Book Review Paris by the Book

I bought Liam Callanan’s Paris by the Book simply because he leaves in Wisconsin and I want to support local authors. Friends of mine also recommended his works.  I enjoyed this book a lot.

It is the story of a Leah, who’s husband disappears and the only clue he leaves is plane tickets to Paris. Intending on staying for a while, she finds herself not able to tear herself or her two daughters away. They all see him (Robert) in the men they see around the city.

In many books, the protagonist is strong and determined. Readers want that. However, that is not how people work.  I found Mr. Callanan’s portrayal of a woman with doubts and mind changes real, but without sending me on a confusing track of a narrator that changes her mind too much.  His main character is filled with doubts, but it is done in a well-written way.

I also found that Mr. Callanan did a masterful job of describing Paris with out burying the reader in details. Also well done with how he handled the characters speaking French. He was able to provide realness while also getting what was said in French across.

I enjoyed this family drama set in a city that I now really want to visit. It makes me hope and believe that I can go there and find Leah and her two daughters running a small book store (though not well).


PS- Find the 30 minute video of The Red Balloon (1956) AKA Le Ballon Rouge on #Youtube. It is not necessary, but it will help put you in a #Paris mood before reading Liam Callanan’s book. (No Paris landmarks were harmed in the book or the movie).


Book Review- Harbach

The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach

I read this book because my wife bought it and it was sitting on the bookshelf. Even though I knew better I suspected it was sort of like the book The Catcher in the Wry by Bob Uecker. In other words, reading it was a random act.

With that said, I enjoyed the book. I am not a baseball fans, but only rarely skimmed the exposition about the game. Mr. Harbach did a nice job of creating a world that was an imaginary college in an imaginary city along the imaginary Lake Michigan (okay one thing is real). It took me a while to like the characters and begin to like them, but I eventually did.  It was a unique story with some interesting twists.

The author did a masterful job of showing both sides of the conflicts between classmates, lovers, and parents. You could see how each character could see themselves in the right as opposed to one person being the bad guy and one being the good guy.  I found this similar to Jonathan Franzen’s The Corrections, but in a less frenzied way. As a reader, I loved each character’s inner struggle.

Monkey See Monkey Do

There are instances in your life that affect you for the rest of it.  I’m not talking about that time a semi almost hit you or a pregnancy scare. I’m talking about small details that make you think of something for the rest of your life.

For example, a friend I had in college would wear this thick, battered sweatshirt when we played  football or shoveled snow. I thought it was so cool. This cool sweatshirt that had seen some experiences. It why even at 50, I keep my sweatshirts and do not let them go even when I can’t wear them in public.  And they cannot compare to that sweatshirt that was ripped at the sleeve and had a worn collar.

I have a packer sweatshirt that from the 90s.  The front pocket is almost ripped off so that there is a patch of dark green there while the rest is faded.  The hood and collar are frayed, but not to a good enough degree.

I have a comfy sweatshirt that had a German phrase on it. The only letters left spell net. The problem with this one is that i got paint on it. I want it to wear out and yet I don’t want to wreck it so it does not ever get a rip. Yet, I want that sleeve seem to be giving way.

Every week, I think of that sweatshirt. I covet it even as I don’t covet the friendship that came with it. That I can accept has come and gone.

Do you have a small thing that cycles through your thoughts?

man in gray pull over hoodie standing on train rail

Photo by Aidan Jarrett on

In My Day……


This could be a piece about how children today don’t just play. Everything has to be organized. Warning, the next phase begins In my Day,  but it stops short of being preachy. In my day, kids gathered on street corners and met up and determined their own rules.

However, I lived out in the country. We had a next door neighbor, but they were older. Other than that, our friends lived miles away.  Instead there was me and my two brothers three years apart followed by a brother ten years younger and a sister 15 years younger. We had to make our own fun.

So I don’t know about kids lives being so scheduled.  As long as they are happy, it is fine. Yet I am going to look back on my childhood and be thankful for the creativity required. We made go carts and forts (wood and hay) and hung out in each. We wandered down in the woods and played on the abandoned equipment sinking into the ground.

Without enough players, we modified volleyball.  We used cheap balls you bought at K-mart and the only rule was that as long as the ball was moving, it was playable. You team could hit it a hundred times. A single player could hit it a hundred times. A ball rolling on the ground could be swept up and kept in play. The great part about that is that younger players didn’t ruin the game and you didn’t have to hit the ball before they tried to hit it and made it go straight to the ground.

So I am not preaching. However, I don’t think this game would even make a free video game to play on a smartphone.


selective focus of cow photo

Photo by Viktor Lundberg on

Remember Party Lines

I remember being on a party line growing up.  Picking up the phone to hear our neighbor on the phone.  Weird and slightly annoying. If we we were in the house and wanted to talk to dad in the barn, we could dial our own phone number, hang up and then pick up when it stopped ringing because that meant dad picked up.  Not sure why we would not just go out there.

In this post, I just want to record what my dad (78 years old) described to me when his dad used the phone.  Those first ones.

Grandpa used to turn the crank that powered the magneto that made electricity to turn on a light on the switchboard. Grandpa would have to wait a long time, so he would crank and crank the phone, thinking that it was also making a ringing sound at the switchboard. It was only a light though.

However, a lot of people on people on Grandpa’s party line would have their phone rung by the electricity he sent through the lines. His neighbors would hear his constant ringing.

Other fun facts about the phones back in my Grandparents day- The people on a party line did not need to go through the switchboard to call each other. If your neighbors signal that someone was calling him was two long rings and one short ring, then that is what you rang to get them to pick up the receiver.

Dead Sure? A Book Review

Dead Sure? Took me on a mind-twisting romp to 1929 and back again. It was a story full of strong characters and plot twists that kept me guessing.  I definitely felt for Tim, a man transported back to 1929 leaving his daughter to grow up without a parent. Especially when he has to face Charles, the antagonist that outsmarts everyone and hurts so many people (including many people in the present).  

This story has a lot of heart and kept me reading right until the end. And like any great story, I will remember these characters long after I put the book back on my book shelf (metaphorically, I got the kindle version).

Wisconsin Author Profile

A couple of years ago Dixie Jarchow and I began an interview show that premiered on the public access channel in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  Like the name suggests, we wanted to showcase authors that are in our neighborhood. Those authors you will not know. But we wanted to hear their story, find out what they know about writing, and make a pitch for their book.

Earlier this spring, we interviewed Kerri Luksavitz.  (I never thought I would be able to spell that name by heart,) In some ways she is the type of author we had in mind for our show.  Like many of us, she had that story she wanted to tell. She also had the writing bug. However, the publishing industry is tough today.


Here is a link to her interview: As I said, she had that story she wanted to tell.  Not only did she write it and write to get better, she went back to school to follow her dream.

The result is a YA novel called  Mystery Horse at Oak Lane stables.  Look for her website and check this book out.  As you might guess, Kerri is a rider and is passionate about horses. Enough so that she has plans for a trilogy.

I have not read the book as of this writing (Dixie has). However, I am intrigued by the way Kerri included the ins and out of horse competition.  It was so realistic that Dixie thought maybe it was nonfiction and to me those details that make a story sound real are crucial. Her future books will follow her main character  Cassie as she grows and progresses in competition. Just read part of this quick amazon review:

What a perfect gift for the horse lover in every family! The author, Kerri Lukasavitz, has created a story that pulled me into the plot right away. It was an engaging story with several twists that kept me guessing as to what would happen.

Cassie, the main character, wants a horse to call her own and to love. As she and her father search for the perfect horse for her, I felt the range of emotions that the protagonist experienced…every hope, every disappointment, every concern, everything. I didn’t want to put down the book.

woman standing near sheep

Photo by Tim Savage on

I hope you get as much entertainment and information from our interview as we got from talking to Kerri.

Author Profile- David Michael Williams

David Michael Williams

An interview so great we did it twice!

A couple of years ago Dixie Jarchow and I began an interview show that premiered on the public access channel in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  Like the name suggests, we wanted to showcase authors that are in our neighborhood. Those authors you will not know. But we wanted to hear their story, find out what they know about writing, and make a pitch for their book.

David Michael Williams is passionate about his writing and his desire to help other authors.  Our interview with him provides with great advice about being your own publisher as David has his own LLC.

This spring, Author Showcase switched from filming on the station’s camcorder to using some apple products.  Well it didn’t go so well. The main camera switched off and the camera that was focused on David so that we could have some dramatic camera view changes was the only one we got.  So we will put that up at a future point. You will want to hear what David said.

However, as our producer, key grip, and fearless leader Ruth Percey said, “This second interview is better than the first.”   Mr. Williams is a fantasy writer that likes to bend some other genres and he gave an enticing overview of his books in his Soul Cycle Series.  I read his book If Souls Can Sleep. I was drawn into his world and had to keep turning the page to see what happens.

I recommend check out these books and the other series on his website

I also recommend watching our interview with him.  It is located here:

David is in marketing, but he devotes one day a week to writing, As you get his story, I think many of us will hear how similar it is to our story of wanting to be a writer. However, David has taken the next step and is writing novels and getting them in the hands of readers.

David has learned a lot and is continuing to learn.  We are thankful he is willing to share that knowledge

if souls can sleep

A Fan in Barn Boots

I recently bought The book Montaigne in Barn Boots By Michael Perry.  I buy every book Mr. Perry puts out as well as his musical CDs.  Here is my review:

In Montaigne in Barn Boots, Mike Perry reflects on the writings of Montaigne as he compares it to his own personal philosophy. For me, I dipped my toes in Montaigne’s essays and they quickly went numb. However, Mr. Perry made those essays with his down-home folksy similes and metaphors easy to understand . I fear that comes off less than a compliment, but it is a compliment. Those comparisons were dead-on and unique.

Even Mr. Perry questions presenting another memoir from him. Do we want to hear more of Mike’s life and his beliefs? Do we want him to get more personal? This books gives a resounding yes. He writes about his own life to investigate what being human means. He is so effective that he can write a whole book discussing himself without over-indulging and getting over personal.

Yes, Mr. Perry, we want more.  We want to know about the man off-stage and those subjects you have not broached. And Mr, Perry we want you to get very personal without going to far and being respectful of our tender sensibilities.

That was his undertaking and he was successful. He does both. For example, he lets us know that his marriage is more than just love poems to her. He reveals that he does have a marriage like ours with its ups and downs while still being as reverential to his wife as our wives wish we would be.

My God-Given Right


Photo by Lechon Kirb on Unsplash


Here is a statement from a gun wacko-

it is my god fearing right to own a gun. My children will know how to handle and operate guns at a young age. I also believe that teachers if they want to should be able to carry at school. Guns are not they problem, there is been a loaded gun in my house that hasn’t shot anyone and won’t. media, movies, games, tv shows have glorified shootings and make the shooter famous. also where do most of the shootings take place?? “Gun Free Zones” finally there are just bat shit crazy people out there. you can try and make all the gun rules you want but people are going to find ways around it….Arm teachers and pubic office workers

My first response was yep I agree with you.  I like to drink and I like to drive. I do it all the time and I’ve never killed anyone.  That is why I don’t think there should be laws against drinking and driving.

People on both sides need to get away from I think it therefore it is true, such as arming teachers.  From my awesome aunts caring post, here are some other craziness:

We own an AR and I can guarantee that it will Never be used in a mass shooting. It’s fun to target shoot but for us it also incredibly useful for coyotes. Guns have changed but so has our human compassion, accountability for our actions, and the guiding principles behind our actions.

Work on aim and you shouldn’t need one.


As a certified trap coach my students bring and store their guns at school, in our safe, during season. Not once had it resulted in an incident because they follow procedures and have respect for laws and each other. As to my weapon of choice for coyotes it had nothing to do with my shooting ability.