Action / Adventure

The Mysterious Island

The Mysterious Island

 Summary:

Five Union prisoners escape from the siege of Richmond in a balloon, are blown off course and crash on an uncharted island. They must learn to rebuild a society for themselves while awaiting rescue. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

What is so great about Verne’s books are that he seems to almost never run out of natural phenomena to explore.  Although I find it hard to believe that Smith’s crew has exactly the skills required to survive and even flourish in such a landscape, it does make it a fantastic story.  (Then again folks were much more resourceful than their modern counterparts these days.) The mystery of the island is incredibly subtle and I love how it slowly unravels throughout the book until culminating in the last few chapters.

I think this is a book that you could read and re-read many times over and still find something new to observe of understand.  Much like “20,000 Leagues Under the Sea” you have to enjoy the book for challenges that the characters work through in of themselves rather than rushing towards the ending of the book.  If you’re one who wants a quick-fix, this won’t be an enjoyable read.

Rating: 5 stars!

Who should read it? Fans of adventure, slow build and an adventure for adventure’s sake.

The Rose and the Dagger (The Wrath and the Dawn #2)

The Rose and the Dagger

Summary:

The darker the sky, the brighter the stars.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad is forced from the arms of her beloved husband, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once thought Khalid a monster—a merciless killer of wives, responsible for immeasurable heartache and pain—but as she unraveled his secrets, she found instead an extraordinary man and a love she could not deny. Still, a curse threatens to keep Shazi and Khalid apart forever.

Now she’s reunited with her family, who has found refuge in the desert, where a deadly force is gathering against Khalid—a force set on destroying his empire and commanded by Shazi’s spurned childhood sweetheart. Trapped between loyalties to those she loves, the only thing Shazi can do is act. Using the burgeoning magic within her as a guide, she strikes out on her own to end both this terrible curse and the brewing war once and for all. But to do it, she must evade enemies of her own to stay alive.

The saga that began with “The Wrath and the Dawn” takes its final turn as Shahrzad risks everything to find her way back to her one true love again. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

In this sequel to “The Wrath and the Dawn” we follow Shahrzad in the fall out of the dramatic actions by her father than resulted in utter devastation of her beloved Khorasan.  The book picks up right away and quickly moves into non-stop action as Shahrzad tries to utilize all resources available to her to break a the curse and also prevent pending war. 

While I enjoyed this book much more than the first in the series, I didn’t like that the first book had such a slow build and this one was almost overwhelming in the nonstop action.  I loved seeing Irsa come into her own character, however, and she complimented Shazi’s capabilities as a younger sister.  As in the first book, the story is beautifully written with some strong female characters who kicked butt and took names.  Overall, I really enjoyed this series and think it is worth taking the team to give it a read.

I also have to say, it was refreshing that the series wasn’t extended into a third book as many publishers push for that these days!

Warning: Contains repeated violence and sexual content.

Rating: 4 stars!

Who should read it? Fans of fairy tale retellings and who have read the first in the series.

Want to read the whole series?

Mistborn (Mistborn #1)

Mistborn

Summary:

Where ash falls from the sky, and mist dominates the night, evil cloaks the land and stifles all life. Criminal mastermind Kelsier teaches Allomancy, the magic of metals, to another Mistborn, urchin Vin, 16. The unlikely heroine is distracted by rich Venture heir Elend, but can Kelsier's thieving crew take on the tyrant Lord Ruler and bring back color to their world?(Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

Brandon Sanderson is an author that I’ve managed to read around for a long time.  When I read almost exclusively high fantasy, he burst into the scene and I wasn’t so sure about the new author taking up space in the bookstore.  Now that I’ve finally read “Mistborn,” I wonder why I’ve bothered to wait so long!  “Mistborn” has a new take on magic that has limitations and a foundation in science (to a degree) and has fundamental limitations.  I have always found world building with limitations to magic to be more realistic to me as I imagine that’s how it would work in the ‘real’ world.

Vin, Kelsier, and the others in the crew are easy to relate to and I was quickly sucked into their world.  I love that Kelsier always has another trick up his sleeve and that Vin comes into her own with all the missteps that comes with that.  This is a book with many, many layers, but was unwrapped slowly so the reader comes to understand another aspect of Allomancy throughout the story rather than having ALL of the mysteries revealed immediately.  I’d highly recommend this book and am looking forward to the next in the series!

Warning: Contains repeated graphic violence.

Rating: 5 stars!

Who should read it? Fantasy fans looking for something with a new and interesting twist on “magic” based in the physical world.

Want to read the whole series?

  • The Eleventh Metal (Mistborn #0.5)
  • The Well of Ascension (Mistborn #2)
  • The Hero of Ages (Mistborn #3)
  • Secret History (Mistborn #3.5)
  • The Allow of Law (Mistborn #4)
  • Shadows of Self (Mistborn #5)
  • The Bands of Mourning (Mistborn #6)
  • The Lost Metal (Mistborn #7)

The Emerald Mile

The Emerald Mile

Summary:

From one of Outside magazine’s “Literary All-Stars” comes the thrilling true tale of the fastest boat ride ever, down the entire length of the Colorado River and through the Grand Canyon, during the legendary flood of 1983.

In the tradition of “The Perfect Storm” and “Seabiscuit”, the engrossing tale of the fastest boat ride ever down the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon.

In the winter of 1983, the largest El Niño event on record—a chain of “superstorms” that swept in from the Pacific Ocean—battered the entire West. That spring, a massive snowmelt sent runoff racing down the Colorado River toward the Glen Canyon Dam, a 710-foot-high wall of concrete that sat at the head of the most iconic landscape feature in America, the Grand Canyon. As the water clawed toward the parapet of the dam, worried federal officials desperately scrambled to avoid a worst-case scenario: one of the most dramatic dam failures in history.

In the midst of this crisis, beneath the light of a full moon, a trio of river guides secretly launched a small, hand-built wooden boat, a dory named the “Emerald Mile”, into the Colorado just below the dam’s base and rocketed toward the dark chasm downstream, where the torrents of water released by the dam engineers had created a rock-walled maelstrom so powerful it shifted giant boulders and created bizarre hydraulic features never previously seen. The river was already choked with the wreckage of commercial rafting trips: injured passengers clung to the remnants of three-ton motorboats that had been turned upside down and torn to pieces. The chaos had claimed its first fatality, further launches were forbidden, and rangers were conducting the largest helicopter evacuation in the history of Grand Canyon National Park.

An insurgent river run under such conditions seemed to border on the suicidal, but Kenton Grua, the captain of that dory, was on an unusual mission: a gesture of defiance unlike anything the river world had ever seen. His aim was to use the flood as a hydraulic slingshot that would hurl him and two companions through 277 miles of some of the most ferocious white water in North America and, if everything went as planned, catapult the Emerald Mile into legend as the fastest boat ever propelled—by oar, by motor, or by the grace of God—through the heart of the Grand Canyon.

Grua himself was already something of a mythic figure, a fearless boatman obsessed with the mysteries of the canyon. His quest embraced not only the trials of the speed run itself but also the larger story of his predecessors: the men who had first discovered the canyon and pioneered its exploration, as well as those who waged a landmark battle to prevent it from being hog-tied by a series of massive hydroelectric dams—a conflict that continues to this day.

A writer who has worked as a river guide himself and is intimately familiar with the canyon’s many secrets, Kevin Fedarko is the ideal narrator for this American epic. The saga of “The Emerald Mile” is a thrilling adventure, as well as a magisterial portrait of the hidden kingdom of white water at the bottom of the greatest river canyon on earth. This book announces Fedarko as a major writing talent and at last sets forth the full story of an American legend—the legend of “The Emerald Mile”. (Summary and cover courtesy of goodreads.com)

Review:

This book is so much more than just the story of the fastest run down the Grand Canyon.  What makes the book so wonderful is the history and time devoted to explaining the circumstances that culminated in the fastest run down the Grand Canyon.  There is a huge difference between the facts written down on paper and the story laid out by a passionate guide, outdoor enthusiast and writer.

As someone who did their undergraduate studies in engineering, I absolutely adored getting to know the details behind the damn, what was going on and why it was such a big deal.  Purely engineering books can sometimes be a bit dry so alternating between the events building up on the river with the ones at the damn kept the story moving quickly while also imparting a lot of interesting information.  This was a fantastic book that will appeal to a wide variety of readers.

Rating: 5 stars!

Who should read it? Any adventure fan with an interest in the wild, national parks or white-water rafting.