In the Bookcase

2.22.2017

2 Book Reviews: Down to the Bonny Glen & Beyond the Heather Hills


Down to the Bonny Glen by Melissa Wiley (5 star review)


Down to the Bonny Glen

Little House: The Martha Years series, #3

written by Melissa Wiley

321 pages // published in 2001 // children's historical fiction




BOOK DESCRIPTION

Martha is frustrated because Mum has said she's too old to be playing on the moors now, and she must have a governess. First there's Miss Norrie. All she must to do is teach Martha sewing and etiquette. But Martha's high spirits are too much for her, and she leaves in a hurry. Martha thinks that's the end of that, but then another governess shows up. Her name is Miss Crow, and Martha is sure she's going to be even worse!

Down To The Bonny Glen is the third book in The Martha Years, an ongoing series about another spirited girl from America's most beloved pioneer family.




My Review


5 Star Rating

'Tis a bonny book, indeed!

The chapters simply fly by -- I, for one, couldn't stop reading it! When away from the book for hours at a time, I found myself wondering what would happen next to Hedgie (Martha's dear little pet hedgehog that lives in the larder to collect the bugs), or what special bit of wisdom that Auld Mary would next impart to her starling pupil, or worrying about whether or not Martha will end up sending the second governess packing, just as she did to Miss Norrie.

Martha Morse herself is quite a bonny girl. She loves spending her days out on the moors and imagining where the little fairy folk flit about. Even though she's the daughter of the Glencaraid laird, she doesn't put on fancy airs, and instead desires to put in some honest work whenever she can finagle it in (which is mostly when her parents or governess isn't looking). I like her character a lot -- she's a good, honest lass that other girls can look up to as a role model.

I tell you, I read so many passages aloud to myself (always in as best a Scottish accent as I can manage). The writing is simply perfect. The author somehow went above and beyond what is needed for a children's book to truly convey the Scottish heritage. I really liked how in this volume, it covers several months of time and we get to experience quite a few special days and holidays of the Scottish culture with Martha and the Morse family (most of the traditions I barely knew about myself!).

NOTE to the discerning reader & parents: There's a lot of folklore, fairy tales, and superstitions that the villagers of Glencaraid either believe in or at least talk of often. At a later point in the book, the mother tells the story of her own birth.


Available on Amazon in paperback format.

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Beyond the Heather Hills by Melissa Wiley (5 star review)


Beyond the Heather Hills

Little House: The Martha Years series, #4

written by Melissa Wiley

208 pages // published in 2003 // children's historical fiction




BOOK DESCRIPTION
In this fourth book in the Martha Years series, ten-year-old Martha journeys to the bustling city of Perth to visit her newly married sister Grisie.

This is Martha′s first time beyond the familiar heather hills and this city on the River Tay is more exciting than she could have ever imagined!




My Review


5 Star Rating

In "Beyond the Heather Hills", the young, adventurous Martha Morse, is taking a trip away from home for the first time in her life. The only land she's laid eyes on before is her father's land of Glencaraid... but she's about to discover that there's so much more of the world.

I cherish the moment that Martha and her older sister Grisie locked eyes and bonded like never before. It's a beautiful scene. There's other such enjoyable moments in "Beyond the Heather Hills" -- lots of things to chuckle over, but quite a few solemn moments too. And through it all, there's the Scottish brogue to keep every single conversation SO riveting.

Although these books are nice and lovely to enjoy, this one seemed to have a few grim scenes that could be perceived as a little scary for youngsters reading it alone. For example, while visiting her older sister, Martha stays in a room which once belonged to a girl that is sometimes referred to as "Dead Cora", and Martha is unsettled with the situation for a while (who wouldn't?). About half-way through, Martha witnesses a man having a seizure -- and it's a very dramatic event for her to experience.

There's much Scottish folklore in these books, which colors the culture well. Anyone would learn much about Scotland. (This series isn't just for children to enjoy, you know!)

If only there were more books in this series! It's still hard for me to believe I've read the last of the Martha set, and there's no more! (This probably just means I'll have to re-read the series one day, as Martha Morse is now a character very close to my own heart.)

Already I miss Cook, Nannie and Hedgie (yes, that's the hedgehog), Grisie, Alisdair, Duncan and Robbie, Auld Mary, and I think Miss Crow too. Plus I have the most curious of feelings towards Lew Tucker, the blacksmith's son. If only I could see a peek into Martha's future!


Available on Amazon in paperback format.

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2.18.2017

Book Review: Emmeline

Emmeline by Sarah Holman (5 star review)


Emmeline

written by Sarah Holman

214 pages // published in 2017 // Christian historical fiction




BOOK DESCRIPTION

What if Jane Austen’s Emma lived in America in the year 1930?

The talk of stock market crashes and depression isn’t going to keep Emmeline Wellington down. Born to wealth and privilege, Emmeline wants nothing more than to help her new friend, Catarina, find a husband. Emmeline sets her sights on one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, but nothing seems to go right. Even her friend and neighbor Fredrick Knight seems to question her at every turn.

Will she help Catarina find the man of her dreams? Why is her father acting so strangely? Will the downturn affect her life, despite her best efforts?




My Review


5 Star Rating


"Emmeline" is a great historical twist on a Jane Austen classic, and is well-written. It certainly kept my interest piquéd from the first page to the last!

I'm actually not even an Austen reader (yet!), but this book is certainly nudging me to start reading some of her books. (Like, right now.) Similar to how fairy tale retellings are all the craze right now, this series is something new. It's a retelling of classic literature, set in a different time period than the original, and with some of the elements switched around -- but the skeleton of the story is the same. I'm in love with this novel idea. What avid reader wouldn't be?!

The time period sets Emmeline's story in America during the first year of the Great Depression (as opposed to Regency England in the original plot). American business is declining overall, workers are being laid off, and most families' budgets are already tightening fast. As Emmeline's neighbor and dear friend Fredrick Knight says, "I can't make any promises. These are uncertain times."

Let's talk about the main character. Emmeline is a young, well-meaning woman -- with designs to matchmake her friends together, like it's the most thrilling puzzle she's ever tried to accomplish. She encourages ideas for other people that are not always wise -- and especially in the case of how she "helps" Catarina, a German girl, to blend in with society better. In this particular and somewhat unusual friendship, it was like watching "My Fair Lady" unfold on the sidelines while reading the book. (i.e., kinda loved it!) But personally, I couldn't connect with Emmaline's character well, because she has a much different personality that I, but still I found her antics fun to watch! Even if she is kind, generous, and well-meaning, her ideas sometimes lead herself and others astray. There's a VERY touching moment as she comes to realize some of this. We can all learn from our mistakes if we allow the grace of God to shine His light on our life, even in the midst of romantic blunders and youthful perils.

I would consider this a "clean" read, with good Christian influences in it. You're not going to find any objectionable content! I fully respect how the book tactfully covered issues such as modesty in the late 1920s / early 1930s, and opinions of what some Christians thought of other moral issues in America, like dancing or going to see movies.

This novel has a professional polish to it! It's also well-researched and there are many historical details in there, which really help the story sparkle.

Visit The Vintage Jane Austen book series online!
vintagejaneausten.com

The Vintage Jane Austen book series


Keep in mind, this is the first in a series of Jane Austen retellings by various authors. I, for one, look forward to seeing which one comes out next!





Available on Amazon in e-book format.

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2.16.2017

An upcoming guide on writing well...

I'm so excited that one of my favorite authors, Rachelle Rea Cobb, is venturing out with a new book -- this time on WRITING. You may remember her books from me gushing about them often enough here on my blog. (Click to see my reviews of The Sound of Diamonds, The Sound of Silver, The Sound of Emeralds)

In addition to providing us with this gorgeous piece of vintage typewriter eye candy, Rachelle promises to deliver on the goods. The goods on how to... WRITE WELL.


Write Well by Rachelle Rea Cobb

BOOK DESCRIPTION

Writing isn’t all heart and art. It’s structure and syntax, too.

Looking for a short guide that will help you understand the structure of writing so you can get back to the art?

Hi there, I'm Rachelle Rea Cobb. and I have history with words. I've ever been known as a grammar geek with a knack for storytelling. I help others polish their pages until their words shine—and then they can sign their own publishing contracts. I work with authors (traditional and self-published), ESL writers, students, and bloggers. Entrusting your words to an editor can be excruciating, but I always treat them with the utmost care, never squashing your voice. Instead, my job is to unleash it from typos, fluff, and repetitiveness, etc.

And now I'd like to share my expertise with you in Write Well, a short ebook designed to walk you through what you need to know so you can get back to the real work: actual writing!






WRITE WELL releases on March 4th. Pre-order now!


2.11.2017

A new kind of Jane Austen to enjoy + $10 gift card giveaway!

Do you love reading classic literature? Are you a Jane Austen fan? I have a special kind of book to share about today...

It's the first in a brand series, The Vintage Jane Austen. Christian author Sarah Holman has penned this first volume, Emmeline, which is based on Jane Austen's novel, Emma. I've been given a sneak peek of this new book, Emmeline, and can tell you, fellow readers, it's a REALLY good one! The story transports you not to England in the Georgian era, but to America after the stock market crash of 1929 when the Great Depression is in it's infancy. It's a whole new story... and a truly engrossing way to enjoy Jane Austen all over again.

Now, isn't this one of the loveliest book covers you've ever seen?



Emmeline by Sarah Holman


BOOK DESCRIPTION

What if Jane Austen’s Emma lived in America in the year 1930?

The talk of stock market crashes and depression isn’t going to keep Emmeline Wellington down. Born to wealth and privilege, Emmeline wants nothing more than to help her new friend, Catarina, find a husband. Emmeline sets her sights on one of the town’s most eligible bachelors, but nothing seems to go right. Even her friend and neighbor Fredrick Knight seems to question her at every turn.

Will she help Catarina find the man of her dreams? Why is her father acting so strangely? Will the downturn affect her life, despite her best efforts?


Now, for the aforementioned giveaway!!

If you'll just stop by author Sarah Holman's blog, she has the details about a $10 Amazon gift card giveaway. If you pre-order the book (at it's current discounted price), and then let Sarah know, your name is in the drawing.




Stay tuned for my review on this book next week!


2.10.2017

Hmm! How reading affects your kids...

This is some pretty COOL info on reading, the effects it has on a child's life as they grow, and MORE! Comes with 5 easy infographic charts to look at. :)




Kids & Family Reading Report

article by Scholastic

"In fall 2016, Scholastic, in conjunction with YouGov, conducted its biannual survey to explore family attitudes and behaviors around reading books for fun. The key findings of this research, based on a nationally representative sample of 2,718 parents and children..."

— Continue reading at scholastic.com


Kids & Family Reading Report