Book Review: Reilly’s Luck


Title: Reilly’s Luck

Author: Louis L’Amour

Number of Pages: 229 pages

What is this book about?

Reilly’s Luck is one of L’Amour’s best novels. In it Will Reilly – an honest professional gambler – becomes the guardian of a four-year old boy named Valentine Darrant. The duo travels the West and Europe as Will makes his living. When Will is killed, Val must make his way alone relying on the skills and judgment Will taught him. 

Why should you read this book?

I started reading westerns when I was about fourteen. My dad read them so I asked him what book I should start with. He handed me Reilly’s Luck and I have to say my life has never been the same. Up until then my reading interest was predominately mountain men and western history. Louis L’Amour’s westerns gave me a much richer flavor of the Old West. Reilly’s Luck was no exception.

Reilly’s Luck contains action, adventure, good and evil. I’m betting you will enjoy it as much as I did then (and still do)…and that it just might change your life like it changed mine.

Have you read this book? If you have, what did you think?


Book Review: A Life Wild and Perilous


Title: A Life Wild and Perilous

Author: Robert M. Utley

Number of Pages: 285

Note: Robert M. Utley was the Chief Historian of the National Park service and has written several books on history.

What is this book about?

A Life Wild and Perilous is an expose’ on the role mountain men played in the opening, exploring and settling of the vast western region of the United States.

When President Jefferson purchased thousands of square miles of land (called the Louisiana Purchase), he doubled the size of the nation overnight. Lewis and Clark’s expedition in 1803-1805 was essentially the first organized “look” into the northern portion of this newly acquired and unknown land. Surrounding the purchase, the British were established in the northern regions from the Great Lakes all the way to the western shores of the Atlantic along the Columbia River. The Spanish were settled in the southern regions and in California having established missions as far north as Monterey.

After Lewis and Clark’s findings became known, American businessmen began to finance organized expeditions to explore the new land in order to conduct trade with Indian nations and trap for beaver pelts, the latter being in high demand back east and in Europe. Men, young and old, came from all over America to take part. Men like John Colter, Jedediah Smith, the Sublette brothers, Tom Fitzpatrick, Kit Carson and Jim Bridger would go on to play major roles in expanding our knowledge of these western lands.

A Life Wild and Perilous details this history and the parts these men played in settling the west.

Why should you read this book?

A Life Wild and Perilous is a wonderful read. Mr. Utley does an outstanding job of bringing this complex and important part of our history to life. This book is a must read for anyone studying our nation’s history and the opening of the west.

Question: Have you read this book? If you have, what did you think?

Next Up

Following up on my last blog post – No Time Like the Present – I’ve been tapping away on my laptop today.

I’m working on the rough draft of the second book in our Talon Family series. The working title is Winter Chase! and we are so excited to have it ready as a sequel to Tahosa Treasure.

Why is it that the first word is always the hardest to write? It is this intimidating, monster of a thing….taunting me, daring me to try to confine it to the page. That first word knows that it’s the flood gates: once it is on paper, the rest of the words pour out like a raging flood.

That first word is more than mere letters. It is a psychological battlefield, one I must win every time I put pen to paper or cursor to page.

The. That’s the first word. The great hulk that rose over me, telling me I better just give up now.

The day was perfect. That’s the first sentence. The psychological battle has been fought and won. All that for four words???

Yes. But four words that will now unleash paragraphs…and chapters…and a book.

A Writing Desk

Some day I will have one. A desk where all I do is write.

Okay…and maybe read.

But I will read to write. And this desk will have only what I need to write.

It will face something that inspires me. Anything but a blank wall. It will face a window. Or photos that move me. Or perhaps this:

(credit here)

It would have a vase with flowers. Notepads and pens. My laptop. A photo of me and my love. And that’s about it.

This writing desk would be my place to think, to dream. And to move beyond thinking & dreaming to words.

Words written on paper. Words that contain part of my soul, breathing from the page.

Someday I will have my desk. But for now I will write anyways. Wherever, whenever and however I can.

I realize it’s the words that matter, after all. Not where they’re written from.

Little Britches: A Book Review

Title: Little Britches  (Father and I were ranchers)

Author: Ralph Moody

Number of pages: 260

What is this book about?

In 1906, Ralph Moody moved with his family from East Rochester, New Hampshire to a farm outside Denver, Colorado. Ralph was eight years old.

From his first day in school to helping his father make a go at farming on the high plains of Colorado, Ralph’s memory for details coupled with his down home style of telling a good story will make you wonder where the time went.

Why should you read this book?

Ralph Moody’s stories will take you back to another time when character mattered and a man’s word was his bond. He reminds me a lot of my Grandpa Roth. This book is great for youth and adults. Go for it!

Note: Little Britches is the first book in a series of books on his childhood and young adult years. All the books are a great read.

Have you read this book before? If so, what did you think of it?

Jedediah Smith: A Book Review

Title: Jedediah Smith and the Opening of the West

Author: Dale L. Morgan

Number of Pages: 330

What is this book about?

Jedediah Smith was one of those restless Americans that eagerly went West. In 1822, at the age of twenty-three, he signed up as a member of a fur-trading venture. Ten years later he died alone at the hands of a Comanche war party.  During that time span, Smith discovered the South pass. He was the first to travel across the American frontier to California, over the Sierra Nevada. He was also the first to cross the vast breadth of the Great Basin and travel up the California coast to Oregon.

Why should you read this book?

Smith was a leader of men and a bold adventurer who is brought to life through the magnificent writing and thorough research of Morgan. If you spend time reading this amazing story, you won’t be disappointed.

Question: Have your read this book? If you have, what did you think?

Winning of America: A Series Review

Title: Winning of America

Author: Allan W. Eckert

Number of Pages: Six volume set

What is this book about?

Forget what you learned about American history in school. Especially pre-Civil War American history. Why? Liberal teaching and political correctness (especially in our public schools and colleges) have distorted it. Think: mean, corrupt white men who stole the land from noble, peaceful Indians. Does that ring a bell? The truth lies somewhere in the middle. Whether white, black or red, man in his sin nature is capable of anything.

Mr. Eckert researched for years to write his The Winning of America series, successfully producing a detailed historical account in story form. Eckert explains, “Everything written is taken from personal letters, notes, memoranda, diaries, journals, depositions, tribal records, logbooks, military reports governmental records and legal papers.”

Why should you read this book?

All the books in the series are captivating and brilliantly written. I thought Teddy Roosevelt’s series on American history – The Winning of the West – was great, but Eckert’s series takes the cake.

Get the first volume in the series – The Frontiersmen – and get reading. Is our country great or what?

Question: Have your read any books in this series? If you have, what did you think?

American Beliefs: A Book Review

Title: American Beliefs

Author: John Harmon McElroy

Number of Pages: 226

What is this book about?

Ever stop to consider what drove the founding & settling of our nation? What keeps us together? What are our prominent beliefs? What makes us different from other countries? McElroy does a fantastic job of explaining what it is that makes Americans tick.

Why should you read this book?

In 2000, I moved my family to Naples, Italy where I was assigned to a NATO staff for a few years. The staff was made up of personnel from eight different countries. Many times I was asked to explain my beliefs as an American. During that time, I realized in a fresh way just how exceptional and blessed we are as Americans. In his book, McElroy breaks down what we intuitively know as Americans, but may have a hard time explaining to someone.

This book is a must read at any time, but especially now since America and its beliefs are under attack as never before. Get the book, study it – you will be glad you did. Then the next time someone asks what Americans believe, you can smile and say, “Glad you asked.”

Question: Have you read this book? If you have, what did you think of it?