Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Follow the River

Do you ever experience times when it's just hard to get into beginning your next read? I usually never have that problem but rather the opposite: difficult to choose what to read because I really want to start a bunch of different books. Anyway, I had difficulties after completing the last novel. Perhaps I was just very emotionally engaged with it but whatever the reason, I just wasn't looking forward to making a selection. This also probably has to do with my "December policy." I try to use the month of December every year to read some of those books that have been on my shelves forever but I just haven't gotten around to actually reading them. Of course there is usually a reason why they are on the December list, usually because I've read others buy that author with mediocre results. This time I actually started a fantasy novel (which will remain nameless) which was the 8th in a series...and I realized I just didn't want to invest the time in it. The other books in that series were OK but as I get older I'm really not looking for just "OK" anymore.

So I turned to Follow the River by James Alexander Thom. This one had been on my TBR shelves for over 10 years. I had never read this author before and the only reason it sat there was because I just always had higher priorities for my historical fiction reading. But, boy am I glad I finally picked it up! This is the novelization of the true story of the Mary Ingles, and young frontier wife in 1755 who was kidnapped by Shawnee Indians in Virginia. After several months of captivity she escaped and made her way back home (over 1000 miles) by following the Ohio River. The first part of the novel was fine but not extraordinary. It wasn't until Mary had escaped and together with her co-escapee, an older German woman named Gretel, began to experience the true hardships of survival that the novel really shines. The author really gets into the realities of what survival would be like with only a tomahawk and a couple of blankets. As they make their way further down the river and face utter starvation, I became fascinated with the story. Such an incredible journey and a testament to the strength of the human spirit.  Even though I knew Mary would somehow make it home (it is a matter of actual history after all) I did not know if Gretel would survive or if Mary's husband would be there when she finally made it.  And just how Mary, herself, survived was simply fascinating.

This is why I like my December policy. I uncover gems that have been waiting there patiently all along. I plan on investigating Mr. Thom's other historical novels now but I doubt they will remain on my TBR shelves for so long.

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Top 10 Books in no particular order (Well Known Authors)

  • "The Stand" by Stephen King
  • "Kane and Able" by Jeffrey Archer
  • "The Killer Angels" by Michael Shaara
  • "The Dark Elf Trilogy" by RA Salvatore
  • "Name of the Wind" by Patrick Rothfuss
  • "River God" by Wilbur Smith
  • "Mortalis" by RA Salvatore
  • "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card
  • "Centennial" by James A Michener
  • "The Repairman Jack" series by F. Paul Wilson

Top Books/ Series in no particular order (Lesser Known Authors)

  • "The Sculpter" by Gregory Funaro
  • "Power Down" by Ben Coes
  • "Revolution at Sea Saga" by James L. Nelson
  • "Black Rain" by Graham Brown
  • "Top Producer" by Norb Vonnegut
  • "Prairie" by Anna Lee Waldo
  • "The Wild Blue" by W. Boyne & S Thompson
  • "Unsolicited" series by Julie Kaewert
  • "Freedom" by William Safire