No Time to Quit: Life in a Broken Package

No Time to Quit: Life in a Broken Package By Gail Lipe Imagine beginning your life no longer than a table knife in a hospital that lacks even an incubator. Your premature body decides it has had enough and your heart stops beating. Then a nurse breaths life back into you. Through the birthing process, a brain injury causes cerebral palsy, and normal body movements do not develop. Life is hard and help is difficult to find. That is how Gail Johnson's life began in 1932. Her life is littered with miracles that came from decisions made by strong, passionate people. Through a combination of those decisions, surgeries, training and perseverance, Gail has lived a full life. No Time to Quit takes you on a journey through many of the major challenges and events of her life. It shows that there is no time to quit. The book is available at: It also is on Barnes and Noble's website and at Amazon. … [Read more...]


The Husband

By Dean Koontz Ever wonder how you would react if a loved one is kidnapped for ransom? “The Husband” takes the reader on a journey through a gardener's mind and heart after his wife is kidnapped. The confusion begins when the kidnappers ask for a $2 million or they will kill his wife, Holly, though they know Mitch Rafferty, the gardener, does not have that kind of money. “You'll find a way,” Mitch is told. The kidnappers shoot a man walking a dog just down the street from where Mitch is standing to prove their point. He is given two days to comply. As Mitch struggles to come up with the money, evidence is staged making it look like he murdered Holly so he would not go to the police. He also learns things about family members, and ends up doing things he never thought he had the strength to do. The plot creates an interesting story, and I love the way Dean Koontz uses words, but there are a lot of areas in the book that have too much detail, at times seeming redundant. The purpose appears to be putting the reader in Mitch's mind to feel his emotions, but that could have been achieved without working so hard. … [Read more...]


Coming Home Crazy

By Bill Holm This book is a collection of essays and letters written by Bill Holm describing his experiences while he was on an exchange program teaching English at a university in China. It speaks of the cultural differences between here and there, the frustrations of living in China, the indomitable spirit of the Chinese people, and the love-hate relationship Holm builds with China. When Holm talks about coming home crazy, he does not mean insane. An anthropologist who taught with Holm said, "In Asia, you either lose your inner moorings, start to sink, go some kind of crazy, and just let it happen, or you will leave sooner than you expected and not learn anything." A few months later, Holm knew exactly what his friend was talking about. He woke up crazy in the way his friend described. It is waking up knowing the day would be a good day, though nothing would work, the comforts of the United States would be unavailable, and everything would go wrong differently than would be imagined. Holm's writing is honest, down to earth and fun to read. He has an interesting sense of humor, and the descriptions draw one right into the scenes, as if sitting next to him. I really enjoyed … [Read more...]


The Art of Racing in the Rain

By Garth Stein This book is a human drama told through the eyes of the family's dog, Enzo, named after a race car driver. The main character is Enzo's owner, Denny Swift, who is working at a BMW dealer and is working on his race car driving career. The book begins at the end of Enzo's life, when he is old and ready to release Denny of having to care for him. He has a unique understanding of the human and human emotions, and has learned, through watching TV, that when a dog dies, his next form human. He looks back to when Denny drives out to the farm and picks him out from a tangled litter of pups, and the story progresses from there to beyond Enzo's death. It looks at Enzo's relationship with Denny's wife, Eve, their daughter, Zoe, and Eve's parents, who Enzo calls “the twins,” and the complicated relationships between the family after Eve dies from a brain tumor. Throughout the book, Denny shares his love of racing and racing strategies with Enzo, and Enzo applies them to life. The title comes from Denny being one of the best drivers in the rain because he knows how to work with the rain instead of against it. I had to read the book because I love the title, and it was … [Read more...]


Pay It Forward

By Catherine Ryan Hyde In “Pay It Forward,” Catherine Ryan Hyde explores the idea of what this world would be like if instead of people paying back debt, everyone paid it forward using a 12-year-old boy as the instigator. Trevor McKinney and his mother, Arlene, live in the small California town where Reuben St. Clair transfers to teach. St. Clair, a scarred, bitter man, ends up in front of Trevor's classroom and challenges the students to change the world. As an extra credit assignment, students who choose to participate are to design a project to help others, follow through with the project and then present it to the class. Trevor designs a project to help three others in a big way with the catch that they each pay the debt forward to three others. If everyone followed through and helped three others, pretty soon, a multitude of people would be helped. Though Trevor thought his project was a total failure, he was unaware that it had really spread throughout the country. A reporter caught wind of what was being called a “movement” and tracked down Trevor. The book is well-written, hopping between believable characters in believable circumstances. It is a wonderful … [Read more...]


Life and Death in Shanghai

By Nien Cheng This book is an autobiography of Nien Cheng's life and imprisonment during the 10-year Cultural Revolution in China. The widow of a Shell Oil executive, Cheng served as a consultant to Shell for many years after her husbands death in 1957. She was able to preserve her way of life, living in a three-story home, filled with antiques and art, with her daughter until 1966, when she was evicted from her home and accused of being a spy. The Cultural Revolution was to set into motion by Mao Zedong, and was designed to further cement socialism in the country by removing capitalist elements from Chinese society. Red Guard groups were formed that raided homes and imprisoned people who were supposed to have capitalist ideas or were contradicting communism in some way. Cheng's home was raided, and was unjustly charged with being a spy at a neighborhood meeting. She was imprisoned for more than six years. The book details the years of torture and sickness because of her resolve to maintain her innocence. The interrogations she endured were a battle of wills in which she used silence and quotes from Zedong's little red book. She later learned the captors purpose was to use … [Read more...]


Eat Pray Love

By Elizabeth Gilbert Eat Pray Love is an intimate, honest account of the author's year-long search for self in three different countries – Italy, India and Indonesia. The consuming panic and confusion she was feeling while living the life others dream of – married, living in a country home and being successful in her career – is what stimulated the journey. Gilbert pulled herself out of the marriage, which plummeted her into a depression and another relationship, before she realized she needed to stop the cycle and figure out who she was and what she really wanted. She chose to attack three aspects of her life – pleasure in Italy, devotion in India and a balance between worldly enjoyment and divine transcendence in Bali, Indonesia. In Italy, she works on learning the language and enjoying the food. Being alone is often a struggle, but she is determined to concentrate on her reasons for being there. In India, she spends her time at an Ashram learning the Sanskrit meditations, and ends up staying there longer than originally planned. In Bali, she learns from a medicine man she met in her previous travels, plus she builds relationships with local people and falls in … [Read more...]


The Letter

She stepped off the train, her stiletto heels clicking on the concrete platform at Union Station. Her slender fingers slid into her coat pocket to make sure the letter was still there. The letter is what brought her to Chicago in the first place.Her editor thought she was crazy when she burst into his office the day before, giving one day notice that she would be gone for two weeks. She could see the veins in his neck quickly enlarge through his dark brown skin, and his eyes narrowed as they always did when he was angry.“You can’t do this to me right now,” he said. “The story you are working on is too important.” But she had to leave for Chicago the next day. She didn’t tell him why. She just said it was a family emergency. “We’ll see if you have a job when you get back,” he said as she turned to walk out the door. All her co-workers had listened to everything, though they pretended to be working. Everyone had treated her differently since her husband died six months ago. It was as if they were afraid she would break if they talked to her. Maybe his sudden death brought mortality too close to home. She didn’t dare tell any of them about the letter for fear they would … [Read more...]


Bugs won visually – I won produce

Even though they won the war, I won the droppings - the PRODUCE is mine! Most of my plants are producing beautiful flowers or wonderful fruit and vegetables. The chain link fence is barely visible through the morning glories, cucumbers and tomatoes. The cucumber plants grew over the top of the fence and all the way down to the driveway, where they are making their way along the retaining wall. Even the five green bean seeds I planted are producing delicious beans, though the leaves look like lace doilies. Recently, I took a large colander when I went out to harvest and it was totally inadequate. After several trips, my kitchen counter was covered with tomatoes, cucumbers, banana and jalapeno peppers, green beans, rosemary, basil, oregano and zucchini. The insects that were working on the Chinese lantern plants must be an early summer pest because the new growth looks much better. I had completely dismissed the idea of drying any of the lanterns, but as they turn orange, I have noticed many look pretty good. I dried one bouquet and have another drying hanging upside in a closet. I also have these incredible sunflowers growing next to the garage. One is as tall as I am … [Read more...]


The war is over

Ever since the Chinese Lantern Plants started peaking out of soil the insects decided they are delectable. Hundreds of the interesting little creatures descended on the fine leaves. Normally, I co-exist well with insects, as long as they stay outside. I leave them alone and study their fascinating tiny bodies. But this year, they are destroying my plants. I declared war and started looking for ways to rid my flower bed of those pests. Leaning toward organic gardening, I decided to try an insecticide made with herb oils. Even after dousing the leaves, the lacy holes continued to appear. Next I used dish soap in water, soaking the plants, which accomplished little. By now, the insects had spread to other fine-leafed plants, like my morning glories and sweet potato vines. I had never seen such a variety of cool little creatures, but the plants were turning into stubs. The war was making my stomach sick. The idea of using an insecticide that would kill everything, even the beneficial insects, was abhorrent, but I wanted to save my plants. I would stand in front of the pesticide isle in the garden center where I work studying the different products, picking up one after … [Read more...]