I’m No Author

I want to dedicate a specific page to books, authors, writing projects, etc.  As I write this, I have three books to the left of me, and one to the right of me, which I have yet to finish, and I add more to my growing list each week.  These glimpses into my reading habits probably reveal more about me than I am willing to admit, but for what good is the internet if not sharing information and making yourself vulnerable in all the wrong ways to all the wrong people?  You may have noticed my Goodreads feed to the right of the page.  As I (eventually) finish (or give up on) the books I add to that, I’ll post a little something on them.  Now, I’m no author!  I’m also not an English major, nor a grammatical giant, and I lack imagination when it comes to long projects.  The quasi-reviews will be here just the same, waiting for some bored soul to read them.  I’d be delighted if you would leave a little comment or some constructive criticism.



The Food Storage Almanac by Brian W. Stanley

A friend of a family member recently completed a book, which at first glance I assumed to be a vintage-inspired cookbook for the prep-and-store crowd.  I was partially correct.  This is not a cookbook, and it doesn’t have a vintage theme to it, but it is chock-full of useful – and possibly life-saving – information.  The work begins with some necessary information to set the stage for the rest of the book.  The latest accepted safety procedures are discussed in some detail, to include a history of the origination of the USDA.  Color me educated!  Full-color photos accompany a few recipes for jerky, fruit leather, and dried fruits.  Canning procedures and acidity are explained with good explanations as to why things need to be done a certain way.  Later this week, I’ll be testing the author’s fruit leather and jerky recipes for my own family, the results of which I will share under the Dabblings tag on the main page of this blog.  The Food Storage Almanac hasn’t yet been officially published, so if you are interested in a practical reference work written with a dry-yet-engaging sense of humor, get in touch with Brian by email – bstanley@alaskan.com.  I look forward to seeing the finished product and wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if it were to one day become a staple reference work in kitchens across the country.


Cold Crime by Tom Brennan

Thirteen high-profile cases, ranging from arson to murder-for-hire, deadly dentistry to car bombings.  These are just a couple of events which occurred throughout Alaska, at times reaching their evil tentacles into the of California, Oregon, and Washington state.  There was the arrogant dentist who believed he always knew best.  A wife who ran away – or did she?  A criminally insane man believed his victims controlled his mind.  A cab driver’s side job turned fatal.

It is one thing to watch a murder-mystery on TV, or watch news coverage of criminals and their twisted deeds.  It is another thing entirely to open a book of stories – all from one’s home state or town – and read details of the grisly horror which afflicted your friends, neighbors, and hard-working law enforcement.  While this collection of cases could easily serve as adult campfire reading, one shouldn’t forget that every tale is true.  I recommend keeping the lights on if you dare to pick up this volume.  While you’re at it, consider thanking your local police and state troopers.  Each day, it is they who must face the dark side of humanity.


 Wild by Cheryl Strayed

The title grabbed me.  I recalled a movie preview involving Reese Witherspoon, a scene of a young, solitary woman on the trail, and something about a tough life.  I picked up the book and began skimming through it, when I was stopped mid-page by a friend from the next town over whom I hadn’t seen in quite awhile.  I plopped the book in my cart and didn’t give it another thought until a couple of days later, when I sat down to read it as the first book in a 52 week reading challenge.  My eyes were accosted by vulgar language and a section where the author describes noticing a make nurse’s genitals and how she briefly lusted after him as her mother lay dying.  After the initial shock, I came to appreciate Strayed’s straight-forward retelling of her life, especially one so littered with dangerous, painful decisions that affected many in relationship to her.  This read is not for the easily offended or the “Pearl Clutchers” among us – the latter of which even I have been called – as sexual encounters and drug abuse are recalled or rehashed at length.  Strayed (Yes, that is her legal name, and it is pronounced as you might think.  She explains in her book.)  I was most interested from the beginning in the description of the journey along the Pacific Coast Trail.  Animal life encountered, obstacles met, weather endured, those are what I wanted to read about and in those points I was satisfied.  Many hikers and outdoorsmen gloss over the minutia of the mental and physical aspects of long-distance foot travel, though I was glad to see that this author shared all the gory and glorious details.  Many criticisms of Strayed came to mind, until I checked myself, reminded of the fact that were I or anyone I knew ever brave enough to lay out all the messes we made in black and white, our stories might look something like this as well.  Minus the grand hike along the PCT, of course.  I finished this book both curious and sad.  Curious to learn more about the Pacific Coast Trail and the Trail of the Americas, and sad for the conclusion which doesn’t show Cheryl learning her intrinsic value.


*pre-review* Boundaries by Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend *pre-review*

A book on setting healthy boundaries in one’s life, I am assuming a few things based primarily on the cover and authors alone.  I am assuming – and hoping – that all guidance is written from a purely biblical perspective.  I am also thinking that how to make choices between commitments will be covered, that different relational skills may be addressed, and there will be advice on how to implement better decision-making skills in daily life.  I have seen the soft cover edition in stores and on the internet, but am reading this title on a Kindle.  If you’re interested in seeing how closely I guessed the contents and what else might be stored within these pages, keep an eye out for a full review and my rambling thoughts.


Silenced by Dani Pettrey

Upon being asked if I would like to act as an “influencer” for the release of the amazing Dani Pettrey’s latest book, I dashed out to my local library to read the first three in the Alaskan Courage series.  Shortly into the first book, Submerged, I asked myself, incredulously, “Why havr I not picked these up before?!”  No harm done, because I had immersed myself in them and then crawled back out of the McKenna’s world within a week, ready for Silenced!  The fourth in this series is Kayden and Jake’s story.  I was glad to see Jake’s story developed, as I was curious about him from the start.  Kayden’s softer side was revealed in a way that maintained her rugged femininity, and I was glad to know her and her struggles in greater detail.  As was true of its predecessors, Silenced held mystery, suspense, and a respect for the Alaska I embrace as an Alaskan.  Dani Pettrey is a gem in her field, and I look forward to discovering more of what she has to offer!


 Sneak peek of “Alone in the Wilderness”

Have you heard of Dick Proenekke? He is…well…to me anyway…what is less than a hero but greater than someone you admire in passing? He is that guy for me. His story – the one that I know anyway – is told in the book, One Man’s Wilderness by Sam Keith. I highly suggest it if you enjoy photography of the Alaska that many don’t see for themselves, or self-sufficient living, or cabin building, or building with hand tools, or if you have a great respect for the land and animals around us, or if you too might consider with awe a man who chose a mostly solitary life as his dream.


 The Flip Side: Break Free of the Behaviors That Hold You Back by Flip Flippen

Leading up to an RTI conference, I was given this book to read in preparation for the full-day course I chose to attend, which was being presented by The Flippen Group.  Straight off, let me come out in full disclosure as a self-help book junkie.  I am inexplicably drawn to books that show you how to do/be/think better.  I see self-help and DIY books as solicited advice that I can listen to in my own sweet time and as I see fit.  Now this book wasn’t a long one, but I was prepared for some hard-hitting, educationally focused introspection.  I was incorrect on two accounts.  Nothing in the book was particularly “hard-hitting”, though some of Mr. Flippen’s experiences weren’t peachy.  There was not an educational focus, at least in the way I was expecting.  There was introspection though, and that is basically what I took from the work.  According to The Flippen Group, I am bent toward being what they describe as a “marshmallow (overly nurturing)”.  A “marshmallow” personality will struggle to tell people no, will often over-commit themselves, will wear themselves out for others knowing full-well whether or not they can actually perform as promised, often keep their full opinions to themselves, and so on.  There were other personality types I related to as well, though on a lesser level.  I am recommending this book to anyone who is looking for a quasi-interesting weekend read, an individual who is looking to hone in on specifics about their personality which may be holding them back, or a self-help fanatic like myself. 😉

2 thoughts on “I’m No Author

  1. Vanessa, I thoroughly enjoy reading your “dabblings and ramblings”. I feel a part of the stories you have reviewed and am looking forward to reading more!

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