My Interests

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Avid reader who loves finding new authors with well written books. Am interested in reading and reviewing various genres and am always looking for the next good read.

Upcoming Books to Read and Review

  • 44 Charles Street by Danielle Steel
  • Code Blue by Richard Mabry
  • Fantasy in Death by J.D. Robb
  • Vandalism of Words by Derek Haines

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Red Queen Review

The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory, 400 pages, 2010


Heiress to the red rose of Lancaster, Margaret Beaufort never surrenders her belief that her house is the true ruler of England and that she has a great destiny before her. Her ambitions are disappointed when her sainted cousin Henry VI fails to recognize her as a kindred spirit, and she is even more dismayed when he sinks into madness. Her mother mocks her plans, revealing that Margaret will always be burdened with the reputation of her father, one of the most famously incompetent English commanders in France. But worst of all for Margaret is when she discovers that her mother is sending her to a loveless marriage in remote Wales.
Married to a man twice her age, quickly widowed, and a mother at only fourteen, Margaret is determined to turn her lonely life into a triumph. She sets her heart on putting her son on the throne of England regardless of the cost to herself, to England, and even to the little boy. Disregarding rival heirs and the overwhelming power of the York dynasty, she names him Henry, like the king; sends him into exile; and pledges him in marriage to her enemy Elizabeth of York’s daughter. As the political tides constantly move and shift, Margaret charts her own way through another loveless marriage, treacherous alliances, and secret plots. She feigns loyalty to the usurper Richard III and even carries his wife’s train at her coronation.
Widowed a second time, Margaret marries the ruthless, deceitful Thomas, Lord Stanley, and her fate stands on the knife edge of his will. Gambling her life that he will support her, she then masterminds one of the greatest rebellions of the time—all the while knowing that her son has grown to manhood, recruited an army, and now waits for his opportunity to win the greatest prize.
In a novel of conspiracy, passion, and coldhearted ambition, number one bestselling author Philippa Gregory has brought to life the story of a proud and determined woman who believes that she alone is destined, by her piety and lineage, to shape the course of history.

The is the second book in the "Cousins' War" Trilogy. The first book having been "The White Queen" which continues to follow the war between member of the rival branches of the Plantagenets (the houses of York and Lancaster).

The Red Queen is about the Lancastrian, Lady Margaret Beaufort, who is the mother of Henry Tudor (Henry VII). Lady Margaret is a direct descendant of John Beaufort, the legitimized son of John Gaunt (son of King Edward III) and Katherine Swynford. Although the Beauforts were officially barred from inheriting the throne, they played an important role in the dynamic struggles in 15th century England.

The story is narrated by Lady Margaret who is made out to be overly religious (in her view) and without any real redeeming qualities. It would have been nice to hear the views and the inside goings on of the other characters who were introduced but we were fully ensconced in Lady Margaret's one-track mind of making her son, Henry Tudor, King of England. She was first married at 13 and was a widow by the time she was 14. Following the birth of her son, her marriages and alliances were built to further her cause to ensure that her son Henry was kept safe and would be mentally and physically able to fulfill his destiny.

Lady Margaret may not have been a particularly likeable individual, but I also think that she acted according to her class and to that time period so was realistically portrayed. She was certainly influential as the mother and founder of the Tudor dynasty.

The pace of the book kept going nicely and I found it to be quite an enjoyable read.

Rating 3 1/2 out of 5

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Predetermined Endings by Destiny Booze

Predetermined Endings by Destiny Booze, 2009, 252 pages


Angelica Chappell's story made huge headlines. Only a few months ago, she released a new pharmaceutical drug called Krytonix that effectively slows the spread of cancer cells. She had no idea her story would attract the attention of a serial killer. Suddenly, she is a target whether she realizes it or not. This killer is interested in more than her life. He wants her reputation, too. His first mission is to sabotage Krytonix. 

William Pierce worked undercover for the FBI for five years to bring down a ruthless mobster that he ultimately is forced to kill. Two months have passed by since that assignment. Still, William saw things he can't talk about. He did things he can't talk about. He believes his soul is damned. Returning to "normal" everyday life isn't an option. He isn't the same man he used to be. He refuses to return to FBI headquarters, and instead, becomes a rogue agent with an agenda. 

When Pierce's agenda leads him to Chappell, it will take both of them to keep Angelica alive and figure out who is after her. William soon finds himself developing feelings for Angelica. Too bad for her killer, William worked as a trained hit-man for the mob. Will he find her killer and hand him over to the legal system to see that justice is served, or will he search and destroy? 

This was a gripping novel right from the opening sentence and I could not put it down. There were so many twists and turns and I loved how it kept you guessing and even rooting for the "bad" person throughout the novel. I am looking forward to reading many more novels by this very talented author.

Medical thriller, FBI and police intrigue, mafia, hitmen = my perfect novel.

This novel will keep you guessing and will make you want to read it over and over again. It is actually back on my list for books to read and I want to read it again. Not many books after being read, make this list so that tells you how much I enjoyed it.

I would highly recommend this novel to everyone!!!

Rating 4.5 out of 5

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

After River by Donna Milner Review

After River by Donna Milner, 352 pages


Before River, everything was perfect. . . .
Growing up on a Canadian dairy farm less than two miles from the American border, fifteen-year-old Natalie Ward knows little of the outside world. But her loving, close-knit family is the envy of young and old alike in the nearby town of Atwood. Natalie adores her three brothers—especially Boyer, the eldest, whom she idolizes. But everything changes one hot July afternoon in 1966 when a long-haired stranger appears at their door—a soft-spoken American, a Vietnam War resister, who will test the family's morals and beliefs, and set in motion catastrophic events that will shatter Natalie's relationships with those she most dearly loves.


It is hard to believe that this was Ms. Milner’s first novel as it is so well written. I loved the Canadian content and felt that I could relate and picture her story vividly.
One of my favourite excerpts from the book was: “My favourite memory is of my father and brothers working in the fields. I carry a mental picture of them drenched in the golden glow of the late summer sun. I keep this precious gem hidden deep in the dark closet of my mind, behind all of life's stored clutter. I take it out rarely, cautiously. Like a fragile object stored in opaque tissue, I unwrap it with slow trepidation. I turn it this way and that, trying to see more, to see beyond the faded edges of memory". This is an outstanding example of what I meant about such vivid imagery.
Natalie Ward, is a happily married middle-aged mother and a natural journalist who also has a capacity for showing great empathy and kindness, but she also has secrets - mostly about her family and childhood. These secrets and a sudden phone call from her daughter Jenny telling her that her mother Nettie is dying, thrusts Natalie back into the past where she forced to relive memories and events as she grows up on her family's dairy farm in British Columbia. 
Natalie seems to relish in her alienation. At school she does nothing to encourage friendships, content to spend most of her spare time with Boyer (her older, bookish brother), playing his word games in his room up in the attic and reading his books. Things change when a young American draft-dodger by the name of River Jordan comes to live and work with the Ward family.  
Natalie falls in love with River however, nobody could predict the eventual heartache that came with River’s arrival as it was the catalyst that caused the is the tragedy and  shattering of her family come about. River’s ghost still echoes throughout their lives for decades to come.  
When Natalie travels towards Atwood on the bus thirty-five years later, "like a time machine carrying her in slow motion back to her past," she must ask for forgiveness from her mother Nettie and her brother Boyer and see beyond the faded edges of memory. Natalie longs to unburden herself and to finally confess and seek redemption and forgiveness.
The theme I found the most profound was the bigotry and intolerance that isolated the Ward family - as anything or anyone out of the ordinary was shunned. 
What we learn is that children see things differently then adults. Heartache and heartbreak could have been avoided if Natalie had opened up and confronted her demons when she was a teenager. Instead she bottled everything up which affected her life. 

It is a very good read and I enjoyed it and would recommend it.

Rating 4 out of 5

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Half Broke Horses: A True Life Novel Review

Half Broke Horses: A True Life Novel by Jeannette Wells, 288 pages, 2009


Lily survived tornadoes, droughts, floods, the Great Depression, and the most heartbreaking personal tragedy. She bristled at prejudice of all kinds—against women, Native Americans, and anyone else who didn’t fit the mold. Rosemary Smith Walls always told Jeannette that she was like her grandmother, and in this true-life novel, Jeannette Walls channels that kindred spirit. Half Broke Horses is Laura Ingalls Wilder for adults, as riveting and dramatic as Isak Dinesen’sOut of Africa or Beryl Markham’s West with the Night. Destined to become a classic, it will transfix readers everywhere.

Having read and enjoyed The Glass Castle so much in the past, when I saw this book, Half Broke Horses, another true story by Jeannette Wells, I knew that I must read it. This book had a very different style than The Glass Castle and didn't enjoy it quite as much.

Lily, Jeannette's grandmother was a truly remarkable lady. So gutsy and determined even while living through the Great Depression. Lily was born in a mud hut on the banks of a river, she worked as a teacher during a shortage, learns how to fly, she was an extremely competent horsewoman, she also learns how to drive. In one town, she was the one-woman teacher wherein she taught, was the janitor, bus driver and disciplinarian. Lily's a very strong woman, and I found myself enthralled with her story. She had many struggles and set backs along the way and moved around quite a bit as she didn't have the proper teaching credentials so kept getting replaced when a licensed teacher would come back. The book flows well, short sections reading like stories told one by one over time, but forming a cohesive whole.

I'd recommend the book if you like memoirs, and stories about living in the southwest of America during the early to mid 1900's.

It was a quick read but one that I would not bother to read again unlike The Glass Castle which I thoroughly enjoyed and have read a few times.

Rating 3 out of 5. 

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Book of Negroes Review

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill, 2007, Harper Collins


Abducted as an 11-year-old child from her village in West Africa and forced to walk for months to the sea in a coffle - a string of slaves - Aminata Diallo is sent to live as a slave in South Carolina. But years later, she forges her way to freedom, serving the British in the Revolutionary War and registering her name in the historic "Book of Negroes". This book, an actual document, provides a short but immensely revealing record of freed Loyalist slaves who requested permission to leave the US for resettlement in Nova Scotia, only to find that the haven they sought was steeped in an oppression all of its own. Aminata's eventual return to Sierra Leone - passing ships carrying thousands of slaves bound for America - is an engrossing account of an obscure but important chapter in history that saw 1,200 former slaves embark on a harrowing back-to-Africa odyssey.


This book looked intriguing but sat on my bookshelf for awhile although now I wished I had read it sooner. It was an excellent book and an amazing journey. I had read a couple of not so great books lately and this was a refreshing change, loved the characters and since I tend to prefer historical fiction, I found this to be an excellent read. 

The brutality of the West African slave trade in which millions of Africans perished is well documented. However, when a knowledgeable and perceptive novelist transforms these records and the many personal accounts of cruelty and tragedy on the one hand and survival, perseverance and hope on the other into one inclusive narrative around one memorable character, the realities of the many merge into one rich and lively, heart wrenching and joyful history-based novel of exceptional beauty and power.

Aminata's portrayal of survival in the midst of so many who perish, of violence and misery, but also of friendships found and lost, as well as love and family, evokes a rainbow of emotions in the reader - from despair and sadness to delight and joy. Hill's talent placing himself into the mind of his heroine is admirable. Through her he has created a captivating panoramic life story with authentic characters. Not only is the heroine of the novel a wonderfully vibrant and endearing personality, she is surrounded by many, equally believable, individuals. 

The author notes in the Afterword where he has taken a few liberties with the timeline and some historical figures; however the vast majority of the book is factual; extracted from history books and inspired by diaries, memoirs, notes, etc. Hill expertly layers the social and political climates of the time against the protagonist's story. This novel is extremely well-written, perfectly paced, and highly recommended.

Rating 4.5 out of 5

Friday, September 17, 2010

Secret Daughter: A Novel Review

Secret Daughter: A Novel by Shilpi Somaya Gowda, 2010, 339 pages


On the eve of the monsoons, in a remote Indian village, Kavita gives birth to a baby girl. But in a culture that favors sons, the only way for Kavita to save her newborn daughter's life is to give her away. It is a decision that will haunt her and her husband for the rest of their lives, even after the arrival of their cherished son.

Halfway around the globe, Somer, an American doctor, decides to adopt a child after making the wrenching discovery that she will never have one of her own. When she and her husband, Krishnan, see a photo of the baby with the gold-flecked eyes from a Mumbai orphanage, they are overwhelmed with emotion. Somer knows life will change with the adoption but is convinced that the love they already feel will overcome all obstacles.

Interweaving the stories of Kavita, Somer, and the child that binds both of their destinies, Secret Daughter poignantly explores the emotional terrain of motherhood, loss, identity, and love, as witnessed through the lives of two families—one Indian, one American—and the child that indelibly connects them.

This story spans the time from 1984 to 2009 and is a beautifully written book. Most of the chapters are told from the viewpoints of the three main females - Kavita, Somer and Asha. I found that telling the story in this way provided a deeper insight into each of the characters and enabled me to feel a connection with them.

Kavita is the mother who gave her daughter up for adoption as she did not want her husband to "get rid of" another baby. Kavita knew that she could not live knowing that another child of hers was killed as they lived in a society which saw daughters as burdens and if they could only afford one child, then that child should be male. Kavita secretly named her daughter Usha (meaning Dawn) and travelled on foot a long way to take her daughter to an orphanage where she would at least have a chance to live and hopefully, have a better life.

Somer is an American doctor who is married to a Neurosurgeon who is Indian. After finding out that she will be unable to bear children, her husband mentions that perhaps they could adopt a child and suggests an orphanage in India where his mother is a patron. It is a long process but they are finally successful and bring their daughter Asha (meaning Hope) back to America with them when she is a year old. Somer devotes herself to Asha and changes her career goals in order to be more present in Asha's life.

Asha finally gets to go to India when she is 20 on a journalism scholarship and learns a lot about her father's family and also tracks down her biological parents. Asha comes to the realization that her adopted family is really her true family who loves her. She learns to appreciate her mother more and has her eyes opened to what her life could have been like had she never been adopted.

The Secret Daughter: A Novel is a testament to mothers everywhere as it shows how, even in India, where the women sometimes take a back seat, the women are truly the backbone of the family as Shilpa Somaya Gowda stated "if the mother falls, the whole family falls". I found it interesting how each of the characters viewed India in a different way but in the end, it brings everyone closer together.

It is a deeply moving story and I would highly recommend this book.

Rating 4.5 out of 5

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Spirit Bound Review

Spirit Bound - 5th Book in the Vampire Academy Series by Richelle Mead, Young Adult, 2010, 489 pages


Dimitri gave Rose the ultimate choice. But she chose wrong…
After a long and heartbreaking journey to Dimitri’s birthplace in Siberia, Rose Hathaway has finally returned to St. Vladimir’s—and to her best friend, Lissa. It is nearly graduation, and the girls can’t wait for their real lives beyond the Academy’s iron gates to begin. But Rose’s heart still aches for Dimitri, and she knows he’s out there, somewhere.
She failed to kill him when she had the chance. And now her worst fears are about to come true— Dimitri has tasted her blood, and now he is hunting her. Only this time, he won’t rest until Rose joins him…forever.

Review (Spoiler Alert)

Another spellbinding book in the Vampire Academy Series. Just a warning that this review will contain spoilers as there were so many exciting things going on that it's hard to review it without mentioning these things.

Spirit Bound begins at the Academy where they are getting ready for graduation and Rose has to complete The Trials which is a final exam prepared by experienced guardians to test the new guardians' ability to protect the Moroi outside the safety of the Academy. Rose has had much hands-on experience in killing Strigoi and is not particularly worried about the Trials but is concerned about what will happen when she leaves the Academy as her former boyfriend, Dimitri, who was turned Strigoi is after her.

Rose becomes even more determined and gets herself into illegal and dangerous situations because she is determined to "save" Dimitri. However, she is not doing this alone and is bringing her friends and the people she loves into this dangerous obsession.

My favourite characters are Rose and Lissa although they are both very different, they are both strong, loyal and would do anything for one another. This is especially put to the test when Lissa risks her life to fight and save Dimitri.

I also enjoyed getting to know Adrian more in this book and realize he is very deep and not just a spoiled, rich kid. He clearly loves Rose and his steadfast dedication to her is truly inspiring.

Dimitri is a complex character and there have been many times when I have not liked him very much. Even in this book, I don't feel the compassion for him as he is so mean and dismissive to Rose who risked everything including the lives of her friends for him.

I liked the fact the Rose's father Abe made a couple of appearances throughout the book and hope that he will play a pivotal role in the next book (due out in December) The Last Sacrifice.

The ending was abrupt and as usual, a cliffhanger. It was so exciting and interesting at the end of the book and I just wanted to keep reading when all of a sudden it ends with Abe telling Rose that they don't imprison traitors or let them go - they execute them - then that was the end. December seems like a long wait....

I really hope Rose will find the happiness and love that she deserves but the title of the book "The Last Sacrifice" does not sound promising for poor Rose. 

I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who likes vampire books, love stories and action.

Rating 4 1/2 out of 5

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Hello, Darkness Review

Hello, Darkness by Sandra Brown, 2003, 406 pages

Since moving to Austin to ease the pain of tragic mistakes, Paris Gibson has led a life of virtual isolation, coming alive only at night when she hosts her popular radio show. Then one listener - who identifies himself as "Valentino" - tells Paris that the girl he loves jilted him because of Paris's on-air advice. He intends to exact revenge by killing the girl and then coming after Paris. Desperate to stop the sinister Valentino, Paris enlists the help of the police - including crime psychologist Dean Malloy, the very man she had hoped never to meet again...

Hello, Darkness is a wonderful romantic suspense novel. This is a story of past mistakes, unintentional betrayal, haunting suspense and heated romance that leaves the reader breathless and eager for more.

Unable to get past her guilt concerning the death of her fiance, she escapes into the darkness of the night, being reclusive during the day, wearing sunglasses all of the time and coming out at night to do her radio show. She is the enigmatic host of a popular late night radio program featuring soft talk and love songs. She is comfortable in this world she has created and has been able to avoid the real world and her past for the past seven years. Then one night, she hears from one of her regular callers, Valentino, who says the due to Paris's on-air advice, his girlfriend was going to dump him and that was just not acceptable. He says that he has kidnapped this girl and offers Paris and the authorities seventy two hours to rescue the girl before he kills her and then comes for Paris.

Paris is joined by the Austin police and their newly hired psychologist Dean Malloy in a frantic search for the psychopath and his young victim. Malloy and Paris share a history and must try to put their attraction and their differences on hold while they investigate the many suspects in the race to save a life. There are many suspects to chose from and Sandra Brown keeps you guessing until the end as to who Valentino really is.

Interesting story full of suspense within a sordid tale of confused youngsters from dysfunctional families who risk their lives to seek quick highs from drugs and sex with strangers they have met through an unregulated website. It is a frightening subject and feel that is was realistically handled.

A good read with interesting subject matter and fully developed characters. Another excellent book by the wonderful Sandra Brown.

Rating 4 out of 5.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

The Red Pyramid Review by William

The Red Pyramid (The Kane Chronicles, Book 1) by Rick Riordan, 528 pages, 2010

Since their mother’s death, Carter and Sadie have become near strangers. While Sadie has lived with her grandparents in London, her brother has traveled the world with their father, the brilliant Egyptologist, Dr. Julius Kane. 

One night, Dr. Kane brings the siblings together for a "research experiment" at the British Museum, where he hopes to set things right for his family. Instead, he unleashes the Egyptian god Set, who banishes him to oblivion and forces the children to flee for their lives. 

Soon, Sadie and Carter discover that the gods of Egypt are waking, and the worst of them--Set--has his sights on the Kanes. To stop him, the siblings embark on a dangerous journey across the globe--a quest that brings them ever closer to the truth about their family, and their links to a secret order that has existed since the time of the pharaohs.

I am pleased to provide the following review by my 12-year-old son, William.

Review by William:

I think that this book was very interesting, it had lots of twists and turns and a lot of parts were unexpected. My favourite character is Carter as I found him to be funny and he fought a lot. I think the most memorable character would have to be Zoe due mainly to the twist at the end and her romance with Carter. All of the characters were very well made up and I liked the way Sadie and Carter each took turns narrating their own chapters and how they talked to each during each of their chapters. I like how it showed their own points of view in the chapters which they wrote.

I learned a lot about Egyptian mythology and a lot about Egypt and enjoyed it so much that I want to learn even more about it.

I strongly recommend that you read this book although just a warning, you may not get any sleep due to the suspense.

Rating 5 out of 5

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette Review

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson, 368 pages, 2006


Imagine that, on the night before she is to die under the blade of the guillotine, Marie Antoinette leaves behind in her prison cell a diary telling the story of her life—from her privileged childhood as Austrian Archduchess to her years as glamorous mistress of Versailles to the heartbreak of imprisonment and humiliation during the French Revolution. 

Carolly Erickson takes the reader deep into the psyche of France’s doomed queen: her love affair with handsome Swedish diplomat Count Axel Fersen, who risked his life to save her; her fears on the terrifying night the Parisian mob broke into her palace bedroom intent on murdering her and her family; her harrowing attempted flight from France in disguise; her recapture and the grim months of harsh captivity; her agony when her beloved husband was guillotined and her young son was torn from her arms, never to be seen again.

Erickson brilliantly captures the queen’s voice, her hopes, her dreads, and her suffering. We follow, mesmerized, as she reveals every detail of her remarkable, eventful life—from her teenage years when she began keeping a diary to her final days when she awaited her own bloody appointment with the guillotine.

I found it to be a very entertaining read but it is certainly for enjoyment only and you will probably enjoy it more if you are not very familiar with the history of Marie Antoinette. If you are looking for historically accurate references, you should look elsewhere.

One of the biggest disappointments for me was that the entire Diamond Necklace Affair scandal of the 1780's was not included. This had to have been one of the biggest scandals of that time and it was one of the things I was interested in reading about from Marie's Diary point of view. I have an interest in history as well as fiction and enjoy incorporating the two and therefore was looking forward to this read. The book was rather frivolous (perhaps a bit like Marie Antoinette herself) but it was not all bad and enjoyed the backdrop of the French Revolution as well as the events leading up to Marie Antoinette being beheaded. 

The author paints a more sympathetic picture of the Queen as perhaps since it was her diary, she did not realize how frivolous and extravagant she was while her subjects were suffering and starving to death. 

It would have been a much better read if the author had input more historical relevance and not relied so heavily on the fiction aspect.

All in all, it was entertaining and if you are looking for a fast read and entertaining book and not any kind of historical relevance, than you should give this book a read.

Rating 3 out of 5

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Cutting for Stone Review

Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese, Reprint 2010, 668 pages


The story is a riveting saga of twin brothers, Marion and Shiva Stone, born of a tragic union between a beautiful Indian nun and a brash British surgeon at a mission hospital in Addis Ababa. Orphaned by their mother's death in childbirth and their father's disappearance, and bound together by a preternatural connection and a shared fascination with medicine, the twins come of age as Ethiopia hovers on the brink of revolution.But it's love, not politics -- their passion for the same woman -- that will tear them apart and force Marion to flee his homeland and make his way to America, finding refuge in his work at an underfunded, overcrowded New York City hospital. When the past catches up to him, wreaking havoc and destruction, Marion has to entrust his life to the two men he has trusted least in the world: the surgeon father who abandoned him and the brother who betrayed him.

A breathtaking tale about love, abandonment, betrayal and redemption. This book spans 60 years and takes you on a journey to India, Ethiopia, New York, Boston, Yemen to name just a few. It was an ethnically interesting mix of Indians, Ethiopians, Eritreans, British and Americans and although we travel to many different areas, the story begins and ends in Ethiopia.

The tale is told by Marion Stone who is the twin brother to Shiva, son to Sister Mary Joseph Praise and Thomas Stone. The story starts in 1947 when Sister Mary Joseph Praise (an Indian nun) sets sail from India to Yemen. This perilous journey results in death, sickness and the development of a strong bond between the Sister who is a Nurse and a British surgeon, Thomas Stone.

Sister Mary Joseph Praise gives birth to twins 7 years after reaching Addis Ababa - "Missing" Hospital where she works closely with Dr. Stone. She has complications and dies in childbirth and the distraught Thomas Stone flees Addis Ababa abandoning his sons. Luckily for Marion and Shiva (the twins) two Indian doctors at the hospital (Hema and Ghosh) take them and raise them as their own children. They are a very loving couple and the twins flourish under their care. Marion and Shiva both spend a lot of time at the hospital and develop a passion for medicine.

It certainly made for an interesting book discussion for book club this month.

We discussed things which we thought were "missing" from the characters, how they overcame it and at the end, what each of them "found". It was a good way to think about things as "Missing Hospital" may have just been aptly named after all although "Missing" had been a clerical error (supposed to have been named "Mission Hospital").

There is a great deal of medical procedures which take place in this book and feel that Verghese does a good job keeping the reader engaged even through the sometimes long, technically detailed accounts which are a bit daunting. The book was an education in and of itself as there was medical terminology and procedures I was not familiar with and feel like I have learned something after reading and researching various things in this book.

Further on in the book you are given Thomas Stone's backstory which I found to be especially interesting as it really helped explain and to understand why he behaved the way he did. At the time when he was doing things, I just could not understand for example why he did not perform a caesarian on Sister Mary Joseph Praise which would have saved her life.

The book flows seemlessly and really enjoyed the way everything was inter-weaved and came together. The characters were beautifully crafted and Verghese gave us an inside view of the human condition including strengths and flaws, sins and salvation, love and hate.

A truly remarkable book.

Rating 4 out of 5

Monday, June 14, 2010

Hidden and Imminent Dangers Interview and Book Review

Hidden and Imminent Dangers by D.W. Hardin, 398 pages, 2009

I would like to share with you some interesting information I found out recently upon interviewing Doug Hardin. I hope you enjoy getting to know him a bit better, I konw I certainly did!!! My review of his book, Hidden and Imminent Dangers will follow the interview.


1. When did you first start writing?

This is my first novel, but I always wanted to write. As life has unfolded for me, I was too busy with business and family needs to write. Finally I reached a stage in life where my wife and I decided it was time for me to follow this lifelong dream. I resigned from the hospital to allow me to do research and write. I had to make a schedule for myself because it seemed there was always “something” surfacing which needed my attention. I scheduled myself hours for research and hours for writing. I’ve fallen in love with writing.

2. Who is your favorite author?

I don’t have a favorite author. I love to read. I’ll list a few in no particular order: W. E. B. Griffin, Tom Clancy, James A. Michener, Wilbur Smith, Stephen R. Lawhead, John Ringo, James Patterson, and Robert Ludlum. My reading choices are all over the board. I like a well written story.

3. Which character do you relate most to and why?

I relate most closely to Mac MacIntosh because Mac follows his heart. Mac is a nurse because he sincerely wants to help people and is willing to give the extra effort often at his own expense whether it is emotionally or physically. First, I must state I’m not a saint. But, when people are hurting, I find it extremely rewarding on a personal basis to be able to help. To be part of the first responder family, you have to be willing to make sacrifices and give of yourself.

4. What can we expect next from you?

Currently, I am working on two novels simultaneously. One novel is a continuation of HIDDEN AND IMMINENT DANGERS because some readers have expressed interest in several of the characters and what happens to them in the future. The other novel is about a wrongful death shooting involving a police officer. It is written from the police officer’s viewpoint. Both novels are requiring a lot of research.

5. Besides writing, what do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I like making furniture. I don’t consider myself very good, but my wife and family think the few pieces I turn out are great. That’s good enough for me! I find working with wood very relaxing plus I can look at what I’ve accomplished. Carmen, my wife, sometimes laughs at me because I’m rather a perfectionist. I’ll take a piece of work apart and remake a piece until I’m satisfied. Perhaps, from my viewpoint, the furniture is like a book – it’s a lasting part of you that will give an insight of what you were long after you have departed this life.

I like reading. A good story is intriguing. Reading allows me to visit places, at least in my mind, that I’ll never have the chance to see in this life. Reading expands the mind.

6. What advice would you give aspiring writers?

The advice I’ll give to aspiring writers is something I found hard to accept. A writer should be open to constructive criticism. You don’t have to accept the criticism but give it some consideration. The next piece of advice is something I almost forgot to do. Thank goodness for my wife. Enjoy the ride! You’re accomplishing a dream when you complete a written work. If you touch only one person, and it makes a difference in their life, then consider your mission accomplished.

7. Tell me one interesting/quirky fact about yourself (or a few if there’s too many to limit to one!).

I turn around three times before I lie down – that’s my quirky humor taking over! Our older female cat and I get into a stare off competition. I hate to say this, but I usually lose. She loves to get in front of my keyboard giving me the evil eye until I scratch her head. Once she wins, she sleeps in a chair next to me while I type. I can win with my 125 pound dog because he always feels guilty. On second thought, he just might have reason to feel guilty. I better check into that matter.

I have an alter ego called @glimmerghost on Twitter. He’s my alter ego and has taken on a persona of his own. At times, we’re all invisible to others. The neat thing about Glimmerghost is he can appear and disappear by his own will.

8. Where did you get your ideas and information for this book?

Louisville has a large immigrant population. At the hospital, we saw new diseases brought by the immigrants. The diseases, e.g. new strains of TB, were often difficult to treat plus the patients frequently moved so that there was no way to assure a complete regiment of treatment. I was curious about the publicity H1N1 was receiving plus there were ongoing arguments at the federal level about stockpiling vaccine and about the cost incurred for stockpiling the vaccine. Much of the information came from my technical training while the rest came from research.

9. What do you think makes a good story?

The factual information has to be correct; otherwise, the whole premise is wrong, and the story falls apart. The characters have to be believable with flaws the reader can identify with. I have not met the perfect person. I believe a story has to deliver something the reader can take away with him/her.

10. Is there anything else you would like to tell your fans about yourself?

I like to interact with my readers. If you have a comment or question, please feel free to contact me at I try to answer all my e-mails in a timely manner.

Thank you for taking the time to do this interview.


Nurse Mac MacIntosh spends his days immersed in the chaos of a Louisville, Kentucky emergency room, struggling to shout down the demons that have haunted him since his tour as a medic in war-torn Afghanistan. But when a patient with suspicious flu-like symptoms arrives from a nearby poultry farm, Mac finds himself caught up in a horrific humanitarian crisis. Infectious disease specialist Mercato Marcus is the first to suspect the outbreak of a mutant strain of avian flu, but administrative in-fighting delays the involvement of the CDC, triggering a disastrous and deadly chain of events that threatens to destroy the United States. This suspenseful novel presents a riveting and frightfully realistic scenario in which the inadequacies of medicine, government, and law enforcement contribute to, rather than halt, the spread of global destruction. Hidden and Imminent Dangers offers a fast-paced object lesson about the dangers of a modern global pandemic.

This book was a pure joy to read and loved all of the twists and turns although I will admit that a part of the book moved me to tears. It is fast paced and well researched and I found the subject matter to be very current with problems we indeed face today. Mr. Hardin's first hand experience as a Nurse I believe helped in bringing Mac MacIntosh alive as I felt that I was right there with him in the hospital and dealing with all of the patients. It was technical enough for you to be able to learn something from these characters but written so well that a lay person could understand.

The suspected H5N1 avian flu starts with a young man who works on his dad's poultry farm is admitted to the ER in Louisville, Kentucky with flu like symptoms. Dr. Mercato Marcus who is an Infectious Disease specialist is the first to recognize that this is something more than a simple flu. She has to deal with bureaucracy and has to fight in order to be able to contact the CDC (Center for Disease Control) in order to ask for their assistance in determining whether or not this is indeed the H5N1 and how to control it from becoming a pandemic.

The road blocks and time wasted turn what could have been a contained outbreak into a worldwide health crisis. The worse one seen since the Spanish Influenza pandemic of 1918.

The story has everything including politicians (good and bad), the police who have to deal with unrest by the residents who are under quarantine and are freightened for their lives, the army and of course the front line, the hospital and all of the medical staff and management. 
The President of the United States does try to control the situation by quarantining several counties surrounding the hospital, but he is met with opposition from the Governor of Kentucky who sees the crisis as a chance to grand stand for his constituents.

It was a story which could very well be true and happen at any given moment especially in this highly mobile society we live in today. You see how one person becoming infected can have a tremendous impact on infecting the entire world as there were truck drivers and pilots and many mobile people who could be unknowinly infected and take this disease with them to countries around the world. It was a reminder and eye opener that we need to be vigilant and make sure that we are able to do everything possible to prevent this from every happening. 
I am so pleased to hear that there will be a follow-up book as I have also been wondering what happened to the characters and especially if Mac is ever able to find peace and forgiveness.

I strongly recommend this book to anyone who likes medical thrillers, suspense, basically to everyone!!!

Rating 5 out of 5

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The Girl Who Played With Fire Review

The Girl Who Played With Fire by Stieg Larsson, 630 pages, 2010

Mikael Blomkvist, crusading journalist and publisher of the magazine Millennium, has decided to run a story that will expose an extensive sex trafficking operation between Eastern Europe and Sweden, implicating well-known and highly placed members of Swedish society, business, and government.

But he has no idea just how explosive the story will be until, on the eve of publication, the two investigating reporters are murdered. And even more shocking for Blomkvist: the fingerprints found on the murder weapon belong to Lisbeth Salander—the troubled, wise-beyond-her-years genius hacker who came to his aid in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and who now becomes the focus and fierce heart of The Girl Who Played with Fire.

As Blomkvist, alone in his belief in Salander’s innocence, plunges into an investigation of the slayings, Salander herself is drawn into a murderous hunt in which she is the prey, and which compels her to revisit her dark past in an effort to settle with it once and for all.

I enjoyed this second book in the millenium trilogy even more than the first - The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo which was also exceptional. The books are very long but are so well written and interesting that it keeps you enthralled and you can't wait to turn the next page.

I love both the characters of Mikael Blomkvist and Lisbeth Salander but especially Lisbeth as she is the brilliant, tough and resourceful woman who is the driving force in the trilogy. We learn a lot more about Lisbeth, where she comes from, the difficulties she faced growing up and what contributed to making her the loner she is today.

The story focuses on two investigative journalists who are writing a book exposing the ugliness, corruption and criminal world of Sweden's sex trade. They are murdered before they are able to see the publication of their book and the killings seem obviously tied to the investigation, or so Blomkvist believes. The problem is that the police are focusing on accusing Lisbeth of the murders and not looking into the possibility that the pair could have been murdered because of their research into the underworld. Another death occurs which seems linked to the other two and Blomkvist is determined to prove Salander's innocence. It is a mad cap adventure and when you finish reading it, you cannot wait to start the third book as you just have to know what becomes of Lisbeth and Mikael as well as many of the other characters who are also so well written that you have a connection to each and every one of them.

The only bad part of this trilogy is that there will not be anymore as the author, Stieg Larsson, died suddenly at the age of 50. His work is sure to stand the test of time and is a glowing testament to this fine author and his work. Luckily, we are able to appreciate this trilogy and enjoy his work, although small in quantity is huge in quality.

Rating 5 out of 5

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Imago Book 3: A Warrior's Tale Review

Imago Book 3: A Warrior's Tale by L.T. Suzuki, 2003, 460 pages

This opener is taken from Lorna Sukuki's website. I found this so poetic that I wanted to start out my review with this as a way to bring you into this beautifully imagined world created by Lorna Suzuki.
Just Imagine
There is a secret place that exists; unknown to most,
forgotten by many and lives on only for the few who believe.
Though you cannot look to a map to find this magical realm, it is still very real. In this world, lost on a plane that hangs in the twilight where one enters a dream as sleep takes over the body and mind; Imago lives on.
Here, as in all places where man dwells, the eternal struggle between good and evil plays out. There are places fair and foul, heroes that are larger than life and villains that one hopes exist only in our nightmares.
In this mystical world life is an extraordinary adventure where revenge and redemption, betrayal and salvation, and love; lost and found are woven together to create this rich tapestry of life.
Where is this realm you ask?
To find Imago all you must do is close your eyes and believe...

"This prequel to ‘Imago Book One: Tales From the West’ begins at the height of the turmoil that shall determine if indeed there will be a Third Age of Peace. Besieged by the enemy from the east and now immersed in war with solders of the Dark Army from the west, Nayla Treeborn and her People are about to engage in the next great war that will decide the fate of all mankind and Elves in Imago.

In a desperate attempt to deliver word to the Elf King of Wyndwood and those of the old alliance for a call to arms, she is the last surviving messenger sent forth by her people. Now, trapped in a storm at the top of the world, she fights to survive the deadly elements in a strange land.

Despised by Elves and shunned by mortals, she must now find the courage to make a place in this world, and the compassion to save those who keep her at arm’s-length. This adventure recounts the defining moments in her life that had forged her into a deadly warrior, a great captain and a legend amongst the people of Imago."

© Copyright 2003 L.T. Suzuki. All rights reserved

I was pleased to begin the series with Imago Book 3: A Warrior's Tale as it takes you to the beginning of Nayla Treeborn's harrowing journey from abused child to heroic warrior. I was totally immersed in this fantasy realm upon reading the first chapter. It transports you to another world and having such a strong female warrior as the main character was indeed refreshing. This book was so well written that I could feel all of the emotions that Nayla was feeling - when she was sad, I was sad, when she was angry, I was right along with her. The powerful emotions evoked for each of the characters was truly exceptional. 

Nayla faces many challenges including the fact that she is half elf and half mortal and does not fit into either world. She must create her own niche and find her true calling - which is being a warrior. She is very dedicated and must work harder than everyone else to prove her worth. She is caring, loving, strong, determined, resilient, scared, loyal - could go on and on with the depth of this character...

The action scenes were incredible and I felt transported to those battle fields - surrounded by mud, warriors, swords, chaos - the descriptions were so vivid that you felt like you were actually in the melee. Your are first taken through the training so when it comes time for the actual battles, you can easily envision all of the movements and plans which are being carried out.

Lorna Suzuki's Imago series is a phenomenal achievement and one that I am sure everyone would enjoy reading. Her writing is so poetic and vivid that she really does transport you to another world.

Please check out Lorna Suzuki's website at: as she has a very informative Q&A section and so much information about her and the Imago book series.

I truly enjoyed this book and am eager to read the entire series.

Rating 4 1/2 out of 5

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Sea Captain's Wife

The Sea Captain's Wife by Beth Powning, 2010

We read this selection for book club and we all enjoyed it very much.

Azuba Galloway, daughter of a shipwright, sees ships leaving for foreign ports from her bustling town on the Bay of Fundy and dreams of seeing the world. When she marries Nathaniel Bradstock, a veteran sea captain, she believes she will sail at his side. But when she becomes pregnant she is forced to stay behind. Her father has built the couple a gabled house overlooking the bay, but the gift cannot shelter her from the loneliness of living without her husband. When Azuba becomes embroiled in scandal, Nathaniel is forced to take her and their daughter, Carrie, aboard his ship. They set sail for London with bitter hearts.

Their voyage is ill-fated, beset with ferocious storms and unforeseen obstacles that test Azuba's compassion, courage, and love. Alone in a male world, surrounded by the splendour and the terror of the open seas, she must face her fears and fight to keep her family together.

This was a well written novel and found that the subject matter was very interesting. The story takes place in the 1860's and it portrayed the ups and downs of seafaring at that time. The research which went into this was meticulous and I learned a lot just from reading it. I had a clear picture of how life what life was like and Beth Powning brought everything to life from her characters to the ship to the voyage. Azuba was a very strong and determined woman who wanted so much to travel and be with her husband and she got her wish although life on board a ship at that time was far from easy. The simple pleasures that we take for granted were not available at this time.

It was amazing to hear how the weather played such an important role in the success or failure of the job. They would sometimes be left adrift waiting for the winds to blow the right way so they could continue to their destination.

It must have been terrifying sailing at that time when food and hygiene were luxuries and you also had to worry about pirates and the captain had to be very tough or else one small mistake could jeopardize all his sailors and cargo.

A riveting tale which I could not put down. I would recommend this book to everyone.

Rating 4 1/2 out of 5