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Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Month: March 2016

Clinical Pathology & Laboratory Techniques for Veterinary Technicians by Barger and MacNeill

clin path

Clinical Pathology and Laboratory Techniques for Veterinary Technicians provides a comprehensive reference of laboratory procedures featuring ‘how-to’ information as it pertains to small animals, horses, and cattle.

  • An inclusive reference on laboratory procedures pertaining to small animals, horses and cattle
  • Provides information on hematology, hemostasis, clinical chemistry, urinalysis, parasitology, and fecal testing
  • Features high-quality photographs labelled with magnification and stain information, which clearly depict cellular morphology, inclusions and infectious organisms
  • Offers key objectives, technician tip boxes, case examples and a glossary of key terms
  • A companion website provides images from the book for download, instructor questions and answer key to multiple choice questions in the book

Many thanks to Wiley-Blackwell for offering this review copy!

A lot of information is packed into this book’s 264 pages. Combining the clin path and lab techniques makes sense and provides a symbiotic relationship. The chapters are organized well and consist of learning objectives and key terms in the beginning, followed by case examples and some introductory paragraphs. The rest of the chapter is then in an outline form that is thorough and  easy to follow. Highlighted boxes noted as “technician tips” provide important information through a Pearls of Practice format. Full color photos with information also provide another level of comprehension.

What makes this book stand out from the others is the case studies, complete with interpretation and comments to ensure that the technician understands what is happening.

Some chapters have multiple choice questions at the very end to further cement the objectives and make the technician think critically. Answers to the quiz and further questions can be found at http://www.wiley.com//legacy/wileychi/bager/.

Accurate results can only be gotten if the sample is prepared correctly; Chapter One – Getting Started covers proper ways to obtain and package blood, urine, and feces. Basic use of a centrifuge, microscope, stains, and blood tubes are also disussed, along with a section on laboratory safety.

Chapter Four – Clinical Chemistry explains how to prepare a sample for chemisty analysis, what normal and abnormal values are, and what the clinical significance is for those abnormal results.  Chapter Five – Urinalysis does the same as Chapter Four but with urine.

The reason I mention both of those chapters is that I believe this will be an invaluable resource to any technician; because knowing the “why” is just as important as knowing the “how to”. The information is presented clearly and concisely, and technicians can refer to the chapters again and again to reinforce their knowledge.

Chapter Seven – Minimizing Laboratory Errors is the final, very important chapter. Errors in research are inevitable, but knowing how to properly plan and be aware of how they happened is an invaluable skill. QC and QA procedures are discussed, as well as the various types of errors.

Further reading sources are cited at the end of each chapter, and there is a glossary at the back of the book.

This first edition will be welcomed by those looking for a fresh aspect on clinical pathology. Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

 

What Millennials Want From Work by Deal & Levenson

millenials

“The most comprehensive, in-depth look at Millennials to date-essential for managers, HR professionals, and global business leaders seeking to align long-term organizational goals with the realities of the new workforce.”
Millennials have been burdened with a reputation as spoiled, lazy, and entitled, but the reality behind the stereotype is far richer and more complex. Who are Millennials and what do they really want?
Based on fieldwork and survey data from global research on more than 25,000 Millennials and 29,000 older workers in 22 countries, this book paints a comprehensive, scientifically accurate picture of what really motivates Millennials around the world. Learn how to get the most from Millennials by:
Improving workplace flexibility-because Millennials don’t separate life and work.

Providing adequate support and feedback-because Millennials like to learn and grow.

Coaching, not micromanaging-because Millennials value autonomy.

Designing competitive salary structures-because Millennials know what’s up.

Providing opportunities to contribute to society-because Millennials care about doing good.
Millennials want a satisfying job that pays well, coworkers they like and trust, advancement opportunities, and the occasional pat on the back. Who doesn’t want those things?
This essential book explains who Millennials really are, and offers practical advice to help those who manage, lead, and work with Millennials to improve teamwork, increase productivity, strengthen organizational culture, and build a robust talent pipeline.

Thanks to NetGalley for offering this book for review!

The older generation views pesky Millennials as needy, entitled and lazy. This book strives to dispel the negative views and demonstrate to the world that those born in the early ’80’s are valuable, hardworking individuals.

The words are not just hearsay; the authors did extensive research and gathered data from thousands of real people. This book is full of graphs showing how the stats vary, not just by age, but by country, marital status, and  occupation. “Urban myths” about Millennials bringing their parents to job interviews are dispelled, with quotes and the truth according to those surveyed. Each chapter has a separate myth that is examined, explained and reiterated with points to remember. This format is easy to read and the examples contained illustrate the ideas in a thoughtful manner.

As a Boomer, I was quite eager to read this, so I could understand the Millennials that I manage. At times they seem like they are from another planet and it’s hard to figure out where they are coming from. As I read this book I found myself nodding and agreeing with the author’s assessments. For example:

“Needy does not mean dependent; while Millennials want support, feedback, mentoring and appreciation, that doesn’t make them dependent. They actually are being quite strategic. They think about what they need to be successful, and that’s what they ask for.”

The book also notes that Boomers grew up in a world where their parents had stable jobs, secure pensions and organizational tenure. Millennials grew up in a world where THEIR parents dealt with layoffs, wage stagnation and insecure retirement plans. They saw the consequences of not having a more independent attitude towards work and thus seek to have more control over their actions.

What is a manager to do? The authors suggest that they can aid their younger employees by:

  • providing more latitude for them to choose how and where work is done
  • give them more information about why individuals are selected to do certain tasks
  •  help them understand how their current work fits into their career work more broadly

To me, this is solid advice. Once you understand where someone is coming from and what motivates them, you can construct a way of communication that benefits both parties.

Generational gaps are inevitable; but this book strives to minimize the conflict by being honest about Millennials; their background, their hopes and dreams, and their environment (fully technological). Moreover, it accomplishes this task by explanation, not maligning. I could easily say that I knew more about this generation after I finished the book, and there were many solid takeaways that I would be able to use at my own job.

Almost every conflict in the workforce is described, explained, and interpreted. Even if an issue hasn’t come up yet, a manager will be able to be able to understand it as it’s happening and handle it with aplomb. It seemed as though every chapter had excellent advice for anyone seeking to close the generation gap.

WHAT MILLENNIALS WANT FROM WORK is a well written, necessary book and should be required reading for any management team today. Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

Heart Conditions by Phoebe Fox

heart condtions

Running a massively successful relationship counseling practice should guarantee smooth sailing in a girl’s own love life…

Breakup Doctor Brook Ogden has spent the last year sifting through the fallout from the disastrous decision that led to her unconscious uncoupling with boyfriend Ben Garrett. Despite advising her clients you can’t be friends with an ex, she and Ben have somehow begun to stitch together a friendship—one Brook hopes is slowly turning into more. That is, until Ben introduces his new girlfriend, Perfect Pamela, a paragon of womanly virtues who is everything Brook is not.

While Brook navigates her newly volatile emotional life, an unwelcome surprise shows up on her doorstep: the ex-fiancé who broke her heart two years ago—one month before their wedding. Between her ex’s desire to rekindle their attachment, her best friend Sasha’s unexpected crisis, and her own unsquelchable feelings for Ben, Brook finds herself questioning the personal progress she’s made in the last two years—and threatened with the highest-stakes Breakup Doctor failures she’s ever faced.

Thanks to the author, Henery Press and NetGalley for offering me this review copy!

HEART CONDITIONS is the 3rd book in the Breakup Doctor series. Each book can be read as a standalone or in order, so I had no trepidation about reading this one as a single.

The Breakup Doctor is a relationship therapist who is having a hard time taking her own advice when it comes to her ex boyfriends. She still has feelings for one, and the other, who broke her heart, still has feelings for her. So there is a very tame triangle going on here, which should delight chick lit lovers everywhere.

In fact, this book is like a “how to” of chick lit: there is a strong yet vulnerable heroine, plus darkly handsome (and sometimes reticent) ex boyfriends, a best friend with a personal crisis, and drama on the job front. So many things to resolve before the book ends, plus gorgeous descriptions of clothing, clubs, and restaurants!

Brook is a likeable character, quick to solve other’s problems but totally unsure what to do with her personal life. She learns a startling truth about herself in the latter half of the book, thereby creating an explanation for some of her strange antics, such as bringing her pregnant friend to a BDSM club simply to get the pregnant one “more comfortable” dealing with babies. (The club caters to all sorts of BDSM situations, and there were people whose fetish was dressing up as a baby – diaper and all.) There is no explicit sex in the book, which was enjoyable. Some writers feel they have to insert a sex scene here and there to offset the saccharine romance, but if the romance is done right, as in HEART CONDITIONS, you don’t need sweaty gropes and moans.

The romantic tension was spot on, as Brook struggled to cope with her ex and his new girlfriend, who has looks, brains, and poise. Her internal monologues described exactly what every woman has gone through when encountering a still-fresh wound. Brook’s problems are real and eminently solvable, yet the answers don’t come easy. She must do some soul searching to discover what she wants, and most importantly, why.

This book was a pleasant and sometimes funny read. The chemistry between Brook and Sasha was authentic, even if Brook was occasionally not on the same page as her BFF. Almost all the problems were solved by the end of the book, plus new things are on the horizon for our Breakup Doctor that should prove to be interesting. Fans of author Phoebe Fox will be anxiously awaiting the next book in the series.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

Pale Highway by Nicholas Conley

pale highway

Gabriel Schist is spending his remaining years at Bright New Day, a nursing home. He once won the Nobel Prize for inventing a vaccine for AIDS. But now, he has Alzheimer’s, and his mind is slowly slipping away.

When one of the residents comes down with a horrific virus, Gabriel realizes that he is the only one who can find a cure. Encouraged by Victor, an odd stranger, he convinces the administrator to allow him to study the virus. Soon, reality begins to shift, and Gabriel’s hallucinations interfere with his work.

As the death count mounts, Gabriel is in a race against the clock and his own mind. Can he find a cure before his brain deteriorates past the point of no return?

Thanks to the author for gifting me this book in exchange for a review!

This book was suggested to me as a combination of science fiction, surreal fantasy, and a literary commentary on aging. I can confidently say it covers all these genres and more.

What struck me first was the author’s adeptness in bringing the reader into the mind of an Alzheimer’s sufferer. Gabriel Schist, the main character, is frustrated with his lack of ability to remember simple things and care for himself. The utter lack of dignity and sense of self is explained beautifully by Conley, with poignant episodes showing Schist how helpless and dependent he is. His painful legs, his incontinence (he tries to hide it out of embarrassment) and photographs with names underneath them (so he can remember who they are) illustrate what an insidious disease Alzheimer’s is. He has flashes of brilliance, followed by blank moments where he wonders where he is and what day it is. Schist calms himself during these episodes by reciting the Fibonacci sequence, something I found oddly endearing and apropos to his backstory as a Nobel Prize winner.

We learn more about the younger Schist through chapters that highlight his days before he got into the nursing home. He is a flawed man with a kind and generous, if not stubborn, nature. He persists in his field, immunology, and eventually discovers a cure for AIDS. Suddenly the residents in his nursing home become ill with a horrific virus and he takes it upon himself to find a cure.

This is where the book turns into science fiction and surreal fantasy. Talking slugs, mysterious new residents in the nursing home, and black vomit with creatures crawling out of it are the norm. Schist isn’t sure if he’s finally gone over the edge  or not, and his kind and persistent personality demands that he try to save those who are suffering.

The old immunologist is a very sympathetic character. More than once he wishes for death to come and relieve his suffering. I couldn’t help but think of all the elderly in nursing homes, having the same thoughts, with no one to care for them or love them. The author has personal experience, having worked in a nursing home, and this is where he shines: showing younger people with healthy minds what it must be like to lose your sense of self and be betrayed by your mind.

As the talking slugs became more central to the story I cringed, hoping they were a hallucination. To me, it was a harsh transition from the familiarity of the nursing home. The final part of the story crashed full on into surrealness and wild action, with Schist willing to sacrifice his life to save the world. No spoilers here, as always –  read the book!

Conley does an excellent job with elements from multiple genres, as I mentioned before. There is something for everyone in PALE HIGHWAY, and it will absolutely leave you with sadness and respect for those abandoned in nursing homes.

Curious about those talking slugs? Want to know why everyone was vomiting black stuff? You can pick up your copy of PALE HIGHWAY here.

The Widow by Fiona Barton

widow

For fans of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, an electrifying thriller that will take you into the dark spaces that exist between a husband and a wife.

When the police started asking questions, Jean Taylor turned into a different woman. One who enabled her and her husband to carry on, when more bad things began to happen…
But that woman’s husband died last week. And Jean doesn’t have to be her anymore.

There’s a lot Jean hasn’t said over the years about the crime her husband was suspected of committing. She was too busy being the perfect wife, standing by her man while living with the accusing glares and the anonymous harassment.
Now there’s no reason to stay quiet. There are people who want to hear her story. They want to know what it was like living with that man. She can tell them that there were secrets. There always are in a marriage.
The truth—that’s all anyone wants. But the one lesson Jean has learned in the last few years is that she can make people believe anything…

Many thanks to NetGalley for offering this ARC to me!

One of the best things about THE WIDOW is that you don’t really know what is happening until the very end. The unreliable narrators seem sympathetic, then horrid, then sympathetic again, until your emotions are all twisted this way and that. It’s wonderful.

Both Jean and her husband Glen live a quiet life, despite Glen’s “nonsense” (Jean’s term for the Bad Thing that is the crux of the book). She is a quiet woman that can be manipulated; first Glen wraps her up in his little world, then the press cajoles her into giving a coveted interview. Jean’s inner monologue shows a strong but conflicted personality, with a critical weakness that holds sway over her emotions until the last page.

Barton’s writing style is smooth and her dialogue is easy to follow. There isn’t an overload of characters to remember; the ones that are there are well developed. We learn about Jean and Glen’s life together as each chapter goes by in the form of flashbacks, each one building upon the next until you are almost sure you know what is going to happen–then Barton leads you down a different path.

I completely, thoroughly, loved THE WIDOW.  Exploring the theme of “suburban life conceals dark secrets” (some a deeper hue than others) was glorious and satisfying.  We have all been that neighbor curious about the goings on next door, and perhaps some of us have been that friendly neighbor that slowly pulls away once misdeeds beget misgivings.

The sub plot of the manipulative reporter, worming her way into Jean’s life and maybe even her heart, along with the beleaguered detective who brings the case home every night (to the constant disappointment of his wife) round out the story perfectly, and give the reader a respite from the subtle creepiness of Glen’s “nonsense”.

This is a story that you can (and will) devour in one or two sittings.  Fiona Barton is an author to be celebrated, discussed, and most importantly, supported. I loved her freshman effort and look forward to her next work.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up here.

 

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