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Categories: book reviews/ reviews/ writing

I’ve written a relatively small number of book reviews on Goodreads, some a decent length and others quite short. From now on I will still post reviews there but I will only share an excerpt, and link people back here to my website where I’ll post the full text.

 
In the interest of not forgetting the reviews I’ve done so far, I am going to compile the most worthwhile of them right here.
 
 
 
The Return of the Native by Thomas Hardy
1 star
Oh my God I hated this. Got to page 70 and said, “Enough already!” Maybe I’m stupid? Maybe I didn’t give it enough of a chance?But… I read Dickens and loved it. De Sade and loved that too. Eugenie Grandet… check. So why didn’t I love this one too? Oh my God how painfully this book is written! Would you believe me it took me almost to page 30 to realize the story took place in England?! (No I didn’t read the book’s description. I simply started reading it based solely on a recommendation.)
Ugh… Then I found out that some poor folks had to read this in high school! Oh my goodness! You poor souls! Books like these make dropping out of school seem like a good alternative!

Maybe I just needed something to bash? To let out some anger that’s built up inside me from some other thing in my life, and here I am taking it all out on this book. Or maybe not. One thing’s for sure… I hated every page I read of The Return Of The Native and I am glad I quit when I did.

 
 
The Book of Blue by Rebecca Anne Banks
4 star
Who is Blue? (It’s a rhetorical question of course!)
I admit, I wanted to be Blue many a time along the ride.
I even envied Blue because Blue’s experiences were so enviable indeed!
I would recommend this wonderful collection of poetry (or should I label it a Chapbook?) to anyone who considers themselves to be adventurous of mind. It could be interpreted as a warm and loving friend, but not a demanding one. It could also be interpreted as the friend you see in yourself sometimes (I hope that makes sense). That’s how close you feel to the imagery in The Book of Blue.

I read it in an hour! I wasn’t expecting it to be so brisk, but it was a beautiful briskness. Actually, there were great opportunities for pause and reflection. I know I could have stopped a number of times and just drifted away in imagination, however I didn’t take so much time to do so out of my own personal feelings at the time of reading. It’s honestly the type of poetry that I would reach for if I were alone in a room and wanted to curl up with the proverbial comfy blanket and fireplace fire.

I’m really glad I read this collection. It’s a vibe I always enjoy meeting and it’s the kind of vibe you never know when you’ll be lucky enough to meet again.

I wouldn’t dare compare the writing style to anyone. I’m sure it could be compared if one wishes to do so however I think it would take away from the purity of what is being offered for discovery here.

I should also mention that I was provided The Book of Blue for free in exchange for an honest review. If I had to go back and do it all again, I would purchase this book. Rebecca Anne Banks has produced a fine piece of literature and I will be following her work with interest from this point forward.

 
 
 
Anne of Windy Poplars by L.M. Montgomery
4 star
The fourth in the series and another beautiful instalment it was. The style of this one is different from the previous three. I noticed some reviews by other readers reflecting this fact. I personally enjoyed the refreshing approach to telling Anne’s story of her experiences at Summerside. I thought it quite romantic that the majority of the novel was told to the reader in the form of her letter to Gilbert.
Whenever the story was not told within the context of letters, it was told in Montgomery’s regular fashion the reader would be used to. I enjoyed the many tales and experiences that involved fellow Summerside residents. There were so many interesting and unique temperaments to get acquainted with. Anne also seemed to have a knack for really getting herself involved in the lives of the people around her and changing them for the better.

Some of the highlights of this book were Katherine Brooke, the two siblings from hell that Anne babysat, and of course Pauline and Mrs. Gibson. There were many adventures to enjoy in Anne of Windy Poplars.

 
 
Anne’s House of Dreams by L.M. Montgomery
4 star
This was a really nice continuation in the series. I found the whole new landscape very refreshing and it was a wonderful perspective that I never thought I’d get to enjoy, because before embarking on Anne series my only exposure was to the films. Anyone who has seen all the films starring Megan Follows will sympathize with me about the “Continuing Story” version. I believe Anne’s House of Dreams should have been the content of that last motion picture instalment.
Anyway, here it is in its original form. Lucy Maud Montgomery has provided the reader a wonderful insight into Anne and Gilbert’s new home and new life. The new friends accompanying them are endearing and delightful. The events in this novel are uplifting but also very uncompromisingly tragic. There has been tragedy in the previous novels as well, but the particular events that transpire in this one have a particular sting to them. It was refreshing yet also grounding to see Anne develop a friendship with someone who has lost a good measure of their innocence. I feel like it teaches a new lesson to Anne in regards with relating to people.

 
 
The Golden Road by L.M. Montgomery
4 star
What a truly delightful little story. I’m referring not only to The Golden Road but also its first part The Story Girl, which should be read first to truly appreciate this novel, not to mention to be able to make sense of it.
I find The Story Girl series to be light, fun and full of imagination. I’ve grown to love Lucy Maud Montgomery’s writing style and The Golden Road offers you plenty of pleasant reading without forcing you to get into too much character history. It’s kind of like diving into a world of youthful fun and delight without having to invest much of yourself into it. I mean this in the best possible way. It’s like you’re allowed a peek into these childrens’ world and you are welcomed as one of their own. I alluded to this sense of camaraderie in my review of The Story Girl as well.

What really delivers memorable writing in The Golden Road are the life events that affect the individual characters and subsequently the group as a whole. There are plenty of bittersweet yet necessary occurrences. You truly wish they didn’t have to be, but Lucy Maud really brings forth the feelings of pain and understanding that come along with growth masterfully well.

There really are special moments in this novel that far outweigh some of the bittersweetness, namely the group’s literary adventures with dream journals and their very own newspaper.

I recommend this book and this series if you are one to appreciate a story being offered up not only for enjoyment but with the aim to get you to admire and reminisce alongside it (even if you didn’t grow up in that time). You’ll need to let your inner child out too in order to fully appreciate this splendid little two book series.

 
 
Anne of the Island by L.M. Montgomery
5 star
This book in the series has to be a highlight, and I haven’t gotten around to reading book 4, 5, or 6 yet! There were some truly special moments in this instalment. I won’t go into any real detail about these moments, but let me point to them using some more broad strokes. In life, there are significant moments. Especially, relating to growing up out of youth and into adulthood. There are moments of change, in your own life and the people around you. There is gain and there is loss. Unfortunately, it’s the loss that sometimes leaves the biggest impact, yet also provide for the best fodder for stories. There is love and there is rejection. There are happy endings and there are sad endings. There is death and there is life.
So, that being said… Anne of The Island contains all those things and more. There is truly a multitude of wonderful ups and downs and twists and turns to get lost in and enjoy.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I love Lucy Maud Montgomery’s writing style and I’m growing to love it even more the more I read on.

 
 
Anne of Avonlea by L.M. Montgomery
4 star
I probably would give it a 4.5 star rating if I could. I don’t mean to demean the book in any way by not giving it 5 stars, for surely it does deserve such a rating in some ways, but in other ways a 4 star rating is a more realistic one to give. 😉
Anyway, suffice it to say I loved this book. I thought it was a wonderful sequel to the first one and I am going to continue on in the series because it’s turning out to be a wonderful journey well beyond what I imagined it would be. I seem to be very affected by the comings and goings, the deaths and celebrations and the closeness I feel, a friendship almost to Anne herself as she is growing up. I look forward to cheering her on in the third novel as well as enduring with her pain and loss just as equally as her victories and accomplishments.

Lucy Maud Montgomery has truly written a classic series here, which I’m sure many are already aware of and I’m just arriving late to the party. It’s also a real service to readers everywhere that these books are freely available on the internet. A true gift of words herein.

 
 
The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery
4 star
It was a wonderful little story and there were lots of wonderful little stories within it as well! The beginning kind of just threw you in and got you acquainted with the characters right away. Mind you, there were some introductory efforts but the author put trust in the reader to have an open mind and feel welcome enough to approach each character freely.
I’ve only recently delved into the writings of Lucy Maud Montgomery, namely with the Anne of Green Gables series. I happened to read some good things about her other novel The Golden Road and decided to try that out as well, so after learning that it was imperative that The Story Girl be read first, I acquiesced and am now looking forward to what’s next!

The character of “the story girl” herself in this novel is a very endearing one. By the time you get almost halfway through the book you’re already feeling close to all of the kids in the group. I often thought about how lucky they are to grow up in such a place. I only wish I could have had a similar childhood, to have such camaraderie at a young age is a beautiful thing.

 
 
Soledad Brother: The Prison Letters of George Jackson by George L. Jackson
2 star
Maybe I’m racist, maybe I should of given it more of a chance… But I did not enjoy the point of view of Mr. Jackson. He is a communist, a black supremacist (does that even exist?) and he basically hates Europeans.
All of his views are completely understandable given his position and his race, but I do not sympathize with him nor his cause. Especially not the communist leanings. It became rather clear quite early on in the book what I was in store for and I just couldn’t bear to sit through a barrage of insults because I happen to be of European heritage and I am not a communist either.

 
 
Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery
5 star
What a beautiful ending to a masterful, emotional series. Rilla of Ingleside was outstanding in so many ways.
The really incredible characteristic of this novel was the depiction of World War I and how those on the home-front living through those times experienced it.

The pain, the loss, the enduring hope, the victories were all so deeply touching and engagingly written. Of all the novels in Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series, this last book was uniquely special. There was so much emotion, so many happenings. From Rilla and her war-baby, to the mixed fates of the Blythe and Meredith children and the loves that flourished and developed and succeeded, there was a lot in this book. I’m really very happy I took the time to read all eight books in this series. Rilla of Ingleside was in many ways a reward to the reader.

 
 
The Color of Heaven by Julianne MacLean
4 star
This book does deserve the four stars I am giving it, even though I found it overall to be a little bit too easy, a little bit too shallow, and a little bit cheap in some of the detailed accounts of the some of the characters romantic experiences.
I know that paints a bit of a grim picture for the book, but all that being said it really was an enjoyable read. It didn’t affect me as deeply or profoundly as the subject matter might lead one to feel, but it wasn’t devoid of quality or worthiness either. There was a number of shining moments that surprised me along the way and I don’t want to make it seem like I was just waiting for another excuse to keep reading, because I wasn’t. The surprises along the way delighted me instead of serving as something to convince me to continue.

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to read one of those books with one of those stories in one of those writing styles that just makes it so easy to keep turning the pages, but I wouldn’t delve any further into this author’s catalog unless you really are a romance fan.

 
 
The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson
5 star
“My name is Dollars. One Hundred Thousand Dollars.”
Lol! You’ll get it if you read it. What a book! I thoroughly loved this one. There was so much refreshing humour and the author really entertained the heck out of you all the way through!
I enjoyed the unpredictability this novel provided. I especially loved how all the wild and crazy stories managed to find their way back home in a sense and fit in together nicely but still hilariously!

I don’t see how anyone with a sense of humour could not enjoy this book! I’d also like to add that if you’re especially open-minded, you may learn a thing or two about life that you wouldn’t otherwise expect to! I was made aware of, in many instances and as plain as day, the virtues of rolling with the punches as they say. Not to mention how lightening up on religious leanings and political perspectives could in turn reward someone with much more peace in their own life!

Again, I really enjoyed this one. If I were you I’d get to this one asap!

 
 
Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery
5 star
Oh my… You know I was actually looking forward quite eagerly to writing this review as I neared the end of the book. I truly love this old Canadian story. I first tried out the movies starring Megan Follows a few years ago just to quench my curiosity. I immediately fell in love with Anne Shirley and the whole story and all the details and imagery and character of Avonlea.
*SPOILERS AHEAD*

I found myself deeply involved with the characters of Marilla and Matthew. I shared the emotional ups and downs that were Anne’s beginnings and Anne’s formative years. Whenever she achieved, I found myself cheering her on. I found myself laughing out loud at the wonderfully creative narrative L.M. Montgomery graced me with as a reader. I found myself to be deeply saddened when the death of Matthew occurred and equally emotional on the flipside, when Anne succeeded in her scholarly ambitions. One of my most favourite moments in the novel might be one of the simplest and quaint, but when Matthew bought Anne her dress with puffed sleeves, well I knew right there I was reading some of the most honestly beautiful and personal storytelling I have ever come across.

I finally decided to experience this story in its original written form and I’m glad I did. The movies did the story great justice, but the book just takes you way beyond, as they usually and unsurprisingly tend to do.

I will be continuing my journey through as many of the books in the series as I can. If you’re unacquainted with this gem of a story, do yourself a favour and dive in. All you’ll need is an open heart and a propensity and capacity for innocence and simple pleasures to really get swept away and marked forever.

 
 
Rainbow Valley by L.M. Montgomery
3 star
I give it three stars simply because it was the furthest from the well-worn path all the other novels have traveled, but 3.5 stars may be more accurate and Rainbow Valley is still worth reading if you’re making your way through the whole series.
I finally see what so many other readers have been saying about how this instalment may be their least favourite in the series, but I did enjoy it quite a bit. Sure, Anne was not a focal point and even her children took a backseat to allow the children of the manse to shine more. Once you swallowed that comfortably, the novel really is charming!

 
 
Kate: The Future Queen by Katie Nicholl
4 star
I heard about this book via a recommendation and review by a blogger I follow and since I have always been a casual fan of British royalty, I decided it would be a good idea to check this book out. I thought it was quite enjoyable! I enjoyed learning about Kate and getting to know her background and upbringing. It was also pretty cool to get some details and insight about William, royal protocol and bits and pieces of other family members too. There were a few inspirational things about it all, and I found it refreshing to read a story about an earnest rise to a prominent lifestyle instead of perhaps a recounting of a more negative or abused past.
If you’re a fan of the royal family or even of royalty in general, I think you’ll enjoy this friendly and sympathetic telling of Kate’s life story.

 
 
The Highly Sensitive Person by Elaine N. Aron
4 star
This book was very comforting to read. I related to a lot of the subject matter and appreciated the existence of a voice carrying a flag for people who are simply somewhat outside the norm in society. Not everybody fits into little labels or into neat boxes, well defined. Some people are here, there, and wouldn’t want to be restricted or moulded.
This is not a crusade or a preaching read. It’s simply a long overdue insight into the world of highly sensitive people. We’re not more special or superior than non-HSPs (Highly Sensitive People), we have our own things to offer the world and they are just as important.

Definitely worth the read if you feel even a little bit like an “outsider”.

 
 
Candy by Mian Mian
5 star
This book is like jazz to me. I loved it. Even though it was like jazz to me, there was no mention of jazz in Candy. What this book is about is drugs, sex, the pursuit of self-definition, raw and honest poverty stricken lost souls. Oh and it’s about music too, a cross between romantic Taiwanese pop songs sung in booze soaked nightclubs and the new but overdue and clandestine influx of rock and roll from the West like The Doors.
All of this, clashing amongst despair, hope, love, friendship, loneliness and fear.

If there’s any way for an outsider to glimpse what life might be like in the underbelly of China, this might be it. Smuggled in through Hong Kong, banned in Beijing, Candy is a must read for the adventurous reader.

 
 
The Stranger Beside Me: Ted Bundy The Shocking Inside Story by Ann Rule
5 star
A great read if the subject matter intrigues you. It’s not one of those “run-of-the-mill” serial killer books. It doesn’t just sensationalize. The author’s personal relationship with Bundy was the real key to making this book as great as it was. I haven’t read anything else by the author, so I won’t assume I know whether they are good or not. But this book was pretty special in my opinion. It has even inspired me to look into more “research” based books that fuel the actual investigative work and intelligence behind all of this. In other words, I am curious about what makes these killers “tick”. Anyway, worth the read if the subject interests you even a bit.