Wednesday, September 26, 2012


I have had some reviews lingering in draft form for so long that I think it is time I scrap the big review and focus on cranking out some thoughts on those titles. These are all books I read at the end of July and in the month of August, so the particulars and details are a bit fuzzy to say the least! Anyway, I've never done mini-reviews before! Let's see how this works, shall we?

Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

I LOVED this book as a little girl, even though I wasn't as obsessed with horses as so many of my friends were. There was something about the story and voice of Beauty that grabbed me as a kid.

I was a bit nervous to revisit this title as an adult. Sometimes when I reread books that I loved as a kid I roll my eyes a bit, you know? But that wasn't the case here! I think I might have loved this even more this time around. I got more from it in terms of the Victorian lifestyle, the commentary on politics and fair treatment.

This is definitely a book I want to read out loud to my kiddos in the future. I think it stands the test of time and remains a book that is meaningful and important.

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Someone tell me WHY I didn't read this a girl? I loved The Secret Garden, so this would have been a perfect companion to that!

I wasn't familiar with the story before I began reading. Essentially, the story is about little Sara Crewe-who is wealthy, loving, and imaginative at the start of the novel. Many of the other girls at boarding school think she's odd, as she is always imagining things....but, she eventually loses everything.

I really loved Sara's determination when things didn't go so well for her. She continued to persevere in her beliefs and actions until things were righted. At times, the book was a little cheesy, but it had that magical, mystical quality that I would have adored as a little girl. The story was heartfelt and touching...and I just fell in love with each and every character.

Brotherband Chronicles: The Invaders by John Flanagan

I loved Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series, so I have been anxious for his newest series to come out. I read the first book in this series last fall, so I was happy to grab this one off the shelf back in July to revisit a world I love so much.

This series is set in a parallel time to the events in Ranger's Apprentice, which is something that really works. The action is non-stop and I love that the main characters are flawed in some ways. I particularly love that the main character in both series is a boy, and that he is not the "typical" macho boy. Both are intelligent, thin little guys who prove that they are more than what they appear.

Flanagan has definitely improved since his first book, and I was in love with the newest installment. The story picked right up where it left off, and I was anxiously turning the pages. I highly recommend both series if you are a fan of MG fantasy. You will not be disappointed!

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen

I read this for Adam's Austen in August event....and never posted about it (Sorry Adam).

This has always been my least favorite Austen, but it had been so long since I'd read it, I forgot why it had that status. For this read, I just concentrated on taking it in slowly....and I found that I enjoyed it far more than I remembered. I think this one is incredibly different from Austen's other novels. The heroine is different from what the reader expects, which is why so many don't like this one as much. But I found that the more I paid attention to Fanny, the more I realized she was MORE than what she is made out to be. She has some keen insights and is actually more like me than some other Austen ladies.

The end result? I really enjoyed it! While it won't be my favorite Austen (my heart belongs to Persuasion), it definitely has a new place in my heart...and I appreciate it more than I ever have.

Well, I still have a quite a few books from the magical world of Harry Potter to discuss, but that will probably happen in longer posts. ;)

What have you guys been reading lately?


  1. MP seems to either be everyone's least favorite (including mine!) or their most favorite. You give me hope that one day I might reread and not hate it. What's much more likely though is that I will reread Black Beauty! Thanks for the reminder and for the good review. The Secret Garden has been on my reread radar for a while. Maybe that's what my niece will be getting for Christmas this year!

  2. I was listening to the excellent Naxos audiobook of Mansfield Park, but even the wonderful Juliet Stevenson couldn't keep me interested in the dreary Fanny -- the middle of that book really drags for me. And all the other characters are so awful, especially Mrs. Norris and the wretched Henry Crawford!

    I'm trying to think of a single character I liked in the book and I can't come up with one. Even Edmund is an idiot when it comes to Mary Crawford. I gave up on it halfway through and have turned back to Dickens, even though it's Barnaby Rudge (which is finally getting interesting after 4 discs).

  3. I've seen the movie of A Little Princess SO many times, but I've never read the book and I don't know why! I think I might give it a try now, since you've said such lovely things about it! :)

  4. I loved both The Little Princess and Black Beauty when I was growing up, but I haven't read them in years! Mansfield Park has always been my least favorite Austen novel, but I would really like to re-read it soon. Like you said, I think it's easy to get caught up disliking Fanny and miss some of the other elements.

  5. I am so happy to see so many people reading A Little Princess lately! It's my favorite childhood book and still one of my favorites. I'm so glad you liked it.

    I don't think I could reread Black Beauty. I liked most of it, but I can't handle it. It traumatized me as a kid. :)

    Mansfield Park is my least favorite Austen novel as well. I do want to reread it at some point to see if that changes, but I was just bored when I read it and didn't care for Fanny.

    I hope teaching is going wonderfully and you're settling in!

  6. I never read The Little Princess either even though I LOVED The Secret Garden. I'll have to pick it up someday soon! And I liked Mansfield Park quite a bit and never understood why so many readers dislike it. Oh well!

  7. I loved Black Beauty too! It's one of the few books I can remember having "that" feeling about, the feeling I can't describe but only happens with books and then rarely. I will have to re-read it.

  8. I loved Black Beauty when I was in 4th grade. I must have read it a dozen times in my life. A Little Princess is a favorite of mine too. Those take me back. :)

  9. Black Beauty reminds me of tv adaptations... I'm sorry to say that I wasn't an avid reader in my childhood and that therefore I completely missed out on this book (and The Little Princess). Love, love, love your editions though!

    As for Mansfield Park, I feel the same way, it took me ages to start liking the story (and it was such a slow read!), but Fanny did prove to be a more interesting heroine than I had previously imagined. Persuasion and Northanger Abbey still rank higher in my esteem.

  10. I hated Jane Austen until I read "Mansfield Park". It had some coziness that kept me turning the pages even late at night. My next Austen try is "Emma".

  11. My reading has been sloowwww, but I thoroughly enjoyed this post and I'm thinking of picking up A Little Princess. I've had it for years and have loved the movie version. :D

  12. It's good to hear that Black Beauty withheld the test of time. Revisiting an old classic can be a scary proposition. I have not read Mansfield Park. I feel like I should after your review.