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Best value MAPS of FRANCE, and keeping the children amused

Susan Keefe’s reading for April

You Can’t Drive Your Car to Your Own Funeral 

by Ann Marie Hancock

Ann Marie Hancock, the author of this book is a retired television personality, talk show host and model, but she is also a wife, mother, grandmother and daughter. In this, her third book she shares with her readers how she had a life changing experience in 1981, when she visited the Medjugorji in Yugoslavia.

Her experiences at Medjugorji led her to travelling the world, and carrying out healing services with a Benedictine Abbot.

Then in 2012 her strong, independent, and very private mother was diagnosed with cancer. Stoic and determined that it wouldn’t change her the ‘c’ word was not even spoken, let alone discussed. This was how she coped, if she didn’t say it, it didn’t exist. However, tragically not long after she started undergoing treatment, her husband died expectantly.

Everyone copes with grief in their own way, and now alone after many years of marriage, the author’s mother remained strong and controlling. In this honest and sometimes heart rending book the author, through her recollections of this terribly sad period of her life gives her reader a real insight into the strong character her mother was. Forthright, not suffering fools lightly, and certainly not being told what to do, or when to do it. I have a mother much of the same ilk and I am full of admiration for the way the author handled the multitude of events which occurred, and yet stayed loving and caring.

It was Ann Marie’s belief in God which was her strength, and this enabled this wound healer to face her greatest challenge yet. Because in caring for her mother and coming to terms with tragic events in her own life she embarked on a different journey, a journey of the spirit.

Through God and the teaching of the bible Ann Marie learnt to accept who she was, and come to the realisation that finding spiritual happiness is a life’s journey. That knowledge she imparts in this book, teaching the reader that the paths which they travel along in life are their own uniquely special journey. Along the route of life they will be tested, and will gain strength in accepting God’s will, even if they don’t understand it at the time. This epic spiritual journey is one which must be travelled alone. It is not about what others think you should do, or impressions you are given, your unique life events make you who you are, and the repercussions on your life evolve and change as you do. Depending on what life throws at you, these challenges empowers you to develop strengths, understanding, and happiness. It is easy in life to blame others when things don’t go as expected, get angry, put up a guard, however once you learn to listen to God, and take time to pray and talk to him, amazing things will be revealed, and you will realise that it is in your power to find true happiness, and inner peacefulness.

In conclusion, Ann Marie has in this beautiful story shared a hard, yet very special time of her life with her readers. Within its pages is a very clear insight into the strength needed emotionally to care for someone with a terminal illness.
                                                           

Billy Gogan Gone Fer Soldier 

by Roger Higgins
This book is the sequel to the author’s first book, Billy Gogan: American, in which orphan Billy is sent from Ireland to America on the eve of the 1844 Irish Famine. Living by his wits, and doing what he has to, to survive, Billy quickly learns to grow up, establishes a life in Gotham, and eventually becomes an American citizen. However, after the tragic death of his good friend and companion Mary Skiddy, and the Great Fire of New York, it is a reflective Billy who, aged 16 decides to join Uncle Sam’s army, and this is where the second book really begins.

For anyone with an interest in this period of history this book will, I am sure be compulsive reading. The author uses a blend of real and fictional characters to make this an excellent history book, with clear maps and outstanding information on the movements of American army as they fought against the Mexicans in the American – Mexican war. However this book has one very important element which makes it stand out against other similar history books, and that is Billy Gogan himself.

Through his eyes, as a member of the Fourth Infantry we see a soldier’s life in the raw, no holds barred. We are with him as he watches his friends die, sometimes terrible deaths, feel his pain as he clears away the bodies, picks up their letters to loved ones and wipes their blood of his clothes. We read throughout this book numerous examples of his and other soldiers loyalty to their adopted country as they carry out unspeakable acts in order to win battles, on the commandments of their leaders.

Because of the way this book is written the social history of the time is an integral part of the story. It is fascinating to discover what life was like for those civilians who travelled with the soldiers, and as a result, whose lives became interlaced.

The author has, in this outstanding book, through the character of Billy Gogan, chronicled the battles which took place during this period of American history in a very human way. The very real hope on both sides from the soldiers and common people, that war would not occur, then the horrors which resulted when it did.

In summary, in writing this book, the author Roger Higgins has produced an excellent story, well researched, wonderfully detailed, and totally compelling reading.

Available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Billy-Gogan-Gone-fer-Soldier-ebook/dp/B07DB3R5MT/ref=sr_1_1_twi_kin_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1553519107&sr=8-1&keywords=billy+gogan+gone+fer+soldier

 

I Wish I Were a Fairy Tale: A Story Illustrated With Cakes 

by Crystal Walters

This wonderful children’s book captivated my three year old granddaughter’s imagination straight away.

As soon as you see the front cover you just know that this book is going to be something different, but it isn’t until you start turning the pages and entering the magical world of fairy tales that you realise just how wonderful it is.

Enchantingly, it is written in rhyme and very uniquely illustrated. The author’s passion behind the book is evident, not only in its content, but also by the fact that the story is illustrated in cakes, icing and frosting! On the front cover and throughout every page, all the settings and figurines for the different parts of the story were hand made by her, and were real, delicious cakes.

Haven’t we all wished we were in a fairy tale, having adventures in a magical place, and that we could be a princess, meet a unicorn, fly in a hot air balloon, or sail the seas with pirates?

Well in this story a little girl and her puppy travel into fairy tales. There they meets mythical creatures like mermaids and dragons, and visit classic immortal characters like Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Then as the moon rises they travel with the Sandman into other children’s dreams, bringing them to life as well.

The fairy tales we hear as children stay with us throughout lives and deep down we never forget the magic of them, and the people who have read them to us. I really liked the size of the font, for children learning to read it is clear and encouraging, and also thought it is a wonderful introduction into the joy of poetry.

The authors loving childhood shines through in the writing and love she has put into creating incredible book. I am sure it will grace bookshelves, and be held by many little hands for years to come.

Available from Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Wish-Were-Fairy-Tale-Illustrated/dp/1546273581/ref=tmm_pap_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1553519225&sr=8-

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