Category Archives: Rant and Rave

Book Report: “Closing the Ring”

Winston Churchill’s Closing the Ring

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  • “More than a Review”

Epic with a capital ‘E.’ You are there, in the moments that changed the world, peering out from inside the head of the peerless leader of Great Britain, Winston Churchill. Any review of this book should begin with the author’s name, not the title, because the source makes the material matter more.

“Closing the Ring” is a masterpiece for which my (lengthy) explanation is no substitute for the experience of reading the actual words by the actual man who lead the actual effort against Germany in World War II. If the size of the book is daunting, know that each chapter has its own table of contents so each topic can receive the focus the reader wishes to give it. Continue reading Book Report: “Closing the Ring”

Book Review: “The Murder of Sonny Liston …”

The Murder of Sonny Liston-by Shaun Assael

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Author Assael delivers on two counts. The title suggests this is an investigative work, plus the pages pack a rich story as a complement. Pick your pleasure or appreciate both.

Most readers will pursue this work for the tale’s murder-mystery aspect. The depth and commitment to digging for facts are admirable. There is plenty of meat to chew, served in courses easily digested.

Will you be satiated, comprehending that Charles “Sonny” Liston might have met his fate at the hand of another, just as the writer suspects? The adventure ride to uncover his discoveries is worth the price of this ticket to the roller-coaster life of a legendary sports figure. Continue reading Book Review: “The Murder of Sonny Liston …”

Book Review: “a Smile in One Eye…”

a Smile in One Eye, a Tear in the Other -by Ralph Webster

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This work contains life. Author Ralph Webster puts the reader in the conversation of his father sharing day to day existence in Germany during the rise of Hitler. It is about making-do and the makings of history, about minutiae as well as major moments.

  • (a day in the life) “Certain events are remembered for a lifetime. … Father’s fiftieth birthday in 1931 was one of those times.”
  • (a historical turning point) “… the events of 1933 sowed the seeds that fundamentally changed our future.”

Hear the history and learn from it. By the 1930s one’s world was not contained by borders, perhaps something World War I delivered in an unkind way. Germany was not just connected to Europe, but now to America, Palestine, and even China. Fleeing did not mean simply crossing one border, making one excursion, or finishing one move. Continue reading Book Review: “a Smile in One Eye…”

Waitress -Musical by Sara Bareilles

Why see it:

  • Tender story
  • More engaging live than on film

Waitress delivers a wonderful story. It is dramatic, touching, clever, original, and surprising. It transitions well from film to live action. But why, oh why, is this a musical? Nothing is enhanced by mixing tunes into this good drama.

Dare I be critical? What would the creative team say? Perhaps one would answer via song, or Sara-nade me:

  • “Say what you wanna say
  • And let the words fall out
  • Honestly I wanna see you be brave.”

Continue reading Waitress -Musical by Sara Bareilles

Book Report: “Children of Italy”

Children of Italy -by Christine Simolke

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  • “More than a Review”

Draw me in. Set scenes with senses. Make me want more. Finish the story. This book does all that in wonderful fashion.

Christine Simolke’s “Children of Italy” is about being where you belong, and the journey taken by heart, mind, and body to get there.

The Falconi endeavor crosses an ocean to find their place in America. Family is foremost, with enthusiastic children, coming-of-age women, and adults who look to establish a proper home. Continue reading Book Report: “Children of Italy”

Black Panther

You got me. Experience would say that a modern superhero movie is unlikely to hold my interest. Nor is science fiction adept at providing me with intrigue like it does most moviegoers. Yet, “Panther” held my attention and had topics to ponder.

I’ll say it: “I, uh, uh, … LIKED IT!” Action scenes were prevalent, but not the whole show. Costumes were sharp. Good versus evil was only part of the premise, while the premises included real-world and computer-graphics worlds. Characters had … character!

The actress and role that stole every scene for me was Letitia Wright as sister Shuri. I wanted to give her a “best supporting” award on the spot for her portrayal, her humor, her foreshadowing, her importance to the plot, and becoming a name to remember.

The Color Purple -Musical

Why see it:

  • Ten Tony nominations in 2005
  • A revival on Broadway a decade later
  • Multiple national tours
  • A blockbuster!

But for me The Color Purple was from the Blockbuster era, meaning this touring show had VHS-like shortcomings and there are now better options. Still, I’m pleased to have seen the landmark musical and know the story, despite critiques you’ll read here.

Continue reading The Color Purple -Musical