Reading the north

Lowell Thomas Jr.

Lowell Thomas Jr. with Lew Freedman; (Alaska Northwest Books, $27.99; e-book, $15.99)

Blurb: In 1939, Lowell Thomas Jr.'s first great adventure was as an assistant cameraman aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer. He was just 15. Since then, he has lived a life Ernest Hemingway would envy, including climbing mountains with Bradford and Barbara Washburn and meeting the 14-year-old Dalai Lama.

From being a batboy for teams who were members of the Presidential Cabinet for Franklin Delano Roosevelt, to feeding information to his famous father for newsreels from far flung places across the globe, to travels with Lowell Sr. in Tibet, to being a bush pilot and fifth Lieutenant Governor of Alaska under Jay Hammond...

Lowell says, "What a life it's been. So many extraordinary things."

Excerpt: A year is a whopping long adventure, but a year is not really enough time to see the entire world either. Lowell and (wife) Tay planned to do the best they could before returning to the United States sometime in 1955.

They departed France with a sense of excitement and a taste for the unknown. They were headed to some places where few Westerners had been and to some places that were in the most remote of locations. Basically, they were on their own with Charlie their airplane, except in some cases where strangers had been alerted they might drop in from the sky to visit.

LOWELL: After all of the planning and organizing, when we took off in France it was a very liberating feeling. Tay immediately said, "Can you believe that we're really on our way?" That summed up our emotions. We were up in the air. We were flying. Our long-awaited trip had begun...

TAY: ... One of the first thrills we had was seeing Mont-Saint-Michel in France. It was a little castle in the middle of the ocean with just a little road connection which disappeared at high tide. The whole island is only 247 acres and the highest point is only 300 feet above sea level. ... Actually, this "little castle" is now on UNESCO's World Heritage Sites list, and so is the bay around it. More than 3 million people a year visit it.



Blind Allegiance

By Violetta Rand, Alaska resident; (Lost Moose Publishing, e-book, $2.99)

The blurb: It's a risk of a lifetime loving a man you're supposed to hate. Betrayed by a brother she hardly trusted before the bloodthirsty Viking, Jarl Randvior Sigurdsson, attacks her home, Noelle Sinclair is conveniently bartered as a means to save her cowardly sibling's skin. Forced to leave her homeland and accompany the petulant Viking to the untamed wilderness of central Norway, Noelle is ever-aware of the burgeoning dangers around her -- including her weakening resolve to resist Randvior.

Should Noelle surrender to his resplendent charms and seduction, or fight with every ounce of strength she possesses to get home?

Excerpt: Randvior halted as the beauty made her way to the doors. His men started after her, but he stopped them. No harm in letting her go, for now. Give her time to work through the torture and torment. Wherever she went, he knew he would eventually find her ...

The only light he had found within the suffocating darkness of Durham seemed to be the girl. Her unwavering allegiance to her kinsmen and servants restored his faith. It made him reconsider his long held opinion that women served only one purpose. Pleasure. He remembered only a handful of accomplished females he'd met in his travels. They were spinsters and widows who dedicated their lives to attaining wisdom. Although young and stubborn, Noelle was composed of the same commendable qualities. And she fascinated him.

Compiled by Kathleen Macknicki, Anchorage Daily News