Monday, December 29, 2014

"Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," by Cheryl Strayed.

"Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail," by Cheryl Strayed.

At twenty-two, Cheryl Strayed thought she had lost everything. In the wake of her mother’s death, her family scattered and her own marriage was soon destroyed. Four years later, with nothing more to lose, she made the most impulsive decision of her life. With no experience or training, driven only by blind will, she would hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail from the Mojave Desert through California and Oregon to Washington State—and she would do it alone. Told with suspense and style, sparkling with warmth and humor, Wild powerfully captures the terrors and pleasures of one young woman forging ahead against all odds on a journey that maddened, strengthened, and ultimately healed her.

This book was our December 2014 choice for our book club.  I had been looking forward to reading this since I had joined the club as this is my type of book, and I wasn't disappointed.  I had read a similar book about a man who had lost his wife to cancer and decided to walk the Appalachian Trail to also to "find himself,"  Hiking Through: One Man's Journey to Peace and Freedom on the Appalachian Trail by Paul Stutzman  I did find Paul's book better, but each one had better parts to it.

In Cheryl's case I wasn't sure if I should call her brave or just plain stupid.  As some of the things she did just made me want to smack her and say "WHAT WERE YOU THINKING"!!!!  However what she did do many a person wouldn't or couldn't have done.  Losing most of your toe nails wouldn't be my idea of fun.  Carrying your weight in things you need wouldn't be fun either; but the scenery and the peace to reflect on life would be a once in a lifetime experience.

This book got mixed reviews at our book club meeting.  Although the majority of the people enjoyed the book; it was said that some poetic licence had been taken with certain parts.  As this happened a few years ago and the book was written recently, so the memory can change things.

The one thing we did all agree on, is that we want to see the movie.  That will be another book club outing for us all.

Stars out of 5 : 4 It was an enjoyable read, and I am glad I read it, but take some things she says with a grain of salt!!

"The Cellist of Sarajevo," by Steven Galloway

"The Cellist of Sarajevo," by Steven Galloway

One day a shell lands in a bread line and kills twenty-two people as the cellist watches from a window in his flat. He vows to sit in the hollow where the mortar fell and play Albinoni’s Adagio once a day for each of the twenty-two victims. The Adagio had been re-created from a fragment after the only extant score was firebombed in the Dresden Music Library, but the fact that it had been rebuilt by a different composer into something new and worthwhile gives the cellist hope.

Meanwhile, Kenan steels himself for his weekly walk through the dangerous streets to collect water for his family on the other side of town, and Dragan, a man Kenan doesn’t know, tries to make his way towards the source of the free meal he knows is waiting. Both men are almost paralyzed with fear, uncertain when the next shot will land on the bridges or streets they must cross, unwilling to talk to their old friends of what life was once like before divisions were unleashed on their city. Then there is “Arrow,” the pseudonymous name of a gifted female sniper, who is asked to protect the cellist from a hidden shooter who is out to kill him as he plays his memorial to the victims.

In this beautiful and unforgettable novel, Steven Galloway has taken an extraordinary, imaginative leap to create a story that speaks powerfully to the dignity and generosity of the human spirit under extraordinary duress.

This book was/is the choice for the January 2015 book club meeting, and to be honest I was dreading reading it.  As you read the synopsis of the book it all looks like doom and gloom; and after reading The Book Thief, I wasn't ready to read another book about war.

You will have no doubt have heard of the expression, "never judge a book by it's cover;" well that applied here.  This is one of the best written books out there.  The way the author writes is not flowery its to the point but it speaks to you in a way where you feel as though you are right there with the characters.  You truly feel the fear when Dragan and Kenan stand at the intersection wanting to cross the road, but are terrified in case a sniper will shoot them.  Arrow's concentration when picking her next target.

What really disturbed me the most though, was this happened "recently," and to think that these poor people in Sarajevo had to go through all this on a daily basis, just to get water or food makes me shake my head.  Them thinking that the outside world would come and rescue them and not doing so.

I didn't "get" the role of the Cellist in all of this.  So am interested to hear what the other members of the book club say about him.

Stars out of 5 : 5 Not a long book to read and one which you will get hooked on as soon as you start to read it.  If you don't read any other books that I review, please try and read this one, it is worthwhile.

"The Secret of Pembrooke Park," by Julie Klassen

"The Secret of Pembrooke Park," by Julie Klassen

Abigail Foster is the practical daughter. She fears she will end up a spinster, especially as she has little dowry, and the one man she thought might marry her seems to have fallen for her younger, prettier sister.

Facing financial ruin, Abigail and her father search for more affordable lodgings, until a strange solicitor arrives with an astounding offer: the use of a distant manor house abandoned for eighteen years. The Fosters journey to imposing Pembrooke Park and are startled to find it entombed as it was abruptly left: tea cups encrusted with dry tea, moth-eaten clothes in wardrobes, a doll's house left mid-play...

The handsome local curate welcomes them, but though he and his family seem acquainted with the manor's past, the only information they offer is a stern warning: Beware trespassers drawn by rumors that Pembrooke Park contains a secret room filled with treasure.

This catches Abigail's attention. Hoping to restore her family's finances--and her dowry--Abigail looks for this supposed treasure. But eerie sounds at night and footprints in the dust reveal she isn't the only one secretly searching the house.

Then Abigail begins receiving anonymous letters, containing clues about the hidden room and startling discoveries about the past.

As old friends and new foes come calling at Pembrooke Park, secrets come to light. Will Abigail find the treasure and love she seeks...or very real danger?

I enjoyed this book.  It was one of those books where you think you know what will happen next and/or who is who, only to be surprised by another twist.  There were a couple of things that were pretty obvious, but other things where you were completely surprised by the outcome.

Abigail was a perfect heroine, practical, level headed and someone you could totally rely on.  Her sister, the total opposite!!!  The Chapman family were all lovable in their own ways, even the formidable Mac Chapman the head of the household.

The secret room with the treasure was a surprise and totally not what you would expect,; don't want to say more, as it will spoil the story.  I liked the relationship between those "upstairs," and those "below stairs."  As with all books please read the authors notes at the end of the book, as it draws light on some things mentioned in the book.

Stars out of 5 : 4.5  This is quite a long book, but it had me hooked from the beginning.  The story keeps you wanting to read a "few more pages," before I go to bed, and then you find another hour has gone by.  I personally think this is the best book I have read by this author,  Well worth the read.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 

Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

"Love Unexpected," by Jody Hedlund

"Love Unexpected," by Jody Hedlund

Presque Isle, Michigan

What Is the Secret That Could Shipwreck Both of Their Lives?

All Emma Chambers ever wanted was a home, but when her steamboat sinks just outside Presque Isle, she's left destitute and with no place to stay.

An unlikely solution arises when the lighthouse keeper arrives in town. He's just lost his wife and is having a difficult time caring for his child. So a traveling preacher gets the idea that the keeper and Emma might be the answer to each other's dilemma. After a hasty marriage, she finds herself heading to the lighthouse with this handsome but quiet stranger. Nothing in her aimless life, though, has prepared her for parenting a rambunctious toddler, as well as managing a household.

Emma soon suspects Patrick may be hiding something from her, and then she hears a disturbing rumor about the circumstances surrounding his late wife's death. It seems as if her wish for a home and family of her own could end up leading her once more into turbulent waters.

The one thing I liked about this book was all the twists and turns and secrets.  All is not what it seems and it was like peeling an onion, trying to get down to the next layer.  This was also one of those situations where you hear something and get the wrong impression about something.  For those reasons it was a good book to read and it kept you interested.

Emma was a lovely character, and you could feel her longing to provide a good home for little Josiah and give him the love of a mother.  Patrick had many hidden layers as well that once they were peeled back made you want to go up and hug him.  

I found it interesting about the historical side of this story.  You can read more about it in the authors note at the back of the book.  This book is loosely based on Mary Chambers Garraty who along with her husband Patrick did settle on Mackinac Island and became lighthouse keepers on Presque Isle in 1860.

Stars out of 5 : 4.5 This is the first book in the Beacon's of Hope series, which are based around lighthouses.  Jody as always wrote a great book and included a lot of interesting facts.  I always enjoy her books and this one wasn't any different, enjoyment wise.  Well worth the read.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 

Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

"A Most Inconvenient Marriage, " by Regina Jennings

"A Most Inconvenient Marriage, " by Regina Jennings

Abigail Stuart Thought She was Jeremiah Calhoun's Widow.
But Jeremiah Calhoun Is Very Handsome, Very Alive, and Very Perplexed.

Most Inconvenient Indeed.

With few options of her own, nurse Abigail Stuart agrees to marry her patient, a gravely wounded soldier calling himself Jeremiah Calhoun. They arrange a quick ceremony before he dies, giving Abigail the rights to his Ozark farm and giving Jeremiah the peace of knowing someone will care for his ailing sister after he's gone--a practical solution for both of them.

After the war, Abigail fulfills her side of the bargain--until the real Jeremiah Calhoun shows up, injured but definitely alive, and wastes no time in challenging Abigail's story. Abigail is flummoxed. After months of claiming to be his widow, how can she explain that she's never seen this Jeremiah Calhoun before? How can she convince him that she isn't trying to steal his farm? And will she find a way to stay, even though this practical arrangement has turned into a most inconvenient marriage?

Loved this book.  Abigail as the lead character was a perfect choice. Hardworking, honest and a real spitfire when provoked.  You can see her love for horses and her love for helping people heal.  Even though Jeremiah's sister Rachel, is not the most friendly of people, Abigail continues to love and nurse her throughout her illness.

Jeremiah, puts his past promises first and foremost, despite the best thing that ever happened to him and, his family and home being right in front of him.  I wasn't fond of the character Laurel and found her a bit wishy washy and couldn't understand what Jeremiah saw in her.

Stars out of 5 : 4.5 It was no surprise how this story ended.  There was the odd twist and turn in the book that kept you wondering and interested.  It's not a hard read and the story was easy enough to get into.  Regina is one those authors whose book are always a good read when you want a quick and easy book to keep you occupied.

"Book has been provided courtesy of Baker Publishing Group and Graf-Martin Communications, Inc. 

Available at your favourite bookseller from Bethany House, a division of Baker Publishing Group".

"The Tinderbox," by Beverly Lewis

"The Tinderbox," by Beverly Lewis With her parents' twentieth anniversary approaching, eighteen-year-old Sylvia Miller find...