Category Archives: Cashawn

Book Review: Right As Rain

“The finer points don’t matter to her. All those theories you read about, whether or not I was doing my job, or if I made a bad split-second decision, or if it was the lack of training, or the Glock…none of that matters to her and I can understand it. She looks at me, the only thing she sees is the guy who killed her son.”

Right As Rain was given to me by a good friend of mine. It’s a mystery-thriller, a genre that I would have never chosen for myself. My friend told me that the story was set here in D.C. and since I am a daughter of The Capital City, I decided to give it a go. I am so glad that I did. With Right As Rain, George Pelecanos has offered an intriguing and authentic tale of police corruption, race relations and the drug trade in Washington, D.C.

Right As Rain centers around Derek Strange, a DC cop turned private investigator who has been hired by the mother of Chris Wilson, a young black police officer who was killed while out of uniform by Terry Quinn, a fellow officer who is white with a well known short fuse. Mrs. Wilson believes that her son has been dishonored and wants his name cleared. Strange reluctantly takes on the case and quickly enlists the help of Chris’ killer, Quinn, to help him get to the bottom of the case.

Derek Strange is a smooth and intelligent man and is very good at what he does. He understands the realities of the city and how things work and why. He sees everything clearly except for his on-again, off-again love relationship with Janine who is his office administrator. Terry Quinn has struggled with his personal demons surrounding how he perceives race ever since the shooting. It especially affects his attempt at a relationship with a young law student named Juana, a black woman with whom he is absolutely smitten.

These characters are so believable and I was able to sympathize with them right away. My favorite character was Terry Quinn. I was surprised that I was able to have so much sympathy for this man that killed a black man on a dark street basically just because he was black. His demons were so real and his struggle with them was significant to the story.

Strange and Quinn uncovered more than they ever thought they would in investigating why Chris Wilson was killed. Who would have thought that a cop murder in downtown D.C. would lead to the slaughter of Columbian drug mules in the exurbs, dirty cops and one good girl gone terribly bad thanks to a heroin addiction? The story took so many twists and turns, I never knew what was coming next, but with every turn of the page I wanted to know more. This was one of those books that you end up staying up way past your bedtime because you just can’t put it down!

What impressed me the most about Right As Rain was how authentically “D.C.” it was. Many movies and books have been made and written about the Nation’s Capital and very few of them stay true to the spirit of this town. They’re usually about “Washington”- the monuments, museums and federal government. This story was about D.C. as I know it: Brookland, Georgia Avenue, Union Station, North Capitol Street, The Metro’s Red Line and Crisfield’s in Silver Spring. My own neighborhood and street was even mentioned a few times. I was able to picture every location mentioned which made it all even more exciting for me.

This is a great book. It lived up to everything I’ve been told about George Pelecanos and I look forward to reading more from this author.



Teaser Tuesdays: Group Post

As part of a new weekly feature, The Page Turners are here to share a piece of what we’re currently reading. Anyone can participate! Just do the following:

  • Grab your current read
  • Open to a random page
  • Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
  • BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
  • Share the title, page number & author, too, so that other readers can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

“I never came on to her, so I wasn’t any kind of threat.  With no sexual investment, she couldn’t lose with me. She couldn’t win either, but that suited us best, with Lorna you had to keep your distance.”

pg. 35, “K” is for Killer,
by Sue Grafton

This new girl had better be taking note that this was no flim-flack family that she was moving in with, I thought. We had a sister who went to boarding school in England!” 

pg 40, The House at Sugar Beach
by Helene Cooper

Breaking away and moving a comfortable distance from poverty seems to require a perfect lineup of favorable conditions. A set of skills, a good starting wage, and a job with the likelihood of promotion are prerequisites. But so are clarity of purpose, courageous self-esteem, a lack of substantial debt, the freedom from illness or addiction, a functional family, a network of upstanding friends and the right help from private or governmental agencies. Any gap in that array is an entry point for trouble because being poor means being unprotected. You might as well try playing quarterback with no helmet, no padding, no training and no experience, behind a line of hundred-pound weaklings.”
pg. 5, The Working Poor: Invisible In America,
by David K. Shipler

“My brother ran away in fright. I found a piece of rope, made a noose, slipped it about the kitten’s neck, pulled it over a nail, then jerked the animal clear of the ground. It gasped, slobbered, spun, doubled, clawed the air frantically’ finally its mouth gaped and its pink-white tongue shot out stiffly. I tied the rope to a nail and went to find my brother. He was crouching behind a corner of the building.
pg. 11, Black Boy,
by Richard Wright

“Ma takes her pill from the silver pack that has twenty-eight little spaceships and I take a vitamin from the bottle with the boy doing a handstand and she takes one from the big bottle with a picture of a woman doing Tennis. Vitamins are medicine for not getting sick and going back to Heaven yet.”
(read via Kindle) Room,
by Emma Donoghue
What are you reading??

“The Between”: A Brilliant Introduction to Science Fiction

“The Between” is a riveting science-fiction tale by Tananarive Due. I picked this novel up in a thrift store about two years ago for only $.80 and after finally reading it, I can say it was the best $.80 I’ve ever spent. It is a brilliant first novel by a woman who has drawn me into the sci-fi genre in a way that I never thought I’d be able to enjoy. I appreciate finding an author who can introduce me to a different style of writing to which I can relate so heavily.

“The Between” tells the story of Hilton James, a husband, father and director of a drug treatment facility in Florida. He is loved by his wife Dede, a newly-elected circuit judge in Dade County and the only black woman in that position, although they have had some rough times in the past. His children, eight year-old Jamil and thirteen year-old Kaya are bright kids and reflect the love and support that Hilton and Dede have showered upon them. Hilton is admired and respected by his friends and colleagues for going above and beyond the call of duty in his position at work. Seems as if he has the idyllic life that dreams are made of, right? But for Hilton, dreams are far from idyllic. They are haunting and menacing night terrors that are driving him to the very brink of insanity.

Hilton has been carrying a secret around deep within since he was a small child: he found his dear Nana, who had raised him since his mother ran off, dead on the kitchen floor when he was seven years-old…or did he? When he went to find help, he returned to find Nana singing hymns and cooking their dinner. From that day on, little Hilton was afraid of the woman he loved most in the world. He couldn’t understand how he could find Nana lifeless, clammy and cold to the touch on the floor one moment and in the next she’s up and about as usual.

Hilton did lose his Nana after she rescued him from drowning while on a family trip to the beach not long after she died in the kitchen the first time. She gave her life for his that fateful day in the ocean. He was adopted and raised by distant cousins, given all the love possible but he was haunted: The Dreams. The night terrors persisted even after he left home and went to college, met his future wife, began his career and started his life. They were finally alleviated through intensive therapy and hypnosis and lay dormant for five years. Five years of peace that suddenly comes to a screeching halt when Dede begins to receive threatening racist hate mail after winning her judgeship.

Hilton goes from a rational and well-respected man attempting to protect his home and family to a raging, sleep deprived maniac, unable to tell the difference between what is real and what is happening in his dreams. His wife and children fear him and his friends and co-workers think he is losing his mind. Hilton indeed hovers powerlessly in “The Between”.

This story is suspenseful, as it draws the reader in and forces you to accompany Hilton on his descent into madness. You as the reader also begin to question where the line between the natural and supernatural, between here and there, and between good and evil lie. With each turn of the page, I found myself asking “Where are WE going from here??” I got so spooked out reading this book at times, I had to put it down and take a few breaths.

Despite the ending of this book not being as explosive as I expected it to be, I would give this book a 5 out of 5 star rating. The characters were believable and attractive. The plot was well fleshed-out and the pace was deliberate and served its purpose as a suspense novel. Ms. Due definitely set the bar high for herself as a science-fiction writer with this debut novel. I look forward to reading more books by Tananarive Due as I delve deeper into the sci-fi genre.

Introducing The Page Turners: Cashawn’s Niche

I cannot remember my life without books. I’ve been reading independently since I was about 3 or 4 years old and it has always been my favorite getaway. My mother has always been a voracious reader and made sure that my siblings and I had an endless supply of books. I grew up in a world without the Internet, uber-realistic video games and endless TV channels so books were very important to me. I was kind of little and introverted as a child, so while a lot of kids were outside rabble-rousing and being boisterous, I would be in the house reading some book. My favorite books growing up were a random book of Bible stories that my paternal grandmother gifted us one year and this huge book called “The Dictionary of Dictionaries” that appeared out of nowhere one day. It was exactly what it said it was: a book full of different dictionaries, nothing but words. Yes, I know very weird for a kid, but it has paid off.

I stopped reading kiddie books in the 8th grade when my English teacher, Ms. Cooke introduced me to Toni Morrison’s book The Bluest Eye. From there she had me reading James Baldwin, Langston Hughes and Gwendolyn Brooks. Ms. Cooke is the second biggest influence in my life outside of my mother when it comes to my love of reading and exploring and learning about Black literary culture. I read any and everything I could get my hands on by a Black author back then and quickly fell head over heels in love with Zora Neale Hurston and she is still one of my absolute favorites. I discovered Gloria Naylor, Terri McMillian and my favorite author ever, J.California Cooper in my late teens-early 20’s. They explore in depth my favorite themes of women, family, girls, Black people, love, history and relationships. So far through my 30’s, thanks to reading “Cane River” and “Red River” by Lalita Tademy, I’ve discovered a new interest in historical fiction and science fiction. Thanks to fellow Page Turners Nakia and Malca, I discovered Tananarive Due’s black sci-fi books as well. I’ve also found a love for the work of Lolita Files, Lalita Tademy, Wally Lamb, Dorothy Allison, Sue Miller and Kenji Jasper since I turned 30. Who knows what my 40’s hold in store!

I cannot gush and swoon over authors without mentioning Bernice L. McFadden. She is my favorite author ever. I cannot describe how much her work means to me. The way she tells a story is incredible. The depth of the characters and the plot structure are absolutely sublime. She writes of family and love so well, that I have been often moved to tears. She wrote my favorite book ever “Loving Donovan” and as a Black woman who writes, if I could ever tell a story the way she does, I could leave this world feeling like I “made it”, no matter where I am in life.

I’m a mom of a 16 year-old daughter who has been a book lover since before she could actually read and a very soon to be 12 year-old boy who has finally picked up the family tradition of reading after finding a series of books that speaks to him (the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan). By trade, I’m a early childhood educator, so I’ve had more than my share of experience with children’s books.

Though my interests are widespread, I will focus mainly on Sci-Fi and Historical Fiction. The genres offer a new world of discovery and adventure, and cause one to expand their realm of possibility within literature.

Right now I’m reading Uncle Otto, by Winifred Cook, which I received as a birthday gift this year from ChrisAlexander, also of The Page Turners. I guess that will be my first review for this site. Be sure to subscribe so you won’t miss that or any other of the goodies we have in store on this blog.

I can also be found at my Lifestyle/Humor blog, “Dirty Pretty Thangs.”