REVIEW: THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE…, BY GLORIA STEINEM

For decades—and especially now, in these times of crisis—people around the world have found guidance, humor, and unity in Gloria Steinem’s gift for creating quotes that offer hope and inspire action. From her early days as a journalist and feminist activist, Steinem’s words have helped generations to empower themselves and work together.

Covering topics from relationships (“Many are looking for the right person. Too few are trying to be the right person.”) to the patriarchy (“Men are liked better when they win. Women are liked better when they lose. This is how the patriarchy is enforced every day.”) and activism (“Revolutions, like trees, grow from the bottom up.”), this is the definitive collection of Steinem’s words on what matters most. Steinem sees quotes as “the poetry of everyday life,” so she also has included a few favorites from friends, including bell hooks, Flo Kennedy, and Michelle Obama, in this book that will make you want to laugh, march, and create some quotes of your own. In fact, at the end of the book, there’s a special space for readers to add their own quotes and others they’ve found inspiring.

The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off! is both timeless and timely. It is a gift of hope from Steinem to readers, and a book to share with friends.

 

My Thoughts: Whenever I read a book by Gloria Steinem, I feel inspired, motivated, but even more, I feel understood. My first knowledge of her came when I was in college, and by then, I had already been exposed to other Second Wave Feminists, like Betty Friedan, but what Gloria brought to us was a sense of belonging, of being heard, and of connecting. We enjoyed talking circles like our
consciousness-raising groups and the process of listening and speaking out. We were finding our voices for perhaps the first times in our lives.

I always recommend Steinem’s work, but The Truth Will Set You Free, But First It Will Piss You Off is more than a series of essays or thoughts: the quotes are also cleverly illustrated in such a way to make the reader smile. 5 stars.

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REFLECTING ON MY BOOKWORM’S JOURNEY…

When I look at some of my trinkets and collectibles, like those above, I am reminded of all kinds of journeys, like the one in The Wizard of Oz.

I found this post from a year ago, and started thinking about all of the journeys along life’s roads.  This post is from December 21, 2018:

 

I feel as though I have wandered down my own Yellow Brick Road in my journey to books and blogging.  It has been more than ten years since I created my first blog, and since then, there have been a few attempts to go above and beyond, with as many as twenty blogs at one point.  Happily, I now have six.  If you enjoy rambling tales, you could check out My Blogging Journey, over at my Potpourri blog.

I just reread it all, and I sighed a little at the ups and downs.  I was very happy to add this particular blog (in 2009), where I track my purchases, my review books, and my reading.  Seriously, I am finding many uses for that information.

Here is a stack of my TBR when I created this blog.  I moved into this downsized space with boxes of these books, and I refused to include them with the books I’d read, on those shelves.  Since then, I have also donated a few hundred of the books I had already read and reviewed. 

While I have whittled down most of those stacks, I have added a few more.  But they are primarily hiding out on Paige, my Kindle.  Sneaky, right?

I have also utilized the Goodreads site to keep track, as I eventually updated my pages here to include books from 2014 forward.

So…to sum up this particular Bookworm’s Journey, I use blogs to help me with my reading, writing, etc.   With the holidays around the corner, I still look forward to those gift cards that allow me to add more books to my shelves.

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What a difference a year makes!  Most of you know I have had a journey through some health issues this year, and moved into a much smaller space than the one I had for the past twelve years.  Into this small space, I brought only a few print books, but I have already started filling up those shelves.  My hardcover books that arrive regularly from Amazon are like the beginning of another journey.  Here are the few I’m waiting to read:

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What does your journey look like?

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REVIEW: CARRIE FISHER: A LIFE ON THE EDGE, BY SHEILA WELLER

 

Weller traces Fisher’s life from her Hollywood royalty roots to her untimely and shattering death after Christmas 2016. Her mother was the spunky and adorable Debbie Reynolds; her father, the heartthrob crooner Eddie Fisher. When Eddie ran off with Elizabeth Taylor, the scandal thrust little Carrie Frances into a bizarre spotlight, gifting her with an irony and an aplomb that would resonate throughout her life.

We follow Fisher’s acting career, from her debut in Shampoo, the hit movie that defined mid-1970s Hollywood, to her seizing of the plum female role in Star Wars, which catapulted her to instant fame. We explore her long, complex relationship with Paul Simon and her relatively peaceful years with the talent agent Bryan Lourd. We witness her startling leap―on the heels of a near-fatal overdose―from actress to highly praised, bestselling author, the Dorothy Parker of her place and time.

Weller sympathetically reveals the conditions that Fisher lived with: serious bipolar disorder and an inherited drug addiction. Still, despite crises and overdoses, her life’s work―as an actor, a novelist and memoirist, a script doctor, a hostess, and a friend―was prodigious and unique. As one of her best friends said, “I almost wish the expression ‘one of a kind’ didn’t exist, because it applies to Carrie in a deeper way than it applies to others.”

Sourced by friends, colleagues, and witnesses to all stages of Fisher’s life, Carrie Fisher: A Life on the Edge is an empathic and even-handed portrayal of a woman who―as Princess Leia, but mostly as herself―was a feminist heroine, one who died at a time when we need her blazing, healing honesty more than ever.

My Thoughts: As a fan of Carrie Fisher’s books, screenplays, and documentaries, I couldn’t wait to dive into A Life on the Edge. I was not disappointed. I learned new details about her life, her friends, and her work, not to mention how she peeled back “the edifice of her glamour…insisting we meet the messy, funny, flawed woman underneath….” thus becoming her own legend.

Throughout the book, and with the mention of other parts of her celebrated, yet vulnerable and troubled life, I felt even more connected to her. After her death, I watched her One Woman Show Wishful Drinking again, along with Bright Lights, a documentary that reveals so much of the unique relationship between Carrie and Debbie. Yes, they had issues and troubling times, but always they were connected in such a deep way that it was not surprising to those who knew them well that Debbie died one day after her daughter. They could not be separated, even in death.

In one of her letters to the mother of a dying friend, Carrie wrote: “There’s a chance that there’s peace at the end of the march. Peace and companionship with old friends, waiting eagerly for your arrival. Yes, you will be missed. But the best of those who love you will always carry a part of you …You exist as a soft smile…in the midst of a fond memory.”

Carrie’s work, and how she conveyed herself as someone “famous for just being herself,” will keep her alive for those of us who will hang onto the brightness in her as we continue to read and view her works. 5 stars.

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MONTHLY WRAP-UP

My November reading was less than stellar in numbers, but there were several books to enjoy.

A Favorite:

Genres:

I thought I would be reading more nonfiction, as I have a big stack of them.  But that’s not how November played out.  I suspect there will be a few filtering into each new month, though.

  Nonfiction: 1

     Suspense:  5

     Contemporary Fiction:  1

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Here are my titles.  Click to read the reviews.

NOVEMBER 2019:

1.Family, The, by Louise Jensen – 383 pages – (suspense) – 11/16/19

2.Family Upstairs, The (e-book), by Lisa Jewell – (338 pages) – (mystery) – 11/24/19

3.If You Only Knew (e-book), by Kristan Higgins- (411 pages) – contemporary fiction) – 11/4/19

4.One Little Secret (e-book), by Cate Holahan – (309 pages) – (murder mystery) – 11/21/19

5.Poison Garden, The (e-book), by A. J. Banner – (207 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 11/28/19

6.Takes One To Know One (e-book), by Susan Isaacs – (288 pages) – (suspense) – 11/14/19

7.Touched by the Sun: My Friendship with Jackie, by Carly Simon – 231 pages ) – (memoir) – 11/27/19

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN OCTOBER 2019:    7

NUMBER OF PAGES READ IN OCTOBER: 2,167

BOOKS READ YTD:  107

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REVIEW: TOUCHED BY THE SUN, BY CARLY SIMON

 

Carly Simon and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis made an unlikely pair―Carly, a free and artistic spirit still reeling from her recent divorce, searching for meaning, new love, and an anchor; and Jackie, one of the most celebrated, meticulous, unknowable women in American history.

Nonetheless, over the next decade their lives merged in inextricable and complex ways, and they forged a connection deeper than either could ever have foreseen. The time they spent together–―lingering lunches and creative collaborations, nights out on the town and movie dates―brought a welcome lightness and comfort to their days, but their conversations often veered into more profound territory as they helped each other navigate the shifting waters of life lived, publicly, in the wake of great love and great loss.

An intimate, vulnerable, and insightful portrait of the bond that grew between two iconic and starkly different American women, Carly Simon’s Touched by the Sun is a chronicle, in loving detail, of the late friendship she and Jackie shared. It is a meditation on the ways someone can unexpectedly enter our lives and change its course, as well as a celebration of kinship in all its many forms.

 

My Thoughts: I was caught up in the author’s thoughts about her relationship with Jackie in Touched by the Sun. I discovered a few tidbits about Jackie in Carly Simon’s narrative, but more than anything, I could see who Jackie was from Carly’s perspective.

If I was hoping for more layers about Jackie, however, I did not find them in this book. I was glad to see Jackie from Carly’s point of view, and this glimpse of Jackie and their friendship was a treasure because I do admire Carly Simon, and enjoyed her thoughts and feelings. Therefore, I kept reading until the very last page. 3.5 stars.

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REVIEW: ONE LITTLE SECRET, BY CATE HOLAHAN

 

Everyone has a secret. For some, it’s worth dying to protect. For others, it’s worth killing.

The glass beach house was supposed to be the getaway that Susan needed. Eager to help her transplanted family set down roots in their new town—and desperate for some kid-free conversation—she invites her new neighbors to join in on a week-long sublet with her and her workaholic husband.

Over the course of the first evening, liquor loosens inhibitions and lips. The three couples begin picking up on the others’ marital tensions and work frustrations, as well as revealing their own. But someone says too much. And the next morning one of the women is discovered dead on the private beach.

Town detective Gabby Watkins must figure out who permanently silenced the deceased. As she investigates, she learns that everyone in the glass house was hiding something that could tie them to the murder, and that the biggest secrets of all are often in plain sight for anyone willing to look.

 

My Thoughts: As the couples gather in the beach house, prepared to enjoy their getaway, it isn’t long until their lives are upended by the murder of one of them.

Alternating narrators tell the stories in One Little Secret: from Gabby, the detective, working on a sexual assault case and now a murder, to the individual spouses who have to hide their secrets.

I felt such compassion for Jenny, whose abusive husband has a lot to protect, as well. And then Susan must cover for her husband, just in case he has more to hide than she knows.

Going back and forth between the story tellers and what they each stood to lose, I was unable to accurately figure out who had done the final deeds. A 4.5 star read.

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REVIEW: TAKES ONE TO KNOW ONE, BY SUSAN ISAACS

 

Just a few years ago, Corie Geller was busting terrorists as an agent for the FBI. But at thirty-five, she traded in her badge for the stability of marriage and motherhood. Now Corie is married to the brilliant and remarkably handsome Judge Josh Geller and is the adoptive mother of his lovely 14-year-old daughter. Between cooking meals and playing chauffeur, Corie scouts Arabic fiction for a few literary agencies and, on Wednesdays, has lunch with her fellow Shorehaven freelancers at a so-so French restaurant. Life is, as they say, fine.

But at her weekly lunches, Corie senses that something’s off. Pete Delaney, a milquetoast package designer, always shows up early, sits in the same spot (often with a different phone in hand), and keeps one eye on the Jeep he parks in the lot across the street. Corie intuitively feels that Pete is hiding something—and as someone who is accustomed to keeping her FBI past from her new neighbors, she should know. But does Pete really have a shady alternate life, or is Corie just imagining things, desperate to add some spark to her humdrum suburban existence? She decides that the only way to find out is to dust off her FBI toolkit and take a deep dive into Pete Delaney’s affairs.

 

My Thoughts: I enjoyed the interesting thought processes of our first-person narrator, Corie; I also liked how she was able to hide her history with the FBI and seemingly settle into suburban life.

We follow along as her fascination with Pete Delaney became an obsession, but she very skillfully wended her way through the trail that ultimately led to answers.

Before the fast-paced culmination of Takes One To Know One, the story was a little bit tedious, but because I enjoy the author and also liked the character of Corie, I kept plugging away. In the end, I was biting my nails as the intensity ratcheted up exponentially. This one earned 4.5 stars.

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HELLO TO NOVEMBER!

 

Another month bites the dust.  I had a good one, with a mix of genres; all of them kept me glued to the pages.

Here is my favorite for the month, and choosing wasn’t easy:

 

 

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My Genres:

     Mystery/Suspense/Thrillers:  4

     Nonfiction:  3

     Contemporary Fiction:  3

     Dystopian Fiction:  1

     Literary Fiction:  1

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Here is my list. Click titles for my reviews.

OCTOBER 2019:

1.Good Girl, Bad Girl (e-book), by Michael Robotham – (354 pages) – (murder mystery) – 10/21/19

2.Grammarians, The (e-book), by Cathleen Schine – (272 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 10/8/19

3.Inside Out, by Demi Moore – (256 pages) – (memoir) – 10/17/19

4.Just After Midnight (e-book), by Catherine Ryan Hyde – (324 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 10/27/19

5.Ladies Who Punch, by Ramin Setoodeh – (295 pages) – (memoir) – 10/30/19

6.Lifelines, by Heidi Diehl – (317 pages) – (literary fiction) – 10/14/19 – (Amazon Vine Review)

7.Lying Room, The (e-book), by Nicci French -(417 pages) – (suspense thriller) – 10/16/19

8.Murder List, The (e-book), by Hank Phillippi Ryan – (352 pages) – (legal thriller) – 10/1/19

9.Nanny, The (e-book), by Gilly Macmillan – (400 pages) – (mystery/suspense)- 10/12/19

10.Queen Meryl, by Erin Carlson – (274 pages) – (biography) – 10/24/19

11.Testaments, The (e-book), by Margaret Atwood – (415 pages) – (dystopian fiction) – 10/6/19

12.Twenty-One Truths About Love (e-book), by Matthew Dicks – (352 pages) – (contemporary fiction) – 10/2/19 – (NG-13-15

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NUMBER OF BOOKS READ IN OCTOBER 2019:    12

NUMBER OF PAGES READ IN OCTOBER: 4,028

BOOKS READ YTD:  100

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REVIEW: LADIES WHO PUNCH, BY RAMIN SETOODEH

 

When Barbara Walters launched The View, network executives told her that hosting it would tar-nish her reputation. Instead, within ten years, she’d revolutionized morning TV and made house-hold names of her co-hosts: Joy Behar, Star Jones, Meredith Vieira and Elisabeth Hasselbeck. But the daily chatfest didn’t just comment on the news. It became the news. And the headlines barely scratched the surface.

Based on unprecedented access, including stunning interviews with nearly every host, award-winning journalist Ramin Setoodeh takes you backstage where the stars really spoke their minds. Barbara struggled to maintain control of it all, a modern-day Lear with her media-savvy daugh-ters. You’ll read about how so many co-hosts had a tough time fitting in, suffered humiliations at the table, then pushed themselves away, feeling betrayed―one nearly quitting during a commer-cial. Meanwhile, the director was being driven insane, especially by Rosie.

Setoodeh uncovers the truth about Star’s weight loss and wedding madness. Rosie’s feud with Trump. Whoopi’s toxic relationship with Rosie. Barbara’s difficulty stepping away. Plus, all the unseen hugs, snubs, tears―and one dead rodent.

Ladies Who Punch shows why The View can be mimicked and mocked, but it can never be matched.

My Thoughts: I knew that Ladies Who Punch would be delightful, with previously unknown tidbits coming to light as I rapidly turned the pages. Some of the chatter had been on the news from time to time over the years, like Star’s weight loss, her bridezilla actions before her wedding, and how she literally turned the show into her one-woman show.

I have read Barbara’s book Audition and knew how she worked hard to achieve what other women had not, and how much she had to give up along the way. Quoting from my review of that book, I wrote about “her efforts to achieve recognition in a journalistic world that often overlooked women; the competitive moments; her occasional mistakes along the way—all shared with candor, humor, and insight. Her awesome and inspiring climb to a success that has included not only the famous interviews, but the numerous shows she has hosted, from the Today show, 20/20, the Specials…and now The View.” Of course, as I read the perspectives of the other members of the show and saw how, even though they looked up to Barbara, they were also sometimes intimidated by her, I had to enlarge my perspective to include their struggles.

Rosie’s effect on the show turned things upside down in a short time. She went from someone who had great ideas that led to soaring ratings to someone who was in one conflict or another with her cohosts. She went from buddy moments with Elisabeth to tear-filled conflicts.

The show, launched in 1997, went through a revolving door of cohosts to something more settled down…once Whoopi Goldberg arrived. She seemed to bring just the right measure of sanity to the mix, although some protested her tendency to take over at times. Then the revolving door began again after the 2016 election. Despite being called “a petri dish of vicious feuds,” the show has lasted…and lasted. I loved reading about the behind-the-scenes moments and I give this book 5 stars.

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CURL UP WITH NONFICTION…

Even though I am not officially participating in Nonfiction November, I already have many books from that category, and I’ve been eagerly adding to that stack.

On November 12, I’ll be receiving my pre-ordered copy of Carrie Fisher:  A Life on the Edge, by Sheila Weller.

Sourced by friends, colleagues, and witnesses to all stages of Fisher’s life, Carrie Fisher: A Life on the Edge is an empathic and even-handed portrayal of a woman who―as Princess Leia, but mostly as herself―was a feminist heroine, one who died at a time when we need her blazing, healing honesty more than ever.

This morning I read a review of the upcoming release that reminded me of how much I miss this iconic writer/actor/spokesperson.

I have read her books, watched her one-woman show Wishful Drinking, and seen some of the documentaries released since her death.  She and her mother, Debbie Reynolds, were jointly and singularly impressive.  I love that they lived on the same property, with their issues overwhelmed by their mutual adoration.

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Do you love nonfiction, even when it is not November?  Which books are your favorites?  For me, memoirs of impressive celebrities/authors are at the top of the list.

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