Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Review: Serenity Harbor

About the Book:

Computer-tech millionaire Bowie Callahan is about the last person that schoolteacher Katrina Bailey wants to work for. As far as she can see, he's arrogant, entitled and not up to the task of caring for his young half brother, Milo. But Kat is, especially if it brings her closer to her goal of adopting an orphaned little girl. And as her kindness and patience work wonders with Milo, she realizes there's more to sexy, wary Bo than she'd ever realized. 


Bo never imagined he'd be tasked with caring for a sibling he didn't know existed. Then again, he never pictured himself impulsively kissing vibrant, compassionate Katrina in the moonlight. Now he's ready to make her dream of family come true…and hoping there's room in it for him, too…

My Comments:

I enjoyed another visit to the charming town of Haven Point.  Like other stories in the series, it stood well on its own; however characters from other stories make quick appearances and those not familiar with the series may wonder why they walk across the stage.

Bowie didn't know he had a younger brother until his mother died.  Suddenly this workaholic from a dysfunctional family was tasked with raising a disabled child.  He'd been through several nannies and had another one hired--but she couldn't start for a few weeks, and he needed someone asap.

Katrina has always wanted to be a mom and is looking for money to pay adoption expenses so she can adopt a South American orphan.  She meets Bowie and Milo when Milo is having a meltdown in a store.  Bowie offers her a job as a temporary nanny at far more money than a job like that usually pays, and since she needs the money, she takes the job.  Of course neither Bowie nor Katrina expects things to go further than employer/employee....

Like Thayne's other books, this one doesn't go beyond passionate kissing. 

As the mother of an autistic son I enjoyed watching Katrina work with Milo, though Thayne made it a bit too easy in my opinion.  

I'd like to thank the publisher for making a review copy available via NetGalley.  This was a quick enjoyable read so I'll give it a B.  

Monday, June 19, 2017

It's Monday, What Are You Reading?


I've spent a lot of the week reading, but the reviews won't be published for some time. I enjoyed most of them and they are on NetGalley, so if you want them...

Two girls in the same class come down the measles.  The one who gets sick first has not been vaccintated because her parents don't believe the vaccines are safe.  She recovers without incident.  The second appears to have gotten it from the first.  She wasn't vaccinated because she was allergic to the vaccine.  She gets much sicker and has long-lasting sequelae.  

I was interested in this book because one reason some parents don't vaccinate (and it is the reason in this book) is fear of autism, and I have an autistic son.  I also have a daughter who I had to decide to vaccinate, or not, after I knew about his autism and after I knew about the vaccine theory.  

The prototypical "beach read" except that the setting is a lake house rather than a beach house.  Get the family together at the family vacation home, secrets are exposed and healing happens.  

Falling in love with a one-night stand, but taking almost a year to do so.  

Next Up:

I've read other Nicole Baart books, most of which were published by Christian imprints.  This is published by Atria, a general market publisher, and is published as "women's fiction".  I'm looking forward to it and I think Baart writes beautiful prose. 

See what other people are reading this week at It's Monday, What Are You Reading?

Thursday, June 08, 2017

Preview and Giveaway: Primrose Lane by Debbie Mason

About the Book:

Olivia Davenport has finally gotten her life back together. She's left her painful past behind, started over in a new town, and become Harmony Harbor's most sought-after event planner. But her past catches up to her when Olivia learns that she's now guardian of her ex's young daughter. With her world spinning, Olivia must reconcile her old life with her new one. And she doesn't have time for her new next door neighbor, no matter how handsome he is.

Olivia may act like she's got everything under control, but Dr. Finn Gallagher knows a person in over her head when he sees one. He'd really like to be the shoulder she leans on, but Olivia makes it clear she doesn't want his help. Since he's returned to town, his waiting room has been full of single women feigning illness. Yet the one woman he's interested in is avoiding him. But with a little help from some matchmaking widows and a precocious little girl, Finn might just win Olivia over.






Debbie Mason is the USA Today bestselling author of the Christmas, Colorado series. Her books have been praised for their "likable characters, clever dialogue, and juicy plots" (RT Book Reviews).  When she isn't writing or reading, Debbie enjoys spending time with her very own real-life hero, their four wonderful children, two adorable grandbabies, and a yappy Yorkie named Bella.


An Excerpt:

Dr. Finn Gallagher found himself at the clinic on Primrose Lane, wondering what the hell he’d gotten himself into. In the seven and half hours he’d been there, he’d seen forty-five patients. Only five of whom actually had something physically wrong with them. All five were female and under the age of sixteen. As far as he could tell, not one of them was interested in marrying him.

The other forty had nothing wrong with them. And, as far as he could tell, were very interested in marrying him. If they weren’t, their grandmothers and mothers were. Interested in him marrying their daughters and granddaughters, that is.

At the beginning of the day, it was kind of amusing, even a little flattering. But by 10:45 it had gotten old and annoying. It didn’t help that he kept thinking of the patients he saw while working with Doctors Without Borders. Those people needed him, desperately. They weren’t fake coughing or complaining about phantom chest pains. They were sick and hungry, wounded and scared. They weren’t spoiled and whiny and ungrateful.

He winced at his unflattering characterizations and intolerance. While there was some truth to his observations, the throbbing ache in his leg injury was making him grumpy. Knowing his father had been right and Finn wasn’t ready to go back to the Congo wasn’t doing much to improve his mood.

Sherry, Doc Bishop’s nurse and a woman Finn had dated in high school, opened the door to the closet-sized office. “Pain hasn’t let up, has it?” she asked with a compassionate smile.

“I’m good. Just had to return a couple of phone calls.” He set down the cold cup of coffee he hadn’t had a chance to drink, removed the ice pack from his knee, and surreptitiously hid it behind the welcome-to-the-clinic plant from the staff, which Finn now mentally referred to as the matchmaking clinic from hell. He pushed to his feet with a closed-mouth smile that hopefully hid his clenched his teeth from Sherry’s observant gaze.

“Really? I rescheduled Molly, Sally, and Karen’s physicals to tomorrow, but if you’re okay to see—”

“No, tomorrow’s good. On second thought, why don’t you schedule them with Doc Bishop? They’ve been going to him for twenty years. I’m sure they’d be more comfortable—”

“They would be or you would?” she said with a laugh, and then proceeded to share way too much information about all three women before adding, “Dr. Bishop won’t be in tomorrow. Mrs. Fitzgerald invited him to make up a foursome, remember?”

Finn rubbed his jaw. “I’m not sure that’s something you should share—”

She made a ha-snort sound and then cuffed him on the shoulder. “Not that kind of foursome, silly. They’re playing golf.” She ha-snorted again. “It’s no wonder that’s where your mind went after the offers you’ve had today. Kerry will get a good laugh over that one.”

If Sherry had her master’s in gossip, Kerry, the receptionist, had her PhD. Finn figured he’d provided them with enough to talk about for a month at least. He lifted his chin in the direction of the examination rooms. There were five. “Who’s next?”

“I cleared out the waiting room of all but legit complaints, so you only have four. Patient number one won’t take long. She just needs her script renewed.” She handed him a file.

He looked at the name and handed it back. “Might be better if Doc Bishop sees Ms. Templeton.”

“He left early. Mrs. DiRossi invited him for dinner, and I think he wanted to get spiffed up.”

Sherry frowned and looked from Finn to examination room number one. “Is there a reason you don’t want to see Dana?”

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

An Open Letter to My Insurance Company and Doctor

I'm basically a free-market Republican.  My basic philosophy is that the less the government is involved in business the better.  I also believe that it is for more efficient to save insurance for the big bills and not to use it for every routine expense.  That being said, right now, I'm angry.  I feel like I've been scre*** and it is your fault--yes, both of you, and I'll blame the government too.

What happened?  Well, on March 1 I started suffering from what I thought was a rather routine illness.  I called my doctor's office and they sent me to a partner clinic across town.  No problem, I understand that I can't get instant appointments with whomever I wish whenever I wish.

My appointment was with a nurse-practitioner.  Again, no problem.  As far as I knew, this was a routine problem and I just needed someone who could write a prescription.  When I got there, they checked my insurance and collected my co-payment, as expected.  The nurse-practitioner did as expected, ordered the lab tests I expected and wrote me the prescriptions that I expected.  No problem.

Unfortunately, the test results did not come back as expected, which led to questions about what was causing my symptoms (which had resolved promptly when I took the medication).  Sensibly, the NP referred me to a specialist, as the symptoms could have been indicative of something serious.

I saw the specialist who ordered more tests, tests that I thought were very reasonable considering the possible causes of my symptoms.

I returned a few weeks later for the tests.  They were negative.  Most likely, the doctor said, the symptoms were caused by some germ that didn't show up on the first test, and that nothing was wrong.  However to be sure, we should do some more tests.  She'd get her office to get insurance company approval.

A week or so later her office called to schedule the appointment for the tests, and I agreed.  The day before the tests the patient accounts office called and told me the cost for the tests would be over $800.  When I asked for an explanation I was told that this test came under my deductible, not my co-pay.  Our local paper had just published a piece on medical prices, so I asked for the codes for the test I needed and I checked online.  The Medicare price for this procedure was $425.  I called several facilities around town and asked for the cash price for this procedure and most of them wanted about $800; one only wanted $750.  I told my doctor's office to send the orders over there, but when I called to schedule the procedure, they wanted over $800 because the orders listed my insurance.

Then the bills started coming.  It seems that my insurance had changed--and I knew that, sort of.  I knew the deductible and co-pays had increased (along with the premiums) but until this year, my co-pay covered everything that happened at the doctor's office that day, in other words, it covered the shots and the labwork.  Well, not anymore.  You'd think a change like that would have been pointed out to us.

I read medical bills for a living but I still couldn't make enough sense out of the bills I got to determine what they were charging me for and why.  All I know is that I paid the doctor's office over $200 last month and today I got a bill for another $300.  I got an EOB that said something was non-covered and I may owe the provider.

I don't live paycheck to paycheck.  Our income allows us to handle bills like this.  Even if I end up paying all of this out of pocket, we will still have dinner tomorrow, and no one is going to turn our lights off.  Still, I have a very nasty taste in my mouth.  It is nasty tastes like this that make people think that "someone" ought to "fix" the problem.  If you (doctor and insurance company) want to know why so many people are agitating for change in the way we pay for medical treatment, an experience like this is a big reason why.

First of all, I had no clue these bills were coming (except for the $800 bill).  Secondly, when I got the bill, it just gave a date of service and an amount.  There was no clue what it was for.  The EOB had more information, but even it wasn't complete.  The EOB showed a huge charge, a "discount", the amount the insurance company paid and the amount owed.  It did not explain why I owed that much, to get that information I had to call.  Medical math has to be the most complicated PhD level math course there is, and since I'm not a math person, I don't get it.

Finally, the bills do seem outrageous compared to the amount of time I was there, the complexity of the problem etc.  Maybe I'm wrong about that, maybe they really do need for me to pay that much in order for them to maintain the business and pay the employees decently--but back to that $800 charge for a test that would have cost Medicare $425--why should I pay more than Medicare?  The nice lady at the doctor's office said they could send me a financial aid packet if I needed one, and if I have to pay a little more so the poor can get treatment, I'm ok with that, but I don't see why I should pay more than the biggest payer.

With everything else I buy I am told the price before I incur the charges.  Even the mechanic gives me an estimate before he fixes the car.  Just trying to get prices over the phone requires more sophistication about medical billing that what most people have.  A friend of mine just posted on facebook that she went to an in-network ER for what was truly an emergency and was sent into surgery.  However, it seems that the assistant surgeon (who she never saw) was out-of-network and the insurance company wouldn't pay, so she was supposed to.

Folks, business as you are now running it is only going to make people madder as the current trend promoted by both Obamacare and Turmp is for more individual responsibility for medical bills (up to a point) in the form of deductibles and co-pays and taxes on plans that pay "too much".  All this in-network, out-of-network foolishness with those huge "discounts" was fine when we knew that at the end of the day we could easily find doctors who were "on the list" and that we were going to pay $50 for the doctor's visit.  However, if you are going to make me pay huge insurance premiums and then get stuck with big medical bills too, I'm going to feel taken advantage of and people who feel taken advantage of aren't going to be happy with the status quo--and I'll give you a heads up, I'm not looking for more ways to put money in your pocket.

Thursday, June 01, 2017

Book Review: The Swallow's Nest

About the Book:

When Lilia Swallow's husband, Graham, goes into remission after a challenging year of treatment for lymphoma, the home and lifestyle blogger throws a party. Their best friends and colleagues attend to celebrate his recovery, but just as the party is in full swing, a new guest arrives. She presents Lilia with a beautiful baby boy, and vanishes. 

Toby is Graham's darkest secret—his son, conceived in a moment of despair. Lilia is utterly unprepared for the betrayal the baby represents, and perhaps more so for the love she begins to feel once her shock subsides. Now this unasked-for precious gift becomes a life changer for three women: Lilia, who takes him into her home and heart; Marina, who bore and abandoned him until circumstance and grief changed her mind; and Ellen, who sees in him a chance to correct the mistakes she made with her own son, Toby's father. 

A custody battle begins, and each would-be mother must examine her heart, confront her choices and weigh her dreams against the fate of one vulnerable little boy. Each woman will redefine family, belonging and love—and the results will alter the course of not only their lives, but also the lives of everyone they care for.

My Comments:

Emilie Richards is one of my favorite authors and The Swallow's Nest is yet another example of why I like her books.  

Most of Emilie Richard's characters are very human, with good and bad sides.  Lilia loves her husband but is understandably upset when she learns he has cheated on her, especially considering that she has basically put her life on hold for the last year to care for him as he underwent cancer treatment.  I do like her attitude that what happened wasn't the baby's fault and that the baby shouldn't be the one who pays for it.

I wanted to dislike Marina, Toby's birth mother--I mean what kind of woman sleeps with a married man and then abandons her baby?  On the other hand, she could have had an abortion, and she didn't. She could have surrendered Toby for adoption, or hurt him, and she didn't do those things either. Marina has had a tough life and by the end of the book I really felt sorry for her.

At first I felt sorry for Ellen, then I disliked her and, at the end, was cheering for her, just a little.  

As a blogger I enjoyed reading Lilia's take on events in the story via her blog. 

This book explores the love of a mother for her child and the different forms it can take.  It looks at what happens when children don't feel loved and the different ways love can be expressed.  I loved this book and highly recommend it.  Grade: A.

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

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