SRP Review: Winds of Skilak by Bonnie Rose Ward

Review by Christina Freeburn

Disclaimer: The reviews I post on The Self Rescue Princess won’t be the usual style of book review that talks about all the points and elements of a novel. My intention is to focus on heroines that I believe exemplify the spirit and character of a self-rescuing princess or are on their way to achieving that status.

winds of skilakThe book I’m reviewing today is a non-fiction book titled Winds of Skilak: A Tale of True Grit, True Love and Survival in the Alaskan Wilderness. The heroine (and the author) is Bonnie Rose Ward.

I was drawn to the setting and reading about a woman willing to go outside her comfort zone and live a life different from what she knew, and far from where she called home. Even though Bonnie was following her husband’s dream …originally… I found her strong and determined. She loved  her husband and made the choice to follow his dreams, she was also making the choice based on her convictions and beliefs. I admired how she was willing to share her weak moments and fear. At times she was terrified and questioned the decision of moving to Alaska, but she didn’t allow fear to dictate her life.

I loved reading the details about the wilderness, Alaska, and the Wards simple life style. What I loved most was getting to know Bonnie and seeing everything through her eyes. She has such an open heart and honesty in her writing that I was drawn into story. I read non-fiction as I like seeing how the world, life, and situations are viewed by others. It gives me another way to look at the world … and at times encourages me to reevaluate what I thought I knew about a situation in my own life. It makes me pause and look past my view and consider how the someone else might perceive it.

There was an event that happened in the book (I won’t elaborate as I don’t want to give it away) involving a neighbor that I first felt wasn’t fully addressed. I wanted to know how Bonnie came to terms with and what was said to the neighbor after the incident. I was confused why it was never brought up again. It dawned on me that the reason Bonnie didn’t mention it again in the books was because she forgave. It wasn’t an easy forgiveness. She shared her anger, heartbreak and how she struggled with it. Bonnie also shared how she opened up to God and prayed about it and was able to forgive her neighbor.

I realized Bonnie didn’t mention the incident again because she was showing forgiveness. It wasn’t because the author forgot to “tie it up” for readers, or an “editing” issue (as I’ll admit was my first thought) but that is how forgiveness works. It isn’t dwelt on. Isn’t rehashed even in the mind. It’s done. Over. Bonnie’s ability to forgive so truly is what I admire most about her and left me in awe. I hope one day I can have that type of “pure” forgiving nature that the incident doesn’t need a big act of closure on it for it to be done. I’d like for “I forgive” to be enough.

Winds of Skilak Review by Christina Freeburn can be seen on her blog: The Self Rescue Princess. Link below!

SRP Review: Winds of Skilak by Bonnie Rose Ward.

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Award-winning

WINDS OF SKILAK

$5.99 on Kindle

To download, click on amazon link below

 

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THE BEGINNING . . .

1981

Building  Our Home In The Alaskan Wilderness

In the spring of 1981 we purchased our “little piece of wilderness heaven” on Caribou Island in ill-tempered Skilak Lake. Following are photo’s of beginning our new life in the wilderness! I hope you enjoy them. Please forgive that some of these photo’s are old and grainy.

1981 - Our Cabin Site on Caribou Island, Skilak Lake!

1981 – Our Cabin Site on Caribou Island, Skilak Lake! Notice our neighbor Bullwinkle in the background!

Checking out our new surroundings on Caribou Island, Skilak Lake!

Checking out our new surroundings on Caribou Island, Skilak Lake!

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Sam standing on Caribou Island’s rocky beach. In the background at the upper end of the lake are the Kenai Mountains.

Bonnie standing on the beach. Water is low in the spring.

Bonnie standing on the beach. Water is low in the spring.

Sam carrying a log that will be used for firewood.

Sam carrying a log that will be used for firewood.

Peeling the logs that will be used on the cabin.

Peeling the logs that will be used on the cabin.

Seems like Sam's always got a log attached to his shoulder these days!

Seems like Sam’s always got a log attached to his shoulder these days!

Floor's done! Time for a coffee break!

Floor’s done! Time for a coffee break!

Cooking breakfast on the camp stove. There's Bullwinkle again, browsing nearby!

Cooking breakfast on the camp stove. There’s Bullwinkle again, browsing nearby!

Making progress! Can't wait to get out of the pup tent and into my new "home!"

Making progress! Can’t wait to get out of the pup tent and into my new “home!”

Writing letters to the loved ones back home. The pup tent in the background was home for three months. Pot of beans is cooking on the wood stove. The plastic sheeting behind me is used to cover the tent when it rains.

Writing letters to the loved ones back home. The pup tent in the background was home for three months. The plastic sheeting behind me was used to cover the tent when it rained. There’s a pot of beans cooking on the wood stove (that Sam’s brother, Paul built for us) for supper. We ate beans every day! This photo is old but it “tells” a lot!

My handsome husband shaving out of a gold pan. This photo is dear to me because Sam looks so happy, but tragically, this was taken shortly before his horrific accident! (Details are in my book!)

My handsome husband shaving out of a gold pan. This photo is dear to me because Sam looks so happy, but tragically, this was taken shortly before his horrific accident! (Details are in my book!)

This photo was taken after recuperating from his tragic accident, Sam is back to work on the cabin!

This photo was taken after recuperating from his tragic accident, Sam is back to work on the cabin!

Finally got the roof on! Just need a door now!

Finally got the roof on! Just need a door now!

Sam is almost finished hanging the door! A good solid door! Let the cold winds blow, we'll be snug and warm in our little cabin home!

Sam is almost finished hanging the door! A good solid door! Let the cold winds blow, we’ll be snug and warm in our little cabin home!

FINISHED!

FINISHED!

Home sweet home! It took lots of blood, sweat and tears, broken bones and many pots of beans, but, it's like Sam always says, "We did it, and that's what counts!"

Home sweet home! It took lots of blood, sweat and tears, broken bones and many pots of beans. But, it’s like Sam always says, “We did it, and that’s what counts!”

When the salmon entered the lake on their way to their spawning grounds, all work ceased on the cabin. It was time to go fishing!

When the salmon entered the lake on their way to their spawning grounds, all work ceased on the cabin. It was time to go fishing!

Several species of salmon enter the lake. Sam is posing with a nice King salmon. He got this one on the Kenai River, which flows through Skilak.

Several species of salmon enter the lake. Sam is posing with a nice King salmon. He got this one on the Kenai River, which flows through Skilak.

The salmon have been soaking in the brine and are now drying. They will soon go into the smoker that Sam made from a barrel pictured in the foreground

The salmon have been soaking in the brine and are now drying. They will soon go into the smoker that Sam built using a barrel, pictured in the foreground.

My wilderness kitchen! The heart of a home - for me, that is! Burned a few loaves of bread not to mention a few fingers before I got the hang of the wood cook stove!

My wilderness kitchen! The heart of a home – for me, that is! Burned a few loaves of bread not to mention a few fingers before I got the hang of the wood cook stove!

Sam building a log chicken coop for our chickens! Good job, Sam!

Sam building a log chicken coop for our chickens! Good job, Sam!

Chicken coop is finished! Sam is taking a break while our rabbit checks in for a visit.

Chicken coop is finished! Sam is taking a break while our rabbit, Susie hops by to inspect Sam’s work!

The flock is growing and we now have a turkey as well - seen in the pen. The fish net covering the pen protects the chickens from predator birds looking for a good dinner!

The flock is growing and we now have a turkey as well – seen in the pen. The fish net covering the pen protects the chickens from predator birds looking for a good meal!

Chickens go scurrying when a young bull moose pays a visit!

Chickens go scurrying when a young bull moose pays a visit!

Feeding the chickens!

Feeding the chickens!

Our hen, Gladys with her little chicks. Gladys loved nesting and she hatched and raised more chicks than any other chicken!

Our hen, Genevieve with her little chicks. Genevieve loved nesting and she hatched and raised more chicks than any other chicken!

Sam looks pretty happy with his new generator. Used for recharging our radio battery!

Sam looks pretty happy with his new generator. Used for recharging our radio battery!

Our little homestead slowly included new members. Sam is pictured here with my milk goat, Esther, and our two kid goats, Heidi and Billie . . . oh, and let's not forget, our turkey, General Lee.

Our little homestead slowly grew to include new members. Sam is pictured here with my milk goat, Esther, and our two kid goats, Heidi and Billie . . . oh, and let’s not forget, our turkey, General Lee.

"It's mine, I seen it first. I know there's corn in the bottom of this bag."

“It’s mine, I seen it first. I know there’s corn in the bottom of this bag.”

Heidi is trying to get Sam's tobacco out of his shirt pocket!

Heidi is trying to get Sam’s tobacco out of his shirt pocket!

This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes, wash our clothes, this is the way we wash our clothes, so early in the morning. Oh, the washtub had a dual purpose (at least). I not only used it for laundry, but for my bathtub as well!

This is the way we wash our clothes, wash our clothes, wash our clothes, this is the way we wash our clothes, so early in the morning. Oh, the washtub had a dual purpose (at least). I not only used it for laundry, but for my bathtub as well!

Milking Esther! After I milked Esther, I would strain the milk and pour into a sterilized quart jar. Then Esther and I would walk down the "water trail" to the beach where Esther would browse on choice grasses while I would re-fill my dishpan with fresh cold lake water. I would rotate the jars in the dishpan, which I kept off the beach and tucked away in the tree-line That milk would be very cold in less than an hour.

Milking Esther! After I milked Esther, I would strain the milk and pour into a sterilized quart jar. Then Esther and I would walk down the “water trail” to the beach where Esther would browse on choice grasses while I would re-fill my dishpan with fresh cold lake water. I would rotate the jars in the dishpan, which I kept off the beach and tucked away just inside the tree-line. That milk would be very cold and delicious in less than an hour.

Yippee! I'm moving up in the world! From wash pan to sauna for my bathing needs! Sam built this wood heated sauna our second summer on the island. Nothing better to warm a body to the bones and clean out the pores!

Yippee! I’m moving up in the world! From washtub to sauna for my bathing needs! Sam built this wood heated sauna our second summer on the island. Nothing better to warm a body to the bones and clean out the pores!

AND THEN COMES WINTER!

AND THEN COMES WINTER!

WINTER WONDERLAND! So quiet you can hear a snowflake falling to the ground.

WINTER WONDERLAND! So quiet you can hear a snowflake falling to the ground.

Chickens are tucked in safe and warm for the winter!

Chickens are tucked in safe and warm for the winter! I think Heidi wants to move in!

OUR FIRST WINTER! FEELING BLESSED IN OUR HUMBLE LITTLE CABIN!

OUR FIRST WINTER! FEELING BLESSED IN OUR HUMBLE LITTLE CABIN!

A moose out on the frozen surface of Skilak Lake.

A moose out on the frozen surface of Skilak Lake.

Moose on Caribou Island!

Moose on Caribou Island!

Moose on Caribou Island munching on tree branches.

Moose on Caribou Island munching on tree branches near our cabin.

With winter comes trapping. Here is Sam with a Coyote!

With winter comes trapping. Here is Sam with a Coyote!

Sam with a coyote he caught. Along with coyote, Sam trapped, mink, otter, beaver and more.

Sam with a coyote he caught. Along with coyote, Sam trapped, mink, otter, beaver and more.

Trapper Sam holding up a string of mink pelts! Notice the Bear jaw handled knife he made?

Trapper Sam holding up a string of mink pelts! Notice the Bear jaw handled knife he made?

I enjoyed sewing and making crafts out of the furs that Sam trapped.

I enjoyed sewing and making crafts out of the furs that Sam trapped.

Sam sporting the beaver fur hat I made for him. He trapped the beaver during the winter.

Sam sporting the beaver fur hat I made for him. He trapped the beaver during the winter.

Building a dock! Skilak is frozen and you can see our "ice road" behind Sam as it heads toward Frying Pan Island!

Building a dock! Skilak is frozen and you can see our “ice road” behind Sam as it heads toward Frying Pan Island!

Our second summer, Sam also built a guest cabin tucked into the woods behind our main cabin.

Our second summer, Sam also built a guest cabin tucked into the woods behind our main cabin.

My sister came to visit our fourth year on the island. She is seen here with Sam as they skin a rabbit that Sam just shot for our supper.

My sister came to visit our fourth year on the island. She is seen here with Sam as they skin a rabbit that Sam just shot for our supper.

Sam the great hunter! He provided all of our meat from hunting and fishing. We never bought meat (or bread for that matter) out of a grocery store for nine years!!

Sam the great hunter! He provided all of our meat from hunting and fishing. We never bought meat (or bread for that matter) out of a grocery store for nine years! I canned all of our meat in quart jars by the hundred’s and baked all of our bread! Yummy & Healthy!

The huge 1,000 pound brown bear that Sam shot!

The huge 1,000 pound brown bear that Sam shot!

That was a big bear!

That was a big bear!

Sam's pretty happy that he brought this bear down. It had charged him and his friend up on the mountain.

Sam’s pretty happy that he brought this bear down. It had charged him and his friend up on the mountain.

That brown bear was so big that it made our cabin look small!

That brown bear was so big that it made our cabin look small!

                                                           

Photo’s Of The Beautiful Outdoors!

Rainbow over the lake near Frying Pan Island.

Rainbow over the lake near Frying Pan Island.

Up on the mountain where Sam shot the bear and where we would pick blueberries. Looking down the lake toward Caribou and Frying Pan Islands. The tiny Island in between the two is Little Caribou Island.

Up on the mountain where Sam shot the bear and where we would pick blueberries. Looking down the lake toward Caribou and Frying Pan Islands. The tiny Island in between the two is Little Caribou Island.

This is our second cabin home that we built our third year on the island. Nestled safely in a forest of snow covered pines. You can see our very first "wooden Dumpey" boat, "Ol' Slow Boat Annie," we dubbed her. And the Old Dorey next to her. We've swamped that Dory a time or two crossing that lake with a loads of wood!

This is our second cabin home that we built our third year on the island. Nestled safely in a forest of snow covered pines. You can see our very first “wooden Dumpey” boat, “Ol’ Slow Boat Annie,” we dubbed her. And the Old Dorey next to her. We’ve swamped that Dory a time or two crossing that lake with a loads of wood!

Skilak is in a bad mood today! Photo is old, grainy and not very clear. Doesn't do the scene justice!

Skilak is in a bad mood this day! Photo is old, grainy and not very clear. Doesn’t do the scene justice!

Landscape photo of the upper end of the lake by Jeremy Sauskojus. This is Skilak on one of those rare and beautiful days. Days like this would make me sometimes forget how ill-tempered the "great lady" could get.

Landscape photo of the upper end of the lake by Jeremy Sauskojus. This is Skilak on one of those rare and beautiful days. Days like this would make me sometimes forget how ill-tempered the “great lady” could get.

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WINDS OF SKILAK is the WINNER of the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards in the memoir (other) category!

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I am thrilled to announce that my book WINDS OF SKILAK has been named the WINNER in the MEMOIRS (Other) category of the 2014 NEXT GENERATION INDIE BOOK AWARDS! I’m still pinching myself to make sure it’s real! Many thanks to the folks and judges at the Next Generation Indie Book Awards for all their hard work for making this event possible and for giving my book this great opportunity to now showcase it as an AWARD WINNING TITLE!

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Beautiful Landscape Photo of Skilak Lake by Jeremy Sauskojus

Beautiful Landscape Photo of Skilak Lake by Jeremy Sauskojus

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Bird’s Eye View of Upper End of Skilak Lake

Bird's Eye View of Upper End of Skilak Lake

Upper end of Skilak Lake! You can see the Kenai Mountains that go on and on. At the end of the lake if you look closely you can see the glacier flats. Carved out from the glacier many years ago, it leads to the Skilak glacier about six or seven miles distant. Back in the mid 80’s, we walked right up to the glacier and picked ice off the glacier wall and ate it. Ice as old as the millennium.

Interesting story: We learned just a few years ago, that the glacier has receded and there is now a huge lake in front of the glacier that is approximately a mile wide and one or two miles long (I’ve heard that is just an estimate and it might be smaller) and I was told that it is very deep, approximately 1700 feet. This just amazed me when I found out about this newly formed lake at the base of the glacier. It was the contributing factor that inspired me to put the chapter “Gold Under That There Glacier” back into the book. I had previously cut it to keep my page number down. However, after hearing of this massive (global warming) geological change in just the few short years since we left Alaska, I had to put that chapter back in the book!

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Bird’s Eye View of Skilak Lake

Bird's Eye View of Skilak Lake

Our good friend, Jeff Mahan sent us these photo’s of Skilak Lake. The largest island is Caribou Island, where we lived for nine years. And then the little tiny island is Little Caribou Island and then there is Frying Pan island. The reason Caribou Island is private property, unlike the rest of the lake and surrounding area for miles and miles is because Andy and Jessie Anderson homesteaded Caribou Island back in the early 1900’s! The south shore which is closest to Caribou Island is where Sam did his trapping. The Skilak Loop road that leads to civilization is on the north shore, the farthest from the island.

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Book signing at the Craigsville Public Library on April 11, 2014

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I will be at the Craigsville, WV. Public Library on Friday, April 11, 2014 to meet the public and autograph my Alaskan memoir Winds of Skilak. If you’re in the area and looking for a good read, then stop by! I’d love to chat with you!

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We Have a Winner in the Goodreads Book Giveaway!

Congratulations go out to Mick Gillies from Australia! He is the winner of the Goodreads book giveaway. He will receive a copy of my book Winds of Skilak. I want to shout a big thank you to all 696 of the people who entered the contest. I appreciate your interest in Winds of Skilak.

The book is available for purchase at my website: http://www.windsofskilak.com. Please don’t forget to enter the promo code: ‘Skilak’ so you can get a 10% discount!

 

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‘Winds of Skilak’ Reviews…

I want to shout out a sincere heartfelt thank you to my readers and fans who have taken the time to post their wonderful reviews on places like amazon and goodreads. What better way to share my story with the visitors to my blog than to let the reviews talk for themselves.
Here are a few of my reader’s reviews for Winds of Skilak. For more, check out my amazon book page.
 
5.0 out of 5 stars A GREAT TRUE STORY, February 17, 2014
By
Thriller Writer (Pittsburgh, PA, USA) –
 
The subtitle of WINDS OF SKILAK (“a tale of true grit, true love, and survival in the Alaskan Wilderness”) is a promise on the front book cover of the story to be found within the pages. Many promises fail to deliver; but WINDS OF SKILAK delivers in a big way that is always enjoyable, sometimes funny, and often moving. Sam and Bonnie are a married couple with a dream that many have but few ever act on: to leave city life behind and build a life in the wilderness. The couple are intent on surviving off the land, using only their wits and faith in themselves and the Almighty. Sam is a modern-day Daniel Boone, using outdoorsman skills learned in his boyhood in West Virginia and honed to perfection in adulthood; Bonnie is his faithful companion, jumping into every challenge with gusto and contributing all she can to make their experiment a success. They choose to settle in Alaska on an island with terrible winds, bone chilling cold, and the beautiful but often angry Skilak Lake at their doorstep. They build their own cabin from scratch and (mostly) live off the land. There are real dangers at every turn, like bears and having to make necessary drives to town across a frozen Skilak Lake in a Jeep after the weather has turned warmer. Note to any movie producers reading these words: this nonfiction book reads like an adventure novel that would make a great movie. WINDS OF SKILAK is an interesting, thoroughly enjoyable read that is a testament to the power of intention and faith in oneself and God. i give WINDS OF SKILAK by Bonnie Rose Ward the highest recommendation.

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5.0 out of 5 stars True Grit, True Love, and Survival in the Alaskan Wilderness, for sure!, February 2, 2014
By
 
Winds of Skilak is an incredible, moving true story of a man and a woman, deeply in love, who decide to live out their dream of living in the Alaskan wilderness. Sam and Bonnie pack up and leave their lives, as they know them, behind. They set their minds on conquering their dream, and they don’t let anything stop them. Their bravery, determination, and desire to adapt and overcome anything Caribou Island and Skilak Lake have to throw at them is as encouraging as it is remarkable. Together and with God, Sam and Bonnie learn and grow as husband and wife and as wilderness people.This is a book I will read again and again. I recommend it to everyone I come in contact with. There is so much to learn in this book, not only about wilderness survival, but about relying on each other and the power of prayer to overcome any obstacle life throws at you. This book serves as a reminder that you CAN accomplish your dreams, as long as you believe it, believe God, and never give up.While reading Winds of Skilak, I laughed and cried with Bonnie. Sometimes, it may have been a mixture of both. Most of the time, I found myself smiling, eager to tell someone what I’d just read about Sam and Bonnie’s life in Alaska. For a moment, when I had about 40 pages to go, I decided that I was going to put the book down for a few days, because I simply did not want it to end. Then, I picked the book back up, thirsty for more of Bonnie’s recounts. Winds of Skilak is truly an amazing book.
 
A beautiful, inspiring story., January 17, 2014
 
I cannot say enough about this wonderful book. Bonnie Rose Ward and her husband Sam had an adventure in Alaska that very few will ever be fortunate enough to experience. They also share a love that continues to inspire to this day. I was so involved in the story that I could not put the book down, but I also hated to come to the end of the moving story. It was so refreshing to read a story that shows there can be true love and true teamwork if people are only willing to strive for it. I also enjoyed reading about the wonderful friends they made during their adventure. It was an amazing account of life in another area and the challenges that people face on a daily basis. It was amazing to see how much you can accomplish through hard work and determination. I was inspired in so many ways by their story. I know the book only covers a limited time and I do hope there will be a second book soon!
 
I LOVE this book !!!!, January 12, 2014
Winds of Skilak by Bonnie Rose Ward is an amazing book of courage, determination, creativity, hard work, resourcefulness and especially love. The love between Bonnie and Sam is enviable. And the courage of these two young people, to go to Alaska and carve out their life in the hardness and coldness on an island in Alaska. If Alaska is not enough of a challenge, this couple chose to build on an island that is known for its harshness. My thoughts were always drawn to Bonnie and how this tiny, sweet, young beauty loved enough and trusted enough to follow her husband, Sam into the wilderness. Honestly, I could not put this book down – it was such a wonderful read, full of surprises and delight. I just can hardly wait for a sequel. Please, Bonnie, I hope you are writing your continued story right now. I will purchase the first copy.
 
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