Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Memory Between Us: Book Review and Giveaway

Memory Between Us, A: A Novel (Wings of Glory)

About the Book:  Major Jack Novak has never failed to meet a challenge--until he meets army nurse Lieutenant Ruth Doherty. When Jack lands in the army hospital after a plane crash, he makes winning Ruth's heart a top-priority mission. But he has his work cut out for him. Not only is Ruth focused on her work in order to support her orphaned siblings back home, she also is determined not to give her heart to any man.

As the danger and tension of World War II rise to a fever pitch, Jack and Ruth will need each other more than ever. Can Jack break down her defenses? Or are they destined to go their separate ways?

From the English countryside to the perilous skies over France, A Memory Between Us takes you on a journey through love, forgiveness, and sacrifice.

"Sundin's excellent grasp of historical context provides vivid details of military life during the war in Europe. This rich tale will delight historical romance fans."--Suzanne Woods Fisher, bestselling author of The Choice and The Waiting

"Sarah Sundin seamlessly weaves World War II aviation history with a deeply emotional romance to continue her fabulous Wings of Glory series. She displays a talent that destines her for stardom in the genre."--Cheryl Bolen, winner of the Holt Medallion, Best Historical Romance

"Fans of historical romance will be captivated by this exciting story. From the first page, Sarah Sundin planted me in the midst of World War II and into the lives of her characters. This captivating romantic ride through the fascinating and horrifying days of World War II is a must-read."--Bonnie Leon, author, the Sydney Cove series and Alaskan Skies series

My Comments:  I really enjoyed this historical romance about two very real, very human people.  While definitely a Christian novel, it wasn't sickeningly sweet or filled with long sermon excerpts.  I was really rooting for Jack and Ruth, and for their friends.  The historical details made the book, and the moral of the story is that you even have to forgive the person who is sometimes the hardest to forgive--yourself.  

Grade:  B+

Sarah Sundin presents The Movies and Memories Giveaway in honor of book 2 in the Wings of Glory series. A Memory Between Us is available for purchase wherever fine books are sold. From the English countryside to the perilous skies over France, A Memory Between Us takes you on a journey through love, forgiveness, and sacrifice.


To celebrate Sarah is giving one lucky winner A Movie and Memory Prize Package! One grand prize winner will receive:

* Make-your-own-photo book from (Capture your own Memories)

* Netflix Subscription (New or Nostalgic Movies delivered right to your house)

* Starbucks gift card (To keep your engine revvin’)

*Gourmet chocolate (A favorite in the 1940’s and now)

* British specialty teas in carved wooden box (Timeless tradition)

* Miniature model of a B-17 Flying Fortress bomber & C-47 cargo plane (Everyone needs a few toy planes)

*Big Band music CD (Break out your dancing shoes)

* WWII authentic poster playing cards (Cards – a perfect game for two)

* Keep Calm and Carry On (Uplifting sayings WWII, a boost for troubled times)

To enter simple click on the icons below (contest runs 9/27 - 10/17!)

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Healthcare Questions

I know I write mostly about books, but the name of the blog is This That and the Other Thing, so I can write about anything I want.

Yesterday I ran across an article that was discussing some very high-priced treatments (some over 100,000) which while they showed some benefit for some people, on the whole extended life by only a few months.  Not long ago I ran across an article that said the average per-capita healthcare cost in the US was over $7,000 per year.  I also read somewhere that the average family health insurance plan costs around $12,000 per year (with employer contributions paying part of the cost for many).  Healthcare reform was a big issue in the last election and is the issue that will either sink or save Obama's presidency, depending on who votes in the next election.

I've heard it said that our system is inefficient, that other countries pay less and get more.  The insurance companies are made out to be the villians but are they?  The new law says insurance companies have to pay out 85% of their premiums in claims--a figure most large group plans are already meeting.  "Go to a single-payer plan" say some, but even if we do that, someone is going to have to process the paper, decide what is covered and what is not, and run checks for fraud (and as someone who has worked Medicaid fraud cases, let me tell you that when the person getting the service pays nothing for it, the ability of the provider to perpetrate fraud goes up).  In short, while some marketing money might be saved by a single-payer system, I doubt much of that 15% is going to be transferred from claims processing to claims payment.

Given the information I have given you, and given what you already know about healthcare, I want to know the answer to these questions:

1.  Whether in taxes, premiums or co-pays/deductibles/non-insured expenses, what percent of a family's income do you think it is reasonable for them to spend on healthcare?

2.  What would you rather have:  1) An insurance plan that has a high but predictable premiums and low to no co-pays, deductibles etc or 2) An insurance plan with lower premiums but very high deductibles (let's say $10,000) such that most years you end up making no claims at all, but which has a stop-loss on it such that your out-of-pocket for covered expenses won't be more than a set amount--let's say $20,000.  When deciding between 1 & 2, assume that your total cost (premiums and medical costs) for 2 on a year where you pay your maxium out-of-pocket is the same as your cost for 1 would be in such a year.

3.  Given two plans that are identical in terms of coverages, doctors "in the plan" etc. how much more would you be willing to pay each month for a plan that did not require you to get referrals specialists from a PCP?

4.  Should we put a price on human life?  If I can keep your disease in remission indefinitely for a cost of $100/month do we as a society "owe" it to you to do so?  What about $1,000/month?  $10,000/month? , $100,000/month?

5.  What if those treatments in #4 don't keep you alive indefinitely, but simply allow you an average of three months of life as an invalid?

6.  How do you feel about impoverishing old people before helping with nursing home care?  Should the elderly be required to spend down all of their assets before the state will pay for longterm nursing home care?

7.  How about setting a limit on how much Medicare will pay per year per person and requiring an additional costs be borne by the patient, until the patient's assets are depleted?

8.  Should patients ever be in a position where they have to financially consider whether a recommended treatment is worth the cost?

Monday, September 27, 2010

Blog Tour: Simply Irresistible

Simply Irresistible (A Lucky Harbor Novel)
If you like romance novels that spend lots of time describing intimate scenes, you'll love this one.  Maddie is the daughter of a hippie flower child and movie producer.  She's always lived with her dad, with only brief visits with her mom.  As the book opens she has just lost her job after standing up to an abusive boyfriend.  Luckily, as she was contemplating her next step, she received news that her mother had died and left her and her two half-sisters equal shares in an inn.  While driving into town she runs him (he's on  a motorcycle) off the road.  They meet again when he turns out to be the contractor they hire to renovate the place.  He has some secrets in his past, but in the present, he is almost perfect.  

The main subplot deals with the Maddie and her two half-sisters becoming acquainted and learning to look out for each other while facing some of their own demons.  

Giveaway:  Thanks to the nice folks at Hachette, who provided my review copy, I have up to five copies of Simply Irresistible (A Lucky Harbor Novel) to give away.  To enter, leave a comment with your email address.  Tell me what you find irresistible.  US and Canada only, and if you win here and on another blog, you will only be sent one prize.  I'll draw 5 winners October 15.  

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Monday Memes

Book Bloggers are sociable folk, and besides, we want to know if there are any books out there that we need to be reading.  That's the point behind the popular Monday Memes.

It's Monday, What Are You Reading is hosted at Book Journey.  It asks what you read or reviewed in the past week.

My Reviews: 

Mailbox Mondays is hosted this month at BermudaOnion.  This is our opportunity to brag about what we've managed to acquire.  I did well this week.  
Code Triage (Mercy Hospital)Code Triage (Mercy Hospital) from the Tyndale Bloggers program

Catching MoondropsCatching Moondrops from First Wildcard

Joy to the Word: Advent Activities for Your Family

Joy to the World: Advent Activities for Your Family

One of the things I like best about having my little one in Catholic school is that she comes home and tells me how they celebrated a saint's feast day, or a Holy Day of Obligation, or Advent or Lent.  Still, we all know that if it doesn't start at home it doesn't go very far.  My older kids didn't go to Catholic school when they were little so I was always on the lookout for good child-friendly religious activities, especially to use during Advent and Lent.  

Joy to the World: Advent Activities for Your Family is a handy easy-to-use Advent guide aimed at parents of young children.  Basically the author, Kathleen Basi (who is a regular Sunday Snippets contributor) suggests that families begin their Advent days by checking an Advent calendar, and then, at dinner, use an Advent Wreath and a Jesse Tree.  She also recommends a manger for baby Jesus, a manager the kids fill with straw as they do good deeds.  Basi includes several lists of activities that can be done during Advent, from caroling to attending daily mass to baking Christmas cookies.  

While Basi herself admits that her ideas are not original, what she is "selling" is the plan, the organized way of approaching the days before Christmas so you can truly celebrate Advent rather than just Christmas Shopping  Season.  Personally, I can tell you that our family will be using her version of the Jesse Tree.  We do it yearly, and while a Google search will give you any number of different sets of ornaments to make or color, what I always have trouble finding is a story to go with each that is short, understandable to young children, and faithful to the scripture.  Kathleen's version is all of these.  

I'd like to thank Kathleen Basi and First Wildcard for my complimentary review copy.

Grade:  A

First Wildcard will be touring this book November 4.  Check back then to read the first chapter.

Code Triage by Candace Calvert

Code Triage (Mercy Hospital)

I just love a good romance novel and Code Triage (Mercy Hospital) certainly filled the bill.  Leigh is an ER doctor and loves her horse.  Nick is her husband, but their divorce will be final soon.  He is a police officer.  While they were first separated, but hadn't decided to divorce, Nick had a one-night stand with the sister of his best friend.  Once Leigh learned this, she decided that divorce was the only solution.  He wants her back, but she refuses to let him get close.  Then one day there is a crisis at the hospital that involves Leigh, Nick and  the other woman.  How will things resolve?

All the main characters in Code Triage (Mercy Hospital) have been deeply hurt and/or abandoned by the people in their past.  Learning to lean on loved ones and on God doesn't come easily to any of them.  

For most of the book you'd barely realize you were reading a Christian romance. A couple of the characters are chaplains, but if you didn't know the term had a religious meaning, you'd guess they were some sort of counselors.  There is a mention of a prayer group and a couple of quick prayers by characters, but for most of the book, this book is about Christians more than it is about Christianity.  At the end, when everything is being tied up neatly, there is a chapter that is pretty heavy on the faith elements--the need to have God as part of the marriage, trusting in Him, etc. 

This book is number three in a series and while there is some vague sense at the beginning of the book that there may be some backstory you are missing, you don't need to read the other two books to enjoy this one.  At the end there is kind of a wrap-up chapter that catches you up with the couples from the other two books, and if you haven't read them, you'll kind of wonder why these strangers get all those lines at the end of the book, but if you are a fan of the series, you'll enjoy that quick "catch-up".  

Grade:  B+

I'd like to thank the Tyndale Blog Network for providing a review copy of the book.  I was not obligated to write a positive review-I really did enjoy this book.  You can read my reviews of Calvert's other books by clicking on the titles:  Critical Care and Disaster Status

A Dog Named Slugger

A Dog Named Slugger

About the Book: The true life story of a dog who changed everything for one woman. For the first time in my life, I didn't need to pretend, I didn't need to be tough: I only needed to be honest. "I have cerebral palsy. I walk funny and my balance is bad. I fall a lot. My hands shake, too. That means I'm not so good at carrying things. And if I drop stuff, sometimes it's hard to just bend down and get it." I waited anxiously for the interviewer's response. She smiled. "It sounds like a service dog could be great for you." So began Leigh Brill's journey toward independence and confidence, all thanks to a trained companion dog named Slugger. The struggling college student and the Labrador with a "a coat like sunshine" and a tail that never stopped wagging became an instant team. Together, they transformed a challenge into a triumph. Together, they inspired and educated everyone they met. Now, Leigh honors her friend with the story of their life, together.

My Comments:  A Dog Named Slugger is a short, easy-to-read memoir of How Slugger changed Leigh's life. I enjoyed learning not only how she she learned to work with Slugger, but also, in some ways because of him, learned to stand up for herself. If you are an animal lover, or are or know someone who is physically challenged, or if you just enjoy a heartwarming story, this is a book you should enjoy.

I'd like to thank the folks at Bell Bridge Books for sending me a review copy.  A portion of the proceeds from the sale of A Dog Named Slugger will support St. Francis Service Dogs.  You can learn more about service dogs from Assistance Dogs International, Inc. or from Working Dogs.

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