My review: Small great things, by Jodi Picoult

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About the book:

Ruth Jefferson is a labor and delivery nurse at a Connecticut hospital with more than twenty years’ experience. During her shift, Ruth begins a routine checkup on a newborn, only to be told a few minutes later that she’s been reassigned to another patient. The parents are white supremacists and don’t want Ruth, who is African American, to touch their child. The hospital complies with their request, but the next day, the baby goes into cardiac distress while Ruth is alone in the nursery. Does she obey orders or does she intervene?

Ruth hesitates before performing CPR and, as a result, is charged with a serious crime. Kennedy McQuarrie, a white public defender, takes her case but gives unexpected advice: Kennedy insists that mentioning race in the courtroom is not a winning strategy. Conflicted by Kennedy’s counsel, Ruth tries to keep life as normal as possible for her family—especially her teenage son—as the case becomes a media sensation. As the trial moves forward, Ruth and Kennedy must gain each other’s trust, and come to see that what they’ve been taught their whole lives about others—and themselves—might be wrong.

With incredible empathy, intelligence, and candor, Jodi Picoult tackles race, privilege, prejudice, justice, and compassion—and doesn’t offer easy answers. Small Great Things is a remarkable achievement from a writer at the top of her game.

My review:

Oh my! Jodi Picoult did it again! I must say that at some point I just stopped reading Jodi’s books as they started to blur a bit in my head. But then I decided to give this book a go as I’ve heard it is something very special.

And it was for me! This is a powerful book, very bold in expressing the words out loud instead of thinking them. It is probably the best book about everyday racism written by a white author. I am Caucasian, too, but this book did it for me too. Passive racism has so much in common with discrimination of any sort. It is very relatable to many people who feel out of place, who feel it is harder for them to achieve things just because who they are.

Jodi is never afraid to raise difficult topics, but this book is completely different level. I was under so much impression – I couldn’t stop thinking about it, couldn’t get to write a review, couldn’t start another book.

There were a few moment that couldn’t work for me, for example, trying to understand and accept a point of views of a white supremacist. It was really hard for me to relate to his and his wife’s feelings. At the same time it made me think about people with these views. What brought them to think this way and why.

This book makes you think, compare things and have more insights into people’s lives. The research done by the author is incredible which has a great reflection in the book.

I just leave this quote here that really resonated with me throughout the book and after:

“What if the puzzle of the world was a shape you didn’t fit into? And the only way to survive was to mutilate yourself, carve away your corners, sand yourself down, modify yourself to fit? How come we haven’t been able to change the puzzle instead?”

My score is 5* out of 5*.

My review: The Retreat, by Mark Edwards

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About the book:

A missing child. A desperate mother. And a house full of secrets.

Two years ago, Julia lost her family in a tragic accident. Her husband drowned trying to save their daughter, Lily, in the river near their rural home. But the little girl’s body was never found—and Julia believes Lily is somehow still alive.

Alone and broke, Julia opens her house as a writers’ retreat. One of the first guests is Lucas, a horror novelist, who becomes obsessed with finding out what happened to Lily. But within days of his arrival, the peace of the retreat is shattered by a series of eerie events.

When Lucas’s investigation leads him and Julia into the woods, they discover a dark secret—a secret that someone will do anything to protect…

What really happened that day by the river? Why was Lily never found? And who, or what, is haunting the retreat?

From the bestselling author of Follow You Home and The Magpies comes his most terrifying novel yet.

My review:

I have been a fan of Mark Edwards’ books for a while now and was looking forward to this novel.

Going straight to the point, I really enjoyed ‘The Retreat’.  I loved the setting and beautiful presentation of the place. I absolutely adore Wales and the book reminded me of my travels there. I loved all the mysteries and how the plot was revealed in a good, dynamic pace. The best quality of Mark’s books is that it is hard to guess what is really going on, there are so many twists and turns that keep the reader entertained and glued to the pages. That’s what usually happens to me – if I start Mark’s book, I can’t stop until I finish it. Work and life get in the way, but I stay focused 🙂

I also enjoyed an element of the urban legends. It reminded my childhood where we all heard some old stories and were retelling them in different words to the younger ones, adding some particularly scary details. The interesting thing about the urban legends that they founded on something real that often has a simple explanation but a complex reason.

The main character Lucas is quite relatable. He struggles with writing his next horror novel, hence, comes to this new writers’ retreat. I am always curious about the life of the authors, their challenges and successes, so it was good to read a little bit about that as well.

There was one thing that wasn’t believable for me but I keep it a secret not to spoil a book for you.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good psychological thriller with little flashes of horror (but not too many ;). Mark’s plots always bring something new and keep you entertained.

My review: The woman in Cabin 10, by Ruth Ware

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About the book:

Lo Blacklock, a journalist who writes for a travel magazine, has just been given the assignment of a lifetime: a week on a luxury cruise with only a handful of cabins. The sky is clear, the waters calm, and the veneered, select guests jovial as the exclusive cruise ship, the Aurora, begins her voyage in the picturesque North Sea. At first, Lo s stay is nothing but pleasant: the cabins are plush, the dinner parties are sparkling, and the guests are elegant. But as the week wears on, frigid winds whip the deck, gray skies fall, and Lo witnesses what she can only describe as a dark and terrifying nightmare: a woman being thrown overboard. The problem? All passengers remain accounted for and so, the ship sails on as if nothing has happened, despite Lo’s desperate attempts to convey that something (or someone) has gone terribly, terribly wrong.

My review:

Generally, the book was quite entertaining which highly affected the score. It was an easy read, the plot is flowing well, despite obvious discrepancies and questions that never get answered, and keeping reader’s attention. It did remind a little bit of Agatha Christie’s murder style when a murderer is among a small group of people in a confined space. And that’s where the good ends for me.

I am honestly getting tired of women, the main characters, who are damaged, have psychological or substance abuse issues and who can’t get their shit together and can’t figure their own life out. It looks like the stories about ‘Girl on the train’ women attract all the action, interesting and unusual things happen to them, and it all deserves the whole plot to win readers’ hearts. Disappointing and seriously exhausting. ‘Normal’ girls (without anxiety, alcohol abuse, or broken relationships), don’t deserve to be in the books anymore. Hence, I couldn’t relate to Lo at all in this book. Couldn’t really understand or sympathise her.

The plot itself, despite being entertaining, has a lot of questions and doubts that never get resolved. It makes you think that those details were not that important if the author completely ignored answering them. Those moments also don’t make a reader wanting to fantasise about possible answers.  

My score is 3* out of 5*.