A Lens Without A Face by Maddisen Alexandra

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An extraordinary gifted poet…..  *****

 

Poetry is the spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings…” In this sense, Maddisen Alexandra is a true poet. In this collection of 101 poems, she invokes emotion and thought in the reader in a way that for this reader was often surprising.


While I read each poem and reacted, it was a unique experience in that she saves the titles to the last pages. Once I saw her titles I had to go back and reread the poems to see her meaning and compare it to mine. The comparison was made easier as the book is set up so that the poems are on the verso side and the recto side is blank leaving room for one’s thoughts (or as she suggests drawings) on each poem


She is a master at repetition. The majority of the poems end with the beginning lines in reverse which has a strong impact on making her point.


This collection is one I will reread many times.

 

 

A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership by James Comey

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Interesting title, interesting read……..  ****

When I review a nonfiction book, I look for how well it is written, how well the author knows their subject, and what did I learn that I did not know. Usually, this is fairly straight forward. Comey’s book muddies that process.

The book is well written as it flows smoothly through parts of Comey’s life and his interaction with presidents, politicians, and other leaders. He obviously knows his subject since he is talking about himself. As to what I learned that I did not know, not much. Things I had thought or already knew were validated, but there is no great revelation here.

Where it gets muddy, is Comey’s explanation of why he did what he did regarding the public announcement regarding Hillary Clinton just before the election. While the facts are presented openly, his decision to be the one to disclose the re-opening of the investigation contradicts his moral stance. He does admit he has always had trouble with his ego and that makes the other excuses more of a smoke screen.

For a man who led our nations best law enforcement group, the FBI, he comes across as naive regarding what people are capable of and what motivates them. He allowed his ego to blind him to consequences.

I am giving this four stars as it is worth the read, just don’t expect a great revelation.

Freedom From The Self: The End of Delusion, Fear, Hurt and Suffering by Nicholas Blewett

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High expectation but a slight let down….. ***

As far as self-help books go, this one is better than most, less than some. The author, Nicholas Blewett, admits up front that he is not an expert in anything other than the study of humanity, and the self-observations within his own life. This brings both positive and negative aspects to this book.

On the positive side, Blewett, describes in simple words the issues that plague us all. His discussion of fear, hurt, desire, attachment, and belief are worth reading, maybe more than once. At the end of each of these discussions are questions that if one will devote time to contemplate, will open your mind in ways other self-help books can only aspire to. With a refreshing clarity and real-world examples, Blewett describes how we all have been shaped by these issues in ways we may not even be aware of.

On the negative side, the author spends the first one-hundred-sixty-seven pages on the issues described above, and only the last twenty-seven on how to move beyond into what he describes as the Art of Living and how to embody true love and compassion. Had he gone as in depth in this last part as he did in the earlier part, this would be an amazing book.

My last comment could be applied to just about any self-help book, but more so to this one. The ideas Blewett presents could be world-changing as he states. The sad part is if only we could get the world to listen.

I give this one three stars, and I do recommend it, maybe if enough of us read it, we can change the world.

Downsizing

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More like downer…..

I had doubts about wanting to see this film, but after seeing the preview several times thought it might be a light-hearted change of pace. I was wrong.

The film does start out with an interesting premise of a solution to overpopulation and a unique approach to the future possibilities for humankind. While these are serious issues, there is a humorous aspect to the first part of the story. Admittedly, there could have been more.

Sadly, this movie quickly deteriorates into a commentary on subjects like poverty, privilege, global warming, immigration, and the devastation of the earth. None of which are light subjects and while worthy of discussing, too complicated for the last part of a film.

Expecting a film to brighten my day, I watched the end credits feeling depressed.

This one gets one cigar and should have had a label stating: Beware, not suited for those expecting humor.

You by Caroline Kepnes

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Almost not, but worth the read….     ***

Writing in first person is probably one of the more difficult viewpoints for an author to tackle. Kepnes proves this, at least partially, in You, her debut novel.

The first half of this book is tedious, almost to the point of wanting to stop reading. But the second half picks up and makes this a worthwhile read. The ending was predictable, with a slight twist that made it satisfying.

Since the main character works in a bookstore, there are several references to various well-known novels, as one might expect. This is a bit overdone, in my opinion, and felt more like the author trying to impress with her literary knowledge.

What this novel lacked, was the tension or edge of your seat page turning that makes for a great mystery/suspense novel. The “praises” this book has received made my expectation high, only to find, it does not deliver.

This one gets three stars, as it is an okay read, just not a great one.

Burke & Wills by Peter Fitzsimons

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In the early 50’s, I used to watch a television program hosted by Walter Cronkite called You Are There. The show would re-enact famous events from history and Cronkite would report as if from an actual newscast, with reporters on the scene of the event. The show chronicled events such as the sinking of the Titanic and the Chicago fire. Peter Fitzsimons writes his historical accounts as if you are there, witnessing the events as they happened. Burkes & Wills is another of his books utilizing this style.

This review is not going to address the accuracy of Fitzsimons account of the ill-fated exploration of Australia, but rather the writing itself. My review of Ned Kelly received a very negative comment when I said Fitzsimons had done an excellent job of telling Ned’s story. Since I am not from Australia, I cannot attest to the factual depiction of either of these accounts.

I can say that I love Fitzsimon’s style. Although his books are lengthy, I found myself engrossed in the telling of the story of Burke & Wills, and felt the emotion of those in this sad tale. The descriptions and detail made this reader feel as if I were there.

This book will make you laugh, cry and leave you wondering how this exploration got as far as it did. As the subtitle states, this is a tale of the triumph and tragedy of Australia’s most famous explorers.

I highly recommend this book and give it five stars.

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.