Imagine Your Story -on a Trip Near or Far

As we head into nicer weather and the time when people like to take Summer Vacations, this year maybe you want to consider doing a little Day Trippin‘? Why go far away when you can see travel around the Great State of Ohio (and locations nearby) with a tank or two of gas?! Economical + supporting local businesses + exploring sites in your own backyard = good times ahead! In fact, why not take a picnic lunch -you can make yummy sandwiches with the bread you’ve made!

Or if you’re feeling like hanging out in a nearby green space this Summer sounds just as good, you can either literally or figuratively Take a Hike with a book! Oh the options!

This week, I think I’ll start small with checking out some Backyard Wildlife and maybe start a little Backyard Revolution? I mean, the bunnies and deer seem to have found their way to me so why not really dig into it! (pun intended ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

– Stacey

Rosemary Sutcliff

 The new action movie, The Eagle, is based on Rosemary Sutcliff’s classic novel, The Eagle of the Ninth. Have you ever heard of the author, Rosemary Sutcliff? She was known primarily as a British children’s historical fiction author. She won the prestigious Carnegie Medal for her novel, Lantern Bearers, in 1959. She lived from December 14, 1920 and died while still writing on the morning of her death on July 23, 1992. As a child, she suffered from a children’s form of arthritis that forced her to spend most of her life in a wheelchair where she spent a lot of time listening to her mother retelling the old Celtic and Saxon legends. She would later use these legends in her books. Her first book written in 1950 was The Chronicles of Robin Hood. She is best known for her books that were set in Roman Britain in the early second century with her Eagle of the Ninth series. These books were The Eagle of the Ninth (1954), The Silver Branch (1957), the Lantern Bearers (1959) and Dawn Wind (1961). In The Eagle of the Ninth, Marcus, a Roman soldier sets off on a quest to find out what happened to the legendary Ninth Legion that mysteriously disappeared while under his father’s command in Northern Britain. He wants to find the lost eagle standard of the Ninth and to return the lost honor and respect back to his family’s name.

As a prolific historical fiction reader growing up, I thoroughly enjoyed the adventurous stories of Rosemary Sutcliff. Unfortunately, most of her books are out of print and you won’t find too many of her books still in school or public libraries. Hopefully, with this new movie, there will be a renewed interest in her historical books to bring them back in print so that more readers will be able to enjoy her wonderful stories.

To find a complete list of her books, check out the Fantastic Fiction website.

Happy Reading!                                                    Donna

Thrilling First Novels Full of Surprises

I love to read first novels to find new authors I’ve never read. There’s no expectations from previous books and basically you just never know what you’re going to get. Here are a couple of my recent favorites.

In Daniel Palmer’s debut thriller Delirious, Charlie Giles, an up-and-coming software developer, has it all. His start-up company has just been bought by a major firm and his “In Vision” software will be the next big thing on everyone’s car. When strange things begin to happen at work, Charlie becomes paranoid because he can’t remember doing them. Soon he can’t tell if he’s becoming like his schizophrenic brother, or someone is really out to get him. Could he really murder someone and not remember?

This book is full adrenalin with an incredible “can’t put it down” plot. To me it felt a little like some of Joseph Finder’s books with the “ordinary man in too deep in a business setting” so I wasn’t surprised that Daniel is a friend of Joe Finder. I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me that his dad is Michael Palmer either because I’ve loved his books for years.

When middle-class college student Karen Clarke agrees to tutor the rich, free-spirited young actress Biba Capel,she soon becomes addicted to Biba’s bohemian lifestyle, friends, and ends up falling for Biba’s brother Rex. Karen learns that the Capel family has many secrets, but when Rex goes to prison for murder, Karen keeps the biggest secret of all.

The Poison Tree by Erin Kelly is a deep, dark, compelling story told in alternating chapters ten years apart. Not only will you not want to put it down, but you’ll want to find someone else who’s read it to talk about the shocking ending.


The Beast in the Garden


When I was reading Animals Make Us Human there was a reference to another book, The Beast in the Garden: A Modern Parable of Man and Nature by David Baron. I decided to read this book as well. The book is an account of man’s relationship with nature using the specific example of Boulder, Colorado, where the population of cougars dramatically increased during the 1980’s. As the cougars watched and viewed humans, they no longer viewed man with fear. In fact, just the opposite occurred, the cougars in the area surrounding Boulder were attracted to the large deer population, the dog population, and even started viewing man as prey. Then in 1991, the unthinkable happened- a healthy, fit young 18- year- old student was attacked and eaten by a cougar. The author, David Baron, a journalist for NPR warns that as humans encroach on wildlife, they have to live with wildlife in a different and more responsible way. Fascinating.                                                                                          ~Ann


These discussions are always interesting; I wish everyone could come really. It’s amazing how diverse the selection of books can be. This time it seemed like the books fell into two distinct categories: the historical adventure with descriptive details and a slower pace book or the contemporary adventure with lots of action and a faster pace. So this is what everyone is saying about their choices:   

Evelyn: The Codex by Douglas Preston. After collecting artifacts from around the whole world all his life, treasurer hunter Max Broadbent, is dying of cancer. He leaves a videotape to his three sons announcing that he has buried himself and his half-billion dollar art and antiquities collection in a tomb in an undisclosed location. If the sons, Thomas, Phillip, and Vernon, want their inheritance, they must track down the tomb. This begins a long treasure hunt through the jungles and rain forests of Honduras. The title refers to a codex, a Mayan compendium of plant pharmacology that becomes the most hotly contested object of the treasure hunt. The story line switches between the separate treasure hunting parties of the three brothers and a pharmaceutical company executive as well, who desperately needs the codex to keep his company from going bankrupt. The action converges in a final showdown over the treasure. This story has vivid descriptions of the jungle and its dangers. There are so many exotic natives, battles between man and beast, chases, narrow escapes, and ancient ruins that it resembles an Indiana Jones movie.

Me: In Timeline by Michael Crichton, historians are thrilled with their discoveries in Dordogne, France. The area is revealing new facts and ideas about 14th century France, but the high tech company that’s sponsoring the excavation seems to know what archaeologists will be finding before it’s found. While time traveling might seem like an outlandish idea but Mr. Crichton is able to make it seem like it could actually be true. I love his simple explanations of difficult scientific ideas and the fact that he can add in action and adventure? What a genius!

Emma: The Good Thief by Hannah Tinti. 12-year-old Ren has lived at St. Anthony’s orphanage for as long as he can remember. Eventually Ren is adopted because of his disability, a missing left hand. Benjamin Nab convinces a priest at the orphanage that Ren is his brother and adopts him. Benjamin makes money begging and stealing and Ren will be the perfect addition in his schemes. They become petty thieves and grave robbers with assistance from a few others along the way. Eventually Ren becomes part of a long-awaited family actually finding a biological connection.

Carol: Gentlemen of the Road by Michael Chabon is an adventure tale set in the 10th-century empire of Khazaria, a forgotten kingdom of nomadic Jews in the Mountains of southern Russia. The story centers on two world-traveling Jewish bandits, loveable swindlers who refer to themselves as “gentlemen of the road.” Amram is the hulking Abyssinian and his companion is Zelikman is the skinny Frankish physician. The two friends have witnessed horrible atrocities befall their families. Readers meet the two in the Kingdom of Arran, where they con the customers of an inn with a staged duel. There, they are hired to safeguard the teenager Filaq, a fugitive Khazar whose rightful throne has been claimed by his uncle. Amram and Zelikman set out on a quest to restore Filaq to the throne and to try to bring peace back to the region. Despite the seriousness of the men’s task, this book is packed with action and good humor.

Ann: Blue Horizon by Wilbur Smith. Jim Courtney falls in love with Louisa and rescues her from a Dutch prison ship. His family aids in their escape, but soon the entire family finds themselves running from Dutch officials. Their overland and sea journeys are one adventure after another. Set in South Africa in the 1730’s, this sprawling tale is one of twelve that Wilbur Smith has written about the Courtney Family.

Megan: The Lost Island of Tamarind by Nadia Aguiar. Thirteen year old Maya is tired of her life at sea with her marine biologist parents and younger brother and sister.  She longs for a normal life of land.  When a storm at sea throws her parents overboard it is up to the children to try to rescue them.  They head for land in the hope of either finding their parents or finding someone who can help them.  The children quickly learn that they are in a mysterious land full of carnivorous vines, pirates, wild animals, and an evil witch who kidnaps children to work in her mines.  With the help of a native boy, Helix, Maya and her siblings manage to navigate the dangers of the mysterious island of Tamarind.

Donna: Prism by Faye Kellerman and Aliza Kellerman is a non-stop, action-packed adventure thriller. It is geared for young adults but adults will not be able to resist this exciting page-turner! This is Aliza’s first book with her mother. Kaida, Zeke and Joy are California high school students on a field trip to the Carlsbad Caverns. When a terrible accident destroys the van they are riding, also killing their driver and chaperone, the kids find refuge in a cave. The next morning, Kaida wakes up in her own bed and everything seems the same, or is it? Could she have been dreaming about the accident? What about Zeke and Joy? Who is this Ozzy she’s never met before in her school and why is no one allowed to get sick? Kaida is determined to find out why.

Rosemary: Heretic is the last book in Bernard Cornwell’s Grail Quest series. It takes place in the early 1400s during the Hundred Years’ War. Thomas Hookton, an archer from England, is the illegitimate son of a priest. His father’s family was known to have possession of the Holy Grail, and his cousin killed Thomas’s father over the location of the Grail. Thomas desperately searches England and France for the Grail. He and his men take over a castle and find that an innocent young woman is being held as a heretic. Thomas refuses to turn Genevieve over to the clerics to burn, so he is excommunicated from the church. Thomas’s own men turn against him for fear of the church. Genevieve and Thomas are alone and hunted by his violent cousin. Like all satisfying adventure stories, Heretic ends on a positive note with Thomas overcoming his many challenges.

Dori: Inca Gold by Clive Cussler, is a classic adventure story that begins with the disappearance of a 16th century Spanish galleon containing Inca treasure. Almost 500 years later, underwater diver Dirk Pitt rescues a team of archaeologists in Peru which leads to his entanglement in an international art smuggling ring that is intent on finding the lost treasure, no matter the cost.

What do you think? Are you going to try an adventure book with an exotic locale, a bigger-than-life hero, and some death-defying activities? Or would you rather wait and see what we read for our next genre, the gentle read? If you want to go looking for your own gentle read, you should look for a book that explores everyday life and friendship with the focus on a small group of people. Sounds pleasant, doesn’t it? We’ll find out…

— Stacey