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A Cool Mystery

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The Greenglass House by Kate Milford

// Book Review //

A wonderfully charming, rambling old inn adorned with unusual green stained glass windows, an unexplored attic filled with undiscovered treasures and a host of suspicious guests sets the stage for this cozy, middle grade mystery. If you enjoy atmospheric settings that correlate with your current season, this book would be a perfect match to read on a cold, wintery day.

I do not want to spoil the story for you, so I will limit this review to the themes of the book. Kate Milford expertly incorporates themes of truth, lies, loyalty, mystery, thievery, vendettas, friendship, camaraderie, self-identification, the need to belong, anxiety, trust, competition, role playing and problem solving. One aspect of Greenglass House that I absolutely enjoyed was the relationship between Milo and his parents. Mr. and Mrs. Pine were always attentive, loving and encouraging to Milo while still providing the necessary space he needed to explore, uncover and investigate his feelings. I also appreciate the authenticity and honesty that Kate Milford brings to the subject of adoption as we, the reader, experience Milo’s apprehension combined with his need for discovery as he searches for an understanding of his place in both his family and the world. Don’t miss the author’s note at the end of the book which provides background information regarding Kate Milford’s personal connection to international adoption. Her thoughts and perspective are amazing!

I am still processing the ending of this story which completely surprised me and caught me off-guard. In all honesty, I enjoyed the majority of this book, however, I have a few issues with elements in the ending. I do often find that my analysis of a book will change as I spend some time reflecting on it so I am curious where I will ultimately land on this one. How about you? Have you read Greenglass House? If so, what are your thoughts?

Favorite Quotes from Greenglass House:

“Nobody said it had to be a story with an ending all neatly tied up like some ridiculous fairy tale. This story's true, and true stories don't have endings, because things just keep going.”

“It is not merely our adversaries we must investigate...We must always work to know ourselves better, too.” 

“... The thing about attics and basements was, everything in there had once been a treasure to someone.” 

Book Details:

Title: The Greenglass House

Author: Kate Milford

Publisher: HMH Books

Format: Paperback

ISBN: 978-0544540286

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The Beauty of Friendship

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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

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A Writer's Dream

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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

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Pretty in Pink

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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!

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Lovely Serendipity

Harry’s Trees by Jon Cohen

// BOOK REVIEW //

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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.”

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