Christmas Special: The Snowman ~ Raymond Briggs

As this week is Christmas week, I will be doing something special on the days I post.  Today we will begin with one of my favourites and, what better way to start, than with a few words from the Author himself:

“I remember that winter because it had brought the heaviest snows I had ever seen. Snow had fallen steadily all night long and in the morning I woke in a room filled with light and silence, the whole world seemed to be held in a dream-like stillness. It was a magical day… and it was on that day I made the Snowman.” – Raymond Briggs

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Review: Audacious Escapades in the Fabulous Columbia River Gorge ~ Marc E. Paulsen

Columbia River GorgeISBN ~ 978-0977473717
Publisher ~ Marc Paulsen Press
No. Of Pages ~ 124 pages
Links ~ Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Powell’s Books

Marc Paulsen has had a lifelong infatuation with the marvelous Gorge of the Columbia River, partly from many unique experiences on and near the old highway and also from his belief that the Columbia Gorge ranks among the world’s natural wonders. After countless trips through the Gorge covering 6 decades, he is still awestruck each repeat trip. May you enjoy Marc’s tales of youthful exuberance and humorous escapades…and allow a bit of charity in your judgments.

The book details some of Marc’s wilder adventures on the old road which will have to be chalked up to youthful exuberance and the reader must understand that he is a reformed man!

From its opening on July 6, 1915, first-time tourists unfailingly found the remarkable old Columbia River Highway awe-inspiring. To Marc at age eleven, the highway’s magnificence in beauty and construction struck indelible memories.

This book’s frontispiece is a reproduction of designer Lancaster’s lovingly created inscription to a friend. A supremely elegant execution of hand-calligraphy, he placed it in a 1916 edition of his detailed book telling his Columbia River Highway story. His superb hand lettering and the majestic highway he designed are one and the same in supremacy–masterpieces of artistic design and engineering. Even now, it is impossible to drive the few existing old highway sections without a warm feeling that one is rolling along cradled in the arms of this eminent design master. The highway and his brilliant plan for an artful Crown Point rest station enroute were so grandiose that it was as if Lancaster had borrowed concepts from the art world’s old masters. They were that good!

4 Thumbs-UpI first visited the Gorge last year, intending to be there for only two days we were snowed in, that is when I discovered this book in the hotel library.  If you live in Washington State or Oregon, this book is something you really need to pick up, even if you don’t live in these two states it is worth the time it takes to open the cover and dive in.

This is a little book full of history and anecdotes, and revisits a way of a life that children are not able to enjoy in this day and age; although humourous in parts this realisation of what children are missing out on today also makes it very poignant and a reflection on the world we now inhabit.  What really drew me into this book was the way in which the history of the Columbia River Gorge was laid out; it wasn’t stuffy or preachy but told in a way that encourages readers to want to get out there and experience the place for themselves, whether it be by car, bicycle or hiking on many of the trails mentioned.  To support the escapade and history telling the Author has included some wonderful pictures which just made this book all the more interesting.

I would have liked to maybe see some actual trail recommendations in the back of the book, for those who were inspired to experience the beauty of the Gorge for themselves, but unfortunately there were none which makes a visit here something that needs to be planned precisely; this was reason for the 4 thumbs review.  Apart from that I will be getting my hands on a copy for my bookshelves, and would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a travel book, that really isn’t a travel book.

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Review: It’s not my fault. Self Discovery & Admission ~ Wendi Bear

Not my faultPrepare to laugh out loud at this politically incorrect novel full of short stories that are just plain wrong. You will be shocked, humored, amused and aroused. A provocatively original must read. Based on the popular blog, “It’s not my fault.” A brutally honest account of obsession, sex and the abuse of alcohol.

WARNING:  This book is not suitable for readers under 18, and those with blinkered opinions.  It is not a book that is intended for everyone, a fact the Author makes clear from the start in her own words, but it will definitely make you think.

3 Thumbs-UpMost of the tales in this book are funny, but shockingly so as the Author takes the reader on a journey through the train wreck of her life, in her own words.  As this is a compilation of random events, fuelled by alcohol, sex and drugs, there is obviously no character development; and there are no moments in this book where the light goes on for the writer, and she thinks to herself ‘why am I doing this?’  In fact, as I read on through this book, it didn’t have the shock value I assume the Author was hoping for, it actually made me sad and wonder why the writer allowed themselves to be treated in such a manner.

Each disastrous relationship, drink induced destructive act and drug propelled incident is written in excruciating detail in this book, but while it may seem just an exercise in self-pity on behalf of the Author, it is actually someone writing something cathartic that may help themselves, or others who suffer this kind of life, to come to the realisation that this is not all life has to offer.  I could forgive the horrible grammar, and badly put together phrases, as this is not and most likely will never be a great piece of writing, as I felt that these errors actually added to the overall feel of the book.

The Author has a heart of gold when it comes to the under-dog, be it an injured animal or a fellow human in need of help.  In this we see that, despite everything else that is happening to her, and she is letting happen to her, she is trying to do some good to others in some way in her train wreck of a life.  This leads the reader to see that the Author is consumed with her own needs to make a difference, to feel wanted in any way possible whether that be by depending on men who just use her or avoiding many of the real life issues that we all face by hiding behind her substance abuse.  Whatever, the reasons for writing this book it is apparent by the time the reader turns the last page, that this Author is losing the battle she is fighting on all fronts; or is she?  To discover this you have to read the last chapter to discover the answer to this question.

Whether you agree with these kinds of life choices or not, this is a book you need to read to help you understand that your life is probably not as bad as you think it may be.  I would recommend this to the more mature readers, as I feel that they would have a greater understanding, if not acceptance, of the driving forces behind the Author and not be as quick to judge her.

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