#868 World of the Innocent by Nadine C. Keels

World of the Innocent by Nadine C. KeelsWorld of the Innocent by Nadine C. Keels

One of Joy’s friends tells her that Marcas wants to get to know her better and Joy has to pause for a bit. What does that even mean? Joy is part of a community where she participates in a program for college students. There are performances and the arts are encouraged. She is friends with an older man, Mr. El, Elmer. They play chess together and Joy gets advice about life during the games. She has a mother and a father, but things haven’t really been the same with them.

Joy does take Marcas up on his offer. She doesn’t really know what to do or how to act around a man. The two enjoy each other’s company. They talk about life and admire each other’s talents and work in the community. There isn’t this burning passion between either of them, but something does grow between the two and Joy feels it’s right.

What I liked

This is a romance story, but it’s not sappy. It’s not obsessed or frantic, like so many so-called “romance” stories. There is a difference in being obsessed with somebody and loving somebody for who they are. When you’re that kind of “love obsessed” with someone, you’re afraid to show them who you really are. You’re afraid they’re going to run away screaming if they find out about some perceived flaw on your part. When you love someone for who they are and they return the favor, you’re not scared to show them who you are and you might find yourself opening up to them about things you never thought you’d open up to anyone about. There’s a difference between these two. I think Nadine gets it and she was able to put it in words with this story.

Joy is a little hesitant, but she knows she doesn’t have to hide her fears or her flaws from Marcas. Neither of them mind the other’s past or family situation. It’s purely because Joy is Joy and Marcas is Marcas, not because Joy is pretending to be who she perceives Marcas wants.

I also like that Joy has some hangups about stuff, but Marcas doesn’t push her into anything. Look, if you date a guy and he’s trying to push you into something you’re not ready for, he’s a jerk. What’s the saying, “Love is patient; love is kind…”

What I didn’t like

I can’t really say there’s anything I didn’t like, although, there’s some sad.


Find that person who appreciates you for who you are.

Weigh In

Have you experienced both loving someone for who they are and love obsessed kind of loves?

If so, which one turned out better?

#861 The Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley

The Man in My Basement by Walter MosleyThe Man in My Basement by Walter Mosley

Charles can’t get a job and he’s late on the mortgage payments. The house has been in the family for years, but he risks losing it. He asks about a job, but is turned down. Come to find out when Charles was a teller at the bank he stole some money and everyone knows about it. No one will hire him.

A white man offers Charles lots of money to rent his basement. Charles forgets about this for a while so he can drink, womanize, and masturbate; this is pretty much all he does. When he realizes that he’s not going to get a job, he takes the white man up on his offer. The man turns the basement into a prison cell. He wants to be treated as a prisoner. He’s committed some awful crimes in his past, which Charles is just dying to know about.

While the man is in the basement, Charles continues to drink, womanize, and masturbate. He does have some philosophical conversations with his prisoner, who gets some sort of self-torturing kick out of having a black man as a jailer. Charles also finds that some of his family heirlooms are worth a heck of a lot of money, but he doesn’t know how to handle the situation.

What I liked

I liked that Ernie Hudson read this book for the audio book.

What I didn’t like

Look, I know people have a lot of great things to say about this book philosophically. There’s a man who made himself a prisoner to atone for some awful wrong-doings he committed because society didn’t punish him and God hadn’t gotten around to it yet, at least this guy developed a sense of morality. That’s more than I can say for the basically alcoholic, serial womanizer, and chronic masturbator that Charles is. I’m not impressed with Charles. I bet he went right on back to drinking and womanizing the minute all of this was over, despite his supposed great philosophical awakening.

How in the heck do you write a book that talks about masturbating so much? This isn’t The Joy of Sex or She Comes First. This is a novel, but, I mean, I guess it’s ultimately up to the author whether or not they want to write a book punctuated with the word masturbate instead of semicolons.

I don’t particularly like Charles; he’s a loser and he’s always going to be a loser. He’s one of those people who are content to sit on the couch all day watching TV rather than being a productive member of society. Those kind of people irritate me.

Why the ever-loving #!$* would a woman, any woman, be interested in Charles? Sure, maybe he has a big penis, but that’s not enough of a reason to sleep with someone, but maybe my standards are much higher than everyone else’s.


This was a strange book, but at least Winston from Ghostbusters read it to me.

Weigh In

Do people who have no motivation irritate you?

What do you think about Charles?

#846 The Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall

The Ultimate Gift by Jim StovallThe Ultimate Gift by Jim Stovall

Jason Steven’s uncle has died, which wouldn’t be remarkable except for the fact that his uncle owned huge companies and was worth lots of money. Jason goes to the reading of the will. To this person is bequeathed this obscene amount of money. To this person, the company. To this person, this thing and to that person, that thing, but Jason doesn’t get anything.

There is a catch though. Jason was the only one that his uncle considered worth anything. Jason has a chance to inherit something, but he must do what his dead uncle says for an entire year. Jason will be given various gifts throughout the year. If Jason completes everything, he gets something big.

Each month brings Jason a different challenge. He learns to put up a fence with his own two hands. He learns to be a house parent to a group of foster boys. He learns to give back to his community. At the end of the year, Jason is much more enriched as a person, but when he finds out what his uncle is actually giving him, he is astounded and highly grateful.

What I liked

This book was sweet. Not all gifts are tangible. I really liked that Jason spent a year learning how to be a better person. If we could all do that, we’d be living in a better place.

I am not the best person, but I spent three years working as a nurse aide in a nursing home while going to college. It was tough, but I learned a lot about how to treat other people, a whole lot. I think I learned it the hard way. Being a nurse aide is not easy in the least. I think once you do learn how to treat others, it’s not something you forget easily, or at least, I hope not.

A large part of our lives is how we affect other people. What can we do that will bring whatever to other people? Sometimes we lose track of that and are very much for ourselves.

I also liked that this book wasn’t really religious. There might have been something in there, but it wasn’t enough for me to notice it. It’s about being a decent human being, which you don’t necessarily need religion for, but if it helps you, by all means, go to church.

What I didn’t like

It smacked of that saccharine self-help talk you get with some books, but not enough to detract it from being a great book.


Don’t be a jerk to other people and you’ll be happier.

Weigh In

Do you think we lose sight of helping others?

Would you put yourself at the mercy of someone else for a year?

#798 Shine by Jodi Picoult

Shine by Jodi PicoultShine by Jodi Picoult

Ruth’s mama works for a white family. She does all the housework there, then comes home and does all the housework at home. This is how it is. Ruth somehow gets a scholarship to a nearby school, but it’s mainly white. She’s the only black girl there. The girl who lives at the house where Ruth’s mama works is friends with her outside of school, but tries not to pay attention to her at school. Ruth wonders why things are different when they’re alone.

Ruth’s mama tells her that everyone has their uniform. Ruth’s will be school clothes and a rhinestone headband.

What I liked

This story kind of reminds me of The Help in some ways. Ruth is likable.

What I didn’t like

I don’t like the idea of bullying and I don’t like the idea of people being treated differently because of the way they look. It doesn’t matter what color your skin is or isn’t, you’re still a person. I think it’s just plain silly that we’ve had so many issues with treating people differently because of the color of their skin. How about get over it? Just treat people like people. Makes sense, right? I feel bad that little girls like Ruth were ever teased and bullied at school because of the color of their skin.


What will Ruth do next?

Weigh In

What do you think about Ruth?

Have you experienced discrimination based on your race, no matter what it may be?

#732 Paint it Black by Janet Fitch

Paint it Black by Janet FitchPaint it Black by Janet Fitch

Josie lived in California. She left home and became an art model, during the eighties. Her boyfriend was named Michael and he was everything to Josie. It was as if she was addicted to him. He painted her. They did things together. They fulfilled each other, or it seemed to Josie that they did.

One day, Michael told Josie that he needed space to paint for a while. He left. He told her he was going to a house. Michael never came back though. Josie got a call from the coroner’s office to come down and identify the body. It was Michael.

Josie was devastated and angry. She began trying to piece together what had happened. He had killed himself, but why? She read his journals. She looked at everything in his apartment. She spoke to his mother, Meredith. Josie soon found many lies in what Michael had told her. Why had he lied?

After getting to know his mother more, through a few disastrous and tension-fraught meetings, she suspected an abusive and strange relationship that had existed between Michael and his mother.

She retraced his final days, his final hours. She understood more about why Michael had done it.

What I liked

I’m not a huge fan of this book. It certainly had flow. It certainly moved.

What I didn’t like

This whole book is dark and destructive. I think that was the author’s point though. It’s just so dark. Josie seems bent on destruction. She’s careless with her life. It’s like she’s running head-long into a fire, without protective gear or the intent to save anyone else, just to see if she can run through a fire. Michael was destructive himself, as is demonstrated by his suicide. The whole book is despair.

I don’t have hope for any of the characters. I don’t like any of them. It isn’t easy to be around people who are seemingly always in despair. I feel as if this book was under the influence, by this, I mean I felt like the book was on drugs…high…not an accurate depiction of life, but a hazy look at life through and impaired eye.

It was so hazy in nature, that it was difficult for me to follow. Which, I guess, would be the same effect if I were high.


Once you take a look at your real life after reading this, you’ll feel instantly happier.

Weigh in

If you have read this book, do you feel the same haziness?

The destructive people–the ones that steer headfirst into self-destruction, are they easy people to be around?