07.30.10

Guest Post by Dora Calott Wang, M.D.

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:15 am by Amber

I’m reading Dr. Calott Wang’s book right now and this guest post is a good introduction to what her book is about.
~Amber

Is Wall Street Making Life or Death Decisions?

By Dora Calott Wang, M.D.,
Author of The Kitchen Shrink: A Psychiatrist’s Reflections on Healing 
in a Changing World

Is your health insurance company traded on Wall Street?

If so, is Wall Street deciding your medical care?

It’s hard to recall that for-profit corporations were once kept out of 
health care — in fact, for most of the 20th century. During this 
time, the nation’s medical system was built largely by non-profit and 
charitable organizations, which is why so many hospitals are named for 
saints. Courts across the country ruled that for corporations to 
profit from medical care was simply “against sound public policy.” In 
the early 1980’s, however, when the financial and airline industries 
were deregulated, a similar process occurred for American medicine. 
For-profit corporations became newly encouraged to take leadership of 
health care. Deregulating health care into the free market was 
intended to drive down costs and to improve care. After all, medical 
care in 1980 consumed a whopping 9.1 percent of the nation’s GDP.

Never mind that after 30 years in the free market, health care costs 
have doubled to consume 18 percent of the GDP (with a third of these 
precious dollars wasted on bureaucracy). Never mind that health care 
has gotten increasingly inaccessible to the uninsured and even the 
insured, or that American health care has become an international 
poster child for reform.

The real issue is that modern medical care has simply, finally, gotten 
so effective. Today, even cancer and AIDs are no longer death 
sentences, and if organs fail, you try to get a new one. But prior to 
the discovery of antibiotics and vaccines in the 1930’s, leeches were 
routinely applied, and medicine was steeped in superstition. Between 
1918 and 1920, three percent of the world’s population was wiped out 
— by the flu.

The fair and effective distribution of life-sustaining resources like 
food, water and shelter, is the very story of civilization. Yet now, 
thanks to centuries upon centuries of civilization and scientific 
inquiry, we have at last, a new life-sustaining resource — modern 
medical care, which is less than 80 years old.

How should this powerful new resource be distributed? I believe that 
medical care shouldn’t be considered an ordinary product, like 
athletic shoes or flat screen TV’s. Rather, it is quickly becoming 
essential, like water. Yet there will be no easy answers when it comes 
medical care, in this brave new world in which DNA is already being 
tweaked to grow completely new organs. We are embarking on a new, 
complex and long chapter of history.

I can’t help but think that health care reform isn’t over, and wasn’t 
concluded with the signing of the Patient Protection and Affordable 
Care Act in March.

I believe that health care reform will be our entire future.

In the meantime, for now, how is modern medical care, a new 
Prometheus’ fire, being distributed and decided in the United States?

Physicians and patients sit face to face and discuss medical decisions 
— about whether a life-sustaining cardiac bypass surgery is 
warranted, or whether a new liver should be gotten. But ultimately, 
the purse strings on medical care are held by health insurance 
companies.

The new health reform laws will obligate insurance companies to 
provide “coverage” even when patients become sick or if they have a 
“pre-existing condition” or what I will call “illness”. The PPACA has 
a provision on “administrative simplification” scheduled to take 
effect in 2014, which aims to streamline the process of doctors and 
health care providers asking for approvals from health insurance 
companies before treatments are rendered.

But even after the new laws are implemented, health insurance 
companies, many of them for-profit corporations traded on Wall Street, 
will continue to hold the purse strings on medical care.

Our recent health reform efforts are landmark progress in the right 
direction.

However, in the last thirty years, the values of Wall Street have so 
infiltrated the values of American society that seemingly all aspects 
of life are impacted, even medical care of the human body and mind, 
even the everyday life or death decisions that happen in doctor 
offices and hospital rooms.

© 2010 Dora Calott Wang, M.D., author of The Kitchen Shrink: A 
Psychiatrist’s Reflections on Healing in a Changing World

Author Bio
Dora Calott Wang, M.D., is Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at the 
University of New Mexico School of Medicine. A graduate of the Yale 
School of Medicine and the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute, she 
received her M.A. in English literature from the University of 
California, Berkeley, and has been the recipient of a writer’s 
residency from the Lannan Foundation. Her memoir, The Kitchen Shrink:  
A Psychiatrist’s Reflections on Healing in a Changing World
was 
published by Riverhead Books, The Penguin Group.

For more information please visit www.doracalottwang.com and follow 
the author on Facebook and Twitter.

07.29.10

Bleeding Heart Square by Andrew Taylor

Posted in Review at 8:19 am by Amber

Title: Bleeding Heart Square
Author: Andrew Taylor
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Source:LibraryThing Early Reviewer from February 2009 batch that arrived in January 2010

Bleeding Heart Square Book Cover

Lydia Langstone leaves her aristocratic husband to live with her father in the seedy Bleeding Heart Square until she decides how to proceed with her life.  It is 1934 – she has no money and no practical skills to earn a living.  Her mother and stepfather would only urge her to return to her husband which she won’t do after he hit her.  Her father is a stranger to her but the social niceties of the era will not allow him to turn her away.  The boarding house he lives in is under scrutiny by the police.  Without meaning to, Lydia finds herself involved in the mystery of what happened to the boarding house owner’s wife.  Can she trust anyone who lives in Bleeding Heart Square?

Taylor has created an atmospheric mystery with twists.  Some of the twists are obvious but not all of them.  Months after reading this, the plot is easy to recall but the characters aren’t as easy.  This was enjoyable while reading but won’t leave a lingering impression.

07.26.10

CSN Stores Gift Certificate Giveaway!

Posted in Giveaway at 11:07 am by Amber

We moved into our house on 7/4/2007 and were furniture shopping three days later during the Lucky Seven sales that were happening everywhere.  The furniture didn’t get delivered until October.  We bought three lamps shortly afterwards from CSN Lighting which all arrived quickly and in good shape. 

I was excited when the opportunity came up to hold this giveaway for a CSN Stores $60 Gift Certificate for my readers because I had such a positive experience with the lamps we bought.  After three years the house isn’t entirely the way we’d like it.  We’ve talked about replacing our dishware but first I want to get new dining room furniture to help set the tone.

With over 200 CSN Stores to choose from, I don’t think it would be difficult to find something to spend the $60 on.  Maybe you want a new writing desk or some mixing bowls to make your favorite cookies.  It doesn’t matter, just know that if you’re shipping address is in Canada the item(s) you order may have additional shipping or international charges with your order.

All you have to do to sign up for the giveaway is leave a comment to let me know you’re interested.  I’ll pick a winner on August 1st at 11:00pm using my favorite randomizer, random.org.

Good luck!

07.22.10

The Girls’ Guide to Rocking by Jessica Hopper

Posted in Review at 10:13 am by Amber

Title: The Girls’ Guide to Rocking
Author: Jessica Hopper
Publisher: Workman Publishing
Source: LibraryThing EarlyReviewer June 2009 Batch

Book Cover for The Girl's Guide to Rocking

My oldest brother played guitar and sang in a band.  I figured I could too until he tried to teach me how to play.  He’s left-handed, I’m right-handed and the guitar was too big for me.  It was too hard so I gave up.  There were no rock camps for girls and of course no Girls Rock! to watch.

This book is the answer to my 8-year-old self.  It tells the reader where to find instruments and equipment, how to tell if they’re damaged, and how to care for them. If the new rocker decides to write songs, record or go on tour, this book has related sections that will encourage and inform.

Throughout the book are eye-catching sidebars of informational nuggets.  Some of the topics include: female solo artists to view on YouTube (some of whom I’ve never heard of); books about female rockers; and five keys to keeping your band together.  These sidebars combined with the appendixes will open up the reader to some new influences.  And for mom or dad will bring back some fond memories.  Even if your child doesn’t want to learn how to play music or be part of a band, there is enough resource material to point parents and children towards music related discussions.

About the author:

Jessica Hopper

Jessica Hopper is a music and culture critic whose work regularly appears in Chicago Reader, LA Weekly, SPIN, ANP and Chicago Tribune and has also been included in DaCapo’s Best of Music Writing 2004, 2005 and 2007. She is also the music consultant for the public radio show, This American Life. Her widely-anthologized essay, “Emo: Where the Girls Aren’t” was described as “influential” by The New York Times.

Holding fast to the music-is-my-life credo, Hopper has also done time as a tour manager, band publicist, DJ, touring bassist, Girls Rock Camp booster, and fanzine publisher. She lives in Chicago.

07.19.10

Mailbox Monday – July 19th

Posted in Event at 12:08 am by Amber

Mailbox Monday

A big thank you to Marcia at The Printed Page for hosting Mailbox Monday. Starting next month it’s going on tour with a different host each month.

A few items arrived in my mailbox this week.  The first was The Kitchen Shrink by Dora Calott Wang M.D. courtesy of FSB Associates.

I also received Red Hook Road by Ayelet Waldman. This book qualifies as one of my entries in the 2010 EW Summer Books Challenge.

What arrived in your mailbox this week?

07.14.10

Twice Dead by Kaylana Price

Posted in Review at 10:00 am by Amber

Title: Twice Dead
Author: Kaylana Price
Publisher: Bell Bridge Books
Source: Winning from LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer February Batch

 Here’s the back cover blurb:

Newly undead shifter-turned-vampire Kita Nekai is coming to grips with the reality that her cat has not awakened since her change.

What she needs is a little time to adjust to her new liquid diet and the increasingly complex attraction to her sire, Nathanial. What she gets is a headless harlequin. With the body count rising, Kita is dragged into a dangerous game of vampire politics. Her involvement draws the attention of an ancient vampire known as the Collector who has a penchant for acquiring the unusual – like a pureblood shifter-turned vampire.

Kita still has unfinished business of her own and finds herself deeper in magical debt.

It’s a bad time to be a kitten who can’t slip her skin.

This is the second book in Price’s “Haven” series.  I’m usually hesitant to pick up a book in the middle of a series but since I won it as one of my Early Reviewer books I didn’t have much choice.  It was no problem at all getting caught up with the who’s who, what happened before and what was happening now.  This was an ebook and I read it on my iPhone with the Dropbox application.

The story was gripping from the first page and I didn’t want to put it down.  An alien shapeshifter turned vampire?  It sounds crazy but it works.  And how could I not like Nathanial, the vampire with a dog who lets Kita’s shapeshifter friend stick around until he can return to their planet?  Kita finds she’s no longer able to shift to her cat form nor is she able to communicate with her sire as expected.  Her sense of smell is greater than other vampires and when combined with her catlike curiosity and independent streak naturally makes her the one who investigates what is going on with the headless harlequin.

Twice Dead Book Cover

07.09.10

Raw Redemption by Lacresha Hayes

Posted in Review at 1:04 pm by Amber

Title: Raw Redemption
Author: Lacresha Hayes
Publisher: Living Waters Publishing
Source: .pdf copy from the author

Raw Redemption Book Cover

I wanted to like this book.  Lacresha is the founder of the Write it! Publish it! Market it! online group of which I am a member.  Her enthusiasm is infectious and she often comes up with new topics of conversation when the group starts to get quiet.

The cover and title are intriguing.  Cheyenne has left her family and past behind in Maryland.  Her presence is requested when her uncle is on his deathbed.  He’s a wealthy womanizer and abuser who recently found religion.  Cheyenne’s double life in Los Angeles includes  a side gig as a paid escort.  James is a client she’s unwilling to admit she loves. 

The story had promise but needed some additional editing to work for me.  Cheyenne has a lot of aunts and uncles – I couldn’t keep their names or how they were related straight in my mind.  The subplot about an unknown brother felt rushed. 

I did like the character of James.  So often in novels with a romantic element, the lovers have misunderstandings or try to change each other.  James only wanted Cheyenne to know she was loved and was worth loving. 

Other reviews of Raw Redemption are available on Goodreads.  Lacresha is the author of several fiction and non-fiction books.  Her site is at http://lacreshatheauthor.weebly.com and she loves to hear from readers.

07.06.10

When Will There Be Good News? – Kate Atkinson

Posted in Review at 8:00 am by Amber

When Will There Be Good News? Book Cover

Title: When Will There Be Good News?
Author: Kate Atkinson
Publisher: Back Bay Books / Little, Brown and Company
Source:Miriam at Hachette Book Group

Atkinson’s writing pulls the reader into another world where bad things happen but there is always someone who wants to prevent the bad things or pick up the pieces afterwards.  The first part of the book, titled “The Past” takes the reader to a summer day thirty years before the present day tale begins.  The reader gets so caught up in the the events of that day it takes a while to realize the little girl is now a woman with her own family.

Jackson Brodie and Louise Monroe (both featured characters in One Good Turn) do more than cross paths and have made permanent marks in each other’s lives.  As far as I can recall, this is the only book I’ve read in which a secondary character gets primary character billing in a sequel.  I read somewhere Walter Mosley has done this but I’ve not seen it for myself. 

Most of the time I read a book in a vacuum because there isn’t anyone else to talk to about it.  The readers in my life either don’t read the same books as me or they read them years after I do.  This is one of those books I wish I could talk to someone about.  The ending caught me by surprise and my heart broke a little.  Some authors believe in putting their characters through hell to create a metamorphosis.  All I can say without providing any spoilers is there better be a happy ending but I doubt it’s coming.

Author Bio
Kate Atkinson lives in Edinburgh. Her first novel, Behind the Scenes at the Museum,was named Whitbread Book of the Year in the U.K. in 1995, and was followed by Human Croquet, Emotionally Weird, Not the End of the World, Case Histories and One Good Turn.

Story of the Month – “Alice After the Mall”

Posted in Story Of The Month at 12:33 am by Amber

I came across “Alice After the Mall” by John Jasper Owens shortly after it was published in Every Day Fiction.  There are many good things about it but it’s the ending I keep thinking about.

The first paragraph lets the reader know where Alice is and why she’s at the mall.  It sets up the scene and appears to be an ordinary situation.  Sometimes life changing decisions are made in ordinary places.

I think Alice stays on course and doesn’t look behind her.  What do you think she does?

07.05.10

Reviewing and Revising

Posted in Writing at 2:00 pm by Amber

At the end of June I registered for a flash fiction workshop at the last minute.  One of the requirements of the class was to write something for it so we could revise it and get a critique during class. 

Naturally since I signed up the first day of class I looked at a bunch of stories I wrote for 2008’s Writo de Mayo.  My goal that year was to write  a complete short story each day based on a writing prompt.  These didn’t have to be anything pretty – just first drafts.  I was surprised by some of what I wrote:

  • A woman haunted by her brother.
  • A Titanic survivor.
  • A group of adventurers overcome ghouls to make a special delivery.
  • A woman and daughter celebrating the young girl’s birthday.
  • A director constantly replacing dead cast members before opening night.
  • A woman who finds a dragon in her house.
  • A werewolf boy who wants to be a vampire.
  • A talent agent with a difficult client.
  • A young warrior tending a castle garden.
  • A trapped miner.
  • A lost wallet.
  • A woman keeping her dying friend’s secret.
  • A woman driven to murder by her co-worker’s singing.
  • A soldier patrolling an unfriendly planet.

 In the end, I decided to write something new.  I had problems getting down what I wanted to say but decided to submit it anyway as a work in progress.  It’s going to need a lot of work before it gets to the final version.

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