Anthology Portrays Life in the West #Thursday Book Feature

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.Leaning into the Wind: Women Write from the Heart of the Wes

by Linda M. Hasselstrom, Nancy Curtis, et al.

 

In this collection of essays and poems, 125 women from six states share their experiences living in the west. Most stories are about ranch life. Some relate childhood memories while others share reminiscences from adult years. Some pieces are by women in other professions such as a veterinarian and a teacher in a one-room school. All these works are about women who survive what life throws at them, whether it’s a cantankerous bull or an undesirable husband.

I met several of the authors featured in this anthology through Wyoming Writers. It was refreshing to read their work, some of it for the first time. Having been a fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, I enjoyed reading these women’s stories of hardships on the prairie and being thankful I wasn’t there.

In one essay, a woman talks about how some people think ranch life is glamorous. If you’re under this misconception, read this book. It’ll open your eyes to a world of hard work, hard times, and some rewards. You’ll respect the rancher when you finish the book.

 

New! The Red Dress: A Novel

Copyright July 2019 by DLD Books

Front cover contains: young, dark-haired woman in red dress holding flowers

When Eve went to her high school senior prom, she wore a red dress that her mother had made for her. That night, after dancing with the boy of her dreams, she caught him in the act with her best friend. Months later, Eve, a freshman in college, is bullied into giving the dress to her roommate. After her mother finds out, their relationship is never the same again.

Twenty-five years later, Eve, a bestselling author, is happily married with three children. Although her mother suffers from dementia, she still remembers, and Eve still harbors the guilt for giving the dress away. When she receives a Facebook friend request from her old college roommate and an invitation to her twenty-five-year high school class reunion, then meets her former best friend by chance, she must confront the past in order to face the future.

 

My Other Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome: A Novel

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Thursday Book Feature: Words of Life

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.

Words of Life: Essays and Poems

By Ann Chiappetta

Copyright 2019

 

From the author of Upwelling and Follow Your Dog comes a short collection of poetry and prose on family vacations, vision loss, animals, and other topics. It also includes a work of flash fiction. An introduction by the author explains what inspired this compilation.

I met Ann Chiappetta through Behind Our Eyes, an organization of writers with disabilities. I like how she writes about the lighter and darker sides of life. My favorite piece is one in which she describes how she rescued two baby sparrows, only one of whom survived, and the hard lesson her eight-year-old son learned from this experience. I recommend this book, which not only provides insight on vision loss but on other negative and positive aspects of life.

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

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Thursday Book Feature: Peanut of Blind Faith Farm

Peanut of Blind Faith Farm: The Heartwarming True Story of a Little Blind Lamb

Written by Jim Thompson

Illustrated by Rebecca Gavney Driscoll

Copyright 2017

 

Although this book was designed for children ages four to nine, I think animal lovers of all ages would find it inspiring. It’s the true story of how a blind lamb became the top sheep in her flock on a farm in Wisconsin. The author describes how he and his wife discovered Peanut was blind and how they helped her adapt to her blindness and surroundings. He also explains how other sheep interacted with Peanut and how he and his wife solved a bullying problem.

I had the pleasure of meeting Jim Thompson and his wife Laura when they attended a recent meeting of Behind Our Eyes, a group of writers with disabilities, of which I’m President. Through his experiences with Peanut, he seems to have developed a deep understanding of what it’s like to be blind. As a result, he has ensured that Peanut of Blind Faith Farm is available through the Wisconsin State Library’s Audio and Braille Literacy Enhancement program. Laura narrates their recorded version of this book and does an excellent job.

Jim has conducted presentations at schools and other locations and even given a copy of his book in braille to a blind boy who visited his farm. He has a knack for writing about his love of farming and animals, and I hope he will write more about this in the future. Meanwhile, I recommend Peanut of Blind Faith Farm to children of all ages, blind or not.

 

My Books

 

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

How to Build a better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

We Shall Overcome

My Other Links

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Novel Depicts Survival at Sea

Abbie-1

Life of Pi

By Yann Martel

Copyright 2001

 

Pi is a boy growing up in India, the son of a zookeeper. In the 1970’s, when he’s sixteen years old, he and his family, in an attempt to start a new life, set sail for Canada on a cargo ship containing several animals from their zoo. The ship sinks. Pi’s father, mother, and older brother parish. He ends up on a life boat with a zebra, hyena, monkey, and tiger. The hyena kills the zebra and the monkey, and the tiger kills the hyena. Then, it’s just Pi and the tiger, who both survive the ordeal.

This book provides a lot of detail in the beginning about Pi’s life growing up in India including how he gets his name. Therefore, I would like to have known more about his life after he survives being shipwrecked.

All we know is that after a little over seven months at sea, during which time they spend a few weeks on a deserted island, Pi and the tiger end up in Mexico. The tiger wanders into a nearby forest and is never seen again. Pi is found and taken to a hospital where Japanese officials from the shipping company question him about why the ship sank. He eventually moves to Canada and attends a university, but what career path does he take?

He later tells his story to an insignificant other, who undertakes some of the narration. Who is this person?

Before the accident, Pi, as a teenager, dabbles in the Christian, Muslim, and Hindu religions. How has his harrowing adventure at sea affected his faith? Which religion does he practice once settled in Canada, or does he do all three like he did in India, or has he become disillusioned with God?

Before Pi is shipwrecked, he’s a vegetarian. Once stranded on that life boat in the middle of the ocean, he realizes that in order to survive, he must eat meat: fish, turtles, and even the meerkats he finds on the deserted island. After his return to civilization, does he go back to eating strictly vegetables, or does he realize that meat isn’t so bad, especially since it kept him alive for over seven months?

Perhaps these questions can be discussed by reading groups. In any case, Life of Pi is a remarkable story of courage in the face of adversity with a theme of survival of the fittest.

***

Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

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Essays Insert Humor in Daily Life

Abbie-1

Meet Me at Emotional Baggage Claim

by Lisa Scottoline and Francesca Serrintella

Copyright 2012.

 

This is the fourth book by bestselling mystery writer Lisa Scottoline and her daughter Francesca Serrintella. It’s a collection of essays, written either by Lisa or Francesca that reflect on weight loss, shopping, animals, mother-daughter relationships, and other topics. Anecdotes about Lisa’s mother, affectionately called Mother Mary, add to the mix. In the end, they each share their hopes and dreams for the other. The book includes photos with captions.

I laughed at many of the pieces here like Francesca’s account of a problem she had with a furniture store while arranging to have a table delivered to her New York apartment. Lisa’s essays about her foot surgery reminded me of when I had a colonoscopy, and the gastroenterologist, after noting my age, said he hoped I was just as beautiful inside as I was outside.

While reading about Mother Mary, I thought of the song by The Beatles, “Let It Be,” in which Mother Mary always has an answer. This Mother Mary didn’t always have an answer and could be cranky. Francesca’s explanation of what she calls grandmother whispering reminded me of many times when I worked with nursing home residents suffering from dementia.

This book inspired me to try some humor writing of my own. Will see what comes of it. Meanwhile, I plan to enjoy Lisa and Francesca’s latest collection, I’ve Got Sand in All the Wrong Places.

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Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

We Shall Overcome

How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

My Ideal Partner: How I Met, Married, and Cared for the Man I Loved Despite Debilitating Odds

Click to hear an audio trailer.

Like me on Facebook.

 

 

Holiday Review: Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving by Janet Evanovich. Copyright 2006.

 

In Williamsburg, Virginia, when Megan, a potter, and Pat a pediatrician, meet unexpectedly, it’s love at first sight. However, after one botched engagement and a second man leaving her at the altar, Megan is determined never to marry. Pat develops cold feet when he realizes the financial difficulty involved in supporting a family. Add a rabbit, a baby, Thanksgiving dinner with two families who barely know each other, the former boyfriend who left Megan at the altar, and a pregnant horse, and you have an intriguing story with a predictable end.

I used to enjoy romances like this one. Now, I may have outgrown love at first sight, orgasm over bread, and the long, agonizing scenario of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl. I downloaded this book from Audible, and C.J. Critt, the narrator, does an excellent job giving each character a distinct voice. I especially liked her portrayal of the former boyfriend, and one of my favorite scenes is when he’s playing darts with Pat in a bar, and Pat throws a dart that hits him right where it counts. This audiobook is only about five hours long, but it seems like an eternity until the resolution. The humor interjected in the story helps. I recommend this book to anyone who likes romance, babies, animals, and a funny holiday story. To learn more about Janet Evanovich and her books go to http://www.evanovich.com/ .

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Abbie J. Taylor 010Author Abbie Johnson Taylor

Front Book Cover - We Shall OvercomeWe Shall Overcome

Cover: How to Build a Better Mousetrap by Abbie Johnson TaylorHow to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver

That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

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