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Reviews of what you should be reading next.

Category: Could Not Finish

The Marriage Pact by Michelle Richmond

the marriage pact

In this relentlessly paced novel of psychological suspense, New York Times bestselling author Michelle Richmond crafts an intense and shocking tale that asks: How far would you go to protect your marriage?
Newlyweds Alice and Jake are a picture-perfect couple. Alice, once a singer in a well-known rock band, is now a successful lawyer. Jake is a partner in an up-and-coming psychology practice. Their life together holds endless possibilities. After receiving an enticing wedding gift from one of Alice’s prominent clients, they decide to join an exclusive and mysterious group known only as The Pact.
The goal of The Pact seems simple: to keep marriages happy and intact. And most of its rules make sense. Always answer the phone when your spouse calls. Exchange thoughtful gifts monthly. Plan a trip together once per quarter. . . .           
Never mention The Pact to anyone.
           
Alice and Jake are initially seduced by the glamorous parties, the sense of community, their widening social circle of like-minded couples.
And then one of them breaks the rules.
The young lovers are about to discover that for adherents to The Pact, membership, like marriage, is for life. And The Pact will go to any lengths to enforce that rule.
For Jake and Alice, the marriage of their dreams is about to become their worst nightmare.

Many thanks to NetGalley for this ARC given in exchange for an honest review!

Unfortunately, this book was a DNF for me. I was not interested in the characters at all, and the pace was very slow. Great idea, poorly conceived. That’s pretty much all I have to say about the book; I gave it two separate tries before I finally gave up about 25% of the way through.

You can pick up your copy [easyazon_link identifier=”0385343299″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link], in case you want to try it for yourself.

Doctors At War by Mark De Rond

doctors

Doctors at War is a candid account of a trauma surgical team based, for a tour of duty, at a field hospital in Helmand, Afghanistan. Mark de Rond tells of the highs and lows of surgical life in hard-hitting detail, bringing to life a morally ambiguous world in which good people face impossible choices and in which routines designed to normalize experience have the unintended effect of highlighting war’s absurdity. With stories that are at once comical and tragic, de Rond captures the surreal experience of being a doctor at war. He lifts the cover on a world rarely ever seen, let alone written about, and provides a poignant counterpoint to the archetypical, adrenaline-packed, macho tale of what it is like to go to war.

Here the crude and visceral coexist with the tender and affectionate. The author tells of well-meaning soldiers at hospital reception, there to deliver a pair of legs in the belief that these can be reattached to their comrade, now in mid-surgery; of midsummer Christmas parties and pancake breakfasts and late-night sauna sessions; of interpersonal rivalries and banter; of caring too little or too much; of tenderness and compassion fatigue; of hell and redemption; of heroism and of playing God. While many good firsthand accounts of war by frontline soldiers exist, this is one of the first books ever to bring to life the experience of the surgical teams tasked with mending what war destroys.

Thanks to NetGalley for providing this review copy!

The author starts out by saying that this book was never supposed to be published, due to the subject matter and the way it was perceived to be handled. That only added more intrigue to the story, to me, and I was eager to begin reading.

The story is akin to the book/TV series MASH, with beleaguered surgeons, war all around them, stress, and dark ways to relieve the boredom. There is a great deal of loss of life complicated by military rules and the Hippocratic Oath – beware, as the injuries are horrific and discussed in great detail.

The author is British; so I expected his writing style to be a bit different from American writers. In fact, I even welcomed it, as I look forward to non-American cadences and dialects in books. What I hadn’t bargained for was uneven writing with obscure phrasing. At times it’s hard to understand who is saying what, and there was no deep insight made on the choices the doctors had to make. At the 75% mark I realized I had not really absorbed anything meaningful except that war is hell, these surgeons were doing the best they could, and sometimes there was strangeness (the usual black humor and Christmas in July) to help the soldier’s mental states. The same type of story was repeated over and over again (wounded too badly, euthanized with pain meds/crashing boredom dealt with by playing card games and trying to stay cool in the desert/occasional platitude about life) without variance or emotion.

Somehow this writer managed to make a wartime hospital seem dull. The characters are an amalgam, and so perhaps could not have been made more detailed; but I think it would have been better if he had given a little more detail about why they were doctors, what made this tour of duty different from others, etc.

It’s a shame that such an important subject matter was reduced to an unsatisfying bite of pablum, as there is a need to understand what the military deals with during extended conflicts. Heart of Darkness, Catch-22, and On Call In Hell expressed the story in a more readable and gratifying way. I gave up at the abovementioned 75% mark; something I don’t do often, but I just didn’t want to waste any more time. Great subject – bad handling.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”1501705482″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

Life On The Edge by McFadden & Al-Khalili

life on the edge

 

Life is the most extraordinary phenomenon in the known universe; but how did it come to be? Even in an age of cloning and artificial biology, the remarkable truth remains: nobody has ever made anything living entirely out of dead material. Life remains the only way to make life. Are we still missing a vital ingredient in its creation?

Like Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene, which provided a new perspective on how evolution works, Life on the Edge alters our understanding of our world’s fundamental dynamics. Bringing together first-hand experience at the cutting edge of science with unparalleled gifts of explanation, Jim Al-Khalili and Johnjoe Macfadden reveal that missing ingredient to be quantum mechanics; the phenomena that lie at the heart of this most mysterious of sciences.

Drawing on recent ground-breaking experiments around the world, each chapter in Life on the Edge engages by illustrating one of life’s puzzles: How do migrating birds know where to go? How do we really smell the scent of a rose? How do our genes copy themselves with such precision?Life on the Edge accessibly reveals how quantum mechanics can answer these probing questions of the universe.

Guiding the reader through the rapidly unfolding discoveries of the last few years, Al-Khalili and McFadden communicate the excitement of the explosive new field of quantum biology and its potentially revolutionary applications, while offering insights into the biggest puzzle of all: what is life? As they brilliantly demonstrate in these groundbreaking pages, life exists on the quantum edge.

Every non-fiction title must match the rigor of its investigative narrative to the weight of its message. Here is a book that seems to herald a brave new world of possible technology and depth of understanding, brought to us by the field of quantum biology. I harbor little skepticism that the authors’ chosen field of study will bring to bear significant impact upon everyday life and scientific conquest of the unknown alike. I am, however, perturbed by the willingness, even giddiness, of the authors to extend their findings into areas of study not directly related to their work, dispensing entirely with intellectual rigor in favor of the eye-catching pizazz of a History Channel or TLC docuthriller.

I wish that I could be kinder to this book, but I can’t. In my relatively short life, I’ve watched worthwhile institutions (from the Smithsonian Institute to just about every news broadcast on the tube) turn into entertainment media. What makes this book part of that media is that its takeaway is a romantic image of a scientific future and a mysterious universe, rather than the science itself. The viewer of a modern Discovery Channel program, for example, often concludes a viewing experience feeling entertained, confusing this “entertained” feeling for the feeling of having learned something. The dynamics that propagate this kind of confusion are all present in Life on the Edge:

-Examples overstay their welcome, explaining the same thing multiple ways, and appealing to different emotions each time rather than to different features of the thing being explained

-Being overly numerous, the examples replace a dearth of content and context with a breadth of verbosity.

-Phrases such as “It could be the case that…” and “Perhaps [subject] could even…” are used to extend verifiable claims grossly beyond the limits of reasonable speculation, and into a land of pure imagination. This would be fine, of course, if it did not happen in a book written by two highly credible and accomplished scientists whose word many will take as gold. By trying to extend the appeal of this book to those who are not fascinated by the wonder of the quantum world alone, the authors risk alienating those who are, their core audience.

I would recommend this book to someone who has no prior knowledge of what the phrase “quantum mechanics” means, perhaps hoping that the hyperbole it contains might ignite his or her fascination. Some say that this is a valid way to spark interest in people. However, I have always found this method to be demeaning to those upon whom it is used, like using the prospect of a career as an astronaut to entice children to become interested in the cosmos. Visionary public scientists like Carl Sagan wouldn’t treat children this way, which is partially why he is still beloved today. Other public scientists who hope to have a positive impact need to follow suit.

I received this book from Blogging For Books in exchange for this review. Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”0307986810″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How The Art Of Medicine Makes The Science More Effective by Claudia Welch

art of medicine

Does the art of medicine matter? Does it really help us become better doctors and improve results? Dr. Claudia Welch explores how the effectiveness of a physician extends far beyond the ability to prescribe correct treatments, and how mastering the art of doctoring can make the medicine more effective.
Drawing on Eastern medical traditions and experience as well as on Western science, Dr. Welch examines how we know what we know, the mechanics of doctor-patient emotional contagion, and the degree to which a patient’s sensory experience in a medical office affects their experience of treatments delivered. Dr. Welch also offers practical steps that doctors can take to cultivate more refined perceptive abilities and improve results.

Dr. Welch’s book will be essential reading for all health care practitioners interested in understanding the art of their practice and how it can enhance therapeutic outcomes, including doctors of Ayurveda, Chinese medicine, Naturopathy, as well as western medical professionals and other complementary health practitioners.

 

Thanks to NetGalley for offering this book for review!

I was pretty excited to see what this book would have to say about combining the tenets of Eastern and Western medicine, for there are certainly values to both. However, I was consistently underwhelmed by the author’s ideas, and some of them seemed way out there.

Perhaps it’s instinct to me that a physician cares for his patients, that he takes care of his own health, that he provides a welcoming and healing atmosphere for them. Apparently this does not always happen, as Welch puts forth all these suggestions in the book. I will say, that the idea of making waiting rooms a little quieter and mellower with soft colors and quiet music sounds wonderful. HIPAA laws force sick people to sit in rooms with the TV blaring away, lest we overhear sensitive health information belonging to other patients. There has got to be a better way, and Welch outlines this in a way that had me in full agreement. (See chapter 12, Healing Through Environment.)

However, the rest of the book was not captivating to me at all. Her suggestions for communication between doctors and patients were all spot on, but again common sense for me. Do all doctors talk the same way to everyone? I thought they were more empathetic, seeing the patient’s personality and using a method of communication modified to each person.

Another suggestion is to have longer appointments and sit quietly so the doctor can feel the patient’s vibrations and let the body tell the history. In today’s hustle and bustle double booked appointment schedule, there is probably no way any doctor will be able to sit quietly with a patient and take their pulse for 15 minutes, and look into their eyes and their soul and figure out if their Qi is unbalanced. I’m sure a little dose of slowing things down would be immensely helpful, but that’s not how it’s done in Western medicine. Perhaps this is one area that would benefit from the author’s suggestions.

Welch also talks about doctors keeping an optimistic outlook for very sick patients, saying that multiple studies have proven the effect of positivity. (Chapter 19, Choosing Hope.) That is also a no brainer for me, and seems to be the norm in my dealings with my own doctors. I’ve never had one tell me things were hopeless, and I’m also sure doctors who treat people with cancer are as supportive as they can be.

In Chapter 32, Reflections on Part III,  the author talks about the benefits of dexterity; not solely physical, but mental and emotional as well.

Practicing dexterity keeps our thinking flexible and our minds open and receptive to possibilities beyond our ability to predict. This can only further refine our confidence, humility, communication, empathy, and diagnostic accuracy, and result in better outcomes for our patients. (I)t would not be amiss to add dexterity to the list of qualities central to the art of medicine. 

This may be all I found germane in this book. Throughout the pages can be found stories  that strain credulity; such as the tale of how a guru healed a boy after all else failed, simply because the guru was leading a purified life and had disciplined thoughts. There is another story of how the author’s sister was in labor, ACTUAL labor two months early, and the power of positive thinking stopped the labor. I found that a bit hard to believe. (Or else it was Braxton-Hicks contractions, no matter what Welch says.)

When I read about a patient that had chronic yeast infections and it was determined that “astrological influences” were causing the infections, and all the woman had to do was continue taking the medication for 6 months (until the influences passed), I was ready to close the book and be done. The gap between Eastern and Western medicine is perhaps due to thinking like this.

Finally (yes, I kept reading) I reached a point where the author was talking about herbs and plants to heal. (Chapter 42, Potency.) The chapter progressed from information about biological responses, such as when plants secrete a noxious substance to protect themselves from insects, to a statement about being respectful to plants so as to preserve their healing qualities.

I agree we need to respect the Earth and treat our surroundings carefully; but I don’t feel that

If we are indifferent or violent to plants, they may alter their qualities and actions — their very chemistry — in an attempt to protect themselves from us. This may initiate a chain reaction, altering kindred plants, other species, and the environment.

At this point, I gave up reading. I felt I had nothing else to learn from the book. There are certainly practitioners and patients that will benefit from the ideas put forth in these pages, but I can’t say I agree with it all.

HOW THE ART OF MEDICINE MAKES THE SCIENCE MORE EFFECTIVE is well written, thought provoking, and does have ideas that will aid a thoughtful physician in his practice. But not everyone will agree with the Eastern medicine way of thinking.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”1848192290″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

The ADHD Advantage

adhd

 

 

Why ADHD could be the key to your success

For decades physicians delivered the diagnosis of ADHD to patients as bad news and warned them about a lifelong struggle of managing symptoms. But The ADHD Advantage explodes this outlook, showing that some of the most highly successful entrepreneurs, leaders, and entertainers have reached the pinnacle of success not in spite of their ADHD but because of it.

Although the ADHD stereotype is someone who can’t sit still, in reality people with ADHD are endlessly curious, often adventurous, willing to take smart risks, and unusually resilient. They are creative, visionary, and entrepreneurial. Sharing the stories of highly successful people with ADHD, Dr. Archer offers a vitally important and inspiring new way to recognize ADHD traits in oneself or in one’s loved ones, and then leverage them to great advantage—without drugs.

As someone who not only has ADHD himself but also has never used medication to treat it, Dr. Archer understands the condition from a unique standpoint. Armed with new science and research, he hopes to generate public interest and even debate with his positive message as he guides the millions of people with ADHD worldwide toward a whole new appreciation of their many strengths and full innate potential.

 

As a reviewer of multiple ADHD books, I was eager to see what this author had to say.
Unfortunately, I was not impressed. The book seems to be padded with lots of stories about those “lucky” enough to have ADHD and had the ability to spend time traveling around the world and failing at multiple jobs before finding the “right” place for them. Not everyone has the money or the support to do this. That is not how the average person with ADHD lives. Moreover, that solution could have been illustrated with a few stories, not over and over again in each chapter. At some point, it goes from inspiring to overkill.
Archer is a big proponent of no drugs for ADHD’ers. I agree that children should be evaluated carefully and not just have pills thrown at them, but the idea of everyone not needing medication is absurd. The author has a series of questions that determine where you are on the ADHD scale, and  claims that anyone that is an 8 or lower (out of 10) does not need medication. I feel that would make for a lot of frustrated people.
He also postulates that ADHD’ers are resilient and can deal with failure well, because their constant failure makes them stronger. I can also tell you that is patently untrue, as I live with an ADHD’er and his failures just make him depressed.
If you are a person with lots of money and a personal assistant to take care of the minutiae of daily living, then you will agree with what Archer has to say.
Otherwise–pass this one up, take your meds, and get on with your life.

Want your own copy? You can pick it up [easyazon_link identifier=”1594633517″ locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″]here[/easyazon_link].

 

 

 

 

 

 

Doctor, Doctor by Merry Freer

[easyazon_image add_to_cart=”yes” align=”left” asin=”B00NO0VV7E” cloaking=”default” height=”160″ localization=”yes” locale=”US” nofollow=”default” new_window=”default” src=”http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/41abInfq3RL._SL160_.jpg” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ width=”107″]

I found this book through my Twitter feed and the blurb made it sound exellent; so I downloaded it to my Kindle. The author Merry Freer said it was a “love it or hate it” kind of book.

Well, I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it either. I started to grow weary about halfway through, and then I started skimming, to see if I could get to some juicy parts. When I got to the 3/4 mark I gave up, with the reasoning that I have many other novels in my bullpen to get to, and life is too short to waste on bad books.

The story is based on true events; the author is manipulated and abused by both her boyfriend and her therapist. I didn’t get to the part that explains why the police were called to Mark’s (the boyfriend) house, but I really didn’t care either. See, the book starts off with the author waiting for the police to go to Mark’s house, and she feels guilty about it. The story then starts as a flashback–how she got a divorce, how her therapist helped her through the bad times, how she meets Mark, a handsome doctor–and then it just gets strange. Mark treats her well, then dumps her; the therapist offers to start seeing Mark, they get back together; the therapist seemingly tells the author “secrets” of what happens in Mark’s therapy sessions; and so on.

The first alarm bell was when I read about the unethical behavior of the therapist. Then I wondered why Freer would stay with a man that was so distant, manipulative, untrustworthy, and deceitful. I felt truly sorry for her, that she wasted her time with Mark when it would have been better for her to be alone. It seems like she was desperate and felt unworthy of someone better. It was annoying to me to keep reading about how she felt bad because of how he treated her, yet she was so in love with him and thought that things would become better somehow. Mark was a drug addict that cheated on Freer multiple times. Who would want to stay with a man like that? Maybe if I wasn’t so frustrated in her inability to get this guy out of her mind I would have kept going, but there was just a little too much of “I loved him so, why did he treat me like this? Why isn’t he calling me? Why is my therapist asking me to do this?” I know the idea of the book was that things were so off kilter, but I have no patience with hearing about how men take advantage of women. Since I didn’t finish the book, I can only hope that Freer has exorcised her demons and has found happiness either on her own, or with a real man who knows the meaning of love.

Want to read this yourself? Click [easyazon_link asin=”B00NO0VV7E” locale=”US” new_window=”default” nofollow=”default” tag=”gimmethatbook-20″ add_to_cart=”yes” cloaking=”default” localization=”yes” popups=”yes”]here[/easyazon_link] to purchase it. Let me know what YOU think.

 

Omega Days by John L Campbell *book giveaway*

omega days

Book Giveaway!

Gimmethatbook will give you this book if you are the lucky winner of this so-easy-it’s-nearly-criminal giveaway! All you have to do is like the Facebook page, and share the status about the contest pinned to the top of the timeline. Or, you can hop onto Twitter, follow @gimmethatbook, and retweet our tweet about the contest. Easy, right? The contest tweet and post are both pinned to the top of the pages, so they’re easy to find! Entries are accepted until midnight October 7th. Only ships to the continental United States. To my Gimmethatbookers in the United Kingdom and Brazil, sorry!

With that out of the way, let’s get down to business. Reviewing business.

Omega Days – Review:

I received this signed copy at Book Expo America 2014. Usually, the zombie/horror genre is not my thing, but I saw so many good reviews about this that I had to try it.

I didn’t get very far.

The writing is great, the action is non stop, the descriptions are gory and detailed…and that is what got me in the end. I will read up to page 50 (page 100 if I think it needs more time) and then throw it back if I see I’m not enjoying it. Omega Days held me until about page 42. The gore was too much. Now, I read medical novels and have no issue with Ebola-bleed-outs or Spanish Flu mass graves, but the undead are not for me. This is in NO WAY reflective of Campbell’s writing style. The book was well written, with multiple plotlines and authentic characters, as far as I read.

I really can’t tell you much about the plot, other than there are normal people just living out their lives (a priest, a college girl) and then all of a sudden there is screaming, chomping, blood, mass hysteria, and ripped flesh everywhere. Fans of the zombie/apocalyptic novel will enjoy this a great deal, I think.

As I mentioned before, I have a signed copy. Gimmethatbook would love to pass this novel on to someone who will read and enjoy it.

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