story, which is awkwardly placed, is hard to swallow. They reminded me of John Connolly’s characters, Louis and Angel, only not as compelling.

The ending felt rushed and certain threads just fell to the wayside. I won’t spoil it by mentioning them. After reading the last page, I turned to my wife and said, “Well, that was boring.”

This one gets two stars.

Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al Franken

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A must read, especially if you watch Fox News……..   ****

With humor and first hand knowledge Franken pulls back the curtain on the misdirection used by pundits, commentators, so called news analysts, and in particular Bill O’ Reilly, Sean Hannity, and Ann Coulter. In today’s political climate this book is even more of a must read.

While addressing the way the ‘right’ uses partial facts, selected quotes, and false information, this book is a reminder to all of us to check the facts as best we can before making decisions about who is telling the truth, regardless of the source.

Although written in 2003, the lies and the liars that tell them are, for the most part, still around and have actually increased in number. If there was ever a book that prompted deeper reading into what is truth, it is this one.

This one gets four stars.

Win Bigly by Scott Adams

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An almost interesting book on the art of persuasion……    **

 

The subtitle of this book is “Persuasion in a world where facts don’t matter.” Adams might as well have called it “Why I like Trump.”

In the beginning Scott Adams states that the purpose of the book is to discuss persuasion techniques and to teach the reader how to recognize a Master Persuader. He uses Trump as an example and describes how Trump was able to go from celebrity to occupying the Oval Office.

The parts of the book where Adams discussed the various qualities of a good persuader and how they are able to accomplish what they set out to do is fascinating. Regardless of one’s politics, seeing how Trump used persuasion techniques helps to understand how he succeeded. In comparison, Adams shows how the Democrats failed in the art of persuasion. After having read about these techniques, it is easy to recognize them in the current political arena.

Had Adams stopped at the descriptions of persuasion and comparing both parties success or failure in implementing them, this might be a five star read. But in what read as an almost defensive apology, Adams ends the book trying to defend why he ended up verbally supporting Trump. He undermines his discussion of persuasion by revealing his paranoia of Hillary’s tax plan and his fear of Democratic bullies as reasoning for his decision. Ironically, he states he doesn’t vote.

There is a lot of repetition and self promoting that gets old after a point. Adams kept saying he would discuss further something he wrote later in the book, which I suppose was a persuasion technique of a carrot getting me to keep reading.

This one gets two stars, and is worth reading if you can filter out the unnecessary rhetoric.

We Rise by Xiuhtezcatl Martinez

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Yes, there is hope for the World and America too.    *****

 

This is an amazing book on several levels. First, it is a great resource on the effects of global warming and what the fossil fuel industry is doing to our environment. Second, it not only describes the problems, but gives practical solutions the average person can do to make a difference. And third, which is the most astounding part, it is written by a 17-year-old who has done more for environmental protection than most of us will do in a lifetime.

Martinez is a passionate, articulate spokesman for the youth of today who will inherit the decisions made by governments regarding the environment. This book is a call to action to everyone, but especially to the young.

It is well written and deserves to be read by anyone wanting to save this planet. I highly recommend it.

This one gets five big stars.