Author Archives: Sadie

Review of Life’s Passages: From Guyana to America, by Erwin K. Thomas

I won a copy of Life’s Passages (by Dr. Erwin K. Thomas) through Goodreads. I’m always a little iffy about books involving religion (or more specifically religious people). But I was interested in other aspects of the book. So, I determined I’d put up with the religious aspects in order to learn something. I read it in one sitting, during my Solo Protest time.

Description:

Life’s Passages is a spiritual biography that traces my life as a member of the Thomas’ family up to the present time. Its theme captures the role of a loving and caring God in our lives. Readers will journey in the local environment of a small South American country – Guyana, and explore the realities of living in America as a student and professor.

Review:

I think this book has it’s purpose. If Dr. Thomas passed it to his friends and fellow church members, I imagine they’d love it. They know him, after all, and would be interested in his life. But as a stranger reading it, it failed to hold my interest.

I dove into it hoping to learn about a different culture and the life decisions that led a man to immigrate to America. Instead, I opened a book with no central theme. Thomas seems to just write chapters here and there on whatever occurred to him at the time (there’s not even a chronology). Nothing ties the narrative together. There is no central message. The mechanical writing and copy editing are surprisingly clean, but I think Dr. Thomas needed a content editor to walk him through how to make an auto-biography substantive and meaningful.

Lastly, the blurb heavily suggests that this is a religious book. Other than some of the quotes at the beginning of chapters and the occasional “by the grace of God” or “God answered our prayers” (all in the last 1/3 of the book) this isn’t a religious narrative.

Review of Infinite Hope: How Wrongful Conviction, Solitary Confinement, and 12 Years on Death Row Failed to Kill My Soul, by Anthony Graves

I won a copy of Infinite Hope, by Anthony Graves through Goodreads. I read it during my time out solo protesting, which is something I’ve been doing for a month or so now.

Description:

In the summer of 1992, a grandmother, a teenage girl, and four children under the age of ten were beaten and stabbed to death in Somerville, Texas. The perpetrator set the house on fire to cover his tracks, deepening the heinousness of the crime and rocking the tiny community to its core. Authorities were eager to make an arrest. Five days later, Anthony Graves was in custody.

Graves, then twenty-six years old and without an attorney, was certain that his innocence was obvious. He did not know the victims, he had no knowledge about the crime, and he had an airtight alibi with witnesses. There was also no physical evidence linking him to the scene. Yet Graves was indicted, convicted of capital murder, sentenced to death, and, over the course of twelve years on death row, given two execution dates. He was not freed for eighteen years, two months, four days.

Through years of suffering the whims of rogue prosecutors, vote-hungry district attorneys, and Texas State Rangers who played by their own rules, Graves was frequently exposed to the dire realities of being poor and black in the criminal justice system. He witnessed fellow inmates who became his friends and confidants be taken away, one by one, to their deaths. And he missed out on seeing his three young sons mature into men. Graves’s only solace was his infinite hope that the state would not execute him for a crime he did not commit.

To maintain his dignity and sanity, Graves made sure as many people as possible knew about his case. He wrote letters to whomever he thought would listen. Pen pals in countries all over the world became allies, and he attracted the attention of a savvy legal team that overcame setback after setback, chiseling away at the state’s faulty case against him. Everyone’s efforts eventually worked. After Graves’s exoneration, the original prosecutor on his case was disbarred.

Review:

This was a hard book to read because the events in it are so unrelentingly wrong. I found myself wanting to avoid it. Of course, we can’t can we? If we refuse to look at injustices, how can we seek to understand and correct them? And there appear to have been incalculable injustices in Graves’ case. It would seem the prosecutors knowingly tried and convicted an innocent man. One has to ask why. Graves doesn’t even try to answer this question, maybe he can’t. Was it pure racism? He doesn’t suggest so, though it certainly played a role.

I found Graves a competent but unemotional narrator of his own tale. And while I can understand how reporting the events in a detached manner might make it easier to face in the retelling, it makes it dry to read. Plus, the book centers on the miscarried justice of Graves’ various trials and says comparatively little on the almost 20 years he spent in prison. Those are the years that would have fleshed him out as a character and made him more approachable to the reader. (I don’t mean as a fictional character but as the central component of his own story.)

All in all, I think this was worth the read and I’m glad to see Graves seems to have found a way to form good from the experience.

Review of Atlantis Rising (Warriors Of Poseidon #1), by Alyssa Day

I received a copy of Atlantis Rising when I signed up for Alyssa Day’s newsletter. Curious of Jack’s (the hero in Dead Eye) origins, I gave it a read.

Description from Goodreads:

Eleven thousand years ago, before the seas swallowed the Atlanteans, Poseidon assigned a few chosen warriors to act as sentinels for humans in the new world. There was only one rule-desiring them was forbidden. But rules were made to be broken…

When she calls…
Riley Dawson is more than a dedicated Virginia Beach social worker. She’s blessed with a mind link that only Atlanteans have been able to access for thousands of years. Being an “empath” may explain her wistful connection to the roiling waves of the ocean, the sanctuary it provides, and the sexual urges that seem to emanate from fathoms below…

He will come.
Conlan, the High Prince of Atlantis, has surfaced on a mission to retrieve Poseidon’s stolen trident. Yet something else has possessed Conlan: the intimate emotions-and desires-of a human. Irresistibly drawn to the uncanny beauty, Conlan soon shares more than his mind. But in the midst of a battle to reclaim Poseidon’s power, how long can a forbidden love last between two different souls from two different worlds?

Review:

This is the second Alyssa Day book I’ve read and they’ve both suffered in the same manner (this one far worse than the first, Dead Eye). Both had an interesting plot that was then shoved into the background in favor of endless repetitions of how awed the hero is by the heroine and her innate goodness. Had Day flipped this around I probably would have loved this book. As it was the whole vampires try to take over the world, Lost City of Atlantis rising to save humanity is a subplot to he’s hot and tortured and she’s kind enough to heal his heart. There isn’t enough of the first to carry the book and the latter isn’t strong enough to support all Day heaped onto it. By the end, I was desperately ready to be finished with the book.

Having said all of that, I did like the characters. I appreciated that, while Conlan was bossy, he wasn’t an alpha-asshole about it. I liked that he communicated when he was struggling with control and I liked that Riley had some agency.

When I picked this book up, I didn’t realize it was initially published in 2007. I’m always wary of any PNR that’s more than a decade old. The industry codified a lot of tropes I despise. Despite that, though this wasn’t a winner for me, I didn’t hate it as much as I could have. And that’s a plus, right?