Book Report: Whiskey Sea

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Book Title: Whiskey Sea

Author: Ann Howard Creel

About the Author: This author has written several novels, as well as some young adult novels. She is a year younger than my parents. I liked that she had discussion questions for this book up on her website.

Main Characters: Oh boy. So many interesting characters. This is why I like fiction. Let’s review some of the main characters.

Frieda: Protagonist. She is the daughter of the ‘town whore’ who died at a young age, leaving Frieda and her infant sister on their own. Frieda is a tough girl, not afraid to hang with the boys, and is very protective of herself and her sister. I felt a lot of similarities between Frieda and myself. She will do what she has to do to reach her goals, even if that means breaking the law or coming face to face with danger.

Bea: Frieda’s younger sister. Since she is a bit younger, she didn’t grow up with the ‘whore’s daughter’ rumors and stigma like her older sister. She’s idealistic and romantic, and very naive. Always a book-smart type, she has led a sheltered life and is eager to fall in line with anyone who is offering to take care of her and provide for her.

Silver: Frieda and Bea’s adoptive father. He took the young girls in and cared for them like they were his own. He worked hard as a clammer to save up money for the girls to have a secure life. He thought he knew what was best for these girls, but should have known that they were both head-strong and were going to have their own plans that might not match his.

Hicks: A hopeful suitor of Frieda’s, Hicks purchased Silver’s boat in hopes of getting on Frieda’s good side. He is looking to settle down with a woman who can understand him. He is a smart but simple type of man who is very matter-of-fact, dependable and sweet.

Dutch: The captain of the rumrunner boat. He’s your typical ship captain; big and strong, overly confident, well-traveled, and over the top at times. He took expectedly greedy wrong turns throughout the story. He was probably the most predictable and boring character in the book, in my opinion.

Rudy: A crewmate with a family. He’s a normal sort of guy, wondering why a woman like Frieda would be getting mixed up in rumrunning. He looks out for Frieda in a big brother sort of way, but maybe oversteps his boundaries at times.

Charles: The enigma. The beautiful upper class tourist wanting to find some excitement on the seas before being ‘doomed’ to his elitist life studying law at Harvard. He sweeps Frieda off her feet, only to do the utterly expected things that are reserved only for the worst types of selfish assholes. He shows her a life of luxury and happiness that she never would have dreamed of, only to turn around and take it all away and disappear. I found a lot of similarities between this character and my latest ex-boyfriend lol!

I’m leaving out a few more characters, such as Hawkeye (in all likelihood, Frieda’s real father), Whitey (Bea’s real father), etc but you’ll have to read the book yourself to get the full story!

Plot Summary: During prohibition, rumrunning takes over a quiet fishing town on the Jersey shore. Anyone with a fast boat looking to make some serious money could risk breaking the law (and risk their life) to bring cases of alcohol to shore from Canadian outpost ships. Frieda had wanted to be a clammer like Silver, but when he sold his boat to Hicks (in hopes that Frieda might marry him) she decided she would find her own way. She learned to work on ship engines and landed a lucrative gig on Dutch’s rumrunning boat. Her goal was to save up enough money to send her sister Bea to college in New York City and ensure that they’d never have to turn to the work that their mother did. Everything was going to plan until Charles, the rich upper class (and of course, devastatingly handsome) visitor joins the crew. He charms the panties right off of Frieda and they have a lovely summer together – until the end of August comes and everything goes to hell! Bea disappears for weeks, only to reveal that she’s not registering for college and is instead engaged to a professor… completely abandoning Frieda’s hopes for her to be an educated, independent woman. To make things worse, the danger has been increasing on the seas. In a desperate attempt to outrun some murderous thieves that were chasing their boat, Frieda was ordered to use napalm in their fuel. She tries to argue against this but it’s too late – when her crew mate Rudy takes matters into his hands, and quite literally blows up the entire operation. The entire crew is forced to face some new realities and deal with the consequences of their lifestyle.

Admittedly, I’m skipping over some major plot points here. I don’t want to spoil everything, in case anyone wants to read the book!

Lessons Learned: You might have a dream for someone, but you can’t force them to follow it. In fact, you can’t force anyone to fit the life that you have in mind for them. Most people aren’t going to do what you want them to do, and you have to be flexible enough to cope with this. Also, a tiger can’t change it’s stripes. Everyone saw that Frieda was setting herself up to get hurt by Charles, but love is blind and she had to learn the hard way, just like all of us! Another lesson was just learning about how the rumrunning worked. I knew about speakeasies in Manhattan and needing secret passwords and all that, but I never really thought about HOW the alcohol made it’s way to those secret bars. Big ships from Canada would set up wayyy out in the ocean where the laws no longer applied, and local boats from New Jersey and Long Island would come out to meet the Canadian boats, buy the alcohol, and take it back to the shore… all while avoiding the coast guard and gangsters trying to steal the cash and booze.

Personal Opinions: I love historical fiction. Prohibition is such a fascinating time period. I thought this book was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed the variety of characters. Sure, the story was a bit predictable, but there were some unexpected turns. Plus, I don’t really like when there’s a Prologue that reveals something that is going to happen later on in the book. I spend the whole time anticipating that one moment and it’s just unnecessary. Maybe I’ll skip the next Prologue that tries to force plot foreshadows down my throat lol!


Book Report: Bossypants

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Book Title: Bossypants

Author: Tina Fey

About the Author: Her full name is actually Elizabeth Stamatina Fey. She is a writer, an actress, an improv performer, a mother, and a hilarious person. She best known for her work on SNL, 30 Rock and Mean Girls (imho). She’s from PA. She hates wearing contacts as much as I do.

Main Characters: This was a memoir type of non-fiction, filled with various characters of varying importance. So I’ll just focus on the MAIN character – Tina Fey, herself. She is a strong woman who wants to be in control and get it all done. She cares about her crew as much as her family. She is smart and a fantastic writer. But she is also human and shares her insecurities through anecdotes and personal meltdowns about topics that almost any woman could empathize with. I loved her use of lists too!

Plot Summary: Tina Fey grew up a lot like me. She found solace in a local arts program where she met all the best people who helped her to grow creatively. Then, unlike me, she hit it big on SNL when she moved to the city and went through all kinds of transformations in her career. She learned from comedic greats and famous celebrities. She met Sarah Palin and actually liked her (kinda). My favorite part was the Love Letter to Amy Poehler.

Lessons Learned: Do your thing. Don’t care if everyone loves everything you do. Don’t feel limited to what society expects of you. Surround yourself with people who make you feel creative and empowered. Also… lazy men pee in jars in their offices.

Unintended personal lesson learned: Don’t read two non-fiction books in a row. 

Personal Opinions: This book was a fun read. There were lots of good laugh out loud moments. I would love to read more stuff by Tina Fey. Has she written any fiction? I wish I could give this book a better review but what can I do, paraphrase all of her anecdotes? You’re better off reading it yourself. I’ll give you some chapter names to entice you: “Climbing Old Rag Mountain”; “All Girls Must Be Everything”; “I Don’t Care If You Like It.” I’m glad I have this book on my Kindle because now I can just bust it out whenever I need some quick laughs.

Book Report: Fire and Fury


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Book Title: Fire and Fury: Inside the Trump White House

Author: Michael Wolff

About the Author: This American author is also a journalist and contributor to USA Today, The Hollywood Report and GQ (UK). He has written several books with political themes. It is said that he wrote this book while on a couch in the White House, providing a supposed “fly on the wall” perspective of the daily activities.

Main Characters: There are too many people (I suppose they truly are characters) in this book to list them all. Some of the ones I can remember of note include:

Donald Trump – obvi. He is presented in a very non-presidential, yet very Trumpish way. The quotes are likely to be real but there is no way to know for sure with a lot of them. Tweets referenced are of course direct quotes and I sadly remember when each of them were posted.

Steve Bannon – He seemed more like the central character of the book. Most of the quotes were by him, and there were two chapters dedicated to his shenanigans. Again, no way of knowing if any of his quotes are legitimate. Fly on the wall indeed. I think it’s more likely that Wolff was an invited guest into Bannon’s office. It was probably like Mean Girls when they got together after work and laughed at all the stupid things Trump said earlier in the day.

Jarvanka – The combo name for Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump. They were the apparent opposition to the Bannon side of things in the White House. These two factions of advisors in the White House (Jarvanka vs Bannon) giving conflicting advice and were at odds the entire time. Guess we all know who won out in the end. Big surprise. Does that mean they are the good guys? No. Pretty sure there was no protagonist of this book.

Everyone else – There’s just so many names. Hope Hicks. Kellyann Conway. Nikki Haley. Sean Spicer. Reince Priebus. Dina Powell. The other Trump kids. The list goes on with the revolving cast of characters as people lose their jobs, get new jobs, switch jobs, who knows.

Plot Summary: Fire and Fury seemed to be a chronological recount of the first year in the White House under Trump’s presidency. A lot of the book was focused on Bannon’s opinion and approach to advising the POTUS. The rest of the book was about the well documented issues surrounding the unexpected Executive Disorders and meetings with world leaders that were covered in the news, as well as the ongoing animosity between Trump’s family/staff, people like Bannon, and regular career politicians in Washington. The Russian investigation was mentioned many times but no new information or insight was really there.

Lessons Learned: There is very likely a lot of chaos in that White House. I don’t doubt at all that the people working there have very little grasp of what they are doing, as the book explains the background of several people and they are frankly inexperienced at best… incompetent at worst. (That may not even be the worst.) Also, one way to get into the White House staff is to be a pretty woman and make friends with Ivanka. That seems to be the fast track.

Personal Opinions: It’s probably clear how I feel about the people in this book. But I did read it without taking it seriously. I didn’t believe half of what I read. The author uses overly complicated SAT words so he seems intelligent. But it’s just a waste of time. I ended up skimming a lot of it – it reads very slowly and has lots of run on sentences. The fact that we already know that Bannon is out of the White House and abandoned by his news channel made a lot of content in the book pointless.

I bought the book due to the hype. There wasn’t much bombshell insight and I don’t think it was really worth the money. It was a rough read and I am ready to read something more uplifting next!!