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review 2018-07-04 16:45
Skipper's Oath - P. Wesley Lundburg

I just finished this and it was good. I am now starting #2 in the series, Poacher's End
Strange happenings are going on off of Alaska's coast. Older retired couples enjoying their golden years murdered in particularly heinous fashions, a cop is killed, and a Skipper Frank Mattituck gets caught up in the investigation (deputized by an Alaskan State Trooper) when Frank's good friend Jim turns up missing, but Jim's yacht that he uses to charter trips for clients is still being used. Frank and Todd (the state trooper) go on a chase, trying to catch the elusive killer, always 2 steps behind. "Skipper's Oath" has lots of suspense and action, and if you enjoy a page-turning whodunit, this one is for you. 
I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review-- thank you!

 

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review 2018-06-16 21:42
All the old feels, and why this is in my personal canon
King Of The Wind - The Story Of Godolphin Arabian - Marguerite Henry

When my copy arrived from Thrift Books yesterday and it was EXACTLY what I had been looking for, I burst into tears.  I haven't completely stopped crying yet.  It's so beautiful!

 

As I went through it later last night, I did find a few small pencil marks which I think I can safely remove.  And as I went through it later last night, I also went through several more tissues.  Yeah, it's that kind of story.

 

How much of the Godolphin Arabian's story as told by Marguerite Henry is true and how much is story, I don't know.  At least part is true, of course, because he was a real horse and the history of his descendants is well known and documented.  But all the stuff before that, from his birth in Morocco through his trials in Paris and London, who knows?

 

Like most little girls, I was fascinated by horses.  When my grandparents moved from Edison Park, IL, to Roselle, where they had a couple of acres of land "out in the country," all I could think of was having a horse out there.

 

 

Of course, that never happened.  Once in a while when we visited I'd see a horse that someone else in the neighborhood owned, but I never got one.  The drive from our house to theirs, however, wound through the stable area of Arlington Park Racetrack, and when we went there during the summer I would literally hang my head out the window of our '53 Chevy to smell the horses.  If by some chance I actually happened to see one, well, that was even more terrific.

 

Oddly, even though we lived barely a mile from the track, I don't think I went there more than a dozen times in fifteen years.

 

I never became a huge racing aficionado, filling my head with pedigrees and times of various horses who became famous in those growing-up years of the 1950s and '60s.  A few stuck in my imagination, though, and none more than Round Table, the "little brown horse" who was so famous he warranted a visit from Queen Elizabeth. 

 

Not long after I moved to Arizona, I struck up a friendship with a woman whose husband was very much a horse racing fan.  I was at their home one day in the summer of 1987 when I happened to flip through one of his racing magazines and learned that Round Table had recently died, and I burst into tears.  Yeah, the feels, for a horse I never knew.

 

Round Table was a turf horse, claimed to be the greatest ever, and for 40 years or so even had a race at Arlington named after him.

 

King of the Wind begins with Man O' War, who was descended from the Godolphin Arabian, as are most Thoroughbreds.  I learned from Marguerite Henry's Album of Horses that there were three foundational sires of the breed: the Byerley Turk, the Darley Arabian, and the Godolphin Arabian.  From other reading - I devoured books about horses, too - I knew that Man O' War's dam (mother) was Mahubah, described as "a Rock Sand mare." 

 

Man O' War, like Secretariat, was a big red horse, not at all like Round Table.  But the little brown horse was also descended from Rock Sand, and through him the line goes back to the Godolphin Arabian.

 

All. The. Feels.

 

And all this was in my mind even before the book arrived yesterday.  As I read it last night, yes, there were details that I had forgotten, because after all it's been close to half a century since I last saw it.  But one thing struck me more than anything else, and it had nothing to do with all the feels about Sham the horse and Agba the stableboy and Grimalkin the cat and Lady Roxana the mare and the other things I did remember. In fact, it wasn't even really a detail about the story itself.

 

Agba is a stableboy in the vast complex of the Sultan of Morocco (even though the horse is believed to have actually come from Yemen). Unable to speak, Agba nonetheless is devoted to the horses in his charge, especially a pregnant broodmare.  It is the holy month of Ramadan, and the Sultan has decreed that the horses shall abstain from food from sunrise to sunset along with their human caretakers.  Agba is able to ignore the temptations of food all around him, but he is very conscious of the strain this puts on the pregnant mare. 

 

I don't know if Agba ever existed or not.  Maybe there are notes in the life of the Earl of Godolphin, who acquired the stallion, that tell of the boy who could not speak.  I don't know.  But what I do know is that I learned two things from the fictional character: that Ramadan was a holy month of a respected religion and that a person with what most people think of as a handicap can still be a hero.

 

My maternal grandmother's family is Jewish, so even though I grew up in a nice, white, christian suburb, I knew about prejudice, and I knew about the Holocaust when few of my schoolmates did. I didn't know, at the age I got my copy of King of the Wind, about anti-Islam bigotry, though it wouldn't be much longer. But what Marguerite Henry did, even if she did it unintentionally, was to give this one reader a portrait of someone very different from myself yet who I could see as a kind of role model.

 

That's a pretty powerful thing. To this day, I tend to judge people on the basis of what they do, not on the basis of what they are.

 

When I worked at the public library and when I was a grocery store cashier, we had two customers no one wanted to wait on.  At the library she was a quiet woman who almost never spoke, but came in frequently and checked out lots of books.  One of my fellow librarians called her "creepy" because she was always staring at people.  It didn't take me long to figure out this patron was severely hearing impaired.  She stared because she was trying to read our lips.  Most of the librarians turned away from her, making the experience even worse for her.  I spoke directly to her, and we got along fine.  I never did learn ASL, and she still spoke very little, but she smiled.

 

The same with the man at the grocery store.  He tried to teach me to sign, but it's hard when there's a whole line of impatient people behind you.  He learned to look for me when he came into the store so he would have a better experience checking out.

 

Had I learned that from Agba?  From Marguerite Henry?  Maybe.  Maybe from Sham, the Sultan's horse who endured so much and never gave up. 

 

King of the Wind is a beautiful book.  I'm glad I posted here about my frustration with the first order that ended up being a flimsy paperback, and I'm doubly, triply glad that Chris found this copy at Thrift Books.  It seems like $7 shouldn't be a strain on a budget, but at the moment it really is for me, but I'll do without something else along the way because this was definitely a book I needed.

 

The paperback will be donated somewhere, and I still have another copy on order from Better World.  I'll probably donate that one, too.  But this one, with its slightly tattered corner, is a keeper.

 

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text 2018-05-30 00:35
Comfort Reads in Uncomfortable Times
King Of The Wind - The Story Of Godolphin Arabian - Marguerite Henry

The book came up in a Twitter discussion a week or so ago, and it hit me hard that I didn't have my copy of the book I'd read more times than any other as a young reader.

 

My budget is horribly strained.  I'm literally watching every penny, usually watching them fly out of my purse and bank account.  And when I saw that copies were selling for $25 and more on Amazon, my heart ached.  I wanted that book.

 

Fortunately, Judith Tarr recommended Abe Books as an alternative source, and there I found it for under $4.  It's in transit now.  I don't have it yet, but I will . . . . soon.

 

I had several of the Marguerite Henry books when I was a kid.  Somehow I managed to hang onto my Album of Horses, but all the others vanished.  Brighty of the Grand Canyon, Gaudenzia Pride of the Palio, and King of the Wind.  I never owned Born to Trot, and the Misty series wasn't one of my favorites.  The absolute favorite was King of the Wind.

 

Where did they go?  The same place so many of my possessions went: my mother's garage sales.  After I left home, almost everything I had owned went out with the junk.  (Some things didn't; I know where they went and I can't talk about it.)  The books were the worst of the losses; she knew how much I loved my books, but . . . she didn't care.

 

I got my love of books from my dad and his side of the family, not my mother's, and I think she resented that to a certain extent.  He's been gone since 2008, and she's now fading.  So I feel bad, I feel guilty for my own resentment, but it's there.  I miss those favorite books.

 

As I've mentioned here in some previous, personal posts, I've tried over the years to replace some of those books.  It's not an attempt to reclaim a lost childhood, but it is an attempt to reclaim lost comfort. 

 

I don't have a support system here.  I feel awkward even writing that much, and I won't go much further.  But my books, my rocks, my online engagements, these are what I rely on.  My kids have busy lives on either sides of the continent thousands of miles away.  I'm not a social butterfly.  I'm essentially estranged from all my family, who are in the Midwest.

 

Two weeks ago my already precarious budget got a gut punch with the forced purchase of a new water heater and water softener.  I gathered my resources and figured out a way to manage.  It wasn't easy, but it was doable.  Today I got hit with a big fat auto repair bill.  I've known it was coming, and I've tried to prepare both mentally and financially, but it was bigger than anticipated.  Replacing the car is not an option, at least not now.  BF says it's not worth pouring more money into this vehicle, but I really don't have any choice.

 

King of the Wind is about the little horse that could, but no one knew it.  It's a feel good story, about overcoming seemingly impossible odds.  For a young reader it was exciting and dramatic and suspenseful.  For an adult facing real-life challenges -- some of them pretty darn scary -- it's a comfort read.  It's gorgeous pictures.  It's horses, horses, horses.

 

I'll let you know when it gets here.

 

 

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text 2018-05-18 18:29
Little Kid Reads Are Fun
The Mouse and the Motorcycle - Tracy Dockray,Louis Darling,Beverly Cleary
Stuart Little - E.B. White,Garth Williams
Justin Morgan Had a Horse - Marguerite Henry,Wesley Dennis
Guardians of Ga'Hoole #2: The Journey - Kathryn Lasky
Wings of Fire Book Five: The Brightest Night - Tui T. Sutherland
Trials of Apollo, The Book One The Hidde... Trials of Apollo, The Book One The Hidden Oracle - Rick Riordan

Sometimes you just need to go back and enjoy so old classics you never got a chance to read as a child. I have been buying a bunch so my son can read them, and I figure well, why not? I have most all of the Guardians of Ga'HooleWarriors and several other children's classics like Charlotte's Web and King of the Wind. I loved those when I was younger. I think I will try to read a bunch of these over the next few weeks to help me with my slump and brighten my day. School let out so....yeah. I'm mom 24/7 until late August, and the hubs is leaving for a trip soon. I can use some cheering up. I love summer, and I dread summer. We are frenemies.

 

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review 2018-02-05 16:02
Werewolves may not be my thing but a good story is a good story...
Off the Beaten Path - Cari Z.,Jack Wesley Richards

Ok so first things first. There are a lot of really wonderful reviews out there for this book and while this wasn't a five star listen for me...seriously that's on me. I wanted to give this one a try because...well, I really like this author and I've danced around this story for a while because...werewolves are just not a favorite of mine but...Cari Z...me likey!!!

 

There was a lot about this story that worked for me and while it wasn't quite enough to make me totally love this story, it was certainly enough to keep me interested and I enjoyed listening to the audio book.

 

I loved the world that was created in this story once again it was that little bit different than the typical. So often with paranormal or shifter stories everyone knows about them and they're accepted by some, feared by others or they're this secret that only a few people who have stumbled across them and managed to survive know about and yes both of these scenarios can and do vary in the fine details from author to author but I'm just keeping it simple here or I'd be writing a book of my own and that's not a life goal for me...ssssooooo...not happening...

 

And back to my original thought which was that I enjoyed the world that was created for this story to occur in. The world knows about werewolves but their strictly monitored and controlled they live in designated areas and are used by the government because of their unique abilities...can we say reservations? concentration camps? Yeah, that's right like it or not this totally plays on things that have happened in the real world and while I don't want to encounter these kinds of reminders in ever book I read sometimes being reminded of what can happen to a group of people when the world at large perceives them as being different isn't a bad thing and in this case it was well done because this story also serves as a reminder that just because something's different doesn't mean we need to fear it or that we have the right to cage it or in this case them.  I know if some one were to try and lock me up just because I didn't meet their concept of normal I'd do my damnedest to be free...it's human nature. Anways, I have soft spot for this kind of story so this was definitely the part of the story that I really enjoyed.

 

Unfortunately there's another important part of this story and that's the part where Ward Johannsen goes looking for his daughter who has been taken from him because she has the werewolf gene and is going to shift...seriously? You take my kid from me and I'm going after her or in my case him as well and god help you if you try and stand in my way...so, I was totally on board with Ward and definitely cheering for him to find Ava. #teamWard

 

And then we have Henry...he's the alpha of the werewolf pack that Ava was given to and honestly I felt sorry for him. This guy did not get an easy deal and he's got a lot of internal anger and frustration... justifiably in my mind. But for some reason I just didn't feel the connection between Henry and Ward. I liked that they were both committed to Ava and wanted only what was best for her and I can't say that I didn't like that because I really did. I think I would have felt the connection between Henry and Ward a bit more if there had been more interaction between them...honestly, I'm not sure what wasn't working for me. It's not that I think they shouldn't have been together more like I just didn't quite see the connection as strongly as I would have liked...well, I hope that makes sense because it's my best shot at explaining this, sorry...words sometimes they fail me.

 

Overall there was a lot of strong potential in this one and as always the author really has crafted an excellent story, it just didn't appeal to me as much as I would have liked but if you're a lover of shifter books I strongly suggest checking this one out. I enjoyed it and I was once again impressed by a new to me narrator, Jack Wesley. I'm going to go guess that Mr. Wesley is new to the world of audio book narrating since when I searched for other books by him this title is the only one that I found so I'll definitely be watching for more by this narrator and Cari Z is still firmly on my list of authors I want to read because truthfully 3.5 stars from me for a werewolf book really isn't too shabby. 

 

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An audio book of 'Off the Beaten Path' was graciously provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

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