In the Bookcase

6.30.2015

Closing the 2015 Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge

"He who believes is strong; he who doubts is weak. Strong convictions precede great actions."
- Louisa May Alcott


Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge ... JUNE 2015


Dearest readers,

I thank you for joining me this month in the Louisa May Alcott reading challenge. It has been amazing for me to relish in the writings of Miss Alcott right alongside you all. It seems Rose in Bloom (the sequel to Eight Cousins) was a popular choice among the challenge participants; it has been great seeing all the varying opinions on the same book. We all chose a good variety of books written by and about the charming Louisa May Alcott. (I found some excellent titles to add to my TBR list!)

I personally read 2 books for the challenge. You can see my reviews for each book:
Rose in Bloom // Little Women Next Door


Woman at a Window, 1822, C.D. Friedrich
Woman at a Window, 1822, C.D. Friedrich
Similar to opening scene of Chapter 2, Rose in Bloom



What books did you enjoy for the Louisa May Alcott challenge?

// Join the challenge... //

Submit your Louisa May Alcott blog or social media posts on the linky below. Any and ALL of your posts about Miss Alcott are welcome. If you decide to share a favorite quote, a book review, or any other thoughts... link up and take a look at some of the other participants' posts. Thank you for joining us!





My friends -- same time next year?


6.28.2015

Book Review: The Little Prince

The Little Prince

The Little Prince

written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

98 pages // published in 1940 // children's fiction




My Review...

5 Star Rating

Le Petit Prince is the original French title of this charming children's book -- (or perhaps it's an adult's book?) The easy words, simple ideas, elementary lessons, and watercolor pictures might make a person believe it's for children. Think again. The design of the plot may be only a small part of a interwoven web of big notions.

"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

The Little Prince is written to make one see adults from a child's perspective -- how serious that adults seem to always be, not looking at life from a cheery, fun viewpoint. One might see the book as being written as a comical little muse. Children will enjoy it as a picture book. Adults will enjoy it for the truths the words hide.

The author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, was born in 1900 in Lyon, France. Mesmerized with flight in his childhood, he eventually became a pilot in the military, serving during World War II. He dreamed big -- just as this book shows. But his ultimate dream of flying nabbed him from this world in 1944, he himself much like The Little Prince. His most famous work published only a year before his untimely death.


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




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


6.26.2015

Curation of Alcott-themed gifts & products

Today I'm sharing a list of beautiful products featuring the famous Louisa May Alcott and her books. These handmade items from Etsy are perfect for gift ideas for your literature-minded friends and family! (Or, as a gift to yourself, of course.)

Please, enjoy....


Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge ... JUNE 2015



'Louisa May Alcott, 19th Century Authoress' by PixelBerryPieDesigns

For lovers of Little Women and the rest of Miss Alcott's beautiful writings.


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// About the reading challenge... //

Just as a reminder: the Louisa May Alcott challenge is coming to a close in just 4 more days. Our final checkup point will be posted on June 30th, and you can share your reviews and thoughts on the challenge on that day or anytime afterwards.


6.24.2015

Book Review: Little Women Next Door

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge ... JUNE 2015


Little Women Next Door

Little Women Next Door

written by Sheila Solomon Klass

188 pages // published in 2000 // children's fiction




My Review...

5 Star Rating

Little Women Next Door is a fictional biographical account of Louisa May Alcott as a young girl. The hard work of the author (Klass) shines through, as she brings to light many points that show us how Louisa grew into the writer who penned the American classic, Little Women.

The story is told to us through the eyes of a young girl, Susan, neighbor to the Alcotts. She receives the delightful opportunity to watch all the interesting things the Alcotts do and gets to befriend Louisa herself.

What I learned about... THE ALCOTTS...
Before reading this book, I understood that the Alcotts led a "different" life, compared to the other people of their time, but I didn't quite understand how or why. Now I feel like I've been introduced to many concepts and the basic ideas that the Alcotts tried to capture and implement at their farm, Fruitlands.

The "Newness" that the Alcott practiced (or their Transcendentalism) led them to do odd things by many standards. For starters, the family became vegans -- to the point of not even using animal products for clothing or household necessities. To use a sheep for its wool was to turn the animal into a slave.

So much so did the family oppose slavery (human or animal), that even though they were Christians, they left the church because the church did not actually condemn slavery. So they became Consociates. Their lifestyle closely resembled Quakers and Shakers.

"First, sir, I want to assure you that I am a Christian, and it is my belief that Jesus Christ was the wisest teacher ever to come on earth." (Chapter 4, Little Women Next Door)

The men grew beards when most other farmers didn't.

"Child, this beard is mighty costly." He stroked the edges of it fondly. "It cost me a whole year in jail." (Chapter 4, Little Women Next Door)

What I learned about... LOUISA...
As for Louisa May Alcott herself. Oh, what a joy she was as a child -- if this book is anything to go by! What struck me first in Klass's representation of Louisa in that the girl bubbles over with an Anne Shirley mentality. She loves using big words, dreaming up the most daring ideas, and rather doesn't mind silly things. As the main character of the story, Susan, believes... Louisa was "born brave". In the words of Mr. Alcott, Louisa had a "marvelously creative mind".

Louey said, "I shall be a famous actress and write things that earn trunkfuls of money. And I shall never be a young lady. I'm going to be a scapegrace." (Chapter 5, Little Women Next Door)

Even the famous poets, Emerson and Thoreau, make their appearance in the story. Both of these writers were great friends of the Alcotts, and most likely inspired Louisa to take up her own pen.

I did so enjoy this book, and greatly recommend it to anyone interested in where Louisa May Alcott came from. Her family was certainly unique, and it makes for a great study in history to see how the ideas of Transcendentalism affected her career as a 19th-century authoress.

NOTE to the discerning reader & parents: Some (very minor) language is used. Particularly a certain phrase that the girls take a liking to, and is sometimes repeated.




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


6.20.2015

Book Review: Rose in Bloom

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge ... JUNE 2015


Rose in Bloom

Rose in Bloom // sequel to Eight Cousins

written by Louisa May Alcott

98 pages // published in 1876 // literary classic




My Review...

5 Star Rating

Rose in Bloom is a beautiful gem of a book, penned by the same hand which authored the time-honored novel Little Women. This is the sequel to the charming volume entitled Eight Cousins. A more "grown-up" Rose Campbell returns to her family clan after travelling around the world with her friend Phebe as companion.

I love this book because Rose in independent, yet desires to serve others. Suffice it to say, she is a good role model for girls. I found her to be very much selfless. Even though Rose possesses personal wealth, she wishes not to shower herself with glories but to disperse it to those less fortunate. Creating a lifestyle considered progressive for a woman (especially in the 1800s), Rose in blooming into a mature woman of society with tender confidence.

Since I cannot describe Miss Rose Campbell as well as the author once did, here's a direct picture of our blossoming heroine:

"Not a remarkably gifted girl in any way, and far from perfect; full of all manner of youthful whims and fancies; a little spoiled by much love; rather apt to think all lives as safe and sweet as her own; and, when want or pain appealed to her, the tender heart overflowed with a remorseful charity which gave of its abundance recklessly. Yet, with all her human imperfections, the upright nature of the child kept her desires climbing toward the just and pure and true, as flowers struggle to the light; and the woman's soul was budding beautifully under the green leaves behind the little thorns." (Chapter 3, Rose in Bloom)

With her seven male cousins surrounding her, along with the odd assortment of various aunts and uncles, there are many who desire to see Rose grow. They cherish her presence among themselves and attempt to flatter her at every turn. Advances in love flourish as Rose once again settles among the people she knows best in the world.

Phebe Moore, Rose's befriended maid, too is experiencing her own way of making it into society -- only through a different course. Her life has always been destined to contrast Rose's, as her place on the social ladder started out on a much lower rung. Quickly she is learning how to climb higher though, and soon wins the heart of a familiar face, without intended design. However, the social implications simply couldn't converge for a winning marriage. So what can a girl do?

As usual, Louisa May Alcott has written another charming book. The story contains many good life lessons. As Rose tries life out on her own, sometimes becoming a bit too daring or risky with her choices, she soon makes her way back and settles into routine. In essence, the reader learns much of Victorian idealism and traditions of young adults during that time. I did so enjoy getting to catch glimpses of what all of those Eight Cousins became as they turn into adults.

In closing, enjoy some advice on life from dearest cousin, Mac Campbell ("the Worm" was always my favorite of Rose's cousins anyway):

"I have my dreams and aspirations, and some of them are pretty high ones. Aim at the best, you know, and keep climbing if you want to get on." (Chapter 2, Rose in Bloom)

Grab the free ebook online via Project Gutenberg or Amazon.




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


6.19.2015

Checkup point for the Louisa May Alcott challenge

"Far away there in the sunshine are my highest aspirations. I may not reach them, but I can look up and see their beauty, believe in them, and try to follow where they lead."
- Louisa May Alcott


Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge ... JUNE 2015


This is a challenge checkup point for all participants in the Louisa May Alcott reading challenge this month!


How is everyone doing on their challenge booklist?

Drop me a comment -- Let's discuss!

* By the way, it's NOT to late to join if you haven't begun yet.



So, here's my own LMA challenge update. (I look forward to hearing the progress you've all made on your personal challenges!) Again, here's a quick look at my booklist this month.


Rose in Bloom (1876) •
written by Louisa May Alcott

Reading 'Rose in Bloom' this June for the LMA reading challenge!



Little Women Next Door (2000) •
written by Sheila Solomon Klass

Reading 'Little Women Next Door' this June for the LMA reading challenge!


So, what I have accomplished? Actually, I'm done! I finished Rose in Bloom a few days ago (a new favorite book of mine!!), and breezed through Little Women Next Door because it's a fairly quick read. What's left for me? I just need to review these books and post here on the blog to share my complete thoughts on my challenge books. (FYI -- love both of them!) Stay tuned -- the first review will be up Monday morning.




What book(s) are you reading for the Louisa May Alcott challenge?

* Remember, it can be any book or story penned by the hand of Miss Alcott, or written about her.


Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge ... JUNE 2015
{Click here for the button code.}


// Join the challenge... //

Submit your Louisa May Alcott blog or social media posts on the linky below. Any and ALL of your posts about Miss Alcott are welcome. If you decide to share a favorite quote, a book review, or any other thoughts... link up and take a look at some of the other participants' posts. Thank you for joining us!




6.17.2015

Naming the 3 winners of the LMA giveaway!

Thank you to all who entered in the contest for a chance to win my
Louisa May Alcott Literary Quote Typographic Wall Art.

I was thrilled to be offering this special prize to you from my very own shop, Pixel Berry Pie Designs!


Out of all the entries, the 3 winners are...

.:. Kathy A .:.

.:. Meredith J .:.

.:. Tracee .:.


Congratulations!
I have sent you an email about your prize.

Again, thanks to everyone else who participated in the giveaway.

Don't forget that this art print is for sale! Grab your own from my Etsy shop.



Visit my shop Pixel Berry Pie Designs here:
EtsyWebsiteFacebookPinterest



Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge ... JUNE 2015
{Click here for the button code.}


// Join the challenge... //

Submit your Louisa May Alcott blog or social media posts on the linky below. Any and ALL of your posts about Miss Alcott are welcome. If you decide to share a favorite quote, a book review, or any other thoughts... link up and take a look at some of the other participants' posts. Thank you for joining us!




6.15.2015

The Sound of Diamonds // RELEASE DAY!

It's release day!

I'm thrilled to be announcing that Rachelle Rea's debut novel The Sound of Diamonds is releasing TODAY, June 15th!

As a participant in Miss Rea's street team, I received an advance copy and have already read her amazing book before publication (lucky me!). So I can tell you that Rachelle does a fantastic job at writing historical fiction, and I thoroughly enjoyed Book #1 of the Steadfast Love series. I feel like a good book is made even better when I'm actually learning something new from it, and the author pulled this off effortlessly in her book, The Sound of Diamonds. Before I continue rambling further about this amazing book, you should just check out my (5 star!) review to see my complete thoughts on the book!

And then... why don't you add it to your summer reading list?

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The Sound of Diamonds
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In Reformation-era England, a converted rogue wants to restore his honor—at whatever cost. Running from a tortured past, Dirk Godfrey knows he has only one chance at redemption.

An independent Catholic maiden seeking refuge in the Low Countries finds herself at the center of the Iconoclastic Fury. Jaded by tragedy, Gwyneth’s only hope of getting home is to trust the man she hates, and she soon discovers her poor vision is not the only thing that has been blinding her.

But the home Gwyneth knew is not what she once thought. When a dark secret and a twisted plot for power collide in a castle masquerading as a haven, will the saint and the sinner hold to hope…or be overcome? When Dirk’s plan fails, could all be lost?


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Rachelle Rea, debut author Author Bio // Rachelle Rea plots her novels while driving around the little town she’s lived in all her life in her dream car, a pick-up truck. As a freelance editor, she enjoys mentoring fellow authors in the craft. A homeschool graduate and retired gymnast, she wrote the Sound of Diamonds the summer after her sophomore year of college.

Visit her website and blog at Inspiring Daring.

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The Sound of Diamonds is now available!

What can you do?

ADD THE BOOK to your Goodreads TBR list
/ / / / /
ORDER THE BOOK on Amazon.com
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Find Rachelle Rea online!

RachelleRea.com // Blog // Facebook // Twitter // Pinterest // Goodreads // Amazon




Grab your copy of The Sound of Diamonds NOW!




6.12.2015

List of published titles by Louisa May Alcott

"She is too fond of books, and it has turned her brain."
- Louisa May Alcott

This is a list of published books and short story collections penned by the adored hand of 19th-century authoress, Louisa May Alcott.

If you're taking part in my annual reading challenge, any of the titles mentioned below are great suggestions for your challenge booklist. Additionally, when participating in the reading challenge, any books about the life of Miss Alcott are also welcome.

If you don't already own the book you'd like to read, remember to check your local library (either for the physical book or digital content). You can also find a plenitude of free online resources for e-books or audiobook download. Gutenberg.org and Librivox.org are excellent places to begin your search. Amazon.com also offers a wide abundance of free literature. Read and enjoy!


Little Women book cover NOVELS:
  • Little Women
  • Good Wives (*Part Second of Little Women -- usually published in the same volume)
  • Little Men: Life at Plumfield with Jo's Boys
  • Jo's Boys and How They Turned Out
  • The Inheritance
  • Moods
  • The Mysterious Key and What It Opened
  • An Old Fashioned Girl
  • Will's Wonder Book
  • Work: A Story of Experience
  • Beginning Again, Being a Continuation of Work
  • Eight Cousins
  • Rose in Bloom: A Sequel to Eight Cousins
  • Under the Lilacs
  • Jack and Jill: A Village Story


PUBLISHED UNDER PEN NAME OF A.M. BARNARD:
  • Behind a Mask, or a Woman's Power
  • The Abbot's Ghost, or Maurice Treherne's Temptation
  • A Long Fatal Love Chase


PUBLISHED ANONYMOUSLY:
  • A Modern Mephistopheles

Set of apple green vintage LMA books


SHORT-STORY COLLECTIONS FOR CHILDREN:
  • Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag (*66 short stories in 6 volumes: Aunt Jo's Scrap-Bag, Shawl-Straps, Cupid and Chow-Chow, My Girls, Etc., Jimmy's Cruise in the Pinafore, Etc., An Old-Fashioned Thanksgiving, Etc.)
  • Lulu's Library (*32 Short Stories in 3 volumes)
  • Flower Fables
  • On Picket Duty, and other tales 
  • Morning-Glories and Other Stories
  • Kitty's Class Day and Other Stories
  • Spinning-Wheel Stories
  • The Candy Country 
  • May Flowers
  • Mountain-Laurel and Maidenhair
  • A Garland for Girls
  • The Brownie and the Princess


OTHER SHORT-STORIES & NOVELETTES:
  • Hospital Sketches
  • Pauline's Passion and Punishment
  • Perilous Play
  • Lost in a Pyramid, or the Mummy's Curse
  • Transcendental Wild Oats
  • Silver Pitchers, and Independence: A Centennial Love Story
    Comic Tragedies


6.05.2015

Louisa May Alcott GIVEAWAY! (Open INT)

"The power of finding beauty in the humblest things makes home happy and life lovely."
- Louisa May Alcott


Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge ... JUNE 2015


Dearest readers, I thank you for joining me for the 2015 Louisa May Alcott reading challenge (Check out the details if you haven't yet!)

In honor of the esteemed author we're celebrating this June, I'm offering 3 winners (yes, yes, & yes!) a typographic printable featuring one of my FAVORITE Louisa May Alcott quotes. Wouldn't you like this piece of artwork hanging on your wall?

Louisa May Alcott 8x10 artwork


This 8x10 printable design comes from my own Etsy shop, Pixel Berry Pie Designs. Check out some of my other wall art printables if you like. :)

Please note this prize is DIGITAL. You can print it from home or a local print shop --- [print, trim & frame it!] --- Since I am not actually shipping the prize in the mail, I'm happy to announce that the contest is open INTERNATIONALLY. {3 special readers will win the prize!}

Louisa May Alcott 8x10 artwork


The giveaway is open to everyone, whether you're participating in the reading challenge or not. (You can get 5 extra entries in the giveaway if you are taking part in the Alcott challenge!) Invite your literary-minded friends!

Everyone who answers the bonus question (correctly!) in the Rafflecopter also gets 5 extra entries. If you're unsure of the answer, look it up online -- don't worry, it's NOT cheating. =)

I'm simply delighted to be spending my summer sifting through the writings of Louisa May Alcott. And I can't wait to see which books you're going to read for the challenge as well!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

What book(s) are you reading for the Louisa May Alcott challenge?

* Remember, it can be any book or story penned by the hand of Miss Alcott, or written about her.


Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge ... JUNE 2015
{Click here for the button code.}


// Join the challenge... //

Submit your Louisa May Alcott blog or social media posts on the linky below. Any and ALL of your posts about Miss Alcott are welcome. If you decide to share a favorite quote, a book review, or any other thoughts... link up and take a look at some of the other participants' posts. Thank you for joining us!




6.03.2015

Book Review & GIVEAWAY: The Sound of Diamonds // BLOG TOUR

The Sound of Diamonds The Sound of Diamonds

written by Rachelle Rea

322 pages, YA / adult fiction
published in 2015

5 Star Rating


My Review...

The Sound of Diamonds is the story of a young man, a supposed rascal, attempting to redeem himself and his past actions...

The Sound of Diamonds is the story of a Catholic maiden, tucked away in a convent, far from harm's reach...

During the Reformation, religious quarrels are on the tip of every man's tongue. The Catholics and Protestants are in the rage of battle during the 1560s. The Spanish King Philip II cannot control the revolution, and neither can the English Queen Elizabeth I. So the Iconoclastic Fury snakes its way deep into the Dutch Low Countries, where Gwyneth thought she would be kept in the safety of the nuns. Not so.

To further Gwyneth's endangerment, on the unexpected night that the Fury arrives, a person she completely despises -- the murderer who she cannot bear to look upon -- again appears in her life. In some twisted way, Gwyneth considers him the lesser risk of the two harmful things that night -- to be slaughtered by the Beeldenstorm, or to be carried away from the convent by the one man she doesn't dare trust?

"God knew. He knew the suffering of a stained soul lifting equally stained hands high to His heaven. He knew the muttering of the heart and thought it eloquent." (Chapter 28, The Sound of Diamonds)

Her hope is to take refuge at her uncle's castle in England, and that this murderer will fulfill his word of getting her there safely. Her hope rests on the word of an honor-less man.

The plot thickens, twists, and surprises the reader with every chapter. As a reader of historical fiction, I found this book to outwit and surpass many a book I've read before. So much research and study went into its writing. The historical details weave themselves so effortlessly into the plot, as only a true wordsmith can make the words do. The use of Dutch and Spanish authenticate the dialogue. Sweet romance harmonizes with the enthralling plot. And the spiritual transformation completes the story as a whole.

"As for yourself, consider a different method in your pursuit of the truth. God does not desire us to come to Him with our minds so much as He is interested in our hearts." (Chapter 45, The Sound of Diamonds)

This is a tale of trust, forgiveness, God's abounding grace -- and that in all things you should... Hold to hope.

Rachelle Rea's debut novel is one of the best. Her writing style builds intrigue, engages the reader, and makes one desire to be daring.

I'm eagerly anticipating volume 2 of the Steadfast Love trilogy.

The Sound of Diamonds hits a shelf near you on June 15th.


Rachelle Rea, debut author Author Bio // Rachelle Rea plots her novels while driving around the little town she’s lived in all her life in her dream car, a pick-up truck. As a freelance editor, she enjoys mentoring fellow authors in the craft. A homeschool graduate and retired gymnast, she wrote the Sound of Diamonds the summer after her sophomore year of college.

Visit her website and blog at Inspiring Daring.


The Sound of Diamonds will be released on June 15.

What can you do until then?

ADD THE BOOK to your Goodreads TBR list
/ / / / /
PRE-ORDER THE BOOK on Amazon.com


Rachelle is giving away a $20 Amazon Gift Card AND a copy of her debut novel! International entrants welcome (the prize will be an e-book due to the cost of shipping--thank you for understanding!).

a Rafflecopter giveaway




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