Review by Zelinda -- Strong Heart by Charlie Sheldon

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Zelinda
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Review by Zelinda -- Strong Heart by Charlie Sheldon

Post by Zelinda » 22 Sep 2017, 16:31

[Following is a volunteer review of "Strong Heart" by Charlie Sheldon.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Strong Heart is a story within a story. The main story is fiction, while the second one might be classified as fantasy. Most of the main story takes place in the rugged wilderness of the Olympic Peninsula, with much of the action occurring in the Olympia National Park.

The story begins in Sol Duc, Washington, with Tom and his friends, William and Myra. The three are about to set out on an expedition to revisit the burial site of Tom’s grandfather. Just as they are about to leave, Tom’s ex-wife Ruth shows up with a young girl in tow. Ruth explains that the girl, Sarah, is their granddaughter, whose existence only became known to Ruth five days ago. Ruth insists that Tom take Sarah, a sullen and uncommunicative child with a pierced nose and an attitude. After Ruth leaves, William suggests that Sarah come with them on their journey, and Tom reluctantly agrees.

What happens on the journey is the central element of this enthralling story. After reaching Tom’s grandfather’s grave, an argument ensues. Sarah walks off in an angry huff and disappears for eight days. While she is missing, she experiences another life, pre-historic, primal and dangerous. When she is found at the end of the eight days, she tells her story. The others don’t know what to believe. Was it a vision, or a past-life experience? No one can say, but Sarah insists it happened. Later, she is able to use knowledge that she gained from this experience to help escape a life-threatening weather condition in the park.

Subplots involving the guardianship of Sarah, the use of public lands for private enterprise and what happened to Sarah’s mother also make up the story. William and his daughter Myra, Native Americans of the Haida tribe, explain some of the teachings and beliefs of their tribe, and the conflict between oral history and scientific data is explored.

The author did a superb job of describing the great outdoors and the magnificence of the mountains, ice-caps and streams. If I wanted a good look at what I would need if I were to camp in this area, I wouldn't need to look much further than this book. I also enjoyed the presentation of the area in terms of its geophysical history - how mountains, valleys, waterways were formed through the various ice ages. Getting a glimpse of the pre-historic short face bear, and the different types of mastodon was an added bonus. The depiction of other animals found in the region was also enlightening.

I really enjoyed this book. It was well-written, engaging, and informative. The dialogue flowed nicely and was believable. The pace was just right. When the secondary story began I was a little disappointed with the divergence from the main story. Then I didn’t want to go back to the main story because the second story was so exciting.

This story would appeal to anyone who likes a good adventure, along with those who are interested in philosophy, theology, archeology, and/or anthropology. I saw no editorial errors. So I am happily giving this book a rating of 4 out of 4 stars.

******
Strong Heart
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Carolivia Herron
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Post by Carolivia Herron » 25 Sep 2017, 17:10

Your review of Strong Heart by Charlie Sheldon pushes me into a scene in the western US — many times when driving through the mountains of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming — I’ve wondered if I would ever have the nerve just to drive up into such places between the trees and just live there. Such moments are always accompanied by a whiff of aspen, piñon, clear air. That’s the scene that returns to me as I read your review. and I wonder again if I could ever live in such a place. Do I have a Strong Heart? I’d like to try. The plot of the strange child on the unexpected journey calls to me from your words, but the scent of the west that flows from your imagery calls even stronger.

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Zelinda
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Post by Zelinda » 25 Sep 2017, 22:07

Thanks, Carolivia. That sense of awe was one of the things I liked a lot about the book.
“In books I have traveled, not only to other worlds, but into my own.”
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Chris Jablonski
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Post by Chris Jablonski » 25 Sep 2017, 23:27

I don't generally find fantasy fiction enjoyable, however after your comment of "Then I didn’t want to go back to the main story because the second story was so exciting." I think I might give this book a try.

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Joan E D
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Post by Joan E D » 27 Sep 2017, 15:10

I enjoy reading a well-written book review before purchasing.

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juliusotinyo
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Post by juliusotinyo » 27 Sep 2017, 19:14

I've also read and reviewed this book and I agree with your rating. I enjoyed Sarah's story the most. Amerindian lore was very appealing, I enjoy the history of people and places. Nice review.

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normakirk
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Post by normakirk » 28 Sep 2017, 07:58

It's been quite a while since I've read a book that has subplots, but I recall loving the experience. Now, with the aging memory I may find this book might be a bit challenging (for me anyway) to keep the flow of details going). However, I love your detailed synopsis and am intrigued by the story line(s) and mystery. Nice review Zelin!

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Ashley Simon
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Post by Ashley Simon » 28 Sep 2017, 08:00

Great review, Zelinda! I was also impressed by Sheldon's dialogue. It really drew me into the story.
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J Reuter
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Post by J Reuter » 28 Sep 2017, 21:54

Your review of Strong Heart was superb indeed! Well done, Zelinda.
I love nature and am always up for an adventure. This book sounds intriguing. My husband is an avid reader, always looking for a good book. He is one who would definitely be "interested in philosophy, theology, archaeology, and/or anthropology". I will be recommending this title to him and checking our local library for its availability.

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Post by Spirit Wandering » 29 Sep 2017, 20:00

I had the same feeling when the secondary story started and also that I was later reluctant to go back to the original story. Because Sarah is shifting between two time periods, I'm not sure there is anything the author could have done to improve the experience. Nonetheless, it was a bit disruptive at moments.
Interested in books that help one's spirit move beyond the ordinary.

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Kayama Akakandelwa
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Post by Kayama Akakandelwa » 26 Nov 2017, 13:12

was it a vision or a past narration.

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