Thursday, February 7, 2013

This Book Room

Join one of America’s beloved storytellers on a walk like no other: one man’s unrelenting search for hope. Reeling from the sudden loss of his wife, his home, and his business, Alan Christoffersen, a once-successful advertising executive, has left everything he knew behind and set off on an extraordinary cross-country journey. Carrying only a backpack, he is walking from Seattle to Key West, the farthest destination on his map.

Now almost halfway through his trek, Alan sets out to walk the nearly 1,000 miles between South Dakota and St. Louis, but it’s the people he meets along the way who give the journey its true meaning: a mysterious woman who follows Alan’s walk for close to a hundred miles, the ghost hunter searching graveyards for his wife, and the elderly Polish man who gives Alan a ride and shares a story that Alan will never forget.

Full of hard-won wisdom and truth, The Road to Grace is a compelling and inspiring novel about hope, healing, grace, and the meaning of life.

Additional notes: This is the third book in the Walk series. You can read my review of the first book here and the second book here. The fourth book is due to be published in 2013. 

My thoughts: The author is absolutely talented. I'm not a fan of his other work, but this series just blows my mind. It's so compelling. If I haven't yet convinced you to read this series, please tell me what more I could say or do! This book of the series, in particular, was awesome - the "mysterious woman who follows Alan." I loved that story line. It really brought the whole story together for me and cleared up a lot of the background that I was dying to figure out. Read, read, read this series!

The adventures of Laura Ingalls and her family continue as Laura grows up in the little town on the prairie. Fifteen-year-old Laura lives apart from her family for the first time, teaching school in a claim shanty twelve miles from home. She is very homesick, but keeps at it so that she can help pay for her sister Mary's tuition at the college for the blind. During school vacations Laura has fun with her singing lessons, going on sleigh rides, and best of all, helping Almanzo Wilder drive his new buggy. Friendship soon turns to love for Laura and Almanzo in the romantic conclusion of this Little House book. 

Additional notes: This is the eighth book in the Little House on the Prairie series. There are nine books in this series and all have been released. You can read my review of the first book here, the second book here, the third book here, the fourth book here, the fifth book here, the sixth book here and the seventh book here.
My thoughts: It was really fun to read about Laura's adventures of leaving home for the first time. The characters in this book, particularly the characters of who Laura lives with while teaching, are strange, but funny at the same time. They don't really make sense, but most characters in real life do not make sense, so in a way, the characters make sense! Anyway, I was so happy for Mary that she was off to college, but I missed her terribly. It's a sad but joyous thing all at once to grow up.

On the longest night of the year, Jenny Majesky loses everything in a devastating house fire. But among the ashes she finds an unusual treasure hidden amid her grandfather's belongings, one that starts her on a search for the truth, and on a path toward a life that she never imagined. The Winter Lodge, a remote cabin owned by her half sister on the shores of Willow Lake, becomes a safe refuge for Jenny, where she and local police chief Rourke McKnight try to sort out the mysteries revealed by the fire. But when a blizzard traps them together, Jenny, accustomed to the safe predictability of running the family bakery, suddenly doesn't feel so secure. For even as Rourke shelters her from the storm outside, she knows her heart is at risk. Now, following her dreams might mean walking away from her one chance at love. 

Additional notes: This is the second book in the Lakeshore Chronicles series. You can read my review of the first book here. There are currently nine books in this series. 

My thoughts: More than anything, this book was wonderful because it had so much mystery and intrigue. The first book hardly wrapped up anything other than the romantic storyline between Olivia and Connor. I wanted to know what happened to Mariska! This book finally clears all that up for me, but it also delvers deeper into Daisy's story so now I want to know what happens to her! So all in all, I would say Susan is very clever at just making me want to read the next book and the next book and so on. The characters are interesting, and the plot lines push the story forward easily.

In Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker, novelist Jennifer Chiaverini presents a stunning account of the friendship that blossomed between Mary Todd Lincoln and her seamstress, Elizabeth “Lizzie” Keckley, a former slave who gained her professional reputation in Washington, D.C. by outfitting the city’s elite. Keckley made history by sewing for First Lady Mary Todd Lincoln within the White House, a trusted witness to many private moments between the President and his wife, two of the most compelling figures in American history.

In March 1861, Mrs. Lincoln chose Keckley from among a number of applicants to be her personal “modiste,” responsible not only for creating the First Lady’s gowns, but also for dressing Mrs. Lincoln in the beautiful attire Keckley had fashioned. The relationship between the two women quickly evolved, as Keckley was drawn into the intimate life of the Lincoln family, supporting Mary Todd Lincoln in the loss of first her son, and then her husband to the assassination that stunned the nation and the world.

Keckley saved scraps from the dozens of gowns she made for Mrs. Lincoln, eventually piecing together a tribute known as the Mary Todd Lincoln Quilt. She also saved memories, which she fashioned into a book, Behind the Scenes: Thirty Years a Slave and Four Years in the White House. Upon its publication, Keckley’s memoir created a scandal that compelled Mary Todd Lincoln to sever all ties with her, but in the decades since, Keckley’s story has languished in the archives. In this impeccably researched, engrossing novel, Chiaverini brings history to life in rich, moving style.

My thoughts: I had really high hopes for this book, even though I'm not a fan of this author's other work. The book started out well, and I was drawn into the story. But just about the time Mr. Lincoln is shot, the story somewhat died for me. And not because he was shot, although the timing is funny that the President is dead and so is the story. I just felt like the rest of the book was blah. Maybe it was just me, I don't know. If you like historical fiction, I would still give this one a go, but otherwise, I'd skip it.

Haley Cutler is the consummate trophy wife. Perhaps was is the more accurate term. Haley married Prince Charming when she was only twenty--back in the day when highlights came from an afternoon at the beach, not three hours in the salon.

Unfortunately, after seven years as Jay Cutler's wife, a role that provided significance and what she thought was love, Jay walks out, and Haley finds herself with few life skills that translate to the real world, not to mention a sense of amnesia about who she used to be. But before Haley can find her way, she must meet with Jay's lawyer, the strikingly handsome Hamilton Lowe. Although she can't stand his self-righteous contempt for her divorce, she takes his suggestion to attend a group at his church called "The Trophy Wives Club," a Bible study composed of women who have been dealt a raw deal. Haley's never been into the whole Jesus thing but could really use some friends to walk her through this phase (how do you apply for a credit card anyway?).

As Haley begins to realize that she really can stand on her own two feet, she also learns that sometimes in losing we find the real reward. 

Additional notes: This is the first book in the Trophy Wives Club series. There are two books in this series, and both have been released. 

My thoughts: This is the first book by Kristin I have ever read. The book is quick to read - I read it in one afternoon. At times, the writing was kind of weird. The characters, at first, are not well developed at all. I didn't really understand the dialogue between Haley and Hamilton. It was just weird. But as the story progresses, I felt that at least the dialogue made sense. The ending was great - I didn't expect the ending between Jay and his business partner at all. And I enjoyed reading of the other wives in the club. If you like chick lit with a Christian slant to it, you'll want to read this book.

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