Educated by Tara Westover

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This was my Book Club’s pick for September!  I enjoy reading memoirs, although I hadn’t really heard much about this book before it was picked.  The cover was intriguing to me.  I did end up listening to this on audio.  The story stirred up a lot of conversation, a great pick for book clubs!

This story was unreal.  Tara shares with us the tale of how she grew up and how she became something far apart from her upbringing.  She was 17 before she ever entered a class room.  There didn’t seem to be the time between planning for the apocalypse, canning peaches and helping her mother concoct remedies out of herbs for her mothers midwife gig.

Her father forbade hospitals, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse.  Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with her mothers tinctures.  The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education and no one to intervene when one of Tara’s older brothers became violent.

Tara began educating herself, sometimes hiding behind a chair to do so.  She taught herself enough mathematics and grammar to be admitted to Brigham Young University, where she studied history, learning for the first time about important world events like the Holocaust, which was mind blowing that she knew nothing about!

There is so much that goes on in this book, you’ll want to keep reading it.  It was said by a few book club members that they found it a little hard to get into at first, but got better.  Have you read this book or are you reading it in your book club?  Let me know your thoughts!

Available on Amazon – Educated by Tara Westover

Zoo Nebraska: The Dismantling of an American Dream by Carson Vaughan

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This was my book club’s pick for July!  I was talking with our hostess and said “look at this book!”  To my surprise, she had already read it! Not only that, but her husband used to live in the town where this book takes place!  Of course she decided that she would pick it to read at book club!

Welcome to Royal, NE with a population of about…80 folks.  The town wasn’t really much to look at, with a bunch of abandoned buildings and dirt roads.  Although what it did have, was it’s own Zoo and for nearly 20 years!  This made for an interesting tourist attraction for the area, although eventually things took a turn for the worse.  This is where our story is made, in the tragedy of Zoo Nebraska.

It all began with a vision from Dick Haskin, who was studying to be a primatologist.   He is struggling with the idea of leaving his current job and the chimpanzee he has trained, for a chance to go to Rwanda and work with primatologist Dian Fossey.  Unfortunately, her death dissolves any chances of this dream to work on conservation.  Dick’s devotion to primates didn’t fully die with her.  He returns to his hometown with Reuben, an adolescent chimp, in the bed of a pickup truck and transformed a trailer home into the Midwest Primate Center.  As the tourist trade multiplied, so did the inhabitants of what would become Zoo Nebraska,  boosting the economy in Royal and became the  source of a power struggle that would lead to the tragic implosion of Dick Haskin’s dream again.

Later on in the story, things takes a turn for the worse when an enclosure is left unlocked and several chimpanzees escape.  With Dick Haskin out of the picture at this point, all hell breaks loose at the Midwest Primate Center.  If there is one thing you need to know about chimpanzees, it’s that they are extremely strong.  At one point in the story, a chimp grabs a workers leg and snaps it, like it was a twig.  So you can imagine the chaos that is exploding.  Now, this is a very small town in Nebraska mind you and certain force is brought out against the chimps to protect the visitors and on lookers.  Unfortunately, the result ends in the death of one chimp in particular that was dear to Dick Haskin.

The only reason I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars, was there were points in the book that I actually skipped over because the author would sort of ramble on about things that were irrelevant to the story.  I would recommend this book, although be prepared as it really isn’t a happy story, but one that did need to be told.

Available on Amazon – Zoo Nebraska: The Dismantling of an American Dream by Carson Vaughan

 

Down from the Mountain: The Life and Death of a Grizzly Bear by Bryce Andrews

 

 

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The cover is breathtaking, the story is phenomenal.   This is a true story about a bear named Millie in Montana; her life, her cubs, her death and the story that led the author to write this book for us.

In an absolutely beautifully written account, Bryce tells Millie’s story.  Millie was a typical mother: strong, cunning, fiercely protective of her cubs. But raising those cubs was hard. The mountains were changing, as the climate warmed and people crowded the valleys. There were obvious dangers, like poachers, and subtle ones, like the corn field that drew her into human territory, and sure trouble.

The grizzly bear is North America’s largest predator.  They are starting to return to their normal romping grounds in the West, only to find that humans are now roosting.  This is where the author’s story meets Millie’s.  In this book, he shows how this singular story is a piece of a much larger one in the West: an entangled, bloody collision between people protecting a life they’ve known for generations, and the people fighting to preserve one of America’s wildest landscapes.

When Bryce is called to help with a non-profit group called People and Carnivores, which focuses on the intersection of wilderness and development.  In the same area where Millie resides, he works to help one particular farmer to protect his corn fields from these very hungry creatures.  We learn about a conflict in a corn field in the Mission Valley and Andrews’ work to keep bears from gorging on the easy meal.  More importantly, though, Andrews takes us inside the mind of bear Millie, as she traverses the mountains and leads her cubs to the fields. These sections of imaginative prose make the writing and the story come alive.

I would highly recommend this book!

Available on Amazon – Down from the Mountain: The Life and Death of a Grizzly Bear by Bryce Andrews

Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live by Rob Dunn

 

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥

 

The cover is creepy, the title is creepy.  How could I not read it? Just the title makes you look up around you getting the feeling someone or SOMETHING is watching you.  I love reading books about Natural History and what goes on around us, even right under our noses.  I stumbled upon this book and thought I would give it a whirl.  It wasn’t exactly what I was hoping for, but still interesting none the less!

The author is fascinated by the organisms that live in our homes and there are a LOT of them—roughly 200,000 species. He is a professor of Applied Ecology at North Carolina State University and also works at the Natural History Museum of Denmark. He initially undertook this study of indoor organisms with the idea that he could help to make our homes healthier. The BIG takeaway from the book is that humans benefit from biodiversity—leave your windows open and don’t kill all of the spiders that get in your house!  I personally keep a few of the ‘good spiders’ around just for good measure!

“Fewer than a hundred species of bacteria, viruses and protists cause nearly all of the infectious illnesses in the world.” Unfortunately, these guys also are some of the toughest microbes to get rid of. So—when we douse our houses and bodies with antiseptics; we actually kill off the natural predators that would keep these bad microbes at bay.  I had already been aware of most of what he talks about, portions of it kind of dragged on BUT still made a person think!

What I got from this book: I learned interesting facts about mammals and insects that live in our homes. It greatly reduced my fear of black widow spiders and developed a grudging respect for cockroaches (still gagging though). It made me look at the dust on my windowsill differently.  This book convinced me that in 100 years our war against all forms of bacteria will be seen as backwards as bloodletting. By removing as many species from our homes as possible, we’ve created a space where beneficial bacteria, insects, and more cannot survive, opening us up to invasions of pathogens and disease.

Would I recommend this book?  Yes.  It’s interesting and will in fact make you say “hmmmm.”

Available on Amazon – Never Home Alone: From Microbes to Millipedes, Camel Crickets, and Honeybees, the Natural History of Where We Live by Rob Dunn

Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This book was a reach for me as I don’t normally read these styles of books.  I’m so glad I listened to all the hype from my fellow readers!  This. Book. Was. GREAT!  It also lead me to start listening to her podcasts as well.  She has great knowledge and lays things out to you exactly how they are.  Yes, there were some parts in this book that I thought….”woah, woah, woah chill out lady!” but such a good read!  It’s really hard not to get motivated after you read this as well as listen to some of her podcasts!

This really isn’t some sort of self-help book as one would think.  It’s really the story of Rachel Hollis, founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Chic Media.  She has created an online fan base of hundreds of thousands of fans by sharing tips for living a better life while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own.  She’s failed, she’s lived and she’s learned and she shares it all with us, with no masks of how she earned every bit of where she is now.

Check out this book as well as the next one.  Also, find her on Instagram and her podcast Rise as well as the one she does with her husband – Rise Together!

Available on Amazon – Girl, Wash Your Face: Stop Believing the Lies about Who You Are So You Can Become Who You Were Meant to Be by Rachel Hollis