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review 2019-01-23 00:06
Tales of a Cosmic Possum by Sheila Ingle
Tales of a Cosmic Possum - Sheila Ingle

Sheila Ingle’s husband John was brought up in Ingle Holler in Union, South Carolina, with eight other Ingle families. They worked together in the mills, shared their gardens, attended church, and enjoyed the playing and singing of the songs from the Grand Ole Opry. When five of the brothers went off to war, those who couldn’t fight took care of their families. The Ingles stuck together, just like they were taught in the Appalachian hills of Erwin, Tennessee. Love of God, love of family, and love of country were modeled in each home. In fact, one year Make Ingle put his sons and grandsons together to build Hillside Baptist Church. Adults kept up with the newspapers and the radios; world happenings were important. Any type of sickness brought a barrage of soup and cornbread, because children still had to eat. On those twenty acres, the children played in the creek, cowboys and Indians, and hide-and-seek. They built their own wagons and sleds to race down the hill on the dry, hickory leaves. All the boys learned to shoot a .22 caliber, and John’s mother Lois could light a match with her shots. Living in Ingle Holler was home, where each one was accepted.





In Tales of Cosmic Possum, author Sheila Ingle writes a celebratory biography of the Ingle family, her husband's people. The branch of the family tree we as readers get to know originated in Erwin, Tennessee but later relocated to Union, South Carolina on a piece of land that came to be known as Ingle Holler. In this holler, family members could grow up expecting a true Appalachian upbringing. As the years pass over the course of the book, readers are introduced to generations of cotton mill workers -- many dropping out of school by the 3rd grade to join the rest of the family in the mills --  humble and hard-working folk dedicated to their families, regardless of how much or how little they had. Scattered throughout these tales are also neat little historical notes (ie. the reference to Peter Pan peanut butter being sold in tin cans in the 1930s -- I didn't know the brand even dated back that far!)



Sometimes it was difficult to remember back to those early years 37 years ago. The skinny auburn-haired girl, afraid of the dark and her own shadow, had matured into a woman who was a right good spinner and fit as a fiddle. Her third grade education had not held her back.


"Julie", chapter discussing the grandmother of Sheila Ingle's husband, John



Though considered one continuous non-fiction piece, the chapters are set up to showcase one particular member of the Ingle family (per chapter) and a story unique to them. But the stories are so moving, so richly infused with life & spirit, the reader quickly gets immersed in the lives of these people long gone. Sheila Ingle's writing is so inviting, offers such a sense of inclusion to readers, that this work of biography moves more like a collection of interconnected short stories. I guess, in a sense, they are! The very last chapter focuses on Sheila Ingle's mother-in-law.


Relevant black and white photos are included in some of the chapters to enhance the scenes described. There are also several pages of additional photos of family members at the back of the book. 


Collectively, the chapters span the years between early 1900s - 1950s, chapters full of heartwarming stories of neighbor helping neighbor, even when it seems like you have nothing to offer. Sheila Ingle, through the stories of her husband's family, illustrates that though one may have meager physical possessions on hand, you may be surprised to realize that, in fact, there is nearly always something within your ability or means that can be of use to someone in need. These are the types of books we need more of in this day and age! 


*Note to animal lovers though: Early on in the book, during Fannie's story, there is description of Fannie witnessing the hanging -- literal hanging -- execution of a circus elephant who trampled its handler to death after being startled. The imagery, as you can imagine, is pretty disturbing.


FTC Disclaimer: Ambassador International kindly provided me with a complimentary copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. The opinions above are entirely my own.

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review 2019-01-22 09:28
The Penguin Classics Book, Henry Eliot (Ed.)
The Penguin Classics Book - Various Authors,Henry Eliot

I first engaged with the Penguin Classics imprint in the second half of my teens when I started reading Thomas Hardy, as a result of an English lesson that used a passage from The Woodlanders, describing fallen leaves - thanks, Mr. Bray! (He was one of those teachers who was better the more enthusiasm or talent you displayed - no good for the recalcitrant or below average.) Anyway, I was delighted one day when I saw a flimsy paperback that turned out to be a catalogue for the series, including the Modern Classics, too - being handed out for free! Of course I took one and used it for reading inspiration. I still have it, decades later!


Now, the imprint has a new print catalogue - a large format hardback of over 400p, with the Modern Classics to get their own separate volume - costing £30. The lsit has expanded an enormous amount since the '80s! Is it worth it? After all, a constantly updated listing is available online for free.


Well, for me the answer is a resounding, yes! This isn't simply a list of books in print. As well as short descriptions of each book, there are micro-biographies of the authors and sidebars about the history of Penguin Classics and biographies and anecdotes about editors and translators who have worked on the series. There's even a page explaining ISBNs and their origins. Did you know that the first three digits of a bar code are a geographical origin code? Since books are fundamentally international, they have their own code, known as "bookland" - which is why ISBN13s all start "978" or "979." I love that books have their own country! It's probably more peaceful than the human occupied ones.


The Penguin Classics remit is gigantic; the classics of world literature up to and including WWI - thousands of years. The book therefore stands as a guide to the world of books that are still considered important/great/interesting/entertaining after at least 100 years. It shows up some of the impacts of world history just by charting how much (or little) material came from where and when. The list has not been sniffy about genre, at least as far back as the '80s, by the way. It has changed constantly (not just growing) - books have gone out of print, been replaced with new translations, expanded, split up into multiple volumes, conflated into fewer volumes, so I expect this volume was out of date by the time it went on sale, but that in no way detracts from its value to me as a ready reference and source of inspiration.

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text 2019-01-22 02:56
The House of Morgan
The House of Morgan: An American Banking... The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance - Inc. Blackstone Audio, Inc.,Ron Chernow,Robertson Dean

Thank goodness for an excellent narrator. When a title is 34+ hours long, you definitely need a narrator who doesn't drive you crazy.



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review 2019-01-21 17:46
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge - Mem Fox,Julie Vivas

Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge is a book about a boy who wants to help an elderly lady who has lost her memory. Wilfrid asks people what a memory is in hopes to find and return her memory to her. One activity you could use with this book is the "History of Me" activity where students cut our pictures in magazines that represent who they are. This would be a great "get to know" activity. This book is a level 18 on the DRA leveling system.

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review 2019-01-20 23:08
W.W. Prescott: Forgotten Giant of Adventism's Second Generation
W.W. Prescott: Forgotten Giant of Adventism's Second Generation - Gilbert M. Valentine

The work of reform and those that spearhead them are never easy, especially when religious belief is thrown into the mix.  Gilbert M. Valentine’s biography of administrator, educator, preacher, and theologian W.W. Prescott, lives up to its subtitle Forgotten Giant of Adventism’s Second Generation, and shows his impact on the denomination over the course of 52 years and influence beyond.


Prescott’s life before beginning his denominational work in 1885 was first as a son of a hardworking New Hampshire business man and Millerite, who would not become a Seventh-day believer until his son was 3 years old.  The success of his father’s business allowed Prescott to get a very thorough education resulting in attending and graduating from Dartmouth.  He began his career as a principal at several schools before going into publishing until the call to become president of Battle Creek College began his career in denominational service.  From the outset, Prescott’s task to reform the College was went up against some faculty and their connections in the larger Adventist community, yet he slowly changed the institution to be more in-line to the thoughts of Ellen White on education.  Besides college president, Prescott became the denomination’s head of education and helped found two more colleges that he became titular president of at the same time he was in charge of Battle Creek.  Eventually Prescott would find himself playing peacekeeper between those in support and opposed to the 1888 message of E.J. Waggoner and A.T. Jones joins, but still upset people which eventually forced him to take refuge in Australia where his preaching and evangelism grew in leaps and bounds.  After an “exile” in England, Prescott was called to be the right-hand man to new General Conference President Arthur Daniells, which would begin a partnership of almost two decades in various forms.  Yet Prescott became the fount of controversy first as editor of the Review and Herald especially during the crisis with John Harvey Kellogg and then with his new theological understanding of “the daily” in Daniel 8 that was integrated into his Christocentric approach to Adventist doctrine and preaching, which would touch off numerous personal attacks for the rest of his life and overshadow the rest of his career especially as he attempted to help the denomination with problems that would later cause consternation nearly half a century later.


Due to my own reading of Adventist history, I had come across the name of Prescott but had not known the extent of his involvement with the denomination in so many areas, locations around the world, and controversies.  There is a lot packed into the 327 pages of text that Valentine expertly wove together to create an enthralling biography of man he grew to know well due to his years of research for his doctoral dissertation.  If there is critique I could l give this book, it would be that it was too short because it felt like Valentine did not go as in-depth as he would like in this presentation of his much longer dissertation.


W.W. Prescott: Forgotten Giant of Adventism’s Second Generation lives up to its name, giving the spotlight to an influential man in the history of the denomination that is unknown to a majority of Seventh-day Adventists today.  Gilbert M. Valentine’s work in writing a comprehensive and readable biography of a man who was involved in so many matters is excellent and just makes this book highly recommended for those interested in Seventh-day Adventist history.

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