Unhinged: An Insider's Account of the Trump White House
August 25th, 2018 by diane92345

Who can forget the #1 villain in three seasons of the Apprentice? Omarosa really spills the t in Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House.

After a year serving in Trump’s White House, Omarosa is unceremoniously fired by Chief of Staff Kelly. Trump appears to know nothing about it. Trump’s family attempts to coerce Omarosa into not speaking out by offering her an equivalent annual salary of $150,000 for working on Trump’s reelection campaign. But they don’t know Omarosa!

Since Omarosa seemed anything but stupid in her Apprentice and Celebrity Apprentice appearances, it seems rather disingenuous of her to say she never noticed Trump’s racism or sexism. Her later assertation that she and Trump were using each other seems more accurate.

Some of the information here is shocking even to those inured by the unconventional Trump presidency. Drivers passing me on the freeway while I was listening to this book are excused from wondering about the crazy woman alternately laughing hysterically and screaming in astonishment at her car stereo.

I attempted to read the previous Trump tell all, The Fire and the Fury, earlier this year but it was a snoozefest. Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House is anything but. I listened to it at 1.5 speed because I just couldn’t wait for the next episode. Omarosa throws most of Trump’s family and close aides under the bus. Then backs up and runs over them again in true Suge Knight style. Here are just a few samples. Was there a missionary position component to Trump’s official spiritual advisor’s ministry with him? Is Kellyanne really not as dumb as she acts? Is Betsy Devos’ nickname Ditsy accurate because she is dumber than she acts (though that appears to be a pretty low bar)? Is Trump sliding into dementia? Does he go into day-long “nuclear” rages at perceived and actual slights?  Are his early morning tweets just as much a surprise to his staff? Is Melania a great mother just waiting for the presidency to end to get a divorce? Is she using her clothing and body language to send a not-very-subtle signal to the Donald? All this and more are in Unhinged: An Insider’s Account of the Trump White House. Is it all true?  Who knows, but I can guarantee that it is immensely entertaining! It is highly recommended for everyone who has wondered what life is, or could be, like in the Trump White House. 5 stars!

Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: , , ,

August 19th, 2018 by diane92345

A literary take on a post-apocalyptic novel sure to be nominated for a literary award or two.  Severance is the story of Candace, a Chinese immigrant and millennial, who is trying to just live her dull life when a real apocalypse hits.

At first, Candace is in denial and continues to live in an eerily empty NYC.  Eventually, she leaves in an old NYC taxi and collapses by the side of the road.  A group of other NYC survivors take her on a trip to the Facility, where the nerdy leader, Bob, says he has a crash pad perfectly suited to the apocalypse he knew was coming thanks to gaming and Internet conspiracy sites.

I enjoyed the beautiful evocative prose of this novel the most.  The plot works but some of its satirical aspects seem forced.  I get that Candace’s life is an endless repetition of the same tasks with no knowledge gained from them.  Why does the epidemic have the same symptom?  It is like getting hit over the head with her point. Also, I would have liked characters other than Candace to be more fully fleshed out.  Most seem like stereotypes like Bob the nerd.  It is hard to care if something bad happens to a stereotype.

While I don’t think this will appeal to most Walking Dead or World War Z fans because it is too slow as literary fiction often is, it will be a fine change in setting for literary fiction fans. Since I am more the first choice, I give Severance 3 stars. I wanted more horror or more satire. However, your star rating may vary depending on your genre preference.

Thanks to the publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Humor, Literary Fiction, Science Fiction Tagged with: , ,

Jazz Maynard Vol 2
August 18th, 2018 by diane92345

With excellent artwork and a fast-moving plot, Jazz Maynard Vol 2 continues the Iceland Trilogy. My review of the previous volume is here.

Judas, Jazz’ former mob boss, is in jail. Caligula of a rival criminal organization is trying to take over his illegal operation by force.

Jazz is approached by Lord Archer to steal back the Golden Eye, an ancient prosthetic eye supposedly having prophetic powers. To locate the eye, Jazz and Teo go to Iceland.

Setting the story mainly in Iceland is a refreshing change from Spain. The action is non-stop. Plus I think having Vikings as the villains is fantastic.

My favorite part of the whole series so far is the use of monochromatic colors for each panel. Some pages are different shades of green, others are purple or red. The most impact is when different character’s actions are shown on the same page using different color palettes. It is a very effective use of color to explain location.

Ultimately, Jazz Maynard Vol 2 is a crime story. The plot and especially the artwork are very effective at telling the story. 4 stars! I can’t wait for the final volume to come out.

Thanks to Lion Forge and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.

Posted in Graphic Novel Tagged with: ,

Sons of Cain
August 17th, 2018 by diane92345

Sons of Cain is the story of real serial killers from the stone age to now.

The book is divided into three parts. Part I contains definitions, Earth’s history and man’s place in it, and psychological diseases that may be causing serial killers to be more frequent now. Part II and III are the meat of the book focusing on pre-Industrial society and from Jack the Ripper forward, respectively.

You can skip Part I and just look up anything for which you need additional information later. It’s written like a textbook—informative but bone dry. In addition, if you are not a fan of Darwin’s evolution, it goes down that rabbit hole for a bit too.

The remaining parts are a mixed bag of pedantic, interesting and fascinating. My favorites were the 1874 Bostonian 14-year-old Jesse Pomeroy, Jack the Ripper and the extensive analysis of why serial killers began to be more prevalent in 1960s to peaking in the 1990s.

Sons of Cain is an interesting true tale of serial killers. It is recommended for readers or viewers of thrillers containing serial killers like Silence of the Lambs and Dexter. It is highly recommended to writers of stories involving serial killers. And, of course, current, past or future serial killers (you know who you are) should pick up this book to avoid making the same mistakes as their predecessors (just kidding). 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, Berkeley, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Non-fiction Tagged with: , ,

August 14th, 2018 by diane92345

In the sixth Rosato and DiNunzio book, the firm is sued directly by Mary’s archnemesis, Nick Machiavelli. Three male plantiffs are alleging gender hiring discrimination and using the words of the firm’s sole male attorney against them. Hiring Roger Vitez to defend them, the firm is shocked to discover a murder. Now rushing to save their firm and find a killer, Bennie, Mary and Judy makes some strange bedfellows in Feared.

Mary’s Tony-filled family is always a treat. Her pragnancy issues are played mostly for laughs. However, there are plenty of twists for thriller fans. A good entry to the series with no spoilers to earlier books, Feared is highly recommended to thriller and Lisa Scottoline fans. 4 stars!

Thanks to the publisher, St. Martin’s Press, and NetGalley for an advanced copy.

Posted in Mystery & Thrillers Tagged with: ,

Cupcake & Astronaut
August 14th, 2018 by diane92345

As if Quentin Tarantino’s mind and a children’s picture book were accidental merged during teleportation to another universe!

Cupcake & Astronaut is a weird dive into the mind of famed comic artist, Question No. 6. (       ) (that’s her name-the empty parenthesis, not this one) has one too many arms and one too few eyes to be an astronaut until she realizes that her love of shotguns could force the Space Center to build a special spacesuit just for her. Her adventures in space, with her beloved cupcakes, ensue. [cue Kill Bill soundtrack]

The artwork here is, of course, the star. It’s affordable pop art that would be excellent framed. It is similar to the colorful style of Roy Lichtenstein. The plot is scattershot. Trying to guess its direction, or even its purpose, is difficult. It might be a story celebrating diversity. I can’t even tell its genre. Science fiction? Fantasy? Women’s fiction? Children’s picture book (even though it says it is for grade 11 and up)? Who knows? But I like its delicious difference from any other book ( not just graphic novel) out there. 4 stars!

Nerd alert! 

The author’s name refers to the most difficult question given to high school mathletes. If you’re interested, search for “Question 6 1988 Australian math olympics”.

End nerd (of which I am one of course) alert!

Thanks to the publisher, Alternative Comics, and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.

Posted in Graphic Novel Tagged with:

Goldilocks and the Infinite Bears
August 12th, 2018 by diane92345

Goldilocks and the Infinite Bears contains humorous short comics about pop culture.

As fractured fairy tales did in the 1960s, this collection holds nothing sacred in its quest for laughter. In the time of online dating, how long would it take the frog prince to find someone to give him a kiss? Why is it a bad idea to be the angel of death’s biggest fan? Everyone knows the Romans had a god for everything. But a god of eye crust? Of atheism? What would happen if the hungry caterpillar was really famished?

This is a fun parody of fairy tales, religion, movies, plays, children’s stories and video games. It has some swear words making it unsuitable for children. Some of the references to religion might offend. However, the bottom line is it’s funny. Like haha—why didn’t I think of that—funny so 4 stars!

Thanks to Lion Forge and Edelweiss+ for an advanced copy.

Posted in Graphic Novel Tagged with: ,