Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Book Review: Absalom’s Wake, Part Four by Nancy A. Collins

Published by Kirsten on August 29th, 2014 - in Uncategorized


Note: Absalom’s Wake is a six-part ebook serial. Check out these reviews of earlier parts of the story!

Absalom’s Wake, Part One: A Serial Adventure of Terror on the High Seas

Absalom’s Wake, Part Two: Terror on the Beach

Absalom’s Wake, Part Three: The Whale Rider


Absalom’s Wake Part Four:  Terror Comes Aboard  by Nancy A. Collins

Biting Dog Publications, 2013


Available:  ebook edition (Kindle, Nook)

Part Four of Absalom’s Wake continues the adventure with our hero, Jonah Padgett, being rescued by the island native, Koro, from the sea’s embrace.  At dinner, the captain learns that  King Jim, the most treacherous of all whales, was sighted three hundred miles southwest of Rapa Nui.  The captain sets course, and two days later the ship is in the area, and the hunt is on!  Two of the crew go missing with no explanation.  The mystery is short-lived, as the ship is attacked by Shark-men!  The savage Shark-men, of the Mako Kanaka tribe, take the crew to task.  Many of the crew members are killed, including Captain Solomon.  The crew retaliates by gunning down the vicious savages.  The final blow is dealt by Koro, who harpoons their fleeing leader, One Eye.  With Captain Solomon dead, what will happen to the hunt?

Ms. Collins’ tale continues to be just as strong as in the previous parts.  The tone is consistent, with the characters’ lives falling into a familiar routine.  Their voices are strong and remain distinctive.  The descriptions were vivid and the action sequences were gripping!  The mystery continues, and I was left wanting more, more, more! Recommended for adult audiences.

Reviewed by:  Aaron Fletcher

Book Review: Absalom’s Wake, Part Three: The Whale Rider by Nancy A. Collins

Published by Kirsten on August 29th, 2014 - in Uncategorized

Note: Absalom’s Wake is a six-part ebook serial. Check out these reviews of earlier parts of the story!

Absalom’s Wake, Part One: A Serial Adventure of Terror on the High Seas

Absalom’s Wake, Part Two: Terror on the Beach


Absalom’s Wake Part Three: The Whale Rider by Nancy A. Collins

Biting Dog Publications, 2013


Available: eBook(Kindle, Nook, Smashwords)


This installment of Absalom’s Wake picks up where part two left off, with Jonah Padgett running for his life from cannibals.  Jonah is rescued by a native named Koro of the Aina tribe who spears one of the cannibals and chases the others into the sea.  The cannibals are of the Mano Kanaka tribe and are arch-enemies of the Aina.  They were after Jonah because of the dolphin medallion he wore, left to him by his uncle. Later, Koro accepts an offer to join the crew as a harpooner.  Koro and Jonah end up rooming together, as Jonah is promoted to Ship’s Cooper and life aboard returns to normal.  At Christmas, Koro tells the tale of Kamoho, King Of All The Sharks and father of the Mano Kanaka, The Eaters of Men.  Koro also tells the story of how he came to be born– a story that sounds very much like the story of how Jonah’s beloved uncle won his wife, years before.  A couple of weeks later, another of the Harpooners bets Koro that he can kill the next whale before Koro can.  At stake is a gold watch, against Jonah’s dolphin medallion.  The hunt is on.  Koro leaps onto a whale’s back and mortally wounds it.  The whale thrashes the sea, tossing the whaleboat about.  The call of “Man Overboard!” rings out, as Jonah slips beneath the waves.

This part of the story was well written and does a great job of slipping a few more tantalizing details in with the action sequences– details that  add a bit of tension and suspense to the overall storyline.  I  look forward to finding out just how Koro fits into Jonah’s life.  As with the previous two parts, the author paints a vivid picture of the environment, and the characters have individual voices.  The only complaint I have is that there is the occasional misspelling which tended to break the mood while I sorted out what was intended.   Recommended.


Reviewed by: Aaron Fletcher





Booklist: Northern Frights– Canada and Alaska in YA Fiction

Published by Kirsten on July 29th, 2014 - in Uncategorized

Having recently returned from vacation in Alaska and Canada, suddenly I’m finding myself surrounded by YA titles set in those places. While I wouldn’t call these horror in any kind of traditional sense (with the possible exception of Visions) survival stories do possess their own kind of terror and fascination, and there are a lot of survival stories set in the Far North, where the setting, in itself, is often a major character.
The Call of the Wild, White Fang & To Build a Fire  by Jack London

Animals seem to play a large part in stories of the north, and nowhere is that more obvious than in The Call of the Wild. ” To Build a Fire” is actually a short story, and it always terrified me. You can almost feel yourself freezing to death along with the main character. There is no doubt about it that Jack London could truly evoke the wildness and savagery of the far north.
  Visions by Eric Walters

Teenage twin brothers are shanghaied by their biologist mother into “vacationing” on a remote Alaskan island while she studies muskoxen. Mystical visions, ghosts and curses draw the brothers into a situation where only their ability to set spirits to rest will allow them, their mother, and the rest of their scientific team, to leave the island.  Walters does a good job of drawing lively characters, and creates a nicely creepy atmosphere with details that are fitted well to the setting.
Touching Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen

After teenager Cole Matthews severely injures another boy, he is sent to a remote Alaskan island for a year as an alternative to jail time. In anger, he destroys his supplies, and while there, he is badly mauled by a white bear. Is it really possible for him to survive, much less be redeemed? Mikaelsen has a talent for vivid description and deals with issues here that many boys will have to face in their teen years.
The Incredible Journey by Sheila Burnford

A cat and two dogs travel through the Canadian wilderness on a trek to reach their family and home. That’s a description of the plot, but doesn’t begin to do it justice.  I speak from personal knowledge when I say that this is an unforgettable book.
Brian’s Return by Gary Paulsen

Gary Paulsen is probably best known for Hatchet, a middle grade novel about Brian Robeson, a boy who lives through an airplane crash  and must survive alone in the northern wilderness. There are several sequels to Hatchet, and Brian’s Return, the final book, is definitely NOT a middle grade novel. In Brian’s Return, Brian is a high school student who is having difficulty fitting in after his time out in the wilderness, and he returns to the place where he now feels he belongs. There’s a pretty intense battle with a grizzly bear– parts of Brian’s Return are pretty scary (or were for me when I read it). Survival stories are not typically my thing, but Paulsen knows his stuff and he will grab the attention of many, many reluctant readers. The previous books, in order, are Hatchet, The River, and Brian’s Winter. Brian’s Return can be read as a stand alone novel, but the background knowledge from the three earlier books is helpful.
My Name Is Not Easy by Debby Dahl Edwardson

This isn’t horror, or an adventure/survival story, but it is a powerful and original piece of writing, and even though it’s a National Book Award finalist, it hasn’t gotten as much exposure as it should. Luke is an Alaskan native sent to a Catholic boarding school with his brothers. His brother Isaac is deemed too young for school and is separated from him and sent into foster care. Tensions between students are high, and the teachers vary from frightening to friendly. The story takes place in the 1960s, during the height of the Cold War, and the students find that they have been involuntarily enrolled in a government experiment that requires them to ingest radioactive iodine, not something Luke is going to take lying down.  My Name Is Not Easy exposes prejudice for a group that is often overlooked, with fantastic descriptions and nuanced characters. Edwardson apparently based the book on her husband’s experiences of growing up in boarding school. If you know a teen who has read The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, and loved it, this is a good recommendation.
Jason’s Gold by Will Hobbs

How can you have a list of books about Alaska without one mentioning the Gold Rush? On this list, Jason’s Gold is that book. Middle grade students can enjoy this as well as middle schoolers.  Fifteen year old Jason catches gold fever, stows away on a boat to Alaska, and undertakes the difficult, and sometimes frightening, journey through the Alaskan winter to reach the Klondike gold fields, accompanied by… a young Jack London.  The Gold Rush setting gives this survival story a little twist– while you can’t say Jason knows what he’s getting into, he has a definite reason of his own for being there. Jason’s Gold has a sequel, Down the Yukon, that is just as good. Author Will Hobbs has written several other books set in the far north including one titled, you guessed it, Far North.

Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George.

You can’t have a discussion of Alaska in YA fiction without bringing up this Newbery Medal award winner. In a different kind of survival story, thirteen year old Miyax was raised in traditional Eskimo ways by her father. After a traumatic experience with her husband (through an arranged marriage) she decides to run away to  her pen pal in San Francisco, who knows her as Julie. Lost in the wilderness, she learns she must depend on the skills her father taught her, even as she attempts to escape her situation, and is adopted into a community of wolves.

Happy travels, and stay prepared!