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Archive for the ‘Books’ Category

This month’s books:

Home: A Memoir of my Early Year – Julie Andrews
Firefly Lane – Kristin Hannah
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Alice’s Tulips – Sandra Dallas
Summer Snow – Amy Warwick
The Persian Pickle Club – Sandra Dallas

Home: A Memoir of my Early Year – Julie Andrews

In Home: A Memoir of My Early Years, Julie Andrews takes her readers on a warm, moving, and often humorous journey from a difficult upbringing in war-torn Britain to the brink of international stardom in America.

I found this book about Julie Andrews to be truly fascinating.  I have been a fan of Julie Andrews work since I was a young girl.  It was really great to read about her life as told in her own words.  She faced many hardships and struggles that you would not guess.  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys the work of Julie Andrews.

Firefly Lane – Kristin Hannah

In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the “coolest girl in the world” moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. Tully Hart seems to have it all—beauty, brains, ambition. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be: Kate, doomed to be forever uncool, with a loving family who mortifies her at every turn. Tully, steeped in glamour and mystery, but with a secret that is destroying her. They make a pact to be best friends forever; by summer’s end they’ve become TullyandKate. Inseparable.

To me this story is about girlfriends.  The truest of friendships, yet also the most heartbreaking.  It symbolized to me the type of friendship I think most women are looking for.  The book follow Kate and Tully from their first meeting and throughout their lives.  It follow them when they are close and when they are far apart.  It is well written and very touching and heartfelt.  I really enjoyed this book.

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society – Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

January 1946: writer Juliet Ashton receives a letter from a stranger, a founding member of the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. And so begins a remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.

I struggled with this book from the very beginning!  I had such high hopes because I had heard so many great things about this book.  Although it is something I RARELY do, I put this book down at page 116.  I just couldn’t get into it.  I like a book that can capture me.  I like to feel as if I am a part of the story or watching it unfurl before my eyes.  I just never got that with this book.  Maybe I’ll go back to it at another time, it just wasn’t for me.

Alice’s Tulips – Sandra Dallas

Alice Bullock is a young bride whose husband, a Union soldier in the Civil War, leaves her on his Iowa farm with his formidable mother. Equally talented at quilting and gossip, Alice fills her letters to her sister with accounts of her daily life, from the local quilting bees, to the rigors of farm life, to the customs and restraints of small-town America. No town is too small, however, to escape intrigue and treachery, and when Alice finds herself accused of murder, she must rely on support from unlikely sources. Rich in details of quilting, Civil War-era America, and the hardships and rewards of a woman’s life in the 19th century, this is Sandra Dallas at her best.

I typically enjoy any book that falls into the Historical Fiction genre and this was no exception.  I couldnt put this book down.  As Alice stuggled with life on the farm while Charlie was off fighting in the civil war I was right there with her.  I enjoyed every page of this book.

Summer Snow – Amy Warwick

In the rural farming community of Glendale, Washington single mother Mystery Abbott struggles daily with three children, an overbearing mother, and the town gossips led by her neighbor Liv. Liv Randall strives to be seen as the pillar of the community, a complete antithesis to her neighbor. Twins Dana and Janie Abbott struggle with their own coming of age issues, independently fighting against the stereotype of being Mystery Abbott’s daughters. When Mystery’s dilapidated roof caves in after a series of unseasonable storms exposing a secret lover hidden in Mystery’s closet, the women are forced not only to deal with their feelings about one another, but also with the self-imposed limitations they have placed on themselves.

This is Amy Warwick’s debut novel.  It was well written and easy to follow.  The story line was captivating and moved quickly.  The chapters switched back and forth between the four main characters until they all come together in the end.  If Mrs. Warwick’s future novels are anything like this one, I can not wait to read them.

The Persian Pickle Club – Sandra Dallas

It is the 1930s, and hard times have hit Harveyville, Kansas, where the crops are burning up, and there’s not a job to be found. For Queenie Bean, a young farm wife, a highlight of each week is the gathering of the Persian Pickle Club, a group of local ladies dedicated to improving their minds, exchanging gossip, and putting their quilting skills to good use. When a new member of the club stirs up a dark secret, the women must band together to support and protect one another. In her magical, memorable novel, Sandra Dallas explores the ties that unite women through good times and bad.

This book was set during the time of the Dust Bowl when crops were withering and rain was scarce.  This was not my favorite of Sandra Dallas’ books but was still very enjoyable.  I read it in just a few hours.

Well there you have it, my June Reading List.  I hope you have enjoyed this months selections.  As always you can purchase any of the books listed above by clicking the pictures or by visiting my Amazon Store.  Thanks and Happy Reading!

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WOW! I have REALLY gotten behind!  School is out now though and I have the lazy days of summer ahead of me to get all caught up.  I am certain I am going to miss a few book here.  I also know that I did not get to do nearly the amount of reading as I had hoped.

I am looking for recommendations for my summer reading list right now.  If you wish to recommend a book that you loved, that you think I will love or that you haven’t read yet but thinks looks interesting, please leave a comment.  I will do my best to get to it and will blog about it when I do.

As always, books listed here will be available through my Amazon store and several are still available for FREE through my PaperBackSwap store.

   A Walk Across America
   By Peter Jenkins

Twenty-five years ago, a disillusioned young man set out on a walk across America. This is the book he wrote about that journey — a classic account of the reawakening of his faith in himself and his country.

“I started out searching for myself and my country,” Peter Jenkins writes, “and found both.” In this timeless classic, Jenkins describes how disillusionment with society in the 1970s drove him out onto the road on a walk across America. His experiences remain as sharp and telling today as they were twenty-five years ago — from the timeless secrets of life, learned from a mountain-dwelling hermit, to the stir he caused by staying with a black family in North Carolina, to his hours of intense labor in Southern mills. Many, many miles later, he learned lessons about his country and himself that resonate to this day — and will inspire a new generation to get out, hit the road and explore.

This book is perfect for anyone with an adventurous spirit.  Peter’s journey is filled with fun and laughter, sorrow and heartbreak, and keeps you in its grasp till the very end.  I couldn’t put this one down!  A word of advice though, if you don’t like knowing what happens ahead of times – AVOID THE PICTURES!!! The pictures are WONDERFUL, BUT they give away some things in the book!

On Mystic Lake: A Novel
  By Kristin Hannah

Annie Colwater’sonly child has just left home for school abroad. On that same day, her husband of twenty years confesses that he’s in love with a younger woman. Alone in the house that is no longer a home, Annie comes to the painful realization that for years she has been slowly disappearing. Lonely and afraid, she retreats to Mystic, the small Washington town where she grew up, hoping that there she can reclaim the woman she once was–the woman she is now desperate to become again.

In Mystic, she is reunited with her first love, Nick Delacroix, a recent widower unable to cope with his grieving, too-silent six-year-old daughter, Izzie. Together, the three of them begin to heal, and, at last, Annie learns that she can love without losing herself. But just when she has found a second chance at happiness, her life is turned upside down again, and Annie must make a choice no woman should have to make. . . .

I have read several Krisitn Hannah books in the past and enjoyed this one as well.  The story is romantic and heartfelt and could really happen.  Kristin Hannah is a down to earth writer.

Light of the Moon
By Luanne Rice

Against a backdrop of stunning natural beauty, and in the shadow of a mysterious family legend, one woman is about to discover that to find your way home, sometimes you must travel far away.…Rice delivers a spellbinding story set within a breathtaking landscape where secrets and revelations have the power to change lives forever.Luanne, New York Times bestselling author

An accomplished anthropologist, Susannah Connolly suddenly finds herself adrift in the wake of a failed love affair and the loss of her mother. Boarding a transcontinental flight on the evening of her birthday, she’s decided to give herself a long-deferred gift. Encouraged by her late mother’s magical stories, she is traveling from the Connecticut shore to the fabled French Camargue, to see its famous white horses and find a mysterious “saint” linked to her family’s history.

Amid the endless silvered marshes, she will find a lonely man, his wounded daughter–and a part of herself she hadn’t known she’d lost…until she realized how hard it would be to lose it again. In Light of the Moon

This book is whimsical and fun.  A little romance, a little mystery and a little magic.  You are on the edge of your seat until the end to see how it all turns out.
 
The Blue Nowhere: A Novel
By Jeffery Deaver

His code name is Phate– a sadistic computer hacker who infiltrates people’s computers, invades their lives, and with chilling precision lures them to their deaths. To stop him, the authorities free imprisoned former hacker Wyatt Gillette to aid the investigation. Teamed with old-school homicide detective Frank Bishop, Gillette must combine their disparate talents to catch a brilliant and merciless killer.

This was my second experience with a Jeffery Deaver novel and it was just as thrilling and intense as the first.  He stories grip you from the beginning, leave you questioning multiple characters, throw some curveballs at you and then leave you totally shocked in the end.  Cleverly written and very knowledgeable this will excite any suspense loving reader!

Resolution
By Robert B. Parker

 A greedy mine owner threatens the coalition of local ranchers in the town of Resolution, pitching two honorable gunfighters, Virgil Cole and Everett Hitch, into a make-shift war that’ll challenge their friendship —and the violently shifting laws of the West.

I always enjoy a good homesteader/wild west type novel.  This book was descent in that the story was interesting and fast-paced.  The writing style was amateurish in my opinion. There was a lot of dialog followed by, “‘so-and-so’ said.”  It got a little mundane after a while.  And while the story itself was interesting I was SHOCKED at the use of foul language throughout the book.  I purchased this book at walmart who is so well known for their censorship of music, not allowing any un-edited CD’s with a parental advisory sticker to be sold in their store.  Well clearly they aren’t policing their books.  The F-word was used on nearly every other page throughout the book! So, while the story was good, I’ll leave it up to you to decide about the quality of the book!

Testimony: A Novel
By Anita Shreve

At a New England boarding school, a sex scandal is about to break. Even more shocking than the sexual acts themselves is the fact that they were caught on videotape. A Pandora’s box of revelations, the tape triggers a chorus of voices–those of the men, women, teenagers, and parents involved in the scandal–that details the ways in which lives can be derailed or destroyed in one foolish moment.

Writing with a pace and intensity surpassing even her own greatest work, Anita Shreve delivers in TESTIMONY a gripping emotional drama with the impact of a thriller. No one more compellingly explores the dark impulses that sway the lives of seeming innocents, the needs and fears that drive ordinary men and women into intolerable dilemmas, and the ways in which our best intentions can lead to our worst transgressions.

Although the book starts out with a very explicit description of the sexual scene which unfold on the tape I really found this to be a compelling book.  As a teacher who works with teens I think the message in the book was very real and very relevant.  The situation described in the book is likely one that many teens are faced with and the book shows the many views and effects of a single split-second decision.

Jack’s Shop: Beyond the Front Porch
By James P. Herndon

Follow the antics and adventures of a young boy growing up in rural Virginia during the1950s and ’60s. It may bring to mind a far simpler and, in some ways, misguided period in the history of the south. A bygone era of outhouses, skunks, and the simple pleasures of country living is fondly recalled with a unique sampling of poignant humor. Through his eyes, the serenity and simplicity of the day is continually questioned until finally a life-threatening illness forces a painful reality.

This book was written by a friend of my parents.  It was very enjoyable.  The writing style is a little “rough-cut” but only adds to the charm of the book.  Through your reading you will feel as if Jim has pulled up a chair beside you on the porch and is sharing stories of the “good-ol-days” with you as you sip iced tea.  The stories in the book are funny and heart-warming.  I look forward to reading more of Jim’s work.

The Soul of a Chef: The Journey Toward Perfection
By Michael Ruhlman

In his second in-depth foray into the world of professional cooking, Michael Ruhlmanjourneys into the heart of the profession. Observing the rigorous Certified Master Chef exam at the Culinary Institute of America, the most influential cooking school in the country, Ruhlman enters the lives and kitchens of rising star Michael Symon and renowned Thomas Keller of the French Laundry. This fascinating book will satisfy any reader’s hunger for knowledge about cooking and food, the secrets of successful chefs, at what point cooking becomes an art form, and more. Like Ruhlman’s The Making of a Chef, this is an instant classic in food writing-one of the fastest growing and most popular subjects today.

In the last few years I have begun to realize my dream to become a chef.  Although it is highly unliklythat I would uproot my life to attend culinary school, I do try to read as many cooking resources as possible to improve my technique and broaden my knowledge of the culinary world.  Michael Ruhlman in an excellent author in this field.  In this book he follows several chefs as they face the challenges of becoming better and making it in a dog-eat-dog world.   The book was funny, intriguing and eye-opening.  Additionally, it contains a full section of recipes at the back! YUM!

Two Rivers
By T. Greenwood

In “Two Rivers”, Vermont, Harper Montgomery is living a life overshadowed by grief and guilt. Since the death of his wife twelve years earlier, Harper has narrowed his world to working at the local railroad and raising his daughter, Shelly. Still wracked with sorrow over his loss and plagued by his role in a brutal, long-ago crime, he wants only to make amends for his past mistakes. Then one day, a train derails in Two Rivers and Harper finds a chance at atonement. One of the survivors, a pregnant fifteen-year-old girl, needs a place to stay, and Harper offers to take her in. But soon he suspects that Maggie’s appearance is not the simple case of happenstance it first appeared to be.

This book was a good read but was quite on the predictable side.  It was enjoyable to read and the story is built well.  The characters are charming and the transition between past and present keep you interested in the book.  I liked it but also couldn’t help but feeling that something was missing in the end.  Something was left hanging but I cant quite put my finger on what it was.

The Way Life Should Be: A Novel
By Christina Baker Kline

Angela Russo finds herself in Maine thanks to a sailing instructor, an impulse, and an idea that in Maine, people live “the way life should be.” But reality on Mount Desert Island is not what she expected. Far from everything familiar, Angela begins to rebuild her life from the ground up. Relying on the flair for Italian cooking she inherited from her grandmother, she begins to discover the pleasures and secrets of her new small community—and to connect her heritage to a future she is only beginning to envision.

Having spent nearly every summer of my childhood in Maine, I am drawn to books about the coast.  I stood in some of the place that Kline describes in this book and was immediately transported back their through her words.  The story is part love story, part soul searching, part cookbook.  Maine and Food! What more could I ask for in a book??!  I really enjoyed this read and love the fact that all the recipes she talks about are included in the back!

 

Thanks for checking out my list of books!  You can purchase all of these books in my Amazon store and many of them are listed in my PaperBackSwap shop!  ENJOY!

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January Book List

Okay so I am a little behind!  We were hit with a major ice storm the last week in January which put us with out power for 5 days and without Internet for 7.  I got to take a trip to visit my nephews in Illinois and then the first two weeks of February flew by in a flash!  Partially thanks to the cold icy weather and long airport layovers I have lots of reading to share with you this month!

 **** Dakota Home – Debbie Macomber

“Buffalo Valley has found new life. People have started moving to this town—people like Lindsay Snyder, who came as a teacher and stayed, marrying local farmer Gage Sinclair. And now Lindsay’s best friend, Maddy Washburn, has decided to pull up stakes and join her in Buffalo Valley, hoping for the same kind of satisfaction. And the same kind of love…

Jeb McKenna is a rancher, a solitary man who’s learned to endure. Maddy—unafraid and openhearted—is drawn to Jeb, but he rejects her overtures. Until one of North Dakota’s deadly storms throws them together…

Those few days and nights bring unexpected consequences for Maddy and Jeb. Consequences that, one way or another, affect everyone in Buffalo Valley.”

This was the second book in the Dakota series.  I found this to be an enjoyable book but also somewhat predictable.  It was a fast paced read and didn’t require a whole lot of thinking. 

 **** Always Dakota – Debbie Macomber

“Buffalo Valley, North Dakota, has become a good place to live— the way it used to be. People here are feeling confident about the future again.

Stalled lives are moving forward. People are taking risks—on new ventures and lifelong dreams. On happiness. And one of those people is local rancher Margaret Clemens, who’s finally getting what she wants most. Marriage to cowboy Matt Eilers. Her friends don’t think Matt’s such a prize, but Margaret’s aware of his reputation and his flaws. She wants him anyway. And she wants his baby.…”

This was the third book in the Dakota series.  Macomber uses this book to further develop some of the characters that were introduced to us in the first two books.  As with the second book I found it to be enjoyable but also somewhat predictable.   

**** Shadow Dance – Julie Garwood

“Jordan Buchanan is thrilled that her brother and best friend are tying the knot. The wedding is a lavish affair–for the marriage of Dylan Buchanan and Kate MacKenna is no ordinary occasion. It represents the joining of two family dynasties. The ceremony and reception proceed without a hitch–until a crasher appears claiming to be a MacKenna guest. The disheveled and eccentric professor of medieval history warns that there’s “bad blood” between the couple’s clans, stemming from an ancient feud that originated in Scotland, and involving the Buchanan theft of a coveted MacKenna treasure.

Jordan has always led a cautious life and has used her intelligence and reason to become a successful businesswoman. So she is intrigued but skeptical of the professor’s claims that the feud has been kept alive by the grave injustices the Buchanans have perpetrated over the centuries. But when Noah Clayborne, a close family friend and a man who has never let a good time or a pretty girl pass him by, accuses Jordan of being trapped in her comfort zone, she determines to prove him wrong and sets out on a spontaneous adventure to the small, dusty town of Serenity, Texas, to judge the professor’s research for herself.

Maneuvering through a close-knit community in which everyone knows everyone else’s business, Jordan never anticipates the danger and intrigue that lie in her path, nor the threat that will shadow her back to Boston, where even in familiar surroundings, her life is at risk.

A powerful thug who rules by fear, a man who harbors a simmering secret, and an unexpected romance that pierces all defenses–beloved author Julie Garwood weaves these dazzling elements into a brilliant novel of romantic suspense. Shadow Dance is a searing tango of passion and peril.”

This book combined murder, suspense, love and even a little humor.  So different from what I normally read I really found myself enjoying this genre.

 *** Francesca’s Kitchen – Peter Pezzelli

From Publishers Weekly
Pezzelli (Home to Italy) returns with another tale of an everyday Italian-American family, this one an empty nest. Mamma and all-around good egg Francesca Campanile, widowed with children and grandchildren all elsewhere, is floating aimlessly in her Providence, R.I., house. When she decides what she needs is to be needed, Francesca answers the babysitter-wanted ad of Loretta Simmons, a single mother working full-time. Pezzelli nicely renders Loretta’s anxieties as she first rejects, and then, out of desperation, hires Francesca, who is not the student-type sitter she’d imagined. He’s also lovely on Francesca’s reminiscing about husband Leo and on the mutual sniffing-out processes as Francesca parses Loretta’s harried home, and neglected children Penny and Will slowly learn to trust Francesca. Francesca’s adult son Joey then unexpectedly returns to the nest. He meets Loretta, sparks fly, and suddenly Francesca isn’t certain any of this was such a good idea. Most of the action happens in kitchens: home cooking, good pasta and traditional family values conquer all in this amusing and touching story.

I thought this was a sweet and fun book.  It was fairly lighthearted but also a little predictable.  I guessed where the story was going almost from the beginning.  The food aspect was enjoyable but also a little on the “traditional, old-world Italy” side.  I love to cook but I cook for me, not a man! (Sorry, Richie!!)

  ***** The Sleeping Doll – Jeffery Deaver

When Special Agent Kathryn Dance — a brilliant interrogator and kinesics expert with the California Bureau of Investigation — is sent to question the convicted killer Daniel “Son of Manson” Pell as a suspect in a newly unearthed crime, she feels both trepidation and electrifying intrigue. Pell is serving a life sentence for the brutal murders of the wealthy Croyton family in Carmel years earlier — a crime mirroring those perpetrated by Charles Manson in the 1960s. But Pell and his cult members were sloppy: Not only were they apprehended, they even left behind a survivor — the youngest of the Croyton daughters, who, because she was in bed hidden by her toys that terrible night, was dubbed the Sleeping Doll.

I found this book to be very enjoyable and very exciting.  This was my first Jeffery Deaver novel but it wont be my last.  Although there were some typically slow parts where the author took time to develop the characters there were certainly some exciting action packed portions as well.  There were even some really great, unpredicted, twists and turns.

**** Garden Spells – Sarah Addison Allen

In a garden surrounded by a tall fence, tucked away behind a small, quiet house in an even smaller town, is an apple tree that is rumored to bear a very special sort of fruit. In this luminous debut novel, Sarah Addison Allen tells the story of that enchanted tree, and the extraordinary people who tend it.…

The Waverleys have always been a curious family, endowed with peculiar gifts that make them outsiders even in their hometown of Bascom, North Carolina. Even their garden has a reputation, famous for its feisty apple tree that bears prophetic fruit, and its edible flowers, imbued with special powers. Generations of Waverleys tended this garden. Their history was in the soil. But so were their futures.

I think everyone has met some quirky person who always had a cure for this or a remedy for that.  They gave advice that always made sense and their potions always worked and cured the ailment.  Well this book was about such a family.  It was a magical book, while somewhat unbelievable at first, had you hoping and wishing it were all true at the end.  Garden Spells was a great book about love, family, life and finding what makes you truly happy in this world.  I really enjoyed it.

 

Well, that does it for January!  If you are interested in ordering any of these books, they are available in my Amazon Store by clicking here.  I also have several of these book listed in my PaperBackSwap store.  You can access these by clicking here.

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December Reading List

About two years ago I came across a Book Journal.  Basically it was a notebook with spaces to list the Title, Author and plot of a book along with the readers thoughts or reactions to the book.  I thought this was a really interesting concept.  I love to read.  I have read countless books in my lifetime many of which I probably don’t remember.  When it comes to journaling I just am not real good at it.  To pick up a notebook and a pen and write stuff down just isn’t fun for me.  However, blogging is something I enjoy.  It is reflective and also allows me to keep up with my family which is spread across the country.  My blog became the perfect place to start a book Journal. 

Back in June I made my first reading list post.  Since then I have read 37 books and I will be adding 10 books today.  It is really neat to be able to look back and see all of these books I have read.  Reading is a wonderful hobby.  Reading is an active mental process that helps to improve vocabulary, memory and concentration, and creativity.  It can decress stress and aide in relaxation.  Reading can also give you a glimpse into other cultures and time periods.  It gives you something to talk about.

I hope that you find my book lists interesting and helpful.  I hope you find something you can enjoy reading.  I also encourage you to start keeping a reading journal or to blog about the books you read.  Share what you learn.  If you do happen to blog about reading, please contact me with a link to your blog.  I would love to see what you have read.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this months reading selections.

*****   A Courier & Ives Christmas

The artistry of renowned lithographers Currier & Ives captures the beauty and nostalgia of simpler days and Christmases past. Yet, while a picture may be worth a thousand words, there are times when even the best illustrations leave viewers with a yearning to know more. Inspired by the classic American art of Currier & Ives, these seasonal love stories delve deep inside the artists’ portrayals to imagine and illustrate the untold tales behind each wintry scene. Look beyond the art to discover the heartwarming stories of holiday love of yesteryear in A Currier & Ives Christmas.

I truly enjoyed this collection of 4 short stories.  All the stories were set in the 1800’s and investigated different walks of life.  The stories were romantic and heartwarming.  All four stories were based around the Christmas season but would make a great read on any cold wintry night.

 *** The Serial Garden: The Complete Armitage Family Stories by Joan Aiken

This is the first complete collection of Joan Aiken’s beloved Armitage stories—and it includes four new, unpublished stories. After Mrs. Armitage makes a wish, the Armitage family has “interesting and unusual” experiences every Monday (and the occasional Tuesday). The Board of Incantation tries to take over their house to use as a school for young wizards; the Furies come to stay; and a cutout from a cereal box leads into a beautiful and tragic palace garden. Charming and magical, the uncommon lives of the Armitage family will thrill and delight readers young and old. Includes Joan Aiken’s “Prelude” from Armitage, Armitage, Fly Away Home, as well as introductions from Joan Aiken’s daughter, Lizza Aiken, and best-selling author Garth Nix. Illustrated by Andi Watson

This book was enjoyable and the stories were cute, funny, strange and interesting.  Some of the British slang was a little confusing at times.  Because the short stories are able to stand on their own I found it difficult to keep coming back to this book.  Though well written, it didn’t captivate me.

  *** Cassandra’s Sister: Growing Up Jane Austen by Veronica Bennett

Young Jane — or Jenny, as she is called — is a girl with a head full of questions. Surrounded by her busy parents and brothers, Jenny finds a place for her thoughts in the companionship of her older sister, Cassandra. Theirs is a country life full of balls and visits, at which conversation inevitably centers on one topic: marriage. But the arrival of their worldly-wise cousin disrupts Jenny’s world, bringing answers to some of her questions and providing a gem of an idea. Veronica Bennett invites us into a society where propriety and marriage rule hand in hand, a milieu in which Jenny finds inspiration to write the masterpieces PRIDE AND PREJUDICE and SENSE AND SENSIBILITY — a world where a clever young girl will one day become the beloved Jane Austen.

I picked up this book because I had loved reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice a few years ago.  I thought it would be interesting to read another authors take on the life of Jane Austen.  Again this was a book that I just had a hard time getting into.  The story just didn’t grab me from the beginning.  After I was able to get into it more the book was enjoyable.  I prefer however to be involved in the book right from the beginning.

 **** The Christmas Theif – Mary and Carol Higgins Clark

The folks who picked a beautiful eighty-foot blue spruce from Stowe, Vermont, to be Rockefeller Center’s famous Christmas tree don’t have a clue that Packy Noonan, a scam artist just released from prison, hid priceless diamonds in it more than twelve years ago. But when Packy learns that his special tree will be heading to New York City the next morning, he knows he has to act fast.

What Packy does not know is that Alvirah, everyone’s favorite lottery winner turned amateur sleuth, and savvy private investigator Regan Reilly are visiting Stowe with their friend Opal, who lost all her lottery winnings in Packy’s scam. And just when they’re supposed to head home, they learn that the tree is missing . . . and that Opal has disappeared.

I found this to be an enoyable although predictable read.  The book was able to keep my attention but the ending was pretty easy to figure out.  It was a cute story centered around christmas, snow, money and greed.

 **** The Shack – Wm. Paul Young

Mackenzie Allen Philips’ youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack’s world forever. In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant “The Shack” wrestles with the timeless question, “Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?” The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You’ll want everyone you know to read this book!

This book was really interesting and thought provoking.  I didn’t know really anything about the book before reading it except that it had become very popular.  I read this book in a little less than a day.  The story was so strange and fascinating that I couldn’t put it down.  I needed to know what was going to happen next.  In the end I still can’t say that I “liked” the book but I also know that I want to share it with other people.

  ***** The Christmas Train – David Baldacci

Disillusioned journalist Tom Langdon must get from Washington to L.A. in time for Christmas. Forced to take the train across the country because of a slight “misunderstanding” at airport security, he begins a journey of self-discovery and rude awakenings, mysterious goings-on and thrilling adventures, screwball escapades and holiday magic. He has no idea that the locomotives pulling him across America will actually take him into the rugged terrain of his own heart, as he rediscovers people’s essential goodness and someone very special he believed he had lost. Equal parts hilarious, poignant, suspenseful, and thrilling, David Baldacci’s THE CHRISTMAS TRAIN is filled with memorable characters who have packed their bags with as much wisdom as mischiefand shows how we do get second chances to fulfill our deepest hopes and dreams, especially during this season of miracles.

Quite different than the thrillers Baldacci is know for this book was an amazing read.  It was fast paced and romantic with a little mystery and suspense added in. This was one of my favorite reads of the month!

  **** Finding Noel – Richard Paul Evens

Finding Noel is about how people come into our lives for a reason. It is a love story about Macy and Mark, two young people from different worlds.

This is a heartwarming story about love, loss and family.  You won’t want to put it down until you are done. 

 

 

 

 *****  The Locket – Richard Paul Evens

After the death of his mother, Michael Keddington finds employment at the Arcadia nursing home where he befriends Esther, a reclusive but beautiful elderly woman who lives in mourning for her youth and lost love.

Michael faces his own challenges when he loses his greatest love, Faye. When Michael is falsely accused of abusing one of the Arcadia’s residents, he learns important lessons about faith and forgiveness from Ester — and her gift to him of a locket, once symbolic of one person’s missed opportuninites, becomes another’s second chance.

This was one of the heartfelt and romantic stories I have read in a long time.  The book was filled with romance mixed with drama and mystery.  This is a truely touching story.

*****  Hattie Big Sky – Kirby Larson

Alone in the world, teen-aged Hattie is driven to prove up on her uncle’s homesteading claim.
For years, sixteen-year-old Hattie’s been shuttled between relatives. Tired of being Hattie Here-and-There, she courageously leaves Iowa to prove up on her late uncle’s homestead claim near Vida, Montana. With a stubborn stick-to-itiveness, Hattie faces frost, drought and blizzards. Despite many hardships, Hattie forges ahead, sharing her adventures with her friends–especially Charlie, fighting in France–through letters and articles for her hometown paper.

Her backbreaking quest for a home is lightened by her neighbors, the Muellers. But she feels threatened by pressure to be a “Loyal” American, forbidding friendships with folks of German descent. Despite everything, Hattie’s determined to stay until a tragedy causes her to discover the true meaning of home.

This pioneering story is loosely based on the story of the author’s great-grandmother.  Set during the War time this story touches on some of the prejudices of the individuals of the time who viewed themselves as “real” and “loyal” Americans.  I found myself cheering with Hattie throughout the entire book as she works to stake her claim in the American west.

  **** Dakota Born – Debbie Macomber

Buffalo Valley, North Dakota. Like so many small Midwest towns, it’s dying. Stores are boarded up, sidewalks cracked, houses need a coat of paint. But despite all that, there’s a spirit of hope here, of defiance. The people still living in Buffalo Valley are fighting for their town.

Lyndsay Snyder is a newcomer. She’s an outsider, even though she spent childhood vacations here. Now she returns to see the family house again, to explore family secrets and to reevaluate her life.

To her own astonishment, she decides to stay, to accept the vacant position of teacher. Her decision marks a new beginning for Buffalo Valley and for Lyndsay, who discovers in this broken little town the love and purpose she’s been seeking.

I picked up this book on a whim when I saw it in Walmart.  I had heard of Debbie Macomber before but I had never read any of her books.  Labeled as “Women’s Fiction” I wasn’t sure what to expect.  What I found was a cute story about love and small town politics.  As the first book in the trilogy I feel as if some of the characters were not quite fully developed.  Perhaps in the next two books?  I really enjoyed this read and have already ordered the second and third installments.

Well, there you have it!  I hope you consider reading some of these books in the near future.  If you are interested in purchasing any of these books you can buy them from my Amazon store by clicking here or by clicking the pictures of the books listed above.  Until next month, happy reading!

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November Book List

 

WOW! I read 8 books this month and I am almost done with the 9th.  It will be in my December list!  I branched out just a little bit this month and read in some different genres.  I hope you will enjoy some of these books.  As always these books are available in my Amazon store.  For those of you who use Paperbackswap.com there are several of these books available in my PBS store

 

   ***1/2  Empire Falls – Richard Russo

   Miles Roby has been slinging burgers at the Empire Grill for 20 years, a job that cost him his college education and much of his self-respect. What keeps him there? It could be his bright, sensitive daughter Tick, who needs all his help surviving the local high school. Or maybe it’s Janine, Miles’ soon-to-be ex-wife, who’s taken up with a noxiously vain health-club proprietor. Or perhaps it’s the imperious Francine Whiting, who owns everything in town–and seems to believe that “everything” includes Miles himself. In Empire Falls Richard Russo delves deep into the blue-collar heart of America in a work that overflows with hilarity, heartache, and grace.

While the story line was good I felt the book to be really slow moving until it got to the last few chapters and then tons of stuff was happening all at once.  The story finally got really interesting and then it was over.

  *****  The Diary of Mattie Spenser – Sandra Dallas

No one is more surprised than Mattie Spenser herself when Luke Spenser, considered the great catch of their small Iowa town, asks her to marry him. Less than a month later, they are off in a covered wagon to build a home on the Colerado frontier. Mattie’s only company is a slightly mysterious husband and her private journal, where she records the joys and frustrations not just of frontier life, but also of a new marriage to a handsome but distant stranger. As she and Luke make life together on the harsh and beautiful plains, Mattie learns some bitter truths about her husband and the girl he lieft behind and finds love where she least expects it. Dramatic and suspenseful, this is an unforgettable story of hardship, friendship and survival.
This story is written as if someone has found a real diary of a pioneer woman.  The story was exciting and fast to read.  I really enjoyed it.
 ****  Robinson Crusoe – Daniel Defoe

The sole survivor on a doomed ship spends twenty-four years on an uninhabited tropical island.

I was prompted to read this book after watching the new show Crusoe that aired on NBC this fall on Friday nights.  I really enjoyed the show and was curious to how closely the show followed the book.  The show has definitely taken some artistic liberties but the book was a good read.  I finished it in about 2 hours.  This would be a great book for middle-school aged boys.

 

 **  Pilgrim at Tinker Creek – Annie Dillard

Pilgrim at Tinker Creek is the story of a dramatic year in Virginia’s Blue Ridge valley. Annie Dillard sets out to see what she can see. What she sees are astonishing incidents of “mystery, death, beauty, violence.”

The imagery in this book was amazingly descriptive.  From a writers perspective this book definitely paints a picture in your minds eye.  However, apart from the descriptiveness of the book I found the story lacking and had a hard time really getting into this book.

 

  ***** The Christmas Box – Richard Paul Evans

When Richard Paul Evans wrote The Christmas Box, he intended it as a private expression of love for his two young daughters, Jenna and Allyson. Though he often told them that he loved them, he didn’t feel that they could ever really understand the depth of his feelings until they had experienced the joy of rearing their own children, and by that time their relationship would have changed forever. In writing The Christmas Box, he hoped that at some time in the future they would read the book and know of their father’s love.

As Evans began to write, he was amazed at the inspiration that flowed into his mind and heart. He completed the moving story of a widow and the young family who comes to live with her in less than six weeks, and bound twenty copies to give as Christmas presents to family and friends. In the following weeks, those twenty copies were shared and passed along from family to family, from friend to friend, and what began as a tale for two little girls became a message of miracles, hope, and healing for people throughout the world.

 ***** Timepiece – Richard Paul Evans

“Of all, clockmakers and morticians should bear the keenest sense of priority-their lives daily spent in observance of the unflagging procession of time… and the end thereof.”
-DAVID PARKIN’S DIARY. JANUARY 3, 1901

So begins Timepiece, the unforgettable story of hope and the source of the wisdom MaryAnne Parkinshared with Richard in The Christmas Box. With the help of David Parkin’s diary, Richard discovers the mystery of the timepiece and the significance of MaryAnne’s request.

 

 ***** The Letter – Richard Paul Evans

The Letter, the final book of the Christmas Boxcollection is, most simply stated, the love story of David and MaryAnne Parkin. But it is also everyone’s love story, for it is about the storms that all relationships must face when the blissful state of romance vanishes into one of real-life challenges and difficulties. We often forget that it is in the hard times that we truly see what is best in love as well as in life. Though love may be temporarily darkened, true love never gives in, or up, but holds tight to noble ideas, which transcend this earth and all time.

The Letter is also about our pasts and our individual quests to discover who we are. In The Letter,David Parkinsets out on a journey to find his mother, a woman who abandoned him when he was a child. In truth, however, David is searching for himself as he seeks to free himself from the pain of her rejection and his fear that he was somehow unworthy of her love. In a sense, David’s search is the same journey we are all pursuing. We are all seeking love.

I REALLY enjoyed all three of these books by Richard Paul Evans.  I can not wait to read more of his stories!

 **** Messenger – Lois Lowry

For the past six years, Matty has lived in Village and flourished under the guidance of Seer, a blind man, known for his special sight. Village was a place that welcomed newcomers, but something sinister has seeped into Village and the people have voted to close it to outsiders. Matty has been invaluable as a messenger. Now he must make one last journey through the treacherous forest with his only weapon, a power he unexpectedly discovers within himself.

If you enjoyed The Giver and Gathering Blue then you will also enjoy this book.

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October Book List

It breaks my heart to see this list getting so short!  It is tough to get a lot of reading done when you are the art teacher at a small rural k-12 school and there is a town festival with a parade, homecoming, a play and Book Character Day all in the same month! I don’t think I slept much in October.  Between face painting, making a bazillion spirit sticks, making sure my students finished the set for the play and helping several kids with costumes for Book Character Day, reading was often the last thing on my mind.  But I did manage to get three books finished and I am half way done with another which will appear on my November list.  I hope you enjoy these books.  I know I did!

 

***** 5     Covered Wagon Women, Volume 1: Diaries and Letters from the Western    Trails, 1840-1849
The women who traveled west in covered wagons during the 1840s speak through these letters and diaries. Here are the voices of Tamsen Donner and young Virginia Reed, members of the ill-fated Donner party; Patty Sessions, the Mormon midwife who delivered five babies on the trail between Omaha and Salt Lake City; Rachel Fisher, who buried both her husband and her little girl before reaching Oregon. Still others make themselves heard, starting out from different places and recording details along the way, from the mundane to the soul-shattering and spirit-lifting.
WOW! What a great and inspiring read.  If you love stuff about the prairie or pioneers than you will truely enjoy this book!

***** 5  The Pact – Jodi Picoult

From Jodi Picoult, one of the most powerful writers in contemporary fiction, comes a riveting, timely, heartbreaking, and terrifying novel of families in anguish — and friendships ripped apart by inconceivable violence. Until the phone calls came at 3:00 A.M.on a November morning, the Golds and their neighbors, the Hartes, had been inseparable. It was no surprise to anyone when their teenage children, Chris and Emily, began showing signs that their relationship was moving beyond that of lifelong friends. But now seventeen-year-old Emily has been shot to death by her beloved and devoted Chris as part of an apparent suicide pact — leaving two devastated families stranded in the dark and dense predawn, desperate for answers about an unthinkable act and the children they never really knew.
I COULD NOT put this book down! A very touching story!

**** 4 An Owl on Every Post – Sanora Babb

In this memoir, first published in 1970 and long out of print, Sanora Babb recalls her family’s attempt to practice dry-land farming in eastern Colorado in 1913. Leaving the relative security of a small town in Oklahoma, the mother of and two daughters travel by train and wagon to join the father and grandfather at their isolated dugout. Here, Senora (nicknamed Cheyenne) gradually comes to love her withdrawn grandfather and to appreciate the harsh beauty of the prairie environment. Cheyenne’s experiences range from rare encounters with other settlers to the constant threat of hunge to warm and mystical relationships with animals. They are related with a child’s sense of wonder and played out against the background of the plains–clear air, vast distances, rapid changes in light and shadow, and sudden, dangerous storms.

I enjoyed this story but the writing was not quite as fine tuned as I like.  The story seemed a little choppy and disconnected at times.

 

Well there you have it! As always you can order these books through my Amazon store.  Next month I have several exciting books to share.  There are even SEVERAL that are NOT “pioneer” type books! Thanks for checking out my list!

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As Summer winds down so does a lot of other things.  I have less time to read, less time to blog and less time to craft.  This is always kind of a depressing time for me.  I love teaching but it forces me to have to put aside some things I really enjoy doing.  Come November when the days are shorter and there is less to do outside I will pick up some of those hobbies again.  Until then I will squeeze them in where I can.  So today I bring you my August book list.  It’s a few days late and a little shorter than some of my previous lists but still full of some good reads.

***** 5   A Mile in Her Boots – Jennifer Bove

This book was great! It is a compilation of short memoirs written by women who work in the wilderness.  The stories range from funny, to sweet, to scary.  This book will leave you believing in the power of women.  I read one or two stories a night along with my other reading.

 

 

 

*** 3  The River Wife – Jonis Agee

The River Wife is a sweeping, panoramic story that ranges from the New Madrid earthquake of 1811 through the Civil War to the bootlegging days of the 1930s.

When the earthquake brings Annie Lark’s Missouri house down on top of her, she finds herself pinned under the massive roof beam, facing certain death. Rescued by French fur trapper Jacques Ducharme, Annie learns to love the strong, brooding man and resolves to live out her days as his “River Wife.”

 

 

* 1  Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates

It’s the story of Frank and April Wheeler, a bright, beautiful, and talented couple who have lived on the assumption that greatness is only just around the corner. With heartbreaking compassion and remorseless clarity, Richard Yates shows how Frank and April mortgage their spiritual birthright, betraying not only each other, but their best selves.

I just did not like this book.  I actually didn’t even finish it.  This RARELY happens.  I just found the whole story to be forced and boring.  It was trying to be philisophical without being pretentious but wound up quite the opposite.  The book has gotten enough hype that plans are in progress to make it a Major Motion Picture.  I was bored to tears.  But don’t take my work for it!

***** 5  Twilight – Stephanie Meyer

“Softly he brushed my cheek, then held my face between his marble hands. ”Be very still,” he whispered, as if I wasn”t already frozen. Slowly, never moving his eyes from mine, he leaned toward me. Then abruptly, but very gently, he rested his cold cheek against the hollow at the base of my throat. ” As Shakespeare knew, love burns high when thwarted by obstacles. In Twilight, an exquisite fantasy by Stephenie Meyer, readers discover a pair of lovers who are supremely star-crossed. Bella adores beautiful Edward, and he returns her love. But Edward is having a hard time controlling the blood lust she arouses in him, because–he”s a vampire. At any moment, the intensity of their passion could drive him to kill her, and he agonizes over the danger. But, Bella would rather be dead than part from Edward, so she risks her life to stay near him, and the novel burns with the erotic tension of their dangerous and necessarily chaste relationship.

I LOVED this book! Couldn’t put it down!

 

***** 5  New Moon – Stephanie Meyer

This is the second book in the Twilight series.  I LOVED this one also!  I love books about vampires and werewolves and thought this was great!

The series is probably geared towards girls age 16 – 25 but I found it to be very interesting and very well written.

 

 

Well there you have it! Better late than never right!  As always you can click on the picture or the title link to purchase any of these books  from my Amazon Store.  Until next month, Happy Reading!

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