Jo’s Boys by Louisa May Alcott

Jo's Boys

Published By: Little, Brown

Date of Publication: 1886

Categories: Classic, Fiction, Series, YA

Pages: 336

Summary (from goodreads.com): In the culmination of the Little Women stories, Jo’s Boys depicts the girls and boys of Plumfield as young men and women who are facing problems and seeking happiness in life. The original twelve boys are scattered, but all come wandering back from the four corners of the earth to tell their stories and reminisce over the pleasures of the past.

Review: Let me start off my saying that I put off reading this book for months. Months! I felt like when I finished it the world of Jo, Meg, Amy, Laurie, and all the boys and girls would be over. Forever. I didn’t want that to happen. I can’t be the only one who’s sad about reading the last book in a series, can I?

When I finally finished it, I was glad I had finally read it. There was a lot more about the March family than there was in the first one. The boys came and went as they came home to visit. It was great to hear what they did with their lives, the trouble they got themselves into, and the people they met along the way (even some wives!).

I have to admit that Dan was my favourite from Little Men, and he remained my favourite in this book. I don’t want to say too much about what happened to him, but I did want to say that I never thought he would go through the ordeal that he did. I think it made me like him even more.

While I definitely think you can read Little Women, and even Little Men on their own, you absolutely need to read Little Men to understand what’s going on in this book. There are lots of references to the boys’ earlier adventures in this one, and half the fun is thinking back to what happened in Little Men.

In the end, am I happy I read this book? Definitely. But I’m also a little lot sad that there’s no more to come in the lives of the March’s. I know everything there is to know. There won’t be any sequels. It’s the same way I felt when I finished the last page of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Image: Goodreads

Disclosure: I bought this book from my local used bookstore.

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Little Men by Louisa May Alcott

Little Men by Louisa May Alcott

Little Men by Louisa May Alcott

Published By: Little, Brown

Date of Publication: 1871

Categories: Classic, Fiction, Series, YA

Pages: 344

Summary (from goodreads.com): Follows the adventures of Jo March and her husband Professor Bhaer as they try to make their school for boys a happy, comfortable, and stimulating place.

Review: I have to start off by admitting that even though Little Women is one of my all time favourite books, I didn’t know it was the first in a trilogy until a couple years ago.

Not too long ago I found the second and third books in the same edition as my copy of Little Women at a used bookstore. As soon as I saw them, I knew that I needed to get them. Now I have the complete collection in matching covers. Yes, that makes me happy.

I was a little disappointed when I first started reading. I thought it was going to be a continuation of Little Women, with the plot centering on the March sisters, Jo, Amy, and Meg. However it is mostly about the school that Jo has established with Professor Bhaer at Plumbfield. The other sisters are mentioned (as is Laurie, who even makes a few appearances), but the book focuses on the students in Jo’s care. However as I got more into the book I enjoyed getting to know the boys and I found myself wanting to know what was going to happen.

The writing was just as good as in Little Women. The little adventures around the school as just as much fun to read about as the shenanigans that happened in the March house in the previous book.

If you’ve read Little Women and enjoyed it, I would definitely recommend reading Little Men.

Image: Me.

Disclosure: I bought this book from my local used bookstore.

Anne of Green Gables by L M Montgomery

Published By: Starfire

Date of Publication: 1908

Categories: Classic, Canada, YA, series.

Pages: 336

Summary (from goodreads.com): As soon as Anne Shirley arrived at the snug,  white farmhouse called Green Gables, she knew she  wanted to stay forever… but would the Cuthberts  send her back to the orphanage? Anne knows she’s not  what they expected — a skinny girl with decidedly  red hair and a temper to match. If only she could  convince them to let her stay, she’d try very hard  not to keep rushing headlong into scrapes or blurt  out the very first thing she had to say. Anne was  not like anybody else, everyone at Green Gables  agreed; she was special — a girl with an enormous  imagination. This orphan girl dreamed of the day  when she could call herself Anne of Green Gables.

Review: This has to be one of my favorite classics. You can’t help but have fun reading about all of Anne’s adventures in Avonlea.

I think one of the big reasons why I like this book so much is the characters. They seem so real to me. Anne seems like such a genuine little girl when you first meet her, and she has trouble getting chores done without letting her imagination get away from her. As hard as Marilla likes to seem, you know that  deep down inside she loves Anne like crazy.

Every time I get to the part where Matthew dies I cry. I can’t help it. I know it’s coming, but it’s always still so sad. By the time it happens I’m attached to him, and it breaks my heart to have him not be there to see how Anne will grow up, and the woman she’ll become. As much as he left raising Anne to Marilla, he obviously had quite an impact on Anne.

The setting was another great part of this book. Although I’ve never been to Prince Edward Island, I would love to go one day. It would be so much fun to see the place where all of Anne’s adventures happen. The way Montgomery describes Green Gables and the Haunted Wood adds so much.

I know I’ve read a few other books in the series, but I don’t think I’ve read all of them yet. I’m pretty excited about reading the rest of them now. I want to know what happens to Anne.

Image: goodreads.com

Disclosure: I bought this book.

The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Published By: Sterling

Year of Publication: 1909

Categories:Middle Grade, Classic, Fiction

Pages: 248

Summary (from goodreads.com): Mistress Mary is quite contrary until she helps her garden grow. Along the way, she manages to cure her sickly cousin Colin, who is every bit as imperious as she. These two are sullen little peas in a pod, closed up in a gloomy old manor on the Yorkshire moors of England, until a locked-up garden captures their imaginations and puts the blush of a wild rose in their cheeks; “It was the sweetest, most mysterious-looking place any one could imagine. The high walls which shut it in were covered with the leafless stems of roses which were so thick, that they matted together…. ‘No wonder it is still,’ Mary whispered. ‘I am the first person who has spoken here for ten years.'” As new life sprouts from the earth, Mary and Colin’s sour natures begin to sweeten. For anyone who has ever felt afraid to live and love, The Secret Garden‘s portrayal of reawakening spirits will thrill and rejuvenate. Frances Hodgson Burnett creates characters so strong and distinct, young readers continue to identify with them even 85 years after they were conceived.

Review: The last time I had read The Secret Garden was 7 or 8 years ago. I remember liking it, but it not being one of my favorite classics. Since then, I’ve come to appreciate the outdoors, and flowers and plants in particular, a lot more. For the last three years I’ve worked growing and selling native wildflowers. And if you didn’t know, they’re AMAZING! They grow all by themselves, every year, with no help (no water or fertilizers or weeding from people). Whenever I look at them when I’m out on a walk in a park or on a hike in the mountains I can’t help by smile. They make me happy.

So it’s from this place of added appreciation of flowers that I read this book again. and boy did it make a difference. Whenever plants were described I could practically see them in my head, putting the garden together in my head as Mary and Dickon worked away. It’s enough to make someone want to go immediately spend time outside.

I loved the fact that the more time that Mary and Colin spent outside in the garden, the more they healed – whether it be physically or emotionally. I know that to be true in real life as well – there’s just something about plants and nature that makes you feel good, that gives you the opportunity to figure things out. My boss has told me that several employees that she’s had over the years seemed to come to work for her when they were dealing with some pretty heavy duty stuff, and by the time they left, they had seemed to be getting better. It’s not just fiction that nature is healing.

Even if you’re not much of a gardener, I think the beauty of the outdoors will still be apparent. It’s hard not to be drawn into the beauty of the English moorlands. I can just picture Mary, Colin, and Dickon working away with the robin watching over them. It’s hard to not smile when you think of that.

If you haven’t read this classic before, I definitely recommend it. You can’t go wrong reading about the transforming power of nature.

Image: goodreads.com

Disclosure: I bought this book.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Edit: There are spoilers in the comments, so if you haven’t read it yet you might not want to read them.

Every single time I read this I forget how much I liked it. That was especially true this time. I fell in love with the March family all over again.

Set in New England in the 1800’s, this is a must read for any female teen or adult. Even though it was first published in 1868, it’s still surprisingly readable, so if you’re worried about not being able to understand it, that won’t be a problem with this book.

I definitely felt like I related most to Jo, but I also felt connected to each of the March sisters throughout the book. One thing that I especially liked it that the book book covers several years in the lives of the March family, so you get to see them grow from teenagers to wives and mothers.

At times you feel overwhelmingly happy for them and at others grief stricken. You know exactly how they’re feeling (always a sign of a great book and author).

It’s semi-autobiographical, based on Louisa May Alcott’s childhood. It’s interesting to get a snapshot into how different (or not different) life was 150 years ago.

I would recommend this book for anyone over 12. Give it a try, and I’m sure you’ll love it like I do.

Image: goodreads.com