2019 Reading Challenge: October

October was my vacation month. I went to the beach with my family and actually had time to read since the kids are old enough to play with each other now. Mom win! I also had time off when I came back while I was waiting to start my job with Baptist. This was an excellent reading month and I enjoyed every single one of these books.

The Magician’s Nephew (audiobook from Libby via Madison County Library System): 4

Coy and I listened to this one together. This is probably my least favorite Narnia book in the whole series, but he loved it. The narrator is fantastic.

The Goldfinch (audiobook from Libby via Madison County Library System): 5

Oh. My. Goodness. This book will stick with me a while. I didn’t want it to be over. I don’t know how I felt about how it ended. I needed to talk about this one with a friend or two when I finished it. I will definitely be reading her other books.

She made me feel sick when the main character was sick. Like, I literally felt like I was coming down with the flu. The narrator was 5 stars. He had to do so many accents and the sick voice! He has to be Russian. There is no way he can speak it that well unless he is actually Russian.

Freakanomics (audiobook from Libby via Madison County Library System): 4

Well this was the most interesting economics book I have ever read. Definitely a fun non-fiction read.

The Pianist: 3.5

This one was not what I was expecting. Fantastic true account of a Polish man living in occupied Warsaw.

The Road Back To You: 5

This BOOK. Everyone needs to read it, twice. Enneagram is so incredibly interesting and pretty accurate. We always need to be working on becoming our best self and this book can help you with that. Do you know what motivates you to do what you do? What about your significant others? I can’t wait to pick up The Road Between Us.

The Alchemist: 4

This is a great modern classic. Beautiful cover as well.

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue (audiobook from Libby via Madison County Library System): 4

Great listen. I thought this was on my list of books I needed to read, but it wasn’t. I didn’t hate it though. It was fun.

The Silent Patient (e-book on Kindle): 3.5

This was actually my selection for our October book club book. It was predictable and I didn’t enjoy it as much as I had hoped.

2019 Reading Challenge: September


Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (audiobook from Libby via Madison County Library System): 5⭐️

Coy and I listened to this book together. It was just as good as I remembered. He absolutely loved it and then enjoyed watching the movie.

A Court of Mist and Fury (audiobook via Audible): 4⭐️

I absolutely loved this book. This series is right up my alley. LOVE LOVE LOVE Sarah J. Mass.

Where the Crawdads Sing (e-book on Kindle): 5⭐️

I read this with my book club. It was so good. Great plot!

Calypso (audiobook from Libby via Madison County Library System):2.5⭐️

This book was not my cup of tea. It did not fit with my sense of humor. There were some funny stories, but overall it was not worth my time.

Outliers (audioook from Libby via Madison County Library System):4.5⭐️

Great book and quick listen. Very enlightening. If you have a kid who is an athlete, you def should read. It’ll make you view all these youth sports differently.

2019 Reading Challenge: August

Even though I was “off” in August, it was very busy with interviews, business meetings, and the MSMA Women in Medicine gala! I didn’t get as much reading done as book nerd would hope, but stayed tuned because I made up for it in September and October!!!

The Underground Railroad (given to me for Mother’s Day, purchased at Lemuria): 3.5⭐️

I really am not sure what all the hype was about. It was ok. Took me a while to get through it.

The Readers of Broken Whee Recommend (free from PaperBackSwap.com):4.1⭐️

I love books about books. This book is about how a stranger brings a community together with books. A must read for all Book Nerds.

The Glass Sword (audiobook free with Libby via Madison County Library System): 4⭐️

Blah. Blah. Blah. Dystopian fiction with female heroine with special powers who becomes royalty.

Heir of Fire (audible): 4⭐️

Blah. Blah. Blah. Dystopian fiction with female heroine with faerie powers who becomes royalty.

2019 Reading Challenge: July


Crown of Midnight (audiobook with Libby via Madison County Library System): 4 ⭐️

I don’t have much else to say about this book other than I love this series and Sarah J Maas.

The Extraordinary Life of Sam Hell (audiobook free with Kindle Unlimited and Prime Reading): 4 ⭐️

This was a very interesting book. I’m writing this review 3 months late so I can’t remember my initial gut reaction. It wasn’t a waste of time, but it obviously didn’t wow me since I can’t remember much more than the general plot.

I’m from the Sun (free audible original): 2.5⭐️

Kids book. It had a pretty catchy song or two in it. Coy enjoyed the songs but the story was so-so. I think there is a sequel, but we probably won’t be listening.

The Art of Neighboring: 5⭐️

Excellent read. We try to make things more complicated than it has to be. Spread the gospel where you live… LITERALLY WHERE YOU LIVE.

Circe (audiobook with Libby via Madison County Library System): 3.5⭐️

Meh. It was ok. Interesting perspective on an old greek myth.

An Update for My Patients

It has been a busy month for me, but I am relieved to finally have a plan in place. I will begin working with Baptist on September 30th with the plan of seeing patients beginning October. We are working quickly to get everything in place so that I can get started seeing patients again. I will post contact information as soon as we get my schedule set up!

Again, thanks to my patients for being so encouraging and supportive as I took the time to carefully evaluate the many job opportunities I was presented this last month. Thank you to the physicians, lawyers, and business owners that gave me wise counsel as I evaluated each opportunity. I ultimately chose the option that was best for me, my family, and my patients and would allow me to continue to practice internal medicine in Madison.

Thank you for your prayers during this unexpected transition. I continue to grow during this time and I have come to enjoy the bits of quiet stillness gifted to me these few weeks. As I stated in my previous post, I have grown as a person, as a mother, as a wife, as a believer in Christ, as a servant, as a physician, as a friend, and as a leader in my community and in healthcare. I have learned so much about myself and who I am apart from medicine, but also within the medical community. The 6 weeks away from my job have taught me that physician is not my identity, but that my identity is in Christ. Physician is my role. I am enough and I am satisfied in Him and it does not matter whether I am employed or not. I look forward to getting started at Baptist in Madison, with new perspective and renewed energy. See y’all soon!

The New MSMA

Annual session is one of the highlights of the Mississippi State Medical Association’s calendar. The presidential inauguration and gala never disappoint. But let me tell you… this year was on a whole different level. This year, they chose to celebrate Women in Medicine in an entirely separate event. Jill Gordon and co went all out. The anticipation for the event was high. It was the chatter of the medical community.

“Are you going to the gala?”

“Do you have extra tickets?”

“I can’t wait!”

“Are you getting hair and make up done?”

“What does your dress look like?”

Insert the girliest glam talk here.

And if any of you know me well, you’re probably laughing at this point because you know this is not my jam. I do not do parties and galas and formal dresses and make up.

Usually there are disappointments when expectations are high, but this event surpassed all of the expectations. It was very well done. Everything was perfect down to the red carpet entry.

Photobombed by President Dr. Mansour!

But the fun didn’t end there! The presidential dinner and gala was the next night. I got to see Dr. Michael Mansour pass the torch to Dr. Clay Hays.

The next morning was the awards ceremony. I was honored to be a member of the MSMA physicians leadership academy this past year and I was awarded 2019 Doctor of Distinction.

If the past year has taught me anything, it has been to step out and be bold. Get uncomfortable. Get your glam on. I had so much fun. I met so many new friends. Looking forward to the next celebration! If you are a physician and not involved with the MSMA, you are missing out on so many wonderful opportunities. Join us in moving medicine forward in Mississippi!

2019 Reading Challenge: June

June was a jackpot for free books. I read several from my shelf, which helped me mark several off my list for the year.

The Wife Between Us: 3

Meh. This was nothing exciting. If you’ve read one suspense novel, you’ve read this plot before.

Eligible- A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice: 4

This was a pleasant surprise. Its a bit smutty, but quit humorous. I’m going to have to go back and re-read the actual Pride and Prejudice now. If you are a Jane Austen snob, you may not like this.

Ember in the Ashes (audiobook rented from Madison County Library): 5

This did my teenage girl heart good. I love dystopian fiction with a girl hero. I can’t wait to read the next couple of books in this series.

Educated (audiobook rented from Madison County Library): 5

Well the hype about this one did not disappoint. People kept saying this was very similar to The Glass Castle, but I disagree. Her challenges were very different. I highly recommend this memoir.

The Paper Magician (free audiobook with Prime Reading): 3

I almost quit this one. I just could not get into it. There are better books out there.

Salt to the Sea (free audiobook with Prime Reading): 4

Excellent read. I enjoyed learning about the largest maritime disaster that you’ve never heard about. Yes… an even bigger disaster than Titanic. 9,000 people perished.

Dr. Darden North: OB-GYN delivering excellent murder mysteries

Dr. Darden North is a well respected OB-GYN in Jackson, MS. Across the country, he has become a well respected murder mystery and suspense author. I read my first Darden North thriller, House Call when I was in high school. My sister went and stood in line and Lemuria one December and got me 3 more autographed books by Dr. North. I had no idea at the time that he was a doctor and I had no way of knowing that I would one day practice in the same community and care for patients alongside him. He also delivered my nephew Rand just three short years ago!

I had been planning to do an interview with him and I ran in to him at Mistletoe Marketplace. I got his new book, 5 Manners of Death, and have gave me an copy of House Call to give away on the blog!

KC: I have to admit, delivering babies is one of the most rewarding jobs. You get to see the miracle of childbirth almost every day and see the most full joy on mothers’ faces. Often people do not consider that you also may see a mother at her lowest moment as she experiences pregnancy loss or infertility. I have experienced loss as a mother and I have lost patients as a physician. Those days can be so incredibly heavy on us as physicians. Is writing somewhat therapeutic for you?

DN: I enjoy practicing full time as an obstetrician/gynecologist—delivering babies, doing robotic/minimally-invasive surgery, and being fortunate to care for many patients in the office with preventive and hormonal medical care. Our ob/gyn specialty is evolving almost daily with new and better health options to offer patients, and I try to stay abreast of it by attending medical conferences and online courses. My writing and being the author of five published novels (so far) has been a blessing as well.

KC: What got you in to writing? Has that always been an aspiration of yours? How did you discover that talent?

DN: I get this question frequently. The “funny” answer is that there was so much talent and so many stories and crazy characters building up inside my brain that I had to let them out—and the writing came easy. Truth is, I saw it as a challenge. Most doctors have a lot of confidence. That’s how we make it through the long hours of medical education and surgical training and the evolution of our careers. I decided to write a published novel and decided I could and would do it. I assumed somebody would want to read my books and was glad that a bunch do. My first taste of formal writing and publishing was serving as Editor-in-Chief of the “Ole Miss” annual and then later the “Medic” yearbook at UMMC.

KC: Obviously, being a physician, you want your books to be medically accurate. Do you consult with other physicians, specifically a forensic pathologist?

DN: Even when you’re writing fiction, readers can see right through a bluff. Several times I have consulted other professionals in my novels to inject accuracy and realism into scenes and to confirm the plausibility of plots. I have talked with fire fighters, police, electricians, lawyers, and personal shoppers and designers, as well as with other physicians and medical specialists. I have toured the Mississippi Crime Lab and visited the morgue. In my fifth novel, “The 5 Manners of Death,” I needed the help of a pathologist to explain the preservation of a 50-year-old skeleton, partially mummified in a leather jacket and discovered in a shallow grave on a college campus.

KC: How do you brainstorm? Do your book ideas just come to you, or do you have a place you go to think and write?

DN: As I answer this question, I’m taking a Saturday morning break from putting the finishing touches on my sixth novel, “Two O’clock Bayou,” which I hope to have completed by the time this article is published. It’s peaceful here at the house, at the island in the kitchen, just me and one of my two laptops. My wife is out showing a house to real estate clients and the dogs are upstairs taking their customary after breakfast nap. This morning has been a good time to think and write.

KC: What is your process? Do you write a basic plot and then fill in the gaps or do you make it up as you go?

DN: Most authors and writing coaches (and, yes, of course, there are conferences, books, and videos on how to write a novel) all suggest writing from an outline. In my opinion and what works for me is that this process of “outlining” can be a loose sketch, a series of short paragraphs, or a short synopsis—not necessarily the type of rigid outline with Roman numerals and capital letters that I remember from junior high and high school English classes.

KC: Have you gotten to meet other writers through the years? Who was the most intriguing one you’ve met?

DN: I have met Robin Cook, Stephen James, and Robert Dugoni at writing conferences and John Grisham and Greg Iles at book signings. It was intriguing to meet Robin Cook, who seemed genuinely interested that I was also physician writing mysteries and thrillers. I talked briefly with Grisham at an Ole Miss alumni function several years back. I was fortunate to attend a helpful writing seminar featuring Robert Dugoni, who has reviewed my work for endorsement as has fellow nationally-awarded Mississippi author John Floyd. I have met other novelists and have appreciated any advice and encouragement. I try to return the favor at my own book signings and presentations when others come to me for the same. I great experience was getting to know several other authors when I was a featured speaker at the 2018 Natchez Literary and Cinema Celebration.

KC: How many babies have you delivered? Have you every heard one of their names and thought “that would be a great character name?”

DN: I have delivered enough babies to fill up a small Mississippi town somewhere—one big enough for a gas station and a zip code. I come across great character names all the time and in various situations, combining surnames and given names and switching them around. I keep a running list.

KC: We have some pretty crazy drama that goes down here in MS. Have you every taken actual events and woven them into on of your books?

DN: Sorry, that’s a trade secret.

Kristen, thank you for inviting me to guest on your blog. I hope your readers will check out my website: www.dardennorth.com for updates and related events, including more author info, a way to sign up for my email newsletter, and a list of my current books and the new novels to come. My mystery/thriller novels are available in print, eBook, and audiobook through audible and iTunes. I enjoy speaking at book clubs and meetings and signing my books at events. I can be reached via email at darden@dardennorth.com.
Thanks again, Darden North


2019 Reading Challenge: May

I have officially come out of my Reading slump. 9 books in May! 6 days of vacation helped tremendously in this accomplishment.

The Heir (audiobook free from Libby via Madison County Library): 4⭐️

See below: The Crown.

The Crown (audiobook free from Libby via Madison County Library): 4⭐️

The Heir and the Crown run together. I listen to them back to back over just a few days so I can’t quite remember where one ends and the other begins. They were just as good as the first three books of the selection series, though the main character drives me insane with her unawareness of self at times.

The Dispatcher (free audible original): 4⭐️

I was pleasantly surprised by this one. It was a plot unlike any I’ve read. Short listen. Definitely not for kids. Quite a bit of language and a dark theme.

The Demon Next Door (free audible original): 2⭐️

It filled a time gap I needed it to fill, but was well done at all. The narrator was all wrong for this one. It was like having Elmo narrate a true crime documentary. It could’ve been decent, but your tone, your tone is all wrong *in my best Paul Walken voice*.

Uncle Tom’s Cabin (free kindle book with Amazon Prime Reading): 4.5⭐️

This is a classic that everyone should read. We need to be reminded of our past in order to gain a vantage point for looking into the future. You cannot move forward blindly, you need to see how far you have come. The past can give your direction.

Go Set a Watchman (audiobook free from Libby via Madison County Library): 4⭐️

People complained that this book was so different from To Kill a Mockingbird, but I think this is so relevant. People are not always who we think they are. We put people on a pedestal and hold them to the highest expectations. Who is at fault when they fall? Is it our human idols’s fault? Or is it us for putting them up on the pedestal?

I’ll Be Gone in the Dark (audiobook free from Libby via Madison County Library): 4⭐️

Incredibly interesting true crime that is very well done. There is closure at the end, but it is both incredibly sad and relieving.

The Ragged Edge of Night ( audiobook free from Kindle Unlimited): 5⭐️

Ever wonder what the Germans thought about Hitler? All the WWII historical fiction I read is from Allies point of view. This one is about a German. It’s a beautifully written story.

Robert Frost- Selected Poems (Barnes and Noble leather bound classics): 1⭐️

I hate poetry. Bleh.

2019 Reading Challenge: April

I was unable to put up decent numbers for April. My baseball loving husband joked that I was in a “slump”. Atlas Shrugged took 2 weeks from the beginning of April (even though I posted it under March). Coy’s baseball season and moving into our new house also kept me busy, so my reading was rather limited.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (audiobook free with Amazon Prime Reading): 4*

I started listening to it with Coy and was quickly reminded that some of the “accepted” terminology in Twain’s time is quite offensive in today’s culture.

The Red queen (audiobook free with libby via Madison county library): 4.5*

This book was incredible teenage drama. I love easy reads like this. I was reading Uncle Tom’s Cabin and another WWII historical fiction at the same time and I needed something lighter and obviously fiction. I cannot wait to read the other ones!

The Assassin’s Blade (audiobook): 4*

This is a prequel to the Throne of Glass series. It helped me gain a bit of understanding about Selena’s past. It is not necessary to read this before the Throne of Glass series, but it is worth reading!