Category: Friday Finds

Book Reviews by the Friday Book Club Team

Friday Find || The magic of The Story Girl by L.M. Montgomery

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Growing up, my older sister and mother exposed me to really good children’s books, and I fell in love with some of them. Case in point: Lucy Maud Montgomery’s Anne of Green Gables series. That spirited redhead stole my heart the moment my eyes clapped on the first page. It was the same for the next eight books of the series.

I was looking for Frances Hodgson Burnett’s A Little Princess when I saw this book. And literally, I forgot about the book I was supposed to buy, and bought The Story Girl instead.

And it was totally worth it.

Mythology, fairy tales, village anecdotes, treasured family history were the repertoire of Sara Stanley’s stories. While being the titular character, she is not the only central character. It is her, her cousins and her friends, that merry band of children having various adventures–canvassing for collections for a school library, buying a picture of God, whom Sara declared, looked like a cross old man. There’s also the chapter of the ghostly bell, which terrified the children and amused an uncle.

The Story Girl also tackles other issues–vanity, friendship, illness, and religion.

In writing this book, Montgomery used the first-person narrative, in the person of Beverley King, reminiscing his boyhood in a fictional village in Prince Edward Island, Canada.

Beverley travels to Carlisle, Prince Edward Island, with his younger brother Felix, after their father has been assigned by his firm to take charge of a new branch in Brazil. Without a mother to help look after them, the boys were sent to live with their father’s family.

Except from accounts in family letters, the boys set off to Prince Edward Island, not knowing what to expect. And from that, the boys take the reader into that same journey.

It was a delightful one indeed.

The Story Girl is available in paperback or in Kindle format. A free version is available here too.

Friday Finds || Abbey Sy’s The ABCs of Journaling

The ABCs of Journaling

Abbey Sy

Hardbound, 121 pages, with full colour illustrations and photographs

Published by Summit Books

I have been following Abbey Sy’s work ever since I attended the Type Lab event almost three years ago. She is phenomenal–there’s her website to prove it! One look at her book–The ABCs of Hand Lettering–and it was typography love at first sight for me, and also the start of my somewhat muted journey into learning about calligraphy and typography.

Back then, before law school happened, I loved to pour out my innermost thoughts, and put them on paper. They were pretty much emo-laden thoughts (not exactly proud of that haha)–and although I cringe about what I have written back then, I pretty much enjoyed making it look pretty all the same.  Read More

Friday Finds || The Blue Castle — Lucy Maud Montgomery

How are you all doing? Hope you are doing well!

It’s been ages since I’ve written a book review–I’ve been reading a lot of books but I haven’t put pen to paper. Or rather, in this case, fingertips to keyboard with regard to how I feel about them! I’m going to review one of my favourite author’s little known work.

Reading Lucy Maud (LM) Montgomery’s work is always a treat. I’ve fallen in love with Anne of Green Gables as a little girl. In many ways, I related to Anne Shirley. I still do, actually. While I have many good friends and I love them dearly, there’s only a few with whom I have the same wavelength–I share her viewpoint in having a friend that’s also a ‘kindred spirit’.  I still read the books in the series because there’s something about worth revisiting in Anne Shirley’s world: She never changes who she is, and she does her own thing. For those who have never read the series at all–IT IS NEVER TOO LATE. It’s totally worth your time. The eighth book in the series is actually my favourite!

Okay, back to LM Montgomery’s little known work. This is another book of hers that I have fallen straight in love with. No, seriously. In classic Montgomery style, the beginning of The Blue Castle was riveting enough to make me want to stay up until late at night to finish it.

In a nutshell, Valancy Stirling (such a delicious name!) was the nonentity of her family. Plain, unmarried, dull (to her family), she had a bleak future in front of her,  because she was twenty-nine, and with nary a marriage proposal to her name.

Things became more exciting when Valancy felt the need to see a doctor. One of her own choosing, mind, as her family had their own go-to doctor. And the prognosis was not looking good. This was the turning point for Valancy. From that moment on, she decided to say whatever she wanted, wear whatever she wanted, do whatever she wanted. After all, she had only one year left to live and she wanted to take her life into her own hands.

And boy,Valancy’s in for a wild ride.

What I love about The Blue CastleThere was never a dull moment reading this book. LM Montgomery had the knack for great dialogue and detail. And the mood! The first chapter really did set the tone of the story–a morose, grey beginning that had you wanting to know why it was so, and it would make you wonder if things would change.

Another thing I love about The Blue Castle and Montgomery’s writing in general is that the narrator makes the reader get inside her brain and know exactly what she was thinking, dreaming, planning, dreading…or even plotting.

Let’s not forget the character development of each of the characters. Initially, I liked Valancy’s Cousin Olive, and thought that Valancy was a bit unreasonable over her apathy towards her cousin. Eventually, I finally realised that Olive was meh (and she’s a bit of a cow). Other relatives such as Uncle Benjamin I found too easy to dislike –there are many people who are like Uncle Benjamin! He, however, redeemed himself at the end of the book.

I loved Valancy’s spunk once she decided to take her life in her own hands! One of my favourite conversations in the story were of Valancy, her friend Barney and her Uncle Wellington.

“Valancy, how came you here!” he said sternly.
“By chance or God’s grace,” said Valancy.
“With this jail-bird—at ten o’clock at night!” said Uncle Wellington.
Valancy turned to Barney. The moon had escaped from its dragon and in its light her eyes were full of deviltry.
“Are you a jail-bird?”
“Does it matter?” said Barney, gleams of fun in his eyes.
“Not to me. I only asked out of curiosity,” continued Valancy.

If you’ve never read The Blue Castle or any of Lucy Montgomery’s work, they’re certainly worth a read! Completely tempted to write more–and gush more about this book, but at the risk of sounding spoilery, I decided that I’ll leave it to you to read The Blue Castle!

Friday Finds || The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets–Eva Rice

How are you? How was your Valentine’s Day? Hope it went well. 🙂

This is a book that I’ve been dying to review–but I re-read this book over and over to do this review justice. 🙂 It’s definitely my favourite book at the moment, and it’s been totally worth it to buy on Amazon. Because sadly, it’s not available in book shops in the Philippines. Yeah, I’m talking to you National Bookstore, Powerbooks, and Fully Booked. And people are missing a lot not reading this book! Well, at least I think so.

Eva Rice’s The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets takes place in 1950s England, a country still recovering from the effects of the Second World War, and still coping with rationing. At the same time, England was also invaded by America.

Musically, that is. Penelope’s brother Inigo thinks nothing else but rock and roll and Elvis Presley, and running away to America to be a singer.

Penelope Wallace, our heroine, meets her new friend Charlotte in the most unusual manner–being invited by Charlotte to a tea party. A one of a kind tea party, that is. Pretty soon, Penelope gets involved with more interesting people–Harry, Charlotte’s sardonic cousin hung up with Marina, an American who is engaged to another man named George; Rocky, an enigmatic American who becomes besotted with Penelope’s mother, the beautiful Talitha. And Harry’s mother Clare, who met Penelope’s father Archibald before he married Talitha.

The real adventure begins when Harry invites Penelope to a dinner to make his former girlfriend jealous. Penelope’s not sure that she’s willing to participate. Will she? And what’s in store for her if she does?

What I love about this story is that Eva Rice really made me feel like Penelope, her family and friends were real people. I could easily imagine what their slowly deteriorating country home would look like. Or being a guest in one of their parties. would feel like.

Miranda Hart–yes, that Miranda Hart from Call the Midwife–wrote about the characters in the foreword: “This might sound weird, but can we be best friends?” I could easily ask Penelope, her friends and family that question if they were real people. Reading The Lost Art of Keeping Secrets felt like Penelope and Charlotte let me tag along in their adventures. There was never a dull moment in the book–and the dialogue was witty and charming, and had me giggling a lot!

Possibly my favourite part was the ending–it still made readers wonder if Penelope and Harry got together, and while it didn’t actually say so, I had a good feeling they both had their happy ending.

This book gets five stars from me. 🙂 I’m all praises! 🙂

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