Starlight Reviews – Sandra Brown’s Deadline & Dan Harris’ 10% Happier…



Starlight Reviews | Jorie's Reads by Starry Night Elf

In this edition of Starlight Reviews, I offer up two books focused on journalists facing the aftermath of covering news in war zones. First, I look at suspense novelist Sandra Brown’s Deadline. Then, I focus on Dan Harris’ 10% Happier… 

Deadline

Deadline: A Novel by Sandra Brown | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

Deadline: A Novel 
by Sandra Brown
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Publication date: Sept 24, 2013
Genre: Romantic Suspense, Mystery
ISBN: 9781455551231
Source: eBranch Harris County Public Library

Goodreads 

 Description: 

Renowned print journalist Dawson Scott returns from reporting from the front lines of Afghanistan. Quietly suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), he learns from his source in the FBI of a potentially huge story. This story could define Dawson’s career!

Dawson begins investigating the Jeremy Wesson’s disappearance. Wesson, the biological son of Carl Wingert and Floral Stemal, stateside terrorists who have been on the run for forty years. His coverage leads to Savannah, Georgia and Amelia Nolan, Wesson’s ex-wife, and their two boys. Drawn to Amelia, Dawson learns she and her young sons are staying with a nanny on one of the Georgia Sea Islands. In an unexpected turn of events, Dawson becomes entangled in nasty allegations. Setting aside the PTSD, Dawson tries to find Wesson, Wingert and Stemal.

Review: 

In Deadline, Brown’s gifts of dialogue, setting, and local color brightly shown. A riveting and fast read, I wanted to know how it would end. While I wish Brown made the nanny more memorable, I felt Brown reestablished herself as one of my “go-to” authors.

   RR - OrangeRainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works--A True Story

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works–A True Story by Dan Harris | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

10% Happier: How I Tamed the Voice in My Head, Reduced Stress Without Losing My Edge, and Found Self-Help That Actually Works
by Dan Harris
Publisher: It Books
Publication date: March 11, 2014
Genre: Biography, Autobiography, Psychology
ISBN: 9780062265425
Source: Harris County Public Library

Goodreads 

Description: 

Broadcast journalist Dan Harris’ most embarrassing moment – a panic attack – took place as he attempted to read the news on “Good Morning America” in 2004. After reporting from Afghanistan, Harris became accustomed to adrenaline. When returning to the US, he took serious, illegal drugs to maintain the high. Always on edge, the need for a fix led to the panic attack. After seeking medical help, Harris quits drugs and life gets better.

Soon, Harris’ assignment to reporting on faith leads him to the “self-help subculture.” In turn, Harris discovers something which helps him calm down – meditation.

Review: 

I enjoyed Harris’ writing style – self-deprecatingly humorous. I liked reading about many of the journalists on ABC and so many celebrities. He even mentioned Rivers Cuomo of Weezer! I didn’t agree with everything Harris said and I wasn’t too keen about the narrow margins of the pages.

RR - Orange  Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 

Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken


Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand | Jorie's Store @ Amazon

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

 

Title: Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption
Author: Laua Hillenbrand, Narrated by Edward Herrmann
ISBN: 9781415962763
Length: 13 hours, 56 minutes
Publication Date: November 16, 2010
Publisher: Random House Audio
Genre: Biography, History, Word War II History, Military History
Source: Harris County Public Library Digital Media Catalog

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Reasons for Reading: I wanted to read Unbroken ever since I watched a “CBS Sunday Morning” segment about Louis Zamperini and Laura Hillenbrand. Soon after, I won a Nook Tablet and, thus, began my journey of requesting and re-requesting Unbroken until I finished it in 2014. I’ve checked out both eBook and eAudio of Unbroken from HCPL’s Overdrive.

Summary: Wild and crazy Louis Silvie Zamperini seemed unstoppable. His hi-jinx earned him a reputation in his hometown of Torrance, California while his amazing speed gave him a ticket to the 1936 Olympics in Berlin. He went on to become an Army Air Forces bombardier. He fought in the Pacific Theater. His bomber crashed in the Pacific Ocean in May, 1943. Many believed Zamperini and others on board died in the crash.

Unbeaten, Zamperini rose to the surface of the ocean and pulled himself onto a life raft. He and two other crew members survived the crash. The three floated, awaiting help. Ultimately, Japanese fighters discovered the castaways. The journey continues, testing an unbreakable spirit.

One Thing I Learned from this book: One real threat to humanity was the pseudoscience of eugenics, “the belief and practice of improving the genetic quality of the human population” (Wikipedia, 2014).  To discover more, click on the following linked phrase – Eugenics – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

What I Liked: I liked Zamperini and his rough and tumble family. I easily slipped into his world as Hillenbrand set the scene well. I’ll admit this fits under the heading of  “stranger than fiction.”

What I Disliked: I wanted a little more between the last chapter and the penultimate chapter and the epilogue. As this may spoil the ending, I will not say anything more about the ending.

RR - Orange

Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17

A Few Notes: I finished reading Unbroken a short while before our hero’s passing in July. To see previous posts about the subject of Unbroken, check out the following links:

For more, check out the following sites:

Starlight Reviews – Philip Brooks’ Hannibal… & Enid A. Goldberg and Norman Itzkowitz’s Tomás de Torquemada…



Starlight Reviews | Jorie's Reads by Starry Night Elf

In this edition of Starlight Reviews, I offer up two books from Scholastic’s A Wicked History Series. The first one tells of the life of Hannibal Barca, the ancient Carthaginian general who fought the Romans in The Second Punic War. The other book focuses on Grand Inquisitor Tomás de Torquemada, who committed genocide against Spanish Jews. 

Hannibal: Romes Worst Nightmare (Wicked History)
Hannibal: Rome’s Worst Nightmare (A Wicked History) 
by Philip Brooks
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication date: Mar 09, 2009
Genre: Biography
ISBN: 978-0531221747
Source: Houston Public Library

Goodreads 

 Description: 

Philip Brooks relates the life of Hannibal Barca,  (247 – 183/182/181 BC). A Punic Carthaginian (modern-day  Tunisia) military commander, Hannibal learned much from his father, Hamilcar Barca. Hamilcar led the  Carthaginian troops in the First Punic War. As a child, Hannibal promised his father he would hate Rome and  forever fight its empire.

After his father died in Spain, Hannibal headed there as a general. Considered a tactical genius, Hannibal led  35,ooo soldiers and elephants (elephants!) across the Alps into Italy in 221 BC. This made Hannibal Rome’s nightmare come true.

Review: 

I  like this series for its concise survey of the various subjects. I especially like how the authors offer an  evaluation of whether this person was wicked. I encourage folks to read this book and judge for themselves.  Nevertheless, Hannibal kept his promise to his father. Conversely, his treatment of elephants was not at all humane!

             RR - Yellow  Rainbow Rating: Yellow – Parental Guidance for Kids Under 13

Tomas de Torquemada: Architect of Torture During the Spanish Inquisition (Wicked History) 
Tomás de Torquemada: Architect of Torture During the Spanish Inquisition (A Wicked History Series)

by Enid A. Goldberg & Norman Itzkowitz
Publisher: Scholastic
Publication date: Sep 28, 2007
Genre: Biography
ISBN: 9780531125984
Source: Montgomery County Memorial Library System 

Goodreads 

Description: 

In Fifteenth Century Spain, judges of the Spanish Inquisition looked under every rock they could for those breaking the laws of the Church. The Inquisition led to friends and family turning in loved ones. Those turned in endured torture. Many times, these suspects confessed to crimes just to make the torture stop. Tomás de Torquemada oversaw all of this.

Goldberg and Itzkowitz delve into the character of Torquemada and seek out the reasons for his genocidal mania. They offer details which shed light on possible motives. Also, readers discover how Torquemada rose to power with the help of Isabella I. His vendetta against the Jews and Moors (Islamic people of Northern African descent) changed the landscape of the Old World.

Review: 

Again, I liked this short, sweet volume on the life of Torquemada. I appreciated the illustrations and the final thoughts of Goldberg and Itzkowitz addressed many issues that still exist. Even today, people refer to the Inquisition in casual conversation. My only complaint was the description of the torture techniques. Nevertheless, it goes with the territory of a book about the Spanish Inquisition.

RR - Orange  Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 

 

Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Revisited Challenge)


Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Three Stories By Truman Capote | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

 
Title and Author(s):  Truman Capote’s
Release Date: 1958

Publisher: Vintage

ISBN: 978-0679745655
Hours: 160
Source: Harris County Public Library 

* 1001 Books Book

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Reasons for Reading: Initially, I listened to this novella on audiotape. I enjoyed how more than one actor read different parts in the story. However, I considered Elizabeth Ashley of “Evening Shade” fame an odd selection for the voice of Holly Golightly. Nevertheless, I never reviewed this Truman Capote classic. When Breakfast at Tiffany’s won in the Revisited Challenge, I read a printed version.

Summary: An unnamed narrator befriends his enchanting neighbor, Holly Golightly, in the autumn of 1943. Holly insists on referring to the narrator as “Fred” because he reminds her of her older brother. “Fred” and Holly live in apartments in the same brownstone which is located in Manhattan’s Upper East Side. Holly is only a eighteen or nineteen year old girl from the country. Yet, she’s turned into a cosmopolitan darling of cafe society. Holly holds no job and maintains her lifestyle by socializing with wealthy men. These men take her out on the town and shower her with money and expensive gifts. Author Capote called Holly an American geisha.

One Thing I Learned from this book: I saw the film before I read the book. I was surprised that the events of the book took place in 1943-44.

What I Liked: I liked the narrator’s tone throughout the novella. As a reader, I felt his warmth and affection, especially towards Holly Golightly.

What I Disliked: Yet, I wasn’t quite comfortable with this American geisha lifestyle.

RR - Orange  Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 


Song: 
Breakfast at Tiffany’s (3/9) Movie CLIP – Moon River (1961) 

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Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave (Revisited Challenge)


Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

 
Title and Author(s):  Frederick Douglass’s Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave 
Release Date: 08/01/2005
ISBN: 9781593080419
Pages: 160
Source: (Barnes & Noble Classics) 

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Reasons for Reading: I first read Frederick Douglass’ autobiography as a college student. As one of the winners in the Revisited Challenge, I bought a copy at my local Barnes & Noble.

Summary: Originally published in 1845, Douglass recalls the abuse and deprivation he suffered as a slave in Maryland. Douglass also reveals how he was inadvertently encouraged to read and write. The combination of these elements brought forth a strong, determined individual who lent a hand into reshaping his world.

One Thing I Learned from this book: Maryland was rather Southern in Antebellum USA.

What I Liked: I could easily see and comprehend Douglass’ plight. Also, I knew this work was an autobiography so I had some idea that things would end better for Douglass.

What I Disliked: I hated that anyone had to endure such tragedy.

RR - Orange  Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 

Song: Morehouse College – We Shall Overcome

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Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead (Revisited Challenge)


The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand | Jorie’s Store @ Amazon

Title and Author(s):  Ayn Rand and Christopher Hurt’s The Fountainhead 
Release Date:
ISBN: 9781455100019
Hours: 32 hours, 4 minutes
Source: Harris County Public Library eBranch

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Reasons for Reading: My first attempt at reading Ayn Rand’s The Fountainhead happened in my teens. However, I hit the wall and threw in the towel. Nine years later, I picked up an unabridged audio version and listened to the entire thing. As one of the winners in the Revisited Challenge, I selected the audio version route yet again.

Summary: Expelled from his architectural school in 1922 for refusing to follow traditions, genius Howard Roark travels to New York and works for disgraced architect Henry Cameron. Roark’s former classmate and antithesis, Peter Keating also moves to New York. However, Keating’s sycophantic ways land him a position with the prestigious architectural firm of Francon & Heyer. Keating succeeds and makes partner after causing Heyer’s fatal stroke. Meanwhile, Cameron retires and Roark opens his own office. When he refuses to give in to the will of others, Roark receives little business. Roark closes up shop and takes up work in Francon’s granite quarry in Connecticut – leading him to his first encounter with Francon’s exquisite but most contrary daughter, Dominique.

One Thing I Learned from this book: Ayn Rand didn’t have much sympathy for people. I’d say she’s a rather black & white sort of person.

What I Liked: I liked that Roark was true to himself. I felt I could see these characters and understand what Rand attempted to express. 

What I Disliked: I couldn’t quite handle Roark’s relationship with Dominique. While the author may have seen it as appropriate, I thought it was violent. Also, I thought this book would’ve been easier to take in serial form.

RR - Orange  Rainbow Rating: Orange – Restricted from those under age 17 

Song: Frank Sinatra – My Way (1969)

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