• Reading

    2016 Anne of Green Gables Challenge: Rilla of Ingleside

    Here is the last post for the Anne of Green Gables reading challenge: Rilla of Ingleside. The questions are here.

    What do you think of Rilla? Is she like her parents? How is she different?
    Rilla is much more selfish and shallow than both of her parents. She does grow considerably though I still don’t find her super-likable although I can probably relate more to her.

    After returning to Ingleside, Jem tells Rilla that Walter wasn’t scared at the front. Even though Walter was sickened by the thought of war, Jem said that he turned out to be a courageous hero. Why do you think that was? Anticipating a situation and actually being in the moment can be totally different experiences and sometimes bring out surprising reactions. Can you remember a time when this has happened to you? 
    I frequently dread things, and sometimes that dread is justifiable, sometimes proper planning does away with it, sometimes it makes the situation worse, and sometimes it turns out to be a waste of energy. Walter, like his father said, had an active imagination. He knew far more of what is would really be like than Jem and Jerry (although that would not have stopped them). But he possessed moral courage in the actual face of wrong-doing and duty.

    There wasn’t much to Rilla’s relationship with Kenneth Ford in terms of time spent together. How do we know that their relationship is going to last?
    Well, Rilla has been in love with Ken since she was little, and she waited for him. Ken is quite honorable, he wasn’t just playing at being in love with a much younger girl.

  • Reading

    2016 Anne of Green Gables Reading Challenge: Rainbow Valley

    I am behind on these. Here is the link to the questions.

    This book was totally centered around the Blythe small fry and their friends. Reading about their adventures in Rainbow Valley made me think of Anne’s days with the the Echo Lodge crew in Anne of Avonlea. It also made me think of Camp Laurence from Little Women, as well as sweet Betsy-Tacy moments. The innocence of childhood play is so lovely to read. Do you have any favorite Rainbow Valley moments? Did they remind you of other childhood moments from any other books?
    I loved when the boys all stood up for the girls. I love the comradeship between the two families, and the clannishness (like between characters in books like The Penderwicks; their “clan” of friends, family, and neighbors). Una is my least favorite Meredith, but I love when she set things right between her father and Rosemary (I like Mr. Meredith and his dreamy ways; I think other people should’ve been more forthright about his abstraction and not leave it to the vulgar, horrible people).

    Montgomery likes writing about romance lost (Captain Jim and Lost Margaret) or almost lost forever (Mr. Irving and Miss Lavender). What would you have done in Rosemary’s place? Would you have kept your promise to your sister and refused John Meredith despite loving him?
    I would not have made such a promise, not because I am so wise, but because I would not have wanted to keep it, and I think the swearing part might’ve brought be to my senses if I had gotten that far; that was so incredibly controlling. I also don’t think promise keeping should be like oath-swearing (which is what Ellen made Rosemary do). This was such an ethical dilemma, but I think that Rosemary should have told him why she refused him, I think she owed him that much, that much of the oath should’ve been broken because she was hurting someone else badly. Ellen is so manipulative, selfish, and evil.

    We’ve said goodbye to Anne’s childhood long ago. This book is a farewell to the sweet childhood of the Blythe clan. This always makes me sad. While being an adult is a wonderful thing in so many ways, childhood always calls to us in one way or another. What do you miss about childhood? 
    The relative simplicity, the clean slate, the fresh world.

  • Reading

    Anne of Green Gables Reading Challenge: Anne of Ingleside

    I finished Anne of Ingleside long ago, and it is possibly my least favorite of the series, certainly it is the least memorable. I had to refresh my memory a bit.

    Montgomery has some precious episodes in this book about the Blythe children. Do you have a favorite of the Ingleside munchkins? What was your favorite story?

    Walter and Jem are my favorites. There are too many little tragedies for this book to be super enjoyable. Most of the children’s stories involve real terror, anxiety, or stress. The cake story could be considered a favorite merely because it cannot be assigned to the aforementioned category of tragedy, and I have no sympathy for Rilla’s ridiculous vanity. Nothing in that story is deep.

    In this book we really get a taste of Anne and Gilbert’s parenting styles. What do you think of Doctor and Mrs. Blythe as parents? Do you have any thoughts about the way their household is run?

    I GREATLY dislike the picking favorites between the twins; as in, I think that is absolutely despicable and doesn’t at all match with my conception of the honor and love the old Anne and Gilbert would give. I also dislike that Susan has such a say in things, particularly with Shirley. I am not sure the author meant to do this, but we hear more about Susan than Anne as Anne seems rather passively in the background, and this doesn’t fit with Anne’s personality at all in the earlier books; she was quite involved and hard-working (I think the author had trouble keeping a balance with characterization, e.g. Shirley is barely a personality at all). Also, that Mary Maria Blythe is an evil witch, and Gilbert should have made her leave, and Anne should have said something. No manner of loneliness or neglect or wrong justifies anyone in making everyone else miserable. What a busybody. She spoiled much of the book, I think.

    Anne fears that Gilbert no longer loves her because he doesn’t seem to be as attentive. Do you think that Gil should have been more cognizant of his behavior or should Anne have voiced her concerns? Was she just being a worry-wort and over-dramatizing things or did she have a legit reason to be concerned/jealous? 

    I don’t think she had a legitimate reason to doubt Gilbert, but mentioning her worries might have saved her some anxiety. I do think that Christine was trying to deliberately draw Gilbert’s attention to herself and make Anne feel bad so that she, Christine, could feel better.

  • Reading

    Anne of Green Gables Reading Challenge 2016: Anne’s House of Dreams Answers

    Anne’s House of Dreams is one of my least favorite Anne books. It contains considerably too much Leslie. As much as I enjoy L.M. Montgomery books, she has a rather glaring failing: she simply doesn’t know how to fully develop most of her heroes. Gilbert is still in the background. Also, this book is more confined in outlook. Although some of the few characters are rather interesting, there are still few characters. And the book’s preoccupation with Leslie’s story is boring and annoying. The story should be more about Anne (Anne features less and less in the novels; I enjoy the ones about her children, but Susan and other personalities shine far more than Anne). I do not need melodrama; I enjoy “quiet” stories with either a sweet tone or with underlying intensity, but I just found this novel lacking.

    I am joining up here for the 2016 Anne of Green Gables Reading Challenge.

    How is Anne’s friendship with Leslie different from her friendship with Diana? What are your thoughts about friendships and different seasons in life?
    Diana and Anne were childhood friends and grew up together and shared many similar experiences. I think the book (in the guise of Miss Cornelia) points out that although Anne had a hard childhood, Leslie’s entire life was tragic, and Anne had never (until the death of her baby) experienced anything near so bitter as what Leslie constantly endure from age 12 and on.
    I find it irritating and insincere when people can only relate to people in their specific season of life. Particularly when newly married people and new parents drop their single friends and seemingly instantaneously gain a (miraculous) superior (read: condescending) knowledge of everything the single friend has not experienced. Also, if you lose friends then you probably were not actually or should not have been friends with those people in the first place.

    Leslie’s life is a tragic one. Once you learn her story, you understand why she was so bitter the night Anne and Gil come riding blissfully into Four Winds. How would you have felt if you were developing a friendship with Leslie?
    I can see her bitterness, but I cannot sympathize. Anne is one of the most sensitive and tactful characters ever, so Leslie’s attitude is awful. (Also, I feel that her later misery is her partially her own fault; I don’t really feel as the book intends us to feel that she was morally compelled to marry Dick). Anne really is amazingly patient and kind for bitter people are hardly attractive; friendship with them is probably easier to maintain than obtain, but Anne reached out and endured. However, her reaction to Gilbert’s proposal of the medical procedure is morally abhorrent, and I felt, did not fit with Anne’s character well at all as she usually takes the moral high ground.

    This is the book where Anne’s whole life changes. She’s a married woman now with a different lifestyle, different dreams, and different goals. But she’s still the same lovable Anne she’s always been. What are 3 things you think should never change when you get married?
    Love for one’s spouse and one’s family. Basic personality. We should never change or attempt to change our fundamental personality as that would be insincere, but we should change anything sinful in our personality (i.e. certain personalities lean toward certain sins; e.g. choleric personalities have anger issues). Everything else depends on the person individually. I think that we should neither keep character traits because everyone needs to change for the better nor all goals and dreams because that is unfeasible and unreasonably confining (goals and dreams are not as a concept, moral, so there is nothing inherently right or wrong in having new goals and dreams).

  • Reading

    Anne of Green Gables Reading Challenge April Answers for Anne of Windy Poplars

    I and my sisters have been on an L.M. Montgomery reading spree these last few months. I have only maybe one novel and several collections of short stories that I have not read. I have also recently reread the Anne books and am preparing to reread the Emily ones.

    I am participating (at my own pace since I have finished the novels) in this challenge. Here are my answers to April’s questions for Anne of Windy Poplars.

    What do you think of Anne’s letters to Gil? Do you have any favorite lines? Are you or have you ever been a letter writer? Do you require a certain kind of writing instrument to write certain things?
    I am not a fan of completely epistolary novels, I liked the blend of narrative styles in this novel. I am not a letter writer. I prefer the looks of pens, particularly those with easily flowing ink. I do use pencils (more practical), but for important things, pens or I feel dissatisfied. I cannot think of favorite lines (I need to get back into the habit of filling up a quote journal!).

    Who is your favorite character in this book? Any kindred spirits who stole your affection?
    This novel is made up of vignettes of Anne’s three years of teaching, so most characters did not stay long. My favorite small characters are Lewis (of the Little Fellow story) and Nora and Jem. I did not overly love some of Anne’s kindred spirits, Little Elizabeth is sickly sweet; Katherine, unrelatable and unconvincingly kindred; and Jen, irritating and less developed as a character (not in a poorly written way, though). Rebecca Dew is hilarious though not a great favorite with me.


    This is the last book before the start of Anne’s married life. What have been your favorite moments in her childhood, adolescence, and young adulthood? What has she learned? How has she changed? How has she remained the same?
    I love her rivalry with Gil and then her “friendzoning” relationship with him later. Her raising of and relationship with Davy is hilarious and enjoyable. Her scrapes and drama are funny. I like that she kept her imagination, her ideals, her character, but she realized her mistakes about certain dreams (her absurd hero, her melodramatic stories).

  • Reading

    Favorite Authors Revisited: L. M. Montgomery

    Starting with Blue Castle last year and continuing with Jane of Lantern Hill, A Tangled Web, and Magic for Marigold this year, I have been reading several of Montgomery’s usually later (compared to most of the Anne books), stand alone novels. My sisters have read or are reading them too, and we are enjoying them mightily. I feel like these are better written.

    I am also re-reading the Anne novels which I love but I can definitely see an improvement in her writing. I need to read The Blythes Are Quoted (apparently the full version of another book The Road to Yesterday), The Golden Road and the rest of her short story collections.

    The first Anne books were written with a year between, then there was a gap of 6 years after which four books were published every two years, then finally two more 15 and 18 years later. Most of her other novels were published between Rilla of Ingleside and Anne of Ingleside. This is the order of publications with the chronological order numbered.

    1. Anne of Green Gables 
    2. Anne of Avonlea
    3. Anne of the Island
    5. Anne’s House of Dreams
    7. Rainbow Valley
    8. Rilla of Ingleside
    4. Anne of Windy Poplars
    6. Anne of Ingleside

    Hopefully, today I am leaving on a cross-country road trip, so I should have plenty of posts from that.

  • Reading

    Favorite Authors Revisited: Rosemary Sutcliffe

    I recently finished with the final two books of  The Eagle of the Ninth “series” that I had not read: Dawn Wind and Frontier Wolf. 

    I mentioned to some people, during a discussion about The Eagle film, about how I did not think that The Eagle of the Ninth makes for a good movie (that film was not well made period, though). I think that holds true for all of the books. The stories are not merely plots, and all the intensity and detail is the words, so many emotions and details are underlying and implied in the stories. There is no melodrama, but the intensity will tear your heart out.

    Here is the series in chronological order. By series I mean it traces Marcus’ direct line down through the generations via his ring. There are enough generations between books, so there no memories just the ties barely hinted at which and this makes these books all the more interesting.

    The Eagle of the Ninth
    The Silver Branch
    Frontier Wolf
    The Lantern Bearers
    Dawn Wind
    Sword Song 
    The Shield Ring

    Stand alone books that I have read include: Outcast, Warrior Scarlet, The Mark of the Horse Lord, and The Shining Company. Ones that have content/graphic inappropriateness include: Sword at Sunset (this is considered a crossover book between Eagle and Arthurian Legend series, but since this barely says anything much of Aquila and Flavian and focuses more on Artos, a skip for content is fine story wise; it does not fit the pattern of the other books which make Marcus’ family the central story) and Blood and Sand. I would just make certain the novels are for children not adults and you should be okay. I like to use Wikipedia.

  • Reading

    2016 Anne of Green Gables Reading Challenge

    I am participating at my own speed in this challenge. I started my re-read in March and will be on book five by the time this posts. 

    January
    Anne of Green Gables
    This first installment of Anne Shirley’s story is about her finding a home after years of displacement. While we often consider ‘home’ to be synonymous with ‘house’, it’s also a state of being. What does home mean for you and what makes it special?
    A sanctuary, a haven, a safe place. A place in which my family lives. Where there are limits to outside contact in order to have rest and respite. Where there is little to fear.
    Friendship is such a huge theme in this book. There are many elements that make up a great bosom friendship like Anne and Diana’s but if you had to pick three of those elements, what would they be?
    Trust, and by that I mean not merely that the friends do not break confidences, but that the friends does not misinterpret or abuse words. Longevity. Diana and Anne stay friends even though for a time their circumstance were totally different; if a friendship cannot last, people should not have been friends in the first place. Integrity. Diana and Anne do not destroy or attempt to destroy each other’s relationships whether familial, friendly, or romantic. Indeed, Diana did try to persuade Anne to mend her relationship with Gilbert, and I do not think Diana encouraged Anne in her unforgiving attitude.
    Of course, we love Gilbert Blythe but the real sweetheart in the first book is Matthew Cuthbert. What makes Matthew such a great father figure in Anne’s life? And (if you’ve read the books before) what effect do you think his love and influence has in the rest of Anne’s life?
    Matthew, as Anne later says, is the first person in Anne’s memory to love her. He listens and does not mock, criticize, or reprove her often wild, imaginative speech. He is her source of encouragement and support in both trouble and triumph. He is the real example to her ideals of the treatment and raising of children.
    February
    Anne of Avonlea
    Anne of Avonlea introduces a cast of new characters including Mr. Harrison, Miss Lavender, Davy & Dora, Paul Irving, and Charlotta the Fourth. Which new character(s) was the most endearing to you? What do you like about them?
    I like Mr. Harrison and Davy because they are hilarious each in their own way. And they both force Anne to look at things via different perspectives from her own.
    Anne has such high hopes and ideals when she sets out to teach Avonlea School. However, she’s in for a few surprises. What do you think about expectations and ideals when approaching a new situation? What do you think Anne discovered in this season as a school teacher?
    I think that Anne already had a knack with children. I feel that she learned more from Davy and Dora than from this particular teaching experience.  .  . except in the case of Anthony Pye. However, I do understand why she was so upset when she explained that she punished him in anger.
    What do you think of Miss Lavender’s romance? Do you agree with Gilbert’s comment on what could have been?
    I agree with Gilbert . . . and his double meaning/warning. But still, I do NOT agree with Marilla’s rendering of it in prose; I do not think either Mr. Irving or Miss Lavender were that pragmatic.
    March
    Anne of the Island
    There are some great conversations between Anne and Gil in this book. As much as I love the TV series, some of the real essence of their friendship is lost in the film adaptation. They were such buddies! Is there a scene in the book that you wish hadn’t been left out of the film adaptation? 
    Well, all of them. The first proposal to begin the list. The first proposal in the movies border lined on if not actually committed plagiarism Laurie’s proposal from Little Women (the novel). That film had other distinct plagiarisms from the novels, one also with a Gilbert/Laurie parallel (two leading men who are not remotely alike). Anne and Gilbert did not bicker like Jo and Laurie; that sort of behavior was not like them at all. The movies increasingly infuriate me as they progress.
    The proposal. Ah! The proposal! Tell me, which do you like better? The film version or the book version? Mind you, I see Megan Follows and Jonathan Crombie when I read the books so I’m not talking about the acting but rather the scenes for their own sake.
    See above. I want to research that subject better. Anne and Gilbert in the movies are little like the book characters.
    Let’s talk about Roy Gardener, the man straight out of Anne’s dreams. Give three reasons why he’s so not the guy for her. And if you’d like, talk a bit about having a ‘dream man’ and whether or not we should hold out for them or eventually let them go.
    He wasn’t the guy for her because half of what she thought for and all of what she felt for him was imagined. Because he could not be the understanding companion that Gilbert was.  Because in reality Roy had little in common with her. And as to having a “dream man,” well that depends on whether we have high expectations (which is good, as long as we have them for our own behavior/character/appearance) and unrealistic expectations (i.e. expecting perfection or expecting low of ourselves and high of our men).
    BONUS QUESTION!
    Christine Stewart. I get that TV has to be written so that the plot moves along smoothly and all, and I can respect that, but really? What do you think about what Sullivan did in the movie as opposed to how Montgomery wrote Gil’s relationship with her?

    Again, this goes back to the filmmakers’ misunderstanding/misrepresentation of Anne. Anne really loved Gilbert, and that colored everything she understood about him and about Roy (she thought she loved Roy; she was not settling), but she also undervalued him. She did not understand that he loved her so deeply that he had not gotten over her or attempted to compromise. That is why she thought the untrue of him, that he quickly lost his feelings for her and became engaged to Christine. Sullivan merely chose to go the conventional route involving compromising on both sides.
  • Reading

    Blue Castle Mini-Review

    I had seen this book appear on a couple blogs, but our library did not have it at the time and bought it on my recommendation but forgot to put in on my request list, so I only recently discovered that the library had it. Definitely worth the wait. Read for the first time in total ignorance (I only new a very little and what I did not was distorted/far less important than I thought so did not really mess up my reading experience). Realistic dismal and dreary sections. Mercifully short miserable sections. Wonderful humorous sections. Beautiful nature and introverted-homey sections. Romance. Perfect, one-of-a-kind hero. The end.

  • Reading

    Unnatural Death Mini-Review

    The murderer in Unnatural Death, I think, was more of the Julian Freke style of murderer. Callous and brutal. I can remember three murders and at least 3 victims of attempted murder—including Lord Peter himself. Plus other disgusting/disturbing/wrong elements. This book, like Whose Body, was more of a detective story (i.e. we all—reader and characters—know who did it, but the characters need clues to prove it) rather than mystery. The main story I did not like, however, Wimsey provided several quotes.

  • Reading

    Clouds of Witness Review

    Ah, yet again I could have published somewhat closer to when I read this novel, but as you can see from past published reviews I am working on this.

    Well, I do like variety. This mystery was quite different from the first one. The story felt more human and personal . . . as it certainly had to be for Lord Peter, and later Parker, given the nature of the story. I feel like the first novel is the formal introduction while the second novel pitches you headlong into friendship with Lord Peter. I like that mimicry of life in style, but I think that the acquaintance should have been slower especially since it is British.

    Anyway, the mystery was greater in this novel than the mystery in the first. And the explanation less intellectually satisfying to the same degree. Instead of the “how” as in the first book, the focus is on the “who,” “why,” and etc. More the traditional mystery story approach.

    I strongly dislike the false honor and delicacy stance (as ascertained from literature, oh what trustworthy source, this is the traditional British honor code). The duke committed adultery and it is not honor to hide the other person, it is deceit. (He who covers his sin will not prosper . . . Proverbs 28:13). If he really wanted to protect her honor, he would not have had the affair in the first place. Duh. This ugly immorality and false morality darkened the whole story, and the final scene of drunkenness which could have been humorous (cringe-worthy humor to some, but still humor) merely dragged everything down more with that behavior and flippancy.

    I realize drunkenness is a sin, but I do not consider it harmful here and although in real life it is disgusting at best and murder at worse, it is rather funny in fiction. Judge me, and do not laugh at Otis :/

    P.S. Despite the sanctimonious tone of my review, I did enjoy the novel. Um, it is Lord Peter we are talking about people!

  • Reading

    Whose Body Review

    Despite writing notes during/soon after reading Whose Body and typing them up weeks ago, I am just now editing and publishing them. I need to publish current reviews and procrastinated reviews (if that is not an adjective yet it should be) at the same time. I will improve, I will, I will! (Said like “I do believe in fairies!” of course!)

    Lord Peter is the Sir Percy of mysteries and Bunter is his Jeeves. I am guessing Lord Peter was in WWI with Parker (who is more of the Sherlock Lestrade than the original Lestrade is; Sugg is like or worse than the original Lestrade), whom Lord Peter calls by his first name after his (Lord Peter’s) relapse, thus revealing that they are good friends and not just friendly business associates (I love that artistic detail and what it reveals). What a spoiled boy Lord Peter is (kind of like Shawn in Psych).

    I suspected Freke but still found the story interesting. I do not like that Lord Peter gave Freke the chance to kill himself. (This is the most sickening murder imaginable and you warn the criminal, because of your own ego? “I found you out.”? “He is a great man so warn him”? “I feel bad so warn him”? And all of Lord Peter’s qualms about suspecting Milligan . . . rules rather than morals, I suppose). I am in love with Lord Peter although this received quite a chill thanks to the above. This was such a cold-blooded, long premeditated murder. And the confession plus details (dissection especially) made it quite freaky.

    The switch to 2nd person was intriguing, especially because of the depth and different outlooks these switches added:
            ~The poor young man and his blunders; most authors do not allow inferior people feelings or such a sense of their own blunders.
            ~Lord Peter and the freaky scene, reverting back to WWI, AWWWWW!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The name switch is in this scene too which intensifies the sense of Lord Peter’s fear.

    The mystery is not outrageously convoluted and unbelievable. The method and  manner of the crime are what provided the shock to the senses. The absolute callous depravity of the sociopathic and psychopathic murdererhe intended to have his “work” published (!). Unlike a Christie novel, the characters in this novel are developed, each is a person and not primarily a tool in a mystery plot.

    I hope there is more mystery (I have since discovered that there is) in other novels of the series, but I think that constant drama (especially of the overwrought Christie variety) is too much, and I find it refreshing that a more realistic murder story can be presented. This story rested more on finding evidence and learning how the murderer committed the crime than on finding the murderer.