Hank Greenberg by Mark Kurlansky

The Hero Who Didn’t Want to Be One
HankGreenbergFormat: eBook
Pub. Date: 2011
Type: Non-Fiction, biography, history ~ Library Book
Pages: 192
Read: 10/17/2014
Rating:Liked it ♥

Hank Greenberg played baseball for the Detroit Tigers. He had a beautiful swing and at one time was in the running to break Babe Ruth’s single-season home run record. What he is most well known for however, is the game he didn’t play in 1934 because it fell on Yom Kippur. With that act he became a hero to the Jewish people. He was uncomfortable with that label. He didn’t want to be known as “the Jewish ballplayer”, he wanted to be known as a ballplayer that just happened to be Jewish.

This book is part biography and part history lesson. We learn what kind of man Hank Greenberg was, how he dedicated himself to being the best ballplayer he could, even though at the time it wasn’t considered an honorable profession. His mother called him, my son the bum ball player.

Kurlansky writes about his childhood in the Bronx, how he wasn’t exposed to a lot of racism there, but when he began to play ball in Detroit he was called names. He advised other Jewish rookies to “Change their name.” to avoid problems and be more successful. Hank Greenberg set an example for others in how to deal with small-minded people. And while he stated that Jackie Robinson had to deal with more racism than he did, Jackie Robinson said of him: “Class tells. It sticks out all over Mr. Greenberg.”

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Giver Quartet #1
GiverFormat: eBook
Pub. Date: 1993
Type: Fiction ~ Library Book
Pages: 179
Read: 10/3/2014
Rating: Liked it ♥

DYSTOPIA: an imaginary place where people lead dehumanized and often fearful lives
APOCALYPTIC: of, relating to, or involving terrible violence and destruction; of or relating to the end of the world

This novel is post-apocalyptic and dystopian. The people in the world Jonas inhabits live without choices. They are assigned roles; their mates and even if they will get married is decided for them. They are allowed two children, and even their children are assigned to them and named. Everything is regulated. If people are given choices, they might make the wrong choice.

Jonas is selected to be the “Receiver”, he goes for special training with the old Receiver, who is now The Giver. He holds the memories of the people, this is what he now begins to give to Jonas. Once Jonas starts to receive these memories, he begins to learn the secrets of the community and question everything he has previously accepted.

From the very beginning of this novel one can tell there is something sinister in Jonas’ world. Something evil hiding below the veneer of perfection and wonderful lives everyone lives. The fact that there is no fear, no crime, and ‘voices from the sky’, that know when you’ve done wrong proves it. After reading some of the book I guessed at one thing, and later turned out to be right, but the ending was somewhat of a surprise. It also ended with a not quite finished feeling to it, but hopefully the other books will help round out the story.
The three companion books to The Giver are: Gathering Blue; Messenger; and Son. I have all three and will be writing reviews when I finish them.

Hollow City by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children #2
HollowCityFormat: eBook
Pub. Date: 2014
Type: Fiction ~ Library Book
Pages: 396
Read: 9/30/2014
Rating: Liked it ♥

This is a follow-up to Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children which I liked, and I liked this book just as much. This book begins where the first one left off so there is no break in time or action.

There is continuiety in this novel, no one really acts out of character, and things that may seem to be odd or unreasonable are explained at the end. I don’t want to risk giving anything away if you haven’t read the first book. But if you liked the first book, you will like this book.

The story advances, the bad guys are still pursuing, the children find friends in unexpected places, and since they are children, at times make childish mistakes. The ending is not an ending, there is going to be a third book. Overall, an enjoyable read.

The next book is due to come out in 2015. It takes Mr. Riggs so long to write these books because he’s a coal miner by day (I don’t know if he really is, that is just what it says on his website).

The Historic Murder Trial of George Crawford by David Bradley

Charles H. Houston, the NAACP and the Case That Put All-White Southern Juries on Trial
Format: Trade Paperbak
Pub. Date: 2014
Type: Non-Fiction, True Crime ~ ARC
Pages: 184
Read: 9/16/2014
Rating: Was O.K.

This book was no where near as interesting as the synopsis lead me to believe. I was ready to give up 50 pages in. I was expecting a riveting court room drama, instead I read how Virginia was “outraged” because some northern newspapers said how racist Virginia was. This was countered by the author explaining how a death that was ruled accidental was really a lynching. The title gives away we are dealing with a racist situation. Also, knowing that one of the victims house guests, who left before the murders occurred, was related to two senators was irrelevant.

In conclusion, too much information bogged this story down before it even got started.

A Conspiracy of Decency by Emmy E. Werner

The Rescue Of The Danish Jews During World War II
Conspirancy of decencyFormat: Hardbound
Pub. Date: 2002
Type: Non-Fiction, History ~ Library Book
Pages: 181
Read: 09/18/2014
Rating: Really liked it ♥♡
When Germany occupied Denmark during WWII, the king told his people to “behave like good Danes. A 17-year-old schoolboy asked himself, “How does a good Dane behave in a situation like this, when his country is occupied?” He came up with these ‘Ten Commandments’

“Ten Commandments for the Danes”

  1. You must not take work in Germany or Norway.
  2. You must do worthless work for the Germans.
  3. You must work slowly for the Germans.
  4. You must destroy important machines and gear.
  5. You must destroy everything useful to the Germans.
  6. You must delay all transports.
  7. You must boycott German and Italian newspapers and films.
  8. You must not trade with Nazis.
  9. You must deal with traitors as they deserve.
  10. You must defend everyone persecuted by the Germans.

JOIN IN THE FIGHT FOR DENMARK’S FREEDOM

The Danes resisted the occupation. Some of the resistance was passive, Danes would leave a store if German soldiers came in. They would leave a streetcar if the Germans sat down in one. The Germans were disconcerted by this. They ridiculed the soldiers, making jokes at their expense. Children were instructed to say “I don’t understand” and nothing else to the soldiers.

There was also active resistance and acts of sabotage. Underground newspapers were printed. Through all this the Danish government protected the Danish Jews. This all ended in September 1943 when martial law was proclaimed by the Germans after taking over the government and neutralizing the army and navy. Hitler ordered all Danish Jews be deported.

What happened next is nothing short of amazing, word was gotten to the Jewish people to go into hiding, arrangements were made for them to live in Sweden, and the Danish people cooperated in getting them there under the noses of the Germans. The Danish people when asked simply said, “It was the right thing to do.”

This is a fascinating account. The book is not big but Ms. Werner manages to include all the important details. The was enough historical information about the people involved to understand what happened but not so much that the book was dragged down. She also included a brief lesson about the issue of “Swiss neutrality”, which was something I had often heard about, but never had it explained so clearly.

For the reasons explained above I recommend this book.

Acquisitions

There is a chain of bookstores in NYC called Shakespeare & Co. Booksellers. There used to be 4 stores, now there are 3 and after the end of this month there will only be two left. At first I was sad, then I thought “Discounted books!” So today I went there and got some books for 30% off.

Death Scenes: A Homicide Detective’s Scrapbook text by Katherine Dunn; Edited by Sean Tejaratchi. I have wanted this book from the first time I saw it at a major chain bookstore but it was more than I was willing to pay for. Now I got it for 30% off.

Talking to Rudolph Hess by Desmond Zwar. Rudolph Hess was Adolf Hitler’s deputy Fuhrer, he was captured by the British in 1941 and convicted of war crimes at Nuremberg.

Dillinger’s Wild Ride by Elliott J. Gorn. The year that made America’s Public Enemy Number One.

Mickey Cohen by Tere Tereba. The Life and Crimes of L.A.’s Notorious Mobster

Gotti: Rise and Fall by Jerry Capeci and Gene Mustain

Mafia Dynasty by John H. Davis

Two other books I recently acquired are:

The Historic Murder Trial of George Crawford by David Bradley. An ARC from Librarything, so this book is on my list to read next.

Devil’s Knot by Mara Leveritt. The true story of the West Memphis Three.

Reading habits

If you measure by how many reviews I write, you may think I don’t read that much, after all, three books read August? First off, August isn’t done yet. Plus sometimes I read a book that doesn’t get reviewed, if I didn’t like the book I might not write a review, because I don’t really like negative reviews, or I might not finish the book and so don’t write a review. Here are two examples.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
This book sounded good in the review so I borrowed it from the library. Either the reviewer didn’t mention it, or I just missed it completely when I read the review, this book is in the genre ‘Christian Fiction’, which is a genre I don’t read. At first, I thought, well maybe it’ll be o.k., but after a while I just couldn’t read anymore. I didn’t finish it, so I didn’t write a review.

A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin
An epic story divided into volumes. I got the first five volumes in one download from the library. They are:

(1) A Game of Thrones; (2) A Clash of Kings (3) A Storm of Swords (4) A Feast for Crows (5) A Dance with Dragons

The lending period from the library is 21 days, by the end of that period I was half way through book #3, A Storm of Swords. I borrowed them because all the hype around the TV series “Game of Thrones” had intrigued me. I was interested enough to keep reading until the download had to be returned or renewed, after that I kind of lost interest and haven’t requested them again. I might get them again, but if I do I will have to start over from the beginning, so I doubt it.

So that is my explanation for my low book count. I actually read a lot, I just don’t always report on it. My next book is less than 200 pages so it might make the blog before September. Then again, I might get distracted again.

Sharon Tate and the Manson Murders by Greg King

SharonTateFormat: Hardbound
Pub. Date: 2000
Type: Non-Fiction, True Crime, Biography ~ Library Book
Pages: 320
Read: 8/20/2014
Rating: Liked it ♥♡

On August 9th 1969 Sharon Tate – the actress and wife of Roman Polanski – was brutally murdered in her Los Angeles home, along with her unborn son and four others.

While I have listed this book as True Crime, it is really more a biography, it just happens to be the biography of a person who was horribly murdered.

The synopsis on Goodreads, besides having a typo in it says the book is about “the search for the killers, the sensational trials and the history to their 30 year imprisonment.” It is that and so much more. It is a detailed and comprehensive biography of Sharon Tate’s life. Her childhood, her formative years. One thing emphasized is her drive to become a ‘star’, we also read of her great beauty, her wonderful personality and deep love for Roman Polanski. Also how excited she was to become a mother, something that would never happen.

Greg King’s account is so detailed and expertly covered that by the time we get to August 9, 1969, we feel as if we know Sharon. We can almost feel her pain and fear as she realizes she is about to die. It makes an event that some of us may have only viewed in a historical capacity personal. He also goes into the fear that spread through Hollywood and Los Angeles after the murders. He gives a mini history of Manson and the family, minor coverage of the trial and what has happened with the perpetrators and the victim’s families.

Two things I noticed about the book (physical copy), Charlie’s face is superimposed on Sharon’s bodice, I didn’t notice this before someone mentioned it in another review, it is not that noticeable on my book. Also the author and one reviewer mentioned crime scene photos, these were not in my copy of the book, which I got from the library. This is just a heads up that you might see some disturbing pictures if you get this book. Like I said they were not in my book so I can’t say for sure.

Also, I did some additional research into what has happened to the Manson family:

Susan Atkins has died, 9/24/2009 of brain cancer. She tried to get a compassionate release and was denied. She died in prison.

Patricia Krenwinkel is still in prison, her next parole hearing is in 2018.

Leslie Van Houten is still in prison, she has been denied parole 20 times.

Charles ‘Tex’ Watson is still in prison, he is next eligible for parole in 2016.

Bruce Davis was denied parole 27 times before being granted parole, only to have it denied by Governor Jerry Brown.

Bobby Beausoleil is still in prison. Davis and Beausoleil were convicted in the murders of Gary Hinman and Donald Jerome “Shorty” Shea.

I got some of this information from a website: Charles Manson Family and Sharon Tate-Labianca Murders. It appears to be very accurate and well maintained. Also I searched for an organization that Charlie founded “ATWA”, it stands for “Air Trees Water Animals”, they have a facebook page and a website. On the webpage with their mission statement is a link “Manson” where he is described as a “political prisoner” with a link to his website. You can go there and donate to his defense fund because he was wrongfully convicted, he never killed anyone. I also have some prime real estate in Florida for sale and a bridge that connects Brooklyn to Manhattan. I’ll give you a real good deal on both.

Bad Wolf by Nele Neuhaus

Bodenstein & Kirchhoff #6
badwolfFormat: Hardbound
Pub. Date: 2012
Type: Fiction, Foreign ~ Library Book
Pages: 416
Read: 8/9/2014
Rating: Liked it ♥♡

This story starts slow, with the body of a sixteen-year-old girl being discovered on a river bank. The police are unable to identify her, but when a popular TV reporter is attacked, raped, and locked in the trunk of her own car, what seems to be an unrelated crime turns out to be the link to solving the murder.

This story builds slowly, Nele Neuhaus get all the characters in place so you get to know them. She also builds on the personal relationships and back story of the main characters. Since not all the books are available this gets confusing at times. I tended to skim over them. The actual mystery was pretty straightforward. It was one of those where you knew what was going on but the interesting thing is who was actually doing it, and all these little side threads, how do they fit in? The ending was not really a surprise, but getting to the end was an interesting ride.

Snow White Must Die by Nele Neuhaus

Bodenstein & Kirchhoff #4
SnowWhiteMustDieFormat: Hardbound
Pub. Date: 2010
Type: Fiction ~ Library Book, Translated from German
Pages: 384
Read: 08/07/2014
Rating: Liked it ♥♡

Nele Neuhaus is a best selling author in Germany, only two of her books have been translated into English so far. I hope that all are, but not too soon as I have many books to read. These books distract me from my scheduled reading list.

When police detectives Pia Kirchhoff and Oliver von Bodenstein begin investigating an attempted murder of a woman pushed from a pedestrian bridge onto a car driving underneath, they discover her son has just been released from prison for the murder of two seventeen-year-old girls. Could there be a connection to the current attack? They travel to the small village where the victim lives to find out and encounter a wall of silence. Getting nowhere in the village, other than finding out Tobias Sartorius is hated by virtually everyone in the village, Kirchhoff begins reading the old case file for leads.

In a small village, everyone knows everything about everyone, but many are determined to keep it to themselves. Then another young girl disappears. The police are in a bind now because the villagers are ready to take matters into their own hands.

There is a lot going on in this book, the investigations, problems between investigators, personal problems. Ms. Neuhaus does a good job of weaving all those factors together while not losing sight of the main storyline, the disappearance of the young women.