Book #70: The Surgeon

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He slips into homes at night and walks silently into bedrooms where women lie sleeping, about to awaken to a living nightmare. The precision of his methods suggests that he is a deranged man of medicine, prompting the Boston newspapers to dub him “The Surgeon.” Led by Detectives Thomas Moore and Jane Rizzoli, the cops must consult the victim of a nearly identical crime: Two years ago, Dr. Catherine Cordell fought back and filled an attacker before he could complete his assault. Now this new killer is re-creating, with chilling accuracy, the details of Cordell’s ordeal. With every new murder he seems to be taunting her, cutting ever closer, from her hospital to her home. And neither Moore nor Rizzoli can protect Cordell from a ruthless hunter who somehow understands—and savors—the secret fears of every woman he kills.

Author: Tess Gerritsen
Publisher: Ballantine Books (2001)
Pages: 350
Series: Rizzoli & Isles, #1

Move over Martina Cole and Mary Higgins Clarke! Tess Gerritsen is here and I wished I had only found her sooner. Anyways, better late than never as they say. My sister bought this book for my birthday and I was excited to immediately start reading, although I was reading other material at the time.

If you love medical thrillers, or you simply love a good old thriller just for reading sake, The Surgeon is a worthy page turner and it will rope you in. This, I promise you.

From the beginning of the Prologue – ‘Today they will find her body’to the closing of it – ‘Today they will know we are back’ – had me intrigued. Who are we?  The book was impossible to put down and I moaned every time I had to put it down to get work done or to study for an exam. I don’t read enough fantastic med thrillers – save Robin Cook – but this one was beyond fantastic. I was there when the author took us through the cold mind of a serial killer. I was there in the operating rooms, when Dr. Catherine Cordell felt scared and when Detective Jane Rizzoli finally met the killer face to face.

The Surgeon is the first in the Rizzoli and Isles series, but only Rizzoli is introduced in this book, so I guess I’ll meet Isle in the second book. Although Detective Rizzoli is the main protagonist, sometimes it felt as if Moore was the main focus. At first, the Boston detectives are unwilling partners, as Rizzoli wants the case to be all hers. She wants to prove that she can be one of the boys. It does not help that her family heavily favors her brother over her. So this case was personal to her in every way. Dr. Catherine Cordell is a member of an emergency team. She left Savannah two years ago after surviving a rather brutal attack, in which she fought and killed her attacker.

But did she?

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Dr. Cordell’s nightmares become a reality when recent murders similar to the ones that happened in Savannah begins to happen in Boston, which is supposed to have been a safe haven for her. Moore and Rizzoli dismissed that a copycat killer could be committing the recent crimes because the details of the original murders were kept out of the press and the original killer was killed by Cordell. The detectives now have no choice but to bring the doctor in the middle of their investigation. From there, things start to heat up.

Dr. Catherine Cordell is insecure. A survivor, but still a living, breathing victim as she is the trophy that the killer wants to attain. She is the most prized asset. She lives in a shell, often masking her facade because she does not want anyone to pity her. She is beautiful though, and Moore cannot ignore her beauty compared to the plainness that is Rizzoli, who was beginning to harbor a little crush on Moore. Although Moore is a widower, having lost his wife Mary to cancer, he is like the average man when it comes to a beautiful woman. At least that’s what the plain Rizzoli thinks. However, Moore sees not only a beautiful woman, but a strong-willed woman who has lived through so much and is still standing. They eventually marry in the end.

I love Rizzoli because she is ‘what you see is what you get’ and she doesn’t wear loads of makeup. She just needs to love herself instead of feeling sorry for herself when it comes to the beauty department.

The book was well written, the characters well thought out and they were amazing! I won’t hesitate to read more books from Tess Gerritsen. What I won’t do is watch the TV series though. I love how Rizzoli is well written and sometimes the actress does not give the character enough justice. In short, TV ruins everything. If I watch the show before I read the book, then I won’t read the book. If I read the book, then I won’t watch the show. I make rare exceptions (‘The Help’). Well done, Gerritsen! Well done!

I strongly recommend this book for medical thriller lovers or simply thriller lovers. As I end here, I already have another book waiting for me to turn its pages and to get lost in its world.

VERDICT:

5

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Home of the Braised by Julie Hyzy

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Book #69: Garlic, Mint, & Sweet Basil. Essays on Marseilles, Mediterranean Cuisine, and Noir Fiction

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A short sublime book on the three things dearest to Jean-Claude Izzo’s heart: his native Marseilles, the sea in all its splendor, and Mediterranean noir – the literary genre his books helped to found. This collection of writings shows Izzo, author of the acclaimed Marseilles trilogy, at his most contemplative and insightful. His native city, with its food, its flavors, , its passionate inhabitants, and its long, long history of commerce and conviviality, constitute the lifeblood that runs through all of Izzo’s work.

Author: Jean-Claude Izzo
Publisher: Europa Editions (May 7, 2013)
Chapters: 13 wonderful short stories
Pages: 107

The founder of the modern Mediterranean noir movement, Izzo passed away in 2000 at the age of fifty-five. He was the son of immigrant parents: a Naples barman and a Spanish seamstress. He used this experience in his work to make it more realistic.

This book was TERRIFIC!

The writer blew my rooftop off!

Izzo’s stories showed passionate affection and love for his beloved Marseilles and Mediterranean coast. Nostalgia at its best. I wish I can write that way about Trinidad. I was there with him as I took that visionary trip to Marseilles. I could taste the food, smell the air and hear the people. I took a vacation without leaving the comfort of my bed and I loved it!

The beautiful list:

THE MEDITERRANEAN AND ITS NOIR

The Mediterranean: Possibilities for Happiness

Wherever he traveled, he took with him ‘a geography of possibilities for happiness’. He discovered, loved and appreciated his country for what it was.

Listening to the Sea

Just what the title says.

I Am At Home Everywhere

“It’s when I think about them that my feet start to itch, and I take out my cardboard suitcase and dream of setting off. To go and meet them, and share what we have in common, the pleasure of the universe. The pleasure I taste when, at home, in the still of the air of summer and noon, I read Louis Owens and put myself in the shoes of an Indian.”

This was one of my absolute favorite shorts to read and I treasure it because I can relate. Books take us to places beyond our front doors and we escape reality, but, for a short time “With a guidebook in our hands and a return ticket in our pockets.” Sometimes I wish I did not have to return.

The Blue and the Black

This story is basically about how Greek tragedies were born.

“In the beginning of the Book. And that moment in which Cain kills his brother Abel. In the blood of this fratricide, the Mediterranean gives us the first noir novel.

There may have been other murders before this, but this one is written down and establishes forever the singular problem of mankind: that crime is the driving force that, over the centuries, will govern relationships between people. Whoever they are. Masters or servants. Princes or emperors. Free men or slaves. In the beginning, indeed, all the motives for murder already existed. Envy, jealousy. Desire, fear. Money. Power. Hatred. Hatred of others. Hatred of the world.”

There is something truthfully chilling in those words! The Bible is there for us to learn from. It is there to make sure that mankind does not make the same mistakes as their ancestors once did, but alas! We’re living in terrible times where people don’t care about their own sanity.

MARSEILLES

Marseilles is in my Heart

“I was born in Marseilles. Of an Italian father and a Spanish mother. One of those crossbreeds to which this city holds the secret. Nobody is ever born in Marseilles by chance. Marseilles is, and has always been, the port of exiles, of Mediterranean exiles, of exiles from former colonial routes, too.”

I Like to Feel Marseilles Pulsating Beneath My Tongue

All about food!

“As many people have said: there is no innovation in the cuisine of Marseilles, no fusion, just self-perpetuation. Eating takes us back to our countries. To sit down to a meal, whether at home or in a restaurant, with our families or with our friends, is to recover our memories.”

Garlic

“The first girl I ever kissed smelled of garlic. It was in a hut in Les Goudes, at that hour on a summer’s day when adults take an afternoon nap. I learned, that year I turned fifteen, to love garlic.”

Mint

“We love mint for its smell. It’s the most popular. Ask us to name a plant that smells good, and it is mint, and only mint, that comes to mind.”

Basil

Another one of his favorite smells.

Here, My Darling, Taste This

“Words exchanged amid the noise and bustle: “Fire! Fire! My watermelon’s on fire!” Spoken in that drawling accent that takes time to say things. “Here, my darling, taste this!”

Marseilles: A Musical Trading Post

The music of the city that captivated his soul.

Marseilles Between Sea and Light

An ode to the sea and the bay.

FABIO MONTALE

Fabio Montale’s Christmas Dinner

I want to read more of this Montale character.

Jean-Claude Izzo on Fabio Montale

Fabio Montale’s Favorite Places

Fabio Montale’s Music

Fabio Montale’s Books

I recommend this book for foodies, Francophile, and literature lovers.

VERDICT:

4

EXTRA!

Enjoy the beautiful view of Marseille. ❤

 

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The Surgeon by Tess Gerritsen

Book #68: Buffalo West Wing

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With a new First Family, White House executive chef Olivia Paras can’t afford to make any mistakes. But when a box of take-out chicken mysteriously shows up for the First Kids, she soon finds herself in a “no-wing” situation. After Olivia refuses to serve the chicken, the First Lady gives her the cold shoulder. But when it turns out to be poisoned poultry, Olivia realizes the kids are true targets.

Author: Julie Hyzy
Publisher: Berkley (January 4, 2011)
Chapters: 30
Pages: 469
Series: A White House Chef Mystery (#4)

This is actually my first book in this series and although I’ve had better, this was good enough to finish in one sitting.

Poor Olivia Paras! The White House chef falls out of favor with the new first family over a box of suspicious chicken wings that had the children’s names on it which happened to be poisoned. Then there is the nasty Peter Sargeant who despises her and wants her to fail at her job. And if that is not enough on her plate, the first family eventually brings their family chef, Virgil Ballantine to the White House and Virgil despises the fact that he has to answer to the executive chef, Olivia.

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Things soon take a turn for the worst when Olivia and Josh (President’s son) is kidnapped by Nourie (terrorist pretending to be Special Agent). The action was all good.

However, I feel as if Olivia has been fighting to keep her job since the series started, for in this book the author focuses more on the chef’s job struggles than the actual mystery. Although I like the concept and I think the writing was good enough to read, I feel a little bit disappointed as if something was missing. I have mixed feelings about this one, but hopefully the other book I pick up from this author would be much better and I hope Gav and Olivia stay together because I kind of like them as a couple.

I couldn’t put a face to Olivia or half of the characters because there weren’t proper/full descriptions of them. Some tasty recipes are featured after the last chapter.

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VERDICT:

3

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Garlic, Mint, & Sweet Basil. Essays on Marseilles, Mediterranean Cuisine, and Noir Fiction by Jean-Claude Izzo

Book #67: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)

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When Jenny Lawson was little, all she ever wanted was to fit in. That dream was cut short by her fantastically unbalanced father and a morbidly eccentric childhood. It did, however, open up an opportunity for Lawson to find the humor in the strange shame-spiral that is her life, and we are all the better for it.

In the irreverent Let’s Pretend This Never Happened, Lawson’s long-suffering husband and sweet daughter help her uncover the surprising discovery that the most terribly human moments—the ones we want to pretend never happened—are the very same moments that make us the people we are today. For every intellectual misfit who thought they were the only ones to think the things that Lawson dares to say out loud, this is a poignant and hysterical look at the dark, disturbing, yet wonderful moments of our lives.

Author: Jenny Lawson
Publisher: Berkley (April 17, 2012)
Chapters: Titled chapters that I am too lazy to count
Pages: 363

I was robbed of a sense of fulfillment and America has to answer this question, HOW DO YOU FIND THIS GARBAGE FUNNY? ARE YOU DEPRIVED OF LAUGHING GAS?

I have no idea who Jenny Lawson is and I don’t intend to know her anyway, so there is no point (now) in me looking for her blog no matter how popular she might be in the blogosphere.

This memoir is overrated and the cursing was a huge turn-off. I can’t take someone seriously when they curse… especially in a memoir… especially where it doesn’t seem to fit! The curse bombs were there to give her a hip feeling, but it felt forced.

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I tried to finish this book. I really did, but when I reached ‘If You See My Liver, You’ve Gone Too Far’ I just had it!

HOW IN THE WORLD DID THIS OVERRATED MEMOIR GET RATED SO HIGH? HOW? HOW??? Why was this piece of junk made into print? I wouldn’t even use the pages of this book to go to the toilet if the world ran out of toilet paper!

The author was so wrapped up in trying to be funny, she succeeded in making her family sound like a bunch of sick individuals. I did not want to know how to clean a deer. Her father was a taxidermist and a psychopath. I mean, which sane person finds a dead squirrel and decides to stick their hand inside it and make a puppet out of it. And which father – taxidermist or not – throws a live bobcat at his daughter’s suitor? How is this acceptable by loving standards? And readers find this funny?

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The book is not funny, it’s just overdramatic! I yawned throughout some chapters and when I fell asleep on the last one I was trying to read, it was the last straw. The book is pure drivel. Rambling drivel. The author was happy to focus on her so-call “crazy” childhood and “mental illness” making it seem extreme. Sister, please! It wasn’t funny. You ain’t funny. You aren’t that messed up like you want people to think. No one cares about your vagina (I believe this is her favorite word. No, really! I must have seen it like a dozen times before she dedicated an entire chapter on it) You had/have it better than a lot of people and what do you do? You whine.

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Nothing about her childhood was intriguing. Waste of time, waste of money (I am thankful that I didn’t have to buy this garbage! Had I bought this book, I might have been kicking myself hard in the liver.) It was not funny and maybe these so-call reviewers need to stop kissing people’s behinds and be honest about their reviews for once. That’s right, I’m talking to you, friends and acquaintances of the author and you too, People.

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If you think something is wrong with my humor, it’s intact thank you very much. Lawson tried way too hard to present herself as this crazy wacky doodle (anything other than herself) and she believed it too.

Let’s Pretend I Never Attempted to Read This Drivel.

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QUOTABLES:

Later that night I sat out on the porch, looking at the same stars I’d stared at when I was ten and had longed to travel to places that existed only in mind. They were places like Egypt or France, but they were the Egypt and France of a child’s mind, filled with blurry visions of perfect pyramids, and warm sands, and Eiffel Towers, and something that people called “wine.” (Page 116)

The only best part of the book because I can relate. PLUS! Everyone knows how I feel about (Ancient) Egypt and France.

VERDICT:

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Buffalo West Wing by Julie Hyzy

Book #66: Gray Mountain

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The year is 2008 and Samantha Kofer’s career at a huge Wall Street law firm is on the fast track—until the recession hits and she gets downsized, furloughed, escorted out of the building. Samantha, though, is one of the “lucky” associates. She’s offered an opportunity to work at a legal aid clinic for one year without pay, after which there would be a slim chance that she’d get her old job back.

In a matter of days Samantha moves from Manhattan to Brady, Virginia, population 2,200, in the heart of Appalachia, a part of the world she has only read about. Mattie Wyatt, lifelong Brady resident and head of the town’s legal aid clinic, is there to teach her how to “help real people with real problems.” For the first time in her career, Samantha prepares a lawsuit, sees the inside of an actual courtroom, gets scolded by a judge, and receives threats from locals who aren’t so thrilled to have a big-city lawyer in town. And she learns that Brady, like most small towns, harbors some big secrets.

Her new job takes Samantha into the murky and dangerous world of coal mining, where laws are often broken, rules are ignored, regulations are flouted, communities are divided, and the land itself is under attack from Big Coal. Violence is always just around the corner, and within weeks Samantha finds herself engulfed in litigation that turns deadly.

Author: John Grisham
Publisher: Doubleday (October 21, 2014)
Chapters: 40

Pages: 368

This is the first time I started a John Grisham book that I couldn’t finish. The story starts off slow and boring, but I tried giving it the benefit of the doubt. Fifteen chapter later, I lost my marbles and tossed it. Had this been my Kindle, I might have broken it in a rage.

Samantha was incredibly boring and the number of times she said ‘It can’t be legal’! ARRGGHH! I couldn’t stomach another chapter of this book and decided to end the torture early.

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VERDICT:

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Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson

Book #65: Rachel’s Holiday

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(old edition syp)

‘How did it end up like this? Twenty-seven, unemployed, mistaken for a drug addict, in a treatment centre in the back arse of nowhere with an empty Valium bottle in my knickers…’

Meet Rachel Walsh. She has a pair of size 8 feet and such a fondness for recreational drugs that her family has forked out the cash for a spell in Cloisters – Dublin’s answer to the Betty Ford Clinic. She’s only agreed to her incarceration because she’s heard that rehab is wall-to-wall jacuzzis, gymnasiums and rock stars going tepid turkey – and it’s about time she had a holiday.

But what Rachel doesn’t count on are the toe-curling embarrassments heaped on her by family and group therapy, the dearth of sex, drugs  and rock’n’roll – and missing Luke, her ex. What kind of a new start in life is this?

Author: Marian Keyes
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks (Arpil 2006)
Pages: 640
Series: Walsh Family #2

My first book about the Walsh family. I kind of liked how the story started with Rachel’s intervention. During her stay at the rehab, she encountered some addicts who were in denial just like her. She fell for the charming Mike – I immediately disliked him – and after leaving the rehab immediately hooked up with him.

Look, it’s a nice read and everything, but I wasn’t feeling it. I didn’t get close to the characters and I struggled to read through some chapters. Nice plot and can learn something about life because the topic was a serious one (drug addiction) but I don’t think I’ll be reading anymore Keyes for a while. I really wished I could have liked this book, but I wasn’t feeling it.

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VERDICT:

2

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Gray Mountain by John Grisham

Book #64: Confessions: The Paris Mysteries

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The City of Lights sets the stage for romance, drama and intrigue in the latest Confessions novel from the world’s bestselling mystery writer!

After investigating multiple homicides and her family’s decades-old skeletons in the closet, Tandy Angel is finally reunited with her lost love in Paris. But as he grows increasingly distant, Tandy is confronted with disturbing questions about him, as well as what really happened to her long-dead sister. With no way to tell anymore who in her life she can trust, how will Tandy ever get to the bottom of the countless secrets her parents kept from her? James Patterson leads this brilliant teenage detective through Paris on a trail of lies years in the making, with shocking revelations around every corner.

Author: James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1 edition (October 7, 2013)
Chapters: 69
Pages: 293
Series: Confessions (#3)

Tandy finally reunites with her so-call lost love James Rampling (I can’t get over how pompous the surname is!), but not everything is fine and dandy.  Tandy stupidly gave James her virginity without thinking. I mean, come on, she’s the protagonist and only 16! Sixteen! 

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When she wakes up the next morning, alone in the rundown Paris hotel and realizes that James left her, I shouted, ‘HOW DOES IT FEEL LIKE TO BE USED, YOU STUPID GIRL!’ Okay, I may not have shouted that, but I can’t get over how much I dislike Tandy, so yeah, she deserved it. Serves her right for behaving like an adult. 

Oh! Did I say they were reunited in Paris? *Hits head* So, the “lovers” reunited in the City of Lights. The Angels learned more about Gram Hilda (the grandma who left their father with only $100 to his name in her will because she despised Maud) and how she left them a house, which eventually burned down in the end.

I did not like the stereotype here:

“Tandy, you wouldn’t like it here. I’d even say you’d be miserable. You’d have to wear black all the time and diet constantly like all Parisian women do. And have you seen the young French men? Messy. Scruffy. And they smoke. All of them.”

Come on! Not EVERY Frenchman are messy, scruffy and smokes and not every Frenchwomen diet constantly. I dislike seeing stereotypes as these from American writers.

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Again, no hatred lost for Tandy and this book shouldn’t have been called The Paris Mysteries. The authors should have titled it Obsessing Over James. I can’t seem to invest my emotions in this terrible series. This book in the series was the worst yet because there was no mystery to solve! It was just Tandy bemoaning the fact that James left her and when she finally goes back to the States, she goes to see him only to find out that her best friend C.P. is actually in a relationship with him. 

The best part about working in a library is the fact that I get to read books in order to recommend them to students and staff members. I wouldn’t recommend this series at all, but I know everyone has different taste. Case in point: A staff member and student borrowed this series and upon returning, I asked them if they enjoyed it, and they said yes. Another student thought the series was too slow to follow and gave up on it. 

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VERDICT:

2

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Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes