Comment

The Beauty of Friendship

FullSizeRender.jpg

84, CHARING CROSS ROAD BY HELENE HANFF

// BOOK REVIEW //


In simple terms, I thought this book was very good but not outstanding and I’ll do my best to explain why.

First, I absolutely love the premise... two unrelated people on opposite sides of the Atlantic form a lasting friendship for 20+ years over their mutual love of books. How could I not be completely enamored by this premise! I was initially apprehensive that Helene’s brash, New York-style humor would be positively received by a formal, professional London bookseller and then so relieved when Frank responded to Helene’s letters with his kind, endearing, accommodating nature.

Second, I love that kindness is a key theme that runs through Helene and Frank’s friendship and even extends to other family members, friends and co-workers. Kindness can never be undervalued or unappreciated!

Third, although letter writing is sadly a lost art, the opportunity to create long-distance friendships is not! The spirit of Helene and Frank’s relationship is alive and well through the medium of Bookstagram!

Finally, you may be wondering what element I think is missing in order to elevate this book from good to outstanding? My answer is that I want more! The amazing reviews and high accolades for this book set my expectations at the level of an 8-course gourmet meal and, in my humble opinion, the book ended after the appetizer was served. I simply wanted more!

If you enjoy books about books and book lovers, don’t miss this gem!

❤️

Book Details:

Title: 84, Charing Cross Road

Author: Helene Hanff

Publisher: Penguin Books

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 978-0140143508

Comment

Comment

A Writer's Dream

IMG_5410.jpg

The Emily of New Moon trilogy by L.M. Montgomery

// Book Review //

L.M. Montgomery has been a favorite author of mine since I was a young girl primarily because I adored Anne Shirley and watched the Megan Follows movies over and over. My love and devotion to Anne kept Emily on my unread shelf until recently. I am so happy that I now know and love Emily too! Emily and Anne share similarities - they are both orphans with bright imaginations - yet they are distinctly different characters. It is understood that Montgomery closely identified with Emily which is an analysis worthy of its own separate post. My wish is that Montgomery would have written more of Emily so we, the reader, could know her to the depth we have known Anne. I know you will ask which of the two series - Anne or Emily - are my favorite and my honest answer is they are both my favorite. Anne and Emily are like two sisters with different strengths and weaknesses that are love equally.

💗

In the first book, we meet Emily as a young girl and follow her heartaches and triumphs as she moves to New Moon. Her story continues through book two and three as she forms new family bonds, develops her love of writing and grows into a young woman. Montgomery weaves themes of isolation, loss, grief, individualism, the necessity of imagination, writing for therapy and exploration, the bond of friendship, familial expectation, love, acceptance, ridicule, loyalty and the benefit of following one’s heart. Of the three books, ‘Emily’s Quest’, the third book, was my favorite as I didn’t want the series to end!

Trigger Warning:

I do think it’s important to mention that there is an uncomfortable relationship that could be a trigger for some as it pertains to childhood grooming. I don’t want to give spoilers but I will say that the situation is positively resolved.

Favorite Quotes:

From Emily of New Moon (Book One) by L.M. Montgomery:

“Tell me this--if you knew you would be poor as a church mouse all your life--if you knew you'd never have a line published--would you still go on writing--would you?'

'Of course I would,' said Emily disdainfully. 'Why, I have to write--I can't help it at times--I've just got to.” 

“To love is easy and therefore common - but to understand - how rare it is!” 

“She will love deeply, she will suffer terribly, she will have glorious moments to compensate.” 

“But I don't want to be a different girl," said Emily decidedly. She had no intention of lowering the Starr flag to Aunt Ruth. "I wouldn't want to be anybody but myself even if I am plain. Besides," she added impressively as she turned to go out of the room, "though I may not be very good-looking now, when I go to heaven I believe I'll be very beautiful.” 

“But I don't want to be a different girl," said Emily decidedly. She had no intention of lowering the Starr flag to Aunt Ruth. "I wouldn't want to be anybody but myself even if I am plain. Besides," she added impressively as she turned to go out of the room, "though I may not be very good-looking now, when I go to heaven I believe I'll be very beautiful.” 

From Emily Climbs (Book Two) by L.M. Montgomery:

“My pen shall heal, not hurt.” 

“As she walked along she dramatized the night. There was about it a wild, lawless charm that appealed to a certain wild, lawless strain hidden deep in Emily’s nature—the strain of the gypsy and the poet, the genius and the fool.” 

“Well, it all comes to this; there's no use trying to live in other people's opinions. The only thing to do is to live in your own. After all, I believe in myself. I'm not so bad and silly as they think me, and I'm not consumptive, and I can write. Now that I've written it all out I feel differently about it. The only thing that still aggravates me is that Miss Potter pitied me -- pitied by a Potter!” 

“I've a pocket full of dreams to sell," said Teddy, whimsically,... "What d'ye lack? What d'ye lack? A dream of success--a dream of adventure--a dream of the sea--a dream of the woodland--any kind of a dream you want at reasonable prices, including one or two unique little nightmares. What will you give me for a dream?” 

“It was a lovely afternoon - such an afternoon as only September can produce when summer has stolen back for one more day of dream and glamour.” 

“Fear is a vile thing, and is at the bottom of almost every wrong and hatred of the world.” 

From Emily’s Quest (Book Three) by L.M. Montgomery:

“Never be silent with persons you love and distrust," Mr. Carpenter had said once. "Silence betrays.” 

“Night is beautiful when you are happy--comforting when you are in grief--terrible when you are lonely and unhappy.” 

“Don't let a three-o'clock-at-night feeling fog your soul.” 

“This afternoon I sat at my window and alternately wrote at my new serial and watched a couple of dear, amusing, youngish maple-trees at the foot of the garden. They whispered secrets to each other all the afternoon. They would bend together and talk earnestly for a few moments, then spring back and look at each other, throwing up their hands comically in horror and amazement over their mutual revelations. I wonder what new scandal is afoot in Treeland.” 

“It is hard to understand why work should be called a curse—until one remembers what bitterness forced or uncongenial labour is. But the work for which we are fitted—which we feel we are sent into the world to do—what a blessing it is and what fullness of joy it holds.” 


Book Details:

Titles: Emily of New Moon, Emily Climbs, Emily’s Quest

Author: L.M. Montgomery

Publisher: Tundra Books

Format: Hardcover

ISBN: Emily of New Moon 978-1770497467; Emily Climbs 978-1770497481; Emily’s Quest  978-1770497504

Comment

Comment

Pretty in Pink

IMG_5227.jpg

The Pink Umbrella by Amélie Callot, illustrated by Geneviève Godbout

// BOOK REVIEW //

Thank you to Tundra Books for this beautiful, complimentary review copy!

"For the villagers, the cafe is a refuge, a small lantern always lit... The cafe is the heart of the village. And Adele is the heart of the cafe. She is the village's sun - lively, sweet and sparkling." - The Pink Umbrella

It all begins with a pair of pink rain boots… This sweet story with absolutely adorable illustrations will capture your imagination and quite possibly leave you with a desire to add a pink, polk-dot umbrella to your wardrobe. Younger readers (ages 4-6) will enjoy the face-value of the story while older readers (ages 6-9) will be more likely to understand the themes of the story that center around the importance of friendship, community and showing little acts of kindness. Most importantly, I enjoyed the story’s emphasis on finding the good in what may originally be interpreted as a bad situation.

Book Details:

Title: The Pink Umbrella

Author: Amélie Callot

Illustrator: Geneviève Godbout

Publisher: Tundra Books

Format: Hardcover

ISBN: 9781101919231

Such pretty end papers and adorable illustrations…

Such pretty end papers and adorable illustrations…

Isn’t this little cottage the sweetest!

Isn’t this little cottage the sweetest!

Such lovely illustrations!

Such lovely illustrations!

Comment

Comment

Lovely Serendipity

Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen

// BOOK REVIEW //

066A2E9A-BBDE-488B-8651-74460B4B6EFB.JPEG

Each and every one of us has a story - the composite of our individual life experiences that makes us the person we are at this very moment. Jon Cohen beautifully displays this reality for the reader through a motley cast of characters (from the lovable to the despicable) in the magical world of Harry’s Trees.

Two major themes Cohen expertly addresses in this book involve grief and magic. In real life, grief does not come with a handbook that cross-applies to every situation. We each handle and process grief in different ways and on our own unique timeframes. As a reader, it was heartwarming to observe Harry (while mired in his own grief) help Oriana heal from her grief. I don’t want to expose too much of the storyline with examples from the book so I will not detail the meaningful moments of the character’s grieving and healing processes other than to say that it was authentically and beautifully written.

In addition to grief, I was completely and happily immersed in the fairytale-like nature of this book. Although we, the reader, observe moments of magical realism in the story, I think the author points us to those little moments of serendipity in our real lives where fairy-tale magic and the real world convene. Woven through the story are additional themes of love, loss, regret, abandonment, greed, healing, the beauty of nature, insecurity, guilt, the importance of human touch, new beginnings, the innocence of childhood, childhood lost, lifeboats, combining the old with the new, letting go, breaking emotional chains and the power of fairy tales.

If you enjoy creative, original stories that link both the real and moments of magic, pick up a copy of Harry’s Trees today!

Book Details:

Title: Harry’s Trees

Author: Jon Cohen

Publisher: MIRA Books

Format: Hardback

ISBN:  978-0778364153

Favorite Quotes from Harry’s Trees:

“Oh my. You have a story.” - Olive to Harry

“It’s only five words long - she died a year ago. And I’m out here to say goodbye. Which turns out to be a long and complicated process. I’m not sure I’ll ever finish saying it.”

“Olive reached for him, and they sat for a long moment, Harry and the old woman, holding hands on the stone wall. ‘You never finish, Harry. I’m not finished with it either. Why does the universe allow love to happen? Against such odds - death, abandonment and a thousand other misfortunes and ordeals - why would we risk falling in love? When it can be snatched from us at anytime for any reason?’ Harry looked away. Olive closed his fingers over the wedding band. ‘Because it’s worth it. Worth the risk and the pain. Of all the glorious enchantments of this world - spring, snow, laughter, red roses, dogs, books - love is by far the best.’ ”

“ ‘ By its very nature, though, love is tragic. You can’t protect it. No matter how tightly you hold onto the one you love, they leave you or you leave them. That’s what life is, loving and letting go. I am grateful to those two young lovers of sixty years ago. I am so grateful to have tasted love. But all love ends tragically. Because tragically, love always ends. What a heartbreaking and wondrous conundrum!’ “

“What other function do books have, the great ones, but to change the reader? Books to comfort. But most of all, books to disturb you forward.”

“He was not an all-knowing god, after all. He was simply a man trying to heal the heart of a little girl by making her fairy tale come true.”

“Oriana looking at him, so intently. What did she see? The grum of course. And what would she see when he plinked away the final piece of gold? Would she like him as much when the grum turned into plain old Harry? So complicated, when life has been transformed into a fairy tale and a fairy tale into life.”

“ ‘Is everything a story to you?’ Harry called after her. ‘Absolutely!’ came Olive’s voice. ‘I’m a librarian, dear!’ “

“Deep are the bonds of friendship. Long are the memories or discord.”

Comment

Comment

Book Love

IMG_3476.jpg

The Bookshop on the Corner by Jenny Colgan

// BOOK REVIEW //

I don’t know if you feel the same way but sometimes when my life is crazy and hectic I find it so refreshing to read a lovely, bookish story that is delightfully told and easy to process. The Bookshop on the Corner’ was a perfect December read in the middle of the busyness of the holiday season. I enjoyed the charming, colorful and at times even a bit cheesy story of a librarian who loses her job but gains everything she really always wanted but never had possessed. Although this story is sweet and romantic, Jenny Colgan effectively addresses important themes of starting over, following your dreams, the value of community, the bonds of friendship, turning bad situations into good, helping the needy, finding joy in the little moments, and the wonder presented through reading the perfect book! I listened to the audio version narrated by Lucy Price-Lewis and I completely enjoyed the Scottish accents!

** This book was the Modern Mrs. Darcy book club pick for December. I just finished our monthly book chat and found out that many of the titles that Colgan introduces in the story are made-up books! I initially recognized the titles she referenced and then as I read through the book I was surprised that I knew none of the books she referenced! I kept thinking that I would need to go back through the book and look them up! Now I know why I didn’t recognize the books! I love learning new things from other readers!

Book Details:

Title: The Bookshop on the Corner

Author: Jenny Colgan

Publisher: William Morrow

Format: Paperback

ISBN:  978-0062467256

Favorite Quotes:

“Some people buried their fears in food, she knew, and some in booze, and some in planning elaborate engagements and weddings and other life events that took up every spare moment of their time, in case unpleasant thoughts intruded. But for Nina, whenever reality, or the grimmer side of reality, threatened to invade, she always turned to a book. Books had been her solace when she was sad; her friends when she was lonely. They had mended her heart when it was broken, and encouraged her to hope when she was down.” - The Bookshop on the Corner

“Just do something. You might make a mistake, then you can fix it. But if you do nothing, you can't fix anything. And your life might turn out full of regrets.” - The Bookshop on the Corner

“Books were the best way Nina knew – apart from, sometimes, music – to breach the barrier; to connect the internal universe with the external, the words acting merely as a conduit between the two worlds.” - The Bookshop on the Corner

“Anything that spreads books and brings about more books, I would say it is good. Good medicine, not bad.” - The Bookshop on the Corner

“In front of the fire If you haven’t got a fire, a candle will do. The one thing I really look forward to as the nights draw in is a big cozy fire and a good book—the longer the better. I love a really, really long novel, a large cup of tea, or glass of wine depending on how close to the weekend we are (or how much I am in the mood to stretch the definition of what constitutes the weekend), and a bit of peace and quiet. A dog helps, too. Dogs are tremendously good at showing you you don’t have to check your phone every two seconds to have a happy life.” - The Bookshop on the Corner

“Because life is like that, isn’t it? If you thought of all the tiny things that divert your path one way or another, some good, some bad, you’d never do anything ever again. And some people don’t. Some people go through life not really deciding to do much, not wanting to, always too fearful of the consequences to try something new. Of course, that in itself is also a decision.” - The Bookshop on the Corner

“The problem with good things that happen is that very often they disguise themselves as awful things.” - The Bookshop on the Corner

“I am of the old-fashioned conviction that reading is a pleasure to be carefully guarded at all times.”  - The Bookshop on the Corner


Comment