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The Cowboy of Valentine Valley: A Valentine Valley Novel Mass Market Paperback – January 28, 2014
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“Wonderful…Readers will love these characters as much as they love the rest of the residents of the valley.” (RT Book Reviews)
About the Author
Emma Cane grew up reading, and soon discovered that she liked to write passionate stories of teenagers in space. Her love of “passionate stories” has never gone away, although today she concentrates on the heartwarming characters of Valentine, Colorado, a small town of her own creation nestled in the Rocky Mountains. Now that her three children are grown, Emma loves spending time crocheting and singing (although not necessarily at the same time), and hiking and snowshoeing alongside her husband, Jim, and two rambunctious dogs, Apollo and Uma. Emma also writes USA Today bestselling novels under the name Gayle Callen.
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I go bananas for apes, so it's no surprise that I fell in love with this book! Woods stumbles into the world of Bonobos accidently when she meets her husband, Brian. Bonobos live in the the shadow of their close cousins, the chimpanzees, and can only be found in the jungles of Congo. Their peaceful and accepting way of life is worthy of emmulation, especially in a country where violence, war and death are a way of life.
"LOLA YA BONOBO is the only bonobo sanctuary in the world. More than sixty orphans live in a seventy-five-acre forest just outside of Kinshasa...All ape sanctuaries, including Lola, exist because of the bushmeat trade. In many African countries, where livestock is scarce and expensive, the easiest way to get protein is to shoot it."
While Woods assists her husband with his psychology study and tests of the Bonobos at LOLA, she finds herself immersed in the stories of the sanctuary staff, the adult Bonobos, and the orphans that keep streaming in after being rescued from wildlife traders. It's a heartbreaking read at times, but I loved how Woods made the story as light-hearted as she could. She invites the reader into her marriage and heart, and I am so grateful for the awareness that this book raises about the plight of this loving primate. I feel motivated to get my ape on once again. I'll have to scour my shelves for another book about apes because their world is one I love to lose myself in!
I feel compelled to comment on the one and two star ratings, particularly regarding Ms. Woods' writing abilities and credentials. So, okay, she's not Hemingway...but this is a personal memoir (which also included a lot of facts about her subjects and Congo) and her 'voice' comes through loud and clear. She is at once engaging, humorous, compassionate and caring. I laughed, wept, and felt compelled to learn more about both the Congo and the bonobos--an author can't achieve much better than that. As to the following comments: "Absolute drivel, written by an armchair adventurer whose observations about Congo were made from the comfort of her bonobo sanctuary" ... Ms. Woods was/is far more than an armchair adventurer. She had researched chimps for several years before going to the bonobo sanctuary; she is a graduate of the Australian National University with a Masters degree, and is now a Research Scientist in Evolutionary Anthropology at Duke University, not to mention an award-winning journalist. I'm guessing she knows more about bonobos than 99% of the planet, including everyone who has read (and reviewed) her book. And her focus was not to write an account of the wars there (though I'm impressed with her knowledge about them and glad she shared it), bur rather to share her experience and involvement with regard to the very specific tests and experiments done at the sanctuary. So, hmmm...I wonder what purpose would have been served if Ms. Woods would have deliberately put herself in harm's way by blustering into war zones. Aside from peacekeepers, war journalists or soldiers deployed to do so, I can't think of anybody who would want to!
I hope I meet this fascinating woman some day and I hope she continues her worthwhile work.
I'm just starting "A Promise at Bluebell Hill", Monica and Travis' adventure and look forward to many more Valentine Valley books! Seems to me this would be a perfect place to enjoy life and it's simplicities.