Book Review: The Billy Battles Trilogy

This review covers the first two books in the Billy Battles trilogy written by Ronald E. Yates. The first book is Finding Billy Battles, An Account of Peril, Transgression and Redemption.

Finding Billy Battles

I usually shy away from investing my reading time with a trilogy. One, I feel obligated to finish the series even if I am uninterested in the story or how the story is written. And two, if I am really interested in the series, I impatiently wait for each installment to be written.

However, the Prologue: Ted Sayles hooked me.

As a prolific journal writer, I was intrigued with Ted Sayle’s inheritance of journals and memoirs written by his Great-Grandfather, William Battles. Mr. Sayles had inherited “a historian’s treasure – firsthand accounts of some of the most significant events and people in the nineteenth-century and early-twentieth century.” He also had inherited other personal artifacts from this great-grandfather.

How cool is that?

The Preface of the book states it is a work of “faction. That is, the story it tells based partly on fact, but has been augmented with narrative fiction.”  It further goes on to qualify that many of the protagonists were actual persons.

Faction or not, this first installment of the Billy Battles trilogy captivated my attention with Billy Battle’s acquaintances with the likes of Wyatt Earp and others. Throughout reading this book, I kept daydreaming about all those journals and how I would love to read them, touch the handwriting in hopes of being transported back in time. With the help of Mr. Yates excellent writing of the first third of Billy Battle’s life, the reader is easily transported back to that era.

Sidebar: When I read other book reviews, I skip the reviews that practically give the story away or go into a lot of editorial comment. It takes away the fun of reading the book myself. I try to give you enough about the book and why I liked it to make your own decision.

Perhaps it is my limited attention span because of modern technology that I found the chapters too long for my liking. Mr. Yates provides so much information and detail that at times the reading was a tad daunting, but I couldn’t wait to read the second installment, The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles.

This first installment of the Billy Battles trilogy, Finding Billy Battles, An Account of Peril, Transgression and Redemption, I gave 4 out of 5 hoots.

1 to 5 Hoot Scale - 4 hoots

The Improbably Journeys of Billy Battles

The second book picks up in 1984 on board of the SS China headed for the Orient. It’s a wild ride on the sea and in the jungles, a vast difference than Billy’s beginnings in Kansas and the wild west, but no less thrilling. Billy Battles finds love and heartache.

Journeys

Side Bar: Okay guys, don’t let the love and heartache part stop you from reading this fascinating journey of Billy Battles. There is so much history action written on these pages that I doubt you will find much of it in history books.  Yes, it is a work of faction, but remember this story is based on personally written journals from one who lived it.

I enjoyed the second installment of the Billy Battles trilogy even more – not because of the love and heartache, but because of the era in which it was set. Today, we think nothing of getting on an airplane and traveling the world because we know it won’t take us long to get to our destination. Plus, we are instantly connected to our family and friends through our electronic devices. Yet, the book reminded me of how harrowing traveling around the world to parts personally unknown could not only be thrilling but exceptionally scary at the same time.

As a mother, I identified with Billy Battle’s mother. As a woman, I loved the intelligence, wit and moxie of Katharina. I wondered what it must have been like for Billy’s daughter, Anna Marie to have been separated from her father for such long periods of time.

The second book of the Billy Battles trilogy, The Improbable Journeys of Billy Battles is given five out of five hoots.

1 to 5 Hoot Scale

My recommendation:

The first two books of the Billy Battles trilogy must be on the summer reading list. The final book in this trilogy is due out in late summer. I can hardly wait!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Staycation: Three “R” Tips

Guest writer, TL Clemmer is an automotive executive who lives with her husband, Bob, an artist and craftsman in southern California. As you enter their front gate, you are greeted by a stained-glass patio gate. She enjoys tending to her tomato garden in the company of her dog, Parker. One of her greatest joys is the monthly lunch date with her Mother, sister and nieces.

I have traveled the world for both business and pleasure. I highly recommend traveling to experience the culture, native cuisine, and what the world offers regionally and internationally. My husband would shut his sign and art studio down in Carlsbad, CA to surf the big waves in Mexico and Hawaii. What fun!

When circumstances change

A year ago, my husband suffered a stroke. Our travel excursions have changed.
Although he has progressed with rehabilitation for his stroke, as a big and proud man, he wouldn’t think of traveling with the aid of a wheelchair and walking long distances is not an option. So, traveling by air is out of the mix for traveling to far off destinations.

Now what?

The Staycation

The term, Staycation is a combination of vacationing at home or nearby. The staycation gained popularity during the United States’ financial-crisis of 2007-2010. Individuals or families would participate in day trips to points of interest or leisure activities.

Alas! Why not try it?

After two successful Staycations, I can now classify ourselves as experts. But in order to have a truly relaxing and restful vacation, I believe the staycationer needs to abide by the following tips:

Transportation imageTransportation: No airplanes, boats, trains, taxis, or buses

Drive your own car. Pack it with the comforts of our home. By that I mean, your own coffee pot and favorite coffee. No Exceptions!

(Although, if you do drive for living in your own car, consider renting a comfortable or fun car.)

 

Social Media clipartElectronic Devices: No laptops, PDA’s, phones

NO posting to Social Media allowed! Not even scrumptious meals or romantic sunsets. NO Facebook location notifications – you don’t want to be found, nor do you want thieves to find you are not at home.

Resort clipart

 

Vacation Accommodations: Insert the word, “Resort”

Whether the accommodations are by mountains, sea, or wherever your adventure takes you, make sure it has the word, “Resort” in the name.

Vacation Activities

Do it! Whatever amenity is available, use them all.

Order room service, relax in a whirlpool spa, massage, pool, wear the resort robes hanging in the closet, avail yourself to the mini bar, and if there is a concierge, allow them to make the reservations.

 

Happy Hour

Awww! Happy Hour! Never miss it.

Enough said.

 

Sleep at hotel

Sleep!!

Sleep. Sleep a lot. Sleep whenever you want. Put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door.

 

Picnic basket

Pack all your favorite snacks and beverages

Pack a few great snacks and wine, beer, etc. We enjoyed crackers and cheese, fresh fruit, gourmet popcorn and some dark chocolate. We hate those two-cup hotel coffee makers, so hence, the packing of our own coffee maker and favorite coffee.

Relaxing Actitivies

Be present in the moment!

Be present mentally and physically in the space you are in. It’s okay to take a long, hot shower and use three large bath towels and slip into the robe (or nothing), and not dry your hair.

Staycation

Memories, memories, memories…

Pick one special place you want to spend money at. I searched the internet and picked a bookstore that was over 100 years old. Find a happy place you can get lost in near to your resort.

Last, but not least, really try to stick to NO electronic devices and social media. Wait until you get home to post to social media and boast about the best staycation ever!

Another important tip! Pick a reliable proxy at work who you tag as the “go to” person in your email auto-reply. No email. None!

Relax, Rest, Restore

If you don’t follow through on my tips for no electronic devices, social media and email, you are short changing yourself on being present in the moment. It doesn’t matter if your staycation is in your backyard or my recommendation of a resort you can travel to by car, but you owe it to yourself to relax, rest and restore your mind, body, and spirit.

Bra Revolution

As the Houdini of bra extraction, I would no doubt win the bra Olympics for the fastest removal of the bra without the mere hint of removal or of my shirt. Even before the door slams behind me after a long day at the office, that despised contraption is flung like a rubber band lost until laundry day.

braveheart-freedom-400x250

Bra Beginnings

Of course, it was some girlie-girl, Caresse Crosby, who patented the first modern bra in the U.S. in 1914. So, for over 100 years, women have been wrapped, wired, and have perked up their ‘girls’ with these contraptions. Although the beginning of bras dates back to ancient Greece when women would wrap their breasts with bands of wool or linen and tying or pinning these bands to their back, I believe it’s time for a Braveheart-style bra revolution.

The Training Bra

Young girls are given “training bras” by their mothers when they start developing breasts. For the life of me, I don’t know why these small triangular pieces of the cotton held up by tiny straps and one hook in the back were named training bras.

How are these tiny pieces of cotton training breasts?

What are they training the breasts to do?

Why do little budding breasts need to be trained?

The bra conspiracy to confine women since their teens has spiraled into over a billion-dollar industry today with over 95% of women in the western countries wearing bras. That’s a lot of dollars and tits to confine!

Bridled Breasts

I get it.  I do.

Irrespective of breast size or augmentation if “the girls” are left unbridled stampedes may break out. Let’s face it, there is something erotic about breasts and no job or project would ever get done in or around the office or the house if breasts weren’t contained. Small or bountiful, I don’t know a man that can’t at least keep his eyes off of them.

Bras: Sexy or Functional?

Well, I guess bras are sexy if you’re a Victoria Secret model. But for us old owls who breast-fed their babies long ago and are…. Well, just plain tired and droopy…. And are not interested in augmentation to perk them up to faux smiling twins… are exasperated at the fit and the cost of these woeful wired and padded trappings.

If there is such a thing, my favorite bra is nursing bra I bought for $4.96 by mistake (I didn’t know it was a nursing bra until after I brought it home and began wearing it. This bra was purchased many years after breastfeeding had ended.) Yet, I wore it anyway. It was comfortable (as if any bra could be comfortable).  There was also an inherent sexiness about unbuckling the front to let the girls roam free even without taking the dang thing off.

Bras: The expense!

I can spend $5 at Walmart and let everyone know in the room that I am either excited or cold, or I can spend over $60 for a wired push-up bra that confirms to everyone that “Yes! I breastfed babies years ago!” as my girls jiggle like Jello® in their padded plush cups.

Women are hit with not only the ridiculous financial investment of bras but the emotional and physical expense of wearing a bra. These are expenses men have no comparison unless the man is a baseball catcher wearing an over-sized, metal codpiece over his junk.

Bra Revolution

I’m not into breast augmentation for myself, but on the other hand, I don’t begrudge a woman who wants to have a bigger, smaller, or a perkier bosom. If women want to spend their money on fancy, expensive bras or surgery to help them feel better about themselves, I say, “go for it.”

While I may never feel totally comfortable going bra-less outside the owl’s nest or beyond the backyard, but for women who have had enough of the bra, I say, “go for it.” It’s time for a new invention, a bra revolution, to keep the girls healthy and happy.