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Archive for October, 2015

The Girls on the Train by Paula Hawkins.

Hardcover: 336 pages
Publisher: Riverhead Books (2015)
ISBN-10: 1594633665

 

 

Rachel takes the same commuter train every morning. Every day she rattles down the track, flashes past a stretch of cozy suburban homes, and stops at the signal that allows her to daily watch the same couple breakfasting on their deck. She’s even started to feel like she knows them. “Jess and Jason,” she calls them. Their life—as she sees it—is perfect. Not unlike the life she recently lost.
And then she sees something shocking. It’s only a minute until the train moves on, but it’s enough. Now everything’s changed. Unable to keep it to herself, Rachel offers what she knows to the police, and becomes inextricably entwined in what happens next, as well as in the lives of everyone involved. Has she done more harm than good?
Compulsively readable, The Girl on the Train is an emotionally immersive, Hitchcockian thriller and an electrifying debut

As I purchased this book from Friends of the Library, the lady leaned over and said: “you won’t be able to put this down”.   Ohhhh, says I, this sounds good!

So I started reading it the same evening.   I always give a book about 50 pages and if I haven’t gotten into it by then it’s on to the next book.

Ten pages…

Twenty pages…

Thirty pages… hmmmmm.

Forty, then fifty pages.  by now I am confused.  Each chapter has a persons name on the top.. but every page as you read them is “in the first person”… I, I, I, I…. *sigh*

There’s got to be more to this, because the lady said it was .

Sixty pages… finally!  I am beginning to see what’s going on!   The “I’s” were driving me insane! I couldn’t follow “who” I was reading about!  gah!

From page 60 on the story grew.  And it turned into a really good Who Done It?!

I am glad I went beyond the first 50 pages… once past it.. the rest was definitely worth it!   A very good mystery.  My only draw back would be that I didn’t care for the “style” of writing.

.. but I would recommend it to people who like a good mystery!

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Eleanor: The Years Alone

Eleanor: The Years Alone by Joseph P Lash.

Publisher: Konecky, William S;(1972)
ISBN-10: 1568520891   367 pages

 

The New York Times Bestseller—“Superb…Lash has reached the highest level of the biographer’s art.” —Wall Street Journal

Joseph P. Lash, Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer and National Book Award-winning writer of Eleanor and Franklin, turns to the seventeen years Eleanor Roosevelt lived after FDR’s death in 1945. Already a major figure in her own right, Roosevelt gained new stature with her work at the United Nations and her contributions to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. She continued her activism on behalf of civil rights, as well as her humanitarian work, which led President Harry Truman to call her the First Lady of the World. Lash has created an extraordinary portrait of an extraordinary person.

As some may know some time ago I read the two huge volumes on Eleanor Roosevelt.  If only we were lucky enough to have her here now to run for President!!  She’d have MY vote!

Then I read a few books of both Eleanor and Franklin.  I truly feel the Roosevelt’s did more for this country than any other presidents. (including Theodore)

Eventually I knew I wanted to know more about the years Eleanor spent after Franklin passed away.  I already knew that she did not “fade away” as most do once they are out of office.  But I have to admit I didn’t realize “how much” she did!  She was non stoppable and the new President Truman even called on her for advice.

What a remarkable woman she was.  She fought hard for the poor and the needy.  She wanted every American to have a good life, and a fair life. 

She fought for rights of the blacks to desegregate and to have the rights they were born with, without fear. 

And although I don’t talk about today’s politics I will say that sincerely, I do believe  Franklin and Eleanor’s era was the last of the totally corrupt politics that we have today. (unknown if there was “some” but surely not ALL like today.. that’s just IMO, which doesn’t mean a hill of beans to anyone but me anyway)

So I you like reading about Eleanor I would say that this book sums up “Her Years Alone”… I wish I had the privilege of meeting her.

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Sons & Brothers

Sons & Brothers by Richard D Mahoney.

Publisher: Arcade Publishing (1702)
441 pgs.
ASIN: B015QKVMSW

Since no where could I find a “review”.. this is the back of the book.

 Sorry, to have to put such small writing up as a “review” but not even Amazon had a review of this book!  I  have never seen  Amazon not have some sort of review ..even a small one!

So… after I read Rosemary, the Hidden Kennedy Daughter, I thought I would continue with a second Kennedy book and chose Sons and Brothers by Richard D Mahoney.

ummmm.. wow!

I was old enough to be around when Kennedy was in office, so I have some memories of it all. (granted the brain cells are fading!)  But many things in the book “exposing” the brothers of one thing or another, I had heard of. 

I had heard the Joe Kennedy “paid” for JFK to win the presidency. I had heard quite a bit about Joe Kennedy and never cared for him.    I had heard that JFK was a “ladies man”. (no surprise there)   I had heard that JFK lived in a lot of pain from his back.   So many things  I knew of.. I just didn’t know the who did what, when, where, to whom?. Is the government corrupt?!  LOL.. when I look back and look at things today… In my opinion (which means nothing)  America has gone to hell in a handbag!…….  I don’t believe we can be saved any more. But, that’s just how I feel.  I am sure many people differently.

Anyway, many small details that went into something happening or not happening were given in this book, if they are all believable .  Many or most I believe, which is partly why I said what I did above.

I never heard or realized just how much Bobby did while JFK was in office… and how many things he did contributed to the demise of both JFK and Bobby.  However, truth be known, I still put the bulk of the blame of so much that happened to this family on the greed for money and power of their father Joe Kennedy.

To me this reawakened a time I cannot say was a joy to live through.  Plans to kill Castro.  Mafia galore. The death of both brothers. (I am sure most of us who were around when Kennedy was assassinated remembers where they were when they heard the news. )   But, though JFK might not have been the best person in the world.. I still believe he did many good things for the American people in the short time he was in office.

Bobby.. he had unreal beliefs.  No one could possible get rid of all the corruption in America.  But he wanted to.  He also wanted to help the poor, of all colors.  

I can’t say much more..

This book brought back memories and taught me things I didn’t know (behind the scenes).  This was a book for anyone who wants to know more about these two brothers and how they went about things in politics.  It was very hard making strides forward when the “corruption” wanted them dead.   

You don’t have to guess who won.

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Rosemary The Hidden Kennedy Daughter. by Kate Clifford Larson.

Hardcover: 320 pages
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (October 6, 2015)
ISBN-10: 0547250258

Amazon Review

They were the most prominent American family of the twentieth century. The daughter they secreted away made all the difference.
Joe and Rose Kennedy’s strikingly beautiful daughter Rosemary attended exclusive schools, was presented as a debutante to the Queen of England, and traveled the world with her high-spirited sisters. And yet, Rosemary was intellectually disabled — a secret fiercely guarded by her powerful and glamorous family. 

Major new sources — Rose Kennedy’s diaries and correspondence, school and doctors’ letters, and exclusive family interviews — bring Rosemary alive as a girl adored but left far behind by her competitive siblings. Kate Larson reveals both the sensitive care Rose and Joe gave to Rosemary and then — as the family’s standing reached an apex — the often desperate and duplicitous arrangements the Kennedys made to keep her away from home as she became increasingly intractable in her early twenties. Finally, Larson illuminates Joe’s decision to have Rosemary lobotomized at age twenty-three, and the family’s complicity in keeping the secret. 

Rosemary delivers a profoundly moving coda: JFK visited Rosemary for the first time while campaigning in the Midwest; she had been living isolated in a Wisconsin institution for nearly twenty years. Only then did the siblings understand what had happened to Rosemary and bring her home for loving family visits. It was a reckoning that inspired them to direct attention to the plight of the disabled, transforming the lives of millions.

 

Basically, I knew the story of Rosemary before I read this book.

I admit to having very conflicting feelings as I read about Rosemary.  On one hand, considering what was known and not known “back in the day”, part of me felt that Rose and Joe and other siblings did very well for Rosemary.  Though much of it depended on sending her “away” to places that felt they could help her.  If money could heal it would have been accomplished.

But more and more she was someone the Kennedy’s wanted to hide.  It wasn’t right to have so many strong, intelligent children, and have this one that was not.   As I said, very conflicting feelings, because today we know so much more and what happened to Rosemary by her father, never would have happened today.  But with all their money and fame Joe and Rose kept seeing her as an embarrassment. 

Admittedly, for many years they spent a fortune trying to “fix” Rosemary.  That part was good. Every parent would do whatever possible to help their child.  But underneath you knew it was more for not letting others know they had an imperfect child. *sigh*

Again, I admit, after reading much of Roosevelts reign of presidency and having Joe Kennedy in England constantly telling Roosevelt to “not go to war, not help England”.. I really did not like Joe Kennedy.  After reading this book… it cemented my feelings about him.  And I can’t say I grew fond of Rose either, who seemed to raise her children as a JOB, without much soft and tender loving feelings.

I am glad to say that what happened to Rosemary would not happen to her today.  But that doesn’t take away that it DID happen to Rosemary.

I was young when JFK ran for president.. but I liked him.  I also liked what he did in office, most especially, (of course) our race for space, and how he handled the Cuban Crises.   I don’t know how he would have played out if he wasn’t assassinated, but then no one will.  He also was the one, once he saw what happened to his sister, to push for laws helping mentally and physically disabled children. 

This is actually a short book. It told about the whole family but did not pretend Rosemary was not there.  It’s a piece of History that if you are interested in the Kennedy’s and “Rosemary”.. it helps to understand the situation.  But I’m not saying the choices were all good, or right.

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The Angel of Darkness by Caleb Carr.

Hardcover: 629 pages
Publisher: Random House;(September 16, 1997)
ISBN-10: 0679435328

Amazon Review…

In The Angel of Darkness, Caleb Carr brings back the vivid world of his bestselling The Alienist but with a twist: this story is told by the former street urchin Stevie Taggert, whose rough life has given him wisdom beyond his years. Thus New York City, and the groundbreaking alienist Dr. Kreizler himself, are seen anew.
It is June 1897. A year has passed since Dr. Laszlo Kreizler, a pioneer in forensic psychiatry, tracked down the brutal serial killer John Beecham with the help of a team of trusted companions and a revolutionary application of the principles of his discipline. Kreizler and his friends–high-living crime reporter John Schuyler Moore; indomitable, derringer-toting Sara Howard; the brilliant (and bickering) detective brothers Marcus and Lucius Isaacson; powerful and compassionate Cyrus Montrose; and Stevie Taggert, the boy Kreizler saved from a life of street crime–have returned to their former pursuits and tried to forget the horror of the Beecham case. But when the distraught wife of a Spanish diplomat begs Sara’s aid, the team reunites to help find her kidnapped infant daughter. It is a case fraught with danger, since Spain and the United States are on the verge of war. Their investigation leads the team to a shocking suspect: a woman who appears to the world to be a heroic nurse and a loving mother, but who may in reality be a ruthless murderer of children.
Once again, Caleb Carr proves his brilliant ability to re-create the past, both high life and low. As the horror unfolds, Delmonico’s still serves up wondrous meals, and a summer trip to the elegant gambling parlors of Saratoga provides precious keys to the murderer’s past. At the same time, we go on revealing journeys into Stevie’s New York, a place where poor and neglected children–then as now–turn to crime  and drugs at shockingly early ages. Peppered throughout are characters taken from real life and rendered with historical vigor, including suffragist Elizabeth Cady Stanton; painter Albert Pinkham Ryder; and Clarence Darrow, who thunders for the defense in a tense courtroom drama during which the sanctity of American motherhood itself is put on trial. Fast-paced and chilling, The Angel of Darkness is a tour de force, a novel of modern evil in old New York.

 

Wow!  This book used the same characters (plus more) that he had written in The Alienist.  To me, The Alienist was excellent, and although it took place in the 1800’s in New York, it read like a book written by Charles Dickens.

This book, The Angel of Darkness begins some time after the Alienist and it is nice to be familiar with most of the characters.  Once again, it is written in the Dickens style, and once again it was an excellent read!  I read one other book by Carr but it didn’t come close to these two books!  His use of historical people and fiction meld together in such a way you really feel like this is a true story.   

I hope the Amazon reviews appeal to you because you won’t be disappointed.

Anyone can read The Alienist and not “have to” read The Angel of Darkness. But I would advise they be read in order if you are interested in them so you know the characters well.  I hated to see this book end.

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