Review: In The Herd — by Jayne M. Silberman

Cover image and summary from

Title: In the Herd  : A Photographic Journey with the Chincoteague ponies and Assateague ponies

Author: Jayne M. Silberman

Rating:  ★★★★★ (5 of 5)

Genre/Pages: Photographic Documentary / 160

Summary: “The 140 unforgettable images that make up this unique photographic journey are the result of the long-term, unprecedented access the author/photographer was granted to one of this country’s wildest and most beautiful places. Every July, some 40,000 people converge on the barrier islands off the Virginia-Maryland coast to observe the annual Chincoteague Pony Swim, a trip that takes the herds only seven minutes to complete (with the assistance of the famous Salt Water Cowboys), but is critical to their preservation. This is the element of herd life best known to the world. But there is so much more to see and know about the wild herds. With the support and cooperation she has received from the Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company and National Park Service, noted wildlife photographer Jayne M. Silberman has devoted years to visiting the area and getting to know the animals firsthand and in every season—their relationships, rituals, behaviors, habits, family life, and intimate moments.  The result is this moving and beautiful array of gallery-quality photos, accompanied by an informative 8,000-word essay presenting the history of the herds and many fascinating details about their environment and way of life. A foreword by Diana XX, queen of XX, completes this enduring, one-of-a-kind volume that will be heralded by lovers of the natural world and fine-art photography, as well as the thousands of devotees of the wild horses themselves.”

Cover Review: This cover is absolutely gorgeous. There’s nothing bad I can say about it –  It’s a beautiful hardcover coffee table-sized book, and it’s perfect.

My Review: As a baby, my first word was “horse”. As a toddler, I had an endless supply of horse toys and stuffed animals. When I was 5, I saw an ad on the tv for horseback riding lessons starting with 6 year olds, and when I turned 6 I convinced my mom to let me start taking riding lessons. When I was 11, my dad took me on a week-long trip to Chincoteague and Assateague islands during the annual Pony Swim (popularized by the Misty of Chincoteague books), and I immediately fell in love with these beautiful wild horses.  At 19 years old, I still stay up to date on the movements and activities of the herds (and I’m still taking riding lessons, in addition to teaching riding lessons, and training horses).

So, when my dad bought me this book for Christmas last year, I immediately fell in love with it. It’s your classic fine art coffee table book, you pick it up and flip through it, marveling at the beautiful pictures, and reading through the wonderful insights and information about these specific horses, then you close it and flip through it another time. It’s not the kind of book you read all the way through in one sitting, but it is the kind of book you love coming back to time and time again.

To Sum It Up: The photography is breathtaking, and the story of these horses is beautifully told. This photographic journey is the perfect gift for the horse lover in your life.

Attention: This is a scheduled, pre-written, post. I am serving a full-time mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Jan. 2017 through Jul. 2018, and will not be checking my blog email, or updating my blog during that time. (I may have some already written posts scheduled go live during that time, but I will not be active on my blog, and these posts are completely my own opinion and are not representative of the opinions or stances of the church). For more information about Mormon missionaries, go to: or

Any book requests or other communication received in that time will not be responded to until after July 2018.

Review: Deaf Again – By Mark Drolsbaugh

Deaf Again


Title: Deaf Again

Author: Mark Drolsbaugh

Summary: Join Mark Drolsbaugh in his fascinating journey from hearing toddler… to hard of hearing child… to deaf adolescent… and ultimately, to culturally Deaf adult. The struggle to find one’s place in the deaf community is challenging, as Drolsbaugh finds, yet there is one interesting twist: Both his parents are also deaf. Even though the deaf community has always been there for him, right under his nose, Drolsbaugh takes to the unbeaten path and goes on a zany, lifelong search… to become Deaf Again.

Genre/Pages: Non-Fiction/203

Rating: ★★ (3 of 5)

My Review: At first, I wasn’t sure how much I would like Deaf Again, As I adjusted, I quickly grew to love it. It’s been a while now since I read it, so in some ways this review will be more truthful. I find that when I review a book that I read months (or in this case, a year) earlier, I remember only the key and most important parts of the book. I don’t often review non-fiction, but I thought it was time for a change of pace.

The main character, in complete honesty, annoyed me. Which was strange, and may sound a bit bad, because he’s a REAL person. Telling his story. I understand, from my years of ASL classes and the like, that being Deaf is no small challenge. But througout the whole book he had a very definite air of my-life-sucks-I-hate-everybody. Which got old fast.

All of that said, it was a very enlightening read. I highly recommend it for educational purposes. If you’re taking any sort of American Sign Language class, odds are, you’re going to be asked to read this book. It travels from his birth, which was quite traumatic on account of his parents both being Deaf, and the hospital not having an interpreter, to his teaching days at a Deaf school. It is an autobiography, but it does not suffer from boring content or long tangents. Mark keeps his story engaging and enlightening without losing the harsh realities. And don’t just take MY word for it that this book is worth a read — the entire ASL department at my school (all of the faculty being Deaf) highly recommended and respected it.

Content Advisory: 2 F-bombs, approx. 5 h**l, approx. 5 d***n, approx. s***t.

To Sum it Up: It is a true and moving look inside the Deaf world, and I think everyone should read it. Though his attitude bugged me – a lot – his stories were beautiful, and on occasion, heartwrenching. Mark gives you as a hearing person I rare chance to venture inside HIS world, and see what it’s like to be Deaf Again.

Have you heard of this book before? Have you read it? Did you like it? 

Review: Harry Potter and the Art of Spying – by Lynn Boughey and Peter Earnest


Cover image from Click on image to go to goodreads book page.
Cover image from Click on image to go to goodreads book page.

 Title: Harry Potter and the Art of Spying

Author: Lynn M. Boughey and Peter Earnest

This review is of an ARC. Purchase the book September 15th at these links:

Amazon. The International Spy Museum (Available now!). Itasca Books. Hooray for Books. Red Lodge Books.

Goodreads. Official Website.

Summary: The Harry Potter series is more than just a story about a young wizard who saves the world from He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. The seven-book saga is an excellent primer on spying, intelligence, and politics. Join spy novelist Lynn Boughey and thirty-six-year CIA veteran and executive director of the International Spy Museum Peter Earnest as they review the spy craft employed and celebrated in J.K. Rowling’s bestselling books. From the invisibility cloak to house passwords to Fred and George Weasley’s Extendable Ears, “Harry Potter & the Art of Spying” is full of spy lessons for the secret-agent-in-training in the Muggle realm. Learn how to break secret codes, gather intelligence, read character’s motives, and why Severus Snape is the best double agent ever.

Genre/Pages: Fantasy Analysis/Espionage non-fiction/632

Rating: ★★★★ (4.5 of 5)

A Quote: “Severus Snape was perhaps the best spy ever portrayed in literature. But we must remember that there are real spies out there, spies who take all the risks, perhaps more than Snape did. The World is full of risk. It is a very dangerous place. Only through information can our leaders make the right decisions.

And information is hard to come by.

Countries hide what they are doing. Leaders make statements that are intentionally false. And informants are often untrustworthy or just plain wrong.

It is spies — and intelligence analysts — who derive truth from a blurry world.” ~pg 541 of Harry Potter and the Art of Spying.

My Review:  When I first heard about this book I was sitting on my bed listening to Alohomora! I knew as soon as I heard authors Lynn Boughey and Peter Earnest analyzing Harry Potter with the Pros (read: The Alohomora! cast), that I HAD to read this book. It was a given. I had to get my hands on a copy of this book. Weeks later, after many, MANY delays and mail mix ups I finally got to hold a copy of this wondrous book in my hands. I was overjoyed. I cannot possibly fully express my thanks to Lynn, Peter, and all of the other amazing people who helped me to get an ARC of this book for review. Y’all are the best! All of this aside, however, I do consider this an unbiased review.

The first half of this book is a play-by-play analysis of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. At first I was nervous. Was there REALLY enough information in OotP to create a full-on chapter-by-chapter, line-by-line, espionage analysis? Believe me, there is. Lynn and Peter will bring up points and theories I had never even considered.

The second half of this book is a series’ analysis from an espionage perspective. It focuses on the specifics of character motivation, different types of spies throughout the series, Wizard security, Magical (and muggle) means of tracking and spying, personal espionage experiences from the authors, and so much more. This was probably in some ways my favorite part of the book. Not only did you get HARRY POTTER, but you also will be absolutely astonished by how much you learn about how Muggle world spying works. It’s fascinating!

So, at this point I’m typically writing about my thoughts on the hero/heroine. Well… As you’ve probably deducted by now, there isn’t one. So I’m going to split these next two sections (Usually Hero/Heroine and Plot) into the two main focuses of the book: Harry Potter Analysis, and real life Espionage.

Harry Potter Analysis: A word about Harry Potter Analysis: HARRY POTTER ANALYSIS. (Oh, all right, that was three words!) << Did you see what I did there??? There are quite a few running jokes throughout the book, but it wasn’t annoying, actually. It was more like a smile and eyeroll type of running gags. They were legitimately amusing. Anyway, I digress. The blow-by-blow analyzing got a little bit slow at times, since I already know the series (and particularly OotP) so well, but I understand that it was necessary for the points they were trying to make. This book had many laugh out loud moments, some due to the genius of J.K. Rowling, and some to the genius of Lynn and Peter. This form of analysis, however, fully immersed you into the world and you were able to have many Ah-ha! moments of realization. No matter how many times I read the books, listen to the podcasts, or read books like this, I can ALWAYS learn new things about Harry Potter, and new mind-blowing JKR things. This is my OGM for the day. (Obligatory Genius Moment to JKR). Some might think that the book recap would get boring, but it honestly stayed pretty intriguing. In fact, I’m even more desperate to go back and re-read OotP AFTER reading this book. I love getting to see my favorite books from the eyes of someone else, and what better way to get a new perspective on my all-time-favorite book than through the eyes of a CIA veteran and a spy novelist?

Espionage: A word about Espionage: ESPIONAGE! This was absolutely fascinating  — I read it in no time! The depth and detail was enthralling! You learned immense amounts about the intricate functioning of the Order of the Phoenix, the Ministry of Magic, Dumbledore’s Army, and much more. This book merely expanded upon the genius that is the world of Harry Potter, and made you understand JUST how great it REALLY is.  In addition to that, with many personal stories and real-life events, you get to learn how the muggle world of espionage works, as well! It was a very enlightening read on many levels. Peter and Lynn did a fantastic job with the formatting and layout of this spectacular novel.

Content Advisory: Ummm….Nothing. Absolutely nothing inappropriate. 

To Sum it Up: It’s not what I’d call an EASY read, but if you love Harry Potter, then you will love this book. If you’re intrigued  by spy stories, then you will love this book. If you’re interested in the political and social themes of the Harry Potter novels, you will love this book. Written in an easy to read format, with plenty of side notes, digressions, and personal stories, you will not regret reading this book. I HIGHLY recommend this book to all Die-Hard Potterheads.

Have you heard of this book before? Have you read it? Did you like it?