Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables

by L.M. Montgomery

started: February 26, 2018 | finished: March 7, 2018

Let me start off by saying that I was not expecting to love this book as much as I did. When it was chosen as the February read for the Read Women group, I was admittedly disappointed to be reading a kid’s book and saved it for the last minute to read. My god, was I wrong.

For those few who, like myself, passed over this book as a kid—Anne of Green Gables is about a middle-aged brother and sister, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, who decide to adopt a boy to help them with work around their property. By mistake, they receive a girl instead: Anne “with an e” Shirley whose wild imagination, curiosity, and tenacity often get her into trouble. Though the book is mostly focused on Anne’s coming of age in Avonlea, there’s also a lot of focus on Marilla and Matthew as the experiences of parenthood change them for the better.


I was entirely entertained by this book, which was a complete shock to me. Between the characters and the events, there was never really a point where I was bored and the pages went by more quickly than I wanted them to at times. Though it isn’t exactly an action packed story, the events and development of the characters keep you wanting to move forward.


On the surface, there isn’t much of an overarching story to Anne of Green Gables, it’ more of a slice of life story made up of a series of vignettes showing Anne grow up, but, in truth, this is the overarching story. The reader watches as Anne shifts from an untamed orphan girl to an educated teen that everyone in the community respects. Though she does become more subdued in the later chapters of the book, we can see that she is still the same Anne, it’s just that now she has carved herself a place in the world around her.

The primary thing that I love about the story is the fact that there are lessons to be learned through out it, but the reader is never beaten over the head with them nor are they ever preached at. The reader learns the lesson through Anne and by watching her work through the lesson herself and grow from it. It helps, as well, that Anne never deals with anything lightly and every lesson is just as entertaining for the reader as it is helpful for Anne’s development.


The thing I loved most about this book was the treatment of the characters. Every character is flawed in some way and yet they each have their own arcs and developments. I enjoyed Anne as a character thoroughly and, much like Matthew, fell for her from the moment the ride back to Green Gables began. Her imagination and persistence to get through whatever life threw at her won me over entirely. At the same time, I loved Marilla, even if she is a bit too hard on Anne in the beginning, then again, it was exactly what Anne needed as she grew older. Matthew was just wonderfully endearing and I loved the dynamic between him, Marilla, and Anne. Even Anne’s classmates, who don’t have arcs that are nearly as pronounced as Anne, are still three dimensional characters with wants and goals of their own.


Though Montgomery’s writing style isn’t as poetic as I usually like, the words take a back seat to the characters and allow them to breath life into the narrative. Had Anne not been as tenacious, had Marilla not had the same grit, had Matthew not had the same heart, had Anne not had such reverence for the world around her, the book wouldn’t have been half as good as it was. At the same time, the writing was never dry or without wit, but it is the characters that give this book life (as it should be).


If Montgomery’s characters grabbed my attention, her descriptions held it firmly in place. Despite Montgomery never describing anything with poetics, Anne’s ability to view everything around her with such passion amplified the settings and descriptions in a way that poetics weren’t needed.

Overall, the best thing about this book is the fact that it’s well written despite being “for kid’s.” Something that bothers me is the dismal of poorly made entertainment with the excuse of “it’s for kids.” That just shouldn’t be an excuse. Just because something is made for kids shouldn’t be a free to not but the same thought and care into it that you would if it was for adults. Anne of Green Gables never falls into this trap. The book was clearly written with care and intention without being bogged down with being didactic or talking down to the reader. I’m a bit sorry that I never read Anne as a child, I don’t doubt I would have been the better for it, but what am I to do about it.


Photo Prompt #43

Photo Prompt #43 | Paperback Lover Photo Prompt #43 | Paperback Lover Photo Prompt #43 | Paperback LoverSource: Mount Saint Michel

Write what comes to mind. If a story doesn’t come to you, start by writing a description of what you see. Where is this place? Why is this place important? What time of year is it? Who lives here, if anyone does? What is nearby? What isn’t seen in this photograph?

Remember: Even if all you come up with for now is a description, keep it and come back to it later. If your muse is like mine then it most likely enjoys giving you puzzle pieces that need to be fit together over time rather than the whole story all at once. You never know what will connect your pieces together, so don’t trash something just because it doesn’t seem to go anywhere right away.


Word Jar Story Helper #2

Word Jar Story Helper #2 | Paperback Lover

For this story helper, use the three words however you want. Plot points, ideas, objects in the setting, MacGuffins. Whatever your muse dictates.

Remember: Even if what you come up with doesn’t make sense, keep it and come back to it later. If your muse is like mine then it most likely enjoys giving you puzzle pieces that need to be fit together over time rather than the whole story all at once. You never know what will connect your pieces together, so don’t trash something just because it doesn’t seem to go anywhere right away.


Inspiration Dice Prompt #15

Inspiration Dice Prompt #15 | Paperback Lover

Blue = Character
Pink = Character Traits

For this prompt, you’re going to create a character based around these dice rolls. Because the gender/age dice only have “child” and “adult” (which is the only thing I wish I could change about these dice, actually), it’s up to you what that means. Is the child a, well, child (under 10), a preteen (10-12), or a teen (13-18)? Is the adult in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, older, younger, immortal? It’s up to you and what comes to mind. The important thing is that you don’t get bogged down in making sure that you follow whatever the dice say exactly. This is still your story at the end of the day.

Remember: Even if what you come up with doesn’t make sense, keep it and come back to it later. If your muse is like mine then it most likely enjoys giving you puzzle pieces that need to be fit together over time rather than the whole story all at once. You never know what will connect your pieces together, so don’t trash something just because it doesn’t seem to go anywhere right away.


Music Prompt #29


Start by listening. You don’t have to listen all the way through, but do give yourself some time to really listen. Close your eyes, if you’re comfortable doing so, put on your headphones, and listen. Allow yourself to really feel the music and immerse yourself in what you’re hearing. Once you’re ready, start writing.

If you’re having trouble coming up with a story, start by writing a list of words the music makes you think of. Is it calming, energetic, creepy? Does it make you think of a specific place, person, or genre? What type of person can you imagine listening to this kind of music?

Remember: Even if all you come up with for now is a description, keep it and come back to it later. If your muse is like mine then it most likely enjoys giving you puzzle pieces that need to be fit together over time rather than the whole story all at once. You never know what will connect your pieces together, so don’t trash something just because it doesn’t seem to go anywhere right away.


Photo Prompt #42

Photo Prompt #42 | Paperback LoverSource: Thalia Bree

For this prompt, focus on learning who this character is rather than coming up with a story straight off. Consider who this person is? Where are they going? What are they doing? How do you imagine they walk? Talk? Do they have a speech impediment? An accent? Where are they from? Are they local? A tourist? A time traveler? Where is this place? What time of year is it? Who lives here, if anyone does? What is nearby? What isn’t seen in this photograph?

If it helps, here’s an exercise that a professor taught me that is really helpful for character development.
Consider these facts about your character:
– Name & Age
– Where do they live?
– Three (3) personality traits
– Their favorite drink
– Shoes of choice
– One thing they can make with their hands
– The first time they realized they they were bad at something

Remember: Even if all you come up with for now is a description, keep it and come back to it later. If your muse is like mine then it most likely enjoys giving you puzzle pieces that need to be fit together over time rather than the whole story all at once. You never know what will connect your pieces together, so don’t trash something just because it doesn’t seem to go anywhere right away.


Inspiration Dice Story Helper #19

Inspiration Dice Story Helper #19 | Paperback Lover

Yellow = Genre
Red = Plot
Green = Action

Genre: post-apocalypse horror
Use these Story Helpers to build off of what you came from the Monday prompts. Don’t worry about them not matching up. The great thing about your brain is that it will find a way to make something work. Have fun with it, don’t fear what comes. Fear is the root of writer’s block.

Remember: Even if what you come up with doesn’t make sense, keep it and come back to it later. If your muse is like mine then it most likely enjoys giving you puzzle pieces that need to be fit together over time rather than the whole story all at once. You never know what will connect your pieces together, so don’t trash something just because it doesn’t seem to go anywhere right away.


January Update | 2018


My goal for January was just to get back into the routine with sitting down and treating writing like a job. I did pretty well for falling off the wagon over the holidays. I started out this month writing flashback scenes for book two in The Eyes of Texas series. What was supposed to be a few chapters of two, maybe three thousand words each, grew into a lot more than that. Now, I’m on the fence. On the one hand, I’m not sure yet if any of this will be pertinent to the actual story proper, but, on the other hand, I’m learning a lot about these characters that I thought I already knew really well, plus I’m learning more about some parts of the world that I had been pretty vague on and that are going to play a significant role in book two. As of right now, I’m going to keep moving forward with it and see where I end up. I didn’t mark anything off on my writing bingo card, but I wasn’t really expecting to. Like I said, this month was just for getting back into the routine.


 


My reading month was pretty good, I read five books, two by women, a graphic novel, and a book on writing (by Ray Bradbury who is king). That’s the most that I’ve read in a month since…ever, I think. I’ve been using a TBR and a reading notebook which I’m thinking may account for keeping me reading.

5
The Tales of Beedle the Bard by J.K. Rowling ♀ ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
The Sandman Vol. 3 – Dream Country by Neil Gaiman 💀 ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
Zen in the Art of Writing by Ray Bradbury 🖋 ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt ♀ ⭐⭐⭐⭐💫
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum 👁


For the next month, I’m hoping to finish up the flashbacks and move onto the story proper. I’m still floundering about where to start exactly, so, maybe the flashbacks will get some thoughts going. Other than that, I’m planning to just keep doing what I’m doing and see where it gets me.

TBR:
Read Women: Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montomery
Read Women – Read Around the World: Asia, Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China by Jung Chang
💀🗯 The Sandman Vol. 4 – Season of Mists by Neil Gaiman
🔮 Imbolc
👁 Buffalo Girls by Larry McMurtry
👁 Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens


  

  

  

  

  

  


The Goldfinch

by Donna Tartt

started: January 10, 2018 | finished: January 27, 2018

Usually, I would stick pretty close with the book’s own synopsis, however, that might have been this book’s only downfall. The blurb on the inner flap really didn’t match with the inner contents of the book, but I’ll get more into that in a bit.

As for the synopsis—this is a book about grief. You can dress it up however you like, but death, memory, and grief are the key ideas behind this book. After our lead character, 13 year old Theo, loses his mother, he finds himself illegally in the possession of The Goldfinch, a painting by Carel Fabritius depicting a goldfinch who is chained to his perch. Not knowing how to return the painting without getting into trouble, but also not wanting to let go of it, Theo carries it with him as he moves from home to home where he is looked after by people who mean well, but who ultimately can’t give him what he needs to move forward. Through out his childhood and into his early adulthood, this painting is one of the few things that pulls Theo forward and keeps him from being swallowed by his own grief.
 


For the most part, I was consistently entertained by this book. I think the only time that it really lost me was the Amsterdam section, though it wasn’t too bad. I think this might have been because action might not be Tartt’s strong suit. Everything else I enjoyed thoroughly, however, I love slow, quiet books, so, if that’s not what you’re interested in, then you might want to skip this one, because, for the most part, it is slow and it is quiet.


I have very mixed feelings about the story and how it was written. On the one hand, I really did love this story what with my weakness for orphans, dead mothers, and people learning how to live after tragedy. I liked the way that Tartt used the dead mother trope as well as the “evil” stepmother trope. It was also refreshing to see an orphan story where not every single home was abusive. Even though I was taken out of the story a bit with the whole Amsterdam side quest, I do see its purpose in the over all story (kind of) and I was won back over with Theo’s return to New York.

However, like I said earlier, what is promised on the inner flap is very misleading to what is actually delivered. While the inner flap isn’t wrong, it’s just leaving a hell of a lot out. I wouldn’t normally do this, but, in this case, I can’t really think of a better way to explain what I’m trying to say. So, this is the official blurb:

“Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love–and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.”

The first paragraph, leaving out the “ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art” bit, summarizes the first 200 pages. The second paragraph, including the “art underworld” bit, doesn’t come in until page 643, page 529 if I’m being generous. That’s a good 300-400 pages of story that has nothing to do with Theo’s “strange new home on Park Avenue,” “the underworld of art,” or “the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.” While I did enjoy that 300-400 pages, I couldn’t help but feel this underlining hum of tension the whole time I was reading it, wondering when this underworld and danger was going to come into play and that is really unfortunate, because I can’t help but think that it kept me from fully enjoying this book on the first read through. I will most likely read it again at some point, but, like I said, I enjoy those slow, quiet stories and I can see how someone who doesn’t would be really disappointed with this book.

I had read a lot of people saying that the final 50 pages should have been taken out or heavily edited, and, while I don’t agree with 50 pages, I would say the last 10, maybe 20, pages were too philosophical and winded to the point where I started drifting a bit. I would have ended it with Theo and Hobie talking in the kitchen, but, at the same time, I can see what Tartt was aiming for.

I will say this though, I would have absolutely nixed that media-res opening and began with the second section of the first chapter instead. I mean, you can’t really tell me that “While I was still in Amsterdam, I dreamed about my mother for the first time in years” is a better opening line than “Things would have turned out better if she had lived.” Seriously, that second one gives me chills, not to mention it encompasses the overall feel of the story so much better.


Character is clearly one of Tartt’s strengths. There is not a single character in this story who feels lackluster or one dimensional. Even the tertiary characters feel like real people Tartt has run into on the street. If you look at the reviews on goodreads, there is a general consensus that Boris, Theo’s Ukrainian transplant high school friend, is the most interesting character in the book. While I do agree, he is interesting, I had a hard time loving him the way everyone else seems to. Admittedly, this has nothing to do with Tartt’s writing, in fact, it may be a testament to her writing that she so deftly transported me back to high school when I had friends who were very much like Boris: charismatic, likable, and larger than life with a self-destructive streak, a dark home life, and a whirlwind of chaos constantly on their heels. They have big hearts and care about you, but can also be selfish in the way that they believe wholeheartedly that they know better than you and what is best for you. Every time that Boris talked over Theo or changed the subject so as not to tell him everything or refused to listen to what Theo wanted (or needed) in that moment put me right back in that place of being hushed because “I know what’s good for you.” It also made me frustrated at Theo for falling into Boris’ spell, despite knowing that it’s an easy spell to fall under. I enjoy reading about Boris, but, if I met him in person, I would absolutely keep him at arm’s length.

And that brings me to Theo’s character, I was so constantly frustrated with Theo and his refusal to speak up or tell the people in his life what he wanted or needed. This sounds like a negative, but the truth is, in literary fiction, this is, in my opinion, a good thing. With literary stories, there is rarely an external antagonist. Often times, the protagonist is their own antagonist, standing in their own way and keeping them from being the best that they can be. This is what I love about literary fiction and is one of my criteria for categorizing a book as such. Though, there is a case for Theo never actually conquering his inner antagonist, but sometimes that’s just how life works.

If I had to say who was the best character in the book, I would honestly say Hobie. I loved him and wanted so much more of him. But, I also have a weakness for giant teddy bears who live so much in their own heads that they sometimes miss out on what’s going on around them or try their absolute damnedest to see the absolute best in those around them.


Tartt has a beautiful and fluid writing style that I absolutely adore and admire. Though, at 771 pages, this is a doorstop of a book, there was never a point where I was counting the pages except to decide where I absolutely had to stop if I didn’t want to find myself two hours later still reading and having never gotten up to eat or work or sleep. There’s a level of nihilism to her writing that works with this story. Granted, this is the first of her books that I’ve read, so I don’t know if that’s just her writing style or if it’s Theo’s. On that note, I didn’t feel like the whole fictional-character-penning-his-own-memoir trope had a whole lot of pay off here. I can see what Tartt was going for, but I don’t think it landed all that well. It didn’t, however, ruin the writing for me.


The descriptions were also superb. Having never been to New York or Amsterdam, I saw it all. Tartt has a way of describing with intention. Each description is attached to a feeling or a memory which makes each item or place much more meaningful and tactile in the viewing of Theo’s world.


(rounded down for goodreads)

In the end, I really did enjoy this book. I could have done without the first and final sections, but everything in between was great, even if I wasn’t properly prepared for it. I definitely think The Goldfinch deserves a reread, maybe even a purchase so it can sit on my shelf next to White Oleander, the other book that makes me feel like a monster for loving so much.


Music Prompt #28


Start by listening. You don’t have to listen all the way through, but do give yourself some time to really listen. Close your eyes, if you’re comfortable doing so, put on your headphones, and listen. Allow yourself to really feel the music and immerse yourself in what you’re hearing. Once you’re ready, start writing.

If you’re having trouble coming up with a story, start by writing a list of words the music makes you think of. Is it calming, energetic, creepy? Does it make you think of a specific place, person, or genre? What type of person can you imagine listening to this kind of music?

Remember: Even if all you come up with for now is a description, keep it and come back to it later. If your muse is like mine then it most likely enjoys giving you puzzle pieces that need to be fit together over time rather than the whole story all at once. You never know what will connect your pieces together, so don’t trash something just because it doesn’t seem to go anywhere right away.