Friday, March 24, 2017

Classic Children's Literature Event & Other Musings

Wow. It's been a long time since I've been active on this blog. Reasons? I'm afraid I got bored. Bored with the layouts, bored with reviewing books, just bored of the online blogging life in general, though not bored with my blogging friends, I promise.

A weird side effect of going to a writer's workshop is that I suddenly lost all desire to write. No doubt my lack of inspiration was born out of fear of inadequacy, something I've always struggled with where my writing is concerned, and I let that fear mandate my online life. Not that I was ever all the active on my blog; not when you can look at any number of book blogs and find them posting 4 reviews a day. As much as I would love being able to read that many books, my 40 hour a week job requests my presence. Alas, for all those poor, unread books!

But if there's one thing I know, it's that I have always enjoyed participating in Amanda's Classic Children's Literature Event. She used to host it in January, but moved it to April, probably a wise decision since April isn't right after Christmas.

So, knowing her event is coming up has inspired me to rework my blog a little bit, changing up the layout with, what I consider to be, a much more modern and user friendly design. I feel like my blog is more comfortable, and maybe, I'm hoping, I'll be less fidgety with it. Because if there's one thing I'm guilty of, it's never being 100% pleased with end results of graphic design.

But back to the:

Classic Children's Literature Event - April 2017

Here's how the challenge works: I read as many classic children's books as I want (published pre-1967) and write a blog post about each of them. Simple!

If I want to, I can also participate in the Read-a-Long for this session, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll. While I have read Carroll's book before, it's been a long time since my last re-read. To be honest, I've never been all that much of a fan simply because Carroll was a bit of nutcase in my mind. But a part of me still wants to love Wonderland, so it's a good thing for me to re-read it, keeping a little bit more of an open mind.

In the past, I've given a list of books that I intended to read. Not happening this year. I own a couple of children's classics that I'd like to read and I'll probably head over to the library the beginning of April to scour their offerings, but as to limiting myself to a list, no can do. That always seems to be where I fail the most, attempting to fulfill a list of requirements that limit my inspiration. So I'm just going to blow wherever the wind takes me this time around.

Book Review: Murder on the Moor by Julianna Deering (Drew Farthering #5)

Published 2017, rated 5 stars

Julianna Deering is my new hero. She's a queen among women; wielding her pen with the efficiency of Aragorn and his sword Anduril.

Where do I even start with my praises of Murder on the Moor?!

Okay, first of all, great character development in this 5th book in her Drew Farthering series. Drew and Madeline have been married for almost 2 years now, still happy little newlyweds, but Drew undergoes a maturing of character that involves not letting past prejudices interfere with his perception of new people that he meets. He also realizes that sometimes, his wife is right. Big shocker, there. So I was very pleased to see them grow, both individually, and as a couple. As my mother put it (she read the book first), it's terrific to see Madeline be more self-assured and less "whiny." Her words, not mine.

As a huge Sherlockian, it delighted me to see a story that obviously founds its base in The Hound of the Baskervilles, but was also completely unique unto itself. And that ending?! Oh my goodness, I had no idea that twist was coming! And that's the first time I can say that with this series, so I was thrilled beyond repair. Great job, Ms. Deering, on shocking and amazing me.

The atmosphere was perfect. I love that Drew's best friend Nick Dennison put in an appearance in his Watsonesque role. I also love that first appearance are deceiving. Drew does a lot of jumping to conclusions about people and their motives and half the time, he's wrong. It was a good lesson for him, and a good reminder for the reader that we can't see inside someone's heart and so it's wrong to judge them or think we know them when we really don't. A hard lesson to learn.

Of the Drew Farthering series thus far, Murder on the Moor is hands down my favorite, although Dressed for Death comes in a pretty close second. These books just make me so happy and feed my already fat love of all things 1930s. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Book Review: For Love and Honor by Jody Hedlund (An Uncertain Choice #3)

I didn't think it possible. But I actually enjoyed For Love and Honor. Considering how much I detested, and yes I know it's a strong word but very true, the first two books in the series, I wasn't holding out much hope.

Lady Sabine is wealthy, considers herself plain, practical, and hides a skin blemish that could very easily get her accused of witchcraft. Sir Bennet is the younger son of a family whose eldest son suffered great personal loss and in his grief managed to gamble enough of the inheritance away as to threaten the livelihood of the castle they own. Sir Bennet must find money and fast, but refuses to sell the family's treasured artwork and artifacts. He's a bit of a history nut, and since I too live with one in the form of my sister, I get where he's coming from. Lady Sabine happens to be incredibly wealthy and is tricked into visiting Sir Bennet by her grandmother, a woman who is desperate for her grandchild to find love. While Sabine thinks she is visiting Bennet to purchase artwork, grandmother has plans that involve matrimony. As it happens, Sabine and Bennet connect through their genuine love of art, history, and learning, and together prove that unlikely couples can find true love.

I'm pleased to say that Ms. Hedlund finished strong (I suspect this is the last in the series), and I thoroughly enjoyed the majority of Sir Bennet and Lady Sabine's tale. I think it had just enough of Ivanhoe in the story to hold my interest. Plus, there was no direct descriptive mention of medieval torture methods (EWWWWW!), and I felt like the characters were more relatable to me as a person than the previous novels.

Where For Love and Honor is concerned, I can honestly recommend it. In fact, I might even consider reading it again, which says a lot since I can't even fully remember what the first two novels entailed. There was a bit more authenticity to the relationship this time, and a lot less medieval torture. I still didn't see much in the way of Christian faith being represented, which disappointed me, but you can't have everything. It's simply a good read on a wintery day when you can curl up with a blanket and a warm cat and read for several uninterrupted hours.

Note: I received this ARC free from the publishing house in exchange for an honest review, which I have given.