Saturday, November 30, 2013

See You in the Morning

Good morning, Blog Buds! I pre-scheduled my Thanksgiving Day posts, but I just can't pull it together for post-Thanksgiving, even though I don't go shopping until Christmas Eve.  Will post my review of the Hanukkah book tomorrow.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Of course, I can't just say that without recommending a good book. 

Cranberry Thanksgiving   is the one I read to my children when they were all little.
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For you bigger folks, I suggest you get Colonial House   on DVD from your local library or buy online.

The founding mothers and fathers of this country were made of some tough stuff!  Thank God for that!

A STUDY IN ASHES by Emma Jane Holloway


Everyone knows about Sherlock Holmes even if you’ve never read any of the stories.  There have been t.v. series and movies made based on the original tales of this iconic private investigator.  Personally, my experience goes back to a couple of original stories read a few decades ago.

Plus Star Trek The Next Generation.   http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Sherlock_Holmes

Oh, yes, Trekkies are very well read and the Next Gen especially interwove a lot of classic literature.  Commander Data, the android, was especially fond of Sherlock Holmes. 

But, this isn’t a review of Next Gen.

A Study in Ashes is the third book in a series, the first two of which I have not read.  This is good though, because it gives me and you, a potential reader, a fresh look and a hint at how easily it is to pick up a story that’s already going on.

Evalina, the heroine, starts the story a student at a prestigious English college, frustrated with the limits put on her because she is female.  That’s the cover story.  The real story is that, plus the fact that she is imprisoned on the school campus by magic.  In frustration, she breaks into the men’s laboratory because they have much better equipment.  She wants to learn how magic and science are related.

The Professor who discovers her there is not at all amused.  I suspect she could have talked herself out of this trouble, but that doesn’t appear to be her style.  Instead, she outright resists and, in her fury, accidently sets the whole dang place on fire.

Normally, Evalina would have been expelled.  Instead, she’s shuffled away in what I can best describe as “You naughty, naughty little girl, now you go to your room and just think about what you’ve done!”

Anyway…then we have a Point of View switch, but it starts a new chapter and it’s male so it’s not hard to keep up.  Tobias remembers the last battle of the last book, catching you up on important details.  This is an excellent way to reintroduce the story for those who haven’t already been in on it.  He’s watching over his magically comatose sister, Imogene, who, in turn, is being pined for by her fiancé, Bucky.  She’s been a sleeping beauty for a year and the two blokes are not hopeful.

Remember, this is set in the late 1800’s England, so you gotta recall the social restrictions and styles of the time, plus it’s Steampunk, so you’ve got cool airships and such going on.  The appeal of Steampunk, for me, is similar to Time Travel.  It combines history with techno-geekiness, love that.

This book is not written in First Person Point of View.  I should clear that up.  It’s Third Person Limited.  But, it’s done so well that I felt like I was right inside the characters, the same feeling you get from First Person POV.

Okay, so enough wallowing, dudes, a large group of troublemakers arrive on the scene and start howling.  Huh?  Do we got werewolves here?

And romance?  Well, apparently, Evaline’s boyfriend, Nick, died in the last book, because she’s in mourning at first.

Then, the professors assign someone to escort her back to the ladies’ college and he’s very intriguing, but his last name is also Moriarity.  Now, if you know anything about Sherlock Holmes, you know Professor Moriarity was his archenemy.

Further on, the Point of View switches again, to Poppy who is Imogene’s younger sister.  She’s fifteen years old and expertly portrayed as such, fierce in her friendships (she adores Imogene), impatient with her family.  Seems like every fifteen year old thinks her family is dysfunctional, barely tolerable, the mother’s a wicked queen, the father doesn’t give a dang about his children, the brother is totally screwed up, and she’s bored out of her mind.  All normal fifteen year old girl stuff, but in this case the fifteen year old is right, as is occasionally true in real life too. 

Bigger problems that bored teenagers have arisen though.  At some point, somebody crashed an airship into Big Ben.  Oh, yes, and Queen Victoria’s children have been dying off and now the Crown Prince is mysteriously ill.  Getting swept up into this mess will certainly dispel Poppy’s boredom.

With another POV shift into Imogen’s head, you’ll wonder how the author is going to bring this ensemble cast together.  Clearly, loose ends are being expertly tied up.

Verdict:  Good book, get it.  Even if you haven’t read the first two.  You won’t get lost.  Trust me.

;)

Much love, Buds.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Eeek! Almost Missed the First Day of Hanukkah!



Will get to work on my review I set aside for this holiday.  Happy Hanukkah to all my Jewish Friends!

DUST OF EDEN by Mariko Nagai

Good morning, Blog Buds!

I had no idea Japanese Americans were interned in camps during World War II until I was in high school and I picked up a book about it on my own time.  It wasn't taught in school back then, but I hope it is now.  Farewell to Manzanar

You see, folks, this is why it's good to nurture the love of learning and stories your children are born with.  That way they can educate themselves if there are any gaps in their schooling.
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DUST OF EDEN is written poetically and in first person.  The author recounts first learning of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 1941.  Within seconds, she starts hearing people say 'Jap' and looking at her in disgust.
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Ever wonder why German Americans weren't hauled away in massive numbers to internment camps?  Well, because they look like most of the rest of us, that's why.  It's a knee-jerk reaction to go after the different.
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So, the author's mother teaches her to keep her back straight anyway and her best friend says it doesn't matter.  She goes to Sunday School and celebrates Christmas. 
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The men from the government come and take her daddy away for questioning, upsetting the normalcy of even her homelife.
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There's a saying and it's true.  "Children are not born hating."  But, they can and frequently are taught rather quickly.  As this story tells, children learn to hate themselves at the same time.
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The time comes to be taken away to the internment camp.  They're told it's for their own good and safety, but that's a lie and they know it.  But, what other choice do they have.  Grandpas is old and father's in prison.  Big brother gets into fights everyday over the injustice of it all, accomplishing nothing, of course.
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Besides their home, the pet cat must stay behind.  They can only take two suitcases each.  It's hard to imagine this happening in the good ol' US of A.  Isn't it?  But, there is still goodness and rational minds.  Jamie, her best friend, promises to care for the cat and to write letters.  Not all the people are taunting them, some are upset and weeping as the Japanese Americans are herded away like cattle.
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When they get to the euphemistically named Camp Harmony, they have to gather hay to make into mattresses for sleeping on.  Not exactly glamorous.  They're obliged to submit to intrusive medical exams and their belongings are rifled through.  It's all very humiliating. 
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Rumor of a man being shot for trying to leave and another move to yet another camp continues the misery.  Barbed wire, armed guards, lines to the common bathrooms, and being at the mercy of the really lousy food because there is nothing else.
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There's a saying you'll discover when you read about the Jewish Holocaust, "Never again."  Wise words.  But, I wonder if anything like the internment of Japanese Americans could happen again, possibly to another group of undesirables, politically opponents or something. 
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God, I hope not.
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Get this book.  It's one all Americans need to read.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Shuffling the Week's Reviews

Oops!  I just discovered A WILDER ROSE is not Non-Fiction.  It's actually a novel!.  So, I'm pushing it off to next week.

Instead, I'll be reviewing DUST OF EDEN on Wednesday.  This one's about the internment of Japanese Americans during World War II, a national shame we all need to know about.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Vader's Fist 501st Legion

This started out as a group of fans who liked to get together and create really authentic Star Wars costumes, but then they made it into something much more.  They dress up and bring awareness to charities.  They never charge a fee, but ask that people donate to charities in their name.  They're from all over the world and have the blessing of George Lucas.  Instead of selfishly enjoying a common interest, they've taken what they love and found a way to use it to help others.  Way to go, 501st!  Let that be a lesson to us all.   http://www.501st.com/charity.php

Saturday, November 23, 2013

INTO THE FIRE by Lindsay Fairleigh & Lindsey Pogue

Good morning, Blog Buds!

I just reviewed the first book in the series day before yesterday, so scroll down and read that one first.  'Kay?  And yesterday I hosted a Super Book Blast for this book because it was released yesterday. 
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INTO THE FIRE picks up where AFTER THE ENDING leaves off, so I don't want to give away too much of the ending of the AFTER THE ENDING.  Does that make a lick of sense?  Anyway...
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So, the grid's down and they're in the boonies, Dani's got a hot boyfriend (Zoe's brother, Jason) and a cool new Ability, which is kinda like telepathy.  This groovy new life is interrupted when Dani is kidnapped.  Zoe's freaked out to have her bestest friend taken away from her.  Again.  Meanwhile, Dani is taken to the Colony where she's told she was rescued from Crazies (zombie-like survivors.)  But, she quickly learns that the Crazies are least of her worries.
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The Colony is ran by a General who calls himself the president of the New United States.  If you've read the first book, you know that the military survivors remember lockdown at their base so brutal you'd get shot if you tried to leave.  So, you know something screwy's going on here.  Turns out, the General likes Dani really a lot for two reasons, one she's got a great Ability and two she's reproductively fit.  Humanity's got to be saved, you know.  But, is it being saved or *remade?*
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But, Zoe's got some insight too, perhaps strengthened by her friendship with Dani.  She's seeing things and one thing she sees is a girl named Becca, a girl they thought was dead.  She was a member of their group, a sister.  She died, no pulse, but now Zoe sees her alive.  And she's in the Colony and failing to meet with the General's brutal expectations.  To save Dani, Jason and Zoe cook up a plan to catch Becca who has no memory of them or being who she was before.
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Meanwhile, back at the Colony, Dani's forgetful and a lot more compliant all of a sudden too.  She's been given a big house, along with the implication that she will be fruitful and multiply therein.  Can someone say 'playing God?' 
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But, Dani's mind isn't quite ready to roll over and play dead.
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But, but, her friends' half-baked plan is coming apart as the ties that bind get stretched...
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There's some tension there.  Is Dani turning into a helpless, spineless breeding machine?  Will Jason and Zoe fall into a trap?  Does the General know Zoe's got some Ability too?

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The writing skills of these two have improved a lot since AFTER THE ENDING and everything is much more fluid, although I actually enjoyed the first story the most.  Hey, skills ain't everything, you know!  With the grid down, you need to pay more attention when the Point of View switches between Dani and Zoe, because they can't Text or eMail anymore.  They do the mind-thing though and each switch starts with the character's name, so I think you can keep up. 
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Like I said before, scroll down and read my review of the first book in this series, AFTER THE ENDING, and also check out the Book Blast.  You can find both books at Barnes & Noble   and/or you can pop over to the authors' website to learn how to get it elsewhere and also read about other cool stuff.   http://www.theendingseries.com/

Friday, November 22, 2013

Super Book Blast! INTO THE FIRE by Lindsey Fairleigh & Lindsey Pogue

Good morning, Blog Buds! 
Remember that book I reviewed yesterday?  Well, the sequel releases today and I'm a host for the
blast.  Enter a drawing for a $15 Amazon gift certificate and then go visit the other blog blasts too. 

And then tomorrow be sure to come back here for my review of INTO THE FIRE!  'Kay?  See you then.
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Blurb:  

The Virus changed them, but that was only the beginning…
…death…mutation…insanity…corruption…terror…
…all that remains is hope.
In the wake of destruction left behind by the Virus, it took Dani and Zoe months to find each other. But their reunion was short-lived. Dani has been taken, and though little distance separates them, they might as well be worlds apart.

From the moment she hears Dani’s scream, Zoe’s only goal is to save her best friend. She and her companions scramble to come up with a rescue plan, but when a ghost from Jake’s past reappears, lines are blurred, decisions become harder, and secrets are revealed…and some secrets are best left buried. To keep heartache and fear from consuming her, Zoe must cling to her determination. She will see Dani again.

Dani awakens inside the final hold-out of civilization: the Colony. Remnants of the former world surround her—electricity, safety, social order—but all is not what it seems. As she faces her most manipulative adversary yet, she loses sight of who she is and who she can trust. Friends become enemies, enemies become allies, and allies will betray her. Dani will have to decide what she’s willing to do and whose lives she’s willing to risk if she is to have any chance of breaking free.


Excerpt (Zoe)

 

I froze. He’s leaving. I glared at Jake’s back, but feeling his misery, my anger quickly subsided. “We can figure something—”

 

“Stop!” He pulled his arm back and slammed his fist into the wall, denting it. “There’s nothing to figure out. My sister will not be used as a pawn.” His face fell. He leaned back and brought his hand up to pinch the bridge of his nose. “I wouldn’t be able to live with myself.”

 

He’s already made up his mind. Instantly, I started to question everything about Jake and me…about us. My reservations from the first time I met him—the first time he saved me, opened his mouth, and pushed me away—flared to life, and I chided myself for being so naïve. I knew something like this would happen. 

 

The questions jumped off my tongue before I could contain them. “What about Dani? What about me? You’re just going to leave?”

 

When he didn’t respond, reality burst overhead like a looming storm cloud, clearing away the fog that had settled in my heart and mind. How could I have been so stupid?

 

The conversation we’d had on the dock back in St. Louis resurfaced from under a month’s-worth of foolhardy emotions. Jake’s words replayed in my mind.

 

“For whatever reason, I know you don’t want to let me in…or maybe you just don’t know how…what are you afraid of?”

 

This. This feeling of inexplicable loss was what I’d been afraid of—the living lump of hysteria swelling in my throat, the desperation in my heart. I couldn’t swallow it away.

 

Biting the inside of my cheek as hard as possible, I willed myself to calm down. Keep it together, Zoe.

 

Jake strode past me to Becca, pulling her up to her feet.

 

Lunging at him, I pushed against his chest as hard as I could. “You’re leaving?” He stumbled away from Becca, and I pushed him again. “You’re going to kill Dani!” I shoved against his shoulder. “You’re going to kill us all if you take her!” I smack his chest. “I won’t let you ruin everything.” I won’t let you break my heart! I pushed, shoved, and slapped him again and again. “You son of a bitch!” 

 

Jake gripped my arms firmly, immobilizing me and forcing me to look up at him. His eyebrows lifted with sympathy…or is it sorrow? I was too upset to differentiate between his emotions and mine.

 

“Let go,” I warbled.

 

As he opened his mouth to speak, a gunshot cracked through the air, and Jake yanked me down to the floor.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

AUTHORS' Bio:

 

Lindsey Fairleigh lives her life with one foot in a book—as long as that book transports her to a magical world or bends the rules of science. Her novels, from post-apocalyptic to time travel and historical fantasy, always offer up a hearty dose of unreality, along with plenty of adventure and romance. When she's not working on her next novel, Lindsey spends her time reading and trying out new recipes in the kitchen. She lives in the Napa Valley with her loving husband and confused cats.

 

Lindsey Pogue has always been a little creative. As a child she established a bug hospital on her elementary school soccer field, compiled books of collages as a teenager, and as an adult, expresses herself through writing. Her novels are inspired by her observations of the world around her--whether she's traveling, people watching, or hiking. When not plotting her next story line or dreaming up new, brooding characters, Lindsey's wrapped in blankets watching her favorite action flicks or going on road trips with her own leading man.

 
Kimber here-   Please pop over to their website for links to all their social media.  They're everywhere!

Check it out at Barnes & Noble

a Rafflecopter giveaway

To visit the other blogs for this Super Book Blast, please visit its page at Goddess Fish   and be sure to scroll down because there's lots of stuff.  The more blogs you comment on, the more chances you have to win that prize.  Have fun!

Now, scroll down and read my review of AFTER THE ENDING and check back tomorrow for my review of INTO THE FIRE.  Much love, Buds.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

AFTER THE ENDING by Lindsey Fairleigh & Lindsey Pogue

Hey there, Blog Buds!  Remember a while back I reviewed World War Z   and nagged you to get your flu shot?  Well, it's time for another nagging.
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I joined Goddess Fish Promotions   a while back too and signed up to host a Virtual Book Tour for an intriguing post-apocalyptic New Adult novel called INTO THE FIRE.  Well, it didn't require I review the book, but I was so intrigued that I really want to and so I hustled over NetGalley and delightedly found it.  Then, I discovered it was a Book Two in a series.  Being an old reviewer, I suspected the authors would be totally cool with me requesting Book One and reviewing it too.  And so I did and they did and here we are.
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Dani and Zoe are best friends and college students.  Their 'voices' are in First Person and well-crafted and believable.  First Person Point of View is very hard to pull off.  I know.  I keep trying.  And I'm still too embarrassed to show the results to the world.  Anyway, Dani and Zoe are college students and expertly portrayed in the age group with the typical college lifeness.  Having emerged from the protective cocoon of high school (for teens that phrase makes no sense) in which clean laundry and food magically appeared, they have little patience with their classmates who haven't.  Perfectly understandable.  After all, they work their butts off to earn the money to pay their bills.  They wash their own clothes and do their own grocery shopping.  They're adults, New Adults, but adults just the same.
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The Flu has been going through their college and its town, but no biggee, right?  It's just the Flu.  But, then, one by one, people they know and then people they love start dropping and dying from it.  Huh?  But, like I side, even though they're adults, they're 'New' at it and the harsh reality of life and death hasn't quite registered yet.  Like most twentysomthings, they're immortal.  Nevertheless, they adjust to reality quickly.  Badly shaken by the death of friends and a boyfriend, they get sick too, but they recover because they have some immunity left over from a mild case a while back.
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And they've got a big brother, Jason, who is a Green Beret with the United States Army.  Hellyah!
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Actually, he's Zoe's big brother, but he quickly becomes everybody's big brother, rounding up the survivors and organizing a Bug-Out to Colorado.  Dani's sweet him and he did go out of his way to come get her.
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Throughout these early chapters, the Point of View switches back and forth between Zoe and Dani, but it's not difficult to keep up 'cause they're Texting.  But, you know that's gotta end because the grid will come down sooner or later with no healthy, living people to keep it out.  Communications are gonna go out and then what?  This is a generation used to and utterly dependent on instant communication across thousands of miles.  They totally take it for granted.  I remember one guy just before Hurricane Sandy slammed into New Jersey said he was ready because his freezer was full of pizzas and his cell phone was all charged up.  Uh.  Yeah.
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One thing I really like about this book often goes untouched in post-apocalyptic novels written by guys.  And that is the presence of females.  And romance.  Guys are so focused on survival that they totally forget their reason for living in the first place.  So, I'll get one of those books and I'll ask the guy, "Um, so, in your next book your characters are going to run into some pretty girls, fall in love, and have lots of babies then, right?"  And they're like, "Uh, no."  And so then I'm like, "Okay, so your characters survive the end of the world, but humanity dies out a few years later anyway because they never had nookie again.  No females, no nookie, no babies, no more human beings...ever...again."  And they're like  "Uuuuhhh..."  Insert finger into nose.
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Anyway, not to worry about that in this story.  It's not a romance novel, but it does have believable romantic elements so you know humanity isn't going to die out. 
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Okay, the group bugs out, but the best friends are still hundreds of miles apart.  Someone manages to bring and keep a laptop going and so they email.  Different members of their two groups need to check on families as they make their way to a safe zone in Colorado.  Along the way, they see lots of dead people and also some live people who've gone crazy, though no one says the Z Word.  Also along the way, relationships are sorted out as each finds their place in the group.  Dani feels useless in a group of military commando types.  And Zoe's having telepathic, empathic impressions of others, not to mention nightmares of kissing her dead boyfriend while he's dead.  Eeeeww!
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But, that's not the only weird thing.  The military folks are remembering things from before the bug-out, how their bases were on lock-down so brutal that soldiers were shot if they tried to leave.  And, sure, the apocalypse has gone down and the girls haven't worn make-up in weeks, but interpersonal dynamics continue.  Like I said, sooner or later love will find a way.  And remember what I said about the crazy people, also known as the Crazies?  Well, there's some crazy jealousies and rivalries breaking out.  Is it just normal breakdowns or is something more sinister at work?  A room full of dead dudes in military fatigues and riddled with bullets and stacked up like cord wood puts it over the edge, methinks.
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I like post-apocalyptic fiction.  It's interesting to speculate how humans would go on After the Ending.  Each story has its strengths and weaknesses.  One I read recently was very good on the world-building and techno-babbles stuff and they even had females, but the author approached it with humans handling things in only one way - military-style.  In the end, I thought it was just too controversial.  I love our military, but humans come in all sizes, shapes, and sensibilities.  Each of us would find our own way and the point us humanity would go on.  In any case, I believe this book's strength lies in the interpersonal relationships of the main characters and their crew, learning who they can rely on and figuring out what to do together. 
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Tomorrow, I will be hosting the Virtual Book Tour right here, so please stop in and comment so you can win a prize.  And the next day I'll post my review of the next book after this one, Into the Fire.  In the meantime, do swing by and get your Flu Shot, 'kay?
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Told you I was gonna nag.
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http://www.theendingseries.com/

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

MY PET CHICKEN by Lissa Lucas & Traci Torres

***This book comes out February 2014.***
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Description

The backyard chicken is the new "it" pet—and with good reason: These birds are personable, beautiful, and (mostly) low maintenance. But they’re not without their quirks and sometimes puzzling behaviors.
That’s where the experts at MyPetChicken.com have a beak up on the competition—they hear from chicken keepers daily and offer advice about common mistakes and pitfalls that occur when raising a flock of chickens in the backyard. And customers tell them that the advice they most appreciate is actually how not to raise chickens, what not to do, and why not to panic.

The handbook helps potential chicken owners decide whether chicken keeping is right for them, how to make the best choices for their situations, how to start planning for the new pets, and—most importantly—how to head off potential trouble before the chicks arrive. Detailed care instructions for baby chicks and mature hens help to ensure a friendly and enjoyable flock. Covering both the good and the "oh no" experiences that beginners and avid backyard farmers experience, topics include choosing coops, planning a daily routine, learning about sanitation practices, and discovering signs of distress. Then the joy of chicken keeping comes full "ovoid" with 50 recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, featuring the incredible and versatile egg, from homemade egg noodles and sesame mayonnaise to a vegetable frittata and caramel custard.
 
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My Take:   As a chicken-keeper, I can remember starting out and gleaning information wherever I can find it on the Internet, books, and magazines.  MY PET CHICKEN gives you all that in one beautiful book.  There are even graphs comparing the different breeds.  I can tell you it's important to have an appropriate breed for you living situation and lifestyle.  If you live in suburbia, you need a quiet, docile chicken who is not driven by instinct to go foraging all over your neighborhood.  We had one of those, a Buff Orpington.  Unfortunately, she defied her breed and went foraging all over the neighborhood anyway, a real Houdini.  Thankfully, the neighbors loved her!
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The traits of each breed are described well.  Besides the above, you should look at whether the breed does well for your area's climate.  We lived in Alaska when I started with chickens!  I can tell you there's a lot of chicken-keeping chores during a Northern winter, like making sure the water doesn't freeze, that no one's getting frostbite, etc...
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The authors also discuss how to go about getting your chickens.  If you're suburbia and especially if you have children, I suggest starting with chicks.  That way, they grow up used to being played with and with no interest in wandering the neighborhood because they know they got it good with you.  It's more work to start with chicks and you have to wait longer for eggs, but in my experience it's worth it!
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So, if you're thinking about chickens, the hottest new pet in town, I strongly recommend this book as a great place to start.  You can pre-order it from Barnes and Noble

Monday, November 18, 2013

Virtual Book Tour! FORWARD TO CAMELOT by Susan Sloate and Kevin Finn

Good morning, Blog Buds!  This is my very first promotional thingy with Goddess Fish  and I hope I do everything right.

BLURB

WHERE WERE YOU THE DAY KENNEDY WAS SAVED? 

On the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination comes a new edition of the extraordinary time-travel thriller first published in 2003 with a new Afterword from the authors. 

On November 22, 1963, just hours after President Kennedy’s assassination, Lyndon Johnson was sworn in as President aboard Air Force One using JFK’s own Bible. Immediately afterward, the Bible disappeared. It has never been recovered. Today, its value would be beyond price. 

In the year 2000, actress Cady Cuyler is recruited to return to 1963 for this Bible—while also discovering why her father disappeared in the same city, on the same tragic day. Finding frightening links between them will lead Cady to a far more perilous mission: to somehow prevent the President’s murder, with one unlikely ally: an ex-Marine named Lee Harvey Oswald. 

Forward to Camelot: 50th Anniversary Edition brings together an unlikely trio: a gallant president, the young patriot who risks his own life to save him, and the woman who knows their future, who is desperate to save them both. 

History CAN be altered …
 
***
Susan and Kevin will be awarding a $25 Amazon Gift Card to a randomly drawn commenter during this tour, so click on the comment thing and say something. 
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Remember, we need a way to get a hold of you, so be sure to have an eMail addy somewhere thereupon. 
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Be sure to hop and stop and comment at each blog for this tour so that you can comment and when the prize!
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November 19:   Queen of All She Reads
November 19 SECOND STOP:
November 20: The Write to Read
November 20 SECOND STOP:
November 21: Room With Books
November 21 SECOND STOP:
November 22: In Shadows
November 22 SECOND STOP:
November 25: Full Moon Dreaming
November 25 SECOND STOP:
November 26: Shelf Full of Books REVIEW ONLY
November 26 SECOND STOP:
November 27: Reading In Twilight
November 27 SECOND STOP:
November 28: My Devotional Thoughts
November 28: SECOND STOP: It's Raining Books
November 29: The Hedonistic Minimalist November 29: SECOND STOP:
***
Here's the link to the list of tour stops at Goddess Fish, just in case-  
 

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Coats for Kids

This is one that a bunch of different charitable organizations do and I am so glad, being painfully familiar with what it's like to be a child who is cold for lack of a coat.  Children lack coats for a variety of reasons, such as Chronic Neglect.  The parent is simply too caught up in their own emotional needs to even notice that the child is cold for lack of a coat.  It doesn't make sense to the rest of us, especially if a coat can be had for just a couple dollars down at a second-hand store.  But, it happens.  And it's certainly not the child's fault, though it's the child who suffers.  So, I urge you to consider donating your children's outgrown coats to a charity providing coats for kids.  Not only will you be helping to keep them warm, perhaps even saving their lives, but you will be demonstrating that there are good people out there who notice them and want to help. 

Salvation Army

Matthew 18:4, 5  "Whoever then humbles himself as this child, he is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.  And whoever receives one such child in My name receives Me;"

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Upcoming Virtual Book Tours

Hey there, I've got some upcoming Virtual Book Tours I want to tell you about, but I'm waiting on the go-ahead from Goddess Fish Promotions.

Friday, November 15, 2013

SPRING MOON by HRH Princess Sophie Audouin-Mamikonian

Indiana, whose mother had a fascination with that famous swashbuckling archaeologist, is a boy caught in a pack of wolves who might think he was delicious, except that he's related.  His mom was a TimeTracker, but he's shown no signs of becoming that or a werewolf.  Everyone in his family is bigger and stronger.  And they have better hair too. 

Oh, what's a boy to do?

Mom's no help.  She's been locked away in an insane asylum patrolled by vampires and fairies since supposedly killing his father.  Gosh, and I thought I had problems. 

Well, he can't whoop his furry cousins the old-fashioned way, so he invests in his brain and it pays off.  He runs into a Semi (half-werewolf, half-human) and manages not to get eaten, even though Axel (the semi, whose built like one by the way), should have no qualms in doing so.  You see, it's the Semis who have given real werewolves their bad name.  But, this one's a reasonable dude and Indy is able to talk him into being pals and, even more, into training him to fight, so he can hold his own at the family reunion.

Meanwhile, Indy grows the rest of the way up and graduates high school.  He's got his sights on college, but the pack are not eager to let a potential Timetracker/Werewolf out amongst humans.  Besides being able to see into the future, TimeTrackers also tend to just vanish, go invisible, whatever.  His formidable grandfather is not anxious to lose control over the boy.  Like Grandmas everywhere, his is able to turn the tide though.

But, the thrill of freedom is short-lived when your grandparents are the most powerful werewolves in the country and there's a psychopathic one on the loose to boot.  Oh, yeah, and human girls are off-limits, dude.

Isn't it just lovely when the grown-ups pass their war on down to the next generation?

Still, it's kinda cool to have a wolf as a bodyguard passing as a service dog when you saunter down the halls of University of Montana. 

If only Bella had played her cards right...

I struggled with how much to tell you all about this story.  You know, we reviewers worry about spoiling the ending for you.  Should I tell you if Indy turns out to be a Mama's Boy or not?  Or if you'll need to vacuum after he visits?  Or, does he turn out to be just a good ol' human boy? 

Nah, I'll let you figure that out.

This was an adventurous tale, but I must admit to wishing it had been written in Third Person instead of First Person Point of View.  I know First Person is the hot thing in YA now, but some stories just need to be told in a certain way to thoroughly enjoy the fullness of it.  This story was much bigger than I could see through Indy's eyes.  This is something I struggle with as a writer myself, so maybe that's why I picked up on it.

SPRING MOON was sent to me by Entangled Publishing   and was my very first ARC for this new blog.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

ABRAHAM LINCOLN Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith

Like I was just telling my brilliant nephew the other day, sometimes I just like to read something a little twisted.  Abraham Lincoln...vampire hunter?  Geez, how more twisted can ya get?  Seriously though, it's a well-crafted tale which turns history on its head.

I know this one's been reviewed a bazillion times by better folks than me and made into a movie, which I have yet to see.  But, I've been meaning to read it for a long time and just haven't had the chance, so here it is.
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It all starts when a modern dude, sidetracked writer, going through a mid-life crises because he hasn't done any of the things he meant to do makes a casual acquaintance with one of the customers at his small town store, a gentleman named Henry.  The gentleman shops at the store fairly regularly for quite a while and then finally one day the two chat.  The storekeep hasn't had anyone to listen in a very long time and he can't seem to help spilling out his life story. 
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But, Henry's a good listener and the reader discovers why later.
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The incident passes and the storekeep goes on with his dull life.  Then, one day a package of books shows up.  And one of the books claims to be the secret journal of Abraham Lincoln.
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Thus, the alternate history of one our greatest presidents unfolds.
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We've all heard how Abraham Lincoln had the idyllic frontier childhood, born in a log cabin, growing up running through the Kentucky woods, swinging an axe and shooting a turkey when he was just a kid.  It paints a lovely picture, but the vampire infestation is left out.
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About half-way to grown-up, Abe's mother and some relative die miserable, mysterious deaths.  In the throes of grief and drunkenness, his father explains how his own father was murdered by a vampire and how he'd said it was Indians.  He goes onto explain how he took out a loan from a pudgy little creep who turned out to be a vampire.  When he couldn't repay the entire amount on time, the little creep chomped his wife and other members of his family.
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Abe is furious!  First, he's enraged by the vampire murdering his beloved mother who had homeschooled him, believed in him in a time and area where education was not a top priority.  And, second, he's angry with his father for letting greed guide his hand, for being too stupid to foresee that he couldn't repay the loan when he first took it out, for letting his family suffer for his selfishness.
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Abe takes upon himself to train as a vampire hunter, although he's never really heard of such a thing and has no idea how to go about it.  He only knows that he wants vengeance.  He buffs up his body, swinging his axe, and braces his mind with all the best books he can find. 
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Then, one day his chance comes.  He writes a letter to lure the vampire creep back to their farm.  The little creep has no idea Abe is onto him.  Thusly, with his trusty axe, Abe makes a quick end of the little bloodsucker who murdered his mother, much to the shock of his dimwitted father.
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Abraham goes on with his young adulthood while secretly continuing with his efforts to destroy every vampire in America.  Then, he runs into an old chick he can't quite get the better of and is saved by a certain gentleman.
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Henry's been watching and he's impressed.  He rescues Abraham, although the latter has a hard time seeing it that way at first.  Given time and a lot of talk, the two become friends, vampire and human.  Henry reveals the vampire thing to Abe and says he'll help him find the bad ones.  And so the two part ways, but ever so often Abe receives a letter pointing him towards vampires who deserve a date with a rather sharp axe.
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Abe proves an increasingly skillful hunter, but its a trip to New Orleans which tips him off to a much bigger threat.  He's always been repulsed by slavery, but down in the deep South he discovers pompous windbags selling their old and disabled slaves to vampires, knowingly!  And the poor things suffer hideous deaths in the process of being fed upon.  If you've read about Elizabeth Bathory, the Bloody Countess   you know what I mean.  She was a real person many believed to be a vampire because of the way she murdered.  Anyway...

And so Abraham is set on the path to freeing the slaves, the path to destiny.  You probably know the rest of his mundane life.  He became a lawyer, got married, had kids, ran for office, and eventually became president of the United States.  But, that path was a lot rockier, and bloodier, than we ever knew, because of the vast vampire conspiracy. 
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So, I'll end it here.  This is an old release with a movie out, but I don't want to give away too much anyway.
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In case you're wondering, the vampires in this one are more sci-fi, nothing magical about them, just sort of another breed of human, but with fangs and claws when they get really ticked off or hungry.
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Much love, Blog Buds.
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P.S. If anyone else has some Alternative History, sent the ARC my way please ;)

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I'm with GoddessFish Promotions now!

Back when I started, me and my blog buddies threw these things together by ourselves, just 'cause we loved the books so much.  Cool to see it so well-organized these days.
http://www.goddessfish.com/
Permanent button with link is on the left sidebar.

LOG CABIN DUTCH OVEN by Colleen Sloan

I found this little gem in a used book store and let out a "squuueee!" which I'm sure could be heard for several city blocks. 

Chuck the dang microwave!  Okay, maybe not just yet.
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I have been fascinated by Dutch Ovens since I first watch Frontier House, the PBS historical reality show about pioneer life.  Here's the series on YouTube-   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mfUgTWJ4ngE&list=PL872C99D9FA0E253E

At some point during the first episode, the families are taught how to cook over an outdoors firepit with a dutch oven.  And, believe you me, it's no easy task!  If you're used to 'one minute on high' and then push the button, honey, you gotta 'nother thing comin'!  However, I'm told once you get the hang of it, you'll love it and it's easy enough just because of that.
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So, after I watched Frontier House, I had a hard time finding books on cooking outside with dutch ovens.  I did find a couple in the camping section, Roughing It Easy by Dian Thomas  

and Ultimate Camp Cooking by Mike Faverman and Pat Mac


Since then, I've found several other newer releases, gorgeous enough to be coffee table books.  I've read all that I could get my hands on, but none of them are as easy to learn the basics from than Colleen Sloan's book.  I'm not sure, but appears to have been self-published at first.  My copy is very old.  But, now it's out with Gibbs Smith

Ms. Sloan takes you through the basics, your tools, seasoning the cast iron, judging the temperature, how many coals on top of the lid, and so on, and, of course, some fabulous recipes.
 
So, if you're a Hobby Farmer, like me, or daydreaming about camping in the Spring, also like me, get you one of these books and start learning.  I don't think I can wait until Spring.  I think I'm gonna have to take my bad girl out into the snow.

Much love, Buds.

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/log-cabin-dutch-oven-colleen-sloan/1112058965?ean=9781423631354

This Week's Review Order

I've had trouble downloading all the eARCs, except SPRING MOON.  It's my fault, not NetGalley's, and I think I'll have it sorted out by day's end.  Nevertheless, reading and reviewing take time.  So, in order to give each book the time they deserve, I'm going to have to put off reviewing the hard-to-download ones until next week.  Not to worry.  I have some good ones for this week.  I'd only had a hard time finding Young Adult for this week.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Now I'm Cookin'!

Look what Random House just sent me and it ain't due out 'til March.  Think maybe they remembered me from my old book review blog?  Squuueeeee!

Anyway, I have an awesome book for Adult Fiction on Thursday and an awesome book for Young Adult Fiction on Friday.  Totally set.  See ya!
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Later that same morning...
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And Rodale just sent me this-

Yep, totally set.

Monday, November 11, 2013

My First ARC for My New Blog!

I've scored my first ARC for this blog!  I used to get them all the time, you know, even unrequested hardbacks, at Enduring Romance, but it takes time for a book reviewer to build, or rebuild, her reputation and audience.  Thank you, Entangled, for taking a chance on me!
My review of Spring Moon   will be up this Friday.  And, look, the hero is blond   ;)
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Later that same evening...

My second ARC!   http://jamiebrazil.com/


Sarah Palin's New Book and Other Books I'm Trying To Snag

The challenges to finding good books to review for this new blog are different than when I headed up Enduring Romance.   My husband's unemployed and we're living out in the middle of Nowhere, Montana, since living in Alaska is just too expensive for our massive brood.  The nearest Barnes & Noble is over a hundred miles away, I think.  This is why I keep asking for eBooks, instead of paper.  Otherwise, it'd take awhile for the ARCs to get to me!  Anyway...\
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I'm on NetGalley now, but not all the books I want are on it. 
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I made a heartfelt plea for Sarah Palin's new book, but I'm a puny little outfit here and she's, like, a mega-bestselling author now.   http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/good-tidings-and-great-joy-palin-sarah/1116988729?ean=9780062315656  

I'm also hoping for some new books from my favorite authors from my old blog, like Michelle Moran.    I still have to read NEFERTITI at least once a year.

And, ohmidog, I am experiencing wicked cover-envy over this one, which I still haven't read.  Isn't it gorgeous?

Karen Templeton has a new one   coming out in February, but she's with Harlequin and so I expect to see it available for me to download from NetGalley. 

I've put in multiple requests for Young Adult and am having a hard time finding Fantasy, virtually zip on Science Fiction.  But, I won't give up!  I will find some good books for you, promise.

I'm with NetGalley Now!

Look out, Authors, here I come!  Of course, I can allow access books that NetGalley has available.  Soooo, if yours isn't on NetGalley I can't just get it.

New "Cabin"

See the new cabin on the right sidebar.  Each week I feature a cabin, sometimes a book or magazine about one, and sometimes real estate or a home construction business like this one in Montana.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Honor Flight

November 11th is Veterans' Day.  For Living It, I'd like to bring your attention to a charitable organization called Honor Flight.   http://www.honorflight.org/

This organization was set up to provide free travel to World War II veterans so they could visit the memorials set up for them one last time before they pass away.  For some, this is even the only time in their lives they could visit.  These are the heroes from the Greatest Generation, the generation which literally saved the world.  There are very few of them left.

Sixty-eight years ago, they were just terrified young people going to do what needed to be done to save their friends and family.  They knew they would probably died a horrible death, split apart by bullets.  But, they went anyway.  This is true love and courage.

Some of these young people survived to tell us the incredible tale.

***Study this picture carefully.  That's a sunken ship under there, the USS Arizona.***

If you're so unfamiliar with the history that you just don't get it, try watching this Steven Spielberg movie, Saving Private Ryan.

I've spoken to vets.  They say the landing is the most accurately portrayed they've ever seen.  Here's a movie clip-   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OqSg7WO4tT4

And they went through this hell on earth so that you could have the chance to Live Happily Ever After.  Don't let them down.  Now, shake a vet's hand and say thank you for your freedom, 'kay?

"13 Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends." John 15:13 The Bible

Much love, Blog Buds.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Personal Writing Gameplan

I'm going to focus on getting this blog going until after the New Year.  The holiday season is a great time to expand my base here.  Once I recover from that, then I will slowly get back to working on my own stories.  Got to be careful not to overdo it, you know.  Hope I get some cool new speech-activated software for Christmas.

Out Pestering YA eBook Authors Today!

And looking for Blog Hops to get involved in.  That's all part of getting this blog off the ground!

Friday, November 8, 2013

No YA Today

I apologize.  It's hard to find good YA here and I haven't yet re-established myself enough as a reviewer to received free ARCs.  I'll go begging after some eBook YAers this weekend while digging into my daughter's stash.  Sorry.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

THE 19TH WIFE by David Ebershoff

Good morning, Blog Buds.  I meant to review a Fantasy today, honestly I did.  But, then, I picked up this book at a second-hand store and couldn't put it down.  I have such wide interests, so I mean to pace them.  Still, a bottleneck is bound to happen time and again.  This time it's on the Historical side.

Here's the blurb:   Faith, I tell them, is a mystery, elusive to many, and never easy to explain. Sweeping and lyrical, spellbinding and unforgettable, David Ebershoff’s The 19th Wife combines epic historical fiction with a modern murder mystery to create a brilliant novel of literary suspense.

It is 1875, and Ann Eliza Young has recently separated from her powerful husband, Brigham Young, prophet and leader of the Mormon Church. Expelled and an outcast, Ann Eliza embarks on a crusade to end polygamy in the United States. A rich account of a family’s polygamous history is revealed, including how a young woman became a plural wife.

Soon after Ann Eliza’s story begins, a second exquisite narrative unfolds–a tale of murder involving a polygamist family in present-day Utah. Jordan Scott, a young man who was thrown out of his fundamentalist sect years earlier, must reenter the world that cast him aside in order to discover the truth behind his father’s death.

And as Ann Eliza’s narrative intertwines with that of Jordan’s search, readers are pulled deeper into the mysteries of love and faith.
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Kimber An here again.

Most Americans have a hard time putting themselves back in time, back behind the eyes of someone who lived decades or centuries before.  If that's you, then Mr. Ebershoff will help you get there.  Eliza is female, for one thing, and for most of us her life story and rejected lifestyle is so different from ours that it's difficult to comprehend here in the 21st century.  So in comes Jordan, a young man with all the usual challenges you'd expect for a young adult these days.  Plus, he's gay.
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Then, you find out he grew up in a cult.
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Poor guy.
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I mean, geez, we all grew up with some challenges, but this guy is one of those who really got hammered.  And, yet, he survived and found his own strength.
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Anyway, he finds out via the Internet that his mother (who married his old-goat-father at age 14) has just been arrested for murdering his father.  If you know anything about domestic violence, you know how it messes with the mind.  Now, top that with religious brain-washing. 
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Jordan has no logical reason to help his mom.  She dumped him on the side of the road when he was just a kid because the Prophet told her to.  This totally defies the maternal instinct and you'd think it would break any sense of love or loyalty a person might have for his mother.   
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Jordan thought so too, but a tiny bit of it is left and so he drives back to Utah to visit his mother in jail.  He expects she's finally come to her senses and rejected the cult which coerced her into being raped at 14 by an old goat and then coerced her into abandoning her precious baby boy when he was 14.  I mean, surely.
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But, no.
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'Cause, you see, when people go through traumatic experiences, especially if they have no love, support, or professional help, they develop ways of surviving.  One is Denial.  That is, they deny the bad thing happened or that it was that bad.  Another way is to twist religion around so they feel they suffered for God and He'll reward them for it.
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Back to the story.  Jordan is justifiably angry, yet he digs deep again.  And he realizes his mother is innocent of the crime.  How could she be innocent when all the evidence points to her?  Well, he knows everything his mother's ever been through and he knows that she is still devoted to the cult and its prophet.  If she still believes in the cult, then she still believes it is God's will for her to be married to a monster and against God's will to do anything to protect herself or her children, much less murder the monster in cold blood.  It doesn't make sense.
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And so the journey begins. 
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Meanwhile, you have the historical backdrop narrative going which heightens the tension.
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The cult in this story is a splinter group of the Mormons, but I would not consider this book anti-Mormon.  The distinction is clearly made.  Also, every religious denomination has its crazies.  I think Jim Jones started out a Methodist, for example.  So, let's not get into Mormon-bashing.  I'm quite content with my own faith, but I'd like to add that I respect the mainstream Mormon church for how they look after their people.
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Pick this one up, folks, and be prepared not to put it down for a while.
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Much love.
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Mr. Ebershoff includes a PDF copy of Ann Eliza Young's original book on his website, among other fascinating things.   http://www.ebershoff.com/index.html

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

NOTHING TO TELL by Donna Gray

Blurb:

Sitting at the kitchen tables of twelve women in their eighties who were born in or immigrated to Montana in the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, between 1982 and 1988 oral historian Donna Gray conducted interviews that reveal a rich heritage.  In retelling their life stories, Gray steps aside and allows theses women with supposedly “nothing to tell” to speak for themselves.  Pride, nostalgia, and triumph fill a dozen hearts as they realize how remarkable their lives have been and wonder how they did it all.

Some of these women grew up in Montana in one-bedroom houses; others traveled in covered wagons before finding a home and falling in love with Montana.  These raw accounts bring to life the childhood memories and adulthood experiences of ranch wives who were not afraid to milk a cow or bake in a wooden stove.  From raising poultry to raising a family, these women knew the meaning of hard work.  Several faced the hardships of family illness, poverty, and early widowhood.  Through it all, they were known for their good sense of humor and strong sense of self. 
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Okay, it's me here, Kimber An.  We're staying on the family homestead here in Montana right now, so I've enjoyed burying myself in state history.
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I've posted a bunch of times on my old blogs how much I enjoyed watching Frontier House    a historical reality show which put three modern families in 1883 Montana.

There's also a great book with all the details, like what they had to pack and why.

Two of the consultants on the project, Linda Peavy and Ursula Smith wrote the Forward for NOTHING TO TELL.  The title is ironic.  There is plenty to tell and anyone who is fascinated by pioneer history or Montana really out to get this book.  Here's another great book by Peavy and Smith-  
 
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The trouble with history is most of us were taught to hate it through either a recitation of facts about a bunch of old dead white guys or we were throttled with politically correct revisions of it.  The truth will set you free from that, but you've got to go digging for it. 
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The basic truth of it is these were real people who lived, just like us.
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The ranching women who were interviewed for NOTHING TO TELL had much to teach us about humility, hard work, and enjoying life without iPads and Netflix. 
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I encourage anyone who is curious about how people really lived to pick up this book. 
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The heroes of history, like Davy Crockett and Lewis and Clark, are only a small fraction of it.  The rest of it was made up of folks like us, men, women, and children just going about the hard work and fun of daily life.
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It was fun to read these ladies tell their stories and talk about going to school in this town or to the store over there and I would think, "I know where that is!  I've been there before."  And history comes alive.
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Much love, Blog Buds
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