Tag Archives: Louisa may alcott

What I Read at Christmas Time and Beyond

21 Dec

Now, I don’t know about you, but I have some favorites for certain seasons. Let’s be honest, mainly for winter. I have Winter reads.

During my cleaning out of my library the past few years, this list has gotten shorter, which means that when I was gathering all the books for this photo/post, I spent plenty of time searching for ones that I’ve gotten rid of. Why do I tell you these things? Because I like to feel that I’m not alone in my forgetfulness and book adoration. (Even as I started working on this post again, I realized that I’d forgotten two more books! Up I popped to go grab them.)

An Amish Christmas: December in Lancaster County by Beth Wiseman – Forgiveness is on the horizon – or is it? – for several people in Lancaster County. Facing some of their deepest fears at Christmastime has the potential to change their lives.

~ A good way to describe these are Hallmark movies set in an Amish community – and that’s not a bad thing. They deal with different struggles, but all 3 stories tie in with each other. They may be a bit cliched but sometimes that’s what you want. It only takes me a few days to read all of them, they are quick, fun reads for anyone. 

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens – If Ebenezer Scrooge could have cancelled Christmas, he would have. But on one cold Christmas Eve, he is visited by his late business partner, who warns him to change his ways before he too has the same fate. Scrooge is visited by three Spirits who show him what has been, what is, and what will be.

~This hardback copy also has : The Cricket on the Hearth, The Chimes, The Battle of Life and The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain.

~How Wonderful A Christmas Carol is, truly. I enjoy it every year. I’m partway thru The Chimes and it’s intriguing as well.

Wildwood Dancing -by Juliet Marillier – Jenica lives with her father and sisters in the Transylvania woods, in Piscul Draculi – a castle that hides a portal to the Other Kingdom. Every month, with her sisters and pet frog, on the Full Moon, they go through the portal and dance the night away. But at home, in their world, everything is changing, and soon, events will bring their two worlds together and change everything. Forbidden love – Unswerving anger over an act of betrayal – an enchanted frog – and the ultimate test of trust.

~I’ve been thinking about this book for over a month now but love starting it on January 1st..We’ll see if I can make it that long.

The Cricket on the Hearth and Other Christmas Stories by Charles Dickens – This Dover Thrift Edition has, aside from the story on the title, The Holly Tree and The Haunted House.

~Had I remembered my hardback edition had short stories as well, I don’t know that I would have picked this up this fall. But, I’m looking forward to reading the two extra in this. So while this isn’t one that I go back to year after year, I anticipate doing so with at least some of these short stories!

Louisa May Alcott’s Christmas Treasury – All of Alcott’s short Christmas stories and novellas have been compiled in this lovely treasury. Full of love, hope, sorrow, redemption, strength, joy and goodness, these stories will enchant you.

~Last year I read a few of these short stories and was enchanted. Alcott’s writing is just so wonderful, how she weaves such lessons through her tales.

Mrs. Mike by Benedict and Nancy Freedman – A compelling love story between a young Irish girl, Katherine Mary O’Fallon, new to the Canadian wild, and Sergeant Mike Flannigan of the Canadian Mounted police.

~This is a yearly – winter read for me. The wilderness and those occupying it – the animals, peoples and nature itself – are described so vividly, it’s a delight. The heartbreak that occurs will tear your heart out just as surely as you’ll rejoice when good things happen. If this book isn’t considered a classic, I’m not sure why. Read it, you’ll be glad you did. 

Cowboy Christmas by Mary Connealy – When singer Annette Talbot shows up, with trouble following close on her heels, Elijah Walker has to decide if she’s telling the truth or lying. Like his ex- fiancee. Despite himself, he’s drawn to her – and just when he decides to trust her, he finds out she’s a wanted woman. Will he find out the truth before he loses Annie forever?

~ This was my second time reading this sweet romantic mystery. I liked how Connealy dealt with Elijah’s struggle to forgive himself and Annette’s mis-guided belief in ‘bearing her cross’. Faith is central to this novel, and it’s done very well. It’s a great Christmas-time western read.

Hans Brinker or The Silver Skates by Mary Mapes Dodge – this book was first published in 1865. This story takes place in early nineteenth-century Holland. The description of Holland is fascinating, including some Dutch words which aspects always make me enjoy a book more. There are two connecting story lines – Poor Hans dreams of winning the Silver Skates in an ice-skating race while we also see the lives of other Dutch boys whose families are a little more well-off than Hans’.

~I believe I’ve only read this once but am excited to enter into Dodge’s world again. I remember just being enchanted with the Dutch villages and some of the characters. If you’re worried about how much she describes Holland (a valid fear from what I remember), there’s also a junior edition that I’m assuming cuts some of that out. I have both versions and haven’t decided which one I’ll read this year. Probably the unabridged, because that’s how I do things.

how sweet is this picture?

What are your Winter Reads?

~Laura

Book Reviews- Oct/Nov

14 Dec

Two months of book reviews in one today! I guess it’s just not in me these days to be consistent on my blogging. No matter how much I want to be. I’ve not only shared some novels but I’ve also linked a few reviews below that I shared previously as well as research books for my own novels. I hope you’ll find something to add to your TBR. Happy Reading!

Skyward Series by Brandon Sanderson –

Kingdom above the Cloud by Maggie Platt

After reading it, I had to buy my own copy

Rebecca by Daphne Du Marier – Even though working as a lady’s companion is a step up for her, it’s still a small and dismal world to be a part of. So when the heroine of Rebecca meets and subsequently gets an unexpected proposal from Max de Winter, she accepts. She’s quickly swept into a world that she has no experience with. Max takes her home to his estate -overwhelming and set in its ways – Manderley and the staff that comes with it. The memory of Rebecca is kept alive by Mrs. Danvers, Max is haunted by the memory of his late wife and becomes taciturn and our heroine is caught in the middle.

~Over the past few years I have been getting told that I simply must read this book. When I saw that Enchanted Book Club was reading it a few months ago, I decided it was the time to give it a shot and was able to borrow a copy from a friend. And I’m so glad that I did. There were times that I did not enjoy what was happening in the story – why was Max so cold all of a sudden? Why was Frank Crawley so nice and yet seemingly so disliked by Mrs. Danvers? What was Mrs. Danver’s problem anyway? What changed Max so much when they got to Manderely? etc. The Questions were numerous. But they just made me keep reading, needing desperately to know the answers. The unexpected reveals in this story just blew me away. I didn’t see them coming. I did really love seeing the new Mrs. De Winter gain self confidence as the story went on, as she learned more about what was truly going on at Manderley. The writing style was incredible, I’m interested in reading other books by Du Marier now. I wouldn’t recommend it for younger readers, due to the intensity of the storyline.

the copy on the left was a gift from my 9th birthday!

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott – We follow the March sisters as they grow up in New England during the Civil War. Feminine and proper Meg, tomboy Jo, spoiled Amy and tender, sickly Beth each go through their highs and lows. Young neighbor Laurie joins in many of their adventures.

~It had been a few years since I read this classic story and I have to admit that I forgot so much of what happened (that isn’t typically in the movies). I liked seeing how Amy grew and matured; Beth’s faith despite everything; Meg’s learning how to be a good, Godly wife and Jo’s independence and realizing love can come, despite your intentions to avoid it. Can readily recommend this for younger readers, the life lessons throughout are just wonderful, for any age.

Little Men by Louisa May Alcott – Years later, Jo now has boys of her own, as well as a dozen orphaned boys filling her informal school. And she couldn’t be happier, she loves each one of them and strives to help them grow in all the important ways. But boys will still be boys and they get into trouble and many an adventure.

~ This was only the second time I’ve read Little Men! I think I can honestly say that I enjoyed it even more than I did Little Women. The scrapes the the boys get into are just so interesting and you really root for them when they make the right choices. I highly recommend this for anyone, especially younger readers as it’s so fun and the life lessons are just as good as in Little Women.

Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans & Fashion, 1840-1900 by Joan Severa – Through photographs and writings, we are shown how poorer Americans could wear the current fashions within a year. And how fashion equality really rose in people’s minds as the years progressed. Through ready-made clothing and other inventions, the fashion industry changed the average American’s style.

~I got this book as research for the novels I’m writing and while I only focused on the years that were pertinent to my stories, I highly enjoyed (and took copious notes) it. The detail that Severa goes into is so great for historical information that I would love to own this eventually.

20th Century Fashion 1900-1920 Linen and Lace by Sue Mee – As part of a series that covers how fashion changed – from the tea gown to sportswear- it covers eight ‘looks’ as well as other information about the time period.

~This book was interesting but it wasn’t as in depth as I was wanting. It had some great information though!

Police Procedure and Investigation- a Guide for Writers by Lee Lofland – With this guide, you can get your facts about the inner workings of police departments straight instead of ending up like so many television shows that get so much of it wrong.

~This is yet another book for research, and that I’d love to own eventually. I didn’t need very much information from it but ended up flipping through several chapters just out of pure curiosity. Lofland gives it to you straight and detailed. A very good reference book.

Currently Reading:

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

To Read:

Christmas/Winter books (watch for an upcoming post on that!)

What have you been reading lately?

~Laura

Book Review – April 2017

25 Apr

This month has been full of reading, folks! I’ve made a conscious effort to pick up a book instead of turn on the tv, and this month’s list is the result.

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When Bad Things Happen to Good People  by Harold S. Kuchner  – Striving to answer the age-old question ‘why, God?’, Kuchner shares the doubts and fears that often come with the question. He shares his wisdom as a rabbi, reader and parent in the hopes to bring comfort to the reader.

~This was recommended to me – that’s the only reason I finished it. I’m not a fan of this book. There were very few points that were made that I either didn’t already know or agreed with. That probably sounds arrogant but I don’t mean it to be. He has different beliefs than I do, and his including those (evolution for one), I felt to be unnecessary and distracted from the point of the entire book. If I rated these, this would be half a star.

The Shepherd’s Voice by Robin Lee Hatcher – Finally free from prison, Gabe has a hard time finding work during the Great Depression. He heads home, hoping his father will take him in. Instead he finds compassion and faith when Akira offers him a job and a home.

~This is a favorite that I read once a year. I love the journey that Gabe and Akira go through. As well as the faith and life lessons peppered throughout. Plus it’s set in the 1940’s (?) in Idaho. Fantastic setting.

Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott – As a sequel to Eight Cousins,  we revisit Rose after she’s traveled the world for two years. She’s decided that before she marries, she wants to show that she’s an independent young woman. But the world is at odds with her decision, making her wonder just who her true friends are.

~Another delightful story from Alcott. The twists were unexpected and surprising – I had a hard time putting it down! In fact, i read it in just a few days. Highly recommend this, young or old.

Captain’s Courageous by Rudyard Kipling – When young millionaire, Harvey, is swept overboard and rescued by a fishing boat, his life is forever changed. The crew teaches him how to fish, and how to be a man.

~This was a birthday present and came with a recommendation from one of my nephews. I enjoyed this book so much, although I will admit to still not knowing what a ‘foc’sle’ is. Kipling wrote a classic boy’s adventure with this one. Highly recommend, for young or old readers!

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy – Click through for my full review! For now, I’ll say that I enjoyed this novel immensely.

Created to Live by Cathy Harris – Click through for my full review! Well worth the read on a heartbreaking and controversial topic.

Currently Reading:

Swiss Family Robinson by Johann David Wyss ~I am listening to this as an audio book via Librivox. If I had a copy in hand, I would have read it within a week, most likely. As it is though, I listen to it on the nights when I’m in too much pain to sleep. Very entertaining and not sure how I haven’t read it already!

Messianic Jewish Manifesto by David H. Stern ~ Pulled this from my OH’s library. I’m moving through it really slowly but it’s a good read so far. I am able to understand it without feeling overwhelmed. 

Elantris by Brandon Sanderson ~ A favorite that I read probably twice a year. Here’s a review from a few years ago if you want to check it out.

Revision and Self-Editing for Publication by James Scott Bell ~I picked this up at the library and am eager to get any helps on editing my first novel!

Once again, I’m joining the Reading Roundup linkup. Click the picture and find some more great reads!

Reading Roundup

What are you currently reading?

~Laura

January 2017’s Book Review

27 Jan

It’s rather appalling but I’ve only finished TWO books this month. TWO. This has got to be a new low for me.

But! You will notice that I’m currently in four (very different) books right now. So, I guess I don’t feel too badly.

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The Unfolding Heart by Joann A. Grote As a headstrong, independent woman, Millicent Strong is certain she doesn’t need either a man, or God in her life. She’s sure of her path and convictions until she goes to her brother’s wedding in the West and meets the kind-hearted minister, Adam Conrad. Their mutual interest is strong but her lack of faith – and unwillingness to leave the comforts of civilization for the West,  threaten their love. (Love Song, 1997)

Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier – Jenica lives with her sisters and father in the Transylvania woods in Piscul Draculi – a castle that hides a portal to the Other Kingdom. Every month, on the Full Moon, the sisters go through the portal and dance the night away. But in their world, everything is changing and soon, events will bring their two worlds together and change everything. Forbidden love – Unswerving anger over an act of betrayal – an enchanted frog – and the ultimate test of trust.

~I enjoyed these both immensely, so go check out my full reviews! If you’ve been around here more than a year, you’ll notice that I read Wildwood dancing AT LEAST twice a year. It’s that good.

Currently Reading:

Failure is Impossible: Susan B. Anthony in her own words by Lynn Sherr – Anthony’s letters and notes are combined with reports and essays, making this book a-one-of-a-kind, giving a glimpse into Susan B. Anthony’s life and passion for the causes she fought every day of her life for.

~I am so excited to be reading this! I found it at the library while searching for research materials for the book I’m plotting (!). I am pretty much reading a chapter every morning as I eat my breakfast – which means it is a good read. It’s not necessarily a quick one  though. It is full of interesting tid-bits about this hero from so long ago. She dedicated her life to rights for women, as well as temperance and abolishing slavery (and I’m only in the fifth chapter!) 

Messianic Jewish Manifesto by David H. Stern – This book studiously ignores the argument between being a Christian or a Jew – instead believing that being a Messianic Jew is a movement. A right. A challenge. And that challenge is to heal the brokenness between the Church and the Jewish people – whether you are Jews who follow Yeshua or others involved in the movement. This book is a call to action and a source of information.

~Once again, as part of my new year planning, I asked my OH what books I should read. And of course, of the five he pulled out, four of them were the intimidating (to me) ones. But, he said to start with this one. I will admit that I haven’t gotten very far with it (5 pages in) . I won’t read it while I’m eating so, combined with trying to finish the Anthony book and plot my novel, this book has fallen by the way-side. I do intend to give it top priority soon though.

Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott – A masterpiece by the author of Little Women. Rose Campbell, recently orphaned, goes to live with her relatives on “Aunt Hill”. She’s less than impressed with her new life, accustomed to a girls boarding school but when her Uncle Alec arrives, along with meeting her seven boy cousins, she finds it’s not quite so bad.

~I am enjoying this book so much already! Alcott wrote with such a wonderful style of drawing you into her world and brought her characters to life. The only thing is that I keep picturing Rose to be about 8, when really she’s 13! (I think, she could be 12…or 14… don’t quote me on her age.) =)

The Writer’s Journey : Mythic Structure for Writers by Christopher Vogler – Vogler sets out a system, a structure that every storty teller has used over the centuries.

~Sorry it’s such a short synopsis, but I’ve been talking about this book for a while now…and goodreads has a nice, long synopsis about it if you just click the link. I’m tired. I’m hungry. And, I LOVE this book. Why didn’t I read it three years ago? It would have been so helpful before I really started writing my first novel. But, I’m thankful that I’ve got it now – after having a copy from the library for a month, I decided to go ahead and order my own. happy day!

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To Read :

Created to Live by Cathy Harris (received free from Ambassador Int. for my personal review)

Quite honestly, i’m leaving my to-read list alone right now. I’ve simply got to finish the ones I’m in! But don’t worry, the list is ridiculously long, and with a broad range of genres as well.

I hope you found something to read in this list today. Thanks for stopping by SGL – check out my Ultimate Book List as well! (which will be getting a major overhaul if I can just get to it)

~Laura 

I have just found a fun linkup to join ~book reviews from other lovely bloggers! Check it out and find some more books to add to your to-read pile

Reading Roundup

Poem by Louisa May Alcott

20 Jan

Hello again, friends, I want to share a poem with you by Louisa May Alcott. She wrote it in memorium of her mother in the late 1870s. I know it is not a ‘happy’ poem but it is so artfully written that I knew I had to share it as soon as I had read it. poetry by Alcott

Transfiguration

Mysterious death! who in a single hour

Life’s gold can so refine,

and by thy art divine

change mortal weakness to immortal power!

Bending beneath the weight of eighty years, spent with the noble strife of a victorious life,

we watched her fading heavenward, through our tears.

But ere the sense of loss our hearts had wrung, a miracle was wrought;

And swift as happy thought She lived again – brave, beautiful and young.

Age, pain and sorrow dropped the veils they wore And showed the tender eyes of angels in disguise,

whose discipline so patiently she bore.

The past years brought their harvest rich and fair; While memory and love,

Together, fondly wove A golden garland for the silver hair.

How could we mourn like those who are bereft, when every pang of grief

Found balm for its relief In counting up the treasures she had left? ~

Faith that withstood the shocks of toll and time; Hope that defied despair;

Patience that conquered care ; And loyalty, whose courage was sublime;

The great deep heart that was a home for all ~ Just, eloquent and strong In protest against wrong;

Wide charity, that knew no sin, no fall;

The spartan spirit that made life so grand, Mating poor daily needs with high, heroic deeds,

That wrested happiness from Fate’s hard hand.

We thought to weep, but sing for joy instead, Full of the grateful peace That follows her release;

For nothing but the weary dust lies dead.

Oh! noble woman! Never more a queen Than in the laying down of scepter and of crown

To win a greater kingdom, yet unseen:

Teaching us how to seek the highest goal, to earn the true success – To live to love, to bless –

And make death proud to take a royal soul

~Louisa May Alcott

Thanks for stopping by, Laura Starr

Little Blossoms for Jesus

• Enjoying the old-fashioned & beautiful • • Thankful for grace • Growing in faith • • Learning life • Loving people •

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