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At the beginning of all the book reviews I have inserted a hyperlink, which when you click on, will take you to the Amazon page where you can purchase or research more about that particular book.

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Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

Small Great Things

I was thinking today of some of my greatest influences, even as a child. Dr. King, Selma, Maya, Mahalia and Dinah Washington.  For some reason, maybe reincarnation? I have always felt a pull.  The first time I heard Dinah sing, “This Bitter Earth”, I cried. When I heard Mahalia sing, “It is No Secret”, I cried.  Maya’s “Still I Rise”, Dr King’s “I Have A Dream”, and when I learned of the events in Selma, I cried.  And recently, after reading Small Great Things.  I don’t cry easily, I really don’t.  And I can’t stand racism, bigotry and xenophobia.

Back to Small Great Things. This book moved me to tears. It is sad, poignant, though-provoking, touching, gripping and compelling.  Without a doubt, this book will be on my favorites shelf.

I have often said that I am “colorblind and a humanist”. I very much believe that everyone should be regarded equally with respect. To me, we are all God’s children. Black, white, gay, straight, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim or Mormon none of it matters to me as neither does creed or religion. As long as you’re not hurting anyone, I believe you should be able to live your life, in peace.

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?  The infant ends up dying and Ruth is charged with murder and committing a hate crime.

Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

A couple of poignant statements:

“I am not a racist, Ruth. And I understand that you’re upset, but it’s a little unfair of you to take it out on me, when I’m just trying to do my best—my professional best—to help you. For God’s sake, if I’m walking down a street and a Black man is coming toward me and I realize I’m going the wrong way, I keep going the wrong direction instead of turning around so he won’t automatically think I’m afraid of him.” “That’s overcompensating, and that’s just as bad,” I say. “You say you don’t see color…but that’s all you see. You’re so hyperaware of it, and of trying to look like you aren’t prejudiced, you can’t even understand that when you say race doesn’t matter all I hear is you dismissing what I’ve felt, what I’ve lived, what it’s like to be put down because of the color of my skin.”

“Active racism is telling a nurse supervisor that an African American nurse can’t touch your baby. It’s snickering at a black joke. But passive racism? It’s noticing there’s only one person of color in your office and not asking your boss why. It’s reading your kid’s fourth-grade curriculum and seeing that the only black history covered is slavery, and not questioning why. It’s defending a woman in court whose indictment directly resulted from her race…and glossing over that fact, like it hardly matters.”

Oh my God. I am guilty of that and I am sorry.  I would never intentionally dismiss what anyone has lived through, especially the black community.  A tweet today from the Women’s March:  “Throughout history, violence has been committed and justified in the name of white womanhood.  Terence Crutcher is no exception.”

I remember Dr. King saying “if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem.”  And I am left with the question, what can I do to make a difference?

 

Her Secret Life by Tiffany L. Warren

Her Secret Life

Christian romance is not usually something I find pleasing to my palate.  But, while perusing NetGalley, I saw a cover of a striking African American woman.  I like a lot of black culture albeit authors, screenwriters or poets.  Often there is a strength in faith and family that is not in every culture.

In the authors note, she explains how she received the inspiration for the book and that alone piqued my interest.  The writing is very well done, the story is a grabber and I was able to finish it within 3 days.  The main character is an emotional orphan.  Her father died from AIDS and her mother is a crack addict, so she is raised quite unlovingly by her grandmother.  Without releasing any spoilers, I will just say it was very interesting to see the outcome.  That being said, one of my biggest pet peeves are books with endings like a dangling participle.  If you’re telling me a story, I want to know the end.  Not a “will they, won’t they”.  Tell me.  You’ve got me this far, whether it’s a tragic break-up, a murder suicide or if everyone lives happily-freakin-after. tell me.  Finish it.

I will be reading the author’s other books and will review those as well.

 

 

A Perfect Lie by Lisa Scottoline

A Perfect Lie

I have read many of Scottoline’s books, and looked forward to this latest one. There is an unexpected twist quite early in the book which only adds to the plot. There are a lot of characters and perhaps, too many, unless the author had lengthened the story. There’s missed opportunity of character development. The story itself is exciting and intriguing as well. It’s a definite page turner and enjoyable. It’s not her best, but still worth reading.

The Red Hunter by Lisa Unger

The Red Hunter

 

Five pages was all it took for me to get enthralled in this story. Five pages to get captivated by the first protagonist. Five pages and I can’t wait to read the next page, the next chapter.

I’m about halfway done and I’m blown away by Zoey. She is one of those characters where I find myself saying, “Oh my God, I thought I was the only who felt like that”. Lisa’s writing is simply amazing.

Finished today and like her previous novel, “Ink and Bone”, The Red Hunter stays with you. There’s themes of the good and bad within all of us, of tearing down to rebuild, of healing from trauma and finding your own strength.

Zoey survives the murder of her parents, while being tortured and left for dead. She studies Kung Fu and embraces the spirituality that goes with it.

Claudia survives a brutal assault in her own home and lives with the triggers of PTSD. She takes on a home restoration project away from the ghosts of her past.

This novel is, in my opinion, one of Lisa Unger’s best. It’s gripping, compelling and powerful. I enjoyed it and am definitely recommending it to others.

Echoes in Death by JD Robb

Echoes in Death by JD Robb

Echoes and ripples, events that shape other events and ripples from events that cause other ripples that touch other ripples. Not trying to appear Zen like, its just what came to mind as I finished the latest story. I have read and re-read this series many times, but haven’t enjoyed the last few books. This one was good and a thoughtful read it’s just still not as good as the first 30 in the series. No Nadine and no Mavis. Nadine has been quiet in the last couple and I’m not sure why NY’s finest reporter isn’t around. She’s missed.

I agree with another reviewer who wrote that some of the dialogue didn’t match the characters. For those of us diehard Dallas fans, we know these characters inside and out. And this book was lacking in a lot of familiar aspects.

Black Out: A Novel by Lisa Unger

Great storyline, nail-biting psychological thriller. There’s a saying, “If you feel alone, read a scary book and then you won’t feel alone anymore.” This is one of those, that your ears will start to wonder about the creak you thought you heard in the hallway. And what was that you saw out of the corner of your eye? Perhaps I will just stay awake and watch something very benign on tv. With all the lights on.

I have read most of Unger’s novels and have been extremely impressed with how accurately her characters who have PTSD or have suffered trauma are represented. I really enjoyed this story because of the strength of the main character. I completely got her – the split persona of the person she was before the traumatic event and the person she became as a result. Finding her own hero within herself, and the strength it takes to do that.

Meatless by Martha Stewart

Meatless

I am new to the world of meatless and vegetarian recipes and meals. I have checked out a few cookbooks from my local library and took a chance and bought this one by Martha Stewart. One of the things I have always liked about Martha is the fact that she is a wonderful teacher. She never assumes that I automatically know how to do things, which is very smart of her. She teaches at a beginners level and she explains the whys in addition to the hows.

Almost every recipe in Meatless that I have tried has been absolutely fantastic. I even love tempeh now. Definitely 4 star restaurant meals. And they look so appealing. I have been cooking using this particular cookbook about 3-4 times a week. Highly recommend.

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