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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review So Brave, Young and Handsome by Leif Enger

    I’m a big Leif Enger fan. One of my all time favorite books is his first novel Peace Like a River, published in 2001. I also immensely enjoyed Virgil Wander, published in 2018. This book, falls between these two published in 2008, and I am happy to have finally read it. Here is my Book Review So Brave, Young and Handsome by Leif Enger.

    It would be my dream come true to be able to write in such a gifted way as Leif Enger. Because what makes a brilliant author is one who has a believable and compelling plot that is married with outstanding character development. Leif Enger does that.

    So Brave, Young and Handsome is a coming of age story, but more for middle-aged men…the characters we fall in love with. Even the “bad guy” is someone your heart will go out to. Such a sign of exceptional storyline and writing.

    It’s 1915 in Minnesota when we meet Monte Becket, a fledging author trying to find his sense of purpose. Along comes Glendon, a reserved but beguiling man of similar age who literally materializes through the fog on the river.

    And so begins an adventure of a lifetime for Becket, and just one more dangerous and volatile adventure for wanted outlaw Glendon. The two befriend a young boy, stay one step ahead of the relentless bounty hunter Charles Siringo and make their way across the country together and separately to Glendon’s former wife Blue. And along the way what a story is told.

    Like Enger’s other two books, I could not put this page turner down. I loved it – even the bad guy. Thanks for reading my book review So Young Brave and Handsome by Leif Enger.

    *****Five big stars for So Young, Brave and Handsome

    See last week’s review of All That She Carried – The Journey of Ashley’s Sack

    My current read The Diamond Eye by Kate Quinn

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack

    By Tiya Miles

    A tumbled into this book without any knowledge of what it was about. I made the assumption that it was a fictional novel. It is not. What it is, is story of family through one simple object…told both through historical facts and speculation. Here is my book review All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake by Tiya Miles.

    I have never visited the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington DC. This Smithsonian museum was opened a decade after I last was in our capital. But this book alone has made me realize I need to put this museum at the top of my visit list.

    A story told about a simple, embroidered, faded and worn sack. Miles uses the story of the sack (currently on display at the NMAAHC and on loan from the Middleton Family Plantation) to trace both facts and assumptions about the women whose hands it has passed.

    Beginning in the 1850’s with Rose a slave and mother, to Ashley a slave and daughter, to Ruth the great-granddaughter who embroiders the reflective words onto the sack. “A tattered dress, three handfuls of pecans, a braid of hair, my love always…”. All a mother could offer a daughter. But through the sack their lives are remembered and these women’s stories are meticulously researched in All That She Carried.

    But because slave records are often difficult to trace, particularly for women, Miles must use her wits and stories of other families and women to create a lineage of what may of happened along the way for the women and the sack. Miles takes the reader through the contents of the sack and we learn of history and family, slavery and sales, love and honor and the sheer will to survive through the story of the sack.

    This book was not what I expected, but I learned a great deal and felt a emotional attachment to the generations of resourceful women. Thank you for reading my Book Review All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack.

    ****Four stars for All That She Carried: The Journey of Ashley’s Sack, a Black Family Keepsake by Tiya Miles

    Read last week’s review The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family by Clint Howard and Ron Howard

    My current read So Young Brave and Handsome by Leif Enger

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family

    By Clint Howard & Ron Howard

    Growing up in TV and Hollywood seemed normal to Ron and Clint Howard as children. But through this memoir they look back in wonder at an incredible journey. Here is my book review The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family by Clint Howard and Ron Howard

    For my generation Ron and Clint Howard are a fixture of our childhood; Andy Griffith, Gentle Ben, Happy Days and many more. But unlike many child actors, Ron and Clint went on to survive and be successful thanks in a huge part to the love and guidance of remarkable parents.

    I really enjoyed this book for the reminiscence it gave me of movies and television I had forgotten about from my youth, but just as much for the anecdotes and stories. Stories of what it was like to grow up in front of the camera in an industry that more often than not destroys hopes and dreams.

    How did Clint and Ron survive and thrive? In this book, chapter by chapter, each brother tells his point of view of the good times and bad, love and loss, drugs and money, hopes and dreams. And through it all the remarkable guiding hand each had of loving parents who served as guardian and friend but never demanding stage parent or money-monger.

    Nostalgic and insightful, The Boys is a journey of one families experience in a city that is unforgiving and an industry where more fail than succeed. I enjoyed it and I think you would too. Thanks for reading my book review The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family by Clint Howard and Ron Howard

    *****Five Stars for The Boys: A Memoir of Hollywood and Family by Clint Howard and Ron Howard.

    Read last week’s review Taste – My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci

    My current read So Brave Young and Handsome by Leif Enger

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Taste My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci

    As you likely know, I love food. I love to cook, eat and I especially like to explore foods of the world when I travel. I find the connection of food to world cultures utterly fascinating. And I like food so much I even like reading about food. So I knew I would like this book. Here is my book review Taste My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci.

    I had heard of Stanley Tucci’s “Searching for Italy” show on CNN, but since I don’t own a TV I had never watched it. It had really good reviews, and so did this book, so I dived right in.

    It’s always fun to see another side of a celebrity, and Tucci an award winning actor has a profound foodie side. Not just from his Italian American heritage but about food from travels around the world. In this book he defines himself now as less of an actor and more of a foodie.

    The book is a collection of anecdotes from his childhood and college, first and second marriage, acting, writing and traveling. The book includes a wonderful collection of recipes too…and I intend to use these soon.

    He also is surprisingly funny. It’s been awhile since I laughed out loud while reading…what is funny about food? Well, when the author is Stanley Tucci there is a lot of funny.

    I had a fun and mouth watering read of this short and easy book. I hope you enjoyed my book review Taste My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci.

    *****Five stars for Taste My Life Through Food

    My current read The Mermaid’s Chair by Sue Monk Kidd

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    Read last week’s book review The Island of Missing Trees

    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

    For those of you who have been following My Fab Fifties Life for awhile, you probably remember we were trapped for two months on the island of Cyprus when the world shut down in March 2020. Although we were on lockdown and didn’t get to see any of the sites, it remains one of the most amazing experiences of our life. Since 2020 we have counted the days until we could return to this beautiful island, which we will do on June 23rd. So, in preparation for that return visit, we read this beautiful book. Here is my book review The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak.

    Cyprus

    Even if you never intend to visit Cyprus, you should read this book. Isn’t that what is so great about reading anyway…it transports you to somewhere new? The tiny island of Cyprus is one of the most remarkable places I have been…and I don’t think many people know anything about it. The supposed birthplace of Aphrodite this island has seen so much violence and Civil War. Once a British Colony, it became war torn in 1974 when the island was split between the Greek Cypriots and the Turkish Cypriots. Today the border conflict remains and this is the story behind The Island of Missing Trees.

    1970’s -2010

    The story spans forty years but begins in London in 2010 when we meet Ada, a 15 year old troubled young girl who has recently lost her mother. At first I’m not sure where this young lady fits in, but slowly the story unfolds of her parents love. Her father Kostas, a Greek Cypriot and her mother Defne a Turkish Cypriot are caught up in a forbidden love, just as Cyprus falls deep into Civil War. But how the story gets to London in 2010 is a sad and deep yarn.

    The Honorable Fig Tree

    Some people might find this part of the book strange, but I absolutely loved that this story is narrated by an old Fig Tree. This tree has stood for generations and has been witness to so much joy, love, grief, war and loss. And still it lives. Although it took me awhile to understand the narrator was a tree, it really added a depth to the story.

    Book Review The Island of Missing Trees

    Shafka builds a beautiful story, with so much reminiscent of today’s horrifying political unrest in Eastern Europe. The Island of Missing Trees at it’s core is about how politics (and politicians), civil unrest, war and strife cause untenable pain and damage for generations of human beings. So timely for today’s violent world. I hope you enjoyed my book review The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak.

    *****Five stars for The Island of Missing Trees

    Read last week’s review of Voices of the 21st Century

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Voices of the 21st Century by Gail Watson and Heather Markel

    Conscious, Caring Women Who Make a Difference

    One of the most fun things for me about traveling all over the world and being a travel writer, is meeting so many other travelers and travel writers. One travel writer I consider a friend is Heather Markel, despite the fact we have never met in person! Heather and I will meet for the first time when I am in New York later this month. She has a wonderful story about how she became a full-time traveler, and it is one story featured in this week’s book. Here is my book review Voices of the 21st Century by Gail Watson and Heather Markel.

    Voices of the 21st Century

    This book is the fifth in a series of Voices of the 21st Century books, highlighting women who make a difference. This book focuses on a series of inspirational essays where women from all walks of life and from many countries share. From triumphs to tragedies, these brave women motivate and galvanize through their writing. They influence and encourage other women to overcome, validate and soar.

    My Favorites

    I really enjoyed reading all of these essays (a total of 50) but certainly had a few I identified with the most. Of course I enjoyed my friend Heather’s story (page 97) about leaving the corporate chaos for a life of travel. And here are a few more that really spoke to me;

    Clearing the Clutter by Sandra Ateca page 5

    Dear Younger Me by Kim Combs page 25

    Impacting the World One Child at a Time by Dr. Gloria Gonzalez page 41

    Dear Zan: A Letter to My Younger Self by Zaneta Varnado Johns page 61

    Nature is Conscious by Chiara Marrapodi page 101

    An Ever-Evolving Journey: Coal-Mine Canary to Living Legend by Dr. Michelle St. Jane page 133

    Calling All Parents: Don’t Forget to Say Thank You by Janet J. Sawyer EdD page 149

    And many more…as you can tell from the variety of titles these women discuss a wide range of experiences, challenges and achievements. There is truly something for everyone in this book. I enjoyed getting to know these remarkable women through their individual stories. I think you would too. Thank you for reading my book review Voices of the 21st Century by Gail Watson and Heather Markel.

    Four Stars for Voices of the 21st Century

    Read last week’s book review Short Night’s of the Shadow Catcher

    My current read Taste – My Life Through Food by Stanley Tucci

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    Reading Wednesday

    Book Review Short Nights Of The Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan

    The Epic Life and Immortal Photographs of Edward Curtis

    This book is one that I read for my book club, and I likely would never have picked it up otherwise. But I am glad I did. This is unlike most of the books I read, but it was fascinating; a historical look at one of America’s least known historians. Someone who has roots right in my own back yard. Here is my book review Short Nights Of The Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan.

    Handsome, brilliant, talented Edward Curtis could have chosen many paths. But when an accident and injury as a young man caused him to discover photography his life would change forever. And with it the lives of thousands of people in the blossoming United States.

    Leaving his family in the pioneering outback of Port Orchard and traveling by boat to the lumber boom town of Seattle, Edward Curtis became one of the best known photographers in the world. Starting with a photo of Princess Angeline, the last surviving daughter of Chief Sealth (Seattle).

    Egan follows the story of Curtis’ life for the decades that follow, where he gives up everything to pursue a dream; a dream to capture and record the disappearing Native American tribes before it was too late. For thirty years Curtis will risk his life, as well as his family and finances in an effort to produce the series of books of photos of the American Indian.

    It would take everything he had. And the real recognition of his talent and contribution to preservation of the Native American and American West would not be realized until long after his death. The book is a captivating account of his life and passion, the period in the burgeoning USA as well as in my home state of Washington as well as a factual account of the tribes and people who are the real true Americans.

    I really enjoyed this book and learned so much. Thank you for reading my book review Short Nights Of The Shadow Catcher by Timothy Egan.

    Read last week’s review The Cactus League.

    My current read Voices of the 21st Century.

    See this week’s top performing pin here – Book Review Rules of Civility.

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