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Adventure Audiobooks Book Reviews Books Featured Historical Nonfiction Nonfiction

In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides

On July 8, 1879, Captain George Washington De Long and his team of thirty-two men set sail from San Francisco on the USS Jeanette. Heading deep into uncharted Arctic waters, they carried the aspirations of a young country burning to be the first nation to reach the North Pole. 

Two years into the voyage, the Jeannette’s hull was breached by an impassable stretch of pack ice, forcing the crew to abandon ship amid torrents of rushing of water. Hours later, the ship had sunk below the surface, marooning the men a thousand miles north of Siberia, where they faced a terrifying march with minimal supplies across the endless ice pack.

Enduring everything from snow blindness and polar bears to ferocious storms and labyrinths of ice, the crew battled madness and starvation as they struggled desperately to survive. With thrilling twists and turns, In The Kingdom of Ice is a tale of heroism and determination in the most brutal place on Earth.

In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Super comprehensive and I loved every bit of it.

I listened to this one via audiobook, narrated by Arthur Morey, which was excellent.

Loved the questions of wonder. What animals would be present around the Arctic. Mammoths, ancient civilizations, passageways that would lead to the bowels of the earth, so much undiscovered and I loved the telling of it all.



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Adventure Audiobooks Book Reviews Books Featured Historical Nonfiction Nonfiction

Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America’s Most Notorious Pirates by Eric Jay Dolin

With surprising tales of vicious mutineers, imperial riches, and high-seas intrigue, Black Flags, Blue Waters vividly reanimates the “Golden Age” of piracy in the Americas.

Set against the backdrop of the Age of Exploration, Black Flags, Blue Waters reveals the dramatic and surprising history of American piracy’s “Golden Age”―spanning the late 1600s through the early 1700s―when lawless pirates plied the coastal waters of North America and beyond. Best-selling author Eric Jay Dolin illustrates how American colonists at first supported these outrageous pirates in an early display of solidarity against the Crown, and then violently opposed them.

Through engrossing episodes of roguish glamour and extreme brutality, Dolin depicts the star pirates of this period, among them towering Blackbeard, ill-fated Captain Kidd, and sadistic Edward Low, who delighted in torturing his prey.

Also brilliantly detailed are the pirates’ manifold enemies, including colonial governor John Winthrop, evangelist Cotton Mather, and young Benjamin Franklin. Upending popular misconceptions and cartoonish stereotypes, Dolin provides this wholly original account of the seafaring outlaws whose raids reflect the precarious nature of American colonial life.

Black Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America's Most Notorious PiratesBlack Flags, Blue Waters: The Epic History of America’s Most Notorious Pirates by Eric Jay Dolin

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved this book! I listened to it via audiobook, narrated by Paul Brion who was excellent. He was easy to listen to, being well-paced and unstrained, which was perfect for this book. I did miss the illustrations in the physical copy unfortunately, but I felt like the audio version was way to go for informationally dense, topically focused subject matter.

It followed pirate chronicles, mostly those sailing around the Caribbean during the 17th and 18th century, covering a vast amount of interesting material from their goals and accomplishments, the pursuits, intention, tactic and missions, flag identification, penalties, colonization, the weaponry, and even clothing, busting the myths and telling the truths of widely known events and biographical detail.

I liked how it was organized that being both chronological and topical as to not double back over certain points and being easy to follow, keeping the story going in a direction where there was focused story building and climax unique to most nonfiction books.

I also liked the outlook the author brought into the history, taking speculation and known facts into context for the time, even when it came to brutality and forms of entertainment as understood by the people living it whether observer or participant.

I’d highly recommend this well-researched book for anyone interested in a general overview of pirate life as a whole or for anyone wanting to gain insight into a specific pirate, time, or place and build from there.

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Adventure Audiobooks Book Clubs Book Reviews Books Classics Featured Fiction Science Fiction

Journey to the Center of the Earth (Extraordinary Voyages #3) by Jules Verne

The intrepid Professor Liedenbrock embarks upon the strangest expedition of the nineteenth century: a journey down an extinct Icelandic volcano to the Earth’s very core. In his quest to penetrate the planet’s primordial secrets, the geologist–together with his quaking nephew Axel and their devoted guide, Hans–discovers an astonishing subterranean menagerie of prehistoric proportions. Verne’s imaginative tale is at once the ultimate science fiction adventure and a reflection on the perfectibility of human understanding and the psychology of the questor.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (Extraordinary Voyages, #3)Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was great. I read this one for Life’s Library Book Club. I enjoyed it as an audiobook, narrated by Simon Prebble.

I loved the original movie from 1959. In this book, as a new post movie read for me, I also loved how the story unfolded, though I must say it was difficult to put aside the ideas I already knew from the movie and not miss on all the nonstop action that drove the storyline home.

The story was a little slow to start though. I couldn’t wait to get to the actual journey part. The build up was important but slow from this aspect, but when it took off, the story became a little more alive to me.

I don’t think I ever remembered it taking place in Iceland, so I really appreciated all the insight into Icelandic scenery and culture.

The thought put into the science fiction aspects were my favorite part. Thoughts about lighting to view the center of the earth, taking note of how one could possibly do this in the presence of gasses. Discussion about the actual physical space, liquid or solidarity. The discussions that took place among the characters to evaluate this. I just loved all the ideas that were studied and explored.

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Adventure Audiobooks Biography Book Reviews Books Featured Historical Nonfiction Nonfiction

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick

“With its huge, scarred head halfway out of the water and its tail beating the ocean into a white-water wake more than forty feet across, the whale approached the ship at twice its original speed – at least six knots. With a tremendous cracking and splintering of oak, it struck the ship just beneath the anchor secured at the cat-head on the port bow…”

In the Heart of the Sea brings to new life the incredible story of the wreck of the whaleship Essex – an event as mythic in its own century as the Titanic disaster in ours, and the inspiration for the climax of Moby-Dick. In a harrowing page-turner, Nathaniel Philbrick restores this epic story to its rightful place in American history.

In the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship EssexIn the Heart of the Sea: The Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

An excellent book! I’d recommend it to anyone. I listened to the audiobook version which I’d also highly recommend.

The narrative, with historical fact building and adventure, everything about life in the open seas, island life, whaling and its tragedy, ethics, survival, the human condition, all centered around the whaleship Essex and all of it told with such wonderfully creative and engrossing prose.

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Adventure Book Reviews Books Childrens Classics Fantasy Featured Fiction

Watership Down by Richard Adams

Set in England’s Downs, a once idyllic rural landscape, this stirring tale of adventure, courage and survival follows a band of very special creatures on their flight from the intrusion of man and the certain destruction of their home. Led by a stouthearted pair of friends, they journey forth from their native Sandleford Warren through the harrowing trials posed by predators and adversaries, to a mysterious promised land and a more perfect society.

Watership Down (Watership Down, #1)Watership Down by Richard Adams

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book. I’d recommend it to anyone, adults and children alike.

The stories were exciting, fun, and adventurous. It really dove into the life, activities, and perspective of rabbits. With moments of satisfaction, adversity, and the ever presence of potential danger, there were precious and sad parts coupled with elements of moral value in the overall theme. Some bits did drone on a bit, but I appreciated the level of detail in which the writing brought the characters to life, capturing both the docile spirit yet swift and protective nature of these animals.

Because of the greater amount of characters, I’d really be curious as to how this might be in audio format.

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Adventure Book Reviews Books Featured Fiction Historical Fiction Humor Poetry

Cowman’s Wife Western Ballads by Dee Strickland Johnson

Collection of cowboy poetry, western ballads, and original art. Awarded the Will Rogers award in 1997 for the “Female Cowboy Poet of the Year” by the Academy of Western Artists.

Cowman's Wife Western BalladsCowman’s Wife Western Ballads by Dee Strickland Johnson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved it! I’d recommend it to anyone.

It was a fun, thought-provoking, pick-me-up that I read in between my reads over the past year. Like a palate cleanser. It contains poetic stories of overall life perspective, the wild west lifestyle, culture, and history, romance and familial relationships, travel, and ranch life with cowboys, steeds, and hard work. Some were silly, some deeply reflective. It was refreshing and accessed parts of my brain that I typically don’t give enough attention to.

MY FAVORITE LINES:

I really appreciated The Warm November Sun poem and Arizona.

Arizona

Oh beloved Arizona, when God finished making you,
When He’d made your painted deserts and the sky’s deep azure blue:

When He’d made your wondrous canyons, and He’d laid his brush aside,
And looked down upon your beauty,
I think God was satisfied.

And I think, Oh Arizona, that He must have loved you best,
For He made you more like heaven than any of the rest.

He painted glorious sunsets, and put a soul in you,
Then splashed in the colored clouds above and let His love shine through.

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Adventure Book Reviews Books Childrens Featured Fiction Graphic

The Boy Who Spoke to the Earth by Chris Burkard

When a young boy asks the Earth where he can find happiness, the Earth agrees to show him the way. Join the Earth and the boy in this epic tale as you experience your own journey to happiness. You may learn together what it means to stand still for just a moment and find joy every step of the way.

The Boy who Spoke to the EarthThe Boy who Spoke to the Earth by Chris Burkard

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an adorable book! I’d recommend it to anyone. It would make a great gift for any child.

I (and my family) enjoyed the simple storyline which had a compelling message and the illustrations were absolutely beautiful!

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Adventure Book Reviews Books Classics Featured Fiction Historical Fiction Humor

Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

Don Quixote has become so entranced by reading chivalric romances, that he determines to become a knight-errant himself. In the company of his faithful squire, Sancho Panza, his exploits blossom in all sorts of wonderful ways. While Quixote’s fancy often leads him astray – he tilts at windmills, imagining them to be giants – Sancho acquires cunning and a certain sagacity. Sane madman and wise fool, they roam the world together, and together they have haunted readers’ imaginations for nearly four hundred years.

With its experimental form and literary playfulness, Don Quixote generally has been recognized as the first modern novel. The book has had enormous influence on a host of writers, from Fielding and Sterne to Flaubert, Dickens, Melville, and Faulkner, who reread it once a year, “just as some people read the Bible.”

Don QuixoteDon Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! It’s one of my all-time favorite novels and was even better the second time around. This was a reread for me, having read it in high school. For this read, I attempted to interpret several excerpts in Spanish and followed along with the Open Yale Course, SPAN 300 which was excellent and it made for a rich learning experience about comparative literature, art, and Spanish language and culture. I would highly recommend this book to everyone and to check out the course as a supplement to your reading as well.

The author, Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, wrote with such depth, expression, humor, and passion. It transcended literature in the areas of ethnic, cultural, and gender expression at the time it was written and today, it marks such a bountiful telling of a story and text with representation, idealization, and realism that anyone at any life stage can appreciate.

The storyline itself was so full of adventure, emotion, and surprises. A picaresque novel at its finest.

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Adventure Book Reviews Books Classics Featured Fiction Science Fiction

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

French naturalist Dr. Aronnax embarks on an expedition to hunt down a sea monster, only to discover instead the Nautilus, a remarkable submarine built by the enigmatic Captain Nemo. Together Nemo and Aronnax explore the underwater marvels, undergo a transcendent experience amongst the ruins of Atlantis, and plant a black flag at the South Pole. But Nemo’s mission is one of revenge-and his methods coldly efficient.

Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (Extraordinary Voyages, #6)Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I loved this book! I would recommend it to anyone who is looking for the classic sci-fi seafare adventure that it is, which doesn’t contain romance.

The author Jules Verne, was able to display his great appreciation for marine life and excitement for futuristic foresight quite accurately through his writing, given the time it was written in, having not any inclination of what deep sea exploration truly consisted of. I thoroughly enjoyed the descriptions of sea life creatures and the suspense that came with the discovery of such unknowns as the characters set out to partake in unknown territories.

The plot and subplots were simple, exciting, and original, though some parts did drag on in over-abundant detail. The book contained illustrations which I also very much appreciated. They added depth to my imagination of the setting and characters as well as to the perception of discoverable laws and behaviors of physics, marine life, and humanity at the time the book was written.

MY FAVORITE LINES:

“And to the question asked by Ecclesiastes six thousand years ago, “That which is far off and exceeding deep, who can find it out?…”

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Adventure Book Reviews Books Featured Fiction Thriller

Gale Force by Owen Laukkanen

For all lovers of maritime adventure comes an electrifying thriller of treachery and peril on the high seas featuring a dynamic new heroine, from multi-award-nominated suspense star Owen Laukkanen.

In the high-stakes world of deep-sea salvage, an ocean disaster can mean a huge payoff–if you can survive the chase.

Gale ForceGale Force by Owen Laukkanen

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Loved, loved, loved this book! Maritime reads are my absolute favorite and this book did not disappoint. I would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys seafaring adventure with a bit of a thrill.

The author Owen Laukkanen did an excellent job with character development. I was so grateful to learn that the romantic part of storyline was certainly present but did not overshadow the love of the sea and all the author has to offer with his credibility in writing about admiralty, navigation, and seamanship.

MY FAVORITE LINES:

“At first, the stricken ship was just a smudge on the horizon, a formless mirage, visible only from the tops of the swells. As the Gale Force plowed closer, the smudge separated, and McKenna could see the Coast Guard cutter, stately and proud, and the Pacific Lion herself, a half-sunk bathtub toy on an enormous scale, ungainly and wallowing in an uneasy sea.”

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