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review 2018-12-03 00:00
Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park
Death in Yellowstone: Accidents and Foolhardiness in the First National Park - Lee H. Whittlesey Don't die at Yellowstone because 1. it will probably be painful and 2. Lee Whittlesey will include you in the next edition of this book and blame you for your death. As written by a former park employee, the book spends a lot of time railing against those who would try to de-wildernize the wilderness, which I get, but it goes a little too far sometimes. I don't think surprising a bear is really anyone's fault. (I also... think he should step off his use of "ironic" because I'm not sure it applies 100% of the time.)

Speaking of, this book confirmed that I really should be afraid of bears. It made me never want to go near a hot spring because it seems really easy to slip in and die an agonizing death (hand shaped sheath of skin, anyone?). The hot springs and the bear chapters are the best. Whittlesey is nothing if not thorough and I think someone should collect the data from the book and make a lot of charts and graphs - what decade was most common for park death? What age? What mechanic? IT'S FASCINATING in a really morbid way, and tragic. Despite the hard line Whittlesey takes, there is still a sense that the book is honoring and memorializing the deaths, trying to prevent more from happening, and showing how fast it can happen, which to me is one of the more terrifying aspects.

favorite moments: the guy who died in a fight with a bear because he slept with his bacon under his pillow. The guy who decides to jump his horse over a stranger on a bicycle, but the horse falls and kills the man.
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review 2017-11-28 21:52
For readers who love inspirational stories, complex female characters, and historical fiction
Bear Medicine: A Novel - G. Elizabeth Kretchmer

I have read two of Elizabeth Kretchmer’s books before. The Damnable Legacy (you can check my review here) and Women on the Brink (check the review here) and enjoyed them. When I was informed that the author had published a new book, I had to check it out.

Once again, Kretchmer focuses on issues that relate to women’s lives and also to the environment and to human beings’ place in the world. The story is narrated by two women, Brooke and Anne, in the first-person. Although both women have a lot in common (both are married and not terribly happy in their marriages, although they are not fully aware of it or at least they haven’t acknowledged it to themselves yet, and they both love nature), they are separated by a hundred and forty years. Whilst Brooke lives in our present, Anne convinces her husband to visit Yellowstone not long after the Park is established, seriously underestimating the risks. Both women suffer because of their decisions (Brooke is mauled by a grizzly bear and is seriously injured, and Anne ends up alone and defenseless without experience on surviving in the wild) and are helped by other women. And in both cases, these seemingly terrible decisions end up totally changing their lives. The book is part contemporary women’s fiction and part historical fiction, and an inspirational read.

Both characters are sympathetic because of the terrible circumstances they find themselves in, although they are not the standard heroines that suddenly and almost magically become enlightened and proficient at everything. They sometimes show little insight into their real situations, can be naïve, do little to help themselves, moan, and take one step forward and two steps back. If anything, Anne, who married young and has little experience of the world, seems to take to the new situation and accept Meg’s teachings more easily, although it must have been a bigger shock to her and farther away from her everyday experience. The society of her time was also more prejudiced, and the fact that she becomes best friends with a Native American woman is much more of a leap of faith than Brooke’s friendship with Laila and her confused feelings about the younger woman. But Brooke has also been victimised (even though it takes her quite a while to accept that) for much longer, has two grown-up children, and therefore has much more to lose. It is understandable that she struggles more and it takes her longer to fully embrace her new reality. I think most women will recognize themselves in one of the characters, either the narrators or their friends and helpers, and feel personally involved in the novel.

The writing is beautifully descriptive and there are very touching moments, some because of the extremes of emotion and suffering, and some because of the moments of clarity and insight that the love of the women and their cooperation with each other brings them. The author has done her research (she explains her process at the end and also acknowledges her sources) and I learned much about the birth of Yellowstone and the Indian Wars by reading this book.

There are serious and current subjects discussed in the novel (abuse [mental, physical, and sexual], rape, drug abuse, mental illness, nature and environment, the protection of wild animals, politics, parent-child relationship), there are adventures and risky situations, secrets, betrayal, and plenty of love. Although most readers will figure out soon enough the connection between the two women, we care enough for both characters and their adventures to keep reading and hoping we will be right about the end. And yes, the ending is empowering and positive too.

An emotional book (yes, I did cry), an enlightened book, and also a realistic book, that shows us some women who are not the perfect heroines, all powerful and knowing, but who make mistakes, hesitate, don’t know what to do for the best, and can be annoying and irritating at times, but who become stronger and learn about themselves by joining with other women and choosing to work together.

An inspiring read and a book that I recommend to women (and men) who enjoy multi-dimensional characters. It will also delight people who love historical fiction, in particular, the Indian Wars, and readers interested in Native American tradition and mythology. Another great book by a writer I will keep my eye on.

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review 2017-04-06 17:36
Yellowstone Country by David Skernick
Yellowstone Country: Idaho, Wyoming & Montana (Lost on Gray Roads) - David Skernick

Absolutely stunning photographs in this book. Makes you want to pack your hiking gear and leave now for Yellowstone. I love all the pictures in this book. Three of my favorite are Sunset at Antelope Pass, Yellowstone Lake in September, and Castle Geyser where the geyser is blowing, the sun is shining, and their is a huge rainbow.  I am stunned at all the wildlife pictures as well. David Skernick has done a fabulous job taking these breathtaking pictures. They are so crisp and clear you almost feel like you are there instead of looking at a book. 


I love photography books. I get to see things I will probably never to get experience in person. I can also see the area and add it to my list of dream trips. After looking through this book Yellowstone is definitely on my list now.


I received this book from the Author or Publisher via Netgalley.com to read and review.

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review 2017-02-10 10:21
Zeigt die Menschheit von ihrer schlimmsten Seite
Ashen Winter - Mike Mullin

Die Trilogie „Ashfall“ von Mike Mullin begann ich im Februar 2014. Der gleichnamige erste Band „Ashfall“ erhielt von mir 3 Sterne; ich fand ihn gut, aber unspektakulär. Es war mir daher nicht so wichtig, die Geschichte weiterzuverfolgen. Ich brauchte knapp drei Jahre, um mir den zweiten Band „Ashen Winter“ vorzunehmen. In dieser Zeit war Mike Mullin nicht untätig. 2015 verkündete er, dass aus der Trilogie eine Tetralogie werden würde. Mullins Deadline für das Manuskript des vierten Bandes ist der 31.12.2017. Schwer zu sagen, wann mit einem Erscheinungstermin gerechnet werden kann. Ich sehe das entspannt, weil ich ohnehin nicht sicher bin, ob ich die Entscheidung, die Geschichte um eine Episode zu erweitern, gutheiße. Abwarten und Tee trinken.


10 Monate sind vergangen, seit der Supervulkan unter dem Yellowstone Nationalpark ausbrach und die USA in ein Katastrophengebiet verwandelte. Nach ihrer beschwerlichen Reise haben sich Alex und Darla gut auf der Farm seines Onkels Paul eingelebt. Die Familie arbeitet hart, um einen bescheidenen Lebensstandard aufrechtzuerhalten. Doch all die anstrengende Arbeit vermag Alex nicht von seiner Sorge um seine Eltern abzulenken, die noch immer nicht aus Iowa zurückgekehrt sind. Als ihm unerwartet ein Hinweis auf ihren Verbleib in die Hände fällt, hält er es auf der Farm nicht länger aus. Gemeinsam mit Darla wagt er sich abermals hinaus in den vulkanischen Winter, um seine Eltern zu retten. Schnell wird den beiden klar, dass der Überlebenskampf der Menschheit in vollem Gange ist – gnadenlos und brutal. Ressourcen werden knapp und humanitäre Grenzen verwischen zusehends. Alex und Darla müssen entscheiden, wie weit sie zu gehen bereit sind, um einander zu beschützen. Bewahrt ihre Liebe sie davor, zu Monstern zu werden?


In „Ashen Winter“ beschreibt Mike Mullin eine neue Stufe gesellschaftlichen Verfalls. Während „Ashfall“ die unmittelbaren Auswirkungen des Vulkanausbruchs beleuchtet – das Chaos, die Überforderung, die kopflose Panik – zeigt der zweite Band, welche Möglichkeiten die Menschen gefunden haben, um sich mit den neuen Umständen zu arrangieren. Mullin stellt der Menschheit unmissverständlich ein Armutszeugnis aus. Er skizziert ihr wahres Gesicht als hässliche, destruktive, egoistische und grausame Fratze, die sich erst offenbart, wenn die Kontrollmechanismen der Zivilisation wegfallen. Die bittere Vision, die er prophezeit, fand ich als Zynikerin definitiv glaubhaft. Lediglich der äußerst kurze Zeitraum des Verfalls erschreckte mich. Nicht mehr als 10 Monate braucht die Menschheit laut Mullin, um ihre Menschlichkeit abzustreifen. Selbstverständlich begegnen Alex und Darla auf ihrer Rettungsmission durchaus auch gütigen, rechtschaffenen Menschen, aber meist werden sie mit barbarischer, herzloser Anarchie konfrontiert. Ich fand die Darstellung der sozialen Konsequenzen des vulkanischen Winters überzeugender als die Handlung selbst. Obwohl „Ashen Winter“ im Vergleich zum Vorgänger deutllich aufregender ist, hatte ich erneut Schwierigkeiten mit dem Spannungsbogen, der meiner Meinung nach inkonsequent konstruiert ist. Immer wieder manövriert Mullin seinen Protagonisten und Ich-Erzähler Alex in langatmige, schwer aufzulösende Sackgassen, die sowohl ihn als auch die Leser_innen in eine Warteposition zwingen. Um Alex zu befreien, muss Mullin zu extremen Mitteln greifen, was zu übertrieben abenteuerlichen Actionszenen führt, die problemlos von einem Spezialeffekte-Team aus Hollywood stammen könnten. Wir sprechen von Verfolgungsjagden, Überfällen, Schießereien und – man glaubt es kaum – einer Fahrt auf dem Dach eines Transporters. Alex ist nun nicht der besonnenste Mensch der Welt, doch etwas weniger draufgängerische Impulsivität hätte der Autor ihm ruhig zugestehen können.
Nichtsdestotrotz gefiel mir seine charakterliche Entwicklung grundsätzlich gut, weil er sich an einem Scheidepunkt befindet. Seine Erlebnisse ließen ihn rasend schnell reifen; er schwankt zwischen erwachsenem Verantwortungsbewusstsein und jugendlicher Naivität. Besonders seine Gefühle für Darla sind seinem Alter weit voraus. Die äußeren Bedingungen entfachten eine Verbindung zwischen ihnen, die viel tiefer ist als eine normale Teenagerromanze. Sie sind ein Team und verlassen sich aufeinander, obwohl Alex sich sicher stärker auf Darla stützt als sie auf ihn. Ihre herrische, aggressiv-fürsorgliche Art kommt ihm meiner Ansicht nach entgegen, weil sie ihn an seine Mutter erinnert. Nachdem, was Alex über die Beziehung zu seiner Mutter offenbart, sind Parallelen erkennbar und man sagt ja nicht grundlos, dass man meist einen Partner wählt, der den eigenen Eltern ähnlich ist. Vor diesem Gesichtspunkt ist die Dynamik zwischen ihnen wirklich interessant und ich frage mich, ob Mike Mullin sie bewusst beabsichtigte.


Unter dem Yellowstone Nationalpark liegt tatsächlich ein Supervulkan, der jeder Zeit ausbrechen könnte. Das geologische Untersuchungsamt, das für dessen Überwachung verantwortlich ist, hält eine baldige Eruption zwar für unwahrscheinlich, aber die Möglichkeit besteht. Deshalb finde ich die „Ashfall“-Tetralogie so faszinierend: das Ausgangsszenario ist schlicht und realistisch. Dadurch unterscheidet sich die Reihe maßgeblich von der Masse der Young Adult – Dystopien auf dem Markt. „Ashen Winter“ ist ein guter zweiter Band, der die Menschheit überzeugend von ihrer schlimmsten Seite zeigt. Wenngleich es Mike Mullin etwas an schriftstellerischer Finesse und einem Gespür für inhaltliche Ausgewogenheit mangelt, hat mich diese Fortsetzung gut unterhalten. Ich mag den Protagonisten Alex und beobachte sein persönliches Wachstum mit Freude, weil es einen so starken, positiven Kontrast zur Degeneration der Gesellschaft darstellt. Fragt sich nur, ob er als edler Held in einer zerfallenden Gesellschaft menschlicher Monster langfristig überleben kann.

Source: wortmagieblog.wordpress.com/2017/02/10/mike-mullin-ashen-winter
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review 2016-07-08 03:36
Yellowstone Standoff
Yellowstone Standoff - Scott Graham

Finished this one tonight and then went and met Scott at his reading at one our local bookstores. He's a super nice guy, in case you were wondering. 


Yellowstone Standoff finds Chuck Bender and his family in Yellowstone National Park where tensions are high due to a fatal grizzly bear attack on two researchers. What's more, the wolves of Yellowstone are also acting oddly, and it's up to Chuck and a team of young scientists to figure out what exactly is going on. And that's not even including the murder. 


This is easily the best book in the series. The story was compelling, the mystery was cohesive, and I really liked the characters. There are some incredibly suspenseful parts, the kind where you don't want to put the book down during, which is always good for a mystery. You also learn a lot about Yellowstone, especially aspects of it's wildlife. Everyone knows about Yellowstone's geysers and hot springs, but Graham takes the unique focus of looking at the animals. If you like wolves and grizzlies, you'll probably enjoy the parts of the book focusing on their behaviors. 


One thing I really liked about this book is how much more the main characters and their relationships were developed, especially between Scott and Janelle. Their conflicts were very different than what they had been in the past. Janelle herself was a much more well rounded character in this book, gaining more interests and really coming into her own. I really liked her in this book, where I had been more lukewarm about her in the past. 


I did figure out the killer before the end of the book but I was left guessing as to how exactly they were accomplishing things. So know that the mystery is a little easier, though still fun. There were also some twists that felt a little out there, though not horribly so. If you're not a fan of twists, then you probably won't like this one. 


Final rating: 4 stars out of 5. Technically I'd give it more of a 3.75 but that's not an option on the star meter available here. But it's a fun read, a good mystery, and I'd recommend it. In fact, I already have to a few people. So if you're looking for a light read this summer, this is a fun one. 



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