Friday, August 12, 2016

The Lost Tycoon: The Many Lives of Donald Trump, by Harry Hurt, III

The Lost Tycoon is an exhaustive depiction of Trump's scams, cons and lies. Here are just a few take aways:

- Trump used illegal labor from Poland to tear down the old building on the site where Trump Towers would be built. The laborers slept on the construction site, and many were never paid. (And they destroyed the Art Deco statues and grill work in order to meet the construction deadlines. Trump apparently ordered this destruction, despite promising to preserve the statues, etc.)

-Trump Plaza, in Atlantic City, met its state minority contractor quota by listing Mike Tyson as a minority contractor.

- Trump used Damin Aviation to ferry himself and others back and forth to Atlantic City. Joe Weichselbaum headed it up until he was indicted on illegal drug smuggling (Hurt wonders if there was any truth to the rumor that Weichselbaum procured cocaine for Trump's casino high rollers). Then the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement (DGE) forced Weichselbaum out. Weichselbaum pled guilty and was sent to prison. A year later, Weichselbaum's girlfriend paid $2.35 million for two apartments in Trump Towers, claiming the money was her own. When Weichselbaum was paroled, he moved into the apartments (now a duplex) and told the parole board he was going to be Trump's helicopter consultant.

- In 1989, three of Trump's top Atlantic City executives were killed in a helicopter crash following a meeting with Trump. Upon hearing of their deaths, Trump told a colleague that he couldn't resist milking the deaths for publicity. He then falsely claimed he was supposed to be on that flight.

- Ivana worked hard at Trump's hotels and casinos, despite his constant attempts to belittle her work (during their famous divorce, he once claimed she stayed home and did the laundry).

- The book reports on Ivana's divorce-deposition testimony where she claimed that Trump violently raped her and tore out chunks of her hair because he believed her plastic surgeon had harmed him by performing a poor scalp reduction surgery. He was in great pain, and he blamed Ivana. Ivana disclaims the rape in a letter inserted in the beginning of the book. In it she claims that her use of the term "rape" only meant that Trump was "not loving" to her.

Story after story about Trump's temperament fill this book. Trump seems to have lurched from one temper tantrum to the next, from one lie to the next, from one con to the next. He claimed his wife and children were important to him, but business and money seem to always have been his true love. As set out in this book, there are two constants with regard to Trump's personality: if the truth doesn't suit Trump, he changes it, and he will not tolerate criticism of any kind. This is an important, highly charged expose of Trump's past. Unfortunately, it only covers Trump's life up until the early 1990's. Nonetheless, this is a book that should be read by voters in this election year.

(Although I read a Kindle Unlimited version of this book, as of the date of this review, this version has been pulled by Amazon.)

Hardcover: 447 pages
Publisher: W W Norton & Co Inc; 1st edition (May 1993)
Language: English

The Life Intended, by Kristin Harmel

Are we living the life we are intended to live, do we construct the life we want to live, or is life a combination of individual will and fate? These are the questions around which Kristin Harmel weaves her story in "The Life Intended."

Kate Waithman, a music therapist who works with children, has been a widow for 12 years. Now at age 40 she is engaged to the "perfect" man. Suddenly she starts having vivid dreams where she is still living with her husband, and they have a 12 year old, hard of hearing daughter. The dreams are so real, Kate begins a course in American Sign Language in order to better communicate with her dream daughter. Through this sign language course, she expands her music therapy to include hard of hearing foster children, and her life takes an unexpected turn.

Although at times Kate comes across as too weak and vulnerable for my taste, I think this weakness is key to demonstrating the growth of her character as Kate regains her willingness to take risks and truly live and love again. In her trademark fashion, Kristin Harmel tells an engrossing story with a heart stopping, wonderful ending.

Print Length: 368 pages
Publisher: Gallery Books (December 30, 2014)
Publication Date: December 30, 2014
Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc

Toto's Tale and True Chronicle of Oz, by Sylvia Patience

L. Frank Baum wrote 14 novels about the land of Oz before his death in 1919. The books were so popular that sequels continued to be written after his death by many different authors. There have also been stage plays, musicals, an early silent film and, of course, the glorious 1939 film starring Judy Garland. Yet, despite all of the above, no one has written Toto's side of the story. (You remember Toto, the adorable little dog who never left Dorothy's side. Who can ever forget the Wicked Witch of the West cackling "I will get you and your little dog too"?) Until now.

In "Toto's Tale and True Chronicles of Oz," Sylvia Patience gives Toto his voice. This is his story, and it is very charming and endearing. There are no big surprises. We know he loved Dorothy and that she loved him. We also know he fell asleep in the field of poppies, that he barked at everyone and that he was terrified of the winged monkeys, (every child was terrified of them, I still get chills thinking about them). We didn't know, however, that Toto ran away from an abusive farmer as a puppy, and that he was rescued by Dorothy as she stepped off the Orphan Train in Kansas. We also didn't know that he peed on the Wicked Witch's leg and caused her to begin to melt! (Dorothy threw a bucket of water to stop the melting, and we know what happened then-she melted away completely). Some of these "facts" were added by Patience, some are in the original Baum novels, like the fact that Baum named the Tin Man, Nick Chopper, the Scarecrow, Jack Straw and the Cowardly Lion, Leo the Lion. Ms. Patience weaves all of the above, and more, into Toto's Tale, and the end result is a wonderful children's novel that will delight and enchant children and adults alike. (In exchange for an honest review, I was provided with a review copy by the publisher via NetGalley.)

Print Length: 248 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 0692542558
Publisher: Sylvia Patience; 1 edition (November 9, 2015)
Publication Date: November 9, 2015
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Marvel's Captain America: Sub Rosa, by David McDonald

Swashbuckling Captain America saves the girl and the good guys, while battling forces within and without America who want to destroy freedom. David McDonald does a great job of showing both the sorrowful side of Steve Rogers and his heroic side, although perhaps both sides are the same. Rogers is a man out of time. His era was WWII, big bands, swing music, small town America and fighting enemies who clearly were evil. In 2016, the lines are not so clearly drawn, and, at times, Rogers has a hard time understanding how certain forces within his own government can conduct black ops and cavalierly restrict freedom in the name of the "greater good." Don't expect to only be entertained by this book (and it is entertaining), you may also find yourself siding with Rogers and questioning whether two wrongs actually can ever make a right. (I received an advanced copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in return for an honest review.)

Print Length: 240 pages
Publisher: Joe Books Ltd. (July 13, 2016)
Publication Date: July 13, 2016
Sold by: HarperCollins Publishers

The Misadventure of Sherlock Holmes, by Giles Chanot

Arthur Conan Doyle would be honored by this latest addition to the world of Sherlock Holmes literature. Full of the Edwardian era details we have come to associate with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, Chanot's book was hard to put down. A great gift for true Sherlock fans. (In return for an honest review, I was provided a review copy by the publisher via Net Galley.)

Print Length: 232 pages
Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
Publication Date: January 4, 2016
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC

Star Trek: Starfleet Academy, by Mike Johnson, Ryan Parrott & Derek Charm

"Star Trek: Starfleet Academy" (yes, Star Trek!) is an enjoyable foray into the academic life of some favorite Star Trek characters, including Kirk and Spock. Nyota Uhura and T'Laan lead the way as the young students deal with romance, studies, time travel and competition. The art work surpasses the plot and dialogue in vibrancy and color. I give this book four stars. (In exchange for an honest review, I was provided a review copy by the publisher via NetGalley.

Series: Star Trek: Starfleet Academy
Paperback: 120 pages
Publisher: IDW Publishing (August 16, 2016)