Marion County is blessed with an abundance of talented local authors. Here are synopses of books by just a few of them.
The Way It Was: A Trek Through Marion County’s Past, Volume 2
By David Cook
Journalist David Cook educated and entertained readers for years through his The Way It Was columns in the Ocala Star-Banner. Through his writings, accompanied by historic photographs, many newcomers came to learn about the community and longtime residents remembered events from the past.
In 2019, Cook published The Way It Was: A Trek Through Marion County’s Past, with some help from his friends at the Historic Ocala Preservation Society (HOPS), who underwrote the publication costs and noted local artist Margaret “Peggy” Watts, whose artwork adorned the cover. Cook died in 2020 and his family followed his notes to select more than 60 columns and photographs to create The Way It Was: A Trek Through Marion County’s Past, Volume 2. HOPS and Watts also provided support and cover art for the second volume. Cook’s family is once again donating proceeds from book sales to HOPS.
The new book became available this year and can be found at Your Heart’s Desire, 1915 E. Silver Springs Blvd.; the Shannon Roth Collection, 22 S. Magnolia Ave.; and HOPS headquarters, 712 SE Fort King St., all in Ocala.
The Love Letter Ghost
By M.E. Saladino
Born over a century ago in Gloucester, Massachusetts, Alexander Sullivan knew hardship after surviving poverty, physical abuse and the Spanish flu pandemic. Above all, he knew the power of love.
In The Love Letter Ghost, Alex reaches through the ages to expresses that primal emotion the only way his unearthly form is able to, by channeling his spirit through a fountain pen he once owned in 1908. The pen, now in the hands of New York novelist, Conrad “Mac” MacConnell, becomes Mac’s ally as it enables him to write heart-wrenching love letters to his fiancée, Angela Russo, after she breaks their engagement. The problem is, they’re inexplicably written in flowing calligraphy and poetic language of the early 1900s by a ghost who insists on sticking his nose into Mac’s love life.
The Love Letter Ghost is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Apple.
Finland to America: One Family’s Journey of Courage and Hope
By Eadie Pulkkinen Sickler
Eadie Pulkkinen Sickler is a second-generation Finnish-American and enjoys being of “100% Finnish heritage.” In Finland to America: One Family’s Journey of Courage and Hope she documents the Sippola family.
The lives of Isaak and Kaisa Sippola and their 13 children are highlighted by Sickler, who is one of the couple’s granddaughters. She notes that faith, hope and determination are words to describe the family’s courage as they immigrated in the early 1900s from their homeland of Finland to America.
As a neat surprise for readers, the book includes recipes for some Finnish delicacies, such as Nisua (Coffee Bread, a “favorite”) and Lohikeitto (Salmon Soup).
The book is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Xulon.
We Don’t Blush Anymore: The Systematic Destruction of Civility in America (and what to do about it)
By Robert K. Parsons
Parsons notes in the preface that he believes “all of us are responsible and accountable for the decline of civility and decorum in our society and what we do about it.”
He posits that it used to be that people “would blush at a curse word or rude gesture,” but not these days.
“This book is filled with personal observations which presents my view of the past when people were more civil, how we lost the conviction that civility matters and some suggestions on how we renew our communities, homes, churches, government and individual lives with God’s standards of civility,” he offers.
The book is available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-A-Million and others.
Mini Horse, Mighty Hope: How a Herd of Miniature Horses Provides Comfort and Healing
By Debbie Garcia-Bengochea and Peggy Frezon
The cover notes remark that “Illness and trauma touch us all. Into the uncertainty and pain trots a herd of tiny horses, bringing a smile, a laugh, a chance to heal.”
Many in the Horse Capital of the World already know about the Gentle Carousel Miniature Therapy Horses for their equine therapy programs locally. Through these pages, you will learn of the much broader reach of these tiny equine ambassadors.
“You’ll experience moments of comfort, hope, healing and even miracles as you follow these spirited mini horses on visits to childrens and veterans hospitals, victims of natural disasters, survivors of and first responders to mass shootings and more.”
The book, available through Amazon, Barnes & Noble and others, is “perfect for animal lovers, people who enjoy true stories of healing and anyone who has undergone trials and longs for hope.” OS