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Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


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Why ‘Anna’s Story’ Will Wring Hearts

Anna’s Story

A true story of a young girl’s will to survive in the arftermath of World War II

By: Steven Kautner

Date Published: July 2022

Genre: Non-Fiction – Biography/Memoir/WWII

Via: Reedsy/Discovery

Pages: 148

Note: We received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

“How could I not write this story?” asks author Steven Kautner in this gripping and harrowing account about what happened to his mother, Anna Friedrich, and her family of ethnic Germans after World War II. The follow-on is, “How can anyone not read this story?” Because Anna’s Story is absolutely astonishing. Eye-opening. And jaw-dropping. It’ll blow you away.

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The Challenge of “Spare”

“When is someone in this family going to break free and live?” – Prince Harry, Duke of Sussex

 

We finished Spare yesterday. It’s Prince Harry’s memoir/autobiography about his relationship with “the Firm.” (For purposes of this review, we will refer to the author as “Harry.”)

The Challenge: We Don’t

Writing a review of Spare is a challenge. Total objectivity is almost unattainable.

Because the Royal Family is one of the most widely recognized in the world, with near-constant media attention, spin doctors, comm directors and Fleet Street vultures, it’s almost impossible to approach a book about The Royals without at least some pre-conceived ideas. Prejudice. Bias. Because of the media microscope under which the Royals live and work, we think we “know” them, especially with the advent of smartphones and social media.

We don’t. Not even close. Repeat for those in the back: We don’t. Not even close.

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Action/Adventure Hit and Miss

What?

Kimber here. Mom says it’s time for a quick reading wrap-up. That’s when she does her version of recently read hits and misses. Why? So you can avoid the dumpster fires. Not waste your time on doggie doo-doo that some fluff ball with no taste published. And grab some Good Stuff. Note: We received complimentary copies of these books in exchange for an honest review.

For more on our rating system, click here.

Me? I’m going to watch the doin’s from the sweet, delicious comfort of my  doggie bed by MyPillow.

Four Titles

But first, to books! We’re makin it easy today. With just four titles. The stinkers first: Continue reading


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High Octane Action Fuels ‘The Organ Grinder Factor’

The Organ Grinder Factor

By Stephen Steele

Pages: 252

Genre: Action/Adventure

Via: Author Request

Note: We received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

A little champagne or Top Sirloin, please? Cuz after plowing through a bunch of Real Slogs lately, we finally came across a book worth reading. That we actually liked. About time.

Kimber here. Saying when The Organ Grinder Factor author guy reached out to us requesting a review after we plowed through a bunch of slogs, we were kinda like, “I dunno….” (Hi, Mom.) But this book sounded interesting. Then again, our review calendar is crammed. Think sardine tin.

But you know She Who Must Be Obeyed…. (Insert eye roll here.)

“Just one chapter, Kimber,” says She. “Then we’ll get back on track with the 88 million other books in the review queue.”

It seemed like a good idea at the time.

Except “one chapter” became two. Then three. Then four. Then… Well. Before you can say, “Lassie Come Home,” we read the whole book. In one sitting. I’ll let Mom fill you in. If she promises to behave. Because you know Mom….

The 4-1-1:

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13 Ways to ROCK Your 2023 Reading Challenge

Hello lovers of books and bacon!

Kimber here. I’m taking over for Mom today. Cuz she’s buried in a new book. Again.

But there was this New Year thingy the other day. It’s a human thing. Big booms. Silly hats. A nice ham dinner. Bacon. Leftovers…

Wait. Where was I?

Oh yeah. New Year’s.

Reading Challenge?

It seems there’s this Reading Challenge thing around New Year’s. It makes the rounds of the reading world every January. “That’s now,” says Mom. (She’s a genius. Like me.)

The Question

Anyway, I’m supposed to ask if you are or will participate in this year’s Reading Challenge? Like, how many books do you plan to read this year?

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4 NEW Award Winners (It’s Not What You Think!)

Her Grumpiness: “Ding! Ding! Ding! Kimmi, we have some winners!”

The Magnificent One: A winner for what?

HG: “Winners for Worst Book of The Century,” saith Her Grumpiness. “We’re talkin’ Barf-o-rama on Steroids here.”

TMO: The century? Really?

HG: “Okay, Kimmi. How ‘bout Worst Books We Read in the Last Month?”

TMO: Better, Mom. Should I get the Tylenol?

HG: Maybe. First, let’s run through the list of Four Worst Books of December, the condensed version:

Note: We received complimentary copies of these books via Reedsy/Discovery in exchange for honest reviews.

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‘Christmas Across Africa’ Charms & Captivates

Peace, Joy and Love:
Christmas Across Africa

By Terry Lister

Genre: Non-Fiction/Travel, 2022

Via: Author Request

Pages: 120

Note: We received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

“Want to keep Christ in Christmas? Feed the hungry, clothe the naked, forgive the guilty, welcome the unwanted, care for the ill, love your enemies, and do unto others as you would have done unto you.”

Steve Maraboli, winner of the United Nations Award for Philanthropy (as quoted in Peace, Joy and Love: Christmas Across Africa.)

One of our favorite travel writers in back. This time Terry Lister offers a collection of experiences and observations just in time for the Christmas season.

Titled Peace, Joy and Love: Christmas Across Africa, Lister’s newest collection covers Christmas traditions and celebrations in over a dozen African countries. These include both predominantly Muslim countries like Morocco and Tunisia to predominantly Christian countries like Ethiopia and Kenya. And all points in between, including Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda, Ghana, the Gambia, Senegal, Zimbabwe and Cameroon.

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‘Echoes in the Stars’ Shines Bright

Echoes in the Stars

By Gordon Frisbie

Published by: TFL Stories, 2022

Pages 191

Genre: Non-Fiction/Memoir/Essays

Via: Author Request

Note: We received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

We were going to reserve December for Christmas-ish books. No. Really. We were. But one of us is a big sucker for just about any “dog story” that comes down the pike. (Hi, Mom.) Then author Gordon Frisbie contacted us about reviewing a collection of stories and essays starring his amazing Australian shepherd, Boo, and his other canine companions. Well. Who can resist that?!

But Echoes in the Stars isn’t just another “dog story.” Yes, it’s a tribute to the author’s Aussie shepherd, Boo. It’s also much more. Here’s the 4-1-1:

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Sweet Children’s Story Celebrates the Season

Who let these guys on the front lawn?

Kimber: “Mom! Mom! Open the door, pronto!”

Mom: “Hey, Kimmi. What’s up?”

Kimber: “I gotta meet up for a play date with my new buddy! Hurry! Hurry!”

Mom (Mutters to self: I may regret asking this, but here goes): “What new buddy?”

Kimber: “Red Dog, of course! My new best pal from that children’s story thingy, Lily’s Egypt Adventure.”

Mom: “Um… You do know that Red Dog is a character in a book, right? That he’s not real. As in, fiction?”

Kimber: “Does that matter?”

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New Christmas Fable Brings Holiday Cheer

The Great Tree

A Christmas Fable

By Able Barrett

Bonus points: The Last Dog Publications, 2021

Genre: Fiction

Pages: 42

Via: Author Request

We received a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Kimber: Someone is a Super Star. No, really. All you have to do is open this sweet little novella and turn to the Dedication page. See?

Remind you of anyone?

In case you’re wondering – and even if you’re not – this isn’t really a photo of Yours Truly.  Naw. 

It’s actually a photo “In Loving memory of Demerri,” the author’s “Dear Departed Rescued Dog” and “The Best German Shephard I Ever Knew & Loved.”

It’s me!

 

Probably a cousin. So when it comes to The Great Tree, I’m kinda biased. In a canine sort of way, if ya know what I mean. Here’s the 4-1-1 on this Christmas novella:

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