Description Written by Jodi Picoult

Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite authors. She has a talent for addressing difficult topics in her fiction writing that makes the reader wrestle with a moral issue. In her most recent novel, Great Small Things, she tackles race relations in America.

Great Small Things focuses on a nurse of one race and a couple of another race whose baby is in a life-or-death situation. If you haven’t read the book, I highly recommend that you do.

Small Great Things, by Jodi Picoult

In Small Great Things, Turk Bauer is a white racist. Ms. Picoult could have written pages of prose to describe Mr. Bauer’s personality and demeanor, but she was able to sum it up in the following sentence:

“Turk Bauer makes me think of a power line that’s snapped during a storm, and lies across the road just waiting for something to brush against it so it can shoot sparks.” – Jodi Picoult in Small Great Things.

What a vivid picture! If you read nothing else about Turk Bauer, that one sentence would tell you pretty much all you needed to know about him. I hope I can write character descriptions like that some day!

More and more I’m learning that in order to be a good writer, a person needs to read a lot. I’m so absorbed in reading books this year that I have spent very little time writing. I need to strike a happy medium and make time for both, but the public library has so many good books and a number of my favorite authors have new books being released in October. As the saying goes, “So many books, so little time!”

Until my next blog post

I hope you have a good book to read. I’m listening to a novel on CD, The Saboteur, by Andrew Gross. I read The One Man, by Andrew Gross, last year and blogged about it (What I read in November.) I’ve wanted to read some of Mr. Gross’s other books ever since.

I think I’ve mentioned before that I generally don’t like to listen to books on CD. The waitlist at the public library for Mr. Gross’s latest novel was shorter for the CD than for any other format, so I decided to give it a try.

Listening to a book on CD usually gets on my last nerve; however, I’ve worked out a routine, with The Saboteur. I listen to one disc each day, which takes a little more than one hour. I use that time to do my physical therapy exercises for my shoulder. I like being able to get two things accomplished at the same time, and I’m finding that the length of one disc is about my attention limit.

What about you?

Do you prefer to read a traditional paper book, listen to a book on CD, or read a book on an electronic device? There is no right or wrong answer. Aren’t we fortunate to live in a time when there are books available in many different formats?


What I read in November

Book Pages, Book, Old, Read, Paper

I read three novels in November. The first one was The One Man, by Andrew Gross. Some of you are probably familiar with some of the thrillers he wrote with James Patterson, but I was not aware of his writing. I can’t remember how I heard about The One Man, but the premise intrigued me. I look forward to reading more of Mr. Gross’s books.

The One Man, by Andrew Gross

The One Man is a gripping historical thriller. I’m drawn to historical fiction, but most of the historical novels I’ve read do not fall into the category of thriller. The One Man is a real page turner. It is set during World War II as Hitler’s Germany and the Allies were both trying to develop a bomb the likes of which the world had never seen.

The premise of the book is that only two men in the world know how to separate Uranium-235 from Uranium-238. One of the men is German. The other one is a Jewish physicist being held in the Auschwitz concentration camp. He is “the one man” the United States needs if the Allies are to win the war. But how could the United States possibly get anyone out of Auschwitz? They needed to find “the one man” who could pull it off. If you want to go on this nail-biting ride, I recommend you read The One Man. In case you enjoy audio books, this one has excellent reviews as the narrator is Edoardo Ballerini.

Ruin Falls, by Jenny Milchman

I read Ruin Falls primarily to fulfill a category on the 2016 Mint Hill Public Library 2016 Reading Challenge. Having enjoyed reading Jenny Milchman’s Under the Cover of Snow several years ago, I selected another book by her in the category, “read something by an author who has the same initials as you.” In Ruin Falls, two children of a couple mysteriously disappear in the middle of the night from their hotel room. Were they kidnapped or did they runaway? Ms. Milchman weaves a story that points out how our lives can be ruined by things that happen to us and how we don’t know other people as well as we think. The title is a bit of a play on words leading up to a suspenseful encounter at a waterfall called Ruin Falls.

The Risin, by Ron Rash

The Risin, by Ron Rash was the other novel I read in November is a coming of age book. It follows the lives of two brothers from Sylva, North Carolina. Sylva is a small town in the Appalachian Mountains and just a few miles from Western Carolina University where Ron Rash teaches. One brother is a well-respected neurosurgeon, while the other one is a ne’er-do-well. One of them has a closely guarded secret from their teen years in Sylva in the 1970s – a secret kept from the other brother for decades.

In closing

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Until my next blog post in a few days, I hope you have a good book to read. If you are a writer, I hope you also have some quality writing time.


First Line of a Novel – The One Man

“The barking of the dogs was closing in on them, not far behind now.” That’s the first line of chapter one of the historical thriller, The One Man, by Andrew Gross.


I’m reading The One Man now and I can hardly put it down. Set in Poland in 1944, one knows that being chased by dogs probably has something to do with the Nazis.


The book’s prologue is in the present time but ends with a war time memory of a patient in a Veterans Administration hospital. Two men “running for their lives. . .” That prepares the reader for the first line in chapter one.

Word choice

In addition to being a great “hook” for the book, the first line in chapter one is interesting for word choice. If I had written it, I probably would have said something like, “The barking dogs were closing in on them” or even a mundane line like, “They were being chased by dogs.” (That is, if I’d known enough about the craft of writing to drop the reader into the middle of the action.)

I prefer the way Andrew Gross constructed the sentence over the way I might have written it. Mr. Gross has the sound of barking dogs closing in on the runners instead of the dogs closing in.

Am I “splitting hairs” here? Perhaps. But when I read the opening line as a person who is trying to learn the craft of writing, I find that the sounds of the approaching barking dogs is a richer way to pull me into the story. The runners haven’t necessarily seen the dogs but they are, no doubt, terrified by the sounds of the barking dogs. I found it to be an interesting way to describe what was scaring the runners. And doesn’t that sentence make you want to keep reading?

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Until my next blog post in a few days, I hope you have a good book to read and, if you’re a writer, I hope you have quality writing time.