Hello All, and thanks for following me. Todays topic is Jungle Trek

I live south of Phnom Penh in an area that is hot, flat and mostly rice fields. But there are areas of Cambodia that are mountainous and much cooler. They still raise rice in these regions but it is a different type of rice that isn’t raised in water paddies called dry rice. Dry rice is planted directly into the soil. In these higher elevations, there are fields of tall grass among pine forests that resemble many areas in the US. As you drop down from the higher elevations you will come into dense jungle. I recently took a guided trek into the jungle, sleeping in hammocks. This guided trek in particular was in an elephant sanctuary. I did see a critter that they refer to as a raccoon but looked nothing like the ones in the US. It looked more like a squirrel. There are also snakes, monkeys and gibbons but didn’t see them. However, the elephants and scenic waterfalls made it a worthwhile trip.

Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.

This is a book review I had received from my one of my young adult novels “The Gift of Phineas Lake”. Kirkus is well known for their high standards in regards to book reviews since the 1930’s. Needless to say, I was very pleased with their review. Please take a moment and read this review. All ordering information is on this website. http://www.jimrizzo.com

A quick, compelling historical novel with a magical touch.

Rizzo uses historical figures and facts as the foundation for this suspenseful story within a story about the Underground Railroad and racial tension in antebellum industrial Pennsylvania. The book begins in 1897, when Jake and Gordy, two boys, get curious about an abandoned house in town—the former home of the titular Phineas Lake, who disappeared 50 years ago under mysterious circumstances. Though most adults discourage the boys from inquiring further, Gordy’s grandfather Cooper reveals that he was Phineas’ childhood best friend, and he’s just the first of many who begin to tell the boys about Phineas as they piece together the true story of what happened. Phineas had been blessed with a miraculous healing touch—able to cure any wound or illness with his hands alone—but he did his best to keep his gift a secret, since Rev. Davis, the village preacher, was quick to condemn such a thing as witchcraft. During the night,

however, Phineas would heal the freed slaves—the closest doctor refused to treat them—who worked at the iron furnace in town. After a nearby Underground Railroad conductor realized how Phineas’ skills could be used to help the exhausted and sick fugitives, Phineas (along with young Cooper) became a fugitive himself, only returning to town after a terrible storm brings on a deadly fever among the locals. The racist, magic-fearing Rev. Davis, however, hardly gives

him a warm homecoming; it isn’t long before he’s calling for Phineas to be killed. Rizzo’s story has plenty of momentum, and the boys’ eagerness to listen to each of Cooper’s tales works well, keeping the reader as enthralled as Jake and Gordy are. Though there’s not much historical nuance here, the book has an unassailable moral message that would be a great choice for YA readers with an interest in the history of American slavery.

A well-paced, engaging reimagining of antebellum Pennsylvania.




Hello All, and thanks for following me. Todays topic is Halong Bay

A World Heritage site is a landmark or area which is selected by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as having cultural, historical, scientific or other form of significance, and is legally protected by international treaties. These designations began in 1975. In the US there are currently 22 of the total 981 sites worldwide. Examples include; Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, Everglades, Yosemite and Chaco Canyon.

Halong Bay, Vietnam is one of these sites. There are thousands of these limestone islands that jut out of this ocean bay. The water is emerald green. The islands vary in size and the larger ones are forested and can support wildlife such as small monkeys and some sort of cat. I took an overnight boat cruise through the bay which is an area of 1,553 km2 so it’s a relatively large bay. At one point the boat stopped and were able to kayak around some of these towering natural limestone islands. We could even paddle around a floating fishing village which is pictured. We also stopped at a floating oyster/pearl farm. The cruise ship was great with nice staff and fine dining. The cabins were luxurious and with a balcony. I sat on the balcony with a nice glass of wine while cruising by some of the most spectacular scenery I’ve ever seen. Aside from the cruise, the town of Halong Bay is being converted into an amusement park. There is a beach but if an amusement park isn’t your thing then Hanoi is close enough to make the trip to Halong Bay and return to Hanoi when you get off the boat. I know I probably say this a lot but if you ever make it to SE Asia put this one on the list

Disclaimer: The content of this website is mine alone and does not necessarily reflect the views of the U.S. Government, the Peace Corps, or the Cambodian Government.

Sunset Over East by [Rizzo, James]


It’s 1880, Denis and Hope McConell are on a train traveling through Indian Territory on their way to Tombstone, Arizona. Denis has been hired as copyeditor of The Epitaph, the Tombstone newspaper owned by John Clum whose friends include the Earp brothers and Doc Holiday. Denis will be reporting on the events of the rapidly growing wild boom town. But after their arrival, he realizes that because of his association with the Clum and the Earps he has many dangerous enemies. After the loss of her husband, 19-year old Hope is on her own and forced to protect her infant daughter, a 15-year-old Chinese girl from the Chinese mining camp and a 15-year-old girl that had been forced into prostitution. She finds solace and friendship among the Chinese miners but they are under constant threat from brutal marauders who will stop at nothing, including torture and murder, to get what they want- silver. But the law will do nothing to protect the Chinese miners. Now Hope must now learn to defend herself and protect the others from the constant threat of danger with little resources and fewer options