Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head by Gary Small, M.D. and Gigi Vorgan

    • Hardcover: 288 pages
    • Publisher: William Morrow; 1 edition (September 28, 2010)
    • Language: English
    • ISBN-10: 0061803782
    • ISBN-13: 978-0061803789

Dr. Gary Smalls is husband to Gigi Vorgan and a distinguished psychiatrist and researcher.  After thirty years of practice and research on the human brain, he has written a book about his most intriguing and bizarre cases.  He begins with the beginning of his career as a shift doctor in a Boston hospital and takes us through his career ending in California.  Whether it's the naked lady who stood on her head, a shrinking penis or hysterical blindness, the cases are always interesting and sometimes downright funny...proof that truth really is stranger than fiction.  His career comes full circle when his mentor becomes his patient and he realizes that anyone can experience psychiatric issues.

Never fear, Dr. Smalls does not violate any patient confidentiality rules, always changing pertinent information to avoid having his patients recognized.  The book is well-written, witty and informative, always reminding us that our eccentricities are what makes us human.

The authors also have a blog with a great deal of useful information about a variety of mental health subjects.  You can find it HERE.

About the authors:

Dr. Gary Small is a professor of psychiatry and director of the UCLA Center on Aging at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior. His research, supported by the National Institute of Health, has made headlines in the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and USA Today. Scientific American magazine named him one of the world’s leading innovators in science and technology. Dr. Small lectures throughout the world and frequently appears on The Today Show, Good Morning American, PBS, and CNN. He has written five books, including The New York Times best seller, The Memory Bible.

Gigi Vorgan wrote, produced, and appeared in numerous feature films and television projects before teaming up with her husband, Dr. Gary Small, to co-write The Memory Bible, The Memory Prescription, The Longevity Bible, iBrain, and The Naked Lady Who Stood on Her Head. She lives in Los Angeles with Dr. Small and their two children.

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Sunday, November 14, 2010

The Pawn by Steven James

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Onyx; Reprint edition (September 1, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451412796
  • ISBN-13: 978-0451412799

Coffee connoisseur and FBI agent Patrick Bowers' specialty is environmental criminology.  That means he attempts to track lawbreakers by analyzing the significance of the time and place at which the crime occurred.  Not surprisingly he meets up with some skepticism from his peers.  When young women start showing up murdered near Asheville, N.C., he is called in to assist local law enforcement.  The killer leaves a yellow ribbon in his victim's hair and a chess piece somewhere at each crime scene. Patrick begins to suspect that the Governor of North Carolina may be somehow connected to the crimes and that there is a link to the Jonestown cult.  As if things weren't already complicated enough, Patrick's supervising agent is a woman who harbors resentment toward him because of a prior incident in the Bureau.  Combine a difficult case and a hateful supervisor with a surly teen-age step-daughter, and you have a very entertaining and suspenseful read.  Patrick is struggling with the recent death of his wife and is trying to connect with her daughter, which is being made difficult by her anger and resentment.  She's one of those kids you just love to hate.  When threats are made against her by the killer, Patrick is desperate to keep her safe.   

I read that The Pawn is the first in a planned trilogy by James.  But as I browsed Amazon I noticed there are four Patrick Bowers novels now so he must be popular among readers.   After reading this first installment, I'm looking forward to reading the others.  As I read this book I often thought that I was as entertained by Patrick as I am by Alex Cross in the novels written by James Patterson or by Lucas Davenport in the Prey series by John Sandford.  Steven James is now on my list of favorite authors.  

Friday, November 12, 2010

The Redemption of Holly Dobson by C. Lynn Barton

  • Perfect Paperback: 252 pages
  • Publisher: Dark Willow Books; First edition (September 30, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0615349412
  • ISBN-13: 978-0615349411

At the age of six months Agatha Mircea was dropped off at the babysitter's house by her mother. Her mother never returned to pick her up. The babysitters, the Dobsons, kept the baby, renaming her Holly after their own dead baby.  Holly was a troubled girl, a victim of the Dobson's abuse and neglect.  Despite these obstacles, Holly did well in school, attended college and became a teacher.

When Holly was twenty three Normal and Kate Roberts moved in across the street.  Holly's hands trembled and her lips quivered when Normal looked at her and it was apparent Normal was attracted to her.  When Kate became seriously ill, Holly and Normal entered into an affair that would change her life forever.  After Kate died Holly and Normal married and had a son George.  At this point in her life, Holly believed she had accomplished the most important thing a woman can do.  We soon realize that Holly is a contradiction, intensely driven to protect her family values, yet in possession of an evilness that has no boundaries.  She will do anything to keep her family intact.

This story touches on exorcism, cults and the devil.  As we learn who Normal is, and what he has passed on to his son George, it becomes clear that this evilness is much more than him being a bad man.  George grows up to be a demonic, charismatic man whose minions follow him without question.  The evil which George personifies sends Holly on a path that spans continents and decades.

This is a real psychological thriller and a good old fashioned horror story. For readers who enjoy a plot with a lot of twists and turns and thrilling suspense, this is the book for you.  Just don't read it on a dark and stormy night when you are home alone; you might not get any sleep.