29 June 2014

The Wind Is Not A River by Brian Payton, Book review

3D Bookshot - Wind is Not a River
  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Ecco; First Edition edition (January 7, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062279972


The Wind Is Not a River is Brian Payton's gripping tale of survival and an epic love story in which a husband and wife—separated by the only battle of World War II to take place on American soil—fight to reunite in Alaska's starkly beautiful Aleutian Islands.
Following the death of his younger brother in Europe, journalist John Easley is determined to find meaning in his loss. Leaving behind his beloved wife, Helen, he heads north to investigate the Japanese invasion of Alaska's Aleutian Islands, a story censored by the U.S. government. 
While John is accompanying a crew on a bombing run, his plane is shot down over the island of Attu. He survives only to find himself exposed to a harsh and unforgiving wilderness, known as “the birthplace of winds.” There, John must battle the elements, starvation, and his own remorse while evading discovery by the Japanese. 
Alone at home, Helen struggles with the burden of her husband's disappearance. Caught in extraordinary circumstances, in this new world of the missing, she is forced to reimagine who she is—and what she is capable of doing. Somehow, she must find John and bring him home, a quest that takes her into the farthest reaches of the war, beyond the safety of everything she knows

(Aleutian Islands - Photo source HERE)

My thoughts:

A fictional narrative of survival in one of the harshest environment on earth, The WIND IS NOT A RIVER is a story of a love so strong, nothing seems impossible and of those unforgettable friendships forged in the darkest of times.

In June 1942 the Japanese bombed Dutch Harbor located in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska. Days later their infantry seized the islands of Attu and Kiska.

Military censorship made it mandatory that no reporters were allowed in the Alaskan territory and little information were released to US civilians despite the fact the Aleutian Islands would become in the following months the stage for the only battle to be fought on American soil.
This little known event of WW 2 front line is the backdrop for this stunning story of one man's survival in the Alaskan wilderness and of the woman who never gave up hope to see him again.

A free lance reporter known for his articles on avian migration, John Easley is one of two journalists banned from Alaska when rumours of war reaching American soil becomes known.  Not long after, he is shot down whilst traveling undercover as part of RCAF aboard a PBY Catalina flying boat and finds himself marooned on Attu Island. No one knows of his whereabouts least of all his wife Helen in Seattle.

Determined to live, John finds his survival the ultimate test of his abilities. Without food or supplies, he is struggling to remain inconspicuous on an island held by the enemy. As days and weeks goes by, he faces the eventuality of discovery, imprisonment or even being shot as a spy. Hope is almost lost until one day he uncovers a little tin containing a small picture.

Helen in the meantime refuses to give up hope and is determined to find the truth of his disappearance. In a desperate attempt to locate her husband, she joins a USO group and finds herself in the stark Alaskan landscape.

Brian Payton's astounding tale of a love that would not die and Easley' struggle for survival is one of those stories guaranteed to raise questions. How could we have forgotten this strategic part of the war and the effect on both bystanders (Aleuts) and the helpless GI's sent to regain this little known part of American soil?

Ill equipped, with little (or none) adequate understanding of the terrain and facing a desperate enemy pushed to suicidal extremes, five hundred thousand people participated in this conflict, including dozens of ships, hundreds of planes, ultimately loosing an estimated ten thousand lives.

Through Payton's first rate writing, we not only discover all this but also the power of love in a time when courage was needed and faith remains the only thing left!

Stunning in details, graphic at times and a novel not soon forgotten!
Absolutely 5 stars!!

A P-38 Lightning above the Aleutian Islands, Alaska, 1943

(Source here)

Meet the Author:

Image of Brian Payton
(Author photo by Alison Rosa)

From Amazon:

Brian Payton has written for the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Boston Globe. 
He is the author of Shadow of the Bear: Travels in Vanishing Wilderness, which was chosen as a Barnes and Noble Book Club pick, a Pearl's Pick on NPR, and a National Outdoor Book Awards Book of the Year. 
The Ice Passage: A True Story of Ambition, Disaster, and Endurance in the Arctic Wilderness and his novel Hail Mary Corner were published to acclaim in Canada.

Visit his website (HERE)

Note: This was a library loan and reflects only my opinion!

28 June 2014

The Fragrance Of Crushed Violets by Cathy Bryant, Book review and GIVEAWAY

The Fragrance of Crushed Violets
  • Paperback: 70 pages
  • Publisher: WordVessel Press; 1 edition (May 16, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1941699003
Also available in KINDLE format


What do we do when a loved one, boss, co-worker, friend, or enemy seem determined to bring us down through an attack? How do we handle it when their assault is personal, public, deep, unjust, unfair, and unfounded? Take it one step further. How do we deal with meaningless acts of destruction and death, say in something similar to the Twin Towers incident or a school shooting, especially when the offender shows no remorse? Do we file it in our brains and rack it up to “one more senseless act” and chance to think that God somehow messed up?
In short, how do we move past the hurt and anger to a place of forgiveness?
Join us as we examine relevant scriptures about forgiveness and come away with a scriptural understanding of:
  • what forgiveness is and what it is not
  • God’s role in the process of forgiveness
  • what Jesus did at the cross for each of us
  • our mandate to forgive as we have been forgiven
  • what gets in the way of forgiving others
  • how to truly forgive
A companion mini Bible study on forgiveness written to go along with the spiritual theme of the fifth Miller’s Creek novel, A Bridge Unbroken. The book is designed to work for either individual or group study


“God’s forgiveness–by it’s very nature as rooted in His grace and mercy–is something that cannot be earned. It’s a gift. And just like every gift, the choice is ours to accept or reject.”

“Until we recognize the absolute sovereignty of God and bow to Him as Creator, Lord God, and King, we will always struggle with what God allows to happen in our lives and in the world.”

“Refusing to extend mercy and forgiveness to others means that we also deny ourselves God’s mercy and forgiveness.”

"Forgiveness is not natural; it's supernatural"

“…through forgiveness, we reveal to a watching world the perfect illustration of what Christ has done for each of us.”

My thoughts:

In Chapter One of The Fragrance of Crushed Violets, FORGIVENESS: What It Is and What It Isn't, the author acknowledges it is one of the most difficult thing (if not the most) we Christians must do if we are to follow in Christ's steps.

Cathy cites Marc Twain who wrote: "Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it." and 
Corrie Ten Boom who said: "Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart."

However lovely the first quote is, I readily chose the second as more meaningful as you will understand further down. 

Let me begin by saying Cathy Bryant appears to have this kindred spirit people feel drawn to, giving the notion you are meeting with a friend over a good cuppa whilst enjoying the sway of a swing on a comfortable porch perhaps. 
You have this immediate feeling she will open her arms as you near her and make you welcome however a stranger you might be (and unlikely to remain so for long!). 

The wife of a minister, Cathy is well acquainted with devotionals and the power of prayers of course. This particular Bible study on Forgiveness hints at struggles each of us encountered at one time or another in our life. But if we are to call ourselves Christians, we must learn to forgive as He did on the Cross.

Having been raised by someone who survived two world wars, endured starvation, multiple miscarriages and the loss of not one love but two, the word forgiveness brings to mind the following phrase: "An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth!"

Needless to say, surviving must have been at times a difficulty journey for my grandmother yet she fought to survive and I readily accept and forgive the sentiment as I admire her tenacity.
Just so we are clear, "Forgive but don't forget" is another of those sayings never far from recollection to this day, this one from my grandfather who survived four years in the trenches and lost a lung to mustard gas...

Reading Cathy's book reminds me of my personal limitations. Along the years I graduated from that first saying to the second but have yet to go any further: I seem doomed with a memory enabling me to remember every little detail of wrong doing (mine and others!).

At only 70 pages long you might well wonder how effective this little book might be in your own life.

In true Cathy Bryant fashion however, this lovely lady walks side by side with you to bring you not judgement but reconciliation. Instead of fighting our way, she reminds us to place our life in His hands, allowing Him to love us. To simply trust Him, no matter what and thus find peace.

The first step in learning to forgive for this blogger should be to simply have faith!

Let me invite you to take another look at understanding forgiveness and find relevant Scriptures in this companion Bible booklet written by Cathy to go along with her last Miller's Creek novel 'A Bridge Unbroken'!

4 Stars  of course!

Meet the Author:

About Cathy

Cathy Bryant writes Christian fiction set in the heart of Texas. Her popular Miller’s Creek Novels takes place in the fictional town of Miller’s Creek, where folks are friendly, the iced tea is sweet, and Mama Beth’s front porch beckons.
Visit her website (HERE) for additional information, devotionals and special events.

Thanks to Cathy Bryant's generous offer one of Live and Dream a little dream's readers will win an EBook version of her book.
Simply place a comment on this post (be sure to include a safe way to get in contact with you should you be the winner!)
Winner's name to be chosen via Random.org.
Giveaway opened until Midnight 6 July 2014 and since it is an EBook, open to EVERYONE!!

Best wishes to all of you!

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book from the author as part of it's promotion. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

27 June 2014

Save The Corgis?

They can rap.

Let me start by saying NO, this is not Mac and I prefer Classics (and Jazz) to Rap but this photo had me in stitches!

Someone posted a series of photos titled '71 reasons we need to save Corgis from extinction'  and explains why we cannot allow this to happen!

This is one post that is sure to bring smiles and what a better way to start the day!
Here is the link Folks and enjoy!!

Just so you know, my favourite is the iconic one:

I mean, come on, look at this guy with those sunglasses. Instantly iconic.

SUPERMAN! Challenged perhaps, but not giving up!!

25 June 2014

Truth Be Told by Carol Cox, Book review

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Bethany House Publishers (June 3, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-0764209574


Sometimes the truth can be dangerous. . . 

When Amelia Wagner takes over her father's newspaper in 1893 Granite Springs, Arizona, she vows to carry on the paper's commitment to reporting only the truth. But Amelia soon learns that even the truth can have serious consequences. Her father's revealing articles about the Great Western Investment Company have caught the attention of the wrong people, and pressure mounts for Amelia to retract her father's statements.

Determined to find out the real story, Amelia begins her own investigation. She's joined by Benjamin Stone, a Great Western employee who's been assigned to keep tabs on her for the good of the company, a man Amelia finds both perplexing and intriguing.

What they uncover stuns them both--and has far-reaching implications for not only Ben and Amelia but all of Granite Springs. Can they reveal the truth before the enemy finds a way to silence them for good?

My thoughts:

Granite Springs, Arizona 1893 and the newspaper printing business are the backdrop for Carol Cox's latest novel. Amelia Wagner takes over her father's newspaper and vows to continue his legacy of bringing the truth to the town folks. 
From her father's notes however, Amelia gathers Great Western Investment Company has been buying strategic land in the area and is not above unscrupulous methods in their dealings but how to prove it?
With the help of her father's long time friend Homer, Amelia is determined to print her findings in The Gazette but soon finds more trouble than she can handle. 

Carol Cox love for her native Arizona is evident from her writing and she loves to weave her stories around historical findings guaranteed to pique your interest! Her extensive research on the newspaper business in the Old West allowed hands on demonstration of various printing machines which she readily shares with her readers in her notes and gives a realistic feel to her story.

Everyone likes a good western and Carol always satisfies our appetite for adventures. Truth Be Told is a nifty tale of one daring young woman willing to seek the truth and places her trust in God to keep her safe.
And since all good things comes to good people, it will not surprise readers that a little romance is involved in the grand scheme of Amelia's intense search!

A pleasant read and well worth 4 stars!

(Photo source Google)

Meet the Author:

Carol reveals on her website:

"If you're a lover of history, mystery, and romance, you've come to the right place - a place where time pauses beneath brilliant Arizona skies.

Like many of the characters I write about, I experience the joys and quirks of small town life. 
My family and I make our  home in rural northern Arizona, where we have an abundance of dirt roads, rolling hills, and wide open space. From our back porch, I can watch spectacular sunsets and catch glimpses of antelope and deer...and the occasional javelina.
Living in a somewhat isolated area means we miss out on a few things most people take for granted. The nearest supermarket is seventeen miles away for instance and it's a fifty mile drive to the nearest Wal-Mart, movie theater or mall..."

Well Carol, I can relate to all this (although the nearest supermarket is 50 miles round trip and yes, that would be a Wal-Mart!)

Readers: Be sure to visit Carol's website (HERE) for more on this author! She'll tell you her cyber-door is always open!

Disclaimer:  I received a copy of this book from BETHANY HOUSE Publishing as part of it's promotion. I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC 16 CFR, Part 255 'Guides concerning the use of endorsements and testimonials in advertising. I was not asked to write a positive review and all opinions expressed are entirely my own. 

24 June 2014

Seek The light In The Darkness...

Grand Bazaar - Istanbul, Turkey (Photo by Angelynda Quiambao)

Learn to see the world in its true light, for it will enable you to live pleasantly, to do good and when summoned away, leave without regret.

~Robert E. Lee~

23 June 2014

Beauty Tips For All Of Us...

`Audrey Hepburn 'Breakfast at Tiffany's~ (Source Google)

For attractive lips, speak words of kindness.

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people.

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry.

For beautiful hair, let a child run his or her fingers through it once a day.

For poise, walk with the knowledge you'll never walk alone.

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived,  reclaimed, and redeemed; Never throw out anybody.

Remember, If you ever need a helping hand, you'll find one at the end of your arm.

As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands, one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.

The beauty of a woman is not in the clothes she wears, the  figure that she carries, or the way she combs her hair. 

The beauty of a woman must be seen from in her eyes, because that is the doorway to her heart, the place where love resides.

The beauty of a woman is not in a facial mole, but true beauty in a woman is reflected in her soul. It is the caring that she lovingly gives, the passion that she shows, and the beauty of a woman with passing years only grows!

~ From a Sam Levenson poem written for his Grandchild ~ (One of Audrey Hepburn's favourite poems)

21 June 2014

The Secret Of Raven Point by Jennifer Vanderbes, Book review

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; First Edition edition (February 4, 2014)
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439167007
  • Also available in KINDLE format


From the award-winning writer of Easter Island comes a powerful story of love, loss, and redemption amid the ruins of war-torn Italy.

1943: When seventeen-year-old Juliet Dufresne receives a cryptic letter from her enlisted brother and then discovers that he’s been reported missing in action, she lies about her age and travels to the front lines as an army nurse, determined to find him. Shy and awkward, Juliet is thrust into the bloody chaos of a field hospital, a sprawling encampment north of Rome where she forges new friendships and is increasingly consumed by the plight of her patients. One in particular, Christopher Barnaby, a deserter awaiting court-martial, may hold the answer to her brother’s whereabouts—but the trauma of war has left him catatonic. Racing against the clock, Juliet works with an enigmatic young psychiatrist, Dr. Henry Willard, to break Barnaby’s silence before the authorities take him away. Plunged into the horrifying depths of one man’s memories of combat, Juliet and Willard are forced to plumb the moral nuances of a so-called just war and to face the dangers of their own deepening emotional connection.

In luminous prose, Vanderbes tells the story of one girl’s fierce determination to find her brother as she comes of age in a time of unrelenting violence. Haunting, heartbreaking, and ultimately uplifting, The Secret of Raven Point is an unforgettable war saga that captures the experiences of soldiers long after the battles have ended.

Wounded soldier

1943 Italy (Photo source here)

My thoughts:

Jennifer Vanderbes latest novel is the result of nearly ten years of research in what we term today PTSD (Post Traumatic Symptoms Disorder) during WW 2. Albeit fictional, the novel is based on facts and thus reflects the gruesome aspect of war while delving into its effect on humanity.

Superbly written, THE SECRET OF RAVEN POINT's plot line exposes relationships cemented on the front line, soldiers, doctors, nurses and even civilians, the latter, hapless victims trying to survive one day at a time.

With nearly 50,000 desertions alone in the US Armed Forces, 49 of these resulting in the death penalty, the amount of information available on the subject of mental illness resulting from combat fatigue is well documented but remains a taboo subject for many. Despite the attempts of medical personnel, the brass was not always willing to acknowledge the damages inflicted on the lower ranks.

The author is to be praised for writing a compelling novel thus reaching thousands of readers, people like you and I, who might have been otherwise clueless about this condition. 
Taking in consideration the reasons behind the illness brings a totally different perspective to outsiders. It is all together easier to forget what it took for those brave men and women to overcome the enemy as instead we focused on celebrating the victories it purchased (at the cost of millions of lives). 

Amongst military personnel few wishes to speak of their harrowing time on the front line and its emotional scarring. People think PTSD is one of those trending problems of the century when in all respect, this condition is as old as time, humans warring for one reason or another. 
However, WW 2 just like the Great War (you know the one that was supposed to end all wars...) shed new light on what foot soldiers in particular suffered during engagements, in addition to delays (or lack of) in supplies!

The Secret Of Raven Point follows a bright but shy young girl whose close relationship with her older brother, the football captain of his HS team, is the basis for the plot line. 
Juliet is only 17 when Tuck enlists in the US army following the Pearl Harbor disaster. He is soon shipped overseas and writes regularly until one day, his last letter before he disappears contains a code phrase they used in the past between them: Something is wrong and Tuck's cry for help cannot be ignored.
Lying about her age, Juliet enlists in the Army Corps Nurses program and armed with Tuck's letters she soon follows the path she believes his unit took across Italy's war zone.

There in the field hospitals of war ravaged Europe the young nurse faces the reality of the inhuman conditions soldiers embrace as they fight they way inch by inch. When a soldier is brought in, an apparent suicide attempt, Juliet hears he was part of Tuck's unit and thus begins the story behind the story.

A 5+ stars novel, the best I have read until now on Italy's WW 2 front line, The Secret Of Raven Point is definitively a book you will not soon forget!

Jennifer Vanderbes does not shy at graphic descriptions and from the gouged battlefields to the stench of overwhelmed field hospitals, we witness the ravage of conflict yet hope, life's essential element, trans passes above all in this honest story about love and loyalty and the truthful limits of our sad humanity! 

Marocchinate monument - Monte Cassino, Italy (Source here)

Meet the Author:

Jennifer Vanderbes is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a New York Public Library Cullman Fellowship. Her debut novel, Easter Island, was named a "best book of 2003" by the Washington Post and Christian Science Monitor and was translated into sixteen languages. 

Her second novel, Strangers at the Feast, was described by Library Journal as "an absorbing and suspenseful story about the dynamics of family,generational misunderstandings, and the desperate ways one copes with both the arbitrariness of fate and the consequences of one's choices." Her third novel, The Secret of Raven Point, will be published in February 2014.

Her essays and reviews have appeared in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and the Atlantic. Her short fiction has appeared in Best New American Voices, The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Granta.

She has taught creative writing at the Iowa Writers' Workshop, Columbia University's M.F.A. Program, and at the Colgate Writers' Conference. She currently teaches in the University of Tampa's M.F.A. program.

Visit her website (HERE) for additional information.

Note: This was a library loan and reflects ONLY my opinion!