In the Bookcase


Only 3 days until...

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge ... JUNE 2015

It's just 3 more days until my favorite reading challenge starts this summer. (Of course, yes, I'm biased.) But I simply cannot wait to delve further into Louisa May Alcott's writings.

You're invited to join! Everyone can make their own selection of books to read. Anything written by or about L. M. Alcott is perfect for this challenge.

I hope to see you here on June 1st!


Book Review: Christy

Christy Christy

written by Catherine Marshall

501 pages, adult fiction
originally published in 1967

5 Star Rating

My Review...

Christy is a beautiful book that illustrates quality morals and character-building traits. This book is now considered by most a vintage classic, especially in the Christian community. Due to some of the content, I recommend it for high school students and adults.

In 1912, Christy Huddleston is a courageous 19-year-old, daring to shed her high-society life to become a schoolteacher in a little community set among the Appalachian Mountains. The rugged little village of Cutter Gap is quite different than young Christy's imaginings before leaving her comfy home. Nonetheless, she takes her monthly wages to work as the mission schoolteacher and does the best teaching she can, while she herself is learning on the job. The culture of the mountain folk is quite steeped in Scottish culture and beliefs. Each of the "clans" are set in their ways and don't take too kindly to change. Whether they want it or not, once plucky Christy Huddleston arrives, Cutter Gap won't be quite the same.

Although the reader may not have encountered the things that Christy does, most will still relate to her bold-but-impressionable inner nature. For example, I may not have to command a schoolroom full of 70 children, battle against the moonshiners in town, bear the sights of crude surgery performed in a rustic setting, or swallow the smells of too many people living in a two-room cabin... but as I read this book, I can understand her worries, discomforts, and also the utter joys, as will any reader.

It is a book to be cherished.

The story is inspired by the true experience of the author's mother, Leonora Whitaker, when she was a young and impressionable schoolteacher. Additionally, I was pleased to learn that the author herself, Catherine Marshall, was married to famed minister Peter Marshall – and I'm rather excited to read her biography of him, A Man Called Peter.

NOTE to the discerning reader & parents: There are 2 minor things to mention, although I don't feel that they mar the book on the whole. (1) A young teenage girl is taken advantage of by a man, and her story is told in some detail. (2) Some foul words are used throughout the book. (For these reasons I recommend the book for older teens and adults.)

Christy by Catherine Marshall is certainly a new favorite novel of mine. One day it will be worth a re-read.

Reading to Know - Book Club
Stop by Carrie's blog to join!

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.


Book Review: Magic Words & Life Lessons

IRELAND (Travels with Gannon and Wyatt) Magic Words & Life Lessons
What to Say and What to Do At Work, At Home, & Everywhere

written by Dr. Patrick Wahl

98 pages, self-help
published in 2015

4 Star Rating

My Review...

Magic Words & Life Lessons is about unlocking the right things to say and when to say them.

Reading the book exhibits a similar feeling as sitting through a conference, with the speaker sharing a list of helpful phrases and unique conversation skills. Most of this comes from the author's own experiences and is passing it on to us as readers. From this book, I learned that sometimes there are always other ways to share your opinion aside from being too forward. Phrasing is key in every conversation. The types of words you choose ultimately define how you are perceived by other people. For someone involved in customer service, this book can come in handy as it prepares you on how to respond to tricky questions and how to make your customers feel special.

I wouldn't go as far as saying you'll "never be tongue-tied again", but you'll definitely pick up on some good tips.

Thanks to the author and publisher for the free review copy.

P.S. See this review on Goodreads and Amazon.


Free AUDIOBOOKS this summer from SYNC

If you enjoy listening to audiobooks, as I do, you might want to check out Audio File's SYNC summer program... for free audiobooks!

Each week through the summer, SYNC releases 2 free audiobooks. You'll have to install the OverDrive program on your device, if you don't have it already. (You'll be able to transfer the files to other devices if needed.)


The FREE selection usually includes YA picks, classic lit and more.

For example, this week's available books include Great Expectations by Charles Dickens and Dodger by Terry Pratchett.

* Please note: I am not personally recommending any of the books provided by SYNC -- but I am excited about this free online resource to keep my ears (and mind) happily content this summer.


Stacking up the 2015 reading goals...

This week I figured that it was high-time for an update on all my book challenges. I wanted to see how I'm stacking up against my goals for the year. Below I've outlined the various reading challenges I've taken on for 2015, with my current status.

Now, for the challenges...

There's still time to for you to join any of these challenges, if you are so inclined. =) There's a particular one that I hope you will join me in...

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge ... JUNE 2015
Yes, it's true! The annual reading challenge I host is almost upon on us again for 2015. I truly hope you'll join me! Everyone can pick the Alcott book(s) they wish to read during June, and we'll have fun together with the writings of Miss Louisa Alcott.

Summer COYER Sign Ups
I'll be joining the COYER chalenge again for the summer, after completing the winter one earlier in the year. Fun prizes are involved! Plus, it helps me clear through several e-books at once.

This year I signed up to tackle Mt. Ararat (AKA, 48 books) from my TBR piles. [20 out of 48 complete]

I've taken on the The Highlander level (AKA, 5-8 books). [2 out of 8 complete]

I'm also tackling a library challenge, aiming for the Going Pro level of 28+ library books. [9 of 28 complete]

For this challenge, I've been keeping up with all the places I've traveled (via books) this year. Check out my Book Map board on Pinterest to see all the delightful places I've visited in books so far. For a quick list, I've "visited"... Cuba, Jamaica, Ivory Coast, Israel, Austria, Netherlands, Ireland, United Kingdom, Canada, and a few of the United States. =)

So that's what I've been reading in 2015.

Hey! ... Will you be joining me in the Louisa May Alcott challenge this summer?


RMS Lusitania, 100 Years later

If you've followed my blog for very long, you might know that I do enjoy learning about historical and maritime events. Studying about the Titanic has been the biggest research project I've shared about on the blog. Several other historical events intrigue me, but the Titanic still fascinates me, perhaps because of all the mysteries that we'll never solve about the ocean liner's ill-fated maiden voyage.

There's another ship I've become quite interested in learning more about -- the RMS Lusitania. Many differences exist between it and the Titanic, but with several similarities at the same time. Both were huge ships in their day -- in fact, each briefly held the title as "world's largest passenger ship" at some point -- until they each sunk. The British ocean liner Lusitania wrecked not because of an iceberg, but because she was shot at by a German U-boat during World War I -- a true war crime. 1,198 passengers and crew went down with Lusitania (slightly less lives than the 1,500+ on Titanic).

The Lusitania was torpedoed and sunk 3 years after Titanic.

May 7, 1915.

100 years ago today.

In honor of this being the century anniversary, I'm sharing a poem I discovered a while back in a delightfully-old hardbound book entitled A Treasury of War Poetry. The following poem is called 'The Passengers of a Retarded Submersible'.

What was it kept you so long, brave German submersible?
We have been very anxious lest matters had not gone well
With you and the precious cargo of your country's drugs and dyes.
But here you are at last, and the sight is good for our eyes,
Glad to welcome you up and out of the caves of the sea,
And ready for sale or barter, whatever your will may be.

Oh, do not be impatient, good friends of this neutral land,
That we have been so tardy in reaching your eager strand.
We were stopped by a curious chance just off the Irish coast,
Where the mightiest wreck ever was lay crowded with a host
Of the dead that went down with her; and some prayed us to bring them here
That they might be at home with their brothers and sisters dear.
We Germans have tender hearts, and it grieved us sore to say
We were not a passenger ship, and to most we must answer nay,
But if from among their hundreds they could somehow a half-score choose
We thought we could manage to bring them, and we would not refuse.
They chose, and the women and children that are greeting you here are those
Ghosts of the women and children that the rest of the hundred chose.

What guff are you giving us, Captain? We are able to tell, we hope,
A dozen ghosts, when we see them, apart from a periscope.
Come, come, get down to business! For time is money, you know,
And you must make up in both to us for having been so slow.
Better tell this story of yours to the submarines, for we
Know there was no such wreck, and none of your spookery.

Oh, kind kin of our murderers, take us back when you sail away;
Our own kin have forgotten us. O Captain, do not stay!
But hasten, Captain, hasten: The wreck that lies under the sea
Shall be ever the home for us this land can never be.

For another excellent poem on the sinking of the Lusitania, read The Lusitania by John Weber.

To read an interesting account of the shipwreck, read the newly-posted BBC News article Remembering the Lusitania: One passenger's remarkable story of survival.


Book Review: Ireland (Travels with Gannon and Wyatt)

IRELAND (Travels with Gannon and Wyatt) IRELAND
from the Travels with Gannon and Wyatt series

written by Patti Wheeler & Keith Hemstreet

192 pages, middle grade fiction
published in 2015

5 Star Rating

My Review...

"We're on a quest for the kind of knowledge you can't get from a textbook," says Gannon and Wyatt, two twin brothers who have the opportunity to travel the world. You can join them in their fictional adventure series.

Since their parents have flexible jobs that often lead the whole family through foreign countries, these brothers are living the adventure of a lifetime. This time, in the newest volume (published April 2015) the twins are stopping in Ireland for a spell. Each book in the Travels with Gannon and Wyatt series features a trip to another special corner of the globe.

There many fun things to discover in the enchanted land of Gannon and Wyatt's Irish ancestors. In the midst of all the Medieval-age architecture (like the Blarney Stone), their vacation takes a turn as the boys get involved in a problem damaging the local community. While volunteering at a farm in the area, the two brothers have to keep up with their homeschool studies while working on the farm every day.

What I love about this book is that the young characters are excited to learn about the world they live in, how things work, and the history of everything about a place and its people. Together, they just want to take in the language and traditions of Ireland, do some sight-seeing, and participate with the folks who live there. They're truly interested in helping others and solving problems. Plus, it's all wrapped up in compelling fiction to keep middle graders entertained.

Additional notes: Just keep an open mind about the Irish fairytales and lore.

Of course, I was thrilled to learn that Gannon and Wyatt are homeschool students, since I was homeschooled myself.

Excellent tourist photos are included throughout, to provide the reader with real glimpses of the boys' trip. Plus, if you'd like to learn more about the places Gannon and Wyatt visit, be sure to visit their website and other links included at the back of the book.

Now that I've discovered this series, I'm pretty excited to continue traveling with Gannon and Wyatt on their worldwide jaunt.

Thanks to NetGalley and Greenleaf Book Group Press for the free ebook.

P.S. See this review on Goodreads and Amazon.