In the Bookcase


Laura Ingalls Wilder & Winter TBR Reading Challenges

Here's 2 new reading challenges I'm signing up for this month! I've participating in the LIW challenge before, but the seasonal one is new to me.

In February I'll be reading this book for the challenge:
Writings to Young Women from Laura Ingalls Wilder: On Wisdom and Virtues

The Goal: Read these 12 books off my shelves by March 20.

My Seasonal TBR Challenge (Winter) List:
1. Noelle by Greg Kincaid
2. Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon
3. The Secret of Red Gate Farm by Carolyn Keene
4. The Falcon at the Portal by Elizabeth Peters
5. Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories, 1902-1903 by L.M. Montgomery
6. Pat of Silver Bush by L.M. Montgomery
7. Maud by Melanie Fishbane
8. Blood in the Water by C. Alexander London
9. Where Bugles Call by Lee Roddy
10. The Young Fur Traders by R.M. Ballantyne
11. The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie
12. Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics by Chris Grabenstein


Book Review: Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories, 1902-1903

Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories, 1902-1903 (5 star review)

Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories, 1902-1903
Chronological Montgomery short stories, #2

written by L.M. Montgomery

216 pages // published in 1903 // literary Canadian fiction


Lucy Maud Montgomery, (always called "Maud" by family and friends) and publicly known as L. M. Montgomery, (1874-1942) was a Canadian author, best known for a series of novels beginning with Anne of Green Gables (1908). In 1893, following the completion of her grade school education in Cavendish, she attended Prince of Wales College in Charlottetown. Completing a two year program in one year, she obtained her teaching certificate. In 1895 and 1896 she studied literature at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia. After working as a teacher in various island schools, in 1898 Montgomery moved back to Cavendish. For a short time in 1901 and 1902 she worked in Halifax for the newspapers Chronicle and Echo. She returned to live with and care for her grandmother in 1902. Montgomery was inspired to write her first books during this time on Prince Edward Island. Her works include: The Story Girl (1911), Chronicles of Avonlea (1912), The Golden Road (1913), Anne of the Island (1915), Anne's House of Dreams (1917), Rainbow Valley (1919), Further Chronicles of Avonlea (1920) and Rilla of Ingleside (1921).

My Review

5 Star Rating

This is a delightful collection of Montgomery's short works from the years of 1902 and 1903. I'm wanting to read all of her short stories, and making my way through them, year by year. This is the second such volume.

Many of the works included would make great moral stories for young readers. Others feature romance as the driving element, and would be intended for adults (although they're so tame and sweet, teen girls could enjoy them). Some of the themes covered include reconciliation, finding love at last, and in some cases, orphans finding their forever home.

Here's a bit about a few of my favorite stories in this volume:

Aunt Cyrilla's Christmas Basket: A delightful holiday story. While it may or may not be too original, it's charming. Kindness reigns in the end.

Miss Cordelia's Accommodation: Ah! At least, Montgomery's royal and fabled heroine makes her appearance. Cordelia knows she rules as a queen over her four-acre domain. This story just shines with happiness and generosity.

Ned's Stroke of Business: Now, this boy has a head on his shoulders! I found myself so attached to this story... I'm still not sure if it's the thought of the ice skating, or the hard challenge that has to be plowed through, or the genius idea of Ned's... but I liked his story.

The Bride Roses: What a romantic tale... and it ties a family back together again!

The Strike at Putney: Fabulous and hilarious! The people of the Putney church are dividing against the issue of allowing a female missionary to speak at the pulpit. The church splits down the middle, between men and women on the subject. Oh, what fun those women have in battle!

The Unhappiness of Miss Farquhar: I like this one because it's a plain-and-simple story that shows how you get on better in life if you don't mope about your problems.

Why Mr. Cropper Changed His Mind: This plucky schoolteacher knows how to create leverage – by obtaining evidence with her kodak. You go, girl!

These stories may be old-fashioned... but... well, that's part of their charm!

Available on Amazon in paperback, and (FREE!) ebook format.

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L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge

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Book Review: Pat of Silver Bush

Pat of Silver Bush by L.M. Montgomery (5 star review)

Pat of Silver Bush
Pat, #1

written by L.M. Montgomery

288 pages // published in 1933 // literary coming-of-age fiction


Patricia Gardiner loved Silver Bush more than anything else in the world. She was born and raised in the beautiful old-fashioned house on Prince Edward Island, "where things always seemed the same" and good things never changed. But things do change at Silver Bush--from her first day at school to the arrival of her new own first romance. Through it all, Pat shares her experiences with her beloved friends and discovers the one thing that truly never changes: the beauty and peace she will always find at Silver Bush--the house that remembers her whole life

My Review

5 Star Rating

Another Montgomery book down! I apologize in advance for this lengthy review...

General Thoughts:
To start, here's a little bio I put together of Pat, based on my musings of her type of character: As mentioned in the book, she has “French-English-Scotch-Irish-Quaker blood” (what a combo!). Most importantly, probably the first thing you should know, I believe, is that Pat loves things. Specifically she loves Silver Bush and anything connected to it. She loves many things found in nature. She loves people (dearly). And cats. And Pat is self-proclaimed “hopelessly Victorian” (take from that what you will).

For a while, when I would read L.M. Mongtomery's books, it seemed like each heroine I read about turned out to be my new favorite from all her books (first it was Anne that I fell in love with, then Emily, then Valancy, and most recently Jane – who at this moment still takes the cake). I cherished reading Pat's story, but this heroine didn't reel me in as some of the others have so easily done.

Regardless, I wouldn't have minded the satisfaction of knowing that there's a book out there called “Pat's House of Dreams” … just like the title of an Anne book I'm fond of. You'll know, once you read “Pat of Silver Bush” why I would desire to read a book of that title, but alas, it's not a real book. However, I can imagine just as good as the best of them – Pat and Anne, for example.

When I first started my reading of “Pat of Silver Bush”, I thought I'd have a running commentary on each chapter. This is now what I wish I'd have done for “Jane of Lantern Hill”, which I read a year ago (as I loved each and every chapter so intensely). Might as well not accidentally make the same mistake. I'll try to keep out the spoilers, in case you haven't read the book yet.

So here's my chapter-by-chapter notes... I hope you find them just a little bit witty...

Chapter 1: Introduces Pat
I'm not sure that I learned too much about Pat after chapter 1, as it seems I gleaned much more on Judy Plum. Maybe this is because Pat loves Judy so much. Judy appears to be the housekeeper at Silver Bush, I believe. Pat isn't an orphan, or anything like an orphan; so this is different. I think the last few pages of the chapter allowed me to see a bit more of Pat when she talked so vividly about the house cat, Gentleman Tom (who Judy says was “a bit particular who he spoke to”). But Pat and I are certainly not on bosom friend level yet.

Chapter 2: Introduces Silver Bush
I'm seeing more of Anne Shirley in Pat now, particularly in the way she names all the places around Silver Bush. And she's only 7 at the moment? As usual, Montgomery has infused quite the imagination into this little girl's brain. Even more now, I'm seeing that little Pat has a terrible penchant for cats (it's ever-increasing).

And at last, one of my favorite details so far... “But there was one house in which there was never any old white house among thick firs on the top of a hill to the southwest, two farms away from Silver Bush. It was a long, rather low house...Pat called it the Long Lonely House. It hadn't been lived in for years. Pat always felt so sorry for it, especially in the 'dim' when the lights sprang up in all the other houses over the countryside.” (Hello, this familiarity in Emily Byrd Starr. Hello, my Disappointed House.)

Chapter 3: Concerning Parsley Beds
Pat, Patsy, Patrica. This girl's family tree has me out of sorts. It appears she has a full family, complete with a father and a mother, siblings, – and yet another sibling on the way. So, she's not orphaned, half-orphaned, or been sent away to live with strange relatives. Where are you, Montgomery that I know?

Chapter 4: Sunday's Child
Still a little befuddled in finding that one extra spark from Montgomery. It feels like it's 80% her. I want 100%, stat.

Chapter 5: “What's in a Name?”
I just need a touch of tragedy...

Chapter 6: What Price Weddings?
Ah. I may have stumbled onto something. One sentence in particular contains dramatic and prophetic foreshadowing, perhaps? It remains to be seen. And an a different note, since I haven't mentioned it yet... I truly do love Judy Plum and her amazing stories. And her Irish lilt.


Chapter 10: A Maiden All Forlorn
At last! An orphan appears. Hopefully this is headed somewhere interesting.

Chapter 11: Dinner Is Served
Indeed, Jingle is a fine lad and an adequate new friend. Ahem. How I adore this line... “She and Jingle had one of those chummy laughs that ripen friendship.”

Chapter 12: Black Magic
McGinty is missing! That lovely little dog has up and gone off somewhere... I can't hardly stand the thought of it. And I'm not sure that even if I were to read the chapter a hundred times, I'd ever understand that twisted ending to the dilemma. (Caution to parents: This chapter takes place during Halloween, and Pat ends up visiting a local “witch”.)

Chapter 13: Company Manners
It's Christmas time now, and, oh, what a delightful what it is. Especially Jingle. How is it that I think that this is secretly a book about an orphan boy instead of his friend Pat? His story is what pulls at my heartstrings.

“[Norma:] 'We've got shutters on our house, too...ever so much greener than yours. You should just see our house. You haven't a veranda...or even a garage.'
'No. But we've got a graveyard,' said Pat triumphantly.
Norma was a bit floored. She couldn't deny the graveyard.”

Chapter 14: The Shadow of Fear
Pat reminds me of a miniature Anne Shirley, still. I love how she had to “run out in the twilight to tell the good news to the silver bush and the leafless maples.” And another favorite line: “Even in winter Silver Bush was lovely because of what it sheltered and hoped for.” This reminds me of my home.

Chapter 15: Elizabeth Happens
I love it when new friends enter the picture. Don't you?

Chapter 16: The Rescue of Pepper
No! Judy, don't tell me such things about Bets. I'll not hear of it.

“Sometimes we call each other Gertrude and Margaret. We are so sorry for our middle names because they are never used. We think they feel bad about it.”

Chapter 17: Judy Puts Her Foot Down
(Caution to parents: Pat misbehaves horridly. It involves bathing – in moonlight, not water.)
“'Pat!' said Aunt Edith, with forty exclamation points in her voice.”


Chapter 20: Shores of Romance
Oh! What an adventure Pat gets into now!

Chapter 21: What Would Judy Think of It?
“Uncle Robert calls her his Maiden Aunt behind her back and you can just see the capitals.”

Chapter 22: Three Daughters of One Race
Pat seems to be growing up well, putting away some of her childish ideals. Why, she's now turning 13? My, my. And she didn't even slap her relatives this time when they visited.

Chapter 23: Mock Sunshine
I love this line... “The Gordons had had a telephone put in at last and Jingle and Pat generally kept the wire from rusting.” Plus some bewitchingly beautiful news arrives... and yet... I have my doubts.

Chapter 24: Ashes to Ashes
Goodness, this is heart-breaking! My poor Jingle. For just as for Pat, he will always be Jingle to me – and by no other name can I call him.

Chapter 25: His Way Is on the Sea
So. It has been foreordained, a teacher is what Pat must grow into, whether she wanted a career or not.

Chapter 26: Gentleman Tom Sits on the Stairs
After experiencing some earthly trials, Judy gets to make the finalizing proclamation: “She isn't the child inny more. She'll never be the same again.” After all her trials though, Pat receives a bounteous reward, I daresay, in the end.

Chapter 27: Glamor of Youth
I love the idea of a “glory box” where you store all your sentimental treasures and souvenirs.

Chapter 28: Even as You and I
Concerning a potential suitor: “It was thrilling to discover that he liked cats and was not in the least annoyed when Bold-and-Bad rubbed against his best trousers and haired them.” (… AND HAIRED THEM!) One of the most unique lines in the book. And another favorite from this chapter, showing off some of Pat's fieriness?

“'I'm not quite senile yet,' said Pat.
Harris laughed.
'So it can scratch.'”

Chapter 29: April Magic
Oh, the sadness of it all! I would say it's the saddest chapter yet. However, the next chapter title warns of more tragedy, and I hardly don't know what to expect...

Chapter 30: One Shall Be Taken
This chapter certainly swiped away every bit of happiness, and it all came so out of the blue. And yet Montgomery still had to add a sense of humor to the occasion of mourning: “'That awful girl,' Mrs. Binnie always said when she told of it. 'She talked like a perfect heathen.'” … But on a serious note, anyone suffering from grief might be affected by this part of the story.


Chapter 32: Exile
A funny little description of Pat, now at college: “A bit proud.... A bit reserved.... A bit odd....” I like that bit of wording. Maybe it feels like me.

This was a great look into Pat's life at school, her interactions with Jingle, who may be her only friend there. But I love hearing about their trips home together on the weekend, and about how McGinty always makes sure to travel over to Silver Bush – always at the right time to see his master home.

Chapter 33: Fancy's Fool
These young gentlemen just don't know that they shouldn't speak of Silver Bush in that way. Of course, maybe they know now.

Chapter 34: “Let's Pretend”
Ah. We're back to the good old days, of Pat and Jingle wiling their precious time away together in the most charming of ways. What quirky remarks they share with each other, and yet they understand each other perfectly.

Chapter 35: Shadow and Sunshine
A very touching chapter, although I'd rather not talk of it and give away any of the plot here.


Chapter 39: The Chatelaine of Silver Bush
Ooh. He'll have her yet. What intriguing words, leaving me anxious to see what happens in the sequel.

And so... “Childhood was gone. The 'first fine rapture' of youth was gone.”

Available on Amazon in paperback, and ebook format.

Add to Goodreads

L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge

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


Book Review: Blood in the Water

Blood in the Water by C. Alexander London (5 star review)

Blood in the Water
Tides of War #1

written by C. Alexander London

224 pages // published in 2014 // MG/YA fiction


Based on a real military program! The US Navy's new breed of soldier is ready to make a big splash.

From the author of Dog Tags!

Navy SEALs are some of the most elite warriors in the world. Trained to operate in sea, land, and air, they work under cover of night to carry out the US military's most sensitive and difficult missions.

Cory McNab wanted to be a Navy SEAL, but he washed out of the program. Now he is a member of the Navy's Marine Mammals Program, where he is partnered with a search-and-recovery dolphin named Kaj.

Together, Cory and Kaj are the Navy's best hope when a US spy submarine is lost in enemy waters. With the help of Kaj's bio-sonar, they should be able to locate the submarine before its secrets fall into the wrong hands. But the mission gets complicated when a team of Navy SEALs runs into trouble. Can Cory succeed where his heroes have failed . . . or is he in too deep?

My Review

5 Star Rating

What a cool story about dolphins being trained by the US Navy. Dolphins can perform underwater missions that humans (and technology) cannot.

I learned some amazing things about dolphins, such as how intelligent they are, and that dolphins can perform some fantastic maneuvers that can aid in military maneuvers. Wow! I liked how one phrase in the book says it this way: “The dolphins were like the police dogs of the ocean.” Plus, did you know that dolphins love to have their tongue scratched? And that humans comply to this strange (and dangerous) request to put their hand in the dolphin's mouth? Woah!

Another reason why I'm a little more than impressed with this book is that it's released from Scholastic, but this isn't your average middle-grade book. The main character Cory McNab is an adult, not a kid. Yet the action-packed thrilling adventure is perfect for say, tweens up to adults to enjoy.

It's a book that has some beautiful moments showing humans connecting with animals. Plus it has all the action of a Navy SEAL high-seas adventure.

Available on Amazon in paperback, and ebook format.

Add to Goodreads

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Lucy Maud Montgomery reading challenge 2018

My January always has a little more happiness in it because I can spend it with a kindred spirit of old. The L.M. Montgomery challenge is here again! (I didn't think the challenge would happen, but joy of joys, it is happening!)

Please, go read all about it on Carrie's blog.

L. M. Montgomery Reading Challenge

My booklist consists of:
(1) a novel by Montgomery
(2) a short story collection by Montgomery
(3) a fictionalized novel written about her

Pat of Silver Bush
Pat of Silver Bush
by Lucy Maud Montgomery

Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories, 1902-1903
Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories, 1902-1903
by L.M. Montgomery

Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery
Maud: A Novel Inspired by the Life of L.M. Montgomery
by Melanie Fishbane

So? Anyone else want to read books by L.M. Montgomery this month?


#FREE Audio Book: To Build a Fire and Other Stories by Jack London

If you enjoy listening to audio books, do check out this limited time FREEBIE from Tantor Media!

Audio Book: To Build a Fire and Other Stories by Jack London

To Build a Fire and Other Stories

Author Jack London

Narrated by Patrick Lawlor

Publication date May 25, 2011

Running time 6 hrs

"To Build a Fire," the best-known of Jack London's many short stories, tells the tale of a solitary traveler on the Yukon Trail accompanied only by his dog as they endure the extreme cold. A classic narrative of a battle for survival against the forces of nature, "To Build a Fire" is London at his best. Also included here are "The Red One," "All Gold Canyon," "A Piece of Steak," "The Love of Life," "Flush of Gold," "The Story of Keesh," and "The Wisdom of the Trail." A vital collection of works by one of the greatest short-story writers in American literature, this edition is sure to delight audiences of all ages.

Download (free for a limited time) at