We're getting so far through this readalong now guys, we've hit the halfway point and I've now officially bought all the books except for the auto/biographies! In keeping with tradition I finished The Long Winter weeks ago but waiting until almost the end of the month to post about it, because it wouldn't feel right otherwise!
It was weird reading this in the mostly pretty warm, occasionally pretty rainy, but with absolutely no blizzards at all English summertime. The book takes places during one especially long, especially harsh winter after Laura and her family have settled into their 'claim'. The winter is basically so bad that the newly emerging railroad is blocked for months on end and no supplies can get through and everyone is nearly starving and pretty desperate pretty much all of the time as they suffer extreme weather conditions for days and weeks on end. It's pretty bleak for a while in the middle; Pa even stops playing the fiddle, but being the Ingalls family they always manage to find a bright side, and I remain impressed with their ability to function excellently in ridiculous circumstances.
I really loved that Almanzo and his brother had way more story in this installment and I'm super looking forward to reading about how they ended up together *squeals*. I feel bad that Mary went blind, but honestly I'm happy to have less of her over the top pious goodness all the time - I prefer Laura! I do like that Carrie's a proper little person now, so Laura has someone to run around with. Basically this was more of the same Little House stuff I've come to know and love, but with less house building and more near starvation and snowdrifts as tall as your house.
This series is excellent. Bring on July.