Wednesday, January 21, 2015

River of time series


Confession time.  I devoured a young adult romance series in about a week. Well, at least the first three books in the series. The River of Time series is written by Lisa T. Bergren, which includes Waterfall (book 1), Cascade (book 2), and Torrent (book 3). The author has since added Bourne and Tributary (book 4) and DELUGE (book 5). I have not yet read Deluge because I did not know about it till now. It is going on my to-read list now!

So what is it about? In Waterfall, Gabi and Lia are sisters stuck at an archeological dig over the summer with their mother. Gabi decides to explore a part of the dig in a cave and places her hand a top a hand print on the cave wall. Suddenly she finds herself in 14th century Italy complete with warring knights and castles. Lia somehow is transported back in time but is separated from Gabi. Gabi and Lia must find a way home to their own time, but adventure and love are in the past.

In Cascade, Gabi, Lia, and their mother return again to the past only to discover that months have passed since they last left. In that time tensions between the Florentines and Sienese have reached a breaking point and war is on the horizon. Gabi and Lia, both known as "she-wolves", rise to the occasion to help win the battle. Meanwhile Gabi falls more deeply in love with Marcello and must make a decision about whether to stay.

In Torrent, the girls decide to save their father from an untimely demise and bring him into the past. Meanwhile, there is more adventure and romance for Gabi and Marcello. Gabi must make the decision whether to marry Marcello or not. Can she forever give up the future? There are lots of twists and turns in the story and it moves pretty fast. And yes, Lia also finds some romance. This was supposed to be the final book of a trilogy, but the author has added two more books.

Bourne and Tributary are two novellas the author added to help tie up loose ends. Parts of Bourne are told from Lia's point of view and the rest by Gabi. We get to see Lia and Luca come closer together. In Tributary, we get Lia and Luca's point of view. Lia, who is younger than Gabi, also must deal with all the experiences she has had that would traumatize anyone. Both stories have more action and adventure.

If you can ignore the silly time traveling device and the fact that Gabi and Lia seem to be able to understand medieval Italian, the stories are very good. There is just the right mix of adventure, medieval warfare, and romance (nothing too naughty here because it is classified as a teen Christian romance). I would finish one book, close the cover and state, "I need the next book now!" I would call these books a guilty pleasure.

Book Rating: 5 stars

The books I select for review are books which I personally select from my local library. I do not receive any reimbursement from authors or publishers or free books. I do provide links to Amazon as a convenience to the readers of this blog. I do earn a small referral pittance which is not even enough to buy a soda.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

The Tell


I find it interesting how body language and movement can reveal clues about our personality. I selected this book by Matthew Hertenstein because I wanted to learn how to understand people better through their body language.

The subtitle is "The little clues that reveal big truths about who we are." Those seemingly innocuous things that predict big things like sexual orientation, autism, and lying. Some people have wondered if little things can really predict certain behaviors and outcomes. Hertenstein reveals that our initial observations and impressions of people are surprisingly accurate. He examines various situations and people through the lens of recent studies to tell us this truth. He, of course, wraps each chapter with cautions about the limitations of the studies and warns about making wide spread judgements about groups of people.

One interesting chapter deals with autism. He began to notice certain behaviours in his infant son that suggested he had autism. He tried to obtain confirmation from various professionals, but they all told him it was to early to tell. Convinced that his son might have or might develop into full autism, he began therapy right away despite what others told him. Research tells us the sooner an autistic child receives therapy the better. He believes that by starting intensive therapy before the age of 2, his son no longer exhibits autistic characteristics. Such an idea certainly deserves more in depth study. There were, of course, caveats that this may not work for other children and some doubt his son was autistic in the first place.

The book is full of anecdotes and discussions of studies that were interesting, but not compelling. The book lacked the depth that I was interested in. It certainly was not a how-to manual on how to read people, as the title suggests.

Book Rating: 3 stars

The books I select for review are books which I personally select from my local library. I do not receive any reimbursement from authors or publishers or free books. I do provide links to Amazon as a convenience to the readers of this blog. I do earn a small referral pittance which is not even enough to buy a soda.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Pilgrim's Wilderness


Imagine living in a small town next to national forest. One morning a large family rolls into town looking for a place to live far away from everyone and everything. Some might describe this family as charming, quaint, old-fashioned, religious, and conservative. Others may call them strange, extremists and out-there. One such family did roll into one of the most remote towns, McCarthy Alaska.

The patriarch of the family called himself Pilgrim. His wife and each of his 15 children had similar Bible-inspired names. The family was initially welcomed to McCarthy, a town who welcomes those looking for space and freedom. Pilgrim eventually buys a piece of private land located smack in the middle of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park. This land was also located next an old, abandoned mine also in the park. He builds a couple of cabins and relocates his family there to live. The problem is there was no decent road to his property. The existing road was not maintained by the park service and had deteriorated to the point where it was not passable by vehicles. So Papa Pilgrim got a backhoe and fixed it. That one action launched a series of conflicts between the national park service, environmentalists, and locals over property rights.

Tom Kizzia, a reporter who followed the story for many years, writes this very interesting story about Pilgrim and his family. As the story unfolds, we learn that Papa Pilgrim is not as innocent as he appears. He has a very interesting past ranging from murder, to roaming the world as a hippie, to converting to his own version of Christianity. The unraveling of Papa Pilgrim and the Hale family begins and ends in Alaska.

The story is really made up of two parts. The first is the story of Papa Pilgrim and the Hale family. The second is the property rights for in-holders in National Parks. The first story takes precedence over the second, the second only being mentioned as the tipping point. The story of the Hale family is an interesting, sad story. It's not because the family homeschooled their children or professed a certain belief. Many people do the same. It's the evil actions of one man that a whole family was damaged. This part of the story reads like a true-crime novel.

The author does an excellent job telling this story. But he is not completely objective, and admits as much. He is a strong environmentalist and takes a position against in-holders. An interesting position since he also owns a small cabin in the park. I wanted to read more about in-holders in National Parks and the issues they face. Perhaps Papa Pilgrim did have a right to build a road. We will never know how that all would have been concluded because Pilgrim was arrested and the family left their land. This may not have been the book for such a discussion on property rights, but it made me curious for more.

Book Rating: 4 stars

The books I select for review are books which I personally select from my local library. I do not receive any reimbursement from authors or publishers or free books. I do provide links to Amazon as a convenience to the readers of this blog. I do earn a small referral pittance which is not even enough to buy a soda.