A Moving Memoir #WednesdayWords #BookReviews #Memoir

Abbie wears a blue and white V-neck top with different shades of blue from sky to navy that swirl together with the white. She has short, brown hair and rosy cheeks and smiles at the camera against a black background.Photo Courtesy of Tess Anderson Photography

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Two Pentacles Publishing.

 

Today, I’m pleased to share another review of one of my books by fellow author Carrie Hooper. If you missed her review of How to Build a Better Mousetrap, you can click here to read it. Now, here she is to talk about My Ideal Partner.

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A Moving Memoir

by Carrie Hooper

What happens when reality shatters the dream of wedded bliss? How does a person cope when everyday activities become challenging chores? Abbie Johnson Taylor explores these topics and much more in her 2016 book, My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds, published by DLD Books.

In My Ideal Partner, Abbie tells about her life with Bill Taylor, whom she met in 2005 through Newsreel, an audio magazine for the blind and visually impaired. (Bill was blind, and Abbie is partially sighted.) The book opens with Abbie receiving a braille marriage proposal from Bill. Stunned, she considers the reasons not to marry him. He’s nineteen years older, and they’ve only met twice. He lives in Fowler, Colorado; she lives in Sheridan, Wyoming. Marrying Bill would mean a move to unfamiliar territory. The shock and stress of Bill’s letter literally make Abbie sick for three weeks.

Eventually, however, with her father’s encouragement and another visit with Bill, who agrees to move to Sheridan, Abbie says a resounding, “Yes!” She goes on to describe the outdoor wedding in September of 2005 in her grandmother’s backyard, which includes music by a string duo and, of course, lots of good food. After their wedding, Bill and Abbie make a life together in Sheridan. With Bill’s support, Abbie quits her job as activities assistant at a nursing home in Sheridan to write full time. Bill works on his computer, stays in touch with friends, and listens to Colorado Rockies baseball games. But life throws an unexpected curve ball in January of 2006 when Bill suffers a stroke that paralyzes his left side. After a hospital stay and therapy in a nursing home, Bill comes home, unable to walk or tend to his basic needs. Another stroke in 2007 dashes any hope of him walking again. Thus, Abbie becomes his caregiver who must dress him and help him in the bathroom. Although she experiences moments of frustration, she presses on, and with the assistance of a therapist and other home health aides, learns to help Bill with tasks most people perform without a second thought. In addition, Abbie learns to cook two of Bill’s favorite meals: oatmeal and meatloaf. For six years, Abbie cares for Bill until he becomes too weak to remain at home. She doesn’t consider him a burden. She loves him, and he loves her, as evidenced by their many love words to each other and their frequent snuggling.

These difficult years have their share of positive moments. Abbie attends writers’ conferences and visits her brother in New Mexico. Bill works on his computer, reads books outside in nice weather, and continues to follow his Rockies. Some of Abbie’s relatives come for Thanksgiving.

Abbie’s book captivated me from the beginning. I laughed and cried as I read her story. If anyone is looking for a love story in the truest sense, then read My Ideal Partner.

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Thanks to Carrie for another wonderful review. Reviews are important to authors because they can boost sales. If you’ve read one of my books, please leave a review where you purchased it. Alternatively, you can use the contact form here to email me your review, and I’ll be glad to post it here and on my website. Thank you.

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If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to my email list to receive my twice-yearly newsletter and other announcements. This is a one-way announcements list, meaning the only messages you’ll receive will come from me. So, you can rest assured that this list is low-traffic. Send a blank email to:  newsfrommycorner+subscribe@groups.io  You’ll receive a confirmation email. Reply to that with another blank message, and you should be good to go.

***

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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A Caregiver’s Gift #TuesdayTidbit #BookReviews #Inspiration

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. Her brown hair is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

Photo Courtesy of Tess Anderson Photography

Photo Resize and Description by

Two Pentacles Publishing.

 

Today, I’m delighted to share a review of my poetry collection, How to Build a Better Mousetrap, from friend and fellow author Carrie Hooper. Carrie lives in Elmira, New York, where she teaches music and foreign languages, occasionally performs, and writes poetry of her own.

As she says in her review, we met in 2005 through Newsreel, an audio magazine where the blind and visually impaired can share ideas, music, and more. I had the pleasure of reading her poems and reviewing a couple of her books here after she joined Behind Our Eyes, a writers’ organization to which I belong. Now, here’s Carrie.

 

A Caregiver’s Gift: A Unique Book of Poetry

by Carrie Hooper

 

I recently read Abbie Johnson Taylor’s book, How to Build A Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, published by iUniverse Inc. in 2011. I met Abbie in 2005 through Newsreel, a magazine produced by and for the blind. She and I are members of Behind Our Eyes, a writers group for people with disabilities. I have had the pleasure of reading several of her essays, stories, and poems on the group’s email list, and I also read her book, That’s Life. I always love to read her work, and How to Build A Better Mousetrap, a collection of sixty-eight poems, was no exception.

The book consists of four sections. In Part 1, “On Being A Family Caregiver,” Abbie reflects on caring for her husband, Bill, who suffered two strokes which paralyzed his left side. Abbie’s use of the future tense when describing the events surrounding Bill’s first stroke, give the opening poem a potency it would have lacked had Abbie simply related the story in the present tense. She seems to sense the impending tragedy. I felt Abbie’s frustration as she struggled to dress and feed Bill, and I could relate to her computer problems. I chuckled at her humorous account of a romantic moment, interrupted by nature’s call. Abbie’s love for Bill permeates the poems in this section. She rises above despair and completes all tasks without complaint.

Part 2, “Recollections,” offers scenes from Abbie’s childhood and adulthood: a family picnic, a road trip with her father, unforgettable audio at a writers’ conference, etc. The poem, “Junior High,” reminded me of my middle school days. I could hear the humming of the buses, the bells, and the slamming lockers.

Part 3, “Reflections,” covers a variety of topics: a trip to Florida to escape Wyoming’s winter, a spring stroll, favorite foods, a driving mishap, and much more. I especially liked the poem, “I Admire My Handiwork,” in which Abbie contrasts a poem shaped like a Christmas tree with her attempt in fifth grade to make a Christmas tree with soda can lids on felt. Part 4, “Aging,” treats the challenges of aging and requiring care. I found the poems in this section poignant, especially “Reta’s Song” and “I Remember.”

I would recommend Abbie’s book even to those who don’t normally read poetry. Her poems are easy to understand. They are verbal snapshots which engage the senses and touch the heart.

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Thank you, Carrie, for such a wonderful review of my book. Reviews are important to authors because they boost sales. If you’ve read any of my books, please leave a review where you bought the book and/or on GoodReads. Alternatively, you can use the contact form to email me your review, and I’ll be glad to post it here and on my website. Thank you for reading.

***

If you haven’t already done so, please subscribe to my email list to receive my twice-yearly newsletter and other announcements. This is a one-way announcements list, meaning the only messages you’ll receive will come from me. So, you can rest assured that this list is low-traffic. Send a blank email to:  newsfrommycorner+subscribe@groups.io  You’ll receive a confirmation email. Reply to that with another blank message, and you should be good to go.

***

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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Poetry and Prose Offer Solace and Hope #FridayFunReads #BookReviews #Inspiration

Peonies in Winter

by Sally Rosenthal

Copyright 2021.

 

What Amazon Says

 

This is a small book for the small hours when we sit alone in the dark or feel as though our grief isolates us. Although we all travel sorrow’s path at some point in our lives, many of us walk that road alone and bewildered, failing to reach out to grasp the waiting hand of a fellow traveler.

In the months following her husband’s sudden death, Sally Rosenthal explored her reactions to loss and came to realize that strength is a synergetic wisdom woven from the love passed on through the examples of relatives and beloved animals. In poems and prose, she shares what she has learned about survival and resilience. Come sit with Sally at her kitchen table and share the journey.

 

Buy from Amazon.

 

My Thoughts

 

I met Sally Rosenthal several years ago through Behind Our Eyes, a writers’ organization to which I belong. I’ve always enjoyed reading her work and was moved to discover she mentioned me in the acknowledgements at the end of the book.

I can relate to many of the pieces here. The title essay, “Peonies in Winter,” in which Sally describes finding old perfume bottles in her closet, reminded me of my mother’s old perfume bottles that I’ve kept for years since her passing in 1999. “Charles Palmer,” in which she talks about the grandfather she never knew, tugged at my heart, making me grateful I knew my grandparents before they left this world.

Being a widow and having been a family caregiver, I felt a special connection with Sally through her poetry on the subject. I had to laugh when I read her piece about Grade A chocolates. The resources at the end add a nice touch. I recommend this book especially to those who are grieving, but I think anyone can find solace and hope here.

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. She has short brown hair which is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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A Humorous Look at Marriage and Family #FridayFunReads #BookReviews #Inspiration

If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits?

by Erma Bombeck

Copyright 1978.

 

What Amazon Says

 

The hilarious #1 New York Times bestseller: Erma Bombeck’s take on marriage and family life is “fun from cover to cover” (Hartford Courant).

Ever since she was a child, Erma Bombeck has been an expert worrier, and married life has only honed that skill. She gets anxious about running out of ball bearings; about snakes sneaking in through the pipes; about making meaningful conversation on New Year’s Eve. Married life, she realizes, is an unpredictable saga even when you know exactly how loud your husband snores every night—and she wouldn’t have it any other way. In this crisp collection of essays, Bombeck shows off the irresistible style that made her one of America’s favorite humorists for more than three decades. When she sharpens her wit, no family member is sacred and no self-help fad is safe…

 

Buy from Amazon.

 

My Thoughts

 

I first became familiar with Erma Bombeck in the 1970s when a fellow orator on my high school’s speech team presented an oral interpretation of one of her pieces. A couple of years ago, I was inspired to write my latest novel, Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me, by a quote from Erma Bombeck I read online. “Your grandmother pretends not to know who you are on Halloween.” So, I thought it fitting to read one of her books.

These essays were written during the 1970s, but I think we can still relate to many of the topics covered. Being a singer, I especially liked her opinion on our national anthem.

I obtained a recorded version of this book from the National Library Service’s Braille and Audio Download site and listened to part of it while in my recliner, suffering from indigestion. What can I say about laughter being the best medicine? It’s definitely cheaper than Pepto Bismol, which I didn’t have on hand at the time. So, if you’re interested in marriage and family and want some good laughs, this book is for you.

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. She has short brown hair which is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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A Heartwarming Page-Turner #FridayFunReads #BookReviews #Inspiration

West with Giraffes: A Novel

by Lynda Rutledge

 

What Amazon Says

 

An emotional, rousing novel inspired by the incredible true story of two giraffes who made headlines and won the hearts of Depression-era America.

“Few true friends have I known and two were giraffes…”

Woodrow Wilson Nickel, age 105, feels his life ebbing away. But when he learns giraffes are going extinct, he finds himself recalling the unforgettable experience he cannot take to his grave.

It’s 1938. The Great Depression lingers. Hitler is threatening Europe, and world-weary Americans long for wonder. They find it in two giraffes who miraculously survive a hurricane while crossing the Atlantic. What follows is a twelve-day road trip in a custom truck to deliver Southern California’s first giraffes to the San Diego Zoo. Behind the wheel is the young Dust Bowl rowdy Woodrow. Inspired by true events, the tale weaves real-life figures with fictional ones, including the world’s first female zoo director, a crusty old man with a past, a young female photographer with a secret, and assorted reprobates as spotty as the giraffes.

Part adventure, part historical saga, and part coming-of-age love story, West with Giraffes explores what it means to be changed by the grace of animals, the kindness of strangers, the passing of time, and a story told before it’s too late.

 

My Thoughts

 

I’ve always enjoyed stories about animals, and this one didn’t disappoint me. I was right there with Woody, the old man, and the giraffes, as they crossed the country, dealing with one adversity after another, wondering if they would make it to California. I appreciated the author’s and historical notes at the end, which explain the inspiration behind the book and provide fascinating background information about the time period during which most of the story takes place. If you’re interested in reading an adventure story involving animals and learning something along the way, West with Giraffes is for you.

A photo of Abbie smiling in front of a white background. She has short brown hair which is cut short and frames her face. She is wearing a bright red shirt and a dark, flowy scarf swirled with hues of purple, pinks and blues.

New! Why Grandma Doesn’t Know Me

Copyright 2021 by Abbie Johnson Taylor.

Independently published with the help of DLD Books.

The cover of the book features an older woman sitting in a wicker chair facing a window. The world beyond the window is bright, and several plants are visible on the terrace. Behind the woman’s chair is another plant, with a tall stalk and wide rounded leaves. The woman has short, white hair, glasses, a red sweater, and tan pants. The border of the picture is a taupe color and reads "Why Grandma Doesn't Know Me" above the photo and "Abbie Johnson Taylor" below it.

 

Sixteen-year-old Natalie’s grandmother, suffering from dementia and confined to a wheelchair, lives in a nursing home and rarely recognizes Natalie. But one Halloween night, she tells her a shocking secret that only she and Natalie’s mother know. Natalie is the product of a one-night stand between her mother, who is a college English teacher, and another professor.

After some research, Natalie learns that people with dementia often have vivid memories of past events. Still not wanting to believe what her grandmother has told her, she finds her biological father online. The resemblance between them is undeniable. Not knowing what else to do, she shows his photo and website to her parents.

Natalie realizes she has some growing up to do. Scared and confused, she reaches out to her biological father, and they start corresponding.

Her younger sister, Sarah, senses their parents’ marital difficulties. At Thanksgiving, when she has an opportunity to see Santa Claus, she asks him to bring them together again. Can the jolly old elf grant her request?

***

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