Review of To See the Moon Again

It’s February, when I usually pick my favorite romance novel of the past year to review.

But this time I’m deviating a bit from Valentine’s Day. This book is not a romance, or a story about a man and a woman. But is a story with a lot of heart, about a friendship between an aunt and her niece.

I love this book. It has strong characters with severe challenges, yet is full of warmth and a moving plot. And the connection with the author whom I so admire made it even more special.

Two women, one older, one younger, nudge each other to have healthier attitudes toward life and themselves. Julia, an introverted professor of fiction writing in South Carolina, is on a year sabbatical, planning a trip to New England to see famous authors’ homes. She definitely did not plan on her grand-niece Carmen disrupting her safe, orderly life. But Carmen is suffering deeply from losing her father, feeling alone, and carrying a secret.

The ending is unexpected and creative, and completely believable. This book was a treat, a typical Jamie Langston Turner book–I didn’t want it to end. Excellent writing, plot, character development, the book is current, relevant, gripping, realistic, satisfying and inspiring.

Of course, being a Jamie Langston Turner fan from wayyyyy back, this is par for the course. I have loved every moment of reading her books. Years ago, I gave away By the Light of a Thousand Stars, a favorite, to my best friend. When I later came across it at a thrift store, I bought it. When my daughter-in-law asked me what my favorite books were, I ended up giving it away again. I’m sure it will get back on my shelf somehow.

I am thankful that of the making of both friends and books, there is no end.

Sheila J Petre

I wondered if there were any of her books I hadn’t read yet. So I went to the author’s website (where I found the lovely quote above, and today found a humorous update by the author). I was surprised to find out that there were several that had eluded me, and was delighted at the prospect of reading more.

On the page that listed her works, I saw a little note saying that she still had several signed copies of To See the Moon Again, and if anyone wanted one they could send her a message. Yes, please! But I checked the date of the post and it was 2014. Well, there was little chance that there were any copies left, but I sent a message anyway.

The author immediately responded that she had one more, so it must have been meant for me! We sorted out how I could send her a cheque and she could mail me the book. What a privilege and a joy to have a personal connection with her! Corresponding with Jamie was as delightful as reading one of her books, full of warmth and friendship.

As we emailed back and forth, talking about how much it cost her to mail it at her local post office–and the exchange rate from U.S. dollars to Canadian–she decided that I had definitely sent her too much money. So the solution we arrived at was that if I was ever anywhere near where Jamie lived (or if she was near Calgary), she would treat me to coffee! (It hasn’t happened yet, but I still look forward to that!)

When I checked my local library, I saw that they had 2 of hers, Sometimes a Light Surprises and By the Light of a Thousand Stars. So I decided to recommend that they consider adding To See the Moon Again to their collection–and they did!!!

Let me encourage you, if you haven’t already discovered Jamie Langston Turner and her beautiful books, now is the time to do so! They were made “for such as time as this”.

Love and hugs, I hope you are well and safe, finding connections of all sorts to buoy you up, and realizing how much you are loved!

[Clipart courtesy of Clipart-Library.com]

Ready for a break from all the negativity? Check out these books

Life, the news, the media, and even books can get us down. But being selective about what we see, hear, and think about can put us in a better mental state.

Here is a selection of books I’ve read recently from various time periods and genres, non-fiction and fiction, ranging from suspenseful to educational to romantic to hilarious.

What they all have in common is EXCELLENT writing, and they are NOT depressing. Have a look, maybe you’ll find a new author or title!

When you look like your Passport Photo, it’s time to go Home by Erma Bombeck – a collection of humorous travel anecdotes. I found this the perfect book for bedtime reading!

The Renaissance Soul: Life Design for People With Too Many Passions to Pick Just One by Margaret Lobenstine – a welcome book, helping to understand a frustrating tendency that moi can relate to! (For fun, to see if you are a Renaissance soul, you can take the quiz here.)

Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World that can’t stop Talking by Susan Cain – very interesting and encouraging if you’re an introvert, with plenty of data from studies and statistics.

Carousel by Rosamunde Pilcher – a lovely, warm book, I couldn’t stand that it ended. A woman goes to help her aunt who broke her arm, and ends up becoming part of her aunt’s community. The neighbor’s little granddaughter connects them with a local artist who takes an interest in the newcomer.

Julie and Romeo by Jeanne Ray – owners of flower shops take a liking to each other, but their families’ vicious rivalries go back many generations. Warm, funny, sweet, and an unexpected ending.

My One and Only by Kristan Higgins – fantastic! This was recommended by a volunteer at a book sale when I told her I was looking for a well-written romantic comedy. A woman’s step sister marries her ex-husband’s brother, and the woman and her ex-husband have no choice but to go on a road trip from New York to Montana and back.

Marcia Schuyler by Grace Livingston Hill – an original plot and conflicts, expert revelation of deep emotions, and the vivid contrast between characters made it suspenseful and satisfying. You can read or download this book here for free.

Many Sparrows by Lori Benton, Christy Award-winning author – in this Christian historical novel set in 1774, an American Indian woman and a woman settler bring about cultural changes as they struggle over the boy they both consider their son.

Nights of Rain and Stars by Maeve Binchy – four tourists vacation in the tiny seaside town of Aghia Anna, Greece, and develop friendships among themselves and the locals. Each has something they are grappling with, or running away from, in their lives. After several weeks in the warm, quiet, simple, technology-free environment, they have made some decisions and found peace. A lovely setting and story; gentle thoughts and conversations, reconciliations, revelations, new strength and hope.

The Best short stories of O. Henry – O. Henry is William Sydney Porter, an amazingly prolific writer of gentle stories with brilliant scenarios. When he died in 1910 he left over 600 complete stories behind—can you imagine? My favorites were: A Retrieved Reformation, A Municipal report, The Gift of the Magi, Mammon and the Archer, The Cop and the Anthem, and The Love-Philtre of Ikey Schoenstein. Thanks to the American Literature website, these stories and many more are here , if you’d like to read them!

The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway – I’d been meaning to read this for a long time. What finally brought it about is that I found the DVD of the movie with Spencer Tracy, but didn’t want to watch it before reading the novel. I read this little book about Santiago (the old man, the fisherman) in about 3 hours. What a man, such courage and determination; such exhaustion! I hope you’ll find time this year to treat yourself to the unique experience of reading this Pulitzer Prize-winning book. It is a classic, and available to read for free online.

Now we are Six by A.A. Milne – such sweet, quiet poetry with fun words and rhythm. My favorites are “The old Sailor” who can’t decide what to do first, and “Forgiven” in which the nanny accidentally lets the beetle out of the matchbox. You can read or download this book for free here.

To See the Moon Again by Jamie Langston Turner – A literary novel, two women, one older, one younger, nudge each other to have healthier attitudes toward life and themselves. Excellent writing, plot, character development, the book is current, relevant, gripping, realistic, satisfying and inspiring. I actually contacted the author about this book and she sent a signed copy to me!

Show me God by Fred Hereen – the author interviews many well-known scientists who, through the latest scientific tools and knowledge, find it hard not to believe in creation. It’s fascinating how much the studies of astronomy and astrophysics have developed over the recent years, to the point of being able to measure or closely estimate the realities of our universe.

Frederica by Georgette Heyer – a humorous Regency romance. I got a kick out of how the very arrogant, take-charge hero broke character and actually acquiesced to the pleadings of Frederica’s very young brothers, taking them on “field trips” regarding mechanical engineering & horse handling, and assisted them with the many crises their oversized sheepdog created. The ending was a twist for this type of novel.

A Grain of Sand: Nature’s Secret Wonder by Gary Greenberg – gorgeous photos and studies of sand from various parts of the world using 3D microphotography, showing tiny bits of sea urchins, shells, coral, within the sand grains. Amazing.

A Bride in the Bargain by Deanne Gist – an excellent Christian historical novel. Anna in Massachusetts signs a contract to be a cook for a logging company in Washington state. When she arrives she finds out her boss, Joe, had signed a contract for her to be his wife (so he wouldn’t lose his property and logging business). Enjoyed everything about it: plot, characters, and history.

Notes from a Big Country by Bill Bryson – what fun! These are a collection of columns he wrote for a magazine about the American way of life, humorously self-effacing, often criticizing, but in a way that is usually good-hearted and hilarious. I seriously laughed ’til I cried.

Romance Rustlers and Thunderbird Thieves: a Ruby Taylor Mystery by Sharon Dunn – an amusing page-turner. Ruby is a self-appointed investigator with a dry, deadpan sense of humor (I saw and heard the actress Janeane Garofalo as I was reading). She has no interest in her mother’s new-found Christianity, and nurses wounds from a childhood and youth ruined by her criminal parents and foster homes. Ruby gets thrown into a mess of an adventure, including a kidnapping, a gorgeous cop, and a harrowing event with a helicopter.

The Forever Feast by Dr. Paul Brand – the author contributed extensively to the medical fields of hand surgery and hand therapy for leprosy patients. Interesting reading about his intricate knowledge of the human body, so much more miraculous than we’ve ever dreamed. You can read this online here.

Howards End by E.M. Forster – the classic novel about a middle-class intellectual, artistic family connecting with a staid family of wealth who own a rural home called Howards End. Aside from more philosophizing than I care for, I especially loved the story of how two patient, quiet characters–each from opposite “sides” of the family–were able to redeem a seemingly hopeless legacy of embattled, incompatible and discordant relationships.

My Lady Quixote by Phyllis Ann Karr – twists and turns and comedy. Aunt Cassandra–in an effort to help her niece Deirdre make a “match” with Rev. George Oakton, and avoid the arranged marriage with a rake–decides that the solution is to have Deirdre abducted. The idea is that when Sir Roderick, Auntie’s friend who is secretly a highwayman, abducts young Deirdre, Rev. Oakton will rescue her, realize he loves her, and marry her before the rake can interfere. But alas, most of her strategies fail thoroughly, catastrophically and hilariously.

Fancy Pants by Cathy Marie Hake. Set in 1890 New York, Lady Sydney Hathwell of England is pledged to the overly-chauvinistic (even for that time) Rexall Hume. She escapes life with him by dressing up as a man and heading west to stay with Uncle Fuller, who she led to believe is his “nephew”. Original believable plotline, and wholesome!

The Black Arrow by Robert Louis Stevenson – a thrilling adventure set in medieval England with young Richard Shelton, fellow orphan Joanna Sedley, and a mysterious outlaw/ally identified by his black arrows. I am stunned that I couldn’t put this book down, since most of it consisted of one escapade after another of the inexperienced hero and his ragged band fighting, fleeing or stalking myriads of others (in a little too much gory detail for me!). But throughout the tale, he never stops his quest of freeing his one true love, who is the complete opposite of the helpless female so common in novels written in 1883. He is such a decent, incredibly courageous, intelligent young man, and humble, making reparation as best he can when he makes mistakes that bring harm to others. So suspenseful. Happy ending.

So there you go. I hope you find some reading materials–here, or elsewhere–that genuinely elevate your mind and spirit.

If you particularly enjoyed reading one of these I hope you’ll share the experience with us in the comments!

Review of The Birds’ Christmas Carol by Kate Douglas Wiggin

“The book, the dear, enlivening, enchanting, stimulating, informing, uplifting book, is the most faithful of all allies, and, after human friendship, the chief solace as well as the most inspiring influence in human life.”

Kate Douglas Wiggin

What a dear book this is! The Birds’ Christmas Carol is about a family who stays cheerful, strong, industrious and generous, even amid sad circumstances that require constant sacrifice.

One reason I picked this up was because I was familiar with the author, who is best known for her book Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm.

Another reason was because I thought this book had to do with feathered friends! I imagined a delightful story about birds singing in snow-covered pines during the holiday season. But actually it is about a girl named Carol born on Christmas Day into a family with the last name of Bird.

From childhood, little Carol had a sparkling personality, always finding ways to share whatever she had, help other people, compliment them and encourage them. When her brother wondered aloud why she wouldn’t take a bite of food until she’d given some of it away, their mother said, “She is a little Christmas child, and so she has a tiny share of the blessedest birthday the world ever saw!”

As she’d grown older, Carol had “wished everybody a Merry Christmas before it was light in the morning, and lent everyone her new toys before noon.”

She had never been physically strong, and by age 10 she was a helpless invalid, yet that didn’t dampen her spirits. Since she had to spend all of her time in her room, her father renovated it so that it was a conservatory full of windows.

She had the company of birds in cages, and hundreds of books which Carol turned into her own circulating library. Every Saturday she loaned ten books to the children’s hospital, and the patients who read her books would write letters to her to thank her.

In warm-weather Carol had a “window school” where she read to the poor neighbors next door, the Ruggles. She was so contented she called herself a “Bird of Paradise”.

Carol wrote a magazine article about living in her own room for three years, and what she did to amuse herself. With the money she earned from the article, she decided to treat the nine Ruggles children to something they had never before experienced: a grand Christmas dinner—in her own room! She paid for the food and decorations, a Christmas tree and presents.

According to my book, The Birds’ Christmas Carol was first published in 1895. However, on further research, I discovered that it was originally published privately in 1886 by the American author, and copyright in 1888 by Houghton, Mifflin Company, U.S.

My copy of this little 72-page book was published by A. & C. Black Ltd., London, in 1929, and illustrated by Francis E. Hiley, an extremely prolific and popular self-taught artist of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

When I read the inscription, I thought, “Auntie Kate Douglas Wiggin? Did the author give the copy I am holding in my hand to her nieces?” But that isn’t possible, as the author had been born in 1856 and died in 1923.

According to her autobiography, Wiggin described her childhood as happy. But at the age of 9, her country grieved over the death of Abraham Lincoln. She described this event as her “first conscious recognition of the greatness of individual character.” It no doubt helped her form fictional children and adults in her books who developed great character struggling with tragedies.

Another influence was undoubtedly the books she read. Her favorite author was Charles Dickens, and she also read Harper’s Magazine and Littell’s Living Age, the Bible, and the most popular great novels of the era.

She dedicated this book “To all lovers of little children”, which clearly included the author. In 1878 at the age of 22—before marrying Samuel Wiggin—Kate Douglas Smith headed the Silver Street Kindergarten in San Francisco—the first free kindergarten on the West Coast of the United States. She is also credited with leading the kindergarten education movement in the United States. In fact, she wrote this little book and another, The Story of Patsy, to help fund the California Kindergarten Training School, which she helped establish.

Translated into several other languages, The Birds’ Christmas Carol sold over a million copies and remains in print. This little book was so successful, it allowed Kate Wiggin to become a full-time author and to travel extensively in Europe.

I found it interesting when I read references to the toys of that era: “So Donald took his velocipede and went out to ride up and down the stone pavement, and notch the shins of innocent children as they passed by, while Paul spun his musical top on the front steps.” A velocipede is one of the earliest forms of bicycles for children and adults—without pedals—and the musical top is a classic toy available even today.

The Birds’ Christmas Carol is the most famous of all American Christmas stories; here, if anywhere in the collection, we have Victorian tearfulness; but age has its privileges, and Americans have wept too often over this tale to decline to weep once again.”

editor Edward Wagenknecht in The Fireside Book of Christmas Stories

You can read this illustrated book online for free at Gutenberg.org.

I was delighted to discover many more delightful works by this author. One short piece, written about a surprise meeting at the age of 6 with her beloved Charles Dickens, is a must-read, here.

There are 48 of her books and short stories at Gutenberg.org, available in many formats, including the work that sold more copies than any other book (other than Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm and The Birds’ Christmas Carol), Mother Carey’s Chickens.

Also at Gutenberg.org are two more Christmas stories by Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin: The Romance of a Christmas Card and The Old Peabody Pew.

Enjoy!

And Happy New Year!

Image courtesy of Susan Cipriano susan-lu4esm at Pixabay

Hedgerow Tales, Mrs. Gatty’s Parables of Nature

Of all the revived, republished classic books available, the 4 Hedgerow Tales are my favorites.

These were ahead of their time, “retold” back in the 1980s, forerunners of the latest trend. The illustrations by Sandra Fernandez are exquisite and appear on almost every page. (Note that these Hedgerow Tales are not related to Enid Blyton’s Hedgerow Tales.)

From the cover, they appear to be children’s picture books, which usually have few words. But these are fairly lengthy stories.

And as the author was schooled in the early 1800s when students were required to demonstrate an excellent vocabulary and use of language, these have more depth in the plot and a richer language than a typical picture book.  In fact, you’d probably need to read it aloud to children under 8.

The story of Charlotte the Caterpillar is about hope, faith and eternal life. Just as Charlotte learns faith from the lark’s wise words, to have faith is to be sure of things we hope for, to be certain of the things we cannot see.

The theme of Benjamin Bee is contentment, and a willingness to use the particular gifts God has given us so that the whole community (in this case, the hive) works together.

The story of Robin Redbreast is about God’s provision for those who trust him, even in difficult times.

The theme of Jeremy Cricket is “the heart’s true home–heaven. “This world is not our permanent home; we are looking forward to a home yet to come.”

In the Hedgerow Tales, Pat Wynnejones retells 4 of the 29 stories from the 1855 book by Margaret Gatty, Parables of Nature.

Mrs. Gatty begins her preface to her collection of stories, Parables from Nature, with a quote from Sir Thomas Browne from his Religio Medici:

There are two books from whence I collect my divinity; besides that written one of God, another of his servant, Nature–that universal and public manuscript that lies expanded unto the eyes of all: those that never saw Him in the one have discovered Him in the other… Those strange and mystical transmigrations that I have observed in silkworms turned my philosophy into divinity. There is in these works of Nature, which seem to puzzle reason, something divine…

Mrs. Gatty was also a marine biologist.

She was well known among professional marine biologists and had several species named after her! The book she wrote in the mid-1850s, British Seaweeds, was of such high quality it was still being used in the 1950’s.

One account of her life says, “To be treated as an equal by men of science gave her a pleasure as great as any of her achievements in the literary world.” It also tells how a memorial tablet in Ecclesfield Church was raised by a public subscription by more than a thousand children ‘as a token of love and gratitude for the many books she wrote for them.’

Publishing timeline of Margaret Gatty’s books

Here is an interesting graphic from WorldCat of her publishing timeline. I love seeing how interest in her books has increased since the turn of the (21st) century!

An interesting side note is that Margaret Gatty’s daughter, Juliana Ewing, was also an accomplished writer, and lived for a time in Canada. Rudyard Kipling mentioned Juliana in his autobiography, and Henry James called her book Jackanapes “a genuine little masterpiece, a wonderful little mixture of nature and art.”

I think it’s delightful that so many homeschooling families use the classics as part of their teaching materials. AmblesideOnline, a free homeschool curriculum, includes a rephrased version of Parables of Nature here.

You can read the 450-word Parables of Nature book for free!

You can buy the four individual Hedgerow Tales books from Better World Books. I like this online bookstore because they have great service and low prices (with no shipping cost–including international shipping!). I’m partial to them because of their values and impact .”Every time you purchase a book from BetterWorldBooks.com, we donate a book to someone in need.”

You can read Parables of Nature online here , download it free to read in various formats at Internet Archive, and download the audio book at LibriVox .

Treat yourself and your family to feel-good, inspirational stories and visual feast of realistic, vibrant art!

I’d love to hear if you’ve read these, or anything like them–drop me a note below!   {{{HUGS}}}

Fun and Frolic: Stories for the Young from the 1800s

Such a pleasant peek into the

simple family life of the late 1800’s

Ah, the simple innocence of that era. It makes one want to time-travel there for a day, or a year! Obviously, not everyone in 1888 had the leisure shown in this book, there were certainly just as many who had hard and meager lives. But no doubt a book like this brought smiles to many.

This sweet picture book of 45 pages has a short story or vignette that fits on one page, and an illustration in color or black and white to go with it. In tiny writing on the bottom left corner of the cover it says, “Copyright 1888 by J.L. Blamire.”

 

On the front cover, children are spending time indoors with an unhurried mother, playing with wooden animals and soldiers. It’s interesting to me that children throughout history have enjoyed playing with toy animals, and that animals in general have drawn the attention and affection of children.

I have also seen toys, and toys in books, from various periods in history that include soldiers and equipment for battles. Does that mean that wars are constantly raging throughout history, and children are aware of them because their fathers are away fighting? Or perhaps many of the famous men and women in countries all over the world have been war heroes, and the children grow up wanting also to be heroes?

The inside cover has the neatly hand-written name of the book’s owner, whose last name appears to be Ratledge. But with a little imagination it could instead be Routledge, to match the name of the publisher…a gift from the publisher, Uncle Routledge?

The stories in the book are not earth-shattering or dramatic. They are everyday happenings. But they are related here as the little joys that are present in each day, if we pay attention to them.

The first story pays homage to the world’s grandmothers, which I appreciate, being a grandma of 14 months. It tells of a grandson who learned to whistle before his first birthday, from hearing the other boys in the neighborhood whistling as he was wheeled around in his carriage.

The next story is in noticeably larger type, and includes dashes in the words to divide the syllables for the benefit of young readers.

These little stories told in first person talk of domestic life and the regular events of mothers and their children, who dearly love their parents, siblings and grandparents.

Fun and Frolic Stories includes poetry and information about nature and animals.

The poem “Blowing Bubbles” is surprisingly philosophical, likening the bubbles to our dreams.  It asks a question of the adult reading the book:

Will it be always so–are we the same?

We blow our bubbles too, changed but in name.

We have fond hopes, that expand and look bright;

We watch our fancies with eager strained sight.

Tucked between the back page and the back cover is a drawing of a butterfly on 5″ x 7″ lined paper, likely inspired by the “Butterflies” poem. I doubt that this is was drawn by the book’s first owner in the late 1800s, or even from the early 1900s. I suspect it was drawn on a lined pad for letter writing from the 1950s or later.

 

The back cover shows another scene of mother relaxing with her child outside on a grassy slope. In the scene are baby birds nesting in a woman’s bonnet, looking for worms from their busy mother.

There are remnants of some dried blue flowers tucked into the pages. I always love little surprises like that!

Various artists contributed their talents to the book, but at that time they apparently didn’t include the names of the illustrators, although some of the drawings include signatures of initials or names in the corners.

I couldn’t find another copy of this book anywhere online, but there are many books from the late 1800s published by George Routledge & Sons, such as Little Snowdrop’s Picture Book, published in 1879, available as a Kindle book. J.L. Blamire appears to be the manager of a New York Routledge & Sons bookseller and possibly an author, and/or editor.

I hope you enjoyed “reading” this with me. What fun to have such a pleasant and colorful history lesson couched in with a lovely piece of literature!

A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson

What a joy to know that this 1885 book is still current,

and still bringing the same wonder and delight to new generations of children–and adults!

                       Illustration for the poem “The Lamplighter”

 

A Child’s Garden of Verses is my VERY favorite children’s book

…as evidenced by the fact that I have 3 versions of it. It is the author’s imagination and remembrance of his own childhood that I love the most.  One of the introductions to his books says that Stevenson “writes as a child, rather than about children”. He was “able to enter into the heart of a boy” –and, I might add, also into the heart of this tomboy!

Robert Louis Stevenson grew up in Scotland. He wrote many other works besides poetry, including short stories, travel writings, plays and novels. Two of his best known novels are Treasure Island, a book the author wrote to keep his stepson amused during a very inclement summer; and Kidnapped, inspired by real events in Scottish history. It is said that Stevenson has never been out of fashion, and that there was an increased interest in him and his works in the 1980s.

The introductions in two of these versions are interesting, and endearing, and tell more about the author…

 

 

In elementary school, I learned several of the poems in this book, and I just realized that I can still recite one from memory. Some I memorized because they were an assignment from my teacher (remember memorizing poems and reciting them at an assembly?), others I probably remembered because the rhythm and rhyme held me spell bound and I couldn’t stop reading them over and over.

 

This first version is near and dear to my heart. It was the first book I bought, and may have been the first thing I ever bought with my own money.

We had a carnival at our elementary school and this was for sale for 75 cents. It never occurred to me before today, but…why would they have sold it? How could my school library have wanted to part with it? I hope it was because they were getting a new copy.

The inscription on this is my mom’s, recording the special event, “School carnival March 5, 1965.” When she wrote that, could she have imagined I’d be sharing it in the new millenium, in cyberspace for all the world to see?

 

 

“The Swing” and “Happy Thought” are my two favorites.

This next version I found about 5 years ago at a used book store in Denver, Colorado, while visiting my family. It is dated 1902 and has, of course, illustrations from that era which are quite different, very antique-looking.

 

I love that each of my copies has an inscription in them for the child receiving it! And I love knowing that it is still on the shelves of bookstores and libraries for more children to enjoy, and to receive as a gift.

 

 

I think “The Swing” is my favorite poem because I can feel the wind, the sunshine, and the FREEDOM…

 

This older version has a word list at the end.  Just look at all those “juicy” words (as we call them at my school)!!!

 

The last version I bought was at a thrift store in Calgary. It is the newest one I have.

I thumbed through it for a long time, but put it back on the shelf because I already had two of them at home. Then I changed my mind. I decided that this one’s illustrations were a glorious feast for the eyes on every page. No doubt it cost me just a little more than a current cup of coffee, and for the joy that it brings my heart it’s so worth it.

 

Again, here is my favorite poem “The Swing” in this version. Illustrations can sure make a book!  Look at the girl’s hair, and her shoe–brilliant!

 

I can hardly believe it took me so long to post about this book! But in my mind, it wasn’t a vintage book to be reviewed. It was one of my most treasured possessions.

 

 

It’s so sweet how Robert Louis Stevenson devoted many pages of this book–apparently written when he was in his mid-30s–to his beloved family, nanny and friends.

This lovely book is EVERYWHERE — as it should be!

May many more generations have the opportunity

to lose themselves in A Child’s Garden of Verses,

its fun, delight, wonder, imagery, peace… and its beauty.

Review of All In by Lisa Simonds

I have just finished one of the most powerful books I’ve ever read, and am absolutely in awe of this new author’s writing talent.

Lisa Simonds has the ability to write in a way that lets us experience all the action, dialogue, thoughts and scenes–without noticing that we’re reading a book.

 

The pace of All In is perfect, and the book is gripping. I stayed up way too late to see what happened next. However, I am sensitive and very picky about which characters I spend my time with, and felt increasingly uncomfortable living Cami’s life along with her.

On the other hand, I admired this woman’s strength, commitment, authenticity and honesty with herself, as well as with others. I was positive that a book of this quality was worth powering through, and the ending was exactly what I was expecting: excellent!

 

I admire–and require–novels that are realistic, and every character and scene in All In was exactly that. The dialogue was natural, nothing in the plot line was cliched or predictable. The transformation that happened in Cami’s heart and life felt completely genuine.

I look forward to Lisa’s next masterpiece!

The ebook is available now, and the print version will be available in August 2019. You can also enjoy the author’s musings at her blog, Leaves of Grace. Here is one post among many that showcases the excellence and depth of her writing.

Review of Back to Arcady by Frank Waller Allen

Thirty years ago it was said of me that I was as gallant a beau as ever bowed over a fair lady’s hand… I am more years past fifty than I like to acknowledge, and now a girl of twenty is coming to upset the habits and routine of a lifetime.

One of my treasures from this spring’s used book sales is a sentimental romance written in 1905, full of detailed background borders on every page.

As is typical of novels written at the turn of the century, the language is exquisite, the tone is thoughtful, and the plot gentle, original and full of genuine emotion. I read it in two sittings.

The dedication sets the author’s tone…

The story takes place in a small village in Kentucky. It begins with the narrator anticipating a visit from the daughter of his one true love, Drucilla.

“I knew her mother in the long ago. She herself was but twenty when last I saw her, and yet today hers is the only face that remains clear in my memory… Shortly after I saw Drucilla for the last time, she married William Dudley, the companion of my youth and friend of my  manhood. …Then when little Marcia Dudley–My Lady o’ Roses–was born, the mother died…”

“It is in the silence that follows the storm,” says the proverb, “and not the silence before it, that we should search for the budding flower.”

Many years later when she was a young lady, Marcia’s father, dying, sent a letter begging him to take his only child and guard her as his own. Marcia travels across the ocean to America. At first sight of her, the narrator (who is never named), is shocked to see what appears to be his long lost love, so similar is Marcia’s face to her mother’s. He introduces Marcia to his neighbor Louis and others in the nearby village, and she settles in.

In time, Louis tells them both how he had previously traveled to France, where he had been bewitched by a woman playing a sweet tune on a violin. They’d fallen in love, but they couldn’t be together. The woman vowed that she could never play her violin again until she reunited with her love, and he’d returned to Kentucky broken-hearted.

Marcia eventually reveals that she was the one Louis had loved in Paris, but she had not known where he’d gone when he left her. Now they are reunited, and the narrator muses,

“Then, after a while, there came to me from without the night, like unto the perfume of roses, the soft, warm tones of a lover’s violin bearing the message with which, years and years ago in a garden in Picardy, Margot o’ the Crimson Lips gave the heart of her to the Dreammaker.”

Here was a lovely discovery about halfway through…

It was not easy to find information about the author. Frank Waller Allen was an American author born in 1878 in Kentucky, United States. He was educated at Transylvania University, Kentucky, 1902, and worked as a journalist, minister, professor and lecturer.

Among the author’s other books are My Ships Aground (1900); The Golden Road (1910); The Lovers of Skye (1913); The Brothers of Bagdad (1913); Painted Windows (1918); The Great Quest (1918); My One Hundred Best Novels (1919); Wings of Beauty (1929); and Creative Living (1930).

You can read Back to Arcady online at Archive.org, or Forgotten Books, or buy it from Amazon, Abe books, eBay and other online book sellers.

Titus: A Comrade of the Cross – a classic novel for Easter

In 1894, a publisher held a writing competition to obtain the best manuscript that would inspire a child’s Christian faith. Florence Kingsley submitted her manuscript for Titus: A Comrade of the Cross and won the $1,000 award. In six weeks, 200,000 copies had been printed to meet demand.

The story is about a young boy named Titus, the son of a downtrodden mother and a poor, violent fisherman. His brother Stephen is remarkably kind, considering the fact that he was crippled from a beating by their father. Titus is cynical of what he hears about Jesus, and warns Stephen against any hope of healing.

This historical novel takes place at the time of the first Easter.

“Titus was listening with all his ears, but he said nothing, for he hoped that the man would speak further…. He could have slipped away in the dark easily enough, and was half-minded to do so.

Then he reflected that he might learn something more of his mysterious birth and parentage, if he stayed; besides, he had a strong curiosity to see the much-talked-of Barabbas; and underneath all, was an unconfessed desire to share in the exciting events which were soon to follow.”

 

Over thirty years ago, I was given a copy of this hardcover novel,. The cover was ragged, and as I skimmed the text I could tell that the language was ancient and confusing. It sat on my shelf for a long time because I had no interest in reading it, but I kept it out of affection for the person who gave it to me.

Finally, years later, I picked it up and started reading it, and couldn’t put it down. The language wasn’t a problem once I got used to it, and even though halfway through the book I found that a whole chunk of pages was missing, the suspenseful plot and true-to-life characters still mesmerized me.

I can honestly say that my faith grew tremendously from reading–and having “lived”–this story.

I was still reading it when my first son was born, and we gave him a middle name that was not the name of a relative, but of a character that touched me deeply in Titus: A Comrade of the Cross. 

 

Because Titus: Comrade of the Cross is so well-known and well-loved, this book is readily available to read online or by download, at such sites at archive.org and google books. Free audio of the book is offered at LibriVox. Hardcover copies are also easily available at various online bookstores, including Chapters-Indigo. Lamplighter.net features a great video blurb about it, and Bookworm Blessings has an excellent review and summary.

Although it was originally written for children and youth, I recommend this book for any age. Its longevity attests to its quality! The author wrote a total of 3 books in this “Comrades of the Cross” series, including Stephen: A Soldier of the Cross and The Cross Triumphant, as well as many other books.

Are you familiar with Florence M. Kingsley? Have you read any of her other books? Let me know if you have any favorites you’d like to recommend.  You can leave me a comment below. I always love hearing from you!

And I wish you a Happy Easter!

Valentine’s Day Romance – The Naturalist by Christina Dudley

Most Valentine’s Days, I’ve reviewed a favorite romance. As far as I am concerned, Jane Austen, Rosamunde Pilcher and Georgette Heyer are by far the most reliable authors for a quality, wholesome romance novel.

But I have discovered a new author of great talent, Christina Dudley!

I still haven’t figured out how I even ran across this book. It may have been connected with a yearly binge online search of my local library for clean romance novels. Or it could have been through Amazon’s recommendations based on some wholesome romance novels I bought from the Kindle store.

Anyway, I read great reviews about The Naturalist, which is a Regency novel, and Book 1 of the The Hapgoods of Bramleigh series. So, because the main characters were scientists, I decided to buy it.

Now, I didn’t really expect much, because statistically I only actually like about 1 out of 30 romance novels that I pick up these days. But what a pleasant surprise!

The main characters meet over their mutual fascination with flora and fauna, and their intense devotion to observing and recording data about them.

At first they assume that their strong attraction is professional. But when social conventions force them apart, they realize it’s a strange but wonderful kind of love, and their own unconventional thinking and determination drive them to do what is unthinkable in Regency society.

Their relationship is pleasant, and turns hilarious as some secrets are revealed. Both have a strong, moral character which heightens their inner turmoil throughout the story. The plot twists are realistic and unexpected. And the tension created by all the people trying to keep them apart and by their perplexing feelings for each other kept me glued to my Kindle screen!

What a rare find. I agree with one reader who said that it is a quiet, soothing, yet interesting, read, and I will add “intelligent” to the list as well.

highly recommend The Naturalist to anyone who is looking for a quality, intelligent romance or is a fan of Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer!

Happy Valentine’s Day, and happy reading!

I hope you’ll let me know what your favorites are!

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Here are my previous Valentine’s Day reviews:

Ramona by Helen Hunt Jackson

God’s Good Man: A Simple Love Story by Marie Corelli

Quality Romance Worth Reading

Cotillion by Georgette Heyer

Thorn in my Heart by Liz Curtis Higgs

Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher

Arabella by Georgette Heyer

The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer

 

Hearts background courtesy of Monika Stawowy at https://www.publicdomainpictures.net/en/view-image.php?image=241019&picture=valentines-day-background, License: CC0 Public Domain