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February 2020
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Best value MAPS of FRANCE, and keeping the children amused

Susan Keefe’s reading suggestions for February

My Walk Among The Stars: Rubbing Shoulders With Country Giants

by Dick Flood
This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is my-walk.jpg
Do you love country music, are you fans of the legends in the industry? Well, if so, then now is the opportunity you’ve been looking for, a chance to take a trip down memory lane with Dick Flood, one of its stars, as he shares with you in words and pictures his experiences in the Nashville music scene.
 
This epic adventure starts with the author in the US army, stepping out of a C-47 at the Clark Air Force Base in the Philippine Islands, in early winter 1954. Fresh from South Korea, he fell in love with the beautiful islands and their people, despite the secret dangers lurking in its jungles.
 
However, his ‘My Walk Among the Stars’ began when he was discharged and returned to the United States two years later in 1956. He arrived back to an exciting time when television was coming into people’s homes, overnight, so it seemed, the world shrank as the stars of radio could now be seen on television programs, and become even more real to their fans.
 
Teaming up with his friend Billy Graves, the pair became “The Country Lads.” Their manager Mr. Connie B. Gay signed then up with CBS Television and they became known around the world for the next two years as they appeared on the Jimmy Dean morning show on Network TV.
 
Over the following years the author travelled with his music extensively throughout the United States, Southeast Asia, Africa, Europe, the Caribbean Islands, Labrador, Newfoundland, and Puerto Rico. Throughout the book he recounts his adventures in exotic destinations, and experiences rubbing shoulders with legends like Patsy Cline and Roy Orbison, when he performed with them in many shows, and the music they made proved immortal. Even now his songs are being used in movies and as backing, and of course enjoyed by country music fans worldwide in formats which the artists could not have imagined in their wildest dreams, at the time.
 
The interesting thing about this book is that, as the author chronicles the ups and down of his life, the reader is also treated to rare glimpses behind the scenes of the music industry, and the big film corporations of the day. Playing live in shows, and on TV, in prisons and military bases, including a three-months tour of the US military bases in the Far East, where the Dick Flood Show visited Guam, Japan, Okinawa, the Philippines and hostile South Vietnam, his music captured the heart of his audiences. His story brings the superstar singers, musicians and performers of that time back to life, and his personal recollections of these people as friends and work colleagues, show the fans a side they don’t usually get to see.
 
The twists, turns, and leaps of faith which happen to us all (and to the music industry) led Dick Flood to a complete change of career in midlife. He became an eco-warrior living amongst the wildlife in the Okefenokee Swamp, a 438,000-acre, peat-filled wetland which bestrides the Georgia–Florida line of the United States. He recounted that period of his life in his first book “Swampwise,” (which was reviewed here favourably) where he writes under the pen name of ‘Okefenokee Joe.’
 
In Summary: The country music scene, career opportunities seized, and lost, and a family life well lived, are all revealed in this astonishing and highly compelling biography of this talented musician, singer, and songwriter. Highly recommended! 
 
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Enlightened in the 21st Century

by Richard Krauland
 
Right from the Introduction I had a feeling this book was going to be fascinating and it was. Why? Because the author invites us to draw a tree and then, after we have done so, he enlightens us about an incredibly common yet very accurate fact about that drawing, without seeing it himself, just from his observance of human nature. From that moment I was hooked, and thoroughly enjoyed every page!

Most people have important times in their lives which they remember clearly, and for Richard Krauland one of these times was one night in 1971 when he had a life-changing experience. He was 18 at the time, Martin Luther King and Robert F. Kennedy had been assassinated, the infamous Democrat’s National Convention in Chicago had taken place, and the war in Vietnam was raging, causing unrest in the country. That night and through to the next day, instead of sleeping the author found himself examining his life, what he had been told, what he knew, and what he believed in, or not. The result was his ‘philosophy of life,’ one which he has followed in the intervening forty-eight years. This was just one of the divine interventions which he believes has shaped his life and made him the man he is today, despite health challenges, a successful businessman, philosopher, and mathematician.
From the wonders of science to his controversial views on ‘fake science’ this book contains his thoughts and philosophies, in a no-holds-barred format, because, in his words “I believe that being well-grounded in the truth is absolutely necessary for a successful life as a free person.”

It was very interesting to read about our senses, and perceptions of things, and how these are continually evolving throughout time, from the far distant past into the future as scientific discoveries open our eyes to an infinite world which is waiting to be discovered. Yet at the other flip of the coin, he makes us think about the information we are fed via the social media, truths, half-truths, and lies, and emphasizes it is essential that we can differentiate between them to lead an enlightened life

I have no hesitation in highly recommending this thought-provoking book, and I challenge anyone with an inquisitive mind not to find it absolutely fascinating. Whether it is from the hundreds of interesting facts it contains, from the questions it answers, or the ability it has to make you sit up and think. Definitely one for those of us who have an enquiring mind which screams to be enlightened!

 
 
 
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Imagine God 

by Rick Pribell
 
This book was written after the author, Rick Pribell, had a heart attack in 2015. This near-death experience, a prophecy from Zachariah (Luke 1:78-79, NIV,) and his own inspirational encounter with a rising sun brought about a profound need to share with the world his message of “…how our emotions reflect God’s spirit, an epiphany that transcends religious differences.”

I have never read another book which so clearly and in such a straight-forward manner conveys the word of God in a format which will encourage the curious, and the needy, to explore the meanings behind his teachings in an easy to understand way.
Simply and yet with great clarity, in his own words the author explains what is meant when God said he had created us “in His own image.” Once we understand this, the author then explores how our emotions, actions, thoughts, hopes fears and wants, are reflected in how God wants us to act, towards others, in situations, and in our journey of faith. In reading it I felt it helped me to understand his word so much better, look at emotional situations in another light, and it has enabled me to begin to know Him, and what he wants me to do and be, more.

The photograph on the front cover was taken by the author himself in Melbourne Beach, Florida. It has great significance to the author as it symbolizes a light shining in the darkness and showing him a path to guide his feet. It is a picture and a meaning which can be an inspiration to us all…

At a time when Scientific American reports 23 percent of us have forsaken religion entirely, this book is sorely needed. It is inspiring and heart-warming to read, helps us to understand how much God loves us, and its short compact format makes it quick and easy to reference when needed. Highly recommended!

 
 
                                                          ——————————————–
 
 

Fubars

 
by Paddy Bostock
 
Over the years some unusual children’s names have had their time in the spotlight, such as Mercedes, Beyoncé, and Lovely. However, there are others, which have been chosen specially by doting parents, who are sometimes extremely short-sighted, or perhaps not worldly-wise, like Lord Xavier and Lady Hermione Barr. They chose to call their first, and only son Fergus Ulysses.
A grand name, however one which was to be both his undoing and making when at the tender age of 11 he found himself catapulted from the vague education carried out by governesses and home tutors at Piddlington Hall, the family seat situated in a massive estate on the outskirts of Little Piddlington In The Marsh. His education was now to take place in a high-class boarding school, one of the best, the type of establishment where the Headmaster happily assured Fergus Ulysses’ father it that would “…soon break him in, and make him the backbone of the nation…”

Fergus Ulysses endured life at this lofty establishment with fortitude, as one would expect from a boy from the upper classes, until NYC banker’s son Dwayne Zobinski arrived. Then, as boys do, Dwayne nicknamed him Fubar. This at first seemed to be a harmless act, that is until Dwayne educated the boys on the meanings of this American acronym, and poor Fergus Ulysses had even more reason to resent his parents.
However, as fate would have it, one day an unfortunate incident (for some) took place and Fergus Ulysses made his escape and headed for ‘Town’ or London as others know it. Although from a sheltered upbringing, it soon becomes apparent that the young Fergus Ulysses is a clever young man as he uses wit, and cunning to remain a ‘non-person,’ and stay below the radar, with the aid of a new friend, a like-minded and equally talented musician Tosh, and his canine best friend Mutt.

As the now named ‘The Fubar’s’ notoriety grows their gigs become more frequent, and the band gains new members. This talented author very cleverly entwines the lives of his characters and their families. As the idiosyncrasies of the individual characters become even more shocking, some might say they are unbelievable, that is, until they think about it and realise that they know, or have heard of someone who just might fit the bill.

This incredible story takes its readers across the world, into shady places, and into dangerous and farcical situations. There is never a dull moment on this rollercoaster ride, which is not only full of twists and turns but reverses, and full stops too.

I have loved reading Paddy Bostock’s extremely funny books for some time. In this comically irreverent story, whose characters’ true names are cleverly veiled, the current political climate, the countries, their leaders and their characters are humorously and accurately portrayed. In writing this incredibly entertaining story, the author has summed up cleverly Brexit, Trump, and the political intrigue which plagues our world today. I highly recommend this brilliant story to everyone who is looking for a book which is thoroughly entertaining until the very last page.

 
 
 
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Rise to The Rhythm: Awaken The Beat and Live Your Life’s Highest Capabilities

 
By Joey L. Dowdy
 
Joey L. Dowdy, or Dr. Dance, is a talented Choreographer who has worked with famous names such as the Backstreet Boys and Take Five. He is also an International Performer, Fitness Motivator, Writer, Host, Artistic Director, Producer, Author, and founder of “World Dance Grove & Get Up & Groove Entertainment.” He brings his unique zest for life, and rhythm to life for his readers in this, his latest inspirational new book.

In it, he asks his readers “Are you tired of living a life that’s going nowhere? If you’ve been down for too long or have you lost your life’s rhythm?”
I for one answered yes. Like many my life was set in a hopeless rut. The New Year had past and as usual, it brought forth the usual resolutions from me. I would take more care of myself, take control of my life, variations on the same promises I have been making to myself for years, and then as the year goes by, I tried starting every new Monday. However, the truth is, I didn’t have any idea how to change.

That was until the title of this well written and motivational book took my eye. Within, I discovered were the answers which I needed to set myself free. Reading it I have discovered how to find my own self-worth, and come to terms with the fact that it is okay to think of myself as a very important person, instead of putting others first all the time, something which as a wife, mother and grandmother doesn’t come naturally.

How did this happen? Well, I discovered it through the author sharing his life stories and experiences with me. Reading about his passion for dance, the industry, people, and his absolute determination to succeed has been a real inspiration. Despite setbacks, and embracing challenges, with humor, and strength of character, he has not only succeeded, but inspired others. His life, like all of us, has been a learning curve, he has learnt and grown, and he, in turn, provides us with the tools we need to pick ourselves up, realize that no-one is perfect, and live our lives reaching our full potential. It won’t be easy, as he says, after all, there is “No Gain, Without Pain,” but you can do it!

In conclusion: Joey L. Dowdy is an inspiration, a self-made man who has worked and battled to get to where he is. This hard work and dedication he shares with his readers, not only inspiring within them the faith that they can be who they dream of, but also by then giving them the tools with which to achieve their own success.

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