>Two women walking from Spokane, Washington to New York City, in 1896, seems a ridiculous task. Yet, that is exactly what Helga demanded of herself and her daughter, Clara. After all, the $10,000 payment would be worth anything they might have to go through, right? There were stipulations of course; they must walk within a certain amount of time, they couldn’t beg or take charity of any kind, they must wear the new shorter dresses, and they had to get important people to sign their document. Peace of cake, oh yeah! The trials along the way are daunting in and of themselves, but the life Clara leads after their return home is a whole different story. Read for yourself how Clara pulls through the journey, in The Daughter’s Walk, and how she deals with a life of separation from her family upon her return to Washington.
>Making Waves is the first book in the Lake Manawa Summers series, set in 1895. When the Westing family decides to spend the summer at the lake, Marguerite is thrilled. She is a very independent lady, so when she falls into the lake requiring a very handsome gentleman to rescue her, she is chagrined. Her mother is determined that she marry Roger Gordon, a man of means and social stature. Marguerite is bored with Roger; she wants to have fun with lots of adventure. Roger is anything but fun. She talks her father into letting her little brother take sailing lessons, with her as a chaperone of course. What she really wants is to learn to sail herself. Her brother’s sailing instructor, Trip Andrews, allows Marguerite to tag along in the sailboat with them. She falls in love with sailing and Trip, but because of her father’s business troubles, she feels compelled to accept Roger’s proposal to save embarrassment to her family.
“There’s no place like home.” I know all of us Kansans get a bit tired of hearing quotes from the Wizard of Oz, but some of them are just plain true. I read Snow Melts in Spring mostly because it takes place nearby, in the area of the world I love more than any other. It’s set in a small town in the Flint Hills and K-State Vet School makes many appearances.
Mattie Evans is a veterinarian struggling to establish her practice after a series of patients that died of unexplained causes. Her staunchest supporter, John McCray asks her to save his son’s horse after a horrible accident. John’s son Gil has been away in California playing pro football for several years. The news of the accident draws him back home to tend to his horse and face painful memories from his past.
Mattie and Gil work together in the midst of many trials, forging a bond of love and faith that is tested when it is time for him to return to his “normal” life. Vogts tells an inspirational story with a backdrop of beautiful grasses and rolling hills.
> Amber Appleton is one cool teenager. She is the self-proclaimed Princess of Hope and spreads optimism and goodwill wherever she goes. She teaches the Korean Divas for Christ (KDFC) English with the help of R & B music. She’s the only friend of a local Vietnam war veteran and haiku poet, Private Jackson. She also goes once a week to a local retirement home to cheer up the residents by having a verbal battle with the local nihilist. Amber is also homeless. She lives on Hello Yellow, the school bus her mother drives, with her mom and her dog, Bobby Big Boy. Amber doesn’t let the reality of her situation bring her down, though. That is, until a fatal tragedy upends her life and Amber is left to pick up the pieces.
Sorta Like a Rock Star is a young adult novel and the style of writing is very chatty. Amber is the first person narrator, and it can take awhile to get used to her voice. She’s obviously an intelligent and driven teen, but some of her idioms make her seem ditzy and silly. One thing the book (and Amber) has going for it is that while Amber is optimistic, she isn’t delusional. She knows her situation is far from stellar, but she continues to be her hopeful self because she realizes that’s what others need her to be. Her journey and transformation are both heartbreaking and heartwarming.
> How does a woman from back East prepare for living in the wild west with all it’s hardness? Why, through Hattie Wyatt’s Herdsman School of course. Women come to find a husband, but first they have to measure up to become a bride of one of Barnett’s ranchers. Aunt Hattie makes sure they do, with hands-on training in skills such as milking a cow, branding a calf, riding a horse and cooking up a mess of grub for hungry ranch hands. Of course it wasn’t Tressa Neill’s idea to go west. With her parents gone and her Aunt and Uncle not wanting her, what other choice did she have? But maybe it will be worth it if Abel Samms will take notice of her. He already has enough trouble with cattle rustlers and wants nothing to do with the group of potential brides his neighbor brought to town. A Hopeful Heart includes humor, mystery and romance you won’t want to miss.
>Jimmy is an ordinary story with extraordinary happenings. Because of Jimmy’s handicap, some of his accomplishments are what might be considered trivial to others. Yet, Mr. Whitlow pulls the reader into each situation Jimmy faces; his fears, trials and his victories. I just wanted to be Jimmy’s friend as I read through this book. The relationships that are built between Jimmy, his parents, his grandfather, his dog and other characters throughout the story are strong and endearing. I would consider this book a gentle read with a little suspense built in.
> Dr. Brendan McCarthy had to rebuild his life following an accident that blinded him. In Alive Day , McCarthy is asked to work with a Marine who has been disabled in Iraq and is depressed, angry and suicidal. McCarthy and his service dog Nelson work to reach the Marine and try to help him realize that his life is not over. The story is a quick read and can be a bit saccharine at times, but the overall message of trust, hope and love made this a book that I enjoyed. The author, Tom Sullivan, is a writer and actor who has been blind since infancy and his descriptions of blindness and the relationship between the character and his service dog offer insights into how much dogs can be of assistance to the blind or disabled and how much of a team a person and a dog can become. He demonstrates through his characters how much we all need to rely on others for support and strength.