Bury the Past by James L’Etoile

From Goodreads: Sacramento Police Detectives John Penley and Paula Newberry are enlisted to investigate a case involving the trafficking of stolen street drugs. But they quickly find it’s more difficult than they first imagined when the crime is being committed by a group of corrupt cops undermining the system.

This is actually book #2 of the Detective Penley series by James L’Etoile. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed this book. Bury the Past is set in Sacramento, all the key locations are familiar to me. It’s also obvious that the author has great insider information on California prisons, CSP-SAC (California State Prison – Sacramento) in particular. The protagonist is complex and interesting. The bad guy is creepy and smart. The cops are three dimensional. I liked the author’s approach. It made everything more credible.

Only one problem with the book that bugged me–I know the Sacramento locations too well. When the author describes Southside park, he mentions 15th Street. Southside is a little further up, on 5th. Must have been an editing error, because nearly everything else is on right on point, including the author’s dry wit about the condos around the park.

This was a page-turner. Recommended. 

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward.

Amelia Earhart

Scary Close by Donald Miller

From Goodreads: After decades of failed relationships and painful drama, Donald Miller decided he’d had enough. Impressing people wasn’t helping him connect with anyone. He’d built a life of public isolation, yet he dreamed of meaningful relationships. So at forty years old he made a scary decision: to be himself no matter what it cost.

I picked up Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Acquiring a Taste for True Intimacy, not for the title, but for the structure, as it was recommended for its structure by a memoir / non-fiction writing teacher.

The structure was good and made for an extremely easy read.

I note others have criticized this book for its name-dropping. In some respects I’d have to agree. The author tells us about a whole lot of other people’s advice. And he does attribute the advice accordingly. So, there is a bit of namedropping. It didn’t bother me too much, as the names weren’t familiar to me. I enjoyed the snippets.

“Remarkably, the most common regret of the dying was this: they wish they’d had the courage to live a life true to themselves and not the life others expected of them.”

Donald Miller, Scary Close: Dropping the Act and Acquiring a Taste for True Intimacy

Overall, there are many tidbits and takeaways that I gathered from this book. It was nice, as I was not expecting anything but an idea of how to structure an eminently readable teaching memoir. And I did find that, plus some relationship wisdom along the way.

I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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They Called Us Enemy – Graphic Memoir Review

I am, or was, a big Star Trek fan. George Takei, aka Sulu, always seemed steady at the helm, even at warp speed. As a kid, I loved the crew operating the USS Enterprise. Boldly going where no one had gone before.

From Goodreads: Long before George Takei braved new frontiers in Star Trek, he woke up as a four-year-old boy to find his own birth country at war with his father’s — and their entire family forced from their home into an uncertain future.

Graphic Memoir Cover

My Review: It took me awhile to read this graphic novel. And actually, I can usually read this type of novel in one sitting. This one was hard to get through. Perhaps because the artwork is black and white and the subject matter is upsetting. I was already familiar with the US Supreme Court’s Korematsu decision. A definite negative mark on United States history.

I found the last third of the book compelling, with the critical moments where Japanese Americans were forced into renouncing citizenship, the impacts of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the good fight of some Americans to help the interred Japanese Americans retain their rights (or reacquire them, if more accurate).

It is a good introduction to that era of our history.

Generally, recommended. Four stars out of five.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

Lori Gottlieb’s Maybe You Should Talk to Someone

From Goodreads: One day, Lori Gottlieb is a therapist who helps patients in her Los Angeles practice. The next, a crisis causes her world to come crashing down. Enter Wendell, the quirky but seasoned therapist in whose office she suddenly lands. With his balding head, cardigan, and khakis, he seems to have come straight from Therapist Central Casting. Yet he will turn out to be anything but.

My Review of Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

This is a fairly popular book and you’re likely to see it on a number of top booklists between 2019 (when published) and now. The title intrigued me. And someone who really liked this book prompted me to pick it up.

I really liked the intimacy of this book. Whenever there’s therapy involved, especially “authentic” therapy, it feels intimate. We become the “fly on the wall” observing someone else’s struggle.

I also enjoyed the insight into how therapists think and treat their patients.

And of course, the conclusion of the book was profound.

Recommended reading, but not light reading. 

Rating: 5 out of 5.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley

From Goodreads: On a remote island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate the wedding of Jules Keegan and Will Slater…Everyone on the island has a secret. Everyone has a motive. And someone won’t leave this wedding alive.

My Review of The Guest List

Creepy. The story, that is. I started out reading this one a little slowly because it definitely set the tone for the mystery and the later scare. The perspective shifts from character to character were really quite masterful, and the story ended with a WOW.

Plot was intricate. Characters were sometimes larger than life, but also had twists of humanity that made the “bad” characters less unlikable.

Once I got about a third of the way in, I just kept going. Always a sign of a good story, and good writing.


Rating: 5 out of 5.

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