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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Sunset in Central Park by Sarah Morgan

So I read Sleepless in Manhattan in July, and as I said, I was really put to the test on it. It ended nicely though, so I soldiered on and read the next two, Sunset in Central Park and Miracle on 5th Avenue in quick succession.

Sunset in Central Park is pretty much the opposite story line as Sleepless in Manhattan. In Sleepless, you have the hero falling for his BFF's little sister, who he has known forever.  In Sunset, the hero is falling for his little sister (star of Sleepless)'s BFF. It's all very intertwined. Here's your summary, from Amazon:

Love has never been a priority for garden designer Frankie Cole. After witnessing the fallout of her parents' divorce, she's seen the devastation an overload of emotion can cause. The only man she feels comfortable with is her friend Matt—but that's strictly platonic. If only she found it easier to ignore the way he makes her heart race… 

Matt Walker has loved Frankie for years but, sensing how fragile she is beneath her feisty exterior, has always played it cool. But then he uncovers new depths to the girl he's known forever and doesn't want to wait a moment longer. He knows Frankie has secrets and has buried them deep, but can Matt persuade her to trust him with her heart and kiss him under the Manhattan sunset?

This one was much better than Sleepless, I thought. First, there wasn't really any of the ickiness you often find when someone is dating his friend's little sister, so that was good. Then, even though one of the characters have some big mental blocks to a relationship (Frankie), the other half (Matt) is aware of them, and patiently works through them. In Sleepless this is all kept secret.

Frankie has a lot of issues after growing up with a flake for a mother, some of which I found completely legit and some of which I felt like Frankie used as a handy shield. Happily, Matt is able to gently show her where she was wrong about other people's perceptions and willing to ride out the rest. Matt has been in love with her for years, you see, and he's finally tired of waiting. He pushes, gently but steadily, to make her aware of his feelings and to admit to hers. This sounds slightly aggressive, but it's clear that he's not pushing her somewhere that she's not wanting go.

I really enjoyed this one quite a bit and if it has any flaws it's really just Frankie's endless mental denial  She doesn't really believe that she isn't worthy, but that she will mess it up and shouldn't even try. This one was much better than Sleepless in Manhattan. I loved Matt's brand of slow and steady but not quite a Beta hero. I loved that he knew what he wanted and was patient (to a point.)  It clearly sets up the next (and final) book in the series, so I immediately gobbled that one up too.

Sunset in Central Park comes out today.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Patient H.M.: A Story of Memory, Madness, and Family Secrets by Luke Dittrich

In 1953, a twenty-seven-year-old factory worker named Henry Molaison—who suffered from severe epilepsy—received a radical new version of the then-common lobotomy, targeting the most mysterious structures in the brain. The operation failed to eliminate Henry’s seizures, but it did have an unintended effect: Henry was left profoundly amnesic, unable to create long-term memories. Over the next sixty years, Patient H.M., as Henry was known, became the most studied individual in the history of neuroscience, a human guinea pig who would teach us much of what we know about memory today.

Patient H.M. is, at times, a deeply personal journey. Dittrich’s grandfather was the brilliant, morally complex surgeon who operated on Molaison—and thousands of other patients. The author’s investigation into the dark roots of modern memory science ultimately forces him to confront unsettling secrets in his own family history, and to reveal the tragedy that fueled his grandfather’s relentless experimentation—experimentation that would revolutionize our understanding of ourselves.

Dittrich uses the case of Patient H.M. as a starting point for a kaleidoscopic journey, one that moves from the first recorded brain surgeries in ancient Egypt to the cutting-edge laboratories of MIT. He takes readers inside the old asylums and operating theaters where psychosurgeons, as they called themselves, conducted their human experiments, and behind the scenes of a bitter custody battle over the ownership of the most important brain in the world.

Patient H.M. combines the best of biography, memoir, and science journalism to create a haunting, endlessly fascinating story, one that reveals the wondrous and devastating things that can happen when hubris, ambition, and human imperfection collide

This was a completely fascinating look at brain science, interwoven with a compelling family history that I can easily recommend to anyone who likes non-fiction of this type.The author's grandfather was one of several surgeons who developed and promoted the lobotomy as the cure all for any mental illness or instability, including epilepsy, in the mid-1900s. Many of the patients were from mental hospitals, and the records are unclear as to if they were fully informed of the treatment and/or if it really helped them. What is clear, however, is that much about the structures of the brain and the functions of different areas was mapped out due to the vast numbers of lobotomies and other similar surgeries.  Patient HM is a very special case, for two reasons. One, he wasn't mentally ill when he had surgery. Unlike many of the people in the mental wards, HM was severely epileptic, to the point where he could no longer function. This meant that any affects on his intelligence could be easily noted from before to after, as he could participate in testing and was cooperative. Second, the operation performed on HM had the effect of making him completely amnesiac. He was able to remember small bits of his childhood, but could not remember someone he was introduced to 2 minutes prior. This alone led the researchers to test HM over and over to try to figure out how exactly memory was stored and what types of memory he might could form.

Inseparable from HM's story is that of the author's grandparents, his grandfather's ambition, his grandmother's own mental breakdown, and the fallout of his success. The entire book is full of details and facts that while not necessarily about Patient HM, really round out the picture of where brain science was, and how people came to make the discoveries that they did. It is both fascinating and slightly horrifying, and makes you feel very grateful for the advances in pharmaceuticals that allow us to not attempt things like lobotomies in 2016. The book is well written, as well as interesting, and I would happily recommend it to anyone who likes this type of non-fiction.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Two quick romance reviews

Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan

I am a complete Sarah Morgan fangirl, but this one, oh it tested me. It's a friends to lovers story, which I love, and for the vast majority of the book I was all in.  Jake had some commitment issues, but he was willing to admit (to himself) that this relationship was a good thing. He wanted it out in the open even. He just didn't want love. Well anyone who has ever read a romance knows what's gonna happen, right?  Even that was fine, because of course that was the point, but immediately after the big showdown there is this scene that is so absolutely mortifying (to them, and moreso to ME) that I put the book aside. For weeks. I just could. not. imagine. seeing how that was gonna play out. Then my NetGalley Guilt (TM) got the best of me and I picked it back up, and shockingly, it was just fine. Because of course it was.  I have the next one in the series locked and loaded on my Kindle, and as soon as I have a quiet moment we're on.

Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle

Now this one I LOVED. I can't wait to read the next one in the series. In fact, as soon as I finished I ran right to my NetGalley account to see if I couldn't pick up the next book, only to discover that I had missed out on book 2, but could still grab book 3.   Lou is a bit annoying at first, but she settles down a bit as the book progresses, and I loved her interactions with Callum.  Cal is s take charge, alpha leader, but isn't overly loud or obnoxious about it, as heroes can often be. I loved seeing them fall for each other, and thought the ultimate resolution to this book was excellent. However, there is an overarching story line involving the dead body that isn't cleared up and is obviously going to be the thread that ties the series together, so if you're interested, know that there is a completely unresolved plot point.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Reading Update June 2016

June was a terrific month for reading for me. For writing blog posts? Not so much. It was also a terrible month for book acquisitions. I don't even want to count.

What I Read:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling. I'm about 60% done, but have to wait for it to come back up at the library (because you know I'm not about to lug around my paper copy of that one!)

The Obsession by Nora Roberts. I am really enjoying these last few stand alone titles-- but I wish she'd go in for a nice trilogy about  some brothers that didn't include Ireland and magic (sorry Katherine.)

Fire Touched by Patricia Briggs. This series just gets better and better. I am never disappointed.

Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle. I really enjoyed this one, even as Lou was a bit annoying.

Only You by Denise Grover Swank. I am only 8 or so chapters in. I'm not sure I can handle the boss and the humor is a bit less subtle than I would choose, but will certainly continue.

Darkest Journey by Heather Graham.  I can't stop requesting these, but at 41% read I'm fairly sure she's just phoning it in now, and might actually stop after this one.

Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan. If you'll recall, I stopped this one at an awkward scene last month. I managed to read through it with one eye and the book finished strong. Other readers may like that style of awkward, but I have too much empathy for mortification.

New to My Kindle:

The Madness of Lord Ian Mackenzie by Jennifer Ashley. This one one has been on my TBR look out list for years and when it was a daily deal I couldn't resist. (Kindle)

The Spinster's Guide to Scandalous Behavior by Jennifer McQuiston. I now have 5 McQuiston titles on my Kindle and have yet to read even one. I should work on that. (Kindle)

Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson. I've heard so many good things about this one, and I did enjoy Let's Pretend This Never Happened. (Kindle)

Searching for God Knows What by Donald Miller. I enjoyed Blue Like Jazz several years ago when I read it, and I think I'd like this one as well. For a non-religious person, I sure enjoy a good religious memoir/essay. (Kindle)

Darkest Journey by Heather Graham. I can't help it. (NetGalley)

Fearless by Kimberly Kincaid. Love this series. (NetGalley)

Once Upon a Moonlit Night by Elizabeth Hoyt. Like McQuiston, I should really try to read one by her instead of collecting them. (NetGalley)

For Good. Karelia Stetz-Waters. I really liked the first one I read by her. (NetGalley)

Gone Too Deep by Katie Ruggle. I really enjoyed Hold Your Breath, so had to go see if I could get the others in the series. Sadly, I missed book 2, but managed to snag this one. (NetGalley)

Patient H.M. by Luke Dittrich. I love this sort of thing, and then Books on the Nightstand mentioned it in one of the last podcast episodes. (NetGalley)

Tribe by Sebastian Junger. Mike and I listened to an interview with him on The Tim Ferris show podcast during our drive to Alabama, and it was fascinating. (NetGalley)

To Have and To Hold by Lauren Layne.  Another auto-request. (NetGalley)

Running Man by Charlie Engle. This is getting embarrassing. (NetGalley)

The Curse of the Tenth Grave by Darynda Jones. No, still haven't read the 9th. Or the 4th. (NetGalley)

Strange History by the Bathroom Readers Institute. NetGalley is gonna revoke my account soon.

Sunset in Central Park by Sarah Morgan. I told you it was ugly. (NetGalley)

Whew. That's a lot.  The good news is that my reading is really picking up lately.  The bad news is that it's still probably hopeless.

Friday, July 01, 2016

The Next Five Books I Plan to Read. (No Kidding)

I'm so easily distracted by shiny new things. My Kindle is a complete testimony to this, therefore, I'm making a list.  Here's the next five books that I plan to read:

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This is a reread (duh) but I'm having so much fun reading with Tristan.

Only You by Denise Grover Swank. It gave Katherine jazz hands! How could I not?

Hold Your Breath by Katie Ruggle. I need some romantic suspense this summer.

From This Day Forward by Lauren Layne. Don't tell, but I also have the second book in the series waiting.

The Happiness Equation by Neil Pasricha.

I think the difficulty I just had picking five tells you how likely I am to stick to this plan, but lets see how I do...

Friday, June 24, 2016

Five things that happened.

1. A month or two ago my best running buddy organized a 5K run in order to raise money for Alport Syndrome, which two of her sons have.  I was always going to go run, but Tristan decided that he wanted to do it as well, and he did! I suspect he's actually much faster than me, if he were trying, but I can run a long long ways. He ran the entire last mile about 3 yards in front of me, waiting for me to give up and walk. I didn't.

2. We were recently staying in a hotel with a pool, which we used a LOT while Mike was working at an event. I had picked up some cheap goggles for the kids on the way and they loved wearing them. On our second night there, Tristan left his in the pool area. When we returned to swim again early the next morning we discovered that someone had completely trashed them.  I just don't understand that. I can see if someone took them- clearly we had left them behind, and maybe they really wanted goggles, but why destroy them? I am still baffled.

3. Speaking of swimming, my kids are finally old enough to swim in a hotel pool while I sit happily on the sidelines and only keep half an eye out for drowning! This is such a huge parenting milestone. First you get them old enough to play on the playground unassisted, then they learn to swing without being pushed, and now, swimming. It completely changes my feelings about hotels.

4. Hamilton. I've resisted forever. It annoys me how much people love it, like when everyone loves the same book, only this was way worse. But then Noah did a report on Ben Franklin and he could.not.stop. talking about Ben Franklin. I started thinking that maybe the kids would like Hamilton, and I was right. Mike is not a huge fan, but he'll suffer through it for the quiet it brings to the back seat.

5. Lauren graduated from Kindergarten, and Tristan is going to be in middle school next year. What? How? I don't even know.  I completely teared up at Lauren's graduation- my last one!

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Reading Update May 2016

I'm typing this month's report up a week early, since we will be on vacation at the end of the month. I'm really hoping to have finished up a handful of these by month's end, but you never know how it's going to go.

Books I Read in May:

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone  and Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling. I'm rereading the series with Tristan, as he reads them for the first time. It's as awesome as I always thought it would be, except turns out he reads fast.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.  Still working on this. (Tristan is done, of course. Hopefully by the time you read this I will be too.)

The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. I'm only about 50% done, but it's very motivating.

Tough Luck Hero by Maisey Yates. I'm loving this one after DNF'ing on the last one in the series. Sorry, Maisey.

Sleepless in Manhattan by Sarah Morgan.  I'm 87% done and I'm totally mortified by the situation the characters are in, so I had to stop and regroup. Hopefully by the time this goes live I'll have gotten over my embarrassment and finished the book.

New to my Kindle in May:

$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America by Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer (Kindle Daily Deal)

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater. I've wanted to read this forever and couldn't resist when it was on sale. (Kindle Daily Deal)

Mockingbird by Charles J Shields. (NetGalley)

Only You by Denise Grover Swank (NetGalley)

The Born Again Runner  by Pete Magill. (NetGalley)

A Duke to Remember by Kelly Bowan (NetGalley)

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