Liana is a young, transplanted Frenchwoman taken in by an older Native American when her father dies with his gold claim in the Yukon under di...moreSynopsis
Liana is a young, transplanted Frenchwoman taken in by an older Native American when her father dies with his gold claim in the Yukon under dispute. She has learned all the many lessons that Henry taught her to survive in the cold wilderness of the North. When Henry is murdered and she flees her pursuers, she will have to rely on that training, especially when she's stranded on a deserted narrow island in the middle of the raging, icy river. The days tick down slowly and her chances for survival narrow with each day with no food and limited shelter. Liana must face the unsympathetic, cruel force of nature, all alone on her frigid island of refuge.
An Island Between Two Shores is a tale of survival that brings back my memories of reading stories by Jack London in which humans travel to the frozen North and pit their wills against the unforgiving wilderness. The story of the struggle between man and nature is not a new one. In this case, it is woman against nature. I appreciated that because gender is no factor in having the skills to survive in the wilderness. It's about knowledge, will, and sometimes just sheer luck. In this case, Liana's education in living on the land in the North comes from the best, and other than that, it's up to her wits against nature.
The writing was crisp and clear, taking the reader to this place of brutal cold and harsh elements. It had a vividly realistic feel. Williams paints a bleak picture, but there is beauty in the descriptions of nature, even at its most fierce. Liana herself appreciates the beauty of nature as she waits for the ice on the river to freeze so she can leave the island. With little to do except rest in her improvised shelter, she has time to observe it. She sees the Northern Lights and all the constellations in all their unpolluted glory. In the wilderness, man (or in this case, woman) is alone with herself and the forces of nature. Self-knowledge is unavoidable in this process. Liana's inner dialogue as the days count down and she realizes that she is growing weaker wrenched at my psyche.
This story grabbed at my gut. I wanted to keep reading, hoping all the while that she would survive, yet fearing that she would not. The sheer enormity of Liana's struggle to survive, and the bleak nature of her predicament hit home with me. I could feel the grinding ache of the fierce cold, as well as the horrible emptiness of the starvation that Liana suffered. An Island Between Two Shores will stay with me a long time. In a profound way, I identified with this young woman, who just wanted to survive the cruel, indifferent wilderness that preys on both the strong and the weak.
As much as I enjoyed this story and appreciated the writing, I felt the ending was weak and robbed this book of some of its impact because it was too quick and a bit predictable. Otherwise, this is a well-written novel. I believe those who enjoy survival tales will probably appreciate An Island Between Two Shores as much as I did.
I started reading this early this morning when I couldn't sleep, and I finished the whole book in that short time. This is really one of those unputdo...moreI started reading this early this morning when I couldn't sleep, and I finished the whole book in that short time. This is really one of those unputdownable reads. I was compelled by and drawn into the dramatic situation that Oceans and Marshall faced.
I always enjoy a good survival on the elements book, and Pace excelled with this novel about two people who end up being stranded on a Caribbean deserted island and have to make a life there for the time being until they are rescued. This book is incredibly realistic about survival on a deserted island, including the risks and privations that people would face. Emotionally, Pace goes there. She involves you with Oceans and Marshall, makes you fall in love with them, and walk in their shoes in a way that doesn't leave you unaffected when the book is over. I can honestly say that Marshall is the kind of man I would want to be stranded on an island with. He steps up to the plate in so many ways. While he isn't a chest-thumping, stereotypical alpha, he shows all the traits that a mature man should have in a desperate situation and when he has a family to protect and care for. Oceans was also an incredible character. Her ability to adapt and survive and to use her knowledge of the islands to help them both survive really made me admire her. She is the kind of more realistic heroine I would like to see in romance novels. Not perfect, but perfectly lovable.
One aspect of this story was utterly heartbreaking. I felt the pain and anguish that both Oceans and Marshall faced, and I didn't think I would recover (it really hurt me on a deep level). It was one of those situations where I didn't agree with the choice made, but I still love and respected the person who made it, and like the other party involved, I had to decide if I was going to move past it for the greater good. I was so glad that things ended up working out in the end. While I still would have loved this book, I love it more the way things ended than if they had gone in a different way, just because that is such a tough, wounding situation to read about. I don't think either party in this book could have walked away whole from that. I can imagine it's even worse if you lived it.
I loved the fact that love blossoms realistically and intensely, and the sexual content wasn't the focus, although it was a big part of the novel. There were so many emotional depths to plumb that I would have felt cheated if this book was mainly sex scenes. I think a very good point was made about how sex is a way to express intimacy between two people, but certainly not the only way. And the fact that Pace shows the real consequences of sexual intimacy on a couple, good and not so good.
This is one of those books that lingers on the mind, making an indelible imprint on the emotions. I was very glad I got the opportunity to read Stranded, and Pace has upped the bar for stranded/marooned/survival romance for me. While not a perfect read, it's very close for me.
I am so glad my library had this book. I was looking for a good female lead action/adventure series, and I think I have found one with Emma Cauldridge...moreI am so glad my library had this book. I was looking for a good female lead action/adventure series, and I think I have found one with Emma Cauldridge. I liked that while Emma makes a very good action heroine, she starts out as an everyday type of woman and doesn't unrealistically turn into Rambo Jane. Her skill set qualified her for saving the day when placed in an incredible situation. While there are plenty of tough guys in this book, they don't overshadow Emma's opportunity to be heroic.
The setting of rural rainforest Colombia simmers. Freveletti vividly captures the sights, sounds, feel, and smells of the environment to a very visceral degree. I felt like I was there in the jungle with Emma and the hostages. I really dislike hot weather and humid environments, so I was sympathetically miserable with Emma and the other passengers. On top of that was the callous disregard for life and the cruelty of the paramilitaries and drug cartel members. Because they were so awful, it made me root for Emma even more. Their tendency to dismiss those they feel are weaker and to abuse them actually backfired when they met Emma and Sumner.
The story builds very satisfactorily. It hits the ground running and like Emma, the reader is forced to adapt and react to the situation. At first, you don't quite understand why the plane goes down and how it relates to the guerrillas, and what Emma's role is. As you keep reading, those questions get answered, and it's only near the end, you really find out why Emma is in Colombia at all, and that was quite cool as well.
This is a good book for readers who enjoy characters who have to survive on the land and live by their wits. Emma definitely holds her own, and I loved how Emma exploits her background as a chemist with a background in the therapeutic properties of plants. There is a good message here about brain versus brawn. The strongest, most vicious don't always win the war. Endurance and resilience often win the race, which really works for this book, since Emma is an endurance runner and a scientist, trained both to survive in harsh circumstances and to use her brain.
I enjoyed the secondary characters, such as Sumner, Edward Banner and Carol Stromeyer, Miguel, and of course the German Shepherd Boris, among others, who add texture to this novel. While the villains are not quite as developed, they are not cardboard. Freveletti is unafraid to show humans at their worst, but I like that she doesn't lay on the gory descriptions. The action is fierce and descriptive enough not to rely on gore. It's sad enough to think of those hostages being forced to hike through the jungle and abused when they don't have the stamina of their native counterparts. Although I admit I loved the scene where Emma uses maggots to heal up a festering wound on another character. My love of medicine and natural remedies held me captive in reading of Emma's ingenuity with using what the rainforest provides liberally to help others and herself.
This was a fun, exciting book that I finished in less than 24 hours. That should tell how much I enjoyed it. The writing flows and keeps the reader's interest. And the action sequences are frequent and well-plotted. While there are no info-dumps, I felt that the author definitely did her research, which makes a book even better. I would definitely recommend this book to readers looking for a new action heroine or readers who like a good jungle survival adventure. I'll be reading more of Freveletti's books. I'm thrilled that my library has the next book and another in the series. I love my library!(less)
I have to be honest. At first I was having a serious 'really?' moment as I started listening. The 'really?' was because this is a three-time Newberry...moreI have to be honest. At first I was having a serious 'really?' moment as I started listening. The 'really?' was because this is a three-time Newberry Award winner, and I thought the prose was way too repetitive. The same word would be repeated three times. The same sentences twice. I was steeling myself to keep listening and hope it got better. It did. By the end of this novel, I totally realized why it is a Newberry Award winner.
Hatchet is a story of survival. The protagonist is a thirteen-year-old city boy who ends up stranded in the Canadian wilderness when the pilot of the small plane he's flying in has a heart attack and dies. I have to tell you, I am very impressed with this kid. I think I would have freaked like nobody's business. He does freak out at first (and I don't blame him), but ultimately shows a fortitude that inspires awe in this reader. He goes from a scared, helpless boy to a survivor. The Brian that was has to be broken down and reassembled into a Brian that can survive his new reality. He learns how to meet his needs in the harsh wilderness, and he comes out of it forever changed.
I love reading books/watching tv shows and movies about surviving. I don't know why, really. I don't even go camping or hiking, although I love the outdoors. I think it's because I love the idea of a person being resourceful and pitting their skills and mentality against the unprejudiced, often unsympathetic wild. Not conquering it, but learning to live in harmony, becoming a part of a vast ecosystem in a way that we can't do stuck in our comfortable city and surburban environs, another entity in the web of life. I would definitely recommend this book if you are of a similar mind.
I liked that Brian doesn't get it too easy. Not at all. He has to learn from his mistakes, and take the advantages that providence sends his way. He learns to keep food in his belly, to make a secure shelter, and to appreciate and anticipate the dangers of his environment. And in the process, he finds peace. He looks inside and finds his true self. That's what solitude and a oneness with nature will bring. I have always felt my most at peace in two places: in a spirit-filled church or by myself and with my heart open in prayer; and outside, surrounded by nature. So I really appreciated this aspect of the book. Brian starts out a boy who is emotionally lost at sea when his father and mother divorce, weighted down with the knowledge of his mother's infidelity; and finds that what seemed like tragedy and the end of his world will not conquer him. If he can survive the harsh elements of nature, all by himself, he can live with his family's fragmentation, and live to see the next day and the days after that.
I think this book is a metaphor for life. Life is harsh and we have to grow and change to survive it. We can't give up, descend into pity, and expect to be saved. We have to be strong and fight to save ourselves, whether it's physically, mentally, or emotionally.
Although this book had a very shaky start, I do have to agree that this is a winner. And I tell you what, this young man had a lot of lessons to teach me, lessons he learns the hard way. That's the power of a good fiction novel for me.(less)
Let me preface this review by saying that one of my favorite books of all time is an action/adventure novel set in Antarctica. So I was trying so hard...moreLet me preface this review by saying that one of my favorite books of all time is an action/adventure novel set in Antarctica. So I was trying so hard not to compare them. Trying hard (sighs dramatically)!
When you read a new author, there is always that 'getting to know each other' period that can at times be rough. With this book, it was a bit rough. Wasn't sure about the way he told his story. I couldn't get a feel for the characters. Some felt a little thin to me. I told myself to give it a chance. Glad I did. But as I kept reading, I got drawn deeper into this story. This is one of those 'wait for it' type reads. And yes, Beck does deliver.
Warning to the Wise: Stay out of deep caves!
Oh man. It just kept getting worse. I really have an issue with creepy crawly stuff and Beck kept it coming. I had no idea that the storyline would go in this direction. This is one of those books where I was highly vocal as I read. A whole chorus of "Ugh! Yuck! OMG! Ick! That's nasty." You get the idea. I'm a bit claustrophobic and since I don't like creepy-crawly stuff, you definitely won't catch me going into some prehistoric cave after reading this book. I mean, I love animals and nature, but this place was freaky! I like that uncrossable barrier between hidden ecosystems in which humans are scrumptious prey. Very much, thank you! My innate fear of contagion was going crazy in that place!
Alex Hunter. He's the man!
While my true Special Forces literary husband will always be Shane "Scarecrow" Schofield, I have to say that Alex is pretty cool. I love his super-abilities. And he's a very humble kind of guy. He's all about the mission, and he is a protector. Honorable. He's not on some ego trip. I even liked how he had to stop himself from hulking out. That was kind of different--in a good way. I will be reading more of his adventures.
Man, the body count!
This is one of those books where people are dying right and left. And in nasty ways. Oh, that poor guy with the you know whats eating him up. Ugh! It sucked! I liked a lot of characters who didn't make it. And that tool, you know which one I meant, he caused a particularly painful death for one of the guys. He bit the dust in a nasty way, so he didn't get off scot-free. But still, the loser! This is one of those books that you shouldn't get attached to any characters, 'cause you never know....
Cold Settings Are Awesome!
I love cold weather and I have this strange love for Antarctica. I was excited to read another book set there. This book is kind of a cheat in that regard. Because they end up underground and it's warm and like a tropical type (in a really strange way) ecosystem, we don't get a lot of cold weather action. In a way that was cool, because I was not allowed to draw comparisons to my beloved book of all books. If you know me, you know which book I am talking about.
Don't get me wrong. I love me some Russian characters. But that Uli is such a jerk. I couldn't stand him. A sadistic, evil, horrible, thug. He lacked some depth for me, and I couldn't even think he was a cool villain. He was just a jerk. Like a particularly psychotic schoolyard bully. The whole Russian part didn't really do much for me anyway. I think that it did add some tension to the story, but fundamentally, this is more of a man versus nature conflict story. That part got my attention much more. Ugh, huge slug-monsters and worms. Ick!
This was a good action/adventure novel. While not perfect, it has some things to commend it, namely, creeptastic moments where the characters are pitted against icky prehistoric gross monsters. I liked the high-tech weaponry, especially that gas-projectile gun (very cool). And a pretty cool lead with some awesome abilities. Aimee was very likable too. She knew her stuff and her personality was good. I will read more of this author, and stay my butt out of deep, subterranean caves!
This was a pretty good romantic suspense. I liked that the hero wasn't all uber-alpha (I can break things with my teeth and kill all the bad guys with...moreThis was a pretty good romantic suspense. I liked that the hero wasn't all uber-alpha (I can break things with my teeth and kill all the bad guys without breaking a sweat). Dav was a normal guy (although a billionaire) who did the best he could in the dangerous situation that he and Carrie found themselves in. They were both nice people. It could have been a little more exciting as far as the suspense, but it kept me reading. And I liked the secondary characters.
Pamela Clare has lived up to the high standards she set for herself with the first two books in the MacKinnon's Rangers series with Defiant. Connor se...morePamela Clare has lived up to the high standards she set for herself with the first two books in the MacKinnon's Rangers series with Defiant. Connor seemed immature and lacked the intensity of Iain and Morgan to me in the prior books, but he has definitely come into his own. If anything, Connor carries a more weighty burden due to his guilt over his actions in the aftermath of Morgan's abduction by the French. This burden has made his soft edges iron-hard and razor sharp, but it has not blunted the integrity that is such an intrinsic aspect of the MacKinnons. Readers who love Scottish heroes will adore Connor, although many of them have already read this book and don't need me to tell them that. Connor is delicious. While I don't really care for ladies' men, Connor's way with women is part of the texture that makes him the hero he is. I feel that his character grows and evolves even over this book, and things he thought didn't matter to him become readily apparent as his love for Sarah grows. This is a book for die-hard romance fans, as the reader is treated to a intimate view of Connor and Sarah falling deeply in love even though that seems impossible when this book begins. Their relationship is both sweet and very steamy, and that balance is very hard to achieve without sacrificing something. Ms. Clare definitely hit on both cylinders with this book.
Sarah was a very appealing heroine. My heart was won over by her sweetness and courage and her integrity. It was painful to read about how her family betrayed and turned their backs on her by not trusting and believing in the person she was, even in light of the terrible scandal that unfolded. Especially from people who supposed to be believing Christians. They showed little of who Christ is and stands for in the way they treated their daughter. It was interesting that the one family member who stood by her and truly loved her was Wentworth. Now many will say awful things about the man, but even at his worst, I still find him to be a fascinating and magnetic character. And since I do like bad boys, I can honestly say I have crush on him. His behavior went both to new heights and depths in this book, but ultimately, he won my allegiance in how he showed true love for Sarah. I cannot wait to read his story, so I hope that it comes to fruition and soon! But I know I was talking about Sarah, so let me get back to her. Sarah is also a complex character. She is a noblewoman, but deep down, her heart is very heart-to-earth and genuine. Her love of music touched me because I can identity with that joy of music, although my own musical talent is much more limited. While she experiences some terrible events in this journey to the New World, I believe it was her destiny to come here so she could be the person she was intended to be. England was way too small for her. She is a powerful, brave and capable woman. She was born to be Connor MacKinnon's woman. No doubt about it.
Ms. Clare shows impeccable research and a sense of the period in this novel. She doesn't tiptoe around the savagery and the violence that was an integral part of this period in colonial history. Her portrayal of people shows a lot of depth. There are no stereotypes in this novel. The natives have the same potential to be noble and honorable as the whites. Both show equal potential for acts of brutality. For a lifelong student and a fan of history, books like this bring home that reading about these events provides a safe distance that those who lived back then did not have the luxury to experience. This draws me into the story and makes me feel things as I read. Not always positive, but very impacting, making for an unforgettable reading experience.
While Defiant is an excellent read, it's not a book to gobble down. So much happens and the small details are crucial and should not be rushed through. As an avid reader, there is a tendency to read with an eye towards finishing a book and moving onto the next one of the pile. Pamela Clare is an author that you don't want to do that with. You want to sit and savor her writing. I was glad that I took the time to do that with Defiant. This series is a fantastic example of the high quality of writing available in the writing genre. I definitely recommend it to readers who want a larger-than-life historical adventure rife with passion and incredible detail.
--------------------- If you're already a Pamela Clare fan, or interested in learning more about her and her books, be sure to stop by our Pamela Clare Fan Group here on Goodreads! (less)
The beautiful descriptions of the Central American rain forest were a huge part of the appeal for this book. They were very detailed and well-written,...moreThe beautiful descriptions of the Central American rain forest were a huge part of the appeal for this book. They were very detailed and well-written, and they made me keep reading. This book had a bit of the "Romancing the Stone" appeal that I like in an exotic setting romance. The jerky, arrogant, rude, ill-mannered, at times verbally abusive hero was a strike against the story. I kept wondering when Dany was going to tell him to go to H.E.L.L. She was a lot more tolerant that he deserved. I have to say that at least he admitted to his jackassery at the end of the book, which is indeed something. Being the girl who can't part with a book that she likes for whatever bizarre reason, I'm going to keep this one, because I am a sucker for the survival/trek through the wilderness/living off the land storyline, the descriptions of the rain forest were so appealing, and I liked the end. I still think that Nick doesn't deserve Dany. She might be young and impulsive, but he's an a*hole, and since he's probably in his 30s, I think that's a lot worse than being young and immature. Let's hope that he stays true to his word and settles down to marriage and gives up his objectionably rude ways.
**spoiler alert** Algernon Blackwood has been on my list of classic horror/weird fiction writers since I discovered my fascination with these old, and...more**spoiler alert** Algernon Blackwood has been on my list of classic horror/weird fiction writers since I discovered my fascination with these old, and often lost, gems that fell in the cracks of classic literature. I have read his biography on Wikipedia.org, and he seemed like an interesting fellow. I bought a couple of his volumes for my collection, and added more to my Kindle. A few years ago, I attempted to read The Willows in an anthology, and it just wasn't our time to get acquainted. Thankfully, the Classic Horror Lovers group voted on reading this short story as a group. For, I found it to be a very good story.
Nature fascinates as much as it terrifies. I'm a nature girl. But, let's face it, I'd be almost helpless were I stranded in the wild. I like to watch "Man V. Wild" and "Survivorman", and I collect my survival guides to prepare for the coming apocalypse, the 'what if' scenario in which I have to live on the land. But, this surburban girl would be in for it, were she in the shoes of these men in this story, which is why I stay my butt at home.
Intrepid fellows (or nowadays gals, as well) who venture into the wilderness may face a mental crisis in which they lose their reason when faced with the powerful force of the uninhibited, unclaimed isolation of the wild. They may start to go crazy, and think they see things, which cannot be real. But, why, I ask, did it happen to a seasoned woodsman first, and not the naive, inexperienced young Scottish student who had accompanied him? The reason is, there is a force that lurks in the wild. The natives know to fear it. It is the Wendigo.
I admit I laughed at a few parts. Not because the writing was bad or because it was cheesy. I think I needed the release of a pressure valve. Also because, It seemed terribly bizarre to think that some wild force could essentially kidnap you, force you to run so fast your feet caught on fire, and your eyes bled. So fast, your feet burned away, to be replaced by the animal-like ones that it has. A force that could assume your very form and masquerade as you to your companions--perhaps waiting for its chance to snap them up too. Okay, it makes me shudder just writing that.
This story is pretty creepy in parts. Algernon Blackwood uses language in such a way to evoke this emotion. He paints a clear picture of the beauty of the wild, and the sinister creature that lurks within. The erudite would try to dismiss its existence, like Simpson, and his uncle, Cathcart. But the deeper part of a man, the pure, instinctual survivor, knows better than that. To know and to understand is to fear that force, the primal creature that defies explanation: The Wendigo.
A word of warning to those who like to venture into the unknown wilderness: Take great care when you go into the wild. Guard your eyes and your feet well. Don't let that fire go out for one second. Look carefully into the face of your companion. The Wendigo lurks out there.
I'm glad to have read Mr. Blackwood, and I am eager to explore more of his singular tales.(less)
Disclaimer: I am in gushing mode, which means I have lots of clunky metaphors and a bit of unwise hyperbole. Don't hold it against this book or its au...moreDisclaimer: I am in gushing mode, which means I have lots of clunky metaphors and a bit of unwise hyperbole. Don't hold it against this book or its author. It's all me!
I make no apologies for my deep love of this series. It rocks. This series is premium when it comes to paranormal romance. Hands down. With Demon from the Dark, I felt that intense love grow like a rose bush on Miracle Gro fertilizer.
Ms. Cole has written a flawless book here. She wrote a hot, hot romance with two characters that I loved, flaws and all. She also had me believing that these people could fall in love with each other, even though they couldn’t speak the same language initially. I didn’t expect to be such a huge fan of Carrow when I met the party girl witch in Dark Desires After Dusk. But I do love her. It took me about five minutes into reading this to think, “I like her a lot.” Actually, the scene at the end of Pleasure of a Dark Prince had me feeling positively towards her. Now, I have to think she’s my favorite heroine in this series. Sorry Sabine!
A huge theme of this story is feeling abandoned/rejected/unwanted, like no one in the world truly loves you and accepts you. For Malkom, this was illustrated in a much more violent, heartbreaking manner. Malkom made my heart bleed. I could understand why he was such a violent, untrusting person who felt that being alone was the best option for him. I won’t go into all he suffered because I feel that this book needs to be read. You have to get to know Malkom the best way, by reading his story. But suffice it to say, no kid should go through what Malkom did. I so wanted him to have a beloved wife and a family. I wanted him to have that with Carrow and Ruby. Oh man, I just loved him. I was glad that Carrow ends up proving that she loves him and is worthy of being his fated mate.
In the case of Carrow, she finds herself in an untenable situation, and she is going to have betray the male that she falls deeply in love with. Normally, I would be raring at the bit, foaming at the mouth at what she did, because I hate deception. In this case, I could understand her dilemma. She ends up becoming the adoptive mother of an orphaned daughter of a friend murdered by Carrow’s human enemies. The thing about it was, Carrow acted like a parent. Parents have to make tough decisions. Their primary responsibility is to care for their children. She was over a barrel, and I respect that she stayed true and did what she had to with the intent to protect Ruby. And this decision almost cost her true love, putting her in that same situation of having love and affection denied to her, as she suffered as a materially privileged, but emotionally-starved young girl.
This situation shows what a masterful writer Kresley Cole is. She takes a scenario where you’re like, “This can’t end well,” and keeps you glued to the pages as she proves that it can, and has you enjoying the ride so much, you feel desolate when the book is over. That was this book (and all her books) in a nutshell. Also, did I mention, this woman knows how to write hot, hot, hot, really hot romance. For me, this was the hottest of her books. I think part of that was because I felt the intense pull that Carrow has on Malkom, and vice versa. They were like two powerful magnets exerting forces of attraction on each other (and pulling the reader along because the energy is so powerful). Ms. Cole manages to use every amorous moment to build the steam up until it’s about to explode and turn the book into a fireball. I really needed a fan as I read this book, and not just because Oblivion is like Yuma, Arizona with the thermostat turned up several degrees.
I honestly can’t think of anything I didn’t like about this book. Well, except that I wanted to find out what happens to some of the other Loreans who got abducted by the Order. I am gnawing on my knuckles to find out what happens between Melanthe and Thronos, and I really want to know more about Declan and Regin. Good thing I am reading Dreams of a Dark Warrior next month.
Kresley Cole, you kick paranormal romance butt and take names. You and the WARDen usually go neck and neck for this reader, but this book puts you in first place now. I’m not just being flattering when I say that my life is so much richer since I started reading your books. I have so much love for the Immortals After Dark series! (Off to fondle my copy and add it to my bookcase with my other beloved IAD books). (less)
Z for Zachariah was a very suspenseful book. From the moment I started it, I had a knot in my stomach. For most of my life, I lived with my fear of nu...moreZ for Zachariah was a very suspenseful book. From the moment I started it, I had a knot in my stomach. For most of my life, I lived with my fear of nuclear war and its aftermath. As a child of the 80s, I remember that Sword of Damocles hanging over our heads. Were the Soviets going to push the button, or the Americans? Either way, we'd both lose. I remember everyone in school was watching "The Day After Tomorrow," and I was afraid to watch it, but I heard all the ugly details. I inadvertently watched the other nuclear war movie, "Testament," and I still remember how utterly hopeless and depressing it was. I didn't want to die slowly and painfully from radiation poison, nor did I want to be instantly incinerated in the first blast, or have to survive a nuclear winter. It was a very ugly thought that I've tried to push way to the back of my mind. Well, this book brought it all back for me. So, I could deeply sympathize with Ann, the protagonist of this story.
And it turns out that her worst threat is not the aftermath of the nuclear war. It's the fact that the only other apparent survivor of the holocaust is dangerously insane. Ann showed a lot of fortitude and intelligence, in my opinion. I didn't really consider her overly naive, considering she grew up in a sheltered world. I think she did an admirable job of keeping herself alive. How on earth could she be prepared to do deal with a crazy man who decided that everything left in the world belonged to him, and was not hesitant about using violence or ugly methods to make sure it remained in his possession? It was a tough road to travel for this young woman. She had a choice to let this man succumb to radiation poisoning, or to nurse him through it, even knowing he was possibly a murderer. She did what she thought was right, although that action contributed to the destruction of her small, safe world. I appreciate the ethical dilemma that the author presents in this story. Do we abandon all the qualities that make humanity worthwhile, because the civilized world as we know it has gone away? Should we embrace violence as the best solution, because it's the most expedient one? These are all very pertinent issues to Ann in this book, and I had to work through them as I read.
I was literally on the edge of my seat, as I saw how things were unfolding. I felt a rage at Mr. Loomis, who came to Ann's valley, availed himself of her generosity and good heart, and decided that he was entitled to all of it, and he could take control of everything. Oh, I definitely understand that battle that Ann faced. People controlling others is a real problem for me. I felt her pain as she decided that she would have to leave everything was familiar and she'd worked hard for, because she refused to be enslaved to another person, not for any reason.
I found Z for Zachariah to be a powerful read. It did resonate with me, and that wasn't always a comfortable feeling. The issues of isolation, fear for the future, defining who one is when the world is no longer the same, and having control of one's life and destiny were very well-handled here. I think Ann could be a metaphor for any young woman who is facing choices in her life that will define her present and future. I would recommend this book to young adults and to adults, because it has a very timely message, and it was good, albeit nerve-racking at times, entertainment. Also, readers who enjoy stories in which the characters have to use their wits and energies (physical and mental) to survive on the land, and in a hostile environment, will enjoy this story. I'm very glad I got the opportunity to read Z for Zachariah.(less)
I knew I was going to love Graham’s story when I was introduced to him in his brother’s book, The Cobra and the Concubine. He was angry and isolated,...moreI knew I was going to love Graham’s story when I was introduced to him in his brother’s book, The Cobra and the Concubine. He was angry and isolated, but he had an inner sadness that called to me. I have been excited to read this book for a while, but I put it off. I’m so glad I finally read it. It was a wonderful book, and it made me cry.
Graham was everything I hoped for, and more. I love him dearly! He’s fierce and deadly, tough and masculine, but sweet and gentle. His loneliness and anguish called out to me, and made me want to soothe him. His inner battle with despair and rage at his past, and the progression to peace and contentment was not an easy thing to read about. Like Jillian, I suffered, longing to see this man gain some inner tranquility. However, his journey was realistic. The wounds that a man like Graham carried would not be easily lanced and healed. It was a struggle for him, and for Jillian, and Ms. Vanak illustrated this process beautifully. I liked how she wrote Graham going full circle, back to the desert that had created the man he was. The Khamsin men say that the desert will strip a man bare of all pretense, leaving only the essential man, and some are driven crazy in the process. Jillian watched as the civilized English duke that she knew and married became a fierce, cold desert warrior. She railed at the gulf that separated them, and as Graham's friend Ramses had told her, she would need all her strength to save Graham and to bring him back across that void and into her loving embrace.
The passion and love between Jillian and Graham was thrilling. I loved their tender moments together just as much if not more, the way their hearts reached out to each other. They were like two lost souls who found each other, even though their circumstances and the fate that binds them were not ideal. In a way, it felt like their destinies were to love each other, so that their wounds (caused by the same man) could be healed. I loved how Graham encouraged Jillian to emerge from the gray cocoon her father had imprisoned her in. He admired her intelligence, finding it attractive. He coaxed her to be free and to embrace her wild inner spirit. Jillian had to tame the wild animal within Graham that had been terribly abused, teach him to open up and to love and to trust. I loved that they were both virgins, and had the rare privilege to explore passion for the first time together. Both of them were nervous their first time, but felt a connection, a powerful attraction that drew them together. The love scenes were enthralling, enticing and fiery—-the way good love scenes should be.
This book was a success on so many levels. The courtship of Jillian and Graham, the resolution of Graham and Jillian’s pasts, the beautiful and sometimes harsh depiction of life for the Bedouin in Arabia. The majestic and treacherous nature of the desert. This is what I long for in historical romance. Ms. Vanak wrote a fantastic book here. It has definitely earned its five star rating and a spot on my keeper shelf. I treasure the time I spent reading Graham and Jillian’s deep, emotional, beautiful love story.
Here are the actors I pictured as Graham and Jillian:
Cindy Dees delivers once again for this reader. I have to say, I was worried initially. I did not like Kimberly at first. She was whiny, critical, and...moreCindy Dees delivers once again for this reader. I have to say, I was worried initially. I did not like Kimberly at first. She was whiny, critical, and seemed very shallow. She was almost like Carrie Bradshaw in the jungle, but with a deliberate anti-military stance. I kept reading parts and putting this down for other books and to do other stuff. But since I am a big fan of this author, I wanted to give it a chance. Plus, I definitely liked Tex.
I would say at about page 75 is when I started liking Kimberly. I learned more about her, why she is so hard on military men, and why she's determined to work to shut down the special ops units. When she gets kidnapped with Tex and transported to the Gavarone rain forest, she learns first hand why soldiers like Tex are needed, and worthwhile.
I really liked the survival aspects of this book. Tex proves he definitely knows his stuff as far as being an elite special ops soldier good in the field, keeping them both alive and using what little resources that come their way. The survival elements felt realistic, although I feel that some of the steamy romance seemed less likely, since they weren't able to bath or brush their teeth at first. Maybe I'm too fastidious, but I wouldn't feel sexy if I was dirty, sweaty, hadn't been able to brush my teeth for a couple of days. But, fortunately, I do know how to suspend my disbelief. And they do pick up ginger root and mint leaves along the way, and find a lovely fountain to bathe in before they actually did the deed.
I will say straight up that I loved Tex. He is all that and a bag of chips. He's just a bit cocky, just enough to be realistic for a Spec Ops soldier. But more than that, he is a really genuine, hardworking, resourceful, honorable man who truly believes in protecting others and putting his life on the line for his country and for those who are in need. He has some vulnerabilities because of a past breakup and his mother leaving when he was a kid, that crop up when he realizes he is starting to fall for Kimberly, who is way 'out of his league.' I was thinking he was way too good for Kimberly, but she shows that she is a good woman for him, and she embraces who and what he is, and this was shown very credibly in the progression of the novel.
The ending was great, both Kimberly and Tex making gestures that showed how much they loved each other and were committed to spending their lives together. So I ended up believing in the romance 100%, which is good, since I wasn't feeling Kimberly initially.
As far as the action, it was top-notch. That's one of the reasons I like this author so much. She writes the kinds of books I love, a great mix of action and romance.
This book was sitting on my shelf a long time, and I'm glad I finally got around to reading it. Although it took me awhile, this turned out to be a very enjoyable book.(less)
What a great read. I found Emma to be a wonderful heroine. She saved the hero numerous times, survived harrowing situations, and fought to be strong w...moreWhat a great read. I found Emma to be a wonderful heroine. She saved the hero numerous times, survived harrowing situations, and fought to be strong when she was bred and raised to be weak by a bully of a father. I liked Jake, but this book stands out because of Emma. Jake was a little too preoccupied about being trapped into marriage for my tastes. I was like, "get over it." Otherwise he was a great hero, who knew how to live off the land, and could get himself and Emma out of a tight fix.
I like the way Emma stood toe to toe with him and had just as valid a reason not to want marriage. She kept him guessing and made him have to reevaluate his perceptions about womankind, and didn't demand his love. In fact, he fell in love with her because of the incredible woman she was. I loved how she moved on to find a life for herself and he found his way to her, because he couldn't live without her.
This story is vivid with scenes of surviving the elements as Emma and Jake crossed the frontier. There are moments that make you hold your breath and wonder whether they will persevere in the situations they end up with. It's why I enjoy westerns and frontier reads. Each time I felt more admiration for Emma's strength. If you like romances full of adventure and facing the elements, living in the wild, with character who persevere together and to find a great love in the process, you'll love this book.(less)
The Tracker was an excellent western historical romance that delivers a great story, a passionate romance with intensity and emotional connection betw...moreThe Tracker was an excellent western historical romance that delivers a great story, a passionate romance with intensity and emotional connection between its characters, and exciting adventure. This is my fourth book by Jenna Kernan, and she hasn't let me down yet. She takes me back to the 19th century, when the American West was still young, and where a man or a woman proves his or her mettle against the unforgiving wilderness, and the dark heart of humanity of all colors and creeds.
What stands out in this romance was its hero, Troy. Troy Price is a man of mixed blood. His mother was of the proud Cherokee people, one of the five civilized tribes. They lived next to whites and held similar beliefs, but when gold is found in the ground beneath their land, they were uprooted and forced on the Trail of Tears. Even though Troy's father was a white man (Irish), he was deemed not good enough for his young lover, Rachel. Since the tragic end of their love affair, Troy has sworn to stay away from white women. He couldn't bear being rejected again, or causing the despair that loving an Indian would bring to her. I loved Troy, for the man he was. He was a mover and a shaker, and a man of deep integrity. I loved his ability to survive in the wild, and his way of looking deep inside a person and seeing not who they seemed to be, but who they were at their heart. Many times, I told Eleanor if she thought she wasn't good enough for Troy, I'd be happy to take him off her hands! Troy was definitely my kind of hero!
When he shows up at the docks to pick up his latest group of scientists for a tour up the Yellowstone, he sees a beautiful, elegant white lady who is the only one of the group to survive a Cholera outbreak. He refuses to take her, until she questions his honor. No man likes having his honor questioned. And for a half-breed with little to his name, his honor is his prized possession. He reluctantly takes on the redheaded greenhorn, who knows about as much about surviving in the wilderness as he does of navigating the ballrooms and parlors of Boston. Troy is convinced that Eleanor Hart will come to her senses when she gets a small taste of frontier life, but she proves to have more mettle than he expected.
Eleanor comes off as being very ignorant and closed-minded. She has lived in a smaller world than she realized, raised by bigots and social snobs who know only about power and status. Her parents' loveless marriage and procession of lovers is the model for what she can expect for the marriage she agreed to contract in exchange for this trip out West to paint wildlife. She really doesn't want that future, but how can she go back on her word? I never disliked Eleanor, who Troy calls Lena, even though she makes some very thoughtless, prejudiced comments to Troy, pouring salt into his wounds about being treated like less than a man because of his Cherokee blood. I could see she wasn't a bad person, just a person who had no real understanding of what makes a man or woman honorable or worthwhile. It's not race or heritage, or about money or status. It's about integrity and grit. This trip shows her exactly what she needs to learn. She did frustrate me as she continued to hold on to her ideas about the rightness of the society she was raised in. However, I could see that Troy and this trip out West had awakened the woman she was meant to be, and I cheered her on.
This novel touched me on an emotional level, and I also loved the action and adventure as Troy and Lena face life in the wilderness. The ending had me on the edge of my seat, and I hoped that Troy and Lena would fight for each other, and the life they could have together. I knew that being together on their own terms (not society's) was the right choice for both, but they had to come to that conclusion for themselves. And Kernan doesn't take it easy on the reader as you see just how painful that choice will be for Lena (and in ways I didn't imagine initially).
Because this book gave me pretty much what I wanted in a book when I read it, I am rating it 4.5/5.0 stars.
This book helped me to further appreciate frontier, mountain man books. I loved the hero. He was tough and hard, but he had the gentle heart to heal h...moreThis book helped me to further appreciate frontier, mountain man books. I loved the hero. He was tough and hard, but he had the gentle heart to heal his tortured heroine. I also enjoyed watching the heroine come into her own strength. This is an excellent book.(less)