Review: Defending Jacob

Defending Jacob Defending Jacob by William Landay
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a great listen. It has all the great elements of a murder mystery/crime story. I liked the format of the narrative, which was like a trial within a trial format. There were some interesting plot twists, especially at the end, that kept the story interesting and prevented it from becoming predictable. It raised some interesting questions about free will and predetermination, nature vs. nurture, parenting, and family dynamics. This is a must read for all you murder mystery/crime story fans out there.

2016 Reading Challenge: A murder mystery

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Review: Our Revolution: A Future to Believe in

Our Revolution: A Future to Believe in Our Revolution: A Future to Believe in by Bernie Sanders
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I have always identified as a Democrat. I am pro-union, pro-choice, and tend to be fairly liberal when it comes to social issues. While I did not agree with everything President Obama did, overall, I was pleased with what he was able to do while in office. However, even I found myself disillusioned with my political party going into the 2016 election season. I had heard of Bernie Sanders prior to him running for president but was only vaguely aware of his policy stances. I knew he was an independent from Vermont and that his ideas were "progressive," but I didn't know specifics. Throughout the primary season, the more I listened to Bernie Sanders talk about various issues and challenges facing our country, the more I found myself agreeing with him. I appreciated his straight-forward and frank assessments of our country and his detailed plans for solutions. He was a breath of rationality in what felt like a circus act.

This book has two parts. The first chronicles Bernie's decision to run for office and his campaign for president. What I found to be so remarkable about Bernie's campaign was that is was very much a grassroots effort. He did not accept any money from PACs and all the money raised was from individual donors, averaging something like $23.00 a person. I have a big problem with the Citizens United decision and the role that money plays in our elections. I was disappointed to see other Democratic candidates, such as Hillary Clinton, spend so much time in fancy fundraisers instead of talking to average citizens. Like many Americans, I feel like big business and wealthy individuals have more say in our government because of their political contributions. I agree with Sanders that true campaign finance reform is needed. I appreciated the way he chose to run his campaign and feel that it should serve as a model for reform.

The second part lays out Bernie's agenda for transforming the country. Among the issues he addresses are money in politics, Wall Street, the decline of the middle class, health care, higher education, climate change, criminal justice reform, and corporate media. What I appreciated about this part of the book is that Sanders not only laid out the issues, supported by verifiable facts, but he also gave detailed solutions to the problems. So many politicians will speak ad nauseam about the troubles facing the nation but they never offer any solutions or detailed plans.

Regardless of whether or not you agree with his policies, I believe that we need more people like Sanders in Congress. People who remember that they are public servants who work for the American people and refuse to be beholden to the 1%. People who use logic and facts to create real solutions to problems and don't waste time arguing and talking in circles. People who are willing to "reach across the aisle" and cooperate and compromise to pass legislation that benefits ALL Americans, not just the businesses and top earners. Only then will real reform be possible, and our Democracy is in need of some serious reform.

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