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Title: The Shift: One Nurse, Twelve Hourse, Four Patients' Lives
Author: Theresa Brown
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 4/5
# pages: Audiobook ~9hours
Date read: July, 2017

n the span of 12 hours, lives can be lost, life-altering medical treatment decisions made, and dreams fulfilled or irrevocably stolen.

Every day Theresa Brown holds patients' lives in her hands. On this day there are four: Mr. Hampton, a patient with lymphoma to whom Brown is charged with administering a powerful drug that could cure him - or kill him; Sheila, who may have been dangerously misdiagnosed; Candace, a returning patient who arrives (perhaps advisedly) with her own disinfectant wipes, cleansing rituals, and demands; and Dorothy, who, after six weeks in the hospital, may finally go home. Prioritizing and ministering to their needs takes the kind of skill, sensitivity, and, yes, humor that enable a nurse to be a patient's most ardent advocate in a medical system marked by heartbreaking dysfunction as well as miraculous success.

From Sue Barton to Scrubs, I've always been fascinated by life at a hospital, so when I heard of this book, I knew that I had to read it. And fortunately it didn't disappoint. After having watched so many episodes of Scrubs, it was interesting to follow a real nurse during a shift (and actually also served to explain some things I'd been wondering about), and though I was slightly sad that I got to know all these patients, but was never told what happened to them, I still think following a day in the life of a nurse was a really good way to write the book, as it gave the reader insight into not just the highlights of a nurse's job, but also all the small extra tasks they have to do, in order to keep the ward running smoothly.
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Title: A Place to Belong (Sister Circle #4
Author: Vonette Bright & Nancy Moser
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 338 pages
Date read: July 2017

Evelyn Peerbaugh is worried. Once again she has taken in new boarders, but this time she's opened the doors of Peerbaugh Place to women who can't pay a cent for her services. But the bonds of sisterhood are as strong as ever. As Evelyn reaches out to these sisters in need, she discovers that God has a whole new plan for the Sister Circle - and for her. Evelyn could not have predicted the shock in store for her and Piper.

Like with all the others, the book comes across as naive and too good to be true at times, so I cannot recommend the series without a disclaimer.... but I wish I could, because I absolutely loved the entire series. Right book at the right time I guess, but it was exactly the type of book / series I was in the mood to read - a thought-provoking comfort read. And as such, it fit the bill perfectly.

I found it funny how Piper went from only being a minor character in the first book, to almost being the main character in these last few. But all the sisters seem like people I'd love to meet in real life.

I sat up until past midnight to finish this, and am sad to have reached the end of the series.
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Title: An Undivided Heart (Sister Circle #3)
Author: Vonette Bright, Nancy Moser
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 336 pages
Date read: July 2017

Things are ever changing at Peerbaugh Place, and once again Evelyn Peerbaugh opens her home to new boarders. This time she gets more than she bargains for. With one new tenant whose vanity exceeds all bounds, and another who is a doormat to her dominating fiancé, it seems these women will never find common ground, even as they struggle to share one house. But loyal members of the Sister Circle - Mae, Piper, Audra, and Tessa - are all close by to keep love and faith growing amidst the heartaches and joys. Evelyn even finds the courage to open her heart to new love... and this time, she's not the only one!

While I do still really enjoy this series, the books are becoming rather formulaic: new tenants move in, some are Christians, others aren't, those that aren't quickly discover that they should be. Conversion comes so easily to the sisters and their loved ones that it seems unrealistic. Still - since I know this to be the case, it doesn't bother me too much, and there is so much else to like. I've really grown to love all the sisters, and appreciate that the ones from the earlier books still show up from time to time.

I find it difficult to review these books, because they're really very naive... but they seem to be just what I need these days, so I'm inclined to love them all the same.
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Title: 'Round the Corner (Sister Circle #2)
Author: Vonette Bright & Nancy Moser
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 322 pages
Date read: July, 2017

Evelyn is not so sure she likes the new dynamics of Peerbaugh Place, her impromptu boarding house. Even though it had been hard adapting to strangers living in her home, she and the other women from The Sister Circle) had found a calm cove of sisterhood. Now Evelyn is forced to start over with a new set of boarders - with more challenging personalities and problems. Evelyn fears that the bonds of sisterhood may not come as easily this time.

As much as I loved the first book in the series, I knew I had to pick up the sequel straight away. I was slightly disappointed to see that most of the Sisters had moved away from Peerbaugh Place (and again - the timing was way off. This would have been more realistic if it had been set 2 years after the first book instead of less than one), but fortunately most of them turned up on a very regular basis, so I didn't get to miss them too much.

Not quite as good as the first book - some aspects were too unrealistic for me to be able to entirely refrain from rolling my eyes - but even so I ended up enjoying it almost as much. I grew really fond of Heddy, and Summer is just a delight! (I've meet girls her age who are exactly as precocious as she is, so never felt she acted too old for her years). And again, the book seemed to have exactly the right message for me, spurring me on in my own walk with God.
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Title: The Sister Circle (Sister Circle, #1)
Author: Vonette Bright & Nancy Moser
Genre: Christian fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 351
Date read: July, 2017

Suddenly widowed with no means of support, Evelyn Peerbaugh hangs a "for rent" sign in front of her large Victorian home and her life changes in ways she never dreamed of. In a matter of days she opens a busy boardinghouse and must cope with the lives and emotions of the most incompatible group of women ever gathered under one roof. How will a meek woman like Evelyn manage?

Peerbaugh Place becomes a refuge to seven women of vastly different ages, personalities, and backgrounds. Through struggles and triumphs, the women forge a special bond of sisterhood.

This was a semi-random pick from Amazon. It came up during my search for Neta Jackson, and both the title, the cover and the back blurb appealed to me.

And fortunately the book itself was delightful. While certainly not as well-written as the Yada Yada books, it had many of the same qualities that spoke to me there. I found it charming, thought-provoking and delightful... at the same time fully seeing its flaws as it was at times both far too rosy and almost naive.

But at the end of the day, I didn't care. I grew to love the characters, and though I sometimes found their grown unrealistic (at least the speed at which it happened), it didn't bother me, because I appreciated the teachings the authors were trying to share - meaning I highlighted quotes all over the place.
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Title: Shaman's Curse
Author: Audrey Faye
Genre: Sci-fi
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 178
Date read: July, 2017

Raven grew up tribal, and she's never forgotten it. She was sent by the grandmothers to serve those who have no tribe. To walk with the darkness. To use her Shaman Talent to balance those who walk in the light.

Which has never felt more important - because this time, the darkness comes for her friends. And for a certain golden-eyed teenager and the mother who isn't supposed to love her.

Raven has been waiting for this assignment. Expecting it. But even she wasn't expecting this.

For some reason it took me ages to get past the first five chapters, but once I did, I gobbled the rest up in two days flat! So I think it had more to do with having to be in the right mood, than with the book itself.

Because once Raven reached Elleni I was hooked. I loved reading more about how the tribes work and the instant feeling of welcome offered to Raven. I could appreciate the spiritual side of things, even when not subscribing to the "religion" thus described. The emotions were still something I could relate to.

Not the best Fixer novel, but certainly not the worst either. I really like Raven and her fiercely protective personality.
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Title: A Destiny of Dragons (Tales from Verania #2, Destiny Fuck Yeah! #1)
Author: T.J. Klune
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 400 pages
Date read: July, 2017

Once upon a time, the wizard's apprentice Sam of Wilds got his happily ever after in the arms of his cornerstone, Knight Commander Ryan Foxheart. A year has passed, and while Sam's been captured five or six more times since then, things are pretty great. His parents are happy, Gary and Tiggy still eat sass for breakfast, Randall is somehow alive despite being older than the gods, the King rules with a gentle hand, Kevin the dragon is as gross as ever, Morgan sighs a lot, Ryan continues to be dashing and immaculate, and Sam is close to convincing Prince Justin they will be best friends forever.

Life is good.

Until it's not.

Because Vadoma, the leader of the Gypsy clan and Sam's grandmother, has come to the City of Lockes with a dire prophecy written in the stars: a man of shadows is rising and will consume the world unless Sam faces his destiny and gathers the five dragons of Verania at his side.

And she brings along her second-in-command, a man named Ruv.

Ruv, who Vadoma says is Sam's true cornerstone.

Of course not as good as the first book in the series. But then, how could it be? The first was original and innovative - this was "merely" continuing a good trend.

Also not as self-contained as the first book, which came as a bit more of a surprise. While the first book could easily stand alone, this is very clearly the first in a separate trilogy. While that didn't bother me as much as it could have, it does mean I'm less likely to recommend this book high and wide, until I know that the sequels live up to it.

All that said, I still really, really, really liked this book! It had all the humour I'd expected, all the odd one-liners, all the genuine affection between all the members of "Team Sam". Even Ruv ended up growing on me, although I'm still withholding judgment on Vadoma. Oh, and I loved Zero! Where else would you find an emo teenage dragon who's a romantic at heart?! :-D
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Title: Mad Girl
Author: Bryony Gordon
Genre: Memoir
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 336 pages
Date read: July, 2017

Bryony Gordon has OCD.

It's the snake in her brain that has told her ever since she was a teenager that her world is about to come crashing down: that her family might die if she doesn't repeat a phrase 5 times, or that she might have murdered someone and forgotten about it. It's caused alopecia, bulimia, and drug dependency. And Bryony is sick of it. Keeping silent about her illness has given it a cachet it simply does not deserve, so here she shares her story with trademark wit and dazzling honesty.

I came across this book in a London bookshop and thought it sounded interesting. I knew absolutely nothing about Bryony Gordon before starting the book, and still don't really have any clue if she's a person you're "supposed" to know.

Even so, I thought the book was fascinating. Most people know somebody with at least a mild case of OCD, but it's still rare to see as severe cases as Bryony's. It was interesting to see how it affected all aspects of her life, and heartbreaking to hear how little help she got from the health care system, simply because it's a mental illness rather than a physical one (imagine people having to wait 3 weeks to get a broken bone set!). Unfortunately I've heard this complaint before, about the British NHS, but I wouldn't automatically assume it's any better in other countries.
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Title: The Secret Diary of Laura Palmer
Author: Jennifer Lynch
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 187
Date read: July, 2017

THE SECRET DIARY OF LAURA PALMER chronicles Laura's life from age 12 to her death at 17, and is filled with secrets, character references, and even clues to the identity of her eventual killer. Laura's diary makes compelling reading as she turns from a naive freshman having her first kiss to a "bad girl" experimenting with drugs, sex and the occult.

Definitely not a book to read if you haven't either seen Twin Peaks quite recently, or remember it clearly. Otherwise the book will a) make little to no sense and b) spoil parts of Twin Peaks for you.

I'm not a huge fan of Twin Peaks, but it intrigues me - and as I'd somehow gotten my hands on this book AGES ago (years before I even saw TP for the first time... don't ask me why), I figured I might as well get around to reading it.

I'm glad I did. It gave me a very different insight into Laura Palmer, and while it didn't actually answer any of the questions I had, it provided me with a more nuanced picture of some of the characters.

Laura really didn't sound her age for most of the diary though. It became less obvious as she got older, but her "voice" didn't change between her being 12 at the start and 17 at the end.
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Title: A Soft Breath of Wind (A Stray Drop of Blook #2)
Author: Roseanne M. White
Genre: Christian fiction, Historical fiction
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 360 pages
Date read: July, 2017

Zipporah is thirteen when the Spirit descends upon her, opening her eyes to a world beyond the physical goings-on of the villa outside Rome she has always called home. Within hours, she learns what serving the Lord can cost. Forever scarred after a vicious attack, she knows her call is to use this discernment to protect the Way. She knows she must serve the rest of her life at Tutelos, where the growing Roman church has congregated. She knows her lot is set.

Yet is it so wrong to wish that her master, the kind and handsome young Benjamin Visibullis, will eventually see her as something more than a sister in Christ?

Samuel Asinius, adoptive son of a wealthy Roman, has always called Benjamin brother. When their travels take them to Jerusalem for Passover, the last thing he expects is to cross paths with the woman who sold him into slavery as a child the mother he long ago purged from his heart. His sister, Dara, quickly catches Benjamin s eye, but Samuel suspects there is something dark at work.

When Dara, a fortune-teller seeking the will of a shadowy master determined to undermine the Way, comes into the path of Zipporah, a whirlwind descends upon them all.

So... Nina told me that this sequel was even better than the first book in the series. And as usual, she was absolutely right! I could not put it down and finished it in just one day.

While it is a stand-alone sequel, aspects of it definitely make more sense if you've read the first book, but the main character is no longer Abigail, but rather the next generation. Abigail still plays a major part though.

But where the focus of the first book was on finding Jesus, the focus here was definitely more on following him and thus didn't just make for excellent reading, but also had elements that were applicable to my own life (sort of like "The Yada-Yada Prayer Group" which I absolutely adore!). There were certain points where I worried Roseanna White would take the plot in a direction I didn't agree with, but fortunately that never actually happened, and I ended up finding one of the best books I've read all year :-)
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Title: A Stray Drop of Blood
Author: Roseanne M. White
Genre: Christian fiction, Historical fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 482 pages
Date read: July, 2017

Beautiful is a dangerous thing to be when one is unprotected.

For seven years, Abigail has been a slave in the Visibullis house. With a Hebrew mistress and a Roman master, she has always been more family than servant... until their son returns to Jerusalem after his years in Rome. Within a few months Jason has taken her to his bed and turned her world upsidedown. Maybe, given time, she can come to love him as he says he loves her. But how does she open her heart to the man who ruined her?

Israel's unrest finds a home in her bosom, but their rebellion tears apart her world. Death descends with Barabbas's sword, and Abigail is determined to be there when the criminal is punished. But when she ventures to the trial, Barabbas is not the one the crowd calls to crucify. Instead, it is the teacher her master and Jason had begun to follow, the man from Nazareth that some call the Son of God...

Recommended to me by Nina who talked me into reading this even though I wasn't looking for historical fiction. I'm so grateful she did!

Beautifully written, this book blew me away, and I couldn't put it down. It would have been a solid 5-star book if it hadn't been for the certain death at the half-point mark. I understand Roseanne White's reasons for killing off this particular character and even kinda agree with them (it would have been a very different book indeed if she hadn't), it just detracted somewhat from my enjoyment of the book at that point.

Fortunately the rest of the book made up for it, and despite my annoyance at that event, it still ended up being an altogether amazing book that I may have to add to my physical library at some point. I loved Abigail, I loved Ester and Cleopas and I especially loved Samuel.
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Title: Wild Magic (Immortals #1)
Author: Tamora Pierce
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 250
Date read: January 2008, August 2011

Summary: Young Daine's knack with horses gets her a job helping the royal horsemistress drive a herd of ponies to Tortall. Soon it becomes clear that Daine's talent, as much as she struggles to hide it, is downright magical Horses and other animals not only obey, but listen to her words. Daine, though, will have to learn to trust humans before she can come to terms with her powers, her past, and herself.

Review: While I like Daine, I'll never love her the way I do Alanna and Kel. I don't know why, and it's not really fair, but her story never grasped me the same way. But that doesn't mean I don't still enjoy this quartet, and especially the first book is great fun. Hearing her reactions to meeting the characters we know and love from Song of the Lioness is always interesting.

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