This Much Country by Kristin Knight Pace

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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.

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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!

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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/

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

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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.

 

 

 

 

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

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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

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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.

The Dinosaur Artist: Obsession, Betrayal, and the Quest for Earth’s Ultimate Trophy by Paige Williams

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This was a very interesting story!  Paige Williams tells the story of a man named Eric Prokopi and the dinosaur bones he sells, especially the bones of a Tarbosaurus or T. Bataar for short.

A T. Bataar is a very, very close cousin to the well known Tyrannosaurus, but T. Bataar skeletons are only found in Asia where they flourished about 70 million years ago.  Most bones of the T. Bataar have been found in Mongolia….and here is where the problem lies and a story appears…….

In 2012, a New York auction said they had a “superb Tyrannosaurus skeleton” for sale.  It was actually a ‘nearly’ complete T. Bataar, unearthed in Mongolia.  As the fossils sat on display, the winning bid was for over $1 million dollars and the man behind the bones – a 38 year old named Eric Prokopi.

Eric, a onetime swimmer who spent his teenage years diving for shark teeth, Prokopi’s singular obsession with fossils fueled a thriving business hunting, preparing, and selling specimens, to clients ranging from natural history museums to avid private collectors like actor Leonardo DiCaprio.

But there was a problem.  As the T. Bataar went to auction, a network of paleontologists alerted the government of Mongolia and an international custody began……..

I highly recommend this book!  Such an interesting story and history of the dinosaur trade, something we don’t really think about on a daily basis!

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In Search of the Canary Tree: The Story of a Scientist, a Cypress, and a Changing World by Lauren E. Oakes

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

This was an interesting book about a Scientist who has a little bit different view on the changing of the climate.   Lauren Oakes spent years studying one tree species and this is her adventure and the conclusion she came to along the way!

At one point, Lauren ended up in Alaska to hunt for the dying tree species called the yellow cedar.  In some places she discovered that with the changing weather, these trees were dying off and not growing back at all.  She interviews locals who uses these trees to make a living.  It was interesting to hear why these locals thought the tree population was declining, some said logging and some said climate change.

Now, I know there is a lot speculation and negative talk about climate change, which is why I really liked this book.  Lauren actually discovers that there is a resiliency of forgotten forest, some that are flourishing in the wake of the changing temperatures.  Some plants are thriving and growing in this circle of life and the people around them are creating new relationships with the emerging environment.

So yes this is in part a story about how climate change is effecting the plant life, but it’s also a lesson in resilience of plants, people and the natural world.

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The Library Book by Susan Orlean

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

The fire pulled back from the southeast section of the building and curled up in the northeast stacks, where it glowered angrily, feeding itself book after book, a monster snacking on chips.

Susan Orlean did a fantastic job writing this book.  When this epic fire happened, not many around the states had even heard about the ordeal because also around that same time – Chernobyl happened.

 

“On the morning of April 28, 1986, a fire broke out at the  the Los Angeles Public Library.  As the moments passed, the patrons and staff who had been cleared out of the building realized this was not the usual fire alarm. As one fireman recounted, “Once that first stack got going, it was ‘Goodbye, Charlie.’” The fire was disastrous: it reached 2000 degrees and burned for more than seven hours. By the time it was extinguished, it had consumed four hundred thousand books and damaged seven hundred thousand more. Investigators descended on the scene, but more than thirty years later, the mystery remains: Did someone purposefully set fire to the library—and if so, who?” – via Goodreads

“The Library Book chronicles the LAPL fire and its aftermath to showcase the larger role that libraries play in our lives; delves into the evolution of libraries across the country and around the world, from their humble beginnings as a metropolitan charitable initiative to their current status as a cornerstone of national identity; brings each department of the library to vivid life through on-the-ground reporting; studies arson and attempts to burn a copy of a book herself; reflects on her own experiences in libraries; and reexamines the case of Harry Peak, the blond-haired actor long suspected of setting fire to the LAPL more than thirty years ago.” – via Goodreads

Susan’s witty writing leads you on a journey of  more than just books—but about a tragic fire that impacted more lives than you could imagine!  She adds science and insight to the aftermath of the fire as well as the fire itself from doing extensive research for this book.  I highly recommend this book to all!!

……..because here is the home of our oldest and best friends—-Books.

The 1986 Los Angeles Public Library Fire from ARchive LAPL on Vimeo.

More information about the LAPL fire: https://www.lapl.org/collections-resources/blogs/lapl/april-29-marks-30th-anniversary-1986-fire

 

Lily Dale: The True Story of the Town that Talks to the Dead by Christine Wicker

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Rating: ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥

Lily Dale is a real town in New York, although it is far from your average community.  When Lily Dale was founded about 120 years ago, even Susan B. Anthony was a guest.

In the town of Lily Dale, lives several Spiritualist and Mediums.  On day reporter and author Christine Wicker discovers this strange town and is determined to understand it’s ‘secret forces’ – human or otherwise.  In the book, she follows three visitors: a newly bereaved widow; a mother whose son killed himself; and a beautiful, happily married wife whose first visit to Lily Dale brings an ominous warning.

Christine is a skeptic.  Are the people of this town really able to see into the other-side or are they just out to make a buck?  Investigating a movement that attracted millions of Americans in the 1800s and now barely survives, Christine moves beyond the mediums’ front parlors and into the lives that tourists never see. She follows the mediums to a place where what we know and how we know it is the greatest mystery of all.

This was an interesting book and look into this odd society that actually exists today.  If you look at Lily Dale on Google Maps, each house is even labeled with what Medium is currently living there.  The author herself finds answers that she didn’t even know she was looking for.

I find it fascinating to read about the walks of life that go to Lily Dale to find peace, hope or the chance to talk to a loved one who has passed to the other-side.  Now, a few years ago I read a book called “Beware the Night” by Ralph Sarchie…..if you read that, you might think twice about trying to contact the other side!  Either way, this was an interesting book that unveils the truth behind some of these Mediums who sometimes do trick you or use lighting to fool you….others….well, I’ll let you be the judge of that!