Book Corner

Book Review: The Lullaby Girl

 

Detective Angie Pallorino took down a serial killer permanently and, according to her superiors, with excessive force. Benched on a desk assignment for twelve months, Angie struggles to maintain her sense of identity—if she’s not a detective, who is she? Then a decades-old cold case washes ashore, pulling her into an investigation she recognizes as deeply personal.

Angie’s lover and partner, James Maddocks, sees it, too. But spearheading an ongoing probe into a sex-trafficking ring while keeping Angie’s increasing obsession with her case in check is taking its toll. As startling connections between the parallel investigations emerge, Maddocks realizes he has even more than Angie’s emotional state to worry about.

Driven and desperate to solve her case, Angie goes rogue, risking her relationship, career, and very life in pursuit of answers. She’ll learn that some truths are too painful to bear, and some sacrifices include collateral damage.

But Angie Pallorino won’t let it go. She can’t. It’s not in her blood.

 

This is the second Angie Pallorino book in the series. I like this character, a lot. She’s strong, independent, not afraid of getting hurt, either physically or emotionally, all in the name of doing what is right.

She’s damaged. And she has demons to work through, but don’t we all, on some level?

I REALLY like how the first book’s case led directly into the second book. You can read this book as a standalone, but the reading The Drowned Girls would make The Lullaby Girl make a bit more sense.

I didn’t give it five stars because I felt like it dragged a bit, but not so much that it  yanked me out of the story. I also really like how Ms. White weaves a story around two different cases at once. At first, it’s a little confusing and a bit disorienting, but she soon makes it clear that the cases are tied together somehow and it works.

There were a few editorial mistakes. Missing words that momentarily made me stumble, but they were minor and not a deal breaker.

The story itself was disturbing but believable. Unfortunately, I’m sure there are sex-trafficking rings moving to this day and I’m sure they won’t be going anywhere any time soon. That sort of evil goes hand-in-hand with our fallen world today.

The love story between Angie and James is a bit hard to swallow. They seem too mismatched and the majority of this book they didn’t interact much at all. I don’t doubt their feelings for one another but I do wonder at the motivation for their feelings for one another. I understand where they are coming from but given the personalities I’ve read thus far it almost makes them a couple feel … off. I think the ending, between these two, was too rushed and felt contrived. I would have liked to see them interact more and maybe put off the ending for another book, or two. I feel like these two need more relationship building opportunities, outside of solving cases together.

Though I understand Angie’s anger and confusion, she needs to get herself sorted out first, and allow the reader to see this growth, before she jumps into anything long term with any character. Though to be fair, nothing concrete was resolved in this book between the two, just implied.

I didn’t really see the bad guy coming till near the end of the book, which was a nice surprise. I like how Angie’s parent’s relationship was complicated and a by product of their unfortunate circumstances. It’s hard to write anything more about that situation as I feel like that was a central part of the book’s premise and I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, but suffice it to say, it was believable, on a more disturbing, realistic level.

I am definitely looking forward to reading book three in Angie Pallorino’s series.

Daily Prompts

My Life: Day Ten

I’m attempting to force myself to write in my blog every day. I’ve gotten SO BAD at keeping up these past several years and someday I’ll be dead and then what?

I’ll be gone but hopefully not forgotten. (Feel free to use these prompts for your own writing).

Today’s prompt(s):

Write a diary entry dated ten years in the future.

Dear 2029 me – I’M OLD!

GURL – YOU LOOK GOOD.

Okay, who am I fooling? I’m just happy you’re still breathing to read this post.

So. You and Kevin have been married nearly 40 years. THAT’S SO CRAZY!

And that means Blake is 36 and Brandon is nearly 34. I hope they are married and have 2.5 kids by now.

Which would make us grandparents!!

You better be a cool grandma. You better have your priorities straight and always be there for your kids/grandkids because it makes a huge difference!

I wonder how many cruises we will have been on by now? We try to take one every year so by 2029 we’ll have been on … nearly 25 cruises? I wonder what sort of places we’ve been, what sort of adventures we’ve been on? What sort of beautiful, memorable pictures we have?

Am I still working in healthcare? I know girl, who knew you would last this long in a job. I’ve worked in healthcare the longest I’ve worked in any other job. I have a seven-year itch for nearly everything – jobs, cars. Am I doing something else? Legal field, maybe? (foreshadowing??)

Or maybe I quit and am now a full-time writer with three or four novels under my belt by now?

If not, WHY NOT?

So Kevin is well into his 60’s. Is he retired? Where is LeRoy?

What car am I driving? I hope it’s a sports car – my goal is to be a very COOL grandma someday. 🙂

Overall, future self, I hope you’re happy, healthy and secure. That’s all I ever wanted for you.

See you in another ten years!

 

Work Stuff

Monster Doctor

I hesitate to write this post. I don’t want you to get the wrong idea about the medical field, or more specifically, neurosurgery, but I feel I must talk about this because it HAUNTS me.

I don’t know if anyone outside of Texas would really know about this case. I certainly never heard of it until my PA started talking about the podcast and how we MUST listen to it. (Actually, my doctor might have been the one to bring it to my PA’s attention, I’m not sure).

The name of the podcast? Dr. Death.

It’s a true-life horror story of Christopher Duntsch, a neurosurgeon who maimed, and in two cases, killed, over 30 people in a two-year span.

33 Patients. A Charming Surgeon. A Spineless System.

We’re at our most vulnerable when we go to our doctors. We trust the person at the other end of that scalpel. We trust the hospital. We trust the system. Dr. Christopher Duntsch was a neurosurgeon who radiated confidence. He claimed he was the best in Dallas. If you had back pain, and had tried everything else, Dr. Duntsch could give you the spine surgery that would take your pain away. But soon his patients started to experience complications. And all they had to protect them was a system ill equipped to stop the madness. From Wondery, the network behind the hit podcast Dirty John, DR. DEATH is about a medical system that failed to protect these patients at every possible turn. Reported and hosted by Laura Beil.

In case you’re not aware, I am a medical assistant that works in a neurosurgery clinic. We have nine surgeons in our practice, eight neurosurgeons and an interventional neuro radiologist (he specializes in aneurysms). I’m very blessed to work with some of the best doctors in the country, in my opinion. They are all awesome and they are all excellent surgeons.

So, listening to this podcast REALLY hit home for me. Too close to home. I feel like it’s changed my perspective in regards to my job, the doctors I work with and the medical field as a whole. I frequently got goosebumps listening to what this crazy man did to people.

But it’s almost more alarming that he didn’t stop even after being confronted with the results, he refused to accept the reality that he was hurting people, and that he was allowed to continue to maim people.

In a nutshell, this man graduated from med school in neurosurgery. In addition, he had a PhD in research developing some serum that would regenerate cells in the spine and in essence, make spine surgery unnecessary in some cases.

There’s no question he was smart. You would have to be to graduate from medical school and become a spine surgeon.

However, he reportedly became addicted to drugs and there was a witness account of how he would be up all night partying, then put his lab coat on and go to to work the next day.

And this was during his residency.

“Over the course of two years, Christopher Duntsch a.k.a. Dr. Death operated on 38 patients in the Dallas area. Of those 38, 31 were left paralyzed or seriously injured and two of them died from surgical complications.”

One of those patients? Was his best friend Jerry Summers.

Mr. Summers had neck surgery. Duntsch botched his surgery so badly not only is he a quadriplegic today, but Duntsch nearly decapitated him due to drilling out nearly all of one vertebrae.

He placed screws into muscle. He drilled “ping-pong” sized holes in vertebrae. He completely destroyed nerve endings. He killed one side of the thyroid in one patient and I believe put a hole in the same patient’s esophagus.

Listening to this story made me physically sick.

How can a person purposefully do these things to other humans? How does a person not SEE what he’s done and STILL continue to operate as if nothing is wrong?

The man is pure evil.

In the case of Mary Efurd, she was on the operating table when his previous patient was hemorrhaging, BROKE SCRUB, which means, he left the operating room and compromised the sterile environment and the patient’s back was still open with her spine exposed, to argue with the hospital administration to allow him to operate, once again, on the dying woman because he was convinced he could fix her.

One of his patients came in for a follow up and when Duntsch looked at the patient’s scans, he noted a foreign object was in her spine. That turned out to be a sponge he left in the patient.

He diagnosed another patient with a malignant tissue and that turned out to be the patient’s normal muscle tissue.

It just goes on and on. And the whole time I’m just sitting there, flabbergasted, that 1. he continued to do surgeries even though he KNEW he harmed other patients so that to me means he was intentionally doing it, 2. that the operating staff allowed it to happen, though there is a story of one resident surgeon physically putting his hands over Duntsch and telling him to stop, he was dangerous and he wouldn’t work with him ever again, 3. that someone didn’t report him to the medical board, it took getting the police involved before he was stopped.

It’s so disturbing on so many levels. Are doctors really that untouchable??

Listening to this real-life horror story has really changed my perspective at work. I think I take my job even more seriously now and it awes me that so many people put so much trust in my doctor and his team. It’s humbling, quite honestly.

I can’t imagine the pressure that realization is to doctors.

And it concerns me that there doesn’t seem to be a checks/balances process in place for a situation like this. Granted, this was a one-of-kind tragedy and I pray nothing like this ever happens again, but how effective is the disciplinary actions for when something doesn’t go right?

I also put myself in the shoes of his office manager and the nurses that worked with him in his clinic. How could you ethically work with a monster like this? I know his office manager did end up quitting and telling anyone who would listen what was going on, but still, IMAGINE THE STRESS AND THE GUILT OF IT ALL.

And how must Duntsch’s parents feel when they found out what their son had done to people? I truly can’t fathom it.

It’s a shocking story but one we can learn from, I think.

I just pray, we do.

Daily Prompts

My Life: Day Nine

I’m attempting to force myself to write in my blog every day. I’ve gotten SO BAD at keeping up these past several years and someday I’ll be dead and then what?

I’ll be gone but hopefully not forgotten. (Feel free to use these prompts for your own writing).

Today’s prompt(s):

What is your favorite work of art? What do you love about it?

I’m not really into art. I appreciate art, but it’s not something I seek out or take an interest in.

The art that really captures my attention, are landscapes, or moments in time, or beauty, like a vase of flowers, something that evokes an emotion in me.

Which I get is the objective of art as a whole.

But something recognizable, a person, a place, something tangible and beautiful.

I can’t STAND abstract art. To me, it looks like something a child drew and it’s chaotic and mindless. No thanks.

I love the art of words. Or the art of photography. Or the art of creating something unique and different with your own hands.

For example, I love my aunt/uncle’s Etsy shop. I love the art he creates using steel. He’s a welder by trade and he figured how to utilize his unique gifts to offer something beautiful to people.

And my mom’s crafts. She’s been making beautiful things all her life.

The only “art” I feel I have is writing, and that might be debatable with some people.

My husband’s art is finding old/broken things and turning them into something functional and/or decorative. Kevin also painted this:

ArtKev.jpg

THIS, to me, is beauty.

This is also my favorite piece of art we have in our home:

 

Writing Stuff

Writing Goals: Calling All Writers

Writing goals – gads, just writing those words out makes my heart nearly beat out of my chest.

Here’s the thing, I love writing, but writing is HARD, ya’ll. No joke. It’s not so much the ideas, I can sit down with a general idea and a few characters and my imagination just sort of … takes over. It’s weird. The characters come to life and just start … talking in my head.

But finding the motivation, summoning the energy, THAT’S my problem.

But dad gum, I’m not getting any younger (and if writing dad gum it doesn’t indicate I’m freaking OLD, I don’t know what will).

The question is – when to write?

Personally, I like challenges. I REALLY like Nanowrimo and the spin off Camp Nanowrimo (though I’ve yet to actually participate in it because I FORGET!)

So. Let’s make some writing goals for this year. Brace yourself, they are LOFTY goals.

January: Gather Ideas for future writing projects.

February: Getting to know your characters / putting your characters in situations

March: Flash Fiction – fiction under 250 words – Prepare for 1st Writing Camp

April: Camp NaNoWriMo

May: Vacation / Breathe

June: Blog-a-thon – write/publish something every hour for 24 hours on your blog. Also, prepare for your next writing camp

July: Camp NaNoWriMo #2

August: Flash Fiction – fiction under 250 words

September: Journal a character’s life for one month

October: Prepare for NaNoWriMo

November: NaNoWriMo

December: Enjoy the holidays

Can we do it? Can I do it? I’m certainly going to try.

My office at work is literally a storage closet they “converted” into an office. It sounds terrible, but it’s really not. In fact, I love it BECAUSE it’s so isolated and quiet.

Anyway, I think I’m going to keep my laptop in my office and then after work, just work on writing. It’s away from home, quiet, of course, private and I’m not tempted to just chock the whole thing and take a nap. (Though I guess I still could do that!)

I have a writing blog. It’s old, and has old stuff on there, so I apologize in advance but I think it’ll be easier on me to have someplace to post my work other than here. Separate my fiction life from my “real” life. I know, yet another blog, *eye roll* but I’m trying to make this as easy on me as possible though I suspect it may not be easy for you.

Anyway, I’ll be posting my fiction stories on that blog.  I hope you follow along and participate if you wish!

2019 is the year of writing!

Daily Prompts

My Life: Day Eight

I’m attempting to force myself to write in my blog every day. I’ve gotten SO BAD at keeping up these past several years and someday I’ll be dead and then what?

I’ll be gone but hopefully not forgotten. (Feel free to use these prompts for your own writing).

Today’s prompt(s):

What is your favorite way to spend a lazy day?

Any day I’m not working is a lazy day. And speaking of lazy, I HAVE been lately. Well honestly, ever since the boys moved out three, almost four (!), years ago. I mean, Kevin and I don’t really mess anything up. Other than the weekly floors, laundry and bi-weekly bathroom cleans, what is there? We both clean up after ourselves in the kitchen and we’ll ignore the layer of dust all over my house.

It’s been quite the adjustment for me since the boys moved out. I’ve not only missed them, I’ve missed their presence. The background noise, the periodic invasion of my space as one of them walks by. The occasional sneeze/cough, the “clack-clack” of keys on a keyboard.

I’ve always been a slug – I’m not big on housekeeping so wait until we can’t ignore it anymore to DO it, but now? It’s worse. All I want to do is zone out in front of the computer and/or staring at my Kindle and that’s the extent of my energy.

I’ve lived the past few years on automatic and you know? I’m sort of done with that. Life HAS to be more than just go to work, eat, sleep, poop and do it all over again the next day.

Right?

OF COURSE my favorite way to spend a lazy (i.e. every day) is to read. I need to find a way to get paid to read, THAT would be my dream job. It wouldn’t be very challenging and I’m not sure it would be very satisfying, which my current job is, but I WOULD LOVE IT.

(And out of curiosity, I just Googled “how to get paid to read books” and this site popped up. You know, I should legit try this. In fact, that was on my bucket list of things to do this year – write book reviews. I could write my reviews them submit them to one of these sites and see what happens ………………….. hhmm ……………………………….)

Another lazy day / fun thing for me is to people watch. If I’m forced to go anywhere and I’m not on a mission to get in/out of wherever I’m going, I like to sit and just … watch. (Sounds sort of creepy when I write it out like that). People are fascinating to me. I like to pretend I know what is going on in their lives by judging their body language and facial expressions. I’m hard up for entertainment, I guess.

Or, if we want to get really crazy, I love sitting on the beach alternating between watching the waves and reading a book. Filling my lungs with salty, fresh air.

Paradise.

Every day is a lazy day for me. But I feel like I appreciate life a bit more living like that. I’m forcing myself to take the time to ENJOY the little things in life.

 

Work Stuff

The Difference Between a CNA and a CMA

In case anyone was curious to know the difference between the two positions:

CNA (Certified Nursing Assistant)

The requirements for becoming a CNA vary from state to state. So you may need to certify again if you move or take a job in another state.

CCMA (Certified Clinical Medical Assistant) – This is me

If you’re earning your Medical Assistant Certification (CCMA), your certification will be nationally accredited and not tied exclusively to a state-run certification or license. That said, some states have specific scope of practice, training or other licensing requirements to perform specific skills such as x-rays. You should make sure you know whether your state is one of them.

CNA tasks are mostly clinical

Certified nursing assistants perform mostly clinical duties related to the patient. Common duties of a CNA include:

  • Collect laboratory specimans
  • Provide bedside assistance
  • Assist with daily activities of living (bathing, dressing, eating)
  • Monitor, record & report changes in patient health
  • Maintain a clean patient environment
  • Provide comfort to patients

CMA tasks can be either clinical or administrative or both – (This is what I do)

Medical assistants perform both clinical AND administrative duties. They are one of the most versatile members of the ambulatory health care team. Common duties of an MA include:

  • Check patients in and out upon arrival and departure
  • Answer phone calls and questions
  • Perform basic billing and coding procedures
  • Assist providers with exams and procedures
  • Assist with minor surgeries
  • Administer injections or medications
  • Work in the electronic health record (EHR)
  • Perform EKG, phlebotomy and laboratory procedures
  • Take patient vital signs
  • Help patients stay up-to-date with preventative testing
  • Perform health coaching or patient education

It’s hard to outline a “typical day” for an MA because each day is different, and there’s little repetition. Moreover, MAs work in a variety of settings and help many different types of patients. If you’re someone who likes variety in your day, becoming an MA could be a good fit for you

CNAs work with nurses

Certified nursing assistants, also called nursing aides — as the title implies — primarily assist the registered nurse (RN) or licensed practicing nurse (LPN). Because they serve as direct caregivers, they are most often employed by nursing homes, residential care facilities and hospitals.

CMAs work with a variety of providers

With a broader skill set, medical assistants assist a variety of providers including physicians, nurse practitioners and physician assistants. They typically work in medical offices, clinics, urgent care centers and may work in general medicine or specialty practices. It isn’t typical to see MAs in the hospital, but with the need for healthcare workers increasing the opportunities for MAs are growing and changing rapidly. (Source)

It still surprises me that I’m a Certified Medical Assistant. I never had any desire to go into healthcare, never envisioned myself doing the job, and yet, here I am.

I don’t even like people that much, ya’ll! How did this happen?

And yet – why do I enjoy it so much!?

Abundant Life, Daily Prompts

My Life: Day Seven

I’m attempting to force myself to write in my blog every day. I’ve gotten SO BAD at keeping up these past several years and someday I’ll be dead and then what?

I’ll be gone but hopefully not forgotten. (Feel free to use these prompts for your own writing).

Today’s prompt(s):

Prayer

How the Devil Derailed Prayer

For many Christians, prayer is not as important as it should be. Many Christians only pray before meals, before bed (when they are children), or in emergency situations. The concept of “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17 – ESV) is not a part of the lives of most Christians. How did the average Christian lifestyle drift so far from what the Bible says to do? The short answer is that most Christians are taught that everything that happens is God’s will, or “God is in control,” and that even Satan (if the Christian believes in Satan), has to ask God’s permission before he can act.

We all hate meaningless work, and that includes meaningless prayer. Good, solid, powerful, focused prayer takes a lot of work, a lot of time and mental energy. No one wants to make that effort if his or her prayer does not really make a difference. Unfortunately, that is what the teaching that “God is in control” does; it teaches that our prayers really do not make much, if any difference.

If everything that happens is God’s will, then God’s will gets done whether or not anyone prays. If prayer does not change anything, then what purpose does it serve? We have been told it demonstrates a person’s humility and obedience to God’s command to pray. Also, it has been used as a punishment for sinning (such as in the Roman Catholic Church when prayers are assigned as a penance for sin). Also, it has been said to be therapeutic because confession and prayer are “good for the soul.” It has also been taught that we pray to help align our own thinking with what God is doing, and to humbly accept the will of God.

The teaching that “God is in control” has, knowingly or unknowingly, adversely affected the prayer lives of millions of Christians. Many people are not motivated to pray because they have been told that God’s will comes to pass whether they pray or do not pray, while many others do not pray throughout the day simply because they have never seen that modeled for them by other Christians. Prayer changes things dramatically, and God needs us to ask in prayer, so He tells us again and again to pray. God is willing to do His part if we will do ours. Let’s not sit around complaining about how bad the world is; let’s do something about it! God wants us to do something, and a powerful thing we can do is to pray [Source]

Do you believe in prayer? Do YOU pray? What is the purpose of prayer? Does it help? Is God even listening?

I suppose, if you’re not a Christian, or believe in a higher being, this post is not for you. But if you’re grappling, reaching for something you can’t quite put your finger on but know it’s juuuust out of reach, let me see if I can help with that.

I’ve been a Christian for a very long time. I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior when I was in middle school.

However, I haven’t always understood what Christianity is/was. And a large part of that reason is due to the chaos and confusion that Satan has bestowed on our civilization over the many 1000’s of years. The more confused people are, the further they will get from Christ and the closer they get to Satan and his evil ways.

I don’t think people purposefully set out to live evil lives, I think everyone, on some level, either consciously, or subconsciously, wants to lead a good, wholesome life. But outside influences are sometimes too hard to resist.

The media is a huge one. Everyone takes everything they read/hear as gospel truth. Oh, so-and-so said it so it MUST be true. But, this big news site wrote it so it MUST be accurate.

That’s not even close to being true. Which is why I HIGHLY recommend that people stop and ask questions. THINK for yourselves. Do not be led around by the nose like a bunch of sheeple.

But that’s a post for another day.

Loved ones, friends, “successful” people who appear to have it all together and make unwise decisions but always seem to come out on top anyway – it’s just too tempting to mirror that person’s decisions in the hopes of obtaining the same things, are outside influences. Trying to emulate these people often leads to disappointment and resentment, which only leads us down yet another wrong path.

Prayer is necessary in that it helps guides us, it helps purge our souls and cleanse our consciousness. Prayer is a line to God – He’s someone to talk to, to vent to, to ask for guidance. But just like when we’re in a crowded room, with a ton of people, all talking at once, it’s hard to hear one individual voice. So we have to continuously pray and make our voice heard.

This crowded room could be unholy decisions you’ve made, or being around someone who is influencing you and directly you down an ungodly path. It could be evil spirits purposefully blocking your voice from being heard.

The more you live outside God’s commands, the further you get from God and the less God can protect you.

I  know that sounds all “hocus-pocus” but we ARE in a spiritual battle, every day. It’s real.

Are you lost? Do you feel hopeless? Is no one listening? Do you need help? Then pray to God. There is no right or wrong way to do it, you’re having a conversation with God. Unload on God, allow him to guide you and comfort you. Pray continuously. He may not hear you right away because of all the spiritual noise surrounding you, but don’t give up, He will hear and He will answer.

I hope this post blessed you in some way.

 

 

Daily Prompts

My Life: Day Six

I’m attempting to force myself to write in my blog every day. I’ve gotten SO BAD at keeping up these past several years and someday I’ll be dead and then what?

I’ll be gone but hopefully not forgotten. (Feel free to use these prompts for your own writing).

Today’s prompt(s):

Do you believe in soul mates?

Yes.

But first, let’s define what a soulmate is. I feel like many people have a misconception of soulmate:

Merriam Webster defines soulmate as:

1 : a person who is perfectly suited to another in temperament
2 : a person who strongly resembles another in attitudes or beliefs

I feel like that is a bit misleading. A soulmate is not PERFECT, I feel a soulmate is a missing piece to your soul. Someone who completes you, someone who GETS you.

I also don’t feel like a soulmate is necessarily a romantic interest, it could be a friend as well.

Here’s a cute little video that explains soulmate better than I can.

I’m pretty sure this video forgot #5, ha!

Anyway, I felt that way with Kevin. It’s hard to explain but the minute we met, we felt comfortable with each other. It felt “right.” Even though I was cautious given his recent breakup, I just … knew. I wish I could break it down even further, it frustrates me that I can’t find words to describe the feeling, but it’s a gut feeling, you just … know.

So. Do I believe there is a soulmate for every person? Yes. Do I think people recognize a soulmate when they come along? Not always.