Aktakukac/Rachel's 2012 Challenge
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I'm joining the 75-Book Challenge group again this year! Somehow I managed to read a lot more than 75 books in 2011, but we'll see what happens this year. My favorite book of 2011 was The Winter Sea by Susanna Kearsley. I mostly read historical fiction. This year I want to read more classics, more by my favorite authors, finish some of the series I've started, and books that have been on my to-read list or shelves for far too long. I'm looking forward to this year's reading challenge! Here's a link to my 2011 thread: http://www.librarything.com/topic/105970
Books read January-April
1. A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
2. Jubilee Trail by Gwen Bristow
3. The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley
4. Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Patterson
5. Plum Lovin' by Janet Evanovich
6. Hearts Awakening by Delia Parr
7. The Last Straw: Diary of a Wimpy Kid #3 by Jeff Kinney
8. Dog Days: Diary of a Wimpy Kid #4 by Jeff Kinney
9. New Mercies by Sandra Dallas
10. The Country Kitchen by Della T. Lutes
11. Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way by Molly Birnbaum
12. Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich
13. The Giver by Lois Lowry
14. The Holding by Merilyn Simonds
15. Where Heaven Begins by Roseanne Bittner
16. Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich
17. Torrent by Lisa T. Bergren
18. Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
19. Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
20. Forevermore by Cathy Marie Hake
21. Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich
22. The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht
23. It All Began in Monte Carlo by Elizabeth Adler
24. Wildflower Brides (collection of four novellas) by Various Authors
25. Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
26. Buster Midnight's Cafe by Sandra Dallas
27. The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy
28. The Beef Princess of Practical County by Michelle Houts
29. Nightjohn by Gary Paulsen
30. The Frontiersman's Daughter by Laura Frantz
31. The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
32. The Quilt That Walked to Golden by Sandra Dallas
33. A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper
34. Highland Legacy (novella collection) by Various Authors
35. A Rather Lovely Inheritance by C.A. Belmond
36. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
37. Patty Jane's House of Curl by Lorna Landvik
38. Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
39. The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery
40. Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West by Dorothy Wickenden
41. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
42. Nothing to Do But Stay by Carrie Young
43. Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest by Sandra Day O'Connor and Alan Day
44. 13 to Life by Shannon Delany
45. Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
46. Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas
47. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
48. The Little Bride by Anna Solomon
49. Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich
50. The Wedding Dress by Carrie Young
51. You're (Not) the One by Alexandra Potter
52. Your Oasis on Flame Lake by Lorna Landvik
53. Wild Romance by Chloe Schama
54. Nebraska Legacy by DiAnn Mills
55. Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart
56. Mattie by Judy Alter
57. Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman
58. Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist
59. Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
60. Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley
Books read May-August
61. A Rather Curious Engagement by C.A. Belmond
62. Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich
63. Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner
64. The Violets of March by Sarah Jio
65. Night by Elie Wiesel
66. Mother Mason by Bess Streeter Aldrich
67. The Wedding Guest by Anna Gilbert
68. One Lucky Cowboy by Carolyn Brown
69. The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott
70. Aurelia by Anne Osterlund
71. Heart of Gold by Robin Lee Hatcher
72. Still Life by Louise Penny
73. Next to Love by Ellen Feldman
74. Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley
75. The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
76. Persuasion by Jane Austen
77. A Being So Gentle: The Frontier Love Story of Rachel and Andrew Jackson by Patricia Brady
78. How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World: The Art of Living with Style, Class, and Grace by Jordan Christy
79. Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress
80. The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Classic Stories by Barbara M. Walker
81. The Exile of Sara Stevenson by Darci Hannah
82. Bound by Donna Jo Napoli
83. The Expats by Chris Pavone
84. Madam, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart
85. A Woman Called Sage by DiAnn Mills
86. Desperate Crossing: The Jenny Sanders Pryor Story
87. A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
88. Blessed Are the Cheesemakers by Sarah-Kate Lynch
89. The King's Rose by Alisa Libby
90. Overseas by Beatriz Williams
91. Mennonite In a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
92. True Sisters by Sandra Dallas
93. Silk by Alessandro Baricco
94. The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
95. The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall
96. One Amazing Thing by Chitra Divakaruni
97. Welcome to the Great Mysterious by Lorna Landvik
98. Mariana by Susanna Kearsley
99. Home by Morning by Alexis Harrington
100. Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
101. The River Between Us by Richard Peck
Books read September-December
102. Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
103. The Cruellest Month by Louise Penny
104. The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones
105. Home by Nightfall by Alexis Harrington
106. Wind Dancer by Jamie Carie
107. The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas
108. Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck
109. Tiger's Quest by Colleen Houck
110. Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck
111. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood
112. The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White) (audiobook, reread)
113. Every Secret Thing by Susanna Kearsley (also published under the name Emma Cole)
114. Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart
115. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book II: The Hidden Gallery by Maryrose Wood
116. Trapped by Michael Northrop
117. The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James
118. The Selection by Kiera Cass
119. Kirsti by Helen Markley Miller
120. The Widow's War by Sally Gunning
121. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
122. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
123. Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
124. The Bungalow by Sarah Jio
125. Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn
126. Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
127. Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin
128. Juliet by Anne Fortier
129. The Song of the Cardinal by Gene Stratton-Porter
130. Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl
131. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
132. Thunder on the Right by Mary Stewart
133. The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley
134. Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren
135. The Sea Captain's Wife by Beth Powning
136. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
137. The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope
138. Snowed In by Rachel Hawthorne
139. Life of Pi by Yann Martel
140. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book III: The Unseen Guest by Maryrose Wood
141. The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
142. A Gathering of Days by Joan Blos
143. Mistletoe by Hailey Abbott and Other Authors
144. Blood Gold by Michael Cadnum
145. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
146. Baby, It's Cold Outside by Susan May Warren
147. Christmas at Eagle Pond by Donald Hall
148. An Irish Country Christmas by Alice Taylor
149. The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
150. The Christmas Chronicles: The Legend of Santa Claus by Tim Slover
151. Christmas Roses by Amanda Cabot
152. As the Waltz Was Ending by Emma Macalik Butterworth
Thanks for the welcome, everyone! It feels great to be starting a new reading challenge. I hope 2012 is off to a great start for you all :)
Book # 1: A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
For some reason, I had this on my to-read list. It wasn't what I was expecting...I had thought there was time travel involved. Instead, it's about two ghosts and the people they haunt and "take over" so they can be together. Some parts were really brilliant, and others were just weird. It's supposed to be a YA book, but it didn't really fit that category for me. I was interested enough to keep reading, even though I didn't get it at times.
Book # 2: Jubilee Trail by Gwen Bristow
This 500+ page tome was written in the 1950s about the 1840s, so it was historical fiction in a different way. Garnet, a young , well-bred New Yorker fresh out of finishing school, marries Oliver and sets out with him for Santa Fe and eventually California. I learned a lot about California's history, especially in the 1840s. It seemed historically accurate, and the descriptions of life on the trail were very vivid. Many of the characters were well-written, and although it was very long, it was worth reading.
>9: Thanks, Stasia! I'm reading a lot now because I'm going to be a lot busier starting later this month! Have to read while I can!
Book # 3: The Rose Garden by Susanna Kearsley
Kearsley's The Winter Sea was my favorite book of 2011, and I really enjoyed The Rose Garden, too. For 4/5 of the book, I thought it was going to be get a five-star rating, but the ending felt rushed and not clear enough for me. Otherwise, it was fantastic! Set in Cornwall, it has time travel, historical fiction, suspense, and all the things I enjoy in books. Kearsley's writing is smooth and the reader is drawn into the story. Every time I read one of her books, I don't want to be anywhere else, and I don't want them to end! I will definitely be reading more by her this year!
The Susanna Kearsley novels sound great! I hope the rest of your reading goes well.
Haven't read either of Kearsley's books mentioned here but you have intrigued me with your post. They sound interesting and something I would enjoy reading!
#10: I just downloaded The Rose Garden to my Nook from the library earlier this evening. Glad to see you enjoyed it, Rachel!
>11: Thanks, Madeline! Same to you!
>12: I hadn't read any of her books until last year, and she's now a favorite author! Good luck with your challenge(s) too!
>13: Hope you'll enjoy it as much as I did, Stasia!
Book # 4: Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson
I had never read this children's classic, and I had a copy, so I decided to give it a shot. For as much as I had heard about the book, I didn't really know much about the story, other than there were sisters involved. I have to say, I was very disappointed with this book. I get that Louise felt jealous of her sister, but most of the time I didn't agree with her thoughts. I did appreciate the setting, an island during WWII. I also learned a lot about fishing and crabbing and the lifestyle fishermen had at that time.
I just finished The Winter Sea (I found it after I saw your thread) and LOVED it!!! Thank you so much for the recommendation. I want to read everything else Ms Kearsley has written now.
Book # 5: Plum Lovin' by Janet Evanovich
While I really enjoy the Stephanie Plum books, I don't care for the between-the numbers novellas. Evanovich tries to put too much into a smaller number of pages, and it just gets confusing and there isn't enough character development. Still, there are humorous moments, which is good.
Book # 6: Hearts Awakening by Delia Parr
Historical fiction set on an island in the Susquehanna River at Harrisburg, Pennsylvania in the 1840s. Ellie becomes a housekeeper for Jackson, but they end up in a marriage of convenience for several reasons. The characters often did things that made me mad, and the writing was just average. I think what I liked best was when Ellie had to learn to use a "modern" wood-burning cookstove instead of using an open hearth to prepare meals.
Rachel: Oh no! Jacob I Have Loved is coming up soon on my To Read queue. Sigh.
>20: There's a lot more than the relationship between Louise and Caroline in the book, Amber...maybe you will like it more than I did!
Book # 7: The Last Straw: Diary of a Wimpy Kid #3 by Jeff Kinney
Book # 8: Dog Days: Diary of a Wimpy Kid #4 by Jeff Kinney
Continuing with the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books mostly to keep up with books elementary and junior high students are reading these days. I can see why kids can relate to them.
Book # 9: New Mercies by Sandra Dallas
In 1933, Nora inherits a crumbling mansion in Natchez, Mississippi, from an aunt she didn't know she had. Her aunt was murdered inside the mansion, and the story revolves around Nora learning about her family's past, as well as her relationship with her ex husband. Wonderful storytelling, perfect atmosphere (I think I may have spoken with a slight southern accent for a couple hours after finishing the book!) and surprise twists at the end make it another fantastic Sandra Dallas novel.
That Sandra Dallas book is getting added to my TBR list.
Amber in #20> It's been years since I read Jacob Have I Loved but I don't remember disliking it. I think there is some sort of twist to the story of Jacob & Esau from the Bible in it.
>23: It's one of her better books, in my opinion. I still have a couple more to read. This one's definitely worth reading!
Book # 10: The Country Kitchen by Della T. Lutes
I'd noticed that several small-town libraries in my part of Michigan have this book, and in an effort to read more about my state and by Michigan authors, I picked it up. Della Lutes grew up on a small farm near Jackson, in south-east/south-central Michigan, in the 1880s. This book was published in 1936, and describes a year of her childhood on the farm...mostly dealing with the kitchen, food, and eating. There were lots of interesting (and some familiar) recipes, lots of witty comments and stories, and I absolutely loved it. In a way, it reminded me of Little Heathens, a book I read last year.
Book # 11: Season to Taste: How I Lost My Sense of Smell and Found My Way by Molly Birnbaum
The author, an aspiring chef, was in an accident and lost her ability to smell. At times, her book was interesting, but then I'd get lost with all the scientific explanations and information. Three stars.
I'm adding The Country Kitchen to my wish list. It sounds right up my alley.
>26: I hope you'll like The Country Kitchen, Lori!
Book # 12: Lean Mean Thirteen by Janet Evanovich
Stephanie's ex-husband, Dickie Orr, and her enemy Joyce are both involved in this Stephanie Plum novel. Not my favorite, but not the worst, either.
Book #13: The Giver by Lois Lowry
I'm ashamed to admit that it has taken me this long to read this one! I didn't really care for the ending, but it was a very worthwhile read.
Book # 14: The Holding by Merilyn Simonds
This is a novel that deserves to be read slowly. It tells the story of two women living on a piece of land in Canada several generations: Margaret, in the 1800s, and Alyson, in the 1990s. Margaret and her family moved from Scotland, while a pregnant Alyson works the land with her artist lover. It definitely took me a while to get used to the language and writing style. It was a different book for me, that's for sure.
Book # 15: Where Heaven Begins by Roseanne Bittner
Setting: Alaska during the Klondike Gold Rush. Main Characters: Elizabeth, who must get to Dawson to join her brother, and Clint, a bounty hunter determined to track down a murderer. I didn't care for Elizabeth's views and attitudes at times, but I did enjoy the story. It definitely sparked my interest in the Klondike!
Book # 16: Plum Lucky by Janet Evanovich
The best Between-the-Novels novella I've read so far. Atlantic City, St. Patrick's day, a better-developed story, and the typical Stephanie Plum humor made it an enjoyable, fast read.
Book # 17: Torrent by Lisa T. Bergren
The third (and final?) book in the River of Time series. Gabby grows up a lot in this one, and the family has some important decisions to make. The author said she might come back to focus on Lia's story, here's hoping! Again, if these books had been out when I was a teenager, I would have been obsessed with them!!
Book # 18: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
This was another classic that I'm ashamed to admit I hadn't read before. I subbed for a former teacher/friend who was teaching this in four of her classes, so I was able to read it while getting paid :) Even though I knew what would happen at the end, I enjoyed reading it and do want to read more Steinbeck in the future.
Book # 19: Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
YA novel, first in a trilogy, about a teenage girl growing up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. She trains a rival school's star quarterback, and then makes some decisions about her own life along the way. There was a lot going on in this book...family issues, secrets, growing up, and DJ was a wonderful heroine. I hate American football, but that didn't put me off of this book! I've already got the second book, which I hope will pick up where the first one ended.
Book # 20: Forevermore by Cathy Marie Hake
Historical fiction set on a farm in Texas in the 1890s. Jakob Stauffer is a widower with a young daughter, a pregnant, abused sister who is staying with him, and a harvest to get in. Hope Ladley is a cook/housekeeper who wanders from farm to farm helping out. I thought this would be more about Jakob and Hope's growing relationship, but it dealt a lot with the sister, the daughter's problem that become apparent, and several minor characters. A good read, however.
More great reading to start the year, Rachel! I'm planning to read more Steinbeck this year, too. I don't know that I've read Of Mice and Men, but I've seen it a few times.
>31: Yes, January was a good reading month! My sister has some Steinbeck books on her shelves. I really need to look through her books; she has some good ones I've been wanting to read!
Speaking of reading, I'm kind of in a slump! I have lots of books sitting in stacks that I need to get to, and I have some more library books that I haven't added here yet. There's just too much going on...working every day, practicing lines and songs for a dinner theater musical I'm in later this month, getting ready for a month of cat and house sitting for some family friends, a (big) birthday coming up too soon, lots of company...all great things, but things that take away from my precious reading time! Ahh well, I'll find time...
Currently about 100 pages into The Tiger's Wife. Hopefully I can sit down and get back to reading it later today!
I don't have much time for reading either. I'm also not in a dinner theater musical -- how fun!!!! Which show are you doing? Those shows consume your life, but they are well worth it. Break a leg!
>33: The show is a musical comedy set in a hospital. There is a doctor who faints at the sight of blood, someone obsessed with a dog, an evil chief of staff, a smelly bum, and a bunch of other odd characters. I play a young wife who is very, very pregnant. Ha! The guy who plays "Young Husband" is actually old enough to be my father (I'll be 30 in a couple weeks, but I look a lot younger). I don't have a lot of lines, but I'm onstage a lot and also in the chorus, so unfortunately at practice I can't just do my part and go to a corner and read. We might be adding another performance, since the other shows have already sold out! It's time-consuming, but definitely worth the time and effort :)
>35: My friends who can't watch the play have already demanded that we take photos. I'm not so eager to have them taken, but I'll probably be nice and make sure somebody snaps a few.
I did manage to finish:
Book # 21: Fearless Fourteen by Janet Evanovich
Seriously, how does Evanovich manage to come up with all these scenarios for Stephanie Plum?! This was one that was better because of the minor characters.
Book # 22: The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht
I had heard a lot about Obreht's debut novel. It started off well...as long as I read slowly and kept focused only on the book. After a while, it just fizzled out. I think there was just too much to focus on. Relationships, war, death, folktales, animals, and more. I was quite impressed with how mature it seemed, coming from a young author.
Today was the second time in a month that the class I was subbing for was reading Animal Farm. I think I'll take the hint and pick up a copy the next time I'm at the library....one reason because it's slightly embarrassing telling students that I haven't read it yet, and another because I don't want any more spoilers as to the story!
Book # 23: It All Began in Monte Carlo by Elizabeth Adler
Let me first say that this is at least book number two in a series, which I didn't know until after I'd started reading. At best, It All Began in Monte Carlo is a D-rate soap opera. Ugh. This kind of chick lit drives me crazy! Awful characters, unbelievable scenarios and situations, and absolutely no redeeming qualities. I think I really lost it when the author referred to Poland, the Czech Republic, and Hungary as Balkan countries. Someone should have caught that before it was published! I definitely don't plan to read any more of her books!
Book # 24: Wildflower Brides (collection of four novellas) by Various Authors
I was disappointed in these interconnected novellas, which were set at various points on the Oregon Trail. Most of them had a lot of potential, but the authors never did as much as they could have. It makes me wonder how I would have written them, even though I'm not a writer!
Book # 25: Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
This was certainly a unique story, and something very different from what I usually read. It was also not what I expected...although to be honest, I'm not sure what I thought would happen. Jacob, a rich kid from Florida, has grown up hearing all sorts of crazy stories from his grandfather, who spent part of his childhood in a house on an isolated island off the coast of Wales during WWII. Abe, the grandfather, is brutally murdered at the start of the story, which causes Jacob to eventually visit the house and island, and that's all I'm going to say. You'll just have to read it to find out what Jacob finds there. The author includes vintage photographs throughout the book, which really add to the atmosphere and overall effect of the book. Apparently, there is a sequel being planned, which I did not know until I was halfway through the book. I think knowledge of a sequel will change a reader's opinion of the ending...
>39 Interesting review. My daughter has been asking me to read Miss Peregrine. Glad to know there's a sequel going in.
Seems like you've had a mixed bag with your reading recently. I hope you LOVE your next book!
>40 Thanks, Anne! I've got a bunch of (hopefully) good books in a pile, waiting to be read. Unfortunately, I've been busy subbing, preparing for the musical, and fighting a bad cold. I've started a Sandra Dallas book, but it's slightly slow going so far, just because of lack of reading time.
Book # 26: Buster Midnight's Cafe by Sandra Dallas
Effa Commander, Whippy Bird, and May Anna Kovacks, the Unholy Three, grow up in Butte, Montana in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s. After having to work as a prostitute, May Anna makes it big in Hollywood, which we learn about through Effa Commander's narration. We also hear about Buster Midnight, a boxer who is involved with the Unholy Three in various ways. Her wonderful storytelling and enjoyable characters make this another Dallas story worth reading. It just makes me wonder, how does she come up with character names?!
Book # 27: The Singing Tree by Kate Seredy
The follow-up to The Good Master takes place on a large farm in Hungary during WWI. Kate and Jancsi are growing up, and the war will affect them in many ways: from family members leaving to fight, Russian prisoners of war coming to work on the farm, and taking care of German refugees. The illustrations are absolutely breathtaking, and the reader learns a lot about WWI (from the Hungarian point of view). This definitely would have been a favorite if I had read it as a child.
Book # 28: The Beef Princess of Practical County by Michelle Houts
I haven't had much time to read this week, but I did finish this children's/YA book. Libby, who lives on a farm in Indiana, raises two steers to take to the county fair. She also has to decide if she will be a contestant in a fair pageant to be the official spokesperson for the county beef industry. At times hilarious, and at times heartwrenching, it is a very realistic story about growing up on a farm. It was obvious the author has experienced farm life; she used terms correctly and the reader really gets a feel for the farm and everything involved with showing beef cattle. Good for city kids and farm kids alike.
Book # 29: Nightjohnby Gary Paulsen
A short (92 page) book I listened to with some English classes I was subbing for. Sarny, a slave girl, learns to read and write from a slave named John. Very graphic and deals with uncomfortable topics.
Book # 30: The Frontiersman's Daughter by Laura Frantz
I had read mixed reviews about this book, and I fall into the "It was ok, but I expected more" category of readers. Set in the 1770s and 1780s in the Kentucky Territory, it takes a while to get into and is a slow read. Lael, the first white child born in the area, deals with three love interests (which REALLY ticked me off) throughout the book. After going to finishing school in the civilized East, she heads back to Kentucky and supports herself as a nurse/healer of sorts.
It seems the author went for a "less is more" approach: mentioning things throughout the story, but never going into detail. At times, I felt like I was missing something, but these things were either barely or never brought up in the story. One of the three love interests was a complete waste of time, in my opinion, but I won't say more as to avoid spoilers.
There was a lot of interesting history in the book, but it was never developed, and I wish the author had written some parts differently. I have heard better things about Frantz's other books, and I will probably give them a try in the future.
Final thoughts: Irritating at times, not something I'd read again, but ok to read once.
Book # 31: The Off Season by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
The second book in the Dairy Queen trilogy, deals with D.J.'s relationship with Brian, injuries, sports, dairy farming, and relationships with family and friends. A lot happens in a short period of time, and once again, D.J. seems so realistic. I need to get my hands on the third book so I can find out what happens next!
Book # 32: The Quilt That Walked to Golden: Women and Quilts in the Mountain West--From the Overland Trail to Contemporary Colorado by Sandra Dallas
I read this because it sounded interesting, even though I'm not a quilter. There was lots of interesting information about women, traveling overland to Colorado/other western areas in the 1800s, sewing, and the history of quilting. Lots of colorful photographs, too. The second half of the book wasn't as interesting for me, as it focuses on Colorado, quilt museums, and a more contemporary look at quilting. I especially enjoyed the quotes and excerpts from 19th Century sources, and the story of a man interrupting a quilting bee because he thought the house where it was taking place was a brothel. :)
Oooh, I'm just getting into quilting, so that book sounds really interesting - onto the wishlist it goes!
Book # 33: A Brief History of Montmaray by Michelle Cooper
This was a lovely YA historical novel, and if you liked I Capture the Castle, you should give it a try. It is set on a fictional island in the Bay of Biscay in the 1930s, and we learn about the island, "castle," and royal family of Montmaray through 16-year-old Sophie's diary entries. There is an insane king, family secrets, encounters with Nazis, and much more. It is set up well to lead into the next book in the series, which I will have to read in the future.
Book # 34: Highland Legacy (novella collection) by Various Authors
Sometimes "inspirational fiction" works for me, if the author isn't too preachy, the writing isn't amateurish, and if it's good historical fiction as well. This book just didn't work, which is disappointing because I like reading stories that are set in Scotland. Oh well, better luck next time!
Book # 35: A Rather Lovely Inheritance by C.A. Belmond
I listened to this as an audiobook, and the reader did a fantastic job! This book is the first in a series about Penny Nichols (I'll admit, it took me a minute to figure out what was so funny about her name), who is a 30-something historian who works with film production companies to authenticate their films. Her life changes when her eccentric great aunt passes away and she is one of three heirs named in two wills. The characters were well-written, there's mystery, adventure, and romance, and it's just fun, smart chick lit. I will definitely read the rest of the series, although I've done an ILL search, and I can't seem to get any of the others as audiobooks, which is a tad disappointing.
Oh wow, you've been doing some great reading! Lots of new additions to my wish list.
>51: I bet you and your daughters would enjoy doing a read aloud of A Brief History of Montmaray, Anne!
Book # 36: The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
My sister is a huge Hunger Games fan. She made a list of books I had to read before she'd lend me her copy of HG, because she said if I didn't read them before I read HG, I'd be disappointed in them. I read a few of the books, but finally she gave me her copy, not expecting me to start it right away. Well, I had some more reading time than I expected, and read it in about a day. The only thing I knew about the book was that it was about a fight to the death competition.
After reading it, I can say the following: I thought the book was well-written, and it definitely kept me intrigued and wanting to know what would happen next. I'm also going to read the other two books, but I am by no means a die-hard fan of the series. The Hunger Games was almost too violent for me, and I am seriously wondering if I should see it in the theater. But, I'm glad I read it and know what all the fuss was about, and can now have proper discussions with friends, colleagues, and students who have read it.
Book # 37: Patty Jane's House of Curl by Lorna Landvik
After reading The Hunger Games, I needed something a little less...intense. In some ways, Patty Jane's House of Curl fit the bill, though there were emotional parts to the story. Set in 1950s and 1960s Minneapolis, it's about two sisters and their lives. It was a good story and quick read, but I got a bit tired of bad things always happening to good people. I especially liked the twist a hardly-mentioned character threw in towards the end. I have a couple more Landvik books on my list to read, and if they're anything like this one, I will enjoy them.
Book # 38: Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix
This children's/YA novel was on the list of books my sister wanted me to read BEFORE I read the Hunger Games. It turns out I needed to read it for school as well. I was highly impressed, but I don't think I'll continue with the Shadow Children series.
Set in the future, the government has made having more than two children illegal. Luke, a third child, must stay hidden in the attic of his family's home. The area where the family's farm is located is developed to build houses for rich people. After a while, Luke notices a figure hiding in a nearby house. Despite the danger, he sneaks over to the house, and this leads to more danger and excitement.
This well-written story makes the reader think, and wonder, and question many topics.
Hi Rachel -- thanks for the recommendation of A Brief History of Montmaray -- it sounds like a good one! I have The Hunger Games lined up to read next. My daughter loved it, and will want to see the movie. Last year I read Suzanne Collins' Gregor the Overlander series, which was written for younger readers. Like other series, the characters matured and the conflicts grew much more serious and violent. I loved them, though. I joke that the series nearly ruined my life -- I was completely useless while reading them, and had a lot of catching up to do when I was finished.
I also enjoyed Patty Jane's House of Curl. I can't remember if I read any others by Lorna Landvik besides Angry Housewives Eating Bon Bons which I loved. I read that when we went to Cyprus in 2007, and left it there. It was still there when we returned this summer, so I gave it to Callia, who had of course burned through everything she had brought to read at least twice. She loved it, too.
Hi, Anne! I love that: "I was completely useless while reading them, and had a lot of catching up to do when I was finished" :) I feel that way when I read anything by Susanna Kearsley, and several other authors I could list! I might look into some of the other books Collins has written. I asked my sister but she wasn't helpful. I do have Lorna Landvik's Oh My Stars on my to-read list, but I think I'll read some of her earlier novels first. I keep hearing good things about her books.
Book # 39: The Blue Castle by Lucy Maud Montgomery
This novel, one of Montgomery's few novels for adults, is also the only one set outside of Prince Edward Island (in Ontario). Valency, a 29-year-old spinster, lives with her overbearing family and has a bleak-looking future. Then one day, she finds out she has a heart condition and will die within a year. She decides to take charge of her life, does some things that are considered scandalous, and some unexpected things happen. One of the things I predicted about Barney Snaith did come true, but something else was a big surprise!
I really enjoyed Valency's development and Montgomery's lovely writing. Definitely recommended!
Book # 40: Nothing Daunted: The Unexpected Education of Two Society Girls in the West by Dorothy Wickenden
The author writes about her grandmother and grandmother's best friend who spent a year teaching in a remote area of Colorado in the early 1900s. At times it was too heavy on history and information that took away from the story.
Book # 41: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
Reread, and I listened to the audiobook version. Just as lovely as I remembered, and I am excited that a movie is finally in the works!
Book # 42: Nothing to Do But Stay by Carrie Young
This was one of my favorite reads of the year so far! The author recalls how her parents settled in northwest North Dakota, and her childhood on a farm there in the 1920s-1940s. Each chapter focused on something different (for example, schooling, Thanksgiving, an aunt and uncle, etc). The book was easy to read, at times humorous, and showed the author's appreciation for the way she grew up. There was also quite a bit about Norwegian-Americans. I've already requested Young's The Wedding Dress, which contains short stories about pioneers in North Dakota, and I'm anxiously waiting for it to arrive at the library!
Book # 43: Lazy B: Growing Up on a Cattle Ranch in the American Southwest by Sandra Day O'Connor and Alan Day
This book came up in a search I did, and it sounded interesting. I had no idea about O'Connor's childhood, but I enjoyed learning about how her ancestors/family ended up ranching a huge section of land in Arizona and New Mexico. The chapters were fairly short, and told a lot about the various people who worked on the ranch, animals, and ranch life there in the 1920s-1940s. Definitely worth a read if you're interested in ranching or how people survive in harsh conditions.
>62: Yes, I've been on a bit of an 1800s kick lately. I made the mistake of going to a historical fiction website and looking at lists of 19th Century-themed books. Only added 10 or so to my list of books to read! I hope you'll get more out of Nothing Daunted than I did. You'll probably recognize more of the places and people mentioned in the book.
Book # 44: 13 to Life by Shannon Delany
Sick of vampires? Try werewolves! I enjoyed parts of this YA book, but mostly felt like I was missing something. The author didn't set up certain things well, and a lot of the whole Russian mafia thing were just confusing. I really have no idea where Delany is taking this series, or if I'll continue with it when I need something different from what I usually read.
Book # 45: Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
I had that "I can't believe I didn't think this would happen" moment while reading this one. Many times. Then I felt like an idiot for not expecting it. I didn't really care for the ending, but that's probably just me.
Book # 46: Rainshadow Road by Lisa Kleypas
I don't usually read contemporary romance, but I have enjoyed the Friday Harbor books by Lisa Kleypas. This was the second book I've read, and it was nice for a quick read. Sam, who is helping raise his orphaned niece, meets Lucy, a glass artist who just lost her fiance to her sister. There's a lot to do with both Sam and Lucy's childhoods, and some magic thrown in too.
Book # 47: Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
I fall into the category of people who did not like the third book in the Hunger Games trilogy. I was also more of a fan of a certain character than another main character, which also puts me in the minority. At least now I know what all the fuss was about.
Book # 48: The Little Bride by Anna Solomon
A Jewish mail-order bride moves from the Ukraine to South Dakota in the late 19th Century. She lives with her Orthodox husband and two stepsons, who are her age. They are not cut out for the harsh conditions and are terrible farmers. This was not what I was expecting, but I can see how it will appeal to others.
Book # 49: Plum Spooky by Janet Evanovich
A Stephanie Plum book that was a lot longer than the other between-the-novel books. Deals with the supernatural, which is very different from other Stephanie Plum books.
Book # 51: You're (Not) the One by Alexandra Potter
While studying abroad in Venice, Lucy and Nate kiss under a bridge at sunset, which will link them together forever. Jump ahead 10 years, and they've lost contact...until British-born Lucy takes a job in New York City, and unexpectedly meets Nate through her work. Will they find each other changed? Will they still be linked due to that kiss?
I had a few issues with characters and the story, but this will appeal to certain readers.
Book # 52: Your Oasis on Flame Lake by Lorna Landvik
This story has five narrators: Devera, her husband Dick, her best friend BiDi, Bidi's husband Sergio, and Dick and Devera's daughter, Darcy. The relationships between these characters and other family members/members of the community are revealed over the course of many months. There's humor, a mystery, and the name of the book refers to the nightclub Dick opens in the family's basement. Certain characters were much easier to like than others. The story felt a bit dated, even though it's not all that old.
Book # 53: Wild Romance: A Victorian Story of a Marriage, a Trial, and a Self-Made Woman by Chloe Schama
Well researched biography of Theresa Longworth Yelverton, a British woman who accused her husband of bigamy, which led to several years of court cases in the 19th Century. The second half of the book was about her writing and travels throughout the world. Some parts were interesting, but some were dull. Those who enjoy Victorian life, culture, and such will probably like it more than I did.
Book # 54: Nebraska Legacy by DiAnn Mills
Novellas about marriages of convenience in Nebraska in the 1800s. It was ok, but I think I was in the mood for something different when I was reading it.
Book # 55: Rose Cottage by Mary Stewart
It's 1947, and Kathy, who has been widowed in the war, is given a task by her ill grandmother: to clean out the cottage where Kathy grew up, and pack up some furniture and things to be sent to her grandmother. She also needs to bring some documents and objects of sentimental value, which were locked in a hidden compartment. Of course, the things were missing, there have been rumors of strangers lurking around the village, and suddenly Kathy finds herself trying to solve a mystery that has to do a great deal with her and her past.
This was my first Mary Stewart, but it certainly won't be my last. Wonderful descriptions, language, and characters. There wasn't as much suspense as her earlier works (or so I've read), but it still had me wondering what would happen or be found out next. Great if you enjoy suspense, or even post-WWII life in England.
>73: Lori, I'm definitely looking forward to reading more by Mary Stewart!
I listened to over half of The Last Town on Earth and couldn't make myself finish it. It rambled on and on, and wasn't actually getting to the story. The flashbacks were also confusing. Too bad, it sounded like something I wanted to enjoy!
Book # 56: Mattie by Judy Alter
Historical fiction (although there are some similarities to a real-life doctor) about the first woman to graduate from medical school and practice medicine in Nebraska. Focused a lot more on her life and relationships than on her doctoring. Despite its short length, it was a slow read.
Book # 57: Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman
Wildflower Hill is the story of Beattie and her granddaughter, Emma. Scottish-born Beattie finds herself unmarried and pregnant in the late 1920s, and ends up in Tasmania. She does what she has to to raise her daughter, and as the story unfolds, we find out about her relationships with various characters and about Wildflower Hill, a sheep station that Beattie eventually runs.
Emma, a ballet dancer in contemporary London, has to go back to Australia and then Tasmania. While cleaning out Wildflower Hill (which she plans to sell), she discovers family secrets and works to find out more about Beattie's life. Emma must also recover from an injury and break up.
I enjoyed the author's descriptions of the setting, and some of the characters. I was a bit disappointed, because I had thought that more of the story would take place at the sheep station. Fans of Kate Morton should enjoy this book, as well as anyone who enjoys multi-generational family sagas and women's literature. The ending, however, will not please everyone.
Book # 58: Love on the Line by Deeanne Gist
I love Gist's books because they are heavy on well-researched historical fiction, have lots of interesting, likeable characters, and are a joy to read. This book, her latest, takes place in the early 1900s in Brenham, Texas. Georgie Gail is a switchboard operator. It's a fast-paced job that gives her knowledge of what's happening all over town, and if she doesn't know what's going on, nobody does. Georgie is an avid bird watcher, and decides to lead a protest against the town milliner, who uses dead birds and bird parts on his hats.
Luke Palmer is the alias of a Texas Ranger named Lucious. Luke has to go undercover as a telephone troubleman in order to track down a group of train robbers who are living in the area. This, of course, leads to working closely with Georgie. There is a big twist at the end regarding the leader of the gang which I honestly did not see coming.
I didn't enjoy this one as much as Gist's other novels. I'm not sure why. There was lots of interesting historical details, especially regarding telephones and how people viewed the new form of communication. Gist also built up the town's German population and customs, such as May Day celebrations. Final Result: Good, but not one of my favorites by the author.
I've never read anything by Gist. I went back and looked at some of the reviews of her book that was in the ER program, and it appears she may be one of the better writers of Christian fiction, so I may have to give her a try sometime.
Her books are not at all heavy on the religion or inspirational aspects of Christian fiction. I think that's another reason why I like her writing. I agree, she is one of the better writers in that genre. I'd recommend A Bride in the Bargain as that was my favorite by her. I also liked Beguiled a lot, and you might too, Lori. It's a contemporary mystery/suspense novel that she co-wrote with a mystery writer.
Hi, Anne. I think my next Mary Stewart will be her first, Madam, Will You Talk?. I checked it out at the library but haven't had time for it yet. I was having a good week until about an hour ago when a deer decided to jump in front of my car on the way to work. Dead deer, minimal damage to the car, and now an afternoon of police and insurance reports, finding out how long it will take to fix my car, and fun stuff like that. What a way to start the weekend!
Oh no! I'm so sorry. That has to be traumatic, as well as a great big hassle. I'm so glad you weren't hurt, and that the damage to your car is minimal.
Thanks, Anne. It was my first time hitting a deer, but thankfully I had seen it out of the corner of my eye as it came out of someone's yard, and I wasn't going that fast to begin with as I had just rounded a curve. Two high school boys I have taught stopped while I was waiting for my parents to come, and they asked if I wanted the deer. I let them have it, so they loaded it up into the back of their vehicle and debated skipping a couple of classes or just taking absences to deal with the deer. Not that I wanted them to do that...but at least they got something out of the deer, and it was pretty funny watching them fit it in the back of the vehicle!
Book # 59: Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
The third book in the Dairy Queen trilogy. DJ has to make several important decisions about sports, college, love, and the like. It was a bit sports-heavy, which didn't really interest me, but I still enjoyed finding out what choices DJ would make.
Book # 60: Named of the Dragon by Susanna Kearsley
Susanna Kearsley is one of my favorite authors, but it's terribly difficult to find copies of most of her books, and I've only been able to read a few. This was my fourth, and while not my favorite, it still offered everything I have come to expect from Ms. Kearsley.
Lyn, a literary agent who has suffered the loss of her husband and child, goes to Wales with one of her clients for the Christmas holidays. While there, she becomes involved with several characters, including an author, a playwright, and a young woman who is a bit odd. Lyn's dreams/nightmares take on new meaning as she is drawn into legends, prophecies, and mystery.
As with the author's other books, this was descriptive and atmospheric, with nice historical details and beautiful writing. There were some things I was disappointed with, however. I thought the bits about Lyn's husband could have been a bit clearer or meaningful. I also thought her resolution with Stevie and the loss of her child was abrupt and too quick at the end.
After reading Named of the Dragon, I REALLY want to go to Wales and see Pembrokeshire Castle. I also REALLY want to read the rest of the author's novels. I wish they were more easily accessible, but I'll keep at it. Maybe I'll stumble upon them at a used bookshop?! That's how I got my copy of The Winter Sea, so who knows...
Book # 61: A Rather Curious Engagement by C.A. Belmond
After listening to Belmond's A Rather Lovely Inheritance earlier this year, I decided to continue with Penny and Jeremy's adventures. I didn't enjoy this book as much as the first, probably because the audiobook reader was excellent and I had too many other things going on to really focus on the story. It was still quite good, and with the ending it has, I know I'll be reading the third book in the future.
Jeremy and Penny decide to buy a yacht with part of their inheritance. This leads to finding a lost Beethoven-related antique, traveling to various locations in Europe, and avoiding danger along the way. There were fantastic descriptions of the yacht, locales, food, fashion, and great historical ties as well.
Book # 62: Finger Lickin' Fifteen by Janet Evanovich
I've been in a bit of a reading slump lately. I've started a few books, but can't seem to make progress with any of them. Thankfully, I know that the Stephanie Plum books are fast, fun reads, and this one definitely had me laughing out loud several times.
Book # 63: Pieces of Sky by Kaki Warner
This book, a historical fiction/historical "romance" set in 19th Century New Mexico, is the first in a trilogy. It was epic, but was also lacking. I think the author had too much going on and that took away from the book.
Book # 64: The Violets of March by Sarah Jio
Sarah Jio is definitely an author I will keep my eye on! She is a great storyteller, and I've heard lots of positive things about her. In this story, recently divorced Emily spends a month on an island near Seattle. She discovers a diary, and from what she discovers in the diary, works on putting together a mystery/family secrets. I didn't like the ending very much, well certain parts of it at least. This was a very quick read; I read it in less than a day.
Book # 65: Night by Elie Wiesel
I read the first two chapters with some English classes I was subbing for, and finished it up on the drive to my brother's college graduation. In some ways, it was what I expected, and in other ways completely different. It's been a while since I read anything Holocaust-related. Definitely gave me plenty to think about.
Book # 66: Mother Mason by Bess Streeter Aldrich
The members of the Mason family delight and entertain in this lovely book which was written in the 1920s. It definitely had an old-fashioned feel, and there were several phrases and quotes I thought were worthy of writing down.
Book # 67: The Wedding Guest by Anna Gilbert
A gothic novel set in post-WWI England. A young woman goes to live with her father's half-sisters, and discovers family secrets.
Book # 68: One Lucky Cowboy by Carolyn Brown
Contemporary romance in which a woman must flee from her fiancee, who has been hired to kill her. It would have been better if there had been less cursing and a bit more realistic.
Book # 69: The Dressmaker by Kate Alcott
A good story about some of the survivors of the Titanic, hearings regarding the sinking, fashion, and some real-life characters. It didn't wow me, but it did keep me interested until the end.
Book # 70: Aurelia by Anne Osterlund
YA fantasy/historical fiction about Aurelia, the Princess of Tyralt, and Robert, her childhood friend who tries to discover who has been attempting to kill her. It started out well, but I lost interest about halfway through. The author did a good job of keeping the reader interested at the end of each chapter. There is a sequel, Exile, but since none of my libraries have it, I'll get around to it eventually when I decide to get a copy by ILL.
Book # 71: Heart of Gold by Robin Lee Hatcher
Shannon leaves Virginia in 1864 to move to Idaho (Idaho Territory?) with her father, a minister. They meet Alice, a young woman who is dying, her son, and her brother. The brother, Matthew, is a stage coach driver, who decides he needs to marry Shannon so he/they can raise his nephew after his sister dies. Thrown in to the story were varying opinions/loyalties to the North and South, stage coach robberies, and the like. Given the setting, time period, and plot, this book could have been much better. I guess I was expecting to like the characters more than I did, and more character development. Ok for a quick read, but disappointing.
Book # 72: Still Life by Louise Penny
I think I was the last person in the world to read this book! I'd heard a lot about the series, but I wasn't sure what to expect. I definitely enjoyed it - the characters, the atmosphere, and I definitely want to live in Three Pines! There were some editing mistakes that surprised me, but overall, it was the type of mystery I like, and I can't wait to see how the series will continue.
Book # 73: Next to Love by Ellen Feldman
This book chronicles the lives of three friends from WWII-the 1960s. Some of the friends will become war widows, and they will all react to post-war life in different ways. It took me a while to get into this because of the writing style, but it was worth it. I'd recommend it if you're looking for something that deals with female friendships/relationships or something that deals with a different aspect of war.
Book # 74: Season of Storms by Susanna Kearsley
This was another winner from Kearsley, although it had a different feel from her other novels that I've read. There were bits scattered throughout the book that were set in the 1920s, but the majority of the novel was contemporary.
Celia Sands is an actress who has the same name as an actress/poet's muse who lived in the early 20th Century. Celia agrees to take the lead in a play the poet's grandson is producing at his villa in northern Italy. The play has never been performed, as there have always been complications and problems that have plagued the actors, stage crew, etc.
There are a host of interesting characters that help move the story along. The setting is lovely, and I had no problem picturing the various rooms, gardens, towns, and such in my head. The writing was what I have come to expect from Kearsley, and the gothic themes, history, and mystery were intriguing. I did feel that Celia, who is 22 years old, was more mature than I expected. There was also one event that happened at the end of the book that I DID NOT see coming!
I definitely recommend this novel, and look forward to reading more by this author!
Is it just me, or is trying to figure out which books to take on vacation a difficult, drawn-out process?!
I haven't done much reading in the last week, but I did get another part-time library job!
Book # 75: The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown
Three sisters return to their hometown in Ohio for different reasons. Their father is a college professor obsessed with Shakespeare, and their mother has cancer. Interesting family dynamics and literary references. I probably would have gotten more out of it if I was more familiar with the works of Shakespeare.
Hi Rachel -- congrats on the library job! Last year when we traveled, I spent literally months planning which books to bring. I intended to bring books I would enjoy but not mind leaving behind, and for the most part it worked. I just returned from tour and again, spent much more time selecting books than I did clothes!
I've never read anything by Susanna Kearsley, but I keep seeing her name pop up here on LT -- I need to start somewhere!
>99: Thanks, Anne! It's not the job I originally wanted, but it's better than nothing, and once I get the hang of things, I think I'll enjoy it. I didn't read any of the books I took with me on vacation...there just wasn't time, and I was too exhausted at the end of the day to attempt to read! You should definitely read Susanna Kearsley! She's a fantastic writer! I mentioned her name to the woman who orders books at my new library job, and she's going to get two of the Kearsley books I haven't read yet for the collection! I can't wait for them!
Book # 76: Persuasion by Jane Austen
I have to admit, I was a bit disappointed in this Austen. I'd heard so much about it, and had been looking forward to it for so long. It was a bit of a let-down, but still better than Sense and Sensibility!
Book # 77: A Being So Gentle: The Frontier Love Story of Rachel and Andrew Jackson by Patricia Brady
I've had this book on my want to read list for a while. I've always thought that Andrew Jackson was an interesting president, but then again I might be baised because of his wife's name. The book was very interesting. I had no idea that Rachel and her mother were two of the first white women in what is now Tennessee! It was full of interesting facts and history, and quite readable. I also learned a lot about the election of 1828. Halfway through, I remembered that oh yeah, I'm dating a guy named Andrew (Andy) and my name is Rachel, haha!
Book # 78: How to Be a Hepburn in a Hilton World: The Art of Living with Style, Class, and Grace by Jordan Christy
The author gave her opinions about how girls/young women should behave, date, and live their lives. I quickly grew tired of her so called advice. I'm a bit older than the target-age she was going for, but honestly this book won't be helpful for many females, and the title is also misleading...there were one or two brief mentions of Audrey Hepburn or quotes from her, but that was all.
Book # 79: Georgia Bottoms by Mark Childress
Southern fiction about a 30-something, Georgia, who lives in Alabama and with her senile mother and deliquent brother. Georgia entertains specific men from her small town, one a night, including a judge, banker, and preacher. Throw in some other eccentric characters, a secret from her past, and wonder if Georgia's secret life will ever be exposed. It was ok for a couple hours entertainment, but too predictable and I couldn't relate to any of the characters.
Book # 80: The Little House Cookbook: Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder's Classic Stories by Barbara M. Walker
A lovely collection of background information, historical tidbits, and recipes from the Little House books. The recipes themselves could have been written better, but it was still a fantastic resource for Laura Ingalls Wilder fans.
I bought The Little House Cookbook when we went to South Dakota for spring break last year -- I couldn't resist!
I've had it for several years. I enjoyed it for its sentimental value, but, like you, I was somewhat disappointed in the recipes themselves.
>Anne and Lori: I think I had heard about the cookbook at some point, but somehow it has never made its way into my collection of LHOTP/LIW books. I definitely want a copy! I plan on rereading the series soon (haha, at least that's what I'd like to have happen!) and it would be nice to have it to look up things as I go. It was published in the late 1970s...maybe cookbooks and recipes were written differently then??
Book # 81: The Exile of Sara Stevenson by Darci Hannah
The premise of this novel sounded fantastic: a young, well-to-do woman is banished to a remote lighthouse on the edge of Scotland after her family discovers she was planning to elope with a common sailor, who happened to get her pregnant. At the lighthouse, she must reckon with an eccentric lighthouse-keeper, as well as her companion Kate, who betrayed her, and Kate's husband. There is also a vague time-travel/ghost aspect that does not play out clearly.
I really wanted to like this book. Between the setting, time period, time travel, and some gothic elements, I was ready to enjoy it. However, I didn’t care for any of the characters, the author took far too long to get to a disappointing “resolution,” several things were not developed well, and in all honesty, the book could have been written without the sci fi twist.
I do plan to read the author’s The Angel of Blythe Hall in the future. Here’s hoping that novel will be better than The Exile of Sara Stevenson!
Book # 82: Bound by Donna Jo Napoli
This short YA book is a retelling of Cinderella set in Ming Dynasty China. There are some changes as to the number of characters, their personalities, etc., so while the Cinderella-related themes were very real and easy to pick up on, there were nice differences too. There was a good sense of place, ancient customs, and beliefs. For being only 186 pages, the ending was rather abrupt, and was really too unoriginal for my tastes.
Book # 83: The Expats by Chris Pavone
Something different from what I usually read. It was hard at time to figure out what was happening when...but the story, backstory, etc. were slowly revealed. I was quite looking forward to the Luxembourg setting, as I've been there twice, but I didn't really get a feel for the city or country. It's good to mix things up once in a while...I can't read historical fiction all the time, so this was a nice change, but I can't see myself reading spy thrillers on a regular basis!
Book # 84: Madam, Will You Talk? by Mary Stewart
This was my second Stewart, and her first novel. Charity Selbourne goes on vacation to the south of France, where she quickly becomes involved with a murder mystery, car chases, and the like. I don't particularly know much about Provence, or the places mentioned in the story, but I was able to get a sense of place. The reader must keep in mind that the book was written in the mid 1950s. It was a quick read (or was that just because I had to read a large print edition?) and I will definitely be reading more by the author on a regular basis!
Book # 85: A Woman Called Sage by DiAnn Mills
Sage, a half-Ute, half-white woman, has a wondeful life...until gunmen kill her husband and shoot her, causing her unborn baby to die. She then spends time with the Ute, learning everything she needs to know in order to hunt down the killers. She becomes quite the bounty hunter. Eventually she teams up with Parker, a lawman who has his own reasons for wanting to find the men. As far as Christian fiction goes, it wasn't too preachy, and the town minister was quite a character. It read quite a bit like a western, and kept me wondering about things until the very end.
>112: I'd love to listen to some of Mary Stewart's novels on audio. I did a quick search on the state-wide ILL system, but didn't come up with anything on CD. I'll try again with some specific titles. I haven't read anything Arthurian since I was a kid, but I have to admit I might give her books a try. Someday. :)
I read most of Mary Stewart's books back in the 70s. I loved them all back then.
I'm not a huge fan of thrillers either. I prefer historical mysteries and cozies. Pavone's book worked a little better for me than you although I've never been to the country, and you have.
I definitely prefer historical mysteries and such, Lori! Sometimes it's nice to mix things up and read something I wouldn't normally try, though!
Book # 86: Desperate Crossing: The Jenny Sanders Pryor Story by Barbara Riefe
After I finished this book, I had to do some research to see if the main character was a real-life person, if the book was based on true events, etc. The book was a toss up. There were some good points, some bad, and it's intersting how historical fiction has changed in the last 10-15 years or so!
Book # 87: A Fatal Grace by Louise Penny
The second of Penny's mysteries set in a small village in Quebec. This one had me hooked from the start...with a murder like that, who wouldn't be interested in finding out how it was carried out?! A vile woman is electrocuted in the middle of a frozen lake during a crowded curling match. There are plenty of suspects and possible motives. There were a few parts that felt disjointed, but the way Penny brought about the winter atmosphere was wonderful, and made me wish it'll be a long, cold, harsh winter this year!
I guess I like police procedurals like Crombie, Leon, and Penny too; it's just that whole espionage theme that usually accompanies thrillers of which I'm not fond.
I know what you mean, Lori!
Book # 88: Blessed Are the Cheesemakers by Sarah-Kate Lynch
This was definitely an odd, eccentric, feel-good novel! I've had it on my to-read list for so long that I've forgotten where I first heard about it! There are lots of interesting characters who help keep the book interesting. There's Abbey, who is 29 and living on an island in the South Pacific with her husband, who is doing his part to help the population grow. We also have Kit, who has let his life fall apart because of his wife, has been fired, and has a drinking problem. Then there's Abbey's grandfather and his business parter, who own a cheese-making factory in Ireland, and the pregnant dairymaids who milk the cows while singing along with the soundtrack to "The Sound of Music."
In many ways, this book reminded me of Sarah Addison Allen's Garden Spells, so if you liked that book, you will probably enjoy Blessed Are the Cheesemakers. The first half was stronger than the second half, and it seemed like the author threw in a couple things just to draw it out a little longer than necessary. Still, it was nice for a quick summer read.
Also, if you like cheese, you MUST read this book!
Book # 89: The King's Rose by Alisa Libby
I'm not a big fan of the Tudors, Henry VIII's courts, etc. but I decided to read this YA novel about his fifth wife, Catherine Howard, anyway. It's told from her point of view, and I did learn a lot about her...she tends to be overshadowed by his first three wives, and I didn't know much about her story. The book itself will appeal to teenage girls, and people who are more interested in people from that time period and part of British history than I am.
Book # 90: Overseas by Beatriz Williams
This was not a perfect book, but it was the best book I have read in a while, and I read it at exactly the right time, which made it even better. As for the people who say it jumps around too much or doesn't "flow," what do you expect?! Novels that have time travel are going to be that way, and I thought Williams did a great job of telling the past and present stories.
Kate and Julian meet and fall in love. But you have to read the book to get the whole story.
I agree with the readers who say Julian was too perfect. There's no way there is a man alive like him, but I really enjoyed his personality and old-fashioned qualities. Kate was a likeable character who was a perfect match for Julian.
I would have liked more of the World War I storyline. It could have used more detail and been stronger, but I can understand why the author focused more on the present-day story.
This is a book I could simply not put down, and would definitely read again.
Book # 91: Mennonite in a Little Black Dress by Rhoda Janzen
I listened to this in my car during my commute to work and a longer drive to see friends. I'm glad I listened to it instead of read it. I was a bit hesitant, because Elizabeth Gilbert had wonderful things to say about it, and I couldn't stand Eat, Pray, Love. I guess the Mennonites who live in my area (we have large Amish and Mennonite populations in my county and to the south) are quite different from the Mennonites Janzen grew up with. I think I would have enjoyed more "Mennonite" stuff instead of constantly hearing about how the author's husband left her for a man he met on gay.com. The whole bit about this being a book about her "going home" was also very much lacking.
Book # 92: True Sisters by Sandra Dallas
In her latest book, Sandra Dallas transports the reader to 1856 with a group of Mormon immigrants who are traveling from Iowa to Zion, AKA Salt Lake City. Instead of using wagons to haul their possessions, they push and pull poorly constructed hand carts during the 1,300 mile trek. Due to a variety of circumstances, including leaving too late in the year, bad weather, and the opinions of the Mormon leaders, the journey becomes a fight for survival, and many lives will be lost before the survivors arrive in the Promised Land.
Four women are the focus of the story, and Dallas told their stories well. I knew the book would be depressing at times, and would not end well for all of the characters. I learned a lot about the reasons Mormons moved West as well.
#122: I will have to give that one a try. I have only read one of Dallas' books, but I enjoyed it. Thanks for the recommendation, Rachel!
>123: I'm always happy to recommend Sandra Dallas! This one is no exception!
I felt the exact same way about Mennonite In A Little Black Dress! And, I'm so excited to see a new Sandra Dallas out!!
Blech, Mennonite in a Little Black Dress sounds like one to avoid. I wasn't wild about Eat, Pray, Love, either. True Sisters sounds good, though. A few years ago on tour we went to the National Historic Trails Interpretive Center in Casper, WY, which was one of the best interactive museums I've ever visited, and located right at the actual convergence of trails heading west -- after Casper they split off into the Oregon, Mormon, and California trails. There was a particularly chilling (no pun intended, honest) exhibit about a horribly ill-fated Mormon group, using actual diaries of women in the group as source material. It's definitely worth the trip if you're ever near Casper :)
Dawn: I'm glad I wasn't the only one who thought something was off with Mennonite in a Little Black Dress! The latest Dallas was heavy on information at times, but still had all the great storytelling I've come to expect from her!
Anne: I need to get out to Wyoming soon, as one of my best friends moved out there to teach and I have't visited her yet! I'd definitely visit that museum...it sound like one I could spend hours in and still not have looked at everything! I was at an air and space museum in Ohio a couple weeks ago and wish I had tucked a book in my purse, because Andy wanted to read every word about every exhibit. I was ready to leave after 10 minutes! But Historic Trails and all that, you would have to drag me out of there!!
Book # 93: Silk by Alessandro Baricco
This is another book I've had on my want to read list forever, so I finally interloaned a copy. Wow, for being less than 100 pages, it certainly packs a punch! I really enjoyed the writing style and how the chapters were set up. A French man goes to Japan to buy silkworms, and meets a woman there. The novella then continues on with how his life and marriage are impacted. There is a big twist at the end that I honestly did not see coming!
I wish I had read this sooner! It's a quick read, but will stay with you for a long time.
Book # 94: The Sugar Queen by Sarah Addison Allen
A quick read full of magical realism. Set in the mountains of North Carolina during winter, I kept looking out the window and wishing for snow! I accidentally came across a major spoiler before I started reading, which took something away from the book. I wish I had one of the character's problems of books just showing up when you need/want them!
I got to work today and found two Susanna Kearsley books I haven't read yet waiting for me in my desk drawer! I had mentioned them to the lady who does acquisitions (because I couldn't get them through interloan), and she ordered them :) It's going to be a great day! No, a great week!
Book # 95: The Book of Summers by Emylia Hall
A half-English and half-Hungarian girl, Beth, spends part of her summer each year with her mother in Hungary. After several summers, Beth learns something that changes her entire life and her summers in Hungary end. Eventually, Beth is forced to remember her childhood and her mother.
I lived in Hungary for five years, and feel the author did not represent the country or its people very accurately. There were also some instances where she used some Hungarian words and phrases incorrectly. This novel was not what I hoped it would be, but I have a feeling a lot of people will enjoy it. The big twist did surprise me, but I did not like it one bit.
Book # 96: One Amazing Thing by Chitra Divakaruni
Nine people of different ages, races, and religions are in a basement office waiting to get Indian visas when an earthquake strikes. Some are injured, and they are trapped with no way to escape. Eventually, they decide that each person will tell a story from their life.
The book flowed quite well, and kept my interest. I did begin to wonder if everyone would tell their story, and if they would or wouldn’t be rescued. Personally, I did not like the ending, but I won’t say more in order to avoid spoiling it for others.
Book # 97: Welcome to the Great Mysterious by Lorna Landvik
Legendary Broadway actress Geneva Jordan goes back to Minnesota to babysit her 13 year old nephew, who has Down Syndrome, while his parents take a month-long trip to Italy. It was a quick read, and Landvik is a good storyteller, but I didn’t really care about the characters.
Book # 98: Mariana by Susanna Kearsley
Every time I read a Susanna Kearsley book, I 1. never want it to end; 2. want to be the heroine; and 3. wish she would write hundreds of books so I could read her all the time.
Mariana, originally published in 1994, is one of my favorites. Julia Beckett first saw a magnificent old house, Greyweathers, when she was a child, and eventually purchases it. She comes to learn of its history from the locals, and is intrigued by a woman, Mariana Farr, who lived in the 17th Century. Julia is transported back in time to be Mariana, usually for a few hours at a time. The more often she travels back to the 1600s, the more she learns about the things that happened and how they influence her life in present-day and will in the future.
Kearsley fans know what to expect from her writing, and I savored every word. I also knew there would be a big twist at the very end, but I was totally taken by surprise...now I have to go back and reread the book to look for possible clues and pick up on things I missed the first time!
I have two more Susanna Kearsley books waiting for me at home, and she has a new novel due out in early 2013. I wish everyone would read this wonderful author's books!
Book # 99: Home By Morning by Alexis Harrington
I listened to the audio version of this book, but it took me a while to finish it because I'd get interrupted or have to wait a while before listening to more. That took a way from my enjoyment of the story, but overall I still liked it. The reader did a lovely job with the different voices.
A female doctor, Jessica, returns to her small hometown in Oregon after studying and working in NYC. She is on her way to a research job in Seattle, but before she can get there, yellow fever takes over her town, and she stays to help. In the meantime, her sister is practically engaged to Jessica's former love, the town pastor decides he is going to pursue Jessica, WWI is raging in Europe and impacting everyone in the town, and there's plenty more going on.
I plan to read the follow-up, or rather listen to it, but I will set aside more time for it so I'll have an easier time keeping track of characters and what's happening in the story!
I am obviously going to have to try some of Susanna Kearsley's books!
Yes, Stasia, you must!! Read them and love them! She is the author who immediately comes to mind when someone asks, "Who is your favorite author?" or "Can you recommend an author?" The Winter Sea (also known as Sophia's Secret is my favorite, but all of her novels are wonderful!
Book # 100: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day by Winifred Watson
Sometimes the story-behind-the-story and the author's background are just as interesting as the actual story, and this is certainly true in this case! It took me forever to get a copy of this book through ILL, in fact the first time I ordered it, I was sent the film instead of the book! By the time I actually sat down to read it, I was determined I would enjoy it, and was immediately caught up in the preface about Winifred Watson's life, how she became an author, and how, due to circumstances during and after WWII, she ended her writing career.
Now, on to the actual book, which was published in Miss Guinevere Pettigrew, a middle-aged out-of-work governess, goes to a ritzy apartment in London hoping to secure a position. There she meets an actress and nightclub singer, Dylesia LaFosse, ends up helping her with an unwelcome situation. Miss Pettigrew goes on to spend the day with Dylesia, never getting the chance to explain why she went to the apartment in the first place. She meets all sorts of people, has some new and startling, experiences, and a Cinderella-like transformation.
The book was quite scandalous for its time, and there are definitely parts that are considered racist, sexist, and the like. I saw the film after I finised the book, and the film made me like the book even more. I'd love to read Watson's other five books, but they seem incredibly difficult to find, which is really disappointing.
aktakukac - I LOVED Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day (and the movie)!! I don't seem to have paid attention to the preface - I'll have to go and re-reat that!
>137: Glad you're a fan too, Dawn! I was impressed that her novels were so different...that really makes me want to read them all...
Book # 101: The River Between Us by Richard Peck
Two mysterious young women traveling north on the Mississippi River from New Orleans during the Civil War disembark at a small town and are put up as boarders with a family. Over the course of the short book, we learn who the girls really are, what they are doing, and the results of their actions on later generations.
I had never read anything by Richard Peck before, and was a bit surprised at the overall feel of the book. I expected it to go in one way, but it didn't really. There was a lot of wonderful Civil War-related information, and the descriptions of the riverboats and army camps were spot on. Peck covered a broad range of topics and events in the book, and I recommend it.
Book # 102: Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout
Listened to part of it, then read through the rest. The short stories didn't appeal to me.
Book # 103: The Cruellest Month by Louise Penny
A woman is apparently scared to death - literally - at a scence in an old house. I was convinced I knew how she died, but no, I was wrong. I liked getting to know more of Armand Gamache's personality in this one. I think I will try the next book in the series on audio.
Book # 104: The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones
What an odd book! I was terribly disappointed, and can't recommend it at all. It's so annoying when you think a book is going to be about one thing, and the author does something totally different. Hope my next reads will be better!
Book # 105: Home by Nightfall by Alexis Harrington (audiobook)
The follow-up to Home by Morning focuses on Susannah, Tanner, and Riley. Riley was declared dead on the French Front in WWI, but actually survived, and over two years later, is living in the French countryside with a woman when he is found by Red Cross Workers. His wife, Susannah, thinking he was killed, has since married Tanner, and they are living and working on the Braddock ranch. Riley suffers from amnesia, and his return to Oregon means things are going to have to be figured out and decisions made. A lot of things that weren't resolved in the first book had a resolution in the second book.
Book # 106: Wind Dancer by Jamie Carie
On the one hand, I enjoyed the book: it was set on the frontier in pre-Revolutionary America, and there was a lot of action and interesting situations. I wish I knew a bit more about some of the real-life characters and events. There were a couple of situations involving attacks/fighting that made me squeamish. I think my main gripe is that I didn't like the main female character that much.
Book # 107: The Persian Pickle Club by Sandra Dallas
A quick read from Dallas that takes place in Depression-era Kansas and deals with a group of friends. Quilting, murder, and the time period made it an enjoyable book for me.
The Sandra Dallas book is already on my TBR list. Glad you liked it.
Book # 108: Tiger's Curse by Colleen Houck
I saw a blurb about this series somewhere, and thought it sounded interesting. I was quickly caught up in the story of Kelsey, a recent high school graduate, and Ren, a 300-year-old Indian prince who has been cursed and must live as a tiger for eternity. There was a lot of action, adventure, folklore, romance, etc. However, parts of the story dragged on, and sometimes the author's writing style and character's dialogue wore on me. I'm interested enough to know what happens next in the quest to break the curse, but I don't love this series like a lot of teenagers do.
Book # 109: Tiger's Quest by Colleen Houck
Book # 110: Tiger's Voyage by Colleen Houck
Continuing with the Tiger's Curse series. I'm not enjoying the love triangle and all that related drama, but the adventure, fantasy, and folklore parts are interesting and make me want to read the fourth book later, when I can get a copy through interloan or whenever a library around here gets it.
Book # 111: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book I: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood
Earlier this year, I listened to an audiobook narrated by the incredibly talented Katherine Kellgren. I found some other titles she has narrated, and this series caught my attention, so I listened to this first book in my car. From the very beginning, I was impressed by the narration and by the author's wonderful, well-written story.
Penelope Lumley is a young woman who is hired as a governess at an English estate. The three children she is to take care of are not typical (or stereotypical) children, however, and there is quite a bit of mystery surrounding them. There were lots of other interesting characters and happenings as well. The story ended with lots of unanswered questions, and I will definitely continue with the series.
I think children would enjoy either reading or listening to the book, and adults will get a lot out of it as well. Highly recommended!
Book # 112: The Trumpet of the Swan by E.B. White
When I was in the 2nd grade, my teacher read aloud from this classic children's story, and it became one of my favorites. In a way, that's kind of strange, because I typically can't stand birds! My parents gave me a copy for my birthday that year, and I even used that copy during a project in a college class. Then a few weeks ago, I woke up one morning and the book was the first thing on my mind...so I decided to get a copy of the audio version, read by the author, for my commute.
I had forgotten how the story has a sort of old fashioned feel, and the vocabulary White used. I'm quite sure I had no idea what a lot of those words meant when I was an 8-year-old! I had also forgotten how pompous the cob was, and how vain Serena seemed most of the time.
It's always interesting to reread a favorite book, especially after many years. Thankfully, this one is still as lovely as I remembered.
Book # 113: Every Secret Thing by Susanna Kearsley (also published under the name Emma Cole)
Every Secret Thing is not the type of book Kearsley usually writes. While it does have a dual timeline (present day and 1940s), it is a thriller and does not have elements of the supernatural/paranormal/time travel. I thought the beginning was strong, but it grew weaker towards the end, although she did weave a typical ending and the entire book was, as usual, very atmospheric and engaging.
Book # 114: Wildfire at Midnight by Mary Stewart
Gianetta decides to take a trip to the Isle of Skye for a relaxing vacation from her modeling career, the busy Coronation events (Queen Elizabeth II), and because she's never had time to herself after her divorce. Imagine her surprise when her ex-husband shows up at the remote hotel she's staying in, and then she hears about a recent murder in the area. Then two of the guests staying at her hotel don't return from a climbing excursion, and Gianetta has to help solve the mystery of the murders before she herself becomes a victim.
There was quite a 1950's feel to this novel, and a lot of suspense. Quite a few scenes had me on the edge of my seat, and I was surprised how quickly I finished the book. I can't wait to read my next Mary Stewart!
Book # 115: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book II: The Hidden Gallery by Maryrose Wood
I listened to this book in the series, and loved every minute of Penelope and the Incorrigible Children's trip to London. I definitely recommend listening to the audio book if you have the chance, as the narrator's voices and various noises add so much to the story.
Book # 116: Trapped by Michael Northrop
Some high school students get stuck in their school during a massive winter storm. The reader knows from the beginning that there will be deaths. I'd heard a lot of complaints about the ending, and while it could have been much better, it could have been much worse as well. An okay book for a couple hours reading, but that's all.
Book # 117: The Haunting of Maddy Clare by Simone St. James
I really enjoyed this debut novel, which is set in Post-WWI England. Sarah, who does temporary secretarial jobs, gets work from a ghost hunter. He and his friend, both veterans who were wounded in the Great War, need a woman for their latest project, the ghost of a servant who is haunting a barn in the countryside. I liked that there was a solid mystery to the ghost story, the atmosphere, the author's writing style, and how deep parts of the book were (especially those dealing with the men recovering from their experiences in the war). I will definitely read more by this author!
Book # 118: The Selection by Kiera Cass
I am not a fan of TV programs like "The Bachelorette," and I basically picked up this book because I thought the cover was interesting. For me, the story was just a way to pass the time...I didn't love it like a lot of people seem to, and I didn't detest it like those who don't love it apparently do. There were enough things left undone/unsaid at the end that I will probably pick up the sequel when it comes out, but just to see what happens next.
Book # 119: Kirsti by Helen Markley Miller
Fans of pioneer/immigrant stories, historical fiction, coming of age, and the like will enjoy this book, which was published in 1964. I saw an old copy on a shelf in the children's room at the library, and thought it would be something right up my alley. However, I think it really belongs in the YA section, not with the children's books.
Kirsti is a teenage Finnish immigrant whose family moves to remote Idaho in 1901. She quickly learns to help her pregnant stepmother, who is just a few years older than she is, when her father and older brother have to leave to work in the mines for the winter. Kirsti has to deal with learning a new language, surviving on meager rations, battling the elements, and building her relationship with her stepmother. She must also figure out what to do with her attraction to Tom, an American, when her father has decided she must marry a Finnish man.
The author had experience living amongst Finnish immigrants in the West, and did a good job of explaining the harsh realities many of them had to face. The book definitely has an old-fashioned feel to it, and I think that adds to its charm. Four stars.
>155. That author has a handful of other books that appear to be similar to Kirsti...if I can locate any of them, I might give them a try!
Book # 120: The Widow's War by Sally Gunning
In a small village on Cape Cod in 1761, Lyddie's husband drowns during a whaling accident. As a result of his will, their house, land, and most of her belongings go to their closest male relative, their (evil) son-in-law. However, due to some stipulations, Lyddie may use 1/3 of the house, and so she decides to try support herself. Women's rights, religious customs of the time, and relations between Native Americans and the colonists all play an important part in this well-researched novel. The author has a couple more books set in this place/era that I'll be reading in the future.
That one has been on my list for awhile. Maybe I'll get to it soon.
>157: I am more interested in reading Bound and The Rebellion of Jane Clarke, but The Widow's War was first on a list I saw somewhere, so I read that one first.
Book # 121: Gone Girl by Jillian Flynn
I'd heard so much about this book, and it seemed like it was never available at the library, so when a copy was actually on the new book shelf, I grabbed it. I know this book is not for everyone, and I am one of those people. I didn't like the main characters (especially Amy), and I guessed part of what happened not far into the book. There were plenty of twists and turns, though. I can say I've read it, but it was just a three-star read for me.
Book # 122: The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving
My mom, brother, and I listened to this on the way to a wedding. I was surprised by how quickly the story went by...before I knew it, it was over! I liked the vocabulary Irving used, and the cultural bits were interesting as well.
Book # 123: Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers
In 15th Century Brittany, Ismae avoids an arranged marriage by escaping to a convent, where she trains to be an assassin. Ismae, whose father is supposedly Death, quickly grows to enjoy and appreciate her job. She becomes involved with the royal court, working with the convent and royal advisors, and must make choices that may go against her orders and instincts. I would describe this book as historical fantasy. It was definitely not the historical fiction I was expecting, but it worked well, and the plot twists and turns kept me wondering what would happen next. There will be more books in the series, and I plan on reading them in the future.
Book # 124: The Bungalow by Sarah Jio
I read one of Jio's other books earlier this year, and enjoyed it, but was also disappointed. The same thing happened with The Bungalow. I liked the setting, the characters, etc. but at the end of the story, I was left with a lot of unanswered questions and like parts could have been written differently. Now an old woman, Anne remembers her time in Bora-Bora as a nurse during WWII, and how her relationships there changed her life and the lives of many others. Jio is a talented writer, and I will read Blackberry Winter, but I hope I will like it more than her other two books.
Book # 125: Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn
A good children's ghost story about a blended family that moves to an old church in the Maryland countryside. Molly and her brother Michael must put up with their annoying, bratty, and devious step-sister Heather, who constantly torments them and gets them in trouble. Then Heather begins talking about Helen, a ghost who has some things in common with her. What will Helen do to the family, and what will happen to the family in the end?
I listened to this audiobook, and I didn't care for the narrator, which was a disappointment. The story itself was just spooky enough for children.
Book # 126: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
Anna is sent to boarding school in Paris for her senior year of high school. She becomes friends with some of her fellow students, especially St. Clair, but will their relationship ever develop into something more? Enjoyable YA fiction.
Book # 127: Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin
A fast-paced children's book about a boy who had dreamed of becoming a Young Pioneer. The night before he's supposed to join, his father is arrested, and the next day at school, he accidentally breaks the nose off a statue of Stalin. Beautiful illustrations, very moving, and well worth reading.
Book # 128: Juliet by Anne Fortier
I had high expectations for this book...it sounded like something right up my alley. Instead, I trugged through the novel, and had to make myself finish it. I couldn't keep storylines straight, felt like things weren't happening the way they should, and probably just don't care enough about the story of Romeo and Juliet to want to waste my reading time with something that could have been so much better.
I also listened to this; things might have been slightly different if I had read it.
Book # 129: The Song of the Cardinal by Gene Stratton-Porter
Indiana native Gene Stratton-Porter was an interesting woman who was an author, naturalist, photographer, artist, and involved in the movie industry, among other things. The Song of the Cardinal, published in 1903, is her first attributed novel, and is full of lovely old-fashioned language. I'm not a fan of birds (actually, I can't stand any type of bird!), but I like her writing style enough to read through the book. I hope the characters and settings in her other novels will be more to my liking. Still, it was nice to start with her first book.
Book # 130: Keeping the Castle by Patrice Kindl
What a fun book this was! If you are a fan of Jane Austen, it's a must read! I'm not sure what I liked best: the hilarious opening, the crumbling old castle built against the North Sea, the dialogue between Althea and Mr. Fredricks, the stepsisters, the ... well, there was a lot to like about this book!
Althea, a 17-year-old beauty, knows she has to marry a rich man in order to keep her family's home, a run-down castle that was built to be striking to look at, not practical to live in. Althea can never keep her thoughts to herself, however, and this has cost her her best chance at securing a wealthy husband. Then a potential prospect arrives in the area, along with several of his family members, and other characters who help move the story along. Who will end up with who, and what will happen to the castle? It's fairly predictable, especially for readers who are familiar with the Regency period, but it's a well-written, lovely book and a quick, pleasant read.
Book # 131: The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
Another strong novel from Kate Morton. It's not my favorite of hers, but I still enjoyed it very much. In the present day, Laurel and her siblings come together as their mother, Dorothy, becomes sicker and close to death. Laurel, who as a teenager witnessed a violent event involving her mother, baby brother, and a man, tries not only to solve the question of why her mother did what she did to the man, but also to find out more about her mother's past. From the chapters that take place during the 1940s, we learn about Dorothy's life as a young woman in England during the Blitz.
Although I did guess some of the eventaul outcomes, I was surprised by the big twist at the end. Kate Morton kept me wondering just how things would play out in this solid novel.
Glad to see you enjoyed that one. I may have to check it out of the library soon. Yours is the second favorable review of it I've spotted in recent days.
Book # 132: Thunder on the Right by Mary Stewart
I've only read a few books by Mary Stewart so far, and this was probably my least favorite. The story is set in a convent in the French Pyrenees, and involves a mysterious "death" and smuggling. It was suspenseful and there was a twist to keep things interesting, but after reading some of the author's other novels, this one fell a bit short. I'd still recommend it, and I will definitely keep reading more by Mary Stewart!
I read Thunder on the Right back in the 1970s. I loved all the books like that, but I don't remember the plot well enough to remember if it was a favorite or not. I do remember that I liked Phyllis Whitney's books of that "romantic suspense" genre best. However, I can remember reading that book by title so I must have liked it somewhat!
>170: I've noticed some Phyllis Whitney books on the library shelves, but have never really heard anything about her or her storylines. I'll have to look into that!
Book # 133: The Splendour Falls by Susanna Kearsley
Emily's cousin talks her into going on holiday in France. She arrives in Chinon to find her cousin has been delayed, but soon realizes something has happened to him and he is missing. There are a couple different mysteries involving the town and various characters, and their relationships to people from WWII. This book didn't have the supernatural/time travel elements that some of the other novels have, but once again, the suspense and writing were top-notch.
Oh wow, I'm behind! I loved your description of The Trumpet of the Swan -- I think my mom read it aloud to my brother and me, and it remained one of my favorites. I read it aloud to my kids, but it's been several years. Perhaps I'm due for a reread.
I was another reader who didn't enjoy Gone Girl. I hadn't figured out plot elements, but I was thoroughly creeped out by the characters. Ugh.
I have a very old copy nearby of Wildfire at Midnight -- glad to see you enjoyed it!
>173: I'm always behind on threads, Anne! I hope your girls enjoyed The Trumpet of the Swan when you read it to them! Two of my friends absolutely loved Gone Girl, so I am glad I am not alone in my opinion of it! Mary Stewart is an author I hadn't read until this year, and I'm so glad I did!
Book # 134: Some Girls: My Life in a Harem by Jillian Lauren
The author, for various reasons she explains in the book, went to Borneo to be a party girl/prostitute for the royal family. There were parts that I liked (descriptions of her no-limit shopping spree), but I was expecting to have the focus of the story be on the harem and her as a member of it. Instead, that was only part of the overall story, with her dealing more with being adopted, various forms of abuse she suffered from, having an abortion, finding her birth-mother, etc.
Book # 135: The Sea Captain's Wife by Beth Powning
Azuba has longed to go to sea with her husband ever since she was young. Her husband, who was against the idea, finally agrees due to a situation at home. Along with their daughter, Azuba experiences the good and the bad aspects of life at sea in the 1860s. Her relationship with her husband also changes during the time they are at sea. Well researched and good for those interested in the Victorian era and relationships during that time, as well as ships and travel by ship.
Book # 136: The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry by Rachel Joyce
After receiving an unexpected letter with some distressing news, recently retired Harold Fry leaves his house to mail a reply. For various reasons, he decides to keep walking, clear across England, to visit the person who sent him the letter...someone he hasn't seen in 20 years. Along the way, the reader meets a variety of characters, learns about Harold, his wife, and their son, and why he feels he needs to walk such a distance. Very British, quite quirky, and each reader will take away something different from this journey.
I managed to get a lot of books finished and/or read over the weekend. I'm pretty sure my big "book moment" of the year happened over the weekend as well. When I was a little girl, I loved a Little Golden Book called "Christmas in the Country" that was at my grandparent's house. I was certain my aunt took the book when I was in college so she could give it to her granddaughter. I tried looking for it online, but never found the exact book I was looking for. Well, my mom and I were doing some work at my grandparents house on Saturday, and she found a box of books. I dug through it, and right there was the Christmas in the Country book! I jumped and squealed and shouted and claimed that book...it's going on display with some other Christmas books in my living room, and then will be put in a very safe place. It's been a long time since I've been that excited over a book!!
Book # 137: The Sherwood Ring by Elizabeth Marie Pope
Recently orphaned Peggy moves to her ancestor's estate in New York State, where she meets a variety of ghosts who help her figure out a mystery dating back to the Revolutionary War. The "present-day" story (the book was written in the 1950s) was much weaker than the flashbacks to the 1700s. At times, I really enjoyed the book, while at other times, I felt it was dragging on or could have been more clear regarding certain parts of the story. Nice for an old-fashioned read, and not a "scary" ghost story.
Book # 138: Snowed In by Rachel Hawthorne
I decided to read this because it sounded like a cute read and was set on Mackinac Island.
Ashleigh and her mom move from Texas to the island located between Michigan's Upper and Lower Peninsulas - in the winter - and open a bed-and-breakfast. Ashleigh quickly meets the handful of teenagers who live on the island and various love triangles and relationships develop.
What I liked: The setting, on the small, historic island, in the winter. The descriptions of the island, where cars are prohibited, fudge shops are a big tourist draw, and the Mackinac Bridge, made me definitely want to take a trip Up North.
What I didn't like: Would it have killed the author to actually mention the island by name?! It's not just some tiny island in the middle of nowhere. I also didn't like the main character, or how quickly all these relationships were happening. The book was definitely too young for me...maybe if I were 14 I'd like it...
As much as I like the idea of being snowed in at a B & B on Mackinac Island eating fudge, I think I'll skip that one!
I think I'll try to find this book for the same reason you wanted it - Mackinac Island in the winter! I've just found out that you're in Michigan, too.
I live close to the Indiana and Ohio state lines, so very far from Mackinac Island, and I'm ashamed to admit I have never actually been on the island, but I have been across the bridge several times, and love reading books set in the area. I've had The Loon Feather on my list for a while and got a discarded copy at the library...hopefully I'll get to it in the new year!
Book # 139: Life of Pi by Yann Martel
I listened to this, and it took until Part Two for me to actually get interested. I think I missed a lot of things I was supposed to "get," and feel it could have been much shorter. I've heard the title mentioned so much, and now I finally know what it's about!
I've had some time for reading, but not much computer time lately, so here's a quick list of my latest reads:
Book # 140: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book III: The Unseen Guest by Maryrose Wood
I listened to this, and loved it! I laughed a lot, enjoyed the special sound effects, and am patiently waiting for the next book in the series to be released so I can try to figure out more of Penelope's background and how it's connected to the children.
Book # 141: The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson
I may have been the last person on the planet to have read this book, and it was not what I was expecting, but I was really interested in the mystery and how things would play out. I am glad I stuck with it, because it did take me a while to get into the story.
Book # 142: A Gathering of Days by Joan Blos
I think I read this when I was a kid, because certain parts seemed familiar. A diary of a teenager in 1830s New England who experiences the death of a friend, her father's remarriage, situations involving slavery/runaway slaves, and much more. Lovely language and true to the time period.
Book # 143: Mistletoe by Hailey Abbott and Other Authors
Four short stories set during the Christmas and New Years holidays. Good for a couple hours of reading, but none of them really appealed to me, and I was not pleased that one of the stories was a rip off of a classic short story.
Hi Rachel, just strolling by a few threads I haven't visited before. Congratulations on you "Christmas in the Country" find - sounds like a great Christmas present.
Hi Ardene. Thanks for stopping by! Yes, finding that book was a great Christmas present! I'm on my way to visit your thread right now!
Book # 144: Blood Gold by Michael Cadnum
This book caught my eye because I was looking for something set in California during the 1849 Gold Rush. In the end, I was disappointed. I think it would appeal to teenage boys a lot more than it did to me. The short chapters really helped the book move along quickly. Perhaps another book involving the gold rush will appeal to me more!
Book # 145: From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg
This was a reread for me, because back in the 5th grade, I was on a team that read certain books and then went to a county-wide competition and answered questions about them. I read the Mixed-Up Files a couple of times for the competition, but it wasn't one of the books I had to focus on, and I didn't remember anything other than some kids stayed in a museum and bathed in a fountain.
I listened to it on audio, and right away felt how dated the book is. I also didn't remember the mystery involving the statue, or how Mrs. F was involved. In the end, it was a nice refresher, but definitely did not blow me away.
Book # 146: Baby, It's Cold Outside by Susan May Warren
Five people who are almost strangers get stranded in a house at Christmas. It's 1949, and four of the five have experienced WWII in different ways, and are trying to move on to the next phases of their lives...but will being stuck together during the holiday help or hinder them? I liked parts of the story, especially the small-town, "old-fashioned" feel. It might have been because I read the book in several chunks, it didn't seem to flow and parts of the story were repetative or drawn-out. For being "inspirational fiction," it was not preachy, which was nice.
Book # 147: Christmas at Eagle Pond by Donald Hall
The poet recalls the Christmas of 1940, spent on his grandparent's New Hampshire farm. Very short, heartwarming, and each day is told with a lot of detail, especially since the novella is less than 100 pages. Be sure to read the Author's Note to get the most from the story.
Book # 148: An Irish Country Christmas by Alice Taylor
I enjoyed the author's To School Through the Fields a few years ago, so when I saw this book I bought it and put it with my other holiday-related novels. Each chapter describes some aspect of holiday preparations, tasks, and events. This included everything from killing the geese the family will eat and give to relatives, to wandering through the woods collecting holly and ivy, to cleaning the chimney, and writing letters to Santy. Taylor recalls her childhood experiences with fondness and detail, and the chapters were lovely to read.
Book # 149: The Girl Who Played with Fire by Stieg Larsson
Continuing with the trilogy...I liked it enough, but I feel like I missed something. Maybe I'm just looking too much into all of Larsson's details? Have started listening to the final book as well. I hope the third book wraps things up nicely and won't leave me wondering...
Hi Rachel, I love your description of finding Christmas in the Country again! I'm not familiar with it, so I think I need to find it.
Thanks, Anne! I hope you and your family had a very Merry Christmas as well! The illustrations and dialogue in Christmas in the Country are very dated - it's copyright 1950 - and it shows...but it was just as I remembered, and brought back happy memories!
Book # 150: The Christmas Chronicles: The Legend of Santa Claus by Tim Slover
Novella about Santa Claus and good for a light holiday read.
Book # 151: Christmas Roses by Amanda Cabot
Another Christmas novella, historical fiction set in 19th Century Wyoming.
Book # 152: As the Waltz Was Ending by Emma Macalik Butterworth
YA historical fiction, but will appeal to adults as well. Memoir about how the author, a ballet dancer, experienced WWII and its aftermath. Set in Vienna, it covers a lot - from music and dance and Austrian culture, to what people thought of Hitler, the Nazis, and how they survived the war. I particularly enjoyed it because it was set in the part of Vienna where I lived, and I knew several of the places and streets mentioned in the book. Something a little different about WWII/the Holocaust.
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