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.

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.

Bitter End by Jennifer Brown

Published By: Little Brown Books for Young Readers

Date of Publication: May 10, 2011

Categories: Contrmporary, Fiction, Mental Illness, YA

Pages: 359

Summary (from goodreads.com):

When Alex falls for the charming new boy at school, Cole, a handsome, funny, sports star who adores her, she can’t believe she’s finally found her soul mate-someone who truly understands her and loves her for who she really is.

At first, Alex is blissfully happy. Sure, Cole seems a little jealous of her relationship with her best friends, Zack and Bethany, but what guy would want his girlfriend spending all of her time with another boy? But as the months pass, Alex can no longer ignore Cole’s small put-downs, pinches, or increasingly violent threats. As Alex struggles to come to terms with the sweet boyfriend she fell in love with and the boyfriend whose “love” she no longer recognizes, she is forced to choose – between her “true love” and herself.

Review: I’ll start off by saying that I had a really hard time putting this book down. I found myself saying “just ten more pages”, but I couldn’t stop at ten, I had to read more. The pacing was great and it was well thought out.

The descent into the abusive relationship happened slowly and with Alex hardly even knowing what was going on. That’s how it happens in real life too. Once Alex does realize what’s going on, she can hardly believe it. Cole is her boyfriend, he wouldn’t treat her like that, would he? I thought it was very well researched. All the things that Cole does are warning signs for abuse.

I think Bitter End ends up tackling a really tough issue, but does so without being preachy or melodramatic. The characters all felt very genuine, and their actions and how they reacted to things that happened felt very real. Because of the amazing characters (especially Alex) it was a powerful read, one that I think most teen aged girls can relate to.

Image: goodreads.com

Disclosure: I received this book for review.

Wake by Lisa McMann

Published By: Simon Pulse

Date of Publication: March 4 2008

Categories:Fiction, Series, Urban Paranormal, YA

Pages: 210

Summary (from goodreads.com): For seventeen-year-old Janie, getting sucked into other people’s dreams is getting old. Especially the falling dreams, the naked-but-nobody-notices dreams, and the sex-crazed dreams. Janie’s seen enough fantasy booty to last her a lifetime.
She can’t tell anybody about what she does they’d never believe her, or worse, they’d think she’s a freak. So Janie lives on the fringe, cursed with an ability she doesn’t want and can’t control.
Then she falls into a gruesome nightmare, one that chills her to the bone. For the first time, Janie is more than a witness to someone else’s twisted psyche. She is a participant.

Review: I read this book in an afternoon – the first time I’ve ever done that with a book. I just couldn’t put it down.

Janie is a very likable main character. She knows what she wants and is willing to put the hard work in to get it, whether it’s taking control of her “problem”, working hard at school to get good grades, or working a job at a nursing home to save up the money to go to university.

Cabel is definitely the kind of guy that I would have liked in high school. In fact, I might have had a crush on a guy that sounds pretty similar to what Cabel is like – right down to the long hair (what can I say, it was high school). I love guys who you have to work to get to know, that are holding something back, that have a deep dark secret. They’re so much interesting than happy go lucky guys. I really enjoyed reading about him.

As much as I liked both Janie and Cabel, I felt like their relationship progressed a little too fast for me. It seems like they went from not talking to each other to kissing and holding hands almost over night. It felt like they skipped a couple steps. But once I figured out where their relationship was, I really liked them together. I’m hoping that I’ll get to read more about the two of them together in the next book in this series, Fade.

I thought the story was really original too. I’ve read a couple other books about dreams, but this one was totally different, and had a great spin on the powers that Janie had. I’m interested to see how Janie uses those powers later on in the series.

I recently read Cryer’s Cross, also by Lisa McMann, and found the writing styles between this one and Cryer’s Cross really different. Surprisingly though, I really liked both of them. So if you didn’t like one try reading the other one, you just might like it.

Image: goodreads.com

Disclosure: I got this book from the library.

Cryer’s Cross by Lisa McMann

Published By: Simon Pulse

Date of Publication:  February 8 2011

Categories:Fiction, Urban Paranormal, YA

Pages: 233

Summary (from goodreads.com): The community of Cryer’s Cross, Montana (population 212) is distraught when high school freshman Tiffany disappears without a trace. Already off-balance due to her OCD, 16-year-old Kendall is freaked out seeing Tiffany’s empty desk in the one-room school house, but somehow life goes on… until Kendall’s boyfriend Nico also disappears, and also without a trace. Now the town is in a panic. Alone in her depression and with her OCD at an all-time high, Kendall notices something that connects Nico and Tiffany: they both sat at the same desk. She knows it’s crazy, but Kendall finds herself drawn to the desk, dreaming of Nico and wondering if maybe she, too, will disappear…and whether that would be so bad. Then she begins receiving graffiti messages on the desk from someone who can only be Nico. Can he possibly be alive somewhere? Where is he? And how can Kendall help him? The only person who believes her is Jacian, the new guy she finds irritating…and attractive. As Kendall and Jacian grow closer, Kendall digs deeper into Nico’s mysterious disappearance only to stumble upon some ugly—and deadly—local history. Kendall is about to find out just how far the townspeople will go to keep their secrets buried.

Review: I’ve now read three of Lisa McMann’s books, and I have to say that Cryer’s Cross is my favorite. I loved everything about it.

I really enjoy reading books about mental illness. It’s something that you can’t see on the outside, but probably affects people just as much as a physical illness. I wasn’t disappointed in Kendall’s portrayal of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. I thought it was very real, while at the same time being something that I could understand.

One thing that I really liked was the friendship that evolved between Kendall and Jacian. It didn’t happen overnight, like I feel happens sometimes. It had a rocky beginning, until things started to fall into place.

I liked that Kendall’s romance (I won’t say who it is, cause I don’t want to give anything away), didn’t happen immediately. It happened slowly and very naturally. It took work to get there. I loved being able to take every step with the both of them. It was a lot more fun as a reader to read it that way than it is if it happens all of a sudden.

I found it hard to put this book down. It was tough to pull myself away from it. I haven’t felt like that about a book in awhile, so it was great to have that with Cryer’s Cross.

If you’re looking for a very creepy book to read, I would definitely recommend Cryer’s Cross.

Connect with the Author:

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Image: goodreads.com

Disclosure: I got this book from the library.

Father of Lies by Ann Turner

Published By: Harper Teen

Date of Publication: February 8, 2011

Categories: Historical Fiction, Mental Illness, YA

Pages: 256

Summary (from goodreads.com):

Truth or Lies?

Lidda knew, with a clarity that was like a candle in a dark room, that all had changed; something was loosed in the village—Devil or not—and they would pay for it, every last man, woman, and child.

Fourteen-year-old Lidda has always known she was different. She longs to escape Salem Village and its stifling rules—to be free to dance, to sing, to live as she chooses. But when a plague of accusations descends on the village and witch fever erupts, Lidda begins to realize that she feels and sees things that others can’t, or won’t. But how will she expose the truth without being hung as a witch herself?

Gripping and emotional, Ann Turner’s retelling of the Salem witch trials captures one girl’s brave soul-searching amidst a backdrop of fear and blame.

Review: I reading about two things – the Salem Witch Trials and mental illness. Father of Lies combines them both, so I was bound to enjoy this book as much as I did.

Lidda was a great main character. I found her different than most of the female characters I’ve read about during time period. Lidda loves to do all the things that are looked down on in Salem. How dare a young woman want to dance! Absolutely shocking! Lidda definitely felt the confines of the expectations that were placed on her by her community.

All of the characters felt very real. Ann Turner did a great job of creating a cast that felt believable. I felt like I knew everyone, from Lidda’s family, to her friends. Lucien was a very creepy character. You were never really sure when he would pop up, but when he did, you knew there would be trouble coming.

I thought it was interesting that members of Lidda’s family had different reactions to the Witch Trials. It was great to hear differing point of view that I hadn’t heard before. I somehow sort of thought that everyone had been taken in, and no one could see what was actually going in.

It was a relatively quick read, which I think worked for this book. By the time I was finished reading it, I felt like all the answers were given, I didn’t feel like things were rushed or that I missed out on anything.

If you’re a fan of historical fiction or mental illness, I would definitely recommend this book.

Image: goodreads.com

Disclosure: I got this book from the library.