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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


Genre:  Nonfiction
Release Date:  2017


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:


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



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.


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


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  


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.


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


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!

Monday, July 10, 2017

BOOK REVIEW: Serenity Harbor by RaeAnne Thayne (Contemporary Romance)

Greetings Friends!

Today I am happy to bring you a review of the romance book Serenity Harbor by RaeAnne Thayne, the sixth book in the Haven Point series.  

Serenity Harbor (Haven Point, #6)

I was graciously contacted by the team at Little Bird Publicity and a copy of this book was sent to me for free in exchange for my honest and thoughtful review.  All thoughts, opinions, and feels are my own.


Genre:  Romance
Release Date:  June 2017


In the town of Haven Point, love can be just a wish, and one magical kiss, away.
Computer-tech millionaire Bowie Callahan is about the last person that schoolteacher Katrina Bailey wants to work for. As far as she can see, he's arrogant, entitled, and not up to the task of caring for his young half brother, Milo. But Kat is, especially if it brings her closer to her goal of adopting an orphaned little girl. And as her kindness and patience work wonders with Milo, she realizes there's more to sexy, wary Bo than she'd ever realized.  
Bo never imagined he'd be tasked with caring for a sibling he didn't know existed. Then again, he never pictured himself impulsively kissing vibrant, compassionate Katrina in the moonlight. Now he's ready to make her dream of family come true…and hoping there's room in it for him, too.

About the Author:

New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author RaeAnne Thayne loves words.  Her love affair started as soon as she learned to read, when she used to devour anything she could get her hands on:  cereal boxes, encyclopedias, the phone book, you name it! She loves the way words sound, the way they look on the page and the amazing way they can be jumbled together in so many combinations to tell a story.  Her love of reading and writing those words led her to a fifteen-year career in journalism as a newspaper reporter and editor.

Through it all, she dreamed of writing the kind of stories she loved best. She sold her first book in 1995 and since then she’s published more than 40 titles. Her books have won many honors, including three RITA® Award nominations from the Romance Writers of America and a Career Achievement Award from RT Book Reviews.

RaeAnne finds inspiration in the rugged northern Utah mountains where she lives with her hero of a husband and their children. She loves to hear from readers and you can connect with her on:

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter


This was my first experience reading any of RaeAnne Thayne's books, and despite this being the sixth book in the series, there was no loss of understanding or continuity in the story.  I'm always impressed when authors can provide the needed background as characters are introduced without the dreaded infodump.  I was able to become acquainted to each character without feeling as though I was missing something.  Each book within the series focuses on different residents living in the Haven Point community and I really enjoyed visiting this small, quiet town in Idaho.  As time allows, I would definitely love to check out the other books in this series.

This was a slow burning romance between two people with very different, but difficult backgrounds who were brought together through their love for a little boy with autism.  Bowie has recently obtained guardianship of his younger brother, Milo, who he never knew existed, and though he wants to provide a stable life for Milo, the boy's autism and inability to speak becomes much more than Bowie bargained for.  Kat has returned for a short visit to Haven Point for her sister's wedding after spending time in Colombia teaching English.  Her special connection with children causes her to intervene during one of Milo's meltdowns at the grocery store, and desperate to help Bowie, she agrees to work with Milo until she returns to Colombia, where she hopes to adopt a young girl with her own special needs.  

While the attraction is immediate between Bowie and Kat, I thoroughly enjoyed how the story largely centers on them building their relationship beyond any sort of physical intimacy.  Each suffers from a lack of trust in other people and by gradually getting to know one another, they begin to realize that perhaps they can find love after all.  However, this back and forth became quite tedious at times, as the same emotions were being repeatedly expressed.  I also had a difficult time determining how I felt about Kat.  On one hand, I loved her interactions with the children and her ability to create meaningful and lasting engagements with them; however, she would often come across as overly antagonistic to Bowie that really played into drawing out the hate to love aspect of their budding romance.

Overall, the author's ability to truly capture the struggles to fit in and find acceptance especially in regards to those with disabilities makes this a very heartwarming story and took this light romance to an inspiring level.  It was so refreshing to read about characters living beyond themselves and trying to make a difference in the world around them.

I hope you give this one a read! I  look forward to returning to Haven Point in the near future, as the next book features the town's librarian!

Many thanks again to Little Bird Publicity and RaeAnne Thayne!  It was a pleasure providing a review!

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

TOP 5 WEDNESDAY: Favorite Books Without Romance

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 Books Without Romance!  Recent topics placed a lot of focus on the relationships that we love or hate to love, so many requested that some attention go towards discussing books that do not have a romantic subplot or features very little of it.  

So, in no particular order, here are my selections.

Beauty Queens

Fifty beauty queens stranded on a desert island.  This is a hilarious book that will make you think and never look at beauty the same way.

Forgive Me, Leonard Peacock

A truly compassionate look at the horror of trauma and its effect on a troubled teen.  This is not an easy book to read, but it does ultimately become inspiring and thought-provoking.

I Hunt Killers

Jasper Dent is the son of a notorious serial killer and in order to prove that murder doesn't run in the family, he teams up with the police in the hunt for a new serial killer.

Every Heart a Doorway

This is a very short read, but packs a powerful punch!

Eleanor West's Home for Wayward Children is a place for all the kids who suddenly found themselves returning from the magical worlds they had disappeared to.  Their experience, however short, changed them, and now their family and friends no longer understand if they even did before.  How do you carry on in this world when all you want is nothing more than to return to the place you slipped into and felt you belonged?

The Giver

This haunting story centers on twelve-year-old Jonas, who lives in a seemingly ideal, if colorless, world of conformity and contentment. Not until he is given his life assignment as the Receiver of Memory does he begin to understand the dark, complex secrets behind his fragile community.

So those are my picks!  Do you have any favorite books that feature little to no romance?  Let me know in the comments!

Monday, July 3, 2017

BOOK TAG: Mid-Year Book Freak Out!

Greetings Friends!

I haven't done a tag in quite a while, so what better time to do one then when you realize that half the year is over!  How is that possible?  I don't know about you, but it's flown by!  

While many of the books I mention may not have been published in 2017, these books have all been read in this year.  So let's just jump into the questions!

Best Book You've Read So Far in 2017

The Hate U Give

This is a phenomenal book that I can't recommend enough!  The family dynamics as well as the community support are amazing to read.  Do yourself a favor and read this, especially if it's the only book you read this year!

Best Sequel You've Read So Far in 2017

The Watched 

The Watched - CSI Reilly Steel #4 by [Hill, Casey]

This is the fourth book in the series about a CSI technician for the Dublin police department.  These books are gritty, dirty, dark, and haunting.  I wasn't a fan of the third book, but this book really brought the series back for me.

New Release You Haven't Read Yet, But Want To

Every Last Lie

I've really enjoyed all of this author's previous books and look forward to checking this one out as well.

Most Anticipated Release for the Second Half of the Year

There's Someone Inside Your House

While I wasn't an especially big fan of Anna and the French Kiss, there is something so intriguing to me about reading this supposedly new take on the classic teen slasher story when it's written by the queen of the young adult contemporary!  This comes out September 26 and is available for pre-order.

Biggest Disappointment

It's Always the Husband

I went into this story expecting a thriller, but that's not what I got.  It's more of a literary mystery in the vein of Everything I Never Told You.  There were times that it was just so slow and not one character has any redeemable qualities.  It's still a good story, but I guess I was ultimately expecting something more.

Biggest Surprise

Behind Her Eyes

This one is incredible and totally deserves the #WTFthatending!  Definitely check out my review for more info.  

Favorite New Author (Debut or New to You)

Image result for kimberly belle author

My book club selected her newest book The Marriage Lie for our February read and I absolutely loved it.  From there I promptly purchased and devoured her other two books.  Can't wait to see what she comes out with next!

Newest Fictional Crush

I don't have any new crushes to report on at this point.  In fact, I'm kind of disappointed in how I feel at this point for Rhysand given what we got in A Court of Wings and Ruin.  After A Court of Mist and Fury I had some pretty high expectations for his character that unfortunately became quite a bit of let down.  My understanding is that now the books will be focusing on other characters, so we'll see how things pan out as the universe expands.

Newest Favorite Character

I really enjoyed everything about Alosa.  She was very well developed and full of snark.  I loved that she was not only intelligent and competent in her abilities, but was modest and humble in her attractiveness.  This was a fun ride and be sure to check out my review for more.  

Book That Made You Cry

The Ones We Trust

While I could never find any direct correlation, I felt this book was loosely based on the true life story of Pat Tilman, an Army Ranger killed by friendly fire while fighting in Afghanistan.  This story was no less as gut-wrenching and heartbreaking.

Book That Made You Happy

Definitely not because of the murder mystery aspect, but I loved the cruise ship setting and all of the descriptions about the food and beverages available while on board.  Be sure to check out my review for more info.

Favorite Book to Film Adaptation

Image result for big little lies

I have only been able to watch the first three episodes, but I was really impressed.  As it gets closer to Game of Thrones starting and I begin an HBO subscription, I look forward to finishing this series.  

Favorite Post You Have Done This Year

photo credit:  @thebookranter

I really enjoyed putting together my March Owlcrate Unboxing and Book Review.  It was fun to talk about all the bookish goodies and read and review Daughter of the Pirate King.

Most Beautiful Book You've Bought This Year

The Bear and the Nightingale

I haven't gotten a chance to read this yet, but I'm still amazed that I found a flawless hardcover edition of this at the Salvation Army for only 99 cents!

What Book Do You Need to Read by the End of the Year

The Summer That Made Us

The Summer That Made Us by [Carr, Robyn]

Earlier this year, I partnered with Little Bird Publicity to review Robyn Carr's most recent book Any Day Now, which you can check out here.  I was contacted again to review this book, which will be published on September 5.  

So there's my mid-year book freak out!  Have you participated in this tag?  If not, I tag you!  Share your responses in the comments.  I'd love to see what you're freaking out about!