Category Archives: My $.02

My two cents of course!

Rachel’s Tears, Beth Nimmo {My 2¢}

I recently finished ‘Rachel’s Tears’ by Beth Nimmo.

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It is based on the journals, writings & drawings of Rachel Scott, a victim of the Columbine tragedy. I liked the book overall, however with most reads I did find myself with a few bones of contention.
One thing I liked was the parent’s view & their heartbreaking recollections of that day. As a parent you are reluctant to indulge the terrifying question of “how would I react to that situation?” (Or at least I am…almost as though thinking about it may risk it actually coming true); they seem to have really opened up & portrayed their honest emotions, thoughts and actions. Your heart can’t help but ache for them.
This type of book isn’t my usual cup of tea–it has a lot of religious references, quotes, etc….which is fine (to each his own & they were/are obviously religious people); I just don’t generally read material like that. I wanted to read this because it had to do with Columbine & I figured it could offer some new views, which it did. It’s not a long read, so that’s good too.
Now, my not so happy thoughts:

–It Seems like they didn’t have enough material/topic for a complete & thorough book…there is lots of repetition & what I can only describe as filler.

–repeatedly saying “we hope you’ll see her spiritual side” when they reveal the fabled journal…yet keep stalling with filler & repeating other statements as opposed to revealing the journal. Granted there are pictures throughout the book of journal excerpts, but I had gotten the impression before reading that the journal was the book. Maybe that’s my mistake. Repeatedly promising that the reader will see the type of person Rachel was through her writings & journals & drawings, yet the reader sees only excerpts…it never quite makes it to the journals. Understandable in the sense that you don’t want to put your child out there, open their most intimate thoughts to the world…I get it. Just don’t promise to & then never deliver.

–So at the end, I’ll admit, I was a little over the “God-speak”…props to them for spreading the good word, being 20x the Christian I am & trying to help people; it’s just not my cup o’ reading material. I wanted to do my part however & decided I would share the contact page they have in the back. I figured the couple people that read this blog may tell a friend or such.

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–My last complaint is, I feel, sort of a sensitive one. I can not imagine what these people & their family have gone through…I don’t want to imagine. But where does the money factor in? It’s one thing, say, if you have all these journals & drawings from your child who was murdered in a national tragedy; you want to share with the world all of the wonderful & positive qualities your child had (plus let’s face it: some of those precognition-esque entries/drawings are undeniably spooky & must be shared!); you are proud of the person you helped create (as you should be); it gives you a final positive ending note to the atrocity that claimed your child. There are probably tons of other good reasons. So, one book…what’s the harm in that? The reality that a lot of people don’t confront is money. I, myself, have always wondered how people survive a crisis financially. Maybe I shouldn’t but I do (just like the people-ahem, me-that are obsessed with serial killers & the like wonder what a real dead body looks like) & it’s a real fact of life…money makes the world go round…if people have to miss work, chances are they’re not being paid (salaried persons don’t count in this instance. Obviously.)…if people aren’t being paid, how are groceries filling the cabinets? How does the light chase away the darkness? How does the car remain in the driveway?
Legitimate questions I think. My whole rambling point is that if the family made money off of the book I have absolutely no problem with that; hell if anything they deserve it. My (albeit small) bone of contention comes in when we have…

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Book #2

Book #2. Now, I can understand if they put together book #1 & ended up having leftover stuff they could use, or wanted to share. Happens all the time. I mean hey…they put so little of the journal in the 1st one that the question becomes how could they not have material leftover? You begin to sense a rotten egg when you happen across this…

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Book #3

I found myself feeling like now someone (in that family) has realized that books (especially books linked to Columbine) generate money. It’s as if someone said “Okay, so…we can use this & this from the leftover journal stuff because we still haven’t revealed them to people, but we need an overall theme. I know!! We’ll compare & contrast our beloved daughter Rachel with the murdering sociopath that gunned her down. That’s sure to sell some copy!”
What the hell people.
Then, this:

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Book #4

I think I’ve zeroed in on our culprit too. Now this is just my armchair detective theory, but the mom seems less involved in all the books after #1. Granted I haven’t read any of them; it’s just the sense I get. It’s almost as if by.book #2 dear ol’ Dad someone started planning future books & saving tidbits (entries, drawings, stories) to include in them. Again, I don’t begrudge anyone money…or the right to make it…it just reeks of exploiting this young lady’s private sanctuary under the guise of “helping people see the light”. I don’t know….maybe I’m being too harsh & judgmental, maybe I’m too negative. It just jumps out at me like that.
What do you think??

My 2¢: Once Upon a Secret, Mimi Alford

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The book in the spotlight.

I came upon this book while my mini-obsession with Marilyn Monroe (the most recent one) was going on…this woman’s name was mentioned in something I read & it said she’d written a tell-all book about her & JFK. I was able to borrow it & I have to say it is not all it’s made out to be.
It seems like the main character, Mimi Alford, doesn’t quite have enough to adequately fill an entire book, so she drags out repetitions of being forced to keep her secret, along with enthralling all of use readers with the many reason why her first marriage failed (concluding of course that overall it was due to “her secret”), and basically using boring, mundane everyday life as filler for the rest of the book. I skipped every single page of the last 8 chapters. I always (always!) try to finish a book…I can’t stand leaving it open ended. But I could not make myself trudge through this one.

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JFK & Mimi, during the time of their alleged affair.

The stories of the President are interesting, as is her journey to the White House in the first place. I could throw some spoilers out here for you but that would make it too easy! Suffice it to say while the stories were interesting, they’re a bit incredulous & I’m not quite sure I believe them…I wasn’t there, and out of the 2 people who would know (Mimi & JFK) one is deceased & unable to dispute people’s stories….I’m just sayin’. Also, there are lots of instances where authors are encouraged to spice things up in order to sell copy…I’m just sayin’. On the other hand, what reason would this woman have to lie & make all this up, especially now?

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Mimi spending time at...the White House??
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Mimi Alford during her alleged affair with JFK.

Anyway, I don’t highly recommend it. You could probably find the most interesting parts on the internet & save yourself the trouble of trying to track it down & the time having to sludge through it.

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Mimi Alford these days.

My 2¢; We Need To Talk About Kevin, by Lionel Shriver

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Again I found myself with the opportunity to watch the “movie based on the book” before actually reading the book. When I was younger I used to prefer the book first then the movie; it gave me a slight feeling of superiority over the other viewers to have extended plot knowledge, aka left out sub-plot lines, extensive character backgrounds, etc. Now I’m just happy to have the opportunity to watch something I want to see. Having seen the movie first I may as well give my run down on it first…I was completely lost at first & almost gave up. My finger was on the remote. It was visually jarring (as in the quickness of scene changes) & utterly beyond confusing. I remember thinking “Dammit, this is one where you have to read the book first in order to enjoy the movie!” & “Well you heard it was popular and good…hang in there, give it a chance”. So I did & I was not disappointed in the least. I have a bad rambling habit so I’ll try to keep my mouth as shut as possible; suffice it to say that by the end, the entire thing makes sense. It also causes you to look inside yourself & answer some glaringly bright “what would I do?” questions. Very good movie.

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In all honesty I’m not finished with the book yet. But my memory is terrible & when I 2¢’d ‘Behind the Candelabra’ I had already forgotten a lot of things I’d wanted to mention…things you come across as you’re reading, or the style of writing…things like that. So I thought this time around I’d keep a running post, air my complaints or bestow my praise, and continue reading. Plus it’ll give me time to steal a few pictures from Google so my blog isn’t so daggone barren.

The first complaint I must air is regarding the length of the “monologue” type letters that the Storyteller (the mother) is writing, which is how the story is told. I know I’m a detail oriented individual but my God…these paragraphs are so long & the language so fluidly fancy that I soon realize I tuned out & have to skim it to get the basic gist! I’m okay with character history, things like that, but redundancy is not okay…it’s just down right effin’ boring. For example: Okay, we get it…you weren’t sure if you were ready to be a mother, much less want to be one; we understand that you partially blame yourself; we don’t- see: don’t -need you to continually drone on & on. We. Get. It. If I have to be fair I guess we could consider the fact that possibly I’m impatient because I’ve seen the film & know the plot & outcome…and that’s true, that could be the problem.

*So several days after starting this post I find myself off the original train of thought I was on when I started it. I’ve had a number of distractions preventing me from finishing this post, namely the 3 children & their nutritional & educational requirements I had to tend to. Also, I got the notion to research some of the school shooters mentioned in ‘Kevin’, to see if they were fact or fiction….the ones I looked up did turn out to be fact. I found myself engrossed with the horror of school shootings & kept reading more & more; meanwhile my Kevin post was pushed to the back burner of my brain. I eventually came across the historic (is that an appropriate word choice?) Columbine tragedy & really got obsessed, so much that I borrowed a book titled ‘Columbine’ and proceeded to read it. Now I’ve got Columbine on the brain & really should just delete this entire post, but I really wanted to put out into the universe that:
~It is an excellent book.
~It is an excellent movie.
~I think every parent (and non-parent) should read it….it forces you to think about so many different things (feelings, decisions, happenings, nature vs. nurture, etc) that would usually be too unpleasant or controversial to think about/talk about. It really opens your eyes to different situations.
~If you haven’t read it yet then please, when you’re finished reading this, make sure you get a hold of a copy somehow!

My 2¢: Behind the Candelabra, by Scott Thorson

I recall watching most of the tv movie (I missed the first 30 minutes) ‘Behind the Candelabra’ and thinking that it would probably be a good book to read. I’m a real sucker for reading the book that a movie/show is based off of. Often times there are many details & explanations glossed over, shortened or left out completely & I’m a detail obsessed person….I like all the information, no matter how mundane it is. (Which explains why I read & basically re-read 100’s of articles when obsessing over something….you never know when you’re gonna happen across some interesting tidbit of knowledge.)

Fortunately for me I was actually able to find the ebook via my local library app (surprising because it’s a relatively “small town” & there doesn’t seem to be a high demand for popular/new books to be added, in real life or ebook form) & put it on my bookshelf. There it sat for 21 days while I neglected it to read other ebooks….I just couldn’t get into the mood to read it. Then the library took it away because my time was up. I still wanted to read it so I re-borrowed it & made myself start it; it took 2 nights but I wasn’t able to read straight through for 2 days.

Overall I liked the book. I’d never buy it, or borrow it again, but it was interesting. I wasn’t a Liberace fan before so of course I only knew what I’d heard throughout my life….he was over the top, extravagant, gay, talented, loaded, famous as all hell. In short, the book doesn’t really reveal any other shocking or interesting personality traits, other than he didn’t let people walk all over him & he could be pretty funny. I especially liked his replies about how he “cried all the way to the bank” (I would post a verbatim quote however I already returned the book before I decided to write this), when asked questions regarding finances or shows or gossip. It would make so much more sense if I could throw in a quote for you.

Anyway, from reading the book you get the sense that Mr. Thorson is a reputable, believable individual. He admits his faults, recognizes his mistakes, and totally owns the fact that he was-and still is, considering he published a tell-all book-a money grubber. He also was forthright about his drug dependency issues, which is commendable however one becomes skeptical when he claims to have overcome them (add to that the fact that one can utilize Google for 30 seconds & read the latest Thorson news….he’s facing 8-20 years for drugs/burglary). I couldn’t help figuring he hadn’t overcome them simply because he so eagerly claimed to. But moving on….

As far as the money goes, I think we all can agree that in a similar position we would do the same ourselves. I wouldn’t go to the lengths of hurting anyone (living or deceased) by what I wrote; if there were things I didn’t want people to know, I would hold them back. Write a book that’s just juicy enough to garner interest which in turn garners money. You kind of get the feeling Mr. Thorson is defending himself prematurely against people’s snide remarks, that he may think it makes him a bad person. Personally I don’t. I’m sure he still has enough real secrets & stories left to write another book however he’s (thus far anyway) decent enough not to. A few things I saw on Google however have made me question his overall truthfulness….I saw a couple of articles where as recently as 2013 he was claiming that he had a 6-7 year relationship with Michael Jackson. What the hell?! This is completely out of left field & (to me) screams “What, wait! Look at me…remember me? I was Liberace’s secret gay lover! I’m in need of money again so listen to this crazy tale…”. I can’t remember the other headlines but I do know they were utterly ridiculous. In Candelabra he mentions several times that he isn’t great with finances & basically blows his money on furs, dogs & coke. Even after the settlement of his “famous” lawsuit against Liberace he claims the majority of the $75,000 went primarily for drugs. So it’s completely plausible to me that he’s trying to get some bucks from the media. Which is fine….if it’s true. Which is less-fine-but-if-you’re-desperate-then-well-okay….if it at least has a grain of truth to it. But making shit up out of thin air just makes you look pathetic, and everyone knows why you’re doing it. I know it’s pointless for me to harp on this but it really kind of ruined the book for me; the whole time I read it I felt like Thorson was being upfront, honest, “doing this thing right”. Then to find out he’s going around spewing lies after the fact….makes me question the book, what was true, what wasn’t, what could be true but how would you know since you can’t rely on the author anymore….

My final 2 gripes are pretty simple. He wasted a lot of pages on a seemingly minute by minute break down of lawyers meetings, actions, court dates, etc. regarding his Liberace lawsuit. Dude, I don’t need to know all that boring minutia. Tell the main points (how it started, what it’s for, what was the outcome) & be done. It wasted my time & the only reason it was in there was because it was his suit against someone else. Pride. Or maybe he needed some filler to round the book out. Either way it was a waste of time. My other issue was no pictures! Now, in all fairness, maybe since it was an ebook the pictures weren’t included or couldn’t be sent….or….something. But other books (every…other…ebook actually) have had them, usually out of order from what the table of contents claims. There is usually a photo section at the very end, after everything else. So it may not be Scott Thorson’s fault but it was definitely a let down. In fact, that’s how I happened across all those other articles because I went looking for pictures on Google. I did find a clip of Liberace’s last interview (with Oprah) & a cute clip of him cooking with David Letterman. I also found pictures of Liberace, of course, which was nice & really solidified the image of extravagance I had in my mind’s eye. It would have been nice to see some personal photos of the two of them though, seeing as how that’s the backbone of the book.

In closing, it’s worth reading if you enjoy biographies, or want a deeper understanding of the movie, or are curious about Liberace. I hope Mr. Thorson can straighten himself out & return to the values he seems to have held once upon a time, and discontinues these bizarre, lame stories. He’s really making himself seem like a bitter, scruple-less old “queen”.