#AnneReadAlong2017 : Anne of Windy Poplars
#AnneReadAlong2017 , Book Review / August 17, 2017

Title: Anne of Windy Poplars Series: Anne of Green Gables, #4 Author: L. M. Montgomery Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Turtleback Books Release Date: December 1st, 1983 Format: Paperback Pages: 288 Source: Library First Published: 1936 Anne Shirley has left Redmond College behind to begin a new job and a new chapter of her life away from Green Gables. Now she faces a new challenge: the Pringles. They’re known as the royal family of Summerside – and they quickly let Anne know she is not the person they had wanted as principal of Summerside High School. But as she settles into the cozy tower room at Windy Poplars, Anne finds she has great allies in the widows Aunt Kate and Aunt Chatty – and in their irrepressible housekeeper, Rebecca Dew. As Anne learns Summerside’s strangest secrets, winning the support of the prickly Pringles becomes only the first of her triumphs.  (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   I really, really, really wanted to love this book. Reading all of the Anne of Green Gables books in a row is something I’ve really enjoyed. However, I was warned early on that the even number books are the more challenging ones to read. But Anne of…

The Underground Railroad
Book Review / August 9, 2017

Title: The Underground Railroad Author: Colson Whitehead Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Doubleday Release Date: August 2nd, 2016 Format: Audiobook Pages: 306 Source: Library Cora is a slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. Life is hellish for all the slaves but especially bad for Cora; an outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is coming into womanhood – where even greater pain awaits. When Caesar, a recent arrival from Virginia, tells her about the Underground Railroad, they decide to take a terrifying risk and escape. Matters do not go as planned and, though they manage to find a station and head north, they are being hunted. In Whitehead’s ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor – engineers and conductors operate a secret network of tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora and Caesar’s first stop is South Carolina, in a city that initially seems like a haven – but the city’s placid surface masks an insidious scheme designed for its black denizens. Even worse: Ridgeway, the relentless slave catcher, is close on their heels. Forced to flee again, Cora embarks on a harrowing flight, state by state, seeking true freedom. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the unique terrors…

Dead End in Norvelt
Book Review / July 22, 2017

Title: Dead End in Norvelt Series: Norvelt, #1 Author: Jack Gantos Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux Release Date: September 13th, 2011 Format: Audiobook Pages: 341 Source: Library Dead End in Norvelt is the winner of the 2012 Newbery Medal for the year’s best contribution to children’s literature and the Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction! Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is “grounded for life” by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets.  But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack’s way once his mom loans him out to help a feisty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his Utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launched on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder. Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his…

#AnneReadAlong2017 : Anne of the Island
#AnneReadAlong2017 , Book Review / July 12, 2017

Title: Anne of the Island Series: Anne of Green Gables, #3 Author: L. M. Montgomery Genre: Classic Publisher: Kindle Edition Release Date: October 11th, 2015 Format: eBook Pages: 278 Source: Owned First Published: 1915 New adventures lie ahead as Anne Shirley packs her bags, waves good-bye to childhood, and heads for Redmond College. With old friend Prissy Grant waiting in the bustling city of Kingsport and frivolous new pal Philippa Gordon at her side, Anne tucks her memories of rural Avonlea away and discovers life on her own terms, filled with surprises…including a marriage proposal from the worst fellow imaginable, the sale of her very first story, and a tragedy that teaches her a painful lesson. But tears turn to laughter when Anne and her friends move into an old cottage and an ornery black cat steals her heart. Little does Anne know that handsome Gilbert Blythe wants to win her heart, too. Suddenly Anne must decide if she’s ready for love… (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   After reading, and being a bit disappointed with, Anne of Avonlea I wasn’t expecting much from Anne of the Island. I had expected that the magic and charm of Anne of Green Gables faded after book one; that it was all a fluke! Thank goodness…

#AnneReadAlong2017 : Anne of Avonlea
Book Review / June 14, 2017

Title: Anne of Avonlea Series: Anne of Green Gables, #2 Author: L. M. Montgomery Genre: Historical Fiction Publisher: Puffin Classics Release Date: December 1st, 1997 Format: Paperback Pages: 336 Source: Owned First Published: 1909 At sixteen, Anne is grown up…almost. Her gray eyes shine like evening stars, but her red hair is still as peppery as her temper. In the years since she arrived at Green Gables as a freckle-faced orphan, she has earned the love of the people of Avonlea and a reputation for getting into scrapes. But when Anne begins her job as the new schoolteacher, the real test of her character begins. Along with teaching the three Rs, she is learning how complicated life can be when she meddles in someone else’s romance, finds two new orphans at Green Gables, and wonders about the strange behaviour of the very handsome Gilbert Blythe. As Anne enters womanhood, her adventures touch the heart and the funny bone. (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   Oh, Anne. You are so incredibly endearing. Continuing my #AnneReadAlong2017, I ventured into Anne of Avonlea. While I am still completely in love with Anne Shirley herself, as well as Miss Lavendar and Paul Irving, there are a few more…

The Fallen Kingdom
Book Review / June 13, 2017

Title: The Fallen Kingdom Series: The Falconer, #3 Author: Elizabeth May Publisher: Chronicle Books Release Date: June 13th, 2017 Format: eARC Source: NetGalley The long-awaited final book in the Falconer trilogy is an imaginative tour-de-force that will thrill fans of the series. Aileana Kameron, resurrected by ancient fae magic, returns to the world she once knew with no memory of her past and with dangerous powers she struggles to control. Desperate to break the curse that pits two factions of the fae against each other in a struggle that will decide the fate of the human and fae worlds, her only hope is hidden in an ancient book guarded by the legendary Morrigan, a faery of immense power and cruelty. To save the world and the people she loves, Aileana must learn to harness her dark new powers even as they are slowly destroying her. Packed with immersive detail, action, romance, and fae lore, and publishing simultaneously in the UK, The Fallen Kingdom brings the Falconer’s story to an epic and unforgettable conclusion. (via Goodreads) Goodreads   This book is the third book in the trilogy The Falconer. My review contains minor spoilers for book one, The Falconer and book two The…

The Vanishing Throne
Book Review / June 8, 2017

Title: The Vanishing Throne Series: The Falconer, #2 Author: Elizabeth May Genre: Fantasy Publisher: Chronicle Books Release Date: June 21st, 2016 Format: Hardback Pages: 458 Source: Library First Published: November 19th, 2015 Everything she loved is gone. Trapped. Aileana Kameron, the Falconer, disappeared through the fae portal she was trying to close forever. Now she wakes in an alien world of mirrors, magic, and deception—a prisoner of the evil fae Lonnrach, who has a desperate and deadly plan for his new captive. Tortured. Time after agonizing time Lonnrach steals Aileana’s memories, searching for knowledge to save his world. Just when she’s about to lose all hope, Aileana is rescued by an unexpected ally and returns home, only to confront a terrifying truth. The city of Edinburgh is now an unrecognizable wasteland. And Aileana knows the devastation is all her fault. Transformed. The few human survivors are living in an underground colony, in an uneasy truce with a remnant of the fae. It is a fragile alliance, but an even greater danger awaits: the human and fae worlds may disappear forever. Only Aileana can save both worlds, but in order to do so she must awaken her latent Falconer powers. And the price of…

#AnneReadAlong2017 : Anne of Green Gables Review
#AnneReadAlong2017 , Book Review / May 23, 2017

Title: Anne of Green Gables Series: Anne of Green Gables, #1 Author: L M Montgomery Genre: Classic Publisher: Bantam Books (Classics) Release Date: May 1st, 1982 Format: eBook Pages: 314 First Published: 1908 “She’ll have to go back.” Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert had decided to adopt an orphan. They wanted a nice sturdy boy to help Matthew with the farm chores. The orphanage sent a girl instead – a mischievous, talkative redhead who the Cuthberts thought would be no use at all. But as soon as Anne arrived at the snug, white farmhouse called Green Gables, she knew she wanted to stay forever. And the longer Anne stayed, the harder it was for anyone to imagine Green Gables without her. (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   I cannot believe I didn’t read this book as a child. This classic novel is over 100 years old and yet captured my heart. There is such a simple serenity hiding within the pages of this novel. Stories of love, adventure, stubbornness, forgiveness, rivalries, family, troublemaking, and dreams are woven together to tell the tale of the heartwarming orphan, Anne Shirley. Anne with an E, that is. It’s been my experience that you can nearly always…

Empty Pages Writing Club: 103PB-1930-35-1117 – Just a Drive in the Country

As you might recall back in March I talked about what it means to review writing and why it’s so important. As part of that, I shared that in April I would be the impartial judge in a writing competition for the Empty Pages Writing Club. Everyone submitted up to 30 pages of anonymous text to be read, critiqued, and ranked with their peers. I read these stories and ranked them according to Plot/Conflict, Setting, Character, Symbolism/Theme, Point of View, and Writing Style. Each category was worth up to 5 points meaning a story could earn up to 30 points total. Stories have been read, reviewed, and ranked– and now it’s time to talk about the stories! For my other Empty Pages short story reviews, check out: One Sentence At A Time  Madness of the Midnight Recyc Title: 103PB-1930-35-1117: Just a Drive in the Country      Length: 19 pages          Genre: Historical Fiction/Mystery As I mentioned in my previous post, Madness of the Midnight and 103PB-1930-35-1117: Just A Drive in the Country both tied with a score of 20/30. I didn’t want there to be a tie for 2nd, so I ranked this story higher after considering which story…

Their Eyes Were Watching God
Book Review / May 8, 2017

Title: Their Eyes Were Watching God Author: Zora Neale Hurston Genre: Classic Publisher: Harper Perennial Modern Classics Release Date: November 23rd, 2004 Format: Audiobook Pages: 237 Source: Library; Blogger Recommendation First Published: 1937 One of the most important works of twentieth-century American literature, Zora Neale Hurston’s beloved 1937 classic, Their Eyes Were Watching God, is an enduring Southern love story sparkling with wit, beauty, and heartfelt wisdom. Told in the captivating voice of a woman who refuses to live in sorrow, bitterness, fear, or foolish romantic dreams, it is the story of fair-skinned, fiercely independent Janie Crawford, and her evolving selfhood through three marriages and a life marked by poverty, trials, and purpose.  A true literary wonder, Hurston’s masterwork remains as relevant and affecting today as when it was first published – perhaps the most widely read and highly regarded novel in the entire canon of African American literature. (via Goodreads) GoodreadsAmazon   Wow! A HUGE thank you to Melanie @ Grab the Lapels for recommending not only this book but specifically the audiobook to me!  Winner of the Audie Award for Solo Narration – Female in 2001, listening to Ruby Dee recite Their Eyes Were Watching God was incredibly powerful. I love this book…

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