#841 Sophie by Emma Pearse

Sophie by Emma PearseSophie by Emma Pearse

In the land down under, a family got a puppy, a cattle dog, and named her Sophie. The puppy grew. The family’s children went away to college, but Sophie the dog remained. The dog soon took to the water along with the family on their boat. They would take the boat out and explore small islands in the area.

One day, while exploring, the couple went down below deck, for just a minute, when they came back up, Sophie was gone, swept overboard. They looked and looked, but could not see their beloved family pet. They assumed the worst–Sophie was dead.

By sheer determination and luck, Sophie was not dead. She actually swam for quite some time to get to a nearby island. There she survived for a short period of time, before swimming to another island. The islands Sophie found herself on did not allow dogs. The islands actually allow no pets, no outside animals, other than the native animals found on the island. Sophie was in danger of being picked up by rangers, and possibly euthanized. All in all, Sophie survived for five months on her own.

What I liked

Sophie was one determined dog. She didn’t mope around when her humans disappeared, she survived. Sophie is an admirable animal. Her story is heartwarming and dramatic. I’m glad the family was reunited with their beloved pet.

What I didn’t like

It’s sad that Sophie was lost for so long. I don’t know if Sophie was still alive. This event occurred in 2007, I believe. The book was published in 2011. It’s now 2017. That would make Sophie around thirteen years old, if she’s still living.


My dog would just whine and lament the fact that no one was feeding him, if this happened to him–goner is about two days.

Weigh In

Would your dog survive this?

What do you think Sophie’s motives for surviving were?

#832 The Golden Willow by Harry Bernstein

The Golden Willow by Harry BernsteinThe Golden Willow by Harry Bernstein

Harry married a woman named Ruby.  They planted a golden willow tree in their yard. They had two children. They each had to work very hard to make ends meet. Harry was a writer and for a long time didn’t bring home a lot of money. Things came easier as they got older.

When Harry was in his nineties, he decided to write a book. He shopped around for people to publish it, but it took some time before it was published. This book is Harry’s third book. It’s all about his life with his wife.

They started out renting a room. There was no shower. The landlady said the plumber would be there soon, but he never showed up. Years later, they were in the same neighborhood; they thought it might be nice to see where they used to live. The man who lived there, or bought the place, was kind enough to let them see the room they started their marriage in. There was still no shower. They laughed about that one.

Ruby died first, which was sad. Harry didn’t want to be alone. He started writing his books to fill the time and to fulfill a life-long dream of being an author.

What I liked

This book was certainly sweet. It’s about Harry’s life with his beloved wife. Their life wasn’t easy, but they loved each other very much. They weathered many storms, but fared much better than many other people in relationships. The willow was a symbol of their love. They watched it grow and mature.

It is really inspiring that Harry wrote these books past his nineties. That’s a lot of stuff to remember for someone as old as Harry was at the time.

What I didn’t like

While this book is certainly sweet, I don’t see anything super special about it. They had a great marriage, good for them, but there’s nothing that sets them far apart from anyone else. The best thing about the couple is that they made it so long with a minimal level of strife, which is impressive, but not unheard of if you’ve found a good match.

Harry has died, in case you were wondering. He died in 2011. I’m sure he’s happy to be with Ruby again.


I do like the idea of planting a tree to commemorate a relationship.

Weigh In

Would you write a book about your relationship with your loved one?

Do you think it’s sweet that Harry wrote a book after all those years?

#817 In The Presence of my Enemies by Gracia Burnham

In The Presence of my Enemies by Gracia BurnhamIn The Presence of my Enemies by Gracia Burnham

Many of us probably don’t remember a lot that happened in 2011, besides the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers, but more did happen that year. In that same year, Muslim extremists also kidnapped a large group of people from a resort in the Philippines. In that group was a married missionary couple, Martin and Gracia Burnham.

The Burnhams had lived in the Philipines for many years serving as missionaries. Martin was a pilot who would fly supplies and people from mission to mission and Gracia raised their children and manned the communications to Martin while he was in flight. They had decided to go on a trip for their honeymoon to a resort, but the resort did not end up being a relaxing get away that the Burnhams had planned.

They were rounded up from sleep and held at gunpoint. Martin didn’t even have a shirt. They were put on a boat, then another boat. They finally made it to land, but were marched, mercilessly, and fed little. They would move locations very frequently. Illness was a common thing for the Burnhams. The captors, who identified with a Muslim extremist group, wanted ransom from all their captives. They went down the list of captives asking who could come up with what money. When the Burnhams told their captors they were American missionaries, who were rather poor, the captors told them that they would be last. They would be political prisoners.

The months went on and on. Some people were ransomed, but not Gracia and Martin. They were fed poorly. Martin was without his glasses and often saw everything blurry. Fellow captives were beheaded, some of the girls were taken as mistresses to the captors.

Over a year after the Burnhams were kidnapped, one other woman and the couple remained. Ultimately, Gracia got out alive, but without her beloved Martin.

What I liked

Gracia’s story is harrowing. I cannot imagine being taken captive like that and then having to live like an animal for over a year. They were treated poorly and their captors believed what they did was right according to Islam. It just goes to show you that not everyone interprets religion correctly.

Gracia is much stronger in the situation than I would have been, I think. I’m stubborn, but I don’t know if I would have made it out alive. It’s so silly that someone would take another person.

What I didn’t like

I tried to find out more information about what happened to Gracia afterwards. I know she does some speaking events and there is a mission set up in honor of Gracia and her husband, Martin, but I don’t know a lot more than that. I really wanted to know how Gracia fared after all of this. The book seems to end rather abruptly. In biographies and memoirs, I like to have a little bit of a follow-up.


Gracia is certainly an admirable woman.

Weigh In

Would you have survived being captive for over a year in the jungle?

What do you think about groups who interpret religion to the detriment of anyone who isn’t as “devout” as they are?

#815 Answering the Call by Ken Gire

Answering the Call by Ken GireAnswering the Call by Ken Gire

Most of us have probably never heard of Albert Schweitzer, including me. So who was Albert? Well, Albert was a doctor who spent most of his life in Africa doctoring people. He was also an accomplished organist. In addition to all of this, he also gave lectures.

When Albert and his wife married, they were off to Africa pretty soon. Albert had been told that there would be a hospital in the small African village he was going to, but there wasn’t. There was nothing. There was Albert’s house and a chicken coop that someone had abandoned. These were his only spaces to treat patients. He did just that. He saw patients on the porch.

He soon found out many quirks of natives. They wouldn’t eat food provided by Albert and his wife because they were afraid of poisoning. They also considered certain things fetishes. The cardboard name tags that they had to carry around as patients were never lost, because the people looked upon them as a fetish.

Eventually a hospital was built. Albert even helped design it. Albert and his wife were back and forth between Europe and Africa. They had a daughters. Life was okay, until the war came. The war brought short supplies to the hospital. At one point, Albert and his wife were even prisoners of war for some time.

Even after Albert’s wife died, Albert went right on doctoring people up. He received a Nobel Peace Prize for some of his work.

What I liked

I never knew Albert existed. So it’s nice to learn about someone like Albert. He was a man who devoted most of his life to other people. He was  good guy. It’s refreshing to hear about people with such dedication. He lived away from his family for years and years, in order to provide healthcare to people who really needed it. He saved all kinds of lives.

What I didn’t like

I liked the book, although, I do feel like I breezed through it much too fast.


Here’s to Albert, being a doctor, where doctors are needed.

Weigh In

Could you go live away from your family solely to help others?

Could you live helping others, and without the normal things we have in life–money, house, etc.?

#812 The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook by Mickey Trescott

The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook by Mickey TrescottThe Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook by Mickey Trescott

We all know what Paleo is, or we’ve all heard of it. It’s the diet where a person simulates the diet of a Neanderthal, basically. You don’t eat grains and you don’t eat dairy. You don’t eat a lot of stuff. A more in-depth version of Paleo is known as autoimmune Paleo, or AIP. This version of Paleo further restricts what you can and cannot have in an attempt to heal damage to your digestive system, and generally your body. As healing occurs, you can experiment with adding things back in.

This book is a cookbook, but it’s also a why behind AIP. Why would you do it? Why would you need to? What is the diet going to do? What is ok and what’s not ok? All of that is in this book. It also has some nice pictures.

It’s easy to follow, so if you’re endeavoring to go AIP, this book will start you off on the right foot. There’s a meal plan. There’s a pantry list. You can learn how to make bone broth, if you didn’t know already.

What I liked

The presentation of this book is very nice. The information is informative and the recipes aren’t bad, none of them are extremely difficult. I do like the idea of a meal plan in this book, not that I’m going to follow it, but it’s a nice touch.

Since I have to go AIP for a while, this book is a very good resource. Most people will find AIP much too restrictive and would go with regular Paleo, but if you had to go AIP, I think this book is a very good help.

What I didn’t like

I would have loved a lower carb meal plan in this book. Paleo itself is not low carb, neither is AIP, although it’s typically lower carb than your traditional American diet. If you wanted to lose weight right away while doing AIP, there is a chance it may not happen with the included meal plan. It might, but it might not. For many of us, getting healthier involves losing at least a little weight. If I’m already drastically changing my diet, I would love to see some results that I can see. Getting lower or higher whatevers on your laboratory results are wonderful, and healthy, but it’s also nice to know that your drastic changes are paying off in a visible way.


Get ready for kale.

Weigh In

Do you prefer your cook books to have pictures?

Do you think Paleo is great?