"What a delight to wander through 120 pages of this compact (5X7) showcase of nature, poetry and watercolor! Also works as a mini coffee table book! This is a perfect gift for anyone who appreciates any or all of the above…MacFarlane and Morris have created a beautiful collaboration.
So many familiar and lesser-known fauna and flora make an appearance…no surprise, my favorite is the Red Fox who captures the beginning and ending verses in the collection. But the Barn Owl, the Snow Hare, the Brilliant Goldfinch and the Common Daisy claim a close second. You will encounter a plethora of moth species and bunches of butterflies, as well as birch, oak and ash trees. An elegant Egret, a sleek Curlew, a crafty Jay and a plain Wren soar through the lyrical spreads. They travel beneath the sun, full moon or starry sky, and the four seasons…at the illustrator’s whim.
MacFarlane is known for his way with words and his devotion to nature and to children. Morris has written and Illustrated over 40 books and reaps her inspiration from everything wild. Her art is reminiscent of Rien Poorvliet but she offers her own signature style. This talented British author-illustrator team captivate us in THE LOST SPELLS.
You can judge this book by its cover, but what's inside is even better! Savor it.
Sandy Ferguson Fuller"
Everyone learns that birds and cats aren’t buddies by nature, but how about a tiny crow and a wild fisher cat? Little Bird, the intrepid heroine of Cynthia Voigt’s newest middle grade animal story, realizes early on that the nasty creature who invades her flock’s nest is her enemy. Despite being the smallest member of her family, she is determined to find the fisher (not a feline but more like a marten) and retrieve the good luck pendant that he stole from the nest.
Little Bird sets out on her own, undeterred by her family’s quips and slurs about her chances of survival. With the help of a funny old goat and a few kindly stranger crows who only judge Little Bird for her curiosity and bravery, she pursues the dangerous fisher and the stolen treasure. She succeeds in finding “Our Luck”, only to discover that the pendant rightfully belongs to some gentle humans, not to the greedy crows. She reports back home to her family, but only for a brief while, as she now realizes that she belongs with friends who truly value her. She is forever changed by her adventure. She is FREE to spread her wings, to go where she chooses, and to be herself.
Voigt is a Newbery Medal winner and popular author of more than twenty books; Lynne Rae Perkins, the illustrator for LITTLE BIRD, is also a Newbery medalist, the author of CRISS CROSS. She adds her artistic touch to this delightful tale.
Sara Seager is an honored astrophysicist and professor of physics and planetary science at M.I.T. She is also the devoted mother of two sons who faced the universe as a young widow when she lost her husband and their father to cancer. Her memoir will resonate with an audience fascinated by the prospects of extraterrestrial life, anyone who has conquered the depths of personal grief, and everyone who enjoys candid and positive biography.
Even as young child, Sara loves the stars…and her passion grows into a drive to discover and document other galaxies and exoplanets. She is compelled to research and dissect every angle of planetary exploration. First as a young wife, then as a new mother, she struggles with balancing her growing reputation and respect in her career with the responsibilities and priorities of her family. Sara’s dilemma is common, until her life makes a detour when her husband is diagnosed and ultimately dies of cancer.
Suddenly she loses her signature focus and direction. She doubts her value as a scientist and realizes that she has been neglecting her sons. She seeks the light absent in her darkness and reaches for vital roots. Slowly her faith in possibility restores her personal and professional beliefs. Ultimately she makes unexpected new discoveries in the lab and in love. THE SMALLEST LIGHTS IN THE UNIVERSE is a true story of hope. Someday it will be fascinating to read about the remainder of her life, as she still has many years to navigate the unknown with her talents and knowledge.
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
I remain in awe of the various Native American Nations’ beliefs, practices and heritages…and this remarkable debut thriller by a Lakota citizen enhanced my intrigue. WINTER COUNTS is a gritty crime expose, the guts of the story based on real circumstances surrounding drugs and injustice that continue to plague tribal communities.
The protagonist, Virgil Wounded Horse, is the self-proclaimed enforcer of justice on his South Dakota Rosebud Reservation. His work is physical, personal and dangerous, but he believes that someone must punish rapists, thieves, and criminals who are ignored by federal authorities in charge of prosecution on the Reservation. By fist, force and fury, and at high risk, he delivers.
When heroin threatens Virgil’s orphaned nephew’s life and future,
he steps up his game. Fourteen-year-old Nathan is set up at school when drugs are planted in his locker, and the teenager is arrested for possession, facing felony charges and imprisonment. Virgil enlists the help of his ex-girlfriend to locate the drug source in Denver and discovers that new cartels are posing a lethal threat to Nathan and all of Virgil’s people.
Although this is a work of fiction, the author speaks to his audience from his heart. The challenges to Native Americans in our contemporary culture are as daunting and oppressive as for any minorities. Those who choose life on a reservation are the most affected and often stereotyped as addicts and users of the system when, in fact, the system has jeopardized their resources, dignity and honor. David Heska Wanbli Weiden sheds light on these struggles in his stunning debut. He lives in Denver, CO.
Don’t wait until next summer for the paperback release...winter counts!
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
"Did you know there’s a difference between a raven and a crow? I didn’t until the narrator, Otto P. Nudd, sets the record straight in this new middle grade tale. According to Otto, ravens are superior, of course; and he is the BEST of all birds in Ida Valley…a self-proclaimed genius.
What makes him special? True to a raven’s nature, he is an inventor and teams up with his elderly human neighbor, Old Man Bartleby to fashion unique gadgets. Bartleby is determined to fly—it’s on his bucket list and time is running short. As his friend’s accomplice, Otto plans to help launch their latest flying contraption, but Bartleby is too eager and goes solo. A disastrous crash leaves the old man unconscious and locked inside his workshop in dire need of rescue.
How can Otto be the hero? For the first time ever, he must step off his pedestal, admit his own limitations and reach out for help. That’s quite humbling for this Top Raven, but he teams up with Pippa (Bartleby’s young next-door neighbor), Marla (the clever, pesky mama squirrel bent on ruining Otto’s life), and a motley crew of birds of every shape and sort who prove their worth.
In saving Bartleby, Otto saves himself and gains new friends. He learns about the power of teamwork, sharing, acceptance, and even apologies to bring everyone together.
A witty, warm read for all animal lovers…with a generous serving of wisdom for perceptive readers
Sandy Ferguson Fuller"
"If you’re a fan of the Popper family and their Polar penguins who waddled into the classic children’s literature hall of fame in 1938, you will be thrilled to discover this fresh adventure. If you’re not already smitten, you will be after reading bestselling author Eliot Schrefer's new story, THE POPPER PENGUIN RESCUE. It’s a wonderful companion book to the original Newbery Honor book, MR. POPPER’S PENGUINS, by Florence and Richard Atwater with illustrations by Robert Lawson, also a 2011 motion picture release.
The setting is Hillport, just across the river from Stillwater, the former Popper 1930s residence. Young Nina and Joel Popper (yes, they belong on the Popper family tree) move to Hillport with their single mother. Struggling to make ends meet, she buys a dilapidated building which used to house the commercial Penguin Pavilion. She intends to convert it into their modest new home.
While unpacking, the kids discover two abandoned eggs in the dark basement. Sure enough, these belong to penguins, and soon Nina and Joel and their mother are the guardians of two rambunctious chicks. The modern Poppers realize that they shouldn’t try to keep the pair and set out to reunite them with the famous penguin relatives who are now relocated in the Antarctic.
A long journey with an Inuit sea captain follows, with plenty of drama, danger, humor, and MORE POPPER PENGUINS GALORE. So timely, an appropriate environmental theme adds awareness and respecot for wild creatures. A surprise ending makes everyone happy, especially the Penguin pair, Mae and Ernest, and their new young forever caretakers.
Sandy Ferguson Fuller"
Thomas Wolfe's classic, You Can't Go Home Again, posed the silent question "But truly, can you?" Becky Mandelbaum's debut novel explores the complexities of returning to a favorite place, especially a childhood home filled with personal baggage. Most of all, when the "baggage" involves an estranged parent and a former first love.
Ariel leaves Mona's animal sanctuary in rural Kansas to attend college in urban Lawrence, against her mother's deepest wishes. For six years, she doesn't look back; instead she wanders into a mismatched romance with Dex, quits her education, and ignores her core values and passions. She tries to forget about her rough but wholesome upbringing on the Bright Side Sanctuary, where her mother's sole purpose seemed to be saving injured, abused and homeless animals at the expense of alienating her daughter. When Ariel learns that the Sanctuary is for sale, then gets news of a disastrous arson fire, she knows that she must return home to help her mother. What she doesn't know, yet, is how much she has missed the place, the people, and her favorite...the animals.
This is a witty and wise read. (It's also spiked with a few current political innuendoes!) Mandelbaum is a rising talent, the Recipient of the 2016 Flannery O'Connor Award for Short Fiction and the 2018 High Plains Book Award. She grew up in Kansas so her novel is flavored with sharp memories and reflections. The characters, both human and critter, grab for attention and carry the story.
Can one truly go home again? Ariel's dilemma begs for a sequel.
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
When a book makes a reader feel uncomfortable or edgy, that’s a testament to writing talent. Alex George doesn’t give his audience a break from traumatic or painful events in his harsh novel, SETTING FREE THE KITES. His book isn’t fun, but it’s well-done. I entered the story curious about the Maine setting and the main characters…two adolescent boys who are best friends, both struggling with family tragedies and death. I exited with a heavy sigh, relieved to move on.
Robert Carter’s father owns and runs the local amusement park in the rural old mill-town of Haverford, ME. Nathan Tilly’s father dies suddenly in an accidental fall from his roof. And only time will determine when Robert’s brother, Liam, will die from a terminal illness. The boys rely on each other to face the battles and bullies in their lives. Nathan is fearless and impetuous; Robert is cautious and contemplative. They both take summer jobs at Fun-A-Lot partly as a distraction from troubles…which only get worse.
Dysfunction and more disaster follow…George piles it on relentlessly. As the novel winds down, Robert is left alone without his brother or his buddy, but he finds some solace when his estranged father returns home to a beleaguered wife and son.
This is a difficult, moving and honest book. I’m left with a memorable, lingering refrain from the author…“Love and pain are two sides of the same coin. You can’t have one without the other."
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
Yet another gem to enjoy and to educate from award-winning Abenaki poet, novelist, storyteller and Native American scholar, Joseph Bruchac . . . he never disappoints. In this trim, polished and intriguing novel for middle grade readers, Bruchac gives tribute to the true origins of the Iroquois Nation, established when five warring Northeastern tribes choose to resolve their differences and form the Great League of Peace.
At the center of the story is twelve-year-old Okwaho and his two best friends, Tawis and Clouds Forming, boy and girl respectively. When Tawis is kidnapped by a neighboring Oneida tribal nation, and Clouds Forming is forced to remain with her family under Chief Atatarho's militant leadership, Okwaho finds himself lonely, depressed and fearful. One day he meets a stranger in the woods who brings a message of hope and peace. The Peacemaker (a character derived from a sacred Onondaga legend) convinces Okwaho that he can help others to fulfill a prophecy...so that the nations will lay down their weapons to form a Confederacy and Okwaho will be able to rejoin his young friends.
Bruchac's magic is his ability to weave together intricate historical research with authentic characters, engaging plots and timely themes. PEACEMAKER beats the drum for acceptance, diversity, tolerance and respect for others...and for the infinite power of peace. Unite rather than fight.
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
Diving into this debut author's middle grade fantasy reminded me of stepping off Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters onto the Hogwarts Express...not that Lorelei Savaryn's first work quite matches up to J.K. Rowling's, but I discovered some similarities in voice, imagination, complex detail, original settings, vivid characters, elusive outcomes, and more. THE CIRCUS OF STOLEN DREAMS sweeps its audience into a maze of the dreams and nightmares of children who are trying to find happiness and to forget troubled pasts, but at great sacrifice and loss of self.
When Andrea's little brother, Francis, goes missing without a trace for over three years, nothing returns close to normal. Her parents are estranged and her secure family life is crumbling. One day she stumbles onto a hidden circus in the nearby forest and she decides to explore "Reverie, The Land of Dreams". Maybe here she can forget her worries and even find Francis somewhere within the labyrinth of mysterious tents and passageways. Did he lose himself there? To gain entry, she must give up a precious memory.
At first, Reverie seems a magical and hopeful place. But soon Andrea begins to realize that the Sandman in charge isn't benevolent or caring; instead he is deceptive and dangerous. When she does find Francis, the two children face unreal odds in trying to escape the nightmarish circus and return to the realities and comfort of home.
Kudos to Savaryn on a unique novel. Lorelei leaves some questions,
unanswered dreams, and stray nightmares trapped in Reverie, so perhaps she plans to revisit the circus in a future book. But her young protagonist, Andrea, will never follow the same slippery slope. She has learned that running away from problems isn't the way to fix them, but wishing on a star really is OK.
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
I had no expectations re this bestselling novel or the author when a friend offered it...along with "you've got to read this one." So I dove in blind, guessing that I might discover a voice and themes similar to Lisa See. Ana Johns captivated me even more than See from the beginning of THE WOMAN IN THE WHITE KIMONO, as her story travels from a cancer patient's final days with his daughter in present day America back to his WWII days as a sailor serving in Japan and a remarkable love affair that changed several lives forever.
In 1957, seventeen-year-old Naoko Nakamura meets her beloved Haijme at the same time her family arranges for her marriage with a respectable and honorable Japanese man of high status in the community. To marry an American soldier would bring disgrace in her culture, even without others knowing that she already carries Haijme's unborn child. She is forced to make drastic choices, staying true to her lover and her heart while putting herself and her baby in unforeseen danger.
Therein lies the surprise element of the book...Based on historical events involving real young Japanese women, the author's compassionate research reveals the atrocities involving those who became pregnant through rape, poor judgment or, as in Naoko's case, a genuine bond with an American serviceman. Thousands of babies were born alive
then murdered in sequestered "maternity homes" or babies of mixed race were taken from their mothers against their will and handed off to overcrowded orphanages. Ana Johns brings to light a disturbing glimpse of Japanese history with relevant reflections for today about "the right to life."
Upon his death, Haijme's daughter Tori, finds a letter that reveals "Pops'" love affair and the possibility that Tori might even have a sister born years ago to Naoko. Tori journeys to remote Japan to uncover the truth and makes peace, at last, with the important people in her father's past and her own extended family.
Ana Johns has delivered a memorable, moving novel.
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
Pet lovers (especially Cat, Rat, Bird and Pooch fans) and sleuths of all ages...if you're ready for some belly laughs, here's a new middle grade novel up your alley. Popular author, Emily Ecton, is a master at subtle, strong characterization, and her talent shines in her new book. Dave Mottram's spot illustrations add personality. The cast includes Butterbean (Wiener Dog), Walt (Female Feline), Oscar (Mynah, mind you NOT a parrot!), and Rodents Marco and Polo (yes, Reconnaissance RATS)...each with distinct temperaments, priorities, passions, attitudes and I.Qs. Their interactions and dialogue are believable, consistent, polished and very funny...hope TV and Hollywood scouts are on the lookout.
These characters are so lively, Ecton's plot almost pales...but doesn't! It's equally engaging. When the elderly Mrs. Food (who has adopted the motley critter bunch) slips and falls on some slimy dog puke, she is carted away to the hospital. Madison, the girl downstairs, checks in daily to provide poop breaks and fill water bowls. Otherwise the pets are left on their own to figure out survival tactics. Their think tank generates a grand plan to rob a wealthy neighbor of enough gold krugerrands to provide the group with food and shelter for a lifetime.
Will the Heist happen? Will there be an anti-Heist? And how about the fate of Mrs. Food? Enjoy the read...and let's hope for a movie?!
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
Selecting a book is often on impulse; finishing it requires commitment. DEEP RIVER is a complex, rich, THICK, Tolstoyan novel by the author of the bestselling Vietnam tome, MATTERHORN. The new trade paperback edition (released in July 2020) is even heavy to hold! But the rewards of hanging in and wading through its remarkable 700-plus pages are worth the hours of attention.
Karl Marlantes offers similar voice, drama, historical detail and variety of characters in his impressive second epic novel. His new narrative travels from the Finland hinterlands to the rough and unsettled forests of the Pacific Northwest, spanning five generations of the Koski family. As farmers, they flee from the Russian occupation of their homeland during the late 1900s and relocate to America in remote Washington state. The men become loggers and fishermen, mobilized like cattle by militant bosses and paid starvation wages for dangerous, life-threatening work.
The women provide for their husbands and pray for their families' survival. A few, however, rise as feminists and leaders. Aino Koski sacrifices marriage and motherhood as she leads the local Wobblies toward unionization. Her actions create impact, but also with some disastrous consequences. As she matures, she honors love and balance and settles down with Aksel and her daughter, Eleanor. But her fiery spirit never dwindles and she continues her fight for fair labor and human rights. The story ends as Aino, now age 81, reflects upon her full life from her tamed, peaceful home on the Columbia River.
Marlantes writes from the heart of his heritage. His Finnish relatives settled in the same southwest Washington area in the 1890s and he grew up there during the 1950s. Many of the fictional characters, locales and events in the book evolved from personal memories.
I stalled turning the final pages of DEEP RIVER, not willing it to end. Carve out sufficient space and time...then dive in.
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
Rosanne Parry, bestselling author of the wonderful A WOLF CALLED WANDER, excels again! In her new middle grade novel, A WHALE OF THE WILD, she explores the realm of Orca whales and their matriarchal society. Without distracting from her vivid characters and engaging plot, she weaves together themes of survival, family bonds, female leadership, global warming and other environmental issues. She also delights her audience with killer whales.
The remarkable Orca characters include young females Vega and Aquila, Mother and Greatmother; and males, Deneb, Altair and Uncle Rigel. Vega grows up knowing that she will rule the family someday...this is not even a choice, but an obligation determined by nature. She will decide her family's safety and fate, where to travel and how to hunt for the precious salmon, how to coexist in a world of increasing human encroachment. The others will follow by instinct in their respective, predictable roles.
Prior to creating her story, Parry travelled with illustrator and marine biologist, Lindsay Moore, over 1000 miles around the Salish Sea researching the Orcas and their habitat. These experiences and their research enrich the entire book. The reader learns so much about Orca behavior while diving into the individual lives and dilemmas of the different characters.
As with the tides, there is "a push and a pull" to everything...a balance and order to seek and maintain. As Vega matures, she begins to learn how to lead, but not without making mistakes and even becoming separated from her family. The book ends primed for a sequel as Vega and Aquila set out to scour the seas and reunite with the others.
Entertaining for all ages...a great family read aloud...don't miss it.
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
You can't judge a book by its cover, but certainly it can draw you in! The stunning white Arctic fox adorning Chen Jiatong's new middle grade fantasy jacket compelled me to open the book and investigate. I was hooked. No surprise that WHITE FOX is already a bestselling novel in China.
Animals and adventure abound as the young fox hero, Dilah, leads the reader on his quest to transform into a human being. Is this wise? Perhaps not. Might the world be safer if humans changed into animals? Food for thought.
Some of the characters include Egg the Seal, Fred the Crab, Grandpa the Old Turtle, Ankel and Azalea the Weasels, Kassel the White Horse, Little Bean the Gray Rabbit, and Carl and Alsace, both evil Fox foes. Humans include Mideol, Lily and Baby Leo.
The author has a unique voice, also reminiscent of classic storytellers like Aesop, Kenneth Grahame, Richard Adams, or contemporary fantasy masters, Katherine Applegate, T.A. Barron or Sara Pennypacker. The characters mostly remain natural in their actions and habits and even their thoughts seem believable...highly skilled anthropomorphic writing.
At the end, the reader realizes that this saga isn't over! Dilah has lost the moonstone and is trapped in a cave with Ankel and Little Bean...how will the friends escape to continue the quest? I can't wait to follow.
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
I had no idea what to expect from this debut memoir, no clue as to the author's significance, only a fellow bookseller's tip that I would enjoy the bits of local history woven into this story. Indeed, as a youngster, Jenny Forrester grew up in the early Vail Valley, residing in an Edwards trailer park as the fledgling resort towns of Vail, Beaver Creek, Minturn and Avon began to take shape and mature, for better or for worse. Later, to escape her marriage, Jenny's mother uproots her two children to a single-wide trailer home in the small town of Mancos in southern Colorado.
Turns out, NARROW RIVER, WIDE SKY is a complex read. Transparent. Cutting. Edgy. Uncomfortable. Rich in regret. Hanging onto hope. The author spares no one, including herself, in her accounts of past family abuse, promiscuous sex, poor self-image, irresponsible actions, bad choices, abandoned visions, human failure, and life lost.
Like Jenny, I almost gave up on her at several points because of her negative overtones. Yet, despite everything, she slowly learns from her mistakes and discovers inner strength and self-respect. Her audience gains faith. Finally she meets a man without motives or manipulation, who accepts and loves her for the right reasons. Her daughter, Chiara, is born. In the end, Jenny and Ron migrate "home" to a place of soulful healing; surprisingly, not the slopes or slot canyons of Colorado, but the wild and rugged waters of Oregon. Her mother returns to Edwards, CO prior to a tragic, accidental death.
"I wrote myself resilient," perfectly sums up this autobiography. Jenny's honest voice is moving. Her poetic descriptions of her beloved Western landscapes add enjoyment. And for those who can relate, she invites us to reminisce about the pristine Vail Valley as she "writes the houses and hotels back into being bobcats and wild streams and magpies."
Readers who have never travelled to the Netherlands will come away from this vivid, historical novel with the illusion of having visited in person during the Golden Age of the mid-1600s. Those who already know and love Holland will savor familiar cultural details and, no doubt, learn more about the origins of the famous Delft pottery, the devastating fire and disease which ravaged that city, and Dutch women's rising struggle for independence in a patriarchal society.
Following the mysterious sudden death of her abusive husband, young Catrin leaves her rural village and takes a housekeeping job with a prominent merchant family in Amsterdam. Captivated by a new paramour (her employer's brother), she hopes to carve out a better life. Romance is promising, but elusive. When the past threatens her safety, she flees to the nearby city of Delft, where her hidden gift as a painter earns her a chance to create pottery at a local workshop. Her fancy blue-on-white porcelain images will revolutionize the industry.
Tragedy strikes when the devastating and deadly Bubonic Plague sweeps Holland. Although an entirely different disease, we discover countless parallels to our current 2020 COVID pandemic, not an "unprecedented" crisis, after all! This unexpected and compelling aspect of the novel lends MIDNIGHT BLUE an eerie, timely appeal.
A European bestseller and highly recommended for fans of GIRL WITH A PEARL EARRING and TULIP FEVER.
Many of the most endearing and enduring children's books are appropriate for "all ages", offering simple eloquence and subtle depth. One thinks of WINNIE-THE-POOH or THE GIVING TREE or PAX or DOG HEAVEN or SOMEDAY...the list is rich and infinite.
I include THE SIMPLE ART OF FLYING in this elite group. First novelist, Cory Leonardo, has conjured up vivid characters and an engaging plot to delight her targeted middle grade readers.
Alistair and Aggie are two African gray parrots; Alistair is a poet an intellectual, and a dreamer. These qualities align to drive his story...his quest to escape to bluer skies and the lessons he learns, mostly that sometimes the truth is found in letting go.
Definitely much to ponder between-the-lines in this unique and imaginative novel...created for kids, but humorous and inspirational for many adults who appreciate innovative fiction and anthropomorphic protagonists. Don't hesitate to get caught with this gem in your hands or cart!
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
I love catching up to backlist bestsellers! It's challenging enough to keep up with the new stuff, but a refreshing break to revisit or discover classics and recent favorites . Such is Karen Auvinen's memoir, ROUGH BEAUTY. Karen is an award-winning poet, but this is her first published book. I can't wait for more from this Colorado mountain woman whose lyrical, contemplative voice resonates with my own independent "wild" spirit.
After a fire destroys her comfortable mountain home, Karen retreats with her dog, Elvis, to a primitive cabin to begin life again and focus on her writing. An idyllic, yet solitary forty seasons follow, living wild with the beautiful and bold forces of nature. The author skillfully transports her audience to the heart of the high Rocky Mountains.
We are there too. Dog lovers will appreciate the special bond that Karen and Elvis share through this lifestyle, and the inevitable loss that comes with loving someone more than oneself.
This reads like a novel, but its power rests in its truth. If you haven't yet, try it out...my guess is that it will remain in your personal library.
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
This beautiful, compact photographic journal is a treasure to add to anyone's library who loves nature, wilderness, Alaska, and adventure. My kind of book! Originally published in 1973, Sam Keith shares the journals and photographs of his friend, Dick Proenneke, who ventured into the Twin Lakes bush wilderness in 1968 to spend almost 18 months solo at age 51, build his own cabin and navigate the highs, lows, riches, trials and rewards of an experience most folks only dream about. A life simple yet demanding extraordinary discipline, mental and physical toughness, and a pure vision for one's ability to survive and succeed.
Proenneke's narrative is so inspiring. Perhaps his color photographs are even more remarkable considering that he schlepped the equipment and preserved the images despite the elements. He captures the landscape and the abundant wildlife with a masterful eye.
This new edition is high quality with sturdy trade binding and high-gloss laminated pages. A unique gift...or treat yourself! I did.
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
A "literary memoir" often fools its audience and entertains like fiction. The reader must pause often to remember that the story is rooted in truth, which lends it extra magic. Kendra Atleework's debut work reveals the harsh realities of her early years growing up in the bleak and arid Eastern Sierra mountains of California. This barren landscape holds its own seductive beauty and hidden history, and the author conveys that in a rich narrative reminiscent of Terry Tempest Williams.
Her story is also a drama about a family fabric that unravels, torn apart by drought, fire, isolation, abuse and even tragic death. I'm reminded of some parallels in Tara Westover's bestselling EDUCATED. Kendra moves away to escape the pressures, only to be drawn back by deep bonds to the high desert country, its history and her personal heritage. Ultimately she finds balance and reconciliation.
Atleework will be a writer to follow, with a unique and complex voice. If you enjoy Annie Dillard, Westover or Williams...and California lore...don't miss this.
For mountain worshippers (like me) and any reader who enjoys autobiography, adventure, self-discovery and introspection...international bestselling Italian writer, Paolo Cognetti, guarantees to please the same audience in his newest work.
I'm rarely disappointed with any book, delivered with integrity, about Nepal, Everest, the Alps, mountaineering, or the elusive snow leopard! Cognetti takes a step beyond most who have documented their climbs; he offers a unique perspective in his narrative. His story isn't about summitting Mt. Everest but rather how he expects to conquer the Himalayas in a different way. In 2017, he sets out with two friends and a team of Sherpas on a difficult late fall/early winter trek through the remote high valleys of the Dolpo region of Nepal, a rare journey fraught with its own unique challenges and risks.
Aside from learning about Dolpo, its people, and their vanishing culture, I was fascinated by Cognetti's reverence for Peter Matthiessen's classic work, THE SNOW LEOPARD. He devours Peter's book cover to cover, several times during his journey. He uncovers distinct parallels between himself and Peter and their paths; the driving passions behind their respective quests; he even wonders if the stray dog that joins his group might possibly be Peter's own spirit or suggest a hidden snow leopard following in their footsteps.
My next step? I must reread THE SNOW LEOPARD! And I recommend Cognetti's superb journal, complete with his personal field sketches to enhance his colorful, polished writing.
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
I love wolves and learning everything about them. The premiere Yellowstone wolf expert, Rick McIntyre, offers more information than I can hope to digest in this special tribute to the Yellowstone Pack wolves and, in particular, the unique alpha male, Wolf 8.
The author rises each day pre-dawn for 15 years to document the comings and goings of the prominent wolf packs reintroduced to the Park in January 1995. In RISE OF WOLF 8, he shares the most minute details about wolf behavior and character as he follows individual collared wolves and also untracked yearlings and pups born into their challenging environment. McIntyre is passionate about educating the public about wolves, mostly to protect this cherished species. I finished his book with a deeper understanding and appreciation of wolves and a continuing desire to observe them, someday, as they roam their natural habitats.
An added plus...Robert Redford contributes the introduction to McIntyre's tribute, and he shares the author's passion and respect for these wild creatures. I'm hoping he'll option the movie rights! Don't miss it!
It's often refreshing and nostalgic to pick up a bestselling backlist novel and to reflect upon how tastes and trends evolve in genres. HEADING OUT TO WONDERFUL was first published in 2012 and remains a popular read. Robert Goolrick's second work takes his audience back to sleepy, small town, post WWII America where life is simple, change is subtle, and the ordinary is the extraordinary...or so it seems.
Goolrick is a master of subtle disguise; beneath the calm surface of his story bubbles an erotic plot charged with mystery, seduction, passion, sin, sincerity, despair and self-destruction. Quickly he captures our attention and we care about his characters and their individual fates. Goolrick's narrative tends to be a bit repetitive and predictable, but that's what's so interesting about writing trends...his voice isn't as fast-paced or spare or quirky as some contemporary authors, but it's no less accomplished or enduring.
If you want a break from searing political thrillers or bland romances, try getting to know 1948 Brownsburg, Virginia, the veteran Charlie Beale who wanders into town, and his nemesis, Mrs. Sylvan Glass. I'm glad I took the time. And if you're headed out on the road to wonderful, the audio is perfect for a long drive.
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
I've always loved trees...but I will never regard one in the same way after finishing this unique and challenging book. The Canadian author is a world-renowned botanist and medical biochemist who delivers an intellectual, often scientifically-complex narrative. This isn't an easy-breezy read, but rather one to digest slowly and in segments, perhaps sharing your time with a beach romance or light graphic novel.
As child orphaned in Ireland, Diana grew up with Celtic elders and was taught their traditions of mind, body and soul, all rooted in a vision of Nature that viewed trees and forests as fundamental to human survival. With her exceptional intelligence and passion for learning, she excelled in academia. Combining her knowledge of western scientific principles with ancient world concepts, she has become a remarkable and visionary natural scientist.
Diana urges her audience to learn everything we can about the medicinal, therapeutic and intuitive powers of trees. As we combat climate change, she teaches us why trees matter and how they are essential to the future of a healthy planet. "Trees paved the way for human life on earth and the debt we owe them is to big to ever repay." So enjoy her book and go hug a tree!
A delightful "plus" to her content is a detailed introduction to The Celtic Alphabet of Trees. Whether the aspen or willow or holly is your favorite, it's fun to learn about each species and the particular gifts they offer us.
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
Bestselling author, Louise Erdrich, reaches deep into her heart to create this epic literary fiction. THE NIGHT WATCHMAN is based on her grandfather's courageous life as a Chippewa Native American who fights bureaucratic Washington D.C. in the 1950s for the survival of his contemporary Turtle Mountain Tribal Band. The opposing powers seek to "emancipate" Thomas's people; but the Chippewa in their infinite wisdom understand that this will destroy their lives and heritage.
Thomas Wazhushk (in real life, Erdrich's Patrick Gourneau) is the night watchman at the sole jewel bearing factory plant in rural North Dakota. Many of his family members depend upon this employment as a source of livelihood and diminishing pride. Through her storytelling, Erdrich imparts the prejudices, injustices and challenges endured by countless Native Americans of different tribal origins during this era. Her characters are vivid and their dramas and struggles come alive. The reader learns more about the deep values and traditions rooted in the Chippewa past, a vital life force and identity threatened to disappear forever.
I completed this novel on the evening of another recent horrific killing of a black man in Minneapolis. The parallels are striking. A portion of this story takes place in the same city...different circumstances and racial tensions, but identical human suffering. Erdrich's new book is must read for anyone concerned with issues of equality and freedom, also Native American culture. The audio version is read by the author.
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
Keiko is Japan's leading astrologer and a million-copy bestselling author in her home country. Anyone interested in astrology, the cause/effect of natural lunar cycles, inspirational self-help, or simply new ideas will enjoy her forthcoming book.
Keiko makes it clear that she practices her own "Lunology" and not traditional Astrology. Her theories and exercises revolve around the twelve annual cycles of each New Moon and Full Moon. She doesn't focus on personal Zodiac sun signs; instead she grants a 30-day period to each New Moon Phase and Full Moon Phase, always six months apart. For example, my astrological Sun sign is Taurus from late April to late May; according to Keiko, the Taurus New Moon occurs during the same period, but the Taurus Full Moon phase occurs during late October to late November.
What is the significance of each New Moon and Full Moon lunar phase? How is it different from each Sun phase? Keiko writes that each lunar phase represents a strategic time for individuals to speak to the universe about specific values, goals, and life changes. Keiko guides the reader in realizing these through Power Wishes. One doesn't need to be a Taurus to actively address Wishes during the Taurus phases; but Keiko instructs her audience with specific appropriate activities for each phase. For example, time your wishes to harness the particular strengths of respective zodiac signs, such as the speed of Aries, the financial expertise of Taurus, and the transformative power of Scorpio. She outlines how/when to make wishes that have the greatest cosmic resonance and realization potential.
Do I believe all of this or will I adopt every practice? Not necessarily, but it's certainly interesting material from a credible source. I've been dipping into THE POWER WISH as I've watched the moon shifts over the past month...and I'm eagerly awaiting the availability of the next New or Full Moon to try out a wish!
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
A Maine setting is always a personal draw for me, and this debut novel by Linda Holmes didn't disappoint! The author creates a convincing locale which resembles almost any small midcoast Down East town, complete with lobstermen, amateur sports events, pick up trucks, pinball machines, beer and cheap wine hangovers, and warm, genuine friendships.
Evvie Drake is recently widowed and she has secret. She isn't mourning her deceased husband, Tim; in fact, she was planning to leave him before the accident. So when her best friend, Andy, asks her to take in his best buddy, Dean Tenney, as a tenant, she doesn't hesitate. Especially once she meets Dean who is a handsome, polite, sensitive and funny former World Series champion pitcher. Dean can't throw straight anymore and his emotions are in left field. Evvie's attempts to "fix him" result in a close, tense and humorous relationship. Predictably it turns romantic, but the outcome isn't so obvious.
Entertaining, thoughtful and delightful...a relaxing summer read soon to be available in trade paperback.
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
When Canadian author/journalist, Tara Henley, set out to record her disillusionment and observations about modern life, no one could have predicted that her completed book would be published during the outbreak of a worldwide pandemic. Her story begins several years ago with a personal anxiety crisis brought on by, in her words, "a North American epidemic of lifestyle-related health problems." Timely? Spot on!
Launched into a COVID-19 universe, the subtitle of Henley's work imparts immediate relevance to a broad audience, probably a wider readership than she had ever imagined.
Her book delivers. Her message..."if the world hopes for relief from burnout, stress, pollution and self-destruction, the world must learn to "lean out."
Although global, Henley's reflections also remain extremely personal. Candidly, I believe she might have lightened some of her deep drama in the narrative; her emotional and physical distress seems repetitive in parts. But this also reinforces the urgency of her message...the need to step off the relentless work treadmill and restore life to a sustainable and meaningful
pace. She examines individuals and communities who have succumbed to overwork, consumerism and overdevelopment, shedding values and vision, and ultimately derailing. She pleads for social consciousness, human connection, a return to nature, and a simpler life.
LEAN OUT is a perfect read for these times as we have all been forced to pause, then to enter a "brave new world" and try to reclaim our lives. It's not a book to cozy up with...but rather one to awaken our desire for change.
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
I'm never one to turn down a dog story, so the title and jacket of this first novel drew me right in. Gray-haired woman sitting on a bench next to pooch who gazes up at her. Old woman meets adoring dog...
British author, Beth Morrey's debut book is indeed a love story. No disappointments. Dog walks, dog antics, dog loyalty, dog love...it's all here. As is the predictable and emotional dog "ending" with a guarantee of tears.
But this rich story holds so much more. Witty, honest, visual, evocative. Boy meets girl and a 60-year marriage begins. Neighbors meets neighbors and new dramas filter through layers of varying ages and experiences. Mother confronts daughter and past demons. Alzheimers snuffs out brilliance and clarity but not devotion. In this "coming-of-old" tale, love and forgiveness conquers all.
With an 80-year-old protagonist in the lead role, I believe this book will appeal mostly to older readers (or perhaps dog lovers of any vintage.) If you're a fan Of Eleanor Oliphant, Ove, or Britt-Marie, don't miss out on Missy Carmichael.
Sandy Ferguson Fuller
Navy SEAL Team Operator and military dog handler, Will Chesney, shares his riveting true story about his relationship with an extraordinary dog. Cairo was a Belgian Malinois who
became Will's charge when he accepted the position of dog handler, partly curious about this unique. evolving position in his elite Seal unit, but also because of his devotion to dogs. Chesney never expected the enormities this life-changing relationship would bring--his consuming responsibility to master an affectionate attack-trained animal; the dangerous missions when Cairo saved many lives including his own; Cairo's own life-threatening combat injury and miraculous recovery: the consummate May 2011 Seal assignment to kill Bin Laden which Will shared with Cairo, the sole dog on the mission; and the ultimate final act of saying goodbye to his best friend. Emotional, historical, graphic, unforgettable.
Chesney also narrates the audio version. Listeners sense that he has never before written a book, nor delivered his own narrative. But the audio is not to be missed.
A fast-paced engaging novel with immediate appeal for anyone who has sailed a smaller craft for days on end across open ocean waters. The author delivers her narrative like an
autobiography, so intimately that her voice belies fiction. From the outset, the reader knows that the family voyage will end tragically, but the actual cause of their demise comes as a surprise. Amity Gaige offers up a thriller and a compassionate story about two parents and their two young children who challenge the boredom of a conventional life and take to the sea. A tribute to marriage, parenting, courage, loyalty and love.
I crave themes re nature, wildlife, self-assurance and survival. This is an engaging middle grade read for boys/girls who love animals and the outdoors. Includes all of the pulls/tugs of being a kid with an eye on the "grass is greener" if you live in another place or with a different family. But young Newt begins to appreciate everything (including his best friend, Ethan) about what he truly values re his current life. Beautifully written...I love sharing such exquisite imagery, insight and language with this audience.
The first-time author adds in her Acknowledgments:
"Even on dark days, the world is full of good and wonder down to it's weirdest, tiniest parts."
How appropriate for our current every day.
A fascinating read about Alaska, the Yukon River territory, and the ongoing struggles and disturbing conflicts surrounding the commercial salmon industry and the local independent anglers who fish for survival. The author is a freelance journalist who devoted an entire summer to navigating the Yukon and he exposes the landscape and its residents with color and candor. Guaranteed to entertain and to enlighten. You will never look a salmon in the eye the same way again.
An epic novel about the Alaskan new -frontier culture and the indomitable homesteaders who tamed the land in the 1980s. Anyone who experienced the Vietnam War and and following decades will especially relate to several dysfunctional characters who inhabit this story and the emotional devastation common in the post-era. Strong characters, complex relationships, and vivid landscapes. From the author of THE NIGHTINGALE, a different voice but equally engaging story.
Animal lovers and wildlife conservationists will be awed by this true story of an Alaskan wolf and his unconventional friendship with the author, his dog, and their local Juneau community. There may never be another splendid and unique wolf such as Romeo, whose spirit and legacy still grace the northern suburban lake where he made his home. Nick Jans is a bestselling nonfiction nature author.
When the snow flies, the plows must come out, day or night! Deb Bruss and the award-winning illustrators Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson team up to showcase a night in the life of a snowplow driver, his tireless puppy and trusty machine as they safely clear the roads for the bright new morning. For fans of GOODNIGHT , GOODNIGHT CONSTRUCTION SITE.
The talented author/illustrator team from Germany (creators of ELEPHANTASTIC) returns with the North American edition of A TIGER LIKE ME. Every kid will relate to the super powers brought to an otherwise boring day when one morphs into a tiger! But when evening comes, even the most ferocious beast needs the love and comfort of the family den! Tourlonias's artwork makes Engler's story irresistible.
Be patient with this original, intriguing novel...travel with the characters as far as Peru and you'll be hooked. Adult fans of Harry Potter, the Andes, historical fiction, mystery and time travel will find Natasha Pulley's voice, plot and characters unique and unforgettable. Merits a spot on your permanent personal bookshelf because you'll want to read it again.
I was first introduced to this wonderful story in the audio version for adults. For younger readers, this beautiful edition with photographs celebrates the unforgettable relationship between a man and his adopted elephant herd. If you love animals, especially elephants, you will not be able to stop reading...and expect a few tears at the end.
A quintessential picture book with perfect blending of text, illustration, subtle humor and wisdom. Funny and original with a helpful message too. Adults will ENJOY sharing this story with youngsters, especially those who are going to school for the first time or who have any doubts about how to make friends and influence people (or dinosaurs or goldfish!)