Book Review of Eye of The Bear by Naida West

Book Review: Eye of The Bear by Naida West

 About The Author


Naida West, Ph.D., lives with her husband on their little ranch in California’s “Gold Country.” The ranch lies alongside the Cosumnes River, a primary setting in her novels.
Born in Idaho, she spent her early years in small towns and on farms and ranches, often living with relatives. Among the many schools, she attended a one-room schoolhouse in Divide, Montana. She lived in a variety of homes where the inhabitants ranged from Methodist, Mormon, Catholic to agnostic — all opinionated. They were conscientious objectors, military patriots, alcoholics, and religious teetotalers. They raised sugar beets, potatoes, sheep, and cattle; they practiced law, the Christian ministry, and played piano-bar. Naida learned to stand back and observe. In all locations she wandered freely through open fields and hills and along streams. Greatly influential was her grandmother, Elizabeth Symon Smith (the subject of Symon’s Daughter) — a teacher and lover of English literature...

For inspiration and stress reduction Naida walks the trails along the Cosumnes, where history seems to come alive beneath her feet. That and the beauty of the natural world unblocks the flow of words. In 2010, she completed the 3rd novel in her California Gold trilogy, Rest for the Wicked.
Naida has managed the Authors Booth at the California State Fair for 13 years, and has spoken at, and led, writers conferences and workshops. A lively speaker, she often headlines conferences in the three fields of California history about which she has written: Native American/Euro-American contact period; Gold Rush; and turn-of-the-century Gilded Age.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 630 pages
  • Publisher: Bridge House Books (January 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0965348741
  • ISBN-13: 978-0965348744
Naida West has finished the third novel in her California Gold trilogy, Rest for the Wicked. It has taken me awhile to finish her first novel, Eye of The Bear and a big thank you to Bridge house Books for providing this book for review. I have now passed the first novel onto my husband because we both LOVE California history. 

About the Book

The story begins in the 1820s around the time of California's pre-gold rush days.  Naida covers the history of the West, including true events, real people and thought-provoking content.
I was aware of the conflict between and among the Native Americans, the Spanish/Mexican secular rulers, and the religious zealots of the early California Missions but not to the extent that Naida discloses to her readers with tremendous research and excellent representation of what really happened in fictional form. Perhaps said best in one word... injustice!
Chapter Listings:

Tracks to Another World
The Circle Widens 
"Becoming strong on earth is a lesson in not floating, in becoming less transparent, in becoming an animal shape against the sky."
From: The Endangered Roots of a Person - Wendy Rose, Miwok

Los Americanos
Walking Into Fire

"The men wore human skins
but removed them at night
and fell to the bottom of darkness
like crows without wings.

War was the perfect disguise. 
Their mothers would not have known them,
That's why fire is restless
and smoke has become the escaped wings of crows."
 From: "Skin" - Linda Hogan, Chickasaw

For more information, visit Naida's website,

My Review

Big thank you to Bridge House Books in Rancho Murieta, California for sending a copy to LadyD Books for review.

Eye of the Bear is not what I expected! Naida West has done a superb job in weaving historical fact with fiction and creating the first of 3 great novels about the California Native Americans.

In the back of Naida West's novel is a list of glossary terms. You will learn about the Neophytes. During the time of establishing Missions along the California Coast and inland, the captured Indians, called neophytes were baptized Indians into the Catholic faith. The details of their cruel torture and punishment while confined to the mission walls and way of life was difficult for me to read and almost unforgivable by the Black Hats. This is a fanciful name for the Mexican soldiers who lived in the presidios of San Diego, Santa Barbara, Monterey and San Francisco.

Not only does Naida West explain the Spanish terms in her book such as  Tulares, a specie of giant hollow-stemmed marsh grass known as Tule Fog but Naida's main character, Grizzly Hair becomes her main fictional character. The author's huge efforts of research greatly shows in her ***** star novel, Eye of the Bear. If you want to learn the stories of the Indians and their life style, plus the stern, cruel taskmaster's of the mission, like Father Narcisco Duran then you must purchase the book!

Naida reveals so much of what really went on in the missions, stuff you would never learn in school nor have any idea... the land that you walk on was once inhabited by these dear people.

Naida West did a masterful job weaving fact/fiction with California history that I had not known before. A wonderful wordsmith, beautiful job. Naida deserves much praise for  Eye Of The Bear.
I'm looking forward to reading her next book in the series.
Eye of the Bear
* * * * * *
Barefoot Books offers Board Books about Bears.

Bear's Busy Family

Meet the rest of Bear's family and learn about all of their busy activities. Smell, touch, taste and sound are all familiarized in this rhyming text, and there is a full spread family tree at the end.
Ages 2 to 6 years 

Written By: Stella Blackstone
Illustrated By: Debbie Harter
Barefoot Books offers Spanish Books for Kids.

Familia activa de Oso

Bear's Busy Family

Meet the rest of Bear's family and learn about all of their busy activities. Smell, touch, taste and sound are all familiarized in this rhyming text, and there is a full spread family tree at the end. (Spanish language edition)
Ages 1 to 4 years
Written By: Stella Blackstone
Illustrated By: Debbie Harter
Paperback $6.99
* * * * * 
Polar Bear Puppet
Barefoot Books Offers Bear Hand Puppets

Polar Bear Puppet

Brrr! This plush polar bear hand puppet features movable head and arms, a soft vinyl nose, and rubber claws, and is fashioned with ultra-soft, micro fiber fabrics.
Ages 5 to 8 years
Produced By: Folkmanis 
Puppet $20.99 

Black Bear Finger Puppet

Wander through the forest with this cuddly black bear. This finger puppet is six inches long.
Ages 3 to 7 years
Produced By: Folkmanis 
Puppet $7.99

As always,  for browsing for children's picture books and looking at the Folkmanis puppet collection, visit My Bookstore
Thanks for stopping by.
-- LadyD

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