“I had to become who I wanted to be.” ~~Ruth Rymer
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- RAISING THE BAR: A Lawyer’s Memoir
- Written by Ruth Rymer and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
- ISBN #:978-1662832048
- Mill City Press
Helping Women Rise Above Fear
Ruth Rymer has always been a determined woman. Raised by non-demonstrative parents, she decided to become an attorney when she was thirteen. Although she faced all kinds of roadblocks, including the fact that she is a woman, she turned the situation around and chaired the commission that established family law in California. She tells the story of her life, her family, her law career, and other accomplishments and tragedies in Raising the Bar: A Lawyer’s Memoir.
After growing up with intelligent but aloof parents, Rymer passed the bar in 1971, a year before Ruth Bader Ginsburg became general counsel to the ACLU Women’s Rights Project. As a newly minted attorney who had already experienced narcissism at home, Rymer made it her mission to root out misogyny in her professional life. In those days the starting salary for women is $1.65 for men and $1.35 for women, even if they were doing the same job. It could be challenging for a woman to get credit or even open a bank account in some states without a man to sign for her.
After marriage, three children, and a life that did not suit her, Ruth Rymer became an attorney on her fortieth birthday. Her law career included establishing family law as a certified specialty in California, which was a huge boon to women who lived under the thumb of power-hungry men. In 1996, Rymer was awarded a PhD for her study of divorce and the fight of women for their “lives, safety, sanity, and status.” In other words she helped women have the legal tools necessary to succeed in life. Her story is exceptional, and so are her contributions.
Thousands of women still benefit from Rymer’s courage and determination. In clear, direct prose she shows us how to rise above fear, take courage in hand, and become a leader in whatever field you chose. Like so many pioneering women, only her immediate circle would know her story unless she shared it herself. This is primary source material for anyone studying family law, and an excellent example of a woman sharing her truths without embellishment. It’s a good, quick read, especially for women who feel disempowered. Her story will get you back on your feet.
- END OF DAYS
- Written by Brad Taylor and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
- ISBN #: ISBN-13 : 978-0063210967
- Publisher: William Morrow, January 11, 2022
Taking Control of Evil
What is it like to fight crime as a secret agent? Ask author Brad Taylor. A retired Lieutenant Colonel, he has been writing the adventures of Pike Logan, a U.S. agent and one of the founding fathers of a secret group of elite agents controlled by the National Security Council for quite a while.
His latest adventure in the sixteenth Pike Logan novel, End of Days, takes us to the complex world of the Middle East, where Israeli and Muslim forces battle in quests to prove their philosophy is the right one. Pike must stop a deranged killer, Garrett and his cronies, who are determined to create mayhem between Israel and the surrounding nations in a battle motivated by a desire for revenge and a thirst for power as well as a desire to fulfill a biblical prophecy by destroying the third temple at Armageddon so that Christ can return, bringing about the end of days. Will contemporary justice prevail or will Garrett and his cohorts initiate the end of days predicted in the Bible?
After months confined in Charleston, SC because of COVID, Pike Logan and Jennifer Cahill are planning their wedding when two trusted Israeli allies, Shoshana and Aaron interrupt to inform them they’re needed to counteract this covert group currently hiding inside a long-standing, charitable organization called the Knights of Malta. Will Pike and his team be able to stop Garrett’s cohorts before they put the final battle between good and evil into play?
This thriller is filled with action, adventure, and characters driven to overcome evil. The first half of the book had me running to Google to check the names and relationships of countless Middle Eastern places and groups. Not a bad thing. My understanding of these complex relationships grew.
Readers will be deeply engaged in the tension and mesmerized by the terror of the second half of End of Days. Brad Taylor, who retired as a Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel is an skilled author who writes about what he knows. He holds a Master’s of Science in Defense Analysis from the Naval Postgraduate School, with a concentration in Irregular Warfare. In 2011, Taylor published his debut novel, One Rough Man, an immediate success that launched the Pike Logan series. Now with more than 15 installments and more than 3 million copies sold, the series has consistently hit the New York Times bestseller list.
This is perfect for fans of thrillers and action-packed stories of daring men and women who’ll do anything to defy the obstacles and with a battle.
- WHEN GHOSTS COME HOME
- Written by Wiley Cash and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
- ISBN # 978-0062312662
- Published by William Morrow (September 21, 2021)
The Lengths Men Will Go To
When do we have trouble seeing the big picture? Often it happens when we’re in the midst of a chilling situation. Who can you trust? Who has malicious motives, and how do you prove it? Wiley Cash’s When Ghosts Come Home explores systemic racism, justice, duty, family, and menacing evil through the eyes of a small town sheriff, Winston Barnes, who is seeking justice after a man is found dead in his car at 3 a.m. a week before the upcoming election.
Set in a small North Carolina town in 1984, the book opens with a call about an airplane that has crashed on the runway of the local airport. There’s no pilot or cargo, but the body of a dead Black man lies close to the plane. So what happened? Who shot whom? And how does Sheriff Barnes’ daughter, who recently lost her son, fit into the picture? These are only a few of the questions you’ll be asking yourself as you read about families, neighbors, and the struggles that people endure.
The story is tightly plotted and complex—like much of the lives we live day-to-day. The characters are well-developed, three-dimensional people who may remind you of your neighbors. Cash’s exploration of themes is admirable but not conclusive. He presents the reader with facts, fears, and suppositions, but no clear-cut definitive answers to life’s big questions. The ending shares an unnerving discovery or two about the lengths men will go to in order to hide evil deeds. Part murder mystery and part examination of the philosophies that thrived forty years ago, this story is quite relevant, informative, and entertaining today.
Award-winning author Wiley Cash is the New York Times best selling author of When Ghosts Come Home, The Last Ballad, A Land More Kind than Home, and This Dark Road to Mercy. He currently serves as Alumni Author-in-Residence at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, and I’m intrigued enough to want to read more of his work. If you want a mystery with grit, thought, and nuance, this book is for you.
- HIDDEN VALLEY ROAD
- Written by Robert Kolker and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
- ISBN 9780525562641
- Published by Anchor in 2020
Behind Closed Doors
There’s an enormous amount scientists don’t know about the causes of schizophrenia. Given an opportunity leapt at the opportunity to learn how much of the disease is genetic and how much may be caused by the home environment. Before you decide this story is too scientific or unsolvable, you need to know that Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family contains vivid scenes of family interactions, unnerving behaviors, unsettling diagnoses useless prescriptions, and other choices that don’t help. Robert Kolker’s narrative is thoroughly researched and he makes excellent use of his journalistic skills as he tells the story of a family in which the father wanted more children, the mother complied, and they had ten boys before they gave birth to two girls.
On the outside the Galvins looked like an impressive and accomplished couple. There was a life of upward mobility fueled by hard work. But behind the doors of the house on Hidden Valley Road a far different reality existed: psychological breakdown, sudden shocking violence, and hidden abuse were all a part of the picture that looked so blissful on the outside. Six of the ten Galvin boys, one after the other, were diagnosed with schizophrenia. And the other six children stood by, horrified, with no way of knowing whether they would be next. But did everyone have the same disease or was some misdiagnosis mixed in with abundant fear?
Kolker interviewed the two youngest children, both girls, as well as talking to the boys who survived. Death came early for some, including the parents—a controlling father and an overwhelmed mother who tried to care for all of her children—despite the impossibility of such a task.
Dysfunction and illness combined with tragic results for the Galvins. Scientists discovered there’s probably a genetic component to schizophrenia and other mental illnesses. After all, certain families carry genes for cancer, Alzheimer’s, and leukemia in their genetic make up.
Kolker’s book is a thought-provoking look at mental illness and family dynamics. His earlier book, Lost Girls, was a New York Times Best Seller and a New York Times Notable Book. This one was an instant #1 New York Times best-seller and Oprah’s Book Club selection. Kolker is an outstanding writer with a great deal to say. Read or listen to the wisdom he shares.
- CASTE: The Origins of Our Discontents
- Written by Isabel Wilkerson and Reviewed by Julie Grisham
- ISBN #: 978-0241501207
- Publisher: Random House (August, 2020)
A World Without Caste
Julie Grisham, a member of our AAUW Book Club, was unable to attend the December meeting. She sent some great notes on the book we’d selected, Isabel Wilkerson’s Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. We all loved what she said and I asked if I could share it here. She wasn’t intending it to be a book review, but her opinions and voice come through loudly and clearly in this honest review.
I was drawn into this book from the very beginning with Einstein’s quote “If the majority knew of the root of this evil, then the road to its cure would not be long.”
I thought I had a pretty good understanding of racism and at least a bit of knowledge about caste and the difference between the two as well as some knowledge of the history and atrocities caused by caste and racism. I was wrong. The education I received from reading this book was so eye opening and humbling and mind numbing. The author did an amazing job describing the caste system in America, India and Nazi Germany and how pervasive and deep-rooted this system is and remains today.
I had no idea that Nazi Germany looked to America to get ideas on how to terrorize, torture and eliminate non-Aryan people. By looking at how we treated our Native Americans and our African American population, they used our examples to create a world of agony and terror for millions of people. And why didn’t I know this?! For obvious reasons, this was not taught during my own education. The horror of Nazi Germany lasted more than a decade. Our American caste system and all of its atrocities have been with us for over 200 years and are still blatantly in action.
Throughout the book I often thought…ok points well made but how can this go on for 400 pages. Yet every page taught me another lesson or gave me greater insight into caste and why the subtitle “The Origins of our Discontent” is so appropriate.
And I love picturing what the author tries to help us envision…a world without caste.
I think this book is excellent, well written and horrifically educational. This book should be a must read for everyone.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts with the book club and with Writer Advice, Julie.
- COUNT THE WAYS
- Written by Joyce Maynard and Reviewed by B. Lynn Goodwin
- ISBN #: 978-0062398277
- William Morrow (July 13, 2021)
Love, Pain, Forgiveness and More
What is the cost of holding on and is it higher than the cost of letting go? What is the cost of telling your children the truth and what is the cost of hiding it? Joyce Maynard’s narrator, Eleanor explores protection, love, marriage, children, divorce and other unanticipated changes in Maynard’s newest novel, Count the Ways.
Eleanor and her husband, Cam, meet at a craft faire where he’s selling hand made burl bowls. She’s a successful children’s writer and illustrator. Opposites attract. Already the owner of a farm she wants to live on forever, they soon live there together. She loves his company, his handsome body, and his relaxed approach to life. With three lively children in their lives, she finds herself supporting the family as well as working to be the perfect mother. Publishing contract canceled? She’ll find another way to bring in money. Someone has to. There are bills to pay and Cam gives away more bowls than he sells. Christmas cake not appreciated? She’ll slam her masterpiece into the trash.
She gives and gives until Cam does something that alters the life of their youngest child. Their marriage falters irreparably. How can she ever forgive him? Her resentments and perfectionism grow in leaps and bounds. How much will both of them lose and how will it impact their children?
Maynard writes with finesse, foreshadowing outcomes without predicting them. Her attention to detail brings each moment to life. Pain is often a part of loving someone, and Maynard depicts the full range of events and emotions this family goes through with empathy. It’s a beautiful story covering a lifetime of love, loss, and rebirth. There’s a lot to identify with in this book.