This Much Country by Kristin Knight Pace

40697548

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I listened to this book on Audio as it was narrated by the actual author herself!  Such an amazing story and a great writer!  Kristin writes her story in all it’s raw and beauty for us in a way that made you feel as though you were right there with her.

In 2009 Kristin went through a divorce that left her in pieces.  She decides to accept an offer to live at a friend’s cabin outside of Denali National Park in Alaska for a few months. In exchange for housing, she would take care of her friend’s eight sled dogs.  It was during this winter that she grew to learn how tough she actually was and how to survive in one of the most remote places on earth.  Here is where a love bloomed with a man, Andy,  and of course running with sled dogs.

6.-Dog-21150473_1590879524310631_4659306792016458930_n

Photo: Katie Orlinsky – Racing dog, Piper

Kristin and Andy eventually start a a sled dog kennel of their own.  Kristin starts training of her own to complete a life goal to complete the Iditarod, the 1,000-mile dogsled race from Anchorage, in south central Alaska, to Nome on the western Bering Sea coast.  She is so honest and the weather is so brutal, but she loves every single part of it.  Along her journey there is loss that will make you tear up and triumph that will make you want to stand up and cheer right along with her.

This is the authors journey through her transformation and where it has brought her to today.  She is amazing and this story is one that I think anyone will find enjoyable, also making you want to put several layers of clothes on!

2.-14dogrun.jpg

Photo: Kristin Knight Pace

 

Interesting article I found about “A DAY IN THE LIFE OF…Kristin Knight Pace, Dog Musher” – http://lessonsinbadassery.com/day-life-kristin-knight-pace-dog-musher/

Advertisements

The Snow Leopard Project: And Other Adventures in Warzone Conservation by Alex Dehgan

38740747.jpg

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This was a very interesting book, although I only gave it 4 out of 5 stars as some of the writing lost me in a couple places.  Otherwise, it was great!

Alex Dehgan arrives in Afghanistan in 2006 in hopes to build the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Afghanistan Program, and preserve and protect Afghanistan’s unique and extraordinary environment, which had been decimated after decades of war.  Quite honestly, I never thought about wildlife in that area and what war would do to their home.  I was also surprised at all the animals that actually live there!

Alex found out that conservation actually provided a bond between his team and the people of Afghanistan.  The team worked unarmed in some of the most dangerous places in the country.  Some were so remote that winding roads would just disappear, and travel was on foot, yak, or mule.

This is Alex’s account as he and his team helped create the country’s first national park, completes the some of the first extensive wildlife surveys in thirty years, and works to stop the poaching of the country’s endangered animals, including the elusive snow leopard.  Some of these animals somehow even navigate mine fields, which is why no one had really ventured into finding out what was still out there and alive after all these years of war.

 

 

 

 

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate

Book-Club32148570._SY475_

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This was my book club’s pick for June!  It stirred up some very good discussions about this tale that reflects upon a true story that happened in Memphis around 1939.

Before We Were Yours follows five children and their life on the Mississippi River upon a shanty-boat.   One night their mother needs to be rushed to the hospital before a storm hits, feeling as though she may be having complications with her pregnancy.  The older of the children, Rill is left in charge.

The next day, strangers arrive at their boat.  No parents in sight.  The children are coaxed off their boat with promises of visiting their mother who is recovering in the hospital.  A lie that starts as a trickle and turns into a churning forceful river.  The children are not taken to the hospital, they are taken to the Tennessee Children’s Home Society orphanage.

The tale ultimately moves from two stories, one in the past with the children and one in the present with Avery Stafford.  Avery’s character  discovers a long-hidden family secret.  One that will tie both families in together in a way that you won’t expect.

This book is based on one of America’s most notorious real-life scandals in which Georgia Tann, director of a Memphis-based adoption organization, kidnapped and sold poor children to wealthy families all over the country.

The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

41138424

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This book wasn’t exactly what I thought it was, it was actually much better!  This story follows three different generations, all part of a very prominent family.  I usually don’t like books that flop between time periods and characters as I sometimes get them mixed up.  For some reason or another this book didn’t pose these issues at all for me!  Very well written!

The story begins with Kitty and Ogden Milton, the seemingly perfect family.  Tragedy befalls them and Ogden decides to buy Kitty an island in Maine.  This house on this island becomes a time piece for the Milton family year after year.  Then something happens…….

Fast forward a bit and man named Len Levy gets a job in the Ogden’s bank.  Len meets one of Ogden’s daughters and falls in love.  His best friend also happens to be a colored man named Reg Pauling.  For the time period, this was a bit frowned upon with all the racism going on at that time and both find themselves one night on the Milton’s island and then….something happens…….

Now we are in present day and the story is told through the eyes of Kitty’s granddaughter.  A granddaughter and generation who are in line to inherit the island…although no one seems to be able to afford it, they may even have to sell it.  Then, the past seems to sneak out of the waters surrounding the island and slowly engulfs their lives and secrets begin to come to light.

Mostly Sunny: How I Learned to Keep Smiling Through the Rainiest Days by Janice Dean

39320165

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Oh Janice Dean, the most bubbly person you get to see in the mornings if you watch Fox & Friends!  She always seems happy, so I thought this book would be interesting to read on how she learned to “keep smiling through the rainiest days”.  She always reminds me of myself, always trying to look on the bright side and bubbly!

Janice had wanted to be a news reporter ever since she was little.  Her first gig was HORRIBLE with Imus in the Morning.  I mean, some of the things that Janice went through there…..it was jaw dropping!  Thank goodness she got out of there when she could!  She is now a full-time meteorologist on Fox & Friends, with much better co-workers.

This story talks about all the crazy things she went through to get to where she is today, including her battle with multiple sclerosis.  She survived attacks, adversity, and a business controlled by ruthless men. She knows how love, counting your blessings, and having a good therapist can get you through more than you would expect.

I loved how honest Janice was in her book and she talks about it all, with no holding back!  Including the fateful meeting with her firefighting husband after he lost his colleagues on 9/11 and how the pressure on women in television led her to a cosmetic procedure that could have ended her career.   Somehow, through everything, here she is, refusing to let any of it rain on her parade!  I just love her!  This is a must read!

My Ten-Acre Wilderness: A Misfit Girl’s Quest for Home by Jodi L. Auborn + Author Interview

45729005

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

I would first like to thank the author for sharing her story with me and taking the time for an interview as well!  Author Jodi Auborn opens up a piece of her life to us in her book “My Ten-Acre Wilderness”.  A piece of her life that shaped her into who she is today, put into words with a few photographs along the way.

In her book, Jodi claims that she knew she was an unusual child, one who had dreams of owning a horse to call her own and living out in the wilderness.  This is what drew me to her story.  I think many children growing up had the same hopes and dreams, Jodi on the other hand got to live some of them.

When she is around ten years old, Jodi’s parents build their very own log cabin in the Adirondack forest.  Her story follows as she explores her new home and the trails around it.  She shares with us her experiences with many pets, which I loved as I love animals as well!  As well as a few hardships she faced along the way.

Her story made me look back at my memories from my childhood and reflect on them.  Camping trips, being outdoors, vacations….only she puts her memories into words to share with readers.  The book isn’t long, which makes it a nice read and her way of writing is fantastic!  You get a glimpse into her childhood as well a reflect upon on your own past and what has shaped us to become who we are today.

Jodi also has published a children’s chapter book as well called “Matthais: The Ghost of Salvation Point” among a few others, find out more on her website: http://www.jodilauborn.webs.com

author-interview

Sierra:  Tell us a little about yourself?

Jodi: Well, I’m single, and live in a small town in eastern upstate New York, settled in a valley between the Adirondack Mountains and Lake Champlain. In the summers I work at a New York State campground, and at an apple-packing house during the winter. I love all types of pets, but currently just have a yellow tomcat and a white Appaloosa horse. Horses have been a big part of my life since my dad bought me my first one at age twelve.

I’ve played the guitar for years (not great, but I try), and also took up the ukulele a few years ago. My other hobbies include drawing and making crafts, cross-stitch sewing, designing houses, flower gardening, photography, and reading. Living and growing up in the Adirondack region has also given me a love for camping and hiking, canoeing and sailing. In fact, I work at the same campground where my parents had taken me for several childhood vacations.

 

Sierra:  When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?

Jodi: I was already writing (or at least making up) stories and poems by the time I was in elementary school. As I young child, I shocked my mother when I drew gory illustrations of a war that I imagined between noble unicorns and evil dragons. In third grade, a Christmas creative writing assignment prompted me to write a preachy short story called “The Little Tree Learns About Jesus,” in which a sad and rejected Christmas tree learns about the birth of Jesus, which makes him happy. (My mom thought it was wonderful and has kept it to this day, but rereading that story makes me cringe. However, the teacher liked it so much that she read it out loud to the class…in a public school, no less.) A few years later, I started writing a story about a boy who ran away with his horse and stowaway little brother, and always made up dramas that I acted out with my My Little Ponies.

I started writing my first book, “Stormwind of the North Country,” when I was ten years old. I got the idea from a strange dream I had one night. I recorded the dream into a notebook, but soon it inspired a long story that became the first draft of a book! I continued to write it, off and on, for over twenty years, and went through seven or eight drafts. I was in my early thirties when it was published in 2009. And the vision that I saw in the dream remains in Chapter Three, “Tragedy and Hope.”

 

Sierra:  Tell us a little bit about your first book or the first book in the series.

Jodi: “Stormwind of the North Country” begins as a horse story in which a teenage girl, Kat, struggles to rescue Stormwind, her favorite horse at her neighbor’s stable. Stormwind and the other horses are being abused and neglected by their cruel owner, and when Kat hears that Stormwind is getting shipped to the slaughterhouse, she knows that she must act fast!

Meanwhile, her widowed father invites his long-distance girlfriend to spend the summer at their farmhouse in the Adirondack Mountains. Kat and her younger brother discover that the conniving woman secretly schemes to steal their valuable property so her family’s land-development company can build condos on it. When their father doesn’t believe them, Kat decides to run away into the wilderness with Stormwind and her dog. There, she befriends a fellow runaway, and their lives become intertwined in a way that brings all the aspects of the story together.

Over the years, it grew from a simple horse story for little girls to a tale of outdoor adventure and survival, friendship and love, and the importance of being true to yourself and your beliefs. It contains violence and themes of child- and animal abuse, but finally comes to a happy and hopeful ending.

 

Sierra: How did you choose the genre you write in?

Jodi: My books are Middle-Grade and the “younger” end of Young Adult. It just seems to me like an interesting time in everyone’s life when you’re old enough to do things on your own, but still free to do “kid” stuff. My story ideas just naturally grow out of my own experiences, dreams, and wishes. “Adult” issues really don’t interest me. I’m like a ten-year-old kid at heart. ☺

 

Sierra: What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write?

Jodi: In “My Ten-Acre Wilderness,” my favorite chapter was “Sally,” when my childhood wish for a horse came true. The summer that I described in that chapter seemed like such a magical time. It was a turning point in my life, and in the book.

In “Stormwind of the North Country,” I’ve always liked the last chapter, “An Eventful Picnic,” when the main character, Kat’s, friend is attacked by one of the villains and Kat must ride for help on her horse. The chapter also introduces Jake, who became such a favorite character of mine that I made him the hero of the sequel!

 

Sierra:  Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

Jodi: Everything in my memoir, “My Ten-Acre Wilderness,” really happened to me, but my three novels are purely imagination. However, the settings in “Stormwind of the North Country” and its sequel are based on real places that I knew and loved. Some parts of my life also made it into the story, such as my childhood and teenage adventures in the woods.

 

Sierra: Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

Jodi: Growing up: any and all horse books! Although, the horse vs. truck accident scene in “The Horse Whisperer” still creeps me out, since I’ve always ridden my horse(s) along the road.

As an adult: “Heaven,” by Randy Alcorn. It’s a fascinating look at what the Bible says about the afterlife and eternity. It made me unafraid of death and excited about the future!

 

Sierra: Do you ever experience writers block?

Jodi: All the time. My imagination is always working, thinking up the most exciting plots and conversations, but unfortunately, it’s during the times when I can’t write them down. Then when I sit down to write, everything goes blank.

 

Sierra: Is there an author that you would really like to meet?

Jodi: I would have liked to have met Anne LaBastille, who had written several memoirs about her life in a remote cabin that she had built with her friends on an Adirondack lake. She seemed like she would have been an interesting person to talk to. Unfortunately, she died several years ago.

 

Sierra: Will you have a new book coming out soon? If so, can you tell us about it?

Jodi:  At this time (2019), I’m working on rewriting and republishing “Stormwind” and its sequel, “Secrets of the North Country.” After that, I’m planning a dystopian novel about an orphaned brother and sister who are searching for their long-lost older sister, while on the run from the government that murdered their parents. They are taken in by a band of “rebels:” un-brainwashed people who were banished by the government. The rebels lead a hard and primitive (but free) life outside the official “communities” to which most people are confined. But the siblings’ pursuers want them dead…and they don’t know who they can trust.

 

Sierra: If you could go back and do it all over again, is there any aspect of your first novel or getting it published that you would change?

Jodi: After years of submitting “Stormwind” to publishers and agents with no success, I was thrilled when it was finally accepted by (the now defunct) Publish America. I didn’t know about their bad reputation at the time. However, I never had any problems with them, except for the fact that they priced the books outrageously high. I’m grateful that they published my first three books, which gave me a local fan base and moderate success selling at book and craft fairs, but if I had known more about self-publishing, I wouldn’t have gone with them.

I had heard of CreateSpace, but mistakenly believed that they charged thousands of dollars to print books. After I learned that there was a big difference between “vanity” and Indie publishing, I decided to go for it with my fourth book, “Matthias: The Ghost of Salvation Point.” I’m glad that I did, since Publish America went out of business shortly after. It turned out to be a good thing, though, since it gave me the opportunity to revise and improve each book and charge a reasonable amount for them. That’s why I’m rewriting my first two novels, and plan to print them (and any future books) through CreateSpace/Amazon KDP. (Although I wouldn’t turn down a contract from a legitimate, big-time publisher! ☺)

 

 

Sierra: Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Jodi: Never give up on what you really want to do! Write what you’re passionate about, even if it’s not what’s popular at the time. Never lose faith in yourself and your book. Research publishers and agents to make sure they’re reputable. And whether you decide to self-publish or try to get accepted by a traditional publisher, always PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD, PROOFREAD before you send out your work!

 

Sierra: Is there anything you would like to say to your readers and fans?

Jodi: Thank you to everyone who has read and/or bought my books! I hope you enjoyed the stories. For more information about me and my books, you can visit my website at http://www.jodilauborn.webs.com.

I Am, I Am, I Am: Seventeen Brushes with Death by Maggie O’Farrell

35137915

Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This book was very interesting and a little mind blowing.  Quite honestly, after reading the book I was telling my friends at Book Club that I wouldn’t want to be anywhere near this woman and what I would call ‘bad luck’!

This is Maggie O’Farrell’s memoir of exactly as it states….her SEVENTEEN brushes with death!  You read that right…SEVENTEEN and some are just plain eerie!  Despite her misfortunes, this is actually a story of being fortunate and alive to tell us her tale of these strange events that have occurred!

Part of me was wondering……is she that naive for these things to happen to her or is she just really that unlucky?  Either way, this book is a must read.  Seventeen discrete encounters with Maggie at different ages, in different locations, reveal a whole life in a series of tense, visceral snapshots.  It really reveals how life can be so dark and precious at the same time.

If you have already read this book, I want to know your thoughts!  Happy cringing while reading folks!