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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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‘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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‘Chasing Tarzan’ Swings Thru Jungle of Emotions

Chasing Tarzan

By Catherine Forster

Published by: E.L. Marker, an imprint of WiDo Publishing, 2022

Genre: Non-Fiction/Memoir

Pages: 276

Via: Book Blog Tour

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

***

Johnny Weissmuller. That’s the first thing that popped into Mom’s head when we received the blog tour invitation for this book.

“I dunno, Kimmi…” says Mom.

“Oh, c’mon Mom!” chirps I, Kimber the Magnificent. “Think Tarzan! You know. Swinging through the jungle on high-flying vines. Swimming through croc-infested waters. Rampaging pachyderms. Voracious lions. Deadly pestilence and dastardly villains. It’ll be fun!”

Little did we know…

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Outdoor Memoir Delights in ‘Trip Tales’

Trip Tales:

From Family Camping to Life as a Ranger

By: Rosanne S. McHenry

Published by: Huntley Avenue Press, 2021

Genre: Non-Fiction – Memoir/Outdoor Recreation/Wilderness Areas/Hiking/Anecdotes/Women park ranger/Humor.

Pages: 274, with Index.

Kimber: Psssst! Can you zip your lip, bub? Good. Cuz I’m gonna let you in on a little secret today: One of us has always wanted to be a park ranger.

That’s probably cuz her dad was a seasonal park ranger at Mount Rainer National Park in Washington state when she was a young’un. You know. Shortly after the earth’s crust cooled. Aka: Older than dirt. (Hi, Mom.)

So when Her Momness saw Trip Tales at the library recently, it just sort of jumped right off the shelf and into her book bag. You know how some books do that, right? I’ll let Mom tell you more (quotes from the book):

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‘End the Divide’ Offers Breath of Fresh Air

End the Divide:

The Surprising Power of Ordinary People to Fix What Went Wrong 

By Dwight Clough

Genre: Non-Fiction

Via: Author Request

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

Tired of the strident, bellicose voices blasting their way into your head every day? Weary of the divisiveness, pugnacity and acrimony over political parties and elections, of being riled up – or hearing from those who are riled up – over partisan talking points?

Have we got a deal for you. It’s called End the Divide. This new book ‘explores how people of faith can lead the way to end the toxic polarization in our culture.’ 

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‘Where the Children Take Us’: Moving & Memorable

Where the Children Take Us: How One Family Achieved the Unimaginable by [Zain E. Asher]

Where the Children Take Us:

How One Family Achieved the Unimaginable

By Zain E. Asher

Genre: Non-Fiction/Memoir

Publisher: Amistad 35, an imprint  of Harper Collins, 2022

Pages: 212

Via: Library

Where the Children Take Us is the compelling true story of two remarkable women, mother and daughter.  

One story recounts the life of Obiajulu, the author’s mother. A widowed immigrant from Nigeria, Obiajulu (“my heart is at peace”) raises four children alone in South London while also running a small business six days a week. She is determined to carve out a better life for her children. With remarkable grit, tenacity, and dignity, Obiajulu does exactly that as recounted in this powerful, heartfelt memoir.

The second narrative focuses on the author. Zain is a first-generation African immigrant “raised by a single mother who struggled to keep the heat on in a gritty home in East London.” Via lessons learned from her mother, Zain graduates from Oxford University, earns a graduate degree from Columbia, and becomes a CNN news anchor.

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‘The Waltons’ Lives on in ‘Lessons from the Mountain: What I Learned from Erin Walton” by Mary McDonough

Ah, August! The shoulder of summer. Deep summer has passed. But the sullen skies and cherry-cheeked winds of autumn are still waiting in the wings. Isn’t August a great time for a little trip down memory lane? That’s what we’re doing today. With a review from March of 2012. Cue Jerry Goldsmith musical score in 3, 2, 1…

Lessons from the Mountain: What I Learned from Erin Walton

By Mary McDonough

Kensington Publishing Corp., 2011

For millions of American television viewers, The Waltons was a Thursday night staple. It was in my house. Candidly, I considered the second Walton daughter the least credible character in the whole clan. Mary McDonough’s Lessons from the Mountain: What I Learned from Erin Walton provides some explanation, connects some dots and offers a glimpse into the girl who portrayed the red-haired Erin and her post-Waltons life.

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‘Reckless Grace’ Pulls No Punches

Reckless Grace book coverReckless Grace

A Mother’s Crash Course in Mental Illness

By Carolyn DiPasquale

Genre: Non-Fiction

Publisher: E.L. Marker, an imprint of WiDo Publishing, 2022

Pages: 419 + Several pages of Endnotes and Works Cited

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

How do you help a severely ill loved one who can’t or won’t get healthy? How do you help someone who doesn’t necessarily want help? How do you help someone if you don’t really know they need help, or what kind of help is needed?

These questions and more are raised in this finely crafted, heartrending memoir. Reckless Grace is the shattering true story of a mother’s journey through her daughter’s physical and mental illnesses, told in retrospect following the daughter’s fatal overdose.

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