In the Bookcase

8/14/2018

Tell Me Something Tuesday: End It Already


Here we go, my first time joining Tell Me Something Tuesday.


Let's talk!


The topic for the week:

At what point do you think a series has gone on too long?

I'll just jump right in! There are some series that just go on forever. And then just when you think you finally read them all (like a hundred books later), then it turns out there's a spin-off series that's connected... so you feel that you must read that series too, just to read the whole story, right?

Here's 3 examples of series I think went on too long... (even though I still adore most of the book in these series).




Oz series
by L. Frank Baum
14 books
1900 - 1920

Ahh... The series that spawned from The Wizard of Oz. I love and cherish that first book. And some of the sequel stories are fun in their own way too, but some have tiresome plots with too much talking, not enough adventure. (But... there's a few sequels in there that are worth their salt.)





Elsie Dinsmore series
by Martha Finley
28 books
1868 - 1905

I think the last interesting book in the series was #15. After that? The characters discussed a LOT of history, landmarks, etc... and there wasn't much plot. I persevered though (over much time) and finished. The first half of the series is quality vintage.





Mandie series
by Lois Gladys Leppard
40 books (+ specials)
1983 - 2004

This is the longest series I'm talking about today... It started out as a fun mystery series when I read them as a girl, but as I grew into my teens and still kept reading through the series, it seemed like the plots just disintegrated... So many elements kept getting repeated over and over in the books. It was a bit frustrating to see this to some really good books.


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Let's change up the discussion!

Here's 3 examples of series that are the PERFECT length, each in their own way...




The Lunar Chronicles series
by Marissa Meyer
4 books (+ short stories)
2012 - 2015

Sometimes trilogies are fabulous, but sometimes a quartet works too. This series oh-so needed 4 books to completely identify the reader with each of the main characters and explore each of those fairy tales... and they fit together cohesively because the overall story arc leads up to the big finale in book 4. It seemed perfect.





The Chronicles of Narnia series
by C.S. Lewis
7 books
1950 - 1956

The Chronicles of Narnia is a greatly beloved set of 7 titles. I don't think anyone could really argue that this series went on too long, as each volume serves a different purpose in allowing the reader to see glimpses of Narnia and the related characters. (Can anyone argue with this fact? Certainly not me.)





Amelia Peabody series
by Elizabeth Peters
20 books
1975 - 2017

Okay! NOW we're talking about a longer series done well (in my humble opinion). Each of these books always keeps me intrigued. There are new plot developments all the time in the serires; each of the characters progresses through life and change as they grow a little older (change in a good way). I have to assume that this series has ended at 20, and that it had a thoroughly good run.



My hard rule about when a series should be done... Quality over quantity.

I think that if the quality (the supercool plots and amazing emotions that a series brings you) ever starts degrading.... the printing presses should be stopped. But if every single book (even 20+ titles down the line) are still totally epic? Then whoever you are that's writing those books, please keep going.



Which series have you read that were the perfect length?




8/06/2018

Summer TBR Wipeout 2018 [Update #2]


Of the 12 books on my list for the Summer TBR Wipeout... how many have I finished so far?
Six.

That's 3 more than the first update on the challenge.

See my recently finished titles below. Each book cover is linked to my review.

Finished

The Keys of the Kingdom Mark of the Thief Outbreak

Of this batch, my favorite read is The Keys of the Kingdom; a great (fictional) missionary story. Mark of the Thief impressed me pretty well too, especially with the historical elements it featured about ancient Rome. As for Outbreak, I am thrilled to have made it through the 39 Clues series finale. Feels like success to me!

What books have you enjoyed so far this summer?




8/04/2018

Book Review: The Keys of the Kingdom

The Keys of the Kingdom by A.J. Cronin (5 star review)


The Keys of the Kingdom

written by A.J. Cronin

480 pages // published in 1941 // classic fiction




BOOK DESCRIPTION

Francis Chisholm is a compassionate and humble priest whose individuality and directness make him unpopular with other clergy. Considered a failure by his superiors, he is sent to China to maintain a mission amid desperate poverty, civil war, plague, and the hostility of his superiors. In the face of this constant danger and hardship, Father Chisholm finds the keys to the kingdom of heaven. Recognized as A. J. Cronin’s best novel, The Keys of the Kingdom is an enthralling, fast-moving, colorful tale of a deeply spiritual man called to do good in an imperfect world.




My Review


5 Star Rating


A moving story, that helps you to grow as a person as you flip each page.

Francis Chisholm's life is separated into two parts, it seems to me. There was his happy childhood and the love of his life who could not be his; then on to becoming a dedicated Catholic priest and missionary.

“....I must record this inescapable sense of belonging to God, which strikes at me through the darkness, the deep conviction....”

I love the details of his life. The story told how he would venture to the church in the nighttime to pray, and peace would overwhelm him. There are great points in the plot showing how he strives to touch people in the heart. He's not the kind of priest to bring people in by the boatloads and have slackers and dishonestly “saved” people in his congregation. No, he worked hard to save each individual soul, by faith, through God's grace, and with his “good Scot's sense”. Even in China, for thirty-five years where he steadfastly worked, where he is faced with miserable circumstances, those same principles keep guiding him.

“Will you young idiots kindly stop treating me like your great-grandmother on her hundredth birthday?”

For the discerning/Christian reader: There are a couple of instances where “adult” content is alluded too. Very brief, not much. Also, there are some references to bits of theology that are not sound doctrine – but I let it pass because Chisholm is a wonderful priest regardless.

The bottom line? Francis Chisholm is a missionary of valor. I found his story, fiction though it is, to be abounding with incredible-ness and awe-inspiring encouragement.

Oh, and another thing... After finishing the book, go back and read chapter 1. I found that it fills in the ending so well. In fact, it's the real ending.

Possibly my favorite quote of the whole book, due to the comical reaction I get every time I read it:

“Oh, Lord, for once – not thy will, but mine, be done.”


Add to Goodreads


Buy the book!

paperback // hardcover // e-book




This is book #8 for me in the Back to the Classics 2018 challenge.
[CATEGORY: 20th Century Classic]





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


7/27/2018

Mount TBR Checkpoint, 2018 Vol. 2


It's time for the next checkpoint in the Mount TBR challenge. Here's a bit of a reflection on the books I've read so far for the challenge in 2018.

I'm aiming for 100 books that qualify for the challenge, by the end of the year... and as of today, I'm at 74! Woohooo! Looks like I'm going to make it.

To mix it up with a bit of fun, I've chosen a couple of titles I've enjoyed which share a common link...

The two I've chosen feature female schoolteachers in an historic time setting. Both books also happen to be the very first book in a series (which means I have so much more to look forward to in these stories!).

When Calls the Heart Village School


When Calls the Heart was first published in 1983 by Janette Oke.

Elizabeth Thatcher is living in the year of 1910, in Canada. She feels the calling to ride across the wild frontier and teach to the children there. (Okay, and she might find love along the way.) [SEE MY REVIEW]

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Village School was first published in 1955 by Miss Read.

Miss Read (the fictional character) lives in England, during the 1950's. She's already been teaching in her little village of Fairacre for a while, and she has plans to continue doing so for many years. [SEE MY REVIEW]




Also... I'll throw this book at you too. This time, I'm choosing the title I've now read that has been on my TBR pile for the longest amount of time...

I know I've owned my copy for at least 12 years. It always sounded like an exciting book (and had come recommended by friends), and I certainly desired to read it... but each year it would sit in my TBR pile, and my hand would pick something else up to read... until 2018!

The Young Fur Traders

The Young Fur Traders was first published in 1856 by R.M. Ballantyne.

Charlie Kennedy roams the Canadian wilderness (yes, similar to Elizabeth Thatcher, except he has more dangerous experiences than she). Many adventure comes his way -- which is exactly what he set out for. [SEE MY REVIEW]


What book(s) have you read this year that have been sitting on your shelf for way too long?




7/25/2018

Summer TBR Wipeout 2018 [Update #1]


Of the 12 books on my list for the Summer TBR Wipeout... how many have I finished so far?
Three.

See my finished titles below. Each book cover is linked to my review.

Finished

Village School A Hero's Guide to Deadly Dragons Nightmare at the Book Fair

My favorite, that I could practically swoon over is Village School. Sigh.

What books have you enjoyed so far this summer?




7/23/2018

Book Review: Village School

Village School by Miss Read (5 star review)


Village School
Fairacre series, #1

written by Miss Read

239 pages // published in 1955 // British cozy literature




BOOK DESCRIPTION

The first novel in the beloved Fairacre series, Village School introduces the remarkable schoolmistress Miss Read and her lovable group of children, who, with a mixture of skinned knees and smiles, are just as likely to lose themselves as their mittens. This is the English village of Fairacre: a handful of thatch-roofed cottages, a church, the school, the promise of fair weather, friendly faces, and good cheer -- at least most of the time. Here everyone knows everyone else's business, and the villagers like each other anyway (even Miss Pringle, the irascible, gloomy cleaner of Fairacre School). With a wise heart and a discerning eye, Miss Read guides us through one crisp, glistening autumn in her village and introduces us to a cast of unforgettable characters and a world of drama, romance, and humor, all within a stone's throw of the school. By the time winter comes, you'll be nestled snugly into the warmth and wit of Fairacre and won't want to leave.




My Review


5 Star Rating


It is simply a joy to sit down and get lost in the little village of Fairacre. I am completely transported to 1950's England by Miss Read. It's like a mini-vacation to just sit down and listen to her woes, her thrills, her triumphs in life as a schoolmistress (though little triumphs it feels like to her, I'm sure).

This particular novel, the very first of the Fairacre lot, takes us on a journey of a normal year in Miss Read's classroom, and her interactions with the other townspeople during the year.

She's such a talented writer, I must say. Her descriptions are just so delicious, it's amazing. Her vocabulary? I'm in awe of. I never knew before that one could “run scrunchily”… or that one can eat “craggy slices of bread”!

The narrator of the story, Miss Read, leads with a charming voice – ever so sweetly pointing out the ironies of village life and the fun bits of happiness in her days, usually with some highlights of comedic episodes. Yes, and sometimes the bits of sourness too, when necessary – especially with certain dour-faced children are in the picture.

Overall? Absolutely, positively wonderful.

Favorite quote:

"'Are you alright? Can I fetch you some water?' inquired a kindly headmaster near the door. I felt inclined to tell him that I was on the verge of an apoplectic fit, brought on through exasperation, and that nothing less than a full pot of tea could even begin to help me -- So I merely thanked him and escaped into the market square."
(Chapter 18, The Music Festival)



Add to Goodreads


Buy the book!

paperback // hardcover // e-book




This is book #7 for me in the Back to the Classics 2018 challenge.
[CATEGORY: Classic by a Woman Author]





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