Review: Scrubbed by Dr. Nikki Stamp

 

Title: Scrubbed

Author: Dr Nikki Stamp

Published: 1st May 2022, Allen & Unwin 

Status: Read May 2022 courtesy Allen & Unwin 

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My Thoughts:

“How did this happen? How did I get here? Hell, how did we all get here? It’s almost unfathomable that a group of people who largely started on this pathway in medicine and surgery could be anything other than kind. After all, we exist every day to make people better. What happens to make people do the exact opposite?”

Scrubbed is an honest and thought-provoking account of Dr Nikki Stamp’s career in medicine and her journey from an idealistic student to a disillusioned surgeon.

Nikki Stamp dreamed of becoming a surgeon from childhood. She endured the hard work of medical school, the punishing regime of residency, and gained a place in the prestigious fellowship program to become one of three female cardiothoracic surgeon’s in Australia, only to step away after twenty odd years to save her sanity.

Dr Stamp is not the only health professional in recent years to draw attention to the problems in the culture of the Australian medical system. I am infuriated and exhausted by the archaic, and often toxic environment, Stamp describes. Not just the prevailing culture of misogyny, but also the unreasonable, and sometimes dangerous practices, passed off as ‘tradition’ that excuses unrealistic expectations, exploitation, harassment and bullying.

I’m not at all surprised that Dr Stamp’s mental health suffered under such unrelenting pressures, and leaving her career is not just a great personal loss for Nikki, but also for those patients who may have otherwise benefited from her hard earned expertise. Such attrition, which it seems is widespread, is shameful, and completely preventable.

While the CoVid pandemic has highlighted funding and staffing problems across the spectrum of health services, from hospitals to general practice, and the stress this places on medical professionals, it’s clear that they are but two of many systemic issues plaguing the service.

I’m glad Dr Stamp has found a new passion, and is happier and healthier for it, but I remain angry at the reluctance of the system to change despite the benefits it would clearly provide to everyone, health professionals, patients and society at large.

++++++++

Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$32.99

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Nonfiction Reader Challenge: Medical memoir

Review: The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill

 

Title: The Woman in the Library

Author: Sulari Gentill

Published: 7th June 2022, Poisoned Pen Press

Status: Read May 2022 courtesy Poisoned Pen Press/Netgalley

++++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

Metafiction is a rare narrative technique, and often difficult to execute successfully, but The Woman in the Library by Sulari Gentill does so with ease, offering a clever and compelling mystery novel.

In this story within a story (within a story), Australian author Hannah Tigone is writing a murder mystery, inspired in part by her correspondence with American aspiring author and fan, Leo Johnson. In Hannah’s developing manuscript, Australian author Winifred ‘Freddie’ Kincaid, is in Massachusetts on a writers’ scholarship, when she becomes embroiled in a murder mystery that takes place in the Boston Public Library. As Hannah completes each chapter, Leo provides feedback via emails, the tone of which grow more imperious, and disturbing, as the story develops in ways he doesn’t like.

As Freddie, along with psychology student Marigold, law student Whit, and published author Cain whom she meets when a scream disturbs the quiet of the Boston Public Library Reading Room, tries to solve the murder of a young journalist, it’s testament to Gentill’s skill that I was invested in the story, and often forgot it’s place in the novel’s structure, in fact I occasionally resented the reminder when disrupted by Leo’s missives. With its air of a ‘locked room’ mystery, I was deftly led astray by Gentill’s misdirects, and found myself eager to discover who, how, and why the murder was committed.

I feel I have to mention the adroit way in which Gentill navigated the world events of 2019/2020, the years in which this book was set, with the CoVid pandemic, the BLM protests in the US, and the fires that ravaged the Eastern coast of Australia, all acknowledged in interesting ways.

Ingenious and intriguing, The Woman in the Library is a terrific read.

++++++++

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Review: One Foot in the Fade by Luke Arnold

 

Title: One Foot in the Fade {Fetch Philips Archives #3}

Author: Luke Arnold

Published: 26th April 2022, Orbit

Status: Read May 2022 courtesy Hachette/Netgalley

++++++++

My Thoughts:

“An Angel had fallen in Sunder City: bloody, broken, and the best thing to happen in seven long years.”

One Foot in the Fade, the third instalment of the Fetch Philips Archives fantasy series, from Luke Arnold, picks up about a year after Dead Man in a Ditch ended.

‘Man for Hire’ Fetch is as determined as ever to bring magic back to Sunder City, and rescue it from the grasp of industrialist, Niles. When an angel plummets to the ground at his feet, Fetch dares to hope that redemption may finally be within reach.

While mostly retaining the same noir tone of previous books, One Foot in the Fade leans more into adventure as Fetch, after catching a jewellery thief, sets out on a cross-country quest to claim a magical artifact, and save the world he broke. Accompanied by a librarian, a genie, a werewolf, and a young college student, Fetch encounters dragons, amalgams, crazed wizards, golems, and a Minotaur in pursuit of a crown hidden in a castle in Incava.

Convinced he has a real chance of rectifying his past mistake, Fetch seems to lose what little good sense he had. Already an anti-hero, Fetch steps closer to villainy, ignoring the means in favour of his ends. I was initially disappointed to see him lose ground made in previous novels, as Fetch, impulsive and abrasive at the best of times, becomes careless and sometimes cruel. Too caught up in his dream of magic returning, Fetch brushes over the harm he is doing until he’s forced to tally the cost of his actions.

This isn’t a series I’d recommend picking up midway as Arnold expands his world with each book, but more importantly, each story relies heavily on the character growth of Fetch.

With its entertaining mix of adventure, drama and dark humour, I enjoyed One Foot in the Fade. Though Arnold may have originally planned the Fetch Phillips Archives as a trilogy, I don’t think this is necessarily the last we will see of Fetch, a possibility hinted at in the last few pages.

++++++++

Available from Hachette UK

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2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #5

 

Welcome to the Monthly Spotlight for the

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge!

Each month I’m highlighting some of the reviews shared for the challenge in the linky

Don’t forget to link each book you read as you read during the year!

I encourage you to support all participants who have shared what they are reading for the challenge. Give them a like, leave them a comment, share their posts on Facebook, twitter, or instagram #ReadNonFicChal

—————

IN MAY…

 


[WILD ANIMALS]

Stranger Than Fiction read Cod: A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World by Mark Kurlansky, and wrote, “If I ignore that the sub-title of this book is A Biography of the Fish That Changed the World, then I would say it is a very interesting history of the codfish, cod-fishing, fishing vessels, and the businesses that were created related to them. It is written in a very accessible way, sometimes reading like an adventure story.

+++++++++

[SOCIAL HISTORY]

“This book, with it’s details and personal accounts of the day, some previously unpublished, put me right in the middle of the events. This is a powerful book.” writes BookShelfDiscovery of On Bloody Sunday -A New History Of The Day And Its Aftermath – By The People Who Were There by Julieanne Campbell

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[GEOGRAPHY]

Rose by Suzanne Falkiner is the biography of Rose de Freycinet who dressed as a man and stowed away on her husband’s ship, becoming the first woman to circumnavigate the globe, and to leave a record of her adventures. Says DeniseNewtonWrites, “This is a thoroughly researched book and readers get a fascinating insight into how such a voyage was planned and prepared for; maritime traditions and practices in the nineteenth century; questionable (but common) medical practices; the drive to add to scientific and navigational knowledge; the intriguing customs and manners of the people encountered in places such as Brazil, French colonies, ‘New Holland’ (now Australia), the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), Guam and the Sandwich Islands (now Hawaii), for example.”

+++++++++

[WILD ANIMALS]

Sue of Book by Book read Six Walks: In the Footsteps of Henry David Thoreau, by Ben Shattuck which she describes as, “a beautifully written memoir that combines nature, travel, literature, and personal experience.”

+++++++++

[SOCIAL HISTORY]

Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917 by Sally M Walker is a book about the collision of two ships in Halifax Harbour that resulted in the deaths of nearly 2,000 people. Bibliographic Manifestations writes, “This is a horrifying event in Canadian history told with compassion and attention to human detail.”

______________

What will you be reading in June?

Need some inspiration? Check out these posts

SOCIAL HISTORY and POPULAR SCIENCE

LANGUAGE and MEDICAL MEMOIR

CLIMATE/WEATHER and CELEBRITY

REFERENCE and GEOGRAPHY

LINKED TO A PODCAST and WILD ANIMALS

ECONOMICS and PUBLISHED IN 2022

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #1

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #2

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #3

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #4

Review: Wake by Shelley Burr

 

Title: Wake

Author: Shelley Burr

Published: 27th April 2022, Hachette Australia

Status: Read April 2022, Hachette Australia

++++++++

My Thoughts:

 

Wake, which won the CWA Debut Dagger in 2019, is a gripping crime novel from first time author, Shelley Burr.

Wilhelmina ‘Mina’ McCreery was nine years old when her twin sister vanished from their family farm in remote NSW. Nearly two decades later, the odd circumstances of Evelyn’s disappearance continue to haunt Mina, and she lives and works at the family farm, a virtual recluse.

Lane Holland makes his living as a private investigator, and with a younger sister who has just started university to support, the two million dollar reward on offer to solve the mystery of Evelyn’s fate is a challenge he can’t ignore, especially when it may also provide information he needs.

Wake offers a taut, well-crafted mystery that centres on the cold case involving Evelyn McCreery disappearance, but also explores the themes of family, trauma, grief, guilt, and the legacy of violence.

Mina is a sympathetic character, the trauma of her sisters disappearance, her mother’s subsequent neglect and notoriety, and the judgement of community and strangers alike, has led her to become an introvert. It’s not surprising that Mina reflexively dismisses Lane initially, and remains guarded even as she begins to hope he may find the answers that have eluded her.

Lane is determined to solve the mystery of Evelyn’s disappearance, and while he’s content for others to believe the reward is his only incentive, he a connection to the case and a hidden motive, adding an effective twist to the story. Lane works hard to earn Mina’s trust, accepting an unexpected challenge she throws at him involving another missing child, but as the pair begin to work together, he starts to feel guilty about the secret he is keeping.

I quickly became absorbed in this story, invested in the characters, and the growing tension as secrets were revealed. Clever plotting kept me guessing as to the resolution of the mystery, and Wake concludes with an extraordinary confrontation that is both harrowing and satisfying.

Atmospheric, with complex characters, and an intriguing, layered plot Wake is a compelling novel, and a fine addition to the rapidly growing genre of Australian rural noir.

++++++++

Available from Hachette Australia 

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Review: Remember Me by Charity Norman

 

Title: Remember Me

Author: Charity Norman

Published: 3rd March 2022, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read April 2022 courtesy Allen & Unwin

++++++++

My Thoughts:

 

Charity Norman blends family drama with mystery in her compelling novel, Remember Me.

When a phone call from a neighbour informs Emily Kirkland that her ageing father is in need of help, she reluctantly leaves her life in London and returns to her hometown, Tawanui on New Zealand’s North Island. Diagnosed with Alzheimers more than year earlier, Dr Felix Kirkland is no longer able to hide his deteriorating condition and Emily plans to stay just a few weeks to arrange for his ongoing care.

Emily’s return coincides with the upcoming 25th anniversary of the disappearance of her neighbour and friend, Dr. Leah Parata. Leah, an environmental scientist, headed into the Ruahine ranges on the edge of town for a two night hike when she was 26 years old and vanished, with no trace of her ever been found.

A committed physician and reserved man, too busy with his patients to have ever paid much attention to his children, Emily and Felix have never been close. She expects to swiftly move Felix into a local nursing home, as her elder twin siblings suggest, and begins the job of sorting out the house. The task, and Felix’s increasing candour as a result of his dementia, promotes a new intimacy between father and daughter, but when Emily finds a beanie in the bottom of a cupboard, which looks just like the one Leah was wearing when Emily last saw her on the day she disappeared, she’s suddenly afraid of what Felix may reveal.

I really liked the plot of Remember Me, and the way in which Norman skilfully weaved her two story threads together.

Norman thoughtfully explores the dynamic between father and daughter, and the changes wrought by Felix’s illness. His dementia-induced disinhibition reveals vulnerabilities that tempers some of Emily’s childhood resentments about their relationship, and there is a real sense of poignancy as Emily simultaneously finds, and loses, their connection as he declines.

When public interest in the mystery of Leah’s disappearance is renewed, Emily is at first puzzled and then anxious about her father’s reaction. I was caught up in the suspense as Emily, discovering evidence that suggests her dad could have been involved, is torn between her loyalty to her father, and to Leah’s family, who are still hoping for answers. I thought the bittersweet resolution worked well, and found it quite moving.

Norman’s writing is engaging and thoughtful, and though the pace of the novel is measured, Remember Me is an absorbing read.

++++++++

Available from Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

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Review: A Stone’s Throw Away by Karly Lane

 

Title: A Stone’s Throw Away

Author: Karly Lane

Published: 1st May 2022, Allen & Unwin

Status: Read May 2022 courtesy Allen & Unwin

++++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

A Stone’s Throw Away is the latest engaging novel from Australian bestseller Karly Lane.

Still reeling from a vicious assault after breaking the story of a corrupt politician, investigative journalist Phillipa ‘Pip’ Davenport, has retreated to her uncle’s property, Rosehaven, in rural Victoria to write a book about the high profile case. Despite her best intentions, Pip finds it difficult to settle to the task, and in the spirit of procrastination, decides to hire someone to remove the detritus at the bottom of her uncle’s dam, exposed by the ongoing drought. To her shock, and that of the small community of Midgiburra, the skeleton of a young woman is discovered in the rusted remains of an old car, and Pip finds herself caught up in the decades old mystery, even as her own past threatens to catch up with her.

Offering intrigue and romance, this contemporary set novel also touches on Australian history.

There are two elements of suspense in A Stone’s Throw Away, one of which centres around Pip and her safety. Though her assault was likely at the behest of the politician Pip exposed who is now jailed, her attacker was never identified, and concern remains that she is still a target. Pip simply wants to put the incident behind her but, struggling with PTSD, she can’t always suppress episodes of anxiety.

Pip’s wariness also affects her interactions with the two romantic possibilities introduced, local police officer, Erik, and city detective Chris. Though she chooses to drop her guard with one of the men, she soon finds herself wondering if she’s made a deadly mistake.

The other thread of mystery involves the former owner of Rosehaven, 98-year-old Bert Bigsby, a WWII veteran incapacitated and confined to a nursing home after a major stroke, and the fate of his wife, Molly, who disappeared seventy years ago. Despite her reluctance to get involved in the cold case, Pip uncovers the heartbreaking story of deception and betrayal that has haunted Bert, and exposes the truth behind the accusations levied against him by the town.

It’s through Bert’s character that Lane highlights a facet of Australia’s involvement in WWII, adding another layer of interest to the novel. Bert, like many young men, volunteered to serve in the Australian Armed Forces, though he and Molly were essentially newlyweds. Letters from Bert to Molly provide some insight into the experiences of those soldiers who served in Papua New Guinea, particularly those who were captured in the Australian Territory peacetime capital, Rabaul, when it fell to the Japanese.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this novel, though I did feel the touch of supernatural that linked Pip and Molly was an unnecessary addition. With its appealing characters, well crafted setting, and layered storyline, A Stone’s Throw Away is an entertaining read.

++++++++

Available from 

Allen & Unwin RRP AUD$29.99

Or help support* Book’d Out

*Purchase from Booktopia*

*As an affiliate of Booktopia I may earn a small commission on your purchase at no additional cost to you.*

 

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #4

 

Welcome to the Monthly Spotlight for the

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge!

Each month I’m highlighting some of the reviews shared for the challenge in the linky

Don’t forget to link each book you read as you read during the year!

I encourage you to support all participants who have shared what they are reading for the challenge. Give them a like, leave them a comment, share their posts on Facebook, twitter, or instagram #ReadNonFicChal

—————

IN APRIL…

Carols Notebook says, “I am a huge Sherlock Holmes fan which is why On the Trail of Sherlock Holmes [by Stephen Browning] caught my eye. The author sets out a series of walks around London, incorporating locations that feature in stories from the canon and incidents in Conan Doyle’s life. It made me want to go to London and follow the walks and suggested side excursions.”

+++++++++

 

Of All the Living and the Dead by Hayley Campbell, Tracey at Carpe Librum writes, “I admire Hayley Campbell’s courage to shine a light on the often unknown world of death workers and the death industry.” However she also warns, “Just as Campbell felt weighed down by what she learned and experienced, I too began to feel heavy and had to set this book down for a few weeks before returning to it.”

++++++++

 

“This is not a book about Aesop’s fables but rather examining animal behavior….If you are interested in the science and animal behavior this will be enlightening.” writes Tina at Turn the Page about Aesop’s Animals: The Science behind the Fables by Jo Wimpenny

+++++++++

 

Will at Coots Reviews offers a thoughtful review of The Lonely Stories edited by Natalie Eve Garrett “Bottom line is that, while the title of this book may suggest it could be a downer, The Lonely Storiesis anything but. It not only connects on an emotional level, but offers a wide range of insight into the human condition. You will laugh and cry, and maybe feel prompted to consider loneliness, or lonely times in your own experience. One thing is for certain. However you react to this book, you will not be alone in that reaction.’

+++++++++

 

Fascinated by the recent discovery of the Endurance—which sunk 107 years ago, Susan at Bloggin’ About Books chose to read Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing, she says, “It’s narrative non-fiction at its best, bringing history to life in a way that is not just fascinating, but also engrossing and impactful. I couldn’t stop reading this iconic book.”

 

______________

What will you be reading in April?

Need some inspiration? Check out these posts

SOCIAL HISTORY and POPULAR SCIENCE

LANGUAGE and MEDICAL MEMOIR

CLIMATE/WEATHER and CELEBRITY

REFERENCE and GEOGRAPHY

LINKED TO A PODCAST and WILD ANIMALS

ECONOMICS and PUBLISHED IN 2022

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #1

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #2

2022 Nonfiction Reader Challenge Monthly Spotlight #3

Review: The Murder Rule by Dervla McTiernan

 

Title: The Murder Rule

Author: Dervla McTiernan

Published: 4th May 2022, WilliamMorrow

Status: Read May 2022 courtesy HarperCollins/Edelweiss

++++++++

 

My Thoughts:

 

Offering some startling twists and turns, The Murder Rule is a compelling stand alone legal thriller from best selling author, Dervla McTiernan.

When law student Hannah Rokeby learns that the Innocence Project at the University of Virginia is making progress overturning the sentence of convicted rapist and murderer, Michael Dandridge, she leaves her sick mother, Laura, in the care of a neighbour, and relocates to Charlottesville where she convinces Professor Robert Parekh she’d be an asset to the program. But Hannah doesn’t want to save Michael, she wants to ensure the man is never released.

I was immediately intrigued by the premise of The Murder Rule, and why, and how, a young woman might go about undermining a prisoner’s release. With the preliminary hearing for dismissal imminent, the Innocence team, and Hannah, are under pressure to complete their respective objectives, and that tension translates well to the story’s pacing.

Hannah certainly seems convinced that her mission is righteous, and though her ruthless moves to gain a place on the project are not flattering, once her motive is disclosed in the alternating chapters that provide entries from her mother’s diary written 24 years earlier, Hannah’s behaviour seems if not reasonable, then at least justifiable. I liked the ambiguity of Hannah’s character, I was never entirely sure what she’d do, particularly when faced with information that challenged her beliefs.

There are some quite spectacular surprises in the novel, one twist in particular made me gasp out loud as it was so unexpected. There are also a number of tense, and even violent, moments as Hannah, and her colleagues, step on toes during their investigation. As much as I enjoyed the story, I have to admit there are some distracting flaws related to the legal elements of the story, and these particularly detracted from the intensity of the climatic courtroom scene, even though the outcome was satisfying.

Though not as sophisticated as McTiernan’s award winning Cormac Reilly, I still found The Murder Rule to be a page-turning, entertaining thriller with a compelling concept.

++++++++

Available from William Morrow

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Review: Til Death, or a little light maiming, Do Us Part by Kathy Lette

 

Title: Till Death, or a little light maiming, Do Us Part

Author: Kathy Lette

Published: 29th March 2022, Vintage

Status: Read April 2022 courtesy PenguinRandomHouse Australia

++++++++

My Thoughts:

 

The reported death of Jason Riley triggers a madcap revenge caper in Till Death, or a little light maiming, Do Us Part by Kathy Lette.

As sixty year old schoolteacher Gwen Brookes stares grief-stricken at all that remains of her handsome, loving husband of two years, Jason Riley, – a swimming cap and a piece of torn, blood-stained wetsuit – after he was reportedly taken by a shark while training for an Ironman competition, a woman in a bejewelled bustier and leather jacket barrels through the crowd calling her husband’s name. To Gwen’s horror, jazz singer Tish also claims to be Jason’s wife, and though she is loathe to believe it, Tish has their wedding certificate issued a year earlier, as proof. More shocks are to come when the women sit across from Jason’s lawyer and learn that his entire estate, and much of theirs, had been transferred to a female business partner in Egypt just days before his death.

Despite the antipathy between the two Mrs Riley’s, and Gwen’s fear of flying, the women fly to Cairo in the hope of recovering their money only to discover Jason, alive and well, in the arms of a younger woman. As Jason flees through the streets of the city, Gwen learns that Skye, a geologist, is not just Jason’s business partner but also his wife of less than a year, and though Skye is sceptical of the women’s claims, when she logs on to her banking account she finds both their business, and her personal account have been emptied.

Now three very hurt, angry and near broke Mrs Riley’s are on the trail of the conman they had the misfortune to marry, and Jason may well wish he was dead if they manage to catch him.

Sure the plot is absurd, but it’s also fun as the reader is led all over the globe while the women give chase, from Cairo to the Maldives, from Tanzania and through Europe, with Jason just barely eluding their grasp several times. Though it’s a whirlwind world tour, geography teacher Gwen insists on visiting at least some cultural sites as the women pursue their quarry by plane, train, ship and even bicycle, uncovering more victims of Jason’s as they go.

Tish’s bold personality and raunchy sense of humour contrasts sharply with Gwen’s sensible, timid manner, and Skye’s crystal loving spirituality. A descending decade or so apart in age (Gwen is the oldest) the women have almost nothing in common so there is plenty of conflict between them, but the bond that slowly develops between Gwen and Tish in particular is warming.

The dialogue consists mostly of wisecracks, innuendo and quips. Though Lette made me laugh more than once, the humour tends to be obvious and get a little one-note after a while.

For all its inanity however, the story does address issues such as the vulnerability of women of all ages and social groups to so called ‘love rats’, and explores the idea that women can choose to embrace the post menopausal period as an opportunity to redefine their lives.

Till Death, or a little light maiming, Do Us Part is a funny, raunchy, fast-paced adventure that you’ll likely either love or hate.

++++++++

Available from PenguinRandomHouse Australia

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