All posts in the Action category

Never Say Die

Published October 12, 2013 by myliteraryleanings

Never say die cover

Review of Never Say Die by Will Hobbs

Overview from

When the motto of your village is “never say die,” you have a lot to live up to. . . .

At home in Canada’s Arctic, Nick Thrasher is an accomplished Inuit hunter at fifteen. About to bring home a caribou for his ailing grandfather, Nick loses the meat to a fearsome creature never before seen in the wild. It’s half grizzly, half polar bear. Experts will soon be calling it a “grolar bear.”

Returning to his village, Nick receives a letter from the half-brother he’s never met. A former Grand Canyon river guide, Ryan Powers is now a famous wildlife photographer. He’ll soon be coming to Nick’s part of the world to raft the remote Firth River in search of huge herds of migrating caribou. Ryan also wants to learn what Inuit hunters are saying about climate change in the Arctic. He invites Nick to come along and help him find the caribou.

Barely down the river, disaster strikes. Nick and Ryan are both thrown into the freezing river and find themselves under a ceiling of solid ice. With nothing but the clothes on his back and the knife on his hip, Nick is up against it in a world of wolves, caribou, and grizzlies. All the while, the monstrous grolar bear stalks the land.

My Review:

Though this book was short (about 140 pages on my nook), I read it mostly to fill in the gaps between my usual fare and of course because it was a Free Friday offering. I thought the story line might have some promise but what really sold me was the description of it as being a kind of modern-day version of Call of the Wild by Jack London.

Nick is our half-white, half-Inuit narrator and is approximately fifteen years old if I did my math right when I calculated his age based on the age difference between himself and his half-brother who is also a main character in this story.

His troubles start with the appearance of the so-called grolar bear which is a half-grizzly, half-polar bear combination creature. The bear is ferocious, large, and downright evil and nearly kills him. He pops up a few more times again before the book is over.

Then he gets a letter from Ryan (the half-brother I mentioned earlier) who explains to him that he is taking a trip up to Nick’s neck of the wood to ply his trade. He is a wildlife photographer and writer. He wants to research the rumor that caribou are dying out due to climate change. He is also interested in the grolar bear though it is not the main point of his research. He hoped to convince Nick to tag along on his expedition that will take them to the Firth River and hopefully the caribou.

Nick agrees to go with him despite his misgivings and some of his differences of opinion with his only brother. Only interference from his dying grandfather persuades him in the end.

The trip does end up being wild, wonderful and scary all at the same time but along the way he develops a respect and camaraderie with his brother that along with their discoveries make it a trip of the lifetime.

I am not really sure that it compares all that favorably with the Jack London classic that I mentioned earlier but it was still an interesting read. It was not as one-sided on the issue of climate change as it thought it would be. There is some respect for the Inuit way of life as well as Ryan’s views. Of course I suspect that the author is leaning towards the environmentalist position but at least he doesn’t portray hunters as the menacing evil of the Arctic like I thought he would when I started reading.

This is also appropriate for younger readers though perhaps not too young. There is some wildlife type violence in here after all. I think probably fifth grade or above might enjoy it but I am no expert.

I also enjoyed it though it is not likely to become one of my favorites. Still it was better than what I was initially expecting.


The Rising Tide

Published June 29, 2013 by myliteraryleanings

the rising tide cover

Review of The Rising Tide by Jeff Shaara

Overview from (shortened for length): As Hitler conquers Poland, Norway, France, and most of Western Europe, England struggles to hold the line. When Germany’s ally Japan launches a stunning attack on Pearl Harbor, America is drawn into the war, fighting to hold back the Japanese conquest of the Pacific, while standing side-by-side with their British ally, the last hope for turning the tide of the war.

Through unforgettable battle scenes in the unforgiving deserts of North Africa and the rugged countryside of Sicily, Shaara tells this story through the voices of this conflict’s most heroic figures, some familiar, some unknown. As British and American forces strike into the “soft underbelly” of Hitler’s Fortress Europa, the new weapons of war come clearly into focus. In North Africa, tank battles unfold in a tapestry of dust and fire unlike any the world has ever seen. In Sicily, the Allies attack their enemy with a barely tested weapon: the paratrooper. As battles rage along the coasts of the Mediterranean, the momentum of the war begins to shift, setting the stage for the massive invasion of France, at a seaside resort called Normandy.

My Review:

The Rising Tide is the first in trilogy of novels about World War II that begins after America joins the war on the Allied side. This is the second novel about period that I have read in two weeks but it could not be more different from last weeks’ book.

A Mortal Terror focused a little more on solving the mystery of who “the red heart killer” was than in the war itself which merely served as backdrop. I did get a glimpse though of the war and an interesting one at that. I liked the way the author contrasted the idea of a soldier who kills for country with a murder who kills people as part of a game.

The Rising Tide however has only soldiers who kill and fight though that doesn’t make it any less interesting. Like the previous book though, it also illuminates the character of those involved, including some on the Nazi side.

For me this part was perhaps the most interesting. The character of Erwin Rommel was previously unknown to me. I thought that the term “the desert fox” sounded vaguely familiar though I never would have guessed that it described a Nazi. And for all his ability to see beyond Hitler and the Nazi party, Rommel seems to close his eyes to the evil of the party. The Nazi’s have helped him advance his ideas and his book and even himself. That’s all that matters to him. That and his wife.

The hard part, besides the length of the book, was understanding the military jargon. I didn’t know about the different officer rankings. I don’t understand always who is above whom unless the characters reveal it in their speech. I thought a general was a general but it turns out that there is a hierarchy within the ranking of general even. Yes, I know, I am an idiot when it comes to the military but that is part of the reason I wanted to read this book—to learn something.

The book I am working on now takes place during the same era but most of my characters are not soldiers, most. I do have two who are soldiers and one of them is my primary characters love interest so I thought it would be a good idea to know what he would be facing as a soldier.

The plot tells the whole story of certain offensives of the war, first in Africa and then in Sicily. We see the whole story but each chapter is told through different eyes. This allows us to see what the Germans are thinking at the same time as we see Eisenhower’s point-of-view about the same event. Or Eisenhower’s versus that of an infantry man who becomes a German POW.

And the best part is: these are real people. The author tells us all about them in both the forwards and afterwards. They once existed and maybe left a diary that Jeff Shaara read. Then he made him and his story real for his readers. I love that.

I think I am going to try to move out of this time period for my next review just for variety sake but I am looking forward to reading the next book in the trilogy sometime in the future. This book was good even if it was different from what I usually read.

Contains: war violence, language