DVD Review: Anne of Green Gables (1985)

Anne of Green Gables (1985) miniseries Along with reading the books of L.M. Montgomery, another part of the month-long L.M. Montgomery challenge hosted by Carrie @ Reading To Know that I’m participating in includes watching any of the films based off her books. Last week I spent a couple of days watching the 1985 miniseries based off Anne of Green Gables. I read the book for the first time in November and immediately fell in love with this story and cast of characters, so I was pretty excited to watch the film, challenge or no.

I thought this was a really well done telling of the original story, including all of the truly memorable scenes I could remember, leaving little out in the 3 hours of run time. I liked the actors chosen and think Megan Follows in particular did a great job portraying Anne. And while I did occasionally notice a few moments of less than stellar acting (mostly that hottie, Gilbert Blythe (played by Jonathan Crombie), stumbling over a few of his lines), for some reason those moments just somehow made the whole thing seem more real to me – like they might be real people who aren’t always suave and well spoken. It definitely gave the show that same authentic and easy to relate to quality that I think the books have.

This is probably not a movie to force your husbands or boyfriends to sit through. It’s not filled to the brim with action, although watching Diana (played by Schuyler Grant) was pretty hysterical, I think this movie might be more suited to people who have read the books or would enjoy that kind of coming of age, admittedly sort of chick flick story. Watch this one with your girlfriends, your daughters, your mothers – and maybe your husband will secretly watch along while pretending to be playing a computer game or reading Slashdot articles. Stranger things have been known to happen.

I know a lot of people who have seen this miniseries but have never read the books, and probably others who read the books but never watched the show. I have now read the book and seen the first film and I have to say I am now a huge fan of both. How about you?

L.M. Montgomery Challenge 2011: First, A little quiz.

When Carrie @ Reading To Know posted this little personality quiz, I absolutely could not resist – and I have to say, not hating the results!

Which L. M. Montgomery character are you?

Your Result: Anne Shirley

You are very intelligent, and dreamy by nature, feeling that imagination is of high importance. You are quick-tempered, however, and sensitive about things that are important to you, such as your hair, or how people see you.

Sarah Stanley
Marilla Cuthbert
Victoria Stuart
Emily Starr
Which L. M. Montgomery character are you?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge 2011 @ Reading to KnowAnybody else participating in the L.M. Montgomery Reading Challenge this year? I just started reading Anne of Avonlea last night on my kindle and it was like an absolute breath of fresh air. I just adore the writing style, characters, and even the lengthy descriptions have grown on me.

It was like visiting an old friend, which may be silly given I only just read Anne of Green Gables last fall, but you know, whatever. Next week I’m hoping to watch one of the film versions from Netflix, and if I can finish the 2nd book quickly, maybe I’ll try to rent two of them. I have most of the Anne books on kindle so I may even read book 3 when I finish, but I do have other reading commitments this month, so I’ll have to decide if I have time when I get to that point.

What’s your favorite L.M. Montgomery book / character? If you take the quiz, I’d love to hear what your result is!

I Read: The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard

The Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy PickardThe Virgin of Small Plains by Nancy Pickard is a murder mystery novel set in the heart of a small town in the midwest. This is my book club’s first pick for the new year, which we’ll be discussing at the end of the month.

Book Description from GoodReads.com:

During a deadly blizzard in 1987, high school senior Rex Shellenberger and his older brother help their father search snow-covered pastures for newborn calves. What Rex finds instead is a breathtakingly beautiful young woman, completely naked and frozen to death, as if she just curled up and fallen asleep. The body is never identified and is eventually buried in an unmarked grave in the town cemetery. But even after 17 years, rumors still swirl around the girl and the mysterious events of that fateful night. How did she get there? Why did Mitch Newquist, the handsome son of the local judge, suddenly leave town — and Abby, the love of his life — never again to return? A growing number of people believe that visiting the unmarked grave will bring them miracles — but there are those in the small town who know there is nothing inspirational about the legend of the Virgin of Small Plains. In fact, it’s just the opposite.

This was a book with high points and low points for me. On the one hand, I thought that the mystery of this story was really well written. Pickard rotates the point of view of this book between all of the essential characters in the story so that you can slowly learn what each character knows about that night in 1987 and what they don’t know.

You gradually start to get an idea of what really happened that night and why, but you don’t know anything until the author wants you to and I frequently found myself saying, “Ohhhh I know who did it!” and then being proven wrong. I don’t think I really knew the truth until the minute the author wanted me to so I have to commend her for a job well done there.

On the other hand, I had a hard time with some of the awfully graphic detail in this book. I’m sure it’s not the most graphic book ever written but between the gruesome murder details, the in depth descriptions of teenage fantasies and the sex scenes. She leaves little to the imagination. This may appeal to some people but it’s not my cup of tea and I had a hard time getting through some chapters, occasionally enough to make me consider reading something else.

Luckily for my book club, the essential heart of this story was enough to keep me reading and I’m glad I did, because it was a really good story. I’d give this one 3 out of 5 stars, but I think a lot of people would give it at least an extra star – not everyone is as squeamish and anti-graphic love scenes as me, I’m sure. And to be honest, there weren’t that many of them, they were just awfully intense when they happened.

All in all, I’d say not a bad start to the new year and I’d recommend this book to most fans of a good mystery. What are you reading right now?

Picture Book Round Up: 3 New Books We're Loving

Looking for a new book to read with your kids? There are a million picture books out there and it can get a little overwhelming trying to find a good story with nice illustrations that doesn’t feel like torture trying to read out loud. We’ve gotten a few new awesome stories this Christmas and I thought I’d share them with you guys in case your bedtime routine is getting a bit stale (this is essentially cross posted from my review blog):

Ladybug Girl by David Soman and Jacky Davis: I first discovered this awesome book back in September while perusing a website you need to know about: wegivebooks.org. I’ve been smitten with this new line of picture books ever since and can’t seem to say enough good things about them. The illustrations in these books (by David Soman) are simply brilliant, the small details perfect – flip through it for a few seconds and you will know what I mean – this is the book I sometimes want to curl up and read by myself and always get excited when MM asks for it at night. I love the stories which are all about empowerment, imagination and kindness. This one will make you reminisce of your own childhood and laugh at the all too familiar antics of your own brood. I recommend any of the Ladybug Girl books and guarantee your family is going to love them.

Freddi the Dog by Lisa and Randy Herman Freddi the Dog by Lisa and Randy Herman, Illustrated by Bruce Hammond : This was one of the books I reviewed in our gift guide at the review blog, but I didn’t give a lot of details since it was a Christmas present for the kids. We’ve read it several times since Christmas morning and my four year old is pretty smitten with it. I especially love Bruce Hammond’s adorable illustrations of Freddi’s many, many antics. This story is terribly funny but also very sweet and I think any pet owner will find something to relate to in this book. What dog owner hasn’t experienced that moment of “You ate what?” My husband was especially fond of this one, having grown up with many dogs as a kid and he and my son love reading this one together.

MORE BEARS! by Kenn Nesbitt More Bears! by Kenn Nesbitt and Troy Cummings (Illustrator): This book is so silly and well drawn and should be well appreciated by any writers or wanna be writers out there. This was another book from our recent gift guide and my kids and husband both got a kick out of this one, too. I love that this book sort of breaks that fourth wall and talks about the author as he writes the story and finds himself being coerced into adding MORE BEARS! at the demand of a hidden audience. For some reason reading this book makes me want to go out and write a million stories immediately, not a bad thing! I also think this is a great way to explain the concept of authors and how books get written to your kids and in general, it’s simply a hysterical story to boot. My son loves to yell out “More Bears!” along with the story – giving a similar sort of interactive experience as the infamous Pigeon books by Mo Willems.

What books have you and your kids been reading lately?

The Lucy Maud Montgomery Reading Challenge 2011: Link-Up Post

Lucy Maud Montgomery Reading Challenge 2011 @ Reading To Know Last year I read Anne of Green Gables for the first time and just adored it! After finishing the first book, I immediately added all the other Anne books to my Kindle (which were blessedly free! I love free things!) When I read that Carrie @ Reading To Know hosts an annual L.M. Montogmery reading challenge each January, I knew I wanted to join in on the fun and the timing is perfect.

Carrie writes, “Every January I like to host the Lucy Maud Montgomery Reading Challenge in order to start my reading year off right. (At least, as right as I can make my reading year!) I like easing into the year with old friends, all created and penned by LMM. I think reading Montgomery is a cozy thing to do, especially when there is still a bit of the holiday rush being felt and as things are beginning to calm down.”

From now until January 28th I am hoping to read / see:

I also have several Anne movies in my Netflix queue and hope to watch at least one of them this month, probably the Anne of Green Gables mini series from 1985.

Anyone looking for a list of the Anne books in chronological order as well as a list of film adaptations, Wikipedia has a list here.

Anyone else joining in on this fun challenge? What is your favorite L.M. Montgomery book?

Books Read in 2010

Another year has come to a close! This year I managed to read 4 more books than I did in 2009, making a total of 32 books read. I’m hoping to make that number 40 in 2011!

Anyway, here’s the final list of the books I read this year:

Books Read:

  1. Splendor by Anna Godbersen – Finished January 6, 2010 – Splendor appears to be the last book in the Luxe series and it’s no less addictive than the previous three books. I really enjoyed this series and I’m sad to see it end but I think Godbersen did a really great job tying things up in a way that seemed realistic but also unexpected. – full review
  2. Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See – Finished January 22, 2010 – I heard a lot of great reviews of this book, and then got a copy and could never seem to get into it… but then got into it finally and loved it. It was never entirely the book I expected it to be, but it was excellent and kept me hooked once I finally got past the first couple chapters. I definitely want to read Peony in Love now.
  3. Get Financially Naked by Sharon Kedar and Manisha Thakor – Finished January 29, 2010 – This is a great book for anyone struggling to talk finances with their spouse or loved one – or for anyone new to thinking about their money individually in a serious and organized way. The authors make figuring out your financial standing, goals and obstacles seem easy; tackling one small chunk at a time, you will quickly be able to see the whole picture of your finances and plan accordingly. I found, as I suspected, that my husband and I already have a very open dialogue when it comes to money but any concerns that I had about where we stood and where we were going have been eased. After reading this book I feel like I’ve picked up the reigns of my financial standing instead of letting it happen to me while I sit and wonder how we’re doing. – full review
  4. Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater – Finished February 12, 2010 – I’m still coming to terms with the ending of this book – I don’t really know how I felt about it and I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll leave it at that. On the whole I really enjoyed this book – it was a nice book to read on these cold winter days. But it also made me feel kind of old when I frequently found myself rolling my eyes at the seriousness which the main characters viewed their lives and their romance. I can remember being their age and feeling this way, but I also have grown up and look back on those days as pretty silly and naive. I think that made it hard for me to stay in the moment of the story – but I never really had that problem with other books with characters of a similar age, etc. So yes, in the end, I’m just not sure. I liked the book but I also had my reservations about it from start to … finish. – full review
  5. The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Prisoner’s Dilemma by Trenton Lee Stewart – Finished February 27, 2010 – This is one of my new favorite series and the latest book definitely did not disappoint. I’m trying to decide if I think this might be the last in the series or if there will be more – either way I enjoyed it a lot.
  6. Easy on the Eyes by Jane Porter – Finished March 5, 2010 – I’m a big fan of Jane Porter. Her books are always so addictive, lush with detail and characters that are so three dimensional. This book dealt a lot with inner and outer beauty, self confidence and self love, learning to trust and learning to throw away past notions and embrace the future. It was, in short, really really good.
  7. Never Tell Our Business To Strangers by Jennifer Mascia – Finished April 2, 2010 – This is the memoir of Jennifer Mascia who tells the story of a childhood on the lam, intricate family secrets and betrayals and the incredible power to love. It’s strangely relatable when you are not expecting it to be – and more powerful than I anticipated. I laughed, I cried… clichéd but it’s true. – full review
  8. Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert – Finished April 16, 2010 – This book has sat on my bookshelf for years, waiting for me to read it. I can’t believe it took me so long, looking back – it is incredible. I loved every page, every paragraph. Gilbert is an incredible writer and her story was just as good – I almost can’t believe it’s nonfiction. I look forward to reading her other books. – full review
  9. The Spellmans Strike Again by Lisa Lutz – Finished April 25, 2010 – I always love a good Spellman Files book and this one was no exception. Lutz’ series is like nothing I’ve ever read before and it’s quite an indulgence. Couldnotputitdown. Quite possibly her best one yet! – full review
  10. Sweet Life by Mia King – finished May 8, 2010 – This was my first Mia King book and I really enjoyed it – a good old fashioned chick lit book that made you laugh, cry, etc. It touches on a lot of topics that I think any mother can relate to and even comes with some yummy recipes! – full review
  11. The Lightening Thief (Percy Jackson and the Olympians: Book One) by Rick Riordan – Finished May 19, 2010 – This series is becoming very popular and I can see why. It combines a lot of very cool themes and ideas, some trendy, some slightly more novel. I think it’s a really cool way to introduce kids to Greek mythology and it touches on a lot of other cool, interesting things, too. Great for kids ; for adults, I would warn that it can feel a little predictable sometimes and in the beginning especially, it might feel really obvious that you are reading a book intended for kids, but it definitely sucked me in at the end and I plan to read Book 2 soon.
  12. Eat What You Love, Love What You Eat by Michelle May- Finished May 19, 2010 – I really enjoyed this book – it’s not necessarily new information but it’s definitely something I think a lot of people should read and know. This is not a diet book – it will not tell you how much of whatever to necessarily eat or do or not eat or do. It’s about relearning how to eat instinctively and to not feel guilty about your decisions. I’d definitely recommend it. – full review
  13. The Middle Place by Kelly Corrigan – Finished June 9, 2010 – I really enjoyed this memoir. It describes Kelly’s battle with breast cancer but also talks about that middle place in your life where you are both a child and a parent, and has a lot of stories from her childhood up to present date. Really beautifully written.
  14. What Your Preschooler Needs to Know by E.D. Hirsch – Finished June 18, 2010 – I really enjoyed reading through this book with my son. He loved the poems and some of the history stories the best.
  15. The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson, Book 2) by Rick Riordan – Finished June 20, 2010 – I’m really enjoying this series. I still feel like the main character sometimes seem a little, um, stupid or maybe just dense? But I love the story, the occasional comments on environmentalism and the Greek mythology references. A great series so far, overall.
  16. The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer – Finished June 24, 2010 – I have loved every book by Stephenie Meyer I’ve read and this was no exception. My only complaint was that it was SUCH a short read, but still oh so enjoyable. She really makes you feel for the newborn vamps which seems surprising at first but not so much by the end.
  17. Eating for Beginners by Melanie Rehak – Finished July 12, 2010 – This book reads like a good friend sharing her experiences and giving all the best information she can in the most accessible way. I love how expertly Rehak combines her parental anecdotes  with tales of restaurant and farm life – with some fun recipes and silliness thrown in! It had me laughing on a nightly basis, drooling over delicious descriptions of food, ear marking recipes and quoting passages out loud to my husband constantly! I am not exaggerating when I say it was one of the best books I’ve read this year and maybe ever – I want to share this book with everyone I know! – full review
  18. American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson – Finished August 1, 2010 – This is one of the better memoirs I’ve read – I love Craig and his talk show and reading about his life was a lot of fun. Craig’s life reads like something out of fiction – so much has happened to him and he’s really come along way – and his writing style is clever and funny. I really enjoyed this one from beginning to end.
  19. Peony in Love by Lisa See – Finished August 13, 2010 – There were things I liked about this one and other things I didn’t like. I felt like the plot on a whole was very interesting and unique but sometimes the main character seemed way too slow to pick up on really obvious things. I much prefered See’s previous book, Snow Flower and the Secret Fan but it was still a good book for the most part.
  20. She’s Gone Country by Jane Porter – Finished August 23, 2010 – This was my third Jane Porter novel and like the previous two I really enjoyed it. Her conversational writing style makes the sometimes heavy subject matter easy to digest – and feels like a friend telling you a story. I love this new genre of “mom lit” – chick lit but so much better. I also really enjoy how the characters from Porters other books end up making appearances in the other books – so none of their stories ever really end – very true to life. – full review
  21. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows – Finished September 1, 2010 – This definitely goes down in the books as one of my favorites of all time. I am honestly surprised at how much I loved this book. I think everyone should read it. RIGHT NOW. – full review
  22. Revelations by Melissa de la Cruz – Finished September 6, 2010 – I know there is no short supply of vampire fiction out there but this one actually has a remarkably original concept. I love all of the biblically historical details of this series, entwined seamlessly with current references and your typical angsty teenagers. The characters occasionally get on my nerves but the overall plot has always been enough to keep me coming back for more.
  23. The Titan’s Curse (Percy Jackson, Book 3) by Rick Riordan – Finished September 22, 2010 – I’m liking this series more and more with each book. I blew threw this one quickly and I’m looking forward to the next!
  24. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins – Finished October 1, 2010 – I was worried this book somehow wouldn’t meet my expectations but I needn’t have worried. It was perfect. The beginning started out a bit slow but it quickly picked up and sucked me in until the end. – full review
  25. The Battle of the Labyrinth (Percy Jackson: Book Four) by Rick Riordan – Finished October 9, 2010 – I think this was my favorite of the series so far – Percy has grown on me with each book, becoming a bit less dense as he gets older. I’m looking forward to book five.
  26. The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick – Finished October 12, 2010 – Although this was not the best book I’ve ever read, I did really enjoy it. I think for it’s target audience (middle school girls) it was very well written and I loved how chock full of literary references it was. It also has plenty of good moral lessons, but not delivered in a preachy way – like I said, perfect for middle school girls. – full review
  27. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – Finished October 24, 2010 – I can’t believe it took me so long to read this book – it was truly excellent. I think this is one of the best classic coming of age stories, with a little bit of everything. I really enjoyed it and look forward to reading the rest of the series.
  28. The Sweet Potato Queens Guide to Raising Children for Fun and Profit by Jill Conner Browne – Finished November 2, 2010 – I always enjoy the SPQ books and this was no exception – a laugh a minute to be sure! Although I definitely did not agree with all of Browne’s opinions, she made me laugh (and almost cry a few times!) A great light read and a quick read, too!
  29. The Shop on Blossom Street by Debbie Macomber – Finished November 9, 2010 – Although it did feel a bit predictable and formulaic at times, I enjoyed reading this book and found myself rooting for each of the characters and their desired outcomes. It was a nice light read, despite some rather heavy material. – full review
  30. The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry – Finished November 18, 2010 – This book started out for me kinda lukewarm, then gradually I got pretty into it, until by the end I was practically obsessed with it. It really grows on you as you get into the story and start to understand what’s going on and then all of a sudden you realize you NEVER understood what was going on and it blows your mind.
  31. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (read on kindle) – Finished December 10, 2010 – I have mixed feelings about this one. I will say that I liked the book better than the movie I saw, because so many more details are given and the relationships feel more natural and realistic but I found the “moral and religious overtones” to be a bit much at times and the descriptions to sometimes go on a bit longer than they needed to (a la Nathaniel Hawthorne). As far as classics go, I much preferred Anne of Green Gables which though also descriptive, managed to do the whole moral lesson thing much better, as in, not beating you over the head with it. I think the heart of this story is excellent, which is why the movies are so good I think, but sometimes reading it felt like a chore.
  32. First Among Sequels (Thursday Next, Book 5) by Jasper Fforde – Finished December 28, 2010 – I swear each Thursday Next book is better than the last. Really enjoyed this latest installment!

Didn’t Finish:

  • Little Children by Tom Perrotta – Abandoned February 3, 2010 (about 100 pages in) – This book is being discussed in an upcoming book club I’ve been thinking about joining and I have heard some good reviews about it but I just could not bring myself to care about the characters of this story of suburbia, apparently unhappy marriages, and a blatant dissatisfaction with the life of stay at home parenting. I can understand that these topics are a reality for millions and it’s not that I cannot read a book that I can’t relate to personally – I can and have. And frankly there were things I could relate to but I could not seem to care about any of the characters at all. It was like watching a handful of sad people trapped in boxes they’d knowingly climbed into – and being forced to sit inside those boxes with them. The best part of this book was putting it down and being greeted by my own life, which is kind of the opposite of falling into a good book. I feel like I’m trying to make excuses for not finishing this book, like I’ve done some horrible misdeed but at the end of the day I have to remind myself that I have better things to do with my time than read a book I’m not enjoying, whatever the reasons.
  • The Naked Buddha by Adrienne Howley – abandoned May 10, 2010 – There was nothing wrong with this book, in fact I enjoyed what I read, but I kind of felt like I’d gotten out of it what I wanted to and decided to focus my energies on the many other books I had on my shelf instead – like the ones I’m reading for a review and the fiction books that I’m really enjoying.
  • Teaching Montessori in the Home by Elizabeth G. Hainstock – abandoned June 7, 2010 – Just got bored of it.
  • Cold Rock River by J. L. Miles – abandoned June 28, 2010 – I’d been looking forward to reading this for a local book club I’m planning to join but there is some subject matter in the first couple of chapters that I just couldn’t deal with. I found myself avoiding the book because the topic was just too painful for me. I’m not going into details because I don’t want to “spoil” anything but it was just too heavy for me.
  • Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her by Melanie Rehak – abandoned September 17, 2010 – This just simply wasn’t the book I wanted it to be. I loved Eating for Beginners so much but this didn’t have that same fantastic wit that I’d grown to love in EFB and the book was much more about feminism and women’s suffrage than it was about Nancy Drew – not an uninteresting topic, just not what I’d been hoping to read and ultimately it felt more like that stodgy traditional “nonfiction” that I was forced to read in school.
  • That Old Cape Magic by Richard Russo – abandoned September 17, 2010 – There were parts of this book that I liked a lot. His descriptions of the cape and family vacations there brought back a lot of nostalgia for me and had me googling lake house vacations at 3 a.m. But there were other parts of the book (the parts dealing with divorce and unhappy marriages) that felt a lot like being stuck in a room with two people who are fighting and all the good energy just gets sucked out of the room and even though you like those two people seperately, being forced in the same room with them together makes you want to find the happiest person on earth as fast as possible. And unfortunately there were a lot more of those passages than the nostalgic ones and I just couldn’t finish the thing – too much negative energy.

Books Read in 2008

Books Read in 2009