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.
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.
HeirofFire (audible): 4⭐️
Blah. Blah. Blah. Dystopian fiction with female heroine with faerie powers who becomes royalty.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks again, Darden North
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 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!
My goal for 2019 is to read all of the books that have been on my shelf or “short list” for the past several years. I have constantly avoided the longer books, because I love to make progress. Marking something off my to do list or my to read list encourages me. So naturally, I have always grabbed the shorter books off my shelf.
Atlas Shrugged is one of those books that I have avoided due to the sheer monstrosity of it. I have heard that it is incredible by many friends who I have similar reading tastes. But the length of it has discouraged me from picking it up. I finally picked it up at the beginning of March. It is the only book I read last month, and it actually took me about 7 weeks to finish it.
I listened to Atlas Shrugged on audible. It was 63 hours long. SIXTY-THREE HOURS. It is divided into 8 parts that are ~8 hours each. That is almost 3 days of audio. I was so nervous that I was going to be wasting my time. Boy, was I wrong about this one.
This is the only epic novel that I have read that I dreaded the end of it. I finished the first part and was sad that I only had 7 parts left. When I reached the end of the last part this morning, I grieved the end of it. I wanted more and I was mad at Ayn Rand for not going on for another 8 parts. The narrator, Scott Brick, was also an incredible orator. I hope that he narrates many of the remaining book on my list.
Atlas Shrugged was published in 1957. While listening, there were so many parts that were spot on for what we are seeing in our current day headlines. Government officials and insurance companies (non-medically trained individuals with conflicts of interest) dictating patient care and the drugs I write. Shortcuts in education that allow people to pose as experts in their fields. People who are shamed for speaking truth because it hurts someone’s feelings. Everyone being more concerned with the feelings of others rather than the reality of the situation. Media dictating how we should feel and react to events around the world. It is insane how accurate her novel is when comparing it to our current state of affairs.
Ayn Rand is a hedonist and an atheist. This is evident throughout her book. She thinks that man is his own hero and that religion is a farce. She thinks that man’s reason is the greatest gift to mankind. She thinks that one should follow his own desires and wishes and that man’s happiness is the greatest goal for one’s life. I don’t agree with any of her moral concepts, but her insight into “big government” is almost prophetic.
I give 5 stars to Atlas Shrugged. 5 massive gold stars. This one will be with me for a very long time. I cannot wait to watch the 3 part movie on Netflix! Who is John Galt?
I’ve been meaning to post these for the past month. I had to wait until I was on vacation to get some time to write this! Overall, this was an excellent group of books. I had some that surprised me with a 5 star rating. My next post may be a long time coming. I am listening to Atlas Shrugged which is likely going to be a 5 star rating, but it is 63 hours long. I am about 20 hours into it. It has definitely slowed my pace of 1.5 books per week!
The Color Purple (free from Prime Reading on Kindle): 4.5 ⭐️
I’ve seen this movie and it was absolutely incredible. I was worried that I would not enjoy this book since I had seen the movie, but I was very wrong. It was excellent. Alice Walker’s ability to write dialect is incredible. I was drawn in from the get go and this powerfully tragic story was compelling the entire way through. Definitely worth a read. A classic for sure. But absolutely not for young readers. This has a lot of hard topics within.
Where’d You Go, Bernadette (audiobook): 5 ⭐️
This book was a very pleasant surprise. It kept me on my toes. The characters were likable. I was amused the entire way through. If you need a fun lighter read, please consider this book! I also believe there is a movie coming out this year (I may be wrong).
The Furious Longing of God by Brennan Manning: 4 ⭐️
This book was an excellent reminder that God is crazy about me.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (audiobook free with Prime Reading): 3 ⭐️
I listened to this with Coy. This story is bizarre. Very trippy.
The Glass Castle (audiobook): 5 ⭐️
This was an incredible memoir of a woman who grew up with parents who chose to live in poverty. This read like a fiction book. It was so unbelievably crazy how they lived. Absolutely worth a read.
Karma Patrol: 5 ⭐️
I’ve had this book on my shelf for about 9 months. I don’t know why I was putting off picking it up, but things just seemed to always jump to the top of the pile. I am kicking myself for putting this off. The concept for this book is brilliant. People who have the ability to see karma, destiny, fate, and soulmates and are responsible for keeping everything in balance. It was an entertaining read. A great vacation book for sure. Or in my case, a great break from heavier topics (WWII historical fiction).
Throne of Glass (kindle book): 5 ⭐️
This book was a Christmas gift from my sister. She knows me well! I couldn’t put this one down. I am a big Sarah Maas fan. I can’t wait to read the other 6 books in this series.
Everything I Never Told You (audiobook): 3 ⭐️
This book was haunting. I guess objectively that this was a wonderfully written book, but subjectively, I just can’t enjoy books like this. I felt like I was watching a horrible accident happen and couldn’t do anything to stop it. This bothered me to the core and I imagine that this type of family dynamic happens everywhere. I also had never thought about people of Asian ethnicity feeling out of place in America. This book made me consider this side of racism that I had been totally ignorant of until now. I would tell you to consider reading this, but don’t put it at the top of your TBR pile.
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