Monthly Archives: June 2017

The Physics of Everyday Things

I am torn about this book. I really, really wanted to like it and got it because my son is good at science and is taking physics next year and I wanted to have a basic understanding of physics as I never took it in school.

The explanations provided were not complete. I felt that the book was a little dry and needed something. Something was missing. Some people may enjoy this book more than I did, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.

I received this book from Blogging for Books and did not receive any other compensation in exchange for this review. The opinions contained herein are mine and mine alone.

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The Garden of Small Blessings

This book is about Lillian, her sister, Rachel, her two daughters, Anabel and Claire, and a gardening class she is forced to take. Lillian lost her husband, Dan, in a car accident four years ago. She is struggling to maintain. She was in a hospital for a few months after Dan’s death and is trying to maintain her existence. But life keeps throwing her curve balls.

The first is Edward, the gardening teacher from Holland, who Lilli is attracted to. She hates herself for being attracted to him and does everything in her power to push him away. But Edward likes Lilli, too, and tells her he will wait.

The second is her job. Lillian works at a small publisher of text books. They announce they are laying off the art department. Lillian is faced with having to find a new job. But as an illustrator, she’s in demand.

I loved this book. Lillian is the kind of person I would have as a friend. She’s sarcastic, messy, disorganized, and utterly human. I love her voice. I love that her sister, Rachel, is there to put her in place when need be. Her children, Clare and Anabel, are two of my favorites kid characters because they are written as real kids. If you have kids, you know what I’m taking about. Kids who one minute say the most insightful, brilliant things and the next minute are throwing a temper tantrum because you don’t have the right music in the car.

And let’s not forget the supporting cast. Mike, Angie, Gene, Eloise, Frances, Bob, Richard, Maggie, Berto, and Lillian’s in-laws. Abbi Waxman writes so well. She is so good at developing even the most minor characters, like Rachel’s boss. She is a two-dimensional character, but you still find out something surprising.

I cannot say enough great things about this book. It’s charming and funny and sassy. It is well-written. You slip into the story like a well-worn pair of jeans and it is immediately comfortable and comforting. I really loved this book and I am sure you will, too.

I won this book from Goodreads and received no compensation in exchange for my review. The opinions contained herein are mine and mine alone.

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The Operator

I have read several books about Navy Seals and the killing of bin Laden. I have enjoyed all of them. The Operator is another in that collection and I enjoyed it as well.

Robert O’Neill is from Butte, Montana. He talks about joining the Navy and deciding to become a Seal. He spends two-thirds of the book telling the story of his training and deployments with different Seal Teams. The last third is about killing bin Laden and his life after the Navy. He was involved in the operation that saved Captain Richard Phillips from Somali Pirates. He has been awarded a bunch of medal including to Silver Stars, the second highest combat award.

While I enjoyed the chapters that dealt with killing bin Laden and the fallout from that, I actually liked the first two-thirds of this book more. O’Nell is a good story teller. He shares stories about the men he served with who were dedicated to serving their country and making sure 9/11 never happens again. He tells his stories with wit and humor. He isn’t the wordiest author I have ever read, but that seems to fit who he is.

If you are someone who is interested in military history, the wars in the Middle East, or the killing of Osama bin Laden, then you will enjoy this book. One note – the Navy asked O’Neill to redact some information for national security. As far as I can tell, the only thing he redacted is the number of the seal team that killed bin Laden, which is common knowledge that it was Team 6. So, there is redacted information, but very little. In fact, I was kind of surprised about how much they allowed him to tell of the mission to kill bin Laden. It was truly informative.

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The Gatekeepers

I was a political science major in college. And I constantly have to explain to people that it is not the study of politics. It is the study of government. If I were teaching political science today, I would have my students read The Gatekeepers by Chris Whipple. It is a fascinating look at a position in government that, while wielding a ton of power, isn’t discussed often – Chief of Staff of the White House.

I think my favorite part of the book was at the beginning when Whipple describes a meeting between the new Chief of Staff and the former, living Chiefs of Staff. The list of attendees is a who’s who in Washington. Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney, Leon Panetta, to name a few.

The book is entertaining and readable. I do not know how Whipple kept it to a reasonable length, given he was covering the Nixon to Obama presidencies. But he did. This book provides rich history and deeper understanding of one of the most difficult and often reviled positions in American government. I highly recommend this book.

I received a copy of this book from Blogging for Books and received no other compensation for my review. The opinions contained herein are mine and mine alone.

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I have read all of Linda Fairstein’s Alex Cooper books. And it’s one of my favorite series of legal thrillers. Her last book, Killer Look, I thought, was sub-par. I honestly thought that she phoned it in. The book was lacking the spark that most of her previous books had. I suppose that after you have written 17 novels, it is hard to keep things fresh. I was unhappy that Alex Cooper, after her kidnapping, became a whiner and a semi-alcoholic.

Deadfall picks up where Killer Look leaves off, with the assassination of the District Attorney in front of Alex and her cop boyfriend, Mike Chapman. Deadfall starts with Alex still being whiney and simpering as she’s being questioned by a NYPD detective who seems not to like her. Some people think that either Alex set up the DA or that she was the target of the assassin. I was ready to stop reading and be mad a Linda Faristein for writing another bad book. But I am eternally glad I stuck it out. Alex comes back and comes back strong. The book weaves a story that has several twists and turns in its plot. It is a well-written book and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

As usual, Ms. Fairstein uses New York City as a character as well. This time the Bronx Zoological Society is a supporting character in the book. Her vivid description of location adds another layer to her writing that I love. While the cliff hanger at the end of this book is not jaw dropping like it was in Killer Look, it will still bring me back to get an answer. If you are looking for a good mystery and a thrill ride, this is the book for you.

I got a digital advance copy of this book from First to Read. I was provided no other compensation in exchange for my review. The opinions expressed herein are mine and mine alone.

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