“Reading is an act of civilization; it’s one of the greatest acts of civilization because it takes the free raw material of the mind and builds castles of possibilities.” —Ben Okri
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More books worth your time
- TOO MUCH AND NEVER ENOUGH
- Written by Mary Trump and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
- ISBN 13: 978-1982141462
- Simon & Schuster; 1 edition (July 14, 2020)
Bizarre Behaviors and
the Father that Fostered Them
What makes a woman write a tell-all memoir about her family? In Mary Trump’s case it was to inform the public about Donald Trump’s history and upbringing, which explains his self-before-service attitude towards his country, the government, and the people who need his leadership. She summarized her uncle’s actions succinctly when she said, “Donald, following the lead of my grandfather and with the complicity, silence and inaction of his siblings, destroyed my father. I can’t let him destroy my country.”
With a PhD in psychology, Mary Trump explains her uncle’s bizarre behaviors in ways others might not. After all, she had a first-hand look at the family for many years. She tells us that lying is expected, that one can never be soft, and that honest emotion is a weakness among the Trumps. These were her grandfather’s rules. When he tried to impose them on his older son, Freddie, who was also Mary’s father, they didn’t work. Freddie felt things. He had passions of his own. When he became an airline pilot her Uncle Donald was waiting in the wings, eager to earn the approval that Fred, Sr. could never give. Donald Trump learned cruelty from his father, and now, with no father figure and no moral grounding, he flounders.
Still, we Americans chose him, perhaps with some outside help. Ms. Trump wrote the book out of fear of what might happen if we chose him again. She’s telling us about a background beyond Donald Trump’s control combined with the belief that lying and cheating are the way to win. If you don’t want the leader of the free world to have this kind of philosophy Ms. Trump gives an abundance of reasons to vote for someone else. She fills in a lot of missing or suspected information and tells a story that no one else can. At 225 pages this is a quick, fascinating, and well-researched account of the past and what it is costing this country.
- THE COSMIC TURKEY
- Written by Laura Ruth Loomis and Reviewed by Aline Soules.
- Thinklings Books, 2020
- ISBN: 9781951471057
- $12.99 (print), $3.99 (e-book).
The Cosmic Turkey — A Fun Read
“Thanks to recent advances in technology, my floatcar can self-navigate, adjust for traffic, and insult my outfit—but it still can’t find me a decent parking space. If it could, I might have avoided the arrest that started the whole mess.” How can we stop reading after an opening like that?
Hauled into court for “wanton and mildly atrocious destruction of government property,” our heroine, Janet, finds herself spending a year in the Galactic Universal Peacemongering Paradigm Emergent Action Spacefleet, GUPPEAS for short. She is assigned to be captain of a spaceship, “a battered husk of metal shaped like an ugly long-necked bird—a turkey, maybe—with the tail about to fall off,” which it does. Their mission? To rescue Dr. Pilar Villarreal, imprisoned on Pluto.
Cosmic Turkey is as delightful a romp as we’re likely to encounter. The heroine, Janet, begins life in Connecticut, but soon she is off to Pluto and galaxies galore. As she stumbles and bumbles her way through one planet after another and one adventure after another, we fall in love with her technological ineptitude, her sense of inadequacy as she assumes the helm of her spaceship, her struggles to lead her crazy crew, and her feelings for Beau Dangere and his sometime girlfriend, Richena.
If that wasn’t enough, we have the pleasure of watching the characters cope with the banning of caffeine—the sad absence of chocolate and coffee—and the efforts the characters make to cope with their withdrawal and reverse this arbitrary authoritarian decree.
Will Janet and her crew succeed in their mission? Will Janet and Beau get together? Will all come right in the end?
The author, Laura Ruth Loomis, offers us her wild imagination, her humor, and an enchanting dose of charm. From floatcars to spaceships to a game of curling on Pluto’s ice, Loomis lets her mind take her from one outrageous idea to the next. Yet, through it all, the novel is beautifully structured and we are confident that this author knows her craft. No matter how mad the idea, she shapes it into a puzzle piece that fits into the novel in exactly the right place.
Her book is a fun read. Cosmic Turkey lets us escape the world for a few hours and revel in the pleasure of a tale well told. And a little birdie told me there might be a sequel. I can’t wait.
Review by Aline Soules, Author, Evening Sun; Emerita Librarian and former selector, Juvenile/Young Adult Collections, Cal State East Bay. http://alinesoules.com, @aline_elisabeth, https://www.linkedin.com/in/alinesoules/, https://www.facebook.com/alinesoulesauthor.
- SO YOU WANT TO TALK ABOUT RACE
- Written by Ijeoma Oluo and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
- Seal Press
- ISBN: 978-1580056779
Are you a racist? Are you sure? It’s a tough subject, and while almost no one wants to be a racist, most white people have some racist habits they don’t even know about. In So You Want To Talk About Race, Ijeoma Oluo confronts behaviors and encourages readers to check their defensiveness and learn to listen. She makes the point that you never really know a person until you walk around in their shoes, which has been a universal truth since Atticus Finch said it in To Kill a Mockingbird.
We are products of our society and the way we were brought up.
Assimilation does not take diversity into account.
No one can take away your right to be angry.
Everyone deserves a voice and fair treatment.
One culture is not better than another.
Your truth may not be someone elses.
Oluo shares her world, her point of view, and her observations of the world. Depending on who you are and what you have experiences, her assertions could make you shudder or nod in agreement. Her words may make you angry, defensive, or grateful for the recognition.
So You Want To Talk About Race is written by a black author who wants to wake white readers up. Right now many of us are ready to wake up and support other people and other cultures. This accessible guide to awareness challenges us to discuss our truths, face them, and take action.
- WHEN I WAS YOU
- Written by Minka Kent and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
- ISBN #: 978-1542005555
- Thomas and Mercer Publishers
What is wrong with Kate and Naill? Are they roommates? Husband and wife? Or something else? And what happens when someone steals your identity and manipulates your mind? There’s so much to discover in Minka Kent’s When I Was You.
A brutal attack, followed by severe headaches and excessive confusion, make Brienne Dougray afraid to leave her house. She realizes someone is masquerading as her. Same car. Same hair. Same clothes. Same name. What she can’t understand is why. Her new tenant, Dr. Niall Emberlin watches out for her, and (bonus points) he’s attractive. But when she wants to confront the other Brienne, he shares a startling truth that brings her both hope and confusion.
As author Minka Kent explores alternating point of view, readers discover what can happen when a woman becomes convinced that she can’t remember her own reality. Scary stuff! It’s fiction with the possibility of becoming reality. The plot twists and turns and though all the character’s motivations may not thrill readers, they’re valid and sometimes horrifying. The alternating points of view revealed more than readers might have imagined, and the tone has a strong impact on readers.
What is the truth, and what will it take for Brienne to discover it? There are elements of suspense and misunderstanding that shift like sand as they keep readers ripping through pages to figure out what is really going on.
- EVERYTHING IS A BIG DEAL—UNTIL IT’S NOT
- Written by Laurie Condon and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
- Print ISBN: 978-1-68433-376-9
- Published by Black Rose Writing
In Your Head
Laurie Condon’s short, wise, funny and honest collection of personal essays might just knock your socks off. Assuming you wear socks.
At the ripe old age of 50, Condon reflects on who she is, where she’s come from, and where she’s going in Everything Is a Big Deal, Until It’s Not. I loved her name for her husband, Superman, as much as I love her bold-faced honesty as she confronts her fears and behaviors openly and honestly. Whether she’s talking about menopause, alcohol, aging, her early boyfriends, Assman, and Dickhead, her writing is a blend of stand-up comedy and the Sun Magazine’s personal essays.
She realizes that “much of a relationship takes place in your own head” and “There are certain people who come into your life for a specific purpose, others for a certain time frame like high school or college, and then there are the lifers.” Pepper that with quips like ““Superman suggested I just make a bunch of new heavy friends and wear leggings,” and you have a sampling of her wisdom and spirit.
Whether you’ve reached 50, want to approach it wisely, or are looking back, this book will give you perspective on the author’s life and help you find some of your own. Who couldn’t use a laugh right now? Highly recommended.
- Written by Chelsea Bieker and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
- ISBN: 978-1948226486
- Catapult (March 31, 2020)
Finding Her Way Out
Sometimes it’s hard to see a trap when you are stuck in the middle of it. Humans need approval and attention, and most of them prefer to do what’s right. Sometimes, though, if a young woman is surrounded by a manipulator or two, she can lose track of what right and wrong really are. Chelsea Bieker’s Godshot gives new meaning to the experiences of loving an alcoholic mother, being trapped by false promises, and becoming a free woman with an independent mind.
When 14-year-old Lacey May “gets her blood” Pastor Vern promises her and every other girl in the church a “special assignment” that will help the fictitious town of Peaches, California get passed the drought destroying their crops. He promises things will be normal or better, if people accept his guidance. But what’s normal for Lacey May is an alcoholic mother who abandons her, a grandmother who neglects her, and values she picks out of the romance novels her mother left behind. Lacey May has a mind of her own and the friendship of some women in town who help her use it. If water is a source of life then drought is a source of pain and death. Readers will applaud that Lacey May is smart enough to find her way out.
Bieker’s novel is about desperation, girls becoming women, false promises, poverty, resilience, empowerment, curiosity, need, hope and so much more. It’s a non-linear, poetic exploration of right, wrong, and self-preservation. Bieker is a first-class writer and this award-winning debut novel drew me in and made me want to hang on for the roller-coaster ride as Lacey May starts down the road to a life of her own.
- DAWSON’S FALL
- Written by Roxana Robinson and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
- Publisher: Picador (August 2020)
- ISBN-13: 978-1250619662
Conscience: A Reason to Act
At the risk of starting with a cliché, truth is sometimes stranger than fiction. Such is the case in Roxana Robinson’s Reconstruction era drama, Dawson’s Fall. Based on the journals and stories of her ancestors, Robinson weaves a tale of her journalist great grandfather, who came to this country to fight for the confederacy and the Southern woman he married.
In the prelude, Robinson says, “We were taught that principle was more important than money or comfort or peer pressure; that conscience was a reason to act.” Her story of the Dawsons, their family, their governess, the nextdoor neighbor, lust, the newspaper, and the culture of the South during reconstruction all play roles in the unexpected outcome, which I refuse to give away.
This is a true story that includes excerpts from Sarah Morgan Dawson’s journal. In addition to being informative and enlightening, her journal entries show us that language changes. For a contemporary audience, Robinson’s writing is more accessible. Though the first half of the book is a little slow in places, I am so glad I stuck around for the second half. The action flies there complicating issues and lives.
If you like either historical fiction or biography, you’ll enjoy Robinson’s extremely well written story.