Tag Archives: Blogging for Books

Where The Fire Falls ~ book review

So, this is the final book I get to review for Blogging For Books as they have closed. Still, I want to share this interesting book with you.

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Where The Fire Falls is by author Karen Barnett. I reviewed another one of her Vintage National Parks Novels a while back (it was on Rainier National Park). These are fun, easy to read, adventure novels that are set in the national parks back in the early days of the parks.

Where The Fire Falls takes place in Yosemite National Park. Olivia Rutherford is an artist – a watercolor artist, specifically. She is sought after and has gallery showings that feature her and her alone. She is making it in the art world, though we get peeks into cracks in her persona pretty early on. She is trying hard to live “The Life.” But her background will always be a part of her, whether she wants it to be or not.

Her agent sends her into Yosemite National Park with clients to create a series of paintings that feature the park for a lucrative contract. While there, she has to not only create the paintings that are part of the contract AND some paintings for the accompanying clients, she has to face a part of her past that she thought was dead and buried.

Clark Johnson is a park ranger that intends to have as little as possible with the people who visit the park. He wants to do what he can to keep it safe and protect the back country, which he is most familiar with. Instead, because of his familiarity with the back country, he is assigned to accompany Olivia and the other guests. In the process of trying to lure them into the actual back country and away from the main tourists, romance blossoms among the avant-garde artist and the rugged back country guide.

But Olivia’s past is not as dead and buried as she thought. Before she has time to get her contract fulfilled, someone inserts themselves into her adventure and risks become greater by the moment.

This Vintage National Parks novel is interesting and fun. There is plenty to help the reader learn a bit about the park while still providing a bit of romance. The adventure is strong and keeps the reader going.

At Home.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

The Tunnels ~ Blogging for Books review

When I was in high school, one of our teachers took his family (which included a girl my age) to Germany so he could teach English. Shortly after they arrived, the Wall “came down.” They were there for that historic moment and they were able to send back a piece of the wall to our high school, along with some written memoirs about what they had seen, heard, and experienced. Talk about history coming alive!

When I saw this book, The Tunnels: Escapes Under the Berlin Wall and the Historic Films the JFK White House Tried to Kill, written by Greg Mitchell, I was pretty intrigued. Perhaps because of that connection my old English teacher created for me. Whatever it was, this book sounded fascinating. It was.

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This book covered many of the secret tunnel attempts from West Germany into East Germany in order to help family, friends, and others trapped in the East escape into freedom. Many of these tunnels were compromised and lives were lost. Many were successful and many, many lives were freed. The bravery, courage, and perseverance of those who built the tunnels is chronicled here very well.

What is also clearly in evidence here is the courage and dedication to freedom of those who escaped. They endangered themselves and others trying to get to freedom but they kept at the attempts until they were free. This is also documented well in this book and it is easy to see why they risked it all.

What was covered in this book that I didn’t really expect is the Cold War, the nuclear threat, and Cuba. One of my shortcomings in history is an understanding of the nuclear threats and the Cold War and Russia. I had no idea just how closely tied Cuba and Germany were. The book taught me a lot about the seriousness of the nuclear threat and how close we truly came to WWIII during this time frame. I have an even greater admiration for JFK than I did before. President Kennedy had to make many decisions related to Berlin and the threats of the Wall with Russia and nuclear missles clearly in his mind. He had to go against what many thought because he had a bigger picture in mind – keeping the world intact and stopping nuclear war. I did not realize just how much was resting on his shoulders.

The TV stations play into this story and how it is related to the White House in that they were trying to cover some of the sensational stories of escape from East Berlin. Some of the stations wanted to film it. The White House saw this as a potential national security threat. So it brings up the question of freedom of the press – how far should they be allowed with freedom and when should they monitor their own and make decisions for humanity, not just a dollar? All of this is deeply ingrained in the story of The Tunnels.

There is so much in this book. I learned a ton and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It was not a fast read but it was a good one. Highly researched and documented, this book is one that taught me a lot and I will recommend.

At Home.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

The Crown ~ book review

I honestly had no idea what I was getting into when I started this book but because I am interested in the history that surrounds the Royal Family, I just knew it would be interesting. I was right. And wrong.

I do not watch the TV series The Crown. That made this book a bit difficult. Written by the show’s historical consultant and royal biographer, Robert Lacey, the book is fascinating to read. The full title of this book is The Crown: The Official Companion Volume I – Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, and the Making of a Young Queen 1947-19559781524762285.

Whew! That’s a long, detailed title. And a pretty accurate description of what the book covers.

The history surrounding the crowing of Elizabeth II at a very young age is where the book starts. It covers much of the royal family, jumping somewhat back and forth between people. And since so many of them have similar names, there can easily be confusion about which person is being talked about. There is a House Of Windsor family tree at the beginning and consulting it often helped.

Robert Lacey did a very nice job with this book, relating well between the TV series and the actual history. One of the parts that would have made this easier would be to have seen the series. A big part of what this companion does is to show you where there were liberties taken in the series over the actual history. I found these parts difficult since I didn’t know the series but if you did, I can only imagine that these would be particularly fascinating.

This book was not a fast read for me but I did really enjoy it. And the photos were just beautiful to view. Some of them are historical photos but many are from the TV series. Again, something that was distinguished for me fairly well.

If you are a fan of the series The Crown, then this companion book will be a really interesting read for you. If you find the history surrounding the Royal Family and history in general interesting, this book will also be interesting for you. You may have to work a bit harder at it than if you are approaching it as the companion to the series but still a very interesting read.

At Home.

FTC Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

A Charm of Goldfinches and Other Wild Gatherings ~ a Blogging for Books review

Charm of Goldfinches title

The title of this one caught me. Right away. A Charm of Goldfinches? I wanted to know more about that. And that is what this book is about. The subtitle says it well: Quirky Collective Nouns of the Animal Kingdom.

This book is set up with four sections

  • Land
  • Air
  • Water
  • Spotting and Jotting

The first three take various animals from that environment and talk briefly about the animals and how they received whatever their quirky collective noun is. Each animal has a two page spread with a colorful watercolor painting and a few paragraphs of text. Not hard or time consuming to read. Written by Matt Sewell, an ornithologist and artist, we get the best of both worlds.

Find out about an kindness of ravens, a dazzle of zebras, a permutation of starlings or a smack of jellyfish. There is a bask of crocodiles or a pitying of turtlenecks. Find out about more than 50 groups of animals.

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The paintings are beautiful and really add to just how lovely this book is. While you are not going to learn an extensive amount of knowledge, it is fun and the drawings are joyful. To end it right, there is a checklist with drawings of each of the animals so that you can try to collect a sighting of all of the animals mentioned in the book. How fun!

At Home.

Disclaimer: I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

The Road to Paradise – Blogging for Books review

The Road To Paradise

Mount Rainier has fascinated me since my dad hiked the Wonderland Trail a few years ago. I had no idea how beautiful it was until those pictures were brought back. And then, it became a place I would love to visit. Which is why The Road to Paradise by  Karen Barnett appealed to me so much.

This is a vintage national parks novel, meaning the setting is back at the beginning of the national park. This particular novel takes place at Mount Rainier National Park in 1927.

Road To Paradise


Margie Lane, an excited and knowledgeable naturalist, is joining the staff at Mount Rainier. She is going to work alongside the staff, particularly the rangers, at the park but not everyone is excited about her being there. Chief Ranger Ford Brayden is less than enthusiastic about a lady on staff, feeling like he will have to watch over her and protect her. And while that may just end up being true, it isn’t due to her ineptitude or lack of knowledge but rather due to a former fiance who feels it is his right to order people (in this case Margie and anyone around her) to do what he says.

Margie had hoped to escape from his sight by going to Mount Rainier but he was able to follow her path and now, even the park may be in danger of this man who plows over and through anything in his way. Can Margie stand up to him and come out safely on the other side?

About the Author:

Karen Barnett is definitely the right person for the job of writing about the national parks. As a former ranger naturalist and outdoor educator , she worked at Northwest Trek Wildlife Park, Silver Falls State Park, and Mount Rainier National Park. She enjoys hiking, photography, and public speaking when she is not writing. She lives in Oregon.


This was a fun book to read, to get an idea of what the park might have been like in its infancy, before it was so swamped with people that you have to stand in line to get to walk on its trails. Mount Rainier provided a perfect backdrop of beauty and mystery. The treachery of the people is so perfectly mirrored in the treachery of the mountain and it all pulls together well in the story line of The Road To Paradise by Karen Barnett.

At Home.

FTC Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

We Stood Upon Stars ~ a book review

We Stood Upon Stars review

Travel is such a unique, inspiring opportunity. It is different for each person travelling the road, even following the same directions. And, when you approach it from the aspect of looking for God and meaning no matter where you are heading, it becomes something that shapes your life.

We Stood Upon Stars by Roger W. Thompson will take you on the adventures you dream of, finding peace and life and hope in the wilds of the continent. From a secluded fishing spot to the highest peaks of Rocky Mountain National Park and back down to the lowest lows of Death Valley, Mr. Thompson explores life at its fullest. Because in those adventures, life happens and meaning, purpose is found.

Full of tidbits of life learning, I found myself smiling along with the adventures filled with beauty and biting my nails when there was tenseness. From a family outing with his children to remembering the outings from his own childhood, there is much wisdom to be found by looking at nature and what God has placed all around us.

While the presence of God is found throughout the many stops in the book, Mr. Thompson’s observations are right in line with a peaceful, pleasant outlook. The magnificence of God’s handiwork is just part of life and it is treated that way in these memories. It is there and there is no denying it. This was so pleasant and encouraging to read.

Not to be ignored are the wonder-full maps that express some of the beauty and special places along the road. These hand-drawn, personalized maps show not just the main stops along the book’s discussion but they highlight many other moments that can help you find yourself and connect with friends, family, and more importantly, God.

Read about Roger W. Thompson or read the first chapter or just look up more information on We Stood Upon Stars.

I have had a desire for a while to take my girls to many of the natural wonders of our nation and this book just solidifies that desire within me. Finding these peaceful, hopeful, and inspiring outlooks from nature, seeing God through his world, that is what We Stood Upon Stars shares with the reader and what I want to take my girls to do. And this book? It just might be a guidebook to take along.

At Home.

I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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