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.  

Nola.com 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 NOLA.com 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. 

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