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text 2017-06-21 19:34
Top Read and Sold this week on Amazon.com (or: In my lifetime will the Harry Potter books ever not be chart toppers?)
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood
Camino Island: A Novel - John Grisham
Beneath a Scarlet Sky: A Novel - Mark Sullivan
Come Sundown - Nora Roberts
American Gods - Neil Gaiman
The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life - Mark Manson
I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons - Kevin Hart,Neil Strauss
Al Franken, Giant of the Senate - Al Franken
Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind - Yuval Noah Harari Dr
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis - J.D. Vance

I'm just noticing https://www.amazon.com/charts showing the current week's most read and most sold books.  I put the top five most read fiction and nonfiction at top of this post, visit the link for all of them. 


Anyone know what these colored triangles mean?  UPDATE — thanks to Grimlock's comment on another post — triangles refer to movement up/down on the chart.





Source: www.amazon.com/charts
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review 2017-06-13 15:20
I Can’t Make This Up: Life Lessons
I Can't Make This Up: Life Lessons - Kevin Hart,Neil Strauss
I Picked Up This Book Because: Kevin Hart wrote it. You dog on right I’m going to read it.

This book depicts the beginnings of Kevin Hart. From short kid with zero free time, thanks to his mom’s determination to keep him off the streets, to the superstar funny man we all know and love today. It wasn’t an easy trip and his success didn’t happen overnight but it is so inspiring. Kevin has a drive and determination that so few people have. His ability to shrug off the negative, the rejections, the setbacks have surely served him well.

The book covers his personal life also. From growing up with a semi estranged dad who was on drugs to his mother’s protectiveness to his relationship with his ex-wife and the beginnings of his relationship with his current wife. I love the way he speaks of his children and how he wants them to know that they have because of his hustle and they will need to develop their own once they are adults.

I feel like this book is perfect for anyone who is ready to chase their dream. Who needs motivation and encouragement to keep going even with the plan is not working as you thought it would.

The Random Thoughts:

I would have loved to listen to this in audiobook form. If Kevin narrates it's going to be amazingly funny.

The Score Card:


4 Stars
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review 2017-03-02 21:09
Book Review: The Arm of the Stone by Victoria Strauss
The Arm Of The Stone - Victoria Strauss

The beginning of The Arm of the Stone was really rocky for me. Honestly, it got to the point where I thought about giving it up; however, I didn’t and I’m glad I stuck with it.


I thought the beginning was rather drawn out and overloaded with characters, history, etc. Also, the conflict didn’t seem very interesting to me: Bron’s family swears to take back the Stone, which was once theirs and reclaim their power from the Guardians who now hold it. I thought this was too simplistic and it didn’t really hold much promise. However, there is a huge turning point in the novel, and that’s when the novel picked up its pace and started to become interesting.


What I love most about The Arm of the Stone is the story and the world. Strauss does an excellent job in making the story seem straightforward, and then she throws a curveball at you, completely changing your perspective of what’s happening. Also, the world is extremely well-constructed. When I read the novel, I was completely immersed because of the level of detail Strauss includes.


Another thing I liked was that I felt that the characters showed a lot of growth. The Bron we meet on page one is completely different than the Bron we know on the last page, which I think is one sign of a successful book. The same goes for many of the characters in the novel, including Liliane and Goldwine, to name a few.


There were times when I got confused about jumps in time and it did take me a long time to finish this novel, because it’s loaded with so much. I don’t think the latter is necessarily a bad thing, but it’s definitely not a quick summer read. It is, however, one of the best fantasies I’ve read in awhile and I’m greatly looking forward to the sequel.

I would recommend this for fantasy fans who enjoy coming-of-age adventures.

Source: www.purplereaders.com/?p=2361
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review 2017-01-07 23:39
NeoConservatism: Why We Need It - Douglas Murray

I have a great deal of respect for Douglas Murray. He is a confident and passionate speaker. The positions that he takes are often, shall we say, unpopular. Yet this does not deter him from putting forward his arguments. There are probably many areas where I would disagree with him, but I think it's important to get a range of opinions from across the political spectrum in pursuance of growth and learning, so I picked up his book on a controversial topic.


Neoconservatism is one of those blanket political terms most often associated with those that believe the Iraq War was the correct thing to do and that the correct path for American foreign policy is to pursue the spreading of liberty and democracy to as many nations as possible in order to protect freedom in the US. It is in some ways a product of the Cold War and the idea of the need to shield the free world from the advances of the Soviet Union and its totalitarian nature.


Other than a few core beliefs there doesn't seem to be much in the way of commonality between the people branded neocons. Murray attempts to underpin the roots of the concept and then document how it developed. He believes that it is often misunderstood or misrepresented in mainstream politics. The term has become, as a consequence of the highly-charged nature of the Iraq war, a vague, derogatory word to label those that defended the war and it is perhaps not surprising in 2016, given that in mainstream media and political opinion the war is roundly regarded as a catastrophe. 


Snippets of the book are useful for understanding what neocons roughly believe in, however the scope of that task proves too much for Murray in a mere 223 pages. For such a short book there are too many sections that just don't deliver the punches that I have come to expect from a man of Murray's intellect. When he does get some momentum going it ends up short lived because he moves onto another area and in the end a book that wishes to convince the reader of the need for this philosophy ends up a little bit thin on the ground. I can't help but feel unsatisfied. 

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review 2016-09-17 19:51
More Than It Hurts You by Darin Strauss
More Than It Hurts You: A Novel - Darin Strauss

Josh Goldin's happy yet unexamined existence is shattered one morning when his wife, Dori, rushes their eight-month- old son to the emergency room in severe distress. Dr. Darlene Stokes, an African-American physician and single mother, suspects Munchausen by proxy, a rarely diagnosed and controversial phenomenon where a mother intentionally harms her baby. As each of them is forced to confront a reality that has become a nightmare, Darlene, Dori, and Josh are pushed to their breaking points. Darin Strauss's extraordinary novel is set in a world turned upside down-where doctors try to save babies from their parents, police use the law to tear families apart, and the people you think you know best end up surprising you the most.





Dori Goldin is at home with her infant son, Zack, when the baby starts spewing blood and vomit. She rushes him to the nearest emergency room where the child is immediately thrown into a number of tests to try to discover the source of his illness. Meanwhile, Dori's tv advertising executive husband, Josh, gets word of his son's condition and immediately rushes from work to meet his wife at the hospital. Once there, he finds himself startled to discover that Zack's attending physician is Dr. Darlene Stokes, head of the pediatrics unit. She also happens to be black. Weirdly, Josh immediately starts to fear that Dr. Stokes will assume Josh is racist and take it out on his son during his testing and treatment, but Josh tries to assure himself that because Dori is of Turkish blood, no one could call him racist. Even worse, Josh follows up this line of thinking with a comment to his wife later that evening, when he admits that he "didn't trust a thing about that doctor's looks."


While at the hospital, Zack's vitals takes a sudden nosedive. He starts to code. ER staff is able to stabilize him again but the incident sets up the story for all the drama that's about to unfold. While looking into Zack's short medical history thus far, Dr. Stokes starts to suspect Dori Goldin of having Munchhausen by Proxy, a controversial medical condition in which a mother is suspected of intentionally injuring -- whether through physical abuse or internal (ie. intentionally poisoning, but not enough to kill) her child and then presenting the injuries as just mysteriously cropping up. Sometimes this is for the sake of seeking attention, other times the reasoning is more difficult to determine. But once Dr. Stokes vocalizes her concerns with other colleagues, a media and legal firestorm ensues. The hospital fears being held liable for Zack coding while Dori Goldin is outwardly outraged over what she perceives as a kind of defamation of character. Inwardly though, the Goldins fear the hospital coming after them as unfit parents.


A news story breaks that tries to discredit Dr. Stokes' diagnosis. This story latches onto the fact that while in college, Dr. Stokes was involved in a campus group that some could possibly perceive as an anti-white / Black Power kind of party. They also harp on the fact that she was raised fatherless (her father was incarcerated during those childhood years) as well as being once married to a Jewish white man who ended up leaving her. Of course the story leaves out a lot of pertinent details, instead being swayed to vilify Dr. Stokes, but when she tries to talk out her reasoning behind the diagnosis with a colleague, Dr. Weiss (who was actually the doctor on call the night Zack coded), Stokes is surprised to find Weiss skeptical. Weiss points out that most doctors are hesitant to even mutter the words Munchausen by Proxy simply because there's not enough definitive research out there to back up their suspicions. Weiss himself admits to being unsure if he believes it to be an actual disorder or just an unfortunate misreading of patients. Stokes starts to doubt herself somewhat, wondering if maybe she did misread Dori Goldin, even though Stokes reminds herself that she has seen the condition listed in the DSM under "pathology". Still, she can't help but ask herself if she did indeed miss something crucial? Is the hospital actually at fault on this one?


Strauss' novel definitely brings up a subject to ponder on, but I question how well it was done. In some ways this story felt deeply complex and detailed, but in other ways it had a feel of being all over the place. I periodically felt myself wondering if Strauss struggled to decide what story he wanted to tell, because there's more than one major one here -- outside of the drama around the MBP diagnosis, More Than It Hurts You also gets into the struggles surrounding race inequality and how absentee parents during a child's pivotal years can affect that child's personality and sense of who they are right up into adulthood. While all valid and interesting topics for dramatic fiction, I didn't feel like they were always seamlessly woven together here. Dr. Stokes' struggle with racial prejudice was well done and actually did mesh well with the MBP storyline, but I thought the portions with her being reacquainted with her father ran on a bit long, maybe could have been quick interludes, rather than whole large chunks of chapters dedicated to such a small part of the overall plot. 


While the MBP storyline was the major reason my curiosity begged me to pick this book up (that and I had read and liked Strauss' novel Chang & Eng), I felt like Strauss struggled to stay on topic when it came to this portion of the novel. The words Munchhausen by Proxy, though hinted at, are not officially said until about 140 pages into this 400 page novel. The suspense around Dori Goldin (you know, the whole "did she or didn't she?") could've been built up so much more. But after a few brief mentions of MBP at that 140pg mark, the story doesn't really focus a spotlight of suspicion on her until another 40+ pages. In the novel's entirety, there are actually only a small handful of scenes that give the reader a glimpse into what might be going on in the Goldin home, which I found pretty frustrating.


As for the Goldins themselves, I personally found them incredibly unlikeable, MBP story aside. Dori comes off as sometimes overly dramatic, very hyper, bull-in-a-china-shop reaction to relatively low key situations (ie, just someone calmly talking / stating facts). Josh seems a little intimidated by his wife when she gets like this, but he's not without fault either. While Dori has moments where she gets upset and goes off on manic, homophobic / racist sounding tirades, the reader is given insight into some pretty disturbing self-realizations of Josh's .... such as him admitting that he actually did not love his son until weeks after the birth ... or how if his son ends up dying, that he "could get over it." 


I won't put all the blame on the Goldins though. Honestly, I think Dr. Stokes was about the only character in this whole thing that I DID like... unless you count baby Zack, but since he doesn't actually have any lines... Anyway, this one ended up not being as much of a winner for me as I was hoping. If you're looking to get into Strauss' work, my recommendation would be to start with his historical fiction novel Chang and Eng


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