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Socks Go Missing

Lori Orlinsky Author Interview

The Adventures of Lefty and Righty: The Windy City follows a charming pair of socks on a fun adventure where they experience the sights, sounds, and food of Chicago. How did the idea for Lefty and Righty start and how did that develop into this story?

It kills me every time I do laundry and socks go missing. One evening, instead of blaming my kids for losing them, I said sarcastically “It’s their fault. They climbed out the window and went downtown.” Suddenly, the idea was born and the whole family brainstormed all the fun things they could be up to!

The book contains some fantastic comic art. What was the collaboration process like with illustrator Kenn Vidro?

It was a wonderful experience to collaborate with Kenn, who truly has a gift for capturing characters and places with bold color, excitement, and impeccable detail. Kenn is the father of a family friend, and when I saw his artwork all over their house and through social media, I knew he was the one to bring this story to life.

Chicago is a big place. How did you decide which landmarks and experiences to include in the book?

With our family being huge White Sox fans, I knew immediately that the book had to center around the team – and what a fun pun between the socks and Sox. For the other stops, I honed into the places our family loves to visit. There are some nods to our neighborhood in the book as well, with the L stop and the hot dog stand.

Do you have more adventures planned for Lefty and Righty in future books?

Yes! I’d love to see them travel to other cities, and maybe even get lost in the airport! Now that Kenn and I have given personalities to Lefty and Righty, there are so many fun things they could do!

Author Links: GoodReads | Instagram | Facebook | Website

Do you ever wonder what happens to socks that get lost in the dryer? Join Lefty and Righty for the adventure of a lifetime as they sneak out of the laundry room with a destination in mind: a White Sox game! But with so much to do in The Windy City, will they make it to the game in time? Through their fun-filled day, they’ll discover the sights, sounds―and even the tastes―of Chicago, all while encountering a few surprises along the way!

The Kitchen and the Studio

The Kitchen and The Studio: Memoirs of Food and Art by Mallory M. and John A. O’Connor is an alluring read. As the title implies, it combines a cookbook, an art book, and a memoir detailing the couple’s long and storied marriage. These elements are expertly blended to form a book that contemplates love, family, friendship, and the meals that bring us together.

We follow Mallory and John from their first meeting in a UC Davis art class in 1960 through moves, career changes, and heartaches over the next 60-plus years of their life together. Along the way, they share stories of the fascinating people they befriended and, of course, the food they shared with those people.

The book is beautifully illustrated, with stunning landscapes and still-lifes peppered throughout, along with photos and documents from the couples’ prosperous lives. Much of the art is by the co-author himself, though there are also some lovely pieces by the couple’s many friends in the field. I thought it was a nice detail that, rather than photos, many of the recipes are accompanied by paintings of the dish in question, bringing a personal touch you don’t often see in recipe books.

As someone interested in food history, this book was a fascinating resource. Coming from the perspective of one couple and how food has been a part of their own story and journey over the past 60 years, it tells a very personal story. In addition, the authors made sure to include some historical background for many of the dishes, which was incredibly enlightening.

The recipes sound delicious and include some more exotic ingredients that the standard household may not always have in stock. Readers may have to make adjustments when attempting to replicate these menus to take into account ingredient availability. This is one area I would have loved to have seen in this book, some substitution options for hard-to-find ingredients, just to make the dishes more accessible. That aside, this collection offers readers a chance to expand their cooking repertoire and experience something they might not have thought of trying. The authors have included in this informative book some helpful resources for those looking to experience the dishes for themselves, including a wine list and some information on small businesses that make quality ingredients.

The Kitchen and The Studio: Memoirs of Food and Art is a highly original presentation of food history and personal memoirs. The authors clearly have enjoyed their life together and share their passion for cooking with friends and family. The stunning artwork and poignant reflections make it an unforgettable read.

Pages 412

MacGregor’s Final Battle

MacGregor’s Final Battle is a novel following the last journey of the protagonist Mac MacGregor as he undertakes a cross-country trip to visit his cousin in Alaska after his wife Anne of forty years dies, and he learns he has stage four brain cancer. He chooses to forgo cancer treatment and make the most of his last months alive. On his journey, he follows the Lewis and Clark trail National Historical Trail in his RV, which traces the route of the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1803 to 1806, taking him from Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, to the Pacific Ocean.  

The book is based loosely on the author’s own life. Elements of the recorded history of America and the Lewis and Clark trail are peppered throughout the story. I enjoyed the character development throughout the book. Mac starts off as a depressed, lonely man; he is grieving and intends to shut out the world around him and his own family. Through the first half of the novel, his grief is palpable. He is portrayed as a stubborn, straight-talking character who comes to terms with his own mortality and failing health. He meets Kate, a Nursing Assistant, at a dinner in Saint Louis, where she is working part-time, and she persuades him due to his ill health, he should not be undertaking the journey on his own. Instead, she offers to accompany him as his caretaker. With some reluctance, he agrees, and they continue his trip together.  

The novel frequently examines the theme of colonialism in America and the destruction of natural habitats in the name of progress. There is a motif throughout the story of the loss of a simpler life in the face of modernity. Mac is a military veteran of the Vietnam war, and he meets other Veterans on his travels. The ongoing effects of military service are discussed through Kate and Mac’s dialogue throughout the novel. I found the novel to be a slow burner as it takes a little while to get going. Some of the plot is somewhat repetitive as the characters undertake many similar activities as they move along the trail. Hence, the action builds up slowly rather than the tension and interest for the reader increasing as they move along their journey.  

However, as the book progresses, you become more invested in the characters. Finally, in the last half of the novel, the story starts to pick up its pace. The relationship between Kate and Mac develops, and Mac’s tough exterior softens. The story ends as a sweet love story between the two.

Pages: 286 | ASIN: B0BQKNG2YN

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So Many Incredible Stories

Author Interview

Sleeping With Lions: A Year in Tanzania shares your experiences in East Africa and your personal journey to rediscover who you are. Why was this an important book for you to write?

I love a good story, and there were so many incredible stories that I experienced during the year I lived in Tanzania. I wanted to share these experiences for many reasons—for example, to dispel misconceptions back home about what a year in Tanzania was actually like for me. More than anything, this is a valentine to my friends and family in Tanzania, especially the four Tanzanian priests who invited me to live with them. It is a unique love story centered on brotherly love. It was also important to write this book to celebrate Tanzanian thought, philosophy, culture and language. It was such a joyful, contemplative, and rich experience filled with wonderful people. I wanted to acknowledge and honor an incredible year in a beautiful place where I was surrounded by love, profound thought, natural wonders, and the best friends anyone could ever have. I wanted to share something optimistic and positive.

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

First of all, thank you. When I first started writing about these experiences, it was as a diary, so that is probably why it is so candid. Writing about my personal journey was the easy part; trying to capture the beauty and atmosphere of Tanzania was probably the hardest part. It is like when people share photos and say “this photo does not do the subject justice.” There is a reason Tanzania is such a popular adventure travel destination with Zanzibar, Mount Kilimanjaro, and The Serengeti Desert, but it is also so much more than that. The hardest part of writing about my year in Tanzania was truly capturing the beauty of the landscape, the culture, the languages, and the history. As happy as I am with the book, I still know that my writing did not do the country, or my friends there, justice.

What is one piece of advice someone gave you that changed your life?

It is funny because the one piece of advice that changed my life came from my mom who is not one to generally offer advice, and I am not one who is generally inclined to take it. Many years ago, noticing how I was struggling as a young, first-time mom and trying to still pursue my own dreams, she said: “You can do all the things you want in life, just not all at the same time.” It was one of the few times I have taken advice from anyone, but I am glad I did. She encouraged me to recognize different seasons in life and to prioritize my time. She added that the school where I taught could always replace me but my daughters could not. Although the culture around me was telling me I could “do it all,” my mom modified that by adding “…just not all at once.” She also repeatedly emphasized how quickly children grow up, something that is hard to recognize in the exhausting early years. Because of this, I prioritized early motherhood and my daughters. My mom was right: these years flew by, and I was able to continue with a career I love and reconnect with my own dreams later on. I hope this book reflects the appreciation for the seasons of life and this loving advice from my mom.

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

The one takeaway I hope readers will take to heart is to reconsider the cultural stereotypes and misconceptions about places in Africa like Tanzania. I hope readers come away with an enhanced understanding about the culture, history, and wonder of Tanzania. More than anything, I hope the voices of my Tanzanian friends and colleagues that I have tried to capture here will be amplified and show readers that there is a lot to learn from the Tanzanian way of life.

Author Links: GoodReads | Amazon

Faced with an empty nest, a single mother and linguist from California embraces the opportunity to return to East Africa where she had once worked as a young woman.

Living with four priests in Bukoba, Tanzania on the western shores of Lake Victoria, the author teaches at a small college and works closely alongside her research partner, a Kenyan linguist and poet. Throughout her year in Tanzania, she establishes new friendships and also travels throughout the country, visiting places like Kilwa, the Serengeti Desert and Zanzibar.

In this true story, Lee Anne McIlroy celebrates the rich cultural, historical, natural, and linguistic landscapes of Tanzania while reflecting on her own life, exploring what it means to be a mother, a woman, and most importantly, a human being in the modern world.

Walks Far Man

Walks Far Man: In Step with History on the Pacific Crest Trail is a nearly-400 page recounting of one man’s journey on the Pacific Crest Trail, told alongside a deep dive into the history and culture of Native American tribes who once lived along and followed the same route. This subject matter is perhaps less surprising when one considers the author: Jim Ostdick is a retired Earth Science teacher living near the central California coast on the ancestral lands of the Amah Mutsun Ohlone. It is no shock then that his book combines knowledge of science, the Earth, and Native American history. However, this description perhaps does Ostdick’s story a disservice; there is a level of beautiful and evocative storytelling that cannot be boiled down to any scientific objectivity. In Ostdick’s own words, this story is a “caffeine-fueled blend of fact, fiction, myth, and legend.”

Read this book at your own risk: it may cause readers to want to hike 2000+ miles! I was not expecting this informative book to be so captivating. I worried it would sound much like a textbook. However, I was pleasantly surprised at the author’s storytelling abilities. Ostdick beautifully blends the past and present in a way that only supports his conclusions about human connectivity and makes you feel unexpectedly involved in something much bigger than yourself.

Whether you actually want to hike the PCT or not, this book is a chance to catch at least a glimpse of the life-changing properties of such an undertaking. We’ve all heard people say such experiences changed their lives…well, this book places readers right onto the trail alongside the other hikers. Hilarious anecdotes of Ostdick’s time on the PCT juxtaposed with the history of tribes who once made the areas their home provides an incredible look at how we are unwaveringly connected to those who came before us. In Ostdick’s words, “[the science is] pretty obvious. We are not apart from nature. We are nature.” If that doesn’t give you an inspiring feeling of connection, I don’t know what will!

Page: 378 | ASIN : B08KYHQBZZ

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Mahalo Does Not Mean Trash

When a young boy from California visits his cousins for the first time in Hawaii, he becomes confused about why people keep calling each other trash. What starts as simple misunderstanding blossoms into frustration and anger between the young cousins. It takes a patient Pupu (grandmother) to explain the real meaning of Mahalo and teach the children a valuable lesson about their Hawaiian culture.

Mahalo Does Not Mean Trash is an educational and inspiring story about family, traditions, and culture. Written by AJ Paki Perkins and his three teenage children, they work together to create this fascinating and outstanding children’s book. This is more than just a story about the meaning of Mahalo; it is the blending of cultures and sharing of one’s heritage. It is also a lesson in gratitude and appreciation for each other and the land that we live on.

One of my favorite parts of this magnificent book is the resources at the end. Hawaiian words can be confusing to non-natives, especially the pronunciation. The authors have included a pronunciation guide and a list of Hawaiian language words with their definitions. This children’s book is on the longer side, at over 60 pages, but the colorful illustrations play well with the vibrant setting of Hawaii. The character’s expressions really add to the story and keep children engaged. While some of the dialog can get confusing, it is a beautiful lesson for small children on diversity. The details the authors have included make this story personal and relatable.

Mahalo Does Not Mean Trash is an engaging and beautiful written children’s book that teaches about the culture of Hawaii and the importance of gratitude. Children will love reading about the cousins as they spend time with the Pupu and Papa and experience the wonderful things that the island of Hawaii has to offer.

Pages: 65 | ASIN : B0BMSKP91Z

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Peace, Joy and Love: Christmas in Africa

Author and traveler Terry Lister brings back the true meaning of Christmas in Peace, Joy, And Love: Christmas In Africa. In this short page-turner, we go on a journey across Africa and discover the Christmas traditions of African countries. From folklore-based traditions to unique holiday cuisine, there is something to learn on every page. Throughout the book, we are reminded of the true Christmas spirit and how to reshape how we view and celebrate the holiday.

We often forget that Christmas is more than Black Friday shopping sprees, taking pictures at a mall, and opening lavish gifts on a random December morning. If I could sum up the impact of this book in one word, it would be “enlightening.” Lister lays bare the wholesome, unique, and sometimes overly simplistic traditions of many impoverished African communities in an honoring and respectful manner. He does not see these communities as lacking but rather admirable. That gives the reader a more positive perspective on a Holiday that has been taken over by global marketing giants. I appreciated the respect he showed to each African community in his writing.

Lister does a fantastic job at sharing facts in a simplistic but entertaining fashion. It felt easy to retain the information; I often let chapters simmer in my mind before moving on to the next. The photographs were a beautifully added touch. Although many were not high-quality in the traditional sense, they showcased rawness and the natural state of these festivities as if they were happening in real-time. It also added a feel of a travel diary to the overall writing and book that I thoroughly enjoyed – we went on the journey with Lister to discover these traditions.

My reading of Peace, Joy, And Love: Christmas In Africa left me feeling humbled, joyful, and ready to enter the season ahead with a new perspective. If you are looking to switch up your holiday reading from the traditional classic tales, I recommend diving into the Christmas spirit-filled pages of this book.

Pages: 90 | ASIN : B0BGQGC82G

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The Hidden Lives of Taxi Drivers

The Hidden Lives of Taxi Drivers, a Question of Knowledge, can be described in one word enthralling. The author is enthusiastic when narrating; the tales she shares are mesmerizing. In just a few pages, you can live through dozens of cabbies’ lives and experience life on the road. Ruth Finnegan writes her stories in a manner that makes the reader engrossed. As a result, this book is both entertaining and enlightening. As a reader, you learn that every industry is unique and how committed the stakeholders are. The taxi business has existed for ages, and Ruth Finnegan helps the reader compare this means of transport to others.

I like that the author discusses the various forms of taxis. She writes about early methods of transportation, how kings in ancient empires traveled compared to commoners, and how taxis were perceived to be luxury by some not long ago. Ruth Finnegan writes about traditional taxis, their role in the transportation industry, and the effect of modern online taxis like Uber and Bolt. Reading through the well-researched discussions gives one a sense of realization. Not many people understand the dynamics of the taxi business, and the author’s notes help clarify some of the misconceptions. No matter how trivial a topic may appear, the author manages to bring life into the discussion.

In this fascinating book, you will virtually travel with taxis in various United Kingdom cities like Cambridge, Belfast, Milton Keynes, and Birmingham. The lives of taxi drivers are interesting, and the author is inspiring with the stories. In her unique way, Ruth Finnegan pays homage to taxi drivers through her book. She also encourages readers to appreciate their cabbies and give them the respect they deserve, as the profession has a few challenges. I appreciate the author for the facts, research, and, my favorite, the pictures, maps, and illustrations. I enjoyed going through the images, as they made the book more appealing. One could tell that taxi drivers worldwide could relate to the author’s stories even when talking about U.K. taxi drivers.

Ruth Finnegan is engaging. Every chapter in the book will make you feel like you are interacting with the author one-on-one. Apart from the excellent storytelling, one cannot help but point out the author’s sense of humor. Ruth Finnegan is naturally hilarious and gives the reader light moments after every few chapters. The educational aspect of the book deserves mention as even with the many beautiful stories, the author learns about hidden issues in the industry, Issues that are barely addressed in casual conversations or in the mainstream media.

Pages: 102 | ISBN: 173989376X

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