Friday Face-Off Freebie: The Blue Castle

Today is a free day on the Friday Face-Off meme, created by Books by Proxy, with weekly topics hosted by Lynn’s Book Blog.  The idea is to put up different covers for one book, and select a favorite.

This week’s theme is “choose your own favorite” so I’ve selected one of my favorite books, my favorite L. M. Montgomery novel, The Blue Castle.

      

These two are much the same, both capturing the pastoral setting and suggesting the romance by putting a couple on the cover…though they don’t evoke the title at all, and there’s some questionable clothing choices going on in that right-hand cover! Continue reading “Friday Face-Off Freebie: The Blue Castle”

Blog Hop: Time-Travel Book Browsing

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: If you could travel back in time to purchase the first printing of a specific novel, what book would that be?

Seems to me there’s two ways to approach this…is this a book I’d buy to keep and cherish, or is it an investment?  If we’re looking at it as an investment, than the three that come to mind (although none are actually novels) are the Gutenberg Bible, a Shakespeare First Folio, and Action #1 comic book (the first Superman story).  I think any of those would be a very tidy investment!

Aside: I saw a First Folio once in Stratford, and just for fun I tucked one into the Phantom’s bookshelf in my Phantom trilogy, on the theory that he has a lot of money, and they may have been less sought after 140 years ago anyway.  I don’t call it a First Folio, just mention the title sitting on the shelf in one paragraph–and Hamlet, surprisingly enough, has a bit of a prominent role in the story.  /End Aside.

If we say I can buy the book but not re-sell it, then of course my brain goes towards L. M. Montgomery.  I probably wouldn’t get a first edition Anne of Green Gables (although I do have a “Thirty-Eighth Impression” 1914 copy, which I believe to be in the style of the first edition–$10, I kid you not).  I’d actually rather have a first edition of The Blue Castle, seeing as it’s my favorite.

Truth is, I’m not that enthralled with first editions, though.  I’d much rather have a signed copy of a favorite book than a first edition.  The cheapest L. M. Montgomery signed book I can find online is over $1,000 though, so…not something I’m purchasing!  At least, not right now. 🙂  But if I could time-travel to buy a book, see Montgomery and have it signed…yeah, that would definitely be what I’d do!

I’d also be rather tempted to get pre-first editions–to get a Strand magazine edition of a Sherlock Holmes story, or the original magazine installments of A Princess of Mars or The Phantom of the Opera.  I think that would be great fun!

If you could time-travel to buy a book, what would you get?  Would you sell your purchase, or would you buy something sentimental?

Blog Hop: Fictional Home Away From Home

book-blogger-hop-finalToday’s Book Blogger Hop question is: Is there a fictitious town in a book that you would love to live in? What makes it appealing?

The first one to come to mind is…not exactly a town.  I read the Pern books when I was pretty young, and I loved the Harper Hall in Dragonsinger.  I’m not sure anymore why I like it so much, since I’m not even musical (and I’ve realized a few issues with Pernese culture, another story entirely).  But there’s still something that feels very appealing about a craft hall/school where everyone makes music and records history in songs.  And bubbly pies sound delicious and fire lizards delightful.

The probably more significant fictitious town I’d like to live in is Avonlea–or Glen St. Mary–or whatever town Emily of New Moon is living in (I can’t seem to find a name!)  Because really, they’re all fictitious versions of Cavendish, the village L.M. Montgomery grew up in, on Prince Edward Island.  Like the Harper Hall, there are obvious disadvantages (both to the late 1800s and to the rural setting) but she makes it sound so delightful.  Her (word) pictures of nature are breathtaking, and I love the idea of a little village where everyone knows everyone and is interconnected in a complex web of relations and friendships and shared histories.

What fictitious town would you like to live in?  Are you totally sure, or do you see some reservations to your choice too?

Book Review: Pat of Silver Bush and Mistress Pat

I’ve been gradually revisiting L. M. Montgomery’s novels lately, most recently her Pat duology: Pat of Silver Bush and Mistress Pat.  These were two of her later books, published in 1933 and 1935 respectively, and some of the darker strains of her later life are already coming through.  There’s still much that is funny, charming and hopeful, but there are definitely some deeper shadows here than in earlier books.

Pat of Silver Bush follows Pat from childhood to girlhood, up to around age 18.  Mistress Pat ranges over eleven years, bringing Pat to about 30.  Pat is passionately devoted to her home of Silver Bush and her family, vowing that Silver Bush is all she needs and deeply hating any change.  She is joined by two beloved friends, Bets and Jingle.  The most striking character may be Judy, cook, storyteller and mother figure for Pat.  More spoilers to the story below!

All of Montgomery’s heroines have some of her traits, and she mentions in her journals endowing Pat with her deep love of home and hatred of change.  Pat is a bit of an odd heroine, still ecstatic in her joys (as Montgomery’s heroines tend to be) but much more wrung out by life.  Emily has her dark moments, but Pat seems especially tragical.  The books are not so grim that I’d call her tragic, but even with an element of humor in the mix, Pat still seems more pained by life than Montgomery’s usual heroines.  Likely this is because she was written while Montgomery herself was growing more pained by the direction of her own life.

The books are enjoyable on a surface level, with Montgomery’s usual nature rhapsodies, charming depiction of home life and much humor.  Judy is an absolute delight, with her Irish brogue, endless stories and parade of good food.  The last quarter of Mistress Pat veers toward the truly tragic, but most of the two books is still warm and affirming. Continue reading “Book Review: Pat of Silver Bush and Mistress Pat”

2017 Reading Challenges: Finale!

We’re into 2018 so it’s time to look at how my reading challenges turned out.  I frankly got very distracted from them this year in the last few months.  When NaNo finished I decided to look at them again, and did a bit of a scramble to finish two during December!  Well, you’ll see…

PictureNewbery Medal Winners
Goal: 20 Newbery Medal Winners, halving the number remaining
Host: Smiling Shelves

I did well with this most of the year, and threw in two more in December to reach my target.  My first read of the year, Kira-Kira, and my last read, Sounder, tie for most depressing Newbery to date!  Good Masters, Sweet Ladies was my favorite this year, which was entirely a surprise!

  1. Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
  2. The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
  3. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
  4. Good Masters, Sweet Ladies by Laura Amy Schlitz
  5. Crispin: The Cross of Lead by AVI
  6. King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry
  7. Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman
  8. The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
  9. Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorenson
  10. The Wheel on the School by Meindert De Jong
  11. A Visit to William Blake’s Inn by Nancy Willard
  12. The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth
  13. I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino
  14. MC Higgins the Great by Virginia Hamilton
  15. The Dark Frigate by Charles Boahman Hawes
  16. The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars
  17. Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Lewis
  18. The High King by Lloyd Alexander
  19. …And Now Miguel by Joseph Krumgold
  20. Sounder by William H. Armstrong

Continue reading “2017 Reading Challenges: Finale!”

2017 Reading Round-Up

We’re almost the end of 2017, and I think it’s a good time to look at the good, the bad and the weird of my 2017 reading.  I read 162 books in the year, similar to last year, although I feel like I’ve read far more nonfiction and audiobooks than my usual paper fiction from past years.  As reading evolves, here’s what stood out…

1) Best of…
I’ve been splitting my “Best of” books for the past few years, so that I can highlight the ones that were best in very specific ways.

1A) Best Premise: All Our Wrong Todays by Elan Mastai
We’re the dystopia, and the ‘50s visions of the idyllic future really happened in another universe that’s supposed to be the real world.  The book was good, but that premise is just brilliant.

1B) Best World Building: Read My Mind by Kelly Haworth
I loved the religion-building especially, but this entire alternate world with a pantheon of gods and generally accepted magical abilities was so interesting and so vividly, clearly brought to life.  Wonderful.

1C) Best Romance(s): The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon and Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven
Surprisingly enough, two of my three favorite romances this year were in contemporary YA books.  In the first, Natasha and Daniel have a Before Sunrise like experience, spending one day together and falling in love (I hate instaromance, except in the rare case when it’s done really, really well).  In the second, Libby and Jack are two struggling characters who find out they can accept and complement each other.  Very fun romances both.  And that third book I mentioned?  Makes the list elsewhere…

1D) Best Hero(ine): Notorious RBG by Irin Carmon and Shana Knizhnik
I’m reading so much more nonfiction that I think it fits to choose a real person as my favorite heroine of the year.  A very inspiring book, and Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s existence in a troubled world is deeply reassuring. Continue reading “2017 Reading Round-Up”

2017 Reading Challenges: Halfway Update

The end of September must mean time for a challenge update!  I’ve moved forward pretty well in most challenges, with sporadic focus on them…but that’s been enough for most.

PictureNewbery Medal Winners
Goal: 20 Newbery Medal Winners, halving the number remaining
Host: Smiling Shelves

I’m right on track here, with five new ones added–a good amount for a quarter.  I didn’t have great success with the books, though.  I particularly disliked the main character in MC Higgins the Great (he thinks it’s fun to jump girls walking alone–not okay) and particularly disliked the writing style of The Dark Frigate (written in 1923, but reads like 1823 and not in a good way).  The others were better, but cross fingers for some stand-out good ones in the last quarter?

  1. Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
  2. The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman
  3. Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena
  4. Good Masters, Sweet Ladies by Laura Amy Schlitz
  5. Crispin: The Cross of Lead by AVI
  6. King of the Wind by Marguerite Henry
  7. Joyful Noise by Paul Fleischman
  8. The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
  9. Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorenson
  10. The Wheel on the School by Meindert De Jong
  11. A Visit to William Blake’s Inn by Nancy Willard
  12. The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth
  13. I, Juan de Pareja by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino
  14. MC Higgins the Great by Virginia Hamilton
  15. The Dark Frigate by Charles Boahman Hawes
  16. The Summer of the Swans by Betsy Byars

Continue reading “2017 Reading Challenges: Halfway Update”