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Sassy Peach Goes to Kindergarten: Happy 5th Birthday!

Wow! We made it! Half a decade! That's crazy talk. I said to a friend the other day how much I couldn't believe how far I've com...

Thursday, May 31, 2012

GOTU

GOTU, by Mike McNeff, stands for "Gods of the Universe."  Well, that's enough to get me to pick up a book!  It doesn't take much, you know.

Sergeant Robin Marlette is a certified badass--he rocks and rolls and kills bad guys through the narcotics unit.  When he kills a man during an international drug bust, it turns out to be the brother of a Mexican kingpin.  Suddenly Marlette finds his daughter has been kidnapped as an act of retribution.  Can he save her from an uncertain fate before it's too late?

This book was somewhat hard for me to get into because the first twenty percent of the book is the battle for the drugs.  It is super heavy on the industry speak and a lot of it just wasn't my cup of tea.  I need to point out, however, that this is my personal preference and it may be something that you, dear reader, might really enjoy.  It was certainly action-packed and fast moving, and I could see someone like my brother really getting into it the high-octane action of the drug bust.

Things started to pick up for me when Marlette went home to his wife and kids.  It was nice to read about this hard-core narcotics man with his family.  The picture-perfect life that Marlette has is a great set up to the shatter that comes when his daughter is kidnapped.  This was the sequence that kept my glued to the book and kept me clicking that Kindle turn-page.  I won't give away the ending, but it was a hell of a ride.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Brambleman

There is a lot to talk about today folks, so buckle your seat belts and fasten your helmet.  We have Jonathan Grant's Brambleman.  I seem to love these books that are hard to sum up in a paragraph.   Let's give this a go then, shall we?

Charlie is kicked out of his house by his wife--who was just looking for any excuse, really.  Looking like a homeless person wearing goggles (read the book!), a celestial being picks him up and delivers him to the home of Thurwood Talton.  He was a scholar who died while working on a book focusing on the history of Forsyth County, Georgia where the largest mass exodus of African-Americans occurred in 1912 following a slew of lynchings that was preceded by the rape and murder of a young white woman by a black man.  Odd things happen to Charlie, who is charged with bringing Talton's book to production, not the least of which include attempted murder on his head more than once as he works on this book, and if I told you anymore I would give away so much.

I have listed this book under the category "Zombies and Monsters" because a lot of these characters are exactly that albeit still (mostly) human.  I absolutely loved the historical aspect of this novel, particularly tying in the history of Forsyth County.  Full disclosure: I grew up on the Forsyth County line and am very familiar with the history of this storied place.  You might remember that Oprah paid a visit to the place in 1987, the same year as Hosea Williams's marches in the county to bring international attention to lack of color (and the presence of the KKK and other such things) in the county.  If you are not familiar, a simple Google search will catch you up right quick.

As I was saying, I love the integration (pun unintended) of history into this novel.  Be forewarned that this book is a commitment--it is lengthy but it is highly addicting.  It could easily be split into a trilogy although I am happy that it wasn't as it gave me something meaty into which to sink my teeth.  I found the characters to be well-developed and they were half of the story--Charlie married into a Forsyth County family that goes waaaaay back and is a huge part of this story he is destined to write. 

And so, in conclusion, this book kept me up at night trying to get to just the next chapter.  I mean the next one.  Well, maybe one more.  You see where this is going?  It's an addiction, but a healthy one.  Pick up this title on Smashwords or on Amazon.  I would highly recommend the Kindle version because that's how I roll.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Grasshopper King

The Grasshopper King, by David Stanley, is the tale of young Cosmas who was shipped off to a Catholic orphanage at age 5 by his family.  His mother disappeared the year before, unable to handle the pressures of her life, and his father is a drunk.  Cosmas leaves behind his brother and his loving grandmother.  On Christmas of his fourth year in the orphanage, Cosmas is allowed to visit home for the holiday.  Instead of spending with his aunt and uncle as instructed, he stays with his father on a houseboat with his sketchy friends.  Life lessons are learned and hearts are broken.

Overall this was a quick read and it was quite enjoyable for my Memorial Day weekend.  Stanley really loves his adjectives and super flowery descriptions of every detail he writes.  There are certainly times where this overshadows his story and occasionally lent itself to a lack of action overall.  The passages are beautiful but there were many times that I sat wondering if there was going to be a major plot point.  The book is really split up into three sections of Cosmas's life: his early childhood, his visit to his father's, and a later episode in his life before leaving the orphanage; these three periods of Cosmas's world comprise a narrative that follows a young man's journey in becoming who he is.

This book is great for a beautiful, lazy day out in the sun with a cold beverage and nowhere to go.  Sit back and enjoy the descriptive narrative with no strings attached.

Monday, May 28, 2012

The Fault In Our Stars

It's the hottest YA novel out there right now--The Fault In Our Stars by John Green.  Did you think I wasn't going to pick it up???

Hazel is a 16-year-old who just happens to have cancer--terminal cancer.  Her mom forces her to go to this support group she hates until one day when she meets Augustus Waters.  He survived osteosarcoma and falls madly in love with her.  Their relationship moves fast--but that's what happens when you are facing death.  Soon, however, their disease comes calling and one has to deal with the possibility of loss.  It's never easy no matter how prepared you are.

I will not lie--I got a bit teary thanks to some passages that were meant to tug at your heart and your fear (read: my fear) of losing the ones you love so dearly.  It's an emotional book and one that is intriguing and with which it is easy to relate.  Who hasn't had young love?  I will say, though, that most of ours are not tinged with a terminal disease; other than that issue though, it's easy to understand how Hazel and Gus fall hard and fast, and it's easy to get caught up in their whirlwind.

Would I recommend this book if you need a good tear-jerker?  Heck yeah.  This was a super quick read as most YA novels are for adult readers, and it features Amsterdam, my most favoritest city of all time.  It was so nice to be taken back there with Green's words and descriptions.  As you head to the beach this upcoming summer, this book would be a great consideration for relaxation and emotional depth.  Just sayin'.

Friday, May 25, 2012

My Booky Wook

This is what Celebrity Memoir Friday brings you: My Booky Wook by Russel Brand.  How fitting, as the divorce was announced only a few months ago?

It's a memoir y'all--do I really need to synopsize?   This memoir follows Brand from his childhood in the UK to his earnest (kind of) shot at drama school, then to his early stint on MTV in the UK.  Nothing really about his marriage as the story ends right before this event.  Oh, there is plenty on his addictions--drugs and sex, mostly.  Because what good is a memoir if it doesn't recount vices?

As far as memoirs go, this wasn't quite my favorite.  I enjoy Brand as a comedian for the most part so I was hoping to really enjoy his book more than I did.  The more the book progressed the more I got into the stories; I just had a hard time getting into the early-childhood stuff.  I prefer getting rough and tumble with the hard times in celebrities lives--I do enjoy a good addiction/hard times-turned-recovery/good times story.  Schadenfreude much?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Brandwashed

I love me some good non-fiction, and Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minda and Persuade Us to Buy by Martin Lindstrom seemed right up my alley.  So check it out from the library I did.

The premise of this book is exactly what it's subtitle reads: Tricks companies use to manipulate our minds and persuade us.  Did you know that one of the "inactive" ingredients in Carmex actually eats live lip cells?  I bet that explains why you are addicted to it.  You actually need more to feel better.  Did you know that your precious iPhone tracks your location every few seconds and sends that information to companies linked to your apps or that you have connected to via your internet?  Check!  There is a whole bunch of other fascinating information in this book that will make you think deeply about consumerism and choices.

This was a fascinating book to read and I am so glad I picked it up.  There were some things I was aware of (stores picking certain music to change your heart rate) and others I was not (royal family marketing, anyone?).  Overall I learned so much more than I thought I would.  It turns out Lindstrom is the leading go-to guy for marketing companies (and royal families, apparently).  What is all of this royal-family business I speak of?  Read the book.  You will see.  And you probably won't be surprised.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Murder Takes Time

Once again, I shoot for the murder book because I love crime stories.  It's sick, I know, but I can't get enough.  Hence Giacomo Giammatteo's Murder Takes Time.

Tony, Nicky, Paulie, and Frankie are thick as thieves growing up--they have to be.  From an Italian neighborhood in New England, they run together, they steal together, and the protect one another.  When Nicky takes the fall for a fight, he ends up in prison for a decade.  He gets out, gets back together with the gang, and makes a decision that may cost him his life.  He fights back--hard.  Can the loyalty these four pledged as youngsters still be adhered to when the stakes are so high and revenge is needed? 

I just love murder fiction, and of course I love reading about the mob.  This book was an indulgence and a ton of fun to read.  I read it on the plane on the way home from a conference last week and it was the perfect setting--a couple of hours alone to dive in and take this book in like Peeps at Easter.

Giammatteo is a strong writer who has a solid sense of character and story structure.  The story is not linear in the sense of beginning-middle-end and this has to be done smoothly and clearly.  It totally is here.  I was able to keep up with the changing time frames and stay clear on the timeline of action.  My one hesitation is that this book gets a little long at times--it is very detailed.  However, I enjoyed the characters immensely and I understood their relationships.  Italians just get it, you know?  The love and devotion of family (related or not), the sense of honor and revenge, the belief in loyalty at all costs.  We just get it.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Nightwoods

I am going through books like water this month.  I picked up Nightwoods by Charles Frazier on the recommendation of Entertainment Weekly; it listed this along with The Submission as books that should have been considered more strongly for a Pulitzer.  Can anyone else say, "YES!!!"

Luce takes care of a cabin in the woods.  She has gone through some stuff and has no family to speak of.  Her sister, Lilly, was murdered by her deadbeat and dangerous husband, Bud, and suddenly Luce finds herself with her very young twin neice and nephew who are hardened by their past as well.  When Bud shows up to town looking for the money he is sure the children possess, things turn violent fast and all must find a way to survive.

This novel floored me.  It was gripping and it was stunning and it frightened me and I could not put it down.  The characters are so rich and so full, and holy moly Bud is a frightening man.  He has no scrupples and will go to the ends of the earth to get rid of the children that may reveal his truth.  Frazier is a clear writer and tells a story with such compunction for his characters that I was just bowled over by his storytelling.  You know how sometimes you have a book in your hand and you can't turn the pages fast enough to get to the rest of the story and your breath is heavy and you have a knot in the pit of your stomach? 

Welcome to Nightwoods, kids.

Monday, May 21, 2012

The Sign for Drowning

Rachel Stolzman's The Sign for Drowning attracted me by advertising it's initial tragedy followed by healing and forgiveness.  I love this stuff.

When Anna was a girl her younger sister drowned on a beautiful day at the ocean.  It haunts her childhood and severely affects the dynamics of her family.  As an adult Anna heads up a deaf program in New York City and falls in love with a young girl, Adrea.  After Anna adopts Adrea, life happens.  She finds love with an old flame, Adrea enters into an amazing temporary program in Paris, and Anna learns to heal from the pain of the past.

This was such a lovely and moving novella.  There is never really a point of conflict that serves as an apex yet I cared so much about the characters that I wanted them to find forgiveness and love and healing.  The story bounced back and forth between Anna's memories of the accident and the aftermath and Anna's present with her daughter.  I felt that I knew Anna and went on this beautiful and worthwhile journey with her.

The biggest compliment I can give this book is that most of the time I had to remind myself that this was not a memoir--that this was fiction.  It read so closely with the style of memoir and it felt so real.  It was quite a journey.

Friday, May 18, 2012

My Dark Places

After reading James Ellroy's The Hilliker Curse I realized that I needed to go back in time and read it's predecessor, My Dark Places.

When he was just ten years old, his mother was murdered.  The murder went unsolved, and the young man dealt with mixed emotions.  He hated his mother yet he was obsessed with her.  He was like any normal ten-year-old boy yet he was world's away.  As an adult he goes back to try to solve the case on his own with the help of a former police officer, now private detective.  Can he discover who actually murdered his mother, or will this be another dead end?  Can he use this work to finally let go of the past?

This book is split into four parts: two objective, two subjective.  The first section gives the reader a blow-by-blow of the case into Jean Hilliker Ellroy's murder and subsequent investigation by authorities.  The reader follows along with the leads and interviews until no more can be established.  Moving in the second section, Ellroy uses first person to describe this same time period from his point of view--what he was thinking, how he dealt with his mother's murder.  Section three takes us into the subjective history of murder in Los Angeles as it relates to Jean Hilliker, and we end in the fourth part with Ellroy's search as an adult to find his mother's killer and through that, hope for himself.

It is no shock that I looooove true crime, and I am super glad I read this book.  It was a fascinating history of murder in Los Angeles in the '50's and '60's.  I loved being on Ellroy's journey with him as he delves deep into his mother's murder--who could have, and would have, done this?  Why would they want to kill his mother?  It is so interesting--but most of all is his emotional journey to understand why he cared so little about his mother's murder as a child and how he has dealt (or not dealt) with all of this as an adult.  If you are going to pick up The Hilliker Curse, be sure to read this book first.  They are certainly companion pieces and certainly good for a rainy weekend.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Blaming Japhy Rider

I have to be honest with you--I wasn't quite sure what to expect with Blaming Japhy Rider: Memoir of a Dharma Bum Who Survived by Philip A. Bralich, Ph.D. I ended up with a story of exactly what the subtitle says: a memoir of a dharma bum in search of spirituality.

Philip and his wife, idealists in their time, join the Peace Corps after college.  While in West Africa, about a year into their service, there is a motorcycle accident with Philip as the driver.  It kills Deb, his wife, and severely injures Philip. Over the course of several decades, Philip deals with his PTSD and searches for a spirituality for which he yearns.

I am very interested in the understanding of Buddhism (rather than New Age, as Bralich makes clear that he does not like--he also makes a clear distinction) so this book was interesting to read.  I am only peripherally familiar with this type of spirituality so I found Bralich's journey through spirituality to be intriguing and thought-provoking. 

The early story of Bralich's trip to West Africa and the tragedy that ensued only two years into his marriage was the most interesting part of this book for me; I was saddened when he lost his wife and was sent off on a journey to find himself.  I found his time in the Peace Corps to be particularly read-worthy and well-written as well.  It's a journey I myself won't be taking so it was lovely to live vicariously through this book.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Shut Up

Shut Up by Anne Tibbets is a YA novel that is perfectly suited for every young female who feels annoyed and frustrated by her family.

Mary is your typical 12-year-old--except that her older sister, Gwen, makes her life miserable.  Gwen never stops screaming at her entire family and makes Mary feel lower than dirt, and things have only been worse since Gwen got knocked up by her creepy boyfriend.  When Gwen marries and moves out things get so much better for the entire family--until the day Gwen is forced to move back. 

This novella is short but sweet--Tibbets doesn't waste a word in her writing, and I certainly appreciate that.  It's hard not to relate to Mary's feelings of anger toward her family and isolation from her life.  Mary is clearly dealing with depression and that is something with which many young people can identify, along with feelings of lack of belonging.

There is the undercurrent in the story about a possible sexual assault on the antagonist, Gwen, and I wish it had been explored a bit more.  This was the explanation for Gwen's change in attitude and her selection of her boyfriend, The Creep.  It would have extended the story a bit more, although I understand why Tibbets made the choices that she did--it's clearly Mary's story, from her perspective about her feelings.

Is this book worth a pick up?  For sure, especially if you are a YA lit fan.  It's only $4.99 on Amazon for the Kindle.  Pick it up for the weekend!

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Complexity of a Soldier

I am home in Atlanta for over a week, and I chose The Complexity of a Soldier by Michelle Bellon as my plane read on the way home. 

Rory and Emily are a very young and happily married couple when Rory suddenly gets laid off--and decides to join the Army as a means to joining a police department.  Emily supports him through his basic training and as he moves toward becoming a member of the Military Police.  Then everything changes--September 11 happens and ensures this.  Rory suddenly finds himself deployed for a year.  Can their young marriage survive, and can Rory handle everything that happens while he is gone?

I enjoyed the story of Rory and Emily as a couple and the times that flashed back to their meeting, falling in love, and marrying.  It was a sweet story that made me smile. 

I am not wont to put spoilers in my posts so take it for what it's worth.  The story was on an even keel until the molestation plot line came in about 75% of the way through the story.  It was sudden and felt like a completely different story for another book.  Molestation or child abuse isn't brought up prior to the incident so it feels very jarring.  The events that follow are also hard to grasp on a realistic level.

Overall though it was an entertaining read with characters that are, deep down, very good people who only want what is best for their lives and for their families.  The relationship between Rory and his best friend that he meets at basic, J.T., was thorough and honest to the core.  When J.T. makes a decision that changes everything, it feels realistic and truthful, and ultimately it will hit home with many military families as will the trials that Emily and Rory go through together.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wild Thing

It's no secret that Beat the Reaper was my favorite book of 2009.  So Josh Bazell's follow up, Wild Thing, was hot on my list for as soon as possible.  Oh my goodness gracious.

Our hero from the previous book comes back in (referred to here as Lionel...it's a long story).  He is currently doing the doctor-thing on a cruise ship when he gets a call from a reclusive billionaire who wants him to go off and hunt a mysterious Loch Ness-like monster in the Minnesota region  to determine whether it is real or a hoax.  And it goes down, y'all.  I can't tell you much more but it involves a referee who happens to be super famous in a not-great way, a monster who will make you skeptical then make you believe, and a hunting partner of whom Lionel can't keep his hands off.

I must be upfront and tell you that I am madly in love with Josh Bazell.  The way he writes is non-stop hilarity and action and mind-blowing-ness.  The dude has footnotes throughout his (fiction) book which only heightens the enjoyment and the giggles emanating from my gut.  I read this 300+ page book in one day.  Like, in a few hours.  Because I couldn't put it down.  Bazell has a way of writing action so that it never ends even when nothing is happening.  The only thing, though, is that something is always happening.  You have to pay attention yet it comes so naturally when reading Bazell's prose.  This is a reading-while-walking book because you just can't put it down.  Seriously, though, go buy it!!!

I love the flawed characters that Bazell creates.  I love his story arc, and I love the ridiculousness that is everything about this story.  Run, don't walk to your local book store and pick up both this one and Beat the Reaper.  Pick up some wine.  Put your feet up.  Make a weekend of it.  You won't be disappointed.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Sugar Frosted Nutsack

The Sugar Frosted Nutsack by Mark Leyner.  I mean, there isn't a whole lot more I can say.  The title refers to exactly what your dirty little mind thinks it does, and it's kind of out-of-this world ridiculous and fun and I-can't-believe-I-am-actually-reading-this-right-now-or-that-someone-actually-wrote this.

I listed this book under fantasy, but that's not entirely accurate.  This book needs a genre of it's own.  Let's call it, "Crazy Writing."  The gods now live in a the tallest skyscraper in the world, in Dubai, but don't think these are the gods and goddesses you learned about in Latin 101.  These are XOXO and Mogul Magoo among others, and they direct the ancient myth of Ike, otherwise known as The Sugar Frosted Nutsack.  That's all I can really tell you because the rest of the story does to your mind what the cover (<---) does to your eyes.

You have to buckle your seat belt and hold on for this book.  It's hilarious and off-it's-own-rocker and outlandish and sick and just overall awesome.  There's an obsession with signs and with numbers having deeper meaning (that doesn't sound at all like a satire on religion) and it's all just...otherworldly. 

A fair warning for all who read this: This book is not for the faint-hearted.  It can be confusing at times, WTF??? at times, and slightly offensive at others.  Fortunately I like that kind of stuff, but certainly not everyone does.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

My Friends Are Dead People

My Friends Are Dead People by Tony J. Ortiz sounded interesting--I mean, how many dead people do you know and count as friends?

Jesse lives a quiet life--he lives with his mother, has a feral cat with a mind of it's own, and is home-schooled while his best friend Katie lives next door with her foster mother and is public-schooled.  Wanting to go trick-or-treating, which they were previously not allowed to do, this duo is "treated" to a secret Jesse's mother has been keeping from him for years--there is a secret world and it has to do with him.

If you love sci-fi and/or fantasy, this is definitely the book for you.  An alternate universe, dead people, monsters, a dangerous game that puts lives in peril--what more could you need?  I see this book being an super cool read come October as Halloween fast approaches.  Freak yourself out a bit and enjoy the ride.  After all, its the best time of the year for an epic battle between the living and the dead, would you not agree?

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Submission

Amy Waldman's The Submission was consistently rated one of 2011's best books, and just this last week Entertainment Weekly listed it is as one of the books the Pulitzer commission should have listed amongst their finalists.  I feel it is a crying shame that this book was not considered in more depth for this prize.  This book was exquisite.

Two years after 9/11 a committee is selected to review blind submissions for a memorial to be placed in the location of the original twin towers.  The jury selects a beautiful garden with lovely imagery as it's selection and is excited about reaching a consensus--until it opens the envelope revealing the name of the designer.  It's a Muslim name.  A journey through the lives of several integral characters in this story takes you to Little Bangladesh in Brooklyn with an illegal immigrant widow, a wealthy home in Chappaqua with a jury member and widow, and the now-nomadic existence of an architect who submitted a design about which he cares deeply but doesn't feel he must defend his ancestry in order to qualify as an American.

This book was just incredible.  My heart broke for each of the characters profiled in this book at one point or another.  Ms. Waldman brings out the incredibly difficult "liberal guilt," where on the outside one claims to be fair but on the inside feels the same prejudices that "conservatives" are only too willing to say out loud.  (Please note: This is not and never will be a political blog, so this is not meant in any way to spark a political discussion, only to relay feelings about and a description of the book.)  It turns out we all engender bias and fear and some people are just too afraid to say it out loud.  I got angry at the bigotry of some characters while at the same time felt guilty because I understand that at times I too harbor some of the same fears.  Isn't that what can be the most beautiful part of a book and getting lost in it--when it forces you to look inside yourself and confront parts of yourself that make you uncomfortable?

Ms. Waldman's writing is beautiful without you even noticing; she creates such empathy for her characters in you, the reader, and I didn't want to let them go at the end.  I wanted to hold them tucked away in my heart so that they couldn't feel the pain of life.  But that is not something I can do, and neither can you, dear reader.  You can, however, hurry to pick up this book and immerse yourself in the internal debate about what is right and what is not and who gets to decide.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The New Republic

Lionel Shriver's We Need To Talk About Kevin is one of the most affecting books I have ever read.  I also thoroughly enjoyed So Much For That, so when I heard The New Republic, a satire on journalism and terrorism, was coming out it was a total no-brainer for me.

In the midst of a mid-life crisis, Edgar Kellogg leaves his high-powered law firm to pursue a career in journalism--in which he has absolutely no experience.  He is sent to Barba (south of Portugal) to cover the terrorist group SOB since their correspondent there, Barrington Saddler, as suspiciously disappeared.  After finding his footing in Barba, Kellogg discovers that this gig is not exactly what it appears to be--it is so much more.  Much more information and I would give away the delight that is this story!

This book was such a joy for me.  As soon as I figured out the hook I was a goner; the book only became more funny and more facetious as the pages turned.  I didn't want the fun to end, and fun it was.  Shriver is an incredibly strong writer and knows how to turn sentences made of putty into bite-size statues of word-fun.  She is an incredibly smart writer, meaning the way she plays with elaborate sentences and word play is creative and intelligent.  I feel like I am reading a high-brow piece of literature only to laugh in spite of myself--because what a satire it is!  Pure delight, this book.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The New Hate

The New Hate: A History of Fear and Loathing on the Populist Right by Arthur Goldwag was recommended by an article that was focused on phobias of all kinds--so yes, I am totes interested thank you very much.

Goldwag focuses his book on exactly what his subtitle tells you: fear and loathing of everyone and everything liberal (or just made-up) by the populist right.  This includes everyone from Birthers to Islamo-phobes (did I even spell that right???) and everyone in between.  This fear that people with whom we are either unfamiliar or of whom we are frightened takes over our ability to reason and deal with one another in a sane and civil manner.  Instead, there is a war waged against people who make one uncomfortable.  You have to read the book in order to get the full understanding, or you can head to Amazon and read a great synopsis there. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book in the most intellectual way possible.  It's not a feel-good read for sure, but it's a clear and well-reasoned treatise on the current state of hate in our country as it relates to not just politics but also to race, color, and creed.  It's interesting that immediately following this (as in, like, the next week or so) I will be blogging about Lionel Shriver's The New Republic as well as Amy Waldman's The Submission, each having a little part in what Goldwag speaks of in his work.  Each of these books (all three!) makes their reader look inside his- or herself to examine true feelings, not just the happy-liberal-I-love-everyone outer shell put forth.