Thursday, November 7, 2013

This Book Room

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

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

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

My thoughts: I absolutely loved this book. I think I read it all in one day - I absolutely devoured it. If you're a fan of Little House on the Prairie, you will so enjoy this book. For young women, this book would be perfect! Hattie is such a plucky character. The plot flowed well and was so gripping for me. The ending was a bit sad (and by bit, I mean I sobbed). You will remember this book for years after reading it. It is just that good.

In an urban community where poverty, senseless violence, racism, and AIDS seem like
insurmountable problems, Joshua manages to sow seeds of renewal with his words of love. He reaches out to every person with transforming openness, showing how to regenerate the city and bring about undreamed-of economic revitalization. Yet many other problems remain that money cannot help. And it is, most importantly, to these that Joshua addresses his healing message. In a world of despairing doubt, Joshua and the City gives the reader hopeful answers that lead toward peace and understanding.

Additional notes: This is the fourth book in the Joshua series. You can read my review of the first book here, the second book here and the third book here.

My thoughts: While I would recommend reading all the Joshua books as there are nuggets in each one that are relevant to anyone, this wasn't my favorite book. Certainly, the concepts Joshua introduced here were really interesting. I don't know how sustainable the ideas presented in the book are, though, given today's society. I would love for this kind of city to exit (you'll have to read the book to know what I'm talking about), but I think greed kind of rules the day. Anyway, this book had a lot of interesting ideas, and the plot moved along fairly quickly for me.

There comes a time in every new mother’s life when she finds herself staring at her screaming, smelly "bundle of joy" and wishing someone had told her that her house would reek of vomit, or that she shouldn’t buy the cute onesies with a thousand impossible buttons, or that she might cry more than the baby.

Best-selling humor author Dawn Dais, mother to a one-year-old and author of The Nonrunner's Marathon Guide for Women, is convinced that there is a reason for this lack of preparedness. She believes that a vast conspiracy exists to hide the horrific truth about parenting from doe-eyed expectant mothers who might otherwise abandon their babies in hospitals and run for it. In The Sh!t No One Tells You, Dais tells it like it is, revealing what it’s really like to be a new parent and providing helpful insights, humor, and hope for those who feel overwhelmed by the exhausting trials they’re suddenly facing. Eschewing the adorableness that oozes out of other parenting books, Dais offers real advice from real moms—along with hilarious anecdotes, clever tips, and the genuine encouragement every mom needs in order to survive the first year of parenthood.

My thoughts: This was a laugh-out-loud funny book. The author definitely, finally tells it like it is: motherhood is... odd. And crazy. And scary. Finally, someone talks about the difficulty in breastfeeding. I understand to say it is hard would scare people off. To NOT tell me it's hard was scary when it was hard. And then I wanted to quit. Parents everywhere tell their kids honesty is the best policy. And we all know kids learn by example. So the next time your kid tells a lie, maybe you should examine yourself and the lies you're propelling! Anyway, I digress, I think. Mamas have to be honest with each other about motherhood and finally, someone steps up to the plate and lets all things mommyhood fly loose.

Rick Stanton was a promising professional baseball player with dreams of playing in the major leagues and starting a family with his young wife, Francesca, when World War II changed everything.  Rick returns from the war with his body broken and his dreams shattered.  But it was not just body and spirit he sacrificed for the war. He and Francesca volunteered their beloved dog, Pax, for the Army’s K-9 Corp, not knowing if they’d ever see him again.

Keller Nicholson is the soldier who fought the war with Pax by his side, and the two have the kind of profound bond that can only be forged in war.  Pax is the closest Keller has to a sense of family, and he can’t bear the thought of returning him to the Stantons.  But Rick and Francesca refuse to give him up.  Instead, an arrangement is made: Keller will work as Rick’s live-in aide. And thus an unlikely family is formed, with steadfast Pax at the center.   As they try to build a new life out of the ashes, Keller and Francesca struggle to ignore their growing attraction to each other, and Rick, believing that he can no longer give Francesca what she needs and wants, quietly plans a way out.

All three of them need healing. All three of them are lost. Pax, with his unconditional love and unwavering loyalty, may be the only one who can guide them home.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed the first part of this book. But as the story progressed, particularly in the second half, I really felt lost. This book did not move the way I expected, and I found myself just wanting to give up. It wasn't that it wasn't predictable. It almost actually was, and I expected it not to be predictable. I expected there to be more life to the story, and there wasn't. The characters fell flat for me as the story went on and while I truly enjoyed the very ending, the author didn't elaborate on certain aspects that I felt she should have. This story was just really odd for me. I would skip this one, unless you love all stories that involve pups, then you'd probably enjoy this story despite its flaws.

Regina Calcaterra's memoir, Etched in Sand, is an inspiring and triumphant coming-of-age story of tenacity and hope.

Regina Calcaterra is a successful lawyer, New York State official, and activist. Her painful early life, however, was quite different. Regina and her four siblings survived an abusive and painful childhood only to find themselves faced with the challenges of the foster-care system and intermittent homelessness in the shadows of Manhattan and the Hamptons.

A true-life rags-to-riches story, Etched in Sand chronicles Regina’s rising above her past, while fighting to keep her brother and three sisters together through it all.

Beautifully written, with heartbreaking honesty, Etched in Sand is an unforgettable reminder that regardless of social status, the American Dream is still within reach for those who have the desire and the determination to succeed.

My thoughts: I sobbed through this book. Absolutely sobbed. I also stayed up way too late to read the first half of this book. The story is absolutely gripping. And horrifying. My heart absolutely broke for the children. I don't know how much I can recommend this book as while it is a good read in that the story is gripping, it is also a very sad story. If you're an advocate for children's issues in any way, you should absolutely read this book. If you're naïve about the way children are treated, read this book. This is a true tale of horrendous abuse Regina and her siblings suffered at the hand of their biological mother. Another reviewer of this book said it was not for the faint at heart, and I think that was a perfect way to describe this book. Read at your own risk and keep tissues handy.

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