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September 2019
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Sandra Dallas is my new favorite author.  I have loved every book of hers that I’ve read (3 to be exact).  She combines so much of what I love in a book to create the perfect novel: historical, romantic, slightly suspenseful, a bit of action, and lots of drama.  Once I start reading one of Dallas’ books, I just can’t put it down.

The Diary of Mattie Spenser tells the story of Mattie and her husband Luke as they travel from Iowa to build a home on the Colorado plains.  Although the physical hardships are difficult, Mattie struggles more to come to grips with the many tragedies she encounters on the frontier, and with her growing suspicions that her husband doesn’t love her.  Watching Mattie grow from a proper, timid young girl to a strong, capable woman was an absolute pleasure, and I loved the way Dallas chose to end Mattie’s story.

I’ve come to the point in my blogging life when I just simply have to make a list of books.  I’ve read some great ones lately, but I don’t have the time to write posts about them all.  So in no particular order, here’s what I’ve been reading the last few weeks:

Counting on Grace by Elizabeth Winthrop:  A great juvenile historical fiction about the anti-child labor movement in the U.S.

The Bright Side of Disaster by Katherine Center: The perfect chick lit for a new mom.  Center writes with humor and honesty about being a new mom, yet somehow manages to throw in some romance at the same time.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See:  Explores women’s friendship, secret writing and foot binding in China.  Even though the book is about so much more than foot binding, what will stick with me are the graphic descriptions of the foot binding process.  I had to skip several pages because I was feeling nauseous just reading about it.

Rutka’s Notebook: A Voice From the Holocaust: A newly discovered journal, kept by a 14 year old Jewish girl, living in Poland.

The Book Whisperer: Awakening the Inner Reader in Every Child by Donalyn Miller: Made me want to go back to teaching.  Can’t wait for my own kids to read!  Pre-teachers and current teachers should read this book to regain perspective on what our job as teachers is all about.

Off Season by Anne Rivers Siddons  A love story.  Mostly good, but the ending was just strange.  I wouldn’t bother with it.

The Gift of Fear: Survival Signals That Protect us From Violence by Gavin DeBecker:  Absolutely fascinating.  A must-read especially for women.  De Becker is a well known security professional, and writes knowledgeably about how to protect yourself by listening to your intuition.

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon:  Set in Spain.  Young Daniel unravels the mystery of a stranger who is roaming through Europe, burning every book he can find by Daniel’s favorite author.

Love Walked In by Marisa de los Santos:  A companion book to Belong to Me.

Where the River Ends by Charles Martin:  Look out Nicholas Sparks.  Martin’s southern romance is much sweeter and deeper than anything Sparks has written recently.  Doss and Abbie battle cancer together through a river journey.

Lauren is the only child of her wealthy, successful parents.  As she tries to assert her independence, Lauren takes a job transcribing an old diary, written during the Salem witch trials.  The diary belongs to Abigail, an elderly woman with secrets of her own.  As Lauren works her way through the diary, she discovers who she really is, and helps Abigail make peace with the past.

A fantastic story that completely satisfied my love of pioneer fiction.  This is a novel, inspired by Turner’s family memoirs, full of romance and humor, tragedy and violence.  Sarah is a strong heroine who struggles to carve a life for herself and her family in the Arizona Territories.  The story is told entirely through Sarah’s journal, and through her writing, we see her grow from a young, impulsive teenager to a loving wife and mother.  One of my favorite passages:

Children are a burden to a mother, but not the way a heavy box is to a mule.  Our children weigh hard on my heart, and thinking about them growing up honest and healthy, or just living to grow up at all, makes a load in my chest that is bigger than the safe at the bank, and more valuable to me than all the gold inside it.

I just discovered 2 sequels and can’t wait to read them!