The Residue Years by Mitchell S. Jackson; 2013; $26.00; 346 pages; Bloomsbury, New York; Fiction; 978-1-62040-028-9; purchased from Multnomah County Library Title Wave Used Bookstore; 12/11/14-12/15/14

Two people, two stories that interlock.  The story of Champ a young African American man in Northeast Portland and his mother,Grace.  Champ is going to Portland State University, dealing, trying to take care of his family and start his own family.  His mother is trying to stay clean, take care of her sons, do it on her own and deal with her ex who is attempting to gain sole custody of their sons.  Each chapter is a monologue from either Champ or Grace about what they are going through.


Did I enjoy it?  I was a little reluctant reading the first chapter but the story is so engaging and the characters are so well written that I was really drawn into the story.  The story is told in a vernacular that I was not familiar with but it was very easy to understand after a chapter or so.  This is a really engaging set in an area of the city that I am familiar with.  I will be strongly promoting this book next year when it is the Multnomah County Everybody Reads book.

What is with the title of the review?  Once I got into the story I was absolutely blown away by the story and totally engaged in the story.

Wish I could afford the VIP package

Face the Music: A Life Exposed by Paul Stanley; 2014; $28.99; 462 pages; HarperOne, New York, NY; 978-0-06-211404-4; 782.42166 S 788f; checked out from Multnomah County Library, Midland; 5/19/14-5/21/14

Paul Stanley was born without two things.  One the name Paul Stanley and the other his right ear.  He was born Stanley Eisen and without a right ear he was deaf on that side.  He was constantly picked on by the other kids and throughout his life was trying to find fulfillment in many different things, women, success, and his music.  His parents weren’t much help and he had no friends because of the way he viewed himself.  He got a guitar and the rest as they say is history.  Paul more than anyone is the one who made KISS what it is today, Gene had a part in it too, (according to Paul, smaller than Gene would like you to think).  Paul realized his limitations as a musician and planned accordingly meanwhile a couple of band mates thought they were all that and a bottle of champagne, when in reality they were barely a 40 of Old English 800.  He had a realization about life and his place in it when he played the Phantom in a production of Phantom of The Opera and realized that what is important is inside each of us and can’t be found externally.  He makes the point that no one, including himself is irreplaceable in KISS.

Did I like it?  Yes, I found it to be very frank and honest.  I appreciated Pauls’ sharing his insights and especially that he has few regrets, because if we had regrets about things that happened, we should realize that we wouldn’t be where we are now.


Why did I pick this up?  Way back in 2002 I read Gene Simmons autobiography and enjoyed it.  I thought it would be interesting to see what the other leader of the band had to say.  I enjoy KISS and their music.  I have Peter Criss and Ace Frehleys’ books on my to be read list.

What is with the title of the review?  KISS is going to be playing at the Sleep Country Amphitheater this summer, I would like to go and I would like to get the VIP package so that I could tell Paul how good I thought his book was.



Back in the Saddle Again

Tragic by Robert K. Tanenbaum; 2013; $26.00; 390 pages; Gallery Books, New York, NY; 978-1-4516-3555-3; checked out from Multnomah County Library, St. Johns; 9/9-9/13

Why did I pick this up?  Because this is one of my favorite series because of the natural progression of the characters.

What is the story?  A leader of a union is killed and Butch and Marlene and friends have to determine who was responsible for the murder and try those  responsible for the crime.  It is straight forward in the way a Perry Mason episode is, where we often know more than the characters.


Did I like it?  Yes, this is one of the best books in the series because it gets back to basics.  A crime is committed Butch and Marlene and the supporting cast have to investigate, piece together the evidence and present it in such a manner that they will get a conviction.  There are no fantastical elements as there have been in some of Tanenbaums’ books.  The only downside was that Butch and Marlenes’ kids were not part of the story.

What is with the title of the review?  It has been a while since the Karp-Ciampi family had a case as straightforward this one, but is good to see Butch being just the DA and Marlene being an investigator again.

WOWER! (as in wow, wower and wowest)

My Beloved World by Sonia Sotomayor; 2013; $27.95; 301 pages; Alfred A. Knopf, New York, NY; 978-0-307-5948894; Biography, B-So786mb; Checked out from Multnomah County Library, Belmont; 8/5-8/8

Why did I pick this up?  This is the 2014 Everybody Reads book for 2014 and she is coming to Portland to speak also.  Also this is the woman who saved Major League Baseball from its owners back in 1994.

What is the story?  Sonia is the daughter of Puerto Rican parents who moved to the Bronx.  Neither of her parents spoke much English, but Sotomayor did not let that stop  her.  She constantly sought out peers to help her learn how to study and approached teachers for help, when many teachers were thought to be unapproachable.  She studied at Princeton and Yale and became a lawyer.  I believe that one of her strengths is her ability to see some one  else’s point of view, another would be her background and her diverse jobs as a lawyer, as well as her dedication to public service.  She practiced various types of law and was eventually nominated and approved for a seat on the federal bench and since 2009 she has served on the Supreme Court of the United States.

Did I like it?  Yes, Yes, Yes.  This is one of the best autobiographies I have read.  Sonia Sotomayors’ voice comes through loud and strong.  She is never self aggrandizing, pointing out some of her own flaws.  This is a person that I would like to share a meal with and talk about a wide range of subjects with.


What is with the title of the review?  The last book I read The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, blew me away with how good it was and I titled the review, WOW.  Hattie was the best fiction book I have read this year and My Beloved World is the best non fiction book I have read this year, and I thought it was as good as Hattie.

The Author as Weaver

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot; 2010;$26.00; 369 pages; Crown Publishers, New York, NY; 978-1-4000-5217-2; Purchased from Multnomah County Libraries Title Wave Used Bookstore; 12/17-12/20

Why did I pick this up?  This is our next book for the Corner Reading Society, the book that I am in.

What is the story?  Story #1, in 1951 Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer and at an appointment a doctor took a sample of those cancerous cells.  He gave them to a researcher who discovered that Henrietta cancerous cells did something unusual, they survived and thrived.  To this day her cells, known as HeLa, are still surviving and have been used in all kinds of medical research, been into space, been in a nuclear blast and much more.  The author narrates how they came to be so widespread.  Story #2, the story of medical ethics and how people profit from others unknowingly.  Story #3 the story of Henrietta Lacks and her family, who she was, how her family was affected, how the story came to be written and how the family matriarch came to trust the author.

Did I like it?  Yes the author did a very good job making the science understandable and did a great job telling the story of  Henriettas’ family and how everything affected them.  She also did a great job talking about the ethics of medical research and how people feel about the research.


What is with the title of the review?  The author wove the many threads of the story together to make a highly understandable tapestry.