Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The Hummingbird by Stephen P. Kiernan

The Hummingbird by Stephen P. Kiernan

Death is a part of life.  Everything that lives will suffer a death. The Hummingbird is a book about death but most importantly it is a book about the human experience, about our life which is full of war and peace and the mistakes we make and the apologies we give.

There are three intertwined stories within The Hummingbird. Nurse Birch is a hospice nurse whose current patient is a retired history professor named Barclay Reed.  His area of expertise is the the Pacific campaign of WWII and he has written a book that remains unpublished about a little known incident that takes place in Oregon during the war.

As he lay dying of kidney cancer, Barclay asks Deborah Birch to read to him from his book, The Sword, and to decide if it true or not.  So the end of every chapter contains part of The Sword.

When Deb leaves work she returns home to her husband, Michael who is a three tour Iraqi veteran, dealing with PTSD and some serious anger and depression issues.  He hasn't touched her physically since he's been home and she is worried sick about him and the state of their marriage.

The Hummingbird is a emotional, thought provoking and beautiful novel.  I was reminded of the thoughtful work hospice nurses and workers do to help our loved ones pass into death and help us grieve our loss in a beautiful, loving way. Death can be beautiful, with a room full of loved ones surrounding the bed, singing and laughing, holding hands with their dying relative.  But not everyone
gets a beautiful death.

I frequently thought of my grandparents while reading this and was reminded of their impact on my life.  My grandfather was stationed in Oregon before he was sent to England to join the Europe campaign during WWII.  My grandmothers were both amazing influences in my life.  I miss them all so much.

The Hummingbird will make you think deeply about the world we live in, the wars we engage in, the stories that are built or erased by intention or human error.  You will rejoice in being alive, hope for a beautiful death and cry for the loss of your loved ones.  The Hummingbird will make your heart flutter with hope.

The Hummingbird teaches us that every human life is valuable and we all have a powerful story to tell.  We just need someone to listen and understand.

Disclaimer:  I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.


Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matts

Girl in the Woods by Aspen Matts

In 2008, Aspen started her first year of college in a state far away from her home.  On the second day of college, she was raped. Rape is a major issue on college campuses.  Aspen reported the rape and there was a hearing.  The outcome typical and disappointing.  Aspen spiraled into a depression. She felt lost, unsupported, vulnerable and so much more.

In her depression and gloom, Aspen read John Muir's book Travels in Alaska about the Pacific Crest Trail.  Muir kept calling her name and inviting her to trek the entire trail, 2,650 miles from Mexico to Canada.  So that is what she did, she dropped out of college, enlisted the help of her parents and set off to walk in the woods for 6 months.

Aspen needed to heal and learn how to trust men and she was hoping that solitude and the long hike would make her stronger, would lead her to believe in herself and would set her on the path to her future.

This is the third memoir I have read about backpacking a trail in the United States.  I have read A Walk in the Woods and Cheryl Strayed's Wild and now Girl in the Woods.  I am a backpacker myself and have traversed the Superior Hiking Trail.  I am drawn to these types of books because I sometimes feel the call of the wild and the pull of the woods.  I would love to hike an entire trail but fear and age holds me back.  I admire Aspen Matis and Cheryl Strayed for hiking alone for miles and working through their "shit" on the Pacific Crest Trail.  

The woods is a healing force in Girl in the Woods.  This book had me turning pages as fast as I could. While reading Girl in the Woods,  the book kept invading my thoughts as I thought about the experiences of my high school students and Aspen's experience of being raped in college. The epidemic of rape on college campuses really disturbs me.

Aspen survived a rape and many trials and tribulations on her 2,650 mile hike across the United States.  She traversed extreme temperatures, snakes, deadly thirst and hunger, a vicious rumor, romance and so much more.  The Pacific Crest Trail led Aspen to believe in herself and she came to trust and love herself.  Girls in the Woods is a book about self-discovery and awakenings and it is awesome.  I loved it.

Did I mention there are full color photos inside and wonderful quotes or drawings that begin each chapter?

I am putting Girl in the Woods on my senior Non-Fiction reading list.  I wonder which lucky person will choose to read it.


Disclosure:  I received this book in exchange for an honest review.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The Shadow Behind the Stars Giveaway Winners!

The Shadow Behind the Stars Giveaway Winners!

Rebecca Hahn was the August Author in the Spotlight here on Booksnob last month and she, along with her publisher, Atheneum Books is giving away 2 copies of her just released, Young Adult novel, The Shadow Behind the Stars.  Yay!
And the winners are...

Julia H from Minnesota
Elisa H from California

Congratulations Winners!!
Enjoy your new book.

Here is an excerpt from my book review:

I am a fiber artist so I really enjoyed the spinning and weaving and needle work in the book. My fingers were itching to create.  The story itself moves quickly and has some surprises and twists and turns to keep the pages turning.  Full of elements of philosophy, the Shadow Behind the Stars is a creative retelling of an old classic story.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

August Author in the Spotlight Wrap-Up

August Author in the Spotlight Wrap-Up

August came and went by so fast for me. I went back to teaching high school and this is the start of my 21st year in Minneapolis.  My daughter and I took a short trip to Door County, Wisconsin for a Girls only weekend.  It was so awesome.  My son got his first job working at the State Fair.  I submitted three of my poems to a Literary Magazine for a poetry contest.  My first time sharing my writing with a wider audience.  I also read 8 books this month.

One of my favorite books this month was The Shadow Behind the Stars by Rebecca Hahn, who is the Minnesota Author in the Spotlight for August.

Below are some highlights of Rebecca's Author feature for August.

There was a giveaway of The Shadow Behind the Stars and we have two winners.
Click this link to find out more about the winners.
The Shadow Behind the Stars Giveaway

Check out the book review of The Shadow Behind the Stars.  I enjoyed the heck out of this book and hope my review reflects that.  The story itself moves quickly and has some surprises and twists and turns to keep the pages turning.  Full of elements of philosophy, the Shadow Behind the Stars is a creative retelling of an old classic story.

Next check out the author interview with Rebecca Hahn.  I had a chance to ask her some questions about her newest book, The Shadow Behind the Stars, which was released on September 2nd.  I also asked about fiber art, her favorite YA authors and Greek Myths and so much more.

Don't forget to read the guest post by Rebecca.  She has written a guest post on the "other" books, the books she didn't actually write.  She thought she was writing a trilogy and it didn't happen.  Read this to find out why and to gain some insight into the some of the characters in her book, The Shadow Behind the Stars.

I am currently reading Rebecca's first book, A Creature of Moonlight and loving it as well.  I really enjoy Rebecca's writing style and I am so glad I met her at the YA Lit Fest in May and hope I can work with her in the future.  I hope you get a chance to read Rebecca's books and visit her
at her website: