Five Stars for a Five Star Western: Saddle Up!

Along  the Fortune Trail

By Harvey Goodman

This novel will make you want to turn on your television and watch a western and go back in time to the old west. Indians trying to get the white man. The white man trying to get the Indians. No one getting along and each one trying to make a stake of their own Along their own Fortunes Trail. This book will turn up the excitement for you and make you want to grab a horse, canteen and your gear and saddle up. But, wait until you read about the journey of one man, Sammy Winds and decide if going off on your own like he did is right for you!

Three men decide to highjack and rob a train filled with money. They planned the heist and thought that nothing would go wrong. Forcing people on this moving train to jump off or be killed and then murdering the engineer, Lonny Ballantine, Derrick and a man called Bones thought they would be home free. But, often the best-laid plans can go astray when you least expect it.

Robbing the train and making off with the money, Lonny winds up in the same town as Sammy Winds and that’s when he gets what he certainly deserves. Little does Sammy know that this chance, but tragic encounter, would not only rid the world of one criminal that no one would miss, but would make him filthy rich.

Sammy was orphaned at a young age and lucky enough to be taken in by the owners of the Twin T Ranch and taught how to herd cows, spit tobacco juice, live the ranch life and more. But, when fortune strikes and he has the chance to strike out on his own, Sammy sends caution to the wind and travels a long and hard road to Denver to claim his fortune and money for killing the man who robbed the train and who severely injured him.

Recuperating and making sure he was fit to travel, Sammy and his friend Blaine plan their trip out step by step using a map and creating a set journey to get them to Denver safely. But this would be one trip that no one would ever forget, especially Sammy and Blaine.

Starting out together they enjoy the first few days and have a slow but uneventful trip. Enjoying sleeping under the stars and discussing science and map skills these two men bond in a special way. But, what happens next will remind the reader just how dangerous travel was in the 19th century and how limited train travel was due to the lack of tracks going through many towns.

Leaving the woman he loved and the people that were closest to both of them they set out only to find that this trip might possibly be someone’s last.

The author creates suspense in every incident he describes and takes the reader on a bumpy, dangerous and exciting ride through many canyons, caves, towns and more before all is said and done.

Sammy Winds is not just a man on a quest nor is Blaine. Coming to the mouth of Coyote Canyon they spot some Indians in pursuit. Making their way down the corridor of the cave they spot an Indian and several women that were being held captive. But, Sammy and Blaine rescue these women, take care of the Indians and hopefully will return the women safely to their families or their homes. But, Blaine is seriously injured and needed medical attention, which was not available. Resourceful, intelligent and women that will make you proud and who were strong, took action and worked as a team to make sure that Blaine’s injury was attended to until he could get medical care. Three amazing women: Emily, Margaret and Claire worked, as a unit to make sure that Blaine would survive.

Sometimes you can tell by the person’s face, mannerisms or your own sixth sense that you can trust a person with your life. Sammy Winds was an amazing man who never faltered and whose main concern, was not the fortune or reward that he set out to get, but the safety of others and justice being served on the guilty.

The author describes the journey of these two men, their encounter with the Indians and the struggle that Blaine had in order to survive so vividly and expertly that you could picture each scene and event as it happened. The description of the towns, the hotels, the people that they met and the places that they passed on the way help make the old west come alive as you read  every page.
Learning about a serious painkiller, laudanum used by doctors to sedate patients during operations and to alleviate severe pain, the reader learns a lot about medicine in the 19th century and how far we have come today. Addiction is not a thing of the present and the author so aptly describes what happens when Blaine becomes too accustomed to the use of laudanum and whether he decides to stop taking it.

The author’s description of how Sammy removed the bullet from his friend’s leg was so graphic and clearly described you could feel the pain he endured and picture it in your mind. Teaching Margaret and Claire how to care for the wound and creating the poultice paste was interesting and helped the reader understand how difficult it was for Sammy to try and save his friend’s life. But, he would not give up.

How many women would have cowered and have been too afraid to stand up and take action as these three women did in order to protect each other and feel confident in taking help from a total stranger? Instinct sometimes plays an important part in a person’s survival and there are many incidents described in this book that you would have to read where instinct played an important part in the lives of all of these people.

Emily finally returned to her family. Claire, Margaret, Blaine and Sammy to Sante Fe where Claire lived and Margaret would remain with her. But, the adventure does not end there. Blaine has not decided what he will do when he is fully recovered. Will he remain with Claire or find his way to Denver?

Sammy leaves and heads for Denver and hopefully will receive the reward he so justly deserves. But, he gets bushwhacked on the way, stops at many hotels and meets some very colorful people. He even spends an evening with a local girl named Annie and spreads his warmth and kindness along the Fortune Trail as he makes his way for Denver.

What does happen when he reaches Denver? Who has does he inflict his brand of justice on? Does he get the reward and what will happen when he does? Does he return home to Jenny and to Homer and Reuben at the Twin T? Only his horse Dobe knows for sure because he was with him the entire way and he is not going to tell you the outcome of the story. Read this interesting and exciting novel to find out just how dangerous the old west was and how Sammy Winds would not let anything stop him from getting to his final destination and his fortune. A story of loyalty, friendship, and kindness and heartwarming, Along the Fortunes Trail is one of my best picks for 2010.

What will happen next will depend on whether the author brings him back for a sequel.

Fran Lewis: Reviewer and author of the Bertha Series of Books, Memories are Precious and Book Reviewer.


Great Review by Martha Cheves

Memories Are Precious, Alzheimer’s Journey: Ruth’s Story – Fran Lewis, Author

2:59 PM Posted by MAC


Hot Fudge Pudding Cake

This Recipe is for Ruth

1 pkg (18.5 oz.) double chocolate muffin mix

1/3 cup vegetable oil

1/2 cup water

2 eggs

1 pkg (6 serving size) chocolate fudge pudding and pie filling (not instant)

3 cups very hot water

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix muffin mix, oil, 1/2 cup water and eggs in a 3 quart casserole dish. Stir with spoon until blended. Mix pudding mix and 3 cups of very hot water. Carefully pour over muffin batter. Bake uncovered 35-40 minutes or until pudding bubbles around the edges of the casserole dish. Great served with ice cream.

Memories are Precious – Alzheimer’s Journey: Ruth’s Story – Review by Martha A. Cheves, Author of Stir, Laugh, Repeat

‘Alzheimer’s is a deadly disease and does not discriminate. It is not a disease of the poor, the rich, the famous or the indigent. It is a disease that anyone can get at any time. It knows no boundaries and it does not care whether you are white or black or of any other race, religion or creed.’

Imagine going to sleep, waking up and finding yourself in a strange place. You have no idea where you are nor how you got there. You don’t even know what you may have done after you arrived. This is the way I picture Alzheimer’s Disease. It can only be like being in a “walking coma.” You can move around but in a trance type stage. You can’t remember where something as simple as a drinking glass is kept, even though you’ve kept them in the same place for years. You sit face to face with your own children or spouse and have no clue as to who they are. These have to be horrible, scary feelings.

In Memories Are Precious Ruth herself talks about her feelings and experiences in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Her first indication that something was wrong was when she started forgetting things. She couldn’t remember what she had just eaten. She couldn’t balance her own checkbook because she couldn’t remember how to add and subtract. She went to the store, didn’t remember going there and ended up getting lost going home.

Ruth talks about the things she had to give up… After driving the wrong way down a one way street, her car keys were taken away and eventually her car had to be sold. One day she took a second dose of her medicine because she didn’t remember taking the first dose. This resulted in her not being allowed to dispense her own medicine. As the disease progressed, Ruth lost the two things that matter most to all of us. She lost her independence and her freedom.

In Memories are Precious, Fran Lewis talks about the responsibilities of being a caregiver to an Alzheimer patient. Her research on this deadly disease, and more importantly, her experience from being a caregiver for her mother has given her the ability to write Memories are Precious, filling it with tips on subjects such as safety, changes, how to find help and how to take care of your own stress levels. She discusses the role change of the child becoming the parent and the parent becoming the child and helps us understand those changes, offering advice that will help make the role change easier for the caregiver. She also talks about the importance of other family members and friends becoming involved with the patient.

As I read Memories are Precious, I found myself understanding this disease and the stress that is put on the family. This is one book that I feel should be read by everyone of all ages. As Fran Lewis says “It is a disease that anyone can get at any time.” There is no way of knowing who will be next.

Labels: Alzheimer’s Journey, Alzheimers, Book Reviews, Fran Lewis, Martha A Cheves, Memories Are Precious, Ruth’s Story, Stir Laugh Repeat

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