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.

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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.

 

 

Get Out

five cigars

They say that in humor is truth. This film proves the point. What at first seems to be a comedy about the subtle and not-so-subtle racism black people experience, turns deadly in the end. No spoiler, just know it gets a bit gory.

Daniel Kaluuya gives an Oscar winning performance as the black boyfriend brought home to meet his girlfriend’s parents. Allison Williams, as the girlfriend, is awesome. Her development over the course of the film is also an academy performance.

Although predictable, the ride getting to the end is worth the viewing. Lil Rel Howery, in a supporting role, supplies the needed breathing room and humor as the plot gets eerie.

This is a film that should be used as a conversation starter on just how this country views its black citizens and how frequent and easily accepted racism can be.

This one gets five cigars and is a must see.

We Were Eight Years In Power by Ta-Nehisi Coates

powerAn eye opening treatise and a must read…..  *****

This is a history lesson, a sobering view of the country we call the United States, and an eye-opening look into how a government can oppress a specific part of its population. Coates does an excellent job of describing the struggle and overt, as well as covert,  discrimination of blacks in this country.

There are too many events from black history in this book, that I had no idea about, to list. One that stood out to me was the way the GI bill, which provided low cost housing loans, was handled regarding black veterans. Because the local banks and cities were given the power to decide how the bill was implemented, they were able to deny loans to black veterans. Coates goes into this in great detail, so I won’t.

Coates shares the articles he wrote for The Atlantic, spanning the eight years of the Obama administrationHe introduces each essay with his comments in retrospect.

This is a must read and an unsettling view of this country. Sadly, it probably won’t be read by those that need to, and based on current attitudes I doubt it would change their minds anyway

This one gets five stars.

The Whispering Room by Dean Koontz

9780345546807   Mr. Koontz, glad to have you back…..    ****

This is the second novel in the Jane Hawk series. In the first, The Silent Corner, Koontz re-established himself as the writer I have grown to love. After reading Ashley Bell, I wondered if he had lost it. This novel shows he’s back.

In the continuation of Jane Hawk’s pursuit of whomever is responsible for her husband’s suicide, Koontz’s ability as a wordsmith shines. The plot, as in most of his novels, is simple, and it is his command of prose that keeps the pages turning.

While there are parts that are predictable, there were enough twists to keep me interested and guessing, especially in the end, which I will not reveal.

When I read the first book in the series, I thought one more would wrap up the story. I was wrong, Koontz managed to stretch it to a third, which I look forward to reading.

This one gets four stars.