Good Dogs Don’t Make it to the South Pole by Hans-Olav Thyvold #AtoZChallenge

The Blogging from A to Z April Challenge  is for bloggers who wish to participate by publishing a blog post every day in April except for Sundays. Each blog post will focus on a letter of the alphabet. For example April 1 will be A, April 2 will be B and on it goes. By the end of April, a blog post for every letter of the alphabet will have been posted.

Good Dogs Don’t Make it to the South Pole by Hans-Olav Thyvold

Summary

The wisest and most inspiring book on friendship and ageing, written by a dog, that you’ll ever read.

The best thing you can aspire to in this world is company. whether it’s for pleasure of pain, a crowning or an execution; everything is better with company. You might say it all went to hell with Mrs. Thorkildsen, but you know what? It could have been worse, because Mrs. Thorkildsen had me to keep her company. And I had her. That’s what we had in common, her and me, what bound us together. We were company.

The Major, a World War Two veteran, breathes his last. Watching over him are his wife and his faithful companion, Tassen, the story’s narrator, who is, by his own admission, a couch potato and a one-man dog.

After the Major is gone, Tassen and Mrs. Thorkildsen settle into their new life, surrounded by books and stories of the 1911 race between Norwegian explorer Roald Amundsen and Britain’s Captain Robert F. Scott to reach the South Pole. Regular visits to the local library and the bar next door provide all types of enlightenment.

However wen Mrs. Thorkildsen becomes ill, Tassen’s world begins to wobble.
blurb

Good Dogs Don't Make it to the South Pole

My Thoughts

I picked this book up because the dog on the cover was just so cute and irresistable. At first, I thought it was a lightweight book of cute dog stories, but nothing could be further from the truth.

As Mrs. Thorkildson ages and her health declines, Tassen is by her side, listening to her relate the story ofan expedition to the South Pole and the role dogs played. Tassen thoughts on hearing the story are very funny and yes, exactly what a dog would surely think.

There are so many animal insights in this book, some comical and some sad as he has imagined conversations with himself about what he sees around him and what he supposes Mrs. Thorkildsen is up to.

Even though there is a thread of humour through the book, the story is definitely not light and superficial. As an older person, I could very much identify with the  themes of  ageing, death, companionship and life which as an older person. I enjoyed this book very much.

Translated into English from Norwegian.

Recommendations

‘I love it. If your dog is going to read just one book this year – this is it’ – Tess Erngren

Star Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author

Hans-Olav Thyvold was born in Norway in 1959. He has published several nonfiction books and also been a journalist, radio host and TV host. In 2017 he published his first work of fiction, Snille hunder kommer ikke til Sydpolen. The novel has now been translated into English and is published as Good Dogs Don’t Make it to the South Pole. Thyvold has previously written and published books about Roald Amundsen as well as Fridtjof Nansen – allenandunwin.com

First Published in Norway 2017. This edition published in Australia & New Zealand in 2019 by Allen & Unwin. Softcover, 297 pages

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Next Phase In Fitness & Life
and Tracking Down The Family

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Forgotten Rebels of Eureka by Clare Wright #AtoZChallenge #aussieauthor20

 

 

Summary

The Eureka Stockade: It’s one of Australia’s foundation legends – yet the story has always been told as if half the participants weren’t there. But what if the hot tempered, free spirited gold miners we learned about at school were actually husbands and fathers, brothers and sons? What if there were women and children right there beside them, inside the Stockade, when the bullets started to fly? And how do the answers to these questions change what we thought we knew about the so-called ‘birth of Australian democracy’?

Ten years in the research and writing,m inimitably bold, entertaining and irreverent in style, Clare Wright’s The forgotten Rebels of Eureka is a fitting tribute to the unbiddable women of Ballarat – women who made Eureka a story for us all. – blurb

My Thoughts

This book was right up my alley. I heard the author speak about this book at the Bendigo Writers Festival in 2017, and purchased it immediately. Unfortunately, it has sat on my bookshelf unread until recently. As a lover of history, and in particular Australian and Goldfields history, I devoured every word. Clare Wright has written about the women of the goldfieds in such as a way, that allows their personalities and characters to shine through. I felt as though I had met and spent time with these women, as I read their story.

I found some of the descriptions of the Eureka uprising to be brutal in their honesty and at times difficult to read. This is a true and accurate account of the women and children of the goldfields, who rarely rate a mention. The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka addresses that imbalance and tells the real story without sugar coating.

Recommendations

2014 Winner of The Stella Prize

‘A rare and irresistible combination of impeccable scholarship with a lively, warm, engaging narrative voice’. – Stella Prize Committee

‘Beautifully written, her book takes readers on a vivid journey of what life was like for the families of the miners, merchants, prostitutes, and police. It’s a great story’ – Courier-Mail

‘Evokes the goldfield era vividly….brings to life the experiences of so many young immigrants to Australia in the 1850s….Women in particular will enjoy this refreshing new look at Eureka‘ – The Age

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

About the Author

Clare Wright is an historian who has worked as a political speechwriter, university lecturer, historical consultant and radio and television broadcaster. Her first book, ‘Beyond the Ladies Lounge: Australia’s Female Publicans’, garnered both critical and popular acclaim and her second, ‘The Forgotten Rebels of Eureka’, won the 2014 Stella Prize.

She researched, wrote and presented the ABC TV documentary Utopia Girls and is the co-writer of the four-part series The War That Changed Us which screened on ABC1.

Published 2013, by Text Publishing Australia.
Softcover, 539 pages, including notes, bibliography and index.

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#2020 Aussie Author Challenge

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E: Erebus by Michael Palin #AtoZChallenge

Summary

Erebus: The Story of a Ship

In the early years of Queen Victoria’s reign, HMS Erebus undertook two of the most ambitious naval expeditions of all time.

On the first, she ventured further south than any ship had ever been. On the second, she vanished with her 129 strong crew in the wastes of the Canadian Arctic.

Author, Michael Palin brings to life the world and voyages of HMS Erebus, from its construction in the naval dockyards of Pembroke, to the part it played in Ross’s Antarctic expedition of 1839–43, to its abandonment during Franklin’s ill-fated Arctic expedition, and to its final rediscovery on the seabed in Queen Maud Gulf in 2014.

He explores the intertwined careers of the men who shared its journeys: the organisational genius James Clark Ross, who mapped much of the Antarctic coastline and oversaw some of the earliest scientific experiments to be conducted there; and the troubled Sir John Franklin, who, at the age of 60 and after a chequered career, commanded the ship on its final journey. And he describes what life on board was like for the dozens of men who stepped ashore in Antarctica’s Victoria Land, and for the officers and crew who, one by one, froze and starved to death in the Arctic wastes as rescue missions desperately tried to track them down.

To help tell the story, he has travelled to various locations across the world – Tasmania, the Falklands, the Canadian Arctic – to search for local information, and to experience at first hand the terrain and the conditions that would have confronted the Erebus and her crew.

Illustrated with maps, paintings and engravings, this is a wonderfully evocative and epic account, written by a master explorer and story teller.
– blurb and goodreads

My Thoughts

I have to say up front that I loved this book and couldn’t put it down. I found everything about it absolutely gripping. The author has thoroughly researched the story of Erebus and includes photos and maps with an index and acknowledgements at the back of the book.

There is so much researched history in this book. From the doomed HMS Erebus to the history of the antarctic naval exploration. I had never heard of this ship or it’s story and Palin really brought the ship and the characters of the day to life for me. The later parts of the book concerning Erebus being found in 2014 were equally engrossing.

Recommendations

The Sunday Times Bestseller

‘Thoroughly absorbs the reader …..Carefully researched and well crafted, it brings the story of a ship vividly to life’ – Sunday times

‘A natural storyteller’The Times

‘Beyond terrific – I didn’t want it to end ‘ Bill Bryson

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

About the Author

Michael Palin

Sir Michael Edward Palin, is an English comedian, actor, writer and television presenter best known for being one of the members of the comedy group Monty Python and for his travel documentaries.

Palin wrote most of his material with Terry Jones. Before Monty Python, they had worked on other shows such as The Ken Dodd Show, The Frost Report and Do Not Adjust Your Set. Palin appeared in some of the most famous Python sketches, including “The Dead Parrot”, “The Lumberjack Song”, “The Spanish Inquisition” and “Spam”. Palin continued to work with Jones, co-writing Ripping Yarns. He has also appeared in several films directed by fellow Python Terry Gilliam and made notable appearances in other films such as A Fish Called Wanda, for which he won the BAFTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. In a 2005 poll to find The Comedian’s Comedian, he was voted the 30th favourite by fellow comedians and comedy insiders.

After Python, he began a new career as a travel writer. His journeys have taken him across the world, the North and South Poles, the Sahara desert, the Himalayas and most recently, Eastern Europe. In 2000 Palin became a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) for his services to television. – goodreads.com

Have you read this book. If so, I’d love to know what you thought of it. I promise to reply to all comments made.

Published on 30 May 2019, by Arrow Publishing. Softcover, 352 pages.

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The Dry by Jane Harper #Atozchallenge #2020aussieauthors

The Dry by Jane Harper

Summary

Who really killed the Hadler family?
It hasn’t rained in Kiewarra for two years. Tensions in the farming commmunity become unbearable when three members of the Hadler family are discovered shot to death on their property. Everyone assumes Luke Hadler committed suicideafter slaughtering his wife and six year old son.

Federal Police investigator Aaron Falk returns to his hometown for the funerals and is unwillingly drawn into the investigation. As suspicion spreads through the town, Falk is forced to confront the community that rejected him twenty years earlier. Because Falk and his childhood friend Luke Hadler shared a secret, one which Luke’s death threatens to unearth….. – blurb

My Thoughts

I’ve said before that crime is not one of my favourite genres, but I really did enjoy this book. I took the advice of the comment on the back cover from the Daily Telegraph and read it in one sitting. It’s a very, quick and easy read but such a good plot with a few twists and turns, well rounded characters, and a really great sense of place.  I enjoyed reading about the secrets that were being held in this small town and the events that occurred because of them.

This book has been sitting on my bookshelf since I bought it when it was a new release.I was drawn to it because the author is a journalist from Melbourne, that I knew of from her previous work.  The Dry is her debut novel. There was a lot of media coverage at the time, and I’m usually not keen to read those books that are well hyped up. Eventually, I decided to give it a go, and I’m really pleased that I did.

Recommendations

“This is a story about heroism, the sins of the past, and the struggle to atone. But let’s not forget the redbacks, the huntsmen, the rabbit scourge and all that makes this a quintessential Australian story beautifully told.” – The Age

“Try to set aside one sitting to indulge in journalist Jane Harper’s page turning debut novel. The pace never falters.” – Daily Telegraph

Star Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author

Jane Harper

Jane Harper is the international bestselling author of The Dry, Force of Nature and The Lost Man.
Jane is a New York Times and Sunday Times bestseller, and has won numerous top awards including the Australian Book Industry Awards Book of the Year, the Australian Indie Awards Book of the Year, the CWA Gold Dagger Award for Best Crime Novel, and the British Book Awards Crime and Thriller Book of the Year.
Her books are published in more than 36 territories worldwide, with The Dry in production as a major motion picture starring Eric Bana.
Jane worked as a print journalist for thirteen years both in Australia and the UK, and now lives in Melbourne.

Published in 2016, by Pan McMillan
Paperback, 342 pages

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All books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library, unless otherwise stated.

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#2020 Aussie Author Challenge

You can find my other blogs here: Next Phase In Fitness & Life
and Tracking Down The Family

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C: Charlotte Pass by Lee Christine #AprilAtoZChallenge #aussieauthor20

Summary

A shocking discovery deep in the Snowy Mountains. A killer who will do anything to keep secrets buried.

When ski patroller Vanessa Bell discovers human bones high on Mount Stilwell at Charlotte Pass ski resort, Detective Sergeant Pierce Ryder of the Sydney Homicide Squad is called in to lead the investigative team.

Arriving in the isolated, snowed-in village with Winterfest celebrations underway, Ryder soon determines that the bones are those of Celia Delaney, a young woman who disappeared from the ski resort in 1964 during the biggest winter storm in Australian alpine history.

When a second murder takes place, Ryder suspects that the deaths are related, and that the person responsible is still in the village. Amid the escalating tension, Ryder is desperate to make an arrest before the stakes rise even higher.

Set within the stunning Snowy Mountains, this intriguing mystery uncovers deadly, long-buried secrets in the valleys and mountains of this iconic area.

Charlotte Pass

My Thoughts

I’m not a huge crime fan but I quite enjoyed this story. The setting of the Snowy Mountains had me interested, as I have been to this area, and was able to imagine the plot settings. It was slightly strange that I was reading this novel at a time when the area was battling bushfires instead of being snowed in. This novel is a quick and easy read, an old style ‘who-dunnit’, I thought along the lines of the Agatha Christie murder mysteries. I enjoyed the story lines. Even though I was sure who did it from very early on, there were unexpected twists and turns along the way.

Star Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

About the Author
Lee Christine

In 2009, former corporate trainer, Lee Christine, decided to turn her writing hobby into a serious day job. She has since won many awards for her novels. Lee loves connecting with her readers and has appeared on a panel at the Newcastle Writer’s Festival and the Lake Macquarie Write Here festival, made multiple library appearances, and has been a guest speaker at a major fundraiser for the Mark Hughes Brain Cancer Foundation as well as the Friends of Newcastle University fundraising lunch. 

Published February 2020 by Allen & Unwin, Australia. Paperback 320 pages

Links to my other blogs: https://jonesfamilyhistory.wordpress.com and https://nextphaseinfitness.com.au

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B: Burke & Wills by Peter FitzSimons #AtoZChallenge #aussieauthor20

Burke and Wills: The Triumph and Tragedy of Australia’s Most Famous Explorers

Summary

‘They have left here today!’ he calls to the others. When King puts his hand down above the ashes of the fire, it is to find it still hot. There is even a tiny flame flickering from the end of one log. They must have left just hours ago.

MELBOURNE, 20 AUGUST 1860. In an ambitious quest to be the first Europeans to cross the harsh Australian continent, the Victorian Exploring Expedition sets off, farewelled by 15,000 cheering well-wishers. Led by Robert O’Hara Burke, a brave man totally lacking in the bush skills necessary for his task; surveyor and meteorologist William Wills; and 17 others, the expedition took 20 tons of equipment carried on six wagons, 23 horses and 26 camels.

Almost immediately plagued by disputes and sackings, the expeditioners battled the extremes of the Australian landscape and weather: its deserts, the boggy mangrove swamps of the Gulf, the searing heat and flooding rains. Food ran short and, unable to live off the land, the men nevertheless mostly spurned the offers of help from the local Indigenous people.

In desperation, leaving the rest of the party at the expedition’s depot on Coopers Creek, Burke, Wills and John King made a dash for the Gulf in December 1860. Bad luck and bad management would see them miss by just hours a rendezvous back at Coopers Creek, leaving them stranded in the wilderness with practically no supplies. Only King survived to tell the tale.

Yet, despite their tragic fates, the names of Burke and Wills have become synonymous with perseverance and bravery in the face of overwhelming odds. They live on in our nation’s history – and their story remains immediate and compelling.
– Goodreads

My Thoughts

This was a trip that was undertaken foolishly primarily due to lack of planning. But there was also what could be called a comedy of errors from when the trip was first brought up through all the planning stages and during the actual trip. Fitzsimons tells the story without  holding back on telling exactly what happened and who was to blame for the events that occured before and during this iconic exploration of Australia  I have had this book on my bookshelf since 2017 and was looking forward to reading it, but the time commitment to get through what could be called a ‘door stopper’ had me leaving it until another time. When I finally got to it, I read all 623 pages in just a few days. Fitzsimmons has a chatty conversational way of telling the events of history. This book is definitely not a dry text book style account of this important event in Australia history. He tells the story in the present tense which makes his accounts of historical events much more entertaining.

Burke and Wills contains many archival photos and maps, which really did add to my enjoyment of this book.

 Star Rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

About the Author

Peter FitzSimons is one of Australia’s most prominent and successful media and publishing identities. His busy professional life involves co-hosting the breakfast program on Sydney’s Radio 2UE, writing weekly columns for the Sydney Morning Herald and Sun Herald newspapers, appearing on Foxtel’s Back Page television show and, when time permits, authoring best-selling books. A correspondent for London’s Daily Telegraph as well, he is also in high demand as a guest speaker and presenter
– Goodreads

Published on 31 October 2017 by Hachette Australia.
Hardcover 623 pages plus Endnotes and Index.

This review is linked to 2020 Aussie Author Challenge

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A: Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood #AtoZChallenge

Alias Grace by Margaret Atwood

Summary

It’s 1843, and Grace Marks has been convicted for her involvement in the vicious murders of her employer and his housekeeper and mistress. Some believe Grace is innocent; others think her evil or insane. Now serving a life sentence, Grace claims to have no memory of the murders.

An up-and-coming expert in the burgeoning field of mental illness is engaged by a group of reformers and spiritualists who seek a pardon for Grace. He listens to her story while bringing her closer and closer to the day she cannot remember. What will he find in attempting to unlock her memories? – Goodreads

My Thoughts

Margaret Atwood has been described as “one of the most brilliant and unpredictable novelists alive” – Literary Review. I would have to agree with that statement. This is the third of Attwood’s books that I’ve read and they have all been highlight reads for me. Alias Grace is an absolute highlight.  The story of Grace Marks, one of the most well known female prisoners in the 19h century is a work of fiction based on fact. The end isn’t hidden from the reader. From the start the outcome is fairly obvious, but the way this book is written, the reader is still kept entranced and enthralled to the end. This book invoked so many emotions for me . I found it ‘unputdownable’. There were so many passages that I had to read over and over or stop and think about. I could easily describe Alias Grace as being very dark and sad but it is aso very humorous. I did often laugh out loud. My favourite genre is Historical Fiction and Alias Grace is the best of the best. 

Alias Grace, deservedly, has received many literary awards around the world.

 Quotes:

“If we were all on trial for our thoughts, we would all be hanged.”

“Sometimes at night I whisper it over to myself: Murderess, Murderess. It rustles, like a taffeta skirt across the floor.
Murderer is merely brutal. It’s like a hammer, or a lump of metal. I would rather be a murderess than a murderer, if those are the only choices.”

Star Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

About the Author

Margaret Atwood was born in 1939 in Ottawa and grew up in northern Ontario, Quebec, and Toronto. She received her undergraduate degree from Victoria College at the University of Toronto and her master’s degree from Radcliffe College.

Throughout her writing career, Margaret Atwood has received numerous awards and honourary degrees. She is the author of more than thirty-five volumes of poetry, children’s literature, fiction, and non-fiction and is perhaps best known for her novels, which include The Edible Woman (1970), The Handmaid’s Tale (1983), The Robber Bride (1994), Alias Grace (1996), and The Blind Assassin, which won the prestigious Booker Prize in 2000. Atwood’s dystopic novel, Oryx and Crake, was published in 2003. The Tent (mini-fictions) and Moral Disorder (short stories) both appeared in 2006. Her most recent volume of poetry, The Door, was published in 2007. Her non-fiction book, Payback: Debt and the Shadow Side of Wealth ­ in the Massey series, appeared in 2008, and her most recent novel, The Year of the Flood, in the autumn of 2009. Ms. Atwood’s work has been published in more than forty languages, including Farsi, Japanese, Turkish, Finnish, Korean, Icelandic and Estonian. In 2004 she co-invented the Long Pen TM.
Goodreads

Published December 1996 by Doubleday Nan A. Talese

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Theme Reveal – #atozchallenge

April A-Z Challenge

One of the highlights in the blogging year for me, is the April A-Z Challenge. I have participated every year since 2015 on each of my three blogs. One year, I even took the challenge full on and participated on two blogs. This was a huge committment and I really didn’t enjoy it that year, as I was constantly under pressure, for the entire month. But every other year, I have loved this challenge and found so many positives in being involved.

The 2020 April A-Z Challenge is now almost here. Starting on April 1, the challenge is to publish a post every day in April, except for Sundays. That makes 26 day, so one day for each letter of the alphabet. April 1 is A, and so on through the month to Z.

Using this premise, you would start beginning April 1, with a topic on something with the letter A, then on April 2, another topic with the letter B, and so on until you finish on April 30, with a topic based on letter Z. The theme for each day is the scheduled letter for the day.

This challenge started in 2010, when it was first presented to bloggers, who didn’t hesitate to get on board. The number of bloggers participating every year has grown and is now huge. Also huge, are the variety of blogs and blog topics.

Theme Reveal 2020

Most bloggers choose a theme for the A-Z Challenge, but it’s not necessary. Today, there is much excitement amongst the participating bloggers, as today is ‘Theme Reveal Day.’

My theme is Book Reviews. Each day in April, I will post a new book review from A-Z. Books reviewed will be all genres. My only stipulation is that they are books that I have read. My policy is that I don’t review books that I have not read.

I am very much looking  forward to reading about the themes that have been chosen by other bloggers. This is part of the fun of the A-Z Challenge.

I would love you to join me. To keep up with the latest book reviews, please pop your email address in the box on the sidebar. This will ensure you are notified of updates.

Blogging from A to Z April Challenge:

You can find my other blogs here: Next Phase In Fitness & Life and Tracking Down The Family

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WWW Wednesday

I came across WWW Wednesdays through a book bloggers link up, and was immediately interested in the premise. The blog was Taking on a World of Words .

The idea of WWW Wednesday is to publish a post answering three questions. Those questions are:

  •  What are you currently reading?
  •   What did you recently finish reading?
  •   What do you think you will read next?

It isn’t my intention for WWW Wednesdays to be a review post but just a short post about what I’m reading and what might be in my tbr pile. I’m also going to include audio books listened to, so there may be two books mentioned in the answer to each question.

Currently reading

The Brain that Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science

The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, M.D. Stories of personal triumph from the frontiers of brain science

The Cloud Leopard's Daughter (The Smuggler's Wife #4)

The Cloud Leopard’s Daughter by Deborah Challinor Book #4 in the Smugglers Wife series.  Audiobook

Recently finished reading

Band of Gold (The Smuggler's Wife #3)

Band of Gold by Deborah Challinor:  Book #3 in the Smuggler’s Wife series. #audiobook

Reading next

The Pilgrimage : A Contemporary Quest for Ancient Wisdom - Paulo Coelho

The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho An account of the author’s pilgrimage on the Camino de Santiago, across Spain

To keep up with the latest book reviews, please pop your email address in the box on the sidebar. This will ensure you are notified of updates.

Linked to WWW Wednesday

Images: Goodreads and Booktopia

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WWW Wednesday

n.

I came across WWW Wednesdays through a book bloggers link up, and was immediately interested in the premise. The blog was Taking on a World of Words .

The idea of WWW Wednesday is to publish a post answering three questions. Those questions are:

  •  What are you currently reading?
  •   What did you recently finish reading?
  •   What do you think you will read next?

It isn’t my intention for WWW Wednesdays to be a review post but just a short post about what I’m reading and what might be in my tbr pile. I’m also going to include audio books listened to, so there may be two books mentioned in the answer to each question.

Currently Reading

Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time

Three Cups of Tea: One Man’s Mission to Promote Peace…One School at a Time: by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. The inspiring account of one man’s campaign to build schools in the most dangerous, remote, and anti-American reaches of Asia.

Band of Gold (The Smuggler's Wife #3)

Band of Gold by Deborah Challinor:  Book #3 in the Smuggler’s Wife series

Recently Finished Reading

Charlotte Pass

Charlotte Pass by Lee Chrtistine: A shocking discovery deep in the Snowy Mountains. A killer who will do anything to keep secrets buried

Reading Next

The Brain that Changes Itself: Stories of Personal Triumph from the Frontiers of Brain Science

The Brain that Changes Itself by Norman Doidge, M.D. Stories of personal triuh from the frontiers of Brain Science.

 Linked to WWW Wednesday

Images: Goodreads

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