Sunday, August 30, 2015

How 'bout a FREE BOOK signed by the author? Crooked River may be yours!

Geary's Crooked River is Rife with Suspense and Secrets!

Valerie will send one lucky person a copy of her book!! 
Keep reading to find out how you can win!
This was an excellent mystery! 
Especially for a debut novel! 
Check out my review here!

BIO: Valerie Geary is the author of the debut novel, Crooked River, out now in paperback! Her short stories have appeared in The Rumpus, Day One, Menda City Review, Boston Literary Magazine, and Foundling Review. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and a pound puppy named Charlie Waffles. In addition to writing, reading, and all things chocolate, Valerie enjoys gardening, hiking, cycling, beer festivals, and playing disc golf.

~Disc golf? That's a new one for me, though I guess it is just what it sounds like (per Wikipedia): According to Paul Ince of the Professional Disc Golf Association, "The object of the game is to traverse a course from beginning to end in the fewest number of throws of the disc." In just 8 years (2000-08) the number of disc golf courses doubled and it's played in about 40 countries. Cool!

1. It seems there have been several books published recently either centered around or 
    including a theme of living in isolation and off the land. What motivated you to include 
    that in this book?

There were multiple reasons I chose to have Bear living alone and off the grid. I think partly, he was a character who because of his past, felt cut off from the world already. Having him live in a teepee in a meadow was a way to show externally how he felt internally. I also think because of his anti-social tendencies, it made it easier for the townspeople to point the finger at him. Finally, I have a deeply rooted love of nature and wild spaces, and I think this book was a great chance for me to share that in an interesting way. 

~Ah...I bet your own love for that setting is what came through the writing and made it all the more real! And it did work for his character just as you stated! [Keep reading for your chance to win!]

2. What was the most confounding part of having your first novel published?

Honestly, as much as I love the word ‘confounding’, I’m not sure I’d use it to describe my feelings toward publishing a book. I did a lot of research about the publishing industry before I ever tried to sell my first book. So a lot of what happened was what I’d been expecting to happen. One thing I’ve been pleasantly surprised by, however, is the various ways Crooked River has been finding its way to readers.

It’s always a little baffling to hear from people who are reading my book—people who don’t know me personally, people who aren’t related to me, people all across the country who’ve just picked it up at a bookstore or the library or an airport. I love it, don’t get me wrong, it’s wonderful! Like I said, it’s pleasantly surprising. I’m just always so curious, so nosey: how did they find out about the book, what drew them to open it up and start reading? It’s wonderful to be able to watch this book, that was mine and mine alone for so long, finally find its way to and connect with other people. It is a surreal and exciting experience.

~I won a copy of your wonderful debut through a Goodreads giveaway! A first for me! (So always enter those, folks!) And I'm so very happy to offer a free copy to one lucky winner here! Glad to know getting published wasn't 'confounding' for you! 

3. What was the first idea that made you start writing   
    this particular story?

I read an article about a man who left his family to live off the grid in Eastern Oregon. He dug a kind of hobbit hole in the ground and spent his time making art and contemplating life’s big questions. He had kids, and after I read the article, I couldn’t stop thinking about those kids and what it must have been like for them. I started to imagine Sam and Ollie and their father, Bear, and from this small spark, the story quickly expanded into something bigger and more complicated, into the novel it is today.

~Very cool! It's amazing what can spark the imagination!

4. Was any one of these characters semi-autobiographical
    for you?

In some ways, Sam and Ollie are. I have a sister, it’s just the two of us, and I’m the youngest. So in that way, I’m like Ollie. I was quiet like Ollie when I was a girl, too. But I love the woods like Sam. There are pieces of me and my sister in both girls, elements of our relationship growing up, but there are things about Sam and Ollie that aren’t like us at all—they took on their own life during the course of writing the book. For instance, I’ve never found a dead body floating in a river, never lived in a teepee in the woods, and my father has never been the prime suspect in a murder case…as far as I know anyway!

~Hah! I hope you never experienced all those things! [Read some more for a chance to win!]

5. Did you know who the perpetrator was in the first stages of writing this book? Or did 
    you have to discover that later? 

I do a significant amount of brainstorming, plotting, and outlining before I ever start drafting a book. So yes, I knew the “who” early on. However the motives changed a little as I came to know the characters better. There were other things I didn’t know at the start that revealed themselves during the writing, too, but I can’t say what those were without spoiling the ending!

~Thank you for omitting spoilers! :) 

6. I loved the fact that you included information about beekeeping. That accomplished 
    several things for me as a reader: it leant a certain believability/credulity to bear’s 
    independence from society and seeming ability to support himself, it provided insight 
    into bear’s intellectuality, and it afforded Sam an opportunity to learn and grow in a 
    socially-acceptable way, regardless of her virtual isolation. I’m rather curious as to 
    whether your intentions as an author included any of these, or if it was entirely 
    something else.

This is great insight, Lynn! And yes, many of the reasons you mention here were part of my decision to add the bees. I also really liked the way they complemented the supernatural elements of the book. There is a lot of history and myth about honeybees and the souls of the dead, and the more research I did, the more certain I felt that they needed to be included as characters in this story.

~Now that is cool! And will probably initiate a whole afternoon of online research for me!   :)

7. Do you believe certain of us humans are capable of communicating/interacting with 
    beings other than humans, as is Ollie? I ask because I do, but I’m always curious about 
    authors’ beliefs regarding such themes in their published works… For example, I was 
    shocked to learn that Bruce Cameron does not himself believe in reincarnation! 

While I love reading and writing stories with supernatural elements, when it comes to my real life I tend to be more of an open-minded skeptic. I like the idea that there is more to this world than what we see right in front of us. I like to imagine it. And while I don’t think I’d be very surprised if ghosts actually do exist, as of right now I haven’t had enough personal experience or been offered enough proof to say with utmost certainty that it’s possible to communicate with them.

[Almost there for your chance at a free book!]

8. What are you working on next?

I’ve always been a little superstitious about my writing and don’t like to talk much about projects that are in the early stages of creation or books that haven’t yet sold. Part of my reason for this is that the act of creating a story is very different from sharing that finished book with readers. It requires a different set of skills, a different mindset, so I’m usually very protective and private of that creative space. However, I will say this…I’ve been working on a second novel with suspense and supernatural elements that will hopefully make its way into the world someday soon. You and other readers are always welcome to sign up for my newsletter or like my Facebook page—these are the two best ways to get information about future projects and publications!

~I never really considered those differences before. I'm sure that's true. And that, my friends, leads us to the list below of various ways to connect directly with Valerie! She is quite receptive to readers and is a very nice person! 


Did you want a free copy?!? To have your name entered to win a free copy of Crooked River, just leave a comment below that includes your email address. A winner will be selected by random drawing at 7PM (my time) on Labor Day (in the U.S.), Monday, September 7th! Each person will be entered once. (Leaving 10 comments will not get your name entered 10 times! Yes, someone already asked!) I will email the lucky winner for their mailing information. Good luck!! I sure was lucky to win my copy, so it is nice of Valerie to allow someone else to do the same! 

And the winner was Emily! Her free copy of this wonderfully written debut, signed by the author, is on its way to her!

Becoming an "official" Classics Club member!

The Classics Club  is an organization I admire. These folks are voluntarily running a website/group to encourage the reading of "classic literature"! While I don't believe any one list of "classics" to be all-inclusive or to be "must-reads" for every reader out there, I myself, would appreciate a broader exposure to and understanding of classical literary works. 
Why? 
Because it does increase my comprehension when others reference these works, as well as demonstrating for me the evolution of human culture and society through published works.

Although I have already sneaked in and participated in several Classics Club Spin events, I recently noticed the website had been revamped and is, in my opinion, organized in a much more user-friendly format with regard to membership, etc., than in the past. While exploring this new world, I discovered I was not listed as a member! :(  What?!? :)

It was then that I realized I had overlooked the qualifying criteria for membership and had never submitted an original LONG list of classics I wish to read. Said list must include a minimum of 50 titles and I had listed only 20, so here is my original/expanded listing of classical works I wish to read within the next 5 years, by September 2020. It numbers well over 100 and is just a rambling list including some (at times nonsensical to all others but myself) commentary. I vow to create and post a well-organized commentary-free listing in the near future. :)

Trust me--this is just one small portion of the classics I would like to read! But really...how long will I live?!? ;) An asterisk (*) denotes books I own. 

Free Choice:
Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin*
       I loved Go Tell It on the Mountain and want to read this one! I own it, too! :)
The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study by W.E.B. Du Bois
      Have always said I wanted to read something he'd written. I admire his 
      accomplishments with regard to the NAACP, etc.
Man's Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frankl
      So many have mentioned that this is a "must-read" book and there are so many    
      references to it. And...it will be my technical Spin read #10
Little Men by Louisa May Alcott
       Uhm... I raised three sons so this should be interesting? ;)
Jo's Boys by Louisa May Alcott
       See above comment regarding Little Men... 
I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou
       The spirit that emanated from this woman was all-encompassing. I was lucky enough to
       see her speak live twice and each time my own soul-spirit literally soared. I had 
       goosebumps. Each person who ever stood in the same room with this woman had to 
       have been spiritually raised to higher levels...and I am not referring to a "religious" 
       experience--her soul definitely vibrated at a higher energy level than most, or at least 
       higher than my own soul at that point in time! 
At Fault by Kate Chopin
The Awakening by Kate Chopin*
       Have never read anything this woman wrote! Yikes! And she was in St. Louis, Missouri! 
       Kinda my 'stompin' ground,' as they say! After reading she is considered a feminist 
       forerunner of the likes of Zelda Fitzgerald, well...I need to read her!

Books I rather dread, but for whatever reason wish to read:
The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
      I feel as if I really should read this if I haven't yet...
The Hours by Micheal Cunningham*
      I truly know nothing about this one, but so many have recommended it and I have read 
      several references to it lately. Added bonus: picked up a copy in the Half Price Books 
      clearance section for $2!
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair*
      I'm sure this is going to gross me out, but I think we all need to read it...
Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe*
      So many references that I feel I need to have at least read it.
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
      Loved The Grapes of Wrath, but have never been attracted to this one, though I feel I 
      should read it. It is referred to so often and by so many!! And is loved by many readers 
      whose opinion I value! 
Watership Down by Richard Adams
      Don't know why I dread it...it just sounds BORING!! ;)
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? by Edward Albee
      Can't help it. I read this title and my immediate thought is "Huh?" But I'm brave...
The Frogs by Aristophanes
       Perhaps only so I can say I've read something written by Aristophanes? I have 
       absolutely no idea what to expect other than it is supposedly a comedic play. Oh, and it 
       is short! :)
The Leatherstocking Tales by James Fenimore Cooper
       This consists of 5 different novels: The Deerslayer, The Last of the Mohicans, The 
       Pathfinder, The Pioneers, The Prairie. Although I did read The Last of the Mohicans for 
       a correspondence course almost 20 years ago, I feel as if I got almost nothing out of it 
       except that I do recall it grossed me out in places. However, I feel the need to know this 
       series intimately as someone born and raised in the U.S.
Lord Jim by Joseph Conrad
       Just because...it's by Conrad. It must be informative!
Divine Comedy by Dante
Hell by Dante
       Only because I feel I should read them, even if it may well be a struggle to get through!
The Origin of Species by Charles Darwin
       Though I am very interested, I feel this will be BORING! :(
Bleak House by Charles Dickens
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
Little Dorrit by Charles Dickens
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens 
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens
The Mystery of Edwin Drood by Charles Dickens
The Old Curiosity Shop by Charles Dickens
       Confession: I have NEVER read a Charles Dickens book. Further confession: This 
       stems from the fact my mother felt he was the best writer ever and was always trying to 
       push me to read him. (My mother and I were two very different and basically 
       incompatible people in this lifetime.) Hence, I have done my utmost to avoid the man 
       and his writings. Honestly, at almost 60 years of age I believe it is long past the time 
       when I should drop it and just get on with it--READ HIM!! :) Though I feel it will be 
       depressing to do so. 
The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky
       Starting reading this about 10 years ago. No go! Perhaps I should create a read-along 
       and include some research in postings to help myself get through it this time? It's a 
       thought... I really would like to do that, but it would have to come AFTER the Laura 
       Ingalls Wilder Read-Along I have planned! :)
Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky
       This is one that even my mother couldn't get through. I will, however, give it a try. :)

Those books about which I am relatively neutral:
The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
      Really feel the need to read one of her books! So many bloggers reference her work!
The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway*
      Have yet to read one of his novels. (I know, I know...) :)
Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier*
      Just keep seeing references to this one all over the place and am definitely curious! 
      And I own a copy now!
Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
       Loved An American Tragedy when I read it at the age of 15. 
The Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter*
       Fascinated by the concept.
O Pioneers! by Willa Cather
The Song of the Lark by Willa Cather
My Antonia by Willa Cather
One of Ours by Willa Cather
       Yes, there is a theme among the 4 books listed above. I have. NEVER. Read. Anything 
       written by. Willa Cather! Shameful, I know... I will remedy that! 
Animal Farm by George Orwell
       I reread this last year, but want to reread again and fully review. Also will 
       compare/contrast with The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips in the very near 
       future.
Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane
       Have not read this one and definitely should! 
Meditations on a First Philosophy by Rene Descartes
       I love philosophy. I really should at least give this a try!        

Those I cannot wait to read:
Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison*
     Feel I should read it so I can understand the references made to it.
The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham
     Loved the movie and would like to read the book, which is virtually always better, 
     in my opinion!
The Ways of White Folks by Langston Hughes
     Love Hughes, and want to read what he had to say...
This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
     Love his short stories and this will be the first full-length novel of his for me to have 
     read. (The Last Tycoon doesn't count, since it was unfinished.)
The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger*
     Yeah, I know. Unbelievable that some English/literature teacher in my past never 
     got to this one, but I am very curious.
The Green Gables series by Lucy Maud Montgomery (8 books)
      Okay, I will not "officially" cheat on this master listing, since I just completed reading and
      reviewing this series as part of Reeder Reads' Green Gables Read-Along! But I am 
      listing it as #51 because if you have never read it, you should! Montgomery's writing is 
      nothing less than amazing to me!! Definitely timeless. :) Great for future rereads!
Go Tell It on the Mountain by James Baldwin*
      I actually read and reviewed this as my Classics Club Spin #8! Haven't read it yet? You 
      really should... :) Definitely one I would willingly reread in the future. 
Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe*
      Can. Not. Wait! I felt drawn to this book and shouldn't delay reading it any longer!!
Freckles by Gene Stratton-Porter
A Girl of the Limberlost by Gene Stratton-Porter
Laddie: A True Blue Story by Gene Stratton-Porter
The Keeper of the Bees by Gene Stratton-Porter 
A Daughter of the Land by Gene Stratton-Porter
       Yes, there is a definite theme with the above 5 books! My former mother-in-law 
       ADORED anything written by Gene Stratton-Porter AND the woman lived and wrote 
       about the geographic region close to where I lived as a youngster! And...I was my own 
       naturalist! So many reasons to read this author. And if I like these, I'll probably add the 
       rest of her publications to this list! 
Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins
       Another oversight in my reading that needs to be rectified--sooner rather than later!
The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder
       I will use the Goodreads listing of 11 books for this series and am planning to launch a
       read-along to start January 2016 on my blog, Smoke & Mirrors--one book per month 
       through November 2016. Why do this? I loved the TV show as a child and have been 
       enthralled by the thought of all these books that I feel I would also love. Time to "just do 
       it"! The list: Little House in the Big WoodsLittle House on the Prairie; Farmer BoyOn 
       the Banks of Plum CreekBy the Shores of Silver LakeThe Long WinterLittle Town 
       on the PrairieThese Happy Golden YearsThe First Four YearsOn the Way Home: 
       The Diary of a Trip from South Dakota to Mansfield, Missouri, in 1894West From 
       Home: Letters of Laura Ingalls Wilder, San Francisco, 1915.
A Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass by Frederick Douglass
My Bondage and My Freedom by Frederick Douglass
       I firmly believe every person in the U.S. categorizing themselves as "white"/Caucasian 
       should be required to read books to enlighten them on the various horrors inflicted 
       upon "non-white" folks by the "whites." In my opinion, white man is the worst animal 
       ever to live on this planet, annihilating indigenous human beings and destroying the 
       planet, all in the name of greed, or, as the anglo-centered history books like to phrase 
       it, "progress." (Sorry, stepping down off the soapbox now...)
Sherlock Holmes stories by Sir Ignatius Arthur Conan Doyle
       I have a whole thick book of Sherlock Holmes stories by Doyle in the olde English. I 
       have owned it for many years and really really really need to read it. Even just one 
       every now and then. I love mysteries and loved the Sherlock Holmes TV series. And just
       learned (Thank you, Wikipedia!) he published 7 historical fiction novels that are 
       considered to be among his best-written publications, so those are now on the list, too!
Micah Clarke by Sir Ignatius Arthur Conan Doyle
The Firm of Girdlestone by Sir Ignatius Arthur Conan Doyle
The White Company by Sir Ignatius Arthur Conan Doyle
The Great Shadow by Sir Ignatius Arthur Conan Doyle
The Refugees  by Sir Ignatius Arthur Conan Doyle
Rodney Stone by Sir Ignatius Arthur Conan Doyle
Uncle Bernac by Sir Ignatius Arthur Conan Doyle
The Tragedy of the Korosko by Sir Ignatius Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Nigel by Sir Ignatius Arthur Conan Doyle
       Confession: I LOVE using Doyle's full name, I mean Sir Arthur Conan Doyle isn't nearly
       as official-sounding, is it! Plus Ignatius makes it sound ANCIENT to me! :)
Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier
Mary Ann by Daphne du Maurier
       Historical fiction based upon her great-great-grandmother, mistress of Frederick 
       Augustus, Duke of York and Albany, the "Grand Old Duke of York" of the nursery 
       rhyme, son of King George III and brother of the later King George IV. Fascinating! 

Those I cannot wait to reread:
 A Separate Peace by John Knowles*
      Read this at age 15, loved it, and am anxious to see how I feel about it now, some 
      44 years later! :)
 The Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter 
       First read when I was 13. I loved it then and am anxious to see how it resonates 
       for me now.
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
       Actually reread this as Classics Club Spin #7! Love love love this book!!!
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
       Loved it at 12. Wonder how it will read for me now? 
And Ladies of the Club by Helen Hooven Santmyer
       OMG! I absolutely loved this book when I read it at age 20! The characters were living 
       and breathing right alongside me! Definitely one to revisit!
Cherry Orchard by Anton Chekov
       Read it for college and was rather lost. Oh, I aced the exam, but hope I can truly 
       understand it this time around, many many years later! (Sometimes life experience 
       really helps with that!)
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell
       Isn't this the one with the rats scene? I hated this book when I first read it at age 14! It 
       scared me. I wonder about now? I want to see...
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
       Haven't read this since I was very young and really, all three families of my 11 
       grandchildren need a copy, too! 
An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser
       Read it at 13 and LOVED it! So dramatic! So romantic! So tragic! So sad! Wonder how 
       it will resonate for me now, some almost 47 years later. I am betting much the same. 
       Though I'm sure there are many similarly-themed movies and books, I thought Woody 
       Allen's Match Point (2005) was a well-done similarly-themed movie. Neither of these 
       works is uplifting in the least, but accurate, in my opinion. 

Those I will NEVER reread: (!!!!)
The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing
       Read and reviewed for the Classics Club spin #6. Glad I read it. I got her message loud 
       and clear. But really...it could have been written better with many many many less 
       words and much much much less repetition!! In my humble opinion, at least! :)
My Man Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse
       No more Jeeves for me! One was enough! Well, almost too much! Just not my cuppa 
       tea! 
The Stranger by Albert Camus
       I read this for the Classics Club Spin #5, just after I'd first discovered The Classics Club! 
       Glad I read it. I got it. No need to revisit. 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

War comes to Green Gables...at least to it's people, if not directly to it's land...

Rilla of Ingleside by L.M. Montgomery







Oooohhhh...I will so miss reading about Anne and Gilbert, and their children,  and all the other wonderfully imaginable characters in their lives! I am ever-so-grateful to Reeder Reads for initiating this read-along. I might have never actually stopped and read them except for this project! See my reviews of the previous books in the series here.
Susan states, "I never take much interest in foreign parts. Who is this Archduke man who has been murdered?"
  "What does it matter to us?" asked Miss Cornelia, unaware of the hideous answer to her question which destiny was even then preparing. "Somebody is always murdering or being murdered in those Balkan States. It's their normal condition and I don't really think that our papers ought to print such shocking things....Merciful goodness, Anne dearie, what is the matter with that cat? Is he having a fit?"--this, as Doc suddenly bounded to the rug at Miss Cornelia's feet, laid back his ears, swore at her, and then disappeared with one fierce leap through the window."
  "Oh, no. He's merely turning into Mr. Hyde--which means that we shall have rain or high wind before morning. Doc is as good as a barometer." (11)
So World War I is just around the corner...the first truly deadly war in the world's history as far as firearms, etc. And there is loss among the local folks over time. (Fortunately, I always have Kleenex--Puffs with lotion actually--by my chair when reading!) :)

One day this superb feline barometer substitute had his head stuck in a salmon can and rampaged through the kitchen breaking dishes, etc. I could relate to this so well. I never will forget over 15 years ago returning home from work to find my Smokie panting so hard I thought she'd die or pass out--she had gotten the handle of an empty plastic grocery bag round her neck and panicked, running and running to get away from it, when, of course, it was right there, still attached, rattling and scaring her even more so that she increased her speed...it was a vicious cycle with no respite until she allowed me to remove it, but I can only imagine she might have killed herself if I'd not arrived in time. Lesson learned, all plastic bags have been stowed away in a cabinet from then on. 

 [Rilla] had been much petted and was a wee bit spoiled, but still the general opinion was that Rilla Blythe was a very sweet girl, even if she were not so clever as Nan and Di. (12) 
As if they weren't enough people living at Ingleside, the Blythes even allow Rilla's teacher, Gertrude Oliver to live with them, bunking in Rilla's room. But Rilla-my-Rilla (as designated by Walter years before) "was fathoms deep in love" with Gertrude, who asked Rilla if she would go to college in the fall:
  "No--nor any other fall. I don't want to. I never cared for all those ologies and isms Nan and Di are so crazy about. There's five of us going to college already. Surely that's enough. There's bound to be one dunce in every family. I'm quite willing to be a dunce if I can be a pretty, popular, delightful one. I have no talent at all. And you can't imagine how comfortable it is. Nobody expects me to do anything....Father says I toil not neither do I spin. Therefore, I must be a lily of the field." 
..."I can't be sober and serious--everything looks so rosy and rainbowy to me. Next month I'll be fifteen and next year sixteen--and then seventeen. Could anything be more enchanting?" (16)
Ah, but life can change drastically...

When England declares war on Germany, Mary Vance states: 
  "What does it matter if there's going to be a war over there in Europe? I'm sure it doesn't concern us."
  Walter looked at her and had one of his odd visitations of prophecy. 
  "Before this war is over," he said--or something said through his lips--"every man and woman and child in Canada will feel it--you, Mary, will feel it--feel it to your heart's core. You will weep tears of blood over it. The Piper has come--and he will pipe until every corner of the world has heard his awful and irresistible music. It will be years before the dance of death is over--years, Mary. And in those years millions of hearts will break."..."this isn't a paltry struggle in a Balkan corner....It is a death grapple. Germany comes to conquer or to die. And do you know what will happen if she conquers? Canada will be a German colony." (34)

It was the depiction of Walter and Rilla's relationship that truly stood out for me in this last installment of the Green Gables series:
It was one of the evenings Rilla was to treasure in remembrance all her life--the first one on which Walter had ever talked to her as if she were a woman and not a child. They comforted and strengthened each other. Walter felt, for the time being at least, that it was not such a despicable thing after all to dread the horror of war; and Rilla was glad to be made the confidante of his struggles--to sympathize with and encourage him. She was of importance to somebody. (48)
Isn't it true? We all need to feel that way--as if we are needed and wanted by somebody... This relationship made me truly miss having had siblings--though I realize not all siblings are this close, at least there might have been a chance for that type of relationship. Though Rilla-my-Rilla soon becomes indispensable to another...

Walter bemoans the idea that he "should have been a girl" so others wouldn't expect him to enlist. Though the females helped as they could, especially by sending their loved ones off to fight: 
"When our women fail in courage, 
Shall our men be fearless still?" (40)
Rilla surprises everyone by founding, organizing, and maintaining the Junior Reds to help with war efforts as they would sew and knit, and collect items for the troops. Yet while trekking through the Glen and Four Winds to ostensibly collect Red Cross supplies, Rilla-my-Rilla discovers one item that demands much more care than she had ever imagined...a "war" baby! (I had never seen this term before...) Noting its delicate physical condition and the fact that his constant crying was ignored by the poverty-stricken woman left to care for it, she places the babe in a soup tureen and hauls it home to Ingleside, assuming her mother and Susan would care for him, a thought of which her father/Gilbert quickly disabused her...
She would look after this detestable little animal if it killed her. She would get a book on baby hygiene and be beholden to nobody. She would never go to father for advice--she wouldn't bother mother--and she would only condescend to Susan in dire extremity. They would all see! 
  Thus it came about that Mrs. Blythe, when she returned home two days later and asked Susan where Rilla was, was electrified by Susan's composed reply.
  "She's upstairs, Mrs. Dr. dear, putting her baby to bed.  (67)
Quite the shock to Anne, I'm sure! It was fascinating to watch Rilla develop as she cared for little Jims. Initially she stated, "If I can't love you I mean to be proud of you." But eventually...well...you can imagine. :)

As with all the Green Gables books there are many subplots and characters. Jem's Dog Monday is quite the tear-jerker, as he waits and waits for return of his buddy, never leaving the train station and inspecting all arrivals, searching for his Jem. (This was particularly fascinating as poor Jem initially had such a challenge in finding a dog he could truly bond with as a youngster.) Mary Vance has a beau, as does Rilla, though both enlist. Some volunteers return and some don't. However, the war perhaps helped some to put certain aspects of life into a larger perspective:
  "I used to hate Methodists," said Miss Cornelia calmly,..."but I don't hate them now. There is no sense in hating Methodists when there is a Kaiser or a Hindenburg in the world." (173)
So if there can be one good thing to come of war, perhaps it is to accept others, regardless of our personal preferences or opinions, we are all just humans after all, with many more commonalities than differences. 

Walter says to Rilla-my-Rilla on the night he decides to enlist:
"It's not death I fear--I told you that long ago....There's so much hideousness in this war--I've got to go and help wipe it out of the world. I'm going to fight for the beauty of life,...this is my duty. (118) 
Being in the middle of a Gone With the Wind read-along, I was reminded of Ashley Wilkes and his own feelings about war and fighting. Walter does become a published poet as he desired, though perhaps not in a way he might have foreseen.
"Comes he slow or comes he fast
It is but death who comes at last." (118)

And this eventually comes to pass for each of us. Though I was relieved to discover that when a person with whom I was discussing this series let it slip that Gilbert died...she was wrong! Both Gilbert and Anne outlived the series! :) (Bit of a spoiler, perhaps, but really...there are only so many tissues manufactured and available at one time!!) I'm certain I was much more relieved about that than I might have otherwise been...

Now these books go to my grandchildren. I only hope they have a portion of the amount of enjoyment from them that I have had! :) And...if you've never read them...it is NEVER too late! 

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Classics Club Spin #10

Once again, I am dealing with a Classics Club spin by making 
my own rules! :)        

        As you can see, I am woefully behind in my Gone With the Wind Read-Along, so that will automatically be my Classics Club Spin #10 selection--regardless of the fact 
it is not even included on the listing below! 

After GWTW, I'll read Gertrude Stein's The Making of Americans for Spin #9Trust me, lesson learned...I now at least research the length of a selection before placing it on this listing! 

The spin number generated was #5. That means I will be reading Man's Search for Meaning and I cannot wait! That may provide additional motivation to get through the other two books so I can read this one! 


Spin #10 review to be posted by October 23, 2015! (Fingers crossed...) 

Free Choice:
 1.  A Separate Peace by John Knowles
      Read this at age 15, loved it, and am anxious to see how I feel about it now, some 
      44 years later! :)
 2.  The Ship of Fools by Katherine Anne Porter 
       First read when I was 13. I loved it then and am anxious to see how it resonates 
       for me now.
 3.  Giovanni's Room by James Baldwin
       I loved Go Tell It on the Mountain and want to read this one! I own it, too! :)
 4.  The Philadelphia Negro: A Social Study by W.E.B. Du Bois
      Have always said I wanted to read something he'd written. I admire his 
      accomplishments with regard to the NAACP, etc.
 5.  Man's Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frankl
      So many have mentioned that this is a "must-read" book and there are so many    
      references to it.

Books I rather dread, but for whatever reason wish to read:
 6. The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo
      I feel as if I really should read this if I haven't yet...
 7. The Hours by Micheal Cunningham
      I truly know nothing about this one, but so many have recommended it and I have read 
      several references to it lately. Added bonus: picked up a copy in the Half Price Books 
      clearance section for $2!
 8. The Jungle by Upton Sinclair
      I'm sure this is going to gross me out, but I think we all need to read it...
 9.  Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe
      So many references that I feel I need to have at least read it.
10. East of Eden by John Steinbeck
      Loved The Grapes of Wrath, but have never been attracted to this one, though I feel I 
      should read it. It is referred to so often and by so many!! And is loved by many readers 
      whose opinion I value! 

Those books about which I am relatively neutral:
11. The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
      Really feel the need to read one of her books!
12. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway
      Have yet to read one of his novels.
13. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
      Just keep seeing references to this one all over the place and am definitely curious! 
      And I own a copy now!
14. Sister Carrie by Theodore Dreiser
       Loved An American Tragedy when I read it at the age of 15. 
15. The Light in the Forest by Conrad Richter
       Fascinated by the concept.

Those I cannot wait to read:
16. Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
     Feel I should read it so I can understand the references made to it.
17. The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham
     Loved the movie and would like to read the book, which is virtually always better, 
     in my opinion!
18. The Ways of White Folks by Langston Hughes
     Love Hughes, and want to read what he had to say...
19. This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
     Love his short stories and this will be the first full-length novel of his for me to have 
     read. (The Last Tycoon doesn't count, since it was unfinished.)
20. The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger
     Yeah, I know. Unbelievable that some English/literature teacher in my past never 
     got to this one, but I am very curious.