Tag Archive: classics



Mary Poppins: 80th Anniversary CollectionMary Poppins: 80th Anniversary Collection by P.L. Travers
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

When I was in fifth grade, I was a library regular. I would check out the limit of ten books at a time. Mary Poppins was a series I got into and read all of them. I never had seen Julie Andrews version. We weren’t allowed to go to movies in my family. Maybe that’s the reason I am so into movies now?

Anyway, I wasn’t a fan of the illustrations, still don’t care for them. I got irritated with Michael getting so much attention. I felt that this read through, too.

Something that I noticed that I don’t remember my childhood thoughts on. How prideful Mary Poppins was, and how grumpy/bossy she was. But now that it’s been a couple days since I finished this quartet of books I think I’m glad she was that way. She didn’t feel she needed to tell the family when she’d be leaving. She rarely admitted to the kids about her friends or her habits with them. It was like she had her own life apart from the wards of her job. I think she shows women and girls that they don’t have to tell everything and they can be independent.

Since I read these four books in a row using text-to-speech, I didn’t notice where one book ended and another began–except when she left and said she wasn’t coming back–but then she came back.

I don’t remember finding the adventures tedious as a child. But as an adult, I see they are far too similar and I lost interest sometimes.

Particular to this version, the Audible available as whispersynch to this book was just for the first book. Most folks would probably read on without a problem. I need the text-to-speech to take over and it was hard to make my Fire understand that. The good news was that I called Amazon and they made it all good. I had loved the Audible narration. I just didn’t have the money to get the rest of the books at that time. They let me remove it and then my text-to-speech with the British voice that always sounds like Julie Andrews got me through the rest of the books.

Now I feel ready to watch the new Mary Poppins movie.

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The Christmas HirelingsThe Christmas Hirelings by Mary Elizabeth Braddon
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Yawn. Another gruff old rich guy who finds love. Bah Humbug!

The narrator, Richard Armitage, did a marvelous job of acting/reading this. It made a nice bedtime story. But mostly I was irritated that the story was about the mean guy finding love and not the children or their mother who worked so hard at making life loving and kind. Even the guy who instituted the children as hirelings would have made a better story. The rich old codger made me worry about the little girl he was so fascinated by. Sure it was ‘innocent’ still it was shudder-inducing for me.

Still, for a freebie from Audible, I guess I shouldn’t complain–much.

If you love the Dicken’s Carol garbage, you’ll love this.

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Wives and DaughtersWives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As I just wrote on the Kindle version on GoodReads, I found the text-to-speech didn’t work for me. I had an Audible credit sitting there when my friend recommended this book so I pick this up. The Kindle and the Audible didn’t synch up so I gave up trying to read while listening and just listened.

The story didn’t grab me as much as the narrator’s voice and her ability to characterize the whole story. It took me a longer time than books usually take but I felt I needed to soak Nadia May’s storytelling in. She was fantastic. I could see the story as if I were watching it in a movie. It might make a fun movie.

Since this was the Victorian British Isles, the history of women shows. It shows how far we’ve come and yet how far we need to go until there would be real equality. Even the title represents the ownership of fathers and husbands. Yet it is a good example that young women today should read and take their time to soak in why many modern women are still not happy with our positions in life.

Still, just as a story it is fun. Often I would get bored with it and then Nadia May’s voice and excitement would pull me back in. I’m glad I read it. Give it a try.

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The Screwtape LettersThe Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Ralph Cosham was the narrator of the edition I was able to obtain from the Overdrive library. I know it can’t be very interesting reading letters. There were no characters to play or give variety to the story. So I can’t say if he was good at what he did or not. I just found it BORING! Like a guy reading letters.

I read this a million years ago as a teen/young adult. I can sincerely say that it was the C.S. Lewis books that gave me my healthy agonistic views. They still stand, so those of you that praise the man really haven’t read his fiction. These were on my mother’s approved list along with Pilgrim’s Progress. The sci-fi was excellent. And are there, like all sci-fi, to make a person think. This book was clever in its format of letters to tell the advice, though from a negative viewpoint. This may be the Cobert Report of its time. I understand sarcasm but I find it the least effective way to prove a point. I think I liked it more as a young person. Now I just couldn’t get into it or find anything redeeming. Now I was just bored, clever negative letters aside. And it was overwhelmingly male.

It is, on the other hand, a bit of a depiction of World War II and the men who fought it in, like my dad. Much reflected tales he told of his own journeys in war. How easy it is to forget the lessons we learned as children when faced with constant death and killing.

It’s worth the read. Just not a second time.

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19841984 by George Orwell

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my second reading of this book. It was required reading in high school (about 1967). I remember it being very scary and prayed it would never happen. As the actual year of 1984 flew by many of us began to relax. Maybe the science fictional prophecy was far from ever happening.

Many people have recommended this book again what with rumors of Newspeak/Fake News. The book shows that anyone can be convinced of anything given the right set of circumstances. I believe that to be true, which is why I don’t believe that torture would ever bring out the truth. Many are in jails because the good cop/bad cop or other tricks of coercion have brought the suspect to admit to something they never did do. Much of the book shows how this can happen.

Regardless of which side of the political system you may stand, this set of possibilities should shout at you. You should feel free to tell your truth without worry of being tortured or demeaned in any way. After all your set of circumstances have brought you to your belief. But on the same line, we should have respect for another point of view, even if it seems crazy. If you stop that truth from coming out, you may miss a grain of truth you may need to learn to live more openly.

I relate that to the lowly dandelion and my mother. My mother was anemic and had very bad health in general. But when I was young I would see her out in the lawn digging out the dandelions and tossing them away. Knowing what we know about that so-called weed, this could have been the medicine my mother could have ingested and become much healthier, regardless of the ungroomed lawn. What gems or weeds of health are we missing by calling each other names and not learning someone else’s truth?

On another level… As scary as the world of ‘1984’ is, the misogyny of past sci-fi and fantasy is very clear here. I didn’t notice this when I was a teen. Almost all the books I read were male-heavy. I remember asking about it only once. The answer was we had to have these books because boys have a hard time learning to and then liking reading. Having watched my brothers with that very problem I didn’t think about it again. I had trouble with reading but found ways to get around the problems and I LOVED reading. (Still do.)

In this book the main character’s wife won’t give him a divorce, they had infertility problems. He gets the wet dream fantasy fulfilled in a woman who gives without requiring anything from him, not even or especially not wanting love. Finally, there is the woman out in the yard who sings with clothespins in her mouth and he finds her big hips sexually appealing though in another segment he is reminded how like his mother she is. So beyond sex and birth, it seems this generation of sci-fi writers seemed to have nothing to do with women. That should have been our biggest warning! Of all that happened to this character!!!!! I find myself feeling foolish that it took me until my 60s to figure out how little part women play in most men’s lives. I have a friend that tried to tell me this when I was still into makeup and clothes–and making my own babies. But it is because I decided to make my reading diet be mostly female writers with female main characters, and not in the romantic chic-lit stuff. More along the lines of Bechdel. (Google her) This is also how I choose to watch TV/Movies. Women have to hold up half of the sky of whatever I read or watch. Equally important. That was not the case in this book. And years ago I might not have noticed. Now I am nearly blinded by it. So if you haven’t seen it as strong as I have, try my ‘diet’. Give it a year or so. I especially challenge male to try this. When you notice the lack of human equality in reading or what you watch maybe you will be part of the change? Maybe if women hold their own in a story like ‘1984’ we may find ways to avoid that crazy kind of life.

Do read this. No matter which side of the fence, or gender, there are weeds of health here we all need!

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Seven Little Australians (Woolcots, #1)Seven Little Australians by Ethel Turner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Okay, this took me over half a year to read. (Small font) Only today did I see this is free in Kindle format on Amazon. To think I could have read it in a couple days!

This edition is the hardback and is a BookCrossing treasure. BCID: 813-3620880. It will be traveling back to the friends that sent it to me. It will be back with The Diaries of Ethel Turner by Ethel Turner which I read last year.

If you get the chance to read these books, give them a try. I liked reading the author’s diaries first. I was more aware of how much of this fictional book came from her real life. It also helped me get acquainted with the author’s writing style and historical events in Australia. And it helped me learn the lingo of the time and place.

With so many characters (7+) it is a little hard to keep track of who is who. Especially the younger kids. A list of characters would have been handy. But I managed. In fact, I became quite happy when it was about Judy.

Without spoilers, I wanted to throw the book in the trash and never look at it again on the penultimate chapter. But my curiosity got the better of me and I finished the book. Bittersweet is how I can describe the last two chapters. Overall, I think it was a nice read. I highly recommend others read it to expand horizons. 🙂

[edited] I just read on my BookCrossing page that I had read this in 2007. I do not remember that! Funny that I used the same work “Bittersweet” to describe it back then. Good thing there was a note about it. I guess because my eyes are so much worse and it took me so long I didn’t feel the energy of the book. And now I have the Kindle version so if I forget again I can reread quickly. LOL!

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Betsy-Tacy Treasury (P.S.)Betsy-Tacy Treasury by Maud Hart Lovelace

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Picture me at age 9-12. I was probably the same height as I am now, maybe even an inch taller, as I was the tallest 6th grader at 5’6″. (And I have shrunk and inch.) I can’t remember how old I was when the librarian took me to the Besty-Tacy corner of the library. She was used to me coming in every couple weeks and checking out the limit of 10 books. No, I didn’t read every book. But in that haul, I was guaranteed to find a few treasures. But the Betsy-Tacy became my favorites. I read every single one. I do remember being disappointed that the trio grew up and, yawn, got married. But that didn’t stop me from re-reading my favorites–the ones where the three girls were my age at the time.

Now as an adult, I was a little afraid to read these books. How could the mature (there are those who doubt that–even I doubt that) me enjoy these books as much as I did as a girl? But I did! The difference besides being older, is I have now lived in places that have lots of cold and snow rather than Sunny Southern California I can relate even more to what the children had to deal with. Not only that, now I could understand the adults in the books. I saw how what seemed impossible then, in the story, now seems more like serendipity. And I have had experience with that.

Whether Betsy and Tacy had anything to do with it with their sales of sand, my brother and I used to go door to door to sell rocks. People bought them because well, my brother used his cute right up on these ventures!

What I loved about this treasury was getting to read the four books without stop. Then at the end of the last book, there is a treasury about the author and how Maud Hart Lovelace used many of her own life experiences for Betsy, Tacy, and Tib adventures. There are many photos of the author and her friends that made this book even better.

And speaking of pictures, I always knew I loved the illustrator, Lois Lenski. I was so happy to see her pictures in the picture books I read to my own children. There was a biography of Lois at the end of this book, too! Everything just tied right in for my own life and loves!

Best of all were the forwards to each of the books. One that resonated with me most was that of Judy Blume! I’m glad I am not alone in having such wonderful memories of these books and the memories of my younger years that fit just right.

I think I will try to check more of these out from our e-reader library.

Oh! Just a note. As I started the first book I was disappointed not to have text-to-speech or any audio to help me out. I was able to use Natural Reader to get me through. The rest of the books in the treasury did have text-to-speech making my life a lot easier.

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My Melancholic DiaryMy Melancholic Diary by Iva Kenaz

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I want to thank my GoodReads friend, A.S. Johnson for recommending this treasure to me. She was right, I did love it!

Once I got the recommendation I found that I could get it through Kindle Unlimited so I set about getting it right away. I already had tons of books ahead of it on my ‘currently reading shelf’, but I got around to it finally. So glad I did!

Where was this book when I was growing up? Oh, yeah, the author probably wasn’t born yet. What a great way to learn how fanciful a diary could be! When I was a young teen I had one of those diaries that had a little lock on it. Why I needed a lock always made me laugh. I rarely wrote anything in it beyond “I breathed in and out today.”

That a person in grade school chose to stay the last year of grade school with her eccentric father in the countryside near Prague in the Czech Republic so that she and he could iron out their differences, shows the maturity of the main character, Lisa, who is 14 nearly 15. But the book is full of mature themes but not in a preachy way. I think there is so much depth in this book that anyone of any age would find something to glean from it.

Lisa, the diary writer, the main character, of course, has a romantic heart and the adolescent inadequate self-esteem. Not too different from most people her age, but when you are that age, you don’t realize that. In fact, I wonder how many people outgrow that?

So seeing Lisa’s musings of her life and loves didn’t feel far from most people I know. Except for the fictional character that becomes alive for her. At first, that is shocking in such a mature girl, but as you watch the rest of her life you see that this ghost from another book guides her as much as she guides him. It is the one relationship that is working for her. What a grand idea! We should all have our own fictional hero/heroine who can speak to us while we write out the character’s destiny. Oh, yeah, we who write do just that! That is if we are writing daily. Gulp. We should be writing daily. Note to self…

Anyway, I highly recommend this book to everyone. I think even males will like it.

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Beneath the MaskBeneath the Mask by Margaret McGaffey Fisk

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I don’t read ‘romance’ novels. Not if I can help it. But I consider Margaret McGaffey Fisk to be my friend so I felt I should try. I knew I couldn’t go wrong with her writing. I don’t think I saw a passive sentence anywhere in the book. This reading comes close after I read of Pride and Prejudice. If this were to be a contest, this would win heads down!

Passion is what wins it for me. No! Not that kind of passion! I mean the passion this young girl had pursued since she was small. But, now that she was to be presented as a woman… She wants to dance, something frowned upon back in those days.

Dawn Hyde, narrator of the Audible version of the book made this book so beautiful! Her accents and voice changes helped keep the characters separated and unique. I look forward to reading more with her voice.

Okay, for the romanticohics, there is romance in the end, but most of it is this girl coming of age and her trying to live out her passions, somehow. It makes me sad to know women of the past weren’t encouraged to follow their hearts and passions. When I start feeling like we’ve made no forward motion in the feminist movement, reading something like this shows we have made some progress.

I am looking forward to more by Margaret McGaffey Fisk!

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Black BeautyBlack Beauty by Anna Sewell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Yes, I did go through that phase as a pre-teen, when I read every book about horses possible. Black Beauty was an important part of that literary diet. I loved it then. But how would that translate to my old-lady brain? It was better!

The Amazon page says it is for kids 9-12. That may have been so a generation ago, but now the vocabulary and historical references don’t play out quite as well. In a well-structured class program, it could be a great lesson plan anchor to cover history, equines, medicine, weather and many other subject-matter for an all inclusive study. The best is the lessons of kindness. This is a lesson that covers all generations and all religions or philosophies. And we here it all from the horse’s mouth. Animals understand kindness.

Peter Batchelor was the narrator in this version of the story. I was lucky to pick up the Kindle version from Kindle Unlimited and for a tiny fee I got the Whispersync Audible narration. He did a marvelous job bringing all the characters to life. I highly recommend that everyone read this classic!

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