RSS

Tag Archives: non-fiction

Review – Stolen Years – Reuven Fenton

stolen yearsStolen Years: Stories of the Wrongfully Imprisoned
Author: Reuven Fenton
Rating: ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Review Copy Provided by Publisher

Description:
There is a horrible murder in your neighborhood. You stand outside with your neighbors and watch, or maybe you peek out of your curtains. Hours pass, then days, maybe even years. Until one day there is a knock at your door, and the police take you in for questioning. Do you remember what happened? Do you have an alibi? Can you take countless hours of interrogation without breaking? Can this happen to you?

It can happen, and it happens more than you think.

From The Fixer to The Shawshank Redemption to Orange Is the New Black, books, films, and TV shows have, for decades, fed the public’s endless hunger for nitty-gritty details about prison life. Stolen Years will not deny readers those details, but it will also offer something more satisfying: the stories of ten former inmates who fended off the blackest kind of despair so they could keep fighting for freedom; the years they spent waiting for an appeal; and their struggles to get back to living after losing so many years behind bars.

Review:
There are some books that when I read them, it takes me time to decompress from the reading experience before I can write a review, Stolen Years was one of those books. I’ll admit that I’m one of those people who honestly wants to believe that those people who are in jail, especially those for long periods of time, actually deserve to be there – but with the rise of podcast’s like Serial, and the Netflix documentary, Making of a Murderer, I’ve started to question my belief of and in the legal system. Its kind of coincidental, that as I am writing this review, a Law & Order: SVU episode came on with a false accusation premise that actually echoed one of the stories in Stolen Years.

The book itself was a fairly simple read, 10 stories about different people from all walks of life: different states, different socio-economic classes; some parents, some not; some young and some old; male and female – but the one thing these people all had in common, was that they were found guilty (either via a judge or a jury) for a crime that they didn’t commit and all of whom spent significant time in prison – the least amount of time in the book was ten years, others were in the twenty year plus range. I think for me, the story that really hit me the hardest was the one about the father who spent 10 years in jail for raping his daughter, only to have her recant – her reasoning, she was angry that he wasn’t spending enough time with her and her sister. And even after his release, she continued to threaten him with reporting him again whenever she got mad at him. I was honestly just dumbstruck after reading his story, I couldn’t believe what that girl (now woman did).

One of the things that has come in some of my recent non-fiction reading has been the need for prison reform – the need to better rehabilitate prisoners who are released (either due to their sentences being complete, or in cases such as this, being found innocent and sentences vacated). The lack of social reintegration for these former prisoners was emphasized the issue even more – when you have individuals who have been in jail for sometimes decades, when they make comments like computers being very limited when they went to prison and now they are an integral part of our lives. How do you overcome something like this? Stolen Years is one of those books that anyone interested in social justice should read; it should be required reading for any student who may become involved in the legal system; people who are involved with making laws and working in the prison system. Heck, it should be required reading for pretty much anyone, I would lay odds, if you had asked any of the people who had their stories told in Stolen Years, prior to their convictions, if they would have thought this would have happened to them – and I’ll lay odds, they’d say never!

 
1 Comment

Posted by on March 31, 2016 in Book Review, Review

 

Tags: , , , ,

Audiobook Review – You Are An Ironman – Jacques Steinberg

you are an ironmanYou Are An Ironman: How Six Weekend Warriors Chased Their Dream of Finishing the World’s Toughest Triathlon
Author: Jacques Steinberg

Cross-posted on my Triathlon Blog – HERE

Description:
Jacques Steinberg creates a compelling portrait of people obsessed with reaching a life-defining goal. In this instance, the target is an Ironman triathlon-a 2.4-mile open-water swim followed by a 112-mile bike ride, then finally a 26-mile marathon run, all of which must be completed in no more than seventeen hours.

Steinberg focuses not on the professionals who live off the prize money and sponsorships but on a handful of triathletes who regard the sport as a hobby. Vividly capturing the grueling preparation, the suspense of completing each event of the triathlon, and the spectacular feats of human endurance, Steinberg plumbs the physical and emotional toll as well as the psychological payoff on the participants of the Ford Ironman Arizona 2009. His You Are an Ironman is both a riveting sports narrative and a fascinating, behind-the scenes study of what makes these athletes keep going..

Review:
I’ve never hidden the fact that one of my goals prior to my 40th birthday (although still a ways away) is to do an Ironman. And after meeting up with a few Ironmen at a reading conference I went to in October (hang on, they find time to work and read/write)…it just sealed the deal. So my goal for 2013 is to do a half-ironman (Beach 2 Battleship in October), with a full Ironman in 2014 (still trying to figure out which one)…and then I came across this book in an audible sale and for 4.95, I figured why not. I have to say that this is probably the best and emotional 4.95, I have ever spent on an audiobook – I was a complete and utter blubbering mess by the end of it. Thankfully, I was sitting in the car by myself, so no one could see.

There was just something about the stories of each individual competing in IMAZ 2009 (held in Tempe, Arizona) that made me feel like I knew them. From listening to entries on their blogs (I even went and looked a few of them up), to their trials/tribulations as they dealt with training, injuries and also life in general. From Scott, the recipient of a double-lung transplant (I mean, seriously – I couldn’t believe it when I heard that), to Bryan, who got into working out and then triathlons after a scary medical diagnosis. Listening to their stories made me realize that yes, I could do it.

Kirby Heybourne’s narration was pitch perfect – I really have nothing to complain about after listening to the audiobook. I loved his narration in Gone Girl, and this just sealed him as a narrator to look for in the future. I highly recommend this book, even if you don’t necessarily want to do an ironman, but just as a motivational read. I can only hope that my journey towards an Ironman is as successful. Oh, and make sure that you have a box of tissues for reading/listening.

 
1 Comment

Posted by on February 5, 2013 in Audiobook Review

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Review – A Thousand Lives – Julia Scheeres

A Thousand Lives: The Untold Story of Hope, Deception, and Survival at Jonestown
Author: Julia Scheeres

Book Description:
In 1954, a pastor named Jim Jones opened a church in Indianapolis called People’s Temple Full Gospel Church. He was a charismatic preacher with idealistic beliefs, and he quickly filled his pews with an audience eager to hear his sermons on social justice. After Jones moved his church to Northern California in 1965, he became a major player in Northern California politics; he provided vital support in electing friendly political candidates to office, and they in turn offered him a protective shield that kept stories of abuse and fraud out of the papers. Even as Jones’s behavior became erratic and his message more ominous, his followers found it increasingly difficult to pull away from the church. By the time Jones relocated the Peoples Temple a final time to a remote jungle in Guyana and the U.S. Government decided to investigate allegations of abuse and false imprisonment in Jonestown, it was too late.

Review:
I have often heard the term “drinking the koolaid” and have even said it a time or two, but until I finished this book, I didn’t know the originals of the saying. Not growing up or attending school in the United States means that things many people learned in their history classes, I am clueless about (and don’t even get my started on my lack of knowledge of politics)…but when I was listening to Ice Cold (Tess Gerritsen), the Jonestown cult and massacre was mentioned and I was intrigued. And funnily enough, I was talking to some coworkers at the same time I was reading this and one of them mentioned the phrase and I was then about to put two and two together to understand. I then found out about this book while I was trying to find a book set in Guyana for my Around the World reading challenge – so it was like hitting two birds with one stone.

I loved how the author was able to use various documents that had been released by the FBI to develop the picture of what happened – since there is very little eye-witness testimony and most of the people who did survive (not that there were many of them) have since died. I was actually surprised to see the amount of information that had been recovered from the camp after the massacre was discovered. I found that the author did a good job of weaving the tale to make it interesting, I wanted to know about what happened. It wasn’t like a normal NF book where I can read bits and pieces and be ok with stopped, in the end, I think I read this in about 3 days, which is significantly less time than most non-fiction books that I read. I will definately be looking for her other book to read and will be interested to see what more she writes in the future. 3.5 stars.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on November 10, 2012 in Book Review

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Review: Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void

Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void
Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void by Mary Roach
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Book Review
I joking remarked that the sub-title for this book should be everything you ever wanted to know about peeing, pooping, puking and screwing in space, but were afraid to ask. But in all seriousness, there is at least one chapter if not more devoted to those major bodily functions, intertwined with the history of the space program, not only in the US, but also Russia and also a little bit about Japan. It also looks at what the future of the program might be, but since NASA has had huge budget cuts in the last few years, who rightly knows.

Audiobook Narration
Sandra Burr provided a lite, easy narration style that went well with how the book was written. I don’t know if I would have been able to keep a straight face during the reading aloud of this, but overall a really good job.

View all my reviews

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on February 29, 2012 in Audiobook Review

 

Tags: , , , ,