How to Fight Racism

Many of us are frustrated and disgusted by the racism we see all around us. However, we don’t know how tohow to fight racism turn our sorrow over racism into solidarity in the advancement of Black and other people of color.

Here is where Tisby’s book comes in. He takes a simple model for racial justice–the arc of racial justice–and uses it to explore awareness of, relationships in, and commitments to social justice. As he explores each area, he gives practical solutions that people can commit to for orienting their lives toward social justice.

I noticed . . .

I noticed how practical many of these solutions were. For example, in the chapter on making friends, he suggests that, rather than doing a church softball league, those looking to further racial justice should join a county rec league. He suggests that people attend public events, such as those at the library to interact with more people in your community. Small life changes can reap great rewards.

I wondered . . .

I wondered how many people were really going to read this book and take it to heart. I find the current reactions of the church to be discouraging.

I was reminded of . . .

I was reminded of Rediscipling the White Church, which is possibly the most helpful book I’ve read for Christians who are attempting to change their racial biases.

I was also reminded of Leading Cross-Culturally, a book written to help Christians who are considering mission work in environments that are not their own.

Surrender to the Cyborgs

surrender to the cyborgsRachel Pierce is a microbiologist for a pharmaceutical company and a whistleblower. Somehow, her whistleblowing has ended up with her convicted of the very crime that she was trying to inform on. She’s just waiting on her appeal to come up, hoping to find herself vindicated.

Rachel’s lawyer convinces her to sign up for bride matching through the Interstellar Brides Program. She finds that she is matched to two Prillon warriors and veterans of the Hive wars. These soldiers are considered damaged by the implants that the Hive implanted within them and are exiled to live on the Colony, a planet far from their home planet.

Rachel decides to refuse her match and place her faith in the US judicial system. Warden Egara gets involved and encourages Rachel’s mate Maxim and his second, Ryston, to break Rachel out of prison.

I noticed . . .

 I noticed that this was another story where more of the story takes place on Earth, and we get to see more of Warden Egara. She’s delightful. I hope that I get to read more about her in some of the other books.

I also noticed that wrongful accusations seem to abound in this series. I really hope that real life police and courts are doing better than the courts in this fictional Earth. Also, I’d like to see a real criminal on earth matched and reformed.

I noticed that Rachel’s scientific abilities make her the perfect person to figure out the Colony’s medical mystery. I enjoyed that she got to use a real talent. That hasn’t really happened in a few books.

I wondered . . .

I wondered if the series will ever feature a second chance for an actual criminal.

I also wondered if mates on the Colony will become more mainstream.

It reminded me of . . .

This book had a lot of similarities with Taken By Her Mates. It even features Jessica and Nial as minor characters, and I love seeing characters who had already been matched.

I was also reminded  of Reliquary because drugs are altering peoples’ physiology in both books. This book is much happier than Reliquary though, and I like that.

Good-Bye, Stacey, Good-Bye

Stacey MicGill’s family is moving back to New York. She’ll be back at her old school with her hold best good-bye stacey good-byefriend, Lanie. There will be opportunities to do many things that Stoneybrook doesn’t offer, and Stacey loves New York.

Moving, however, does come with its downsides. First, her family’s apartment will be less roomy and will have no yard for her to play in. Second, she will miss some of the kids she’s been babysitting for. Third, she’ll have to say good-bye to all her friends in Stoneybrook, including the babysitters club.

I noticed . . .

I noted that this book, unlike many of the books, does not have a “b” story going all. Everything is devoted to Stacey’s move, her yard sale, and her goodbye party.

I also noticed that Stacey is kind of a boring character.

I also noticed that Stacey is ambivalent. She really wants to be both places–Stoneybrook and New York.

I wondered . . .

I wondered how much of a role Stacey will play in future books. I read these books as a child, but other than knowing that we’re not done with Stacey, I don’t remember what happens.

I wondered how Mallory will be as a main character. The next book in the series looks like it’s written from from Mallory’s perspective, so I trust that the answer to this one is a short wait for me.

It reminded me of . . .

I was reminded of Other Peoples’ Houses because it’s another book set in a tight-knit, everyone is in everyone’s business kind of community. Other Peoples’ Houses has more of a Desperate Housewives tone than Baby-Sitters Club.

On that note, Big Little Lies is another close-knit kind of community.

Another book I was reminded of is Not Like the Movies. One of the many things that the main character is dealing with in that book is her best friend getting married and moving away.

The Color of Compromise

color of compromiseJemar Tisby is a historian, and as a historian, he has put together a brief history of the United States, focusing on racism. He gives special attention to the actions of the church, including the historical tendency to compromise with racists instead of taking a stand for Christ. Tisby starts at the beginning of US history and runs his narrative all the way through the modern Black Lives Matter movement. Tisby finishes his books with a list of concrete steps Christians can take towards anti-racism.

I noticed . . .

I noticed that, when given the opportunity to choose to do what is right, the church has usually failed.

I noticed that the church manages to create new theology to justify their compromises.

I noticed that churches and history don’t really seem to change. Only the outward form of what they’re doing changes.

I wondered . . .

I wondered what an anti-racist church would look like.

I wondered if we can count ourselves as true followers of Christ when we so easily forsake God’s principles.

I wondered if there is truly a monolithic orthodox Christian religion.

It reminded me of . . .

I was reminded of Rediscipling the White Church because fixing the racism in the church will require no less than God’s transformation in our affections.

I was also reminded of Jesus and John Wayne because some of the history covered was similar. However, I will concede that Du Mez’s book is far more depressing than Tisby’s book.

Every Note Played

Richard is an accomplished pianist, touring concert halls and playing with the world’s mostevery note played amazing symphony-orchestras. His personal life, however, is a mess. With many affairs, a bitter divorce, and a teenage daughter who barely speaks to him.

Unfortunately, Richard also has ALS. He has watched, over the past eight months, as he has gradually lost the use of his right hand, knowin that this is only the first heartbreaking loss of many that ALS will bring him.

Karina, Richard’s ex-wife, is stuck in a drab and bitter existence, blaming Richard for the end of their marriage and her unfulfilled life as a piano teacher. When she first hears the rumors of Richard’s ALS, she doesn’t want to get involved. However, as she begins to see Richard’s steep decline, she reluctantly becomes his caregiver, affording them both an opportunity to give and seek forgiveness.

I noticed . . .

I noticed that Richard is kind of jerk. Genova’s writing is not sympathetic towards him either.

I noticed that once Richard begins to really decline, the decline happens quickly.

I wondered . . .

I wondered if Karina really made the move that she was contemplating and went back to playing jazz.

I wondered more about Bill. I’d have liked to have heard more of his backstory.

I wondered how Stephen Hawking survived so long with ALS. According to the author, most ALS patients die within four years of their diagnosis. Hawking lived for decades.

It reminded me of . . .

I was reminded of The Lost Love Song because of the prominence of music. Also, both books feature a concert pianist as a main character. I can’t think of a time when I’ve read another book with a concert pianist in it, much less two in the same month.

The Authenticity Project took an unlikeable person and made the readers feel a connection with them. Richard isn’t a likable person, and Genova makes us feel for him by the end of the book.

Karina’s attitude and personality kind of remind me of Missy’s attitude in The Love Story of Missy Carmichael.

Another book featuring an unlikeable character that is dying is 59 Memory Lane. Just like Richard, the main character of this book is attempting to resolve her past mistakes while she still can.

I also thought of Afterlife, which is a completely different book with a wife grieving her husband’s death. I truly believe that Richard and Karina are both grieving both Richard’s diagnosis and his impending death.

A Vow So Bold and Deadly

a vow so bold and deadlyThis is the third of the Cursebreakers series. Even though I’m going to try not to give too many spoilers, there are some inevitable ones in doing the setup. Consider this your spoiler warning!




A battle is coming. Emberfall is torn. Many in Emberfall believe that Rhen is the rightful heir to the throne. Others believe that Grey is the rightful heir.

Grey and his beloved, Lia Mara, the queen of Syhl Hollow, have tried to pursue peace with Emberfall, but have been rebuffed in every attempt by Rhen.

Finally, Grey gives Rhen sixty days to pursue peace while both Emberfall and Syhl Hollow prepare for war. Grey and Lia Mara attempt to united Syhl Hollow’s armies. Meanwhile, Rhen withdraws from his advisors and his girlfriend Harper as he prepares for war.

I noticed . . .

I noted that the author tries to be even-handed for both Rhen and Grey, but it’s really hard to redeem Rhen.

Lia Mara struggles wit whole time with a sister relationship as much as with her subjects.

I wondered . . .

I wondered about the anti-magic faction.

I wondered what the lives of the main characters look like going forward.

It reminded me of . . .

I was reminded of the first two books in the series, of course. Start with A Curse so Dark and Lonely.

Harper and Rhen continue to remind me of Beauty and the Beast.

I was also reminded of the dark fairy-tale The Hazel Wood.

The attempt to kill a monster reminds me of The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires.

A force is attempting to drive apart people who love each other. This reminds me of American Demon.

Rhen’s secretiveness reminds me of Marcus’ secret-keeping in Spoiler Alert.

The malevolent magic in this book reminded me of The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue.

Tamed by the Beast

Tiffani is ready for a new life, so she volunteers for the Interstellar Brides Program, and is tamed by the beastmatched to an Atlan warrior. Unfortunately, this warrior is imprisoned and scheduled for execution. Those around the warrior believe that he has lost his sanity to his inner beast and mating fever.

Warlord Dax and his wife, Sarah, conspire to help their friend Deek. They allow Tiffani to transport to Atlan, and sneak her into the Atlan prison, hoping that Deek will recognize Tiffani as a mate and will allow her to soothe his beast.

I noticed . . . 

I noticed that this book is directly related to book five in the Interstellar Brides Program series, Mated to the Beast. Sarah and Dax play a pivotal role in the plot of the book, and that’s really nice and fun.

I also noticed that Goodwin sats up a lot of hints that Dax’s fever is not natural, partially by comparing it to Dax’s fever.

I noticed that the main female love interest is plus-sized. Yay!

I noticed that Tiffani feels bonded to the world. She’s making friends among the residents of the world in a way that has not been common so far in the books of the series.

I noticed that there’s a sense of the larger world here. There’s betrothals, parities, new media, and all kinds of laws and customs at work here. I’m really enjoying the peek into their world.

I wondered . . .

I wondered how Goodwin will continue to expand this world. Some of these books, like this one, are really good.  Others are only so-so. Either way, I’m enjoying them all.

I’m wondering why the beastly Atlans seem so civilized compared to the Vikens and Prillons.

I’m wondering if there are more books that center friendship as well as the man-woman relationship.

I wondered if Goodwin will get less obvious in telegraphing plot points to her readers early. I liked the mystery, but it was pretty obvious.

It reminded me of . . .

I’ve read two books recently with curvy heroines, Spoiler Alert and Sweet on You. 

For relationships that start with sex and then develop relationships, I have recently enjoyed both The Ties that Tether and The Almost Sisters.

For relationships where a main character is betrayed by someone that they’ve trusted, I was reminded of Mated to the Warriors and The Cruelest Month.

And, of course, this is a kind of sequel to Mated to the Beast. You should definitely read Mated to the Beast before you read this one.

Claudia and the New Girl

claudia and the new girlClaudia often feels untalented. She struggles with school and compares herself unfavorably with her academically talented sister, Janine. The one place where Claudia knows that she is truly talented is with her art.

When a new girl, Ashley Wyeth, moves to town, Claudia is very interested in her. Ashley dresses even more outlandishly than Claudia does, seems good as everything, and has studied at a famous art school.

Ashley sees talent in Claudia’s work, and she wants to be Claudia’s friend. The other members of the Babysitters Club are unhappy with this as Ashley is unfriendly to them. Actually, Ashley barely speaks to any of the kids at school other than Claudia. When Claudia starts hanging out with Ashley, Claudia starts missing club meetings, stops eating lunch with her friends, and becomes super-focused on her art. Will Claudia choose to remain friends with the Babysitters Club or will she ditch them for Ashley and her art?

I noticed . . .

I noticed how quick the girls were to be hurt and offended. They assumed Claudia didn’t want to be their friend anymore, and this reminded me of how young the girls really are.

I noticed that the girls really needed to talk to each other. It was super-frustrating to see them passively-aggressively stealing Claudia’s snack food and hiding mean notes in her room.

I noticed how flattered Claudia was by Ashley’s attention. I think she needs more affirmation.

I also noticed Dawn’s brother’s ongoing problems are getting worse.

I wondered . . .

I wondered why Ashley was such a snob. She wasn’t shy. She was openly unfriendly.

I wondered why the girls were so quick to turn against Claudia. They all need some lessons on expecting the best motivations from those we care about.

I wondered what Ashley’s parents thought about her behavior. If I had known that my daughter was acting like Ashley did, I would have been quite irritated.

It reminded me of . . .

Since Ashley was quite a snob, I was reminded of Kristy and the Snobs.

Because I recently saw the mentor/mentee relationship in Relic and Reliquary, I was reminded of that by Ashley and Claudia’s relationship.

Parenting Forward

How do we build a better world?parenting forward

How can we turn our thoughts towards justice, mercy, and inclusion?

The simple answer is through parenting our children to have a sense of social justice, mercy, and kindness.

We parent this way through giving our children a strong sense of their own personhood and by not weighing them down with the authoritarian parenting that we might have been raised with.

Instead of pushing our own will onto our children, we need to deal with our own issues and raise ourselves so that we can relate to our children in the way that we should.

It’s no easy task, but Brandt’s entire premise is that, if we can do just that, the world will be a better place.

I noticed . . .

I noted that Rachel Held Evans wrote the forward on this one. That made me happy and sad all at the same time.

I also noticed that the author is Taiwanese and currently lives in Taiwan. However, she has spent time in the United States, and she references those times throughout her book.

I noticed that Brandt, like me, is an attachment parent.

I noticed that she gives quick primers on racial justice, feminism, LGBTQ+, and pushing back against the urge for consumerism. However, these are handled very broadly, and truly an entire book could be written about parenting with each one of these issues.

I wondered . . .

I wondered how having a transbrother played into her deconstruction.

I wondered what those who were on the missions field with her thought about her deconstruction. I really think I would have liked a memoir almost more than a parenting book.

I wondered why she didn’t truly devote any space to scripture. This is surprising in a parenting book written for Christians. It also caused me to discount her advice as opinion rather than a sound word.

It reminded me of . . .

This book feels like a natural outgrowth of attachment parenting, and she actually references Dr. William Sears. His The Baby Book and other books were my parenting bibles when I was a new parent.

I was also reminded of a parenting book I read a year or two ago called, Parenting with Words of Grace. The author teaches readers how to speak to their children in a grace-filled, uplifting way. Relationship is king for both Brandt, and for the author of this book. If we built up our children instead of damaging them, I think the word would be a better place.


reliquaryRecently, I read the first book in the Agent Pendergast series, Relic. I enjoyed it so much, and found the epilogue so intriguing that I decided to buy the second book in the series so that I could jump right into reading the whole series.

Reliquary picks up eighteen months after the events in Relic. Police are diving in a New York river, attempting to find a large amount of heroin relating to a drug bust. The dive team find two headless skeletons locked in an embrace underneath the water. These skeletons show signs of having been murdered, and the bodies carry some quite odd genetic abnormalities.

Lieutenant D’Agosta and the county medical examiner soon realize that they need to call in some scientific help. They approach Margo Green and Whitney Frock, the scientists who had helped crack the Mbwun case the year before.

Noticing the similarities of the case to the Mbwun case, FBI Agent A.X.L. Pendergast decides to do some investigation of his own. His investigation leads to the underground tunnels of New York, the homeless people living in the tunnels, and the rumors of monsters preying on the underground homeless.

Meanwhile, reporter Bill Smithback is approaching the case from a different angle. He gets entangled with the story of Pamela Wisher, a wealthy socialite, who happens to be one of the corpses pulled from the river.

I noticed . . .

This is really a direct continuation of Relic. This picks  up just over a year after the events in that book, and some facts of the case are directly related the revelations in Relic. In other words, if you haven’t read Relic, go back and read that book first.

Margo is now a PhD in her own right. Her relationship with and feelings toward Dr. Frock have changed as a result of her budding confidence in her profession. They’re really colleagues more than supervisor/student now, and it’s awkward for both of them.

D’Agosta is not nearly as likable in this book, especially when we see him through the eyes of underlings such as Haywood. I know he makes appearances in some of the other Pendergast books, and I look forward to uncovering more of his personality.

I wondered . . .

I wondered about the mole people and the history and structure of the tunnels under the city. The authors recommend a book that they used in their research, and I plan to purchase it and read it later in the year. I’m hoping to learn more through it.

I wondered about the science involved here. It’s very pseudoscientific, and I wonder how much science is true in the book and how much is made up.

I wondered how Pendergast got away with being in New York again on an unofficial basis. It seems odd. I’ve heard the third book is the series is the book where he really becomes a “main” character, and I look forward to that book.

It reminded me of . . .

It reminded me of Relic (of course).

I was also reminded of my favorite police investigator, Armand Gamache. If you like detectives and crime procedurals, that’s my favorite series so far. Start with Still Life.

I also could not help by be reminded of Once Upon a Time in Silver Lake. It’s because of the vagrants and the mole people. Since I read One Upon a Time in Silver Lake just a couple of weeks before this one, I couldn’t help but remember it.

I did not enjoy this book as much as I liked Relic. However, I liked it enough, especially Pendergast’s portions, to decide to continue with the series.