Book Review | “Blonde Eskimo” by Kristen Hunt My first #ReadingIsBeautiful reading on behalf of BookSpark’s Summer Reading Challenge for YA Lit!

Posted Sunday, 15 November, 2015 by jorielov , , , , 2 Comments

Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin.

Acquired Book By: I am becoming a regular tour hostess and reviewer for BookSparks, as I began to host for them in the Spring ahead of #SRC2015. I am posting my Summer Challenge reviews during November/December due to the aftereffects of severe lightning storms during July and August. As I make amends for the challenge reads I was unable to post until Autumn; I am also catching up with my YA challenge reads and the blog tours I missed as well. This blog tour marks the last novel I selected to be a part of the YA challenge which coincidentally now becomes my first posted review for the challenge, too! I look forward to continuing to work with BookSparks once I am fully current with the stories I am reading for review.

I received a complimentary ARC copy of “Blonde Eskimo” direct from the publicist at BookSparks in exchange for an honest review. I did not receive compensation for my opinions or thoughts shared herein.

Happily finding myself drawn into stories of the Vikings:

As I had mentioned on my review for Avelynn, my keen interest to read Viking literature was percolating in the back corner of my reading queues. Find two stories about the Vikings in the score of a few short months of each other is quite remarkable. This next story I am reading (Blonde Eskimo) stood out to me from the choices of books for the Summer reading challenge hosted by BookSparks – the YA side of it by the way. My full intention was to be posting throughout the last season all the lovelies I’ve received, but due to events I’ve blogged about quite extensively, Summer ended on a hard note

Since I’ve resumed my readings this Autumn, a quirky turn of events has me posting this as my first contribution for #SRC2015 past my reading of Wishful Thinking! I will be following this review with more insights into my #summerreads but for now, the best discovery was realising how keenly wicked it is finding out Blonde Eskimo is a genre-bender where the different tides of it’s inner core are such a lovely read for me to enjoy! I never thought I’d find different pathways into understanding the legacy of the Vikings, but in many ways, I felt Blonde Eskimo was a way to continue forward whilst in full pursuit of Magical Realism.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Notation on Cover Art: The watermark spirit animal which acts as a faint tattoo against the image of Neiva on the cover is a signal of how the story within ‘Blonde Eskimo’ are heart centred on the natural world and our connection to nature. Totem animals and spirit guides are a quintessential component of life in Alaska; and this particular motif is not only gracing the cover but the chapters as well. The spirit animals alternate between raven, fox, bear and eagle. I love the softness of the book cover, it’s not glossy but matte with a curiously soft touch. I am unsure if this will have the same textural feel outside of the ARC but this edition (even being an early copy) has all the benefits of layout, styling and the little unique touches that I hope made the final copy!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com

Book Review | “Blonde Eskimo” by Kristen Hunt My first #ReadingIsBeautiful reading on behalf of BookSpark’s Summer Reading Challenge for YA Lit!Blonde Eskimo
by Kristen Hunt
Source: Publicist via BookSparks

Part Viking, part Eskimo, Neiva Ellis knew her family’s ancestral home, the island of Spirit, Alaska, held a secret. A mystery so sensitive everyone, including her beloved grandmother, was keeping it from her. When Neiva is sent to stay on the island while her parents tour Europe she sets out on a mission to uncover the truth, but she was not prepared for what laid ahead. On the night of her seventeenth birthday, the Eskimo rite of passage, Neiva is mysteriously catapulted into another world full of mystical creatures, ancient traditions, and a masked stranger who awakens feelings deep within her heart. Along with her best friends Nate, Viv and Breezy, she uncovers the truth behind the town of Spirit and about her own heritage.

When an evil force threatens those closest to her, Neiva will stop at nothing to defend her family and friends. Eskimo traditions and legends become real as two worlds merge together to fight a force so ancient and evil it could destroy not only Spirit but the rest of humanity.

Places to find the book:

Borrow from a Public Library

Add to Riffle

ISBN: 9781940716626

Genres: Fantasy Fiction, Historical Romance, Magical Realism, Suspense, YA Fantasy


Published by SparkPress

on 13th October 2015

Format: Paperback ARC

Pages: 308

Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.

Published By: SparkPress (@SparkPress)
an imprint of Spark Points Studio LLC GoSparkPoint (@GoSparkPoint)
& BookSparks
(@BookSparks)
Available Formats: Paperback, Ebook

Converse via: #BlondeEskimo | #ReadingIsBeautiful

About Kristen Hunt

Kristen Hunt

Kristen Hunt is an artist and writer based in Phoenix, Arizona. She is an avid fan of movies, graphic novels and Young Adult literature. Anything evolving fantasy and supernatural experiences captures her interests.

As a young child Kristen visited her family in Nome, Alaska and learned of her Eskimo heritage. Her Grandmother, known as the blonde Eskimo because of her golden hair and blue eyes, told Kristen the many legends found throughout Alaska, such as the Ishegocks, totems, and much more. It was these stories that inspired Kristen to write her current novel.

UPDATE: 6 January, 2017 finding the author's social presence has been altered, I reflected the changes in the links attached to her biography.

On reading my first novel of the Inuit:

You may or may not recall a tv series from Canada entitled Due South but for me this was a beautiful series that owned the diverse heritage of Canada alongside a lovely heart-centred mystery series who followed the life of a Mountie. I picked up the soundtrack to the series before the seasonals were released as they tend to release music before the shows themselves. On the soundtrack there is a beautiful evocation through song about the Inuit sung by Paul Gross; who is a singer-songwriter in his own right not just the lead actor in Due South. His soulful performance on behalf of the Inuit in the story of that song never left me. It’s soul-stirring and it’s epic in scope when you think about what the story is truly highlighting and giving insight into during that one brief moment of verse.

Ever since I heard the song (Inuit Soliloquy) I have wanted to read stories of the Inuit and draw closer to the heart of where that song took my mind. I have had a full respect of Native Americans on this side of the border since I was quite young, as I might have mentioned in past posts where I grew up in a city where a Native American art gallery and bookstore was a happy place for me to visit with my family due to how the owner took me under his wings sharing stories of his tribe the Cherokee. The First Nations of Canada came fuller into my mind when I watched the documentaries during the Vancouver Games, but it wasn’t until I discovered Blonde Eskimo that I found a pathway back inside the lore and heart of who the Inuit are as a whole.

As an aside I found a blog which talks about the distinctive differences between Inuit and Eskimo (see this info page); although I must mention I have heard of this previously, the memory of when and how doesn’t come back to mind. This is why I was going to mention despite bringing up the song by Paul Gross, I was still navigating to which group of people he was referencing over the group of people who might be contained within this novel, Blonde Eskimo as Gross is Canadian and Hunt is American. Terminology is a bit confusing on face value and when your walking inside a different culture and a different heritage from your own, it’s a bit of a stumbling through research and understanding til the point arrives where you understand the distinct differences separating people who are called the same name but are not of the same origin.

Alaska is a fascinating state especially for a flatlander as anyone who lives within the lower 48 can appreciate how Alaska is a bit of the unspoken last frontier we have in North America. It’s rugged whilst it’s mysterious, and my heart is fully aware of it’s spirit even though I haven’t yet stepped on her shores. I have researched passage from ferry, rail and road whilst giving those brave souls who take seaplanes and fly through volcanic ash a lot more courage than I am willing to admit I have myself! The backdrop to where Alaska’s townes meet the backcountry and where rainforest meets civilization is quite impressive too. I have an incredible respect for the wilds of Alaska and of the people who call the state lovingly their home.

Being able to read a novel set in Alaska and enriched by being grounded in the author’s personal heritage is a blessing I never felt I’d find alight in my hands. I truly love living histories and the stories of our ancestors who not only unite us to our own past histories but help give a small measure of the wider whole of how we’re all interconnected.

My Review of Blonde Eskimo:

Neiva’s voice is quite strong in the Prologue as we find out her parents have given her the ultimate heartache her senior year: to live with her grandmother in a remote towne whose quite possibly the centermost point within a triangle that has mysterious attributes similar to Bermuda! She’s full of grit and determination to prove the legacy of the area wrong (as facts seem to shift the center over a bit) and also prove that if your going to ship someone off to such a horridly remote place for the last year of their life that is important to them, don’t expect them to take it lying down!

Quite remarkably Hunt has a close sense about how the natural world and our lives can become interlaced and connected through moments where we might not fully realise what is happening until we’re able to piece the moments together lateron. In this instance, I was right there with Neiva whilst the mysterious ink-black with a slice of purple feathered soul ripped the pages of her journalled thoughts straight out of her hands before her ferry every made landfall on Spirit. This is a harbinger of events still to come, I am sure, as Spirit reads like a place in time between the veils; existing on it’s own accord with a timepiece of intuition guiding it’s protection.

I loved the name her grandmother had picked out for Neiva as it was such an interesting way of attaching an attribute of self through a native name of their culture. This is in-part why I love learning about cultures outside of my own traditional heritage; to see the world through different eyes and to reconnect to the earth in a way I might not have noticed. Even the heart warmth of having your totem carved on your seventeenth birthday was quite the smashing discovery (of which I was curious if were true) as I have started to notice which birds and wildlife have taking up residence in my own life in regards of being ‘familiar’. Spirit animals and guides can attach themselves to anyone whose mind is open to the intercurrence of time between humans and the natural world.

Neiva is dearly connected to her grandmother, as their bond is as strong as their love and faith in each other. I can relate to having a strong connection to my own grandmother, as I come from a close-knit family. Peering inside Neiva’s turbulent shift inside of a high school she never asked to attend and a towne whose breath lingers the secrets of the past; it is as if there is something most remarkably different about everyone in towne.

On Neiva’s seventeenth birthday a somber reality is given merit to existing as she starts to see the truth hidden from her eyes when she’s blessed with a visit from Darius. This transition reaffirmed my own sense Blonde Eskimo was firmly encased within Magical Realism where reality merges into the dimensions which are slightly out of view but evermore present alongside you. Darius is such a out of the ordinary inclusion to the story, I quite fancy his presence! I was hoping the direction of the story might take this turn in scope and I was blessedly thrilled to watch Hunt develop the story further inside her heritage’s legends!

Neiva’s birthday unlocked a hidden secret about Spirit and her friends within the community; as soon as you dig inside the heart of Chapter 4, you understand what is cloaked out of your view! It’s such a clever proposition – where each child who turns seventeen enters into a new stage of their lives; by giving them a totem of their spirit animal, it’s not necessarily a signal of guidance but of transformation! In this realm, the world of spirits was shaken and upturnt due to an event in the past where two halves of the whole now occupy the space where a death precipitated the separations. Neiva’s friends are from both sides, thereby anchouring her between the two and giving her insight into how Spirit is the compass point towards entering their world.

Hunt clearly allows her Spirit Guardians (in sentient form) to translate their emotions and their personalities through what gives them individual attributes. For instance, if they have wings or tails, these are cues given to their emotional states inasmuch as their eyes can convey words where nothing is uttered that would translate otherwise. She deepens their 3-Dimensional states by adding layers of how they are seen as the Guardians (although they take-on the image and inhabit the life of a Spirit Guardian whose a sentient being; their true calling in life is to guard the Dark and Light realms) and how they can shapeshift into humans. This shapeshifting ability grants them invisibility and a certain level of protection, yet it’s not a fail safe. There are ways to circumvent this cloaking and their lives are placed in peril because of it. Each Spirit Guardian thereby has their own spirit animal of whom is their protector, as there is a lovely inclusive circle of protection, trust and guidance. I won’t spoilt how their spirit animal comes into being as it’s such a credible method! (I will only relate that it’s a concept I have found previously and have loved!) Conceptually I felt Hunt excelled at translating legend and lore into a viable presentation of how to re-conceive what is plausible.

Don’t miss catching Hunt’s cheeky humour about the origins of where mythology and the realities of the Guardians start to cross-sect and divide! There is one exchange between Sasha (Darius’s confidante) and Neiva wherein you can see how fable can alter real-world perceptions on the fantastical! I liked this exchange because it speaks volumes to root you inside this reality by showing the differences to ours!

Another method of transportation (outside of teleporting, as appreciated recently in The Clan Chronicles whilst being an option within here as well) is dream-walking where Neiva walks through her dreamscapes to interact with Darius on a plane that is only accessed from this point of communication. It’s a well known fact that whilst we’re between dreams and being consciously awake, we’re more apt to accept knowledge that comes to us through alternative means. We’re receptive to listening on a level that is deeper than conscience thought and progressed differently than spoken speech.

The journey Neiva is taking is fraught with desperate intentions by dark forces who are seeking to dismantle her sanity. Her friendships and her family are put in the greatest risk because of who she is to the Spirit World but what was most surprising to me – is how parallel the story ran to The Clan Chronicles as there is one golden similarity: power and the greed that is evoked out of it’s pursuit. Peace is a tender balance at the best of times but I felt at the heart centre of this novel is a bit of uncertainty still even as we end on a bit of a happier ending than a traditional cliffhanger – part of me questioned if all is truly right within this world.

It’s easy not to second guess Darius, but part of my instincts kicked in to wonder – did he present his true self or did he present the person of whom Neiva would accept? It’s a novel that asks the harder questions for those who are still rising into their adult years. Questions parlaying to loyalty and trust; trust being the harder of the two to decipher because so much of it relies on the ‘other person’ involved. To trust blindly or to trust through proof? Where does your heart and the love of your life fit inside the trust of your spirit? Do you walk closer to find your innermost truth or do you believe in what is before your eyes without knowing the gravity of how your choices will affect the future?

Hunt gives her readers plenty to muse about during the novel but it’s the ending that will leave the door open for speculation until the sequel is released. For me, this is the best ending – not to wrap everything up in a bow but to dare the reader to remain alert and think about how what we know now might be effectively precognitive of the next chapter?

On the writing style of an emerging wordsmith:

Hunt warmly gives you an introduction inside Neiva’s innermost thoughts through journalling pieces of the story out of the pen of Neiva’s hand. It’s a close connection to Neiva’s heart and the swirling emotions of her trying to sort out what she does not yet understand. I appreciate finding journal entries in novels as they give a personal connection to the character over and beyond reading their thoughts as they speak them loud enough for us to take note of them. Journals are a personal method of organising our thoughts, sorting out our feelings, and piecing together what our mind is attempting to let us understand. When a journal is used in a novel it gives cadence to the passage of the character growing more confident in their skin and at the arrival of a new chapter in their lives.

Whilst I was sharing my reading tweets, Ms Hunt gave me the best SURPRISE of all! A glimpse into her grandparent’s lives when she shared this heart-warming tweet:

I truly felt connected to the author as I read her novel, but being able to share this connection to her grandparents made my heart swell, because as I was reading Blonde Eskimo my own sorrowful heart was starting to miss my own grandmother who has since passed on from this world into the next. You miss your loved ones at different times, but whenever I come across a grandparent story (by book or tv movie, especially!) I find myself tempering my emotional reactions in order to enjoy the story as it’s being told. Sometimes certain stories and certain writers tap inside something that interconnects your story with their story; Hunt has done this through the connection of grand-daughters, and of how we are united in our protective shields sensing when our grandmothers and grandfathers need us most.

There is wisdom of insight Hunt shares throughout her novel as only a grand-daughter can happily recognise and smirk inside of a smile as she reads! Not only on behalf of this connection but on the level of how Hunt empathsises that period of time where your half outside the door of adolescence and half-stepping inside your chapter as a newly minted adult. Seventeen is a good age to set a barometer as it’s quite true – your in-between the cornerstones of growing up.

One quick note: I marked this as having ‘vulgarity in literature’ but without a content note nor a ‘fly in the ointment’ because I truly only found one naughty word! At least, I hope I did not miss the others – I was drinking in the text so hungrily I might have missed another occurrence but I’m thinking the one word I found might have been the only one! For this reason, it would make sense if it were erased in the final copy because without more repeats of the same, this could be considered a ‘clean read’ for all young adults who prefer to read stories without strong language. Vulgarity really isn’t necessary in YA (something I blog about quite a heap!) – but in this particular instance, it felt more like a ‘flaw’ than an intention.

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com This book review is courtesy of: BookSparks

The blog tours with BookSparks are quite interesting for book bloggers because none us truly know whose made the blog tour until we try to find each other after the fact! It’s quite a lesson in serendipity to see who is getting the chance to read the same title as you are and finding who else appreciates hosting for BookSparks. The publicity team at BookSparks continue to be gracious and lovely to work as a tour hostess and reviewer.

Blonde Eskimo blog tour via BookSparks.

Readers | Books Bloggers : Impressions of Blonde Eskimo:

{ a quick search + the twitterverse provided me the road map! }

This is not an ordered list as I simply found links in succession of each other.  Be sure to follow the ‘Blonde Eskimo’ on Twitter to find more reader impressions and guest author features. Likewise as most of these bloggers did not mention if they were on the blog tour, I am unsure if they simply requested the book for review independent of the tour or are honestly a part of it.

The first two reviews I am sharing were written well to give a lovely overview of their impressions and how the book resonated with them as a whole. The second review gives a happy SURPRISE bit of news for readers who simply do not want the stories to end with this debut!

Book Review: The Blonde Eskimo by Kristen Hunt | LaLa’s Book Reviews

Book Review: The Blonde Eskimo by Kristen Hunt | Bless Their Hearts Mom

I will admit I was a bit surprised by the other readers main reaction was mentioning this was ‘too YA for YA’ which confused me dearly because wouldn’t we want a young adult book writ for young adults? If we’re adults re-discovering the genre we have to remember going into a reading the target audience would be our younger selves and those of our present or future children. After all, this is what inspired me to re-pick up Children’s Lit in the first place! I do try to give a mixture of reviews on a blog tour but I think they simply surprised me by saying the ‘voice’ of the story was ‘too young’ when I felt it was age appropriate and realistically true! Therefore I limited this section.

Too YA | Little Great Reads

Blonde Eskimo | Happy.Pretty.Sweet.

Book Review: The Blonde Eskimo by Kristen Hunt | I Wuv Books

most of the book reviews I found are alighting directly on GoodReads

+

A beautifully lovely s/o on Twitter on behalf of Blonde Eskimo!

Interview with Kristen Hunt | The State Press

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comBe sure to visit my Bookish Events for (2015)
to see what I’m hosting next for BookSparks!

Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com I am reading this in conjunction with:

Sci Fi November 2015 badge created by Jorie in Canva.

Sci-Fi Month 2015 is a month long event to celebrate science fiction hosted by Rinn Reads and Over the Effing Rainbow. You can view the schedule here, follow the event on Twitter via the official @SciFiMonth Twitter account, or the hashtag #RRSciFiMonth. Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.com Be sure to watch for my reading tweets about TRINITY STONES, a YA novel where Angels are involved in the background to this young adult science fiction urban fantasy! As I hadn’t realised I would be reading two stories where Angels are part of the narrative! What joy! And, I’m blessed to have found two incredible authors of SFF YA Lit!

Also of note, I’ve been reading short stories of corvids as contained in the anthology CORVIDAE! Isn’t it interesting that ravens took a part inside Blonde Eskimo whilst I’ve been reading about ravens inside of Corvidae? November is quite wicked this year! Fun Stuff for Your Blog via pureimaginationblog.comI look forward to reading your thoughts and comments on behalf of this review. Especially if you read the novel or were thinking you might be inclined to read it. I appreciate hearing different points of view especially amongst bloggers who picked up the same novel to read on a blog tour.

Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva.

{SOURCES: The cover art for “Blonde Eskimo”, the synopsis, author biography, and author photograph of Kristen Hunt along with the blog tour badge were provided by BookSparks and used with permission. Comment Box Banner made by Jorie in Canva. Ruminations & Impressions Book Review Banner created by Jorie in Canva. Photo Credit: Unsplash Public Domain Photographer Sergey Zolkin. Post dividers by Fun Stuff for Your Blog via Pure Imagination. Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards Badge created by Jorie in Canva. Coffee and Tea Clip Art Set purchased on Etsy; made by rachelwhitetoo.}

Copyright © Jorie Loves A Story, 2015.

I’m a social reader | I tweet as I read:

 

About jorielov

I am self-educated through local libraries and alternative education opportunities. I am a writer by trade and I cured a ten-year writer’s block by the discovery of Nanowrimo in November 2008. The event changed my life by re-establishing my muse and solidifying my path. Five years later whilst exploring the bookish blogosphere I decided to become a book blogger. I am a champion of wordsmiths who evoke a visceral experience in narrative. I write comprehensive book showcases electing to get into the heart of my reading observations. I dance through genres seeking literary enlightenment and enchantment. Starting in Autumn 2013 I became a blog book tour hostess featuring books and authors. I joined The Classics Club in January 2014 to seek out appreciators of the timeless works of literature whose breadth of scope and voice resonate with us all. "I write my heart out and own my writing after it has spilt out of the pen." - self quote (Jorie of Jorie Loves A Story) more >> | Hire me as a betareader | Policies & Review Requests

Reading this book contributed to these challenges:

  • #ReadingIsBeautiful
  • #SRC2015 | BookSparks
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Posted Sunday, 15 November, 2015 by jorielov in #JorieLovesIndies, #SRC2015 | BookSparks, 21st Century, Alaska, Angels, Animals in Fiction & Non-Fiction, ARC | Galley Copy, Biographical Fiction & Non-Fiction, Bits & Bobbles of Jorie, Blog Tour Host & Reviewer, Book Cover | Notation on Design, BookSparks, Coming-Of Age, Debut Author, Debut Novel, Epistolary Novel | Non-Fiction, Equality In Literature, Family Life, Fantasy Fiction, Folklore and Mythology, Indie Author, Jorie Loves A Story Cuppa Book Love Awards, Life Shift, Magical Realism, Modern Day, Multi-cultural Characters and/or Honest Representations of Ethnicity, Native American Spirituality, Parapsychological Gifts, Parapsychological Suspense, Premonition-Precognitive Visions, Reincarnation, Scandinavian Literature, Small Towne Fiction, Supernatural Creatures & Beings, Supernatural Fiction, Tattoo Art & Design, Teenage Relationships & Friendships, Transfer Student at School, Twitterland & Twitterverse Event, Vulgarity in Literature, Wordsmiths & Palettes of Sage, YA Fantasy, YA Paranormal &/or Paranormal Romance, Young Adult Fiction

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2 responses to “Book Review | “Blonde Eskimo” by Kristen Hunt My first #ReadingIsBeautiful reading on behalf of BookSpark’s Summer Reading Challenge for YA Lit!

  1. OK, I am definitely fascinated by this! I will hunt down a copy soon. I admit I kind of skimmed this review since I have an aversion to spoilers for books I want to read, but the culture aspects definitely interest me! :D

    • Hallo, Hallo Lisa!

      My apologies for a late reply – I took ill in December and had a tragic loss in January; I feel as if March has renewed my spirit and I can pick up from whence I left off with everything – including of course, following up with my commenters! :)

      Oh, dear – I never truly reveal the full context of a story, but I do blog the heart out of the stories I am reading – it’s a way for me to reveal what my actual impressions of a story are whilst I am reading it directly. You wouldn’t have caught too much out of my review except for some of the layers and lovely surprises of what I found most appealing as I read Blonde Eskimo! I hope you’ll return after you’ve had a proper chance to read the book – I’d love to hear your full reaction to my review after you’ve read it, then we could discuss the story, etc!

      I do understand though why you skipped over the review – when I’m reading a book for review, I don’t generally visit other book bloggers reading the same book until after I’ve read the story myself. When I’m trying to decide to read a book without reviewing it, I do read what bloggers are saying as to better help me understand the components of the story or what I’ll find inside – especially if I’m on the fence for a Suspense novel (i.e. language or violence concerns) or one outside a genre I would normally read (i.e. anything Paranormal).

      I think you’d love the culture inclusions because it’s definitely a cardinal piece of the back-story and I felt a good addition to the concept of the story as a whole. I never would have guessed the best surprise of all – as you’ll have to let me know if you liked ‘meeting’ the characters as much as I did!! *hint hint*

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