If you got here because I commented and you were directed to this blog, it is because Blogger will not show both blogs. So you can get to my Pat's Posts, by clicking this miscellany, the first blog while this is just about books.

Friday, November 15, 2019

The United States of Trump by Bill O'Reilly

Front cover
I subscribed to Bill O' because I miss the O'Reilly commentary and to get an advance copy of this book which was being written earlier this year.  So when it arrived I immediately worked it into my reading time.  It is a good book, typical of O'Reilly, only 295 pages..  I did not  so much learn a lot of new things about Donald Trump as I confirmed my own impressions and gained better insight into the man I voted for President and the man I will vote for again.  Overall, what you see is what you get, Donald Trump is not pretentious and does not have a filter between his thoughts to the words he speaks,  thus so  many controversies with his Twitter storms many which he starts in his early morning times alone.  With Trump it is what it is,  uninhibited presentation.   O'Reilly mentions that Trump uses negativity like a fly swatter, he does not apologize nor admit mistakes readily if at all.  . He readily returns an insult with an invective, unlike President Andrew Jackson who might have shot the person, btw  Trump admires Jackson. 

 Trump is the consummate outsider , no political pedigree and for that the beltway insiders detest him.  I knew that.  He tends to exaggerate, not using precise language and goes along to the next item.   
Back cover
Trump has a short attention span for detail yet quickly absorbs what he needs to know, bureaucratic briefings  drive him up the wall and the stage is set for a tumultuous 4 years which it has been so far.  He sleeps very little, rises by 5:30AM,  drinks no alcohol nor coffee, has no hobbies other than golf and  is a consummate workaholic, he is always on and when immersed in something he is a bull dog.  Now that is what we need as a President to  realign this country, .  His father was all work as well so this trait  is in Trump's DNA. 

 He does drink a lot of Diet Cokes though  sometimes 15 or more a day, always from a bottle poured into a glass with ice, just he way I prefer mine too.  Yet surely all those  diet cokes cannot be good for him.  He relishes disruption and mayhem and can work thru the midst of it especially when he creates it.  Hyperbole and bombastic presentation is Trump, he considers  it insignificant.  His traits are more typical "in your face" New Yorker style than beltway. 

 O'Reilly discusses how the death of his brother affected Donald.  And the thriftiness, not wasting that  comes from his Germanic roots on his father's side (pg 43.)s

nside front flap
I did learn that the youngest son, his and Melania's , Baron is named for the Hotel magnate Baron Hilton, never knew that.  . Page 271  sums Trumps 4 pillars of his presidency, ", improving the economy,  stopping illegal immigration,  defeating Islamic terrorism, and preventing foreign nations from exploiting America financially."  .  Who but a liberal lunatic  can argue with those?  If I have any criticism of the book it is that the photos are mediocre, like reprints of newspaper photos, perhaps they are, apparently pictures were not important to O'Reilly for this book.  After all right now we are living in the midst of this Trump  Presidency, we can see pictures all over TV, 24/7; hang on Mr Toady,  the wild ride will continue!.  I give this 5 *****

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Ordinary Grace by William Kent Krueger

Front cover paperback
In May the local library hosted this MN author who is extremely popular locally  as throughout the state. The author is well known, acclaimed, and lives in the Twin Cities.    I had never read any of his books so I purchased this one at the others in  talk because it is a stand alone novel compared to his Cork O'Conner mystery series.  The bookseller suggested  this would be a good start for me.    It was first published in 2013, 307 pages and a reading guide with discussion questions in the back.  The writing is easy to follow and the story is well developed.  However for me there was not enough action/intrigue.  Possibly because this is the story of a family and primarily that of a 13 year old boy, Frank Dunn, preacher's son.  

The novel begins in summer 1961,  in New Bremen, MN and mentions that it was a summer" in which death in visitation, assumed many forms."  The prologue  2nd paragraph references the Greek ancient playwright Aeschylus, "He who learns must suffer.  And even in our sleep pain, which cannot forget falls drop by drop upon the heart, until in our own despair, against our will, comes wisdom through the awful grace of God."  So we are beginning to know this will be about  death, mourning and twists.  

Back cover
Pg 175, "Loss once it s become a certainty is like a rock you hold in your hand.  It has weight and dimension and texture.  It's solid and can be assessed and dealt with.  You can use it to beat yourself or you can throw it away."  

Pg 196, "I think we just keep going on.  We keep doing what we always do and someday it'll feel right again."  

Pg 302, "It seems to me that when you look back at a life, yours or another's, what you see is a path that weaves into and out of deep shadow.  So much is lost.  What we use to construct the past is what has remained in the open, a hodgepodge of fleeting glimpses.  Our histories like my father's current body are structures built of toothpicks."  

Author Krueger at the La Crescent Library.
The quotes show the depth and breadth of the writing.  Solid, contemplative perhaps and well matched to impart the story. This book about the death, finding the body and how there is a wrong accused.  the father is a Methodist pastor of 3 small rural churches.  The reference to Lutherans in MN being as "ubiquitous as ragweed," page 45.  There would be other deaths that summer including the sister, which will test the family beyond faith.  It is a Midwestern MN tale over all.  

I did enjoy hearing the author talk about his books and his writing journey.  So many there had read nearly everyone of his books, I was likely the only new reader of this author.  He is very personable.  There is nothing negative I can say about the book but it  just did not grab m.  I read it yet,  I am  not enticed to read others nor to begin the O'connor series.  I give it 3 & 1/2 stars, perhaps 4 ****

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A Traitor to Memory by Elizabeth George

Paperback front cover
Read this one in August although published in 2001 it had been languishing on my stack of to be read books.  A good mystery but 662 pages, a tome as George often produces.  In this one a 28 year old violinist protege, extraordinaire, Gideon Davies, suddenly loses his memory of music and  all ability to play the violin which he had mastered at 5 years of age.  He suffers from a traumatic form of amnesia  shich can only be cured by investigating what he can remember.  With the guidance of a doctor Gideon journals what he can remember and flashes back  to the name of a woman, Sonia.  His father has poured his life into promoting Gideon.  The dysfunctional family goes over 3 generation and includes the death of Gideon's baby sister long ago.   Meantime there are other characters weaving in and out and  the mysterious killings of seemingly unrelated people,  run over by autos.

 The author weaves a readable saga,  with multitudes of characters and stories related to each.  Seemingly separate but all will be interlinked. For example,  on pg. 485, the reappearance of a character Katie leads Gideon to a conversation about Katja.  Katie  had not been mentioned nor  featured since the first chapter at the beginning of the book.   In the midst of the book pages 369-370 I noted that I disliked the switching back and forth between characters and stories.  Malcolm Webberly has just been run down walking his dog Alf and then the tale switches back to Gideon.  Still it is well written and there are many passages worth noting.  

Pg 132, about failure, "  "Sometimes you fail.  You don't intend to.  You don't even contemplate failure.  But it happens.  It comes out of nowhere and it takes you by surprise and before you have a chance to stop even to react in some useless way, it's on you.  Failure."    

Pg 161,  "life wasn't a continuum of events, although it wore the guise of exactly that.  Instead, it was actually a carousel.  In infancy one mounted a galloping pony and started out on a journey during which one assumed that circumstances would change as the expedition continued.  But the  truth of life was that it was an endless repetition of what one had already experienced...round and round and up and down on that pony.  And unless one dealt with whatever challenges one was meant to deal with along the route, those challenges appeared again and again in one form or another till the end of one's days."   

Page 571, "left with her thoughts, those mischievous companions of one's solitude."  

Overall I enjoyed the tome, but at times I felt it could have speeded along.  Masterful writing none the less.  I give this 4 ****

Saturday, November 9, 2019

Kingdom of the Blind by Louise Penny

Read in October, another well written, suspenseful mystery set in and around fictional Three Pines, and Montreal featuring Chief Superintendent Armand Gamache,  The author is consistenly good at keeping the suspense and yet planting seeds of wondering.  The great characters of the Three Pines Village are at it again and this time, Gamache is awaiting news of his suspension.  That in itself adds another twist to the mystery.  Paperback,513 pages, this edition published 2018.   On page 236 we get the origin of the title, "in the kingdom of the blind, the one eyed man is king."  but there are plenty of references to blind through out the book.  A memorable quote in this mystery, page 440, Myrna replies to Jean-Guy, who has proposed that reality may not matter what matters is what people believe, "People were capable of believing almost anything.  And hope was even more sweeping and powerful."

Back cover
I learned about poison gardens, pages 90-91 and that certain plants including hydrangeas and lily of the valley are toxic.  Some I knew but not those and I was unfamiliar with a poison garden.  The mystery involves the death of a woman, a stranger, the Baroness,appoints  Gamache, Myrna and another young man, Benedict Pouiliot, as tri executors of her will, despite leaving behind  3 adult children. 

Acknowledgements by author
The book begins, " Armand Gamache slowed his car to a crawl, then stopped on the snow covered secondary road.  This was it, he supposed.  Pulling in he drove between the tall pines until he reached the clearing.  ......Putting on his reading glasses, he rubbed his face.  And read it again.  It was an invitation of sorts to this desolate place...."  It is an old desolate farmhouse, the former residence of the woman, Bertha Baumgartner.  It is  a building in need of demolition but where the attorney Maitre Merciere  chooses to reveal their task to them.  

So the adventure of the three begins.  There is comedy amidst the pathos and mystery, reference to Charles Dickens characters to the attorney Merciere.  Particularly comical is the description of Benedict's arrival as Dr Seuss meets Charles Dickens, or the Cat in the Hat enters.   No mistake this mystery will intrigue until the end.  And there will be another story within the tale, about Armand's suspension and his  attempt to retrieve opiods from the streets.  The opiods were lost in an arrest and will devastate many unless stopped.  We meet Amerlia, a candidate at the academy of the Surete who is a rising star but is  kicked out and who now is amidst the junkies.  She will turn out to be a secret weapon of Gamache. 

A ll in all another 5 ***** mystery.   It has been awhile since I read a Penny mystery and delighted in the suspense and characters.