Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery

Title: Anne of Green Gables
Author: L.M. Montgomery
Read by: Laurel Schroeder
Publisher: Spoken Realms
Length: Approximately 9 hours and 48 minutes
Source: Review Copy from Audiobook Jukebox – Thank-you!

Anne of Green Gables is one of my favorite novels of all time, and the 1980’s mini-series is one of my favorite shows of all time.  L.M. Montgomery also ranks as one of my all-time favorite authors.  I trolled bookstores for years looking for any books of hers that I did not own.  Throughout the 90’s they slowly released short story collections.  I believe I have the entire L.M. Montgomery collection in paperback now waiting for Penelope to read and for me to re-read.  I wish they were in hard cover!

Although I’ve read the entire L.M. Montgomery collection, I have never listened to any L.M. Montgomery audiobooks.  I was happy to be able to review this audiobook of Anne of Green Gables.  It’s been quite a few years since I’ve read the novel so it was wonderful to immerse myself back into the world of Anne.

Anne Shirley is a 12-year old orphan.  Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert are siblings looking to adopt a boy to help Matthew out with the farm work.   Anne is sent by mistake, but they find themselves unwilling to send her back, a decision they never regret.  Anne is full of imagination and soon becomes bosom friends with neighbor Diana Berry and rivals with Gilbert Blythe.  Anne often gets herself into scrapes and she is very dramatic which is highly amusing.  She’s also a hard worker and moves from being a 12 year old to going on to Queen’s Academy for high school.

Listening to this tale, I remembered again why I love this book so much.  Montgomery has vividly drawn the characters and the entire community of Avonlea very lovingly.  The characters are three dimensional and I could relate with them or think of people I know like them.  I love that there is a lot of humor in the tale to make me laugh. 

This was a good audiobook to get me occupied on my long drive to Milwaukee for work.  I must admit though that I had a hard time getting into this narrator’s version.  She had a strange lilt at the end of each sentence that drove me silently insane for a while.  Then I slowly grew used to it and to her acting of each character and I had a fine time listening to it. 

One part of the story I found kind of strange now as an adult is when Anne first starts school and her teacher, Mr. Phillips, is always flirting over the top with a student, Prissy. Marilla tells Anne not to question the teacher, but this seemed really inappropriate to me.  How times change!

Favorite Quotes:

“I'm so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

“Life is worth living as long as there's a laugh in it.”

“True friends are always together in spirit.”

“Oh, it's delightful to have ambitions. I'm so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be any end to them-- that's the best of it. Just as soon as you attain to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting.”

Overall, Anne of Green Gables is as much of a delight to read as an adult as it was when I was a child. I loved it and it is an intriguing story to listen to on audio.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb

At the start of WWI, there was a general feeling in Great Britain that it was a lark that would soon be over.  As men headed overseas to France and started battling in the trenches, the feelings soon changed to hopelessness.  Will they ever be able to return home?  Will they ever be able to have a Last Christmas in Paris?

Thomas Harding is spending one last Christmas in Paris in 1968.  With him is a collection of letters from World War I between Evie Elliot, her brother Will, Will’s best friend Thomas Harding, and other friends and family.  As Thomas reads through the letters, he revisits the past, the heartache and loss of the war, and also the great love.

I love, love, loved Last Christmas in Paris.  I think epistolary novels are fun to read, it’s like discovering the story of your Grandparents told through their letters.  I loved the characters, especially Evie.  She lives a privileged youth growing up with Will and Thomas near London.  It all seems a lark when they first go off to war, but as the war progresses, Ellie longs to both become more involved and scared that she may never see Will and Thomas again. 

When going off to war, Thomas feels like it will be over soon, but also doesn’t want to settle into the family business of running a newspaper.  Only when he is overseas does he realize the importance of the paper and his father, and also the importance of his friend Will’s little sister.

I also appreciated that the novel faced a serious problem, PTSD or shell shock as they called it then, squarely on and talked about it as a major part of the story.  

Favorite Quotes:

“Life is forever changed without her without the sense of her somewhere near.  Empty hours wander by as I listen for the soft tread of her football on the stair and wait for her laugher to cheer these lifeless rooms.  When I close my eyes I can conjure her; the scent of her perfume, the feather-touch of her fingertips against my cheek, those intense blue eyes looking back at me.  But it is all illusion.  Smoke and mirrors that conceal the truth of her absence.”

“A new year lies ahead.  Though I am losing hope every day that I will ever return to England in one piece – or at all – at least time marches forward, paying no heed to the follies of men.”

Overall, The Last Christmas in Paris is a wonderful novel of love, life, and war.  I highly recommend it!

Book Source:  Review Copy from William Morrow. Thank-you!

Murder for Christmas by Francis Duncan

Mordecai Tremaine is an amateur detective and he has been invited by Benedict Grame to his estate in the country for a Christmas house party.  As often seems to happen to amateur detectives, murder seems to follow in Tremaine’s wake.  The house party is shocked to discover one of its members murdered at the foot of the Christmas tree dressed as Father Christmas.  Knowing a murdered is amongst their midst, the party is on edge and Mordecai Tremaine is on the case.

I enjoyed this mystery and it was my book for Christmas day reading this year.  I LOVED the setting, a 1930’s English Christmas house party.  Mordecai Tremaine is an eccentric detective and it reminded me of one of my other favorite eccentric detectives Hercule Poirot by Agatha Christie.  I loved all of the side characters and how Tremaine unraveled their histories and hidden secrets.  It was an intriguing mystery.

I was also intrigued about the author Francis Duncan.  I read in the back of the book that he published more than twenty crime novels between 1937 and 1959.  I really enjoyed his writing style.  He has beautiful almost lyrical passages.  I would love to read more of his work.  I also found this interesting article about the mystery of who exactly Francis Duncan is online.  I think it is interesting that this book became a bestseller in England last year, sixty-six years after its publication.  I hope that means more of his work will be published!

Favorite Quotes:

“But no human plan, however devilish its ingenuity, can be depended upon to follow in practice the exact lines of its own theory.”

“He was romantic enough to believe firmly in the sanctity of marriage.”
“It was as though Tremaine was not looking out upon a real scene but gazing at a Christmas picture in a shop window, a picture that possessed a stereoscopic quality that gave it the illusion of life, but which must remain eternally unchanged.”

“Of course!  Without power, what purpose is there in life?  Fame?  Money?  Of what real value are they except for the power they bring with them?  It’s the sense of mastery that lifts a man and makes him forget that he came from dust!”

“It was all wrong that the cold winter beauty upon which he was gazing should be marred by man’s inability to live in charity with his neighbors and that murder should lie like an evil smudge across perfection.”

Overall, Murder for Christmas was an intriguing mystery with fascinating characters and setting.

Book Source:  Review Copy from Sourcebooks.  Thank-you!

2018 Historical Fiction Reading Challenge

I love reading a variety of different types of books, but my favorite genre is Historical Fiction.  I'm happy again this year to be a part of Passages to the Past Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

I am not sure what this year will bring me for historical fiction, but I will set myself a modest goal of Medieval - 15 books.

Happy Reading!  What is your favorite genre?  Will you be a part of a reading challenge this year?

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Pupcakes by Annie England Noblin

I’ve gotten a bit behind on the blog with the holidays, ending one job, and starting another.  I read a few really wonderful Christmas books the week before Christmas and I want to make sure I share about them before it is too late.  I enjoyed them and think they would be great every day reads or great Christmas reads for next year.

I loved the novel Pupcakes by Annie England Noblin.   It has everything I enjoy is a modern woman’s story, a woman whose life has experienced a setback that needs to start over.  She learns to have a new life, meets new friends, starts a new romantic relationship, and tasty food is involved in her future career.  Pupcakes also added a dog to this good book recipe.

Byrdie Benson has recently gotten divorced from her baker husband when she caught him “baking” with an employee.  They sold the bakery they owned together and Byrdie has moved to Memphis with her best friend, Elliot and her family.  Elliot hooks her up with a new gig, housesitting for an elderly lady’s townhouse and dog, while she is in a retirement community.  Pauline may be gone, but she is not forgotten as Byrdie must visit her once a week with Pauline’s pug Teddy Roosevelt.  Byrdie also gets a 3rd shift job at the bakery inside of ShopCo.  She also meets handsome doctor Nathan Reid at the dog park while on a walk with Teddy.  Can these two make it work in a new relationship?  Why is Pauline’s basement locked?  What secrets does she not want Byrdie to find?  Will Byrdie be able to get her career back on track?

Favorite Quotes: 

“The dog came with the house.  Or maybe the house came with the dog.  Either way, no matter how the sentence was constructed, the house and the dog came together. “

“’You’ll love him,’ her mother went on, ignoring her.  ‘He’s good looking, owns his own home, and has all of his own teeth and hair.  What more could you ask for?’”

Overall, Pupcakes was a great delight.  I thought the characters were riveting and very well developed.  I wanted to sit at Thanksgiving dinner with all of them.  I loved Byrdie's character growth throughout the novel.  I always think a good book is able to showcase characters that we relate to and emphasize with through the high and lows of life.  Pupcakes does this perfectly.  I highly recommend it!

Book Source:  Review Copy from William Morrow Books. Thank-you!

Winner of Little Broken Things!

The winner of Little Broken Things by Nicole Bart is Traveler!  Traveler has been emailed and has one week to send me their mailing address in order to receive a copy of the book.  Traveler was chosen from the comments using random.org.

Thank-you to all who entered the giveway and thank-you for TLC Book Tours and author Nicole Baart for allowing me to host this giveaway.  To read a review of this interesting read, check out this link.