Grateful American by Gary Sinise – a #BookReview

Gary Sinise recently published Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service and I’m thrilled to present his book to you today. This heartfelt, emotional narrative has become a NYTimes bestseller.

Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service by Gary Sinise

Book Blurb:

As a kid in suburban Chicago, Gary Sinise was more interested in sports and rock ‘n’ roll than reading or schoolwork. But when he impulsively auditioned for a school production of West Side Story, he found his purpose–or so it seemed. 

Within a few years Gary and a handful of friends created what became one of the most exciting and important new theater companies in America. From its humble beginnings in a suburban Chicago church basement and eventual move into the city, the Steppenwolf Theatre Company launched a series of groundbreaking productions, igniting Gary’s career along with those of John Malkovich, Joan Allen, Gary Cole, Laurie Metcalf, Jeff Perry, John Mahoney, and others. Television and film came calling soon after, and Gary starred in Of Mice and Men (which he also directed) and The Stand before taking the role that would change his life in unforeseeable ways: Lieutenant Dan in the Academy Award–winning Forrest Gump.

The military community’s embrace of the character of the disabled veteran was matched only by the depth of Gary’s realization that America’s defenders had not received all the honor, respect, and gratitude their sacrifices deserve. In the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, this became Gary’s mission. While starring in hits like Apollo 13, Ransom, Truman, George Wallace, CSI:NY, and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Gary has worked tirelessly on behalf of those who serve this country, entertaining more than a half million troops around the world playing bass guitar with his Lt. Dan Band, raising funds on behalf of veterans, and eventually founding the Gary Sinise Foundation with a mission to serve and honor America’s defenders, veterans, first responders, their families, and those in need.

Grateful American is the moving, entertaining, profoundly gripping story of how one man found his calling: to see that those who defend this country and its freedoms are never forgotten.

Grateful American by Gary SiniseMy Review:

Mr. Sinise sub-titled his work A Journey from Self to Service. I’d be more inclined to say from self to self-less. The actor begins very honestly, painting his childhood years in a happy middle-class American home in the southside of Chicago with loving, supportive parents. These days he might have been classified as dyslexic–back then–he was left to struggle in school, barely gathered D grades but advanced to the next level despite his lack of reading or writing skills. By the time he was in high school, he skipped more classes than attended until a teacher discovered his gang look band with his buddies and advised they audition for the upcoming school play, West Side Story. The rest is, as they say, history…although there were many years of paying dues in between, each test or challenge met and surmounted.

Some time following his delayed graduation, he eventually organized a young theatre company he and several of his friends called Steppenwolf in 1974. They located in the Unitarian Church in Deerfield, now located in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. What followed is a combination of luck, grace, guidance, and perseverance. Within the theatre community, he is surrounded by a core group of friends, drinking buddies, drugs (it’s the 70s), talent, and growth–slow–but growth. He also meets the woman who will become his wife, Moira.

Years pass, decisions made, regretted and backpeddled, but gradually, Sinise gains more and more attention going forward leading to his breakthrough part in Forrest Gump (1994 – twenty-five years). Gary Sinise as Lt. Dan in Forest Gump

(Who hasn’t seen Forrest Gump at least three times?) Sinise loves acting but never forgets his love of music, fueled by his bass guitar. Having married into a family of veterans, including Viet Nam, he decides he wants to get his young adult band back and do a show for vets and that’s the beginning of the Lt. Dan Band, but only the tip of the iceberg that will become his work with recognizing the sacrifice of the military and acknowledging all the work that needs to be done in support of those who continue to fight for our freedom.

Most of the book is dedicated to his life experiences and movies that eventually turned into the opportunity to do the TV drama spinoff, CSI: NY. During those years, he and his wife had three children and there are health issues with Moira and other family and friends. He relates their commitment to church and their faith. And Sinise never shies away from describing the cost to the men and women of the military that continue to defend and buttress our freedoms.

Then Sinise widens his outreach to those first responders, fire, police, firefighters, and rescue. Nine-eleven burned into his conscience the need to do more. And there is always more. The children of the casualties also became beneficiaries of his constant search to discover what else he could do, including working with the USO stateside and abroad. He formed the Gary Sinise Foundation and continues to shower gratitude and to remind them they are not forgotten nor taken for granted. He never wants a returning hero to receive the treatment experienced by those returning from duty during the Viet Nam conflict. He also writes of the many awards received for all the good work he has initiated.

I really enjoyed the book, have long been a Gary Sinise fan, and hold him in high regard acknowledging all he has accomplished. I requested and was granted the digital download by the publisher through NetGalley and was absolutely thrilled to receive for a read and review and these are my own opinions. I only had two problems: The format of the ebook received (an early eARC?)  had missing words, lots of edit misses, with “DO NOT COPY” and “material copyrighted” or “do not duplicate” sprinkled throughout the text. Also, the author didn’t lay out a chronological narrative, but tended to bounce backward or forward as thoughts hit him as an explanation for how or why events occurred. Otherwise, I’m sure the format has been perfected in the new releases and heartily recommend the very genuine and powerful Grateful American.

Title Link: Grateful American: A Journey from Self to Service
Genre: Biographies of Actors and Actresses, Television Performer Biographies, Rock Band Biographies
Publisher: Thomas Nelson

  • ISBN-10:1400208122
  • ISBN-13:978-1400208128
  • ASIN: B07DT4GBKJ

Print Length: 288 pages
Publication Date: February 12, 2019
Source: Publisher and NetGalley

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Four point Five of Five Stars 4.5-stars

The Author: (Amazon) Gary Sinise is an Oscar-nominated actor and winner of an Emmy, a Golden Globe, and two Screen Actors Guild awards, and has been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, all while advocating for America’s veterans for nearly forty years.  For his service work, Gary has been presented with numerous humanitarian awards including the Bob Hope Award for Excellence in Entertainment from the Congressional Medal of Honor Society, the George Catlett Marshall Medal from the Association of the US Army, and the Spirit of Hope Award by the Department of Defense. He was named an honorary Chief Petty Officer by the United States Navy, was pinned as an honorary Marine, and received the Sylvanus Thayer Award at West Point, given to a civilian “whose character, service, and achievements reflect the ideals prized by the U.S. Military Academy.” He’s also the recipient of the Presidential Citizens Medal, the second-highest civilian honor awarded by the President of the United States to citizens for “exemplary deeds performed in service of the nation. ”

Gary Sinise - author

(Goodreads) Gary Sinise is an American actor, director and musician. Among other awards, he has won an Emmy Award, a Golden Globe Award and was nominated for an Academy Award for one of his most memorable roles as Lieutenant Dan Taylor in Forrest Gump. Another notable role was as Detective Mac Taylor in the CBS series CSI: NY (2004–13).

In 2011 Sinise established the Gary Sinise Foundation. The foundation’s mission is to serve and honor our nation’s defenders, veterans, first responders, and their families. His “Lt. Dan Band” performs for military bases, charities and fundraisers supporting wounded heroes, Gold Star families, veterans and troops around the world.

Lt Dan Pic Attribute: Wikipedia
YouTube video: US Army at Fort Huachuca in AZ with the Lt Dan Band

©2019 V Williams V Williams

The Family Lie by Jake Cross – a #BookReview

The Family Lie by Jake CrossTitle: The Family Lie by Jake Cross

Genre: Psychological Thriller

Publisher: Bookouture

  • ASIN: B07N8VVHGF

Print Length: 305 pages

Publication Date: April 23, 2019

Source: Publisher and NetGalley

Title Link: The Family Lie

Book Blurb:

You whispered goodnight to your daughter. You didn’t know that would be your last goodbye.

You wake up in the middle of the night.

Your five-year-old daughter is gone.

Your husband is nowhere to be seen.

Your family think he took her.

The police believe he’s guilty.

But he wouldn’t do that, would he?

He’s a loving father. A loving husband. Isn’t he?

My Review:

The Family Lie by Jake Cross

No, no, no! I definitely broke my own rules with this one. I saw the blurb, noted the cover. Would not usually entertain reading a book about a kidnapped child. But I did. And I’ll revert back to my own (personal) rules.

This novel sets a stage that looks promising. Hooks you in, gets you reading, but soon goes into left-center field. What happened?

Five-year-old Josie is kidnapped from her bedroom in the middle of the night. Main character Anna wakes to find rain pelting the window, husband missing, patio door open and floor soaked as well as in Josie’s bedroom–open window–rain blowing in. But no Josie and no Nick. It doesn’t take long before she’s called in the police, but almost immediately they suspect something other than a kidnapping. For one, the husband is gone as well. Isn’t it more likely he took off with his child?

Now begins a long and tedious search, which goes on, and on, throughout which we are introduced to secondary characters, police, detectives, investigators, condescending and suspicious. And here’s where a few of my problems enter. I really don’t like any of them. Particularly the one who refers to Anna as “dear.” ARGH! Anna’s constant referral to her daughter as “my little lady.” (No clue why that annoyed me so much. Munchkin, I could understand, or??? We certainly had nicknames for our own.) And then they find Nick, apparently knocked over the head, drugged, and dragged along for the ride. But then, where was Josie?

The narrative begins introducing twists that throw you off the original scent, scatters the few ideas you might have held for the antagonist(s). And as the storyline plods along, gets further afield. Here are circumstances the reader could not have known about. Although I can appreciate that the parents might veer in the opposite direction in their effort to get to Josie, Nick comes off weak and largely ineffectual. Anna is unsympathetic, who later bemoans the fact that she hasn’t called her daughter by her name. Seems neither police nor parents make informed decisions.

The writing seems a bit awkward at times, the dialogue gawky, some of the scenes inappropriate (come on–he put his hands between her legs? And she accepted it? Not!) Must admit, this novel was not for me, although you may enjoy it. I received this ebook download from the publisher and NetGalley and appreciated the opportunity to read and review.

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Rosepoint Publishing:  Three of Five Stars Three Stars of Five

Jake Cross - authorThe Author: Jake Cross lives in England and is the author of the standalone thrillers The Family Lie, now on preorder, and The Choice, which hit the top 5 in Australia and was a bestseller in the UK and Canada. And on Kobo, but we don’t talk about that here. He’s on Twitter as @JakeCrossAuthor, if you want to say hello. ©2019 V Williams

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