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Tuesday, May 24, 2011

My Rainbow of Books

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Ever since I was a child, I have had to have a book in hand, on my nighttable, next to my favorite chair, even in my purse.  I love to read that's just all there is to it.  I want to share with you the books I've read over the course of the last year or so.  I am only sharing here, though, the ones that I really loved and couldn't put down.

Let's start with Marie Bostwick.  She is by far my favorite author.  From the day I picked up my first book "A Single Thread" by Bostwick, I've been hooked.  So hooked in fact, that I've become a somewhat distant friend of Marie's. 

ASingleThread A Single Thread will take you on a journey with four entirely different women - from Ft. Worth Texas, to New Bern, Connecticut, and how one woman not only reinvents herself, her life, and her dreams, but brings together new friends in a quilt shop nobody thought would survive.  It is a story of friendship, survival, humility, and sacrifice, and you won't be able to put it down!!  I've read this twice!

 

 

 

AThreadofTruth A Thread of Truth continues the story of Evelyn and the Cobbled Court Quilt Shop introducing a new woman in this journey - Ivy Peterman, who is a young mother escaping an abusive relationship and seeking solice in the small town of New Bern.  There she makes new beginnings, new friends, and builds a new life for herself and her children.  The tapestry of all these women's lives come together in this gripping story of friendship, hope, and courage.  I've read this twice!

 

 

AThreadSoThin A Thread So Thin is the story of a young girl facing difficult choices - career, marriage, trust, love, and where to live.  The journey of the original 4 women continue as lives begin to weave together by the thinnest of threads.  A book I could not put down, and when I finished, I emailed Marie a few weeks after it was published and in bookstores and said "NO!!  You can't end this now!!  You have to write another book!!  I'm part of these women's lives now and you can't take that away so Please get crackin'!!"  Well, I said something like that anyway, and am I happy to report that Marie contacted me late last year and told me that the 4th book would be published in Spring 2011.  Well halleluiah! Book 4 will be in stores on May 31st!!  I'll be first in line, and my daughter, Kim will be right behind me. 

 

ThreadingtheNeedle So, I might as well add it here, because if the first 3 books are any indication, then this new addition to the series will be a fantastic read - Threading the Needle is Marie's newest book and the 4th in this series.  I cannot wait for this one to come out.  BUT, if you go to your favorite bookstore and want to get yourself one of these books, start with the first one "A Single Thread" and take yourself on an unforgettable journey with some very remarkable women.  Then we can all read the 4th book together.  Deal?  deal.  In the meantime, I can't wait for next week because on May 31st this book will be in bookstores!  In the meantime, though, you can click on the book cover images and order your books right from here!

 

Next in line of my favorite authors is none other than Nicholas Sparks.  Of course, he is probably most women's favorite author!  I not only love his books, but I love his movies too!  They have all been true to the story that was first told in novel form.  If you love "love stories" then Sparks is your author.  He brings together great stories without the need to embellish it with foul language or lots of sex or ... well, you know what I mean.   I've read those kinds of books too and those kind of things do not add any value to a story.  That is another reason why I love Sparks and Bostwick.  Nicholas Sparks' stories are believable, and capture your heart from the very beginning and take you on an unforgettable journey right to the last page.  Unlike predictable stories, his always seem to have a remarkable twist that leaves me grasping my chest with my mouth hanging open.  Here are the books from Nicholas Sparks that I have read over the last year ...

TheChoice The Choice is about making choices that we don't ever want to have to make and are sometimes forced to make. Travis Parker wasn't looking for a relationship; from his perspective, his life was pretty close to perfect.  Living on the coast of North Carolina, Travis finds he has a new neighbor, Gabby Holland, and figures her to be anything but dating material.  But the unexpected can reshape our lives and it took a couple loved dogs to shred every well-laid plan Travis and Gabby might have had.  It all begins with a dog - and then another dog.  And I like dogs.  A truly masterful novel from Nicholas Sparks.

 

DearJohn Dear John will make you laugh and cry and laugh and cry some more.  Brilliant story. As avid Sparks' readers well know, some relationships only require that the two pick up on each other's beat; others are doomed from the beginning to be out of sync forever. In the case of, narrator/soldier John Tyree and college student Savannah Lynn Curtis, harmony seems whole worlds apart. While Savannah volunteers for Habitat for Humanity, John circles bars at last call, looking for new hookups - you know, typical guy thing. She's an affluent, idealistic do-gooder; he's an outsider trying to rehabilitate himself - but in a good way. Despite their values and lifestyle conflicts, the pair begin to converge. Then the random history of their relationship will snap ... and that's where I'm going to end.  You'll just have to read it.  Of course, you can always rent the movie, but even though the movie is great, the book is brilliant. Dear John - get it?  Dear John ...

TheLastSong The Last Song will take you on a journey with 17-year-old Veronica Miller (Ronnie), as an embittered and confused teenager.  Her parents have been divorced for 3 years, and Ronnie still seethes with anger and a grudge toward her father, a musician and teacher who abandoned his family and hectic New York City life for the quiet beach town of Wilmington, North Carolina after the divorce. One summer, Ronnie reluctantly agrees to her mother's altruistic plan for her and her little brother to visit their estranged father in North Carolina.  As the story unfolds, you won't believe how Sparks weaves together lives that you would think would inextricably clash.  Again, a Brilliant story, a great movie, and - well - you just have to read it!!  The Last Song (hint, hint) will surely make you cry and your heart sing.

SafeHaven Safe Haven will take you on the journey of a young woman, Katie, who moves to the small town of Southport in North Carolina.  Everybody knows each other in this small town, so her arrival raises questions about her past - you know how small town people can be, right?  She is beautiful, self-effacing, and determined to avoid every possible relationship in the town, but a series of events will draw her into a reluctant relationship with Alex, who owns a small store in town and is a young widow with 2 small children.  She also develops a friendship with a new neighbor, Jo.  Well, that's all I'm going to tell, because then I'd be giving away the story!  It's great - yes, Brilliant!  I just love the way Sparks weaves these stories into a tapestry of love, trust, and skill unlike any other.  I will tell you this, it wasn't until I got to the last chapter of the book that I gasped at the ending.  I never would have put it together.  Brilliant!  You will find that Katie is not the only one who finds a safe haven in this story.  And NO PEEKING at the last chapter!!!  You can't do that with a Nicholas Sparks' book or you'll blow your breath-taking ending!!

ABendintheRoad A Bend in the Road - wow - and what a bend it is!!  This is the dramatic story about a couple's newfound happiness together and a shocking secret that threatens to tear them apart.  Miles'  is a deputy sheriff in a small North Carolina town. (Don't you just love that all his stories take place in small North Carolina towns?  Well poo, I do!!) His life was shattered the day his wife was killed in a hit-and-run accident.  Functioning was all but impossible for Miles, but he rises each morning to take care of his young son, Jonah, and carry out his duties as deputy sheriff.  His life, though, seems to be nothing but a numb and hopeless haze as he attempts to find his wife's killer.  Then Miles meets Sarah Andrews, his son's first grade teacher, who is rebuilding her own life after a devastating divorce. Slowly, their love starts to soothe the pain of the past. But when a devastating secret is revealed, they discover they have much more than love in common that will test the strength of their love, their friendship, and all that they had just begun to hope for.  I could not put this book down!  I was up from 4am - 9am this morning reading the last 204 pages just to finish it.  It was a heart pounding story and a great story of love and hope and kick-butt restraint.

TheTruthAboutLove The Truth About Love.  By Stephanie Laurens.  This book is as bold, passionate, and possessive as the men and women in the story.  It is written in a time when men possessed their women in old, elegant, London times.  It is about a man, Gerrard Debbington, who is one of London's most eligible gentlemen.  He is an accomplished artist, who has no interest in marriage or relationships.  His only desire is to be the first to paint the fabled gardens of Lord Tregonning's Hellebore Hall, but first, he must paint a portrait of his daughter, a portrait that will hopefully tell a story of her innocence in the death of her mother.  (a bit far-fetched, but interesting nonetheless).

Gerrard chafes at wasting his talents on some simpering miss, but agrees to the terms of being able to paint the gardens.  Soon he discovers that Jacqueline Tregonning, Lord Tregonning's daughter, stirs him like no other woman before. She is beautiful, but it is her playful and passionate nature that sparks with Gerrard's own, igniting desire and sweeping them into each other's arms.  What follows is passion and sex (written quite well I might add) bringing Gerrard to the conclusion that he must have Jacqueline for his wife.  It is a passionate tale, and one that grips at every woman's heart who desires to have a man who will move Heaven and Earth to protect the remarkable woman who personifies the Truth About Love.

BlkHlstoTrctrWhls Black Heels to Tractor Wheels. By Ree Drummond. Okay, so we all want the fairy tale.  The cowboy who strides into town on a white horse with cowboy boots and an unshaven face and sweeps us off our feet - among other things.  Ree Drummond tells her true life story in this romance story of how she met her Marlboro Man and how she roped him in - or maybe it was the other way around.  Anyway, she went from city life to ranch wife with 4 kids and from cultured golf-course home life to cow pies and riding horseback in about a year - disappointing a number of suitors along the way.  Her prose is wonderful (as is her blog) and you will be laughing your butt off and slapping your hiney with every turn of the page.  By the time I finished this book, I wanted to find the cowgirl within and rope in my Big Bear for a knee slappin' good time - if I could find it in the suburbs of Charlotte, North Carolina.  But, if you can't haul tail it to Oklahoma and purchase a patch of ranch of your own, then you'll have to live the ranch life vicariously through her book and her blog.  Just sayin'.

TheHelp The Help.  By Kathryn Stockett. With all the publicity this book has received in recent months, if you haven't read it yet, you absolutely must. It is unlike any book I've ever read in my life.  First of all, when I started reading it, I thought that some editor must not have done her job because the spelling and grammar were terrible!  But, as I got past the first few pages, I began to realize that what I was reading was a "voice" - a voice with a "personality."  A "voice" in a time of segregation and hate and disrespect for human differences during the 1960s and the Martin Luther King era.  The "voice" was that of a black maid whose life revolved around raising white babies, cooking, and cleaning, for middle-to-upper class white families in Jackson, Mississippi.  An outstanding book that revolves around the life of twenty-two-year-old Skeeter, a young white woman who has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. Wanting to find solace in her family's black maid, Constantine, who raised her from the time she was a baby, she returns to discover that her friend and surrogate mother is gone and has left no information as to where she has moved.  Her mother won't tell her what happened.  While on a mission to discover the whereabouts of her dear friend, Constantine, Skeeter, a budding writer, begins to gain the trust of several maids in the community; maids who are working for her friends.  

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child.  Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost job after job until she finally finds a position working for someone too new to Jackson to know her reputation. Minny will soon discover that her new boss lady all dressed in tight pink sweaters and bleached blonde bufonts has secrets of her own.

All of the women in this novel are as different from one another as you could possibly expect in 1960s Mississippi, yet they will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk.   All of them are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times, and sometimes lines are made to be crossed. 

I don't know how she did it, but in pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town and the way all women—sisters, mothers, daughters, caregivers, and friends—view one another.   This is a deeply moving novel (and her first!!)  filled with poignancy, humor, and hope.   I believe The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we sometimes abide by and the lines that divide us.

Well, now I know I've read more books, but these are the books that have certainly captured my heart, and until I can dig anymore out of my stack next to the bed, I'd say this is a good start wouldn't you?  Summer reading is on the way folks!  So grab yourself a good book, curl up in your favorite chair with your fuzzy socks, favorite blanket, and an iced tea and remove yourself from all the stresses in your life by taking a journey into another time, another life, with novel friends, fantastic journeys, big love, and more.  Sounds like a great time to me! 

Also, if you would like to order any of the books above from Barnes & Noble, please just click on the image of the book cover.  It's that easy!

What books have you read recently?  Please share them in the comments below!  I am always looking for good books that are recommended by family, friends, and Raisin Toast readers!

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