My Ten Favorite Books Blog Challenge

I was invited to participate in this challenge by blogger Lynda Lambert. Here’s how it works. Think of your ten favorite books and write them down. Then invite three other bloggers to create their own lists of ten favorite book titles and invite three other bloggers and so forth. You can read her guidelines here.

Below is my list of ten books. I must admit this was tricky. At first, I could only think of five books, but then titles kept coming. They’re not in any particular order. I just wrote them down as they popped into my head.

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1. The Wizard of Oz by Frank Baum
2. The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett
3. The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
4. Marjorie Morningstar by Herman Wouk
5. Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
6. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain
7. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
8. The Swiss Family Robinson by Johan David Wyss
9. I Never Promised you a Rose Garden by Hannah Green
10. The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

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The three bloggers I am inviting are Felicia Denise, Glenda Council Beall, Alice Massa. Of course anyone else is welcome to submit favorite book titles. I look forward to reading about them.

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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
Like Me on Facebook.

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Cozy

Were you cozy during this past holiday season? I was, despite my Internet being down from Wednesday, December 20th through Tuesday, December 26th. At first, I was told a technician would visit on Friday, the 22nd. That day came and went with no sign of any repair person. I called several times and was given quite the song and dance routine. First, the tech was running late with his previous customer, but I was next on his list. Next, he was in the area, working on the connection. Finally, I was told that my visit with the technician was re-scheduled for Tuesday, the 26th, the day after Christmas. When I complained to the customer service department, the best they could give me was a $10.00 discount for time not used. Big deal!

Except for attending a tuba Christmas concert Saturday afternoon, I spent the long Christmas weekend snuggled in my recliner, either reading books or watching movies I’d already downloaded or listening to holiday programs on National Public Radio. On Christmas Day, I had lunch at our local senior center, where I enjoyed roast beef, a twice baked potato, asparagus, and bread pudding.

On the morning of Tuesday, December 26th, a technician finally called me around eleven o’clock. He said he thought he’d fixed the problem and asked me to power cycle my modem. I did, and sure enough, it worked. Apparently, the issue was with a bad port in the local office. According to the technician, this could have been fixed the previous week if the CEO hadn’t been out of town.

Needless to say, one of my New Year’s resolutions is to find another Internet provider. I also resolve to have my furnace vents cleaned regularly in the hope of cutting back on dust that could occasionally be wreaking havoc with my allergies. This, of course, has nothing to do with my Internet. Do you have any New Year’s resolutions? I hope you all had a great holiday season and wish you a Happy New Year.

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Note: the above was inspired by a blog post in response to a daily prompt.

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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.

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Saturday Song: A Perfect Day by Susan Boyle

This song is the first track on a CD of Christmas music by Susan Boyle, but it’s not about Christmas. A few years ago, I read a book with the same title by Richard Paul Evans, which takes place during the holiday season. You can read my review of the book here. Have a perfect Saturday.

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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.

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Review: The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

Abbie-1

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend

by Katarina Bivald

Copyright 2016.

 

Sara and Amy develop a long distance friendship with books as something they have in common. Sara lives in Sweden, and Amy lives in Broken Wheel, Iowa, a small town ravaged by hard economic times. After two years of correspondence, Amy invites Sara to visit. When Sara loses her job in a Swedish bookstore, she accepts. However, when she arrives in Broken Wheel, she learns that Amy has passed away.

The inhabitants of the town take Sara in, and she opens a bookstore, and the people fall in love with her. When her tourist visa threatens to run out, they devise a plot to marry her off to one of Broken Wheel’s eligible bachelors so she can obtain permanent residency. A cast of zany characters including an immigration official, two homosexual bartenders, and an eccentric old woman with a hunting rifle create a hilarious, interesting, yet satisfying ending.

As the story unfolds, letters Amy wrote to Sara in Sweden are interspersed throughout the narrative, told from Sara’s and other characters’ points of view. The recording I heard of this book, produced by Random House Audio, had two female narrators- one with an American accent, who read Amy’s letters, and one with a British accent, who read the rest of the narrative. The British narrator did a pretty good job of portraying Iowa accents, but I think it might have been better if the American narrator read parts of the narrative from points of view of the people of Broken Wheel. In any case, this reader of Sheridan, Wyoming, recommends this book.

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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.

 

Happy Marriage?

Yes, Bill and I were happily married for seven years despite the fact that I had to care for him at home, but that’s not what I’m writing about this time. I just finished reading This is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett. I blogged about this author a year ago when I reviewed The Patron Saint of Liars.

This is the Story of a Happy Marriage is a collection of essays not just about Ann Patchett’s marriage but about other aspects of her life. In one piece, she talks about what it was like to be a child of divorced parents, living with her mother in Tennessee and occasionally visiting her father in California and talking to him on the phone. In another, she describes how her father, a cop, influenced her to train for and take the Los Angeles police academy’s entrance exams which she did just so she could write about the experience. She also talks about her memoir, Truth and Beauty, in which she describes her friendship with another writer who was disfigured as a result of cancer and died of a drug overdose. She provides the impassioned speech she gave to incoming freshmen at a small southern university in 2006, despite controversy surrounding the book. In “The Bookstore Strikes Back,” she relates how she opened Parnassus Books in Nashville in 2011 when the city had no other bookstores. In the’ title essay, she talks about her first marriage and divorce and how she married her second husband Karl years later after swearing she would never marry again.

Besides The Patron Saint of Liars, Ann Patchett wrote five novels: Taft, The Magician’s Assistant, Bel Canto, Run, and State of Wonder. She edited Best American Short Stories in 2006 and wrote one other nonfiction book besides Truth and Beauty and This is The Story of a Happy Marriage. It’s called What Now and is an expansion of her commencement address at Sarah Lawrence College. She is also a graduate of the Iowa Writer’s workshop and received numerous awards and fellowships including England’s Orange Prize, the PEN/Faukner Award, the Harold D. Vursell Memorial Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Book Sense Book of the Year, a Gugenheim Fellowship, The Chicago Tribune’s Heartland Prize, the American Bookseller’s Association’s Most Engaging Author Award, and the Women’s National Book Association’s Award. Her books were New York Times Notable Books and New York Times Bestsellers. Her work was translated into over thirty languages.

Since she opened Parnassus Books, she has advocated for independent booksellers and talked about books and bookstores on NPR’s “The Colbert Report,” “The Martha Stewart Show,” and “The CBS Early Show.” She was the honorary chair of World Book Night along with James Patterson. In 2012, Time Magazine named her one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. She lives in Nashville with her husband Karl VanDevender and their dog Sparky. For more information about her and her books, visit http://annpatchett.com/ .

One essay in this book made me wonder if I should like Ann Patchett. She talks about her dog Rose and how she made the painful decision to have her put down when the dog could no longer walk, see, or eat. Then she talks about how she acquired Rose.

She and her husband saw Rose as a puppy at a local park. At the time, a girl was planning to give Rose away at an upcoming dog show. After Ann and her husband left the park, Rose tugged at Ann’s heart strings, and she insisted on returning to the park and collecting her. When they did, they found Rose in the arms of a five-year-old deaf girl. Ann lied to the little girl’s mother, saying there was a misunderstanding, that the owner promised the puppy to her, and unfortunately for the little girl, her mother believed Ann’s story. Here’s the irony. Rose is the name of the main character in The Patron Saint of Liars who doesn’t tell anyone about her husband when she checks into a home for unwed mothers, not even after her baby is born.

After giving this careful consideration, I realized that not reading any more of Ann Patchett’s work because she stole a puppy from a five-year-old would be like not letting my teen-aged niece listen to Michael Jackson because he died of a drug overdose. As a society, we often allow a person’s actions to reflect on their careers. There are worse things than stealing a puppy from a five-year-old, and as I write this, I find myself at peace with the issue. Ann Patchett is a baffling author, and I definitely plan to read more of her work including Truth and Beauty. Her writing makes me wonder.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press

Order That’s Life from Amazon.

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Season’s Greetings 2014

Well, it has definitely been an interesting year. I spent last Christmas with my brother Andy and his fiancé Christina and their combined family in Jupiter, Florida. During this time, Andy proposed to Christina while I sang “The Rose.” I had fun despite the fact that I picked up a nasty stomach flu that forced me to stay in bed for a few days. I missed the family’s holiday festivities but felt well enough later to go to the beach one day and to a performance of The Nutcracker the next.

About a week after I got home, I came down with a bad chest cold and didn’t recover from that for at least two weeks. All things considered, it was a pretty good Christmas, better than staying at home alone, twiddling my thumbs, and feeling sorry for myself. I plan to go again this year and hope for better health conditions.

By the end of January, my new poetry collection, That’s Life, was finished, and I sent it to several publishers. In February, I was surprised to receive word from Finishing Line Press that they wanted to publish it. After agreeing to their terms, I spent several busy months readying the manuscript according to their specifications and promoting it.

In April, I attended our annual WyoPoets workshop in Casper where the presenter was our state poet laureate, Echo Klaproth. Also, my singing group, Just Harmony, performed at the Daughters of the American Revolution state convention here in Sheridan. We sang at other times for different venues throughout the year including a local baseball game, a church service, and an assisted living facility.

In June, the Wyoming Writers annual conference was here in Sheridan with a variety of presenters including Echo Klaproth and Creative Nonfiction editor Lee Gutkind. In August, I gave a reading at the local public library to promote my new book. By this time, it was in the pre-publication stage which meant I needed to secure as many pre-orders as possible to determine how many copies could be printed. Thanks to those of you who pre-ordered a copy. I hope you’re enjoying it.

In July, I went to Florid again, this time to attend Andy’s second wedding which was held at a bed and breakfast in West Palm Beach. I participated in a fun-filled week of festivities including lunch with Christina and her friends, a pool party, a rehearsal dinner at a restaurant in West Palm Beach, and a trip to a Jupiter park for a production of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing.

The ceremony took place on the bed and breakfast’s front porch where I was a bridesmaid and sang “The Rose.” The reception was held behind the facility in what they called a back yard bar. There was plenty of room for eating, dancing, and socializing. Andy hired a band consisting of old college buddies he played with years ago. During breaks, I sang “Annie’s Song” and others. I accompanied most of my songs on the guitar. I had a great week there but was glad to get home after a rough flight from Denver to Billings, Montana, where we encountered a severe thunderstorm, and I was afraid I would be sick again.

About the middle of October, That’s Life was finally released, and in celebration of National Poetry Day, I sat in the local senior center’s lobby and sold books for a couple of hours before participating in a reading with my third Thursday poets group in the facility’s community room. In November, I did a reading for a poetry class at the local high school and at an assisted living center. I also did a signing at a local bookstore.

If you haven’t already ordered my new book, I encourage you to do so at one of the links below or by going to my Website. I wish you all an enjoyable holiday season and a happy new year.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall overcome, How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Order That’s Life from Amazon.

The World According to a Cat

You’re a recovering drug addict, subsisting on whatever money you can make playing your guitar and singing on the streets of London. Then one day, you meet a ginger cat who changes your life. Such is the case of James Bowen, the author of A Street Cat Named Bob and The World According to Bob. These two books tell the story of how this stray cat positively influenced the author’s life.

In A Street Cat Named Bob, Bowen discusses how he took Bob in after the cat kept hanging around his flat and how they developed a relationship. Because Bob was a stray, Bowen didn’t think he would stay with him, but it’s said that cats choose their owners, and this turned out to be the case with Bob and Bowen. The author talks about how he became estranged from his parents and moved to England from Australia to pursue a career in music. He then explains how he became addicted to drugs and shares his experiences on the streets after finding Bob, how he took the cat with him everywhere and how Bob’s presence caused more people to pay attention to him and earned him more money. Eventually, because of police harassment, he was forced to give up busking and start selling editions of a local magazine called The Big Issue.

In The World According to Bob, Bowen recounts further adventures with his cat on the streets. He also touches a little more on his life growing up in Australia, how he was hospitalized frequently as a child with a variety of psychiatric disorders. After a couple of years on the streets with Bob, he was discovered by the media, and he explains how he wrote his first book and how its publication got him off the streets, improved his relationships with his family, and changed attitudes toward the homeless.

According to Wikipedia, James Bowen was born on March 15th, 1979 in Surrey, England. After his parents were divorced, he moved to Australia with his mother and stepfather. His home life was tense, and because the family frequently moved, he was unsettled at school. Continually bullied, he began sniffing glue and was eventually diagnosed with ADHD, schizophrenia, and manic depression.

In 1997, he moved to London, and after living with his half-sister for a while, he spent the next ten years sleeping either on the streets or in shelters. He started using heroine to escape the reality of being homeless. In the spring of 2007, he entered a drug treatment program while busking at Covent Garden and living in sheltered accommodation in Tottenham. This was when he met Bob, and if you read his two international bestsellers, written with the help of author Garry Jenkins, you’ll know the rest of the story, as Paul Harvey would say. To learn more about James Bowen, visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/James-_Bowen_(author)#Early_life . You can also read a newspaper article and view photos of the author and his cat at http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2227639/James-Bowen-Best-selling-true-story-busker-got-life-track-thanks-stray-cat-film.html .

James Bowen’s style of writing drew me into his world. I laughed at Bob’s habit of hiding in unexpected places and his delight in playing with aluminum wrappers and other items. Of course these are traits any cat would have. I found myself getting angry at people who confronted Bowen because they thought he was mistreating Bob and an apartment complex manager who complained that Bowen’s guitar playing and singing at two in the afternoon was keeping her tenants awake. I agree that Bowen probably should have gotten a proper job, and of course he shouldn’t have been using drugs in the first place, but given the circumstances, he didn’t know better and didn’t have the self-esteem to consider a career other than busking and selling magazines. These books would appeal to cat lovers, but I also hope young people around the world will read them and think twice before turning to drugs.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We shall Overcome, How To Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver, and That’s Life: New and Selected Poems

Order That’s Life from Finishing Line Press.

Order That’s Life from Amazon.