Book Reviews


md jungle_doctor

Jungle Doctor And The Whirlwind – Review

A fun read, in the tradition of James Herriot and Tom Dooley, Jungle Doctor follows Australian missionary Dr. Paul White on his daily adventures as a physician to tribal peoples in Tanzania, Africa, where navigating mud tracks, surviving violent whirlwind dust storms and battling a dysentery epidemic are all in a day’s work.

Dr. White passes on biblical principles in his daily practice through fables and story telling. With his faithful friend and assistant, Daudi, who also serves as interpreter with the natives, he performs surgery and treats patients in the most primitive conditions. He faces off against witch doctors and drug lords. The doctor’s narrative style hooks the reader and rivets him until the final page. Thankfully, there are several more books in the series, so readers can satisfy their need to hear more Jungle Doctor adventures.

I enjoy the way narrator Paul Michael reads with distinct and clear character voices. He is easy to listen to. Of the 29 Jungle Doctor books written by Paul White, Christian Audio has 4 of them in audiobook. Running 2-3 hours each and priced at $10.98, Jungle Doctor and the Whirlwind is great for family listening, car rides, and storytime. Produced in audiobook form for Christian Audio (c)2012.

Thanks to Christian Audio for providing me with a free review copy of this audiobook. No other compensation was received for this review.


md homecoming

Homecoming: Memoirs of a Deployed Marine

I don’t usually recommend books that have a lot of bad language, but since this author is my future son-in-law’s friend, and his story, other than the frequent raw language, is really very good, I am highly recommending it for adults who understand that this is written by a young, U.S. Marine, about serving in a time of conflict.
“Homecoming” is a book about U.S. Marines on deployment in Iraq, written by a Marine. My daughter’s fiance and the author, Russel Vineyard, served together in Iraq. Vineyard’s presentation is rough and raw, but true to life, and full of action and adventure. I do not recommend it for anyone under the age of 16, but for mature adults, it is an eye opener to what “our boys” go through “over there”.

I am proud of this young man for making such a courageous start as a writer, and hope he will continue to hone his skills and bring us more stories from his experience and imagination.

In support of all our Marines who have returned from active duty and are trying to get on with “normal” lives, and in support of all of us “starving” writers, I encourage you to check out this book;)

Homecoming: Memoirs of a Deployed Marine, by Russell Vineyard, (c) 2010


md love in disguise

Love In Disguise

“Love In Disguise” is a delightful romp through Arizona silver mining country. Desperate for a job, Chicago costume designer Ellie Moore convinces the world-famous Pinkerton Detective Agency to hire her to investigate a string of robberies out West. There she meets handsome young mine owner Steven Pierce and they fall in love. But does Steven really know who he is in love with? Not the middle-aged Lavinia, Ellie’s alter ego. What about captivating and vivacious Jessie, Lavinia’s “niece”? Will he love Ellie when he discovers her true identity? Will Ellie unmask the thieves before Steven and his associates lose their mines?

This may very well be Carol’s best book yet. Her gift for interweaving a tasteful romance with mystery and suspense is at its utmost. She also has a fantastic ability to share her faith in God in a subtle way without overwhelming the reader. Her love of Arizona’s history and landscape are also evident in her settings and characters. For “Love In Disguise”, Carol drew on her knowledge of Tombstone and the surrounding area, as well as her vast knowledge of Arizona history, to create a realistic, fictional mining town.

Highly recommended to anyone who enjoys living books, history, romance and mystery. The romance here is classy, suitable for early teens to older adults. Great for the family bookshelf.

“Love In Disguise”, by Carol Cox (c)2012,¬†ebook $9.99 and up, paperback $11.18 and up.

I downloaded this book for free from Amazon, during a 24 hour promotion. No compensation was received for this review.

md hotel bitter sweet

Hotel On The Corner of Bitter and Sweet
by Jamie Ford, (c)2009,

An old hotel, a Japanese parasol, a secret World War II internment camp. What do any of these have to do with a Chinese widower trying to get on with living? “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” tells a story of lost love, family betrayal and wartime oppression, set in Seattle, Washington.

Henry, a Chinese boy, and Keiko, a Japanese girl, become best friends shortly after the start of the Great War. When Japan bombs Pearl Harbor, the United States government starts “relocating” U.S. citizens of Japanese descent as well as Japanese immigrants, forcing them to abandon homes, businesses and treasured possessions. Ford’s depiction of the internment camps, though not as inhuman as the Nazi concentration camps, is nevertheless a frightening image of what a government is capable of, given too much power. As grown-up Henry works through his grief and guilt after the death of his wife, events unfold that give him new hope and purpose in life, and maybe, in love.

This was our September Book Club read. At first I thought it was a romance, which I don’t care for. After sneaking a peek at the first and last chapters, however, I realized it was historical fiction, which I greatly enjoy. I could not put it down, and I appreciate that it addresses one of the “dirty little secrets” of our great country. One of the benefits of books and now of the digital age, is the ability to expose such wrongs and make the general public aware, so that we can prevent them from happening again. I highly recommend “Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” for middle schoolers through adults.


md half_broke

Half Broke Horses, by Jeannette Walls, (c)2009, SimonandSchuster

This was a book club read, primarily because much of it takes place in our own area of Ash Fork, Seligman and Red Lake, AZ. We also found out that the husband of one of our members grew up with the author’s grandmother, Lily Casey Smith, who is the subject of the book – boy, that was an interesting discussion! After reading Shy Boy, the descriptions of breaking the ranch horses was rather disturbing. But there is one section where the truck Lily and her daughter are driving breaks down in the middle of the range and the best option is to coax a wild horse into helping them., It was nearly Shy Boy all over again. But only for that brief moment. The most interesting part of this book was the description of daily ranch life and travel during the Great Depression and the Great War (WWII).

To read about how children were reaised and treated at that time made me glad for improvements in attitudes toward childrearing. At 15 years of age, after spending 10 years working her father’s ranch and breaking horses, Lily Casey Smith rode solo, on horseback, from New Mexico to Northern Arizona to work as a teacher in the district of Red Lake. Her courage and resolve were inspiring. There are also stories of Lily and her siblings narrowly surviving flash floods, tornadoes, and living in a sod house.

I could relate to her feelings about the big cities of Chicago and Phoenix. Culture and modern comforts are nice, but too many people. My favorite lines are when Lily tells her husband “In the city people worry about themselves. In the country we worry about the weather and the livestock.”


md shy_boy

Shy Boy – The Horse That Came In From The Wild, by Monty Roberts, (c)1999, HarperCollinsPublishers
I love this story about Monty Roberts’ introduction to the wild mustang and his happening upon the language of horses which led to his great success in starting and rehabilitating dozens of horses, travelling the world to teach others to do the same.

Roberts tells the story of the wild horse, from its’ origins in North America and migration to Europe and Asia, to its’ arrival back in North America with Spanish explorers. From herd of millions which once roamed the great plains, to a few thousand survivors of government roundups, sport hunts and starvation. He also narrates the evolution of horse training, from brute force, to gentle cooperation. Nearly all these techniques have been around since man first decided to ride a horse but brute force tends to be thought the quicker, more popular way to “break” a horse. To get a horse to want to cooperate often takes more time and patience than most people have. Roberts shows in Shy Boy’s story, that taking that time is far more important in the long run than just quickly getting a saddle on. The proof is at the end of the book, when Shy Boy make his final choice between the herd and his gentler…


md eragon

Eragon, by Christopher Paolini, (c)2003
I was pleasantly surprised by this book. After watching the movie, which we had checked out from the library several times, we finally decided to read the book. It is my favorite kind of fantasy novel, similar to The Lord of the Rings, and Narnia. Some also compare it to Star Wars. Eragon is a poor farm boy who accidentally finds a dragon egg while he is out hunting. The ancient egg decides he is its “rider” and hatches for him. Eragon’s homeland is oppressed by an evil king who destroyed all the previous riders nearly a hundred years before. The only one who can help and educate Eragon about his new responsibility is an aged and mysterius storyteller, Brom.

Forced to flee their homes, Eragon, his dragon Saphira and Brom travel together across Alagaesia. Along the way, Brom trains Eragon in the skills he will need as a rider and encourages him to help the Varden people to defeat the evil king and restore peace to Alagaesia. Many adventures ensue, among them the rescue of a beautiful elf maiden, and culminating with an epic battle in which Eragon defeats the king’s evil sorcerer, saving the Varden from extinction.

But the story does not end there. Eragon needs further training, as Brom was killed before he could impart all his knowledge. Three more books follow the story, and if they are as captivating as the first, I will be very happy. So far the second one, Eldest, has not disappointed.

Occasionally throughout Eragon, I noticed the writing to be a bit less polished than Tolkien’s, but then I had to remind myself that Paolini was 15 years old when he started writing it. Incidentally, Paolini was also homeschooled.

Available from Random House Books.


md heirloom skills

Heirloom Skills and Country Pasttimes, by Deborah Krasner, (c) 1995 – Subtitled “Traditional Projects for Kitchen, Home, Garden and Family.

This easy to read little book, illustrated with the authors own delightful watercolors, is full of common sense and use-what-you’ve-got simple projects. Mrs. D has been sewing all her life, yet only in the past few years has she delved into making her own patterns. Pages 57 and 61 give idiot-proof directions for simple crocheted or knitted sweaters and a sewn skirt that beginners can make right away without a pattern!

Other short chapters include: seed starting, gray water, homemade cleaners and flea dip, pickling wood, beanstalk tepees and sunflower forts. We LOVE this book. For a jump start on your homesteading adventure, even if you’re in an apartment in the city, or a reminder to keep it simple, after you’ve been at it for awhile, this book has inexpensive projects for everyone. The Homestead will be on the road more frequently again this year and Mrs. D will be applying some of the container gardening tips to her “RV garden”.
Viking Studio Books, published by the Penguin Group, Penguin Books, U.S.A. Inc., 375 Hudson St., New York, New York 10014.

md continuing good life

Continuing the Good Life: Half a Century of Homesteading, by Scott and Helen Nearing, (c)1979
I was looking through old Mother Earth Magazines and in the Sept/Oct 1979 issue I came across “The Fall Garden” by the Nearings, directly excerpted from the above book. As I had had limited success in my garden this year, I was resigned to only being able to use the plant stand in the south facing kitchen window for the next several months. However, this article reminded me of when I read the book, of the success the Nearings had in their winter gardens in Maine! of all places. Now I am encouraged to try some collards, spinach, cabbage and broccoli outside and see how they do. Of course, the book covers far more than just the winter garden and Mrs. D highly recommends it as one of several guides to a more healthy, frugal and sensible living plan.


md scratching the woodchuck

Scratching the Woodchuck, Nature on an Amish Farm, by David Kline, copyright 1997

Dew sparkling on spiderwebs, wooly worms racing across the lane, butterflies sipping sweet nectar from the flower garden. This is life on David Kline’s Ohio farm. And how he glories in it! During the course of his day he’ll discover small animal nests while spreading manure, mowing hay, or just standing up to take a deep breath of fresh air, unpolluted by the noise and exhaust of heavy machinery, gas engines, or radios.

He doesn’t add to his list of birds seen on his property by hiding out with binoculars, he just encounters them while eating lunch, walking to the barn to milk the cows, or sitting on the porch swing, admiring his wife’s garden. When he identifies a species, he includes its Latin name in his notebook. Walking through the seasons on the Kline farm, Mrs. D developed a new appreciation for rodents and burrow dwellers, as soil aerators. He brings into focus the relationship between human/agriculture and insect/animal life as he tells of transplanting some wild blackberries without the resulting fruit bearing much resemblance to the parent; apparently he forgot to transplant the necessary pollenators as well.

Without distractions such as internet and television, Mr. Kline has ample time to enjoy the planets and stars, sun and moon, and to study and learn from the rhythms and patterns of life. His observations are entertaining as well as enlightening, offering a sometimes new perspective on the place and purpose of many creatures we label “pest”.

Published by University of Georgia Press, Athens, GA 30602


md park ranger

Park Ranger, by Nancy Muleady-Mecham, copyright 2004
Some girls have all the fun. In over 30 years of being a National Park Ranger, University Professor and Registered Nurse, Nancy Muleady-Mecham has seen it all and then some. In “Park Ranger”, she shares some of her more hair-raising adventures as a seasonal Park Ranger in such national treasures as Grand Canyon, AZ, Death Valley, CA, Everglades, FL and Pearl Harbor, HI.

In the space of one night at the Grand Canyon, she responds to a domestic dispute and as she’s transporting the subject to jail, narrowly escapes being killed by a drunk hit and rundriver with an arsenal of loaded guns in his truck. After finally delivering her charge to the jailers in Flagstaff, she drives to the only place open for coffee – Jack in the Box – which is on fire. Continuing back tothe canyon, she hits an elk. Talk about your bad night! And that’s just one chapter from this thrilling, suspenseful read, interlace with humor and reflections of gratitude to be a part of the grandeur of the National Parks.

published by Vishnu Temple Press in Flagstaff, AZ


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