"Outside a dog a book is man's best friend, inside a dog it is too dark to read!" -Groucho Marx========="The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid." -Jane Austen========="I don’t believe in the kind of magic in my books. But I do believe something very magical can happen when you read a good book."-JK Rowling========"I spend a lot of time reading." -Bill Gates=========“Ahhh. Bed, book, kitten, sandwich. All one needed in life, really.” -Jacqueline Kelly=========

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

Short Book Reviews with Quotes

Summer is officially over and now I have to clean up my blog and catch up on my past due reviews. It is time for some more quick, short reviews with a few quotes to give you an idea of the writing style.


 Mercy Street by Jennifer Haigh
Audiobook, HarperAudio, Feb. 2022. Read by Heidi Glemboski

Summary: Claudia is a counselor at a Woman's Clinic in Boston. In addition to general health checks, abortions are offered at the clinic. Claudia counsels patients about their options and the clinic offers them second chances. Outside the clinic, however, are anti-abortion activists who stand guard every day threatening and harassing patients and staff. Their presence creates an ever-present sense of tension and threat. To relieve this tension, Claudia often stops off after work to buy and smoke pot with Timmy, her pot dealer and friend. He has all kinds of problems and issues but always shoves them onto the back shelf as his days revolve around using and selling illegal drugs. Sometimes Claudia meets other patrons when she is at Timmy's house, one, Anthony, happens to be an anti-abortion activist. He spends most of his time on-line with other true believers in the right-to-life cause. One of those on-line friends is Victor who decides he will do something decisive about Mercy Street Clinic.

Review: This book couldn't be anymore NOW if it tried. No issue is always right and always wrong as we see through the characters in Mercy Street. Abortion providers aren't out there providing abortions joyously and anti-abortion people aren't necessarily kind, loving, and gentle people. Folks who buy and use drugs aren't always big money-grubbers, nor are all the people who use the drugs awful people. I saw in Mercy Street what I could see in my own community if I looked hard enough -- a lot of polarized people who think their position is right, often without context or compassion. As I listened to the audiobook I found myself so frustrated by complexities of these life issues and polarity of our society. One time I even yelled out (to myself) that I hated the book. What I think I was really reacting to was hating to the political and sociological situation we find ourselves in America today. This is a book club selection. I guarantee we will have a good discussion.

“Preventing her abortion was all they cared about. The bleak struggle of her life—the stark daily realities that made motherhood impossible—didn’t trouble them at all.” 
Rating: 4 stars 


Inheritance: A Visual Poem by Elisabeth Acevedo
Quill Tree Books, May 2022. 48 pages long.

Summary: Elisabeth Acevedo, the award-winning author of Poet X, embraces all the complexities of Black hair and Afro-Latinidad--the history, pain, pride, and powerful love of that inheritance. It is beautifully illustrated by Andrea Pippins.

Review: I read this poem aloud to my husband after he and I made a trip to the library together last week. I'd recently read a book which touched on the topic of Black hair, So You Want to Talk About Race, so I found this poem reinforced my new knowledge about respecting differences and allowing people to express their personal beauty without any judgement from me! It was a quick read.

"They tell me to "fix" my hair.

And by fix, they mean straighten, they mean whiten;

but how do you fix this shipwrecked

history of hair?" 

Rating: 4 stars


Break Shot: My First 21 Years by James Taylor
Audible Audio, Jan. 2020. 

Summary: Recorded in his home studio, The Barn in western Massachusetts, Taylor tells the deeply personal story of his youth, which is entwined with the story of his family. What started as an idyllic tight unit soon became a family sent to different emotional corners—like a break shot in the game of pool, he says, when you slam the cue ball into the fifteen other balls and they all go flying off. By the time Taylor released his breakout second album in 1970, "Sweet Baby James", he had seen the disintegration of his parents’ marriage and his family crumble in the aftermath. He had committed himself twice to a psychiatric hospital, battled depression, a heroin addiction, suffered a relapse, and traveled far away from the wood smoke and moonshine of the North Carolina landscapes in which he came of age. Despite it all, he was also on the cusp of superstardom and on his way to bringing light and joy to millions. He was 21. (Publisher)

Review: I love James Taylor. I owned this second album, "Sweet Baby James" and played the heck out of it. I've been his fan since I was a preteen, growing up in Oregon. The listening experience of this audiobook was fantastic. Break Shot combines storytelling, music and performance to create a one-of-a-kind listening experience. It was only 2 1/2 hours long, so it more like listening to a podcast than a book. I enjoyed it very much.

“The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.”

Rating: 4.5 ratings


Complications: A Surgeon's Notes on an Imperfect Science by Atul Gawande
Picadour USA, April 2002.

Summary: A brilliant and courageous doctor reveals, in gripping accounts of true cases, the power and limits of modern medicine. (Publisher)
Review: I loved Atul Gawande's Being Mortal so much when I saw this book at a used book sale I bought it without exploring it deeply. When I started reading it I realized it was pretty outdated, being published 20 years ago. Once I settled in, I did enjoy the writing and the examples Since I am not a medical practitioner it didn't really matter to me that some of the techniques he described are outdated. I gave it to my mother, a nurse, thinking she'll enjoy it too.

 “We look for medicine to be an orderly field of knowledge and procedure. But it is not. It is an imperfect science, an enterprise of constantly changing knowledge, uncertain information, fallible individuals, and at the same time lives on the line. There is science in what we do, yes, but also habit, intuition, and sometimes plain old guessing. The gap between what we know and what we aim for persists. And this gap complicates everything we do.” 
Rating: 4 stars


We Are Called To Be A Movement by Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II
Workman Publishing, June 2020. 96 pages. 

Summary: It's time for everyone who cares about the state of our nation to heed the call and join forces to redeem the soul of America. It's time to come together and renounce the politics of rejection, division, and greed. It's time to lift up the common good, move up to higher ground, and revive the heart of democracy. In a single, rousing sermon, the celebrated Reverend William J. Barber II of the Poor People’s Campaign makes an impassioned argument whose message could not be clearer: It's time for change, and the time needs you. (Publisher)

Review: I attend an event, pre-COVID, where Barber was the keynote speaker. At that event and in this sermon, Barber makes an impassioned plea for all of us to join hands to help alleviate the plight of disadvantaged/poor people. It was a quick book to read, but I hope it will continue to simmer in my heart for a long time.


Rating: 5 stars



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