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

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