Showing posts with label Book Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Book Reviews. Show all posts

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Reviewing Lucky Bitch by Denise Duffield-Thomas

Over the last couple of years I have found myself reading more and more personal development books and one that I read earlier this year is Lucky Bitch: A Guide for Exceptional Women to Create Outrageous Success by Denise Duffield-Thomas.

An easy to read, law of attraction style of personal development book

I had never heard of this book until it literally fell off the library shelf in front of me!   I took that to be a sign from the universe that this was the book I needed to read even though the author, Denise Duffield-Thomas made the title such a mouthful.   I'll just refer to Lucky Bitch: A Guide for Exceptional Women to Create Outrageous Success to Lucky Bitch for the rest of this review.

I loved this book, the author believes in the law of attraction and it is basically this that she talks about, she does so as though she were sitting down with a coffee (or cocktail) and talking to you as a friend.   I have found a number of law of attraction style books hard to read, but this one was so easy to read I finished it a lot quicker than I normally do.

I also have a copy of this book in my shopping cart ready to purchase when I do my next book order.

So, why do I like it and what makes it different to the hundreds of other law of attraction style of personal development books?


  • It's very easy to read, more of a chatty form of book than a stuffy one.
  • It has very actionable steps for you to take with lots of examples.


Denise and her husband actually won a competition to become honeymoon testers travelling the world for six months which is where the 'Lucky Bitch' comes from.   She shares the techniques she used to ensure that it wasn't luck as in chance that led them to winning, but the law of attraction.   She left nothing to chance and worked hard.

I loved the fact that she didn't make it seem woo-woo and that all you had to do was say your gratitudes every morning and daydream about what you want in your life.   Let's face it I know that's not actually what some books say, but it's the impression that you can be left with.

Denise breaks it all down in Lucky Bitch so that you know if you really want something then harnessing the law of attraction can be done by anyone, but it does entail working and believing it's possible.

I love utilizing my local library to get books to read, but when I discover one that I can easily devour and learn things from I go ahead and buy my own version and that is what I will be doing with this one.

The only thing I was worried about was as I was reading and not wanting to put it up I thought I really should be taking down notes.   I then decided that no, I would enjoy reading the book through and then I could re-read it with a notebook.   I made a wonderful discovery at the end of the book -

Personal Development Book Review of Lucky Bitch by Denise Duffield-Thomas
A great find at the back of the book!


It's almost like she anticipated people devouring the books without taking notes and has a synopsis of tasks for you to do at the back, broken down by chapter.

Do You Enjoy Reading Personal Development Books?


Not everyone enjoys reading personal development books and I have to say that a few years ago the idea that they would be a regular part of my life is something I wouldn't have believed.   I used to think that they were good for some people, but not me LOL!

I actually read at least 10 pages a day out of a personal development book every morning now (this one I also read in the evening - the first time I had done that) and I have found them to be really good for my mental well being.

I am very intrigued to know how many readers also enjoy reading this style of books, I'm thinking there's quite a few considering how big the personal development section in the bookstore is.

Here's a couple of the personal development books I have reviewed here on Review This -

The Magic by Rhonda Byrne
The Slight Edge by Jeff Olson


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Thursday, April 2, 2020

No Ordinary Dog - Book Review

Read an Excerpt
If I asked you what you were doing when you learned about the terror of the unfolding 9/11 disaster, I have no doubt that nearly 100% of you could provide, in great detail, your memory of that dark day.

Now, how about May 2, 2011—what can you tell me about that day?  Actually, I can't recall anything about it, but the author of No Ordinary Dog, Will Chesney, was there when the mastermind of September 11th, Osama Bin Laden, was finally brought to justice during one of the most incredible Navy SEAL operations of all time.

Due to the highly classified nature of the ultimate in top secret missions, only one operative's name was released at the time—Cairo—the extraordinary military dog present during the raid.  This is the story of Cairo and Will's journey to achieving their joint, and yet distinct, destinies.  Most of all, it is a poignant tribute to the life-changing power of the human-animal bond.

Chesney knew his destiny very early in life.  All he ever wanted to be was a Navy SEAL.  It was that, or nothing.  Likewise, Cairo, an exquisite Belgian Malinois, was bred, raised, and trained for an equally elite destiny.  Few animals ever make the cut when it comes to serving as a special ops war dog.  Cairo was among the rarest of the rare.

Though I had read books and seen movies about Navy SEALS, nothing ever really drove home the extreme sacrifices made by these rare individuals like No Ordinary Dog.  Reading Chesney's accounts of what he felt and experienced during his SEAL training made me wonder how anyone ever endured that rite of passage.  Likewise, despite reading dozens of books about the process of how service dogs are prepared for their work, this was a very different look into the becoming of a top-of-the-line military counterterrorism dog.  It was fascinating to learn about the motivations and methods that come together to create a weaponized canine capable of functioning at unbelievably complex levels.

Over the course of their tours of duty, there was plenty of action and many memorable moments in service to their country.  If you are like me, though, it will be their final mission that stands out.  When Will is seriously wounded by a grenade explosion, and suffers from the long-term impacts of PTSD and other equally debilitating injuries, it will take the unbreakable bond he shares with Cairo to get him through the greatest challenge of his life.

This is a book for anyone who loves dogs, enjoys military history, appreciates the sacrifices made by our human and canine military forces, or who finds inspiration in the incomparable connection between humans and their animals.  It is a book that will stay with you during this time when our nation is once again shaken to its very core just as it was on that September day so many years ago.

Note: I received an ARC from NetGalley in return for my honest review.  This book will be released on April 21, 2020.  Available for pre-order today.







Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Funny, You Don't Look Autistic-A Book Review

April 1st, is that day that many of us dread.  Will we be tricked or will we impose a trick on someone else?


Now because of the current climate within our communities and world in general, the joke seems to be on us all.  There will be no pranks to play on anyone, if you are being socially responsible and socially distant from others and I hope you truly are.

So instead of doing a whole write up on practical jokes and such, I decided to go in the exact opposite direction.

Instead of bemoaning my isolation, I decided to learn something new!

It's fitting that it also falls in line with one of my New Year's Resolutions.  I promised myself that I would read more and at the same time look at many different genres that I might not have done before.  To that end, I picked up a book that really was entertaining and informative in so many ways.

Funny, You Don't Look Autistic, caught my eye.

It is an autobiography of a young man who early in his life (age 5)  was diagnosed with Autism.  What made this book catch my eye is that one of my granddaughters has been diagnosed with this disorder as well.  I wanted to understand it better so that I could have some meaningful conversations with her, her parents, and her siblings as well.  

Michael McCreary is the young man at the center of this book. He is very open about his life, family and what it means to be autistic.  

Now let's be clear, this is not a clinician's book, it is the story of a young man, who with the help of his family and a diagnosis of autism, is trying to find his way in the world.   Michael is very blessed in that his level of autism is high functioning in the ASD (autism spectrum disorder) scale.  The things he does are not things that all autistic children will be able to do.  His parents learn how to integrate Michael's abilities with his inabilities.  This makes for a very adaptable world for Michael.  Not all autistic children are that "lucky".   There are so many different levels of autism and we just don't understand all of it.  We are making great progress, but there is still much that we don't understand.

Most of you will remember the movie Rain Man (starring Dustin Hoffman), that was my first real glimpse at autism.  His level of autism is called Savant.  Savants are another whole level of Autism.  Yet it is so much more complicated and varied than what was presented here.

There are so many different levels of Autism

As I mentioned earlier Rain Man (a Savant) had a level of autism that allowed him to understand numbers to the point of being able to figure out a date, and being able to know it was a Monday or Tuesday....you get the picture. But autism has many different levels and with those levels people have certain abilities or lack thereof. 

Autism is here and with our growing understanding of the condition, children that are diagnosed with this can look forward to a better understanding from both parents and the educational system.

Sensory overload is a common trait in autistic children.  They either have too much or not enough sensory responses.  They may be bothered by the feel of clothes on their bodies, noises that we generally are able to push into the background , are like bells and whistles going off in their minds.  So their reactions to these stimulii is completely different than ours would be.  I know my granddaughter always has one leg of her pants rolled up to her knee, she just cannot handle the cloth rubbing on her leg.  One of my nephews needs headphones to block out sounds that are overpowering to his mind.  These are just some small examples of what having an autistic child can look like.  There are many and "Autism" is a misnomer.  The true way to speak of this disorder is to call it the Autism Spectrum.  Spectrum, lets us understand that there are just so many levels of this disorder in the general population.

Reading This Book Has Helped

Michael in this book has made me see what it is that can undo an autistic persons demeanor.  I did not understand sensory overload at all.  But reading about it through his eyes, it made more sense to me.

Autistic children, at least high functioning autistic children, usually have a gift of some sort.  Michael's was being on stage and making people laugh.  He fed off of the reactions to his "story" and made sense of his time with those reactions.  It also helped a lot of people who did not understand Autism to take a second look at what that means.  

If you want to learn more..........

I really recommend this book.  It is light-hearted, optimistic, funny, and yet opens some doors and windows into a disorder that has many parents, grandparents and the general public wondering.  I found it to be entertaining as well as informative and that to me is a double bonus.

If you are interested or want to delve into an Autistic life a little further, this book would make a really good read.  I'm glad I stopped to pick it up and I'm sure you will be entertained and learn something new at the same time.  It really is a winner in my books.

If you want to learn more about Autism there are many websites devoted to the subject and I offer a few here:



Now just in case you were wondering....April 2nd is World Autism Day.....Happy April Fools Day!








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Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Activities For Kids Reviewed

What to do with the kids home

Are you struggling to find activities for kids to do while they are out of school? Let me review some ideas I gave my daughter to help keep my granddaughter entertained that did not involve sitting in front of the television set. With the schools closed across the nation, you might be pretty tired of playing board games and need some fresh ideas.

activities for kids
Keep the kids entertained
image courtesy of pixabay.com

I was talking to my daughter the other day and she expressed her frustration over how to keep my granddaughter busy and entertained after she has completed her online studies for school. I'm guessing there are a whole lot of parents who are feeling the same way. My daughter said that she was so sick of the board games they had in the house and needed some ideas on other things to do. So here are a few ideas that I tossed out for consideration.

One of the things I tried to keep in mind as I offered some options was that the activities needed to involve things that didn't require going out to buy new things. For one thing, we are supposed to refrain from leaving our homes but more importantly a whole lot of parents aren't working right now and money is tight. 

A Few Ideas To Keep Your Kids Busy

I suggested that on some days, my granddaughter could do some crafty type things. She loves to create all kinds of things so, I suggested that she make some things with the supplies she already has. A card to send to my Dad (her Great-Grandfather) to help cheer up his spirits. Cards for elderly neighbors that could be left at their doors keeping social distancing in mind. Pictures for her wall and that sort of thing. 

Another activity that would take up a little time was to go on an exploration for some fun facts. Have your child think of something they would like to know more about. Perhaps they are fascinated with Giant Squids. Have them do a search for those interesting creatures and then check out some of the sites that come up. While they are looking those over, jot down some other things to look for on another day. Perhaps it could be areas where Giant Squids can be found. Make it something they have an interest in so that they find it fun.

As I write this we are in the season where a lot of Bald Eagle's eggs are hatching. I suggested that my daughter might find one of the many nest cams so that they could watch for a while each day to monitor the progress of those eaglets growing. It is an incredible sight to behold! 

If you are able to, let the kids go outside in your backyard to play for a while. It can be like recess at school without their friends. Toss a ball, kick a can, skip rope, play hopscotch...anything to get their little bodies in motion to expend some pent-up energy. 

Have a good old fashioned scavenger hunt. Hide some things around the house with clues to the next item and then let them spend some time finding the items. Another option is to make a list for them to find the items on the list. Once you have done this, another day can be spent with them hiding the items and you have to find them. 

Try to think of activities you did as a child and introduce them to your kids, who are just as bored as you are by the way. Some you will be able to do and others might just make you smile at the memory. 

If possible, let the kids have some face-time with their friends or perhaps a grandparent. I love those video chats! We did one with my Dad the other day and he was thrilled to be able to see my daughter's and granddaughter's faces. She even showed him her progress with learning to play the fiddle...he loved it!

Look for inspiration either online or in books. A good source of ideas would be an activity book that you might have laying around or can buy for just a small bit of money.




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Monday, March 16, 2020

Book Review: Chesapeake by James Michener

Until now, I had never read Michener. For some reason I had the pre-conceived notion that his stories would be long and boring. I am happy to announce that I was wrong. While Chesapeake by James Michener is indeed a long novel, it is far from boring. It is a captivating account of the families who settled the colonies and waterways of the eastern United States. And their ancestors in the Delmarva region over the next 400 years. 

Reviewing Chesapeake by James Michener


I was in the mood for a story that highlighted life in the outdoors. As I searched my local library's digital selections I chose Chesapeake with the thought that if I find it to be over-rated, under--whelming, and difficult to read, at least it was free. I was surprised that I was immediately hooked with the first character.

This story begins in 1583. Pentaquod, of the Susquehannock tribe, is a widower who has voiced an opinion against the plans of the tribal council. As a result, the family of his new love interest has refused to allow her to marry him. He is looked upon with suspicion by the members of his village. Pentaquod does not want to war with the northern tribe and he wants to continue to live in peace. Because he disagrees with the tribal council, he is increasingly an outcast. He flees the village for parts unknown downriver.

"It was toward morning of the third night, when he had had only two small fish to eat in three days, that he came to those falls which his people called Conowingo, and here he faced the test which would determine the success of his escape. When he approached the white and leaping water he intended to drag his canoe ashore and portage it a long distance downhill, but as he paddled away from the middle of the river to the safety of shore.... "

Pentaquod's journey south by canoe from the Susquehanna River to Chesapeake Bay were stories that seemed familiar. The water and wildlife descriptions are similar to what can be experienced by those of us who sit along the banks or kayak these waters.  

Pentaquod had never traveled as far as the open water of the bay. He chose an island on the eastern shore for his new home. There he is introduced to Blue Heron's, crabs, and the natural rhythms of life on the water. Later, he joins a part of the local tribe (later named the Choptank) and lives a long, mostly peaceful life living on the rivers and in the marshes of that area. Michener's descriptions of the flora and fauna make me feel as though I am sitting there, on the banks of the Choptank river. 

In 1606, Captain John Smith brings ships and crews to the New World with a plan to "conquer Virginia". He also brings Edmund Steed. The Steed family is one of the families we follow over the centuries.

In Chesapeake, the focus is on a 400 year saga of these families who settled the area. Each of the families intertwine with the others over the years. While the characters, and an island on which one of the main families settle, are fictional the issues are historical. We are reminded how the people in the first colony barely survives. We are reminded that many of the first settlers are fleeing religious persecution and how that continues in the New World. As time goes on, "letter brides", indentured servants, and slaves join the growing population. Public whippings - including that of a Quaker woman - are the norm of the day. I was reminded that settling this country was no easy task. And this was just the beginning.

James Michener paints a picture of the area and of the families whose ancestry intertwine over time from the 1500s to the late 1970s. I will think of them every time I sit along the banks of the local waterways or watch the water spilling from Conowingo Dam.




Related Link:

Not long after I began reading Chesapeake, BarbRad reviewed The World is My Home by James Michener. She explains that in this memoir he shares stories of his life, travels, interests, and writing. I've added this memoir to my reading list and look forward to learning more about the author who wrote the engrossing story I'm reading now.


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Saturday, March 14, 2020

Doctor Dogs – A Book Review

How Our Best Friends are Becoming Our Best Medicine


We are familiar with seeing eye dogs, service dogs, military working dogs, dogs trained to assist Law Enforcement, and dogs who work in search and rescue.  

Now, more and more as time goes by, scientific studies are finding that dogs can be trained to help people with chronic medical conditions, both physical & mental, and to detect diseases such as Cancer and Parkinson's.

Doctor Dogs, written by Maria Goodavage, relates many of these studies, along with a number of stories of individual canines and the people they are helping.  The emotional element in this book is as powerful as the science.  The book jacket states:


You don't have to be a dog lover to care deeply about what we are learning from these dogs – and if you're not a dog lover, you will be by the end of this book!


Doctor Dogs



Doctor Dogs by Maria Goodavage

Published in 2019, Doctor Dogs relates a globe-trotting journey made by journalist and author Maria Goodavage who visited top research centers around the United States, throughout Europe and England and as far away as Japan.  Through her excellent story-telling we meet many fantastic dogs, learn of their training in various areas and discover how they are impacting (and actually saving, in many cases) the lives of people whose well-being depends on these highly skilled personal MDs (medical dogs).


A Collection of (Trained) Canines in Doctor Dogs


From Angus to Zen......


  • Angus (Clostridium difficile-detection dog)
  • Baby Boo (cancer detection dog)
  • Bob (autism-assistance dog)
  • Bud (seizure-alert dog)
  • Daisy (cancer detection dog)
  • Dexter (seizure-alert dog)
  • Duke (crisis-response dog)
  • George (cancer detection dog)
  • Hank (psychiatric service dog)
  • Jedi (diabetic alert dog)
  • Leo (educational-aide dog)
  • Nina (seizure alert dog)
  • Parker (cancer detection dog)
  • Sally (malaria detection dog)
  • Zen (Parkinson's alert dog)


As you can see from the list above, dogs can be trained to help and assist in many different ways.  The training described is fascinating.  Dogs can learn to 'alert' to impending seizures (giving the patient time to find a safe place to sit or lie down), or alert to diabetic highs and lows, especially helpful in children with Type I diabetes who are too young to recognize when they are in trouble. 

There are Doctor Dogs who can detect cancers and Parkinson's Disease.  There are psychiatric service dogs who have proven to be invaluable to children with autism and people suffering from PTSD, both returning soldiers of war and civilians with trauma-induced PTSD. 

These abilities and feats dogs are being trained to do are just a few of the areas of medicine, and more, being researched at this time. 


Maria Goodavage, Author



Maria Goodavage (Source: Wikimedia)
Maria Goodavage is a veteran journalist who has written a number of best-selling books about dogs; two about military dogs, one about Secret Service dogs who protect the President of the United States, and now Doctor Dogs. 

Maria lives in San Francisco with, among others, her yellow Labrador retriever, Gus.





Summary


The dogs trained for these medical specialties are carefully matched to the individuals they will serve and are almost always of a calm nature.  Labrador Retrievers are a popular breed in this field, but just about any breed who is friendly and calm can be trained to be a good Doctor Dog

These Doctor Dogs absolutely love what they are doing. They adore and become very attached to their 'people'. 

What is their paycheck for their lifesaving work?  All they need are heartfelt praise and a tasty treat or favorite toy.  I'd say that's the easiest fee to pay any doctor. 

(c) Doctor Dogs Book Review by Wednesday Elf 3/14/2020


Quick Link:

ReviewThisReviews Contributor Diana Wenzel (RenaissanceWoman) has written several articles here about her therapy dog Finn. Click Here to meet this delightful dog doing his own service in this field of special hero dogs.







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Thursday, March 12, 2020

Review of In a Field of Blue



In a Field of Blue is a compelling novel about life during and after World War 1.  I downloaded this book on my Kindle when it was one of Amazon Prime's first reads.  I thoroughly enjoyed the book and look forward to reading more books by the author.

Setting


The book takes place in three different countries.

  • England
  • France
  • Canada

 


Summary of Plot


The story follows an English family whose oldest son has gone missing in action in World War 1.  After four years they are looking for answers when a young woman, Mariette, arrives at their manor claiming to be their missing son's wife and the mother of his child.

The youngest son, Rudy, sets off on a quest to find the answers of the missing brother.  The quest takes him to the ruins of the war fields in France and then to the far northern territories of North America.

The book shows the ravages of war, the miracles of love and hope, and the secrets of another time.

Characters


  • Edgar- the oldest son who goes off to war and is listed as missing.
  • Laurence-the middle son who seeks to claim his inheritance when his older  brother is presumed dead.
  • Rudy- the youngest son who idolized his oldest brother.  He wants to believe that he is still alive and goes around the world to try to discover the truth.
  • Mariette- a young French woman who claims to be Edgar's wife and the mother of his son.  She shows up with very little proof.
  • Samuel- the young boy who shows up at the manor with Mariette.  He wins the hearts of Rudy and the staff at the manor.

More book by author Gemma Liviero


After reading In a Field of Blue, I am anxious to read more books by the author.





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Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Review of The World is My Home: A Memoir by James Michener

Review of The World is My Home: A Memoir by James Michener
Photo of Bora Bora, a favorite place of James A. Michener, Image by WikiImages from Pixabay 



James Michener's World



James A. Michener has packed 85 of his 90 years of life and travel memories into the 577 pages of The World Is My Home. As I read his book, I felt I was there with him. He walked alone in some of the world's most beautiful places.  He traveled by air with heads of state. He ate garbage on Navy transport ships commanded by drunk captains, and he had dinner with Franklin D. and Eleanor Roosevelt. 

By reading The World is My Home I feel I've become acquainted with James Michener. I better understand why he wrote what he did.  I was impressed not only with his skill as a writer and the breadth of his knowledge,  but also with his humility. 


The World Is My Home


 The World Is My Home is a weighty book. Within its pages you will probably find out almost anything you could want to know about James Michener, his life, his motivations, and his values. Although he felt at home anywhere in the world, he never became an expat.  He believed he needed to stay connected to his American roots to feel nourished and he didn't want to lose touch with America.

If you like stories, he tells many in this book. He also talks about his writing life and his numerous interests.  I am amazed at how much was packed into one life. I can hardly begin to scratch the surface here about the content of this encyclopedic memoir. But if you are interested in the cultures of the world, Navy life, aviation, true adventures, writing, art, music, how subjects for postage stamps are selected, travel, bull fighting, the publishing industry, United States politics behind the scenes, what it takes to be a writer, what a novelist's life is like, how much it costs a publisher to print a book, how much a best-selling author gets paid, and any number of other subjects, you will want to read this book.

Who Was James A. Michener?


One might ask, which one? Writer James A. Michener shared his name with many others. One even lived in the same town. But James really was not a Michener at all. He never knew who his parents were. He had no birth certificate. He had been taken in by a widow, Mabel Mitchener, and used her name, but her dead husband's sisters would always make sure James knew he was not a Mitchener. Until he was a young man he wondered who his parents really were, but finally accepted the fact he'd probably never know. He decided not to bother his head about it anymore.

James' Childhood


Mabel was poor. She took in laundry and sewing work to make a living. As a boy James never had what other boys his age seemed to. Once his “mother” explained why he couldn't have roller skates, a red wagon, a bicycle, or a baseball glove, he acted as though they did not exist and closed his mind to them. In spite of the poverty he lived in, though, he always felt loved.

To help out he started earning money when he was nine by harvesting chestnuts from the forest and selling them around town. When he was eleven he got his first real job with the Burpee Seed Company. It taught him to hate phlox. He worked from 7 am until 5 pm six days a week. Of this time he says: “I have sown phlox, thinned phlox, hoed phlox, gathered phlox, and heaven knows what else, and if my birthday were tomorrow and someone were to give me a bouquet of the horrid flowers, I would punch him in the nose.” He gave the $4.50 a week he earned to Mabel.

Phlox flower
Image by Hans Braxmeier from Pixabay 


James always worked at some job. He was apprenticed to a plumber when he was still young and he was good at plumbing. He considered quitting school to become a plumber, but his Uncle Albert squashed that idea and made him quit. He said, 'James, you were not intended to be a plumber.'

Later James was a paperboy and loved it. He got to know where everyone in town lived and learned many secrets about his neighbors, as well. He delivered handbills for the theater on Saturdays in exchange for seeing the movies free. During this time he gained his first insights into the motion picture industry.

His next job was with the Willow Grove Amusement Park, a job which tested his character. It provided cheap rides, food, and four free concerts a day. The job also enabled him to make friends with Victor Herbert, John Philip Sousa, and members of the Philadelphia Orchestra who often played at the park.

Jim was a cashier for one of the rides and soon learned that management didn't care if he gave too little change for entrance fees. Stealing from customers in this way was known as 'honest cheating' and management expected and tolerated it. 'Dishonest stealing' was when cashiers stole from the company. James only tried that once, but reformed quickly when an older cashier was arrested. Soon James was removed from his regular job and asked  to substitute for suspect operators when they were absent or on breaks and report to management if he found anything fishy. Management knew he had cheated that once and then stopped cheating on his own.

Attitude Toward Wealth


Because Jim grew up poor, one might think that he'd want to become rich someday, but he was not ambitious in that way. He was content with enough to support himself and a wife. When his books won prizes and became best sellers, he was pleased, but he still lived simply and gave away what he didn't think he needed for his expenses. He used his wealth to help others. He donated most of the royalties from his books. He felt he had a debt to pay back for the free public education he had received all the way through graduate school. He wanted to assist other young people who needed financial help to get an education.

Jim didn't like to negotiate book deals or discuss print run sizes. He left that to his agent. He wasn't arrogant or greedy,  and was content to let his agent look after him financially. 

Life Purpose


One night toward the end of World War II, James came close to being in a plane crash after leaving his duties in the Fiji Islands and exploring Bora Bora. (One reason he'd been sent there was to find out why none of the enlisted men wanted to leave when it was time to go home. You'll have to read the book to find the answer to that.) He was on his way back to headquarters in French New Caledonia in the southwest Pacific. When it was time to make a sunset landing at the Tontouta Air Base, the sky got dark and visibility was low. It took three tries to finally make a safe landing. He had known the third attempt to land would be the final one. It was a close call.

Later that night he went back to the airstrip to walk and to calm his nerves. He thought about what he wanted to do with the rest of his life. He didn't come to a conclusion as to what work he wanted to do, but he decided 'I'm going to erase envy and cheap thoughts. I'm going to concentrate my life on the biggest ideals and ideas I can handle. I'm going to associate myself with people who know more than I do. I'm going to tackle objectives of moment.' He also decided that he would support the things he believed in.

It was at this point in his life he began to listen more carefully as other transients with travel orders told stories in the hotels. He looked for those with unusual experiences. He learned “what the Pacific adventure meant in human terms.” Although many complained, he believed that later, when they got back home, the ones who complained most would want to explain to others what their time in service had been like. He knew the Pacific better than almost anyone. He believed he could tell their stories more accurately than anyone else. From these stories came his first book, Tales of the South Pacific, which won a Pulitzer Prize. As you probably know, it was turned into a popular musical, South Pacific.




Michener did not like calling himself an author. He considered himself a writer. He believed good writing was “trying to use ordinary words to achieve extraordinary results.” Words fascinated him. I was happy to see he shared my appreciation for Rodale's Synonym Finder.



Should You Read This Book?


I would recommend this book to any writer who wants to learn more about writing and traditional publishing. Among other things, James was an editor at Macmillan for many years and he shares what he knows about the industry from the point of view of both writer and editor. Almost half the book is about writing.

If you are interested in travel, this book will show you most of the world. It also shows you military life during World War II.

If you are interested in art or music, you will find that James was, too. He started collecting art in postcard form early in his youth. His uncle brought him his first Victrola and some records when he was about seven. He became an opera fan and later branched out into other classical music.

If you are interested in politics, you can learn a lot from Michener. At one point in his life he ran for Congress and he takes us behind the scenes of a campaign. He didn't win, but he did get appointments to committees and we learn much about the workings of government from him. One of his committees selected who would be honored with a postage stamp. I was amazed at how controversial that was. There was pressure to honor Elvis right after his death, which was against the rule of waiting until someone had been dead for ten years. Lillian Gilbreth's family (remember Cheaper by the Dozen?) also put pressure on the committee to honor her. I enjoyed these stories.

Why Michener Wrote This Book


Jim was 85 when he wrote this book. He knew he was getting to the end of his life but he still still had the qualities that made him want to write when he was 45: "a passionate desire to communicate, to organize experience," and to tell stories.

In his own words, here's his reason for writing The World Is My Home: "I want the reader to see in careful detail the kind of ordinary human being who becomes a writer and then to see the complex and contradictory motivation that enables him to remain one."

I believe he achieved that goal. Don't miss this informative and entertaining book. Get it now while you are thinking about it. You will be glad you did. 










Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

An Easter Egg Hunt For Jesus Book Review

More To The Holiday Than Eggs And Bunnies

I found a wonderful book to include in the little one's Easter Basket this year. An Easter Egg Hunt For Jesus will be a nice way to help her understand what we are really celebrating during this special holiday. Just like with Christmas, children need to know the real 'reason for the season.'

easter egg hunt
Egg Hunts are fun for kids
image courtesy of pixabay.com
I will admit that it is fun to color the eggs with the children and even more fun hiding those eggs for them to find. How often do we stop to let them know why we Christians celebrate the Easter Holiday? Depending on their age, it might be difficult to explain the Crucifixion and Resurrection in a way that doesn't disturb them . I remember my oldest coming out of her Sunday School class one Sunday near Easter being absolutely horrified over their lesson that morning. She was about 7 at the time but she had grasped all too well the story of Jesus on that cross. She kept saying, "They killed him, Mommy! Why would they do that?" I kept trying to explain that He had to die so that he could come back to life but I didn't do a very good job of it. I also remember thinking the teacher shouldn't have ended the lesson that day without telling the children at least something about what came next. Maybe she did, but my daughter couldn't get past the part of his death on that hill. I wish that I had been able to prepare her for that lesson with a book like An Easter Egg Hunt For Jesus. It hadn't been written, yet.

Forest of Faith Series 

A series of books have been written to help children understand better, in ways that they can relate to, the meaning of both Christmas and Easter. The stories take place in a forest with adorable little animals who learn more about their faith. The books are written for ages 4 through 6 and have been illustrated beautifully by Lee Holland with the stories being written by Susan Jones. I really think they would be a wonderful addition to the library of books we have to read to our little ones. 

Little Bunny is excited about the special egg hunt taking place in the forest as are all of the creatures who live there. In his enthusiasm to find the 'special egg' he makes a mistake that he believes has ruined the fun for his family and friends. They all come together to help him understand about the Resurrection of Jesus and the celebration over the new life that He offers to all of us. It is a sweet little story! 

I recommend this book to share with the small ones in your family!




Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Wednesday, February 12, 2020

What Beavers Do - Review of Beaver Valley by Walter D. Edmonds

Beaver Dam: Review of Beaver Valley by Walter D. Edmonds
Image by Jerzy Górecki from Pixabay  I added text.

What Skeet Sees


My photo of  book cover
Skeet is a young deer mouse who lives in a burrow on a spruce knoll above a swamp in a peaceful valley. A brook runs past the knoll toward a pond. Skeet lives with his mother, his sister Samantha, his baby brother Loopey, and his grandfather, Overdare.

One day while he's getting a drink in the brook, he hears something making a loud splashing sound. He was curious, so he drew nearer to the sound. He heard a high-pitched whistle. The splashing stopped. Then he saw a dark brown head looking cautiously around an edge of grass. He had never seen such an odd creature as that which emerged. He thought it looked comical with its large orange front teeth and its paddle-like tail. Skeet stopped being afraid because he could see this awkward creature would never be fast enough to catch him. The creature was soon joined by five more like it.

Skeet ran home to ask Overdare what these creatures might be. “'Beaver!' exclaimed Skeet's grandfather....'I hoped I'd never see in my lifetime when beaver get into this valley.'” (p, 7)

Overdare confirmed the beaver weren't dangerous to mice, since they didn't eat meat. So Skeet couldn't understand why his grandfather didn't want them around. Overdare explained:

“Beaver...think they know the way everything ought to be in any place they settle down. If it isn't that way, they make it so, and they don't care a bit what happens to anyone else in the process.” (p. 8)

What the Beavers Do


Grandfather hopes the beaver will leave, but curious Skeet hopes they hang around long enough for him to watch. And watch he does. He sees the beavers build a dam, chop down trees, raise the level of the pond, build a canal for transporting logs from the places where they had felled them, and build a second dam. The water level kept rising higher and higher.

Photo of p. 16-17, Beaver Valley, Leslie Morrill's illustration, text by Walter D. Edmonds
Photo of p. 16-17, Beaver Valley, Leslie Morrill's illustration, text by Walter D. Edmonds


What Author Walter D. Edmonds Thinks of Beavers


Edmonds was raised in upper New York State in the small town of Boonville. He frequently observed beaver at his family home, Northlands, along the Black River . He personally saw how negatively the beavers impacted the ecosystem when they moved into an area.

Beavers have always fascinated me. Most of us who have never seen one in the wild think of them positively because they are such industrious animals. Teachers often hold up the hardworking beavers as examples their students should follow. Edmonds seems to see them as industriously destroying their environment to please themselves.

He reveals this attitude in one of the book's last sentences. He describes a mother who had brought her young son to the spruce knoll for a picnic to see the beaver ponds. She wanted to teach her son some natural history. She didn't seem interested in all the dying trees whose roots had gotten too wet. She was only interested in all the work the beavers had done building their dams, their home, and their canal. Let's eavesdrop on her:

“Isn't it wonderful, Tommy?....They're as clever as engineers. They're just like men.” (p, 69)

Should You or Your Child Read This Book?


Whether you love beavers or not, you will learn a lot about their behavior in this book from one who has observed beavers over time. Older readers will pick up the author's attitude. The book would be perfect to read aloud as a family and discuss. 

The author shows us each step in the beavers' transformation of the valley, and suspense builds as the water level rises. Skeet at first is just curious. But as the water level continues to rise, he realizes that animals in burrows on lower ground will lose their homes. Some don't get out in time and are trapped to die. Skeet and his family wonder if they, too, will have to find a new home.

The copy of the book I have is illustrated by Leslie Morrill. I love her drawing of the beavers and the mice. Her hand-drawn maps help readers keep track of the changes in the valley.

Photo of p. 10-11, Beaver Valley, Leslie Morrill's illustration
Photo of p. 10-11, Beaver Valley, Leslie Morrill's illustration


This is chapter book is at a grade 3-5 reading level. It's a great book for homeschoolers. Almost any age from kindergarten on will find it interesting. Why not get a copy for your home library?

This book is out of print. It is still available at Amazon

All quotes and book illustration photos are from this book: Beaver Valley by Walter D. Edmonds, illustrated by Leslie Morrill; Little, Brown and Company, 1971.

Learn more about beavers and other wild animals in my review of Nature's Everyday Mysteries. I review some of my favorite picture books about animals here. You may also enjoy fellow contributor Renaissance Woman's review of Deep Creek.  





Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


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Friday, February 7, 2020

The Liberty Bride Book Reviewed

Daughters of the Mayflower - Book 6 in the Series

The Liberty Bride Book Reviewed
I've never found a series of books that I enjoyed more than the Daughters of the Mayflower series. 

Every book is based on the life of one of the female descendants of a married couple from the Mayflower ship.  Each descendant plays a part in a pivotal moment in American history.  

Just as each book has a different main character, each book is written by a different author.  Together, these books make a magnificent historical fiction series.

In The Liberty Bride,  Emeline Baratt is sailing home to America after the death of her aunt in Brighton.  Unfortunately, that voyage is during the War of 1812, which is fought between America and the United Kingdom.  

Her allegiance to America is greatly tested when the unthinkable happens. 


The Liberty Bride

1814 Baltimore - The War of 1812    (Jun 18, 1812 – Feb 18, 1815)

 The Liberty Bride
Daughters of the Mayflower - Book 6
Check Price
In spite of the ongoing war between America and Britain, Emeline's father has sent his best ship, under the command of his most experienced captain, to bring his daughter safely home from the United Kingdom.  However, even a privateer ship is vulnerable to capture in wartime.  They are simply no competition to a heavily armed warship.

Emeline, the captain and his crew are taken captive when they are attacked by a Royal Navy frigate, the HMS Marauder.  Being a prisoner on a warship and being forced to work for the enemy is not something anyone would desire.  But, there is obviously an even greater danger for a female.  

Realizing her perilous plight, and with the encouragement of her companion, Emeline makes the decision to tell the Captain of the Marauder that she is in fact a British loyalist following her father's demands to return to America.  She convinces everyone, including the crew from the American ship, that her loyalties lie with Britain.  As such, she is given tremendous freedom onboard the Marauder.  She hopes to be able to gain military plans and information that she could somehow pass along to American commanders.  What she doesn't realize is that there is already an American spy onboard and she has just make an enemy of a much needed ally. 


More about The Daughters of the Mayflower Series


If you have read my previous reviews on books in this series, you already know these books are not only historical fiction, but they all have romance woven throughout the pages.  However, in the case of Emeline Baratt, she has no desire to marry, which is the basis of her conflict with her father.  She would prefer that men stop pursuing her and her dowry.  She wishes to be an artist, not a wife tied to a home and domestic chores.  I very much enjoyed the way the author, Mary Lu Tyndall, developed a romantic plot in The Liberty Bride.


Previously Reviewed Book from the Daughters of the Mayflower Series

 
The Mayflower Bride Book ReviewThe Mayflower Bride Book 1 Reviewed

True American History woven into the fabric of fiction! An excellent historical romantic fiction about the Mayflower voyagers: Separatists & Strangers.



The Pirate Bride Book ReviewThe Pirate Bride Book Review

At the innocent age of 12, Maribel Cordoba's life changes forever. Her formative years & education are guided by nuns, but she never truly forgets the pirate who stole her heart.



The Captured Bride Book ReviewThe Captured Bride Book Review

An unlikely team is assigned a mission that is fraught with danger. It becomes necessary to trust a previously perceived enemy. I highly recommend this historical Christian fiction.



The Patriot Bride Book ReviewThe Patriot Bride Book Reviewed

After enduring several life tragedies, this wealthy young widow finds the strength & needed alliance to serve the patriots as a messenger. Highly recommended!









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Thursday, February 6, 2020

Brave Girl, Quiet Girl - Book Review

Available for Pre-order Now
Every extraordinary book has that moment when you fall irrevocably in love with it.  For me, that oh-I-just-love-this-so-much moment in Catherine Ryan Hyde's Brave Girl, Quiet Girl came from the mouth of a babe.  You can pretty much count on a two-year-old to get right to the heart of the matter and Etta doesn't disappoint.  When she whispers brave girl, quiet girl to her trembling rescuer, the story is made... the book's soul is revealed... and this reader was completely smitten.

Because you can follow links to the official book synopsis, I won't spend time rehashing what you can discover for yourself.  Let me just give you the broad strokes and then cut to the chase.  After all, that's what I want in a review—not so much facts, as the alchemy of what makes for an unforgettable reading experience.

I have already mentioned Etta.  If you ask me, this amazing toddler is the pivot upon which everything turns.  As the story begins, Etta is ripped away from her family in the course of a carjacking.  Her mother, Brooke, is desperate to find her baby, but the odds are stacked against a safe return.

And then there is Molly, a cast-off teen, living on the mean streets of L.A. after being discarded by her rigid, unaccepting parents.  It is so perfectly fitting that a child who has lost all sense of worthiness is the one who comes to find, and protect, Etta after the jackers abandon her in the dark of night.

Despite the bleak circumstances that embrace both Brooke and Molly (or, I'm now thinking it is because of that bleakness), the broken pieces of two psyches will discover a way to fit together in perfectly imperfect ways to form a new sense of acceptance, belonging, and family.

Brave Girl, Quiet Girl is ultimately the story of how the light gets in through the broken places to illuminate the beauty that was formerly hidden within the bleakness.  I've come to the recognition, after reading a majority of Catherine Ryan Hyde's books, that one of her many gifts as a writer is something I can only compare to the Japanese aesthetic known as wabi-sabi.

The thing I find so appealing about this aesthetic, especially as it applies to CRH's consistent approach to bringing together beautifully flawed people, is how the imperfection causes me to love them more.  Just as the Japanese do, the author highlights rather than hides the flaws.  In her skillful hands, the flaw becomes the work of art.

Just as wabi-sabi features that which is authentic, and acknowledges that nothing is finished, so too do we see that in this book's work-in-progress characters.  We experience them in their raw state of becoming.  It makes them entirely relatable and, in my case, made me feel great empathy for their plights.

Finally, I was deeply struck by how the homeless in this story viewed those who sought to help them.  It made me reflect on my current relationships with those who are without a home.  Why is help offered?  When is help not at all helpful?  What is the best way to reach out to those in need?  How do they define the need?

Those who appreciate the humanity at the center of Catherine Ryan Hyde's writing are sure to find much to love, just as I did, in Brave Girl, Quiet Girl.  I knew I could count on coming away from this read with a feeling of greater compassion—not only toward Brooke, and Molly, and Bodhi—but also for my own flawed self.

Brave Girl, Quiet Girl will be released on May 19, 2020.  I received an Advanced Reader Copy (ARC) from NetGalley in return for my honest review.  I highly recommend this book and encourage you to pre-order your copy now.











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