All her life, Allie Miller has been told by her mother that she is plain, and she will do anything to gain her mother's approval, even marrying a man...moreAll her life, Allie Miller has been told by her mother that she is plain, and she will do anything to gain her mother's approval, even marrying a man she doesn't love. She begins to change though, and want more for herself, after meeting Lt. Walter Novak at her best friend's wedding, when their love of music draws them together. The two begin exchanging letters in the summer of 1942, and the correspondence will change both of their lives. As their friendship grows though, secrets, commitments and the expectations of others threaten to keep them apart.
I really enjoyed this novel; it's my first time reading this author, but it won't be my last. I could really relate to the character of Allie, having always felt like an "ugly duckling" myself. I also liked how the story focused on Allie's relationships with her friends and family, and not just on the romance. The author really did a great job of using historical events and pop culture references of the World War II area to really give the story an authentic atmosphere. (less)
This is the 3rd and the last book of the Lake Manawa Summers series. The story is set in 1906, and Lilly Hart, Marguerite's former maid and best frien...moreThis is the 3rd and the last book of the Lake Manawa Summers series. The story is set in 1906, and Lilly Hart, Marguerite's former maid and best friend (Marguerite's story is told in book 1, Making Waves) has been widowed for 2 years, and is trying to make a life for herself and her 6 year old son Levi. She takes a job as a cook at Lake Manawa for the summer, hoping to save enough to finally buy a house to call her own.
However, her wealthy in-laws find that living in a tent for the summer is utterly unsuitable for their grandson, and try to take Levi away from her, when a handsome stranger, who is building a new roller coaster for the resorts, intercedes on her behalf. Still, Lilly is not about to get involved with any man, but as the back of the book jacket says, little does she know she about to begin "the ride of her life."
I enjoyed this story, even if the romance part was predictable. What saved this book from being "sappy" was the humor in it; the childhood antics of Levi, and the well meaning but inept young girl that is hired to be Lilly's assistant in the diner. I also liked how the story focused on Lilly's friendship with Marguerite, and Emily (her story is told in book 2, A Great Catch), I admired how they stood by Lilly and supported her.
It was also interesting reading a bit about the early history of the roller coasters; even though they did not go upside down at that time, or as fast as they do now, those first people to try out the very first coasters had to be some very brave souls!
Even though this book is part of a series, it also works as a stand alone story.(less)
On the 4th of July, 1913, a 9 year old girl is the victim of a tragic accident, and almost everyone in the town of Scranton, Pennsylvania, blames her...moreOn the 4th of July, 1913, a 9 year old girl is the victim of a tragic accident, and almost everyone in the town of Scranton, Pennsylvania, blames her 8 year old sister Violet. Everyone in the family reacts to the tragedy differently. Owen, the girls father, drinks; Grace, their mother, falls into depression, and talks to Grief, an imaginary figure only she can see. Violet forms an unlikely friendship with Stanley Adamski, a motherless outcast who works in the mines as a breaker boy.
This story deals with how tragedy can pull a family apart, but unforeseen events can also pull them back together again. It is inspired by true events in the lives of the author's family. While it is a haunting story, it is also one of hope, and infused with gentle moments of humor.
I really enjoyed this story. The aspects of the story dealing with the dangers of working in the mines, and the culture of the Welch immigrants reminded me a lot of Richard Llewellyn's How Green Was My Valley. The story really drew me in right from the first chapter, and the story of what really happened on that July 4th is revealed slowly over the course of the story.
I won a free paperback copy of this book from Library Thing.(less)
22 year old Emily Graham is spending the summer at Lake Manawa Resort in Iowa, along with her grandmother and two aunts, who take it upon themselves t...more22 year old Emily Graham is spending the summer at Lake Manawa Resort in Iowa, along with her grandmother and two aunts, who take it upon themselves to try to find Emily a husband among the resort guests. Emily is very busy with her suffragist work though, and has neither the time or the need for a man in her life.
Carter Stockton is a pitcher for the Manawa Owls baseball team, determined to enjoy every last minute of the summer at the resort before having to join his father in the business world. However, plans change when he accidentally crashes into Emily at the roller skating rink. Will he strike out with Emily? Will falling in love cost Emily her dreams?
This is the 2nd book in the Lake Manawa Summers series, but it works as standalone story. Emily only made a brief appearance in book 1, Making Waves; Marguarite and Lilly from the first book are back though this one, as Emily's dearest friends.
I loved the aunts in this story, they provided some comic relief to the story, especially with dates they tried to set up for Emily, such as with the balding Mr. Wormsley, or the undertaker who was "dying" to meet her. If they made this book into a movie, I could totally see Shirley McClaine as Auint Ethel!
The only thing I didn't like about this story is that Carter came across as kind of preachy and holier than thou.
Overall though, this was an enjoyable story, and it also touched on true events and historical figures of the time, such as the women's suffrage movement, the Bloomer Girls baseball teams, and important women in the suffragists movement such as Mary Jane Coggeshall.(less)
Caroline Fletcher is the daughter of a wealthy slave-holding family from Richmond, Virginia, and she has been raised to believe that slavery is ordain...moreCaroline Fletcher is the daughter of a wealthy slave-holding family from Richmond, Virginia, and she has been raised to believe that slavery is ordained by God and acceptable. However, an incident involving one of the family's slaves when she is 12 years old causes her to start questioning those beliefs. When she is sent to Philadelphia for a few years at the age of 16 to stay with her Northern relatives to attend school, she gets caught up in the abolitionists movement, and her eyes are fully opened to the cruelty and injustice of slavery.
Upon returning home to Richmond, she wants to do her part to see slavery ended, especially for the men and woman who have lovingly cared for her and her family. She is willing to risk her future, even her life, to make things right, but at the same time, her father, cousins, and fiance are all fighting for the Confederacy to preserve their way of life. Caroline is torn between doing what she believes is right, and loyalty to her family.
This was a long story, but well told and very gripping. The last few chapters had me almost holding my breath wondering what would become of Caroline. I highly recommend this one if you enjoy historical fiction from the Civil War era.(less)
Lyndel Keim's life is changed forever after the discovery of two runaway slaves in the barn on her family's farm. She, along with her brother and Nath...moreLyndel Keim's life is changed forever after the discovery of two runaway slaves in the barn on her family's farm. She, along with her brother and Nathanial King, feel called upon to do what they can to help end slavery, but they find themselves at odds with their pacifist Amish community.
Nathaniel enlists in the Union Army; her brother Levi joins the ambulance corps, and Lyndel herself works as a nurse, tending the wounded after battle. After Gettysburg, Lyndel must call upon her faith to keep on working, all the while not knowing whether Nathanial or her brother Levi are alive or dead. And when the war is over, will they even have a community to return to, or will they be shunned?
Although I found some of the descriptions of the battle scenes a little bit overly long, I really enjoyed this story. The author did a great job of bringing to life the sadness and the horror of the Civil War, especially when describing Lyndel's work as a nurse, without being gory or too graphic. I could tell he really did his research on the war, writing honestly about it without glorifying it.
This is book 2 in series called Snapshots in History, but it's a totally stand alone story, The other two books in the series take place during World War 1 and World War II, with entirely different characters than are in this story.
I think that even those that aren't into Amish fiction, but enjoy historical fiction set during the time of the Civil War would enjoy this book.(less)
Emma Smallwood is a young woman who has been helping her father with teaching at his small academy in Longstaple, England. He is still struggling with...moreEmma Smallwood is a young woman who has been helping her father with teaching at his small academy in Longstaple, England. He is still struggling with the grief from the death of Emma's mother 2 years earlier, and is also struggling to keep the academy going too. After the last student graduates, Emma decides that a change of scenery, and a break from the pressures of running a school is just what her father needs. When her father accepts the job to tutor the two youngest sons of baronet in the spring of 1817, Emma agrees to travel with him to the cliff-top manor on the coast of Cornwall.
Once they arrive, they do not feel entirely welcomed by some of the members of the family; each one seems to be hiding some sort of secret, and soon, mysterious things begin to happen, such as someone sneaking into Emma's room at night, and ripping pages from her journal only to return them later with chilling illustrations on them. Emma also wonders who is playing the pianoforte in the middle the night, when the music room is supposedly empty.
The baronet's two oldest sons remember Emma from their days at her father's academy; she had been an awkward, studious girl back then, but now one of them finds himself drawn to her. Emma had befriended one of the brothers in the past, but now she does not know which one she can trust.
I really enjoyed this story, and I have also read most of this author's others books as well. She is one of my favorite authors when it comes to stories set in the Regency era of England. The characters are well drawn, and she does a great job with really making you feel the atmosphere amidst where the stories are set.(less)
Moon Song is a recently widowed young Chippewa woman who stumbled into Robert Foster's lumber camp in search of refuge after giving birth alone in the...moreMoon Song is a recently widowed young Chippewa woman who stumbled into Robert Foster's lumber camp in search of refuge after giving birth alone in the Northwoods of Michigan. She and her son return to town in the spring with Robert and his family, but Bay City is a wild town in 1868, not a safe place for a single Native American woman, so come summer, Moon Song decides to go back to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, to her people. Robert won't hear of her going alone though, so he sends Skypilot, his most trusted friend, to accompany her and her son.
A tragedy strikes off the shore of the Michigan wilderness, and Moon Song and Sky Pilot must depend on each other for survival, and must also help another survivor, a grieving woman who has lost her husband and her baby. Skypilot (his given name is Isaac, but among the lumber men, former preachers are often called "skypilots") begins to see Moon Song as more than a friend, and she also begins to fall in love with him. As they fight together for survival, they draw closer, until they have tough questions to ask. Will she leave her culture for his? Can he leave his world to be with her?
This is the sequel to The Measure of Katie Calloway; though it works as a stand alone story, I recommend reading "Katie Calloway" first, as that is where Moon Flower and Sky Pilot first meet each other. At the time that I read "Katie Calloway", I did not know it was the start of a series, and I thought at the time as I got towards the end of the book,that the relationship between Moon Song and Sky Pilot would make a great story, so I was very happy when I found them both to be the subject of the sequel.
I really enjoyed this story. There was a lot more too it than just romance, it was an adventure story too. The author really did her research and she also touched upon the mistreatment and the prejudices that the Native American people faced at that time. She incorporated those issues into the story in an authentic and realistic way.(less)
Hazel Grace Lancaster is a 16 year old who is living with thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs; despite a tumor shrinking drug that has bought...moreHazel Grace Lancaster is a 16 year old who is living with thyroid cancer that has spread to her lungs; despite a tumor shrinking drug that has bought her a few more years, she's still terminal, and she's pretty sure how the last chapter of her life will play out. Her mother is concerned when Hazel becomes a homebody, and reads the same book over an over, so she urges Hazel to go to a support group for teens with cancer, where she meets Augustus, and as a result, her story is about to be completely rewritten.
This book is categorized as young adult fiction, but it covers some very adult topics, and I believe adults as well as older teens will appreciate this story. As someone living with stage IV breast cancer, even though I am far from my teenage years, this story really resonated with me. The story is told from Hazel's point of view, and she really tells it like it is, what it's really like to live with a disease that will eventually kill you, without platitudes or the usual cliches you often find in "cancer" stories. I could relate to her occasional sarcasm and gallows humor, because I have those feelings myself.
Of course, with the subject matter, there were parts of the story that made me cry, but it was not the maudlin or depressing story that I was kind of expecting it to be. Now that I have read the book, I am looking forward to seeing the movie. (less)
After leaving her Amish community 15 years earlier, Rachel Mast has returned to the small town of Stone Mountain, Pennsylvania, and has just begun to...more
After leaving her Amish community 15 years earlier, Rachel Mast has returned to the small town of Stone Mountain, Pennsylvania, and has just begun to run her own bed & breakfast business, but her plans are put on hold when local business man, who has been missing, is found dead in a shallow grave on her Amish uncle's property. It's against his beliefs to get a lawyer, even though he is under suspicion, so Rachel takes matters into her own hands to prove his innocence.
The rest of the Amish also refuse to talk to the police, but they will talk to Rachel; they trust her, even though they do approve of the fact that she has chosen to live in the "English" world. Rachel's search for the truth also uncovers some long buried secrets, but what do they have to do with the man who has been murdered?
I'm not usually a mystery reader, but this one sounded interesting to me because it involved members of an Amish community, and I have read other books by this author, which Amish stories, and enjoyed them, but this book was her first time writing a mystery. I enjoyed this story just as much as her other books I have read. The characters are realistic and well drawn. I found that the varied personalities among the townspeople were just as interesting as the murder mystery.
The mystery itself was well done; I was really kept guessing throughout the whole story as to "who done it", and why.(less)
Ingrid Larsen is a young Swedish immigrant who arrives in Michigan in the spring of 1871 to search for her brother, who has not been heard from since...moreIngrid Larsen is a young Swedish immigrant who arrives in Michigan in the spring of 1871 to search for her brother, who has not been heard from since he went in search of work among the dangerous lumber camps. While she is searching, she finds work as a hired girl for a shopkeeper and his wife, but she is forced to leave that job when the woman becomes abusive towards her. Destitute, and barely hanging on to hope, she encounters a recently widowed farmer who is struggling to raise his 5 children (4 of which are under the age of 7). Knowing that marriage would solve both of their problems, she proposes to him.
Even though she barely knows him, she has fallen in love with him, and she hopes that someday, he will love her in return. But he is still mourning his first wife, and trying to come to terms with the mysterious cause of her death.
I really enjoyed this story; it's not your typical "marriage of convenience" story. It's actually based on the life of the author's own grandmother. There are also other things happening in the story based on true events, which the author discusses in her notes at the end of the story.
I just wish this story had been a little longer; that does not mean it was too short, it's just that I loved the characters so much, especially Ingrid and her elderly friend Hazel, that I hated to "leave" them when the story was over. A few of the reviews I have read about this book criticized the fact that Ingrid spoke in broken English, but to me, that just made her character more authentic and more endearing.
I also liked that the story was set in Michigan, where I have lived my whole life. And though it has nothing to do with the story, I thought it was kind of cool that the main character had the same last name as mine. I have Scandinavian roots from my dad's side of the family.(less)
This is the third and last book of The Heart of Hollyhill series, picking up about 3 months after the 2nd book, Orchard of Hope, left off. Even though...moreThis is the third and last book of The Heart of Hollyhill series, picking up about 3 months after the 2nd book, Orchard of Hope, left off. Even though the title is "Summer" of Joy, most of this story actually takes place in the fall and winter of 1964 going into 1965.
Jocie Brooke is now 14 years old, and her first year of high school is going well, except for the new English teacher that seems to have it in for her. Her father David, who is a pastor and editor of the small town's newspaper, finally gets up the nerve to pop the question to his girlfriend Leigh. Jocie's older sister Tabitha is happy being a mother to her new baby, a baby that the entire family adores.
Life seems to be going well for the Brooke family, but their happiness is threatened to be destroyed by two people; one from the past who David thought was gone for good, and the other is a newcomer to the town.
The story was a little slow starting out, but after the first few chapters, it was a real page-turner with all of the unexpected plot twists. If you read the other two books first (which I highly recommend) it's easy to guess who is coming back from the past, but the story behind that person's return surprised me. This book was a nice wrap up to the series, but I think it could have used an epilogue to completely wrap up a couple of the story lines of some of the minor characters. (less)