Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Laurel Line: An Anthracite Region Railway

Laurel Line: An Anthracite Region Railway

by James N.J. Henwood and John G. Munci

(Tribute Books)

The dawn of the 20th Century saw a new form of transportation evolve in the United States: the interurban electric railway. These enterprises were natural offshoots of the original, short urban trolley lines that quickly replaced the horse car in the 1890s.Most trolley lines lived in relative obscurity and enjoyed a few years of prosperity, followed by decline and abandonment in the face of bus and automotive competition. A relative handful managed to survive until the post-World War II years and thus have attracted greater attention.Among them was the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad. The Laurel Line, as it was most commonly known, was unusual in several respects: It was built to higher-than-normal standards for electric short line railroads; it operated mostly with a third rail power system; it ran exclusively on private rights-of-way; and it served a geographically narrow region whose economy was heavily dependent on one industry - coal. The Laurel Line's corporate records survived, and authors Henwood and Muncie made the most of this historical treasure. In the book, the railroad emerges in human terms of strife, struggle, victory and defeat. The reader learns not only what happened, but why, and who made it happen. All railroads are interesting if properly researched - the Laurel Line as portrayed in this work is profoundly fascinating. Life in Pennsylvania's anthracite region is detailed when the Lackawanna and Wyoming Valley Railroad was fighting the good fight. This was an amazing book the was well researched and filled with information that any train lover or historian would be interested in.

About the Authors

Authors James N.J. Henwood and John G. Muncie have been friends and colleagues for four decades. Both taught in the History Department of East Stroudsburg University and are currently professors emeriti of that institution. They have been active in local organizations such as the Monroe County Historical Society and the Historical Farm Association.
Born in Upper Darby, Henwood's early contact with Philadelphia streetcars became the basis for a lifelong interest in electric railways and transportation. He presently resides in East Stroudsburg. Muncie spent his first 18 years in Taylor. As a youth, he occasionally rode the Laurel Line to outings at Rocky Glen Park. Muncie lives in Stroudsburg.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pegasus at the Plow Review

This week I will be blogging about three books from Tribute Books. I had posted them over the holiday last year, so just in case anyone missed them, here they are again this week. Today is Pegasus at the Plow.

Pegasus at the Plow
by Patrick Walker
(Tribute Books)

Born in Scranton, Pennsylvania on April 9, 1958, Patrick Joseph Walker has always been a seeker of truth in all things. His earliest perceptions of life were colored by familial devotion to Irish clan and the Catholic Church. An early scholar, he attended Scranton Preparatory School and was later accepted into the Special Jesuit Liberal Arts Program at the University of Scranton. During a hiatus from formal education, he worked as a staff writer for the Legislature in Saipan. When he returned to the United States, he was awarded a Philosophy Fellowship at Fordham University. Today, he "works" as an editor and proofreader of educational materials for a local correspondence college. His "real" work, however, involves studying the works of Blaise Pascal and Friedrich Hayek. He lives in Factoryville, Pennsylania, with his artist POSSLQ, Ginger Cody, her daughter Anna, and the family's two dogs, Lilly and Rosie.

This short collection of poetry will make the reader feel various types of emotion. Unlike the traditional poetry the world is used to, Walker brings a harsh reality to each poem. Gone is the clouded covered words that makes someone feel lost in a dream world. His words are brash, honest and sometimes brutal. Each poem contains different elements of happiness, deep sadness, religious puzzlement, discussions of the haphazardness of life, love and the finality of death. He is sometimes philosophical and still, at other times, elegant. Their are various sides to Walker. His style is definetly his own and is unique compared to the other poetry books that are out there. There are two ways readers will go with this collection of poems. For those who love to keep their heads in the clouds with soft words and want a gentle truth, you will not like this book, but will appreciate and understand what Walker has to say. For those who are realists and want the honest truth about life and the various phases of it, the brutality of it if you will, will love it. Walker does make the reader open their eyes and read between the lines and is clear in his message. People will be able to relate and empathize with his choice of topic and feelings.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

A Picture Book That Encourages Children to Believe In Themselves

Moonbeam Dreams
Written and Illustrated by Gina Browning
(Eloquent Books, June 2009)

Moonbeam Dreams is a keenly rhymed, fantastical romp through a fantasyland where anything can happen. This fantasyland can only be found in our dreams. Ms. Browning does a wonderful job telling a story that goes beyond the everyday. In our dreams, we learn, children can accomplish things that they wouldn’t be able to do normally, become anything they desire without restriction. From a flying fairy or a princess, to becoming friends with the animals, even conversing with them and visiting their world on great adventures. Children learn they can even be a hero and save the world, or just simply make a difference.

The rhyming story begins with characters talking to the reader about the places they could visit while they are asleep, and what they will see. Some descriptors are odd and unique, but the story runs smoothly, enticing the reader to want to learn more about what they will see and to explore more about the people or animals they will encounter. This fantasy world reminds this reviewer of Alice in Wonderland. In that story, the objects and places are so odd and weird and yet make one wonder how it will end as well as creating a curiosity about actually being a part of that fantastical world. Ms. Browning accomplishes that same goal. Her book is truly different, and yet has a great moral to it.

Though Moonbeam Dreams is more of a bedtime story for young children, it also encourages children to believe in themselves and their abilities. When people believe in themselves, anything can happen—no dream, real or fantastical, is ever impossible.
Young children will also love the brightly colored drawings that illuminate the pages. The rhyming verse will make them smile with delight. The weird and yet wonderful characters, for the youngest of children, will make for great conversation. Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable romp.

Renee Hand is the award-winning author of The Crypto-Capers Series.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Top Ten Best Books From the Children's Book Connection

Hello Everyone,

Book 3 of my Crypto-Capers Series, The Legend of the Golden Monkey, was chosen as being in the top ten at the children's and teen book connections best books of 2009. Feel free to check it out on the following link, as well as other books on the site. I am so excited!