5 Quotes about Books


Here are five quotes about books and reading…

“The person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel, must be intolerably stupid.”

–Jane Austen

“We read to know that we are not alone.”

–William Nicholson

“There are perhaps no days of our childhood we lived so fully as those we spent with a favorite book.”

–Marcel Proust

“A book is like a garden carried in the pocket.”

–Chinese Proverb

“I can’t imagine a man really enjoying a book and reading it only once.”

–C.S. Lewis


5 Reasons Why I Liked Winnie’s Great War

Here’s a book that I hoped I would like that actually lived up to expectations. While it’s written for the MG crowd, it’s definitely meant for more than just kids.

And yes, I think I’ll give this book 5 Stars!

Here are my 5 reasons why I loved this book…

Winnie’s Great War // by Lindsay Mattick & Josh Greenhut

Winnies-great-war#1 – Winnie!

What a delightful bear! She’s so curious and kind. I love how she’s able to speak to all the animals and how the authors relate this to the Great War itself. This could be heavy-handed, but it’s not. It’s just right.

The part of the book that describes her antics at sea is cute! And I especially liked the story when Harry makes a bet. He bets the general that Winnie can find a hidden sock at their training facilities in England. Does Winnie win Harry’s bet? I’m not telling!

#2 – The Illustrations

The illustrations by Sophie Blackall are enchanting. I wish there were more of them! Especially as this is a book I could see reading to kids. They’re all black and white sketches. There are some delightful full-page spreads… Of Winnie at the train station when she first meets Harry; of Winnie and Harry at Stonehenge; of Winnie when she first comes to the zoo.

#3 – The History

I love history. So, I loved all the history in this book. World War I has always fascinated me, so I definitely liked reading about that aspect of it. It’s not heavily about the war since Winnie doesn’t actually experience life in the trenches. (There’s a moment where Harry realizes what that would mean, and so he makes the very hard decision to leave Winnie in the care of the London Zoo.)

There’s also the history of Winnie, herself… and how she came to inspire one of the most famous fictional bears in history! There’s a section at the back of the book that has pictures of Harry and of the diary entry where he notes that he bought Winnie for $20. There’s also a photo of Christopher Robin Milne standing next to the real Winnie at the zoo! Oh, my… they really did let people into the enclosure with a bear!

Note: One of the authors (and the narrator of the story) is Lindsay Mattick who is Harry Colebourne’s great-granddaughter.

#4 – The Inter-Narrations

I really enjoyed when the mom (who’s telling the story to her son) gives us a little taste of what’s true in the story!

These little interjections are set apart in italics. Sometimes Cole (the son) will interrupt his mom’s story to ask about something. I liked how the book was able to deal with some of the tougher issues using this device.

#5 – The Literary Allusions to A.A. Milne’s Classic

Reading this book includes the wonderful experience of finding little Easter eggs that allude to A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh! But I’m glad they’re not over-done. In fact, some people may not even notice them. If you love Pooh Bear, they’re subtle, but they’re there. (And yes, as soon as I finished this book, I just had re-read Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh!)


Have you read this book? Did you love it as much as me? Let me know in the comments!

Books About the First World War


Did you know?

This year marks 100 years after the signing of the Armistice on November 11, 1918. Wow! Has it really been that long ago?

I came across two books about World War I this year. I didn’t seek them out on purpose. But then somebody mentioned the anniversary was coming up. I started to think of all the World War I books I’ve read or studied. To be honest, there aren’t that many. I’m not even sure I’ve read All Quiet on the Western Front, which is probably one of the most famous books about World War I. I know I’ve seen the movie, and it’s been part of any discussion I’ve had when it comes to literature about the Great War.

So, here are some books that I’ve read this year…

The Button War // by Avi

button-warMG, Historical Fiction (2018)

This book deals with some very troubling aspects of war. It centers around a group of boys who are collecting buttons from the various soldiers coming through their village in Poland. Whoever finds the BEST button will be king! (One of the boys reminded me of Jack in Lord of the Flies. The main character was more of a Ralph character.)

The book is very interesting on the historical side of things, and I would recommend this to anybody who wants to read something something a little different about World War I. While it’s written for kids, it’s definitely meant for a more mature reader as it deals with death. Yes, there’s a lot of death in this book. [4 stars]

You can read my full review here.

Silent in an Evil Time: The Brave War of Edith Cavell // by Jack Batten

silent-in-an-evil-timeChildren’s Non-Fiction / Biography (2007)

Going into this book, all I really knew was Cavell’s famous quote: “Patriotism is not enough, I must have no hatred or bitterness to anyone.” That, and I knew she was a nurse. (Oh, and I also knew about how her story ends, but I won’t spoil this if you don’t know her story.)

First, let me say that when I was a child, I had a hyper-fascination with Florence Nightingale. This is the Florence Nightingale of Belgium (even though, like Nightingale, she’s actually British) and of the First World War. And then, she’s also a spy!

Yet, such an unassuming spy who hide British and French soldiers from the German invaders. Again, this book is also for more mature readers. [4 stars]

Winnie’s Great War // by Lindsay Mattick & Josh Greenhut

Winnies-great-warMG,  Historical Fiction (2018)

This book doesn’t have too much of what it was like in the trenches during the war. Rather, it focuses on Winnie, the black bear who became the mascot of the Canadian cavalry regiment as they trained for trench warfare. Since she doesn’t actually head over to France, we get to follow her to her new home at the London Zoo. And of course, we get to meet the famous Christopher Robin who calls his own bear after her: Winnie-the-Pooh. I loved this book!! [5 stars]

Full review coming soon!

tortoise-and-soldierThe Tortoise and the Soldier // by Michael Foreman

MG, Historical Fiction (2016)

This was an interesting book. It’s about an young, aspiring newspaper reporter who comes into contact with a World War I veteran named Henry and his pet tortoise, Ali Pasha. Every Sunday, Trevor gets more of Henry’s story… About how he joined the British Navy and eventually rescued the tortoise during a battle.

The book is told through diary entries, as well as through Henry telling his story. This is one book about World War I that doesn’t focus on the Western Front!

Bonus points to this book for being about a REAL guy named Henry and his REAL tortoise, Ali Pasha! [3.5 stars]

Rilla of Ingleside // by L.M. Montgomery

Rilla_of_InglesideYA, Coming of Age (1921)

This is one of my favourite novels, period. It’s set on the Canadian homefront during World War I. Part of what makes this book so wonderful is that it was written and published so close to the events of the war! (No historical anachronisms in this book!)

For fans of Anne of Green Gables, this is the story of Anne’s young daughter. She’s only 14 (almost 15!) at the beginning of the war. One by one, she and the ladies of the house watch brothers, sons, and friends go off to war. They’ll be home by Christmas! Of course, the war lasts a whole lot longer than that.

This book focuses on what it’s like to grow up and come of age under the shadow of wartime. Like all those who were on the Canadian homefront, Rilla must rally and find out what she can do help the war effort. This isn’t always easy, especially when she’s happens upon a poor orphaned war-baby… [5 stars!]


Have you read any of these books? Are there other WWI books that you would recommend? Let me know in the comments!

5 Reasons Why I Shouldn’t Like Nancy Drew… But I Do!

20181025ma_5554**WARNING: I do not recommend reading this blog post if you’re actually in the target audience for Nancy Drew. (Although, do kids age 10-12 even read blog posts like this?)**

I’m going to do a little twist on my 5 Reasons posts. Let me say this first: I love Nancy Drew! I devoured these books when I was a pre-teen. I loved Nancy’s confidence and independence. I loved the friendship of Bess and George and how they’re always there for Nancy. I love Ned and how he was able to add that little bit of romance to the stories. And I loved the mysteries.


I’ve been rereading some of those mysteries and I realize that… well, they are not the great literature I once thought they were. Reading them through the eyes of an adult… well, if they weren’t filled with nostalgia, I’d probably DNF pretty quickly.


I will still recommend these books to young people. And I have actually recommended these books to young people. Why? Because there’s something in Nancy Drew that transcends the “badness” of the books. So, before I go on, let me tell you what I mean about badness…

1) Nancy Drew, meet Mary Sue

(This point even rhymes!)

If you don’t know what a Mary Sue is… she’s basically perfect in every way. Wait! Take out the basically. Mary Sues are perfect. No flaws. Period.

“Gee, golly, gosh, gloriosky,” thought Mary Sue as she stepped on the bridge of the Enterprise. “Here I am, the youngest lieutenant in the fleet – only fifteen and a half years old.”  This is from a parody of a Star Trek fanfic story. And it’s where we get the name Mary Sue. (This Mary Sue is so Mary Sue-ish that she manages to impress Spock with her flawless logic.)

But as you will see, the Mary Sue trope happened long before with another character. You got it: Nancy Drew.

Now, to be strictly true to the definition, a Mary Sue is also a character that wows canon characters that have come before her (or him, since a Mary Sue can also be male). Okay, so the Nancy Drew mysteries don’t quite do this. It’s not like Sherlock Holmes or Miss Marple or Father Brown pop in to be impressed by Nancy’s sleuthing skills. (This isn’t fan fic!) But Mr. Carson Drew is a good stand-in. He’s always described as the best lawyer in River Heights… which is somehow connected to him solving mysteries himself (I guess, legal mysteries?) And yes, Mr. Drew is certainly impressed with the skills of his 18-year-old daughter.

Consider Book #10 – Password to Larkspur Lane – Nancy wins first prize for a flower arrangement. (Actually, this part of the plot is not necessary to the actual story!) Why does she have to WIN?

2) The Writing is Kind of… (Ahem) Bad

Yikes! I hate to say this, but the writing is actually quite bad. There is no subtext. No subtlety. And there are way too many adverbs. Here, I’ll give you an example:

Nancy did not reply immediately, but her chums noticed that she appeared to scan the woods searchingly.

“You don’t really think he might be hiding along this road, do you?” Bess demanded anxiously.

#7 – The Clue in the Diary (Chapter XIV, 1931 edition)

Talk about unnecessary adverbs: Searchingly? Really? How else would you scan the woods?? And Bess’s remark is already tinged with anxiety, you don’t need to tell us that!

3) Full of Coincidence

Nancy has more luck than a leprechaun. Clues just fall into her lap! Let’s go again with Book #10 – Password to Larkspur Lane. A homing pigeon JUST HAPPENS to fall into the yard at the Drews’ home. Nancy just happens to know that there’s a special organization that you call if a homing pigeon were ever to fall into your lap. She just happens to see Dr. Spire being “kidnapped”. Then Hannah Gruen just happens to have a fall going down the stairs so that they need to go to the doctor’s house to have her checked out. And while they’re there, Nancy just happens to take a phone call, which just happens to have a similar message to the message found on the homing pigeon. Need I go on?

That’s A LOT of coincidence. A little too much.

And here’s the thing that I love. The author knows this. I love how she (he, actually, since the ghostwriter on this book was Walter Karig) makes Nancy say: “This mystery just dropped into my lap.” 😉

4) Events Don’t Flow from One Book to the Next

In #16 – The Clue of the Tapping Heels, Nancy learns Morse code and tap dancing. But neither of these ever come into any of the other books… at least, not that I can remember.

It’s kind of like each book re-sets at the end. This is probably due to the many different writers who wrote under the pen name Carolyn Keene. Also, it means that the books can be read out of order. (Which is not necessarily a bad thing!)

However, the result of this is that there is no growth for Nancy or any of her pals from book to book.

(One slight exception to this rule may be the character Helen. She appears in the early books and her big change is the fact that she gets married. But she soon disappears from the books after this happens.)

5) Not Very Realistic

Nancy is 18 and she drives around in her convertible (or roadster, depending on when you read the books). She doesn’t have a job. She isn’t going to school.

And she’s ALWAYS 18! Meaning, she must solve at least one mystery a week for us to get to 52 books for the year. (And no, the series doesn’t stop at 52). Rarely do we ever (do we ever?) get holidays or winter or anything like that.

How is this even possible?!

Final Thoughts

So, yeah. There you have it. Five perfectly good reasons why I shouldn’t like Nancy Drew. And yet, I do. I love the Nancy Drew books in spite of these failings. (And even now, I love them for these failings.)

P.S. The photo that accompanies this blog post is of my first Nancy Drew book. #16! It was given to me by a friend for my eleventh birthday. It was my introduction to the world of Nancy Drew!

Question for Those Who Love Harry Potter

Disclaimer: I don’t make it too much of a secret that I am not a huge fan of the series. I don’t hate it. I just don’t love it. And I’ve only read the first three books (almost 20 years ago!)

Which leads me to my question:

It’s about Harry’s uncle and aunt. (You can throw in the cousin, too, if you want.)

How much page-time do they actually get in the books?

From my memories of the first books is that they are pretty much just mentioned. We may even briefly meet them. We basically learn how awful they are (you know, Harry sleep under the stairs). But after that, they don’t actually physically appear in the books.

Is this correct? Do they get some serious page-time, and I’m just not remembering this? Like chapters? Huge dialogue sections? Perhaps this happens in Book 4 or beyond?

Please let me know in the comments! Thanks!



5 Reasons Bookish Things I’m Thankful For


I’ve been doing posts this past year entitled 5 Reasons Why I Liked {Insert Book Title Here}. But today, I’m expanding this theme a little… By the way, these reasons are not in any particular order, and there are probably so many other things I’m thankful for. These are the ones that come to mind 🙂

#1 – Talking Books

I’m NOT talking about audiobooks here (although I love audiobooks, too!)… What I mean here is talking about books with other readers. Whether in person, or with the bookish community online. I love to find out what you’re reading, because I might want to read it, too! I love to discuss why I like certain books. I even like to discuss reasons I don’t like a particular book. It’s nice to know there are people out there who share my thoughts. And it’s also great to know there are people out there who think differently than me.

#2 – Book Downtime

Books have the ability to take us away to unknown lands. Yes, even in a contemporary read. I always read before bedtime. It’s the time I take to unwind from the stresses of the day. Sometimes a book will force me to read way past my bedtime, but usually I get in just a chapter or two. It’s something that makes me look forward to the end of the day.

This is probably why I’m not crazy about super-depressing books. I don’t mind that in little doses. Do I need Happily Ever After? I love Happily Ever After! But I don’t mind some slight ambiguity or even a touch of pessimism. I just don’t need to read the end of a book and feel the need to end my life. And that brings me to my next point…

#3 – Book Recommendations

This is related to number one, but it’s also slightly different. I love getting book recommendations. I love giving book recommendations. I love going to the bookish community, which includes blogs, Goodreads, Amazon reviews, bookstagram, etc. I like researching which books I want to read next. I look for recommendations by reviewers or bloggers who like books similar to the ones I like.

That way I know to avoid books like Jude the Obscure! (Sorry Mr. Hardy, I just can’t handle you anymore. Although I love your Far From the Madding Crowd. Probably because that was the last hopeful book you wrote.)

#4 – ARCs

And I’m also thankful for Advanced Reader Copies. I don’t know exactly what it is, but it’s kind of fun to read a book before everybody else. Of course that’s not strictly true, since there are a lot of other ARC readers out there. And I took heed of the warnings not to go crazy with my ARC-requests, so I haven’t really felt the worry of falling behind.

#5 – Libraries!

Ah, my home away from home. I love libraries! I do buy books, but I really can’t afford all the books I’d want to read. And frankly, I don’t have room to store all the book I’d want to read. That’s where the library comes in. I get to read wonderful books for FREE. (And when I get the occasional dud, it’s not a big deal. I just return it, happy that I didn’t actually pay for it.) There’s so much to choose from. There are new books and old books. Fiction and non-fiction. And audiobooks! And yes, even DVDs. Libraries make me happy 🙂

Your Turn

What are some bookish things you’re thankful for? Anything you’d add to this list?

Book Tag / I Spy Book Challenge

Thank you to Tale of a Bookworm for tagging me in the I Spy Book Challenge.

The Rules:

Find a book that contains (either on the cover or in the title) an example for each category. You must have a separate book for all 20, get as creative as you want and do it within five minutes!

The books I chose are from books I’ve already read. While I like some of these titles better than others, I would recommend them all! (Note: And I’m pretty sure I took more than five minutes. 😉 )

Food || Transportation || Weapon || Animal

Number || Something You Read || Body of Water || Product of Fire

Royalty || Architecture || Clothing Item || Family Member

Time of Day || Music || Paranormal Being || Occupation

Season || Color || Celestial Body || Something That Grows

Who Do I Tag?

I’m note tagging anybody specifically. But if you want to do this tag, please do! And let me know your results 🙂 

The Ups and Downs of Reading Biographies


Now that it’s September, I feel like it’s time to read a good biography. (I don’t know quite why September does this to me, but it does.)

So, that’s my topic for discussion for today: Biographies. (And I’m secretly hoping for some good recommendations in the comments below.)

I like a whole range of biographies:

  • kings and queens
  • film stars and Hollywood directors
  • scientists and astronauts
  • authors and playwrights
  • people I’ve never even heard of!

What I’m looking for is a good life story, something interesting.

But before you start giving me your recommendations (see my secret hope above), here are my thoughts on biographies in general…

Note about the photo: These encyclopedias are FULL of mini-biographies!

The Upside of Biographies

I love stories and I also love history. And I also love getting a sneak peek at behind the scenes. Biographies blend these things beautifully! I love learning about the struggles… and especially how they overcame those struggles.

And it’s all true! While I love fiction, there’s something about reading true stories. To know this actually happened to a person. This can be encouraging. It can also act as a warning.

In a sense, reading a biography is like a leisurely visit to a museum about that person’s life. (Did I say how much I love museums?)

The Downside of Biographies

The person always dies at the end. That’s it. I always come out of a biography feeling really sad. Like I’ve just been to somebody’s funeral. (Which is not far from the truth if you think about it.)

Now, I’m talking about true biographies here. Not memoirs, or even autobiographies, because those are written (supposedly) by the author, who (by definition of the thing) cannot have died yet. And yes, I do like reading memoirs for this reason alone… that I know the main character will not die in the end.

What about you? Do you read biographies? What draws you to these books? Any good biographies or memoirs you’ve read recently? Let me know in the comments!

100 Authors to Read


YA and MG Edition…

Years ago, I took a Children’s Lit course at university. We asked our professor for her list of favourite books for kids. She told us that she’d rather give us a list of her favourite authors. That comment (and list) inspired this post. (Sadly I don’t have her list any more. But I am forever thankful that she introduced me to some of my favourite children’s authors!)

A few things…

1) I haven’t read ALL the books by these authors. The books in parenthesis are just a sample of their work only. For some authors, I could list many, many books, but I didn’t… to keep the list tidy.

2) Also, just because I’ve put an author on this list, doesn’t mean I like every single book they’ve ever written. I don’t.

3) You may notice some weird omissions on my list. (J.K. Rowling, any one? For the record, I’m not a huge fan of J.K. Rowling. I know that’s just my strange (and not very popular) opinion. But don’t worry, it’s okay. You can have her name on your list!)

4) Some of these authors I read when I was growing up. However, some I discovered as an adult. I have only included books that I enjoyed BOTH as an adult and as a kid.

5) I must say that it was hard to come up with the names of 100 authors. Some of these authors I love more than others. And there may be an author or two that I have forgotten. So, I have a feeling this list may morph…

6) This is a list of Young Adult and Middle Grade authors, with a few Picture Book authors thrown in. I will admit, it’s more heavily weighted toward the MG side 🙂

Maria’s List of 100 Authors to Read

  1. Louisa May Alcott (Little Women)
  2. Avi (Secret School; Button War)
  3. Natalie Babbitt (Tuck Everlasting)
  4. Blue Balliett (Chasing Vermeer)
  5. Ludwig Bemelmans (Madeline)
  6. Jeanne Birdsall (Penderwicks)
  7. Judy Blume (Iggie’s House, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing)
  8. Michael Bond (Paddington Bear series)
  9. Jean de Brunhoff (Babar series)
  10. Frances Hodgkin Burnett (The Secret Garden)
  11. Rob Buyea (Because of Mr. Terupt)
  12. Orson Scott Card (Ender’s Game)
  13. Lewis Carroll (Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland)
  14. Gennifer Choldenko (Al Capone Does My Shirts)
  15. Beverly Cleary (Ramona books; Dear Mr. Henshaw)
  16. Andrew Clements (Landry News; Loser Club)
  17. Eoin Colfer (Artemis Fowl; Half-Moon Investigations)
  18. Suzanne Collins (Gregor the Overlander; Hunger Games)
  19. Susan Cooper (Dark is Rising)
  20. Frank Cottrell Boyce (Framed; Cosmic)
  21. Cressida Cowell (How to Train Your Dragon)
  22. Sharon Creech (Walk Two Moons)
  23. Christopher Paul Curtis (Watsons Go to Birmingham, 1963; Bud, Not Buddy)
  24. Roald Dahl (Charlie and the Chocolate Factory)
  25. Kate DiCamillo (Because of Winn-Dixie)
  26. Edward Eager (Half Magic, Knight’s Castle)
  27. Elizabeth Enright (The Saturdays)
  28. Eleanor Estes (The Hundred Dresses)
  29. Louise Fitzhugh (Harriet the Spy)
  30. Sid Fleischman (Whipping Boy)
  31. Anne Frank (The Diary of a Young Girl)
  32. Neil Gaiman (Coraline)
  33. Stuart Gibbs (Spy School; Belly Up)
  34. Patricia Reilly Giff (Pictures of Hollis Woods; R My Name is Rachel)
  35. Shannon Hale (Princess Academy)
  36. Christopher Healy (Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom)
  37. Anne Holm (I Am David)
  38. Jennifer L. Holm (Penny from Heaven; Turtle in Paradise)
  39. Sara Lewis Holmes (Letters from Rapunzel)
  40. Ji-li Jiang (Red Scarf Girl)
  41. Norton Juster (The Phantom Tollbooth)
  42. Dick King-Smith (The Sheep-Pig)
  43. E.L. Konigsburg (From the Mixed Up Files…)
  44. Gordon Korman (The Juvie Three; Pop; Swindle)
  45. Ingrid Law (Scumble)
  46. Gail Carson Levine (Ella Enchanted)
  47. C.S. Lewis (Chronicles of Narnia)
  48. Astrid Lindgren (Pippi Longstocking)
  49. Arnold Lobel (Frog and Toad)
  50. Cynthia Lord (Rules)
  51. Maud Hart Lovelace (Betsy-Tacy books)
  52. Lois Lowry (The Giver; Number the Stars)
  53. Madeleine L’Engle (A Wrinkle in Time)
  54. George MacDonald (The Princess and the Goblin)
  55. Patricia MacLaughlan (Sarah Plain and Tall)
  56. Wendy Mass (11 Birthdays)
  57. Alexander McCall Smith (The Five Long Lost Aunts of Harriet Bean)
  58. A.A. Milne (House at Pooh Corner)
  59. L.M. Montgomery (Anne of Green Gables; etc.)
  60. Pam Munoz Ryan (Echo)
  61. Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Shiloh)
  62. E. Nesbit (Five Children and It; The Phoenix and the Carpet; etc.)
  63. Jennifer A. Nielsen (False Prince)
  64. Robert C. O’Brien (Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH)
  65. Scott O’Dell (Island of the Blue Dolphins)
  66. Katherine Paterson (Bridge to Terabithia; The Great Gilly Hopkins)
  67. Gary Paulsen (Hatchet)
  68. Kit Pearson (A Perfect Gentle Knight)
  69. Beatrix Potter (Peter Rabbit; The Pie and the Patty-Pan)
  70. Arthur Ransome (Swallows and Amazons)
  71. Ellen Raskin (Westing Game)
  72. Louis Sachar (Holes; Wayside School)
  73. Gary D. Schmidt (The Wednesday Wars; Okay for Now)
  74. George Seldon (Cricket in Times Square)
  75. Dr. Seuss (Cat in the Hat; Sneetches)
  76. Polly Shulman (Grimm Legacy)
  77. Shel Silverstein (The Giving Tree)
  78. Betty Smith (Tree Grows in Brooklyn)
  79. Dodie Smith (I Capture the Castle)
  80. Lemony Snicket (Series of Unfortunate Events)
  81. Zilpha Keatley Snyder (The Egypt Game)
  82. Elizabeth George Speare (Witch of Blackbird Pond)
  83. Eileen Spinelli (The Dancing Pancake; Where I Live)
  84. Jerry Spinelli (Maniac Magee)
  85. Rebecca Stead (When You Reach Me; Liar and Spy)
  86. Trenton Lee Stewart (Mysterious Benedict Society)
  87. Shawn K. Stout (A Tiny Piece of Sky)
  88. Noel Streatfeild (Ballet Shoes)
  89. Mildred Taylor (Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry)
  90. P.L. Travers (Mary Poppins)
  91. J.R.R. Tolkien (The Hobbit; Lord of the Rings)
  92. Mark Twain (Huckleberry Finn)
  93. Wendelin Van Draanan (Running Dream; Flipped; Sammy Keyes books)
  94. Vince Vawter (Paperboy)
  95. Eugene Velchin (Breaking Stalin’s Nose)
  96. Cynthia Voigt (Homecoming; Bad Girls)
  97. Jean Webster (Daddy-Long-Legs)
  98. Gloria Whelan (Homeless Bird)
  99. E.B. White (Charlotte’s Web)
  100. Laura Ingalls Wilder (Little House books)

How many of these authors have you read? (I’m very curious about that, actually.) Also, any names you would add to YOUR list? (And since it’s your list, you may even put down a certain Author-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named!)

I Wanted to Love This Book But…

**Please note that there MAY BE SPOILERS in this blog post. Whether it’s for this book, or for The Secret Garden.**

I wanted to love this book. Really I did.

And I tried. I even managed to finish it, in hopes that I would like it.

return-to-secret-gardenThe book in question? Return to the Secret Garden by Holly Webb.


I started to write out my typical review: What’s Cool / What’s Not Cool. And I just kept coming up with points for What’s Not Cool.  I’m not sure I had a single point for What’s Cool.

So, I’m writing this post instead.

This is one of those books that couldn’t survive without the original. In fact, that’s why we (the reader) pick it up. To return to a book world we love. In this case, the classic story of The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

The best thing for me about this book (the Holly Webb sequel) was figuring out the connections. Like who’s Martha? And Dickon? Colin was an easy one to figure out (since he’s obviously the “new” Mr. Craven). And I will admit, I kept reading to find out how/when Mary comes into the story. (So, I guess I have a point for What’s Cool after all!)

Sigh. But then…

The MC (Emmie) is not very likable. Not that this is weird in and of itself. Because Mary Lennox of the original is not very likable either, especially at the opening of the original story. But Mary grows on you. The author tried to do this with Emmie, and it sort of works, but not like it did with Mary. In fact, I felt the comparison between the two girls a little heavy-handed!

And then there’s the problem of identical plot points. A grouchy old gardener? Check. A sympathetic robin? Check. Ghostly cries in the night? You better believe we got those as well! (Can you see my eyes rolling?)

First of all, that last one (the ghostly cries) worked in original book because of the SECRET of Colin Craven. (Mary’s not supposed to know about him.  And she doesn’t—and we don’t either—until she discovers the secret.)

This new book doesn’t have a secret like that. And the revelation? (Can you see my eyes rolling again?)

Mary does come into the story. I had suspicions quite early on about how this would happen. Cue more eye rolls. (I was hoping for something a little more original.)

And guess what! The garden isn’t so secret anymore either. I mean it sort of is, but not really. IMHO, that part of the story was also a bit of a bust.

I could go on, but I won’t.

I don’t know why I even bother with these types of books. (I had a similar experience a few years ago with Before Green Gables, by Budge Wilson. I think I have a headache now.)

So, why do I even read these books? I think it’s because I know these authors must LOVE these stories as much as me. Why else would they want to write sequels or prequels or whatever. They want to bring us back to the characters we love so much. But sadly, it never quite works out that way.

Will I try another of these types of books in the future?


Because, at heart, I’m an optimist.

Although, maybe not for awhile.


Have you read this book? Did you love it? Am I being too critical?