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Murder at the Breakers (A Gilded Newport Mystery)
Murder at the Breakers (A Gilded Newport Mystery)
by Alyssa Maxwell
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.32
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Newport of Yesteryear Comes Alive!, August 26, 2014
I visited the Breakers many years ago along with Marble House. It was astonishing to tour these enormous mansions that in the late nineteenth century were referred to as summer cottages. They contained priceless furniture, art(like genuine Della Robbia porcelains) and had endless rooms, and were several stories high! Not to mention the breathtaking views of the ocean! It must've been grand in those days to attend numerous balls, coming out parties, and enjoy all of the trappings of the wealthy!

This story centers around a young woman by the name of Emmeline Cross, who happens to be a second cousin(through her mother) to Cornelius Vanderbilt, the famous multimillionaire railroad magnate. She's lucky to have been the heiress of a smaller house from her aunt and lives in Newport in an area known as the Point. Also with spectacular views. Her career is as a journalist for the local paper---more specifically as a reporter of the social scene in Newport during the summer season when all the New York elite retire to their "cottages" for the summer.

Emmeline or Emma as her friends and family call her is invited to her cousin Gertrude Vanderbilt's coming out ball at the family mansion, The Breakers. She's also there as part of her newspaper job to report on the event---who wore what, who was there, and the usual soiree news. However, the whole evening ends on a tragic note when a man's body comes crashing down from the upper floors. Emma, on an errand for her wayward brother, witnesses the fall. Her brother, Brady is accused of pushing the man and is taken off to the local jail.

In trying to clear her brother's name, Emma becomes pro-active much to the chagrin of the local police. She also encounters another stranger to the area who appears as someone sent to spy on Emma's friend Adelaide and her husband. That's another story in itself! As the investigation proceeds there is another death. Much of the speculation of why and how these men meet their deaths all seems to relate to the Vanderbilt name and who was to gain from the deaths of these individuals.

It's an interesting plot. The characters of "Uncle" Cornelius, his wife Alice, daughters Gladys and Gertrude, and son and heir Neily all have parts in this mystery. It's a good read with a lot of emphasis on the society of Newport that enjoyed great wealth and prosperity during the Gilded Age.

Assault and Flattery: The Truth About the Left and Their War on Women
Assault and Flattery: The Truth About the Left and Their War on Women
by Katie Pavlich
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $15.36
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Katie-----You Go Girl!, August 3, 2014
If there is a book that every woman should read, it should be this one. Katie Pavlich makes her case in all the sections of this book as she debunks the "war on women" that the Democrats accuse Republicans of waging. In fact it's the Democratic party, it's present and past leaders, and the ever worshipful Hollywood establishment that are the culprits. There are many examples and I'm not going to go into all of the vicious, slandering, offensive, name calling of conservative women that well known entertainers like Bill Maher, Letterman, and others have done because that's well known. One that I wasn't aware of though, just as an example is an article that Guy Cimbalo wrote in a January 2009 issue of Playboy labeled "So Wrong, It's Right", where he describes in very vivid terms what he'd like to do sexually to ten top Republican women(I won't repeat any of the words here, because it would probably be deleted by Amazon.) But you get the drift!

It doesn't stop with name calling and verbal abuse either. It gets into the more smarmy adventures of famous politicians (and we all know who they are) and even extends to famous and (respected) Hollywood celebrities who have manipulated, molested, and demeaned young women and since it's their word against his----having notoriety, wealth, and fame is the ticket to getting away with the most sordid acts. They are seldom if never punished.

I could go on and on listing the many examples that Katie gives in this book of injustices done to women by those who claim to be their champions. One of the most remarkable is our own president who continually speaks of his concern of women. Here are some interesting statistics: There are 780,000 fewer women in the workforce today than when Obama took office in 2009. Unemployment for women has risen to 15.5% and over 92% of jobs lost have been lost by women---these are Bureau of Labor Statistics. But, this is not surprising since the biggest campaign push in getting women to vote for Democrats was in the video "Life Of Julia" where a woman from cradle to grave relies on government entitlements to get her through life, including having a child---of course without having a man in her life.

Probably the most heart wrenching passage in this book was the chapter on abortion. She describes how at clinics women are led to believe that the procedure is a simple one and that a woman doesn't have much to fear. However, the aftermath for most women is troubling and many suffer regret and loss for years. From president of Abortion Recovery InterNational Stacey Massey, "We receive over 100 requests PER DAY from individuals and families looking for after abortion help. Over 250,000 hurting people have contacted us just in the last 5 years."
Yet, again the Democrats continue to base their campaigns around a woman's right to have an abortion and continue to push the agenda that Republicans will somehow overturn Roe v Wade, so you shouldn't vote for them. "Vote with your lady parts," was the slogan of the campaign.

Another issue that Katie Pavlich is very passionate about is Gun Control. In that chapter she stresses why it's important that we protect our Second Amendment rights and allow people to be able to defend themselves, especially on college campuses where women have been attacked. "Vomiting or urinating" in front of your attacker as suggested by a Colorado legislator or university bureaucrats isn't going to be much help if a guy is intent on raping a woman. And she points out examples of women who knew how to use firearms but were prevented from doing so because the campus they were on had "gun free zones." Interesting? Because in one woman's case her attacker on "campus" held a gun to her head!

Katie Pavlich doesn't mince words when she describes men in politics and Hollywood by using terms as sleazebag, alleged rapist, "House of Horndogs" and sometimes it comes across as a bit too emotional, but she isn't afraid of voicing her opinion and even bearing the consequences. And as to those "terrible" Republicans who are "against" women and are "waging war on them" here is another interesting fact:

The Nineteenth Amendment which gave women the right to vote was passed in 1920 after being voted down 4 times by guess who? A Democrat Senate. When it was finally introduced in the Senate and passed it was by a Republican controlled Senate. When it was sent to the states to be ratified, 26 of the 36 states that ratified the Nineteenth Amendment had Republican legislatures. Of the nine states that voted against ratification, 8 were Democratic.

What Katie Pavlich stresses to everyone, especially women is that the Democrats really don't have the best interests of women. There is more to us than "lady parts," we all are in possession of brains and actually have original thoughts. We can make up our own minds, make our own decisions, and make our own way in the world. That's what Susan B. Anthony and all suffragettes advocated. Here is a famous quote from her: "I declare to you that woman must not depend upon the protection of man, but must be taught to protect herself."
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 13, 2014 8:48 PM PDT

The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike)
The Cuckoo's Calling (Cormoran Strike)
by Robert Galbraith
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.42
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Invincible Cormoran Strike!, July 31, 2014
Wow! When this book was first published and it was discovered that Robert Galbraith was in fact the pen name of J.K. Rowling, the sales went through the roof. No wonder! This woman has been able to transition from Harry Potter to a full blown murder mystery in the quintessential British genre.

The story begins with the death of a supermodel. It's assumed that after a stint with pills, addiction, and depression that she decided to end it all by doing a dive off the balcony of her apartment. There's no obvious clue that there was foul play---no other DNA at the scene, no other suspects. The woman was beautiful, unpredictable, and very wealthy to the tune of about ten million pounds! And that's where the character of Cormoran Strike comes in.

He's a guy who has an interesting history---not your usual run of the mill happy family life. In fact his dad is a rock star, mother was a junkie(now deceased) and he has several half brothers and sisters, some that he doesn't even know. He also did a stint in the army, lost a leg in Afghanistan and pretty much has seen it all. He's also just gotten into the detective business which isn't doing very well. He's also just been dumped by his girlfriend of fifteen years. He relies on temp help to answer the phone(that doesn't ring much), file and so forth. And into his life comes an unknown life saver---a good looking girl named Robin, recently engaged, who arrives from the temp agency.

As Robin gets settled, a man arrives at the office. He happens to be the brother of Lula Landry, deceased model and he insists that something isn't right and wants Strike to investigate. And as this case becomes more entrenched there is more to this family and their situation than meets the eye. Strike also delves more into the world of modeling and designers----people who are far from normal.

Rowling brings all of the characters to life especially Cormoran Strike who from outward appearances looks like something the cat dragged in. He's been thrown out of the digs that he shared with his ex, he's living on a camp bed in his office, and he showers daily at the local gym. His life is in the toilet. And now he is begging favors from local police friends and trying to run down any person or persons that were involved with Lula. Much of this involves leg work which sorely tries his poor stump with prosthesis. But the man is also tough as nails and can spar with the best of them. He also knows how to read people. He is also blessed with Robin who becomes more than a secretary---she also has good instincts and proves a most reliable sidekick.

This is definitely a page turner as this plot and the characters evolve. There's also a lot of humor in this story as we see Robin using all her wily skills to get information from people. Rowling's description of friends, cohorts, cops, and suspects in the book are hilarious at times and also scary as she gets into the smarmy lifestyle of the rich and famous. Good writing and I look forward to hearing more of Cormorant Strike and the lovely Robin!

Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History
Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History
by Erik Larson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $9.16
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History Does Tend To Repeat Itself!, July 28, 2014
This book was given to me by my daughter as a birthday gift after I remarked on how much I enjoyed Erik Larson's In The Garden Of Beasts. I wasn't disappointed in this book either. I like the way Larson gives a history of an era and a notable weather tragedy by telling the story through the eyes of people who were there at the time.

Isaac Cline was one of the first meteorologists at a time when there really wasn't a true science connected to weather predictions. Larson describes ancient Greeks and others who described wind patterns, temperatures, and water temperature. He talks of the invention of the barometer which of course is the most valuable instrument in predicting storms. And the first weather service was actually a department of the Army, so Isaac found himself training like a regular soldier---doing maneuvers, handling a gun, and so forth. He showed a real aptitude in this new field and eventually found himself assigned to the weather bureau in Galveston, Texas.

The hurricane of September 1900 was one that will never be forgotten for many reasons. First there had never been a hurricane in Galveston before that anyone remembered. There was flooding and people built their homes on pilings and stilts, so it was expected that there would be a big storm and a lot of rain, and the sea would encroach on the town. Also, there was a reluctance to believe weather reports from the Caribbean and mainly Cuba where the weathermen there were very knowledgeable about hurricane activity since in that area it happened a lot. The administrative types in Washington DC were dismissive of them and considered those reports exaggerated and panic inducing. Another issue was communication. Telegraph transmission was also fairly new and of course, high winds and flooding would destroy wires and disrupt service.

Isaac's job was to observe, report, and issue warnings. The interesting fact was that he didn't heed his own advice and remained in his house located close to the water. His decision was a tragic one and he spent the rest of his life asking himself the "what ifs" and "why."

Erik Larson in the final section of the book describes the vast amount of research he did regarding that storm and the history of the weather service. He really added a personal touch relating stories of people who lived there at the time and how they managed to escape this terrible attack of nature. One could really see a lot of parallels today as the Gulf of Mexico continues to be threatened many times over. There is still loss of life, loss of property, and overall devastation. There is also the stubborness of folks not wanting to leave their homes and their belongings behind. And those that still don't believe that it could happen to them---just like the people that lived in Galveston during that terrible year of 1900!

In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin
by Erik Larson
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.85
508 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Taking A Walk In The Tiergarten!, July 8, 2014
This story is of an American family's experience of living in Berlin in the early 1930s when Adolf Hitler came to power as the Chancellor of Germany. William E. Dodd was appointed, by default, as ambassador to Germany and saw first hand the unraveling of a nation. His family, consisting of his flirtatious daughter and his soft spoken wife became closely involved with German citizens and other Americans who would soon be affected by the policies of the Third Reich.

Erik Larson does a commendable job in his style of narrating a story and it reveals in a very startling way how the United States, President Franklin D. Roosevelt, and the State Department initially dismissed the increasing attacks on Americans living in Berlin as well as the policies enacted that prohibited people of the Jewish backgrounds from being employed there. After all, this was none of our concern! It was also amazing how attacks would subside and Jewish nationals who left Germany would return thinking that "all was well."

We see the daughter, Martha, a young recently separated woman becoming enthralled and getting romantically involved with not only Nazi military men, but Soviet sympathizers as well. Finding the whole Berlin experience of endless parties, nightclubbing, and socializing with Third Reich higher ups provided a kind of aphrodisiac for her! Anti Semitism was shown not only on her part, but her father, and also in the United States. Jews weren't treated very well in the good old USA at that time either.

It was frightening to read this book and also frustrating that few people in the beginning really appreciated what a threat that this dictator was even to ordinary citizens. It wasn't until it was too late that the fears of anyone who wasn't "like them" became realized. The Dodds ultimately left Berlin, but sadly the friends that they made in Berlin didn't. And many of them didn't live to see the end of the ultimate war and destruction of Hitler's reign of terror!

Killing Jesus
Killing Jesus
by Martin Dugard
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.07
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Killing Jesus and Then Some!, July 4, 2014
This review is from: Killing Jesus (Hardcover)
If you want to learn about all the different ways to torture, execute, and kill people in Biblical times this is the book for you. Frankly, I have enjoyed Bill's other books better---Killing Lincoln and Killing Kennedy. Other than the research into the times and the history and what the different territories were called during the Roman period and after, I found this book tiresome.

The maps showing Roman conquests were of interest, especially during the reign of Julius Caesar. His conquest of most of that part of the world was eye opening to say the least. Why he was finally assassinated by members of the Senate is understandable. The man was relentless and cruel!

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History
The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History
by Bret Witter
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.13
332 used & new from $0.01

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If You Love Art, Thank A Vet!, July 3, 2014
There was a recent movie based on this book with the same name.It had a stellar cast of characters and did it's best to portray the men and one woman who saved the art collection of Europe. There was a team of individuals assigned to the Monuments, Fine Arts, and Archives section of the US Army, and for the most part they consisted of an architect, sculptor, curators, scholars, and soldiers. Their mission: to find, protect, and restore valuable art and artifacts that were in danger of being destroyed or confiscated by the Third Reich.

It was an eye opener to many that one of Hitler's greatest plans was to build the Fuhrer Museum in Linz, Austria which was his birthplace. As Germany invaded and annexed most of Europe, they also set about confiscating art pieces not only from museums like the Louvre, but also from wealthy Jewish industrialists like the Rothschilds. The treasures were hidden in mine shafts and also made part of large collections of the higher ups in the Nazi hierarchy like Hermann Goring.

It was also a challenge for this team because even though the war was ending the dangers were many. The "scorched earth" or "Nero" policy of Hitler to destroy anything in his path when he realized he was doomed, was in full force. The most dramatic being the salt mines at Altausee where many art works were stored and also a crate marked "marble" which was actually filled with explosives. The Nazis were going to bomb all mine shafts along with railroads and factories. Nothing would remain for the victors!

It's amazing that with all of the death and destruction around them that this group of men still carried on with their task. Two of them never made it back to their countries because they were killed. The woman in the group, Rose Valland, was probably the most instrumental in helping them find where all of the art was taken, as she had worked at the Jeu de Paume museum next to the Louvre when the Nazis occupied Paris. She was able to list and catalogue all of the items taken without the Nazis being aware. She really did put herself in danger.

The only part of reading this book that was a bit frustrating is that the author jumped from one story to another, and the chapters didn't really follow in a chronological way. He would describe a situation involving one of the Monuments Men, and then leave it hanging while going on to a new chapter to describe another event. There was also an enormous amount of detail and one almost has to be an art historian to sift through it.

All in all, though, this was a pretty incredible factual account of how much effort was put into rescuing not just priceless works of art but also beautiful stained glass windows of some of the most renowned cathedrals, like Chartres. I was aware of local citizen efforts to do this, but never knew the extent of how difficult it must have been to try and salvage it all. Sadly, there were still many pieces of art and beautiful buildings that were destroyed. But, if one has the fortune to view some of the pieces described in the book like the Madonna of Bruges, you will know that it was to the credit of the Monuments Men!

Robert B. Parker's Bull River (A Cole and Hitch Novel)
Robert B. Parker's Bull River (A Cole and Hitch Novel)
by Robert Knott
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.63
142 used & new from $0.01

3.0 out of 5 stars Virgil, Everett, and Alejandro--The Three Amigos!, June 17, 2014
I enjoy all of Robert B. Parker's books, and the earlier Western series featuring Marshall Virgil Cole and his sidekick Everett Hitch were especially enjoyable for those who like the oater stories complete with gunshots, saloons, bad guys, beautiful women, and the hardships of the wild, wild, West! It all reads like an old movie! However, this time around it kind of gets old.

Robert B. Parker has been gone for several years and with his wife Joan collaborating, several authors have stepped up to the plate to continue his popular books. Most of the other venues, like Spencer and Jesse Stone have shouldered on, but this recent adventure of Virgil and Everett didn't quite measure up.

The dialogue like most of Parker's books is short and succinct and it works for the most part. This time it felt like it was a way to use up pages. It was contrived and forced and wasn't nearly as funny as the Cole and Hitch adventures, like Appaloosa for instance.

The story is one that is convoluted and is made up of mistaken identities, wrongly accused prisoners, and endless trekking to Mexico to rescue a kidnapped wife taken by the husband's brother. Only the husband has a different name from who he really is. It's this kind of plot that keeps one not really interested, but continually confused and wondering just what the point of the story is. There are too many characters, a lot of past history, and it all doesn't seem to come together.

I will remain a Robert B. Parker fan, but this time I will concede that this book didn't exactly have a wow factor!

The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince
The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, the Playboy Prince
by Jane Ridley
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $26.53
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Most Maligned Monarch!, June 9, 2014
There have been many tomes and documentaries done on the life of Edward VII, otherwise known as Bertie, Prince of Wales almost forever. Sadly, he only reigned for nine years.

Jane Ridley does a good job in putting an unbiased personal side to this elusive man. She was given total access to all of the archives in Windsor Castle by Queen Elizabeth and she has a special talent in inserting some little known facts and tidbits that make the book all the more enjoyable. She goes into detail about the styles of the time and in one page discusses the famous Lily Langtree and how she got upset at Prince Rudolph because his sweaty hands were leaving imprints on her expensive silk gown. Ms. Ridley had a footnote about how her own father danced with Princess Margaret who was wearing a sequined gown, and to his horror when the dance ended he noted that his hand was covered in sequins and there was a large patch missing on the Princess's gown. It's little asides like this that makes this book different from a lot of biographies. One can almost relate!

Much of Bertie's story is a sad one, though, starting with his earlier years. As the first born male heir, one would think that there would be great rejoicing at his birth. But Queen Victoria had given birth a year earlier to young Vicky, and was not thrilled to be pregnant again. Prince Albert, instead of being happy with a boy, doted on little Vicky and didn't really have much affection for the young prince. Bertie's education was mostly private, isolated, and even when he attended Oxford he was kept separate from other young men. In later life, even after he married, his life was an open book as Queen Victoria monitored his private life from afar by installing spies in the prince's household.

The Queen was never able to allow him to share in her duties and wouldn't allow him to even see foreign or military dispatches. Even though she was in mourning for the best part of her reign and avoided the public eye, opening parliament, to the very last she was reluctant to allow him any responsibilities.

Edward's private life is well known. He wasn't discreet when it came to his relationships with other women, and there were many. Jane Ridley, though while she recognizes that there was a lot of intimacy in these extramarital affairs, there were many times when Edward would just enjoy a woman's company--having someone to talk to and relate to him. It makes sense because his wife, Princess Alexandra was deaf, and his mother had nothing to say to him that wasn't critical and disparaging.

Edward's health problems probably led to his early death. He smoked 20 cigarettes a day as well as several cigars. He overindulged when it came to meals. He was morbidly obese. His coronation had to be postponed due to an abdominal abscess.

There were times that he was unpopular due to his excesses, but to many people he was their friend. He socialized with the Rothschilds who were Jewish, he abhorred any mistreatment of minorities and especially castigated a Brit for disrespecting an Indian citizen when he visited that country. Queen Victoria also had an Indian manservant, so the royals were definitely respectful of people of color and different culture. Edward also was involved in trying to keep peace among all his relations, and I mean most especially Kaiser Wilhelm, his nephew and son of his sister Vicky. In this light, he tried to be a diplomat. He is quoted as saying during his final year, "I won't live much longer, and my nephew will start a war." He had that right!

Biographers often become so involved with their subject that they dismiss other works. Jane Ridley is no different. The last chapter, titled Afterword talks about early attempts to write about the life of Edward VII, but they were met with either loss or deliberate destroying of personal letter to protect his reputation and the biographer wrote glowing pages about the monarch. Jane Ridley presents Edward VII, warts and all without making it sound like a tabloid. She also talks about those that took advantage of their "friendship" of him to extort money---a former mistress, Daisy Warwick tried to do that and was rebuffed by George V.

Like most notable people, one wonders what would've happened if Edward's life would've been different. If, for instance he had been the first born. Would his parents have loved him more? Would they have given him more attention and nurtured him? We'll never know. But he was far from being an uninteresting man!

BELLA 13711 One Scoop One Cup Coffee Maker, Red
BELLA 13711 One Scoop One Cup Coffee Maker, Red
Price: $19.99
15 used & new from $13.91

1.0 out of 5 stars You Get What You Pay For!, June 3, 2014
I didn't buy this product through Amazon, but at a local department store. It was on sale. I now know why. It stopped working, a week after I brought it home. After making myself a cup of coffee this morning, I subsequently tried to make another. Even with the unit cooled off, the switch lit up when turned on but the water failed to heat and brew.

The coffeemaker itself is made of a very lightweight plastic, unlike other coffeemakers I've owned. And unlike single cup coffeemakers that you find in hotel rooms, this one does not automatically switch off when the coffee is brewed. So if you forget to do that, the unit will continue to heat. Not a real good safety feature. Like one other reviewer stated, if the coffee filter is overfilled, the grounds will empty into the water tank and clog the shower head of the coffeemaker. It's a poor design. It really should be taken off the market.

I notified the company service line, explained the problem, and I was told to return it to the store. I did that and the customer service employee told me that she had gotten a number of complaints and returns of this product. I got a refund. I do not recommend this coffeemaker. I recommend spending a little more money to buy a coffeemaker that is functional, well made, and safe.

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