Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White

originalCharlotte’s Web by E. B. White
Publisher/Year: Dell Publishing Co., Inc./1969 (Dell Yearling)
Format: Paperback
Pages: 184
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟





This is the story of a little girl named Fern who loved a little pig named Wilbur–and of Wilbur’s dear friend Charlotte A. Cavatica, a beautiful large grey spider who lived with Wilbur in the barn. With the help of Templeton, the rat who never did anything for anybody unless there was something in it for him, and by a wonderfully clever plan of her own, Charlotte saved the life of Wilbur, who by this time had grown up to be quite a pig.


What I thought

What is there to say about this wonderful book that hasn’t been said?

It’s absolutely a children’s classic, and I’m one of the fortunate ones who first encountered this book as a child. I remember very vividly my first elementary school library, just a small trailer that sat outside the school. And I remember that this book was hard to find because it was ALWAYS checked out.

Thankfully, I’m an adult now, and I have my own copy of this book that I hope to pass down to my kids someday. I’ve had this book on my “currently-reading” shelf for about a month now. I could have absolutely finished it in a day, but I love it so much that I wanted to stretch it out by reading just a couple pages each night before bed.

For as sad as this ending is (I definitely cried over this as a kid), this book just fills me with so much joy. I have always had a soft spot for animals, and especially animal stories, so this is right up my alley. It hearkens to a simpler time, both in the story & in my own life.

Besides nostalgia, I think everyone can agree that the best part of this book is the sweet friendship between Wilbur & Charlotte. It teaches what it means to truly be someone’s friend.

I also really loved E. B. White’s writing, and I’m a fan of many of his books. His writing is simple, but intelligent & evocative. It begs to be read aloud. I personally loved how White wrote about nature & the changing of seasons & how precious life is.

Overall, I could go on & on about this little book, but seriously, just go read it. It is the one & ONLY time you’ll ever hear me speak fondly of a spider. With an unforgettable cast of characters and a dear friendship that will bring tears to your eyes, Charlotte’s Web is a children’s classic that is not to be missed!

Keepsake by Kristina Riggle

13005984Keepsake by Kristina Riggle
Publisher/Year: William Morrow, 2012
Format: Paperback
Pages: 368
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟





From the critically acclaimed author of Real Life & Liars and Things We Didn’t Say comes a timely and provocative novel that asks: What happens when the things we own become more important than the people we love?

Trish isn’t perfect. She’s divorced and raising two kids–so of course her house isn’t pristine. But she’s got all the important things right and she’s convinced herself that she has it all under control. That is, until the day her youngest son gets hurt and Child Protective Services comes calling. It’s at that moment when Trish is forced to consider the one thing she’s always hoped wasn’t true: that she’s living out her mother’s life as a compulsive hoarder.

The last person Trish ever wanted to turn to for help is her sister, Mary–meticulous, perfect Mary, whose house is always spotless…and who moved away from their mother to live somewhere else, just like Trish’s oldest child has. But now, working together to get Trish’s disaster of a home into livable shape, two very different sisters are about to uncover more than just piles of junk, as years of secrets, resentments, obsessions, and pain are finally brought into the light.

What I thought

Even though I ultimately enjoyed this one, I have to say–this book stressed me out!

Hoarding doesn’t affect me personally, but I found this to be a very fascinating and informative account of this disorder. With that being said, much like what happens when I watch the show, when I read this, I just wanted to go through my home and throw everything away. I think part of what interests me so much about hoarding is that I can’t wrap my head around it–it’s so hard for me to understand. I think that is part of where Riggle excels with this book. She takes an inaccessible topic and makes it understandable through the perspective of her characters.

Where I struggled with this book was with the characters, which was unusual for me. I get the whole “making a character unlikeable makes them seem more realistic” thing, but this time, it was hard for me to swallow. Mary had her own set of problems, but I found myself more sympathetic towards her. I just really could not stand Trish. Riggle tries, through various reveals, to get the reader to understand her. And I do…on some level. But I still do not get why she was so nasty, so defensive and such a woe-is-me-everyone-gangs-up-on-me kind of martyr. I also REALLY disliked her influence on Jack and how she was seemingly unaffected by the fact that she was turning him into a little hoarder.

Overall, I really did enjoy this read. I don’t think it’s something I would re-read, but if you are at all interested in hoarding and are looking for a family drama, this one is for you. The ending was tied up a little neatly, but I think this was a great look at a psychological disorder & an emotionally-investing look into a family with its own problems but that ultimately pulls together in the face of adversity.

The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland


The Owl Killers by Karen Maitland 
Publisher/Year: Delacorte Press, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Pages: 509
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟





From the author of Company of Liars, hailed as “a jewel of a medieval mystery” (The New York Times) and “an atmospheric tale of treachery and magic” (Marie Claire), comes a magnificent new novel of an embattled village and a group of courageous women who are set on a collision course–in an unforgettable storm of secrets, lust, and rage.

England, 1321. The tiny village of Ulewic teeters between survival and destruction, faith and doubt, God and demons. For shadowing the villagers’ lives are men cloaked in masks and secrecy, ruling with violence, intimidation, and terrifying fiery rites: the Owl Masters.

But another force is touching Ulewic–a newly formed community built and served only by women. Called a beguinage, it is a safe harbor of service and faith in defiance of the all-powerful Church.

Behind the walls of this sanctuary, women have gathered from all walks of life: a skilled physician, a towering former prostitute, a cook, a local convert. But life in Ulewic is growing more dangerous with each passing day. The women are the subject of rumors, envy, scorn, and fury…until the daughter of Ulewic’s most powerful man is cast out of her home and accepted into the beguinage–and battle lines are drawn.

Into this drama are swept innocents and conspirators, a parish priest trying to save himself from his own sins…a village teenager, pregnant and terrified…a woman once on the verge of sainthood, now cast out of the Church…With Ulewic ravaged by flood and disease, and with villagers driven by fear, a secret inside the beguinage will draw the desperate and the depraved–until masks are dropped, faith is tested…and every lie is exposed.



What I thought

THIS BOOK, you guys.

I know I keep saying that, but seriously, I cannot gush enough about this book. It has been a while since I have completely fallen in love with a book like I did with The Owl Killers. And that’s saying something because this book was DARK.

This was my work read of the moment, but despite reading this in an office breakroom, I gasped, I laughed, I fumed, I cried. A GOOD book (to me, anyway) is one that gets me to feel, to react. Let me tell you, The Owl Killers fit the bill.

And not only that, but it is very evident that Karen Maitland did her research, which is something that I very much appreciate when it comes to historical fiction. I was transported from my dreary office to the Dark Ages (although, thankfully, I don’t mean that literally). Even down to the characters’ mindsets & world views, everything felt accurate, which I loved.

I know everyone isn’t a fan of multiple points-of-view stories, but I thought it worked exceptionally well here, and I found it so fascinating. You read from one person’s point-of-view and hear their thoughts, and then you see how someone else perceives things, including that other person. I just thought Maitland handled that very well & created a cast of characters I loved (and loved to hate).

I know I will be thinking of this book for some time to come. It has made my list of favorites & I will be eager to check out Maitland’s other books. The Owl Killers is going to be one of my go-to recommendations for outstanding historical fiction. If you are interested in reading about the Dark Ages, you NEED to read this if you haven’t already.