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His Name Is Ron: Our Search for Justice
His Name Is Ron: Our Search for Justice
Price: $4.99

5.0 out of 5 stars A Precious LIfe, July 21, 2014
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Angelenos of a certain age lived through two of the biggest trials of the 20th century: first that of Charles Manson and his followers and then that of OJ Simpson. Both trials turned the streets of Los Angeles into a public circus. People everywhere argued about the conduct of the cases, the outcomes, and the impact of the press.

At the heart of HIS NAME IS RON stands the Goldman family. In the OJ trial, the press found it convenient to focus on the slain Nicole Brown Simpson, a beautiful woman, a young mother, slain in her bare feet at home. HIS NAME IS emphasizes that Ron Goldman, the man murdered at the same time and place as Nicole, was a full human being, with a family who loved him, friends who revered him, and a press corps willing to spread false information about the young man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, the moment of the attack on Nicole.

Ron's sister Kim and her father Fred wrote this book to give the world the full story. They have no reason to sell a book about Ron except the motive to establish the harm done to them as a family. They tell their story in emotional outbursts of anger and horror. The long, long trial of OJ turns their lives into a powder keg of grief. They want only to see justice done. They are convinced by the evidence that OJ killed their Ron. How could a jury come to a different conclusion?

They heap scorn upon the defending attorneys, the posturing and obstructionism. Day after day, they see the prosecution limited in what can and cannot be presented or worn into court or acted out with gestures, the defense receiving few if any warnings.

When the jury decides Simpson is not guilty, the Goldmans are heartbroken and incredulous. They go forward with their civil suit. This is the strength of the book. The civil suit is not such a circus. The jurist is a tough, no-nonsense judge. Their team of lawyers has more latitude in what can be presented. The whole notion of police misconduct and the race card are out of bounds.

When the civil suit finds OJ culpable of the many crimes listed in the indictment, the Goldmans are vindicated. This is a small victory. Nothing will bring Ron back to them. Nothing will let them hear him laugh or plan or tease or comfort them again. They would trade all the money in the world for more time with Ron.

The book makes it clear that the first trial was mishandled on many levels. The verdict in the civil trial allows them a small measure of peace to know that Ron Goldman's name will be remembered as belonging to a special and beloved man. His slaughter on a sidewalk by a jealous, egotistical, maniacal man is at last seen in terms of what the world lost when Ron agreed to run by Nicole's to return a pair of glasses, acting as he would to complete a simple act on behalf of a friend. HIS NAME IS RON is the story of this tragedy and its effect on Ron's nuclear family.


At the Bottom of Everything: A Novel
At the Bottom of Everything: A Novel
by Ben Dolnick
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $18.27
74 used & new from $5.44

5.0 out of 5 stars "Such tiny things, . . ., like raindrips against a window", July 18, 2014
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Ben Dolnick is a new author to me. I have now purchased all of his books based on my excellent experience with AT THE BOTTOM OF EVERYTHING.

The beginning of the AT THE BOTTOM OF EVERYTHING offers foreshadowing of pain as Thomas and Adam grow to maturity. The boyhood of the two is filled with a comfortable solitude once they have that one friend to confide in and hang out with. Thomas is a genius. Adam participates in sports, but feels disconnected from his family. Thomas's intellectual parents give Adam a place to be noticed. He warms to the parents as his opinions are sought after and listened to. The boys tromp around their neighborhood, sharing stories and goofy theories. One night, a prank goes awry. It will haunt them for the rest of their lives.

Dolnick changes directions once Adam arrives in India. His descriptions of jet lag, the crowded cities, the odd tourists are engagingly distinct. But Adam has a mission he must try to complete on behalf of Thomas and Thomas's parents. The narrative begins to stretch our imaginations of how much someone would attempt, especially considering the physical condition that Adam is in. He goes much farther than the extra mile on behalf of someone he is no longer bosom buddies with.

I found the India chapters, especially the climactic chapter, well presented. I highlighted many passages of philosophy, the idea of death vs. the physical reality of dying. Dolnick wrote through this epiphany with power and clarity. My favorite sentence, "We always seemed to imagine the news of our impending deaths as a liberation, as if our lives were dress shoes we couldn't wait to take off."

The book is witty and funny. It is tragic and thoughtful. If I changed one thing about the book, I would change the dreadfully primitive cover. But since the book will appeal to those who don't judge books by their covers, maybe that doesn't matter at all.


Casebook: A novel
Casebook: A novel
by Mona Simpson
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.41
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3.0 out of 5 stars Odd, July 15, 2014
This review is from: Casebook: A novel (Hardcover)
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Mona Simpson wrote one of my favorite books, MY HOLLYWOOD. With that in mind, I waited anxiously for CASEBOOK. Although I have awarded an extra star in the rating for innovation, I am not held in CASEBOOK'S thrall. The book is simply too long for itself and too odd for this reader.

The story of a boy trying to unravel the secrets of his mother's life, CASEBOOK gives us Miles's narration in a somewhat diary-like form. Once used to his peculiarities (astonishing snoopiness, odd nicknaming, a too-good-to-be-true best friend, Hector), the story moves apace. Maybe "apace" is stretching the momentum. The story moves forward.

As things fall apart in the world Miles has known, we have become immured to the sadness of his plight. He has changed and grown through self-realization of his own faults. End of story, except that the novel doesn't end there. More angst follows without catharsis. It becomes a war of attrition, who will give in first, the reader calling "THE END" or the editor in charge of the novel? I admit it; I gave in because the editor chose to include those last 100 pages.


The Narrow Road to the Deep North: A novel
The Narrow Road to the Deep North: A novel
by Richard Flanagan
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $19.86

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disconnected Misery, July 13, 2014
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THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH by Richard Flanagan is blurbed as a "mesmerizing" and "luminous" sprawling epic. The story of an Australian World War II hero, Dorrigo Evans, who has survived POW status, the novel covers the horrors of building the Burma Road and Railroad. Flanagan offers numerous points of view throughout.

Unfortunately, the story meanders from the boudoir of a prostitute to the marriage bed and off to the cot of the Japanese officer. The guards in charge of the prisoners tire of beating them, finding the job enervating and fruitless. How does one coax more work out of dying, starving men?

Without a central story propelling the pages forward, I found the book lifeless and frustrating. Though Flanagan is certainly a gifted writer in his nuances and observations, the sheer lugubriousness of the prose does not make for a summer read. THE BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI, KING RAT, and A TOWN LIKE ALICE offer a clearer look at the desperate quest for supremacy called the War in the Pacific of World War II.


Lily Love
Lily Love
by Maggi Myers
Edition: Paperback
Price: $10.99
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Tone Deaf, July 12, 2014
This review is from: Lily Love (Paperback)
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LILY, LOVE by Maggi Myers is the story of a single-parent coping with the multiple challenges of parenting a child with numerous medical and perhaps psychological issues. The child, Lily, is the focus of all of Caroline's waking energy. Caroline has no energy left for her job or for her husband Peter or for any kind of life of her own.

The medical establishment comes in many shapes and forms, from the kindness of tech Max, a beloved friend, to the self-serving Chelsea, who skips protocols for her own ease. Carolina has a hate-hate relationship with almost all of the personnel who deal with Lily. She wants answers; they provide only more questions.

Instead of creating compassion for this mother and for this child, Myers' writing creates a gulf of frustration with her presentation of Carolina. Carolina wants to be the best, the martyred mom, throwing her life into shambles to save her child. Except when she's flirting with Her Stranger in the hospital cafeteria or tantalizing a younger bartender when out for a pick-me-up with her sister or creating a scene in the xray department with tech Max.

Caro delves into her personal emotions, as she should, be the result is almost always the same: tears of frustration, tears of love, tears of pity, tears of exhaustion. The reader soon tires of her sobbing.

I am the grandmother of a severely autistic child. The hopes for answers, the constant vigilance, the cost of treatment: yes, all of these are part of the life's changes the family has seen. Life with a child on the autism spectrum and seizures is a life of conflict and disappointment occasionally balanced by small victories.

LILY, LOVE, for me, failed in establishing a suitable tone. Carolina as mom faces huge obstacles. Her self-deprecating wit did not amuse me. Her attempts at finding romance did not ring true. Her constant tears and sobs are likely true enough, but this is fiction, and in fiction, the author should control her material in such a way that the reader joins forces with her protagonist and doesn't want to close the door of the hospital room with a sigh of relief as the reader walks away.


Big Little Lies
Big Little Lies
by Liane Moriarty
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $16.15

5.0 out of 5 stars A Refreshing Satire, July 9, 2014
This review is from: Big Little Lies (Hardcover)
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Liane Moriarty, you rock!

BIG LITTLE LIES is a refreshing take on a chick lit book. Following three couples making the momentous change of transitioning their children from pre-school to "kindy," this novel transcends genre.

It is funny. Moriarty tosses off funny observations about the entire brouhaha, undercutting her characters' slavish devotion to the food chain of mommy life in Australia. There is a laugh in almost every chapter. Her nicknames, like the Blond Bobs, keep the rapid pace of abounding wit. One of my favorite sentences: The Blond Bobs shook their blond bobs (something like that). The language really tickled me.

The book is refreshing. This is not only a heartfelt commiseration with moms caught in the Mommy Wars. It is also a murder mystery. It took almost the whole book to learn who had been murdered. That's not a problem. There's enough going on to keep us reading, wondering if Ziggy will continue to shoulder blame or if Renata will win her unjust war.

The characters are clear. There are six main characters plus the rest of the school parents plus the principal plus the kindy teacher and the coffee house man. No worries! We get to know who's who, which characters we wish would suck down a wet mop and which ones we hope will see a happier day. Did I love Ziggy, Amabella (not a typo), Madeline, Celeste, Jane, any of their husbands or ex-husbands, or the kids most? Easy answer: I loved them all--except the one who should wear a black hat.

If you are looking for a double-edged narrative this summer, spend time with LITTLE BIG LIES.


Little Mercies (English Edition)
Little Mercies (English Edition)
by Heather Gudenkauf
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.80
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4.0 out of 5 stars Living Your Values, July 6, 2014
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In a coincidence as strange as some of the plot twists in LITTLE MERCIES, I was about to post a snarky comment on Facebook about new devices to help "busy" parents remember their baby is in the car. Who forgets the baby in a car EVER? I didn't post, and I'm glad I read Heather Gudenkauf's book before I did.

LITTLE MERCIES is a story of families today. The working mom is a social worker. Ellen gives her time and energy to her job even though she has three children of her own. Her husband is a good guy--he helps around the house and has a job that lets him be on call for the kids equally with Ellen.

Ellen has seen the worst of child abuse. She goes the extra mile for her cases. She feels justified when children are removed from abusive homes. She has seen some of her parents complete treatment programs and improve enough to regain custody of their children. She has also seen those who manage to game the system at their children's expense. She must remind herself that she is not the sole judge, but only another set of eyes protecting children.

How then does she become the criminal charged with reckless endangerment when she leaves her own daughter in a sweltering car? The circumstances of the accident with her daughter Avery are led up to in a thoroughly believable scenario of events. That Avery could die, as the little boy this summer did, is a suspenseful drama with blame spread into many directions even when Ellen is the one charged. The family is overwhelmed with guilt.

Intersecting Ellen's story and stretching the suspense is the story of Jenny, a little girl who knows way too much about life at an early age. Her mother is a drug addict. Her father is an alcoholic. Jenny is used to spending time staying out of the way and under the radar. She distrusts the police and social workers. Jenny finds herself alone in a strange town, wanting to find her grandmother. A chance meeting with a good-hearted woman helps to shield her from the dangers of the street.

LITTLE MERCIES weaves a story of kindness amid fear. Through both Jenny's story and Ellen's story we see both sides of the foster family coin. Ellen has much to learn about her chosen field of work. Those lessons are painfully inscribed on her as she witnesses her own debacle. Jenny's presence helps the reader consider the feelings of the abandoned child who does not hold the keys to her own future.

The best parts of the novel begin with the title. How often people need to see the LITTLE MERCIES that bring joy and order to lives. How quickly lives come undone when events break down communication. Ellen's mother is a secondary character, but her lonely life leaves a big impression. The sheer goodness of the mother figure in her calm and old-fashioned ways contrasts with the modern mothers on the brink. What Ellen learned in LITTLE MERCIES is the best of the best parts. Gudenkauf delivers a morality tale for our times with a portrait of change through suffering. Ellen's prideful busyness is pruned back by trouble. I am reminded of Bruce Wilkinson's SECRETS OF THE VINE. We must be pruned to grow more fully. Ellen's pruning is devastating. Even from such sorrow, she and those she loves may bloom again.


The Appetites of Girls
The Appetites of Girls
by Pamela Moses
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $20.31
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Food for Thought, July 3, 2014
This review is from: The Appetites of Girls (Hardcover)
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This is the debut novel for Pamela Moses, and I now have another new author to follow. THE APPETITES OF GIRLS is the kind of story I immerse myself in. Everything else melts away.

Moses sets up the suite-mates at Brown University to give us their childhood histories, their college years fraught with worries about men and dating, and a brief look at life in the working world. The four girls could not be any more different, and yet, they find the friendships last even as each girl becomes a woman. Life beliefs are challenged. Identity issues ebb and flow.

My single quibble with the book is the use of the literal appetites throughout the novel. There is so much emphasis on body type and calories consumed, of those who binge eat and those who starve themselves. Yes, the 80s were a decade still devoted to Barbie doll images. No, not all college girls were completely invested in the face/body in the mirror. The food motif is part of every chapter. It wore thin.

Overall though I enjoyed knowing the four women so well. Fran, Opal, Setsu, and Ruth bring to light the multiple ways family shapes destiny. This is a good book for vacation reading, but it's bound to incite ravenous thoughts of favorite foods.


Fekkai Full Blown Aerosol Foam Cond Us 6.6 Oz, 6.660-Fluid Ounce
Fekkai Full Blown Aerosol Foam Cond Us 6.6 Oz, 6.660-Fluid Ounce
Price: $5.42
14 used & new from $5.42

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars This product works well for my thinning hair. My ..., July 2, 2014
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This product works well for my thinning hair. My only complaint, and it's a big one, is that the foam must be applied in the shower while the hair is wet. Then it requires both working it in and rinsing it out. Since I'm always in a big rush in the morning, I don't always want to spend an extra five minutes on my hair. For going out to a special event, the product works well, and I don't mind to spend time primping.


All Fall Down: A Novel
All Fall Down: A Novel
Offered by Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
Price: $10.99

4.0 out of 5 stars Pill Popping Mama, June 29, 2014
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Jennifer Weiner is one of my favorite authors of women's fiction. Her flawed protagonists struggle with real-world struggles. They are not saints. They are lovably messed up.

In ALL FALL DOWN, Allison starts out flirting with prescription meds as a way to cope with her anxiety and stress. Once readers meet her little girl, Eloise, it's pretty obvious that this is not a child-centered home, but a child-controlled home because Allison wants her daughter to have more security than she herself felt as a child.

But as in BRAVE NEW WORLD (Better a dram, than a damn), the pills soon lead to addiction. Allison does not feel better even when she thinks she does. She lives for the next pill. If one won't work, maybe six will? Her marriage, on a tightrope in the months prior, begins to wobble, and there's no safety net. Her father needs assisted living. Her mother moves in with Allison.

With all of this going on, Allison continues to justify her addiction, her stealing, and her overspending. This way of life cannot go on. Either someone will die or someone will get help.

An addict is not an easy person to love. Allison is confronted with her "high bottom" (as opposed to rock bottom). She will have to choose between life and its struggles or addiction and its struggles.

Although I liked the book, I felt there were too many rambling passages and filler information oddly placed. The ending arrived unsatisfactorily (for me).

Nevertheless, if you know someone in the "perfect mommy" circle and that someone is off kilter from prescription drugs, Weiner's story offers a little look into how this happens to an otherwise normal person.


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