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With Angel’s Wings

With Angel's Wings by [Collins, Stephanie A.]

With Angel’s Wings, by Stephanie Collins, is one mother’s raw and heart-wrenching account of her life with two daughters with special needs. Written as a third-person account with name changes, the author describes each and every obstacle encountered as she struggled to come to terms with her daughters’ challenges while simultaneously dealing with a long string of physicians, specialists, and therapists. Laura, as the author calls the young mother, fights an uphill battle from the moment she is told her days-old infant has a heart defect–the first of many. While facing a seemingly unending barrage of personal hurdles, Laura somehow learns to cope with the endless physical and emotional demands placed upon her family by tiny Hannah’s diagnosis of Wolf-Hirschhorn syndrome.

This author’s life story as a work of fiction is almost indescribable. I do not believe I have ever read a book that kept me as breathless and as anxious as this one. Laura’s laundry list of traumatic events ranging from her newborn’s purple feet and hands to her seizures lasting for hours on end is mentally exhausting to read. Her life is so full of twists and turns and drama surrounding Hannah’s diagnosis and subsequent health scares, the author has no need to embellish with flowery language and lengthy stretches of narrative. There is, literally, no room or time left to dress up her text. This book reads as a journal of heartache peppered with true love.

Collins is honest and open with her feelings about her daughters’ diagnoses. As Laura, she sugarcoats nothing. As strong as she is, Laura reveals her vulnerability as an overwhelmed young mother. The reader aches to watch her contemplate, time and again, a way out. Her frustration as a parent fighting her way through the healthcare system is one with which many readers will be able to relate. In addition to her day-to-day battle with fevers, seizures, hospital visits, and mounting financial woes, Laura faces the virtually indescribable audacity of an ex-husband who lacks not only both sympathy and empathy but a soul, as well.

As a parent and a teacher, I have never read a more authentic and touching account of life as a mother or a more revealing account of what caring for a child with special needs truly entails. Emily’s early signs of autism hit home with me as a teacher. No one knows the struggle of helping a child on the autism spectrum like a parent. Laura begins accommodating for Emily’s needs long before her diagnosis. She modifies, plans, and tries to remain several steps ahead of meltdowns from early on in Emily’s life. Parents of children with autism will appreciate reading about the way Laura intricately weaves a web of plans on a daily basis to compensate for Emily’s developmental delays.

Though the book is primarily focused on the battle to save Hannah and come to grips with her many needs, the author does a beautiful job of illustrating the relationship Laura develops with Daniel. Daniel, the one shining light in her darkest days, is a rather unlikely saviour. Their love, apparent from early in their friendship, is one that only intensifies through the rigors of identifying and finding ways of successfully coping with all Emily and Hannah’s needs.

There aren’t any options for stars beyond 5, so I am restricted to giving With Angel’s Wings 5 out of 5 stars. The author’s life story, now Laura and Daniel’s as well, is an absolute must-read for any parent, teacher, or caregiver of a child with special needs. There is a love like no other born out of a relationship with these children, and Stephanie Collins has handed readers everywhere the key to unlock hearts and minds and build a better understanding of the struggles faced by many of our family members and friends who have children with special needs living lives like Laura’s.

Pages: 304 | ASIN: B01DL9AXAI

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Dear Emma

Dear Emma

Dear Emma, written by Kwen Griffeth, is a touching novel that revolves around the life of a family in the hospital waiting for a crucial moment that will equate to life or death. Their story is discovered by a caring man, Roger, who is the chaplain at the Price Hospital.

Lost in his own thoughts about his own personal life, Roger stumbles across Ben Talbet, an architect about to become a grandfather. But instead of it being a joyous occasion, Ben is convinced that he is about to lose everything he cares about- all because of a mysterious letter found on a hospital bedside table. What could this letter say that has Ben convinced he is about to lose it all?

Dear Emma is a heartfelt novel based on the significance of letters written to a woman by the name of Emma. The beginning of the novel walks you through the hospital in the eyes of a chaplain. It is here you meet nurses, doctors, patients and families all experiencing the ins and outs of hospital life. One family, in particular, has several lives on the line, and this is where you meet Ben- a loving father about to become a grandfather.

The story ventures into the past where we learn about Ben and Emma and what lead them to this important moment of their lives. Their past tragedies and losses will be shared and you will find yourself feeling a connection to the characters and their story. As the story progresses, the doubt and questions that are posed by Roger, all assist in creating a strong belief and understanding of things we may not understand.

There is a religious sentiment throughout the story and you feel as though you are involved in a special moment with Ben as he shares a personal story between the Father in Heaven and the chaplain. This interaction provoked thought between life after death and how our lives change after we lose a loved one. Dear Emma respectfully shows how love can be everlasting, and how a love between a mother and daughter is an irreplaceable bond.

The descriptive language used throughout the novel easily paints a picture of the hospital setting, with images such as the chapel, cafeteria and maternity ward easily envisioned. Kwen Griffeth’s language, however, does not take away from the importance of the story and instead compliments the plot line and the characters as they progress through the story. This novel tugged at the heart strings and will feel the reader’s heart with warmth and love. The storyline is always fast paced, and even though it isn’t a typical action novel, it kept me on my toes, eager to learn what happens to the family and the letters.

I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys a beautiful, feel good story with a little twist at the end! Dear Emma is a journey of love, life and grief and how love surpasses time, death and life.

Pages: 115 | ASIN: B00770I2HO

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The TVC Project

The TVC Project4 Stars

The TVC Project is the story of a pre-med student Buck and detective Allyson Mancuso as they find themselves thrust into a dark murder mystery, rife with political intrigue. Despite the dangerous world, they have found themselves involved in a seductive romance. At the beginning of the book, Buck is a normal college student focused on his studies and his friends. But a normal night of studying turns his life upside down when his two best friends fail to meet up with him. When Buck discovers that they have been murdered he cannot let go of the investigation until he learns what happened to his friends.

The TVC Project was written by Tom Bridges published in 2013. He is from Dallas Texas and works within the medical field. Bridges background is perhaps the reason behind the realism of Buck’s medical knowledge in the book. Buck and Allyson are both intriguing characters that are given interesting backgrounds that fill out their character and make them feel real. Buck’s history in the navy, making him an older college student at 27, gives his character depth and makes his relationship with detective Mancuso believable. His flaw might be that while we are in his head we see that he perceives himself as an overall “nice guy” despite being sexually aroused in the middle of dealing with the murder of his best friends and memorial services. Allyson herself is given depth in her side hobby of rebuilding her house. The unrealistic part of these characters perhaps comes from how easily Allyson lets Buck in on the case and allows him to partake in the investigation.

One of the most interesting parts of the book is Bridge’s use of character perspective. While much of the book is written from Buck’s perspective; we also get to go into the heads of Allyson and some of the characters behind the murder itself. This writing choice is sure to keep readers captivated as answers coming flying in from different directions along with more questions. I liked that none of the characters had all the answers because this leaves the reader in a perfect position to piece the mystery together.

The story is a fascinating murder mystery and an exciting political thriller all tied up in a passionate romance. It successfully weaves these genres into a thought-provoking story. While the book does come to an end in a satisfying and unique way, it still leaves questions open and possibilities for more to come, which creates a desire to continue reading the second book Bridges wrote as a sequel, Surviving Ghosts. Overall the book was interesting and unpredictable, a necessity for an enjoyable mystery.

Pages: 295 | ASIN: B00FEN4RVG

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The Capabilities Of The Mind

Bloodbird is a futuristic novel that explores the possibilities of technological and medical advances. What is your experiences in these fields? Have you always been interested in science and medicine?

I have always been interested in science and medicine. As a practicing physician, I see medicine as it exists and can envision much of where it will be going. Transplant medicine is a very interesting field, with lots of hope for the future. Who knows what is not transplantable today will be done in the future. Certainly, none of the characters in BloodBird could envision the apparent ancillary, unintended and unanticipated transplant which seems to have occurred to Karolena, nor the rather weird transplant that Blutfink ended up getting in the ending. Did Blutfink get his wish granted? Only he will know.

BloodBird is an interesting look into where medical and technological research can expand. What is one medical advancement we have today that you only thought would be science fiction?

Computer chips that are implanted in the brain that are triggering movement of artificial limbs, and maybe facilitating sight.

There is a lot of time and care spent with descriptions and building the setting and tone of the story in Bloodbird. Was this out of necessity to develop the depth of the story or was it something that happened naturally as you were writing?

Both. I felt that the changes in transplant surgery, in medicine, and even in the basic fabric of society needed fleshing out for the reader to appreciate what the near future could bring, and what it would be like to actually live among Karolena and the other characters. Some things changed a lot, but others not at all.

Karolena develops an interesting ability to see events from the past and into the future. Why do you think this ability was important to tell the story? Was there any other abilities you might of used?

Karolena was loosing her sight, and the VAA area of the brain is actually involved in certain aspects of vision, so there is an element of medical plausibility here. Seeing out of the past or into the future is not currently associated medically with the physiologic function of the VAA or of any known function of a body structure, but there is much that we do now know about the capabilities of the mind. BTW, BloodBird was initially titled Second Sight.

Here is a question for YOU the readers. The author would like to ask whether any readers have speculated on the origin on the book’s title? Please post your responses in the comments section below.

Author Links: Amazon Author Page

Karolena Kreisler, a young German ex-pat surgeon in North Carolina, develops a worsening of her chronic liver disease, complicated by an unusual loss of vision. She elects to undergo an experimental transplant when a donor “miraculously” becomes available, which seems life and vision saving. Karolena soon develops an unusual ability to “see” events, past and future, and this haunting ability drives her to the truth behind certain high income business ventures at her hospital. The action takes place in the not too distant future, giving the reader a glimpse of what life, research and medicine could soon be like. This is futuristic medical fiction at its best, and will appeal to anyone who has contact with healthcare professionals. Nurses, office staff, paramedics, administrators, doctors and most of all patients will recognize all these characters, their bizarre actions and perhaps relate to their sometimes irrational, emotional behavior. You will be left wondering which parts are fiction, what actually occurred, and what the author left out.

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Bloodbird

BloodbirdBloodBird by Dimitri Markov is part of his Dangerous Doctors series. It is a futuristic novel that explores the possibilities of technological and medical advances. The novel focuses on a young female doctor named Karolena who discovers her chronic liver disease has worsened as she begins to lose her vision. When an unknown donor is presented, Karolena undergoes an experimental transplant which could save both her life and her vision. After the surgery, Karolena develops an interesting ability to see events from the past and into the future. This newfound ability causes her to find out the truth behind the business operations of her hospital, a truth she may not want to know. She tries to find the answers she desires, but quickly learns she can trust no one.

BloodBird is an interesting look into where medical and technological research can expand. It is an interesting look into what the future could hold. The story is a little slow to begin, but it really picks up as Karolena begins to experience her ‘visions’. The author does a good job and roping the reader into the story with well-developed characters and descriptions. There are some dialogue that comes off as being too cliché such as “I am Penny Forest’s mother, and I am here to avenge her death. I loved her very much.” There are plenty of other ways to say the same thing and garner a reaction from the readers. The novel is a hit and miss when it comes to predictability; some things were predictable but there were other wild plot twists that take the reader by surprise. Couple that with Markov’s ability to create complex and interesting characters and you’ll easily lose track of time as your furiously flipping through pages.

Markov spends a lot of time with descriptions and building the setting and tone of the story. He has a unique way of telling his story and getting the readers engaged into the story. At times it feels like he prolongs the story on purpose to make the reader more interested. While these moments seem to drag on, I continued to read the story because of a strong connection to the characters that made me want to find out where the tale will take them. The author creates an interesting futuristic world with things that seem like science fiction, like the transference of people’s memories, and makes them ever so subtly believable.

I would recommend this book to those who enjoy future novels, medical experimentation novels, even those who enjoy mysteries. I think BloodBird by Dimitri Markov is a genre crossing novel that would appeal to a variety of people looking for an entertaining read on late nights. It’s slow to develop, but delivers a lot.

Pages: 450 | ISBN: 1517707617

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