Books I am reading

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

I Am Sophie Tucker

     I received an advanced copy of this novel through NetGalley, in exchange for a review. This is my personal opinion.

     Susan & Lloyd Ecker have created an interesting, lush story of the life and times of Sophie Tucker. She is an icon of Vaudeville entertainment and the proverbial rags to riches story. She came to America as a young child, and her parents worked night and day to provide for her and her siblings. My favorite part of the story was her tour of Europe with her third husband, Al Lackey. She retraced the journey her parents took from the Ukraine to Connecticut, and I felt it was the most authentic she ever allowed herself to be publicly.

     I have very mixed feeling about the book. It was always interesting and compelling and very well written. I have used several of Ms. Tucker's songs in my work as a music therapist with geriatric clients. So I had a vague sense of Sophie, but I really didn't like her when I got to know her better through this book. I found her to be so rude, pushy, abusive and crude. She is not someone I would ever waste time getting to know.  But it was fun and interesting reading about her. I love the history of vaudeville, and enjoyed the inside look provided through Sophie's eyes.

     I am curious about the revelations at the end of the book. I don't want to share them and ruin it for others, but I am very curious about how true they are. They do shed a kinder and more ruthless light on Sophie.

     If you love showbiz stories, you will love this book. 

Saving Paradise

     I recieved this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for a review of the book. This review is completely my own opinion.
     Pono Hawkins, an Afghan vet-turned-surfer, literally bumps into the dead body of a beautiful journalist, Sylvia Gordon, and, he becomes obsessed with finding out why she died and who killed her. He searches Hawaii for her friends and finds out what story she was working on. His quest drags him into the underbelly of paradise. Bond writes a scathing story of government and company corruption and a total cover-up of the journalist's murder.
     Sylvia has been following the trail of corruption from the Governor's Office to Hawaii's Electric Utility to Hong Kong businessmen who want to build casinos and subdivisions to land companies that control large parts of Hawaii. A company called Wind Power wants to build huge wind farms on Molokai and lay underground cables through coral reefs and habitats of endangered species. All of it will destroy much of Hawaii's paradise, but the powers that be want the money more. Pono won't give up and keeps digging, to the point where the police have to admit that Sylvia was murdered. But then the tables are turned on Pono and he has to go on the run when the police accuse him of the murder. Except for his best friend, Mitchell, he never knows who he can trust, and each interaction is laced with the possibility of being turned over to the police.
     This story has more twists and turns, false starts and red herrings than a corn maze. The depth of corruption portrayed is disturbing, both in it's success and in it's propensity to ring true. I found my paranoia level triggered to a record high. If you want to be scared and to think over what happens behind the scenes, this book is for you. Pono is someone to whom I might not be able to relate, but I cheer him on in his stubborn determination to uncover the truth and expose the corruption. Four Stars for a good thrill ride.