In the Bookcase


Book Review: The White City

The White City by Grace Hitchcock (5 star review)

The White City
True Colors #1

by Grace Hitchcock

256 pages // published in 2019 // Christian historical fiction


Mysterious Disappearances Taint the Chicago World’s Fair
Step into True Colors -- a new series of Historical Stories of Romance and American Crime

While attending the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893, Winnifred Wylde believes she witnessed a woman being kidnapped. She tries to convince her father, an inspector with the Chicago police, to look into reports of mysterious disappearances around the White City. Inspector Wylde tries to dismiss her claims as exaggeration of an overactive imagination, but he eventually concedes to letting her go undercover as secretary to the man in question—if she takes her pistol for protection and Jude Thorpe, a policeman, for bodyguard.

Will she be able to expose H. H. Holmes’s illicit activity, or will Winnifred become his next victim?

My Review

5 Star Rating

I think I just found one of my favorite literary heroines of the year. She adores books, has a nose for real-life mysteries, and isn't afraid of a little danger. If there was a sequel with this character in it, I'd read it.

For her novel debut, Grace Hitchcock has hit it out of the park. Her storytelling qualities simply shine forth.

I felt though that a little bit of "telling" comes out, instead of "showing", which slightly wavered my faith in that first wonderfully descriptive page in the book. But in actuality, it really did hook me from the first line, to be honest. And it stuck.

Now, it's a very romancey type of story. Of course, it's all kept very sweet, so for that I'm glad. But a big portion of the plot revolves around Winnie's potential suitors. My preference is typically more action, less romance -- but I still enjoyed it.

The best aspect about the book is that it is Christian fiction, and keeps a soft spiritual undertone. It's not heavy, just a few prayers and scriptures, but I'm so glad that Winnie's faith is illustrated, and that good values triumph.

Gory level: 1. (For a book about hunting down a serial killer, at least we don't have to deal with gruesome scenes. I was anxious about how ugly it could get, so that's why I felt like mentioning it here. It's totally fine!)

Minimum age to to enjoy: 13 to Adult.

"...even though she may look the part of a young socialite, she had an adventurous soul."

Five stars.

Will I be reading the next book in the True Colors series? You betcha.

Will I be on the lookout for what Grace Hitchcock will be writing next? You betcha.

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Book Review: West from Home

West from Home by Laura Ingalls Wilder (5 star review)

West from Home
Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder, San Francisco, 1915

written by Laura Ingalls Wilder
edited Roger Lea MacBride

124 pages // published in 1976 // epistolary autobiography


In 1915, Laura Ingalls Wilder traveled by train from her home in Missouri to San Francisco. Laura's westward journey to visit her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane, coincided with a spectacular event taking place in that city-the Panama Pacific International Exposition. This was a great world's fair celebrating the completion of the Panama Canal, and Laura was amazed by the attractions that had been gathered there. Her husband, Almanzo, was unable to leave their Missouri farm, and it was Laura's letters that gave him the chance to see what she saw during her visit to California.

These letters, gathered together here, allow the reader to experience Laura's adventures and her intimate thoughts as she shared with her husband the events of her exciting sojourn.

My Review

5 Star Rating

In 1915, before Laura ever wrote Little Cabin in the Big Woods, she went to visit her daughter Rose in San Francisco. They experienced much of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition world's fair together, and Laura wrote home to Manly about all sorts of incredible things she was seeing each week. This book is a compilation of those sweet letters.

Such beautiful writing and vivid descriptions. I feel like my own friend experienced it all and has written me all about it. (Actual time travel, people!) Also, the book has an amazing collection of photos too. To see proof of these scenes that Laura saw helps me to better imagine everything she talks about in the letters.

A couple of fun tidbits: I love how she mentions Inky, the Wilder's dog, quite often in her letters to Manly. Aww! ... Also, I learned that a lot of the family actually called Laura "Mama Bess", due to another Laura in the family -- wow!

One of my favorite incidents included herein is when Rose writes a letter to her father to tell him the alarming news that "Mama Bess is growing fat." For me, that is the most hilarious of the bunch!

Included at the back is a newspaper article that Laura wrote about the food exhibits at the world's fair, including recipes she nabbed from vendors. I'm tempted to try one or two recipes, honestly.

If you're a fan of Little House at all, I'm sure you'd love this "bonus" from Laura. Suitable for all ages.

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Book Review: The Secret Garden

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett (5 star review)

The Secret Garden

written by Frances Hodgson Burnett

368 pages // published in 1911 // children's classics


Discover the magic and mystery of Frances Hodgson Burnett′s classic The Secret Garden. Lonely Mary Lennox finds adventure and friendship among the secrets of the old deserted garden on the Yorkshire moors. A story that welcomes readers, new and old alike.

My Review

5 Star Rating

Hope. Mystery. Happiness. Healing. Kindness.

How I love this children's classic. I think it's the right kind of book for a soul that has been crushed, for someone living with an illness, or for the down-trodden who just want a glimmer of hope. You don't have to be a child to see the beauty of this written gem.

I'm going to talk about the character of Mary Lennox. For starters, she's stuck up and snobbish. But I adore her. I never liked a character of that nature before -- in my entire life. But she changes, I assure you. That's one of the amazing parts of the story, one of the things that make me fall in love with the whole tale. People can change... you don't have to be stuck in a perpetual bad mood forever. Sometimes you just need to change your surroundings or switch up the people in your life. It can work wonders.

If there's one bone I have to pick with it... Well, it's just that the children call every lovely thing in their life "magic". I don't quite agree with that mentality. Even though things make you feel wonderful and giddy, that doesn't mean it's born of magic. Those happy feelings come from your friends (and you don't want to discredit them, do you?)... and from the beauty of nature... and most importantly (it ALL comes) from God. So I was surprised a bit that all of that was lumped together under a category of general "magic"... when, in fact, it's SO MUCH MORE than that. But oh well.

Overall, I find The Secret Garden to be very charming. If you need a feel-good, inspirational read... this one is always ready for you with open arms.

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Book #2 completed

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Books for Sale [February 2019 Edition]

I've always loved reading books.

I've always wanted to pass on really good books to my friends.

And yes, I've especially wanted to own a bookshop.

(Most of my childhood dreams were centered around literary themes such as these mentioned here -- and a few others. Like wanting to be a librarian too.)

My family always has a bunch of books in the house. More books are always arriving (magically/mysteriously). And it's time to start selling some off.

Here's a little peek into our selection that's FOR SALE this month...
I hope you find something you like! We'll have more Bible Studies, Christian Fiction, and Homeschool Materials posted for sale SOON.

Lot of 8 Colleen Coble Books

Wesley's Veterans (#1-7), by John Wesley, Complete Set

Love Rules, by Christina Hergenrader

Abeka Handbook for Reading, Grades 1-3

Big Sky Dreams (#1-3), by Lori Wick, Complete Series

Tucker Mills Trilogy (#1-3), by Lori Wick, Complete Series

* If a book listing has expired by the time you click on it here,
it's possible we may have re-listed it again...
Just check our current CATALOG to see if it's still available!

If you have any questions pertaining to our books for sale,
please contact us ANYTIME through Ebay.

Previous monthly catalog: JAN



Book Review: The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables

The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables by Catherine Reid  (5 star review)

The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables

written by Catherine Reid

280 pages // published in 2018 // cultural/travel non-fiction


Anne of Green Gables is a worldwide phenomenon that has sold over fifty million copies and inspired numerous films, plays, musicals, and television series. It has turned Prince Edward Island into a multimillion-dollar tourist destination visited by hundreds of thousands of people each year. In The Landscapes of Anne of Green Gables, Catherine Reid reveals how Lucy Maud Montgomery’s deep connection to the landscape inspired her to write Anne of Green Gables. From the Lake of Shining Waters and the Haunted Wood to Lover’s Lane, readers will be immersed in the real places immortalized in the novel. Using Montgomery’s journals, archives, and scrapbooks, Reid explores the many similarities between Montgomery and her unforgettable heroine, Anne Shirley. The lush package includes Montgomery’s hand-colorized photographs, the illustrations originally used in Anne of Green Gables, and contemporary and historical photography.

My Review

5 Star Rating

So much of the beloved Anne books is centered upon the land, the scenic landscapes described. These descriptions add poetry and romanticism to the stories. When you read the Anne books yourself, tell me, weren't you inspired by the beauty of Prince Edward Island? It creates the very atmosphere of the story, and if you read between the lines, the elements of nature express and emphasize the plot and emotions therein. Some of this, I subconsciously knew before. After reading this book though, I have keener insight in the lay of Montgomery's land.

Reading this book brings out areas of Anne's character too, which I never thought about before, myself... and yet it rings true nonetheless. Her passions (and Montgomery's) are expressed through the moods of the outside world. So many nuances are there in Montgomery's writings, when it comes to her island, but you have to search the pages for it.

"It's to the natural world, then, that each girl turns when her soul is beginning to despair. The inspiration found there not only shifts her mood, it changes the very caliber of the writing, the sentences seemingly possessed of a new vitality, bringing readers into a brighter, better place."
- Catherine Reid

Such a remarkable and stunning collection of pictures are included; some from Montgomery's private collection (even taken by her own hand); some modern day shots of the bright and colorful landscapes. The red cliffs of P.E.I. just steal the show for me, so beautiful they are in photos. But I think my heart stopped beating, and I may have stopped breathing air for a moment, when I saw an actual picture of Lover's Lane in the 1920s. I think you'll feel the same way.

This book feels magical. I think it could be a balm for a hurting heart. You're seeing fictional places out in the real world (they never were "fictional" anyway). Lover's Lane, the Lake of Shining Waters, the White Lady... and it all increases my desire to visit these landmarks myself. There is so much good-feeling nostalgia locked away in this volume. You must get it for yourself!

I'm so glad to have gone on a tour via the vehicle of a book -- armchair travel. It will suffice until I go to P.E.I. to take it all in myself in person, some blissful distant day.

"I had... then as now, two great refuges and consolations -- the world of nature and the world of books. They kept life in my soul; they made me love my home because of my dreams and rambles and the deep joy and delight they gave me -- because of the halo they threw over what was otherwise bare and savorless."
- L.M. Montgomery

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L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge

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Book Review: Marilla of Green Gables

Marilla of Green Gables by Sarah McCoy (5 star review)

Marilla of Green Gables

written by Sarah McCoy

320 pages // published in 2018 // historical fiction


A bold, heartfelt tale of life at Green Gables . . . before Anne: A marvelously entertaining and moving historical novel, set in rural Prince Edward Island in the nineteenth century, that imagines the young life of spinster Marilla Cuthbert, and the choices that will open her life to the possibility of heartbreak—and unimaginable greatness

Plucky and ambitious, Marilla Cuthbert is thirteen years old when her world is turned upside down. Her beloved mother has dies in childbirth, and Marilla suddenly must bear the responsibilities of a farm wife: cooking, sewing, keeping house, and overseeing the day-to-day life of Green Gables with her brother, Matthew and father, Hugh.

In Avonlea—a small, tight-knit farming town on a remote island—life holds few options for farm girls. Her one connection to the wider world is Aunt Elizabeth “Izzy” Johnson, her mother’s sister, who managed to escape from Avonlea to the bustling city of St. Catharines. An opinionated spinster, Aunt Izzy’s talent as a seamstress has allowed her to build a thriving business and make her own way in the world.

Emboldened by her aunt, Marilla dares to venture beyond the safety of Green Gables and discovers new friends and new opportunities. Joining the Ladies Aid Society, she raises funds for an orphanage run by the Sisters of Charity in nearby Nova Scotia that secretly serves as a way station for runaway slaves from America. Her budding romance with John Blythe, the charming son of a neighbor, offers her a possibility of future happiness—Marilla is in no rush to trade one farm life for another. She soon finds herself caught up in the dangerous work of politics, and abolition—jeopardizing all she cherishes, including her bond with her dearest John Blythe. Now Marilla must face a reckoning between her dreams of making a difference in the wider world and the small-town reality of life at Green Gables.

My Review

5 Star Rating

Anne Shirley was not the first bright, bubbly, garrulous person to shake up Marilla Cuthbert. An aunt arrives to stay awhile at the Cuthbert place, Green Gables, exhibiting louder and more voracious habits of living life than young Marilla (and Matthew) are used to, which they can "barely tolerate"... and thus is Marilla Cuthbert's fictionally-imagined life at 13 years of age. The novel continues uncovering more years of Marilla's hidden past for us... A literary character we already know and love from the Anne of Green Gables series, now reimagined, reinterpreted, reborn.

"Silence had always been a Cuthbert comfort."

I started noticing clues right away from Montgomery's Anne books... Elements that made me feel right at home. Yep, there's the family recipe of red currant wine. Yep, there's all the same neighbors and recognizable family names. Yep, there's the Matthew I know, a boy who barely speaks a word, who turns into a man of wise caliber. Yep, there's the brooch. It's all in there, people. The story before the story.

It's such a unique experience to see, touch, and hear Green Gables before Anne arrives. The only thing we ever knew of this fantastic place was to take it in all-new when Anne arrives for the first time. Now we see it in its innocent infancy, through the eyes of a girl who is already accustomed to its beauty, who sees it for what it is... but who will inevitably, continually discover its secrets for decades of her life.

There's a lot of things in Avonlea that still feel exactly the same, just a few decades apart from the original story I cherish. For example, I might have squealed with delight when 13-year-old Marilla's meets a new friend. One of the infamous name Rachel... Now there's a friendship for the ages.

This book does open the reader's eyes. Stern-faced Marilla was a young slip of a girl once, with childish notions in her head. One sentence surprised me the most though... It mentions that when she was a little younger, she believed fairies lived in a particular tree hollow she liked. Fairies? Marilla? Well, maybe so. She was young once too, just like red-headed Anne.

"Tears were misunderstood, she thought, and used inappropriately most often. They were designed as a private response of being. Because sometimes life filled you to the brim and spilled over."

Something the author did differently is that she brought in pieces of historical interest, lining up events in Canada's political history of that time period. Having this in the story definitely sets it apart from Montgomery's writings... This additional historical context is the only thing that made me stop and wonder if I liked it in the story or not, as it seems a bit out of place, especially after I'd just been reading a sweet, charming Montgomery original, which isn't fettered down with such. I can accept it though, for the sake of the rest of the novel.

Note to parents and the discerning reader: Overall, it's "fairly" clean. But there is a rather passionate, dramatic kiss when Marilla is about 15. Also, there are various conversations about pregnancy and child-birth. I might recommend it for ages 13 and up, but only if your kid is ready for those topics.

Plenty of faith-based elements are woven all throughout the chapters, which I personally am glad to see.

Overall? Marilla of Green Gables is an enjoyable read and a beautiful experience. I do feel like the author has done justice to the original and stayed as pretty close to the truth as we know it. It's filled with nostalgia. Honestly, I want this new book to be turned into a movie. But you know what I want even more than that, Sarah McCoy? Please write us Matthew's story too. We do get to see some unique sides of Matthew here in Marilla's story... but I do believe there's still more to discover about that remarkable man.

"He that hath knowledge spareth his words -- that was from the Proverbs, and underlined by Hugh in their family Bible."

Yes, I want all of my fellow Anne friends to try this book out... and I sincerely hope you'll like it! If you don't, then I like to hear your reasons why. Let's discuss it, kindred spirit.

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L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge

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