Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Paramedics by James O. Page

The Paramedics by James O. Page
Copyright 1979 
Backdraft Publications 
Source: Author

This is probably the weirdest way I've ever read a book and the story behind it is rather an interesting one. The short version: someone put me in touch with the author, who loaned me one of the 6 remaining copies of The Paramedics from his personal shelves and gave me permission to photocopy it for my own use. I returned the original to the author and put the copied pages in sheet protectors then snapped them into a three-ring binder. 

Jim Page died in 2004 so it's been quite some time since my first reading (and I'm pretty sure I didn't finish reading The Paramedics, the first time) but I was reminded of the book because my exercise time falls during reruns of Emergency! on MeTV and the author was a consultant for the TV show.

The Paramedics is a history of Emergency Medical Services. The portions dedicated to the current state of emergency medicine in the field are well and truly outdated, of course, but the book is still of interest to anyone curious about how paramedics came into being. I first read The Paramedics in the late 90s and didn't remember a thing, so I found it surprising in many ways.

Field medicine really began as a response to the need for quicker cardiac care when cardiologists discovered that minutes could mean the difference between life and death for heart attack victims. Treatment expanded from cardiac care to other emergency needs, like trauma, as they became apparent. But, EMS was very much a regional thing -- both in method and level of training -- that varied dramatically from one place to another; and, it took quite some time before the creation of national standards.

I found a few facts particularly fascinating. One is that most of the early paramedics were firefighters but in at least one case it was policemen who were the first EMS trainees and sometimes private ambulance attendants received training while cities or counties lagged behind. I also found it fascinating that some private ambulance services (previously burly men in white coats who merely loaded and carried patients to the hospital for a fee, like a cab service for the infirm) fought tooth and nail to prevent EMS becoming a branch of their local fire services because they feared a major loss of business. Eventually, it became apparent that private ambulance services could actually profit from switching to non-emergency transport, which was and still is needed.

It was also interesting to find that the same problems that plague paramedics today (burnout, back injuries, abuse of the system by citizens who hoped for a free bus ride, so to speak) were a problem nearly from the beginning of EMS.

There is a bit of background information about Emergency! in The Paramedics but the focus is on real-life events. I actually have a booklet that Jim Page wrote about the show, specifically, but I have no idea what's become of that.

Recommended but almost impossible to find - A fascinating look at how Emergency Medical Services originated. The Paramedics used to be in hot demand amongst EMS professionals (I don't know whether or not that's still the case) but it's long since gone out of print and it is nearly impossible to locate a copy.

I noticed there's one rating at Amazon. The reader says he bought his copy for $99 and sold it for $249. Whoa. And, his opinion was, "It was too much like it was screaming 'look at us'."  The Paramedics was written when the whole concept of EMS was still a very new and shiny thing so I didn't really have any problem with that undercurrent of pride, although I do agree that Page was not a brilliant writer. He was solid enough, in my opinion, and the fact that he was present at the beginning gives the book a nice, personal touch. Also, where else are you going to find photos of paramedics wearing bushy mustaches and plaid pants?

©2014 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery  or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Mini reviews - The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by J. Dicker, Parson's Green by F. Bagley, Goodnight June by S. Jio

None of the following books were sent to me by publishers and none left a lasting impression, so I'm going to just give them quickie reviews.

The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair by Joel Dicker is a chunkster at 656 pages and I do believe it could have easily been edited down to a much more reasonable length but I still found it engrossing enough to finish within just a couple days. 

Harry Quebert is a famous novelist whose protégé, Marcus, has himself become a bestselling novelist. The deadline for Marcus's second book is looming and Marcus hasn't written a word, so he goes to visit Harry, hoping for inspiration. While visiting, Marcus becomes involved in a murder investigation. Decades in the past young Nola, the love of Harry's life, disappeared and now her body has been found with evidence that incriminates Harry. Marcus believes Harry is innocent and sets out to solve the mystery.

I found the fact that both writers became fabulously wealthy very difficult to buy into and grew weary of Harry and Nola gushing about their love for each other. But I was captivated enough to ignore the book's flaws, whip through the reading and give it a 4-star rating, if for no other reason than the fact that I dislike mysteries, in general, so I figure if a mystery can hold my attention for over 600 pages, it ought to get an above-average rating. For the most part, the French author's understanding of Americans is pretty impressive, as well. The Truth About the Harry Quebert Affair is an award winner in the author's home country. Recommended, but you'll probably either love it or hate it.

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Parsons Green by Fiona Bagley was this month's selection for my F2F book group. Cricket McLean and her mother, Claudia, have always been able to see ghosts. Claudia is a travel writer and when she decides to spend a summer helping out in a friend's bookstore in Savannah, Georgia, she is not surprised to find that her rental house is haunted. But, at least the ghosts are friendly.

Cricket doesn't want to spend all her time in the bookstore, so she goes out in search of a job and finds a position working as a tour guide in a local mansion called Chartwell House. There, a baby was murdered, the baby's mother found guilty and hanged for her crime. But, was she truly guilty? As Cricket explores the house and its history, she is able to see scenes that lead her to believe that there are dark forces at work and she must solve the mystery to put at least one ghost to rest.

I thought Parsons Green was a pretty good story, apart from the fact that a few too many people believed in or saw ghosts. My biggest problem with it was the common self-published-book problem: Parsons Green is desperately in need of a professional editing job. Had the book been much longer, I probably wouldn't have made it all the way through the reading, but it's short and the story is compelling. Recommended with a warning that the sheer quantity of errors is exhausting.

Goodnight June is the first book I've read by Sarah Jio, although I've been hearing gushy praise of her books for several years.

June is a cut-throat New York banker whose job is to take over small businesses that are struggling and sell off their assets. June moved to New York from Seattle and has not returned home for several years. She has few friends, no romantic prospects, and she works long hours. June is so stressed that as Goodnight June opens, she's in the hospital to get her blood pressure under control.  She's only in her 30's.

When June finds out her Aunt Ruby has died and left June her beloved bookstore, June travels to Seattle intending to simply sell the store and rush back home. But, she meets a handsome restaurateur, finds a set of letters connecting the bookstore and her aunt to Margaret Wise Brown's book, Goodnight Moon, and decides she must stay to save the bookstore. The store is failing and June finds herself in the same position as the business owners whose livelihoods she has heartlessly ripped away.

Goodnight June is fluffy, sentimental, beachy reading. It was the right book for the moment -- I was swept away, at first, and I enjoyed the fact that it was a quick read. But, it's more than a little far-fetched and the many strands had a "way too convenient" aspect that pulled me out of the reading. In spite of the fact that I had trouble buying into the storyline, I finished Goodnight June, so I gave it an average rating. Recommended for a fluff break with a warning that the story is extremely far-fetched.

If you've already read Goodnight June, you might be interested to know that Margaret Wise Brown's New York writing cottage, Cobble Court, is under threat and may be torn down to make space for condominiums.

©2014 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery  or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Malarkey - Same old jazz

Oh, looky there, another week has passed. That just keeps happening. You already know we had some rough days, last week, if you saw my Fiona Friday post. Otherwise, the week was not half bad. We're really enjoying having only one house upon which to focus our cleaning and gardening efforts.  I've spent much of my week working on organizing the library and culling books that no longer interest me while Huzzybuns has been working hard at tidying the yard.  Somewhere in there, Kiddo announced that he's officially completed his university graduation requirements, went on a job interview in Memphis, got a ticket for looking down at his GPS while sitting at a red light and then showed up on our doorstep.  

A few books arrived but it was a light mail week.

Recent Arrivals:

  • Titanic Survivor by Violet Jessop - via Paperback Swap
  • Prototype by M. D. Waters - sent by friend
  • The Here and Now by Ann Brashares - sent by friend

Last week's posts:

Just three posts. So, not a wonderful blogging week. Not a particularly good reading week, either, but mostly because I was either falling asleep or worrying about the cat. I spent a lot of time checking on the cat and giving her extra cuddles while she was feeling bad. 

Last week's reads:

  • Atlas: Poems by Katrina Vandenberg
  • The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland
  • Rescue by Anita Shreve

Currently reading:

  • Sextant by David Barrie - I set Sextant aside to focus on The Transcriptionist, which is short but took me about 4 days to read because I kept falling asleep reading (again). Hopefully, I'll make some decent progress on Sextant, soon. I'm only on the 4th chapter.
  • This is the Water by Yannick Murphy - One chapter in and finding the writing style bizarre. I absolutely loved The Call by this author so I'm going to stick it out, for now.
  • Run, Don't Walk: The Curious and Chaotic Life of a Physical Therapist Inside Walter Reed Army Medical Center by Adele Levine 


We're just a few episodes away from finishing Christopher Eccleston's season of Dr. Who and began watching the second season of Whitechapel, which is every bit as gruesome as the description led us to believe.  And, yet, we really enjoy it.  One episode was all we could handle, the first night. It really did make us cringe, a few times, but the interaction between DI Chandler and the other detectives is very well-written. I actually found myself sitting on the edge of my seat, literally.  

I don't know what exactly keeps my husband watching, since he's gotten an even lower amount of tolerance for bloody or cruel scenes. The combination of mystery and comic relief, perhaps? Maybe just the fact that you have to think? It's certainly well done, like most BBC productions. But for me, in addition to the well-balanced mystery and comedy, the truth of the matter is that I return because of this face:

I admit to being captivated by the cut of Penry-Jones' clothing, as well.  That jacket with the red silk lining!  And, Rupert Penry-Jones plays a man who has OCD, which I can appreciate. If I could have my way, everything we own would be set at right angles. 

That's about all the news. I'll try to blast through more reviews, this week. Falling behind really gets on my nerves.  What are you reading?

©2014 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery  or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Fiona Friday on the Wrong Day - Bad week for kitty

Poor Miss Fi was given a shot she's not supposed to get ever because of a known allergic reaction, plus an extra injection she didn't need because she doesn't go outside.  She had a rotten couple of days. Fiona is a high-energy kitty but she was just flat miserable and slept for the better part of two days, her neck badly swollen from the unnecessary injection, in spite of a shot of benadryl that was given to her when I realized what happened.  I can't even begin to tell you how happy I was when she finally returned to her normal, bouncy self and resumed following me from room to room. It was a scary 48 hours.

©2014 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery  or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Tales of Trenzalore by Richards, Mann, Finch and Morris

Dr. Who: Tales of Trenzalore by Justin Richards, George Mann, Paul Finch and Mark Morris
Copyright 2014 - BBC Books
Science Fiction/Short stories
Source:  Gift from BBC Books

You should have heard the cries of delight when the envelope containing Tales of Trenzalore arrived.  My son was in town, brought in the mail and noticed the unusual PO Number on his way in the door: TRENZALORE0620.  Before we managed to open the parcel, we were busy theorizing whether or not a postal worker was just having a little fun.

But, inside was Tales of Trenzalore and a lovely note saying the book was a thank-you gift for participating in last year's Dr. Who book tour.  The whole family was bouncing up and down, by this point. We are Dr. Who fans from way back. I sat down and began reading, that evening.

Tales of Trenzalore consists of four short stories, all of which take place in the town of Christmas, where the Doctor stayed to defend the planet for hundreds of years:  

"Let it Snow" - Warriors fall from the sky in ice capsules to wage war against the Doctor and they don't mind killing anyone who gets in their way.

"An Apple a Day"- The Harvest Festival is coming to Christmas but there's a hole in the roof of the orchard. Nearby, a man who used to be quite nice is now covered in vines and growing huge and dangerous. 

"Strangers in the Outland" - The Doctor takes an ice ship to the wilderness to battle the Nestene (nasty plastic creatures). 

"The Dreaming" - Hmm, I remember something about a skeleton and the Mara but this story escapes me. However, in flipping through the book I noted that the Doctor uses the word "squillions", which is a word I've used since reading it in the book Mr. God, This is Anna (decades ago -- squillions of days have passed) and seldom see used by others. Within days, I read another book in which the word was used. Well, it surprised me, that's all.  

Although I don't recall that last story very well, I enjoyed all four and I'm sure Tales of Trenzalore will end up battered as the rest of the family members take turns reading it.  We do love Dr. Who.  The only complaint I have is a minor one. Since the book is an anthology, the stories were written by 4 different authors and at the close of "An Apple a Day," the story ends with the Doctor saying, "Today I'm going to tell you the story of how I lost my leg . . . "  Unfortunately, I thought of that ending sentence as a lead-in to the next story and it was not. The story of how the Doctor ended up with a wooden leg remains untold, at least in any detail. I would have edited that sentence so that it didn't confuse the reader into believing the actual story was about to be told. 

Recommended - Four entertaining stories about the 11th Doctor's adventures on Trenzalore, Tales of Trenzalore makes a nice, quick afternoon or evening read when you're in the mood for otherworldly tales. I have particular favorites, of course, and I thought some captured the 11th Doctor's unique mode of speech and gesture better than others but I enjoyed them all.

©2014 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery  or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

I'm Not Cute by Jonathan Allen

I'm Not Cute! by Jonathan Allen
Copyright 2014 - Boxer Books
Children's picture book
Source: Unsolicited from Sterling Children's

I'm Not Cute! is about a baby owl who doesn't want to be thought of as a cute little thing as he thinks himself a grown-up owl. Hopefully, you'll be able to enlarge these images. Baby owl decides to go for a walk in the woods where, "Nobody will bother ME," but he comes across Rabbit, who says he's "so cute" and "so small" and gives him a hug.

Baby Owl insists that he's a "huge and scary hunting machine with great big soft and silent wings." But, Fox comes along, sees him doing what Fox thinks is a little dance and calls him "so cute and so fluffy". Baby Owl gets another hug. The same thing continues with Squirrel admiring his cuteness and his "big baby eyes."  Baby Owl throws a tantrum but along comes his mother, who listens to his complaints about being called cute and agrees with him. Clearly, he is a "huge, scary, sleek, sharp-eyed hunting machine."

Naturally, the reverse psychology leads to a small crisis in which Baby Owl decides he really is cute.

His mama sympathizes, tells him it's bedtime and reads till Baby Owl drifts off to sleep. She whispers that he's awfully cute for a huge, scary, sleek, sharp-eyed hunting machine. Baby Owl has one eye open but closes it with a smile on his face when she wishes him good night. 

My thoughts: Anyone who has had or worked with a toddler or preschooler going through that phase during which they can't accept the fact that they're not yet grown-ups but still want the comfort of being coddled by an adult will relate to this story and enjoy reading it to a little one. And, the little one being read to will probably get a kick out of a little owl sharing his or her feelings. 

Recommended - A good story that little ones can relate to with adorable illustrations. I love the fact that I'm Not Cute! shows both sides of the story. Sometimes a little one wants to be treated like an adult but at other times they just want to be loved, cuddled and babied.

©2014 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery  or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Malarkey - A pretty stack, an excellent posting week, a Doctor with a Northern accent

It's Monday!  First things first . . . the mail.  I thought I'd gotten away with a really light mail week and then Huzzybuns fetched the mail on Saturday and I wanted to slink behind the wall when he came in with two thick parcels. Fortunately, I made up for getting a nice stack by sending two full bags of books out the door for donation and mailing out a few more. That's some colorful mail I got, last week, isn't it?   

Recent Arrivals (top to bottom):

  • No One Writes to the Colonel and other stories by Gabriel Garcia Marquez - via Paperback Swap (recommended by a friend in Sweden)
  • The Future for Curious People by Gregory Sherl - from Algonquin for review
  • Bitter Greens by Kate Forsyth - from St. Martin's Press for review.  I actually squealed when I got this one. It's been on my wish list for ages.
  • California by Edan Lepucki - from a friend via a Canadian blogger with whom I'm not acquainted (this one's traveling and has one more stop after I read it)
  • Victus by Albert Sánchez Piñol - from Harper for review
  • The Bully of Order by Brian Hart - from Harper for review
  • The Floor of Heaven by Howard Blum - via Paperback Swap

Last week's posts:

Last week's reads:

  • The Paramedics by James O. Page
  • Goodnight June by Sarah Jio
  • Atlas: Poems by Katrina Vandenberg

Currently reading:

  • Sextant by David Barrie (non-fiction)
  • The Transcriptionist by Amy Rowland


Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer - I decided to give up on Annihilation because every time I picked it up I fell asleep. And, it's due back to the library soon. I may try it another time but it definitely was not the right book for the moment. I also read just a few pages of Citadel by Kate Mosse before deciding I'll return to it later, as well. 


After we finished watching Whitechapel: The Ripper Returns (which had a very satisfying ending), we considered moving on to the next season of Whitechapel but noticed the word "gruesome" in the description, looked at each other and both shook our heads. Another day.

I wanted to restart Dr. Who from the beginning but Husband was not interested so we randomly flipped channels and then I began watching the Christopher Eccleston season when the spouse wasn't around. I've watched 5 episodes, so far, and I'm enjoying myself. I just squeeze in an episode or two whenever I'm on my own and not in the mood to read. So far, so good. I'm looking forward to Captain Jack's appearance and this time I've noticed at least 3 of the Torchwood team made an appearance in this first season of Dr. Who, not just Captain Jack but two of the women, as well. Interesting what you notice on repeat viewings.

That's all for now.  Happy Monday!

©2014 Nancy Horner. All rights reserved. If you are reading this post at a site other than Bookfoolery  or its RSS feed, you are reading a stolen feed. Email for written permission to reproduce text or photos.