Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery

AGG

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Title: Anne of Green Gables

Author: L. M. Montgomery

Published: 1908

Rating: ★★★★★


Summary: When the Cuthberts decide they would like to take in an orphan boy to help with the farm work, they are surprised to find a skinny red-headed girl at their door. Anne Shirley is a spunky and sensitive orphan who is doing her best to fit into a world that hasn’t always been kind to her, and now she needs to prove to the Cuthberts that she is someone they should keep.

Why I Am Recommending: Why haven’t I read this book sooner? I would actually like to pointedly ask my sisters, both of whom grew up reading and enjoying this book, why they didn’t force me to read Anne of Green Gables sooner. It wasn’t until I recently watched Netflix’s adaptation “Anne with an E,” that I finally understood why so many have loved the story. This timeless book is a delight. It is full of luscious description and the bright world that Montgomery creates through the sweet eyes of Anne. Anne is a great character. She is complex and interesting with a mind and mouth going a mile a minute. I was sometimes in awe at the writing Montgomery put into the character of Anne Shirley and her ongoing stream of consciousness. The setting of Avonlea on Prince Edward Island is rich and full of beautiful landscapes, which are easy to imagine through the words on the page. Anne is a multi-dimensional character whose monologues showcase how the world has treated her. Sometimes her point of view is heartbreaking, while other times it makes me rethink my tendency toward cynicism. I have actually noticed myself looking at nature and life and wondering how Anne may have viewed something or described it. I bought the whole 8-book set and I am looking forward to see what else Montgomery has in store for Anne and how she evolves her free-spirited nature into young adulthood. A big recommendation from me, but I suspect most have read this by now!

TBR: What’s on Deck for June 2017

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My TBR (To Be Read) List is getting unruly. There are 128 books sitting out there waiting to be picked as my next read. Some have been sitting there since 2012! I have a goal this year to pay more attention to the version of myself who deemed a book worthy of being placed on my TBR List. As such, I am going to prioritize what is out there on my TBR each month. Here is what I hope to get to in June.

Newly Added TBR Picks (< 1 year): 

1. Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett: Being billed as a YA “You’ve Got Mail” is a sure fire way to make it to the top of my TBR pile. Date added: May 22, 2017

2. The Last Letter from Your Lover by Jojo Moyes: All of Jojo Moyes’ books have been getting the cover redesigns to fall in line with her trademark look and so they have been resurfacing in the new releases section I scour. I was attracted to the hot pink cover – I am not ashamed to admit it, but having Jojo Moyes as author and a historical fiction flashback approach made me decide this was going to be a priority book to read. Date added: May 13, 2017

3. Learning to Breathe by Karen White: I read a Karen White novel a while ago that I enjoyed and have always intended to go back. When her name caught my eye on a recent bookstore stroll, this book in particular spoke to me. This story follows a woman whose heartbreak is tested when her lost love returns to town. The description involves meddling sisters, historic movie theaters, and war time love letters – yes, please! Date added: May 13, 2017

4. After I Do by Taylor Jenkins Reid: One of my favorite authors lately, I have enjoyed her other books, especially this one. This book is about a marriage on the brink and a plan to discover what each of them wants. I am slightly afraid of this in-depth, honest look at marriage, but TJR never lets me down. Date added: July 12, 2016

Long Ago Added TBR Picks (> 1 year):

1. The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls: I think I might be the last person on earth who hasn’t read this memoir. One of my friends has been recommending this book to me for years, stating it to be her very favorite book. And while her enthusiastic stamp of approval should have been enough to get me to open the book (which is sitting on my shelf), I was always afraid that it would be too depressing. The recent preview for the movie version coming out is helping me get over that and I have big plans to finally read this one. Date added: August 24, 2012 – I believe this is the very first book I ever put on my Good Reads “Want to Read” shelf!

Book Club Pick: Winter Garden by Kristin Hannah

Winter Garden

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Title: Winter Garden

Author: Kristin Hannah

Published: February 2010

Rating: ★ ★ ★


Summary: Meredith and Nina are sisters without much in common. Complete opposites and living on different continents has not fostered a strong relationship between them. But this is not a foreign concept to them as they have dealt with a cold mother who has never shown them affection or love. Luckily, they had their warm and loving father to support them, but when he grows gravely ill it requires them to come together and uphold his requests. One such request is to hear the end of their mother’s fairy tale about a peasant and a prince, which they begin to think may be more than just a fairy tale.

My Thoughts: I actually sort of liked this book, despite my 3 star rating. Kristin Hannah is a great writer, and this book is no exception. This is my 3rd Hannah book and I have come to trust her authorship and the story that lies between the cover of books that hail her name. This book had a slow beginning, although it managed to keep me some-what engaged, and it wasn’t until the last quarter or so of it that I really began to get drawn in. This book is at its best when it is in the fairy tale set in Leningrad. I wasn’t expecting it to be such an emotional read or one that would end up being similar to her most famous book, Nightingale. There were many comparisons to be made with the two stories, but Nightingale is far superior. Parts of Winter Garden seemed to be over done, as if it was a caricature. Nina, Meredith, and their mother were extreme characters that didn’t really seem very realistic. I also found the ending to be hard to believe, however, it didn’t prevent me from responding to the extreme emotionality of it. Overall, this was a solid read despite its flaws. Not Hannah’s best, but certainly a glimpse of her powerhouse abilities.

Book Club Discussion: This was the most universally enjoyed book so far. We have not all agreed on (or finished) all of the other picks. We jived on the peaks and valleys of this book, including what Erin called a “trite” ending. We spent a good deal of time considering how truly similar to Nightingale this story was and reflecting on other Hannah books we have read and enjoyed better. Overall, it was a good pick by Janette. On to the next one…

Next Month’s Pick: To The Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey

The Wrath & the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

Wrath

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Title: The Wrath & the Dawn

Author: Renee Ahdieh

Published: May 2015

Rating: ★★★★


Summary: Each dawn, the young, cruel Caliph Khalid executes his newest bride. No bride has lived to see a second dawn. Shahrzad’s best friend was one of these young brides and she vows to avenge the senseless murder by volunteering as the Caliph’s next bride.

Why I Am Recommending:  I immediately liked this book. Ahdieh describes such a beautiful world full of fragrant flowers, spiced foods, and colorful clothing. I loved her writing and found it to be like unwrapping a decadent dessert. Shahrzad (Shazi) is a great character. She is a strong, independent female with a strong devotion to those she loves. She is also a story-teller, and I was swept up in them along side Khalid. Khalid is another great character. He is misunderstood, brooding, and sensitive, and I loved getting to know him. I completely relished the tension of Shazi and Khalid’s complicated relationship. I wouldn’t change a thing about the pacing or Ahdieh’s approach in telling this story. I will be diving directly into the second installment!

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Second Chance

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Title: Second Chance Summer

Author: Morgan Matson

Published: May 2012

Rating: ★★★★


Summary: When Taylor’s dad gets a grim prognosis, the family uproots themselves for the summer to spend it together at their lake house in the Poconos. Taylor has to face how she left things when she was last at the lake house 5 summers ago while she and her family come to terms with reality.

Why I Am Recommending: As the weather has turned warmer, I was drawn to a book about summer vacation. It was a bonus that this book was set in a locale not too far from my home, which made it easier for me to envision the characters and the setting. I found this story to be really heart warming. The heartbreaking situation Taylor’s family was in plucked at my heart strings and fully engaged my tear ducts. This book had everything I love, first love and emotionality. There were great characters throughout the book and I really felt like I understood Taylor. Her relationship with her dad was very sweet and I liked seeing her relationship develop with her siblings. Morgan Matson does a great job nailing what I remember being that age to be like. Her books always fill me with nostalgia, and this book is no different. 

List: 6 Swoon-Worthy Reads

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Above all topics, love is my favorite. I am a complete addict when it comes to all things romantic in the realm of books and movies. I used to play this addiction down because I thought a respected book guru would spend most of their reading time on the New York Times bestsellers list, which rarely leaves space for cotton-candy, feel-good, love stories. I have decided that life is too short to read books I’m just not that into, and so I am embracing my romantic, sentimental side and putting forth a list of some of my very favorite swoon-worthy love stories. Enjoy!

 

Title: Attachments

Author: Rainbow Rowell

Published: April 2011

Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Summary: This is the story of how an IT specialist falls for a woman as he snoops on their email conversations under the guise of performing his duties. Although this can sometimes feel stalker-y, I promise it is a sweet love story. If my summary hasn’t piqued your interest then simply trust in the goddess author that is Rainbow Rowell. Her name is enough to endorse a gold standard in heart-warming fiction. Click here to look at my full post on this book recommendation.

 

Title: The Royal We

Author: Heather Cocks and Jessica Morgan

Published: April 2015

Rating:♥♥♥♥♥

Summary: American college student, Rebecca Porter, studies abroad at Oxford where she meets the crown prince of England. Their romance unfolds from here and you will devour every word of this insanely sweet, cotton-candy read. Trust me, this one is killer. Click here to look at my full post on this book recommendation.

 

Title: Outlander

Author: Diana Gabaldon

Published: July 2005

Rating:♥♥♥♥

Summary: A WWII nurse, Claire Randall, is reacquainting herself with her husband on a getaway post-war in the Scottish Highlands when she falls through a portal and lands in 1743. This is a romance novel that also feeds the brain. Gabaldon does an impressive job describing life in the Highlands in the 18th century while telling an incredibly romantic story. I was skeptical of this book’s concept, but after seeing the pilot for the STARZ show I jumped at the chance to read the book. Every time I opened the cover I was immersed in this decadent tome. Click here to look at my full post on this book recommendation.

selection

 

Title: The Selection Series (#1-3)

Author: Kiera Cass

Published: April 2012, April, 2013, May 2014

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Summary: This is a YA series that follows America Singer as she competes with other girls to be chosen by the prince and heir of Illea. It is like a royal version of the Bachelor in a semi-dystopian world. I breezed through these books…both times, but I can only recommend books #1-3 (of the 6 books and additional novellas).

 

Title: Anna and the French Kiss

Author: Stephanie Perkins

Published: December 2010

Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Summary: This is another YA book. This story is about Anna, who is sent to a boarding school in France against her will, but she ends up finding her footing with friends and a dapper beau. This novel really captures angsty teenage romance, but also sort of reminded me of college, so there was a heavy dose of nostalgia when reading this swoon-worthy love story. Click here to look at my full post on this book recommendation.

Pride and Prejudice

 

Title: Pride & Prejudice

Author: Jane Austen

Published: 1813

Rating:♥♥♥♥♥

Summary: What list of romantic novels would be complete with out the créme de la créme of all love stories? This may have been the book that started it all for me and I am sure many others feel the same way. It amazes me that a book published more than 200 years ago is still relevant. Elizabeth Bennet is my all-time favorite character who has a good head on her shoulders and navigates an unlikely romance with Mr. Darcy in a most elegant way.

The Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay

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Title: The Sea of Tranquility

Author: Katja Millay

Published: November 2012

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★


Summary: Nastya leaves home and moves in with her aunt to escape the trauma and pressure at home after a terrifying experience that eventually results in her choice to stop speaking. Moving to a new town and a new school is a chance for her to reinvent herself, but how long will the facade be able to last?

Why I Am Recommending: I wasn’t instantly in love with this novel. I found the lead character, Nastya, to be sort of annoying. As I read further and gained some insight into her past, I began to forgive her for her hard exterior and instead understood why she felt the need for its existence. Millay did a nice job with pacing the story and the development of her relationships. There were some truly sweet aspects of this book, which I felt most especially on the very last pages of the read. This was a solid story that was satisfying and heartwarming along with a depth of story that kept my brain engaged.