Our History is the Future ~ by Nick Estes

Our History is the Future: 

Our History is the Future: Standing Rock Versus the Dakota Access Pipeline, and the Long Tradition of Indigenous Resistance
by Nick Estes
2019 / 321 pages
read by Bill Andrew Quinn
rating:  9 / Native American history and current events-

This book is from a bit more radical viewpoint than I’m used to reading about Native issues, but there’s an important history embedded in our current events and it needs to be told. 

The struggle to stop the Dakota Access Pipeline has been the one of the most important political movements of the 21st century but it’s certainly not an issue isolated in time.  The roots of the issue go back to the formation of the Standing Rock Reservation when the lands of the Great Sioux Nation taken over, split, sold and finally flooded to create a dam on the Missouri River.  This took place over about a century but eventually led to the conflict over an oil pipeline to go too close to the water and areas of sacred land.  

The book has a lot of legal action playing out (and illegal action) instead of battles and simple take-overs like in the 19th century and 20th centuries.  DAPL and the US government (engineers) apparently ignore the old treaties, takes what they want, and lets the natives sue for what was granted by treaty.   That beat, as the title implies, goes on. It’s rather horrifying. 

The author, Nick Estes, is a citizen of the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe. He is an assistant professor of American studies at the University of New Mexico. In 2014, he co-founded The Red Nation, an Indigenous resistance organization.

https://americanstudies.unm.edu/about-us/people/faculty-profiles/nick-estes.html

https://keywiki.org/Nick_Estes

An essay: https://thebaffler.com/salvos/the-empire-of-all-maladies-estes

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Perfect Couple by Elin HIlderbrand

I needed a break from thinking about anything, politics, health, family, etc. This romance-type of story is set in a murder mystery and it sounded perfect. It was actually almost just what I needed but it was really disappointing.

*******
The Perfect Couple
by Elin Hilderbrand
2018 /
read by Erin Bennett 12h 8m
rating: – D (romance/crime)
*******



Hilderbrand usually writes romance and there is a series associated with this novel which, from what I understand, uses the same characters but without much of an connecting plot to the books. But I haven’t read any others because I’m allergic to romance.

Unfortunately I was hooked by the mystery hype and it’s really much more of a romance – it just happens to have a murder at the core of the plot. What happens is that the maid of honor in the heroine’s wedding is found dead and there are plenty of suspects in this group of very upscale New Yorkers gathered together at a mansion in Nantucket. The police and detectives are involved and do their jobs in forensics and there are interviews. But the romance takes up probably 70% of the tale.

The characters, from 3rd person omniscient points of view, are not terribly well defined. Even the main characters are somewhat stereotyped and the setting is something I’d expect from Danielle Steele. Hilderbrand does, at times, include some interesting insights about personalities and psychologies but these ideas are not developed.

The structure is comprised of two alternating parts. One part is the day before the wedding (when the body is found) and subsequent investigation. The other part deals with weeks and months leading up to death, when motives are established. The dates are clearly noted at the beginning of each chapter.

The language is at about a 5th grade level describing adult content. It’s not graphic in any way but it does get schmaltzy, repetitive and somewhat juvenile.

Finally, except for the ending, the plot’s not bad. It’s generally predictable with only a couple of light minor surprises. And it’s compelling for some reason, maybe the who-done-it part and because the premise is rather unusual. The final denouement is a bit hard to figure out prior to getting there because the threads come together. And then it’s turns back into a romance and is totally disappointing.

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

House of Rain ~ by Craig Childs

I wanted to read this because it deals with American Native history but when I first started I was disappointed that it was so literary in nature, more like literary non-fiction which is fine in its place and I liked it well enough. . But then it got good –

*******
House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization Across the American Southwest
by Craig Childs
2007 / 482 pages
read by author – 15h 21m
rating: 9.75 / history archeology
*******

This is a brilliant book mixing literary creativity with memoir and history (archeology). Craig is an author by trade but has been a variety of things – (see https://www.encyclopedia.com/arts/educational-magazines/childs-craig-1967-craig-leland-childs )

The same source says this about House of Rain:

House of Rain: Tracking a Vanished Civilization across the American Southwest finds Childs journeying throughout the Southwest as he tracks down the mystery of the Anasazi Indians. Ancestors to the modern-day Hopi Indians, the Anasazi lived in what is now known as Arizona and Utah but disappeared a thousand years ago despite having built a prosperous civilization. David Pitt, writing in Booklist, commented that the author “relies … on scholarly literature, oral tradition, and … reading between the lines” in his attempt to solve the mystery. The book received favorable reviews. Michelle Mittrach Garcia wrote in Library Journal that the author “vividly weaves his … narrative, imbued with a deep respect for the geography and cultural landscape.” A Kirkus Reviews contributor called House of Rain “an original, eloquent account of an intellectual and archaeological odyssey.”

The book covers Childs’ journeys in that part of the Southwest and his research with natives of several tribes as well as scholars in the field and others. Some of his questions concern where the “Anasazi” came from, why, what they did and how they lived as well as where they went. He investigates the settlements and dwellings of the groups and sits at night in places where the only tracks are those of animals. He explores the area from Colorado and Utah through Arizona and New Mexico to the northern areas of Mexico.

Yes – I was spellbound and in awe. I know I’ll be reading this again. This book is probably for intelligent people who are curious – not for scholars in the field. As Childs says somewhere the book is a mix of scholarly opinions and his own ideas and sensations.

The story is that of the Anasazi, who they were and where they went. It has some surprising conclusions – surprising to me anyway. I am so glad I read it.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead ~ by Olga Tokarczuk x2

I read this back in January and it was okay but it was also a selection in the Booker Prize group for our July read. I knew I hadn’t got much more than an outline of the plot and a brief gloss on the characters. I would not be able to discuss this at all. So I plunged and was happily surprised to find I had both the Kindle and the Audible versions. I was surprised that I’d misremembered the ending.

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead
By Olga Tokarczuk /trans by Antonia Lloyd Jones
2019 / 275 pages 
Read by Beata Pazniak 11h 39m 
Rating –  B+ for the Kindle and C- for the Audible / crime

It’s a really odd book written by Olga Tokarczuk 2019’s Nobel winner from Poland. I can’t say to much about it without getting into spoilers. Let me say that it is a very literary murder mystery with an amateur detective and her neighbor doing the main sleuthing. Just to twist things up a bit the neighbor’s son is the police chief and it’s set in a tiny rural community.

Janina Duszejko is an older middle aged widow who lives alone in a rural part of southern Poland – right across the border from the Czech Republic. She studies astrology and translates Blake into Polish with her friend Dizzy. She also watches out for her neighbor’s homes and does some upkeep there. One day she and her neighbor, Oddball, find their neighbor, Big Foot, dead in his home. (These are Janina’s names for those two.)

The title is from “Proverbs of Hell” by William Blake (1757 – 1827). The epigraphs leading each chapter are also from Blake.

It got a rating of 4.5 stars on Amazon and 4 stars on Goodreads and lots of accolades from the critics. I also enjoyed it the second time much more than the first.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I Contain Multitudes ~ by Ed Yong

This is a second reading of this because most of it went over my head the first time. My focus is not what it was before the virus and my mom’s health difficulties and this book is not something I can rip through.

*******
I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life 
by Ed Yong
2016 / 373 pages
read by Charlie Anson 9h 52m
rating – A / microbiology

*******

I got a whole lot more out of it this time. I knew it was there but my head wasn’t. It’s rather amazing how the human body is not a system unto itself. Microbes get involved and affect us in a large number and variety of ways both for good and ill.

I read this and reread it – I’m really not a science reader – much of it was yucky to me but I got used to it and by the end, where it’s worst, I was almost okay about it. I had the same reaction to Mary Roach’s book about corpses. Stiff.

https://mybecky.blog/2020/07/12/i-contain-multitudes-by-ed-yong/

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Too Much and Never Enough ~ by Mary Trump

I had to add this to my Trump library – I think I’ve read 18 books about Trump and his his mess of an administration now, some better than others but all contributing to the satisfaction of my curiosity. This is a good one for the more personal aspects of him and his life.

*******
Too Much and Never Enough: How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man
by Mary Trump 
2020 /
read by author – 7h  5m
rating 8 / memoir 

*******

It turns out to be an interesting and much-hyped portrait of the family life of Donald Trump by his niece Mary Trump.  It’s an inside peak at the forces which enabled Trump to become the narcissistic approval-seeking man he is with no real concern for anyone other than himself and that he gets his way.  

Mary didn’t know Donald all that well while she was growing up, but she’s a clinical psychologist with a PhD in the field and looks at him and his behavior from an educated point of view. She also has some knowledge of the financial dealings of the Trump family due to Donald’s tax returns.

It seems that Donald Trump is not an intellectual man, but he’s savvy in some way which attracts some people and keeps them giving in to him and what he wants. If they don’t he simply takes it. This began with his need for their approval which apparently originated with his father.  

Mary Trump’s father, Freddie,  was Donald’s older brother but Freddie could never do well enough for his father to approve of. He failed over and over and ended up dying young, of alcoholism. Donald learned how to get that approval – or he was born with it, something.  

Anyway, the book is engaging if not terribly well written and I do wish it were better organized. It feels like a slap-dash effort to get it out on the market while the getting was good (before Trump filed another suit).  There are no photos, no family tree, no source notes.   It’s good though and the audio version is also pretty good and that’s not always an easy thing for an author to do.  How My Family Created the World’s Most Dangerous Man 

Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt ~ by Anonymous

This is a really amazing book – it’s by someone anonymous who is better off that way because it’s a memoir AND fiction and who in the world could all this have happened to? Anyway, I loved it.

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt
by Anonymous
read by Gabra Zackman, Lyle Lovett and J. Smith-Cameron
– 5h 31m
rating – 10 / fictionalized memoir

(Read and listened 2 times)


I finished this yesterday and wanted so badly to read it again with the Kindle version that … well, dear reader – I had to do it.

The only way to be reliably sure that the hero gets the girl at the end of the story is to be both the hero and the girl yourself.”
pg 18

This is the story of an unnamed woman who is either losing everything or has lost it already, her husband, her young son, her job – maybe her dreams in addition to a good deal from her early years. But … she hasn’t lost love although that’s definitely starting to leak.

On a hunch and with some advice from a friend, she turns to developing the online persona she’s been playing with. She does this via social media and something clicks and it starts working on her.

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt is a lightly literary book in that there are lots and lots of literary allusions and, sweet for me, I was familiar with almost all of them, Celeste Ng, Lyle Lovett, and several others.

When people say they’re
“going to make time for you,”
it’s instant time from a mix.
Nobody bothers to creating new
time from scratch anymore.”

pg 165

From Audible:
Part memoir and part joyful romp through the fields of imagination, the story behind a beloved pseudonymous Twitter account reveals how a writer deep in grief rebuilt a life worth living.

Becoming Duchess Goldblatt is two stories: that of the reclusive real-life writer who created a fictional character out of loneliness and thin air, and that of the magical Duchess Goldblatt herself, a bright light in the darkness of social media. Fans around the world are drawn to Her Grace’s voice, her wit, her life-affirming love for all humanity, and the fun and friendship of the community that’s sprung up around her.

@DuchessGoldblat (81-year-old literary icon, author of An Axe to Grind) brought people together in her name: in bookstores, museums, concerts, and coffee shops, and along the way, brought real friends home – foremost among them, Lyle Lovett.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

I Contain Multitudes ~ by Ed Yong

It wasn’t until my second reading that I found this book rather interesting because I had to get past a bunch of ick factor to get there. I never (ever) had an interest in a medical career and avoided biology classes – (in my defense I liked physics and astronomy, geology etc.). – Sad to say I got behind in my blurb/reviews so this will have to do.

I Contain Multitudes: The Microbes Within Us and a Grander View of Life
by Ed Yong
2016 / 373 pages
read by Charlie Anson 9h 52m
rating – A / microbiology

Yong’s style is kind of breezy with some attempts at humor. It could be a fun read if I were more interested and not affected by yuk. I did learn quite a lot.

From Audible:
Joining the ranks of popular science classics like The Botany of Desire and The Selfish Gene, a groundbreaking, wondrously informative, and vastly entertaining examination of the most significant revolution in biology since Darwin – a “microbe’s-eye view” of the world that reveals a marvelous, radically reconceived picture of life on Earth. 

Every animal, whether human, squid, or wasp, is home to millions of bacteria and other microbes. Ed Yong, whose humor is as evident as his erudition, prompts us to look at ourselves and our animal companions in a new light – less as individuals and more as the interconnected, interdependent multitudes we assuredly are. 

The microbes in our bodies are part of our immune systems and protect us from disease. In the deep oceans, mysterious creatures without mouths or guts depend on microbes for all their energy. Bacteria provide squid with invisibility cloaks, help beetles to bring down forests, and allow worms to cause diseases that afflict millions of people. 

Many people think of microbes as germs to be eradicated, but those that live with us – the microbiome – build our bodies, protect our health, shape our identities, and grant us incredible abilities. In this astonishing book, Ed Yong takes us on a grand tour through our microbial partners and introduces us to the scientists on the front lines of discovery. It will change both our view of nature and our sense of where we belong in it. ©2016 Ed Yong (P)2016 HarperCollins Publishers

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Cold Earth ~ by Ann Cleeves

I got way behind in my blurb-writing so I just lifted this one from the Audible site. I did enjoy it though – I love Jimmy Perez and Sandy and the others.

Cold Earth
by Ann Cleeves
2017 – English
read by Kenny Blyth 10h 12m
rating – B+ / crime
Shetland Island series # 7


In the dark days of a Shetland winter, torrential rain triggers a landslide that crosses the main road and sweeps down to the sea. 

At the burial of his old friend Magnus Tait, Jimmy Perez watches the flood of mud and water smash through a house in its path. Everyone thinks the home is uninhabited, but in the wreckage he finds the body of a dark-haired woman wearing a red silk dress. Perez soon becomes obsessed with tracing her identity and realizes he must find out who she was and how she died. 

Cold Earth is the next audiobook in Ann Cleeves’ beloved Shetland series, which is now a major success for the BBC. 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

The Room Where It Happened 
by John Bolton


The Room Where It Happened: A White House Memoir
by John Bolton
read by  – Robert Petkoff

Rating – A-  / current events-

John Bolton hasn’t changed and because I’m a relatively moderate-to-liberal Democrat who is appalled by Donald Trump’s personality and his policies.  Bolton is definitely a conservative nationalist Republican with hawkish tendencies, a Reagan appointee, and he hasn’t changed.  He’s really got a beef with Trump is all this book really is. 

He still very opposed to Obama and those types of fpolitical views and what Obama did during his years in office.  So Bolton sounds a bit like a jilted applicant for something big.  No wonder neither the Republicans nor Democrats appreciate him at the moment.  He’s self-serving for sure –  (as far as I see to this point) – and brash and opinionated and all the things folks have said about him including intelligent with a bit of good humor.  

The tale is generally told in chronological order, only digressing when necessary for background. As befitting a former National Seecurity Advisor it deals primarily with foreign policy; North and South Korea,  Russia and NATO,   the tragic story of Syria, a bit on election meddling, Nicaragua, and the Space Force.

Personnel matters come up whenever appropriate. We get the cast of the foreign affairs staff plus John Kelly, Jim Mattis, Steven Mnuchin and others.  

The book is well written and Robert Petkoff narrates it nicely. I think it was a good book for me to read.

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Thin Air ~ by Ann Cleeves

******
Thin Air
by Ann Cleeeves
2017 / (398 pages)
read by Kenny Blythe 10h 1m
rating A – mystery
#6 in Shetland Island series
******

Moving along on my Shelter Island binge this mystery concerns the dead body of. a woman who was visiting Shetland Island with. group of long-time friends.. She seemed to vanish from a party but was found posed at the bottom of a cliff.

I’m ready to start the next book in the series Cold Earth.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Dead Water by Ann Cleeves

*******
Dead Water 
by Ann Cleeves
2014 /
read by Kenny Blythe 10h 5m
rating – A / mystery
Shelter Island series #5
*******

 Another good solid mystery,  this time it’s book #5 in the shelter Islands series where Jimmy Perez is the only detective on the northern Scottish Island.  This time memories of old loves and rages rear up and turn some good people into murderers.   The pace is.slower than most mysteries these days but they aren’t thrillers.  Cleeves takes time with her characters and develops them very nicely, the plots are well thought out and the setting is interesting. Enjoy.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment