Saturday, December 19, 2020

Book Review: Allie and Bea

About the Book:

Bea has barely been scraping by since her husband died. After falling for a telephone scam, she loses everything and is forced to abandon her trailer. With only two-thirds of a tank in her old van, she heads toward the Pacific Ocean with her cat—on a mission to reclaim what’s rightfully hers, even if it means making others pay for what she lost.

When fifteen-year-old Allie’s parents are jailed for tax fraud, she’s sent to a group home. But when her life is threatened by another resident, she knows she has to get out. She escapes only to find she has nowhere to go—until fate throws Allie in Bea’s path.

Reluctant to trust each other, much less become friends, the two warily make their way up the Pacific Coast. Yet as their hearts open to friendship and love from the strangers they meet on their journey, they find the courage to forge their own unique family—and begin to see an imperfect world with new eyes.

My Comments:

The strength of Allie and Bea is the relationship between the characters.  Bea is a Social-Security-aged senior citizen with no family who has just been scraping by and Allie is a teen who had it all, until she didn't, and was suddenly thrust into the foster care/group home system with kids who were far different from any she had known before.  Allie is on the run from a traffiker when she almost runs into Bea and convinces Bea to take her in.  As they travel the California coast they meet some interesting people and learn that they can help each other make it.  

The weakness is the general non-believability of the story.  First, both of Allie's parents are arrested and taken to jail over a tax case.  As someone whose job involves white collar criminal cases, I can tell you that a far more likely scenario would be that they turned themselves in, accompanied by their attorney, and that bond was set without them ever spending a night behind bars.  Second, within the space of a few weeks, the criminal case against both was resolved, which in real life wouldn't have happened even if they had worked out a deal ahead of time and pled guilty at the initial appearance.  

Allie has bad luck and ends up with a human trafficker, but her escape is unrealistic.  The trip that is the centerpiece of the story?  Hmm...maybe, but again, not likely.  

In short, while an engaging read, Allie and Bea just didn't ring true.  

The book is available at no extra cost via a Kindle Unlimited subscription, which is how I obtained it.  Grade:  B-


Thursday, December 10, 2020

Book Review: The Gift of Family


Mary Monroe The Gift of Family

The Gift of Family

About the Book:

Successful, secure, and still very much in love, middle-aged couple Eugene and Rosemary Johnson have never given up on one special wish—to be parents. And while Christmas always brings happiness and a whirlwind of holiday fun, their hopes for children of their own seem further away than ever. Especially this year, when Rosemary must have emergency surgery and home help to recuperate. Wanting to lift his wife’s spirits, Eugene suddenly has an inspiration from back in the
day . . .
Faithful and sensible, Ethel Perkins raised Eugene and his brother. Unforeseen tragedy has left the sixty-something widow struggling with little money and two jobs to keep her great-grandchildren off the streets. She’s glad to help Rosemary back on her feet. But she can only stay until Rosemary is well enough to resume her normal routine. For Ethel, survival means keeping to her grueling schedule, being there for everyone but herself, and, as always, handling her troubles all on her own . . .
As Ethel’s problems go from bad to much worse, Rosemary and Eugene find themselves helping her more and more—and growing close to her lively youngsters. Soon, there’s only one way both families can salvage the season: by celebrating it together. But will their temporary family work into the
future . . . and possibly make a lifetime of happiness?

My Comments:

Christmas novels are supposed to be sweet and heartwarming and in this The Gift of Family does not dissapoint.  When his wife needs help at home after surgery, Eugene thinks of the housekeeper who helped raise him, and even though he has not heard from her in years, he is able to track her down.  It just so happens she was just laid off and is looking for a job.  As noted above, she quickly becomes more than a servant and what do you think happens at the end.

I tend to get distracted from stories by details that don't ring true and in this case, while I am no medical expert, the medical details did not ring true at all--though I just did a quick Google search and at least one thing I thought was inaccurate could have happened.  

In short, this is a quick easy read that will leave you smiling but you can pretty much guess from the blurb above how the story will end, and the road to get there isn't very twisted.  

Thanks to the publisher for making a review copy avialable via NetGalley.  Grade: B-

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

A Song for the Road


Its funny, I can't quite bring myself to abandon this blog, but I've clearly lost my enthusiasm for it.  I actually have a blog now that people read--about Girl Scouts.  

Still, this is where I got my start, and sometimes I like writing about non-Girl Scout things.  I can read old posts here and they are like looking at my past--those summer evenings at the pool reading while my baby (now a junior in high school) played with other kids, or those days when I ran a link up for Catholic bloggers, and of course those days when the mail brought package after package of review copies.  Now what review copies I get come via NetGalley and are read on my tablet.  

Back in the day, I "met" another Catholic blogger, Kathleen Basi, who is an author and a composer.  I reviewed several of her books, and you can read about them by clicking her name in the tags under this post.  I've been following her on Facebook and watching her beautiful children grow up.  I've read a bunch of Facebook posts about pouring herself into a novel she was writing, with no guarantee it would be published.  

I've always been a reader but one thing book blogging taught me (or shall we say started to teach me because there is still so much I don't know) is the process by which an author's ideas make it to my Fire tablet.  I had some vague idea of what happened up until the book was published, but no idea about what happened thereafter--how books ended up in my libarary or bookstore or what publicity was involved.  

Well, Kathleen's book was accepted by a publisher and will be available for purchase in May.  I've been along for the ride (as in hanging on the back of the car, practically out of sight) since she announced she found a publisher, has been working on edits and is now working on publicity.  Her book was recently given a cover--isn't it pretty?  

The book is about a mother who loses her whole family in an instant, and then as part of the healing process goes on a cross-country road trip.  Kathleen is a musician so I guess we shouldn't be surprised that she works music into the plot.  A long road trip has always been one of those back of the mind goals for me.  When I was a kid we lived in Mississippi and every summer we'd pile into the station wagon and head to Wisconsin to visit Grandma and Grandpa and all the rest of my mom's family.  We'd spend two long hard days in the car going 55 mph through corn fields, corn fields and more corn fields, but several time a day we'd pass billboards advertising nearby attractions.  Of course we never stopped, and honestly I doubt most of these attractions were worth more than thirty minutes of time, but I've always wanted to get in the car and go where the road takes me, stopping to explore small town museums, old churches, and state parks.  

I've done a couple of short versions of that dream.  I  had a week off between jobs back in the late '80s and a reasonably new car, so I took off by myself toward Arkansas to see where the road took me--which ended up being Hot Springs, Mountain Home and a few other places.  I found that hitting the road alone (and for some reason my dreams of these road trips never involve other people) really wasn't as much fun as I dreamed it would be.  About ten years ago I flew to Minneapolis and rented a car to head to a family reunion in Wisconsin.  Instead of getting in the interstate and driving straight over, I got on an old state highway and meandered around, as I had a couple of hours to kill before my hosts would be home from work.  I purposefully scheduled my flight out for late afternoon to give me time to explore on Monday morning, when I drove out to the church where my grandparents were married, and then through Pepin where I saw the Laura Ingalls Wilder Museum as well as the headwaters of the Mississippi River.  

In a lot of ways, Kathleen is on a road trip now.  She is trying to virtually cross the country promoting her book, and so I'm giving her a shout-out here, for the dozen or so people who actually still read what I write here.  I keep telling myself I'm going to get "back into" book blogging, writing regularly, joining weekly link-ups and so on, but honestly, I'm probably not going to do so.  If you are one of those dozen or so folks, who still have me in your feeds or who check in regularly, thank you.  I guess in some ways life is like a road trip--there are so many places to go and you miss the fun of what's beyond the bend in the road if you are staying where you are--but on the other hand, its nice to come home to the familiar, so who knows, maybe you'll find your next favorite read here.  

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

Review: Reflections on the Sunday Gospel: How to More Fully Live Out Your Relationship With God


About the Book:

Pope Francis illuminates a new, vibrant way of experiencing the Gospel through moving, intimate, and deeply meditative reflections that encourage us to live fully with meaning, purpose, and strength.

We live in an unprecedented time that has threatened to upend our daily rhythms, our work, our homes, even our faith. More than ever, we need books like Reflections on the Sunday Gospel to stir us to hope, to comfort, to peace. We need to remember what we live for and how good God is.

These reflections—published in English for the first time, drawn both from homilies given by Pope Francis and readings from the Fathers of the Church, including Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome, and Saint Ambrose—do more than offer a way to enter into the liturgical year with weekly readings to enrich your devotional time. They offer Christ, and the power of His resurrection. They offer His words of assurance: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world” (Jn 16:33, ESV).

Ultimately, as Pope Francis guides us through these timeless words, we will glean how even the giants of the faith needed God as much as we do, and how we can draw near to a good and faithful God no matter where we are or what season we’re in.

My Comments:

Usually when I get a book on NetGalley, the publication date is within a few months.  Generally publishers ask us to hold our reviews until about thirty days before publication.  I just noticed that the publication date for this book is November, 2022, which at first raised my eyebrows, but then got me thinking.  

If you are not familiar with the Catholic Lectionary, it is the book that contains the readings for Mass that day.  While there is some flexibility on weekdays, if you go to Sunday Mass anywhere in the world, you are going to hear the same Scripture readings as all other Catholics.  The Lectionary presents these Sunday readings in a three year cycle with each year focusing on a different synoptic gospel.  This year that gospel is the Gospel of Matthew.  When Advent begins, we start another church year and will move on to a different Gospel.  This year's cycle is the same as the one starting in November, 2022.  

So, now that you've had a quick lesson on Scripture in the Catholic Mass, what about the book?  As noted, it contains writings of Pope Francis about the readings each week.  This week's readings are here.  
In case the link doesn't work when you are reading this, the First Reading is from Exodus and tells the Israelites not to oppress people. The Second Reading is from Thessalonians and Paul is praising them for showing his preaching by their lives.  The Gospel is Jesus saying you shall love God with all your heart and your neighbor as yourself.  
Chapters in the book begin with Pope Francis' reflection.  In this case he points out that the loving God and loving neighbor are inseparable as people are made in the image of God.  He also states that we cannot separate prayer and devotion and service to others.  He says "In the middle of the dense forest of rules and regulations--the legalisms of the past and present--Jesus makes an opening through which one can catch a glimpse of two faces:  the face of the Father and the face of the brother. He does not give us two formulas or two precepts;  there are no precepts or formulas.  He gives us two faces , actually, only one real face, that of God reflecte din the many faces, because in the face of each brother...there is God's own image.  
Following the Holy Father's teaching is a reading from the Fathers of the Church, in this case, St. Maximus the Confessor, who in this excerpt talks about love.  This does not appear to be one long teaching but rather excerpts from a variety of things, based on the ellipses and brackets.  One quote I liked was "He who loves God cannot help but love every man as himself, even if he abhors the passions of those not yet purified". 
I'd say the teachings from Pope Francis are pretty much the type of things he is known for--don't judge, love, care for the poor etc.  If Pope Francis is like fingernails on a chalkboard to you, you probably won't like this book.  If he is "your" Pope, you will.  I like him, so I'm giving this book a B+

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

My Review: Jingle All the Way

Jingle All the Way: A Novel by [Debbie Macomber]

About the Book:

Trapped in the middle of five siblings, Everly Lancaster always had big dreams. Now a top real-estate executive, Everly finds her work is her life, leaving no space for anything (or anyone) else. Sensing her stress, Everly’s boss insists she take December off. At first, a month away seems crazy—how will the company survive without her? But Everly’s mother convinces her otherwise. She deserves a vacation—plus, when she returns, she’ll have no excuse to skip family Christmas like she did last year.

But after her vengeful assistant books a guided cruise in the Amazon instead of the luxury beach vacation she expected, Everly is horrified to realize that she’s about to spend the next two weeks trapped—with no Wi-Fi!—in the rain forest. Not even Asher Adams, the ship’s charming naturalist, can convince Everly that the trip will be unforgettable. Slowly but surely, she realizes he is right: the sights are spectacular. And with each passing day, Everly’s relationship with Asher deepens, forcing her to take a long, hard look at her priorities.

Everly and Asher begin to see magic in the possibility of a life together. But as the cruise nears its end, and Everly’s family Christmas approaches, both must decide if love is worth the risk. A merry surprise may be in store in Debbie Macomber’s newest holiday delight.

My Comments:

Debbie Macomber Christmas novel.  Really, that says it all.  It's sweet, predictable, and not very realistic.  If you are in the right mood it is a pleasant way to pass a few hours but no, there is nothing special about this.  

I did like the setting--a cruise down the Amazon River.  Usually when you think of cruises you think of those huge ships that are floating luxury resorts sailing from beach to beach or tourist city to tourist city but this book reminded me that you can take cruises on smaller ships to more unique locations.  

Thanks to the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade: B-

Come join us for Show Off Tuesday to read other reviews and recipes and to enter a giveaway or two. 

Sunday, October 18, 2020

The Cookbook Club: My Review

About the Book:

Margo Everson sees the call out for the cookbook club and knows she’s found her people. Recently dumped by her self-absorbed husband, who frankly isn’t much of a loss, she has little to show for her marriage but his ‘parting gift’—a dilapidated old farm house—and a collection of well-loved cookbooks

Aja Alexander just hopes her new-found friends won’t notice that that every time she looks at food, she gets queasy. It’s hard hiding a pregnancy, especially one she can’t bring herself to share with her wealthy boyfriend and his snooty mother. 

Trista Walker left the cutthroat world of the law behind and decided her fate was to open a restaurant…not the most secure choice ever. But there she could she indulge her passion for creating delectable meals and make money at the same time.

The women bond immediately, but it’s not all popovers with melted brie and blackberry jam.  Margo’s farm house is about to fall down around her ears; Trista’s restaurant needs a makeover and rat-removal fast; and as for Aja, just how long can you hide a baby bump anyway?

In this delightful novel, these women form bonds that go beyond a love grilled garlic and soy sauce shrimp. Because what is more important in life than friendship…and food?

My Comments:

Sunday, October 11, 2020

Christmas Delights: Cookbook Review

About the Book:

Savor the Delights of the Season with More than 250 Delicious Recipes!
This festive new compilation of family favorite holiday recipes is full of fantastic flavors of the season that will delight the young and the young at heart! Illustrated in full-color photographs, more than 250 recipes will inspire families with delicacies perfect for every Christmas occasion:

  • Christmas Eve Celebrations
  • Bountiful Breakfasts and Brunches
  • Christmas Dinner (including main dishes and sides)
  • Merrymaking (crowd-pleasers for parties)
  • Cookies and Candy
  • Giftable Treats (jar mixes, etc.)

My Comments

 One thing that comes to just about everyone's mind when you say "Christmas" is food. 

Review: Return to Virgin River

Return to Virgin River: A Novel by [Robyn Carr]

About the Book:

Kaylee Sloan’s home in Southern California is full of wonderful memories of the woman who raised her. But the memories are prolonging her grief over her mother’s recent death. A successful author, Kaylee hoped she could pour herself into her work. Instead she has terrible writer’s block and a looming deadline.

Determined to escape distractions and avoid the holiday season, Kaylee borrows a cabin in Virgin River. She knows the isolation will help her writing, and as she drives north through the mountains and the majestic redwoods, she immediately feels inspired. Until she arrives at a building that has just gone up in flames. Devastated, she heads to Jack’s Bar to plan her next steps. The local watering hole is the heart of the town, and once she crosses the threshold, she’s surprised to be embraced by people who are more than willing to help a friend—or a stranger—in need.

Kaylee’s world is expanding in ways she never dreamed possible. And when she rescues a kitten followed by a dog with a litter of puppies, she finds her heart opening up to the animals who need her. And then there’s the dog trainer who knows exactly how to help her. As the holidays approach, Kaylee’s dread turns to wonder. Because there’s no better place to spend Christmas than Virgin River.

My Comments:

The fun of reading books that are part of a series is being able to keep up with characters as life moves on.  The downside is that if you get a long-running series, the author may feel it is necessary to to update you on "everyone's" life to the point that there are too many bit players running on and off the stage.  It is a hard needle to thread--to bring in enough old characters to make readers feel "at home" in the new book without overwhelming the book with useless details about bit characters.  Generally speaking Carr does fine with this, though if she errs it is on the side of too much information about too many useless characters, especially for someone who has not read the other books.

There is no plot carryover from the other Virgin River books.  The main plot is the relationship between Kaylee and a local artist.  His relationship with his ex is the main subplot.   Kaylee is trying to heal from the death of her mother and write a novel that has been the subject of writer's block. She is hoping that a new location will help. 

If you are not familiar with the Virgin River books you may get a little confused about who is who,or why they get named, but long-time fans of the series will enjoy visiting with old friends.   

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Hurricane Season: An Audio Book Review

About the Book:

 USA Today best seller Hurricane Season is the story of one family’s unconventional journey to healing — and the relationships that must be mended along the way.

Betsy and Ty Franklin, owners of Franklin Dairy Farm in southern Alabama, have long since buried their desire for children of their own. While Ty manages their herd of dairy cows, Betsy busies herself with the farm’s day-to-day operations and tries to forget her dream of motherhood. But when her free-spirited sister, Jenna, drops off her two young daughters for “just two weeks,” Betsy’s carefully constructed wall of self-protection begins to crumble.

As the two weeks stretch deeper into the Alabama summer, Betsy and Ty learn to navigate the new additions in their world — and revel in the laughter that now fills their home. Meanwhile, record temperatures promise to usher in the most active hurricane season in decades.

Attending an art retreat four hundred miles away, Jenna is fighting her own battles. She finally has time and energy to focus on her photography, a lifelong ambition. But she wonders how her rediscovered passion can fit in with the life she’s made back home as a single mom.

When Hurricane Ingrid aims a steady eye at the Alabama coast, Jenna must make a decision that will change her family’s future, even as Betsy and Ty try to protect their beloved farm and their hearts. From the author of the USA Today best seller The Hideaway comes a new story about families and mending the past.

My Comments:

I'm usually a reader, not a listener but I had a dental  appointment this week and picked out this gem from Hoopla to listen to while my teeth were being drilled.  Of course that only lasted long enough to get me really interested in the book. I considered finding the written version so I could read it, but I was enjoying the audio, so I kept listening. Slowing down like that and letting the descriptions and feelings hit me and surround me rather than speeding past them as a read makes the book a totally different experience. 

Jenna and Betsy are sisters and were there for each other when their self-involved parents were not. Jenna got pregnant young and shelved her photography dreams to get a sensible job and support her two girls. Betsy met the love of her life, a farmer, when she was in college and gave up a promising advertising career to marry him and live on the family farm.  Betsy's life lacks only one thing--a child--and she has let her desire for a child color her life and pull her away from her loving husband.  Then one summer Jenna is offered the opportunity to attend an artists' retreat and she asks Betsy to keep the girls. 

As those of us who live on the Gulf Coast know, summer, particularly late summer, is hurricane season.  Hurricane Delta is in the Gulf as we speak and like other Gulf Coast residents, my family has been watching the news and making or breaking plans for the weekend.  We have our rituals, our chores that need to be done.  So do the characters in the book.  I think the title also refers to the hurricanes going on in the sister's lives.  For better or worse when a big storm comes through, things change.  As a result of Hurricane Laura, my daughter's boyfriend is working in Lake Charles--but he is working and collecting a paycheck, which he had not been doing since he was laid off at the beginning of the pandemic.  Because of both Laura and Delta, people in West Louisiana have suffered great losses.  Because of the hurricanes, people in west Louisiana will be the recipients of love and generosity from people across the country.  Because of the wind that blew through their lives that summer, neither sister will ever be the same.  

I'll definitely look for other books by Lauren Denton, and who knows, I may even listen to them.  Grade: B+

Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Review: The Merriest Magnolia


About the Book:

Carrie Reed has always been known as her hometown Good Girl, yet she still loves Magnolia, North Carolina—after all, this is where her newly discovered sisters, Avery and Meredith, live. But Christmas is on its way and with it, her first love. Dylan Scott is back in town and planning on changing everything she’s ever loved about Magnolia with his real estate development project…but not without a fight.

Returning to Magnolia was never in Dylan’s plans—it holds too many reminders that he would never be good enough, and memories of the girl he left behind. But when a tragedy leaves him guardian of a grieving teenager, Dylan returns, ready to remake the town into something only money can buy, small-town traditions be damned. But with Carrie determined to stop him, he finds himself wondering if redeeming his teenage reputation is worth losing out on his second chance at love.

My Comments:

I enjoyed this second book in a series enough to track down the first and read it too.  

Thursday, October 01, 2020

Review: Christmas at Holiday House

About the Book:

A widowed young mother’s search for the perfect Christmas for her little boy leads her to Silver Bells, Colorado. Abby Powell becomes enamored with the heartwarming small-town community—with snow!—but not so much with her new client’s less-than-jolly son, Ethan Lancaster.

Ethan, a single-minded businessman, has learned the hard way that love and family are not for him. But he never counted on the lovely newcomer to town—or the emotional pull she and her son, Christopher, would have over him. As Ethan and Abby work together to restore Holiday House, the Lancaster’s historic family mansion, in time for Christmas, Ethan’s heart begins to open along with his home.

My Comments:

Abby knows she needs a change, and has decided to pick up her son and move from Arizona where she lived with her late husband, to Texas, where the two of them had planned to move.  Then her college roommate calls--her grandmother fell and needs live-in help.  Can Abby take the job?  So Abby and her son head to Silver Bells Colorado where they spend the holiday season preparing the grandmother's house for a Christmas exhibition and, of course, getting to know the grandmother's son.  Abby's friend also finds love, so this book definitely leaves you smiling.

The plot tension in this book is that both Ethan and his sister spent much of their childhood being shuttled between two warring parents and neither feels capable of really loving.  Since it's a holiday romance I'll bet you know how it ends.  Its a great book for a cool afternoon, as you snuggle in a warm blanket and sip hot chocolate (or Irish Coffee).  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade B.  

Sunday, September 20, 2020

A California Christmas: Book Review

 A California Christmas (Silver Springs Book 7) by [Brenda Novak]

A California Christmas

About the Book:

Up-and-coming TV anchor Emery Bliss can’t imagine anything more humiliating than the sex tape her ex revenge-posted online. That is, until it causes her to lose her job on top of her self-esteem. Seeking solace—and anonymity—in Silver Springs, Emery isn’t looking to get involved with another man any time soon. But when she’s thrown back into contact with Dallas Turner, she sees something that his many detractors have missed.

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Review: My Husband's Daughter

About the Book:

Cara took a deep breath and let it out slowly. ‘She’s not just my daughter,’ she said as she turned in her seat to face Jack. This man she had once loved, but who she hadn’t seen for nearly five years. ‘Sophie is your daughter too.’

It is past ten o’clock on a cold Friday night when Rebecca and her husband Jack’s doorbell rings. Outside is a woman who introduces herself as Jack’s ex-girlfriend Cara. And she’s holding the hand of a shivering, blue-eyed, four-year-old girl. Who she claims is Jack’s daughter.

Rebecca is shocked to discover he has a child from his last relationship – even one he hadn’t known about. Because becoming parents isn’t part of their life plan. They like children, but they also love their freedom and spending time together uninterrupted; the way that, if they wanted to, they could travel the world at a moment’s notice.

But Cara needs them. Because Cara has a devastating secret that she can’t tell anyone yet. Not even her daughter. A secret with the power to change all of their lives.

A secret that will ultimately mean Rebecca has to ask herself – could she find it in herself to welcome her husband’s child into her home, and into her heart?

My Comments:

Even if you love dessert, a diet of nothing but dessert (besides being unhealthy) gets overwhelming and even the sweet addict wants something else.  Even when you prefer books to come with happily ever after guaranteed, sometimes one that makes you cry can be a nice contrast.  My reading lately has tended toward mindless romance novels but just like after eating too many of my own desserts at Christmas I wanted some flavor other than sweet. On my last trip through NetGalley's offerings, I went looking for a book that went in another direction and came upon this gem.

One by-product of the sexual revolution has been a large increase in children born out of wedlock.  While some of these children know and have relationships with both parents, plenty do not.  Sophia has never met her father until the day that she and her mother Cara descend upon Jack's doorstep.  

It is clear that Cara and Jack have lived different lives.  She's a single mom who is devoted to her daughter.  She lives in low-income apartment and has a low-income job.  Jack and his wife have decided to never have children.  They want to be free to do the adult things in life when they want to do them.  They have a nice home and plenty of disposable income.  

What would you do if someone showed up on your doorstep with a child they claimed was your spouse's, especially if the child was well past infancy?  There is never any suggestion that Jack has been unfaithful to Rebecca--this was clearly something that happened before they were together.  However, as Rebecca notes, if she had known Jack had a child, she would have never gotten involved with him.  

The relationships between the affected adults, along with the relationship with the child would make an interesting story in almost any case, but Cara's secret (which is revealed pretty early in the story) adds another dimension, and of course there is a monkey wrench thrown into the works as well.  By the end of the book I was both smiling and crying and I'm sure that was Emma Robinson's goal.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade B+

Wednesday, September 09, 2020

Giveaway and Author Interview: Prince of Typgar: Nujran and the Corpse in the Quadrangle!


Since this book is set on a college campus, to win a copy of the book, leave a comment with the name of your favorite college or university.  Winner will be selected by random draw on October  30, 2020. 

 Q&A with Krishna Sudhir, MD, PhD

Author of Prince of Typgar: Nujran and the Corpse in the Quadrangle
Question: Congratulations on your latest novel, Prince of Typgar: Nujran and the Corpse in the Quadrangle! Tell us what the book is about.
Krishna Sudhir: This is the second in the Prince of Typgar series, a sequel to Nujran and the Monks of Meirar. The series is set in an alternate universe, an earth-like planet Syzegis in a distant galaxy. At the end of the first book, we leave Nujran as a teenager who has traveled with his teacher, Amsibh, experiencing romance, conflict, friendship, betrayal, and loss. We begin the second book on the campus of the University of Western Foalinaarc, where a body has just been discovered. Who is this girl, and why is she dead? Could it be linked to the mysterious illness sweeping across campus, affecting most of the teaching community? Why does Amsibh come to the school, and what does he need to protect Nujran from? Through what twist of fate is Nujran reunited with his old friends, the Monks of Meirar? And why does Nujran end up being a captive again?

Q: Nujran and the Corpse in the Quadrangle picks up where your last book, Nujran and the Monks of Meirar, left off, but it can also work as a stand-alone. Why did you decide to return to Nujran’s story and what will fans of your first novel be most excited by?
 I felt there was more of Nujran’s story that needed to be told, and I wanted to have readers go along with him on all of his new adventures as he begins college. In this book, there’s drama in plenty with fugitives on the run, turbulence on the university campus, fresh intrigue, a new romance, a strange kidnapping, an escape from prison, and a rescue mission where things don’t quite go as planned. In short, this sequel is another fast-paced adventure that will hold readers spellbound!
Q: What makes your books stand out from other young adult fantasy novels?
Sudhir: The most unique aspect is that this book is written from an Indian-American voice, that pulls from stories of kings, queens and princes in Indian mythology to create modern fantasy fiction. There are not many YA novels that originate from Indian thinking and tradition, so I was happy to bring that to readers. Plus, it’s set on another planet in a distant galaxy, with elements of not just sci-fi and fantasy but also magical realism, making it a captivating blend of multiple young adult genres. An alternate universe, with multi-ethnic characters, many with unusual abilities, will likely attract fans of the Marvel and DC entertainment films and comic books. Plus, I hope young readers from Indian and other immigrant backgrounds who don’t see their culture widely represented in YA novels will enjoy that aspect as well.
Q: Why did you decide to feature multi-ethnic culture and Indian mythology in your novels?
 We are a multi-racial, multi-ethnic country, but we don’t have enough minority voices in literature. As an Indian-American writer, I bring a unique perspective to storytelling, drawing from my love of Indian mythology, the Arabian Nights and other epic literature in the diversity space. I am honored to be able to bring these to young readers of all cultures, and I hope they can not only enjoy the stories, but learn something about other cultures – or even their own – along the way.
Q: You are a cardiologist and a professor – what made you want to write YA novels?
Sudhir: The ideas for the books came from multiple directions. Raising two boys (who are now almost 26 and 24), I read a lot of young adult fiction. We perused the Harry Potter novels together, a delightful shared experience. When they were younger, I learned to spin a lot of yarns, mainly as bedtime stories. And going further back in time, there was my own childhood and early adult fascination with the Indian epics—magnificent tales of princes and warriors woven into stories.
Q: With your medical and teaching career, in addition to being a parent, when do you find the time to write?
Sudhir: I love this question because it has a fun answer! Before COVID, I traveled often for my job. The entire first novel in the Prince of Typgar series was written on United Airlines airplanes. Most of Nujran and the Corpse in the Quadrangle was as well, before quarantine kept me home for the tail end of the process. The cabin of an airplane is an unusual, but perfect place to lose yourself in a new universe through writing!
Q: What’s next for you? Will you be writing another book in the Prince of Typgar series, or something fresh?
Sudhir: The series is planned as a trilogy, so there’s one more novel after this one. That final one will be the culmination of the story. Nujran’s adventures will continue, you can be sure there will be more intrigue and conflict, and hopefully my readers will stay with me through the end of the series.
Krishna (Krishnankutty) Sudhir is a physician, cardiologist and educator. Born in Chennai, India, he has lived and worked in three countries, including India, Australia, and the United States. He is currently based in California’s Bay Area, where he is a senior executive in the medical device industry.
In his academic career, he has taught undergraduate and postgraduate students at major Australian and American universities. He is passionate about educating the general public on health and medicine, and has authored several TED-Ed videos in the health care field. Sudhir has traveled extensively across Asia, Australia, Europe and North America, and is deeply interested in cultures, languages, and cuisines across the globe. He enjoys watching movies, listening to music, reading detective novels, and cooking Indian food. While well-published in the medical field as the author of over 180 publications, the Prince of Typgar series is his first foray into the world of fiction.
Nujran and the Corpse in the Quadrangle will be available wherever books are sold on August 25, 2020.
For reviews, excerpts, and media interviews, contact:
Katie Schnack and/or Kourtney Sokmen

Monday, September 07, 2020

Book Review: Happily This Christmas


Happily This Christmas

About the Book:

Wynn Beauchene has a thriving business, a great kid and a mildly embarrassing crush on the guy next door—local cop Garrick McCabe. She’s a strong, independent woman who can’t help dreaming what-if about a man she barely knows. Until he needs her help…

Garrick’s pregnant daughter will be home for Christmas, and his house needs a woman’s touch. Garrick and his little girl were tight once and he’s hoping a small-town Christmas will bring her back to him. But thawing his daughter’s frosty attitude will take more than a few twinkle lights. Maybe sharing the holiday with Wynn and her son will remind her of the joy of family.

As the season works its magic on these wounded souls, Wynn realizes it’s time to stop punishing herself for a painful secret, while Garrick remains haunted by the ghosts of past mistakes. Will he allow Wynn to open the only gift she truly wants—his heart?

My Comments:

When I went to Amazon to grab the "About the Book" copy, I noted that this was book six in the series.  I haven't read any of the others, but honestly, I wondered if Happily This Christmas was part of a series, because like much series fiction it had a lot of characters who seemed to get too much attention in the book for very little reason.  Susan Mallery took time to catch readers up with what happened in the lives of characters from other books, one of whom happens to be the ex-boyfriend of Wynn, the heroine of Happily This Christmas.  

As noted in the blurb above, Wynn, Garrick and Garrick's daughter all need to let go of past pain to open themselves to the joy of the season, and, of course, love.

I likes Garrick and Wynn and enjoyed seeing them get to know each other.  I loved Garrick's relationship with his daughter and how he was able to get his little girl back.  

Yes, its a Christmas romance.  Yes, everyone lives happily ever after.  You didn't expect anything different, did you? 

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade:  B. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Review: Summer at Hope Haven

About the Book

When Emily’s fiancé walks out on her while she’s still grieving the loss of her family in a terrible accident, she escapes back to Hope Haven on the remote Dune Island, where her family vacationed every summer. Emily hopes that fixing up the house will also mend her broken heart, but the cottage holds more than just bittersweet childhood memories. Emptying her father’s antique writing desk, Emily finds a letter that reveals a devastating secret about her parents.

With a head full of questions that can never be answered, it seems like returning to the island was the worst decision Emily ever made… until she meets Lucas Socorro, saltwater dripping from his dark curls after a surf session. As they take long walks on the soft sand, and talk late into the firefly-lit night, Emily wonders if Dr Luke—as the kids in the hospital call him—could be the one to help her heal. With Luke holding her hand, delving into her family’s painful past is a little easier.

Painting the gloomy cottage walls the color of seashells, and revamping her grandmother’s flea-market furniture, Emily starts to feel she might call Dune Island home for good—and that she could build that home right here with Luke. But when Emily’s family secret spreads through a network of local gossips, her fragile heart breaks all over again. Luke is the only one who could have started the rumors. Was she wrong to trust him so easily?

As the sun sets behind the dunes, Emily has a difficult decision to make. Does she pack her bags and leave the island for good? Or take a risk that Hope Haven has everything she’s been looking for?

My Comments

With a cover like that I'm sure you'd expect a feel-good beach read, and that's what you would get.  Of four main characters, three have suffered recent losses and are trying to heal and move on with life.  Emily is dealing with two losses and 

A family secret is part of the story, but frankly, I guessed it as soon as it was introduced.  It took a while for the characters to all learn it and I enjoyed watching them put the pieces together. 

The villains in the story are nice and easy to hate without ever getting too threatening.  One does throw a real monkey wrench into Emily's new relationship and shows her the need for forgiveness and mercy. 

This is a clean romance that doesn't move beyond kissing.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade: B 

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Covid as of August 14

If the corona virus wasn't killing real people and causing devastation to the economy, it would be a fascinating phenomenon to watch--ok, it's fascinating to me anyway, but I wish there were not real people involved.  Every death is someone's loved one, every sickness is a person who doesn't feel good.

Louisiana has definitely started down the hill of the latest outbreak.  We were hit early and hard, locked down in late March and April, and then started opening up in the middle of May.  In June the number of positive tests began climbing and in the middle of June, the number of hospitalizations stopped falling and started climbing.  Hospitalizations climbed from June 13 to July 27.  Since then, the trend has been downward.  The question is how low can it go?  The state closed bars again  July 11, and ordered a mask mandate the same day.    Daily positives started falling about two weeks later, as did the positivity rate. At a glance it looks like the number of daily tests peaked the week ending August 1.

So who is getting it?  Who is dying?  I really hate to just divide the number of deaths by the number of cases to get a death count, because so much has changed in this pandemic since the beginning.  At first, few people were tested.  Those who were tested were generally those for whom everything else had been ruled out.  Now they encourage people who have been exposed to be tested, even if they don't have symptoms. At first, it appeared to be a disease that both sickened and killed far more old people than young.  Now it is clear that the young can get it, but it is still the old that it is killing. As I've said from the beginning, the numbers in which I have the most faith are the hospitalization and death numbers.  I don't think those definitions have changed that much since the start of the pandemic, though I have heard that patients, on average, are spending less time in the hospital than they were in March and April.  So it is possible that lower numbers of hospitalized patients are not because less people are getting ill, but rather, because those who are hospitalized are released sooner.

If we look at the whole pandemic, they have been counting since March 8, or for  159 days, and the total number of diagnosed cases is 136,737 so overall the average diagnosed cases per day is 859. Total deaths are 4307, or an average of 27 per day.

However, there have been 20,457 positive tests in August, an average of 1,461 per day and 472 deaths, an average of 34 per day. There have been 14 days in August, which is 8.8% of the days in the pandemic

As I've been writing this series, I've considered the various population groups.


Children make up about 25% of the population but the first time I wrote a post like this, only 1.3% of those who have tested positive. They made up less than 1% of the dead. Of those 18 and under who tested positive, 0.2% died.

From March through the middle of August, children make up 8.68% of those who have tested positive.  They make up 0.09% of the dead.  Of those diagnosed, 0.03% have died.

However, just looking at August, 2178 children tested positive.   That's 10.6% those diagnosed.  No children have died. While August is 8.8% of the days in the pandemic, 18.3 % of children who have tested positive did so in August.


In my original numbers, people age  20-29 made up 14% of the population but only 11.6% of those who tested positive.  Only 0.3% of the dead were in their 20's.  Of those who tested positive, 0.2% died.

Today:  21.9% of those who have tested positive are in their 20's.  0.46% of the dead are in their 20's and of those who tested positive, 0.06% have died.

In August:  4363 positive tests, which is 21.37% of those who tested positive   There were five deaths which is 1.05% of the dead. While August is 8.8% of the pandemic, 14.56% of positive tests to those in their 20's happened in August. 25% of their deaths were in August.


In my original numbers,  13.3% of the population was in their 30's, but they comprised 15.8% of those who have tested positive.  Only 1.8% of the dead were in their 30's.  Of those who tested positive,  0.7% died.

Today: 16.48% of positive cases were people in their 30's.  1.74% of the dead are in their 30's.  Of those who tested positive, 0.33% have died.

In August, 16.64% of those who tested positive are in their 30's.  1.05% of the dead are. While August is 8.8% of the pandemic, 15.11% of positive tests to those in their 30's happened in August.  6.6% of the deaths were in August.


Originally:   Though people in their 40's make up  12.38% of the population, they comprise 17% of those who tested positive and 3.8 % of the dead. Of 40-somethings who tested positive, 1.5% died.

Today:  15.01% of positive cases are people in their 40's.  They are 3.4% of the dead.  Of those diagnosed,   0.73% have died.

In August:   14.62% of positive cases are people in their 40's.  They are 3.17% of the dead. While August is 8.8% of the pandemic, of those in their 40's who tested positive, 14.56%  did so  in August, and of those who died, 9.4% died in August. 


Then:  Those in their 50's are 13.1% of population but 19% of those who tested positive.  They make  up 8.6% of the dead and of those who tested positive, 3% died.

Today:  Those in their 50's are 14.6% of the diagnosed.  They make up 8.5% of the dead, and of the diagnosed, 1.85% have died.

In August  2968 new diagnoses.  35 deaths.   13.58% of the diagnosed were in their 50's, and 10.38% of the dead. While August is 8.8% of the pandemic, of those in their 50's who have tested positive, 14.8% were diagnosed in August. Of those who died, 9.45% died in August.


Then:  While those age 60-69 make up  11.3% of population they make up 16.6 % of those who tested positive and  18.2% of the dead.  Of those who tested positive, 7.4% died.

Today:  Those in their 60's are 11.43% of the diagnosed. They are 17.83% of the dead, and of those diagnosed, 4.9% have died.

In August.  2314 cases,  87 deaths.  Those in their 60's were 11.31% of the diagnosed, and 18.4% of the dead.  14.79% of positive tests to those in their 60's were done in August.  While August is 8.8% of the pandemic, 11.3% of the deaths in this age group were in August.

The Elderly

Then: Those aged 70+  are 11% of the population but  25% of those who tested positive. and 68 % of the dead have been elderly and of those in this age group who tested positive, 25% died.

Today:  The elderly are 11.72% of those who tested positive and 67.79 % of the dead.  Of the elderly who tested positive, 18.2% have died.

In August  2229 positive, 325 deaths.   The elderly are 10.89 % of those diagnosed, and 68.85 % of the dead.   While August is 8.8% of the pandemic, 13.9% of the positive tests were from August.  11.13% of the elderly who died did so in August.

A Few More Figures

My understanding is that it takes Covid-19 about a month to kill someone, give or take.  Obviously this is not an exact figure and obviously there is a lot of variation.  However, for what it is worth
April Cases Diagnosed  22,764
May Deaths  824 or 3.61% of April's cases

May Cases Diagnosed  9597
June Deaths 427 or 4.4% of May's cases

June Cases Diagnosed  18,853
July Deaths:  722 or 3.82%  of June's cases

July 1-14 Cases Diagnosed  23947
August 1-4 Deaths 472 or 1.97% of early July's cases

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Covid in July in Louisiana

Today I looked at the Covid stats in Louisiana for June 30 to July 31 and compared them to the pandemic as a whole. 

Louisiana was one of the early hotspots.  The general consensus is that it was spread through the crowds at Mardi Gras and ended up in many nursing homes where it decimated the population. The kids were sent home from school March 13, and a further restrictions followed. In April we were pretty much on lockdown--restaurants were take-out only, churches were closed, offices were closed etc.  We went back to church the Sunday after Mother's Day, with 25% occupancy allowed, with masks and six feet of social distancing.  At the beginning of June things opened up a bit more, and by the end of June the numbers started increasing again. is our newspaper's website and they update graphs daily.  In March, April and May, most of the cases were in those 50 and older.  In June, the numbers began to shift and now it is the young people who are testing positive.

Throughout my posts on the subject, I have tried (and sometimes failed) to use terms like "positive tests" or "diagnosed cases" rather than "cases"  because one of the few things "everyone" agrees on about this disease is that there are many cases which have never been diagnosed or recorded--some because they were asymptomatic and some because, whether because of lack of tests/strict protocols for who could be tested, or because of people choosing not to be tested for whatever reason.  According to a study by a local hospital, I'm guessing that overall testing has caught about 1/3 of the cases--fewer at the beginning, more lately. 

The first day on the chart on is March 13 and there are 140 days between March 13 and July 31.  June 30-July 31 is 32 days, which is 22% of 140. If numbers remained constant throughout--if the same number of people per day were testing positive and dying-, you'd expect that 22% of the positive tests were in that time, and 22% of the deaths.  That's not what's happening.

In July, there were 6,666 positive tests for those under 18.  That's 68% of all the cases for kids.  One child died, which is 25% of deaths to children.  

There were 14,543 positive tests to twenty-somethings.  That's 56% of the total cases in that age group.  4 people died, which is 26% of the deaths to that age group.

9,744 people in their 30's tested positive, which is 50.9% of the positive tests in that group.  There were 14 deaths, which is 20% of the deaths in that age group.  

Regarding those in their 40's, there were 8,450 positive tests, which is 48.2% of the positive tests in that group.  There were 24 deaths, which is 17% of the deaths to 40-somethings.

There were 7,861 positive tests for those in their 50's, which is 46.2% of all the positive tests in this group.  65 people died, which is 19.4% of deaths in that age group.

The 5773 positive tests to those in their 60's is 43% of all positive tests in this age group.  The 132 deaths is 19.3%.

For the elderly, 5245 positive tests, which is 38% of the positive tests in this age group.  There were 482 deaths, which is 18.6% of the deaths in this age group.

Clearly the number of people testing positive is high compared to earlier in the pandemic.  I don't know enough about statistics to know if it is significant that the number of deaths in the age groups are not 22%--are all the numbers close enough to 22% that it doesn't show a change, or are hospitals getting better at treating Covid (I hope so) or did we kill off th especially vulnerable early on?  I don't know.  Do you have any idea?

Sunday, August 02, 2020

Review: The Friendship List

About the Book:

[ ] Dance till dawn
[ ] Go skydiving
[ ] Wear a bikini in public
[ ] Start living

Two best friends jump-start their lives in a summer that will change them forever…

Single mom Ellen Fox couldn’t be more content—until she overhears her son saying he can’t go to his dream college because she needs him too much. If she wants him to live his best life, she has to convince him she’s living hers.

So Unity Leandre, her best friend since forever, creates a list of challenges to push Ellen out of her comfort zone. Unity will complete the list, too, but not because she needs to change. What’s wrong with a thirtysomething widow still sleeping in her late husband’s childhood bed?

The Friendship List begins as a way to make others believe they’re just fine. But somewhere between “wear three-inch heels” and “have sex with a gorgeous guy,” Ellen and Unity discover that life is meant to be lived with joy and abandon, in a story filled with humor, heartache and regrettable tattoos.

My Comments:

I think all of us reach times in our lives when we realize that if we don't charge our life, life will leave us behind. A child-focused life is great for the mother of school-aged kids, but when those kids go to college it is time to find another focus or to focus on other kids.  When you move to "part-time" at the office, you can pack your desk and head for the golf course, library, gym or fishing hole, or you can come in every morning to see if anything is happening that they need your help on.  Which is healthier?  Unity and Ellen both realize their lives need to change and as best friends they challenge each other to make the changes needed.  

While I found some of their choices questionable, I enjoyed watching them embrace a new time in their lives. 

Ellen got pregnant the night of her Junior Prom and had to grow up in a hurry.  The baby's father signed over his rights, so she has been the only parent her son has ever known--but now the ex wants a chance to know his son--the son who is between his Junior and Senior year of high school.

Unity lost her parents when she was in high school and moved in with her best friend Ellen's family until she moved out to marry her high school sweetheart.  She followed her husband, who was in the military, from base to base until he was killed and she returned to his childhood home where she has spent the last three years wallowing in grief and depriving herself of the normal life of a 30 something--her friends are Ellen and the people in the local seniors-only community  When Unity and Ellen challenged each other to move out of their neat little boxes, it was just what both of them needed.

That being said, I'll admit I'm old as dirt, overly religious and old-fashioned but I had a real problem with Ellen's behavior.  An important part of the book takes place on a school trip chaperoned by Ellen and her best friend (male), each of whom have a child on the trip.  On that trip, where she was responsible for other people's kids, Ellen was drinking alcohol, drinking enough of it to get drunk, and then sleeping with the other chaperone.  Just no. 

One thing I found interesting was that the other chaperone had a teenage daughter.  He regularly inspected her birth control pill boxes to make sure she was taking them.  However, when he found out that she was actually "using" them, he blew his stack.  The daughter then pointed out that he had not made a rule against that activity. 

Mallery's books are not the squeaky clean type, but I found this one to be more graphic than normal, unnecessarily so.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley. Grade:  B. 

Saturday, July 25, 2020

Review of The Banty House

The Banty House by [Carolyn Brown]

About the Book:

In the fading town of Rooster, Texas, all that’s really left is a service station, a church…and the Banty House, a long-ago Depression-era brothel. For more than seventy-five years, Betsy, Connie, and Kate Carson have called their mama’s house a home. The three eccentric sisters get by just fine with their homemade jams and jellies, a little moonshine on the side, and big hearts always open to strangers. Like Ginger Andrews.

An abandoned teen with a baby on the way and nowhere to go, she’s given a room to call her own for as long as she wants. The kind invitation is made all the sweeter when Ginger meets the sisters’ young handyman, Sloan Baker. But with a past as broken as Ginger’s, he’s vowed never to get close to anyone again. As a season of change unfolds, Ginger and Sloan might discover a warm haven to heal in the Banty House, a place to finally belong, where hope and dreams never fade.

My Comments:

What is family?  Is it people who are related by blood?  People who care for each other?  Both?  These three old ladies are related by blood.  None have ever had another family, except their mother.  However, they have hearts full of love for those who need it, and in this case the two who need it are a war vet with PTSD and a young pregnant girl.  

Through the book we learn the story of the little old ladies and their lives.  We learn about their mother--a mixed race woman who had to survive the depression. While her method might raise moral eyebrows, she met a commercial desire, did it while protecting (in her own way) young women and raising her own family.  We learn how even today, young women end up used for their bodies.  

Carolyn Brown has many books, including this one, available on Kindle Unlimited, so if  you are a member, it won't cost you anything to have a look.  I got my copy via NetGalley.  Grade:  B. 

RaeAnne Thayne's The Sea Glass Cottage

The Sea Glass Cottage: A Novel by [RaeAnne Thayne]

About the Book:

The life Olivia Harper always dreamed of isn’t so dreamy these days. The 16-hour work days are unfulfilling and so are things with her on-again, off-again boyfriend. But when she hears that her estranged mother, Juliet, has been seriously injured, Liv has no choice but to pack up her life and head home to beautiful Cape Sanctuary on the Northern California coast.

It’s just for a few months—that’s what Liv keeps telling herself. But the closer she gets to Cape Sanctuary, the painful memories start flooding back: Natalie, her vibrant, passionate older sister who downward-spiraled into addiction. The fights with her mother who enabled her sister at every turn. The overdose that took Natalie, leaving her now-teenaged daughter, Caitlin, an orphan.

As Liv tries to balance her own needs with those of her injured mother and an obstinate, resentful fifteen-year-old, it becomes clear that all three Harper women have been keeping heartbreaking secrets from one another. And as those secrets are revealed, Liv, Juliet, and Caitlin will see that it’s never too late—or too early—to heal family wounds and find forgiveness.

My Comments:

Most of RaeAnn Thayne's books focus on the romance, the building relationship between the male and female lead, but this book is much more about the relationship between Olivia and her family, and isn't that the way is should be?  Isn't it when we enter into relationships that exclude our loved ones (assuming our loved ones are healthy themselves) that we get into trouble?  

As these family members deal with each other they learn to love themselves, and then others and I enjoyed cheering for them as they learned this lesson.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy via NetGalley.  Grade: B. 

Reunion at the Shore: My Review

Reunion at the Shore (The Off Season Book 2) by [Lee Tobin McClain]

About the Book:

Ria and Drew Martin’s chemistry had always kept their marriage together—until suddenly it didn’t. Now a single mom, hotel manager Ria is at a loss when one of her teen daughters starts spiraling. Panicked, she calls on her estranged ex-husband for backup, but she’s not prepared for the man he’s become—or the unresolved emotions that still linger between them.

After his divorce, Drew pulled away from everyone when he lost his eyesight and his job on the police force. Now that he’s realized how much his daughters need their dad, Drew is determined to make things up to them. He’s less sure where he stands with Ria. They had real reasons for ending their marriage, but they’ve both changed during their time apart. And being with her again in the place where they first fell in love brings back memories of all that they once had. Can they overcome their past to reunite their family, this time forever?

My Comments:

What Ria learns when she reaches out to Drew is that he was blinded in a work accident.  This man who has always defined himself by his job as a police officer now not only doesn't have his sight, he doesn't have his job and he doesn't have his family.   

This is the second book in a series of books about disabled police officers who come to a cabin on the shore to recover not only physically but emotionally.  Overall I think the book dealt with the inner emotions of the characters more deeply than the average romance novel does.  

I really enjoyed watching Ria and Drew navigate not only their relationship with each other but their relationship with their girls.  I also liked the scene where they were considering going to bed with each other and Drew said no, that he wanted to do it right this time.

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade: B. 

Summer at Lake Haven: My Review

Summer at Lake Haven: A Novel (Haven Point Book 11) by [RaeAnne Thayne]

About the Book:

Samantha Fremont has been struggling with the weight of her mother’s expectations for years. But now that her mother has passed away, it’s time for Sam to be bold and finally establish the fashion design business she’s always dreamed of. And the perfect opportunity has fallen into her lap. Her friend’s getting married and has asked Sam to create her wedding dress…if only she can avoid the bride’s infuriating brother, who’s temporarily the boy next door.

Ian Summerhill knows a sabbatical in Haven Point is exactly what he and his children need to recover from their mother’s death. His romantic relationship with his ex-wife may have ended years ago, but caring for her throughout her illness broke his heart. All he wants is to watch his little sister walk down the aisle and to see his kids smile again. And somehow his lovely new neighbor is instrumental in both. But as their uneasy truce blossoms into a genuine friendship and more, Ian has obligations in England he can’t ignore—and a secret that threatens the fragile trust he and Sam have built.

My Comments:

Returning to Lake Haven with RaeAnn Thayne is like returning to any small town where you know the people.  It is a chance to catch up on old friends and a time to make new ones, because everybody is just so nice.  Ok, I know that is only one side of small towns--that the other is that if you don't fit, there is no place for you, but of course, the characters here do fit.

Ian's two kids become the stars of the story, the reason he and Samantha end up together and of course everyone lives happily ever after.  

This is a great beach read or book for some time when you want to smile and not work too hard. 

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy via NetGalley.  Grade: B. 

My Review: What the Heart Wants

What the Heart Wants: A Novel (The Wish Series Book 1) by [Audrey Carlan]

About the Book:

“Fly free.”

For ten years those words, written on pink parchment paper in her mother’s beautiful handwriting, have been Suda Kaye Ross’s guiding star. Every year on her birthday, Suda Kaye opens another of the letters her mother penned before she passed, heeding the advice inside as she fills her life with experiences. From Italy to Australia, from Rio to Russia, she’s slaked her wanderlust. And then, on her twenty-eighth birthday, she opens the letter that sends her home.

Returning to Colorado means confronting everything—and everyone—she left behind, including her cherished sister, Evie, and her first love, Camden Bryant. Suda Kaye and Cam spent four years and one unforgettable night together. Given the way she ran out on him, it’s no surprise that he’s wary, resentful…and engaged to someone else. Evie, hardworking and überresponsible, just wants her sister to put down roots at last.

For Evie’s sake, and her own, Suda Kaye is trying to build a new life, all the while wondering whether it’s too late to come back home—or if the most important part of her never really left.

My Comments:

Once upon a time it was my dream to "fly free", to go from place to place leaving no roots behind, to see the world and experience adventure.  I went off to college rather than staying within a couple of hours of home  After college I moved from Mississippi where my family lived to New Orleans--not a huge distance, but definitely a new existence.  I saw it as a temporary step--someplace I'd get a couple of years of teaching experience before landing a job in an overseas school.  Well, turns out that teaching was not my vocation, so I headed to Atlanta to go back to school.  After three months there, I chose to return to New Orleans.  I was tired of starting over.  Then I married a native New Orleanian and I knew that meant I wasn't going anywhere, except on vacation.  

Suda Kaye had itchy feet, and encouraged by the letters written by her mother during her mother's final illness, Suda Kaye has been around the world, and has been with a variety of men, none of whom could hold a candle to her first love.  Her mom's most recent note, as stated above, sent her home, home to where those who had loved her before still love  her but were hurt by her long absence.  

With well-drawn characters, Audrey Carlan shows that you can go home again.  She also shows how living your dream isn't necessarily the best idea.  While you could say that it is a good thing Suda Kaye's mother lived her dream while she was young, she did so at the expense of two little girls who needed her to be there, and I have to wonder whether, while laying on her premature deathbed that mother felt her life was well-lived.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  Grade: B+

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Another Covid Update

Well, my stats indicate that these are not popular posts.  Oh well, I'm writing them for me, not you--but I do hope I'm not the only stat geek out there.

School was supposed to start here August 6 or thereabout.  My daughter has check-in day still set for then.  She's in Catholic school and the plan now is for in-person instruction.  They are cutting the day from 6 periods to four and are limiting movement and interaction at lunch.  Not sure what they will do with assemblies and Masses--I know one school was talking about live-streaming them.  Still August 6 is two weeks away, and who knows what the stats will look like then.  The public schools have already pushed the start of school back a week and they are offering a choice of virtual learning or in-person.  Basically the virtual group is signing up for 100% home instruction for at least nine weeks.  The in-person groups will get a combination of in-home and at-school, with the ratio depending on the infection numbers.  I suspect if the numbers don't calm down before August 6, my daughter's school will go virtual.  I just don't think that liability-wise they can do anything else.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

The Curve Is Up, Not Flat

Today is July 12.  It is a week after the Fourth of July Weekend.  It is about seven weeks since Louisiana entered phase II on June 1. About two weeks after we entered Phase 2, the number of diagnosed cases started rising.   Our hospitalization numbers hit a low of 542 on June 13.  Today they are back up to 1182, which is where they were on May 14.

In the last week, there have been 12,896 cases diagnosed.  128 people have died.  Overall, Louisiana has had 78,122 cases and 3308 deaths, for an overall death rate of 4.2%.  However, a local medical center did a study and concluded that about 7.8% of the population of my parish has been infected with the virus and that it has a fatality rate of about 1.4%. 

The statistics on who is testing positive have changed a lot in the last month.  Originally the numbers skewed old; now they are skewing young.  The numbers below are interesting

The first time I looked at the numbers I found:

Children make up 25% of the population but only 1.3% of those who have tested positive. They make up less than 1% of the dead. Of those 18 and under who tested positive, 0.2% died.

The comparable numbers today:  Children make up 6.6% of those who have tested positive.  They make up 0.09% of the dead.  Of those diagnosed, 0.05% have died.

This week only:  Children are 10.92% of those diagnosed, and 0% of those who died. 

Then:  People age  20-29 make up 14% of the population but only 11.6% of those who have tested positive.  Only 0.3% of the dead were in their 20's.  Of those who tested positive, 0.2% died.

Today:  21.8% of those who have tested positive are in their 20's.  0.33% of the dead are in their 20's and of those who tested positive, 0.06% have died.

This week only:  27.83% of those who tested positive are in their 20's. 0% of the dead are.

Then:  13.3% of the population is in their 30's, but they comprise 15.8% of those who have tested positive.  Only 1.8% of the dead were in their 30's.  Of those who tested positive,  0.7% died.

Today: 16.42% of positive cases were people in their 30's.  1.78% of the dead are in their 30's.  Of those who tested positive, 0.45% have died. 

17.33% of those who tested positive are in their 30's.  2.3% of the dead are.

Then:  Though people in their 40's make up  12.38% of the population, they comprise 17% of those who tested positive and 3.8 % of the dead. Of 40-somethings who tested positive, 1.5% died.

Today:  15.29% of positive cases are people in their 40's.  They are 3.56% of the dead.  Of those diagnosed,   .98% have died.

This week:  14.57% of positive cases are people in their 40's.  They are 5.51% of the dead.  

Then:  Those in their 50's are 13.1% of population but 19% of those who tested positive.  They make  up 8.6% of the dead and of those who tested positive, 3% died.

Today:  Those in their 50's are 14.96% of the diagnosed.  They make up 8.76% of the dead, and of the diagnosed, 2.49% have died. 

This week:  12.96% of the diagnosed were in their 50's, and 13.38% of the dead. 

Then:  While those age 60-69 make up  11.3% of population they make up 16.6 % of those who tested positive and  18.2% of the dead.  Of those who tested positive, 7.4% died.

Today:  Those in their 60's are 11.2% of the diagnosed. They are 17.68% of the dead, and of those diagnosed, 6.33 % have died. 

This week only:  Those in their 60's were 8.85% of the diagnosed, and 16.53% of the dead.  

Those aged 70+  are 11% of the population but  25% of those who tested positive. and 68 % of the dead have been elderly and of those in this age group who tested positive, 25% died.

Today:  The elderly are 12.84% of those who tested positive and 67.77 % of the dead.  Of the elderly who tested positive, 22.33% have died.  

This week only:  The elderly are 8.29% of those diagnosed, and 62.2% of the dead. 

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