Engage Transporter

The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough; 2015; $17.99; 329 pages; Arthur A. Levine Books, New York, NY;978-0-545-66834-7; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Gresham; 7/21/15-7/28/15

Not since The Book Thief  has an emotion or concept been so effectively channeled as a character.  Through the ages Love and Death have played a game to see which is stronger.  This game starts in Seattle in 1920 with two players from disparate backgrounds who will have to face immeasurable odds just on their own, but death keeps complicating things, as if  an African American and a Caucasian didn’t face enough odds in the USA in the 30’s and 40’s.  Baseball, jazz, aviation all provide the background for a moving love story of two people fighting almost impossible odds.


Did I enjoy it?  Yes, there were parts of this that I left this world and inhabited the world of the book.  Everything that was around me dissolved when Martha talked about baseball in an early chapter and later when Henry interacted with Jazz music and when Flora flew.  Martha I was moved deeply.  Thank you.

What is with the title of the review?  The were parts of the story that transported me to another place and time and I felt that I was not on the bus reading but inhabiting the story.


Love, War and Misunderstanding

shadow of stoneShadow of Stone, Book Two of the Pendragon Chronicles by Ruth Nestvold;2013;$13.95; 503 pages; Red Dragon Publishing; 9781493627301; purchased from Amazon.com;7/21/15-7/24/15

This is the follow up to Yseult which uses the well know story of King Arthur as a jumping off place.  This book follows Yseult after the death of her great love and her husband.  She is engaged in a great deal of political intrigue in this volume, but also finds that a friendship can turn into a true love.  She also finds that misunderstandings can throw a huge monkey wrench into a relationship if they are not dealt with quickly.  There are lots of life lessons to be learned from the story.  My favorite line from the story, Of course I am right, I’m dead.  It is hard to summarize the story without giving too much away.


Did I enjoy it?  Yes, I did.  I am going to be looking for more of Ruth’s work to read and see how her other genre stuff is.

What is with the title of the review?  There are several love stories within the story and war is the backdrop for the entire story and misunderstandings abound between multiple characters.



Read this book, get pissed off, organize and VOTE

Winner-Take-All Politics, How Washington Made the Rich Richer-And Turner Its Back on the Middle Class by Jacob S. Hacker & Paul Pierson; 2010; $27.00; 357 pages; Simon & Schuster, New York, NY; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Hollywood; 7/15/15-7/21/15

If you are not outraged, you are not paying attention.

If you weren’t outraged before you read this you will be by the time you are finished.  For years I thought the rich were just getting richer because they had an army of lawyers looking to exploit every loophole they could find.  It turns out their army of lawyers consists of most of the members of the US Government, in all three branches.  Pierson and Hacker point out how the government is essentially written by the rich, members of the government go onto become lobbyists and how the campaigns are funded by the major corporations (which we know now are people too){wish there was a sarcasm font} so of course the candidates are beholden to them.  The authors point out two ways the government has made the wealth gap larger.  First by passing laws that obviously help the rich retain their wealth and build it on the backs of those who work for them.  Secondly by being like Scarlett O’Hara and waiting to do it tomorrow, however tomorrow never comes.  This is a great companion volume to Matt Taibbi’s Divide and Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow.

Grade A+

Did I learn anything?  Yes that we need to clean house at the national level.  We need to stop this bullshit that rewards corporations for leaving the US, we need to return to Eisenhower levels of taxation on the wealthy and we need to stand up and organize and make our voices heard.

What is with the title of the review?  This book will piss you off and make you mad.  But you have to do something about being pissed off, get out and put out the word about the problem, support a candidate that may change things and vote.  Like I tell the people seeking citizenship through the classes I teach, if you don’t vote you don’t have a right to complain.

for us it’s books

The Dad Report; Fathers, Sons and Baseball Families by Kevin Cook; 2015; $26.95; 272 pages; W.W. Norton and Company, New York, NY; 978-0-393-24600-1; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Midland; 7/10/15-7/15/15

Kevin Cook’s father was a minor league pitcher, who retained some of his baseball capability even after he retired from the game.  Although I think no ever really retires from the game they are usually involved in some way even if it is just checking the standings each day.  Kevin’s thoughts on his and his dad’s relationship moved him to interview families who were all involved in the major leagues, including the Boone family and Dan Haren and his father.  There were several other families but I can’t remember them.  If is an interesting look at how it is when you follow directly or almost directly in someone’s footsteps.  How do seek advice, do you seek advice, do you follow that advice and more.

Grade A

Did I enjoy it?  Yes, it like many of my favorite movies is not really about baseball but about father and son relationships and how those are strained by societal norms that were imposed by the culture we were raised.  I would think that the macho atmosphere of athletics would be very similar to the warrior mythology that I was raised in.

What is with the title of the review?  Much like Kevin Cook and his father don’t speak much of emotional issues, but talk about baseball to convey their love for one another, my Dad and I talk about books. I just realized that with one of my sons we talk about movies and the other we talk about music.

What is Patriotism?

meltzerThe President’s Shadow by Brad Meltzer; 2015; $28.00; 401 pages; Grand Central Publishing, New York, NY; 978-0-446-55393-3; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Northwest; 7/8/15-7/10/15

A severed arm is found in the White House’s Rose Garden, with something clutched in its hand another arm is found at Camp David with something clutched  in its hand.  The President decides that he needs the help of Beecher from the National Archives and the Culpepper Ring to defeat some people who mean to bring harm to the Presidency and perhaps the nation.  In the course of the investigation Beecher discovers some disquieting things about his family, his friends, his hometown, and his government.  A great mix of the beginning of the country, recent history and current events.  Beecher and his pals are geniuses in different areas of history and other areas that come in  handy during the investigation and conflict.

Grade A

Did I enjoy it?  Yes, I did it is an exciting combination of history, modern adventure and learning about family and friends.

What is with the title of the review?  Howard Zinn said ” Patriotism is not obedience to the government.  Patriotism is obedience to the principles for which the government is supposed to stand.”  Some of that comes into play here.


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