The Curse of Oak Island: The Story of the World’s Longest Treasure Hunt

0802126936.01._sx450_sy635_sclzzzzzzz_The Curse of Oak Island: The Story of the World’s Longest Treasure Hunt by Randall Sullivan
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars

The riddle wrapped in a mystery inside the enigma that is a small island just barely off the shore of Nova Scotia has tantalized and tortured people for over two centuries. The Curse of Oak Island by Randall Sullivan covers the history of the longest treasure hunt from the individuals involved in the hunt to the theories of what is or isn’t on the island including the History Channel reality series of the same name.

Building upon the Rolling Stone article he wrote 13 years before, Sullivan was invited back to the island by the producers of the reality show to write this book, appear on a few episodes of the show, and interview the Lagina brothers. Starting with the historical backdrop of the Oak Island area, Sullivan goes over the often-told discovery of the Money Pit but thorough research finds out that the named three discoverers is not agreed up as well as their biographies. Throughout his 220 year history, Sullivan goes into the numerous lead searchers as well numerous theories of who made the Money Pit and what they believed was buried in there from pirate/privateer treasure to French Royal Jewels to possessions of the Knights Templar to cultural treasures connected with Roger Bacon. The history of the last 60 years on the island which focuses on the now-deceased Fred Nolan and Dan Blankenship with their rivalry and how they joined the Laginas search as well as how the titular reality series came about is covered extensively compared to the earlier history as Sullivan had first-hand access to the participants.

Given the murky history of Oak Island, Sullivan did an excellent job and navigating everything connected with the long story of the Money Pit. However, the biggest grip I had was with the intertwining of the history and the various theories, I personally felt that it would have been better to break up the history of the search in two and have all the theories discusses in-between. Sullivan actually goes against the show’s narration of events several times in relating the history of the island and previous searchers, however he never discusses “the legend that seven must die” which is hinted at being the “curse” in the show’s open for the first four or five seasons.

The Curse of Oak Island is a fine look at the history surrounding the search of the Money Pit and the men who’ve dug on the Nova Scotia island. Randall Sullivan gave the reader an idea about the individuals who kept the search going and what they believed they were searching for while also showing the toll it took on them and the island itself. Overall it’s a fine book, but not laid out very well.

Teaching History: A Seventh-day Adventist Approach

1883925282.01._SX450_SY635_SCLZZZZZZZ_Teaching History: A Seventh-Day Adventist Approach by Gary Land
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The question of how Christians, including Seventh-day Adventists, approach the study of history compared to their secular colleagues is an important topic of thought and debate. Distinguished Adventist educator and historian Gary Land’s Teaching History: A Seventh-day Adventist Approach gives both teachers and students insight into how they can unite their learning and faith to better appreciate both.

In 86 pages of texts, with footnotes at the end of each chapter, Land covers historiography in all its secular philosophies and analysis of history and how suggests how Christians might approach and use each in their own ways. In the text, Land brings up three ways Christians can apply their beliefs with the teaching and writing of history and in the last chapter he provides case studies to showcase how each can be used while still speaking to a wide academic audience. Land doesn’t forget to address how Seventh-day Adventists should approach history, whether their own denomination’s or that of the wider world, amongst themselves whether in journals or in classrooms.

Overall this small book about how Christians can approach the study of history while still using their beliefs is a wonderful thought provoking read for both teachers and students.

Calamity Jane (Living Forest #12)

Campbell12Calamity Jane, The Wise Old Raccoon by Sam Campbell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

A year in the life of a raccoon, particularly a female, is challenging and then there are the kits one must raise and teach to survive before winter comes and the cycle starts again. Calamity Jane is the final book of Sam Campbell’s Living Forest series, focusing on the year in the life of a raccoon introduced in Loony Coon yet in a different style than the rest of the series.

Campbell begins Jane’s story with her emerges from a several weeks long nap in mid-February to get out and about, eat some, and meet other raccoons especially one big male in particular. The book then shifts into spring as Jane reemerges on the hunt for food as quickly and as much as possible before having to feed her four kits. Taking up most of the book, the spring is when young kits are in the most danger first because they rely on their mother and then when they’re eyes open they begin exploring much to their mother’s fear in some cases. Eventually Eno, one of Jane’s kits, begins living with a nearby farmer and his family after a misadventure but later reconnects with his mother and siblings. The most shocking turn of events is the apparent death of Jane when hunters enter the Wildlife Refuge she lives in and attack her, though by then she had weened her kits off of needed her and able to survive on their own. But later that fall, Jane returns after proving harder to killer than the hunters expected to the joy of the farming family. The book ends back in the winter with Eno not comfortable his human family’s sleeping habits and heading back to his old home to get some much needed sleep with his siblings and mother.

Like Sweet Sue’s Adventures before it, Calamity Jane is written differently than other books in the series. Focusing on Jane and her kits, the book follows them in a style meant for young readers. With the addition of over 50 photographs, this book is definitely for young readers than readers for all ages. Given that Sam Campbell passed away the same year as this book was previously published, one wonders if his health changed the way he wrote the last two books of this series though interesting information for nature’s citizens isn’t diminished.

Calamity Jane like its predecessor is a children’s book to get them interested in nature and giving them a wonderful introduction to Sam Campbell’s writing so they can be interested in the other books in the Living Forest series.

Living Forest

Sweet Sue’s Adventures (Living Forest #11)

Campbell11Sweet Sue’s Adventures by Sam Campbell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The length of a mother skunk’s time with her young is less than three months, but even in those three months you can learn a lot. Sweet Sue’s Adventures is the penultimate book of Sam Campbell’s Living Forest series, yet unlike all of the other books in the series this one completely different.

Sam Campbell takes the reader on a journey of six hikes to a nearby farm and follow the adventures of a female skunk just before she gives birth through to the raising of her big family to when they leave, all of that under three months. However this time, Campbell writes in such a way that the reader becomes an active participant of the narrative like a student going out with an old-timer to learn instead of relating a variety of events around the Sanctuary of Wegimind or another location that his wife and he travelled to. Yet the information learned about the skunk like its eating habits, the raising of it’s young, and the warning signs before it sprays you with its pungent odor are extremely interesting.

As stated before, Sweet Sue’s Adventures is a completely different book than its predecessors. The first was the change of narrative style as noted above, the second was that instead of being easy to read for all ages this book was aimed at younger readers specifically, and third was the inclusion of 48 black-and-white photographs of Sue and her litter instead of the occasional illustrations. Being the shortest book of the entire series at around 120 pages with photographs and wide spacing made this a very quick read, though informative.

Sweet Sue’s Adventures is a quick lite read aimed at young readers about an animal that is stereotyped as always smelling. While it is completely different from previous Living Forest books, Sam Campbell packs it was information that is suited to his target audience. Though adult readers and probably first time readers might find it juvenile, for experienced readers of Campbell it’s a nice quick read on a rainy day.

Living Forest

Beloved Rascals (Living Forest #10)

Campbell10Beloved Rascals: Nature’s Knaves Are Nicer Than You Think by Sam Campbell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Just like humans, the animal world is filled with rascally species that just make you shake your head in frustration and laugh at their antics. Sam Campbell writes about both animals and humans in the tenth book of his Living Forest series, Beloved Rascals, as he and his wife Giny interact with a variety of said rascals from their own Sanctuary of Wegimind as well as in and around Canada’s Banff National Park.

The return to their island home begins on a somber note for the Campbells as they drive past a fire in the woods that is slowly growing, they get help and provide service of food and water for the numerous firefighters, forest rangers, and game wardens battling the blaze. After rain ends the fire, the Campbells continue their journey home sadden by the loss of animal life and one burned crow, named Midnight, they intend to help mend. Soon Midnight is joined by a pair of baby raccoons, a pair of porcupines, and an infant hare that escaped from a wolverine. But the forest fire make the Campbells nervous and after a group of campers led by a guide they trusted left an open fire going on their property they post ‘No Trespassing’ signs. But then a southern family, the Meadows, shows up excited to be near Sam Campbell and at the Sanctuary after unknowingly passed a downed trespass sign on their way to the Sanctuary. However, the Campbells are impressed by their visitors excellent camping skills—though tenderfoots, they studied numerous books for proper camping etiquette—and their twins sons enthusiasm that they allow the family to stay after the Meadows find the fallen sign and apologize. The Meadows appearance and enthusiasm for nature allows the Campbells to head to the Canadian Rockies—Banff National Park—to photograph and film wildlife as well as interact up close and personal on occasions with both animals and humans. One of the latter is the local legend, Klondike, a former miner who is rumored to have a pet three-legged grizzly, but is notoriously hard to find.

Like the previous book, Beloved Rascals comes in slightly longer than the rest of the series at 244 pages making it the second longest of Campbell’s books. As usually Campbell’s engaging prose makes the activities and misadventures of the numerous animals chronicled come alive in a very easy to read way. The Canadian trip and the foreshadowing of Campbell’s meeting with Klondike pepper the book, but it does take away from the other things Campbell writes about resulting in a good balance. But like the last book, Campbell laments that the actions and carelessness of others is slowly making him cut off the Sanctuary for other people in an effort to protect the land and the animals.

Beloved Rascals is quintessential Campbell with wildlife and human misadventures in the forests of North America, but once again shows the downside of human carelessness as well. Spanning from the familiar Sanctuary to the spectacular Canadian Rockies, this book allows the reader to experience both sorrow and joy of the animal life in North America.

Living Forest

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened (A Mostly True Memoir)

LawsonLet’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir by Jenny Lawson
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sometimes you want to forget very embarrassing things that happen in your life and a few of those times you’ll ask your friends to pretend it didn’t happen, now think about that being the majority of your life. Jenny Lawson, aka “The Bloggess”, recounts her life from childhood through school, romance, marriage, and motherhood in her first book, Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: A Mostly True Memoir.

Lawson starts off the book by throwing the reader into the deep end of her humor and really doesn’t let them resurface until after finishing the book. Beginning with her childhood in Wall, Texas, Lawson goes through her quirky life from one embarrassing moment to another especially since her own father was a quirky taxidermist whose business was in the backyard AND that was before she even started school. Misadventures in high school—mainly dealing with a cow—and college follow, and it is in the latter where she meets her husband in which the most hilarious moments of her life begin. And through her marriage with Victor, the birth of their daughter, and move out into Texas countryside the misadventures only continue with predictably hilarious, yet embarrassing results.

It’s hard to really evaluate a humorous memoir, except grading it on the content of its own humor. Honestly, given how much I looked forward to reading this book each day and the fact I had to stop reading out of either laughing or just being embarrassed at the author’s own embarrassing situations means it succeeded. Yet on top of that is Lawson’s faux notes from her editor(s) just add to the overall experience of the book. And the added bonus chapter of the paperback of notes from her promotional tour is a cherry on top of everything.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened is a hilarious memoir of a woman who owns up to her embarrassing moments, cherishes them, and knows they made her who she is. Though this wasn’t the first book by Jenny Lawson that I’ve read, yet now I can see why it became a bestseller and has led to a few more books by Lawson.

Furiously Happy

Fiddlesticks and Freckles (Living Forest #9)

Campbell09Fiddlesticks And Freckles: The Forest Frolics Of Two Funny Fawns by Sam Campbell
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Nature is always changing with and without the “help” of man, but sometimes the actions of some men negate those of others for both good and ill. Fiddlesticks and Freckles is the ninth book of Sam Campbell’s Living Forest series and sees the prominent return of an old friend in Bobbette along with her fawns, the titular subjects of the book, around the Sanctuary of Wegimind as well as new friends over in Hawaii.

Sam and his wife Giny spy their doe friend Bobbette in a large clearing with two fawns, each with their own prominent features one physical (Freckles) and the other in attitude (Fiddlesticks). The Campbells decide to make a study of the little family with observations and photos. While Bobbette is friendly, she is overcautious with her young, which becomes even more important when tracks and screams indicate that a cougar is roaming in the area after a several decade absence from all of Wisconsin. However, Bobbette’s caution is not only for the cougar but humans as well as unfortunately poachers violate the Campbell’s land and kill the doe leaving her fawns orphaned with bow-and-arrow and deer season still in their future. Sam and Giny do their best to feed the fawns as well as protect the Sanctuary from hunters violating the property lines, but the adventuresome fawns roam 15-20 miles around leaving the Campbells with high anxiety until winter comes roaring in. Throughout this time, the Campbells have been exchanging letters with a young friend in Hawaii they made several years before and decide to return to the islands to grab video and photos of the natural beauty of the soon-to-be 50th state. While the Campbells spend several weeks around the islands interacting with their young friend as well as previous friends and those newly made, they learn that the deer herds are in trouble because of record-breaking snowfall leaving in question of their orphan fawns were able to survive. Only in the late coming spring do they see the now yearlings reappear in the large clearing they first met them.

This book is just a tad longer than majority of books in the series at 243 pages, but is still not the longest of the series. Campbell’s own prose is used throughout the book unlike some of the previous books when letters from others were put into the text, the “return to form” appears just to be better for this book than anything negative from previous departures. While the looking-forward to and the actual trip to Hawaii are hinted at until the last several chapters trip actually takes place, the main focus is on the titular Fiddlesticks and Freckles and their adventures or more apt misadventures for the most part. Yet this book is different as Campbell spent more time describing his yearly struggle when the various hunting seasons come around.

Fiddlesticks and Freckles is full of the wildlife humor and adventures Campbell likes to write about, but unfortunately it also shows the terrible downside of interactions between men and wildlife. One might say this is a bit of a downer, but I think it’s a strength in this book as Campbell shows the challenges that everything in the Living Forest must overcome on a daily and yearly basis.

Living Forest