Book Review – Parkland: Birth of a movement by Dave Cullen

Book Review  – Parkland: Birth of a movement by Dave CullenParkland by Dave Cullen
Published by HarperCollins on February 12, 2019
Genres: Social Science, Violence in Society, Biography & Autobiography, Social Activists, History, United States, 21st Century
Pages: 400
Format: eBook
Goodreads
five-stars

Confession time.

I have re- written this review approximately 3 times. Not because I was confused about what I felt about the book, but because this issue – gun violence – is particularly close to my heart. It makes me angry, frustrated, sad and curious. I wanted to be very aware of what I wrote, because it impacts so many and I really want things to change in the US in relation to gun legislation. School shootings, or any shootings for that matter, make my blood boil and my heart ache.

There is a reason Dave Cullen is one of my favourite authors. Obviously, the subject choice interests me (and infuriates me), although, this topic wasn’t a choice but I think, a necessity for Dave to write about, but there is something about the way he writes. It’s honest, fair, with great insight and understanding of his subject. Dave’s choice not to mention the killer’s name is also such a wise and wonderful choice.

I loved his book Columbine. Parkland is different, it feels so personal. The way Dave writes about these amazing young people – he writes about their quirks, sometimes their flaws, worries and talents. I loved learning about the young people I knew very little about. I’m so removed from gun violence in the US, living in Australia. I had no idea the extent of work the survivors from Parkland undertook to advocate for gun legislation change. I’m so thankful for it and for them. We all should be. They did it on their own. I’m absolutely in awe of them.

Why was it different with the parkland movement? Why did it take so long?These young people acted quickly, they had great timing, and a great platform (social media). Most importantly, they were young people who are the future. They were victims. There are more of them than I can name, but David Hogg, Cameron Kasky and Emma Gonzalez are just a few of these activists and names you need to know.

You need to read Columbine. You need to read Parkland: Birth of a movement. It doesn’t really matter the types of genres you usually read. This is important. Thanks to Dave Cullen for writing about it. I really hope that there will be a difference in our future. The March For Our Lives group gives me hope.

Dave is writing his next book about two gay soldiers and of course, I’ll be reading that.

five-stars

About Dave Cullen

Dave Cullen has been covering the blight of mass murders in America for two decades, first with Columbine, now Parkland: Birth of a Movement. Columbine was a New York Times bestseller and the consensus definitive account. Parkland is a story of hope: the genesis of the extraordinary March for Our Lives movement. Dave was with the students from the beginning, with unparalleled access behind the scenes.

Columbine made two dozen Best of 2009 lists including New York Times, and won several major awards, including the Edgar and Goodreads Choice Award for best nonfiction of the year. It now appears on several all-time True Crime Top 10 lists.

Dave has written for New York Times, London Times, Vanity Fair, BuzzFeed, Politico, New Republic, Newsweek, Guardian, Washington Post, Daily Beast, Slate, Salon, The Millions, Lapham’s Quarterly, etc. He has appeared on PBS Newshour, NBC Nightly News, Today, CBS Sunday Morning, Nightline, Morning Edition, CBS This Morning, New Day, Anderson Cooper 360, Rachel Maddow, Chris Hayes, Lawrence O’Donnell, Talk of the Nation, The Nineties, Hannity, etc.

Dave is a former gay army infantry grunt. Parkland struck while he was in year 18 of a book about two gay soldiers. He will finish that soon. Dave wrote Columbine in Colorado, then moved to NYC. He is uncle to 11 cool humans and 1 adorable corgi, Bobby Sneakers.

Book Review – Life Will Be The Death of Me by Chelsea Handler

Book Review – Life Will Be The Death of Me by Chelsea HandlerLife Will Be the Death of Me by Chelsea Handler
Published by Random House Publishing Group on April 9, 2019
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Personal Memoirs, Family & Relationships, Political Science, Civics & Citizenship
Pages: 256
Goodreads
four-stars

I love her. I love her. I love her.

Chelsea Handler is my girl crush. Woman crush….whatever. I found Chelsea on You Tube, many years ago interviewing someone famous and I found her so hilarious, witty and accomplished. She oozes a confidence I admire and wish I had. I’ve followed her since I discovered her, through her Netflix specials, numerous books and I also stalk her on Twitter (told you, girl crush).

I have read all of Chelsea’s books. Some I found more hilarious than others, but all of them had me laughing out loud at some point.

Life will be the death of me is different. There were still some laugh out loud moments, but the overall tone is much more sombre. Chelsea is incredibly vulnerable in this memoir. It was a side I hadn’t seen (except when she was being interviewed by Ellen, who mentioned the death of her mother and she started crying). I did expect lots of laughs from this book, but there was a vast journey into grief and loss and how that has manifested into Chelsea’s life now.

As always, there were some side stories which were less emotional. I loved reading about Chelsea’s many dogs over the years (yet another reason to love Chelsea). One story in particular I found extremely hilarious was her dog getting high on a plane and running amok.

Nothing ever surprises me with Chelsea. Usually. In this book she is completely open about the work she has done with her psychologist, her flaws, her downfalls and it makes me love her more. Was this book my favourite of hers? No. Am I still a massive fan and respect her for writing about many losses and her therapy experience? Yes.

I think if you are a fan of Chelsea you will still enjoy this book. Just be aware that it’s a little more emotional and deep than her other books.

Synopsis

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The funny, sad, super-honest, all-true story of Chelsea Handler’s year of self-discovery—featuring a nerdily brilliant psychiatrist, a shaman, four Chow Chows, some well-placed security cameras, various family members (living and departed), friends, assistants, and a lot of edibles

A SKIMM READS PICK • “This will be one of your favorite books of all time.”—Amy Schumer

In a haze of vape smoke on a rare windy night in L.A. in the fall of 2016, Chelsea Handler daydreams about what life will be like with a woman in the White House. And then Donald Trump happens. In a torpor of despair, she decides that she’s had enough of the privileged bubble she’s lived in—a bubble within a bubble—and that it’s time to make some changes, both in her personal life and in the world at large.

At home, she embarks on a year of self-sufficiency—learning how to work the remote, how to pick up dog shit, where to find the toaster. She meets her match in an earnest, brainy psychiatrist and enters into therapy, prepared to do the heavy lifting required to look within and make sense of a childhood marked by love and loss and to figure out why people are afraid of her. She becomes politically active—finding her voice as an advocate for change, having difficult conversations, and energizing her base. In the process, she develops a healthy fixation on Special Counsel Robert Mueller and, through unflinching self-reflection and psychological excavation, unearths some glittering truths that light up the road ahead. 

Thrillingly honest, insightful, and deeply, darkly funny, Chelsea Handler’s memoir keeps readers laughing, even as it inspires us to look within and ask ourselves what really matters in our own lives.

Advance praise for Life Will Be the Death of Me

“You thought you knew Chelsea Handler—and she thought she knew herself—but in her new book, she discovers that true progress lies in the direction we haven’t been.”—Gloria Steinem 

“I always wondered what it would be like to watch Chelsea Handler in session with her therapist. Now I know.”—Ellen DeGeneres

“I love this book not just because it made me laugh or because I learned that I feel the same way about certain people in politics as Chelsea does. I love this book because I feel like I finally really got to know Chelsea Handler after all these years. Thank you for sharing, Chelsea!”—Tiffany Haddish

four-stars

About Chelsea Handler

Chelsea Handler is an accomplished stand-up comic and actress, as well as the bestselling author of My Horizontal Life. She is the star of her own late-night show on E!, Chelsea Lately; was one of the stars of Girls Behaving Badly; has appeared on The Tonight Show with Jay Leno and Late Night with David Letterman; and has starred in her own half-hour Comedy Central special. Chelsea makes regular appearances in comedy clubs across America and lives in Los Angeles.

Book Review – Bully Brother by Craig M Dial

I received this book for free from the author, Craig M Dial, in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. Thank you to the author for the opportunity.

Book Review – Bully Brother by Craig M DialBully Brother Published by Independently Published on May 24, 2018
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Family Life
Pages: 258
Format: Paperback
Goodreads
three-stars

I had been meaning to read Bully Brother for quite a while. The author sent me a copy a long time ago. I misplaced it and he was kind enough to send me another copy. I’m glad he did.

I always make this disclaimer, but as with any memoir or personal story, I’m particularly sensitive to the fact that this is someone’s life and story – who am I to say what I think of that? I always feel terribly responsible and cautious when reviewing.

For me as a reader, Bully Brother was like exploring an era. I really like the fact that Craig asks readers to play the music mentioned throughout the book whilst reading to evoke that sense of being in the 60’s and 70’s. I thought it was a great concept and really gave me an idea of the mood and tone. The 60’s and 70’s being slightly before my time, I think this helped set the scene. I loved the music (most was familiar to me) and found myself waiting for the next mention of a song whilst I was reading.

I found the descriptions about Craig’s childhood and his relationship with his siblings familiar. Despite the fact that I grew up in the 80’s. Some of his stories were funny, some were a little worrying. The bullying by Craig’s brother David, was not as extreme as I expected it to be, but, I am used to reading things a little darker and more disturbing (so maybe it’s me and my dark mind?) and, once again, who am I to comment on someone’s experience? I’m sure it was horrible for Craig at the time.

I will say that the book was an easy read, but, I often wondered where it was going. I was waiting for the inevitable tragedy, but I found this was very close to the end of the book. I think I would have liked a hint of it at the beginning.

If you enjoy reading memoire you will enjoy this book. Particularly if you are interested in the 60’s and 70’s and family types of genres.

three-stars

About Craig M Dial

Craig grew up in Marin County in the late 1960’s and 1970’s where he experienced the hippie love culture from a child perspective. He is married and now lives near Sacramento, CA.

Book Review – Educated by Tara Westover

Book Review – Educated by Tara WestoverEducated by Tara Westover
Published by HarperCollins on February 20, 2018
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, Personal Memoirs, Women, General
Pages: 400
Goodreads
five-stars

A little change of pace here…I read this book a week ago but I’ve struggled to find time to write a review and I want to do it justice. I have wanted to read this book for quite some time. I feel quite strongly about biographies and memoirs and I tend to read and review them with a different lens. I acknowledge that the story is personal, it actually happened and should be respected.

Educated is a memoir about the author, Tara’s, childhood, continuing into her adulthood. Tara’s upbringing was challenging, she grew up in an environment whereby her parents had extreme beliefs about healthcare, education and the government. Tara, her parents and siblings are mormons, but Tara makes it clear from the outset that the book is not about mormonism.

As always, I’ve done my research, I watched some interviews with Tara on You Tube and she stresses that mormonism was not responsible for the views of her parents and the events that occurred for her and her siblings. There are plenty of practising mormons who still attend school and access healthcare. Rather, her father’s declining mental health heavily influenced his actions and paranoia about the world.

Tara’s situation is extraordinary, she entered university education at the age of 17, despite having no formal education previously. Tara’s family members suffered injuries and illness as a result of her father’s belief about medical treatment. Due to Tara’s lack of exposure and awareness of how other families and children live, the home life she experienced was normal. The beliefs were not questioned by her, until much later.

The book is such an intriguing read. It reminded me of The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls. It is about more than just Tara’s formal education, it is primarily about her home life, family, relationships and struggles. Tara’s home life was sometimes abusive and often neglectful. Tara and her siblings were often in very dangerous situations as a result of her father’s actions. I know a lot of people have feelings of anger towards Tara’s parents after reading her book. Tara does not mirror these feelings towards her parents and her siblings. Tara still expresses gratitude for some aspects of her upbringing, which is so admirable.

I had mixed feelings towards Tara’s father whilst reading the book. At times I was shocked, other times angry, but there were times when his responses made me giggle a little. Tara is successful in portraying her father honestly, without degrading him. Tara also acknowledges at the end of the book that she and some of her siblings have different accounts in relation to several events in the book.

You’ll enjoy this book if you love memoirs, or stories where people have overcome hardship in their lives. Tara is certainly admirable and her accomplishments speak for themselves.

five-stars

About Tara Westover

Tara Westover is an American author living in the UK. Born in Idaho to a father opposed to public education, she never attended school. She spent her days working in her father’s junkyard or stewing herbs for her mother, a self-taught herbalist and midwife. She was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom, and after that first taste, she pursued learning for a decade. She graduated magna cum laude from Brigham Young University in 2008 and was subsequently awarded a Gates Cambridge Scholarship. She earned an MPhil from Trinity College, Cambridge in 2009, and in 2010 was a visiting fellow at Harvard University. She returned to Cambridge, where she was awarded a PhD in history in 2014.