In the Bookcase


Book Review: Invincible Louisa

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge ::: JUNE 2017

Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs (5 star review)

Invincible Louisa
The Story of the Author of Little Women

written by Cornelia Meigs

256 pages // published in 1933 // non-fiction biography


Biography tracing the fascinating life of Louisa May Alcott from her happy childhood in Pennsylvania and Boston to her success as a writer of such classics as Little women.

My Review

5 Star Rating

1934 Newbery Medal winner.

I'm a big fan of Louisa May Alcott and her writings, her most notable novel being Little Women, among many other great books and stories. Needless to say, I've wanted to read this particular biography on Miss Alcott for many years, and finally got to read it this summer.

I think by reading this book and learning more about the Alcott family's history, you're diving deeper into Little Women at the same time. You get to learn more about the characters of Amy, Jo, Meg, and Beth, and find out what they truly were like in real life. Most importantly I found out a lot more about Miss Jo March herself, Louisa May Alcott. I'm starting to pick up now on hints of true events from her life inside of her writings. I feel more well-informed on the Alcotts as I continue to make my way through more of Louisa's books.

Louisa was always running off for a new adventure; this is true both in childhood and adulthood, in different ways. She was up for something fresh and thrilling to the senses, and was courageous to the core; this is one of the big elements I picked up on by reading her biography. Plus the reader gets to see insight in other topics that greatly affected Louisa: death, slavery, transcendentalism, education, Quaker culture, poverty. Life wasn't always peachy for her, as she had troubles all her own – but enough sweetness to keep her well-rounded. Just like in her writings.

Cons? This isn't really a negative point, but my opinion in one area differs from Cornelia Meigs' version. I think the author had a different perspective on Bronson Alcott than what we have of him today, if one reads up on the subject. In this book, Meigs glowingly builds up his character and reputation, which somehow seems skewed from what history tells us. Of course, he was a dreamer, and he attempted to do many different things in his life, but I personally don't think it was as glamorous as this book portrays.

One of the reasons this biography is particularly interesting to me is that it's not a modern day researcher who wrote it. It was written back in the 1930's, and clearly is written in a vintage style (which I completely adored, seeing as I am an avid vintage book reader). Additionally, I felt like the biographer truly knew Louisa as a friend, not just how a researcher or journalist might see her. I liked the effect that the amiable writing style gave to the atmosphere of the biography, and it made it much more amusing to read than a dry, textbook biography.

Book #2 finished for the Louisa May Alcott reading challenge.

Available on Amazon in paperback and on Internet Archive in (FREE!) e-book format.

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This is book #5 for me in the Back to the Classics 2017 challenge.
[CATEGORY: Award-winning Classic]

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Author Interview! Sarah Holman on Courage and Corruption

Hi readers,

Today I'm talking with author Sarah Holman about her book Courage and Corruption. It is the most recently published title in her Tales of Taelis series. Plus, watch out for the next book due out by July!

Courage and Corruption by Sarah Holman (5 star review)

Courage and Corruption

written by Sarah Holman

161 pages // published in 2016 // Christian YA


Catherine is going with her mother and younger siblings to the mountains to hide from the coming war. While she fears what might happen she is looking forward to some time away from her twin brother, with whom she often fights. One foolish act changes all their plans, and one story caused not only confusion, but more fighting.

Christopher does not believe his father’s story that they are descended from royalty. He is sure the story his father tells cannot be true. However, he is forced to go to the mountain castle of Coraway along with his mother and siblings. Will his father ever see him as a man? Will he and his twin ever be able to stop fighting?

Little do Catherine and Christopher realize that they hold the key to Taelis’ future in their hands. While they discover the truth before it is too late?

I've already read Courage and Corruption myself, and I enjoyed it. Be sure to take a look at MY REVIEW of the book, and check out book #3 of this series for yourself! It's a historical-inspired series, each book showcasing excellent biblical morals.

Well, let's get the interview questions going! >>

TARISSA: Sarah, let's talk about your most recently released novel in the Taelis series, since the next one to be published is not too far away. So, Catherine or Christopher? Can you personally identify with one more than the other -- or with a different character in this tale?

SARAH: I can identify with both of them, as well as Jacob. I have gone through time that I felt the rage welling inside of me and I couldn't control it. I have acted the part of the martyr and struggled with the injustice of how people have treated me, like Catherine. I am striving to become the peacemaker that Jacob is. Through it all, I found that surrender to God every day was the way to combat my issues. It's a hard lesson to learn.

TARISSA: Great answer! That's why I liked this book so much too, because there's some good lessons to be learned for all.

"I have tried, Christopher. There are so many things that I have tried to teach you and Catherine, but I have failed. You have more need of responsibility than you realize, but you refuse to develop it."

TARISSA: When I read Courage and Corruption myself, my favorite character was Cousin Edwin, storyteller master. He always had a story to share at just the right time. Did you have any particular inspiration behind Cousin Edwin's character or any of his stories?

SARAH: Courage and Corruption is actually a remake of an earlier story I had written. I don't remember the original inspiration for the character, but coming from a family of storytellers might have something to do with it.

"I think the lad can sense the stories that lay embedded in the stone walls."

TARISSA: If I'm remembering right, it seems that you already have an exact novel count planned out for the Tales of Taelis series. So, JUST HOW MANY novels do you have planned?

SARAH: The plan (as of now) is to have 24 books in the series based off all letters of the alphabet except Q and X. I have stories planned for most of those books, but as I write more, the series changes and so do the stories so we shall see. ;)
TARISSA: It's cool to see a bit of what goes on in an author's mind while they plot out a series! So what was your method in coming up with an arcing plot that would stretch over that many novels?

SARAH: Some of it is based off an old series I started when I was 11. The whole storyline that spans from Adventures and Adversities to Courage and Corruption was a direct result of that. However, most of the story seems to come about on its own and I go "Hey! I can use that in the next story." I'm not as much of a planner as you would suspect from the length of the series.

"Our king is dying and has no children to take his place. All over the kingdom, nobility are preparing for war and choosing whom they will support as the next king. The time may be soon to tell them that the long lost prince lives."

TARISSA: That's interesting to know! Okay. Time for a FUN QUESTION! >> What secret/special talents do you have that the people of Taelis might have done too? (Have you ever practiced archery? Ridden a horse? Corralled sheep? Do you play an instrument that Taelis people could recognize?) Share with your readers!

SARAH: I have taken care of goats quite a bit. Our family had goats when I was young and it was my job to milk them. I loved getting up early and having the quiet time while doing that task. I also love to garden and know what it takes. I am so glad that my family doesn't depend on my growing enough to feed us! I have ridden a horse and played around with a bow and arrow, which were both fun and helpful for research.

TARISSA: That all sounds like a variety of fun activities! Yes, including milking goats... I'd like to try it one day!

Well, thanks for joining me again, Sarah, to talk about your books. Until next time. ;)

Available on Amazon in e-book format.

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Author bio:
Sarah Holman is a not so typical mid-twenties girl: A homeschool graduate, sister to six awesome siblings, and author of many published books and short stories. If there is anything adventuresome about her life, it is because she serves a God with a destiny bigger than anything she could have imagined.

Author Sarah Holman

Visit the author online!

All quoted material comes from the book.


Book Review: Aunt Jo's Scrap Bag

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge ::: JUNE 2017

Aunt Jo's Scrap Bag by Louisa May Alcott (5 star review)

Aunt Jo's Scrap Bag
Aunt Jo's Scrap Bag, #1

written by Louisa May Alcott

104 pages // published in 1872 // classic short story collection


The books go from personal accounts (for example, how she described all her favorite boys and especially gave insight into how she created the character Laurie), to children's fantasies, or beautiful accounts with lovely characters that contain profound lessons in life and good will.

If you are a fan of Little Women, then you will love this book! If not, you will still love this book, so filled with good lessons to teach our children, in an amazingly entertaining manner. Here is the list of short stories:

Volume #1:
My Boys
Tessa’s Surprises
The Children’s Joke
Madam Cluck and Her Family
A Curious Call
Tilly’s Christmas
My Little Gentleman
Back Windows
Little Marie of Lehon
My May-Day Among Curious Birds and Beasts
Our Little Newsboy
Patty’s Patchwork

My Review

5 Star Rating

For fans of Little Women and Louisa May Alcott, or if you just love short, sweet stories, this is for you. Here's a few descriptions of some of my favorite stories found in Aunt Jo's Scrap Bag.

I enjoyed “My May-Day Among Curious Birds and Beasts” in which the narrator sweetly tells of the sights of a visit to the Zoological Gardens in London. It is obviously based on Louisa's own travels. I think it would make for a delightful read-aloud to children, since there are lots of interesting animals that make an appearance in the story.

One story that is just so comical, just so demure, and a bit too fun, is “The Children's Joke”. My, my. What a laugh, what a riot. Two children get to play the part of the parents all day long, while the parents must be subjected to play the part of children. Each side learns big truths about the other, and that sometimes life is less stressful when you just do the best you can in the life you're given.

I actually was reading this short story collection Aunt Jo's Scrap Bag while I simultaneously was reading a biography on Miss Alcott, entitled Invincible Louisa, and it was perfect timing! I kept seeing so many parallels between Louisa's own life and the stories she was writing. Most of her stories pulled in so many details of what was happening with her and the rest of the Alcott family in real life. It was fantastic to see the similarities!

In the story “My Boys” Louisa writes of several boys who left an impressionable mark on her life. In it, we see she is starting to sketch out the character of beloved Laurie, though in this early story he is named Laddie. (I actually learned more of the history behind Laurie's character in Invincible Louisa, wherein the reader gets to meet the actual boy who both Laddie and Laurie are based on. (Pretty cool stuff can be found in history and literature, eh?)

Although not exactly a favorite, “Madam Cluck and Her Family” stands out to me, as it was a strange and grave sort of story. It's starts with this delightfully misleading line: “There never was a prouder mamma than Madam Cluck when she led forth her family of eight downy little chicks.” The story progresses as each of the chicks dies off in some unfortunate way. A comically grim and rather surprising plot choice, coming from Miss Alcott.

Overall, a delightful batch of stories that I greatly enjoyed!

Book #1 finished for the Louisa May Alcott reading challenge.

Available on Amazon in paperback and e-book (free!) format.

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I've been interviewed about one of my favorite American authors! #LMA

What fun I had being interviewed by Trix from Much Ado About Little Women.

Check out my interview here!

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge ::: JUNE 2017

What book(s) are you reading for the LMA challenge this June?

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

Not sure what to read for the challenge? Check out my [List of published titles by Louisa May Alcott] for some literary inspiration this June.