November Book Reviews: A Little Bit of This and That

By Gini Rainey

“Up At Butternut Lake” By Mary McNair

In the first book of her Butternut Lake Trilogy, Mary McNair introduces her readers to the small town of Butternut Lake and the people who live there. The overall story is simple enough and tells the tale of a recent widow that sets out to start over and reclaim her life with her young son. She goes to a family cabin in Minnesota and settles down to begin her new life, but not before catching up with old friends, meeting new ones, and regaining her sense of self. Along the way we meet a host of people that could be your true life neighbor and hear of the trials and tribulations of life.

The main character is Allie Beckett who is returning to her family’s cabin on Butternut Lake with her young son after experiencing the loss of her husband. She is seeking solitude and privacy but she winds up reconnecting with her old friend Jax plus makes new friends. Jax’s story is secondary but is just as heartfelt as she currently deals with the choices she made in the past. “Up at Butternut Lake” is themed with the concept that you cannot move forward until you deal with the past. It reads like a mix of contemporary romance and women’s fiction/chick-lit. It’s a light read with relatable issues and likeable characters.

Although romance plays a role in this book and contains a few sensual passages that might be seen as a bit gratuitous, overall all, romance isn’t the theme of the book. I was impressed with the delicate inclusion of romance/sex in this book. While leading the reader to the brink, a thin veil would drop over the graphics, leaving much to the imagination, which seems to be an unusual, but welcomed treatment of sex in literature in this day and age.

Through incredible character building and scene definitions, McNair transports you to a special place, with people who you will come to really care about. With McNear’s excellent prose and sensual descriptions, she perfectly captures Butternut Lake’s ambiance. You can almost smell the pine trees and hear the water lapping against the dock. You won’t be disappointed in this book as it flows beautifully. The conflicts and problems that Allie, Walker, Caroline, and Jax wrestle with are gripping and serious. But in the end, just like in real life, it’s the people we love who pull us through.

This is one trilogy that I intend to complete. I can’t wait to find the time to read the second and third books.

Rating: 5 of 5

Copyright 2014 – William Morrow Paperbacks

“Confessions of a Surgeon: The Good, the Bad, and the Complicated: Life Behind the O.R. Doors” By Paul Ruggieri, M.D.

Dr. Ruggieri is a practicing board-certified general/laparoscopic surgeon who has been operating for over 20 years. He received his surgical training at the world-renowned Washington University School of Medicine, Barnes Hospital, in St. Louis. He then spent three years as an active duty general surgeon in the U. S. Army.

“Confessions” tells the story of a very honest, concerned surgeon responding to the stresses of challenging and medically fragile patients, exhaustion, threat of lawsuits, and the overwhelming number of regulations hovering over his shoulders in the OR. A Wall Street Journal review that was printed before the book was available to the public, generated a number of attacks against Dr. Ruggieri, as this short review supported typical stereotypes of surgeons. In my opinion, the reviewer should have read the complete book prior to offering to the public his opinion of surgeons in general and not necessarily the image that Ruggieri presents in his book.

Dr. Ruggieri covers a broad swath in his book. One thing you’ll learn is that a critical factor, a factor that unfortunately you as a patient can only tease out indirectly, is the ability of your surgeon to recover from the inevitable surprises and complications during a surgery. Fixing problems is huge. Furthermore not all surgeons are cut from the same cloth, and even though hospitals collect statistics on complication rates, the patients are never allowed to see this. Dr. Ruggieri also talks about the changes in training in the time since he went through his, the impact of lawsuits on how doctors view their profession and treat patients, the grueling hours, and much more.

If nothing else, reading this book will change your mind if you hold physicians and surgeons in the elevated position of gods. These men are only human, and although highly trained and experienced, they never know for sure what surprises might be waiting for them under the blade of their scalpel. “Confessions of a Surgeon” is one of the most honest, straight-from-the-heart works of nonfiction that I have read in quite some time. Dr. Ruggieri reveals his personal insights and emotions in such a way that I found myself drawn to every page of his account. “Confessions” will give you a personal insight into the real world of medicine and surgery that you won’t find anywhere else.

His last chapter, “Will Your Surgeon Be There?” is a must read and could easily be changed to: “Will Your Physician Be There?” Physicians are now starting to retire at younger ages; not as many talented college graduates are applying to medical school; medicine has become a business and not a calling or profession; easier subspecialties with better work hours, more income, pleasant lifestyle, and time to sleep are causing a troublesome shortage of physicians in general surgery and primary care (internal medicine, pediatrics, and primary care.)

Dr. Ruggieri tells the truth in this highly readable and remarkable book. Surgery is a contact sport with life and death outcomes.

Rating: 5 of 5

Copyright 2012 – Berkley

“The Abduction of Mary Rose” By Joan Hall Hovey

The main character of “Mary Rose” is Naomi and her story begins at the hospital with her mother, who is dying of cancer. The author’s description of the ward where the dying patients are being cared for gives the reader a feeling of being there and also a sense of the despair of death that hangs in the air.

After her mother passes away, Naomi learns from the obituary that her vindictive aunt had written that she is adopted. She and her adoptive mother had been very close, and Naomi is devastated that her mother hadn’t trusted her enough to share that information.

She discovers that her biological mother, Mary Rose, a teenager, was raped and left for dead. After eight months in a coma, Mary Rose gave birth to Naomi a few days before she died. Naomi becomes obsessed with finding the rapist/killer, and after researching the very few almost 30-year-old newspaper accounts of Mary Rose’s abduction, she asks the local newspaper to run a story about her discovery, hoping to bring a very old cold case to the front.

Becoming frustrated with the lack of interest on the part of the police, Naomi decides to take things into her own hands. From there, the suspense builds as Naomi collects more evidence, and a game of cat and mouse between her and the killer, who has read the newspaper story, ensues.

Joan Hall Hovey has the incredible ability to get inside the killer’s head and show his thoughts and feelings. It gave me chills to think, as portrayed in the novel, that we can be in the same area as a rapist/killer/criminal, and not realize that we also could become a victim, through no fault of our own, but because the killer may be frustrated with the victim he really wants, and views us as an easy target.

In the last chapters of the book, confrontations between Naomi and the killer escalate and at times I wondered at the choices made. The final showdown is incredibly exciting and nerve wracking. You will find yourself literally on the edge of your seat because of the excellent understanding of suspense that Hovey uses in her writing.

An exciting and suspenseful ending wraps up this incredible novel. If you like murder mysteries, spine chilling suspense, a reason to lock your doors and watch who is behind you on the road, then this book is a must read for you!

Rating: 5 of 5

Copyright 2011 – Books We Love, Ltd.