Book Review: Miss Julia Delivers the Goods

Ann B. Ross
Viking, 2009
352 pages


The latest in a long line of "Miss Julia" titles by Ross is one of the better ones. In Miss Julia Delivers the Goods, our Miss Julia handles both a personal crisis and a major mystery with her usual dynamic flair. First up: longtime companion Hazel Marie falls ill with sweeping consequences--and besides her being unwell, there is her breakup with Mr. Pickens to attend to, a break which Miss Julia is determined to patch. On top of which, Julia's husband Sam falls victim to a mysterious break-in that damages the research he's collected for the book he's writing. Not one to let her curiosity lie fallow, Miss Julia is on the case in no time, sniffing out the who and the why of things.

Anyone who has read other of Ross' books featuring the intrepid Julia Springer-now-Murdoch will find this one to be in the top tier of that series. Certainly there were a few places where Julia seemed to be making things harder than they needed to be--points at which I asked myself, Well why doesn't she just . . .?--but then again, it's typical of Miss Julia to complicate matters. In the end, it was a fun read, just as all Miss Julia books are expected to be.

Book Review: Birth Day

Mark Sloan, M.D.
Ballantine Books, 2009
370 pages


I don't know if the fact that I'm pregnant is what caused me to pick this one off the library's "new releases" shelf, but I'm glad I did. Sloan's straight-forward style of writing, infused with anecdotes and moderate (often wry) humor, takes what could otherwise be a dry subject and turns it into a fascinating read.

The subtitle to the book explains the core of the material: A Pediatrician Explores the Science, the History, and the Wonder of Childbirth. It may sound potential dull, or even gruesome, but Sloan understands the breadth of his potential audience and sticks mostly to really interesting facts. Topics include the growing trend in cesarean births, the history of anesthesia use in childbirth, as well as the history of the delivery room--as in, when did it become so vogue for dads to be present, and why? Additionally, Sloan discusses the differences between a fetus and a baby, and what happens in those key minutes at birth when one becomes the other. Reading about it, one can't help but have new found respect for the complexities of the human condition.

Would I have found Birth Day as interesting if I weren't expecting yet another wee one myself? I like to think so. In total, it's a quick, engrossing and fine read.