Saturday, February 21, 2009

By A. Scott Pearson

Dr. Eli Branch seems destined for academic stardom as a surgeon-scientist. But his dreams are interrupted by a late night call form the Chief of Vascular Surgery to assist in an already fatal operation. The patient is a long friend from his childhood and his death creates a series of questions.

Meg Daily, a forensic pathologist joins forces with Eli to investigate the suspicious death. Together they uncover an elaborate web of lies spun by Eli's late father, a longtime professor of Anatomy at Mid-South Medical College in Memphis. Instead of finding answers, Eli and Meg find more questions and more victims, each one meeting a sudden, unexpected violent end.

As Eli and Meg plunge into the world of deadly medicine, they are trapped in the paradox of ending one life to save another. They are in a life-or-death race against time and one false step could have fatal consequences.

The novel is written by a surgeon and physician. That insight, gives the novel a unique touch of reality. Not only is the novel entertaining, but also educational. I think it is easy to forget just how human physician's are. This novel reminds us that all health care professionals have complicated lives outside the hospital. What do you think?

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by Jaqueline Fullerton

Anne Marshall is a court reporter and law student. Anne's father was an attorney and they had hoped to practice together, but this hope was lost when her father died two years ago.

Anne finds herself the court reporter in a messy divorce case involving friends of her parents, Tim and Isabell Sherman. Recently, she has not been sleeping well. She dreams of her father giving her warnings about Tim Sherman. It seems dear old departed Dad has a real interest in this case, so much of an interest that he pays Anne a visit.

As the unlikely duo of Anne and her father's ghost set out to prove Tim Sherman's deception, they find assets aren't the only thing he might be hiding. But attempting to uncover the truth has unforeseen consequences when a bizarre chain of events begins to unfold involving murder and mayhem. Ann's life is danger and who comes to the rescue?

I found the novel entertaining and clever. I like the idea of the Ghost Dad, it's a nice twist. This is the first in a series of Anne Marshall novels. I look forward to watching Anne "grow up" in the series and I am curious about what role Ghost Dad will play. What do you think?

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Friday, February 13, 2009

By Sherrie McLeRoy and Roy Renfro

This is a fascinating book. It is the first biography of Thomas Volney Munson (1893-1913). Munson is an internationally recognized inventor, viticulturist and horticulturist who developed over 300 new varieties of grapes.

He is best known for his work in fighting the phylloxera epidemic in the late nineteenth century that almost wiped out the wine industry in France. Munson's solution was grafting vinifera onto certain resistant native root stocks from Texas. He was honored with the Chevalier du Merite Agricote in the French Legion of Honor.

The book is the story of an amazing Texas-based genius. I found myself transported back to a time when individuals were on a voyage of discovery. Munson is an enigmatic and interesting persona. As I read his story, I had to remind myself at times that he wasn't a fictional character, he was a real person doing extraordinary things. This is truly a book worth reading.

You can see his house in Grayson County. It has recently been turned into a museum.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Sherrie McLeRoy for a profile in the magazine PARKER COUNTY TODAY. If you click on the link below you can hear the interview. If you go to the PARKER COUNTY TODAY website, you can read the profile.

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By Barbara Levenson

Mary Magruder Katz is a half-Jewish, half-Southern Baptist Miami criminal defense attorney.  Her life is changed forever when she is rear-ended by during a routine trip to the car wash.  The minor fender bender turns out to be an unlikely shot from Cupid's bow, and before she knows what hit her, Mary gets caught by her fiance' having sex with a client in her office.  An engagement ends and a sizzling, complicated romance begins.

Mary decides to start her own practice and her first case is a high profile murder case.  Lillian Yarmouth, a prominent Miami socialite, is accused of stabbing her husband to death.  Mary gets more than she bargins for while defending her client and someone is seeing red!  February may be the shortest month of the year, but Mary isn't sure she is going to make it through.

Not only is Barbara Levenson a long-time Miami resident, but her credentials as an attorney and judge are impressive.  Her "insider" knowledge gives the courtroom scenes a ring of reality.  I like the Mary Katz character and enjoyed the novel.  I am looking forward to the next one in the series.  What do you think?

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By Amanda Scott

Lady Sibylla Cavers is a lovely, very marriageable nineteen-year-old, but she has rejects all three candidates her beleaguered father  presents to her.    One of the three spurned suitors, Lord Simon Murray, vows vengeance.  

The plot thickens, as they say, when Sibylla is out riding alone one day close to the River Tweed.  She hears the cries of a drowning child and rides into the river to save the child.  She underestimates the river's powerful current and both Sibylla and the child are both swept away.  Lord Simon Murray with his men are nearby and also hear the cries of the child.  The once spurned suitor finds himself in the position to not only save Sibylla's life, but to also get revenge.

In medieval Scotland, there were border wars with England.  The political situation plays an important  role in this historical romance novel.  The reader will learn about the manners and etiquette of the times, as well as how political maneuvering affected the lives of the people.

This is a fascinating and interesting novel.  I like historical romance and Amanda Scott does a wonderful job with this one.  What do you think?

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

By Donna Andrews

This is the holiday/winter offering in the Meg Langslow mystery series.

Meg has agreed to be the chairman of the Caerphilly holiday parade.  The theme this year is the Twelve Days of Christmas and the whole town is involved.  The parade has become so "famous" that townspeople from miles around come to watch and enjoy the festivities.  This year, there is a big city reporter who shows up to cover the event.  What's his motive?  Is he there to make the citizens look foolish or to make fun of the event or to just call it "quaint?"

This wouldn't be a mystery without a good, old-fashioned murder.  One of the town's Scrooge's has been cast as Santa Clause.  He ends up dead and the 12 Geese are suspect because there is a goose feather found near the body.  

Donna does such a good job with this novel.  People aren't who you think they are and some of them are motivated to perpetrate some rather underhanded schemes on their fellow citizens.  I enjoy the Meg Langslow mysteries and this one is no exception.  What do you think?

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By Donna Andrews

This is another in the Meg Langslow mystery series.  I enjoy reading these books.  Partly because I enjoy the wisecracking heroine.  We hear her thoughts and she usually makes me laugh.

One of Meg's friends she hasn't seen for sometime, drops by one morning and asks if Meg can watch Timmy for a "little while."  Meg agrees and so starts a roller coaster of events.  The friend disappears, there are allegations of theft from the college where Meg's husband, Michael, works, there is murder and mayhem as usual.  Is there a mob connection?  Will Timmy be living with Meg and Michael forever?   

Donna has truly created an ensemble company of characters who work  well together.  Meg's father and newly found grandfather always add spice with their animal rights projects.  Meg's mother is a force to be reckoned with, and her brother is the geek.  The reader is always entertained and if you enjoy a good mystery, there is always one of those as well.  What do you think?

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ROAD RULES:  Be The Truck.  Not The Squirrel.
By Andrew Sherman

This book has nothing to do with dead animals.  Andrew Sherman is using the metaphor of the highway to represent life, and the decisions we make behind the wheel for the decisions people make on a daily basis.  It's very effectively and humorously done.

Sherman uses statistics,  pop culture references and life terminology to elaborate twelve rules of the road.  One example is Be The Truck.  Not The Squirrel.  Sherman explains that forty-one million squirrels get run over each year because they scamper back and forth across the road, dodging traffic, with no strategy or plan other than to find the nuts.  A truck, on the other hand, is big and powerful.  Trucks and truck drivers carry valuable cargo.  They have a plan, a destination, a road map, and an understanding of basic rules and laws so that they don't cause accidents, or get lost.  There are also eight critical concepts that are essential to "being a truck."

I really enjoyed this approach.  Sherman has done his homework.  What do you think? 

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THE KING OF NOD:  Some Things Never Die
By Scott Fad

This is a chilling novel set on  Sweetpatch Island in the Carolina low country.  The novel is not only a Gothic ghost story, but also handles several complex themes such as integration in the early days, bigotry, violence, friendship, murder and even love.  It has a complex plot, but is a fascinating read.

Boo Taylor, the main character, seems to be haunted all his life.  He witnesses the brutal death of one of his friends at the tender age of 13 and is drawn into the mystery of Joker Tribbit and his famous Gullah witch wife, Bathsheba.  The legend of Tribbit has haunted the island's children for centuries.  He was lynched and legend has it that his ghost takes the form of a savage Beast that returns generation after generation to seek vengeance for his murder.  

Boo is the adopted son of the island's only white physician.  He has an interesting protector, his black nannie and surrogate mother, Laylee Colebriar.  Laylee is a particularly interesting character.  The author based her on a real person who influenced his life.  She is part healer and magician. 

Boo leaves the island as a college student and does not return for twenty years.  When his father dies a strange death, and he finds he must return.  He is now a grown man who has been out in the world.  Coming back to Sweetpatch Island, he must confront friends and enemies from his childhood as well as his long-lost love.

The novel is compelling.  It's visual nature make a perfect choice for a film.  You will find yourself more than a little scared and may hear "bumps in the night!"  I know I did!  What do you think?  

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