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Book Review: “The Melting of Molly,” by Maria Thompson Daviess

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Genre: classic

Plot Summary: Molly, a young widow, has a problem: she needs to lose weight and fast!  An old beau is renewing his acquaintance by coming back to his old hometown where she still lives, but she looks nothing like she did 10 years ago.  The only one who can help her attain her goal is the next door doctor.  But he likes her as she is.  What’s a girl to do when several men start to pay her more attention?

My Book Review: This was a fast, enjoyable read!  I originally discovered it on Librivox (listen to it for free here) and soon after found an old copy of it at a library book sale.  I found it cute that, in a story about a girl on a diet, a bookworm chewed a neat little hole through the edges of the pages.  🙂

The story takes place in the Gibson girl era, where things were not much different than they are today in that a woman’s worth was often judged on the dimension of her waistline. Only they had corsets back then to help them out.  Molly is a delightfully funny character, honest and vain, but thoroughly woman.  I loved the old illustrations throughout the book as well.  And the doctor was a swoon!  Perhaps one can see the ending from the start, but poor Molly can’t and it’s fun to watch her transformation when all the time she has a good man’s unconditional love.

This book is a simple read. Don’t expect too much out of it.  But if you are wanting to get into a cute little love story, this entertaining novel will probably satisfy.  Just ask the bookworm.

I also recommend:

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Posted by on February 14, 2018 in Book Reviews

 

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IMHO- Children’s Books I Liked/Disliked Growing Up

Children’s books are still a reading option for one and all well into adulthood.  One does not outgrow a classic story worth its salt even if the wording is simplified for little ears.  Sometimes, that is the best way for a story to reach the heart.

Unfortunately, not all children’s books are discovered by us when we are children.  Not all children’s books that should be appreciated at a young age are until we are much older.  And not all children’s books are really worth reading at any age.

I’m not a literature professor.  But I was a kid once, and knew my taste in books.  I thought it would be interesting to do a post on the books I remember loving -and hating- when I was a kid.  The books I have listed as loving are titles I feel have been underrated (or at least, I haven’t heard them talked about much) and wanted to bring attention to them.  Were my tastes correct?  My opinion on some of these stories have changed over time (my commentary is provided with each).  Sometimes, there is no right or wrong (just unique) taste.

I loved: The Kingdom of Kidderminster books, by Christopher A. Lane.  Based on the parables of Jesus, good King Leonard and his animal kingdom learn familiar lessons in tales such as King Leonard’s Great Grape Harvest and Nicholas and His Neighbors.  The illustrations are rich and super cute.  These were also some of the very first “audiobooks” I narrated as a child :).  To this day I can’t hear of these parables in a sermon without thinking of Mrs. Beaver or Sir Humphrey.

I disliked: Mercer Mayer’s Little Critter books.  I’m not sure why I could never get into them, but I have an idea it was the pictures of scraggly-drawn creatures.

I loved: The Goose Girl, by the Brothers Grimm.  A twist on the Cinderella story, the goose girl uses her creative talents to design a beautiful ball gown made entirely of white downy feathers.  This always captured my imagination!

I disliked: The Princess and the Pea, by Hans Christian Andersen.  I believe I now have this enigmatic fairy tale figured out, but as a little girl I was upset with the ending that did not make sense.  Could it be it was all about the noble use of discernment?

I loved: Homer Price, by Robert McCloskey.  Long chapters, great vocabulary, fun illustrations! For older readers.  My sister and I made a radio drama out of Nothing New Under the Sun.  I loved the small town setting with familiar characters in new adventures chapter after chapter.

I disliked: Old Yeller, by Fred Gipson.  I tried many times to start and restart this book.  I can’t tell you how many times I checked it out of the library.  But that old yellow cover just did not appeal to me and I could never get beyond page 2.

I loved: Incognito Mosquito, by E.A. Hass.  Not exactly a classic forevermore, but I’ll reckon maybe you never heard of it.  I’d done run out of Encyclopedia Brown books and was hankering for more of the like, when I come across a private insective with a gnat for witty bug jokes in rambling narrative who saves history slime and slime again.

I disliked: Paddington Bear, by Michael Bond.  I wish I could say this was a book I loved, but I required much more action and the marmalade-sucking, rain-dripping bear wasn’t cutting it.

I loved: Snow White & Rose Red, by the Brothers Grimm.  This was one of my favorites from the old Childcraft books.  I loved the story of two sisters, a cottage among roses, and of good things coming to those who are kind and loving.  I always wondered though- did they fight over marrying the bear prince and who would settle for his brother?  Probably not; they were so good, after all.  They weren’t like my sister and me.

I disliked: Diamonds and Toads, by Charles Perrault.  Rather an obscure tale overshadowed by the more popular Cinderella and Sleeping Beauty.  Ironically, although I didn’t like this story growing up, I believe I was fascinated with the idea all the same.  It isn’t what goes into a person that corrupts them, but what comes out of them (ie, the heart) through their words and actions.  But imagining frogs and toads coming out of their mouths made me shudder.  Actually, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to be rewarded with diamonds and butterflies coming out of mine, either.

I loved: The Ivan Series, by Myrna Grant.  I think these books are almost unheard of among today’s generation, and probably were for mine as well (they were published in the 1960’s).  But my grandparents were church librarians at the time and that was how I discovered these gems.  Set during the Cold War era in Soviet Russia, the suspense had me on the edge of my seat.  I couldn’t get enough of them!

I disliked: The Pansy books.  If you are an Anne of Green Gables fan, you may remember a brief reference to these as books Anne and her friends passed around at school.  As a homeschooler, I had access to them as well and did read one called ‘Esther Reid.’  The books are basically moralistic Sunday School tales with great benefit, I’m sure– but I was bored to tears.  I could not bring myself to slog my way through another one, though my friend enjoyed them.

I loved: …The King of the Golden River, by John Ruskin.  We had this as an oversized storybook when I was a kid.  There was something mysterious about this tale and its pictures that captivated me.  Perhaps it was partly because it was given to us by an old man with a funny accent and a mysterious past himself.

I disliked: Alice in Wonderland, by Lewis Carroll.  I can appreciate this story now with a few more years under my belt, but as a kid the utter chaos lost me but good.

I loved: …The Story of the 10 Lepers, found in Luke 17:11-19.  I loved the stories of Esther and David and Goliath.  But there was something about this story as well, that made me fall in love with the one leper out of ten who had a heart of gratitude for what Jesus had done for him.  His simple and sincere thank you made Jesus smile.

I disliked: The Jungle Books, by Rudyard Kipling.  As I said, I was usually much more into romantic stories of kings and queens than I was into half naked boys and mongooses.  It was just too different of a culture for me to understand and get interested in at the time.

What stories did you love or hate as a child?  Are there any you consider underrated that deserve more attention?  Share below!

 
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Posted by on December 20, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Movie Review: “The Little Prince”

ec4e725b6d1c1d6faf94e3a956f7a7e4Based on the book by Antoine de Saint-Exupery.

Version: 2015; starring Jeff Bridges, Rachel McAdams, Marion Cotillard, James Franco

Genre: children’s; animation

Plot Summary: [from IMDb:] “A little girl lives in a very grown-up world with her mother, who tries to prepare her for it. Her neighbor, the Aviator, introduces the girl to an extraordinary world where anything is possible, the world of the Little Prince.”

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

Growing up, my mom had two copies of the French classic “The Little Prince.” One was in French (and incomprehensible to me), the other in English. Neither interested me very much.  The pictures looked bland and too unbelievable.  I was sure I wouldn’t enjoy the story.

Not too long ago I saw that Netflix had made an animated version of the book and I didn’t mind sitting down to spend an evening that way. I was mildly curious.  I was not prepared to be blown away.

I think I was drawn into it from the first notes of music. The art, the plot, the script were beautifully done.  The old phonograph playing was enough to melt my heart alone!  I was nearly crying by the end of it.  And now I want to read the book very much.  It isn’t often that film versions inspire me to read the book, but when they do…  🙂

This movie is actually told in two stories. One is of a little girl who is expected to live a life where childhood is forgotten.  She unexpectedly meets her next door neighbor, an eccentric old man (and self-proclaimed ‘hoarder’) who used to be an aviator once upon a time.  He begins to woo her friendship by telling her the story of the Little Prince he met in another world long ago.  The story of the Little Prince and his rose is told through stop-motion animation, and I loved every bit about it!  I enjoyed it even more for it’s nuances, and thought-provoking lines about life that are hidden like gems throughout where you have to mine them to interpret the meaning for yourself.  Wonderful!

5dc9afdfecd8144ffddd97bd0c8b18e9There are many who abhor this film because they say it takes too many liberties with the book. Apparently the story of the little girl trying to live the expected life of an adult is not in the original.  Since I’ve never read it, I don’t even know if the part of the Little Prince is told faithfully.  But I know I loved the film and that it has inspired me to pick up a book I never knew I needed to read before.  I would say that is the effect of a well-told, don’t you?

One of my favorite lines comes from the Aviator consoling the little girl when she tells him she doesn’t want to grow up. He responds, “Growing up isn’t the problem– forgetting is.”  I wish someone had been able to tell me that when I was a kid and afraid of graduating to adulthood.  This wisdom makes a world of difference because it is true!  I have found that becoming a true adult is really only becoming the person you were meant to be, which includes the parts of childhood that are good and pure and young in heart.  Idealistically, the aim is to shed the ‘juvenile’ ways we used to think and act.  Juvenility is to be differentiated from being childlike in that it is immature, selfish, and narrow-minded.  (1 Cor. 13:11)  Childhood, on the other hand is essentially joy, wonder, and innocence.

1631c1a78f3a24aa2c2690874535b559I have met older adults, even Christians in their 60’s, behave like juveniles. I have met adults who have completely forgotten what is childhood, instead exuding joylessness, hyper-practicality, and busyness.  But I have also met other adults who have retained their openness to life, wonder at the world, and quest to learn and grow- the mark of a true ‘child at heart.’  That is what God means for us to be, I think.  And for us believers, we are all to be trusting children in relation to Him.

And He said: “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt. 18:3)

I do have a qualm about the movie’s plotline, and that is although it is an indie flick, it does not escape the usual Hollywood storyarc of children being better-knowing than their parents (or more often single parent): rebelling against the ‘status quo’, and teaching the parents they do not know what is best for their kids. See an excellent article on this topic here.

But the voices (esp. Jeff Bridges’ for the Aviator) were great!  Bridges has a voice that has aged well, resulting in a friendly, comforting effect.  I also loved the Fox, voiced by James Franco.  So adorable!

I recommend this glimmering, luminous movie for family viewing, young and old alike. If you approach it being prepared that it’s more loosely based on the book, I think you’ll enjoy it.

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2017 in Movie Reviews

 

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C. S. Lewis Audio Drama

I wish it had not taken me so long to listen and pass this excellent audio drama on to you, but such has been my [lack of] blogging activity lately I’m afraid!  The Northern Irish Man in C. S. Lewis* stars Geoffrey Palmer as that famous author, who reminisces about his childhood in Ulster.  The acting felt very realistic and it was interesting to find the pieces of Narnia that inspired Lewis as a boy.  Settle in and enjoy, but don’t forget that this is only available for a limited time!

*For some reason cannot insert link to text, so click on picture to take you to the drama!

 
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Posted by on November 16, 2017 in Audio/Radio Dramas

 

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The Dark Nursery Past & Present

Have you ever wondered about the origins of seemingly nonsensical nursery rhymes?

Ring around the rosie,

A pocket full of posies,

Ashes, ashes, we all fall down!

Why in the world do we teach young children these simplistic poems when we don’t even know what they are talking about?  Are they clues to some hidden meaning or are their histories long past memory?

In this shortish, informative article by Clemency Burton-Hill, I learned that many nursery rhymes were at one time veiled records of current events.  It’s fascinating, and helps to view these children’s poems in a closer light.

But why are they children’s poems?  Are they fit for children?  The Victorians certainly didn’t think so, and began the campaign to clean the rhymes up.  Okay, I’m grateful for that.  I’d much rather my young’uns babbling fun repetitive sounds than knowingly reciting tales of torture techniques geared for male genitals.  I’m convinced of the educative quality of children learning soothing sounds and rhythms.

But I got to thinking about how ‘shocked’ we are to learn of the real meanings that lie behind these mysterious sing-songs.  It was dealing with the world as they knew it at the time, only later being ‘sanitized’ for society.  We live in a much more decent world, our children are much more innocent…  Or are they?  Our world contains much violence today.  School shootings, child molestation, human trafficking.  However, what worries me more than these issues is what they learn in the home little on up from those nearest to them.  Broken homes, where mom’s had three boyfriends in the past month.  If dad’s in the picture, he’s never grown up himself and spends his waking time playing violent video games or watching adult “cartoons” that spew forth 4 letter (and 3 letter) words.  “Mother”; “It”; “hotdogs and buns”…  And we’re shocked over Rock a Bye Baby?

No, I’m not stressed over wool tax.  I’m worried about the little boy who lives down the lane, who grows up in a world where his dad was busy texting during his first steps and his mom can’t decide whether or not to give him up for adoption because she spends part of her time in jail.  He doesn’t get to be read or sung nursery rhymes.  It’s heartbreaking, and it’s not just little Danny.  His story is a common epidemic!

Yes– clean up the content for the little ones, but let’s not forget about the overall home we’re raising our kids in.  Is it mentally, spiritually, emotionally clean and healthy?  Ultimately, the only way for this to be possible is for the people in the home to be rooted in the love of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Eventually, there’s only so much we can protect our kids from.  We do not live in bubbles forever, and it’s important to remember history from those who came before.  People from long ago passed their experiences down to us in rhymes.  What will we pass down?

 

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

 

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Book Review: “The Prisoner of Zenda,” by Anthony Hope

2636473Genre: classic; adventure

Plot Summary: [from goodreads:] “Anthony Hope’s swashbuckling romance transports his English gentleman hero, Rudolf Rassendyll, from a comfortable life in London to fast-moving adventures in Ruritania, a mythical land steeped in political intrigue. Rassendyll bears a striking resemblance to Rudolf Elphberg who is about to be crowned King of Ruritania. When the rival to the throne, Black Michael of Strelsau, attempts to seize power by imprisoning Elphberg in the Castle of Zenda, Rassendyll is obliged to impersonate the King to uphold the rightful sovereignty and ensure political stability.”

My Book Review: This story became an immediate favorite years ago when I first saw the old 1952 film version (starring Stewart Granger and Deborah Kerr) when I was 15 years old.  I was staying at my grandpa’s and watched it over and over.  There was something about the swashbuckling adventure full of danger, intrigue, cloak and dagger, and romance that really had me at hello.  In fact, I believe it was one of the first titles I ever entered into my To-Read notebook that I wanted to make sure I read the novel of someday.  It’s been years for me to get around to it, and I was a little bit afraid that the book would let me down in comparison.

This book is not terribly long or hard to get through. I found that the movie version I loved from the first followed the plot pretty well, except for maybe some scenes removed to make for better film-length comprehension.  The book was exciting and fun to read, though I probably would have enjoyed it a little more had I read it first before the movie.  Some parts, such as the Granger-Kerr chemistry is better than the book.  But it’s a great adventure in a vintagey, old-fashioned sort of way.  I’m always in the mood for impersonation stories, intrigue, and suspense.  And I think the tale’s a bit of a classic in that a hard, bittersweet decision is made at the end that leaves you sighing and wishing…  Sort of like Casablanca.

If this sounds like a story you would enjoy diving into, just know that it is actually the second in the Ruritania Trilogy.  I’ve read the first book The Heart of Princess Osra (see book review here), but the two novels are more standalone than anything.  In fact, The Prisoner… is much more of an interesting read than the first.  I will be reading the third in the series, Rupert of Hentzau at some point in time, and I understand that particular one is a better connected sequel to PoZ.

So grab this book if you want an escape to the mountains of the fictional country of Ruritania, where old castle walls, heraldry, and swordfights await you!

“This is movie magic at its mightiest!…” Ha, ha! 😀

 
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Posted by on August 24, 2017 in Book Reviews

 

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Mid Year Reading Goals

Although it may seem like I’ve been getting into a blogging rut of recent months, I’m actually pretty proud of myself for keeping on and not quitting.  I don’t want to quit even if things have been busy and hectic sometimes.

And I still have new blogging goals.  Some I will not be making public yet for a while with them, and others I will start during now during the mid year.  This revamping is not so much a revamp of the blog, as it is of my reading routines, but the routines will be showing a little difference here on the blog.

So, without further ado, I unmask my newest reading goal, and that is to join The Classics Club.  This is where I make a list of 50+ classics I plan on reading at least within the next five years and blog about them, then link them to The Classics Club blog.  I have decided to do this because 1) the goal was doable; 2) I read classics anyway; 3) I’ve discovered some really lovely book blogs out there that I didn’t know existed through TCC; 4) I would love to meet and interact with some other like-minded book lovers out there!

Below I will be sharing my curated list of classics I plan on reading.  Let it be known that I am using the word ‘classic’ loosely to suit my own tastes, which tend to be a lot of vintage dime thrillers.  I still have no desire to jump into War and Peace.   But I believe that if a book is an oldie and has at least stood the test of time well enough for me to have an interest in reading it, it must be a classic, right?  I also have many children’s classics, but that was in no way meant to cheat.  I appreciate any good story!  And lest anyone shouts my list is ‘No fair!”, I will refer you to the several below that are more ‘serious’ works of literature.  I avoided repeating authors or books from the same series in order to keep the variety.

The list may be subject to change:

Main 50 Classics Club List:

The Blue Castle, by L. M. Montgomery

The Borrowers Afield, by Mary Norton

Miss Billy, by Eleanor H. Porter

The Seven Conundrums, by E. Phillips Oppenheim

Return to Gone-Away, by Elizabeth Enright

The Cloister and the Hearth, by Charles Reade

The Brass Bottle, by F. Anstey

The Shaving of Shagpat, by George Meredith

The Film Mystery, by Arthur B. Reeve

The Phoenix and the Carpet, by Edith Nesbit

The Flaming Forest, by James Oliver Curwood

Captain Blood Returns, by Rafael Sabatini

King Solomon’s Mines, by H. Rider Haggard

Dead Men’s Money, by J. S. Fletcher

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Doctor Thorne, by Anthony Trollope

John Jago’s Ghost, by Wilkie Collins

The Passenger from Calais, by Arthur Griffiths

The Rosary, by Florence L. Barclay

Arsene Lupin, Gentleman-Thief, by Maurice LeBlanc

The Amazing Interlude, by Mary Roberts Rinehart

Alice in Blunderland, by John Kendrick Bangs

At the Appointed Time, by Anna Maynard Barbour

Wired Love, by Ella Cheever Thayer

The Heart’s Kingdom, by Maria Thompson Davies

Basil Howe, by G. K. Chesterton

Gormenghast, by Mervyn Peake

The Fisherman’s Lady, by George MacDonald

The Maid of Sker, by R. D. Blackmore

Miss Cayley’s Adventures, by Grant Allen

Down the Garden Path, by Beverley Nichols

The Willows, by Algernon Blackwood

The Mystery of the Blue Train, by Agatha Christie

Mr. Harrison’s Confessions, by Elizabeth Gaskell

The Man Who Lost Himself, by H. de Vere Stacpoole

The Laughing Cavalier, by Baroness Emmuska Orczy

The Green Rust, by Edgar Wallace

A Fair Barbarian, by Frances Hodgson Burnett

The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, by Anne Bronte

Villette, by Charlotte Bronte

The New Chronicles of Rebecca, by Kate Douglas Wiggin

The Blessing of Pan, by Lord Dunsany

The Palace in the Garden, by Mary Louisa Molesworth

A Spinner in the Sun, by Myrtle Reed

Trent’s Last Case, by E. C. Bentley

The Forsaken Inn, by Anna Katharine Green

Paradise Lost, by James Milton

Nothing So Strange, by James Hilton

Love Insurance, by Earl derr Biggers

The Book of the Dun Cow, by Walter Wangerin, Jr.

 

 
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Posted by on July 2, 2017 in Reading Habits

 

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