Saturday, August 13, 2022

Review: Walt's Apprentice by Dick Nunis

Genre: Biography/Memior 
Publisher: Hyerion Ave
Releases: Oct. 11, 2022
320 pages
About the Book:

Walt’s Apprentice: Keeping the Disney Dream Alive is the memoir of Disney Legend Dick NunisIt is a warm personal reminiscence of learning directly from Walt Disney for 12 years, followed by more than 30 years devoted to championing his vision and standards as the Disney empire grew.

The story covers Disney’s highlights, including the 1960 Winter Olympics, 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, and the development and opening of Disneyland, Walt Disney World, Epcot, Tokyo Disneyland and Disneyland Paris. Unlike other Disney books, this story is told from the perspective of operations rather than Imagineering. It touches on decisions that defined the guest experience and Disney’s reputation for quality in areas ranging from capacity and people-moving, training, delivering a consistent “good show,” food service, and more.This first-person narrative is presented as a series of wide-ranging vignettes. Some vignettes focus on personal, character-shaping events, such as the injury that ended his collegiate football career. Other stories touch on national events, such as Nikita Khrushchev’s derailed visit to Disneyland, the decision to close the park following the assassination of John F. Kennedy, and Ronald Reagan’s assistance in expediting the visa process for cast members staffing the Epcot World Showcase. Few people have enjoyed a life so immersed in Disney magic.

These stories share that magic through the memories of one of the original doers and dreamers.

My Rating & Thoughts:    

I enjoyed reading Dick’s perspective about his years 44 years working for the Disney company. He worked his way up from a gofer to Director of Park Operations. He was there at the beginning of Disneyland opening and then the opening of Walt Disney World and some of the other Disney parks around the world. He worked directly with Walt for first 12 years of his career and then with his brother Roy until both of their deaths. His goal over the years was to keep Walt’s dream alive and the way that Walt envisioned it to be. Each chapter was dedicated to a specific story or topic, and I enjoyed at the end of each chapter Dick included a lesson learned from that topic. I enjoyed many of the stories shared and finding out some of the inside details of why certain things were created the way they are. There were times I had to stop and share what I just read with my husband. I found myself agreeing with Dick’s philosophies on work principals – “Do the best job you can with the job you’re given to do”. There are so many lessons shared in this book that can be applied to readers lives, both in work and personal life. The only part I struggled with were the sports references, as I am not a football or golf person I did not fully understand some of what he was talking about.  Overall I enjoyed this book and recommend it to those interested in Disney or enjoy memoirs. 

Favourite Quotes: 
“Incentives don't have to financial - they can be memorable experiences.”
“People notice and remember what you do, not what you say.”

(I received an ARC of this book from Hyperion Ave through NetGalley; opinions expressed 
in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Sunday, August 7, 2022

Review: The Last Way Home by Liz Johnson

Series: Prince Edward Island Shores #2
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Publisher: Revell
Released: Aug. 2, 2022
368 pages
About the Book:

When Eli Ross left Prince Edward Island to join the NHL, he left a broken family behind. More than a decade later, he's broke and headed home to an uncertain welcome. He wants to make things right with the family he wronged, but his mom's business partner isn't making it easy. To top it off, the coaching job he's accepted turns out to be far more difficult than he anticipated.

For years, Violet Donaghy has put everything she had into making Eli's mom's ceramics shop a success, and she's not eager to forgive the man who hurt the family that's taken her in as one of their own. But when the kiln at the shop starts a fire that nearly destroys the studio, she'll need all the help she can get to save the business and their summer income.

Can these two strong-willed people come together to mend the broken pieces of the Ross family? Or will the ghosts of the past continue to haunt them?

My Rating & Thoughts:    

Eli has returned home after leaving 11 years ago without a goodbye. He has hit rock bottom, kicked out of the NHL, homeless and broke. He does not want anyone to find out what happened with his career but wants to make amends with his family for his past mistakes. He arrives in town just as his mom’s shop has a fire. His mom welcomes him back with open arms. He makes it his mission to assist Violet, his mom’s business partner and mentee, with getting the shop ready to reopen while his mom is recovering from her injuries. Violet had never met Eli, only heard about him, as she arrived in town shortly after he left. Violet arrived in town with some secrets of her own and during the 10 years she has known the Ross family they have become like family to her. Due to Eli’s long absence, she has formed some strong opinions about him. Both Eli and Violet and trying to keep their secrets to themselves but eventually they share them with one another and realize they can help each other carry the load. Eli is desperate for money and ends up taking a job as a coach for a girl’s bantam hockey team, but because it is a girl’s team he enlists Violet’s help. I loved the scenes with hockey team they might only be 13 & 14 year old’s but they teach Eli some lessons and he discovers he actually enjoys coaching. While on a search for an item for the shop Eli and Violet interact with some characters from another series written by Ms. Johnson. I have read this other series, so it was fun to have this crossover and catch up with those characters briefly. (You do not need to know that series to enjoy these scenes though). This was an interesting story that took some turns I wasn’t expecting and keep me intrigued. Would Eli get out of the mess he was in? Can Violet find peace with her past? I loved the way the story unfolded at the end and the message that God can use our brokenness to make someone beautiful. There is a strong message of forgiveness and love. Eli’s mom loved him unconditionally and forgave him immediately for his mistakes. Eli had to learn to forgive himself and ask others for help rather than trying to carry the burden alone. 

Favourite Quotes: 
“Forgiveness is sweet because none of us deserve it.”

“God doesn't always fix what's shattered. But He can make something new and beautiful out of what's been broken.”

(I recieved an ARC of this book from Revell through NetGalley; opinions expressed 
in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Thursday, August 4, 2022

Review: Secrets of Sloane House by Shelley Gray

Series: Chicago World's Fair Mystery #1
Genre: Historical Fiction 
Publisher: Zondervan 
Released: July 29, 2014
316 pages
About the Book:

One woman's search for the truth of her sister's disappearance leads her to deceit and danger in 1893 Chicago.

Rosalind Perry has left her family's rural farm in Wisconsin to work as a housemaid at Sloane House, one of the most elegant mansions in Gilded Age Chicago. However, Rosalind is not there just to earn a living and support her family-she's at Sloane House determined to discover the truth about her sister's mysterious disappearance.

Reid Armstrong is the handsome heir to a silver fortune. However, his family is on the periphery of Chicago's elite because their wealth comes from "new money" obtained from successful mining. Marriage to Veronica Sloane would secure his family's position in society-the lifelong dream of his ailing father.

When Reid begins to realize that Rosalind's life may be in danger, he stops thinking of marriage prospects and concentrates on helping Rosalind. Dark things are afoot in Chicago and, he fears, in Sloane House. If he's not vigilant, Rosalind could pay the price.

My Rating & Thoughts:    

Rosalind’s sister has gone missing while working for a wealthy family in Chicago. Her father is unable to get any answers from the police which leads Rosalind obtaining a job at Sloane House under an assumed name. She arrives in Chicago from Wisconsin timid and scared of the big city but she is determined to bring answers back to her family and forces herself to find the courage needed to find answers. Reid is friends with the son of the house and ends up befriending Rosalind even though she is a servant in the house. Rosalind has been struggling and in a moment of weakness ends up spilling her story to Reid. He has been suspecting for awhile that things are not as they seem in the Sloane House and decides to try to distant himself from Douglass, the son. He agrees to help Rosalind discover what happened to her sister. The other servants begin to treat Rosalind as an outcast and eventually she is let go and kicked out of the house. She has no where to go and feels she has to ask Reid for help but doesn’t know how to find him as her only contact with him was at the Sloane house. In what can only be described as God’s guidance Reid finds Rosalind and his family takes her in. Events continue to unfold that eventually lead to figuring out what really happened. While I suspected a portion of what had happened I was shocked by who was actually the culprit in the end. I did find the story dragged a bit at times and was a bit repetitive. I hated the arrogance of the entire Sloane family (the dad was probably the only redeeming quality). I liked that the servants in the Armstrong house showed Rosalind that the treatment of servants was not the same everywhere. My favourite character was Reid, I appreciated that he was willing to see past the divide between himself and Rosalind. He did not care about their stations in life, he accepted her for who she was. I did not find the faith message strong in the story I did like that Reid’s mother taught Rosalind that faith will help you though challenging times and that you have to stand up when you believe a wrong has been committed.

Favourite Quote: 
“I can't promise all your efforts will have a happy outcome, Rosalind. No one can promise that. But I can promise you that your faith will carry you through.”

(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed 
in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Review: Say It's For Good by Teresa Tysinger

Series: Laurel Cove # 4
Genre: Contemporary Romance 
Publisher: Good Day Publishing 
Released: Feb. 22, 2022
262 pages
About the Book:

Is a decade enough time to heal old wounds?

Professional chef Leah Spencer is level-headed, responsible, and practical—making it an easy decision to move home to Laurel Cove, North Carolina to care for her ailing father. All he wants is for his only child to find love and partnership like he had with his late wife—before he leaves her all alone. Desperate to ease his worries, as well as her own, she breaks character and creates a fake relationship with the one man in town who likely wants nothing to do with her. And the one man she’s ever truly loved.

Ladies’ man Jasper Bowdon has successfully avoided commitment ever since his heart was broken a decade ago. Casual dating, however, had grown tiresome and he’d recently decided to take a break from women to finally figure out what he really wants. Why, then, does he agree to a pretend relationship with the very woman who’d ruined him in the first place? And why is he left wondering if it could all be part of God’s plan to heal them both? 

My Rating & Thoughts:    

I absolutely loved this story. The two main characters are Jasper and Leah. Jasper is the brother of Jack from book one, as they own the hardware store together and had a close relationship in the first book I was hopeful that Jack would play a prominent role in this book and I wasn’t disappointed. Leah and Jasper seriously dated when they were young but broke up 10 years ago during college. Leah is now back in town after recently losing her mother and finding out her dad is sick. Jasper and Leah begin fake dating to please her dad, but one of the rules they establish is that their hearts cannot get involved. Will that be possible?

Jasper has dated other women since Leah but nothing serious as he knows that his heart still belongs to her. Leah is battling fear of losing those she loves so she tries her hardest to keep her distance from Jasper and fights her growing feelings. Meanwhile their lie gets them into a couple sticky situations, and they quickly learn that no good comes from lying. I loved these characters. Jasper puts his heart on the line for Leah numerous times. I felt for Leah, trying to cope with her dad’s illness so soon after losing her mother. She had a wonderful support system with her best friend/business partner and Jasper. He stepped up for her even when she tried to push him away. Jasper turned to his brother, Jack, for advice and Jack prayed about it before advising Jasper. What a wonderful example. I loved this story and the message of God trusting in God to help you through the hard times and that he has a plan for you.

Favourite Quote: 
“God can use even our mistakes to lead us to the good He wants for us.”

(I purchased my copy of this book; opinions expressed 
in this review are my honest opinion and completely my own.)