A Timeless Holiday Crlection #Thursday Book Feature

It may be a little early to think about the holiday season. But since this delightful book contains ideas for a Thanksgiving game and Christmas cards, it wouldn’t hurt to buy it early. Click below for a review of this wonderful collection of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and January poems and stories.

https://abbiescorner.wordpress.com/2016/12/13/review-the-christmas-carriage-and-other-writings-of-the-holiday-season/

New! The Red Dress

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.

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Thursday Book Feature: Words of Life

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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.

 

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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

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Thursday Book Feature: Walking by Inner Vision

Image contains: Abbie, smiling.Walking by Inner Vision: Stories & Poems

by Lynda McKinney Lambert

Copyright 2017

 

This collection starts with a prologue in which the author, who is also an artist, describes how knitting sustained her during difficult times after she lost most of her vision in 2007. The poetry and prose that follow are divided into twelve sections, one for each month of the year. Some pieces reflect the time of year while others discuss the author’s faith in God, nature, art, music, and other topics.

My favorite piece is “A Wintry Tale” because it reminds me of many tumbles I took in the snow when I was younger due to my lack of vision.  My second favorite is “A Pennsylvania Christmas” because it brings back memories of my own childhood Christmases, even though I’ve never received coal in my stocking.

I’ve known Lynda for years through our association with Behind Our Eyes, a not-for-profit organization for writers with disabilities. I’ve always been amazed by how, despite her sight loss, her appreciation of art and nature comes through in her vivid descriptions. Even if you have normal vision, this book will open your eyes, ears, and heart to life’s wonders.

 

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

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Thursday Book Feature: Celebrating All Seasons


The books I’m reviewing today contain poems, song lyrics, and prose for all seasons. Some of you may remember my review of Chasing the Green Sun back in 2012. This book is worth a second look, so be sure to scroll down and read my review.

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Julie Andrews Treasury for All Seasons: Poems and Songs to Celebrate the Year
Compiled by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton
Copyright 2012.

The poems and song lyrics in this collection are divided into sections by month and season. At the end, there’s a section on other celebrations such as birthdays and welcoming newborns. Besides Julie Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton, other poets featured here include Emily Dickinson and John Updike, to name only a couple. The book includes illustrations and an index.

I enjoyed reading the poems in this collection. I knew most of the songs and ended up singing along, as I was reading the lyrics. I especially liked the Christmas section, which contains, among other things, Christina Rosetti’s poem that was the basis for “In the Bleak Mid-Winter,” a song I’ve sung a few times. I wish they’d included “Twas the Night before Christmas.” This book is fun for all ages, so if you have kids, I suggest reading them the poems and singing the songs with them, especially during the time of year for which the poems and songs are written.

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Chasing the Green Sun
By Marilyn Brandt Smith
Copyright 2012

This is a collection of stories, poems, and essays written mostly by Marilyn. She collaborated on a few of them with her husband and other authors. The book is divided into twelve sections, each corresponding consecutively with the months of the year. Some of the pieces are seasonal. Others were originally published in the Behind Our Eyes anthologies and Magnets and Ladders. The title comes from an essay in which Marilyn describes how her son, born blind, perceived the moon when he was a child.

I met Marilyn years ago when I joined Behind Our Eyes, an organization of writers with disabilities, of which she is now president. It was fun losing myself in her writing. I wondered what would become of a woman in a hospital on New Year’s Eve, a victim of domestic violence. I laughed when a blind man told a policeman why he couldn’t move his van. I found her stories about her volunteer work in the Peace Corps fascinating. This is another book that can be read over and over again the whole year through.

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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
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What I Read in June

Chasing Utopia: a Hybrid by Nikki Giovanni. Published by William Morrow, an Imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, Copyright 2013.

 

This is a collection of the author’s poems and essays. Utopia, in this case, is actually a type of beer, and in the title piece, she talks about her search for this rare, expensive beverage. Other topics include black culture, hip hop music, family memories, poetry, and living alone. Although most of her essays were interesting, I was bored by a lot of her poems. They were just what I needed to put me to sleep on a Friday night in a strange motel room while attending a writers’ conference.

 

Where Aspens Quake by Tory Cates. Published 1983 by Simon & Schuster.

After photographer Christin Jonsson receives a negative review of her exhibit at an Albuquerque gallery, she quits her mindless job as a graphic designer, dumps her apathetic boyfriend, and flees to New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo Mountains where she is hired as a cross-country ski instructor at High Country Lodge. She falls for the establishment’s owner, Grayson Lowerey, but he turns away. His developmentally disabled daughter and past relationship with his ex-wife have created a barrier that Christin must help him overcome before the story can reach that happily ever after ending.

This book brought back memories of photography and skiing. My younger brother Andy dabbled in photography as a kid. Reading scenes where Christin is developing photos of mountain scenery in a rented dark room in Taos, I was reminded of the times I watched Andy develop pictures in an upstairs bathroom converted to a dark room. I also thought back to my two attempts at downhill and cross-country skiing during which I landed flat on my back and gave up. If I had an instructor like Christin, I might have succeeded. I liked the way she took the time to ensure each student’s success by starting them out on a level plain and then gradually increasing the route’s difficulty. In any case, during hot summer months, this book will refresh you.

 

Country Girl: A Memoir by Edna O’Brien. Copyright 2013.

 

Author Edna O’Brien talks about her life growing up in the Irish countryside before and during World War II and her life in Dublin where she apprenticed at a pharmacy and became involved in the theater and literary scene. She also describes how she married another writer against her family’s wishes, gave birth to two sons, and moved to London where she did most of her writing. She discusses the objections of Irish people to her novels and her husband’s resentment of her success as a writer and how that eventually led to a messy divorce. She then describes meeting such celebrities as Paul McCartney and Marlin Brando and other aspects of her writing life including how she wrote plays for stage and screen. That was about as far as I got before deciding not to finish the book.

Although I enjoyed Edna O’Brien’s reading of this book on a Hachette Audio recording, after her divorce, her experiences seem to become more and more bazaar. She describes a party during which a man offered to use an electric drill to bore a hole in her forehead and a session with a pseudo psychotherapist during which she and the man took LSD. After that, I decided enough was enough.

 

Wake the Dawn by Lorraine Snelling. Copyright 2013.

 

In the woods near the small town of Pineview, Minnesota, on the Canadian border, Ben, a patrol officer, finds an abandoned baby girl and takes her to a clinic run by Esther, a physician’s assistant. They work together to save the life of the baby and others in the wake of two severe storms that hit the town almost simultaneously, resulting in downed trees and power lines and damaged houses. Ben has turned to alcohol to help him cope with the death of his wife in a car accident. Esther suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result of a hit and run. Eventually, the two of them help each other divest themselves of their emotional baggage and achieve that happily ever after romantic ending.

Once I started this book, it was hard to put down. I was not in danger of falling asleep while listening to this one, another Hachette Audio recording. Although it wasn’t read by the author, the narrator did an excellent job, even using a Minnesota accent with some of the characters’ voices.

However, this book contains some religious overtones I could have done without. The themes of forgiveness and trusting in God aren’t introduced until the middle of the story by the time you’ve gotten into it and absolutely must know how it ends. Had I know this, I might not have read the book. Otherwise, it’s a good story.
Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author,

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Talking to Myself

I talk to myself all the time. When my husband Bill was alive before his strokes, it drove him nuts. After his strokes, he said he liked it because he could always tell what I was doing. When you can’t see, walk, or use your left arm or leg, hearing your significant other chatter about nothing can be reassuring, I suppose.

That’s not what this post is about, though. I just finished reading Things I Overheard While Talking to Myself by Alan Alda, the actor who portrayed Hawkeye on MASH, one of my favorite television shows during the 1980’s. This book is a collection of humorous essays on a variety of topics including his childhood, army life, acting experiences on stage and screen, and what it’s like to be a celebrity. In one piece, he explains how his father encouraged him to consider a career in medicine, although he really wanted to be an actor, and then talks about a commencement address he gave to a class of graduating medical students. In another, he describes how he learned to shoot with a rifle at age eleven, used it to euthanize his pet rabbits, then helped his grandchildren bury their pet rabbit after showing them how to make telephones out of old shoes. Most of his essays contain speeches he gave at various commencement ceremonies. His final piece is an address he would give if he were on his death bed in which he urges graduates to “go forth and stay there.” Alan Alda was born on January 28th, 1936 in New York City. His original name was Alfonso Joseph D’abruzzo. He’s known for his work on MASH, The Aviator, and What Women Want. He married Arlene Alda on March 15, 1957. They have three daughters: Eve, Elizabeth, and Beatrice.

Did you know that Alan Alda almost turned down the offer to star on MASH because he didn’t like the idea of using war as a backdrop for humor? He then agreed but insisted that each episode have at least one scene in the operating room to show the ravages of war. He studied at Fordham University in New York where he earned a Bachelor of Science degree in 1956. He also attended the Sorbonne in Paris during his junior year. In the army, he went AWOL every weekend because he was dating the woman he eventually married. He was selected as the most believable actor in the U.S. and did a cartwheel down the aisle on his way to accept an award. To learn more, visit http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000257/bio?ref_=nm_ov_bio_sm / .

Alan Alda is like his character on MASH. Although Hawkeye cracks under pressure a few times, he takes life in stride, tells a joke or two, and goes on. Sometimes, I wish I could do the same. I recommend this book to anyone needing a few laughs.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author

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Magnets and Ladders Spring/Summer Issue Now Online

Magnets and Ladders is an online magazine featuring work by authors with disabilities such as myself. You’ll find stories, essays, poems, articles about writing, and contest information. Even if you’re not a disabled author, I think you’ll enjoy this publication. It contains, among other things, two of my short stories and one of my poems. I’ll post these works here in coming weeks, but in the meantime, please check out all the wonderful work Magnets and Ladders has to offer at http://www.magnetsandladders.org/wp/.

Abbie Johnson Taylor, Author of We Shall Overcome and How to Build a Better Mousetrap: Recollections and Reflections of a Family Caregiver