Sunday, March 31, 2013

Typhoid Mary

"Fever: A Novel" by Mary Beth Keane is a novel based on the true story of Mary Mallon, otherwise known as Typhoid Mary.  I knew little about Typhoid Mary.  I had learned of it in school, so I knew she passed typhoid while cooking and was put in confinement.  Other than that, I didn't know much.  I did a little searching to find out what exactly typhoid was and what the deal was with Mary, so as to have some history of the novel.  Mary Mallon was an Irish immigrant who got her start as a laundress and advanced to a cook.  Though she seemed (according to the novel) able to cook for lower income people without passing typhoid, when she served more well-to-do people she quickly spread typhoid, infecting hundreds and even killing some.  This novel tells her story through her eyes of the saga of being investigating, arrested, and imprisoned.  She had no knowledge of germs or the passing of typhoid, especially when she had no symptoms at all. Most of the situation in the beginning was very confusing to Mary. However, after she was educated on her situation, and was released with the understanding she was not to cook professionally again, she changed her name and cooked anyway.

This is a really good book, it not only covers the typhoid investigation part of Mary's life, but her personal life  and romance with Alfred, a German immigrant and alcoholic.  Keane is a very good writer, whose characters draw the reader in.  There is no skipping in this book; the reader wants to read all of it and is genuinely invested in the characters. The book is told in a true to life manner. I recommend this book to anyone. I received this e-book for free in exchange for an honest review from the publisher, Scribner.

Monday, March 25, 2013

a movie review

"Something the Lord Made" is a 2004 movie starring Mos Def and Alan Rickman.  This movie takes place between 1930 and 1970.  Alfred Blalock is a surgeon and Vivien Thomas is an out of work construction worker.  Blalock is played by Rickman, and in case you can't figure out where you've seen him before, he is Professor Snape.  Apparently he is aging backwards.  Part of Blalock's work is experimenting with dogs to discover new methods of surgery.  If that makes you angry, my PETA loving friends, just think of your infant dying and I am sure you won't mind a bit.  Thomas, a black man, gets a job as a lab janitor for Blalock.  He sweeps and shovels poop.  Blalock quickly sees potential in Thomas and puts him to work as a lab assistant and that is followed by eventual experimental surgeon.  The relationship between the two men is extremely close and can be only described as a partnership.  Blalock is the idea man, Thomas makes it possible.  The two needed each other and were trailblazers, not only in the world of medicine, but in the world of racial equality.

True Blalock was primarily interested in progressing in medicine and the racial part came as a necessity; however, it wasn't so much "poor black man must get his due" rather than it was "scientist is so valuable, he must remain regardless of the law or culture."  The relationship becomes strained after the two create the BT shunt.  Blalock receives all of the glory, causing resentment from Thomas.  Blalock also becomes jealous of Thomas when he begins to surpass his mentor.

I am extremely grateful to these two men as well as all of the dogs who lost their lives for this invention of the BT shunt.  My daughter had one put in at one week old to attempt to fix her pulmonary atresia.  She is still alive today because of them.  This is a well made movie, good acting, very informative.  I recommend all people see this movie.  
I won this movie from in celebration of CHD awareness week. 

Sunday, March 24, 2013

the guardian review

"The Guardian" by Beverly Lewis is the third novel in the Hickory Hollow series.  These do not need to be read in order.  In this one, Maryanna, a widow with four children, is traveling home in the late evening when Sarah, her youngest, a five year old, falls from the wagon and is knocked unconscious. With all of the men in the Amish community looking for her, she falls asleep and is found by Jodi, a house sitting elementary school teacher who is out for a morning run.  Jodi is also dealing with grief; her sister died from leukemia six months before.  Maryanna's neighbor, Joshua, a widower, is smitten with Maryanna and looking for love with his neighbor; Maryanna is having none of it. 
This novel is primarily about dealing with grief.  In all the characters, their are three widows, two widowers, and a grieving sister.  The plot is kind of loose with no real dilemma, but more of a how-to-deal with grief and how-not-to.  This is not one of  my favorite Lewis novels.  But it is a Beverly Lewis, so it is still pretty good.  I received this book from

Thursday, March 21, 2013


"Marmee and Louisa" by Eve LaPlante is a duo biography of Louisa May Alcott and her mother, Abigail.  Let's start off with you should be a huge fan of Alcott if you are to read this book.  I have read "Little Women"; I love the '95 version of the movie; the story is one of the best stories written.  However, it doesn't make me want to know everything about the Alcotts and Mays and everyone who has ever been related to them in detail.  I didn't realize that all the credit went to Alcott's father, so I hadn't realized that Abigail didn't have a historical voice.  I always thought it was pretty obvious that Marmee in Little Women was Marmee, Louisa's mother, so of course, she had a historical voice.  Her father was just sort of there.  Therefore, I didn't realize that anything was missing.  I didn't need to read more on her to fill in the blanks, as I understood things, the blanks were filled.  I felt the book was a little boring and filled in a few too many blanks.  Read this if you are a dedicated, die-hard, Alcott fan.  If you think its a great story and you feel you know all you need to know about Marmee:  skip it, and just read "Little Women" again.  That's the real treat.  I received this book from

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

almost amish, but no cigar

"Almost Amish" by Kathryn Cushman is a novel (which actually has no Amish people in it) that entails two women, Julie and Susan, who are sister-in-laws, become the stars on a reality TV show.  On this reality show, which contains very little reality, the two women and their children must live a lifestyle similar to the Amish for three months.  Susan has plans of becoming a "Martha Stewart" of sorts with cookbooks and lifestyle books.  Her career rides on this show.  In actuality, Martha Stewart would probably consider Susan an anal nightmare.  She is your classic stick in the mud (or stick somewhere).  She railroads over everybody, and everything must be perfect at all times.  Julie is me, you, your typical American mom.  She is over scheduled, under appreciated, and stressed to the point of hating her life. 
This is a pretty good book.  The main characters bounce off of each other well and the side characters are great.  One of my favorites is Kendra, the producer.  Kendra could be easy to hate, but you don't.  She is kinda fun to hate actually.  The kids are real and this whole book is just pretty darn good.  I think it would make a pretty good movie.  I received this book for free from Bethany Publishers.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

echoes, echoes, echoes

"Echoes" by Robin Jones Gunn is the third book in the Glenbrooke Series, that being said, the other two books are not necessary in order to read "Echoes".  The second thing you should know is that though this book's last printing is 2012, the original printing is 1996.  At first I was confused as to why Lauren needed to be taught how to use the web when she was in her twenties.  So, just remember, this is a book that originates in the 90's.  Lauren breaks up with her fiancee, so her brother gives her a computer to get her socializing with him more as well as the rest of the world.  As she comes to discover who she is rather than who Jeff (former love) wants her to be, she starts an online relationship with KC.  She needs to not only trust others, but learn when a man is a man who could love her soul and when that man is an ax murderer using the Internet to lure women into secluded places.  The real trust here is trusting God to tell her the difference. 
I hadn't read any of Gunn's novels, though I have heard of her.  I will have to add her to my list of staple authors.  This is a really good book.  It is a Christian book, but not preachy; God Loving.  The characters are clear, the plot well written.  I like it.  I received this book for free from Blogging for Books.

Friday, March 8, 2013

congo dawn review

"Congo Dawn" by Jeanette Windle follows Robin, a former marine and present day translator/mercenary for hire who travels to the Congo with a British Billionaire to ensure that he can make money off of his molybdonite mine.  He is using forced labor including children.  Apparently, in Africa if you have a gun and enough money you can do what you want wherever you want.  The government doesn't care as long as you line their pockets as well.  Upon arrival in Africa, she meets up with a former friend.  The relationship with Michael, a doctor with Doctors without Borders, had ended badly 5 years ago and now you can cut the sexual tension with a knife.  Robin also realizes that nothing is as it seems, that she isn't on the "right side", and that God is watching. 
This is a hard to read book.  The words aren't that hard, but it isn't a book you can read while watching TV and with kids yelling in the house.  It also isn't a happy, pass the time, type either.  This is a serious book about a serious situation.  It was hard for me to get into and I really didn't want to.  It starts off with doom and well.....guilt.  I have recently read "Rare Earth" another book about the invasion of Africa to the benefit of the rest of the world and yet I still use my cell phone regularly, knowing that Africans are being robbed of their lands for the insides.  This book is no different.  Well, a little, monlybdinite isn't rare, but the rape of a Continent is.  This is a book that should be read, but I warn you, it won't be a picnic.  I received this book from Tyndale Publishing.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

grits and glory review

"Grits and Glory" by Haley Whitehall is a Civil War fictional drama about a Southerner who goes to the North to fight, but swiftly is recruited to spy on the South and winds up joining the Confederacy to hide.  Did you get all that?  Peter's father is an incredibly wealthy plantation owner with a sadistic streak a mile long when it comes to anyone "under" him.  Peter, who in his younger years served with the Underground Railroad, suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder from the abuse he received and witnessed at the hands of his father.  At 18 Peter moves North and meets Molly.  When the war breaks out, he joins the Union army, only to serve as a spy in the South.  He does a lot of running around hiding and trying not to get caught, but very little spying is being done.  In fact he only reports once. 
The story's plot doesn't have much point in that Peter has no agenda other than "don't get caught"' it is rather entertaining though and it is interesting to watch Peter start to see the other side of life when he has to take on other roles to hide his situation.  It's not really a romance or an action novel.  It's not oozing with new-found facts on the Civil War either.  It is just a nice story in which to pass the time.  It ends like a second book will be written.  Though I didn't absolutely LOVE it, I would definitely read a Part II.  Three out of five stars.  I received this e-book for free from

Monday, March 4, 2013

30 Days to Love

"Love at Last Sight: 30 Days to grow and deepen your closest relationships" by Kerry & Chris Shook is a 30 day Christian devotional that teaches the reader how to deepen relationships.  Each day starts with quotes, then stories from the authors' lives and supporting scripture with the day's lesson.  Each day is followed with a Challenge, which is three homework assignments. 
The Shooks have a distinct writing voice.  In fact, I have a daily devotional e-mailed to me that is different excerpts from different devotions and authors of which there are thousands.  One day I received one and I thought it seemed like them and sure enough it was.  The writing is thoughtful, entertaining, and insightful.  The only downside was that it sometimes seemed like they were overthinking things; like they were needing to come up with 30.  Maybe should have stopped at 25.  I received this book for free from Waterbrook Press.

Saturday, March 2, 2013


February has come and gone.  We finally had a couple of blizzards that kept us in for a couple of weeks. Even lost electricity for a couple of days.  Learned to cook on the woodstove.  Worst of it was going without water.  Our pump on our well is electric.  Had lots of time to read though.  Read 11 books; 6 were paper and 5 were digital.  Since it was Library Lover's month, 4 were checked out from the local libraries.

Hard Twisted- C. Joseph Greaves
The Bridesmaid- Beverly Lewis
Mrs. Lincoln's Dressmaker- Jennifer Chiavini
An Angel by Her Side- Ruth Reid
The Colonel & Little Missie- Larry McMurtry
The Aviator's Wife- Melanie Benjamin
Running Blind- Lee Child
Rebirth- Debbie Brown
Goodbye to Yesterday- Wanda E. Brustetter
Spider Bones- Kathy Reich
61 Hours- Lee Child

The Aviator's Wife was probably the best of the month, Rebirth, the worst.  I'm gonna need to lay off the Jack Reacher books.  I am starting to figure them out too soon.  March 3-8th is Read an e-Book Week.  This week I will be specializing in the digital.