Tag Archives: 1920’s

Book Review: “The Blue Castle,” by L. M. Montgomery

*See Note

Genre: romance; classic


Plot Summary: 29-year old Valancy Stirling takes stock of her uneventful life.  All she has ever known is a grey, dull existence with no real love of her own.  Her favorite fantasy is to dream of her very own ‘blue castle’ in which everything is just as she would wish and she entertains a string of handsome suitors.  But then she gets a shocking medical diagnosis that changes her perspective on everything.  What will she do with the rest of her life?

My Book Review: L. M. Montgomery has been a favorite author of mine since way back.  I grew up with her as a teenager, convinced that I was a Montgomery heroine myself.  I’ve read almost all of her novels, but still have a few more of the Anne series and one or two obscure works to cover.  I purposefully waited to read “The Blue Castle” until I was the same age as the main character– I always like to identify with the characters I’m reading about.  However, I’d been a little bored with the last Anne book I’d read (“Anne of Ingleside”) and was not sure how I would like this one, especially since it is less known.

I absolutely loved this, as it turned out to be such a sweet gem of a story!  There are almost three parts to Valancy’s journey but I don’t want to put major spoilers here.  At first I was unsure I would become so attached because the first third details Valancy’s bitterness about life and her lack of familial love.  But a few plot twists I never saw coming changed the whole thing, both for Valancy and for me as a reader.  I began to wonder how I might react to the news that I had a fatal disease, and it was interesting to see Valancy’s attitude go from self-pity to acting on her new self-discovery.  Who might we become if we really acted on what we thought or felt on the inside?

Valancy finds love—not among her joy-robbing relatives that she’s known her whole life, but among the outcasts of society. She decides to spend her life acting on her compassion, and in so doing mirrors Jesus’ actions toward the lepers, the dying, and those of scandalous reputation.  Her blue castle no longer becomes her ideal, but a little ramshackle cabin in the sticks becomes her wonderful reality.  She spends so much time enjoying living in the here and now, that she forgets about her impending sentence.

I found the story to be so beautiful and it gave me much food for thought. Not to mention, I got a good laugh out of some of her relations!  Set during the 1920’s, it’s definitely a lot different from Montgomery’s other tales, but I’m sure it will become a new favorite for you as it now is with me.

*Note- This is one of those instances where you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.  This is not a Harlequin romance novel, like this popular book cover above indicates.  Nor does Valancy have brown hair and wear 1980’s nighties.  And the hero of the story does not look one bit like a Ken Barbie doll!  No, below are pictures closer to what I picture them to look like (even though their dress and age may be a bit off)…

If you liked this book, I also recommend…


Leave a comment

Posted by on June 5, 2019 in Book Reviews


Tags: , , , ,

Book Review: “The Seven Conundrums,” by E. Phillips Oppenheim

Genre: mystery; intrigue; classic vintage


Plot Summary: A trio of entertainers are down on their luck when a mysterious man emerges out of the night to make them an offer of a lifetime.  Desperate, they agree to do anything he asks of them in exchange for a guarantee of work lineup.  Soon, they are rolling in it and living the highlife while touring England and abroad.  But exactly who’s side are they on—the side of the just or the side of evil?

My Book Review: Although Oppenheim’s most famous novel (The Great Impersonation) had me an instant fan as a kid, I’ve sort of become less enthused about some of his other works since then.  I was hoping this novel would draw me back in, or else I was seriously going to rethink whether I wanted to continue with his canon.

I was pleased to find myself enjoying this very much, especially for the book’s atmosphere.  The seven mysteries, the intrigue, wild characters, and the some of the exotic European locales had my interest.  Although it still did not have TGI beat, I’ve decided to continue on with more Oppenheim novels next year!

I also recommend…

Leave a comment

Posted by on October 24, 2018 in Book Reviews


Tags: , , , , , ,

Movie Review: “The Aviator”

Based on the book by Ernest K. Gann.

Version: 1985; starring Christopher Reeve; Tyne Daly

Genre: adventure; classic

Plot Summary: A physically and emotionally scarred US mail pilot is commissioned to escort a young teenager over the lonely Rocky Mountain wilderness during the 1920’s.

My Review: Disclaimer*: I have not read the original book, so this review will not be comparing it to that work.  Only as a story in and of itself, totally unrelated to the book. 

When I first came across this streaming for free online, I thought it was an early version of The Aviator that starred Leonardo DiCaprio and Cate Blanchett.  I thought it might be about Howard Hughes.  The story turned out to be quite different than I expected and was a pleasant surprise.

Though this movie may be lacking a lot of the frills and fancies of today’s world, the story was still interesting because of the well-developed characters.  Reeve plays a good pilot that is still suffering from a war incident and lives in isolation from those around him.  Tillie is a young teenage girl that on the surface seems spoiled and immature, but when put to the test proves she has courage to survive hardships.

Some beautiful cinematography from the air and accompanying filmscore is lovely.  Acting may not be A1, but there aren’t any scenes you wouldn’t want your parents to watch.  I believe there were a few ‘d’ words sprinkled throughout.  Tillie does confess that she was ‘banged up’ by a boy prior to her plane trip and declares that it ‘certainly wasn’t love.’  She begins to develop a bit of a crush on Edgar, but nothing inappropriate comes of it.  Rather, it was sweet and humorous and Edgar comes to realize that there may be something in him the right woman could love about him.

I believe that the character Tillie was made older in the movie than she was in the book, but I think this was actually in the story’s favor.  If you’re looking for something a little different, I believe you would enjoy this for entertainment.

Leave a comment

Posted by on September 23, 2018 in Movie Reviews


Tags: , , , , , ,

BBC Audiobook: Winnie-the-Pooh

3c22fde7610bf01818b37bc9de298973What do heffalumps, woozles, birthday parties, and very tight places all have in common?  Why Winnie-the-Pooh of course!  And autumn is the perfect time to settle in for the evening with some classic Pooh-bear stories read by Alan Bennett.  So grab your children, grandma and grandpa, too and get ready to go on an expotition!  Only available for a limited time.


Leave a comment

Posted by on October 19, 2016 in Audio/Radio Dramas


Tags: , , , , , ,

Book Review: “The Murder on the Links,” by Agatha Christie

74829Genre: mystery

Plot Summary: When Hercule Poirot receives an intriguing letter from a foreign millionaire, he sets out right away for the French countryside.  But before he and Captain Hastings arrive the Monsieur Renauld is found dead on a golf course, stabbed in the back.  Who could have done such a thing?  Was it his son, who thought he stood to inherit millions?  The neighbor woman thought to be his mistress?  Or could it be the mysterious girl on the train who calls herself Cinderella?  Soon another body is found dead in a similar manner, and everyone’s theories are thrown out the window…

My Book Review:  Continuing my way through the Poirot series… 🙂

After finishing Agatha Christie’s first Poirot novel (The Mysterious Affair at Styles), I had a bit of a letdown.  I was hoping the second installment in the series would be much more to my liking, and happily I got the suspense I was looking for!  One of the things that really helped me to like this story better was the setting.  A millionaire’s villa set in the French countryside really set the atmosphere and it was fun practicing my French accents!

I felt the plot was cleverly laid out and the details came together and made sense.  What a marked improvement from The MA@S!  There was a point nearing the end when I was afraid the story would end flat, but then came a plot twist that I didn’t foresee and Agatha proves she is the queen of mystery novels.

There are some elements within this book that I love about A.G.’s stories.  One is her huge use of colorful dialogue and different characters.  Another is of there being a backstory that happened years before the book starts, and you have to figure out which of the current characters are the same people under assumed names.

The only thing I didn’t like is that in this particular story, Poirot comes across as very conceited and arrogant.  Sometimes his mood varies from book to book, but in this one he was not as likeable.

I’ve read a few Poirot mysteries, but plot-wise this was my favorite I’ve read so far.  Not my favorite Christie mystery (that honor belongs for Why Didn’t They Ask Evans?), but it makes up for the letdown after The MA@S.

1 Comment

Posted by on June 23, 2016 in Book Reviews


Tags: , , ,

Book Review: “Love Comes Calling,” by Siri Mitchell

18008073Genre: romance, historical fiction, Inspirational, 1920’s, humor

Plot Summary: Ellis Eaton is bombing out in her classes at college.  She just can’t seem to apply herself!  What’s more, she feels like she keeps failing everybody she knows and loves– including Griffin Phillips, the boy-next-door.  The only solution seems to escape and go to Hollywood to live out her dream of becoming a movie star.  The only problem is to save up enough to get there.  When a lookalike friend suggests Ellis fills in for her as a ‘hello girl’ telephone operator, Ellis agrees.  But then she accidentally overhears a mysterious conversation implying danger toward Griffin.  What will this mean for him and for her future plans?

My Book Review:  I’ve been interested in trying some of Siri Mitchell’s novels and this is the first one I’ve tried.  I had a lot of fun reading it!  The main character, Ellis, is a lively heroine who keeps getting into scrapes and she reminded me a lot of Anne Shirley.  It didn’t take me long to wonder if Ellis might have had some sort of attention deficit disorder.  Her rambling first person narrative (which I loved) would stop and change on a dime from one topic to another.  Unfortunately for her she is often misunderstood because of this, especially by her mother.  At the end of the book, the author explains that she did purposefully create Ellis with ADHD, but that society would not have recognized or correctly diagnosed it back during the Prohibition era.  I thought this was an interesting angle to the story.

b1882cf3f70040d799b56130233ba331One of Siri Mitchell’s signatures is filling her novels with interesting history so that you’re not only entertained, but educated.  This particular book centered on the Prohibition era of the 1920’s (a decade that’s really popular right now thanks to Downton Abbey!).  We get to see the introduction of crossword puzzles, and references to fashion trends, popular songs, films, movie stars, and other pop culture of the times.  I loved the descriptions!

I didn’t find the book to be a painful, fluffy novel and enjoyed it.  However, there came a time where I felt the plot felt stuck in a rut like it was not going anywhere.  The biggest hitch was repetition.  Ellis was continually reminding us of her goal in trying to protect Griffin, but it became tedious.  Griffin tries to pursue her romantically but can never seem to find a time and place alone with her.  This doesn’t happen once, twice, or three times but many many times during the course of the story.  Instead of creating suspense, this technique caused me to feel the story had nothing more to offer than filler scenes.  I really dislike repetition!

It also became a little confusing as to what Ellis was thinking, –but then I think she was confused herself!  First she says that she disappoints others when she is herself, so she finds it best to pretend to be a different character.  Then she says she can’t be what everyone else wants her to be because it’s not who she is.  ?

This was a fun story that didn’t center so much on romance as it was a coming-of-age story with a heroine who is in a journey of self-discovery.  You don’t have to worry about it getting steamy.  I could easily let my teenage daughters read it (if I had any teenage daughters).  I want to try at least one more book by Siri Mitchell.  Don’t get me wrong, –I liked this book but I have a hunch I’ll like some other of her books better once I get to them.

This book is #7 in the “Against All Expectations” Series, but I think these books are all stand alone.

Have you read this book?  What did you think of it?  Share your thoughts below!

Leave a comment

Posted by on June 18, 2016 in Book Reviews


Tags: , , , , , , ,

Dear Masterpiece

SPOILER ALERT!: The following public letter to Masterpiece reveals some spoilers from the tv series, “Downton Abbey,” but contains nothing from the current Season 6.  No offense is intended for those who find redeeming, personal enjoyment from said miniseries.  These are completely my own opinions, based on my own reactions from the show.

Dear Masterpiece (formerly Masterpiece Theatre),

MV5BMTg2ODI2NTUwN15BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTMwMzU0MjE@__V1_UY268_CR31,0,182,268_AL_Like a lot of period drama lovers out there, I love certain aspects of Downton Abbey. The music, the costumes, the drama, the romance, the props, the elegance of the time era…!  It makes this romantic-at-heart swoon.  Truth be told, I was hesitant about watching it when it first came out, because I had my suspicions about it.  I had heard about certain plot elements that went against my spiritual convictions.

However, I decided to give it a try and took the plunge into Season 1. I was able to gloss over some of the parts I winced at (Thomas’ love affair with another man; Lady Mary’s tryst with Mr. Pamuk).  I told myself that Thomas’ story didn’t last long, and Lady Mary’s actions were not celebrated.  So I concentrated on all the lovely details of the episodes.

I determined not to watch Season 2 when I saw the trailers. It seemed to contain a lot of sleeping around and I didn’t feel I could watch the new series with any real pleasure.  But then I changed my mind and decided to flip the channel during sex scenes.  I was glued to the dramatic storyline.

Season 3 was by far my most favorite of all. The acting was superb, my emotions were engaged with every episode, I cared about the characters, and I didn’t have to worry about fast forwarding.  I was highly looking forward to Season 4!

I know many people were upset at the unfortunate turn of events centering around Anna. I, however, was not one of them, since bad things do happen to good people in this fallen world.  I’ve heard Joanne Froggatt’s acting was exceptional throughout this season.  But I decided not to view it, mainly due to the fact that I am very sensitive by nature and didn’t feel I could handle the heavy theme.  I kept up on what happened through the season though, by reading the descriptions of the episodes.  Suddenly having the drama stripped of all it’s heady “frills” and just reading about its descriptions made me realize something.  I could conceive no good that would come of me viewing the rest of Downton Abbey.  Tom has a dalliance with another woman after his being widowed, something that just doesn’t feel true to his character (even if he was drunk).  Viewers are to feel in favor of Mr. Gregson divorcing his mentally disabled wife and taking up with Edith; eventually they have an affair and she becomes pregnant.

0434044092ffbf757733ca74e19be183It didn’t stop there. Season 5 went on to have one character after another heading to the bedroom, without accurately portraying the hurt and pain these people have deep inside as a result of giving themselves away so flippantly.  I haven’t watched another Downton Abbey episode since then.  Will I change my mind about watching it?  We’ll see, but I highly doubt it.  I’m sure there are bits I’d still love about the show inter-sprinkled among all the offensive parts.  But by now, the sexual perverseness far outweighs the glorious costumes for me.  I’ve stuck through movies or tv shows before that weren’t completely clean, but either I was only committed for 2 hrs and could easily fast forward, or there were more redeeming elements than the occasional “oops! Close my eyes!”.  I cannot say that of Downton Abbey.  It really has become a glorified soap opera.  The heady glamor of the show made me feel sucked into rooting for the characters’ debauched behavior.  I’m not a prude.

Masterpiece, over the years I’ve highly enjoyed many films on PBS. But it has increasingly been leaving lots to be desired.  I don’t appreciate movie adaptations of Charles Dickens’ classic novels adding in gay characters to make it more ‘modern’ or other period dramas becoming ‘edgier’ in order to push your liberal agenda.  It just is not true that people don’t want to watch bonnet dramas anymore.  If it is an excellent picture, with characters viewers can identify with, we will be with you.  Classic works of literature are classics for a reason, and they’ve done well enough for a hundred years or more without the graphic bedroom scenes.  I’m not a prude; I just don’t prefer to watch it.  I would look forward to seeing more Masterpiece films and miniseries featuring clean adaptions of classic novels (preferably ones that aren’t remakes of the remakes), instead of ones that are glitzy and glamorous but substantially hollow.

Please give us more wonderful content, and I will be a loyal viewer.



What do you think of Masterpiece’s recent films? Share your opinions below!

Leave a comment

Posted by on February 14, 2016 in Movie Reviews, Uncategorized


Tags: , , , , , , ,