Thursday, February 25, 2016

Romance. Adventure. Horses - what more could anyone want in a book?

Review: by Jacqui Broderick of Lavender & White Publishing
Gemcie McCauley seems to have everything. She is a rider at the top of her game, making an unbeatable team with Marshal, a handsome Irish bred stallion, until an horrific accident changes everything.
 Fighting back from a dreadful injury she finds she has lost not only her nerve, but also her horse and husband to her arch rival, Domanique La Fevre. 

Reeling from the cruel blows Gemcie returns to her mother's home where she tries to pick up the threads of some kind of life and recover from her mental and physical injuries. Unable to settle to any kind of life Gemcie heads back to her roots and the mountains where she was conceived. Struck by the beauty of the wilderness and longing, for once in her life to be totally alone she feels drawn to life on the trail and persuades her hosts to let her ride the John Muir trail. 

When a black bear attacks and injures her horse she is rescued by Brady, a loner who lives in the mountains, working for the Bureau of Land Management. On a journey of discovery about herself Gemcie finds herself falling in love with this tough, yet gentle man. 

Brady though is not without his own problems and after he is forced to kill the bear that attacked Gemcie he abruptly ends their relationship, sending Gemcie back to civilisation. I was as devastated as Gemcie – their relationship seems to be so perfect.

During her time in the mountains Gemcie has learned a lot about herself and is determined to get her beloved horse back. Domenique has never got on with Marshal and after badly injuring him in a competition it looks as if his career is over. 

Gemcie, with a team of supporters nurse the horse back to health then begin the impossible and fight to get her riding confidence back in order to be able to pay huge vet and livery bills. She has to ride – and win – in order to be able to keep him.

This is a well written book, Ballou brings her characters and backgrounds to life in often tear jerking detail. Gemcie is likeable, readers will both empathise and sympathise with the situations she finds herself in. Ballou uses her text well, describing both the worlds of the wilderness and horse shows with convincing detail 

Readers cannot help but love this book. I was gripped from the first to the last page where Ballou brought all of the strings of her remarkable story to a hugely satisfying conclusion.  
by Jacqui Broderick of Lavender & White Publishing

Purchase on Amazon or on Linda's site and receive free shipping
Adventure-travel writer, Linda Ballou, shares Great Outdoor days in L.A, as well as a host of travel articles on her site, along with information about her travel memoir, Lost Angel Walkabout-One Traveler’s Tales, her historical novel Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i and her latest action-adventure novel The Cowgirl Jumped over the Moon  

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Sacred Sites in Hawai'i-In the Beginning

In my research for Wai-nani: A Voice from Old Hawai'i, I learned a great deal about the significance of the numerous sacred sites scattered throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Some are well known, but others remain in relative obscurity. This post is the first of a series spotlighting historical sites with an explaination of why they are held sacred by Hawaiians.
In The Beginning:
There is controversy over when the earliest Polynesian voyagers landed on the shores of Hawai’i. It is generally accepted that they sailed in double hulled canoes from the Marquesas bringing dogs, chickens, pigs, breadfruit, taro and stow away rats with them.

Ka Lae-the southern most point of the Big Island, making it the southern most point in the nation, was the first landing place of early voyagers. Although not pretty to look at, and windy most of the time, it holds a very special place in Hawaiian history. South Point is the site of some of the oldest artifacts yet discovered in Hawaii (as early as 300AD) While it is said to be the first place the Polynesians came ashore, archaeologists believe it was a temporary fishing camp not a full-fledged village.
In nearby Pu’u Ali’i Sand Dune on Pinao Bay thousands of artifacts-that include over 2,000 fishhooks lead archeologists to believe that this was a re-current settlement for fishermen. Deep waters here provide rich fishing grounds, but currents are dangerous. The solution was to carve holes in the rocks where ropes were tied to secure drifting canoes enabling Hawaiians to catch big game fish. Some of those holes are still visible near the boat hoists at the cliffs. The cliffs with the boat hoists are not South Point. The real South Point is past the light beacon to the left of a place where a rock wall trails down to the sea. Next to the beacon is Kalaea Heiau, or temple, where offerings to the gods were placed to ensure good fishing.

Taro is the older brother that cared for all Hawaiians
Image of South Point courtesy of the Hawaiian Tourism Authority   
Image of Taro (HTA)/Tor Johnson

 Research for Wai-nani, A Voice from Old Hawai’i became a beautiful obsession that called for numerous trips to the Islands. I visited sacred sites, interviewed elders, spent nights in Waipio Valley where the bones of ancient chiefs are hidden in caves in steep walls framing the canyon.

Lana'i-The Sweetheart Isle

Manele Bay-Susan Summerbell Chval

  Lana’i is a two-resort Hawaiian Island where people like Bill and Melinda Gates go to get married. The posh Four Seasons Hotel overlooking Manele Bay’s tranquil white crescent beach is where I met my fellow “Un-Cruisers” waiting to board the Safari Explorer. As I strolled the graceful grounds to the beach, lovers snuggled in cabanas and sipped fruity drinks. Seeing them made me a little sorry to be traveling solo, but a dip in the deliciously warm water and a snooze under a handy umbrella washed away those cares and the stress of a long flight and ferry ride from Maui. 
Manele Bay is home to hundreds of spinner dolphin who rest here after a night of hunting. It is also a top snorkel spot. The 150-foot Safari Explorer delivered us to Shark Fin Rock off the southern coast for a morning of snorkeling among thousands of tropical fishes floating in shafts of light.
Three thousand lucky souls live on Lana’i year round in the trim village of Lana’i City located in the cooler, higher elevations in the center of the Island. An afternoon shore excursion included a stop at the Lana’i Culture and Heritage Center which houses artifacts of native Hawaiians dating back to 350 AD through the days the island was owned by Dole and cloaked in fields of pineapple.

Sweetheart Rock 
The Koele Lodge nestled in the forest above Lana’i City is modeled after a country English estate. Cruising through the property’s golf course with its spilling cascades and elaborate gardens makes it easy for one to forget about anything else going on in the world. With only 30 miles of paved road, there is little to do on Lana’i except play golf, hike, swim, fish, dive, horseback ride, or read a good book. Since the days of old, Lana’i has been a satellite of Maui and served as a playground for royals. Billionaire Larry Ellison who recently purchased 97 percent of the island appears to be carrying on that tradition.
Our last stop on Lana’i called for a stroll up 80-foot Pu’u Pehe, or Sweetheart Rock, where legend says a heartbroken warrior leaped to his death over the loss of maiden so beautiful she brought mist to the eyes of anyone who gazed upon her. He had left her in a sea cave that was washed clean in a storm sweeping the lovely wahine to her death. He built a rock monument to her and then joined her in the watery depths. Today, sweethearts come here to make their vows to a love that lasts forever.

Monday, February 1, 2016

For Dolphins the Dance Is All There Is!

Dolphins blow air bubble rings and bounce then off their nose and swim through them Whales do a similar thing to form bubble nets they use to capture fish. But, dolphins do it just for fun. They also collect necklaces of seaweed they wear like jewelry exhibiting a sense of self- awareness and toss it
from one to another just to pass the time of day.
They have exuberance other sea creatures lack and literally jump for joy in twisting arcs. They splash backwards on their tails and seem to be enjoying them-selves tremendously. They swim five times faster than any Olympic champion and can jump two stories high into the air. Dolphins are the sexiest creatures on the planet with no pretense to monogamy. They have sex 365 days a year, often more than once, and with different partners. They do it just for fun. It is a brief belly to belly encounter, but both male and female dolphins seem to love doing it.

For Dolphins the Dance is all there is. A highly recommended state of being.Wai-nani who is a reflection of the passionate Chiefess Ka’ahumanu is a water baby. Like all Islanders she finds pleasure, sustenance, solace, wisdom and courage in the grand and vibrant sea. Wai-nani’s bond with Eku, a playful and communicative dolphin – propels her on a mythological journey couched in magical realism.

The video below captures the zest for life of the other intelligence!