Sky Ranch is a riveting memoir about a young suburban woman who trades in her city life for an Idaho ranch. Living in rural America is not easy, as Bobbi quickly learns. While the challenges are numerous Bobbi’s determination often helps her overcome them. This compelling memoir delivers one of the best contrasts between rural life and city life. Bobbi shares her true story and how she adapted to a new life during the 80’s, a time without modern technology, when all you had to rely on was yourself, family and friends.
I have lived most of my life in the city, visiting farms only in passing, so I can’t even imagine what it’s like to live on a farm. Bobbi Phelps paints a vivid picture of life on an industrial farm. This is a memoir, but it feels like a movie made for the Hallmark channel. It is a heartfelt story and I found Bobbi to be endearing. She shares many of the things she learns along the way and I appreciated the candor with which she tells her unique story.
I have not spent time on a farm, so all of the different obstacles she had to contend with were incredible to me. For instance Bobbi faces Rocky Mountain blizzards where there’s moments of ‘white-outs’, ugh… “Alexa what is a ‘white-out’?” There were so many new things that I learned about rural life from this book. What fascinated me the most was that Bobbi was also learning about these things while having to live through them.
This is an emotional, but ultimately uplifting story, about a suburban woman adapting to life on a cattle farm. It is an intriguing story filled with humor, drama, and even moments of terror. If you enjoy stimulating memoirs about a life quite different from your own then I heartily recommend Sky Ranch.
Pages: 234 | ASIN: B07V1WCK5X
Oink and Gobble have very little in common, but that doesn’t stop them from being the best of friends. No matter what others on the farm may say about either of them, they manage to ignore it and live happy-go-lucky lives. When Oink’s cupcakes go missing, the two best friends set out on a mission to find the culprit. With Gobble’s love for logic and Oink’s overactive imagination, the pair is bound to solve the mystery–with some light-hearted moments along the way.
Oink and Gobble and the Missing Cupcakes, written by Norman Whaler and illustrated by Mohammad Shayan, is a children’s book filled with humorous moments between farm animals and best friends on their way to solving a mystery. Bright and colorful illustrations clearly convey the story line and further add to the plot. Included is a page with the names of each farm animal complete with labels.
I enjoyed this book, but I felt like the story line belongs in a book for children ages 2 to about 6 while the verbiage and some of the exchanges between characters I think might be above the heads of most children in that age group. I enjoyed the asides and the humor injected into the dialogue but found it more appropriate for older readers. I would recommend the plot of the story for young children, but the narrative is much more fitting for young adult readers.
Well-written and superbly illustrated this book will bring a smile to readers’ faces. I think this book is best read with parents or teachers as it presents many learning opportunities. Oink and Gobble and the Missing Cupcakes is a fun and funny picture book.
Pages: 30 | ASIN: B07YN4W37Q
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Oink and Gobble and the Men in Black brings two strange men to the farm and peaks the curiosity of the two farm friends. What was the inspiration behind the idea for this kids book?
All the Oink and Gobble books are are short reads and meant to be humorous and fun and to put a smile on everyone’s face! The Men in Black are popular and familiar to kids and adults alike, but are still are a mystery to be solved!
This is book two in the Oink and Gobble series. What were some new themes you wanted to introduce in this book and what were some ideas you wanted to continue from the first book?
Oink is adventurous and interested in all the strange mysteries of the world, yet has a tendency to jump to conclusions with few facts. Gobble is focused on facts first and tries to bring logic to the investigations the two inevitably start. Though they look at things quite differently, they are best of friends!
What kind of mischief will Oink and Gobble get into in book three and when will it be available?
Without saying too much, Oink once again will jump to conclusions about a mystery of the world, and Gobble will try to bring reason to Oink’s thinking. I hope everyone will enjoy it! Should be out by July 2019.
Posted in Interviews
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Oink and Gobble and the Men in Black is a children’s story written by Norman Whaler. The story follows a duo of livestock buddies, Oink the pig and Gobble the turkey. Oink is an excitable young creature, and Gobble is more mature and a bit on the serious side. The two find some unusual things happening on the farm and Oink cannot contain his curiosity and must look for answers.
I think the story has a pretty good pace and flow for children, but seems to rise and build suspense and then end abruptly. I think there was some room for some more scenarios to play out following the “unmasking.” I did like the friendship between the pair despite their differences. I liked that the pig was overly curious while the turkey was more reserved. That made way for a nice back and forth exchange in conversation.
The illustrations were cute but the colors seemed over saturated. I think softening things up a bit would add to the playfulness of the farm. The “Men in Black” aspect felt borrowed and I was wanted to see some Oink and Gobble specific twists to the story.
I love the authors work and I think Oink and Gobble has huge potential to be something both whimsical and unique. I’d like to see Oink and Gobble in original story lines that give their relationship and whimsy potential to stand out. Overall, I enjoyed the book and I think kids will adore Oink and Gobble as they are both fun and funny.
Pages: 28 | ASIN: B07PBMNYKS
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The story Oink and Gobble and the ‘No One Can Ever Know Secret’ is a children’s book about a group of farm animals trying to keep a secret from the humans living with them. The two main characters, Oink and Gobble, spend all of their time together, and are best friends. When Oink goes to talk to Gobble, she thinks he is joking about the little girl that’s been watching him. He lets Gobble know that the girl may suspect that they can talk. They both get worried that their secret may be revealed.
Oink and Gobble and the ‘No One Can Ever Know Secret’ is a interesting story! It really grabs the audience’s attention. The book has a great plot that utilizes suspense and humor in exciting ways throughout the story. The characters are lovable and have their own unique personalities! The change in font size definitely made the story more suspenseful, and allows the reader to understand the importance of those words. This story is definitely good for kids that are still beginners at reading. There aren’t any huge words that would be too hard to understand. The art is cute, using bright colors to showcase characters that are really emotive. The pictures make the story even more enjoyable and makes it easy for kids to imagine each scene; as it’s a still image of an animated cartoon. This is a book that is easy for kids to enjoy, and is one that kids would want to read over and over!
Pages: 30 | ASIN: B07L5W3SS6
Tags: alibris, animal, animals, art, author, author life, authors, barnes and noble, book, book club, book geek, book lover, bookaholic, bookbaby, bookblogger, bookbub, bookhaul, bookhub, bookish, bookreads, books of instagram, booksbooksbooks, bookshelf, bookstagram, bookstagramer, bookwitty, bookworks, bookworm, children, childrens book, ebook, fantasy, farm, fiction, fun, goodreads, humorous, illustration, ilovebooks, imagination, indiebooks, kids, kids book, kindle, kobo, literature, no one can ever know secret, nook, novel, oink and gobble, parent, picture book, pig, publishing, read, reader, reading, shelfari, smashwords, story, teacher, turkey, writer, writer community, writing
The first chapter of Lea Ann Vandygriff’s book, Seasons: Once Upon My Innocence, is entitled “A Quiet Little Town.” That’s exactly what Rhinehart is. Rhinehart is a southern ranching town where everyone knows everyone else and everyone else’s business. It is Mayberry-like and seems picture-perfect until things go a little off the rails. A tornado and a few menacing characters sweep through town wreaking havoc on the townspeople and shaking both their homes and their faith. Especially shaken are the town’s younger citizens who can’t reconcile one question in their young minds. “Why does God let bad things happen to good people?”
Vandygriff takes us through a season of disaster, desperation, hope, and forgiveness within this close-knit community. It seems like every time one thing comes together, something else falls apart. We are introduced to a cast of characters that range from sweet, Godly, and endearing to violent, neglectful, and unstable. Fortunately, there are more former than latter. Most of the book seems to center around 8th grader, Aubree, her brother Randy, and their parents, Clyde and Dolores. A large focus is also placed on a trio of brothers who have been dropped into the lap of their elderly grandmother.
Many parts of the book made me long for a time when neighbors were more than the people we wound up living beside. They were family. They were there at a minute’s notice to help with whatever was needed. Whether it was cleaning up after a tornado, helping an old lady with her groceries, or befriending the new kid with a bad reputation at school, the people of Rhinehart stuck together through it all. Being raised in a small, southern town myself, I found myself identifying with the town and the people. I saw myself and my family in the characters.
Vandygriff weaves a lot of scripture into her writing. Those who have suffered tragedies in the book are directed to the Bible for answers. Every meal in Aubree’s house is blessed. Prayer is always the answer. Church is a big part of the community. Aubree and her middle school friends find it so hard to comprehend why God lets bad things happen. They are always directed to the Bible and particular verses for answers, and reminded that forgiveness is a huge part of being a Christian.
One particular scenario did bother me in the book. Without going into too much detail, a man abused a young girl. There were no consequences for him. He was forgiven with hardly a blink. There was no accountabilty and no amends made, yet he was still allowed to be around the girl and her family as usual. I wouldn’t have been as forgiving. It was explained as the Christian thing to do, but I don’t know if readers will be able to reconcile themselves with this part. I couldn’t.
That being said, there are plenty of breaks thrown in to lessen the weighty themes the book contains. Plenty of comedy is exchanged through family dynamics and middle school friendships and drama. Often, situations in the book start out as tense and serious, but end with characters laughing. This eases the calamities and stress that the characters find themselves in.
There are some parts that are left intentionally unresolved. Some problems reintroduce themselves on the last page of the book. It is left open-ended. It definitely begs for a sequel.
I will say that there were several spelling errors that I think could have been caught with another once-over by an editor. I also had trouble, at times, pinpointing the era it is set in. Party line telephone circuits are mentioned, but other things seem much more modern in the story. Otherwise, the story seemed to flow well. The characters and the messes they find themselves in are interesting. I’d love to see what happens to the townspeople of Rhinehart next!
Pages: 274 | ASIN: B079647HZH
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The Dragons of Alsace Farm is a beautiful story about love and family. What was the inspiration that spawned this novel?
Thank you. I appreciate that so much. After my father’s passing, our previously happy, healthy mother began exhibiting signs of what we assumed was depression, along with anxiety attacks and confusion. After years spent trying to get a diagnosis, it was finally determined that Mom was in the early stages of dementia. Soon after Mom’s diagnosis, we found a young couple with mild disabilities who wanted more independence. They moved into Mom’s home for a time, offering farm help and companionship in exchange for rent. Mom believed she was helping them, and they felt they were helping her. I watched how the three of them rose above their limitations to lift and serve one another. Although I changed the nature of the challenges facing Noah and Tayte, and made Agnes a composite character, it was Mom and this young couple who ultimately inspired the final book.
The bond that develops between Noah and Tayte forms over their mutual love of the elderly woman Agnes. Was there anything about the characters’ relationship that you pulled from your own life?
A bond can develop when people share sorrow. The diagnosis of dementia, or any traumatic diagnosis, can have a dramatic impact on a family. Some people will pull together to protect, and stay connected to, their loved one. Others run away. It’s occurred in our family, and families I’ve interviewed have expressed similar fractures. I did use that experience of shared sorrow to help Noah and Tayte bridge the emotional gap they couldn’t overcome on their own.
Noah, I think, goes through a dramatic transformation. Did you plan the slow personality change or did it happen as you were writing?
It was planned, but earlier drafts had him even more guarded than Tayte, and as the manuscript progressed, and after chats with editors, I decided to soften him a bit, and make him more hopeful and endearing. I needed the readers to cheer for him early on. I have had several experiences with emotionally guarded youth, and interestingly enough, most of these young people were wonderful with small children and the elderly—people less likely to render judgment. I think that acceptance helps them lower their guard. That’s what Agnes does for Noah. She validates the goodness he has been trying to cultivate, and she strengthens his hope for a future that is brighter than his past.
What is the next book that you are working on and when will it be published?
Thanks for asking! I’ve got two projects in progress. “The Shell Game” has been in the works for over a year. It’s a complex political suspense novel about two last-chance people who arrive in a dying West Virginia mining town. A tip from a ruthless informant sends fallen journalism phenom, Jackson James, to Cutler’s Ridge to chase down a story lead involving three high-level passengers headed for the town in a private plane that didn’t file a flight plan.
Young scientist, Tallie Brown’s, mother forced the two of them to live a life of seclusion. When her emotionally distant mother dies in an accident, she leaves behind a newspaper article and a cryptic message that leads Tallie to Cutler’s Ridge. But the townspeople make it clear they don’t like any strangers, and worse, they seem to fear the shy, reclusive Tallie Brown.
Even the other stranger in town, reporter Jackson James, puts Tallie on his radar when Tallie predicts the fall of the private plane he came to track, right before it falls from the sky, killing everyone on board. James uncovers some strange truths about the town and Miss Brown. She has no recorded birth certificate, and the town is riddled with twenty years of secrets that involve the halls of congress and a local military base. I hope to launch “The Shell Game” before Christmas.
Also, I’ve been invited to contribute a volume for Gelato Books’ highly successful “Destination Billionaire’s Romance Series.” Romance is a new genre for me, but it’s been really fun. You’re hearing it here first—my volume will be titled “Sweet Water.” It debuts in March. I’ve been torn about whether to use my name or the pen name Addison Tayte. We’ll see. . .
Fears and secrets are the dragons we each must face. . . In need of his own redemption, Noah Carter finally confronts his childhood hero, the once-beloved uncle who betrayed him. Instead of vengeance, he offers forgiveness, also granting Uncle John a most curious request—for Noah to work on the ramshackle farm of Agnes Deveraux Keller, a French WWII survivor with dementia. Despite all Agnes has lost, she still has much to teach Noah. But the pair’s unique friendship is threatened when Tayte, Agnes’s estranged granddaughter, arrives to claim a woman whose circumstances and abilities are far different from those of the grandmother she once knew. Items hidden in Agnes’s attic raise painful questions about Tayte’s dead parents, steeling Tayte’s determination to save Agnes, even if it requires her to betray the very woman she came to save, and the secret her proud grandmother has guarded for seventy years. The issue strains the fragile trust between Tayte and Noah, who now realizes Tayte is fighting her own secrets, her own dragons. Weighed down by past guilt and failures, he feels ill-equipped to help either woman, until he remembers Agnes’s lessons about courage and love. In order to save Agnes, the student must now become the teacher, helping Tayte heal—for Agnes’s sake, and for his.
Posted in Interviews
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