Thursday, February 11, 2016

The Castle of Llyr

Author:  Lloyd Alexander

Pages:  192 pages

Year Published:  1966

Genre:  Fantasy

New or Repeat: repeated several times

Opening Line:  Eilonwy of the red-gold hair, the Princess Eilonwy Daughter of Angharad Daughter of Regat of the Royal House of Llyr, was leaving Caer Dallben.

Quick Summary:  The third book in the Chronicles of Prydain takes Taran, Gurgi and Eilonwy to the Isle of Mona, where Eilonwy is to stay and learn how to be a proper lady. They meet up with Fflewddur Fflam and discover that everything is not as it seems. Eilonwy soon goes missing and Taran and his companions must find her.

My Opinion:  This book is the turning point in the series- Taran and Eilonwy are growing up and leaving behind their childhood wishes. The series starts addressing more adult issues and I think it's better for it. I really love how the characters interact in this book. I especially like how jealous Taran is of Prince Rhun and how Rhun acts like Taran did in the Book of Three. I really wish, though, that Eilonwy was more present in the book. However, it’s still awesome!

Favorite Character:  Fflewddur Flam in this one- especially with Llyon

Least Favorite Character:  Glew- he really, really annoys me

Favorite Quote:  “That would seem to be one of its secrets, at least,” replied Fflewddur. “Once you've discovered that, you've discovered a great secret indeed--with or without the bauble.” 

Ending Line:  “At least,” Eilonwy added quickly, “not for a little while.”

Would I See the Movie?  There isn’t one, but I would if it was done right.

Did I Like It?  Loved it!

Final Grade:  5 stars

Blog Refresh

So, if anyone is out there, I've decided to refresh my blog...yet again. I changed jobs this year and left the classroom after 15 years. I'm now my school's librarian and I absolutely love it! I've decided to use this blog to review the books that I've read over the years. I'm leaving up the posts I've done before, but some of the reviews will be redone. Here's the schedule I'm planning on:

Monday- Books I've read from my Greatest Books in History list (you can see the list on a separate page)
Tuesday- Mysteries (my favorite genre)
Wednesday- Newbery books (you can see that list and the challenge I've made for myself on a separate page)
Thursday- Books from my Childhood
Friday- Potluck- any book from any genre
Saturday- Romances
Sunday- Inspirational books- could be Christian fiction or books that touched my soul

I hope you will follow along with me in this journey. (Here's my full disclosure- some of the books I will review were received by authors, Net Galley, and or publishers in exchange for honest reviews. Also, I am linking titles to Amazon as part of their Associates program, so if you click on them and purchase the book, I will receive some compensation. Click or don't click if you want. :-))

The Book of Three

Author:  Lloyd Alexander

Pages:  190 pages

Year Published: 1964 

Genre:  Fantasy

New or Repeat:  repeated many times over

Opening Line:  Taran wanted to make a sword; but Coll, charged with the practical side of his education, decided on horseshoes.

Quick Summary:  The Book of Three introduces us to the young Taran, who is itching to be a hero. Through a series of setbacks and errors, he gathers a little band of misfits- Eilonwy, Gurgi and Fflewddur Fflam. It sets the stage for the rest of the series while remaining a good standalone book. 

My Opinion:  I first read this book way back in sixth grade as an assignment. At the time, I had never read fantasy, and really had no urge to do so. But I gave the book a chance because I loved my teacher. I'm so glad I did- this series has remained one of my favorites. I love how Taran grows throughout this book. His character starts out as a little whiny teenager (of which I have a lot of experience as a mom!) but ends up recognizing that there are more important issues in the world than what he wants for himself. I also love the character of Eilonwy. She is feisty and doesn’t let others (namely Taran) force her to do things she doesn’t want to do.

Favorite Character:  Eilonwy

Least Favorite Character:  I don’t really have one in this book- I really love them all!

Favorite Quote:  In some cases we learn more by looking for the answer to a question and not finding it than we do from learning the answer itself.

Ending Line:  “Hwoinch!” said Hen Wen.

Would I See the Movie?  There isn’t one, but I would watch it IF it was done correctly.

Did I Like It?  I love this book!

Final Grade:  5 stars

Monday, February 8, 2016

47. Little Women Redux

Title:  Little Women

Author:  Louisa May Alcott

Pages:  528 pages

Year Published:  1868 

Genre:  bildungsroman

New or Repeat:  many times repeat J

Opening Line:  “Christmas won’t be Christmas without any presents,” grumbled Jo, lying on the rug.

Quick Summary:  Little Women is the story of the March sisters as they grow up during postbellum Massachusetts.

My Opinion:  Where do I begin with Little Women? This is one of my top ten, life defining, read when I need to be comforted, all-time favorite books. Ever. Period. When I read this book, I picture a house I lived in when I was ten in Colorado (yes, I know an early 1980s four story split level is NOT an accurate depiction of the pseudo-Alcott home and I don’t even care). I can picture it all so vividly it’s hard to imagine it didn’t actually happen there. I love each of the March girls, although Jo is my favorite (and I am one of the few, apparently, who never thought she belonged with Laurie- no, don’t try to convince I am wrong!) with Beth a very close second (and I can’t tell you how much I ugly cry when she dies- seriously, I use up a box of Kleenex every single time). If you’ve never read this book, I have no idea what you are waiting for. Get it and start reading it now. There is a reason thousands of women have named their daughters after these characters!

Favorite Character:  Jo

Least Favorite Character:  umm, maybe Aunt March?

Favorite Moments: 
-When Jo cuts off her hair to help her father
-When Jo realizes Beth is dying
-When Laurie proposes to Amy on the lake

Ending Line:  “Oh, my girls, however long you may live, I never can wish you a greater happiness than this!”

Would I See the Movie?  There are several versions:

Little Women (1917) – starring Daisy Burrell. The first film version was a silent film. The film is lost.
Little Women (1933) – starring Katharine Hepburn and Joan Bennett. This film was directed by George Cukor. It was a huge success and is still considered a magnificent adaptation.
Little Women (1949) – starring June Allyson, Peter Lawford, Margaret O’Brien, Elizabeth Taylor and Mary Astor. This film was a star-studded movie and was a top grossing film. However, it had several changes from the novel, which detract from the story.
Little Women (1978) – starring Susan Dey, Meredith Baxter, and Greer Garson. This was a TV film. I’ve never seen it, but I can’t really imagine liking it- William Shatner played Professor Bhaer to Susan Dey’s Jo.
Little Women (1994) – starring Winona Ryder, Susan Sarandon, and Christian Bale.  This film varies from the novel, but not in a way that detracts from the story. This is my favorite version.

Did I Like It?  Obviously

Final Grade:  5 stars

Thursday, March 5, 2015


So....I'm not so good at writing posts. Of course, I've been very busy teaching and spending time with my kids, so I guess that's a good excuse. :-) I have, however, been reading constantly. I've been focusing on the Pop Sugar 2015 Ultimate Reading Challenge for the last couple of months. I've completed eight of the 50 challenges, reading ten books. Here is what I've read so far:

#3- A Book That Became a Movie- I read Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella. I have to admit, this book was slow for more to get into. I really love Sophie Kinsella, but Becky is a bit of a whiner! I did end up enjoying it, but it definitely isn't my favorite Kinsella book.

#4- A Book Published This Year- I read Thou Art With Me by Debbie Viguie. This is my favorite mystery series (The Psalm 23 Mysteries), so I adored this novel. I can't wait for more of the series to come out.

#5- A Book with a Number in Its Title- I read Eight Cousins by Louisa May Alcott. I kind of cheated with this one, as I've read it before, but I was really in the mood for it. :-)

#8- A Funny Book- I read I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella. As opposed to Confessions, I couldn't put this book down! It was simply adorable!

#9- A Book by a Female Author- I read Rose in Bloom by Louisa May Alcott. I cheated here, too, but I had to reread the sequel if I read the first, right??

#16- A Book from an Author You Love That You Haven't Read Yet- I read Love on the Mend by Karen Witemeyer. This was a very cute novella. I really enjoyed it.

#32- A Trilogy- I read the Westward Winds Trilogy by Amanda Cabot. These are inspirational historical romances set in Wyoming. I really enjoyed them.

#39- A Book with Magic- I read For Love of Evil by Piers Anthony. This series is OK... I love parts of it, but then Anthony ruins it with sexism or preachiness.

#49- A Book Based On or Turned into a TV Show- I read The Clockwise Man by Justin Richards. This is a Doctor Who book (the first of the Ninth Doctor books). I liked it, but it didn't really feel like the Doctor and Rose.

Some of these books also fit into to my TBR Pile Reading Challenge as well. A lot of these books have been sitting on my Nook for quite some time. So, here's which ones fit:

1. Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
2. Summer of Promise (Westward Winds) by Amanda Cabot
3. Waiting for Spring (Westward Winds) by Amanda Cabot
4. With Autumn's Return (Westward Winds) by Amanda Cabot
5. I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella
6. The Clockwise Man by Justin Richards

Happy Reading!

Friday, January 2, 2015

2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge

The first challenge I am working on is the TBR Pile Reading Challenge. This seems like a great way to tackle some of the many free ebooks I've snagged over the last few years on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. I am going to go for the First Kiss level, which is 21-30 books. I think this is easily doable, since I am doing other challenges as well (and hopefully they will overlap).

Here's a tentative list of the books I may read for this challenge (I'm leaving it completely open to change- I do get fickle with books from time to time!):

1. Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella
2. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
3. Only a Novel: The Double Life of Jane Austen by Jane Aiken Hodge
4. Boy's Life by Robert McCammon
5. The Earl Next Door by Amanda Grange
6. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
7. Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
8. Marmee & Louisa by Eve LaPlante
9. Persuasion by Jane Austen
10. Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
11. 1632 by Eric Flint
12. Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
13. Miracles and Massacres by Glen Beck
14. Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins

I'm going to leave the list here and add to it as books come to me. I'm excited about this challenge!


Monday, December 29, 2014

I'm back......and ready for challenges!

Wow! I was thinking to myself the other day about this blog. I had such high hopes about blogging about my love of reading and tackling the great works. Then, real life set in and it's been a really long time.

I haven't given up on reading- as if that were even possible! I've got three books to go to meet my 100 books goal for 2014, and I will make every endeavor to meet that goal by midnight on New Year's Eve.

So, I'm going to start blogging about books again... and I'm going to blog about genealogy, my other passion. I've spent the last year and a half getting back into my family research and I love it! It is so fulfilling to find out about the lives of the people I am descended from.

I'm going to be very ambitious for 2015. I'm restarting my Classics Challenge (with an updated list on the side). I'm also going to join the 2015 TBR Pile Reading Challenge (which, coincidentally enough, can coincide with the Classics although I will not be limiting myself to just Classics).

For genealogy, I'm participating in the Genealogy Do-Over. My research has been so sporadic over the years, especially when Josh and Jake were a lot younger. Now that they are teenagers, I am able to devote more time to my research. I've found a big mess of names with no idea of where I've found them. I'm excited to get my search organized and consistent guidelines set so that I can really create a family tree to be proud of.

So, for anyone out there who may be reading, welcome to my reading/genealogy hybrid blog! I'm ready for 2015!