Little House in the Big Woods

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Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, Illustrated by Garth Williams

Read July 3, 2016

4 stars

It has been more than 30 years since I last read the Little House series. I decided that I wanted to read them again this year and see how they kind of stood up to the test of time I guess.

I loved LHIBW! It’s such a simple story but I felt a lot of emotion while reading it. Maybe it’s my old age but I sometimes miss the simpler times. Granted, I never knew times as simple as the Ingalls’ family, but it definitely hit that sentimental note for me. I loved the way she explained how things were made: how Ma colored the butter in the winter with carrots just because she thought yellow butter was prettier; how they stored their food for the winter in the cellar in the attic; how they made maple syrup and sugar. I could definitely go on.

The writing is simple as it’s for children and at first the short sentences felt choppy to me. After a very short time though, I was so engrossed in the story that the sentence structure ceased to exist and it was just Laura telling me a story. And as far as I’ve ever been concerned, that is the greatest mark of a good author.

I’m re-reading the entire series as part of a buddy read and I am excited to read the others in the series.

star 4

4 stars

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Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (Audiobook)

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Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
Read by Elijah Wood

“Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Mark Twain’s sequel to The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, became an instant success in the year of its publication, 1884, but was seen by some as unfit for children to read because of its language, grammar, and “uncivilized hero.” The book has sparked controversy ever since, but most scholars continue to praise it as a modern masterpiece, an essential read, and one of the greatest novels in all of American literature. Twain’s satiric treatment of racism, religious excess, and rural simplicity and his accuracy in presenting dialects mark Huck Finn as a classic. His unswerving confidence in Huck’s wisdom and maturity, along with the well-rounded and sympathetic portrayal of Jim draw readers into the book, holding them until Huck’s last words rejecting all attempts to “sivilize” him.”

Mark Twain wrote Huck Finn as a sequel to Tom Sawyer. His original plan was to follow Huck into adulthood but after working on the book for several years he lost interest. When he eventually came back to Huck’s story, he abandoned his idea of telling Huck’s life story and decided instead to write it as a sort of continuation of Tom Sawyer.

Personally, of the two, Huck Finn is by far my favorite. I never really liked Tom. He’s just… annoying. Meanwhile, I find Huck fascinating. He has much more common sense than Tom. He’s deep down a better person I think, than Tom. Sure, he lies and “borrows” but he hates to hurt anyone’s feelings and he has a strong conscience. Even when he logically disagrees with his conscience due to the social constraints of the time period, emotionally, he tends to know what’s right and what isn’t.

It’s been years and years since I read Huck Finn; probably close to twenty years or more. But I read a review online the other day that mentioned this audio edition read by Elijah Wood. I hightailed it to audible.com as fast as possible and bought it. I listen to a lot of audiobooks on my iPod since I drive so much for work. At over ten hours long, this was almost four days worth of listening.

I’m a fan of Twain’s writing. He describes things so well. He uses commonplace descriptions to allow the reader to draw the picture in their head of the scene he’s creating. He also strikes a nice balance between narration and dialogue. I love the fact that Huck tells his own story from his own point of view as well. Twain really brings Huck, as well as the other characters, to life. And listening to Elijah Wood read the story… it was like I was riding down the highway with Huck sitting in the front seat next to me. And the story has laugh out loud funny moments. There were whole sections where I laughed like a fool driving down the road. I can also admit that there were some times that I cried.

Wood did an amazing job with the different accents and dialects that Twain gave his characters. At first I was very aware that I was listening to Elijah Wood but after just a few minutes, it stopped being Elijah and became Huck and Jim and Tom and even Pap.

Huck had it rough there’s no doubt. His Pap was abusive. He felt unloved. He considered himself to be stupid and eventually he came to question his own morals and character. He never sat down and felt too sorry for himself though. He dealt with adversity and made his way the best way he could. Though we know today that Huck had character and morals to spare, in those days he considered himself very close to a traitor to his race for his actions to help Jim. He struggled with his own conscience and the differences between what he felt in his heart was right and what he had been taught was right.

Huck Finn has created controversy for years and years. It is the fourth most banned book in the United States. It has been considered obscene, immoral and racist. As usual, the censors have it all wrong. Twain tells a story of a boy who is anti-racist in a time when it would cause him to be ostracized by society. Because of the use of the “N-word” throughout the book, people assume it must be racist but in actuality Twain used the language and vernacular of the time. If anyone doesn’t read this excellent example of classic American literature because of the use of a word they disagree with, they are missing out.

Audiobook
Published November 9th 2010 by Audible, Inc (first published 1884 in England, first published 1885 in US)
ASIN B004BDL7N6

5 stars

TGIF!

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It’s finally Friday! Here’s a list of seven Friday books for your viewing pleasure. What are you reading this weekend?

Friday by Robert Heinlein

“Engineered from the finest genes, and trained to be a secret courier in a future world, Friday operates over a near-future Earth, where chaos reigns. Working at Boss’s whimsical behest she travels from far north to deep south, finding quick, expeditious solutions as one calamity after another threatens to explode in her face….”

I haven’t read this but it sounds interesting. I’ve been reading more science fiction lately so I’m going to add this to my to-read list and see if the library has it.

Paperback
384 pages
Published June 17th 1997 by Del Rey (first published 1982)
ISBN13: 9780345414007
Hugo Award Nominee for Best Novel (1983)
Nebula Award Nominee (1983)

The Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

“Juggling the demands of her yarn shop and single-handedly raising a teenage daughter has made Georgia Walker grateful for her Friday Night Knitting Club. Her friends are happy to escape their lives too, even for just a few hours. But when Georgia’s ex suddenly reappears, demanding a role in their daughter’s life, her whole world is shattered.

Luckily, Georgia’s friends are there, sharing their own tales of intimacy, heartbreak, and miracle making. And when the unthinkable happens, these women will discover that what they’ve created isn’t just a knitting club: it’s a sisterhood.”

Hardcover
352 pages
Published January 18th 2007 by Putnam Adult
ISBN13: 9780399154096

Black Friday by James Patterson

“The breathtaking suspense of Kiss the Girls and the authenticity of N.Y.P.D. Blue: Welcome to James Patterson’s classic super-thriller, BLACK FRIDAY. A courageous federal agent, a powerful and resourceful woman lawyer – only they can possibly stop the unspeakable from happening. New York City is under siege by a secret militia group – and that’s just the beginning of the relentless terror of BLACK FRIDAY.

Originally published in 1987 as Black Market, also by James Patterson.”

Mass Market Paperback
480 pages
Published April 30th 1989 by Warner Vision (first published 1986)
ISBN13: 9780446609326

Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers

“When I woke up this morning, I found I’d turned into my mother. There I, in my mother’ bed, with my feet reaching all the way to the bottom, and my father sleeping in the other bed. I had on my mother’s nightgown, and a ring on my left hand, I mean her left hand, and lumps and pins all over my head.”

I love this book! I’ve probably read it 20 or 30 times. As a matter of fact, I think I’ll see if the library has it and read it again soon… (I also love the Disney movie starring Jodie Foster which I may now have to watch this weekend…)

Mass Market Paperback
Published 1972 by Scholastic
ISBN13: 9780590118484
Nene Award (1977)

Friday’s Child by Georgette Heyer

“When the incomparable Miss Milbourne spurns the impetuous Lord Sherington’s marriage proposal (she laughs at him—laughs!) he vows to marry the next female he encounters, who happens to be the young, penniless Miss Hero Wantage, who has adored him all her life. Whisking her off to London, Sherry discovers there is no end to the scrapes his young, green bride can get into, and she discovers the excitement and glamorous social scene of the ton. Not until a deep misunderstanding erupts and Sherry almost loses his bride, does he plumb the depths of his own heart, and surprises himself with the love he finds there.”

Paperback
376 pages
Published June 3rd 2004 by Arrow (first published 1944)
ISBN13: 9780099468042

Friday Night Bites by Chloe Neill (second in a series)

“The story of a young heiress’s initiation into the dark society of the Chicagoland Vampires continues…

Ten months after vampires revealed their existence to the mortals of Chicago, they’re enjoying a celebrity status usually reserved for the Hollywood elite. But should people learn about the Raves-mass feeding parties where vampires round up humans like cattle-the citizens will start sharpening their stakes.

So now it’s up to the new vampire Merit to reconnect with her upper class family and act as liaison between humans and bloodsuckers, and keep the more unsavory aspects of the vampire lifestyle out of the media. But someone doesn’t want peace between them-someone with an ancient grudge…”

A vampire series I’ve never heard of. Intriguing.

Paperback
357 pages
Published October 6th 2009 by NAL Trade (first published September 2nd 2009)
ISBN13: 9780451227935

Friday Night Lights by H.G. Bissinger

“Return once again to the enduring account of life in the Mojo lane, to the Permian Panthers of Odessa — the winningest high school football team in Texas history. Odessa is not known to be a town big on dreams, but the Panthers help keep the hopes and dreams of this small, dusty town going. Socially and racially divided, its fragile economy follows the treacherous boom-bust path of the oil business. In bad times, the unemployment rate barrels out of control; in good times, its murder rate skyrockets. But every Friday night from September to December, when the Permian High School Panthers play football, this West Texas town becomes a place where dreams can come true. With frankness and compassion, Bissinger chronicles one of the Panthers’ dramatic seasons and shows how single-minded devotion to the team shapes the community and inspires-and sometimes shatters-the teenagers who wear the Panthers’ uniforms. ”

I read this book years ago and loved it. I’ve never seen the movie or the television show but the book was great.

Mass Market Paperback
357 pages
Published September 28th 2004 by Da Capo Press (first published 1988)
ISBN13: 9780306814259

The Help

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The Help by Kathryn Stockett

“Three ordinary women are about to take one extraordinary step.

Twenty-two-year-old Skeeter has just returned home after graduating from Ole Miss. She may have a degree, but it is 1962, Mississippi, and her mother will not be happy till Skeeter has a ring on her finger. Skeeter would normally find solace with her beloved maid Constantine, the woman who raised her, but Constantine has disappeared and no one will tell Skeeter where she has gone.

Aibileen is a black maid, a wise, regal woman raising her seventeenth white child. Something has shifted inside her after the loss of her own son, who died while his bosses looked the other way. She is devoted to the little girl she looks after, though she knows both their hearts may be broken.

Minny, Aibileen’s best friend, is short, fat, and perhaps the sassiest woman in Mississippi. She can cook like nobody’s business, but she can’t mind her tongue, so she’s lost yet another job. Minny finally finds a position working for someone too new to town to know her reputation. But her new boss has secrets of her own.

Seemingly as different from one another as can be, these women will nonetheless come together for a clandestine project that will put them all at risk. And why? Because they are suffocating within the lines that define their town and their times. And sometimes lines are made to be crossed.

In pitch-perfect voices, Kathryn Stockett creates three extraordinary women whose determination to start a movement of their own forever changes a town, and the way women—mothers, daughters, caregivers, friends—view one another. A deeply moving novel filled with poignancy, humor, and hope, The Help is a timeless and universal story about the lines we abide by, and the ones we don’t.”

Okay. I love this book. Seriously. It was so good. Beyond un-put-down-able. I laughed out loud, I cried, I cringed, I loved every single syllable of every single word typed on every single page. I’m both looking forward to and dreading the release of the film this August. So, read it. Get it from your library, pick it up at the bookstore (it’s now out in paperback), listen to it on audio; doesn’t matter, just read it.

Hardcover
451 pages
Published February 10th 2009 by Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
ISBN13: 9780399155345
Goodreads Choice Award for Fiction (2009), Indies Choice Book Award for Adult Debut (2010), Puddly Award for Fiction (2011)

5 stars

Jane Eyre

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Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

“Orphaned into the household of her Aunt Reed at Gateshead, subject to the cruel regime at Lowood charity school, Jane Eyre nonetheless emerges unbroken in spirit and integrity. She takes up the post of governess at Thornfield, falls in love with Mr. Rochester, and discovers the impediment to their lawful marriage in a story that transcends melodrama to portray a woman’s passionate search for a wider and richer life than Victorian society traditionally allowed. With a heroine full of yearning, the dangerous secrets she encounters, and the choices she finally makes, Charlotte Bronte’s innovative and enduring romantic novel continues to engage and provoke readers.”

I’ve always felt like I should read more “classics” but I’ve always found some excuse not to read them. So, I decided this year I’d read some. Plus, it’ll help me check off more of the 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die list.

I really enjoyed this book. Bronte tells a wonderful story. I particularly like the way the author has Jane acknowledge us, the readers, as she narrates the tale. I will definitely be picking up some other classics over the next year and I’ll probably be adding Jane Eyre into my rotation of books that I read annually. I finally decided to read it after I saw the preview for the 2011 movie starring Mia Wasikowska and then my bff told me that it was one of her favorite books ever. I recommend a lot of books to her so I figured if she loved Jane I’d give it a shot and I’m glad I did.

Paperback
659 pages
Published February 1st 2011 by HarperTeen (first published 1847)
ISBN13: 9780062015624

5 stars

Alice I Have Been

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Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin


“Few works of literature are as universally beloved as Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Now, in this spellbinding historical novel, we meet the young girl whose bright spirit sent her on an unforgettable trip down the rabbit hole–and the grown woman whose story is no less enthralling.


Alice Liddell Hargreaves’s life has been a richly woven tapestry: As a young woman, wife, mother, and widow, she’s experienced intense passion, great privilege, and greater tragedy. But as she nears her eighty-first birthday, she knows that, to the world around her, she is and will always be only “Alice.” Her life was permanently dog-eared at one fateful moment in her tenth year–the golden summer day she urged a grown-up friend to write down one of his fanciful stories.


That story, a wild tale of rabbits, queens, and a precocious young child, becomes a sensation the world over. Its author, a shy, stuttering Oxford professor, does more than immortalize Alice–he changes her life forever. But even he cannot stop time, as much as he might like to. And as Alice’s childhood slips away, a peacetime of glittering balls and royal romances gives way to the urgent tide of war.


For Alice, the stakes could not be higher, for she is the mother of three grown sons, soldiers all. Yet even as she stands to lose everything she treasures, one part of her will always be the determined, undaunted Alice of the story, who discovered that life beyond the rabbit hole was an astonishing journey.


A love story and a literary mystery, Alice I Have Been brilliantly blends fact and fiction to capture the passionate spirit of a woman who was truly worthy of her fictional alter ego, in a world as captivating as the Wonderland only she could inspire.”


I picked this book up on a whim in Target because I liked the cover.(I do that a lot.) Then I read the story premise and I was pretty much sold. Then, I read the first page. I got about halfway through the first page, closed the book and dropped it in my cart! I knew right then that it was going to be a great read. While I was reading this, I kept forgetting that the book I was reading was fiction. It was very well written and extremely plausible. Benjamin brought the characters to life and added new dimensions to them all. I became even more interested in the Victorian era after reading Alice as well. I am very much looking forward to Benjamin’s next book, The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb: A Novel, which will be released later this summer. I’d also like to see Alice translated to the big screen if it could be done well.


Paperback
368 pages
Published December 28th 2010 by Bantam (first published December 9th 2009)
ISBN13: 9780385344142


4 stars