Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


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From Appalachia to Yale Law: ‘Hillbilly Elegy’ Delivers Searingly Honest Memoir of Upward Mobility

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Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis

Thorndike Press, 2016

By J.D. Vance

 

You may want to buckle up before plunging into this memoir. Cuz it’s a doozy. It’s also an eye-opener worth the plunge.

“To understand me, you must understand that I am a Scots-Irish hillbilly at heart” explains the author in the Introduction. He grew up poor, in the “Rust Belt,” in an Ohio steel town that “has been hemorrhaging jobs and hope for as long as I can remember.” But he graduated from Yale Law. That’s a pretty compelling story any way you slice it. So I’d listen up ‘fize you. Like this:

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5 Worthy Reads ‘For Us, The Living’ On Memorial Day

Memorial Day typically marks the unofficial start of the summer season. But let’s also take time out to remember those who gave their “last full measure of devotion” for their country. To honor those brave men and women in uniform who gave their lives so we can enjoy the blessings and responsibilities of liberty today.

 

Abraham Lincoln’s poignant two minute speech dedicated the Gettysburg National Cemetery just four months after that bloody battle took place. The Gettysburg Address memorializes the enormous debt of thanks and gratitude that we, the living, owe to those who gave “the last full measure of devotion” that “this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom. . . and that government of the people. . .by the people. . .for the people. . . shall not perish from the earth.”

We cannot dedicate, consecrate, or hallow the sacrifice of those who gave their “last full measure of devotion” to their country beyond what they have already done. But we can remember. We can reflect. We can humbly honor their sacrifice.  It is up to us, the living, to never forget.

One way to “never forget” is to read.

Worthy Reads for this Memorial Day weekend:

 

Image result for The Killer Angels Book Cover
  • The Killer Angels, by Michael Shaara. The historical novel was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1975. In the four most bloody and courageous days of our nation’s history, two armies fought for two conflicting dreams. One dreamed of freedom, the other of a way of life. Far more than rifles and bullets were carried into battle. There were memories. There were promises. There was love. And far more than men fell on those Pennsylvania fields. Bright futures, untested innocence, and pristine beauty were also the casualties of war. Michael Shaara’s Pulitzer Prize–winning masterpiece is unique, sweeping, unforgettable—the dramatic story of the battleground for America’s destiny.
The Bridges at Toko-Ri

The Bridges at Toko-Ri, by James Michener. A tale of the American men who fought the Korean War, detailing their exploits in the air as well as their lives on the ground. Young and innocent, they arrive in a place they have barely ever heard of, on a ship massive enough to carry planes and helicopters. Trained as professionals, they prepare for the rituals of war that countless men before them have endured, and face the same fears. They are American fighter pilots. Together they face an enemy they do not understand, knowing their only hope for survival is to win.

 

The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage, by Stephen Crane. Don’t make me explain this.

 

 

 

 

A Medal for Leroy

A Medal for Leroy, by Michael Morpurgo

 

When Michael’s aunt passes away, she leaves a letter that changes everything. It starts with Michael’s grandfather Leroy, a black officer in World War I who charged into a battle zone not once but three times to save wounded men. His fellow soldiers insisted he deserved special commendations for his bravery. But because of the racial barriers, he would go unacknowledged. Now it’s up to Michael to change that.

A moving, memorable story of family, identity, and history. Inspired by the true story of Walter Tull, the first black officer in the British army.

 

My Brother Sam is Dead, by James Lincoln Collier.

This Newbery Honor book brings the Revolutionary War to life. Young Tim Meeker’s 16 year-old brother goes off to fight with the Patriots while his father remains a reluctant British Loyalist in the Tory town of Redding, CT. Young Tim knows he’ll have to make a choice – the Patriots or the Redcoats – and between his father and his brother. A stirring tale full of action and suspense.

 

What would you add?


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‘Until June’ Warms Body & Soul

Until June, (Backlit PR, 2020)
By Barbara M. Britton
A severely injured WWI veteran and his female caregiver face an Alaskan winter alone in a remote hunting lodge as they wait out an influenza outbreak. That’s the premise for this delicious historical romance.
It’s 1918 in Juneau, Alaska. Mr. Chambers, wealthy owner of the town mine, is desperate to find a caregiver for his son Geoff, a severely injured veteran of Bellau Wood. Seventeen year-old seamstress Josephine “Jo” Nimetz has nursing experience and is desperate to support her ailing, recently widowed mother.

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‘A Letter to Munich’ Raises Ultimate Questions

A Letter from Munich (Black Rose Writing, 2020)

By Meg Lelvis

A wartime romance. Forbidden love. Buried secrets.

Retired Chicago detective Jack Bailey has a “missing persons” case that’s a doozie. It’s also intensely personal. Stretching back to World War II, the case involves a cryptic one-page letter to his late father. The family finds it when sorting through Dad’s belongings after his death. Can it shed any light on who he was and why?

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How ‘Chances Are’ Echoes Theseus and the Minotaur

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Chances Are…

By Richard Russo

What happens when a trio of aging college friends meet for a September weekend of reminiscence, mystery and regret some four decades after they graduated? Well, chances are they wind up with more than they bargained for, especially in the coulda/woulda/shoulda department.

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‘An Agent for Dixie’: Snack-Worthy Historical Romance

An Agent for Dixie (The Pinkerton Matchmaker series Book 73)

An Agent for Dixie (The Pinkerton Matchmaker Series. BackLit PR, 2020.)
By Linda Carroll-Bradd

Shy and reserved Dixie Fontaine is a young seamstress. Her older sister Liana is daring and adventurous. When Dixie allows her sister to talk her into applying to be an agent with the Pinkerton detective agency in 1872 Denver, Dixie is sure she won’t make the grade. But she surprises herself – and everyone else – by landing the job.

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‘The Edge of Everywhen’ & Why Everyone’s Story Matters

The Edge of Everywhen (B&H Publishing, 2020)

By A.S. Mackey

How do you know when a book wants to be read?

The Edge of Everywhen brings readers face-to-page with this question and many more in this delightful new fantasy by A.S. Mackey. Also enchantment. Loss. Danger. Family. Hope. Redemption. Why everyone’s story matters. And a really, really good read!

Indeed, The Edge of Everywhen is a splendid romp through all things bookish, magic, and true. Clever and convincing without being Pecksniffian, The Edge of Everywhen is a literary tour de force any bibliophile will love. (If you’re not a dyed-in-the-ink bibliophile at the start of this charming novel, chances are you will be by the end.)

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