Author: Terri Schlichenmeyer

“I Will Send Rain” by Rae Meadows

“I Will Send Rain” by Rae Meadows c.2016, Henry Holt $26.00 / $37.00 Canada 272 pages BOOK REVIEW by TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER Rain, rain, go away. That never worked, did it?  You could chant those four words all you want, trying to keep your picnic, reunion, or party from being ruined, but the sky opened up and there you were. Rain, rain, go away – unless, as in the new novel “I Will Send Rain” by Rae Meadows, that’s the kind of storm you really need. Another day of hundred-degree weather. That was Annie Bell’s second thought, as she eased herself out of bed, off the sweat-soaked sheet and, away from her sleeping husband, Samuel. It would be a hundred-degrees again today, just like it had been for weeks. Her first thought had been of the baby she’d lost ten years before. Annie often wondered what Eleanor would be like, and it confounded her that Samuel never thought about their second-born. Then again, a lot about Samuel confounded her. And then there was Birdie. Annie’s worried about her first child. At fifteen, Birdie seemed to be on the edge of all kinds of possibilities, and none at all. Birdie thought she was in love with Cy Mack, and Annie knew that Birdie dreamed of life in a city but Cy Mack was never going to take her away from the Oklahoma panhandle, that was for sure....

Read More

“Trials of the Earth: The True Story of a Pioneer Woman” by Mary Mann Hamilton

“Trials of the Earth: The True Story of a Pioneer Woman” by Mary Mann Hamilton c.2016, Little, Brown $27.00 / $32.50 Canada 319 pages BOOK REVIEW by TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER Your toast was burnt this morning. It was the first in a tsunami of irritation you had to endure today: the house WiFi was down, your shirt got wrinkled, the cat threw up on the carpet, humid weather, your coffee got cold. What next? Read “Trials of the Earth” by Mary Mann Hamilton, and review your day again. The “wild country of Arkansas … was just beginning to settle up” when Mary Mann’s father brought his family from Missouri down to buy a home. He didn’t live long enough to enjoy it, however – he died ten days after they arrived, leaving Mary’s mother with six children to feed. There was work in Arkansas , though, so Mary’s brothers got jobs at the sawmill, while Mary and her sisters took in boarders. One of them, a roguish Englishman named Frank Hamilton convinced Mary’s brothers that he had romantic intentions for the seventeen-year-old, though marriage wasn’t what Mary wanted. Still, she agreed to it as her mother and eldest brother lay dying. Married life was a challenge. Unbeknownst to Mary before the wedding, Frank was quite the drinker, which greatly embarrassed her. He couldn’t seem to hold a job for long,...

Read More

“The Man Who Made Things Out of Trees” by Robert Penn

“The Man Who Made Things Out of Trees” by Robert Penn c.2016, W.W. Norton $26.95 / higher in Canada 256 pages BOOK REVIEW by TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER Shade feels good right about now. Just sitting in it seems to lower your temperature by ten degrees. It calms you, too, and makes you feel drowsy. This time of year, the shade of a tree is a welcome thing and, as you’ll see in the new book “The Man Who Made Things Out of Trees” by Robert Penn, that tree can offer so much more. For most of Robert Penn’s childhood, an ash tree at the edge of a garden was the gateway to adventure. It was just a tree then; he never paid it much heed, nor did he consider that so many of his favorite possessions came from ash wood. And yet, that tree stood in the back of his mind and on a crisp winter day, he felled one just like it near his South Wales home, to see all that could be done with a single tree. The tree hadn’t been easy to find: because each kind of wood has its season and ash is best harvested in winter, Penn began his search early. He wanted a tall, straight tree of the correct width, no extra lower branches, and with a wide canopy. Surely, such a tree stood...

Read More

“Paws of Courage: True Tales of Heroic Dogs That Protect and Serve” by Nancy Furstinger, foreword by Ronald L. Aiello

“Paws of Courage: True Tales of Heroic Dogs That Protect and Serve” by Nancy Furstinger, foreword by Ronald L. Aiello c.2016, National Geographic $12.99 / $15.99 Canada 160 pages BOOK REVIEW by TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER To you, your dog is a hero. Nobody else protects you from spiders and shadows.  Nobody does a better job of warning you about summer storms or friends a-knocking. You need to give pats and get kisses to feel safe, and in “Paws of Courage” by Nancy Furstinger, you’ll see how some dogs go even further in their heroism. Everybody knows that dog is (wo)man’s best friend but that goes doubly for a military or police dog and a handler: there are times when that relationship is a life-or-death matter. In this book, Furstinger offers mini-stories of those bonds, past and present. Dogs, of course, have served on the battlefield for millennia but history only remembers a handful of brave canine soldiers. In World War I, Sergeant Stubby, a pit bull mix, saved countless lives by warning soldiers of incoming bombs and by alerting them to enemy presence. Tiny little Smoky, a Yorkshire terrier, helped soldiers by doing the same thing in World War II and, due to her size, was also able to help “thread vital wires through” a narrow underground pipe. From Great Britain , an English Pointer named Judy followed her handler...

Read More

“This is Your Brain on Parasites” by Kathleen McAuliffe

“This is Your Brain on Parasites” by Kathleen McAuliffe c.2016, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt $27.00 / $39.00 Canada 288 pages BOOK REVIEW by TERRI SCHLICHENMEYER You didn’t get much sleep last night.  You were too busy checking windows. The blame for that lies squarely on that creepy show you’ve been watching on TV; all you could think about was what it would be like to be eaten by zombies. But read the new book “This is Your Brain on Parasites” by Kathleen McAuliffe, and you’ll see that the real danger isn’t outside your window. It’s inside your skin. As an adult human being, you are in control of your life. You’re rational, decisive, and interpretive – or are you? Could it be possible that your decisions, food choices, sex life, and personality are driven by something you picked up from your last vacation, your local grocery store, or your cat? Yes, says science writer McAuliffe, it’s not only possible – it’s probable. Parasites, which include viruses and bacteria, have been around for about as long as humans have, and some of them are beneficial: you literally could not live without the flora in your gut, for instance. As for the nasty ones, McAuliffe says, “virtually every aspect of the human body’s design bears witness” to their presence and to the “age-old struggle” to thwart what those parasites can do. By...

Read More