Adnan’s Story Book Review

Adnan's Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After SerialAdnan’s Story: The Search for Truth and Justice After Serial by Rabia Chaudry

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The summer of 2016 has proven to be a pretty good few months for Adrian Syed. With the murder conviction of Hae Min Lee being vacated and the release of a best—selling book he contributed to chronicling the days leading up to his arrest and the subsequent years, it seems as if Adnan’s luck is finally turning around.

Adnan’s Story, written by Rabia Chaudry with contributions from Adnan himself via various letters, was a much-anticipated body of work. Since following the Serial podcast, as well as both the Undisclosed: The State vs. Adnan Syed, and Truth and Justice (formally Serial Dynasty) podcasts, I couldn’t help but want more after the seasons focused on Adnan’s case ended. (Which by the way, I thought the titles of these three key podcasts were cleverly woven into the book cover.) But many of us are waiting with bated breath to know what happens next in this fascinating story of whodunit. Unfortunately for Hae Min Lee, this was not just a story, it was real life, her life that was tragically ended at the hands of another.

I originally purchased the hardcover version of this book, but after only a few chapters in, I resigned to purchase the audiobook version. The main reason being the difficulty in following the story through the text. The audio version of the book was much more easier to follow, than the text version. I really respect Rabia, but if I’m being honest, the book was written as if sentences were thrown together, and not a coherent account of the details. It failed to flow artistically or even in a well thought manner. Books go through numerous rounds of edits between the author and the editor/publisher. But this really seemed to be lacking, and read like the first or second draft of the book had actually been published. For someone as smart and talented as Rabia with a law degree, you would expect a much higher quality of writing. It puzzles me the number of reviews praising the writing of this book.

I found myself reading along with the audio version a few times, and identified several points throughout the text version that have errors. However, these errors were corrected in the audio version, and hopefully will be corrected in future iterations of the written text. Additionally, the flow of the book was not the easiest to follow as it jumped back and forth instead of chronologically. I can’t see a legitimate reason for writing this particular story in a non-linear way. Parts of the book were super redundant, and not for any obvious reason.

Ideally, the book would have begun with the reports of Hae’s disappearance and Adnan’s ultimate arrest. Then an explanation as to who Rabia is and her relation to Adnan and his family followed by the chronological details of the case unfolding, sprinkled with tidbits about Rabia, ultimately leading up to the inception of Serial, the appeals and the present day.

The last few chapters were pretty decent, and this may be because it takes place in the last 2-3 years so it is fairly recent events, OR because it’s first-hand information of Rabia and her interactions with Sarah Koneig, Susan Simpson, Collin Miller, and Bob Ruff. The last few chapters are essentially about Rabia’s life. I will admit that I enjoyed reading about the strained dynamic between Rabia and Sarah and for me it explained why I felt Rabia was a bit cold whenever she mentioned Sarah in interviews.

What can be assessed from the writing, and from Rabia herself, is that she is not nearly as familiar with the case and the minute details as you might think for someone writing a book about it. I totally respect that she wanted to capitalize on the popularity surrounding Serial and the case itself. But afier hearing/reading the letters that Adnan has written over the years, we all know how well spoken and how good his letters and his writings are. So while up against a self-inflicted deadline, given the opportunity, I think Adnan would have written an amazingly beautifully crafted harmonious manuscript. I’m really curious about Adnan’s thoughts on the book itself or if he’s been able to read it in part or its entirety. But my gut tells me his focus is on his appeal right now and that Rabia was the one doing the heavy lifting save for the few letters Adnan wrote for inclusion in the book.

As for the book’s contents, there was not much new information included in the book that those who haven’t been following the podcasts and online readings, would not be aware of already. So I’m a bit biased in that aspect. What I did enjoy were the personal details of Adnan’s life in prison, and how his family was coping with his imprisonment. I also believe that including the guidance that Christina Gutierrez gave him about refraining from contacting anyone outside of his immediate family prior to the trial helped put things in perceptive for outsiders. It is pretty clear to me that this book was written for an audience that is only familiar with Serial. This book was written to tie together, Undisclosed, Truth and Justice and both Collin Miller and Susan Simpson’s blog posts and legal commentary. For those of us well versed in the three podcasts and practicing attorneys, there was not much new.

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Choosing a Reward Credit Card for Long Haul Travel

Traveler’s with the goal of long distance travel, lets say… from the U.S. to Australia, typically plan well in advance for this type of travel to ensure getting the best deal. These long-haul flights come with a pretty high-price tag.

Others have been successful in navigating travel from the U.S. to Oceania (Australia, New Zealand, Fiji et al.) for the low-low and even done so in premium class air cabins. So what is the best way to embark on such an expensive journey without breaking the bank?

A great way to maximize your dollars and decrease the amount of actual cash you’ll have to front for your adventure to Australia, is by capitalizing on credit card incentive and traveler loyalty programs. There are numerous credit cards offering mileage and point redemption for airfare and lodging, but not all cards are created equal.  Credit card rewards can come in the form of airline miles, cash back, or general points, or perhaps a combination of all three.
…Not all cards are created equal

I’ve compiled a few links (see below) to help you make the right decision for your lifestyle and pockets/pocketbooks.

Airline, hotel, and credit card loyalty programs can be used to save you money and they often can be used in conjunction with each other to get the most bang for your buck. On average, a roundtrip flight from the U.S. to Australia will cost about 100,000 points/miles and it varies depending on cabin class.  Although obtaining that many points can seem intimidating, it is possible with diligence and discipline.
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Let’s break it down.

First and foremost, establish an end goal. For this to be a realistic goal, you need to start this plan in motion as soon as possible, and also give yourself enough time to build and earn enough in loyalty points and rewards to capitalize upon fully funding at least the travel portion of your trip.
decisions
You will want to do some research and determine which credit card is best for you.  Be sure to consider your home airport and the airlines that fly from there as well as the airlines that offer flights to your destination. Also consider how much you currently travel and your every day spending habits.  Taking these decisions into account will help you choose the right card for you. Here are just a few popular reward cards you can choose from.
*According to the website, you’ll earn 5x the points on airfare travel (purchases).

You can find a more comprehensive list of reward/loyalty cards here or do more research for the right card for you here, here, and here.

Once you have chosen the right card for you, start using it! And I mean for any and everything.  I wouldn’t recommend purchasing items you don’t actually need or hadn’t planned to purchase initially, because this can start an unhealthy habit. Credit cards make their money on the annual fee as well as the interest when you don’t pay your bill in full monthly.  So you will need to be able to pay the balance each month, not just the minimum amount due, the entire balance. But if you need a new set of tires, put them on the card as well as every day purchases like coffee, groceries, gas, etc.  The end goal here is to use the cash you would normally use for these everyday purchases to pay your credit card bill and use the credit card to make these purchases directly. You can build up your available mileage/points balance much faster by being consistent in using it.

Personally I have the Chase Sapphire Preferred (CSP) credit card. So my experience with that card will be highlighted here. The sign up bonus of 40,000 -50,000 points is great to jumpstart your points balance and will get you on your way to your destination. But keep in mind that putting $4000, which is required in the first three months, on the card can be dangerous if you are not careful and prepared to pay that balance.

For the CSP I earn one point on each purchase and one additional point for travel which includes flight and hotels.  Dining purchases also earn 1 additional point.  Just note that if you drive a lot or have a gas guzzling SUV, you won’t get any extra points for fill-ups, as gas is not considered travel and you won’t earn any extra points.  Also beware of the $95 annual fee which is typically waived during the first year, but can be viewed as a small price to pay when you consider the price of your free flight.

Getting the most bang for your buck

Start by using the card for all purchases you would typically either use cash or debit for. Then at the end of the week use the money either cash or your checking account to pay directly to the credit card. This way you avoid overspending as well as having any purchases accumulate interest.

Another way to build your points balance is by shopping online through your credit card shopping portal. The Chase Ultimate Rewards portal offers a wild array of shopping options.  You can continue shopping your favorite brands and stores through the portal.  Not only will you earn additional points by shopping through the portal, but sometimes you’ll get discount just by purchasing through the portal.  Lowes, Amazon, Groupon, J. Crew are just a few of the online retailers that can be found on the portal.

Some Perks

Additional perks to this card include, no foreign transaction fees, and Chase offers 1:1 ratio transfers to several other airlines and companies.  Part of the reason I was able to travel to Puerto Rico and stay in one of their top 5-star hotels without paying a dime is because I was able to transfer some of my Chase Reward points to my United airlines Mileage Plus loyalty program to cover the flight/ hotel/ ground transportation. And there was no additional charge for doing this since Chase and United have a partnership.  This may also come in handy for any subsequent flights on partner airlines.

You will have to do a little bit of research to determine which reward card is best for you and your lifestyle. So before you buy your next set of tires or large purchase consider getting your rewards credit card first, so those large purchases can count towards your next big trip and towards the minimum required purchase amount to receive the sign-up bonus.
Additional links:
  • http://airlines.wanderbat.com/
  • https://www.jetsetter.com/magazine/528/idiots-guide-to-frequent-flier-miles
  • http://maphappy.org/2015/05/how-to-earn-miles-without-flying/
  • http://lifehacker.com/a-beginners-guide-to-airline-miles-1592887319
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3 Basic Travel Must Haves for Any Trip

Preparing for any trip can be stressful enough, but here are my basic must-haves for any flight or travel.

Quality Luggage is a must! There is no greater annoyance than having luggage that does not travel well.  I mean-really! it has one job…  I’ve gone through my fair share of luggage but I’m most happy with my Delsey Helium Aero pieces in 25 and 29 inch sizes. In 2016, no person should have to travel with 2-wheeled luggage.  Delsey.jpg

But I do have other options when traveling for much longer periods of time (4 or more weeks), or if I’ll be in one location for the duration of my trip and not transiting several locales.  It is important to be mindful of the weight of your luggage in itself, since overweight luggage can put a damper on your trip before it has even begun, and the Delsey pieces I have are lightweight enough to help prevent this.

Packing Cubes I’ve only been using them for about a year but I find that they are a great way to keep things organized and keep you packed a bit more efficiently.  Somehow it seems I actually pack less items by using these cubes.  My first set was purchased for $29.99 from eBags and was the rectangular 4 piece set but after they arrived but before leaving for my trip I discovered that TJ Maxx also had an almost identical sent by Sharper Image for half the price at $14.99, so i got a second set of travel cubes.

ebags2.jpeg

A few of my friends have purchased these travel cubes that are more square from Amazon and love them as well. Many companies are now marketing travel/packing cubes, but ideally you’ll want to ensure you purchase a set that has a see-through mesh or compartment, otherwise you’ll end up having to open each cube in order to identify its contents.

A Travel Pillow Because being responsible for yet one more thing while traveling doesn’t seem worth it on short flights to me. So I typically only carry my travel pillow with me on flights over 4-5 hours.  Flights longer than 5 hours for me, will most likely be international where frequently pillows and blankets are already supplied. Even when this is the case I make the most out of using both my personal travel pillow and the airline supplied pillow. Using one for my head and the other as a pesty armrest cushion.

There are very creative travel pillows on the market now that highlight and offer extras, so at this time I don’t have a particular recommendation. But I will say that for the typical horseshoe-shaped travel pillow you’ll see in any airport, be sure to purchase one that has a closure, fastener, snap, tie or some way to attach it to a bag, in order to make keeping up with it a no-brainer.  Otherwise you’ll be buying travel pillows more often than neccessary.

Hopefully these three items will help make your next trip more enjoyable.

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