Friday, January 24, 2020

With All Due Respect: Defending America with Grit and Grace

Blunt. Nikki Haley’s memoir titled, With All Due Respect: Defending America with Grit and Grace, is a political novelty. She doesn’t speak out of school and settles few scores on these pages (one or two worthy targets get their comeuppance again, bless their hearts.) Based on timing, this is also not the opening salvo in a political campaign. It is a blunt appraisal of many contemporary issues, and a personal story about how Haley’s life experience and principles guided her actions in public life. Agree or disagree with her positions, but read her story with an open mind, willing to listen to a story of what made her the person she is today. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase With All Due Respect from


Growth. The third installment in Ali Smith’s quartet on the seasons is titled, Spring. This was the installment that I wanted to read first, but Smith surprised me with choosing Autumn as the opener. Spring is a season of surprises and of sprouting. We come to see the new growth of what we had planted and what arrived by unknown means. Smith shows the evidence of what we have planted in society: detention centers and the demonization of immigrants. Surrender to Smith’s take on contemporary life and dream with her on the pages of this finely written novel. This is us. This is now. I can’t wait for the final installment. Rating: Five-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Spring from

Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump

Foreign. Neal Katyal is a Georgetown law professor who has represented both the United States and individual clients at the Supreme Court. Readers of his book titled, Impeach: The Case Against Donald Trump, may doubt his non-partisan claim at the beginning of the book, but those who read to the end, including the appendix, are likely to come away with a greater appreciation of the Constitution, the intentions of the Founders, and why the “perfect” phone call between Presidents Trump and Zelensky documents the kind of offense that merits the pursuit of impeachment and removal because of the specific request for foreign help by President Trump not to support the interests of the United States, but to assist in a re-election campaign. Katyal describes why the Founders were concerned with foreign interference, and why the impeachment remedy is appropriate, and why waiting for the next election is not appropriate. Open minded and informed citizens can read this short book and become better informed about what is at stake in 2020. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Impeach from

Galway Girl

Falcon. Protagonist Jack Taylor is back in the fourteenth novel by Ken Bruen to feature him. Titled Galway Girl, Jack finds himself the target of a team of young killers, led by a woman named Jericho. Bruen takes the bleak and darkens it, but don’t let that discourage you from visiting Galway. Each of the killers has a separate beef with Taylor. Just when I felt I had settled in with the old Jack Taylor, he up and leaves Galway briefly and learns to be a falconer. Bruen uses the falcon to great effect, and Jack soars like the bird in this novel. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Galway Girl from

The Lonely Hour

Intricate. The sixteenth Peculiar Crimes Unit novel by Christopher Fowler is titled, The Lonely Hour. Arthur Bryant is addled and brilliant as always. Partner John May makes a mistake that will have serious consequences, and even Arthur may be unable to get the PCU out of a jam. The title refers to 4a.m., the time when a killer does his dirty deeds. The plot is intricate, and the familiar characters will delight fans of this series. New readers can start here or anywhere and find finely written crime fiction with clever plots and a cast of complex and interesting characters. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Lonely Hour from


Genealogy. The twelfth novel by Robin Cook to feature New York City medical examiners Laurie Montgomery and Jack Stapleton is titled, Genesis. As chief Medical Examiner, Laurie has her hands full, and in this installment, she has major personal issues to deal with as well. The theme in this novel involves the use of DNA and genealogical databases. Fans of medical thrillers are those readers most likely to enjoy this novel and this series. Rating: Three-star (It’s ok) Click here to purchase Genesis from

The Sacrament

Memory. What triggers our recollection of memories? In Olaf Olafsson’s novel titled, The Sacrament, the trigger for protagonist Sister Johanna, a French nun, is her return to Iceland. Two decades after her first investigation into allegations of clerical sexual abuse, a Vatican official from her past asks her to go to Iceland to investigate another allegation. With finely written prose, and insight into human nature, Olafsson draws readers into an examination of memory and secrets. The author sneaks us around the edges of Sister Johanna’s recollections as we learn all that he wants us to observe. Johanna shows readers how nuns inside the institutional Catholic church can be powerless in some respects and vital in others. While there is an examination of suffering in this novel, there’s also deep insight into the nature of love. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Sacrament from