Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Penderwicks

Ah...the Penderwicks series.  They are one of those wonderful children's books that can be read by everybody at any age and enjoyed.  If you are 5 or 85, these books are such fun reads

The first book introduces the four Penderwick sisters: Rosalind, Skye, Jane, and Batty and their father, Martin Penderwick, a botany professor.  Their mother is dead and they live in Connecticut, raised mostly by their father and their aunt.  Rosalind is calm, gentle, and slightly bossy.  Skye loves math, soccer, and astronomy.  She reminds me of a modern day Jo March, of Little Women.  Jane is a writer and her dramatic lines make me laugh.  Batty is the youngest and loves animals.  They are staying in a little cottage at the edge of the property of a great big mansion for a few weeks in the summer.  The girls have all kinds of wonderful adventures, from meeting the truly awful Mrs. Tifton and her very nice son named Jeffrey who live in the mansion, to a run-in with an angry bull.

The second book is set at the Penderwick's home, on Gardam Street.  There, the sisters have more adventures, but there is something that they're all worried about.  Their wonderful aunt Claire whom they all love appears with a blue letter written by their mother.  This letter tells their father that he needs to go on 4 dates in a month.  And so, the girls come up with the Save Daddy Plan, where they will find 4 awful dates for him and then he will be able to go back to normal life.  Along the way, there are a lot of funny parts, from Skye and Jane's writing mix-up, to Batty's adventures spying on the neighbors.

The third book is set at another summer vacation spot.  I can't fully tell about the plot because there would be spoilers galore.  Jane, Skye, and Batty go with their aunt Claire to Pointe Mouette in Maine for 2 weeks.  Skye is very anxious about this vacation because she is the OAP (Oldest Available Penderwick) for 2 whole weeks.  Their father, Martin Penderwick, is in England and Rosalind is finally getting a much-needed break with her best friend at the beach.  The whole story revolves around Skye, Jane, and Batty's vacation, which includes, much to their joy, their dear friend Jeffrey from the first book.

Jeanne Birdsall's plan is to write a total of 5 Penderwick books.  I can't wait to read the next one.  I highly recommend these books and hope that you enjoy them, too!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

On Reading

So why do I read?  It's not like every single book that I pick up interests or moves me.  I've even read some pretty awful fiction.  So what keeps me reading?

There are several reasons.

1. I love hearing other people's stories, both in real life and in books.  Even the minutia interests me.  The little tidbits about people that I pick up along the way are part of what makes reading worth it.

Pictures in this post are of some of our farm animals.

2.  I almost always learn something new when I read a book, whether it's a new name, something about another country, or how to cook a dish that is new to me.


3.  Reading helps me become a better writer.  There's all kinds of data on this, none of which I can cite at the moment.  I do know, however, that the more books I read, the more I can feel my writing "voice" develop.  With every new book I read, it gets a little easier to write.


4.  I read out of habit.  I have been reading and being read to since I was a little girl, so it just feels natural whenever I have a free moment to pick up a book and start reading.  


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

A Handy Website and a Pretty Pillow

I have discovered a magnificent website!  I found it via Pinterest and I have been steadily using it every time I go to the library.  There are several like it, but my favorite is called What Should I Read Next?  All you have to do is type in a book that you loved and it generates lots of titles that are similar.

So check this website out next time you're trying to decide what to read!

In other news, I just finished a beautiful pillow.  It's made from some old fabric from a box of vintage scraps and the front is a piece that I picked up at a sale.  The front was a little too boring and 80s for me, so I just added the pretty patchwork and the buttons to brighten it up.  I have discovered how much I enjoy piecing little scrappy stuff.

I think it looks lovely in the chair at my sunny desk.

Monday, March 10, 2014

The Poisonwood Bible Review

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver was recommended to me by my mom.  Kingsolver is one of the most talented writers I think I've ever read.  Even if you're not particularly interested in the settings she uses, her books are so well written that the stories can be enjoyed by anybody.

The Poisonwood Bible is the story of the 4 Price sisters who travel with their parents to the Belgian Congo in 1959 to be missionaries.  Their father, Nathan Price is harsh and domineering and their mother refuses to disagree with him.  Nathan Price, determined to convert every single Congolese person to Christianity, leaves his wife and daughters to forge their way through a completely foreign country.

The story is told by the mother, Orleanna Price, and the four daughters: Rachel, Leah, Adah, and Ruth May.  One of the most brilliant things about this book is the way that Kingsolver brings all of the different voices out.  My favorite is Adah's voice.  Adah is very smart, but has never spoken a word in her life, and thinks backwards and in palindromes just for fun.

I highly recommend this book.  It is long and I took a long time to read it, savoring each page. It took me several days to get into another book because I felt like I was still in the Belgian Congo. This book will draw you in and, once you have finished it, make you wonder about the Prices for a long time afterwards.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Hello and My First Book Review

Hello Blogging World!  I'm excited to be here blogging about one of my favorite topics: books.
I have loved reading since I was little and I could spend hours snuggled up under an old quilt with a good novel.  So, I decided to start a blog, mainly for myself, so I could have a way to document everything that I read and what I think of it.

I thought I would start with a book that is new to me and that I really enjoyed.  It's called The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery.  I love L.M. Montgomery, particularly for her classic Anne of Green Gables series.
This edition is much prettier than my 90s paperback version

The Blue Castle is the story of an "old maid" named Valancy.  She lives with her manipulative mother and domineering aunt and has been ruled her whole dreary life by her close knit and unkind family.   He only consolations are nature books written by a mysterious John Foster and her imaginary "blue castle" where everything she wants comes true.  But, on her 29th birthday, all of this changes.  Valancy suffers from a heart condition and is told by her doctor that she will not live longer than one year.

Another pretty edition.  This one is a modern copy.

After a night of thinking back over her life, she realizes that she has never done what she actually wants to do.  She determines to live the rest of her life truly enjoying herself.  She proceeds to horrify her family by saying exactly what she thinks about everything, going to work for a dying woman who has a scandalous background, and doing whatever she feels like.  Eventually, Valancy finds her own Blue Castle.  

This book is so charming and I love the setting of the beautiful Canadian country.  The story is well-crafted and I was drawn in at once by Montgomery's wonderful writing.  I actually stayed up until 11:30 one night reading because it was so engrossing.  The book is a quick read (my copy is only 200 pages).   This would be a perfect weekend book.  

Reading this book has inspired me to read some of L.M. Montgomery's less well-known writings.  I look forward to writing more about my reading adventures!