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 Surrogate, by Louise Jensen

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About the book:

‘You know that feeling? When you want something so badly, you almost feel you’d kill for it?’

Be careful what you wish for…

Kat and her husband Nick have tried everything to become parents, and are on the point of giving up. Then a chance encounter with Kat’s childhood friend Lisa gives Kat and Nick one last chance to achieve their dream.

But Kat and Lisa’s history hides dark secrets.

And there is more to Lisa than meets the eye.

As dangerous cracks start to appear in Kat’s perfect picture of happily-ever-after, she realises that she must face her fear of the past to save her family…

My review:

This was the first book by Louise Jensen that I read and I absolutely enjoyed it! I loved everything about it – the twisty plot, amazing representation of emotions of a woman who so desperately wants to be a mother, the ending – everything.

The interesting thing about this book is that you don’t necessarily like or relate to the main characters but you just would love to know what will happen with them. Can’t put the book down even for a night or work, it’s totally captivating.

I really enjoyed the suspense and connection to the past tragedy that was unwrapping slowly.

The author’s writing style is beautiful, very smooth and compelling. There is nothing to change.

I’d recommend this book to all fans of psychological thrillers.

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.

Books on the train: The Girl in the Ice, by Robert Bryndza

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About the book:

Her eyes are wide open. Her lips parted as if to speak. Her dead body frozen in the ice…She is not the only one.

When a young boy discovers the body of a woman beneath a thick sheet of ice in a South London park, Detective Erika Foster is called in to lead the murder investigation.

The victim, a beautiful young socialite, appeared to have the perfect life. Yet when Erika begins to dig deeper, she starts to connect the dots between the murder and the killings of three prostitutes, all found strangled, hands bound and dumped in water around London.

What dark secrets is the girl in the ice hiding?

As Erika inches closer to uncovering the truth, the killer is closing in on Erika.

The last investigation Erika led went badly wrong… resulting in the death of her husband. With her career hanging by a thread, Erika must now battle her own personal demons as well as a killer more deadly than any she’s faced before. But will she get to him before he strikes again?