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Monday, August 7, 2017

ANNOUNCEMENT: Taking a Blog Break


Greetings Friends!

As many of you are quite aware, I will be giving birth to my third child, a little girl, in August, so I will be taking a blog break during that month.  I want to spend as much time prepping the boys and our home as well as giving myself time to enjoy and embrace all the chaos without feeling pressure or stress to post new content.  I may have some pre-planned posts that pop up now and then, but for the most part, I anticipate very little writing happening until after September.


If you are a fellow blogger and would be interested in providing guest posts, please email me at thatswhatshesreading@gmail.com with a date and topic and I will be in touch.  

I can't wait to share pictures and lots of reviews when I return since I tend to get a lot more reading done when nursing!

As always, thank you for your support and readership!

Thursday, August 3, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Final Girls by Riley Sager (Thriller)

Greetings Friends!

Today, I have a review of perhaps one of the year's most highly anticipated thrillers, Final Girls, by Riley Sager.  When Stephen King blurbs for the cover, saying, "The first great thriller of 2017," you know it has to be read!


Rating:


Genre:  Thriller
Release Date:  July 2017


Synopsis:


Ten years ago, college student Quincy Carpenter went on vacation with five friends and came back alone, the only survivor of a horror movie–scale massacre. In an instant, she became a member of a club no one wants to belong to—a group of similar survivors known in the press as the Final Girls. Lisa, who lost nine sorority sisters to a college dropout's knife; Sam, who went up against the Sack Man during her shift at the Nightlight Inn; and now Quincy, who ran bleeding through the woods to escape Pine Cottage and the man she refers to only as Him. The three girls are all attempting to put their nightmares behind them, and, with that, one another. Despite the media's attempts, they never meet.

Now, Quincy is doing well—maybe even great, thanks to her Xanax prescription. She has a caring almost-fiancĂ©, Jeff; a popular baking blog; a beautiful apartment; and a therapeutic presence in Coop, the police officer who saved her life all those years ago. Her memory won’t even allow her to recall the events of that night; the past is in the past. 

That is, until Lisa, the first Final Girl, is found dead in her bathtub, wrists slit, and Sam, the second, appears on Quincy's doorstep. Blowing through Quincy's life like a whirlwind, Sam seems intent on making Quincy relive the past, with increasingly dire consequences, all of which makes Quincy question why Sam is really seeking her out. And when new details about Lisa's death come to light, Quincy's life becomes a race against time as she tries to unravel Sam's truths from her lies, evade the police and hungry reporters, and, most crucially, remember what really happened at Pine Cottage, before what was started ten years ago is finished.



About the Author:


Riley Sager is a pseudonym for an author who has been previously published under another name. A native of Pennsylvania, Riley is a writer, editor and graphic designer who now lives in Princeton, New Jersey.

You can connect with her on:




Review:


I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.

Back in January, I spotlighted in a Top 5 Wednesday post that this book was one of my most highly anticipated reads for this year.  There was a lot of hype surrounding it and that didn't seem to dissipate once it was finally released in July.  I was super excited to receive an advanced copy and tried to dive into this one as quickly as I could; however, this did not turn into the thrilling, page-turner that I had believed it to be.  I don't think that this is the book's fault, but rather a case of my expectations being a lot higher going into it.  The story was ultimately an enjoyable read given the subject matter and would be a great place to start for those looking to get into the thriller or horror genres.  It's dark, but not dark enough to turn off curious readers. 

I'm not a huge horror fan much less horror films, so I was not familiar with the "final girl" archetype.  This idea of the last girl standing still having to fight years later after surviving her ordeal was really intriguing to me.  Quincy tries to present herself to family and the outside world as the perfect survivor despite having obvious internal conflict with her past.  She's now a baking blogger and everything about her life appears "cute" and "sweet."  She doesn't make a big deal about the massacre, largely because she can't remember what happened, and no one else around her brings it up.  It's only when another final girl, Sam, comes knocking that Quincy begins to really confront what happened to her all those years ago as well as what it means to be the only survivor.

While the story is largely happening in the present, there are small flashbacks throughout that gradually reveal what happened that night to Quincy and her friends.  I enjoyed reading these scenes, and interestingly, they aren't written to reflect Quincy's memory returning, but rather, as a true account of what happened.  It was very subtle and gripping, which definitely helps to keep the story going because I had such a difficult time staying invested in the present situation.  Everything began to drag and feel repetitive with so much unnecessary drama, especially for a character who had steered clear of such turmoil for so long.  Surprisingly, in the end, there is more than one big reveal, but everything happens so fast that it wasn't exactly a satisfying or complete conclusion.  I enjoyed all the red herrings and never saw the ending coming even if it was incredibly disappointing.  

I think the atmosphere of this story lends itself greatly to being read in the fall as we get closer to Halloween.  I have no doubt that this will be a book that many will lose themselves in, but in the end, it was just a good read for me.  Nothing mind-blowing, but definitely worth the time.

Many thanks to NetGalley, Penguin Group Dutton, and Riley Sager.  It was a pleasure reading this book and providing a review!

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

READATHON: Tome Topple Round 4 Announcement and TBR!


Greetings Friends!

Back in April, I participated in the Tome Topple readathon and Round 4 will be happening from August 4 to August 17.  This readathon focuses on reading those big books on our TBR that keep getting pushed aside because of their size! Now's your chance to dedicate two weeks to one or some of those books and topple those tomes!

The only rule for this readathon is that the books have to be over 500 pages.  Check out Sam over on Thoughts on Tomes for more information.


She will be hosting along with a few others in the book community across formats such as YouTube, Instagram, and Tumblr, so pick your poison and join us!  Additional co-hosts include:
Sarah-Jane - https://goo.gl/yqV5xA Caz - https://goo.gl/o75CWD Emma - https://goo.gl/5fh2d3 Sian - https://goo.gl/yaawhX Ish - https://goo.gl/tCq6Ln
There is also a Goodreads group you can join for book suggestions as well as discussion boards featuring the most widely chosen books that you can participate in.  Also follow @tome_topple for updates and use #tometopple to stay involved on Twitter.

There are also a few challenges associated with the readathon that you can keep in mind when selecting your book(s):

  • Read more than 1 tome
  • Read a graphic novel
  • Read a tome that's part of a series
  • Buddy read a tome (use the Goodreads group and Twitter to find buddies)
  • Read an adult novel
  • ** Bonus Challenges: check out Sam's IG for IG challenges! **

Feel free to combine challenges using one book to meet more targets!

The only book I will be spending my time on is It by Stephen King.  And considering I'll have a newborn during this time, if I can get through any length of this massive brick, it will be amazing!


I hope that you will join me in Tome Topple!  Let me know in the comments if you plan to participate, what books you'd like to get read, or whether you'd like to buddy read It with me!

Monday, July 24, 2017

BOOK REVIEW + GIVEAWAY: Surgeon's Story by Mark Oristano (Nonfiction)


Greetings Friends!

Today, I am participating in a blog tour stop for the medical nonfiction book Surgeon's Story by Mark Oristano.

Surgeon's Story

Rating:


Genre:  Nonfiction
Release Date:  2017


Synopsis:

What is it like to hold the beating heart of a two-day old child in your hand?  What is it like to counsel distraught parents as they make some of the most difficult decisions of their lives?
Noted pediatric heart surgeon Dr. Kristine Guleserian has opened up her OR, and her career, to author Mark Oristano to create Surgeon’s Story
Dr. Guleserian’s life, training and work are discussed in detail, framed around the incredibly dramatic story of a heart transplant operation for a two-year old girl whose own heart was rapidly dying.  Author Mark Oristano takes readers inside the operating room to get a first-hand look at pediatric heart surgeries most doctors in America would never attempt.
That’s because Dr. Guleserian is recognized as one of the top pediatric heart surgeons in America, one of a very few who have performed a transplant on a one-week old baby. Dr. Guleserian (Goo-liss-AIR-ee-yan) provided her expertise, and Oristano furnished his writing skills.
Readers will find all the drama, intensity, humor and compassion that they enjoy in their favorite fictionalized medical TV drama, but the actual accounts in Surgeon’s Story are even more compelling. One of the key characters in the book is 2-year-old Rylynn who was born with an often fatal disorder called Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and was successfully treated by Dr. Guleserian.
You can also check out the book trailer on YouTube.



For more information or to purchase:

AMAZON


About the Author:



Mark Oristano has been a professional writer/journalist since the age of 16. After growing up in suburban New York, Mark attended Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, majoring in broadcast journalism. After his junior year he was hired as a sports reporter by WFAA-TV, the ABC affiliate in Dallas, where he worked with sports director Verne Lundquist. He also anchored in Nashville, where his co-anchor was Oprah Winfrey.  Mark broadcast NFL games for the Dallas Cowboys and Houston Oilers. His first book, A Sportscaster's Guide to Watching Football, sold out it's first run.

You can connect with him on

FACEBOOK  |  TWITTER  |  WEBSITE  


Review:

I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for an honest and thoughtful review.

I have always been fascinated by medical memoirs and was really excited to read this book about a pediatric cardiothoracic surgeon.  This is an insightful and fascinating look into the world of medicine that really makes you feel that you are scrubbed in right along with Dr. G.  The book reads quickly even with all the detailed scientific information, but is never weighed down by medical jargon.  And while I'm not personally bothered by gory medical details, for those that are, you won't find that in this book.  The spotlight is more on all of the amazing work that Dr. G is providing to the country's tiniest patients.  Not only do you receive insight into Dr. G's average day, but you get to see what the children and their parents are experiencing as well.  

I really enjoyed reading about Dr. G's decision to become a doctor as well as her experiences in medical school and the training she received to become a surgeon.  Even as someone who stands at the top of her field, she remains humble and strives to keep learning new lifesaving techniques.  She is truly an inspiration to not only those in the medical field, but for women in general as a example of an accomplished woman succeeding in a predominantly male-dominated career.  

This is a very compelling read full of human interest that will keep you riveted until the very end.  


Book Excerpt:

The first task is to examine the heart to see if the preoperative diagnosis is correct. Dr. G uses delicate instruments to retract portions of the tricuspid valve and examine the extent of the defect of the ventricular septum, the wall between the two ventricles. She determines the exact size and shape of the VSD and trims the segment of pericardium she saved earlier in preservative. She cuts miniscule pieces of the pericardial tissue and sutures them along the walls of the VSD, creating anchor points for the actual covering. Each suturing is an intricate dance of fingers and forceps, needle and thread. Dr. G works with a small, hooked needle, grasping it with forceps, inserting the needle through the tissue, releasing and re-gripping with the forceps, pulling the hair-thin suture through, using a forceps in her other hand to re-grip the needle again and repeat. The pericardial tissue being sewn over the VSD has to be secure, and it has to stand up to the pressure of blood pumping through Claudia’s heart at the end of the operation. This isn’t like repairing knee ligaments, which can rest without use and heal slowly. Claudia’s heart is going to restart at the end of this operation, and whatever has been sewn into it has to hold, and work, the first time. The VSD repair involves cautious work around the tricuspid valve, and their proximity is a concern because the valve opens and closes along the ventricular septum with each beat. Dr. G and her team find that it’s preferable to actually divide the cords of the tricuspid valve to better expose the VSD. After the patch is fully secured, the tricuspid valve is repaired.
Things don’t go as smoothly during the attempt to repair the pulmonary valve. When Dr. G looks inside Claudia’s heart she discovers that the pulmonary valve is not nearly large enough, and it’s malformed. It only has two flaps where there should be three. She repairs it by what she later says is “just putting in a little transannular patch.”
Here’s what it’s like to “just” put a transannular patch on the pulmonary artery of a child as small as Claudia:
First, take a piece of well-cooked elbow macaroni. Tuck it away in a bowl of pasta that has a bit of residual marinara sauce still floating around in it. Take several different sized knitting needles. Slowly, without damaging the macaroni, insert one of the knitting needles into it to see if you can gauge the width of the macaroni on which you’re operating. Then using a delicate, incredibly sharp blade, cut a small hole in the piece of elbow macaroni, maybe a little larger than the height of one of the letters on the page in front of you. Now use pliers to pick up a small needle with thread as fine as human hair in it. Use another pliers to pick up a tiny piece of skin that looks like it was cut from an olive, so thin that light shines through it. Take the needle and sew the olive skin on to the hole you’ve cut in the piece of macaroni. When you’re finished sewing, hook up the piece of macaroni to a comparable size tube coming from the faucet on the kitchen sink, and see if you can run some water through the macaroni without the patch leaking.
That’s the food analogy. Those are the dimensions Dr. G worked with as she patched Claudia’s pulmonary artery. She made it a little wider to give it a chance to work more efficiently, to transport more blood with less blockage, requiring less work for the right ventricle so that the built-up heart muscle could return to a more normal size. It wasn’t the repair she’d planned to make, but it was the most suitable under the circumstances, and it gave Claudia her best chance.
Before restoring Claudia’s natural circulation, the team makes certain that no air is in the heart or the tubes from the pump, because it could be pumped up to the brain. Air in the brain is not a safe thing. When all the repairs are completed, Claudia is rewarmed and weaned from the bypass machine. She was on pump for 114 minutes and her aorta was clamped for 77 minutes, not an extraordinary length of time in either case.
Claudia’s heart starts up on its own, with a strong rhythm. With her heart beating again the beeps, and the peaks and valleys on her monitor return. All is well. An echo technician wheels a portable machine into the OR and puts a sensor down Claudia’s throat where it lodges behind her heart to perform a transesophageal echo —a more detailed view than the normal, external echo. Everything looks good. Chest drains are put in to handle post-operative drainage, and wires are placed for external pacemakers, should anything go wrong with Claudia’s heart rhythm during her recovery from surgery. Dr. G draws Claudia’s ribcage back together with stainless steel wires, perfectly fastened and tightly tucked down.
Claudia and the surgical team return to the CVICU, and Dr. G monitors her reentry to the unit, making sure the nurses understand Claudia’s condition and the proper procedures to be followed for the next 24 hours. From there, Dr. G enters a small room tucked away from the noise of the unit to meet with the family. Claudia’s mother, father, and aunt are waiting. Dr. G sees Mom wiping tears away.
“Are you crying? Oh, no, no need to be crying, everything is fine.” Her wide smile reassured Mom who put away her tissues.

Giveaway Info



Mark Oristano is giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card!

Terms & Conditions:

By entering the giveaway, you are confirming you are at least 18 years old.
One winner will be chosen via Rafflecopter to receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card.
This giveaway ends midnight July 28.
Winner will be contacted via email on July 29.
Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Many thanks to Mark Oristano and Pump Up Your Book!  It was a pleasure providing a review.

Be sure to check out the other blog stops on the tour.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

ANNOUNCEMENT: Taking a Blog Break


Greetings Friends!


As many of you are quite aware, I will be giving birth to my third child, a little girl, in August, so I will be taking a blog break during that month.  I want to spend as much time prepping the boys and our home as well as giving myself time to enjoy and embrace all the chaos without feeling pressure or stress to post new content.  I may have some pre-planned posts that pop up now and then, but for the most part, I anticipate very little writing happening until after September.

If you are a fellow blogger and would be interested in providing guest posts, please email me at thatswhatshesreading@gmail.com with a date and topic and I will be in touch.  

I can't wait to share pictures and lots of reviews when I return since I tend to get a lot more reading done when nursing!

As always, thank you for your support and readership!

Thursday, July 20, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: The Breakdown by B.A. Paris (Thriller)


Greetings Friends!

Today, I have a review of B.A. Paris's The Breakdown, her highly anticipated follow-up to last summer's hit Behind Closed Doors, which I also reviewed and you can read here.

The Breakdown

I received this book for free from NetGalley in exchange for thoughtful and honest review.  All thoughts and opinions are my own.

Rating:


Genre:  Thriller, Mystery
Release Date:  July 18, 2017


Synopsis: 


If you can’t trust yourself, who can you trust?

Cass is having a hard time since the night she saw the car in the woods, on the winding rural road, in the middle of a downpour, with the woman sitting inside―the woman who was killed. She’s been trying to put the crime out of her mind; what could she have done, really? It’s a dangerous road to be on in the middle of a storm. Her husband would be furious if he knew she’d broken her promise not to take that shortcut home. And she probably would only have been hurt herself if she’d stopped.

But since then, she’s been forgetting every little thing: where she left the car, if she took her pills, the alarm code, why she ordered a pram when she doesn’t have a baby.

The only thing she can’t forget is that woman, the woman she might have saved, and the terrible nagging guilt.

Or the silent calls she’s receiving, or the feeling that someone’s watching her.


About the Author:


B.A. Paris

B.A. Paris grew up in England, but has spent most of her adult life in France. She has worked both in finance and as a teacher and has five daughters. Behind Closed Doors was her first novel.

You can connect with her on:

Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  


Review:


So last year, I read and reviewed Behind Closed Doors and was really impressed with the potential of the author's writing and couldn't wait to read what she wrote next.  I was super excited to get my hands on an early copy from NetGalley months ago and can now finally talk about it!

The Breakdown is definitely more of a slow burn and can truly begin to test your patience as Cass's inability to understand what is happening to her begins to drag on and become quite repetitive.  This is not the fast-paced thriller of her previous book nor are there any shocking moments that would make this dark and difficult to read.  It reads simply as more of a traditional mystery that is incredibly hard to put down, especially once the pieces start coming together.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first person narration from Cass's perspective because she is the embodiment of an unreliable narrator.  You have no idea if what she is going through is what is really happening, yet you begin to realize that you can't trust anyone else around her either.  I loved the experience of living this situation out through her and discovering the horrific truth right alongside her.  I was just as frustrated and exhausted as she was!  One minute I was overwhelmed with sympathy for her predicament, but then the next, I was so incredibly annoyed!

There is nothing complicated about this story and more savvy thriller readers will probably question the logic of some of the plot elements that lead to the big reveal; however, this was still an incredibly twisted and gripping read.  Definitely pack this one with you to enjoy along with your summer plans!

Many thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press, and B.A. Paris.  It was a pleasure reading this book and providing a review!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Favorite Children's Books


Greetings Fellow Book Dragons!

Top 5 Wednesday is a weekly meme within the book community that was created by Lainey of GingerReadsLainey, but is now hosted by Sam of Thoughts on Tomes.  If you're interested in participating, find out more on the Goodreads group.

This week's topic is Favorite Children's Books!  This is not only the perfect opportunity to talk about some of my own personal favorite's as a child, but also a few that I have loved reading with my own children!

So in no particular order here are my selections.

Wherever You Go



I really believe this is a modern version of the graduation gift that parents love to give with Oh, The Places You'll Go.  The beautiful illustrations and lyrical rhymes create such a sweeping landscape of all the possibilities that await for a child, yet we are reminded that we should never forget the road that will always lead us home.


Anything by Chris Van Dusen


It's so hard for me to do his books justice in my description, so just do yourself a favor and head to your nearest library or bookstore and read them now!


The Gruffalo



This is the quintessential book on how you tell a children's story!  I just love Julia Donaldson and you can't go wrong with any of her books, but this one is just so amazing, especially as someone who has studied children's literature.


Charlotte's Web



I loved this book as a child and recently read it aloud to my boys.  It was still just as amazing as it was to me as a child and I look forward to many more readings with them as they get older.


Mandy



I had a thing as a kid for orphans, especially when they found hidden places to escape the world around them.


Bonus:

The Twenty-One Balloons



This one was just a fun and fantastical adventure that I loved, especially because it involved flying away in a hot air balloon and visiting exotic locales.


So those were just a few of my many favorites!  What were or are some of your favorite children's books?  Let me know in the comments!