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“Those old cows knew trouble was coming before we did.” Isn’t that a compelling first line of a story? It drew me in and I had to know what those old cows knew!

My husband and I started a Christmas tradition with our kids some years ago. We bought a book for them to open on Christmas Eve. “Okay, you can open a present tonight. Hmmm…let’s see, how about this one?” I’d say, pretending to think about which gift to select. And then I’d hand them the book we’d selected specifically for their interest of the moment or favorite fictional author. They’d spend the night buried in their new read and it helped pass the time while they anticipated Christmas morning. We still give them books every year.

This year my husband and I decided we should get new books too. So I bought Jeannette Walls’ second book “Half Broke Horses” a true-life novel about her grandmother Lily Casey Smith.  I love good stories about strong female protagonists. Lily grew up in the frontier days. At 15 years old she set off on her own riding her horse 500 miles (taking a full month) across the rugged west territory to be a teacher in a small school. (Without a cell phone or travel insurance. Imagine that!) And on it goes.  She dealt with a lot of hardships and extremely limited options for earning a living or a college degree. I won’t spoil the book for you, but I enjoyed every page. She was a courageous and amazing woman. And it was a great inspiration about strong resolve, loyalty and the unpredictability of life, no matter what time period we live in.