Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Notorious RBG

Notorious RBG
The Life and Time of Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
Dey St.
William Morrow Publishers
Harper Collins Publishers
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-06-241583-7
$ 19.99
227 pages

Like or dislike her, Ruth Bader Ginsberg is a woman who daily continues to defy stereotypes.    She's eighty-three-years-old and stands five foot and one inch.
No one questions her intelligence. 
This dynamo is a legendary force fighting for injustices to make our country a better place.
As being a Supreme Court Justice, her diminutive size is completely opposed to her immense influence of society today. 
Ginsberg always has defined life with her rules.
She excelled in school.  Unfortunately, her mother died of cancer the day before she graduated high school.  Attending Cornell in the early 1950s as a woman who married with a degree in government. 
Following her husband to Oklahoma while he served in the Army Reserve, Ruth worked for the Social Security Administration.  Unfortunately, when she became pregnant, she experienced being demoted.
Her next life challenge was enrolling at Harvard Law School being only one of nine women in the class of around five hundred.  Her husband position was in New York City, so she transferred to Columbia Law School.  She has earned the distinction of being on both the Harvard Law Review and the Columbia Law Review while tieing for first in her graduating class.
Now she suffered the challenge of being a wife, mother of a five-year-old daughter, Jewish, and in need of a job as a lawyer when women were not accepted in that career.
Facing rejections, she finally was accepted for a position as a clerk for a U. S. District Court.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg's life changed when she was chosen to co-author a book about gender equality and completing the research in Sweden where changes in women's roles were changing that country.
Finally, in 1963, she accepted a position as a professor at Rutgers Law School, and she would be paid less than her male coworkers since she was married and her husband was earning a good salary.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg views life through the eyes of the oppressed.  She asks questions that reveal the truths of the situations and the personal beliefs of defendants and prosecutors in interpreting the laws as stated in the Constitution.
Notorious RBG is complete with her background, her challenges, her work-out routine, her inspirations, and even her favorite recipe.  Also included is an index, references, and pictures from throughout her life.
Whether you agree or disagree with her, Notorious RBG is an engaging and inspirational book for all readers of both genders.

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Last Night in the O. R.

Last Night in the OR
A Transplant Surgeon's Odyssey
Bud Shaw, M.D.
A Plume Book
Penguin Random House
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-0-14-751533-9
Trade Paperback
$ 16.00
291 pages

How does someone become a transplant surgeon?
Bud Shaw became a physician because his father was a surgeon.  When his mother died of lung cancer, Bud became the son of a single-parent who had difficulty balancing raising three children with the demands of surgery.
Naturally, Bud graduated from college, then medical school.  Becoming a surgeon is challenging and demanding as well as humbling. 
1981, in Pittsburgh, a young doctor was introduced into the world of liver transplantation. 
Shaw's first experience was in the transplant world was in Pittsburgh during 1981.   Ironically,  the patient was a liver transplant surgeon from Texas who suffered from a congenital liver disease.  He had traveled to Pittsburgh to for the procedure by the most respected liver transplant surgeon of the time.  The donor's liver had just arrived from Virginia.
For Shaw, who had just graduated from the University of Utah as a surgery resident, he was an excited thirty-one-year-old thrilled with being allowed to train with this transplant team.  
For a prospective world-class surgeon, this is the opportunity of his life.
His first day was already a disaster.  He received a phone call while driving across the country.  Apparently, he was expected in the operating room last week.  So much for leaving messages with the head surgeon's secretary.
Two days later, Bud and his wife made it to Pittsburgh.  As they moved into a new home, the refrigerator broke along with his car being vandalized.  
Strangely, the nurse on the team wanted him to sign a petition stating that transplants were unethical.   With the six procedures in six months resulted in six deaths.
His first time on the team was disastrous with the surgeon completely humiliating him. 
"This was my initiation to the operating room of Dr. Thomas Starzl, and although I didn't know it at the time, these were but a few of the phrases I would learn to hate and mock and, in the distance of time and place, yearn to hear again."
How does Bud Shaw become a leading liver transplant surgeon in the country at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha, Nebraska?  How does his move to this midwestern metropolitan area turn this facility into one of the most respected hospitals in the country?
Last Night in the O.R. is a fascinating journey into a life that prioritizes medicine over a personal life.  The jury is out whether that is ethical or not, but I certainly want a physician that places my health above all else.
This novel is his life, his experiences, his impressions.  Sometimes I found myself in awe of the man and the next wondering what is wrong with him.    The book is well-written, at times jumping through his memories that are not always sequential, but it works.  The reflections are his personality and how he thinks. 
For a compelling memoir of an unusual person who has achieved phenomenal accomplishments in medicine, read Bud Shaw's Last Night in the O.R.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017

That's Not Normal!

That's Not Normal!
Author: Mar Pavon
Illustrator: Laure du Fay
Translator: Martin Hyams
ISBN: 978-84-944318-8-3
Consortium Book Sales and Distribution
Hard Cover
Second Edition: 2016
$ 15.95
44 pages

Have you ever been teased about something that you could not change?  
Do you have a big nose, red hair, large ears, or big feet?   At some time in your life, you probably have been teased about some feature that distinguished you.  It is a fine line between having a distinguished, unique gift or an embarrassment which you cannot easily or quickly change. 
Why can some people accept their physical differences as gifts while others see these attributes in humiliation?
Elephant has an abnormally long trunk.  Fortunately, he is friendly and helpful to all the animals.   He uses it to help others and even himself.  Whether using it to shower and blow dry his baby, helping Old Monkey to climb a tree, using it as a sling to rock Little Antelope to sleep, hanging Zebra's stripes to drive, assisting ants in crossing the river, being a neck warmer for Giraffe, or drawing hearts in the sand, Elephant looks for ways to be a friend and using his natural ability to help others.
"Only Hippopotamus made sure to remind everyone that elephant's long nose...WASN'T NORMAL."
Unfortunately, children can be cruel, especially in groups.  Teasing evolves in bullying with just a few words on playgrounds around the world.
That's Not Normal addressed these issues with simple word choices reinforced by parallel and supporting illustrations. With the repetitive phrase on each page, "That's not normal," the reader discovers themselves being drawn into the teasing of the elephant.  The repetition is perfect for early readers and as a read aloud story for classrooms.
The intended audience is for Kindergarten through 2nd-grade.  I would revise this to preschool through adults, many of who need a refresher about tolerance.
The author, Mar Pavon is a poet and storyteller living in Spain. 
The story is well-plotted, beautifully illustrated with a beautiful message about embracing our differences.  With the support of friends, Elephant learns to have the courage to be unique and to show our individual best by sharing the gifts we each possess.
That's Not Normal has a lesson that every person, young or not-so-young needs to constantly hear to by happy in our everyday life.

If You Were Me and Lived in Poland,...Brazil,...Israel

If You Were Me and Lived in Poland
If You Were Me and Lived in Brazil
If You Were Me and Lived in Israel
Author: Carole P. Roman
Illustrator: Kelsea Wieranga
Middleton, Delaware
ISBN: 9781537045108-Poland
ISBN: 9781532877988-Brazil
ISBN: 97815372611997-Israel
$ 10.99 each
32 pages

How do you prepare yourself to travel abroad?  Do you research your destinations to be certain to visit those places that interest you or do you just wander aimlessly to embrace the culture of the country?
It seems logical to know a little about a foreign country you plan to visit and to have a little introduction to the culture and to learn a little of the language.
Even those Carole Roman's books appear to have an audience of children; these are an excellent introduction to the basic knowledge needed to enjoy traveling to any country.
Each book perfectly parallels the text with the pictures giving the reader an expectation of the sites of each country. 
Beginning each book is a geography lesson explaining the shape of each country and its placement regarding its continent and other countries surrounding it.  Also, a little history is included as well as what the people are called while the illustrations allow any tourist to see how the people are dressed and what is acceptable in their public areas.
For each country, their capital city is the focus including a unique tourist attraction nearby.  Depending on each, discussion about a nearby river and the common religion is included.
Each book also has pages about the common proper names used in each country and the terms for brother, sister, son, daughter, mother, and father.
For everyone's benefit, shopping along with the money system and the everyday terms is a focus along with the illustration of their money.  Also are the typical foods of the country with the pictures showing how they are usually eaten.
While visiting each country, the favorite tourist sites and celebrations are included along with the usual hobbies, toys, events, and sports.
Most important are the last pages which are the vocabulary for the book along with the definitions and most importantly, the pronunciations.
If You Were Me and Lived in Poland, I find it surprising that as you walk around Warsaw and sit on a black stone bench to rest, you can press a button on it and listen to the beautiful music of their native son, Frederick Chopin. 
I would love to visit the Wieclicza Salt Mine near Krakow.  This salt mine has been used since the thirteenth century.   Supposedly in the chapel, yes there is a chapel inside the salt mine, the acoustics are the best in Europe. 
If You Were Me and Lived in Brazil, visiting the Amazon Rain Forest is almost a requirement for visiting the country.  Imagine this place that has the most diversity of life with thousands of plants, insects, fishes, and birds as well as monkeys, parrots, toucans, and turtles.
The Annual Carnival of Brazil is a delight to see and experience with colorful costumes and parades filled with dancing and singing.
If You Were Me and Lived in Israel, I loved the section about the history of the walled city of Jerusalem and how Suleiman split the city into four section with each having its unique identity. 
The idea of floating in the Dead Sea is exciting.  I can't imagine being at the lowest place on Earth, or perhaps inside the planet since it is 1371 feet below sea level.   Being salty, supposedly it is very easy to float even in a sitting position.
Carole Roman's books are for those who enjoy traveling whether they visit through these excellent books or for those who get to see these
special places of Poland, Brazil and Israel.

Monday, February 13, 2017

The Meddlers of Moonshine

The Meddlers of Moonshine
Book Two: Moonfall Mayhem
A. E. Decker
World Weaver Press
ISBN: 978-0-9977888-3-9
$ 14.95
318 pages

"Rags-n-Bones wished he were a rat.  If would make dealing with guilt much easier."
Anytime anyone travels to a new place, fitting in with the community is usually a challenge.   For Miss Ascot Abberdoff from Shadowvale and her motley crew,  this is very true.  Sir Dmitri, the Captain, Rags-n-Bones, and her Vicardi car, Widget, everything seems strange.  With Ascot's red eyes and fangs, Dmitri's command of the language and love of literature even though he is a wolf, and Widget who is a bat-winged cat, fitting into anywhere in difficult.
In this adventure of this Wizard-of-Oz-themed book, the challenge is to rid the city of ghosts.   Since they had previously defeated unearthly spirits with Ascot's silverware,  shouldn't their experience give them an advantage?  Even knowing that the only competition will be from Professor Smothers, who will somehow cheat to ensure his success, Ascot feels confident that they will win.
A prerequisite for reading The Meddlers of Moonshine is to read the first novel of Decker's Moonfall Mayhem, The Falling of the Moon.  To understand this book is essential in understanding the characters and their relationships to each other.
In the first book, Ascot is in search of true love.  For the particular one, the purpose is a competition to rid the town of ghosts.  Fortunately, there are numerous adventures as they prepare for their challenge.  These accidental discoveries greatly assist in preparation for the big day.
Adding to the mystery is a ghost who is searching for his sister, a girl with curly, yellow hair while conversing with the group.  Why would anyone want to get rid of this sad ghost?

The author, Pennsylvania native, A. E. Decker who feels fortunate to be owned by three cats.  She earned her master's degree in history and valued learning how to turn stories upside-down.  She has been an ESL tutor and a doll-maker before discovering the world of writing.
The Meddlers of Moonshine is a fast-paced fantasy interlaced with a variety of life-lessons of problem-solving situations with slightly eccentric characters who seem to have various human qualities is aimed at young adult readers.  However, as an adult, I have thoroughly enjoyed both books. 
For a slightly eccentric but fun read, read both books in A. E. Decker's Moonfall Mayhem.

Law and Disorder

Law and Disorder
A Legal Thriller
Author: Mike Papantonio
Select Book, Inc.
New York, New York
ISBN: 978-1-59079-367-1
$ 26.95
338 pages

Nicholas "Deke" Deketomis is a passionate attorney.  He believes in those he represents and will fight for his clients.  He is persistent and will not give up always keeping the clients first.   Deke is the type of attorney everyone dreams of on their side.
Deke specializes in torts.  He is currently representing Annika Phillips. 
Her life seemed perfect being an honor student and an athlete but all that changed after she used the drug, Ranidol.  Now, paralysis is part of her life.  Annika suffered a drug-induced stroke.  
Deke is representing Annika against the pharmaceutical company which makes this birth-control drug.  Unfortunately, she suffered one of side effects permanently changing her life forever.
Deke is not fearful of being the David going up against the Goliath pharmaceutical company.  He thrives on knocking down establishments who believe rules and laws are for other people, not them.
Underlying his motivation for winning this case is the realization that his daughter, Cara, has also admitted to using this particular drug.  Will she also have an adverse side-effect?
Additionally, Deke has been invited to take on a case where a large oil company, S. I. Oil in Texas, is indirectly poisoning those who live in the community.   Smoke-stacks every day regularly spews out toxic chemicals in the air while also destroying the local water supply through the aquifer with a multitude of toxic chemicals causing a variety of health problems, including cancers. 
While considering these two cases, Deke accidentally puts himself in a situation where he kills a man.  Deke's temper took over in this split-second confrontation, and the attack happened as a reaction, but it still resulted in someone dying.  Could this be entrapment?  Can someone force anyone into a situation where they end up killing another person?
How can Deke defend others when he has to be defended?
Law and Disorder is a fast-paced page turner that reminds me of the early John Grisham novels.  It is well-organized and enthralling as it throws readers into a thriller with non-stop action while maintaining a strong narrative voice with the character, Deke.
Author Mike Papantonio obviously bases his protagonist Deke on his life.  He is a senior partner in a law firm specializing in mass tort cases throughout the country.  He is one of the youngest attorneys to be inducted into the Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame.  He was elected president of the Trial Lawyers Association in 2012 as well as receiving a variety of award by the Public Justice Foundation, The American Association for Justice, and the National Trial Lawyers Association.  He is a host of the radio show and on the Free Speech TV Network, "Ring of Fire" along with Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Sam Seder.
Law and Disorder is a phenomenal novel for those who enjoy legal thrillers and anyone who likes fast-paced realistic stories.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Steel Magnolias

Chanticleer Community Theater has captured a hair salon in Chinquapin, Louisiana for the delight and entertainment of everyone with Steel Magnolias.
Steel Magnolias is the story of six women ranging from eighteen to retirement age who meet periodically at Truvy’s Beauty Salon to discuss their lives and everyone's else's.  
Shelby Eatenton is getting married this afternoon.  As with many brides, Shelby's mother, M'Lynn disagree about the color of the bridesmaids' dresses.   M'Lynn believes the dresses are pink but Shelby insists that the dresses are blush and bashful.  
The bride's father wants the day to be perfect for his little girl.  Unfortunately, the birds tend to overpopulate the area for his daughter's reception.  You can't have a wedding guest in fear of bird droppings.  How do you get rid of the birds?   His solution is to shoot at the birds resting in the trees, hoping to temporarily scare them while the women have their hair styled.
Can't you imagine this perfect romantic mood in pink with bird droppings and gun shots?
In the role of Shelby, Samantha Shatley is delightful in this role. She excitedly expresses how her character is full of hope and dreams while also interacting with her mother, M’Lynn, portrayed by Lori Lynn Ahrends, who has concerns about her daughter.
Truly, played by Christine Gochenour is perfect as the beauty salon owner and friend to everyone.   Amazingly Christine also styled the bride's hair while acting with a southern accent.  In the role of her new employee Annelle, Megan Kelly masterfully evolved as her character gained confidence and strength through these unique friendships.
Adding life experiences and quite a bit of spice are Claire played by Terry DeBenedictis and Denise Putnam in the role of Ouiser.    Claire is more refined and agreeable while Ouiser has a little crustiness in her personality.  These two enjoy enlivening all the conversations and relationships within the show while being a bit more blunt about their personal lives.
Steel Magnolias is a show filled with laughter and yes, a few tears.  Capturing the excitement of new beginnings along with the voices of wisdom creates a show filled with realistic relationships even revealing some of their secrets.  Underlying the conversations is an authentic concern involving living with diabetes, including the risks and how the disease affects others, not just the diabetic person.
The set is a perfect beauty salon, fortunately without the smells.  The hair, costumes, and make-up perfectly match the characters and are realistic for the storyline.  When a performance seems seamless with the focus on the stage, that is evidence of excellent directing, producing, management, lighting, sound and set and prop management are all outstanding for Steel Magnolias.
Steel Magnolias consists of two acts with two scenes each.  The entire play takes place in Truvy’s Beauty Salon in Chinquapin, Louisiana.  Beginning in August, the audience meets these six ladies in April while preparing for Shelby’s wedding.   The sequential scene is the ladies again a few months later, in December.  The second act begins eighteen months later in June and concludes the following November.
The show begins promptly at 7:30 pm on Friday and Saturday nights and 2:00 pm on Sunday.   Ticket prices for adults are $ 20 per person and $ 16 for seniors.   The show is best enjoyed by adults.  For students and children the cost is $10 each.   Reservations can be made by calling the theater (712) 323-9955.
Go see this delightful southern charmer this weekend at the Chanticleer Community Theater in Council Bluffs.