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Tue, Apr. 17th, 2018, 11:35 am
Weekly Book Review

This should get us back on track as we progress through the book reviews on the Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers web-site.  The next one up is fairly short, so today I'm providing a second one.  Note: many of the reviews of the second book are by folks who are not members of SASP.

(If you should happen to visit the web-site, you might notice that is shows another review in between these two.  As I was copying and pasting from the files, I discovered that "somebody" had messed up the alphabetical order or things.  Coal Wars will be up next.
Celebrating Spokane Authors
A collection of poetry, essays & short stories
An anthology by members of
Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers

Reviewed by Larry Danek

         I found this book to hold my interest with the fine collection of short stories and poems.
         It was well worth the read.
Reviewed by Joyce Caudel

         This is a collection of shorts by the members of SASP, Spokane Authors and Self Publishers. As a member of SASP, I do have a small piece in the book. The other shorts are very good, and I recommend the book to anyone that is interested in what Spokane authors are writing about.

Close Calls: The True Tales of Cougar Bob

By B. J. Campbell

Reviewed by Robert G. Hildahl

         Close Calls: The True Tales of Cougar Bob is a very enjoyable group of short stories about the life and hard times of Cougar Bob. The book starts out with stories of his life in high school, and then in the navy as a young man with polio.
         After returning home from the navy, he gets on with his life and has many new adventures, most of which, I would not attempt myself.
         Campbell is a very talented writer, and after I read about each new adventure, I always wondered--What will Bob try next?
Reviewed by James R. Buchanan

         “Determination!”  Close Calls: The True Tales of Cougar Bob is away of life” story, lived out by a man of great courage and determination, overcoming all obstacles to excel in his ever adventuresome spirit. Cougar Bob, a "man’s man" has lived the life that most men only dream of and lived to tell about it!
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Reviewed by Tiffani Harvey

         It's good, but requires a strong stomach!  Not for the faint hearted.

Thu, Apr. 12th, 2018, 11:31 am
Weekly Book Review (BONUS)

Towards the end of last week I finished reading The Adventurists by fellow Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers member Bob Weldin.  I wrote a review, thinking it would be the first to post on the group's web-site.  But as i was processing it I discovered a collection of reviews for it in the files.  I added mine and will soon have it posted to the SASP web-site.  In the meantime I'll post it here.... it should have been one of the very first posted as I began this run through the reviews on the site.  (Currently reading I Am the Ghost In This Body by another SASP member... Larry Danek.)
The Adventurists

By Bob Weldin

Reviewed by Robert G. Hildahl

         Another great story by Bob Weldin. Sara Mullins, the main character and also from Weldin's first book, is an exploration geologist. She and her soon-to-be husband, Brad, travel into the Idaho wilderness on horseback, searching for old mines, lost gems, and treasure. Sometimes, they have to use small planes to get in and out of these remote locations. Throw in a South American drug cartel, trying  to get even for having their drug stash destroyed, and you have quite an adventure.
         Weldin uses his knowledge as a former geologist, adventurer, and mining engineer to create this exciting story. The Adventurists should be read by all who like adventure stories and want to learn more about the dangers of mining.
Reviewed by Mary E. Trimble

         When exploration geologist Brad O’Connor investigates an old underground mine in the North Cascades on the Washington/Canadian border, he finds more than he bargains for: trouble, serious, international trouble. Later, he meets up with his fiancě, fellow geologist, Sara Mullins, to take an assignment in the Salmon River Mountains of central Idaho. The problem is, trouble follows them.
The Adventurists is rich with mining, gems and mineral information. The story takes place in 1967, before conveniences such as GPS, cell phones or laptops exist.           In addition, small plane and helicopter use adds to the story’s adventure, as does the use of horses to get to dense wilderness areas. When all else fails, Sara’s rock climbing experience comes into play for those hard-to-access mineral deposits.
         Author Bob Weldin, a former mining engineer for the US Bureau of Mines, writes from experience about the logistics of mining. His creative mind fills in the rest. The Adventurists, Weldin’s second novel, is a sequel to The Dry Diggin’s Club.
Reviewed by Amazon Customer (Otto Schoumacer)
An outdoor adventure mystery 4.0 out of 5 stars

         In The Adventurists, Bob Weldin draws from his own life’s experience to create a griping story of wilderness adventure that takes the reader into the wilds of Idaho to confront dangers presented not only by nature, but also by men with evil intent. In Sara Mullins, Weldin creates a character as alluring as she is tough and capable. Sara is a geologist, trained and experienced at wilderness work, but on this assignment, she and her partner, Brad, are stalked by a murderous assassin in a complex web of intrigue and danger involving airplanes, underground mines, drugs, guns and mysterious people.
Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney

         Exploring wilderness areas searching for profitable mineral deposits and evaluating old mines for renewed production is risky enough without contending with a South American drug cartel.
         Investigating an old mine near the U. S.-Canadian border, Brad O'Conner and his partner discover it is being used to hide large supplies of drugs.  Barely escaping the smugglers, they vow to never talk about what they have seen.  When the old mine mysteriously blows up shortly thereafter, Brad realizes that he, his partner, and most importantly, Sara Mullins, his love interest and fellow geologist are in danger.  Provided FBI protection, Brad and Sara begin exploration of mineral deposits and mining claims in a large wilderness area in Idaho.  They are aided by friends living in the local area, family members with the controlling interest in a fly-in only recreation ranch, and members of associated government agencies.  All the while they are forced to keep an eye out for members of the cartel who are seeking revenge for the destruction of their drug supply.
         Besides being an exciting and fast-paced thriller, The Adventurists contains large doses of outdoor adventure, a proportional serving of romance, and a bit of geological and mining education.  Taking place in the 1960s, it seems odd to us that the characters are in the wilds without cellphones or internet capability.  They have to find an established phone or two-way radio in order to contact anyone.
         The story is well written and proves difficult to put down.  As the sequel to The Dry Diggin's Club, it completes a story the author originally began in hopes of detailing his career and experiences as an exploration geologist and mining engineer.

Mon, Apr. 9th, 2018, 01:43 pm
Weekly Book Review

Continuing down the list of book reviews on the Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers' web-site, we come to...
Book All the Teachers:
An Irreverent Ride Through Middle School

By James Bartlett Parry

Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney
         James Parry spent the majority of his career in education teaching middle school students in Spokane, Washington.  The fact that he survived and was able to write about his experiences is testament to his fortitude.  From the obviously manufactured page of “blurbs” concerning the book, ie., “Steinbeck, Hemingway, Faulkner, and, now, Parry.  A remarkable book: dazzling.  James Parry is a treasure.  (Signed) James Parry, Author,” and, “This book better sell after all the time you’ve spent on it.  (Signed) Lynda Parry, Author’s Wife,” one is immersed in the hilarity and hi-jinks that is middle school.  Even the title, Book All the Teachers was inspired by a true incident.  Mr. Parry arrived a school one morning to find that someone had spray painted, “(Expletive Deleted) All the Teacher Excep Parry” on the wall.  As it would be sometime before a pressure washer could be obtained to remove the offending language, the custodian used his own spray paint to change the obscenity to “book.”
         While Book All the Teachers is an over the top hilarious look at Middle School, it is also the story of one man’s dedication to making a difference in the lives of his students.  That dedication never faltered during the entire span of James Parry’s teaching career. A must read for those who taught, attended, or want to know the truth about middle school life.
         Book All the Teachers, ISBN 978-1-936178-00-1, was published by Gray Dog Press, and lists for $14.95.  It is available through Gray Dog Press (www.graydogpress.com), Spokane area book stores, and at (www.amazon.com).
Reviewed by Esther J. Hildahl

         Book All The Teachers! is a true, educational, often humorous story that depicts the ups and downs of all those involved in a certain middle school in Spokane, Washington. It's told by the author whose teaching career spanned 35 years, including five spent tutoring kids that had been  suspended or expelled from school.
         As a former teacher, I really enjoyed reading this book; wondering about the title and having it humorously explained in chapter one; reading the creative front pages "Here's what they're saying about Book All The Teachers!" written by the author, his friends??, and his wife--very funny stuff; and the "Warning" page--again, very funny.
         Parry is a gifted writer who knows how to bring his characters and settings to life. This story is well constructed, fast paced, and a real page turner.
         Everybody who cares or has ever had an opinion on our school system or its teachers must read Book All The Teachers! to truly understand what it's really like to be on the "ground" level of teaching in a middle school.
Reviewed by Sue Eller

         Parry gives the reader an insider’s look at life as a middle school teacher, and it’s not what you might expect.  Any teacher who can spend 30 years trying to implant information in the brains of children who have the mistaken idea they are adults and already know it all, deserves a medal or a complimentary stay at Eastern State Mental Hospital, or both.  Parry got neither, but he did get to know that he impacted the lives of at least a few of his students in a positive way.  I think I would have liked to have had Parry as a teacher.  Who knows?  I might have even developed an interest in history.  Excellent autobiography.
            Available at Gray Dog Press or at local Spokane book stores.
Reviewed by Kate Poitevin

I thoroughly enjoyed Book All the Teachers! Mr. Parry has given us a window into the world of teachers. When I was in middle school, teachers were mysterious beings that must have lived at the school, and it never occurred to me that they had a life that didn’t revolve around us.  I would walk slowly past the teacher’s room, hoping to catch a glimpse of what went on in there. After all these years, I finally know. I never would have believed it then.
I laughed all the way through the book, but there were also sad moments about the struggles of some of his students in their home lives. I was glad that the book followed Daniel and Holly to a satisfying conclusion, as I had become invested in their lives.
I only wish that Mr. Parry had been my grandchildren’s teacher, the youngest starts middle school this year. I wish he had been my children’s teacher. Really, if he weren’t too young, I’d wish he’d been my teacher!

Mon, Apr. 2nd, 2018, 02:09 pm
Weekly Book Review

I'm trying to get on some sort of schedule for posting book reviews... I'd like to post those I'm taking from the Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers files on Monday or Tuesday, hence today's posting of Chuck Lehman's The Big Woods.  I'll post reviews i write as I complete them.  At times reviews I write, or have written, will also end up in the SASP files and once again, perhaps here.
The Big Woods
Colonel Chuck Lehman

Reviewed by Robert G. Hildahl
         Based on a true story, The Big Woods is a very exciting historical novel that tells the story of a young man's life and problems and adventures around and during the Civil War. It's also about his love of a young woman and all the problems she goes through to help her young soldier.
         It's a real page turner that keeps you reading and not wanting to stop. The adventures and life changing times keep the excitement going and really makes you aware of the hard times people went through back in the early and mid 1800s.
         Lehman is a very good writer and, as with his other books, The Big Woods is an enjoyable story that does not disappoint.
Reviewed by Esther J. Hildahl
         Once while out to dinner with relatives, I found that they had all read the book The Big Woods. While I listened to their lively discussion about why they enjoyed this book so much, I decided that maybe it was time for me to read it, too. When I did, I discovered that everyone was right. It is a great book!
         I liked the fact the book was based on real people and true events. It's a love story between Willie Meyer and Louisa Kiekenapp (the author's great-grandparents) who lived in Southern Minnesota near the Big Woods. And it's the story of their separation for many years when Willie goes off to fight in two wars-- the Indian Wars, where he finds himself fighting against his two Sioux Indian friends, and then the Civil War.
         It's also about the murder of Willie's father who disappeared in the Big Woods when Willie was sixteen years old. Being the oldest of six children, he was now the head of his family. His many responsibilities included building a permanent log home for his mother, sisters, and brothers. And finally, many years later, it's about the clever way Willie goes about figuring out how his father died, and eventually, discovering who killed him.
          The Big Woods is an interesting and well-written book. If you like romance, history, a good murder mystery, or you just want to learn how to build a log house--then this book is for you!

Sun, Apr. 1st, 2018, 11:14 am
Double Holiday Ramblings

So today we celebrate Easter as well as April Fool's Day.  I got to wondering... if, as I understand, April 1st was once New Year's Day, would it have been possible to have two Easters in the same calendar year?  Could it have been in April one year, and the next season, in March, effectively giving two in one year?

Starting pitcher for the Mariners yesterday was James Paxton, who is from Canada.  Instead of the usual "K" cards fans wave to indicate strike outs, the crowd was provided with "EH" cards.... playing upon our Canadian neighbors' characteristic statement ending expression.  However, every time I see "eh" I have to remind myself what it represents, as my mind does not interpret it as something rhyming with "HAY" or "OKAY"  My mind wants so see and pronounce it as something matching "Meth", "Beth", or "Seth."  Seems to me it should be "Ae" or something. Maybe even "Ay."  Assuming of course that "aye" is pronounced "eye"...  Just one of those oddities of the English language, and perhaps regional or national variations thereof.

BTW, Paxton, in honor of his Canadian heritage is nicknamed "The Big Maple!" 

Probably have about ten minutes left in order to finish up Bob Weldin's The Adventurists.  Maybe later today or tomorrow.

Busy week ahead.  Tuesday have Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers Board Meeting.  Wednesday I'll need to get a blood draw for an upcoming Doctor visit, and on Thursday we have the actual SASP meeting.  May not sound like a lot to many of you, but now that I'm retired, more than one event a week means it's a busy one.  The week after might qualify as a busy one as well.  Doctor's appt on Monday and a routine Dental visit on Wednesday.  And sometime over the next week or so we'll be going to get out taxes done for the year.

Program note for the Thursday SASP meeting!

That's all for now... more next time.

Thu, Mar. 29th, 2018, 11:33 am

Opening Day of Baseball season, today!  Celebrating by wearing my "Thanks Edgar" shirt, which is about ready for the trash bin... collar frayed and a lot of tears and rips through out.  Eva keeps telling me to throw it away, but it is a memento of seasons gone by and one of the greatest to ever play in a Seattle Mariners Uniform... and the one for whom the best designated hitter award is named... hopefully next year will see him (Edgar Martinez) voted intot the Hall of Fame.

Of course, Mariner fans in general are hoping for a better season than the last several summers... a chance to break the chain of seasons ending without a trip to the post season playoffs and eventually the World Series.  I too, hope for a better result after 162 games.  Yet the real joy of being a fan isn't so much in the winning as it is in the support of the team.  It's the fact of rooting for the team, standing by them, and hoping for the best.  It's welcoming back those who were with the team last year, and those who have just been acquired by the organization... it's about welcoming and totally supporting those who might become team members via trades and other exchanges over the course of the season.  Even those who were a thorn in the fans' collective sides before are or should be considered full members and given the ultimate support once they are a member of, playing for, "your" or "our" team.

At a Spokane Indians ball game a few years ago.  The Indians are a short season  class A team in the Texas Rangers organization.  This game, they were playing the Everett AquaSox, Seattle Mariners' short season class A team

Outside of that, it's been a strange week in a way, and in terms of overall health... No, nothing bad or drastic, just feeling a bit under the weather the past few days, and a lot of that is feeling lazier than usual.  Picked up a bit of a migraine yesterday near the end of walking Coco.  Ended up napping part of the afternoon and then again in the evening, so didn't sleep well last night.  Maybe there was too much sleep, as I woke up relatively early today.  Have decided that it will be a "do nothing" day, one in which to recoup a bit and hopefully be recharged for tomorrow.  Maybe I need to let things clear out of my head and get back on track.

Currently about 2/3s through withThe Adventurists by Bob Weldin.  Should finish it in the next day or so and will then write and post a review of it.

More next time,

Thu, Mar. 29th, 2018, 11:10 am
Weekly Book Review

Here's another review from the Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers file (web-site.)  This had been in the files, but recently noticed it had not been posted to the web-site.  That oversight has since been corrected.  The author, obviously writing under an assumed name was a member for a while, while the reviewer still belongs to the group and in fact is President of the organization.  Alas, I do not have a cover picture of the book.  This review seems to be the only info we have on it.

Banana Grama's
Bible Nobodies Who Were Really Somebodies

Written and Illustrated by Banana Grama

Reviewed by Esther J. Hildahl

         This book is different than your usual Bible stories for children. Instead of only writing about the famous people in the Bible, this author chose to write about those who were considered by their peers and themselves a nobody but were in reality a somebody for something they did. Take for example, Elisha, who saved a town's water system, or the blind beggar who managed to get his eyesight back by making sure he got the attention of Jesus. Then there was Jubal who made musical instruments to make people happy and Mordecai who gave Queen Esther the courage to talk to her king about a very important matter. Another nobody was the princess with no name who saved baby Moses from being thrown into a river to be eaten by alligators! This is just a few of the nobodies that you can read about.
         I think the idea for this book was a clever one, and I enjoyed reading this book and looking at its many colorful illustrations. I recommend Bible Nobodies Who Were Really Somebodies for anyone interested in getting children interested in the Bible and Biblical times. Plus, I'm sure it would lead to lots of lively discussions about what makes a person a nobody or a somebody.

Sat, Mar. 24th, 2018, 11:47 am
Some Catching Up

Woke up to a light covering of snow today.  Natural, I suppose, since the first day of spring has already passed us by.  It doesn't/didn't amount to much, just enough to turn yards white, but didn't stick to the streets.  They are bare and wet. and what snow there is, is super wet, nearly slush as it sits there.

Hope to get ambitious enough to go get a haircut later this afternoon.  I've been putting it off for the past couple of weeks and it's getting to the point it's bothering me... tickling the tops of my ears, etc.  Yeah, I still keep it fairly short, much as I did when I was in the service and was required to meet certain grooming and haircut standards.  Years ago, once I was out, I did let it grow for a couple of years, as I'd never done that.  Got tired of it and went back to a more normal, short haircut.

Monday, we took Coco to the vet for the "Big Operation."  Let's just say he will not be a factor in any dog in the neighborhood having puppies.  He was a bit groggy when he came home that afternoon, but by late evening his bounce was back, and by the next day he seemed to be his normal self.  According to the vet's instructions, he was not supposed to have any exercise for 5 to 7 days, but since he cannot read, he isn't adhering to that advice/direction.  He's carrying on, tearing around, as if nothing has ever happened.  He and I have been for our walks everyday, other than Monday, and the surgery doesn't seem to have bothered him at all.

Yesterday went to our local animal control people and got him his license.  Cost was low, as he is now neutered, and I got a senior citizen discount as well.  And while we keep him inside or on a leash when outside, he's set up well if he should ever get loose, become lost.  He has his license tag, a nice shiny five pointed star, his rabie's shot tag, and a tag connected with the fact he has a micro-chip.  My biggest worry if he were to get out on his own is that he has no idea about traffic.

Tomorrow I'll be at a local high school craft fair, attempting to sell a few copies of my books.  One of the members of Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers signed up for a booth, and since there is room for more, she invited me and others to share with her at various times.  If anything, it'll get me out of the house for a while, and maybe I'll even sell a few copies.  Tomorrow is a short day at the craft fair, and it's close, almost within walking distance, and in fact the school Jessica attended.  I might drop by later today to see exactly where the booth is located, find out the best place to park, and where to enter as a vendor.  Easier all the way around to know where to go, and to find out when I'm not packing a satchel full of books and stuff.

As mentioned in my last post, I finished reading Niki Breeser Tschirgi's Stretch-mark My Heart a week or so ago... and wrote and posted a review of it.  Now I'm reading something called The Adventurists by Spokane Authors and Self-Publishers member Bob Weldin.  It's Bob's second book, the sequel to his earlier Dry Diggin's Club.  I'm getting close to half way through it, and at this point it seems to be a much better work than his first.  Takes place in the 1960s and involves folks working for the Bureau of Mines, a lot of back country adventures, and takes place in the Pacific Northwest.  I'm sure to write and provide a review when done.  If interested you can go to the Spokane Authors and Self-Publisher's web-site, click on "Members" and go to Bob's Member Web-Page to learn more about him and his two (so far) books.  BTW, I got copies of both his books in exchange for copies of mine.

Here's the cover of Bob's book!

Expecting to post another review from the SASP files in the next day or so, so stand by for that.  About time to see if the weather has let up enough that I can take Coco out for his daily walk.

Tue, Mar. 20th, 2018, 01:39 pm
Weekly Book Review (Bonus)

Went to the release party for this book a couple of weeks ago and bought a copy.... signed by the author,naturally... and finished reading it yesterday afternoon.  Got a review written and thought I'd post it here.
Stretch-mark My Heart

By Niki Breeser Tschirgi

Reviewed by D. Andrew McChesney
         Niki Tschirgi's simply written and straight forward memoir is a story of, above all, compassion and faith.  Early on in their marriage Niki and Matt learn they will not be able to have children in the "normal" way.  Exploring alternatives, they decide to pursue adoption, as well as becoming foster parents as the need arose.
         They successfully negotiate the administrative and legal hurdles to begin the foster to adopt process.  And once the process begins, they can't seem to stop.  By the time they are done, Niki and Matt have six children, some adopted soon after birth, some as toddlers, and the last two as teenagers.  At every step their decisions are made with reliance on and faith in God.  Not only do they fill their need to be parents and have a family, they provide "family" to six children who would otherwise have none.
         This relatively short work is well written and a pleasure to read.  While their belief in God is ever present in this story, at no time does Niki push her (and Matt's) deep-seated faith upon the reader.  It is simply there as a matter of fact... as is the love that permeates the story.  The truth is, if you have any amount of compassion at all, you will not be able to read this without a box of tissues nearby.

Sun, Mar. 18th, 2018, 11:55 am
Some Thoughts and Reflections on the Age of Sail

As I write what are predominately Age of Sail stories, it is logical that I know or learn and research as much as I can in order to be authentic in what I write.  I'm sure that most every Age of Sail enthusiast is aware of the following, but I thought I'd try to organize it enough to put it down.  Hence...

The Numbers Game During the Age of Sail

"All Plain Sail"  My painting of a typical United States Navy frigate in the early 19th century.  Perhaps it is the fictional USS Delaware from C. S. Forester's The Captain from Connecticut
               During the Age of Sail, warships were ranked and identified by the number of guns they carried, but ships rarely carried the number of guns noted by their official rate.  Certain types or sizes of guns, or guns in certain locations did not count, and the general practice was to equip a vessel with as many weapons as possible.
           The typical Royal Navy thirty-eight gun frigate originally carried twenty-eight eighteen pounder guns on the upper gun deck and ten nine pounders on the quarterback and fo’c’sle for a total equal to their rated thirty-eight guns.  With the rising popularity of the light but powerful carronade, frigates began adding ten or so thirty-two pounder carronades to the existing armament.  Now carrying a total of forty-eight guns, these frigates were still rated as thirty-eights.  The carronades did not count.
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           Logically, a larger vessel, with a larger crew, and more and larger guns should be the victor, but what happened when opponents were evenly matched?  Then the deciding factor was often which crew was better trained and more experienced.  USS Chesapeake and HMS Shannon were close to evenly matched in terms of armament.  Shannon's crew had been together for years, her captain placed a great deal of emphasis on gunnery, and even provided additional powder for practice from his own funds.  While he had had success earlier in the War Of 1812, James Lawrence had just assumed command of Chesapeake.  Many of her crew were also newly reported aboard.  Thus when she sailed from Boston on June 1, 1813, to accept the British challenge, it was with a crew and captain that had never operated together.  This lack of experience resulted in a British victory after just a few minutes of battle.

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