Monday, July 6, 2020

These Women

Voices. Amid the chaos involved with the terror of a serial killer, we hear the voices of a cast of women who know what must be learned, if only someone will listen to them. In her novel titled, These Women, Ivy Pochoda gives five key women clear voices, and adds to the murder mystery tension by having the murderer be the one individual paying attention to the women. The Los Angeles backdrop for this story becomes vivid, and readers will become invested in each of the women that Pochoda presents. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase These Women from amazon.com.

The Heart Is a Full-Wild Beast

Stories. The late John L’Heureux didn’t seem to spend a lot of time thinking about the small questions in life. Instead, in his collection of stories titled, The Heart Is a Full-Wild Beast, readers find thoughtful examination of those moments that change lives. This collection is packed with joy, love, humor and celebrates the range of human behavior that brings the world pleasure. No topic seems to be off limits, as L’Heureux finds the love or the connection or the reasons to live and to carry on. I’ll miss the ways in which this talented writer helped me and other readers wrestle with what life throws us. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Heart Is a Full-Wild Beast from amazon.com.

Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City

Changemakers. Robin Hood Foundation CEO Wes Moore pulls readers of his book titled, Five Days: The Fiery Reckoning of an American City, into the long weekend of Freddie Gray’s death in Baltimore in April 2015. We learn about the city of Baltimore, the root sources of discontent that led to the violence following Gray’s death, and the hopeful signs of a better future. We are introduced to changemakers who we’ll root for and support as they try to make Baltimore a better place. This is one more book that helps privileged white men like me understand better what Black Lives Matter is about, to commit to supporting those trying to effect lasting impact, and to change what I can to make things better. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase Five Days from amazon.com.

The End of October

Pathogens. If living through a real pandemic makes you hungry to read about a fictional one, be sure to read Lawrence Wright’s novel titled, The End of October. I had to keep reminding myself that Wright wrote this novel well before anyone knew about covid-19 because he gets so much of our contemporary experience right. That said, we read fiction for other reasons. Protagonist Dr. Henry Parsons provides one of those reasons. Wright enfleshed this flawed hero with all the human qualities that make us fascinated by other people. This skilled epidemiologist does so much right, makes some big mistakes, and tries to move along, just like us. This thrilling novel provides lots of suspense and a cast of interesting characters, full of good and malice, focused often on the wrong things. Pathogens and nature are powerful forces, as we’re learning, and our human inclinations are not always focused on doing what’s best for ourselves and for others. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase The End of October from amazon.com.

The Warsaw Protocol

Blackmail. Leave it to protagonist Cotton Malone to be in the right place at the right time. Or is it the wrong place at the right time? In the fifteenth installment of the Malone series by Steve Berry, a novel titled, The Warsaw Protocol, Cotton happens to be present for the theft of a sacred object, so he leaps into the fray to catch the thieves and recover the object. Almost immediately, Stephanie Nelle invites him back for a short-term job. What follows is an adventurous plot that involves securing items that are planned to be used to blackmail the president of Poland. Politics, villains, castles and a salt mine are all in the mix for readers of this entertaining action novel. Rating: Four-star (I like it) Click here to purchase The Warsaw Protocol from amazon.com.

Girl, Woman, Other

Ensemble. I enjoy a novel that provides insight into the essence of human behavior especially through the development of a single complex and interesting character. In her superb novel titled, Girl, Woman, Other, Bernardine Evaristo gives us a dozen such characters. Through this chorus readers join a celebration of humanity in a wide range of ages and diversity of identity. Along the way, their stories become part of our stories, and we acknowledge aspects of shared history and experience. I enjoyed every minute I spent in the company of these fascinating characters and this talented writer. Rating: Five-star (I love it) Click here to purchase Girl Woman Other from amazon.com.

Verge

Resilience. There are twenty short stories in the collection by Lidia Yuknavitch titled, Verge. The characters in these stories live on the margins. In lives that are battered from so many sources, there is truth and beauty if one looks in the right places, and an untraveled path out of a current setback can be found. Yuknavitch write prose that sings in celebration of the resilience of the characters she creates. Rating: Three-star (It’s ok) Click here to purchase Verge from amazon.com.