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THE ORGAN TAKERS: A Novel of Surgical Suspense ~Richard Van Anderson

Tuesday, March 17th, 2015

“”Richard Van Anderson’s experience as a surgeon at the UW Medical Center gives him the ability to write a convincing debut thriller. The Organ Takers focuses on the moral failings and sociopathic behavior of corrupted medical practitioners. The verdict: Read if you like surgery and a standard thriller, but do not expect to trust your doctor after reading this.” –The Daily at the University of Washington”

THE ORGAN TAKERS was a very interesting read and I could not put the PDF/ Kindle book down.  I read the book in the hospital while undergoing a series of tests. I was glad my copy was in my Kindle (as the cover and the title might have worried the others in the waiting area) and I would not recommend one read this thriller in the hospital – the surgery details were very intense and I was worried about what my medical team was not telling me.  I think it raised my blood pressure a point or two.

There is a very exciting part to the story in that several surgeons have figured out how to grow cloned organs for transplant patients.  Now that was exciting to think about, how they were going about the research was terrible and their lab’s fundraising techniques were horrendous.  So many lost everything, and others were driven to the limit of their capacity.  The greed factor certainly destroyed the happy factors of life.    It was a fast read, and I learned a number of things I did not know or understand before.  Although I would not have picked this book, I was very pleased to be asked to review this book and I contemplated the ethical implications  and what corrupts some folks and not others. Fascinating.

Larissa Ackerman | Claire McKinneyPR, LLC
41 Main Street Suite B, Chester, NJ 07930

Larissa sent me a PDF copy of this book which I translated to my KINDLE FIRE and I was able to read the book early.  This was a bonus to have my copy ahead of the schedule so that I could squeeze it into the schedule when I had more time to read. Writing is intelligent and the author’s surgical skill plays out well in his story telling.  My only problem was I could not underline or book mark pages on the translation and I have become a bit lazy in my note taking – get out those 3×5 cards !

I highly recommend this suspenseful book to those who love medical reads and good writing.  If you have a queasy stomach about surgeries and medical ethics, I would probably not put it on the list.  The writing is very top notch and will not leave scar tissue and side effects for years to come.

About Richard Van Anderson from the book cover:

“Richard Van Anderson is a former heart surgeon turned fiction writer.  His surgery training took him from the ‘knife and gun club’ of LSU Medical center in Shreveport, Louisiana, to the famed Bellevue Hospital in Midtown Manhattan.  His education as a writer includes an MFA in creative writing from Pine Manor College in Boston, Massachusetts.  He currently lives in Seattle, Washington with his wife and two sons.

Website: www.rvananderson.com

“And finally, the best way for a book to find its audience has always been, and still is, word of mouth recommendations.  So, if you liked the story, please consider telling others about it, either person to person, using social media, or (and this is the most effective way) posting online reviews at your favorite review site.  Thank you.”


Healing and Prevention Through Nutrition 
Eat to Live 
Your Medical Mind  
The Signature of All Things 

INCENDIARY GIRLS: Short Stories ~Kodi Scheer

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

“A fresh take on the vagaries of the human body and the human spirit.  Scheer spins inventive tales, laced with a dose of magic.”   Danielle Ofri, MD. PHD; author of What Doctors Feel

INCENDIARY GIRLS is a gathering of short stories, primarily about women, the power of healing, science and medicine and the quirkiest, magical twists I have enjoyed placing before my eyes.  I have always known that I love to read but I didn’t know how much I loved the short story genre until I began reading Scheer’s book.

Recently short stories have given the characters a huge roster of problems to deal with and then often left me puzzled or wanting something more.  INCENDIARY GIRLS gave me enough of the character to truly engage and enough weight to the dilemma of the story to make me think and speculate but not enough to keep me awake all night.  I could relate to each of the women and had a laugh out loud moment of sheer delight with several of them.  The young woman victim in a genocide experience in 1915 defeating the Angel of Death, who is the narrator, at the age of 12 just touched many empathetic buttons  and I was so thankful to have read each page and found a sigh of recovery.

In our busy world, I truly believe the short story can activate our minds with finesse and charm; keeping our thinking skills well exercised.

The Story Titles:

  1. The Fundamental Laws of Nature
  2. Transplant
  3. Miss Universe
  4. Gross Anatomy
  5. When a Camel Breaks Your Heart
  6. No Monsters Here
  7. Salt of the Earth
  8. Modern Medicine
  9. Primal Son
  10. Ex-Utero

I just have to share this quote from the words of praise on the inside cover – do not know the author “In Scheer’s hands, empathy and attachment are illuminated by the absurdity of life.  When our bodies betray us, when we begin to feel our minds slip, how much can we embrace without going insane? How much can we detach ourselves before losing our humanity?  Scheer’s stories grapple with these questions in each throbbing, heartbreaking moment.”

I am sure both of my book groups would find weirdness in these stories, and that the discussion which followed would be animatedly connecting.  I am sure that medical students would find a special interest in these shorts!

Short Stories are great brain nutrients!

If you purchase anything from Amazon or Powell’s  from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket. Donations also welcomed. Thank you for your support.

tlc logo An unproofed e-copy of this book was sent to me for review by TLC Online Book Tour and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. It was a delightful privilege to review the short stories found in – INCINDIARY GIRLS.

Kodi Scheer Online
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Sharing is a good thing.

Our Love Could Light the World
Olive Kitteridge
The Sense of Touch
Half As Happy Stories

The Long Goodbye: A Memoir ~Meghan O’Rourke

Thursday, April 7th, 2011


This is a loving story of a “normal” family who experienced the loss of the Mother and Wife to colon cancer.  It is a story about their growing and parented years, it is the story about the years of sickness and the family’s responses and actions, and is introspective of that which a daughter understands about her own development, growth and the mother-daughter experience.

This book is a study in grief and it is well researched, literary, and supremely well written.

Right up front I give this book 5 Ladybugs and I hope that I inspire people to read this story and benefit from this information.

There were moments where I thought I was reading a 300 page obituary for a talented and energetic teacher.  I often thought, wow I wish I had read this before my own Mother was dying; I am happy that other people can now benefit from the research, poetry, insights, and lessons shared in this book.  It is a celebration of living a good life, having a good death, and how mourning and grief play out amidst the living and the survivors.

“One of the grubby truths about a loss is that you don’t just mourn the dead person, you mourn the person you got to be when the lost one was alive.”

I found myself feeling jealous several times during the reading of this book.  O’Rourke writes about familial love as a resource and strength in the face of immeasurable loss and how each family member took part in the care of the patient and the nurturing of each other.   The extended family was fairly close by and offered their support also.   I had to wonder how my experience would have been changed with even a spoonful of that “yogurt” of the author’s experience.  It was a very personal read.

“It is, of course, difficult to study ‘grief’ because a salient feature of grief is that it’s not monolithic or singular; it’s personal and variable.  That said, there seem to be certain universal aspects. And one is the ameliorating influence of watching your loved one accept his or her death. (Another is that the dominant feeling after a loss isn’t anger or denial but yearning, exactly the feeling I’d had.)”

O’Rourke has moved well beyond the studies and conclusions of Kubler-Ross’s stages and even refers to these as states, because there is not an orderly progression – rather it is” an ongoing, messy process”

“But even ‘normal grief’, Prigerson said, is hardly gentle. Its symptoms include insomnia or other sleep disorders, difficulty breathing, auditory or visual hallucinations, appetite problems, and dryness of mouth.  I had had all of these symptoms, including one banal hallucination at dinner with a friend, when I imagined I saw a waitress bring him ice cream.  In addition to the symptoms Prigerson named, I had one more: difficulty spelling. Like my mother, I had always been a good speller. … My problem was not unusual; certain forms of grief can take a toll on your cognitive functions.”

Grief is such an important part of living and living a “good” life that there are many studies being done and this book offers up so much of the new thinking and “facts” presented by the current research. It has been a question on the mind of most human’s experience.

Missing from this book, were all the details of the “paperwork” involved with the process of illness and dying.  There is little mention of the insurance, and co-pays, fees and lawyers. The author does talk about how they had to tell her Mother’s treatment history to each new Doctor and Administrator that they encountered and how exhausting that part of the experience can become.  She also mentions how sometimes her notes arrived ahead of charts and labs and these were the basis of keeping her mother cared for and proceeding with less pain and trauma.  I wanted to add, how lucky she was to have so many helpers and friends who did a conscientious job of helping her keep track, because it seemed like when I could finally get away for a shower or rest, some physician arrived and changed the routine and medications – and no one told me.

This book is an invaluable resource of how to care for one’s self through the tough sieges and loss, and it is recounted by a good teller.

Richard Ford said: “The LONG GOODBYE is emotionally acute, strikingly empathetic, through and unstintingly intellectually, and of course elegantly wrought.  But it’s above all a useful book, for life—the good bits and the sad ones, too.”

The book was sent to me by TLC book tours but I did not receive any compensation for reviewing this book.  If you purchase the book from this site, I will receive a few beans in my bucket.

Everyone who makes a comment on this review will be entered into a give away for a copy of this book to be mailed to you by the publisher. Only available for USA and Canada.  The random drawing will be held April 22, 2011.

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Related Reading:
The Gifts of Imperfection
The Love Ceiling
The Wisdom to Know the Difference

Let’s talk about this idea of grief in the comments section.  I think you would truly like this book.

I know I experienced many of these feelings and I think this was why I torn the ligament off my ribs and had to just sit still for several years to heal it – powerful impact physically and emotionally. Looking forward to what you are going to share.