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Elmer & Virginia

Elmer & Virginia by John Odell is an emotional and illuminating memoir of two young people in love, but forever changed by World War II. Their personal story is told through a compilation of letters Elmer and Virginia sent to one another. These letters were handwritten with love between the years of 1939 and 1944. The letters are endearing and really capture the feel of the times. I also admire their determination to keep a strong connection in a long distance relationship. At one point in the collection of letters, Virginia gets upset when Elmer doesn’t write her back. These moments ensure readers understand that these were humans doing their best in tough times.

Virginia, or affectionately called by Elmer in the letters “Ginny”, was a college student at Syracuse University. She expressed her love through poems throughout her letters. I enjoyed the poems that involved addressing her inner self. One poem in particular addressed her love for another man by the name of George Hall. Though later as I read on, it was made clear that no one had her heart like Elmer Odell. Virginia also had a diary where she would journal her more personal stories. Some snippets were used to help better understand the connection between her and Elmer. Unlike today where people capture their life stories in videos on Instagram and Twitter, these letters and poems bring you back to a time when life was not necessarily simpler, but a whole world different, and John Odell is able to capture that in this emotionally resonant biography.

Pictures of Elmer & Virginia and the letters were included in this collection. This, for me, was critical in connecting with them both and I really enjoyed seeing them. The chemistry between the two was as organic as it can get. They shared a love of music and dancing that helped their love to become deeper. It was interesting to read the terms and phrases that were used during that time as well as follow Elmer’s enlistment in the air corps.

Elmer & Virginia is a beautiful reflection on love and war. This is a book that has the ability to transport you back to that time and let you inhabit the personal lives of two very intriguing people.

Pages: 488 | ASIN: B08ZL49728

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Memoirs of a Bible Smuggler

Memoirs of a Bible Smuggler by [Jeana Kendrick]

Memoirs of a Bible Smuggler is the true story of Jeana Kendrick and her experience smuggling Bibles into Eastern Europe during the Cold War. Kendrick recalls the emotional highs and lows of this period. Fearing exposure and death, Jeana discusses these experiences and the experience of maintaining faith in order to serve God and protect Christianity.

At the core, this is an uplifting story about overcoming and maintaining faith during a difficult time. I’ll probably never go through anything in my life that is as terrifying as smuggling Bibles into Eastern Europe during the Cold War, but the emotions, faith, and drive to help others was relatable and heartwarming. I appreciated the candid nature with which the story is told. The story really puts you in the authors mind during that time, exploring the events as she saw them.

While this is a story based in history, this is more of a memoir that takes us through the life of a Texas house wife that’s called to serve during a harrowing time. Smuggling bibles was an idea that was new to me. But author Jeana Kendrick opens readers minds to thing others seldom, if ever, experience, and shares some profound and emotional moments. Her ability to keep the faith through it all is inspiring.

While I would have appreciated more historical context, Memoirs of a Bible Smuggler is still a riveting account of one person making a difference in a dangerous world. For any readers that need a powerful story about maintaining faith while facing adversity, or for anyone who wants to read a stirring memoir of an average person doing extraordinary things, then Jeana Kendricks memoir is perfect for you. This is a short but potent story that shows the power and importance of missionary work.

Pages: 187 | ASIN: B0971S3TTJ

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Great Britons of Stage and Screen: In Conversation

Great Britons of Stage and Screen: In Conversation shares the intriguing and profound interviews author Barbara Roisman Cooper has had with a long list of film and theater stars. The interviews are often candid and provide deep insight into overlooked aspects of being an actor, and what is really required of a professional actor, which will appeal to anyone interested in the dramatic world of film and theater.

Author Barbara Cooper has interviewed a great many actors and provides readers with a long list of interviews to dive into. Some of the actors I recognized, while others I did not. Which is why it was helpful to have the introduction to each actor as this helps readers appreciate their accomplishment and get to know them before reading the in depth interview.

Each interview has a candid and casual feel and Barbara asks interesting questions that really brings life to the interview and gets the most out of the interviewees. My favorite interview was with Simon Callow, CBE, possibly because I’m more familiar with his work, but also because I just found the interview, and him, to be fascinating.

I really enjoyed the images that are included throughout the book, because when I didn’t recognize a name I would often recognize a face, and it helped put a face to the words when reading the interview.

Great Britons of Stage and Screen: In Conversation provides a rich and detailed look into the different lives of revered and celebrated British actors. Barbara has a way of turning an interview into a penetrating conversation that will delight both film and theater enthusiasts and anyone that wants to learn more about their favorite actors. This is an illuminating book that captures a magnificent history and provides an enlightening reference to anyone interested in film and theater arts.

Pages: 424 | ASIN: B014ZT5SPI

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Recovering Is Never Easy

Greg Siofer Author Interview

Getting Out tells your true story of learning to walk again and provides inspiration as well as exercises to help others get out of their wheelchair. Why was this an important book for you to write?

When my incident happened, I looked for answers especially physiotherapy, I was very frustrated that there is no book on this subject on how to recover. I documented everything so that people in a similar situation looking for help and answers can follow my guide on recovery. I do not wish for anyone to go through what I have gone through, and spend unnecessary time and money on things that do not work. I wanted to record my story and my exercises which can guide a person and point them in the right direction. Recovering is never easy but if I had this book it would definitely shorten my recovery.

I appreciated the candid nature with which you told your story. What was the hardest moment for you to write about?

I would say the hardest moment would be looking at my reflection for the very first time and seeing a different image that was in my mind. It was a very emotional experience to write about what I was feeling at that moment. There were numerous breaks that I needed to take before completion because it was such an emotional roller coaster.

What were some ideas that were important for you to share in this book?

Most importantly I wanted to share the exercises which I have learned on my journey. It was something I wanted to share with people that want to be pointed in the right direction. My book will give you some ideas that can be tried, It will in my opinion show you the fundamentals that are in the exercises on your road to recovery.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from your story?

Losing something is exceedingly difficult to accept, however, in sharing my story I hope it gives the personal motivation to recover the things that have been taken away. There is light in a tunnel you just have to find it, my story I hope gives the person that light.

Author Links: GoodReads | Twitter | Facebook | Website

How to Deal with Balance Issues: A Heart-Warming, True Story of Persistence & Determination to Stand Up and Walk Plus an Exercise Workbook Inside
Keeping things bottled up and suffering in silence when you are dealing with balance issues is not an option. You may be painfully grieving that you have lost the ability to walk, but do not do it quietly. This book will prove to you that you are not powerless if you do not lose the ability to hope!
Do you often feel uncertain how to move on with your life now that your mobility is restricted?
Are you struggling with conflicting emotions and a slew of difficulties on your journey to getting back on your feet?
Has your emotional state suffered so bad that you don’t believe any more than you have the capacity to overcome the current challenge?
Getting Out is an exceptional book that offers unlimited support – both from a physical and emotional aspect. It’s an inspiring true story following the author’s ups and downs as he’s trying to regain control over his legs after a brain cyst operation.
He felt his share of pain and helplessness, but he managed to get his life back on track. Now, he wants to share his knowledge with you. This workbook of exercises with corresponding descriptive images is his way of helping those who need a good and reliable reference.
Truly a great story of overcoming life’s obstacles, Getting Out is a heart-warming book that literally anyone must read! With great storytelling skills, the author will remind you to appreciate the small things in life.
The writings in this book won’t try to convince you that you can avoid sorrow or distress – but the author’s practical tips and encouraging words are guaranteed to show you all the ways you can smooth the rough waters.
Getting Out can help you better adapt to this life-changing event and bounce back from hardship. Dealing with balance issues is a lot of hard work, but this story is proof that you can do it, too.

Soul Afterlife: Beyond the Near-Death Experience

Soul Afterlife: Beyond the Near-Death Experience, by Bud Megargee, is the author’s journey of spiritual self-discovery. The book is an account of the authors opinions and experiences while figuring out what happens to an individual’s self and soul after life.  Many concepts are introduced throughout this book that explain what a soul is and how it is affected throughout many lives. Some topics discussed throughout the book include reincarnation, becoming human, and transcendence. One important concept discussed throughout the book is awareness. You must have awareness of yourself and your actions and how they affect your soul in this life and the next. The author’s purpose was to explore his self and soul through this life and the next, and I believe this goal was met and depicted in an interesting way throughout the book.

Megargee has a writing style that is comforting and relatable. Throughout the book, Megargee offers his own opinions and feelings about a soul in the afterlife. There is dialogue between the author and a channeled soul guide “Laz”. The dialogue present helps the reader understand the concepts being introduced throughout the book. Megargee has a way of exploring spiritual ideas that are foreign and presents them in a way the reader can understand.

I was able to easily get into this book and gain a deeper  understanding of my own soul. I felt it easy to connect with the author and it was easy to engage in his spiritual journey. The reader never feels like an outsider looking in and instead you feel as though you are side by side with the author applying the knowledge to yourself to find your own truth.

Soul Afterlife: Beyond the Near-Death Experience is one book worth giving a chance. The writing style was comfortable, and if you enjoy this genre, this book will be an enlightening read. If you enjoy concepts in spirituality, a personal writing style, and looking within this book is for you.

Pages: 235 | ASIN: B085GM3HNP

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Getting Out

Getting Out: My Story Plus The Exercises And Experience I Learned That Can Help You Get Out From The Wheelchair by [GREG SIOFER]

Getting Out: My Story Plus the Exercise and Experiences That I Learned That Can Help You Get Out from The Wheelchair by Greg Siofer gives you precisely what it promises on the cover page. The story starts with Greg’s life just as the symptoms begin to appear, follows him through the multiple surgeries, the side effects and finally concludes with the monumental 26 step walk, in  June of 2020. The story is about resilience, hardships, the life experiences gained by living with a life-changing disease and actual exercises at the end of the book that helped Siofer throughout his journey towards recovery.

The unique selling point of this book is the author himself. “How can you write an article about relearning to walk if you have never relearned to walk?” Nothing in this book is based on research done in lab conditions by people who don’t know what it feels like to be in a wheelchair. Everything mentioned in the book is something that Siofer has personally gone through, tried, and tested.

Secondly, it prepares people to deal with the frustration that is frequent in any journey towards recovery. Not all procedures work for everyone, no matter how hard you work. This is the message that Siofer conveys at several points in his journey. He tries out several methods and devices; some of them work, some don’t. But he manages to hold a goal in his mind, to make a snowman with his daughter and uses that to fuel his efforts towards recovery, regardless of the hardships.

The book mentions the presence of his wife, his daughter Isabella, his friends, parents, and his extended family, who helped and supported him in different ways in his journey. But the book focuses on their role in his life without going deep into how this affected them. I would have appreciated seeing this section expanded.

Getting Out provides readers with a unique combination of experiences and guidance for those who have been left unable to walk due to some life-changing incident. It will also prove to be a useful quick read for those who need to support someone in their life. This is an illuminating, thoughtful and inspiring book that is relevant for those who want to prepare themselves for the future ahead post such a life-changing event or those who have someone recovering in their life.

Pages: 253 | ASIN: B08N3JTM8M

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Great Britons of Stage and Screen: Volume II: Directors in Conversation

The world of film and theatre has always been fascinating. Getting to see directors in action, how they prepare, and what they deliver is interesting. In Great Britons of Stage and Screen: Volume II: Directors in Conversation Barbara Roisman Cooper gives the reader a glimpse into the film world through the eyes of celebrated British directors. Barbara writes of the conversations she had with the directors, getting them to talk about both their professional life and personal life. The interviews and discussions are intriguing as the reader gets to learn about things that some directors have never revealed to anyone.

Some of the directors the author interviewed include Ken Annakin, Michael Attenborough, Michael Blakemore, Howard Davies, Sir Richard Eyre, Deborah Warner and many more. From all the interviews in the book, one thing remains constant, the directors put in work to be where they were. The successful careers they had were thanks to the talents they nurtured, discipline, and passion for film. I enjoyed it when the author talked of the challenges the renowned directors faced, as it got the reader to understand that they were still human beings, despite the directors having made it big. The author also talked of the impact they had in their communities and it was encouraging.

Great Britons of Stage and Screen: Volume II: Directors in Conversation is an illuminating book detailing Barbara’s riveting conversations with eminent and remarkable people in British film and theater. This is a fascinating book that will be enjoyed by anyone with an interest in history, theater, interest in the arts, or readers looking for something of a mini-biography on some venerable artists. There are several lessons to be learned from those interviewed. One also gets to appreciate film as it has become one of the biggest industries not only in Britain but the whole world.

Pages: 316 | ISBN: 1629334030

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Into The Wild

Joanne Fedler
Joanne Fedler Author Interview

Unbecoming follows a woman who goes on a spiritual walk through the Australian bush to come to terms with her age and where she’s at in life. What was the inspiration for the setup to your story?

The midlife turning point in my own life as well as the empty nest has come at a time when the future of the planet is under threat because of climate change. The world we birthed our children into 20 years ago is not the world they have inherited. So I sent my main character out of her comfort zone and into the wild to reconnect with the elements and with other women, whose stories and truths are a balm against the uncertainties of tomorrow.

Jo’s character was relatable and felt authentic. Did you pull anything from real life to inform her character?

Yes – Jo is based on me, as Frank is based on my husband, and the kids are loosely based on my kids. Unbecoming can be read as the third in a trilogy of books on motherhood (Secret Mothers’ Business and The Reunion precede it) and all three books have been based on real evenings, weekends and experiences I have had with groups of women.

What were some themes that were important for you to explore in this book?

Climate change, elderhood, menopause, letting go of our adult children, the wisdom of nature, ordinary women as heroes, and mortality.

What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be available?

I have just completed working on a comic novel called Gagman with my 81 year old father, Dov Fedler (a political cartoonist) about an inmate in the concentration camps who survives by telling jokes to the commandant. It is currently with my literary agent and publishers

Author Links: GoodReads | Facebook | Website

You can do one night, Jo reminds herself as she follows five women into the Australian bush.
Where are they going to sleep? And pee?
Jo probably should have let her husband Frank know. Just in case. Because you never know what can happen in the wild.
While on her three-month marriage-and-motherhood sabbatical in the country, Jo bumps into an old friend Fiona who invites her on a ‘sacred silent walk to mark her 57th birthday – the first since her husband Ben died.
The last thing Jo wants is to share anything about herself – these are Fiona’s friends, not hers. And what’s she going to say? That her young adult children have made life choices she doesn’t understand? That she has no idea who she is anymore? That everything is falling apart – even her ‘happy marriage’ to Frank?
But the unexpected intrusion of a young backpacker into their secret location, unleashes powerful and conflicting emotions in each woman, provoking conversations and confidences that stray into the shadowlands of motherhood, the mysteries of midlife, the future of monogamy and mother Earth.
Under the canopy of the open night sky, around a small, tended fire, the women share wise counsel, spill their secrets and offer up their stories, each exposing corners of truth the others need to hear.
Unbecoming is a funny, heartbreaking and provocative homage to the midlife unravelling as women on the brink of elderhood speak honestly about their lives and wonder what the hell to do with vaginas that are not ready to be put out to pasture just yet.
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