Pages & Paws

Writing, Reading, and Rural Life With a Border Collie


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‘Immersed in West Africa’: Not Your Average Travel Book

Immersed in West Africa: My Solo Journey Across Senegal, Mauritania, The Gambia, Guinea and Guinea Bissau (Kindle) (Travels With Terry Book 1) by [Terry Lister]

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Immersed in West Africa: My Solo Journey Across Senegal, Mauritania, The Gambia, Guinea and Guinea Bissau

By Terry Lister

Non-Fiction

Truth? When the author initially requested a review, I wasn’t interested. That’s cuz the last few travelogue/memoir type books I’ve read were redundant and as dull as dirt. Think moon rocks. Without the moon.

But the author was gently persistent. So I reluctantly agreed to read and review. (Which just shows you what I know.)

Turns out Immersed in West Africa is a delightful read. Here’s why:

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ALL ABOARD for Adventure With 2 Unique Travel Tomes

  “Car ride! We’re goin’ for a car ride!!”

Wait. We’re not goin’ for a car ride, Mom? Whaddya mean, “Travel by book?” To where? Can I come? Is there food?

Kimber here. Mom says it’s all aboard for two nifty travel-ish tomes she recently read. One takes us aboard a humongous passenger ship making the New York to England crossing in 1915. (I’d bring a really, really good life jacket ‘fize you.) It’s called Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania. The other.is a pert and pretty “travel memoir” about traveling with youngun’s, Passports and Pacifiers: Traveling the World One Tantrum at a Time.

So. All aboard! Let’s go!

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‘Stable Weight’ Balances the Scales

Stable Weight: A Memoir of Hunger, Horses, and Hope (Hopewell Publications, 2021)

By Lisa Whalen

Biography/Memoir/Health, Mind & Body

Ever gingerly opened a book, unsure where it may head, or how?

Stable Weight was one of those books. When Mom and I sat down to read it, she let me in on a secret. I’ll explain at the end of this review. So stay tuned. And don’t tell Mom. Let’s just keep this our little secret, okay? Meanwhile, on to the review:

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Why Did The Chicken Bus Cross the Road?

Adventure by Chicken Bus: An Unschooling Odyssey Through Central America (Resource Publications, 2019)

 

By Janet LoSole

Non-fiction
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When the author first reached out to me requesting a review, I didn’t know what to think about this book. As in, What’s a ‘chicken bus’?* (Kimber: “Can I eat it?”) I was dangling on the rim edge of Not Interested. As a veteran homeschooler myself, however, I decided to give it a chance.

What a ride.

 

Adventure by Chicken Bus is a thoroughly entertaining, fascinating ride along with a family of four as they travel through Central America over the course of roughly a year and a half. With two little girls in tow, ages then-five and eight, the LoSoles roam all over the region, including the Caribbean coast, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico.

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‘Invisible’ & ‘Unbroken’: Two Remarkable WWII Reads

Combining history and biography can be a challenge, especially when the setting is a world war. But two recently read books do that and more, offering compelling reads that shouldn’t be missed. Both are set in WWII.

Here they are:

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Timeless & Transcendent: ‘Born Free’ Still Touching Lives

Have you ever re-discovered a book from your childhood that still has the power to move and profoundly impact you, even a half century after your initial read? If so, then you’ve found a true classic.

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Joy Adamson’s Born Free: A Lioness of Two Worlds is such a book.

A Remarkable True Story

Evocative and compelling, Born Free is the remarkable true story of Elsa, an orphaned lion cub raised by Joy Adamson and her husband, George.

At its core, Born Free is a love story. With great sensitivity and precision, Adamson chronicles the mutual affection and bond between a magnificent lioness and the humans who loved her enough to set her free.

It’s probably the most moving and inspiring “animal story” I’ve ever read.

Joy Adamson wrote three books about African lions: Born Free, Living Free, and Forever Free. I read them all. Born Free is my favorite.

I first read Born Free in 1969, nine years after it was first published. I was in the fifth grade. Entranced, I read it over and over. There’s something timeless and transcendent about the story that’s difficult to put into words.

I lost track of Adamson and Elsa over the years. But I never forgot the extraordinary story of a free born lioness and the humans who loved her. I recently located a library copy of Born Free. Finally.

Elsa and “Born Free” author Joy Adamson.

 

Like a Ton of Bricks

Opening the Forward to the Fortieth Anniversary Edition (2000), I was startled to learn that Joy Adamson was stabbed to death by a disgruntled former employee in 1980. The news hit me like a ton of bricks. I felt like I’d lost a best friend I’d never met. So it was with a mixed sense of sadness and reverence that I sat in a sun-soaked living room in a far corner of the Pacific Northwest nearly forty years after that sad event and re-opened a book that profoundly impacted my life, especially with regard to animals.

Lavishly illustrated with black and white photographs, Elsa’s story is still an unforgettable one. So is Adamson’s prodigious writing talent. Her breezy, bucolic style recalls another formidable literary talent who writes so evocatively about her life in Kenya: Isak Dinesen. Like Dinesen, Adamson’s descriptions of her life as the wife of a senior game warden in East Africa have a luminous quality that is almost melodic.

My favorite photo from the book. Joy Adamson and Elsa.

I read Born Free cover to cover in one sitting. Here’s a key line, from page 109:

“Her (Elsa’s) good-natured temperament was certainly due in part to her character, but part too may have come from the fact that neither force nor frustration was ever used to adapt her to our way of life. For we tried by kindness alone to help her to overcome the differences that lie between our two worlds.”

The Adamsons and Elsa succeed beyond all expectations.

Patiently Waiting

Re-reading the last chapter, The Final Test, the same intense sense of sadness and loss these pages evoked in me five decades ago bubbled up again from some deep internal well. It was as if Elsa and her human pride had never left, patiently waiting 50 years for my return to their story.

Recording Elsa’s success in finding her own wild pride and mate, Adamson writes:

“We returned to camp alone, and very sad. Should we leave her now, and so close a very important chapter of our lives?”

The Adamsons decide to wait “a few more days” to make sure Elsa has been accepted by the pride.

In the final elegiac paragraph, Adamson returns to her “studio” by the river to continue writing the story of Elsa, “who had been with us until this morning.” Sad to be alone, the author writes that she tries to make herself happy “by imagining that at this very moment Elsa was rubbing her soft skin against another lion’s skin and resting with him in the shade, as she had often rested here with me.”

I cried. Again.

And that, friends, is the mark of a true classic.

 

Elsa on Camp Bed Photo Credit

 

 

Author’s note: This post was first published on Pages and Paws in June 2019. We thought it deserves a second run. – Mom and The Kimster


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Medical Memoir Majors in Merriment: ‘Playing Doctor, Part One’

Playing Doctor – Part One

Medical School: Stumbling through with amnesia

(Books Go Social, August 2020)

By John Lawrence

Biographies & Memoirs/Humor

Medical school joke: “What do you call the person who graduates last in their medical school class?”

Answer: “Doctor.”

The line is right-on-the-stethoscope and sets the tone early in this nimble, entertaining medical school memoir. Told in the first person with tongue firmly planted in cheek, Playing Doctor includes twenty-one chapters and an Epilogue covering the author’s four years at the University of Utah School of Medicine.

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A Story That Strengthens – ‘Becoming Elisabeth Elliot’

Becoming Elisabeth Elliot (B&H Publishing, September 2020)

By Ellen Vaughn

Biography/Non-fiction

 

“Is this true? If so, what do I need to do about it to obey God?”

These are the foundational questions that book-ended the life of one of the most influential Christian women of the century. They also undergird Ellen Vaughn’s eloquent and articulate biography, Becoming Elisabeth Elliot.

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Now Go, Cat, Go!

Remember that rockin’ Carl Perkins tune about shoes famously belted out by Elvis?

Well, it’s one for the money

Two for the show

Three to get ready

Now go, cat, go!

We’re giving you the Kimber and Mom Blue Suede Special on three+ recently read books. The first book is a modern retelling of the biblical story of Abraham and Sarah. The other is historical fiction set in the Russia of Peter the Great. Another is a gripping memoir of love, loss and hope. And because we’re so generous and all, we’re throwing in a fourth at no extra charge, set in 1789 France and England. There’s also a fifth set in …. la la land.

So. Without further ado, on with the reviews. Or as Kimber would say, Go cat, go!

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‘A Pilgrim at 60’ Flies High!

A Pilgrim Looks at 60: Life in the Middle of the Christian Bell Curve

Elm Hill, a division of Harper Collins Christian Publishing, 2019.

By James Annable

What happens when a “truth grenade” goes off in your face? How do you deal with it? Who do you tell, and why?

These questions and more saturate this entertaining, engaging, and insightful read by James Annable.

As noted in the Introduction, the author undertakes his “reflective pilgrimage” to explore who he is and how he came to be that way, explaining same to his five children. He discovers something universal along the way. Something worth sharing.

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