Travel

Master of Alaska

Master of Alaska

Summary:

The detail and research that author Roger Seiler used – from biographies to actual letters and reports by the Governor Baranov himself - creates a riveting story.

“Master of Alaska” - a compelling Historical Fiction about the first governor of Alaska sent to the colony by Russia in 1790 – George Washington was President at the time. “Master of Alaska” starts in October 1790 when Aleksandr Baranov left his family in Russia and sails across the North Pacific to Kodiak to become the chief manager for Tsarina Catherine the Great’s colony in the far Northwest of North America. Baranov is shipwrecked, saved and adopted by the Aleut natives. Later he is forced to marry Anooka the daughter of the tribal chief, despite still having a wife back in Russia to save his men from starvation. Only slated to serve five years, Baranov spends the next 28 years in Alaska, surviving natural disasters, a massacre of his people at Sitka, meddling competing Russian authorities, a British attempt to undermine his colony and an assassination attempt. Interestingly, Baranov’s native wife and teenage daughter play an intricate role and contribute much to his success and survival in Alaska. Baranov built an empire and sought peace with the warring Tlingit, and thanks largely to his efforts Alaska is part of the U.S. today.  (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Please note: I received a free copy of this book courtesy of Sage’s Blog Tours and I voluntarily chose to write a review

Review:

This was as a 3.5 star book with some fantastic history naturally weaved throughout.  The early information I had about for Alaska was very sketchy and it was fascinating to get an in depth timeline without reading simple dry facts.  I liked that the arc was told through the experiences and challenges of Baranov although some times the events jumped from one to another fairly quickly.  One thing that is for sure is that life in Alaska wasn’t for everyone!  I have always wanted to visit and this makes me even more determined to make it up there.

One thing that I found a little distracting throughout the book was the very matter-of-fact dialogue throughout.  I couldn’t tell if this was something due to the translation of letters, a choice by the author or the form that the individuals naturally took.  It didn’t take away from the overall story, but did keep me from being completely absorbed in the story.

Warning: Contains some violence and sexual content.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Fans of history and true adventure.

On the Sickle’s Edge

On the Sickle's Edge

Summary:

A sweeping masterwork of love and loss, secrets and survival, “On the Sickle's Edge” is told through the voices of three characters who lay bare their family’s saga: the endearing, scrappy South-African born Lena, transported to Latvia and later trapped in the USSR; her granddaughter Darya, a true Communist whose growing disillusionment with Soviet ideology places her family at mortal risk; and Steven, a painter from Boston who inadvertently stumbles into the tangled web of his family’s past. Against the roiling backdrop of twentieth-century Russia and Eastern Europe, the novel delivers equal parts historical drama, political thriller and poignant love story. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Please note: I received a free copy of this book courtesy of TLC Book Tours and I voluntarily chose to write a review

Review:

This was a fantastic book that had a fairly slow start.  The book follows the history of three main characters: Lena (great-grandmother), Darya (grand-daughter) and Steven (a missing cousin).  The build-up is a little more of a meandering story giving the history of the each individual characters within the context of the historical changes in the USSR.  It is fascinating to see how things unfold, the decisions that people are forced to make and then how the political climate drove the decisions for survival.

As someone who doesn’t know very much about the internal workings of Russia, I found this extremely interesting both within the story and historically.  It is hefty, so it’s a commitment, but  I believe it is worth the time to become invested with the characters.

Warning: Contains sexual content and violence.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Anyone with interest in history and would enjoy a family sweeping multiple generations.

Where’d You Go Bernadette?

Where'd You Go Bernadette?

Summary:

Bernadette Fox is notorious. To her Microsoft-guru husband, she's a fearlessly opinionated partner; to fellow private-school mothers in Seattle, she's a disgrace; to design mavens, she's a revolutionary architect, and to 15-year-old Bee, she is a best friend and, simply, Mom.

Then Bernadette disappears. It began when Bee aced her report card and claimed her promised reward: a family trip to Antarctica. But Bernadette's intensifying allergy to Seattle—and people in general—has made her so agoraphobic that a virtual assistant in India now runs her most basic errands. A trip to the end of the earth is problematic.

To find her mother, Bee compiles email messages, official documents, secret correspondence—creating a compulsively readable and touching novel about misplaced genius and a mother and daughter's role in an absurd world. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Please note: I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher and I voluntarily chose to write a review

Review:

Now this is definitely a book I plan to read again in the future.  It had me cracking up, I loved the characters and ultimately I found the method of the story telling fantastic.  The best part about the approach was that we got to know different characters in different ways, which created some distinct impressions that were both proven and disproven as the story unfolds.

The best part was seeing how Bee handled the outside world’s picture of Bernadette and refusing to let it corrupt their relationship.  I could have easily seen this book going in many other directions, but ultimately the way it unfolded was perfect.  The added bonus of having the story including the context of Antarctica was an absolutely delight to me.  It’s on the list of places I will definitely be trying to go!

Warning: Contains mild violence.

Rating: 5 stars!

Who should read it? Anyone looking for a laugh, a book told in an interesting format or just something to change the pace.

Along the Way

Along the Way

Summary:

Piper Rose, Dani Shapiro, and Alexandra ‘Tessa’ Louise De Mille Morrow share a history that goes back to their preschool years in Chicago when their families were still intact. Now Piper lives in Evanston with her divorced dad, her estranged, unstable mother popping in and out of her life at random moments. Meanwhile, Dani’s been living in Santa Fe with a psychologist mom pregnant with her fiancé’s IVF babies. The blueblood Tessa resides on a prominent street in Boston and dreams of a romantic and well-heeled love story like that of her great-grandmother who went to France during World War II. Now that it’s the summer before college, these radically different friends decide to celebrate their history and their future by walking the legendary pilgrimage along the Way of St. James, from the French Pyrenees to the Spanish city of Santiago. Along the way, each young woman must learn to believe in herself as well as in her friends, as their collective journey unfolds into the experience of a lifetime.  (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Please note: I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher and I voluntarily chose to write a review.

Review:

This is a fantastic story about friendship, challenges and, of course, travel.  I must admit that I struggled at the beginning to keep the girls apart and at a few points in the book, but generally it I enjoyed the switching narrators.  Piper is practical and down to Earth, Dani is an intellectual bookworm and Tessa is a socialite raised to be kind.  There are many things going on in each of their lives that they’re trying to juggle yet the Camino brings them all together.

The idea of the Camino in general appeals to me, but each of the girls brings something good to the story with their different perspectives.  I particularly like that each of the girls develops throughout the journey and not on a superficial level.  Each of them has some false starts, but eventually each of them comes to terms with a variety of things in their lives.  I highly recommend this book as a great option when you’re looking for something with a touch of spiritual without being overtly religious.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Anyone who enjoys a good coming of age novel or is interested in the Camino de Santiago.