Friday, May 13, 2016

The LITIGATORS and AMERICAN PAIN: Two Books About Pharmaceuticals


 
My goal is to read and review 71 books between October, 2015 and October, 2016. I have posted 31 reviews through April, covering 38 books read since October 22, 2015. Some posts cover two to more novels, including the January post for the first four John Sandford's Virgil Flowers police procedural/thrillers. For the April A-to-Z Blog Challenge, I posted two reviews per week.

Today’s post covers two books. The Litigators is a novel; American Pain is non-fiction. Both books deal with pharmaceutical companies.

 

John Grisham’s legal thrillers need no introduction and offer a challenge for the reader to describe something as yet left unsaid about the author or the novel, The Litigators.

The novel begins in the vein of other “lawyer leaves the fast track of a large legal firm to find happiness” tales. This story includes the humor of two over-the-hill ambulance chasing back street lawyers and their self-declared office manager. Add to this the obligatory big, bad pharmaceutical company pushing drugs that allegedly make people dead.
Into this mess staggers the above-mentioned, fast-track deserting lawyer after sobering up from a celebratory drunk, san safety net and sans courtroom experience. With a few unexpected twists, and a satisfying climax, The Litigators was worth my time to read. An additional benefit was the interesting peripheral case handled on the sly by the fast-track deserting lawyer who himself benefitted from an unexpected windfall of information.
Varrick Labs and the drug Krayoxx are part of Mr. Grisham’s world of fiction. But there are real stories about real drug companies in the business of making money off the suffering of others. Fellow human beings quickly become addicted to the pills these companies pedal as safe and “non-addictive.” This is accomplished not only under the guise of relieving those burdened with unbearable and unrelenting pain, but also under the protection of the law.
 
American Pain by John Temple has a 2015 copyright. In it, the author lays bare the facts about pain clinics and “pill mills” in the United States. Addressed are the loopholes that led to the widespread use of oxycodone and the brand-name drug OxyContin, in Florida and Kentucky, and around the nation. Meet users and abusers and losers. But don’t jump to any conclusions about “druggies” just yet. 
 
OxyContin became the top-selling brand-name controlled substance. Ironically, the instructions for usage were the handbook for how to modify the drug to get very, very high. Increasing the potency as addiction bled in was only a matter of logistics: when “this” stopped working, do “that”; when “that” stopped working, do “this other thing”. When users began dying like flies in the noon day sun, the death rate outnumbered cocaine and heroin overdoses combined. The prescription drug was being marketed legally and the marketing department was doing a bang-up job of selling their product. (Tobacco companies come to mind?)
 

It occurs to me that John Grisham’s The Litigators may have
more in common with American Pain than I first realized.

 

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

#WriterWednesday - Book Review: Stacy Juba's DARK BEFORE DAWN


Today's book review is for author Stacy Juba's Magic of Books Tour. The YA novel is entitled DARK BEFORE DAWN (Young Ladies of Mystery Book 3) Age Level: 12-18; Grade Level: 6-12

This is the author's synopsis of the novel:
If you could control minds...would you? Dawn's psychic abilities lead her to befriend two girls who share her secret talents-but when she discovers that her new friends have dark intentions, she must make an impossible choice.

Book 3 of the Young Ladies of Mystery Series - each novel is a standalone, but shares a common theme of young women thrust into a world of danger and mystery in New England small towns.


Book Review of DARK BEFORE DAWN
by Gail Baugniet

This is a YA novel. The author's excellent writing style and exceptionally well-researched subject matter, however, create an interest for adults as well. From the opening lines, Stacy Juba demonstrates her authority on the topic of teenagers, their thought processes, and the predictability of their unpredictability.

The story's protagonist, Dawn Christian, has been aware for some time that she is different. She knows things through premonitions. But her mother doesn't want people to think of her daughter as different and she discourages Dawn from mentioning this ability. Although demonstrating extra sensory perception isn't the same as not picking up your dirty socks, in either case having a parent dictate how to act or think is often interpreted by a young adult as a lack of support.

Creating characters who possess ESP in an otherwise normal, blended family situation gives this story an edge that the author utilized to ratchet the tension ever higher. The plot never felt contrived. Scenes were confined to a reasonable realm of possibility.


While the story dealt with paranormal phenomena, the author also wove in the plotline a very real problem of bullying that is prevalent in schools today. In comparing "the results of bullying" to an ongoing trial case labeled "The Making of a Murderer," two sides of a question arise. Does a bullied person become a danger to society because of adverse treatment, or does bullying treatment only release latent danger inherent within a person?

*****     *****     *****

Posting a review of a book you enjoyed reading is the best compliment you can give an author about their work. With this in mind, I will also post my review of 
Dark Before Dawn 
at Amazon.com and Goodreads.com 
 
*****     *****     *****
 
Please visit Stacy Juba's Young Ladies of Mystery series
Promo Tour: http://stacyjuba.com/blog/2016/05/05/20849/
Nancy Drew for Grownups




Monday, May 9, 2016

REFLECTIONS ON THE 2016 #AtoZChallenge


The April 2016 AtoZ Challenge was fun for me right from the start because my theme was:
The Fun in Writing.
Most of my articles were written ahead of time, with photographs attached. That done, I posted my theme on A to Z Theme Day and met some wonderful people who were also using specific themes for the 26 posting days of April.

Once my "A is for" post went live on April 1st, I visited other sites. I discovered blog posts that were interesting and informative, along with colorful and fascinating photographs. An avid "Pinterest-er", I immediately began pinning my favorite sites and pictures. You can check the board here:

At about the N-O-P mark, I found it impossible to keep visiting the amount of sites I had set as a goal, but I look forward to reading many more of the posts over the next few months.

Never one to let a lack of time keep me from planning a new project, I decided to choose one blog post per day as my blue ribbon choice. It wasn't meant as a popularity contest for "favorite" or "ultimate" or "best dressed" but a choice made on content that stuck with me or struck like a lightning bolt in the moment, for whatever reason.

Following are my 26 Red Ribbon picks from A to Z  
 
A is for Attack! First We Take Manhattan
One of the first sites I visited on April 1 was TOSSING IT OUT (no surprise, huh?) by Arlee Bird, the illustrious brainchild of the A to Z Challenge. Call "foul" if you must, but the featured songwriter, the song, and the videos in Arlee's first post gave the feeling that the rest of us were left to catch up (for the day.) Arlee's theme, MANHATTAN, drew me back to his site day after day.
 
Sarah Zuma at THE OLD SHELTER chose Jazz Age Jazz for her theme. I enjoyed many of her posts during April. Blues was the most succinct title for B-Day and my favorite post of the day. 
 
C is for (Songs that begin with) C
John Holton's THE SOUND OF ONE HAND TYPING hooked me with his post for Day 3.
Along with his post, I chose Can't Buy Me Love by the Beatles as my favorite song for the day.
 
Damyanti Biswas's theme for AtoZChallenge was the non-profit Project Why. She described Cat Didi as a super Ambassador for Project Why. (Didi is the term younger siblings in India use to address their elder sister.)
 
What drew my attention in Shilpa Garg's A ROSE IS A ROSE IS A ROSE! was her word to the wise meme. I even had to tweet it! For her theme, Shilpa chose Cultivating Happiness.

F is for Friends  http://thetintrunk.com/  This post by Sarah Vanshi at THE TIN TRUNK gave me goosebumps (chills) as I read through the article. She was so subtle when revealing the punchline of her story that I had to read it twice before believing what she'd said.

G is for Girl Teams  http://multicoloreddiary.blogspot.com/  Okay, I suppose you won't believe I didn't choose by the blog title. But Zalka Csenge Virág, Storyteller from Hungary, offered excellent reading choices today and one in particular caught my attention. (Check it out!)

H is for Helicopter Ride Over Kauai
http://playoffthepage.com/2016/04/h-is-for-helicopter-ride-over-kauai/  I've always been afraid to take a helicopter ride over any of the Hawaiian Islands, so I am deriving my enjoyment from Mary Aalgaard's photographs on PLAY OFF THE PAGE.

I is for Ice Cream https://thewhitescape.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/i-ice-cream/ (My Writing Workshop) and https://olduvaireads.wordpress.com/2016/04/11/atozchallenge-i-is-for-ice-cream-sandwich/#comment-9103 (Olduvai Reads). Ding-ling-ling! Ding-ling-ling!
Two people chose Ice Cream as their topic for I-Day (at least, two that I came across.) My love for ice cream is double that of most any other "sweet" that isn't made of chocolate, so it seems fair to choose two blue ribbon winners for today.

J is for Jurassic Park http://ptdilloway.blogspot.com/2016/04/a-to-z-challenge-jurassic-park.html For entertainment value, Michael Crichton never let me down. And the movies spun off from the novel are my idea of eye candy! I could watch those dinosaurs all day!

K is for Krli-Q and Knightsbridge https://kincavelkorner.wordpress.com/2016/04/13/a-z-challenge-k-is-for-krli-q-and-knightsbridge/ KINCAVEL KORNER writes of Lady Kell of Kincavel. I felt "kompelled" to choose this for K-Day!

L is for Love http://truestorieshonestlies.blogspot.com/2016/04/l-is-for-love.html
This post on the blogsite TRUE STORIES, HONEST LIES contains an excellent article for speakers about loving your audience and connecting with the people through love and understanding. As a never-ending struggling member-speaker of Toastmasters, I found this advice warmed my heart.

M is for Mango http://unrulednote.blogspot.in/2016/04/i-dont-know-if-this-one-counts-for-poem.html  Ah, memories of mangoes from the unruled notebook in prose poem style. It has everything rolled into one short entry. Perfect.

N is for Nose Jobs http://theartofnotgettingpublished.blogspot.com/2016/04/n-is-for-nose-jobs.html
Some of the details in this article actually made me cringe. That definitely deserves a blue ribbon! Thank you to Susan Brody at THE ART OF NOT GETTING PUBLISHED for an article well researched and written.

O is for Observe http://ellasedge.blogspot.com/2016/04/o-is-for-observe.html  As the stress of working on all my projects for April started to take its toll, I stopped to read the post on ELLA'S EDGE and felt myself relax. At that point, I decided to enjoy each hour and let everything fall into place naturally. Blue ribbon posts deserve blue ribbon awards!

P is for People https://thebookwranglerreviews.wordpress.com/2016/04/19/p-is-for-people/
THE BOOK WRANGLER intrigued me because the actions in this post are so not me. If I were sitting next to a family on a train, I would have my nose buried in a book, not discussing the book. I know, I need to change!

Q is for Quebec National Historic Site Fortifications  http://www.yellowmellowlife.com/fortifications-of-quebec-national-historic-site/ 
I love all history of old Quebec and Bhawna from YELLOW MELLOW LIFE has posted some fascinating history and photographs of the area. But what captured my attention was the comment that after Britain invaders took over Quebec they finished building the wall to protect the city from the Americans. Sound familiar?

R is for Reviews
http://www.melissasugarwrites.com/2016/04/the-truth-about-amazon-reviews-how-to.html
Melissa Sugar over at HAVE YOU HEARD posted an enlightening guideline for book reviewers that is not only a tutorial for those who have questions about how to submit a review, but is also a great benefit for authors who are unable to express these same thoughts themselves. (Not saying I'm in that latter category, or anything.)

S is for School Days http://smidgensbitsandsnippets.blogspot.com/2016/04/school-days-school-days.html?showComment=1461322201771#c5511099367219362156
This is my favorite post today because it brought back pleasant memories of my much younger years in grade school. Thank you to Paula and her SMIDGENS, SNIPPETS, AND BITS.

T is for Truth https://architar.wordpress.com/2016/04/23/truths/ Apparently, this prose poem by Archita on A JOURNEY CALLED LIFE was just what I needed to read at that moment. It captured my attention with the first line.

U is for Under the Surface https://amywilloughbyburle.com/2016/04/25/u-is-for-under-the-surface/ This topic from Amy Willoughby-Burle struck a strong chord with me. My genealogy research sometimes crosses over into my novel writing. Getting into the hearts and souls of the people who populate the plot is one of the most entertaining parts of writing. (That was an accidental alliteration; so was that!)

V is for Vinyl Records http://justmeandrandomstuff.blogspot.com/2016/04/v-vinyl-records.html JUST ME AND RANDOM STUFF Yikes, the memories! I had a stack of vinyls as tall as me! Country Outlaws: every Waylon album; R&R, Elvis since Blue Hawaii and G.I. Blues; The Beatles, Ricky Nelson, Brenda Lee . . .

W is for Writing Groups https://writerszenblog.wordpress.com/2016/04/27/w-writing-groups/ I agree with Trisha Faye at WRITER'S ZEN BLOG that a writer's group enhances an author's life. My regret for the day was that I didn't think to write about my writer's group: Waikiki Word Wranglers!

X is for Xenophilia http://bev-thebevelededge.blogspot.com/2016/04/x-is-for-xenophilia.html My attraction to this post in THE BEVELED EDGE was that, while it was about yoga, it didn't require me to do yoga. Xenophilia is an attraction toward foreign countries, peoples and cultures.

Y is for Yes http://storydam.com/2016/04/29/writing-tips-y-is-for-yes/ The advice at STORM DAM (Everyone has a story . . . what's holding yours back?) is to say YES rather than cowering behind an immediate "no". Sometimes you do want to leap before you look. Y is also for Young Adult Books at GIRL WHO READS. http://www.girl-who-reads.com/2016/04/y-is-for-young-adult-books-atozchallenge.html I admit my choice is based on the photo of the girl wearing "tennie-runners" (yes, that's what we called them) in black and white. It also contains a great listing of YA novels.

Z is for Zebra Birthday Cakes http://www.moonrisemusing.blogspot.com/2016/04/zebra-birthday-cakes.html Several people chose Zebra as their Z-Day topic and it is always a joy to see zebras. But the set of pictures on MIDWEEK MUSINGS tickled me pink.

I'll be tweeting the above links in June . . . just for the fun of it.
If you add your link to the Post a Comment section below, I will visit and tweet your site also!

 

Sunday, May 8, 2016

HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY - EVERYONE

 


HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY
 
Happy Mother's Day to everyone: Mothers, daughters, sisters, brothers, caregivers, and Fathers who share the duties of motherhood.

This year, my mother and father would each both have celebrated their 100th birthday. They were successfully married for 60+ years, successful because their love for and trust in each other never wavered.

The diplomacy of a successful marriage may well be the key to world peace!   


Wedding Day July 23, 1938



Friday, May 6, 2016

Have You Heard: The Truth about Amazon Reviews: How to Write an Au...

This blog post, by Melissa Sugar at her site HAVE YOU HEARD for the AtoZChallenge on R-Day, is an excellent commentary on the practice of submitting book reviews. Please hop on over to her site and read:

The Truth about Amazon Reviews: How to Write an Authentic Review

Have You Heard: The Truth about Amazon Reviews: How to Write an Au...: Do Amazon Reviews Really Help Authors' Sales R - Reviews The number one thing to remember is that it’s simple. You don’t have t...





 
 
 

Sunday, May 1, 2016

MOSAICS A Collection of Independent Women

MOSAICS 2 (A Collection of Independent Women)
Available May 1, 2016 at Amazon.com
http://amzn.to/24thcyc
 
 
This is Volume 2 in the Mosaics collection and contains stories by twenty-two independent women.
 
 
 
Following is an excerpt from the book synopsis posted on Amazon:

Mosaics: A Collection of Independent Women will inspire and shock you with its multi-faceted look at the history and culture surrounding femininity. If gender is a construct, this anthology is the house it built. Look through its many rooms, some bright and airy, some terrifying-- with monsters lurking in the shadows.

*****     *****

Author Kimberly Fukioka asked me to read the book and offer a review in exchange for a copy. In return, I asked Kim to participate in a short interview to get a feel for how these Mosaics anthologies came about. She graciously agreed.

Question #1: How did the idea for the Mosaics anthology develop?

Author Kimberly Fukioka: Thank you for offering to do the blog post. The anthology was edited and produced by Kim Wells. A quote from her website below kind of answers your question about the impetus for the anthology.

"Crafting the intersectional feminist anthology that I'm working on, my writing partners & I are committed to finding writers from communities not always well represented in indie publishing, or anthologies, or just about any literary scene. So we wrote a call for submissions that stated exactly what we were hoping for, being specific about welcoming womanist and racially intersectional feminism in addition to GLBT and disabled stories." Kim Wells, editor and publisher.


Question #2: How does the title of your story dovetail with the mission of the anthology?

Author Kimberly Fukioka: My story, "Don't Shut Up!" is the empowering story of one young woman to face her abuser even when it means separating from her mother. Her mother admonishes her to shut up and accept the status quo-- sexual abuse and physical violence--but she refuses and escapes barefoot and bleeding in the snow. In this piece the reader can see the long term effects of sexual abuse and how a woman learns to tell the truth about her life. This act of courage is a way she reclaims her voice and power to escape violence and take her place at the table of other independent women.

When I submitted my story to the anthology I thought many women could identify with it because it is such a heart wrenching decision that so many sexual victims of the patriarchal culture worldwide must grapple with: do I stay or do I leave? When I posed that question to myself as the young woman in the story, my mind was doing flip flops, I was emotionally in turmoil, because my identity had been built on the single brick of "being a victim". If I spoke up and left, I was no longer a victim. But who was I ? In a leap of faith, I acted. We all must act in a single leap of faith. There are so many of us out there: victims of trafficking, domestic abuse, sexual abuse, transgender abuse etc. The courage of one woman can give so many others hope. It can even change a community or a society.


*****     *****
 
Upon receiving Mosaics, I naturally turned first to Kim's story before reading the entries submitted by the other twenty-one independent women. Unprepared for the revelations Kim's story contained, I reacted less from a standpoint of fellow author than empathetic friend.
 
As Kim states above, the purpose of laying bare past wrongs
is to empower others who have or are experiencing
similar tragic events.
 
After reading several more of the entries in Mosaics, I began to question if an anthology was an effective venue for supporting others who suffered abuse or violence. I am an advocate of revelation over silence. But I had given little thought to the latter over the years as my tendency is to "move on" if a relationship edges toward the unacceptable.
 
What I hadn't given sufficient consideration was that my option is not always available to others. At least, not available without the mind "flip flops" and emotional turmoil that result when moving on is beyond imagination.
 
I approached this review unconventionally because the novellas and short stories within Mosaics are not meant to be read at a fast clip. Each story, written in a single leap of faith, deserves individual attention. What we, as readers, learn from these leaps of faith is up to us.
 
What we must admit is that changing a community or a society requires that someone choose to speak up. These twenty-two independent women have made that choice. I respect that.