Books, Classics Club Challenge

LITTLE WOMEN by Louisa May Alcott | Review

20893528-2The enduring popularity and praise of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women has intrigued me for some time. I couldn’t help but wonder what made this classic American novel stand out among its neighbors, particularly since it initially seemed to be a simple story about four sisters living during the Civil War. What is it about the March family that has captivated and enchanted readers, especially girls, since its publication in 1868? What was so special about Beth, Amy, Jo, and Meg that catapulted these fictional sisters into over a century of literary fame? These and numerous other questions swam in my mind as I purchased my own copy of Little Women and ultimately fueled my desire to read this beloved classic.

Needless to say, I now understand all of the praise that these sisters’ story has received over the years. What first appears to be a simple story about a poor family’s optimistic way of life actually offers the reader so much more: lessons of morality, right and wrong, friendship, love, loss, materialism, growing up, and countless other meaningful messages that anyone and everyone can benefit from reading. If I had to describe Little Women in only a single word, I would resolutely exclaim: “QUAINT!” This is perhaps the most quaint book I have ever read. A warm, fuzzy feeling blossomed within me from the very first page and continued to bloom until I had closed the cover for the last time. If you’re looking for a book to make you sigh with contentment and joy, then do yourself a favor and look no further than this classic.

I think a great deal of the charm and fun of this novel stems from the reader’s ability to see him or herself reflected in many of the characters. It’s tempting to label myself purely as a headstrong, adventurous, curious Jo or solely an obedient, responsible, kindhearted Meg. However, over time the reader surely realizes, as did I, that she is a blend of all of the sisters combined. Each sister has personality traits that we wish we could both embody and cast aside. They are undeniably human, complete with faults and flaws that make us point at the page and exclaim, “So I’m not the only one who does this!” or “Other people feel this way, too!”

Apart from the sisters, my favorite characters were by far Laurie and Mr. Laurence. I loved watching the friendship between Laurie and Jo grow and develop as they aged as well as the adorable friendship between Beth and Mr. Laurence. I longed to visit their house and spend hours in their impressive library, listening to the notes of the grand piano floating down the hall. Laurie’s funny, witty personality made me laugh and grin more times than I could count and he consequently played a main role in many of my favorite scenes. (Camp Laurie, anyone?)

Is this story unrealistically ideal? Yes. Though it does address a handful of unpleasant topics (death, poverty, etc.), on the whole it almost resembles a fairy tale in the way that everything wraps up neatly at the end. Part of me wishes that Alcott had allowed a few of the girls– especially Jo– to be more independent and, essentially, not get married. Because this story is set during the Civil War, it is understandable that it wouldn’t align with the values of modern feminism and the idea that women need not marry in order to live a happy and fulfilling life. Still, while reading I couldn’t help but hope that at least one of the girls would find the courage and independence to go off on their own and set sail for a life of unexpected adventures. I did cringe inwardly at times, particularly when Meg’s mother emphasized the vital importance of pleasing her new husband and ensuring that he was happy no matter the circumstances. Again, a little more female independence would have been lovely, but my expectations weren’t too high given the time of the book’s publication.

Another small qualm I have about Little Women is that I was hoping for more historical context or direct interaction with the time period. Of course, the war was obviously mentioned in regard to the girls’ father being away fighting in it; however, no specific information was discussed concerning sides of the war or race relations in general. I’m assuming that they were fighting on the side of the Union since none of the people surrounding them seemed to own slaves or live on plantations, but no questions are answered concerning their views towards what is going on in their country at this tumultuous time in American history. I find it a little hard to believe that race relations and the war more specifically would not have come up in conversation at some point over the course of these years in their household.

Overall, it’s clear that Louisa May Alcott deserves all of the praise given to her charming, enduring novel Little Women. Despite its predictability and slow pace at times, I couldn’t help being captivated by this adorable, heart-warming story of sisterhood, family, love, and life.

My Rating: :0) :0) :0) :0) 4 out of 5

Would I recommend it to a friend?: Absolutely, especially to someone who enjoys reading character-driven stories that focus on family and relationships.

Have you read this book before? What are your thoughts on it? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

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Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: The Traveling Romantic

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Happy Valentine’s Day!! I hope you’re all having a lovely day regardless of how you feel about this rather polarizing holiday. In keeping with a romantic theme, today’s Top Ten Tuesday list revolves around beloved or dreaded romantic tropes. I’ve decided to stay in a positive direction and share ten fun, lighthearted romance novels that involve traveling. Grab your passport and let’s get started!

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What do you think of the books on my list? Any recommendations? How do you feel about Valentine’s Day in general? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Top Ten Tuesday

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Meant to Read in 2016 But Didn’t Get To

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Happy Tuesday! I hope you’re all doing well after the holiday season. I know that I always feel a bit blue, but Top Ten Tuesday never fails to cheer me up. This week I’ll be sharing the Top Ten Books I Meant to Read in 2016 But Didn’t Get To. My list of books was so long that it was actually kind of difficult to narrow it down… but I managed!

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What are some books that you meant to read in 2016 but never got around to? What do you think of the books I mentioned? Which one of these should I put at the top of my list? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Monthly Wrap-Up

DECEMBER 2016 | Wrap-Up

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The last month of the year has come to an end, meaning it’s time for another monthly wrap-up! All in all, December was a pretty great end to a tumultuous and rocky year. Not only did I read several fantastic books, but I had a blast celebrating the holiday season with a plethora of Christmas festivities. Let’s take a look at what I’ve been up to!
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All of my reading in December took place in the latter half of the month once I moved back home and started my winter break. Luckily, the CramAThon began on the day that my break started, so that helped give me the boost I needed to get some major reading done. It feels so nice to be able to read whatever I want without worrying about homework!

In December I read a total of 5 books:

  1. The Truth About Style by Stacy London
  2. When Everything Changed by Gail Collins
  3. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
  4. Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  5. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Picking a single favorite book of the month is really difficult, but I think I’m going to have to go with Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy. This classic novel has unexpectedly become one of my favorite books of 2016 and quite possibly one of my favorite classics in general. I couldn’t put it down and even though weeks have passed since I finished reading it the story of Bathsheba Everdene still lingers in the back of my mind. I can’t recommend it enough! (Honorable mention: The Truth About Style by Stacy London. LOVE THIS BOOK. <3)

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As per usual, December was a month of extremes: the nearly overwhelming stress of finishing final exams and papers, the joy of celebrating with friends before saying goodbye until next semester, eating massive amounts of cake and cookies, and finally being able to relax at home and do absolutely nothing. This rapid decline from studying and working every possible minute to suddenly have a seemingly vast amount of free time feels incredibly strange– wonderful, of course, but strange nonetheless. Here are some highlights from my month:

+ Celebrating the holidays with friends. In the midst of studying and furiously writing papers, my friends and I decided to take a quick break and bake some delicious Christmas cookies after exchanging gifts. Considering we baked them in the kitchen of a college dorm building, I’d say it was definitely a success!

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+ Coming home. Winter break has begun, which means that I’m back home for a little over a month. It’s the best feeling to be able to spend time with my family, friends from high school, and dogs again. (And not having to wear flip-flops in the shower is also a plus!)

+ CHRISTMAS. I’d be amiss if I made a December highlights list without mentioning Christmas! I absolutely adore this time of year because I’m always overwhelmed by the love and support shown by friends and family. It’s a reminder of how incredibly fortunate I am to be surrounded by such wonderful people. We celebrated Christmas Eve at my house like we do every year and hilarious shenanigans ensued, as is expected with my family.

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+ Free time to read. I’ve read SO MUCH ini the two weeks that I’ve been home for winter break thus far. After basically having no time to read for fun during the entire semester it feels amazing to finally dive back into my TBR. (Also, I got a new bookcase!!!)

+ Starting work. Although I love having free time to relax over break, it does get old after w while. Fortunately I’ve started working at the organization where I was an intern over the summer, so I’ll be plenty busy over the next few weeks.

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It feels so nice to be able to jump back into blogging during my winter break! I’ve been channeling my inner Alexander Hamilton and writing posts non-stop in an attempt to schedule as many posts ahead of time as possible. During the semester I have hardly no time to blog, meaning that the bulk of my future posts will have to scheduled in the upcoming weeks.

Here are some notable posts from my blog this past month:

How was your month of December? Did you celebrate any holidays? Do anything fun? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Read-A-Thons

#CramAThon 2016 Wrap-Up

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Happy Christmas Eve! Yesterday was the final day of the CramAThon, which means that it’s time to take a look at what I’ve accomplished over the past week. As I mentioned in my CramAThon TBR post, my goal during this readathon was simply to read more than I usually do in a week (which, given the fact that I’ve only had time to read books for classes for the past three months, was a very reachable goal). It has felt so nice to prioritize reading for fun again now that I’m back home from college. How I missed these lazy days of flipping pages, sipping tea, and feeling cozy in my fuzzy socks!

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  1. Read a book under 200 pages
  2. Read 2 books in 24 hours
  3. Read a book set in a different country than where you live
  4. Read a book you’ve been putting off/have been meaning to read forever
  5. Read a book with pictures
  6. Read a graphic novel
  7. Read 7 books

I ended up completing over half of the challenges, which I’m pretty pleased with! I don’t own any graphic novels so I didn’t expect to complete that one– and I knew from the start that I definitely didn’t want to just plow my way through seven books in a single week.

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Throughout this readathon I read a total of a little over 1400 pages, a number that I’m beyond thrilled to report. Even though I didn’t have much planned for the week, I didn’t expect to actually get this much reading done. Here’s what I ended up reading:

13588439The Truth About Style by Stacy London

THIS. BOOK. I flew through this book in record time (the incorporation of photographs helped!) and was left wanting even more. Stacy London has managed to write a book that is not only witty, hilarious, and brimming with her spunky personality but also empowering, insightful, intelligent, and incredibly inspirational at the same time. My admiration for this style guru has grown exponentially from its already high level and I now have a newfound appreciation for her impressive work ethic and the personal perspective she brings to everything she does. You can be sure that I’m rating this 5 out of 5!

When Everything Changed by Gail CollinsWhen Everything Changed by Gail Collins

Reading this book so close to finishing The Truth About Style was great because I was riding on a wave of feminist empowerment and positivity. Though it felt a bit repetitive and disjointed at times, this comprehensive look at the ever-changing role of American women since 1960 was well-written, expertly researched, and presented in an accessible, entertaining account. It provides the perspectives of minorities in terms of race, sexuality, and class and offers insightful commentary on where women are today. By the time I finished this book I felt inspired to go out there and prove to the world that women can do anything!

12974171-2FRANKENSTEIN by Mary Shelley

As I turned the last page of this chilling novel, one thought played on repeat in my mind: Why didn’t I read this sooner??? Far from the lumbering green giant portrayed by modern adaptations, Frankenstein’s monster presents an endlessly fascinating moral dilemma that I can’t stop thinking about. Though definitely not what I was initially expecting, this book nevertheless exceeded all of my expectations. Don’t make the same mistake I did: read this book ASAP!

14800528-2Far from the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy

Sometimes a book takes you by surprise and exceeds all of your expectations. (Hint: this is one of those books!) I’ve had this on my shelf for months and I can’t believe I waited to long to read it. Definitely a favorite of 2016! If you have any suggestions of other works by Thomas Hardy that I should read, please feel free to send them my way!

I also managed to read about half of Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. I’ve owned a gorgeous edition of this classic novel for around two years now and I’m so happy that I’m finally getting around to reading it. It’s such a cute, quaint, happy story!

As per usual, full reviews will follow for all of these books!

Did you participate in the CramAThon? If so, how did you do? What are your thoughts on the books I mentioned here? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

Awards

Sunshine Blogger Award

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Happy Friday, everyone! I hope you’re all having a wonderful day! I’m a little late with posting this (I was nominated in July) but better late than never, right? Thanks so much to the lovely Megan @ Tables of Content for nominating me! Definitely go check out her blog if you haven’t already. She’s so kind and her nomination made my day! ❤

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  • Thank the person who nominated you in a blog post and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the eleven questions sent by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate eleven blogs to receive the award and write them eleven new questions.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post and/or your blog.

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Good ol’ Shakespeare.

1. What city/country would you like to travel to next? 

Fun fact: I’ve never traveled outside of the United States. I don’t even have a passport! However, I’m hoping to study abroad during my junior year of college in either England or Spain.

208940842. What book(s) are currently on your nightstand? 

Right now the only book on my nightstand is the one I’m currently reading: A Little History of Literature by John Sutherland. So far I’m absolutely loving it. It’s every literature lover’s dream!

3. What do you find most rewarding about blogging? 

For me, the most rewarding part of blogging is definitely talking with and getting to know others in this lovely bookish community. Whether it’s through blog comments, Twitter, or even email, I truly enjoy chatting with all of you!

4. Any advice to new bloggers? 

I’m certainly not a blogging expert by any stretch of the imagination, so I would love to know your answers to this question as well. At any rate, my blogging advice is simple: do it because you love it. Otherwise, it’s easy for blogging to feel like a chore at times. If you love it, though, then blogging becomes that much better!

5. What is the craziest/wildest/most adventurous trip or journey you’ve taken? 

I’m not the most adventurous person in the world, so I don’t have many wild stories to share. The most adventurous trips I’ve taken are probably the many hiking trips I’ve been on over the years. One time I camped in Baxter State Park in Maine and hiked a few mountains around there, and to this day it is one of my favorite places I’ve ever been. It’s absolutely gorgeous!

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This train is accurately called the Knife’s Edge.

6. Three songs you always have on your travel playlist? 

Whenever I go on long road trips with my family, I inevitably end up listening to these three songs at some point: Ribs by Lorde, Anna Sun by Walk the Moon, and Hopeless Wanderer by Mumford & Sons.

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The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater7. What is one book you are secretly embarrassed you haven’t read yet? 

I wouldn’t say that I’m necessarily embarrassed to not have read certain books, but there are definitely many that I need to read as soon as possible. A few that come to mind are The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater, Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, and Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. (But seriously, there are SO MANY MORE that I could list!)

8. Do you have or want any pets? 

DO I. Currently I have three days, which is the most my family has ever had at one time> Melody is a mutt who we adopted when I was in kindergarten, Abby is a miniature dachshund who is very nervous, and Eddie is a friendly chug (a chihuahua pug mix!) who we adopted this past April. Needless to say, my house is pretty crowded with furry friends!

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Eddie and I!

9. What are your favorite types of blog posts to write?

Even though I never manage to keep up with creating them, I think my favorite posts to write are book reviews. They take a while to finish but I feel so accomplished when I do. Also, I love seeing the response they get and learning about whether or not others had similar thoughts on that particular work. Book reviews are very rewarding posts (both personally and in terms of community engagement), which is why I love to write them.

10. Are you a planner or a spontaneous traveler?

I’m a planner when it comes to nearly everything, including traveling. I love to make schedules so I know well in advanced where we’re going and at what time. I also tend to do a lot of research about the place before I travel there, particularly regarding restaurants due to my nut allergy. It just makes the entire trip so much easier when you know where you’re going ahead of time.

11. Is the glass half full or half empty?

Sometimes I can be a bit of a pessimist (can’t we all?) but I’m going to say half full for this one because it’s what I try to remind myself every day. There are so many reasons to smile, even when you feel blue!

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I’ve decided to include the two themes of this award in my questions: blogging and sunshine!

  1. What’s your biggest source of motivation when it comes to blogging?
  2. What inspires you?
  3. Out of all of your posts, which one is your favorite?
  4. Do you stick to a blogging schedule or do you prefer to post spontaneously?
  5. How did you come up with your blog’s name?
  6. What’s one of your biggest blogging pet peeves?
  7. Any blogging advice?
  8. Do you prefer sunny or rainy days?
  9. Favorite pair of sunglasses?
  10. What’s your ideal way to spend a sunny summer day?
  11. Favorite song with “sun” in the title?

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I’m nominating 11 blogs that I recently followed. Definitely check these great blogs out!

  1. Olivia @ Heir of Glitter
  2. Ashleigh @ A Frolic Through Fiction
  3. Sarah @ Reviews & Read-a-Thons
  4. Ola @ Ola Reads Books
  5. Nagina @ Oh Bookish
  6. Alisha @ Alisha’s Words of Wonder
  7. Laura @ Life is a Book Blog
  8. Eliza @ Bookaholic
  9. Olivia @ Olivia Chanel
  10. Emmy @ Fictionaire
  11. Georgia @ Books & Other Miracles

Thanks again to Megan for nominating me!! ❤

What are your answers to these questions? What do you think of mine? What blogging advice do YOU have? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY

more books

more books: I actually won something

Hello everyone! I thought I’d update you all on some new books I acquired this month.

The first three I bought on my own, the first two from Barnes & Noble and the third from this cute little independent bookstore Bennington, Vermont. There aren’t many independent bookstores where I live, but fortunately this one was near a college I was visiting. I couldn’t resist stopping in! I found this gorgeous copy of Little Women that is a Penguin Threads edition, and entire outside looks like it was designed with embroidery. It’s so beautiful!

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One + One = Blue by MJ Auch

The Summer I Wasn’t Me by Jessica Verdi

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

And then something incredibly exciting happened.

I ACTUALLY WON SOMETHING.

I’m not usually lucky when it comes to winning prizes, money from scratch tickets, etc. So when I found out that you could enter giveaways on Goodreads, I wasn’t expecting to really win anything. BUT THEN IT HAPPENED. I won a copy of this book:

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Choosing to be Insurgent or Allegiant by Valerie Estelle Frankel

Needless to say, it’s been a great month for books!

Have you read any of these books? What did you think of them? What books have you gotten recently? What books do you want to get? Let me know in the comments section below!

Yours,

HOLLY