Monthly Archives: June 2015

The Wild Inside, by Christine Carbo

The Wild Inside, by Christine Carbo

The Wild Inside, by Christine Carbo

When Ted Systead was fourteen years old, his father was dragged out of their tent and killed by a grizzly in Glacier National Park. Years later, Ted, now working as an agent for the Department of the Interior, must help investigate a crime that brings back painful memories. A man has been killed in Glacier National Park, mauled to death by a grizzly. In this new case, it is clear that the man’s death was no accident, in that he was tied to a tree, trussed up like a present for the bear. Ted tries to keep a clear head as he investigates, aiding local officials, but he has never really gotten over the death of his father and the new crime echos his past a little too closely. Ted perseveres, and the list of suspects grows. Can Ted keep his feelings in check as he considers the clues of the crime? Ted struggles to solve the mystery as the pressure from park officials mounts to come to a quick solution and spare the park the unfortunate publicity. Set against the background of a wildly rugged natural setting, The Wild Inside is a complex tale involving an appealing protagonist. I enjoyed the story, though at times, Ted’s internal conflict took some of the emphasis away from the interesting mystery. This book will appeal to fans of C.J. Box’s Joe Pickett series, Craig Johnson’s Walt Longmire series, and Nevada Barr’s Anna Pigeon series. A promising mystery debut.

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Circus Mirandus, by Cassie Beasley

Circus Mirandus, by Cassie Beasley

Circus Mirandus, by Cassie Beasley

It is a rare event when I read a book and know it will be an award winner, but Circus Mirandus by debut author Cassie Beasley is going to win awards. The last book I was so certain of winning acclaim was The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, and of course, it won the Newbery. In Circus Mirandus we meet Micah Tuttle. Micah’s grandfather, Ephraim Tuttle is very sick and Micah’s Great-Aunt Gertrudis has come to help care for them both. As her name suggests, Great-Aunt Gertrudis isn’t a very nice person, and Micah wants more than anything for his grandfather to get well so she will leave. For years, his grandfather has told Micah about Circus Mirandus, a magical circus that he visited as a youth. The Man Who Bends Light at this circus owes his grandfather a miracle. Micah has hope that somehow, the magic circus is real, and the Lightbender’s miracle can save his grandfather.

This is an utterly charming tale, magical and yet with depth as Micah faces the death of his grandfather. Micah, Ephraim, and the Lightbender are complex, wonderful characters. The only negative comment I can make is that the book is too short. I hope that this author offers us a sequel, if only so I can see more of Chintzy, the cantankerous parrot. This book will appeal to younger readers who enjoyed Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo and The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.

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Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery, by Henry Marsh

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery, by Henry Marsh

Do No Harm: Stories of Life, Death, and Brain Surgery, by Henry Marsh

I don’t usually like to think about medical things since I’m a bit squeamish in nature. However, I was eager to read “Do No Harm” by Henry Marsh, because to me, those who perform surgery on the brain are great explorers on the same level as astronauts. Brain surgeons operate on people knowing they are cutting into their thoughts, their dreams, and their very personalities; yet, they control their fear of the process and try to improve the lives of their patients in spite of it. Henry Marsh is an expert in his field, a top British neurosurgeon, and his insights in this book are both wonderful and terrifying. He not only provides medical information about the successes and failures of his work, but also shares his personal insights into his own life and into the lives of his patients and their families. I found his insights to be the most fascinating part of this book. How do you break the news to a family that their loved one will likely die, or at best, be horribly impaired? How do you talk to a patient and their family after a routine surgery goes terribly wrong? When is surgery not the right option, and who should decide this, the surgeon or the family? How do you put past failures behind you so you can focus on the present day surgery? Henry Marsh lays out his struggles with such issues with extreme candor and humility. He also shares his trials and tribulations with the British medical system, where surgeries are often cancelled because patients will not have beds to recover in afterwards. In a time where management of our own medical system is a controversial topic, Dr. Marsh’s commentary is especially well-timed.

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