In the Bookcase


Back to the Classics 2017: My Final 12

Well... I love classic literature. I try to dig a little deeper, branch out just a smidge more each year, dipping my toes in those beautiful masterpieces of amazing words.

In 2017 I finally banded up with like-minded peoples, and joined the Back to the Classics challenge, where I had to read 12 classics that fit into the appointed 12 categories. What excitement that was for me!

This is a look back at the 12 books I chose to read for the challenge.
All titles are linked back to my reviews. Please, feel welcome to comment on any of them. I love chatting about old books.

.......... Karen, (if by any chance you need it!) my email address is in the sidebar, under my profile photo. Thanks! >>>

And here's the list!

19th Century Classic: Journey to the Center of the Earth

20th Century Classic: The Thin Man

Classic by a Woman Author: To Live Again

Classic in Translation: The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Pre-1800 Classic: Beauty and the Beast

Romance Classic: My Cousin Rachel

Gothic or Horror Classic: Frankenstein

Classic With a Number in the Title: Three Men On The Bummel

Classic About an Animal: National Velvet

Classic Set In a Place You'd Like to Visit: The Return of Sherlock Holmes

Award-Winning Classic: Invincible Louisa

Russian Classic: The Double


COYER Switch: The List


From December 16 to January 12, I'm participating in COYER Switch: The List.

So I have to come up with a list of 30 books that I might like to read during the challenge, and try to stick to these particular titles. No, I'm not saying I'm going to finish all of these, but it's the list of titles I'll be selecting my books from for the next 4 weeks. Here we go!

  1. Noelle by Greg Kincaid
  2. 12 Days at Bleakly Manor by Michelle Griep
  3. Jingle by Gordon Korman
  4. The Man Who Invented Christmas by Les Standiford
  5. A Boy Called Christmas by Matt Haig
  6. Mystery in White by J. Jefferson Farjeon
  7. Silent Night by Stanley Weintraub
  8. Christmas Carol Murder by Leslie Meier
  9. Paper Angels by Jimmy Wayne
  10. The Christmas Train by David Baldacci
  11. Pat of Silver Bush by L.M. Montgomery
  12. Short Stories, 1902-1903 by L.M. Montgomery
  13. Maud by Melanie Fishbane
  14. Village School by Miss Read
  15. Artie Conan Doyle and the Gravediggers' Club by Robert J. Harris
  16. The Fall of the Amazing Zalindas by Tracy Mack
  17. Ghosts of the Titanic by Julie Lawson
  18. Cherry Ames, Senior Nurse by Helen Wells
  19. Capital Gaines by Chip Gaines
  20. Blood in the Water by C. Alexander London
  21. The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie
  22. The Falcon at the Portal by Elizabeth Peters
  23. Return of the Mummy by R.L. Stine
  24. Revenge of the Lawn Gnomes by R.L. Stine
  25. How to Cheat a Dragon's Curse by Cressida Cowell
  26. The Secret of Red Gate Farm by Carolyn Keene
  27. The Patchwork Girl of Oz by L. Frank Baum
  28. Mission Hurricane by Jenny Goebel
  29. Horse Fever by Bonnie Bryant
  30. Where Bugles Call by Lee Roddy


2 Short Story Reviews: Home for Christmas & A Perfectly Imperfect Christmas

A Literary Christmas: 2017 Reading Challenge //

I have TWO short stories I want to share with you today.

I hope you check them out --

First up is a story for young readers or families to enjoy...

Home for Christmas by Rebekah A. Morris (4 star review)

Home for Christmas
Christmas Collection

written by Rebekah A. Morris

70 pages // published in 2017 // Christian children's fiction


Feeling that life is unfair when her father is killed in the front lines of France and she has to live with her relatives on a western farm, twelve-year-old Susanna Stanson runs away to the city. She decides that all will be well when she reaches her old home, but a severe snowstorm interrupts her trip.

My Review

4 Star Rating

Twelve-year-old Susanna Stanson is feeling out of place, miserable, and whether she knows it or not, is grieving. Now orphaned, she's been sent to the Rocky Mountains to her aunt and uncle's house to stay. She's not happy with her circumstances at all. And right before Christmas, she decides that she's going back to the city, alone...

“Deep in her heart she knew the truth. She was not shut out but had chosen to ignore what was offered to her.”

The story obviously takes place during the hard years of World War I, since her father was sent to France, where he died fighting. Being out in the country with extended family, away from the city life she's used to, life is much more slow-paced. (It was like being transported to the setting of Little House on the Prairie – a bit.) Except Susanna finds this kind of life very disagreeable... at least, until God sends a snowstorm her way.

Perfect for a read-aloud Christmas story with the family. I think it took approximately 30 minutes to read myself.

It shares the joy and triumph of Jesus' birth, while illustrating the wonderfulness of forgiveness, and the happiness that one can always find if you look for it.

Available on Amazon in ebook format.

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And now for today's 2nd review...

Teens will especially enjoy it!

A Perfectly Imperfect Christmas by Tessa Emily Hall (5 star review)

A Perfectly Imperfect Christmas
prequel to Purple Moon

written by Tessa Emily Hall

a few pages // published in 2015 // Christian YA


Prequel short story to the YA novel, PURPLE MOON by Tessa Emily Hall (available on Amazon and B&N).

My Review

5 Star Rating

If you enjoy YA fiction, but you haven't read Purple Moon yet, you should.

If you have read Purple Moon, but you haven't read its accompanying prequel, you should. It's a free read online, and only takes about ten minutes or so to read. So why not?

Now, Purple Moon dealt with some gritty topics, like underage drinking, smoking, and other adult situations. Like I said in my review for the novel, I felt like these kind of situations were presented with great tact.

In this prequel, we meet 16-year-old Selena Taylor before her mom has gone to rehab for her alcoholic ways. And it's Christmastime. So it's not the happiest or most thrilling holiday that Selena has ever enjoyed – but she's trying to make the best of it.

Yes, it was great to see a peek into what Selena's life was like in Brooklyn, before we met her in North Carolina, staying at her cousin's house. Her overall story (as found in Purple Moon) is all about redemption. Through this short read, we see what she had to rise from, and her story becomes more powerful.

Now I'm all set for when the novel sequel to Purple Moon comes out next year!

Available on Wattpad as a FREE story.

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Want to participate in A Literary Christmas?

Link to your sign-up posts & reviews!


Book Review: The Return of Sherlock Holmes

The Return of Sherlock Holmes by Arthur Conan Doyle (5 star review)

The Return of Sherlock Holmes

written by Arthur Conan Doyle

474 pages // published in 1905 // Victorian crime


The Return of Sherlock Holmes is a collection of 13 Sherlock Holmes stories, originally published in 1903-1904, by Arthur Conan Doyle. This was the first Holmes collection since 1893, when Holmes had "died" in The Final Problem. Having published The Hound of the Baskervilles in 1901-1902 (although setting it before Holmes' death) Doyle came under intense pressure to revive his famous character. The first story is set in 1894 and has Holmes returning in London and explaining the period from 1891-94, a period called "The Great Hiatus" by Sherlockian enthusiasts.

My Review

5 Star Rating

Sherlock Holmes is back in London after his assumed death back at Reichenbach Falls. It's not long though, and someone is trying to put him six feet under once and for all ('The Adventure of the Empty House')...

Now, I was extremely impressed with the story 'The Adventure of the Norwood Builder', in which forensic fingerprinting is put to the test. Pretty intriguing, and this is where Conan Doyle is really strutting his scientific mind.

'The Adventure of Charles Augustus Milverton' is another that stands out to me... because Sherlock Holmes gets engaged! Oh, what a funny idea! This relationship only comes about due to Holmes' need to milk out information, and of course (to relieve your mind), there is no marriage. Whew! Crisis averted.

And one other story worth mentioning is 'The Adventure of the Second Stain'. I liked it because Holmes shows grace and kindness. Usually he comes off as seemingly callous. He has so logical a mind, it's sometimes hard for him to let soft emotions come through. But he pulls it off in this story.

So, those are some of my favorite moments of The Return of Sherlock Holmes. Most of the stories, it seems, I could breeze through in about 15 minutes or so. Each provided a pleasant mystery to puzzle out.

In the last story, I was very amused that Watson states that Holmes has forbidden him to keep publishing any of the stories – and yet, we know this promise is not forever kept.

Available on Amazon in hardcover, paperback, and ebook format.

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This is book #12 for me in the Back to the Classics 2017 challenge.
[CATEGORY: Set in a Place I'd Like to Visit: LONDON]

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Book Review: To Live Again

To Live Again by Catherine Marshall (5 star review)

To Live Again

written by Catherine Marshall

336 pages // published in 1957 // Christian Biography


Catherine Marshall's world caved in when her husband Peter died in his sleep. Suddenly it appeared as if her own life had ended--as all alone she faced a future seemingly devoid of hope and love. This is her own story of how she emerged triumphant to live again.

My Review

5 Star Rating

I'm so impressed with Catherine Marshall's book To Live Again. There's way more to her and her husband's story than just what appears in the famous book A Man Called Peter. So much more.

There's another whole tale that follows Peter Marshall's death, one of Mrs. Marshall finding herself again after the tragic loss. His story isn't over yet, and neither is hers. She shares more stories of Peter, and their life together. She's shares every emotion she went through after his untimely (or so it may seem) passing at the age of 46. Her memories of grief can be sad or even depressing to some readers who have experienced similar loss, I'm sure. But what Mrs. Marshall shares with us is that there's hope. And hope can grow into unimaginable and amazing things, if God is in it. I even liked how she told of stories of life after death, some supernatural occurrences, and how she connects with Peter, even though he is in heaven.

What I really loved about To Live Again is that she starts telling all about the entire publication process of A Man Called Peter. It's like behind the scenes bonus material on one of my favorite books. How lucky am I to have gotten to read more about the making of that wonderful book that touched the lives of so many? Even I could start to see how his death wasn't the end of his legacy, for his legacy had only just begun.

And then? We get to the part where Mrs. Marshall tells all in relation to the making of the 1955 film based on A Man Called Peter. Even MORE fun, I tell you. She shares all about her hesitancy at accepting the idea of a Hollywood movie... to the screenwriting process... to the final fanfare. For me, it was a lot of fun to read about. (And to that one lady who wrote to Mrs. Marshall saying that Clark Gable would been a good fit to play the titular character in the film, I say no. No, he would not have. Richard Todd filled the role perfectly.)

NOTE to the discerning reader & to parents: One chapter in particular deals with subject matter of the “mature” adult nature. It came out of the blue for me, but the topic was obviously one that bothered Mrs. Marshall during various stages of her grief. For this reason, I have to raise the age level of readers who could enjoy the book to at least high-school age or adult.

Overall? Catherine Marshall has a clear, simple voice in her writing. It's as if she is having a conversation with someone in the same room, instead of through the context of the printed page, decades after the ink has dried. And now I need to both re-read the book A Man Called Peter, and re-watch the movie again.

Highly recommended to read as a sequel to A Man Called Peter. << See my review.

"....our God can handle even the worst that can happen to us as finite human beings. Since Christ is beside us, no troubles that life can bring need cast us adrift. This is knowledge that can release us from lifelong bondage to fear."
-Catherine Marshall, To Live Again (Chapter 1)

Available on Amazon in paperback format.

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This is book #11 for me in the Back to the Classics 2017 challenge.
[CATEGORY: Classic by a Woman Author]

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.