Nonfiction

Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientology by Leah Remini

Title: Troublemaker: Surviving Hollywood and Scientologytroublemaker
Author: Leah Remini
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Genre: Non-fiction; Memoir
Where I got it: Public Library

Goodreads Summary

Leah Remini has never been the type to hold her tongue. That willingness to speak her mind, stand her ground, and rattle the occasional cage has enabled this tough-talking girl from Brooklyn to forge an enduring and successful career in Hollywood. But being a troublemaker has come at a cost.

That was never more evident than in 2013, when Remini loudly and publicly broke with the Church of Scientology. Now, in this frank, funny, poignant memoir, the former King of Queens star opens up about that experience for the first time, revealing the in-depth details of her painful split with the church and its controversial practices.

Indoctrinated into the church as a child while living with her mother and sister in New York, Remini eventually moved to Los Angeles, where her dreams of becoming an actress and advancing Scientology’s causes grew increasingly intertwined. As an adult, she found the success she’d worked so hard for, and with it a prominent place in the hierarchy of celebrity Scientologists alongside people such as Tom Cruise, Scientology’s most high-profile adherent. Remini spent time directly with Cruise and was included among the guests at his 2006 wedding to Katie Holmes.

But when she began to raise questions about some of the church’s actions, she found herself a target. In the end, she was declared by the church to be a threat to their organization and therefore a “Suppressive Person,” and as a result, all of her fellow parishioners—including members of her own family—were told to disconnect from her. Forever.

Bold, brash, and bravely confessional, Troublemaker chronicles Leah Remini’s remarkable journey toward emotional and spiritual freedom, both for herself and for her family. This is a memoir designed to reveal the hard-won truths of a life lived honestly—from an author unafraid of the consequences.

Review

One of my bookish goals was to read a Memoir, and I knocked it out in January!

I have to admit, I wasn’t a huge Leah Remini fan. I liked her in Saved by the Bell, but I didn’t watch King of Queens. But then I discovered the Scientology show she was doing on A&E and I became a huge fan!

Hearing things from Leah’s point of view about Scientology was nice. She focuses on her guests on her show, and doesn’t talk a ton about her experiences (which I appreciate because it shows she really cares about those she’s interviewing).  I didn’t know much about her backstory, or about her husband and daughter, whom she doesn’t talk about on the show.

Another interesting aspect was reading about people we’ve seen on the show. It seemed more real to me.

The writing in this book was really good. I felt like I was listening to Leah talk the whole time.

This was a good book and I would recommend it.

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Nonfiction

Book Review – Adnan’s Story by Rabia Chaudry

Goodreads Summary

In early 2000, Adnan Syed was convicted and sentenced to life plus thirty years for the murder of his ex-girlfriend Hae Min Lee, a high school senior in Baltimore, Maryland. Syed has maintained his innocence, and Rabia Chaudry, a family adnans storyfriend, has always believed him. By 2013, after almost all appeals had been exhausted, Rabia contacted Sarah Koenig, a producer at This American Life, in hopes of finding a journalist who could shed light on Adnan’s story. In 2014, Koenig’s investigation turned into Serial, a Peabody Award-winning podcast with more than 500 million international listeners

But Serial did not tell the whole story. In this compelling narrative, Rabia Chaudry presents new key evidence that she maintains dismantles the State’s case: a potential new suspect, forensics indicating Hae was killed and kept somewhere for almost half a day, and documentation withheld by the State that destroys the cell phone evidence — among many other points — and she shows how fans of Serial joined a crowd-sourced investigation into a case riddled with errors and strange twists. Adnan’s Story also shares Adnan’s life in prison, and weaves in his personal reflections, including never-before-seen letters. Chaudry, who is committed to exonerating Adnan, makes it clear that justice is yet to be achieved in this much examined case.

Rating

5 stars

Review

I should start this review by telling you that I’m a huge fan of Rabia Chaudry and her (and Susan and Colin’s) podcast, Undisclosed.  I’ve listened to every episode (some more than once).  I’ve read her blog and tweeted her.  I’m invested in this case.

It was really interesting to read the backstory of the phenomenon that was Serial.  I knew Rabia brought the case to Sarah Koenig, but to read Rabia’s thoughts about the podcast were incredibly enlightening.  Hearing from Adnan was also incredibly interesting.

I have believed from Episode 1 of Serial that Adnan was innocent.  Having listened to Undisclosed and the Truth and Justice (formerly Serial Dynasty) podcasts have proved that ten times over.   After reading this book, I have an even deeper respect and empathy for Adnan Syed.  He’s a genuinely good person.  I don’t believe he murdered Hae.

In terms of the writing, I felt the book was a little long and detail heavy in some places.  I would have liked to hear about Tanveer (Adnan’s brother) and his reconciliation with his family.  I would have liked to have heard more about Jenn Pusateri and Stephanie.

I could hear Rabia’s voice as I read Adnan’s story.  It’s a story that is still continuing, and will hopefully end with Adnan going home to his family.  I would recommend this book to anyone.  A well-written book.

Happy reading.

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Nonfiction

Book Review – He Killed Them All by Jeanine Pirro

Goodreads Summary

Former prosecutor Jeanine Pirro—the “true hero” (New York Post) of the hit HBO documentary hekilled themallseries The Jinx—offers the transfixing true story of her tireless fifteen-year investigation into accused murderer Robert Durst for the disappearance of his wife Kathleen Durst.

Former district attorney Jeanine Pirro was cast as the bad guy fifteen years ago when she reopened the cold case of Kathleen Durst, a young and beautiful fourth-year medical student who disappeared without a trace in 1982, never to be seen again. Kathie Durst’s husband was millionaire real estate heir Robert Durst, son of one of the wealthiest families in New York City—but though her friends and family suspected him of the worst, he escaped police investigation.

Pirro, now the host of Justice with Judge Jeanine on Fox News, always believed in Durst’s guilt, and in this shocking book, she makes her case beyond a shadow of a doubt, revealing stunning, previously unknown secrets about the crimes he is accused of committing. For years, Pirro has crusaded for justice for the victims, and her impassioned perspective in the captivating HBO documentary series The Jinx made her one of its breakout stars. Featuring Pirro’s unique insider’s perspective on the crimes, as well as her exclusive interviews with many of the major players featured in the The Jinx, this comprehensive book is the definitive story of Robert Durst and his gruesome crimes—the one you didn’t see on television.

Rating

3 out of 5 stars

Review

I recently watched The Jinx on HBO and was transfixed by Robert Durst.  This man was creepy with a capital C.  Jeanine Pirro was on The Jinx – she was the District Attorney in New York and decided to reopen the case of Durst’s missing wife Kathleen.  Durst was from a very wealthy New York family; they had more money than they knew what to do with.  After Durst’s wife disappeared, Durst was suspected in two murders; the murder of his best friend, Susan Berman, and the murder and dismemberment of his neighbor, Morris Black.

I listened to this book (my first audio book).  Pirro spent a lot of time in this book talking about her “Chanel Handbags” and “Manalo Blanc’s”.  She referred to Durst in many derogatory ways (scumbag, little shit) – that didn’t really bother me, because Durst is a scumbag and a little shit, but it seemed a little unprofessional on her part.

Pirro also spent a lot of time talking about how hard it was to be a “woman in power”.  While I don’t doubt that, I wasn’t really sure how it was relevant to this book, as it was supposed to be about Durst.  We didn’t learn a lot more in this book than we did in The Jinx, but I really enjoy this case, and hearing more about it was interesting.

I just wish Pirro would have talked as much about the case as she did about sexism in New York during the 70’s and 80’s.  But this was an interesting story.

Happy reading.

Nonfiction

Chasing Justice by Kerry Max Cook

Goodreads Summary

Kerry Max Cook was born in Germany, & spent much of his youth on army bases. He chasing justicereturned to the US with his family in 1972 to live in Texas. In 1977, at the age of 19, he was arrested & wrongly convicted of capital murder, a crime for which he would spend the next 20 years on death row, only to be cleared of all charges in 1999.

Rating

2 1/2 out of 5 stars

Review

I’m going to say right off the bat that I only read this book because of the Truth & Justice podcast.  Bob (the host) asked us to read it relating to a case he’ll be discussing.  I hope the case we’re discussing is good because this book was BORING.

Kerry Max Cook was convicted of rape and murder in Tyler, Texas in 1978.  He maintained his innocence the entire time.  There were SO many plot holes in this book.  Here are a few examples:

  • One of the witnesses against Kerry claimed he was a homosexual and a pervert.  Many people claimed this. Mr. Cook NEVER addressed these claims.  Was he homosexual?  It was a question never answered.
  • Doyle Wayne. Kerry’s brother, who he “spoke” to frequently.  I don’t know if there was mental illness there, but something was off and it was never addressed.
  • Kerry’s alibi.  He maintained his innocence but NEVER said what he was doing or where he was at the time of the murder.

This book was so detail heavy.  I skipped through a lot of detail because it was both cumbersome and boring.  There were so many “characters” that it was hard to keep up with it and very confusing.

In the end, DNA evidence proved that Kerry was not the killer, and it was the person he thought it was all along.

I would skip this book.

Happy reading.