#919 Dirty Work by Gabriel Weston

Dirty Work by Gabriel WestonDirty Work by Gabriel Weston

Nancy is an ObGyn doctor, but hasn’t been one for very long. Something awful has happened. There was a surgery, thought to be routine, which turned out disastrous. There was blood and more blood. She didn’t know what to do. Another doctor had to come in and make sure the woman didn’t die. Now Nancy must face a tribunal to determine whether or not she can still be employed at the hospital.

Nancy recalls other things in her life. She was in school. She had a mother. She used to provide abortions to women who justified their reasons, just as she justified her reasons for doing abortions. She reasoned that she wasn’t asked, she just did it when she was told to do it. She did early abortions and some a little later, but she never did late-term abortions. She didn’t know if she could do it.

She hopes that she will still be able to be a doctor.

What I liked

I do like that this book tackles what happens when a doctor makes a mistake. Doctors have bad days too and those bad days can end lives, but it’s not like the doctor meant to do it. Should an entire career be ruined because of a mistake? It’s a question of ethics of course.

What I didn’t like

I kind of feel like this book is just trying to champion abortion, or at least in part it is. Look, I’ve said it before–I think abortions should be legal; I don’t want women dying in back alleys because they were trying to get an illegal abortion. I don’t want women who have been raped having to carry a baby to term. I also don’t want abortion to be used as a birth control method. There should probably be a middle-ground, maybe we’ll get there some day.

I did feel that there was some ethical dilemmas that the main character faced. I think she tried to tell herself that providing abortions couldn’t affect her, but I think it did to a degree.

I kind of feel like the main character was really cold. She seemed a little inhuman, but that may just be my take on it.


Doctors make mistakes just like normal people.

Weigh In

What would you do if your doctor made a mistake?

Should doctors be held accountable for mistakes?

#917 Maggie Rose and Sass by Eunice Boeve

Maggie Rose and Sass by Eunice BoeveMaggie Rose and Sass by Eunice Boeve

Unfortunately, Maggie’s father died then she went to live with her grandmother, who also died. The only family member left for her to live with was her uncle. He lived far away in a town called Solomon Town. The town was not as Maggie expected when she arrived. She is surprised to find that she is the only white girl there. The town was almost entirely composed of people who were once slaves.

Maggie has never been around this many black people before and she believes a lot of the things her grandmother used to say about anybody who wasn’t white. She doesn’t want to make friends with the local girls, including one named Sass, who got her name purely because she was sassy.

Sass says that Maggie is nothing but an uppity white girl.

Both girls end up realizing that just because someone looks different doesn’t mean they’re any less human.

What I liked

I do tend to like books where children can learn that other people are people too. It doesn’t matter what color, gender, or whatever, they are. Other people are equally as valid as people, despite any differences. I do think this book does a fairly good job of having both children realize good things about the other. The book does acknowledge that one people could be unfair to the other.

What I didn’t like

This book does use the word “colored” a lot. I quit talking to a guy once because he called Barack Obama “colored,” and I’m not even that big of a fan of Barack. Look, sure, he’s not all the way white, but that doesn’t mean calling someone “colored” is ok. We’re all various colors. This book doesn’t have the more derogatory term in the text, which is good. Both terms are derogatory and you probably shouldn’t use them, but I do get that this author was trying to be a little more tactful and historically accurate by using the term she used. People didn’t go around saying “African-American” back when this book was set. They did say things that were worse than the word she did use though. I just don’t like hearing the term she did use.


To quote Dr. Suess–“A person’s a person, no matter how small.” Just substitute in something else for “small,” and fix whatever grammar needed to make it make sense.

Weigh In

Do you think you could fit in a neighborhood where you were the only person of your race?

Was there a point when you came to appreciate all people as people or did you always do so?

#908 Altered States by Paddy Chayefsky

Altered States by Paddy ChayefskyAltered States by Paddy Chayefsky

Jessop is a scientist. He’s heard about this great thing down in South America. People gather in a group and they take a local drug and have a spiritual experience. Jessop has already been experimenting with sensory deprivation tanks and thinks that he can add this drug to his regimen. He takes the drug back to his lab, with the tanks, and starts to experiment.

Meanwhile, Jessop gets married. His wife isn’t sure of his devotion to her, even though she loves him.

Something strange happens to Jessop when he’s taking the drug in the tank. He hallucinates the heck, out of things, but he kind of turns into an ape, or ape-like creature. He thinks he’s gone back through his genetic ancestry to a time when the missing link between humans and apes lived and walked upon the Earth. One incident has Jessop waking up in the zoo after a night of romping with a bunch of wild dogs, as an ape creature.

Can the research continue after this pivotal moment? Is it getting too dangerous? Is there physical proof of this thing happening? No one else saw Jessop turning into an ape, maybe he was just tripping his balls off.

What I liked

My boyfriend, Grizzly Pirate Wynn, asked me to read this book because he likes it. It’s short and I want to be able to discuss books with my boyfriend, so I read it. I really like that my boyfriend has an interest in books. I actually think he’s spent more money on books than I have since we’ve been together. Crazy.

I like the thought that went into this book. Certainly there was a question involved, or more than one question actually. Can we ever revert to a former genetic place in our history? Is there an outside substance that can cause you to do so, if it’s possible to revert back genetically?

I kind of want to try a sensory deprivation tank. I think it would be nice. I love being in the dark and quiet, especially when I’m trying to sleep. Maybe I would just fall asleep in a sensory deprivation tank.

What I didn’t like

I do not think this is possible. In fact, I’m pretty sure this isn’t possible. I’m just going to say it’s not possible. Whether you believe we descended from monkeys or lizard people, we cannot revert back to some former genetic state. We cannot jump ahead, nor can we go back. I can’t suddenly take something that makes me what a human will be like in a thousand years, which is probably fairly similar to today because we’ve been the same for a while. I can’t revert back to an amoeba or ape or whatever. Genetics don’t go backwards. Elephants can’t turn into Mastodons

The fanciful element of this book is interesting, but entirely not possible, not even fringe science possible, not even healing crystals with your chakras possible, not even snake oil possible.

I also don’t do drugs. So the drug part of this book wasn’t really my thing. I mean, it’s cool if you somehow have a spiritual experience while dropping acid, but that’s a thin line. You can’t be dropping acid every time you need to pray to Jesus over your lost car keys.


Bath salts and a big tub, sounds like a great idea.

Weigh In

Would you do a hallucinogenic drug and get in a sensory deprivation tank?

If you could go forward or backward in the evolution of human kind, which direction would you go and why? Remember, there’s no guarantee that humans will be better in the future.

#901 The Perilous Road by William O. Steele

The Perilous Road by William O. SteeleThe Perilous Road by William O. Steele

Chris is living with his family in the Eastern Tennessee mountains during The Civil War. Chris says he hates the union soldiers. He hates that they come and take what they want from farms. He hates this his neighbors didn’t do anything about it when the soldiers came and took their food. They say the soldiers were just hungry. Chris doesn’t think the Union soldiers need his sympathy, or anybody’s sympathy for that matter.

His brother joins the military to be a wagon driver. Chris finds out that a wagon train is coming through so he wants to warn the other side so there will be an encounter, so he tells a neighbor who says he is a spy. When Chris finds out there is an actual battle going on in the area, he takes off trying to find his brother, not thinking that his brother would still be in training.

When he gets to the battle, heĀ  encounters soldiers from the north, who treat him well and are suffering from the war just the same as anybody else and Chris feels he needs to rethink his position on the other side.

What I liked

I’m not a typical war person, but I’ve read a few novels set during The Civil War. This one wasn’t bad. Chris is being hard-hearted, just as many people tend to be when they think they’re on the right side of something. He finds out that things aren’t so black and white. Just because someone is fighting on the other side, doesn’t mean that they’re not human. They need the same things all humans need. They have the same feelings all humans have. People dying because of a war are people dying because of a war, it doesn’t matter what side they’re on.

I really liked that Chris’ eyes were opened. Just because someone is your enemy politically, doesn’t mean that they’re your personal enemy.

What I didn’t like

Chris’ attitude is all to common. Sometimes we tend to think that our opinion is the correct one and whoever thinks differently is our enemy, and therefore, evil. We don’t stop to consider that maybe both sides are correct in one way or the other, or, that our side is actually the evil side. If we believe something very intolerant and expound upon that belief as the correct one and consider anyone who is more tolerant to be evil, isn’t the more intolerant view the more evil view?

Chris was young and sometimes as younger people we tend to hold onto our “beliefs” as we consider them as if they’re immutable, when, in fact, our beliefs change and grow as we gain experiences in life. Chris did just that in this book.


It doesn’t matter what side you’re on; we’re all people.

Weigh In

Did you find that your younger self was too idealistic and strict in your views?

Is everybody the enemy on the other side?

#896 I, Pearl Heart by Jane Candia Coleman

I, Pearl Heart by Jane Candia ColemanI, Pearl Heart by Jane Candia Coleman

Pearl was supposed to go back to her fancy boarding school, but she met Frank first. He promised her dancing. Her mother didn’t like Frank, probably because of his reputation as a gambler. This did not deter Pearl though. She ran off and eloped with Frank, going to New Orleans, where she quickly found out that Frank was an abusive jerk. He found any excuse to hit Pearl.

Pearl had enough after one particularly rough beating and left. She hopped on a train with a hobo and lit out for other parts. She got a job singing, but that bastard Frank showed up again. For a while, she and he tried to make their marriage work. They ended up with two kids. When she parted ways with Frank, again, the kids went to her mother’s, who was thoroughly disgraced by Pearl’s life. Pearl went off and did other things.

She got jobs and then she robbed a stage-coach and got arrested. Having a woman robber was quite the sensation and Pearl got a lot of attention, but life was not easy in prison. She was alone much of the time, until a couple of other women prisoners showed up, having committed their own terrible deeds. Prison wasn’t easy, but Pearl found a way to make terrible things be to her advantage.

What I liked

While this book may be fiction, Pearl was real. Look her up on Wikipedia. She was a real, stage-coach robbing, gun-toting, hard woman. While it’s not exactly the ideal of what a woman should be, it’s pretty neat. She had the guts to dress up like a man, when that was highly frowned upon and then go rob somebody, which isn’t very nice.

The fictionalized story is fun. Pearl is what you would call a “spitfire.” She’s not going to let anybody get her down, although it may seem like life really sucks sometimes.

Despite the fact that she’s not role model material, I do find her admirable. She did things women didn’t do during the time period and made them work.

What I didn’t like

Pearl’s first husband sounded awful. In the book Pearl cites being Catholic for her reason not to divorce her abusive, scumbag husband. Look, I don’t care if you’re Catholic, a gypsy, Mormon, FLDS, a Baptist, or a Pastafarian–if your husband, or wife, is physically abusive, you divorce their butt as fast as you can. If they’re mentally abusive and refuse to see their abuse, you divorce their butt as fast as you can. Abusers tend to stay abusers. There’s no point in prolonging your suffering, and your children’s suffering, if there are any, because of a religious ideology. Sure, yes, marriage can be sacred, but that depends upon each party involved keeping their side of the deal, which happens to include not being abusive to your spouse and/or children.

In real life, Pearl seemed to go back to her husband multiple times, which is sad. He was a loser and here she was this tough woman who assuredly didn’t really need a man, especially an abusive one.


I admire Pearl’s escapades, but feel bad about her being married to a jerk.

Weigh In

Are female outlaws of the old west fascinating or deplorable?

Do you think Pearl lived her life of crime because of her abuse?