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Title: Plague
Author: Michael Grant
Genre: Dystopian
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 576
Date read: May, 2011

It's been eight months since all the adults disappeared. Gone.

They've survived hunger. They've survived lies. But the stakes keep rising, and the dystopian horror keeps building. Yet despite the simmering unrest left behind by so many battles, power struggles, and angry divides, there is a momentary calm in Perdido Beach.

But enemies in the FAYZ don't just fade away, and in the quiet, deadly things are stirring, mutating, and finding their way free. The Darkness has found its way into the mind of its Nemesis at last and is controlling it through a haze of delirium and confusion. A highly contagious, fatal illness spreads at an alarming rate. Sinister, predatory insects terrorize Perdido Beach. And Sam, Astrid, Diana, and Caine are plagued by a growing doubt that they'll escape - or even survive - life in the FAYZ. With so much turmoil surrounding them, what desperate choices will they make when it comes to saving themselves and those they love?

"Gone" is a fascinating series, but I think I'm just about ready for it to finish. By that I don't mean that the individual books are getting boring, but that it's starting to seem like a never-ending story, and while I know that Michael Grant has only planned two more books in the series, I still worry that it'll be left with either an open or an unsatisfying ending.

The advantage of knowing there are still two more books to go is that I no longer expected any real resolution in "Plague", so I was able to enjoy it despite that. And it did have some very interesting developments - the return of Caine, the discovery of Toto and the fate of Little Pete. I'm getting really annoyed with Drake though. There's no depth to him, nor any character development. He's just evil for the sake of being evil, and that's not interesting to read about. Hopefully, between the two of them, Caine and Sam will be able to take care of him.
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Title: The Passage
Author: Justin Cronin
Genre: Dystopian, paranormal, horror
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 963
Date read: May, 2011

First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear - of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.

As civilization swiftly crumbles into a primal landscape of predators and prey, two people flee in search of sanctuary. FBI agent Brad Wolgast is a good man haunted by what he's done in the line of duty. Six-year-old orphan Amy Harper Bellafonte is a refugee from the doomed scientific project that has triggered apocalypse. He is determined to protect her from the horror set loose by her captors. But for Amy, escaping the bloody fallout is only the beginning of a much longer odyssey - spanning miles and decades - towards the time and place where she must finish what should never have begun.

Really, really fascinating book. And a somewhat unusual book as well, in that it completely changed focus/style about half way through. The first half was about the creation of the disaster, the second half about the aftermath - almost 100 years later! I'm used to books being either one or the other, so it was a bit of a mental shift to have to make. It somehow seemed a bit like a mix of "The Stand" by Stephen King and "The Forest of Hands and Teeth" by Carrie Ryan.

It's a long book, but 'deserved' its length, in that it didn't seem drawn out at any time. The writing was tight and the characters believable. I loved Amy and Wolgast, but somehow didn't get as attached to any from the colony - except Auntie, but then I've always loved wise, old women ;)

The only thing I was really annoyed about was the very last paragraph. Seemed a bit like a cop-out, but I guess Justin Cronin was just setting the stage for book 2 in the series - which I'll definitely want to read.
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Title: Hate List
Author: Jennifer Brown
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 405
Date read: May, 2011

Five months ago, Valerie Leftman's boyfriend, Nick, opened fire on their school cafeteria. Shot trying to stop him, Valerie inadvertently saved the life of a classmate, but was implicated in the shootings because of the list she helped create. A list of people and things she and Nick hated. The list he used to pick his targets.

Now, after a summer of seclusion, Val is forced to confront her guilt as she returns to school to complete her senior year. Haunted by the memory of the boyfriend she still loves and navigating rocky relationships with her family, former friends and the girl whose life she saved, Val must come to grips with the tragedy that took place and her role in it, in order to make amends and move on with her life.

This is one of the best books I've read in a very, very long time... but it is a different kind of good from most books I read. It's powerful, it's thought-provoking, it's poignant, it's desperately sad, it's hopeful.

Hate List is the story of what takes place after a school shooting - of the year that follows that event and how people try - or don't try - to move on. How people blame each other and themselves, and how Valerie - girlfriend of the shooter - comes to terms with who she is, and how much of the blame for the shooting she really should take.

It's an amazingly well-written and complex book that dives into the psychology of all the victims of such an event. While relatively short, it's in no way a quick read, as it's so emotionally loaded that I had to take my time with it.

A griping read.
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Title: Rose
Author: Holly Webb
Genre: Fantasy, YA
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 262
Date read: May, 2011

Rose is an orphan, who has lived at St Bridget's Home for Abandoned Girls for as long as she can remember. One afternoon, a thin woman in a smart black coat comes to the orphanage looking for a maid-of-all-work, and chooses Rose. Rose is delighted. Miss Bridges looks stern, but she is surprisingly pleasant as they walk to Rose's new home -- a tall, thin town house in a smart square.

When she's inside and being shown her small attic bedroom, Rose realises that the house is drenched in magic! Rose knows this because she has a certain amount of magic herself. She can tell thrilling stories that transform themselves into pictures on shiny surfaces as she speaks, and she rescues her alchemist master's apprentice from a mist-creature he has mistakenly conjured up. It is this magic that she will call upon in times of dire need, for children are going missing across the town, and none of them show any signs of returning.

Very charming YA. I loved the characters, the universe and the story, and will definitely be keeping my eye out for the rest of the series. I liked the way magic was used, and hope we get to hear more about Rose's history in the later books.

A quick read and a sweet, feel-good story.
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Title: The Knitting Circle
Author: Ann Hood
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 344
Date read: May, 2011

After the sudden loss of her only child, Stella, Mary Baxter joins a knitting circle in Providence, Rhode Island, as a way to fill the empty hours and lonely days, not knowing that it will change her life. Alice, Scarlet, Lulu, Beth, Harriet, and Ellen welcome Mary into their circle despite her reluctance to open her heart to them. Each woman teaches Mary a new knitting technique, and, as they do, they reveal to her their own personal stories of loss, love, and hope. Eventually, through the hours they spend knitting and talking together, Mary is finally able to tell her own story of grief, and in so doing reclaims her love for her husband, faces the hard truths about her relationship with her mother, and finds the spark of life again.

An Amazon recommendation - sometimes they're just spot on!

A beautiful and poignant book about working your way through grief with the help of both friends and near-strangers. I liked the idea of a knitting therapy group, even if I was somewhat appalled that nobody pushed Mary to get some 'real' counselling.

Just like other books about knitting clubs, it made me want to join one myself ;)
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Title: Rainbow Valley
Author: L.M. Montgomery
Genre: Classic
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 225
Date read: May, 2011

Anne Shirley is grown up, has married her beloved Gilbert and now is the mother of six mischievous children.

These boys and girls discover a special place all their own, but they never dream of what will happen when the strangest family moves into an old nearby mansion. The Meredith clan is two boys and two girls, with minister father but no mother -- and a runaway girl named Mary Vance. Soon the Meredith kids join Anne's children in their private hideout to carry out their plans to save Mary from the orphanage, to help the lonely minister find happiness, and to keep a pet rooster from the soup pot. There's always an adventure brewing in the sun-dappled world of Rainbow Valley.

I think it's a bit of a misnomer to call this an "Anne"-book. She plays a very small part in it, and her kids only a tiny bit bigger. Instead, the main characters are the Meredith-children. It's still a charming book, and I still hugely enjoyed it - but I did miss Anne.

Having read LMM's journals, I find it interesting that LMM seems to portray love in a somewhat more cynical light in her later books - as shown by the promise of Ellen and Rosemary West here.
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Title: No One Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog
Author: Margaret Mason
Genre: Non-fiction
Rating: 2/5
# pages: 144
Date read: May 2011

Tired of filling up your blog with boring posts? Take the next step and get inspired to create something unique. Author Margaret Mason shows you the way with this fun collection of inspirational ideas for your blog. Nobody Cares What You Had for Lunch: 100 Ideas for Your Blog is a unique idea-book for bloggers seeking fun, creative inspiration. Margaret gives writers the prompts they need to describe, imagine, investigate and generate clever posts.
Sample ideas include:
  • Writing a serial novel
  • Conducting unnecessary experiments
  • Creating your autobiography
  • Public eavesdropping


I'm always on the look-out for new blogging ideas, so was very intrigued when I read the title. Unfortunately, the book itself couldn't live up to my hopes, as it's really not very interesting. It's obviously aimed at new bloggers, as most of the author's ideas are well-known in the blogging community and not considered either spectacular or ground-breaking. And if it is aimed at new bloggers, most of the ideas are too meme'ish to interest a larger crowd.
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Title: Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day
Author: Winifred Watson
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 4/5
# pages: Audiobook ~9hrs
Date read: May, 2011

Miss Pettigrew, an approaching-middle-age governess, was accustomed to a household of unruly English children. When her employment agency sends her to the wrong address, her life takes an unexpected turn. The alluring nightclub singer, Delysia LaFosse, becomes her new employer, and Miss Pettigrew encounters a kind of glamour that she had only met before at the movies. Over the course of a single day, both women are changed forever.

I only heard about this recently, so had somehow managed to trick myself into believing that it had only been written recently as well. Knowing that it was originally written in 1938 actually puts quite a different spin on it - for the better. I had wondered how historically accurate it was, but knowing that it was written at about the same time as it's supposed to take place would indicate that it is.

It's a charming story, if perhaps somewhat unbelievable that so many things could happen to a person in just one day. Made for a very entertaining listen though.
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Title: The Last Olympian
Author: Rick Riordan
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 3.5/5
# pages: 381 pages
Date read: May, 2011

All year the half-bloods have been preparing for battle against the Titans, knowing the odds of a victory are grim. Kronos's army is stronger than ever, and with every god and half-blood he recruits, the evil Titan's power only grows.

While the Olympians struggle to contain the rampaging monster Typhon, Kronos begins his advance on New York City, where Mount Olympus stands virtually unguarded. Now it's up to Percy Jackson and an army of young demigods to stop the Lord of Time.

I'm very conflicted in what I think of this book. Parts of it I like, parts of it I didn't care much about at all, and it annoyed me that I didn't care about it, because it's obvious that I'm supposed to.

This series is constantly being compared to Harry Potter. Okay, I can see that, but that means that I automatically compared the big fight scene in "The Last Olympian" to the big fight scene in "Deathly Hallows"... and unfortunately it fell down flat in the comparison. This is where the series really suffer from Rick Riordan not doing enough character building in the previous books... apart from the 3-5 main characters, I really didn't care who lived or died. The deaths meant nothing to me, because the characters meant nothing to me.

Also, I didn't find the relationship between Percy and Annabeth believable. There was no chemistry between them at all, and seemed tacked on because Riordan figured, "Oops! Better add a love interest!" There is one small glimmer of a spark in an earlier book, but apart from that it was completely "tell, don't show".

So those two aspects were hugely disappointing, but fortunately not enough to completely ruin the book for me. I thought the fight scenes well written, I liked Percy's mother and Paul, I liked Rachel, and I loved the final resolution with the gods :)

So all in all it gets 3.5 from me.
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Title: Dismantled
Author: Jennifer McMahon
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 2/5
# pages: 432
Date read: May, 2011

Dismantlement = Freedom

Henry, Tess, Winnie, and Suz banded together in college to form a group they called the Compassionate Dismantlers. Following the first rule of their manifesto - "To understand the nature of a thing, it must be taken apart" - these daring misfits spend the summer after graduation in a remote cabin in the Vermont woods committing acts of meaningful vandalism and plotting elaborate, often dangerous, pranks. But everything changes when one particularly twisted experiment ends in Suz's death and the others decide to cover it up.

Nearly a decade later, Henry and Tess are living just an hour's drive from the old cabin. Each is desperate to move on from the summer of the Dismantlers, but their guilt isn't ready to let them go. When a victim of their past pranks commits suicide - apparently triggered by a mysterious Dismantler-style postcard—it sets off a chain of eerie events that threatens to engulf Henry, Tess, and their inquisitive nine-year-old daughter, Emma.

This is one of those weird books that I couldn't put down, but didn't actually like much. It was well written, but decidedly unpleasant. More importantly, I didn't see the point of it. It seemed like the author had gone, "Right, let's see how much trouble we can get this family into - just because I can!"

I guess I should have read the writing on the wall when the first chapter involved a suicide (something I have very strong feelings against), and just stopped there, but the back sounded interesting, and I'd been wanting to read it for years. Just a shame that the library didn't have it, so I actually ended up spending money on it.
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Title: Beastly
Author: Alex Flinn
Genre: Fantasy
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 336
Date read: May, 2011

"I am a beast. A beast! Not quite wolf or bear, gorilla or dog but a horrible new creature who walks upright. I am a monster.

You think I'm talking fairy tales? No way. The place is New York City. The time is now. It's no deformity, no disease. And I'll,stay this way forever - ruined - unless I can break the spell.

Yes, the spell, the one the witch in my English class cast on me. Why did she turn me into a beast who hides by day and prowls by night? I'll tell you. I'll tell you how I used to be Kyle Kingsbury, the guy you wished you were, with money, perfect looks, and the perfect life. And then, I'll tell you how I became perfectly... beastly."

A modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast told from the beast's point of view. As such, I knew the story before I even opened the book, and there was no surprise ending, but honestly? That didn't matter one bit. Alex Flinn wrote an extremely charming story where one was in turns exasperated with and endeared by 'the beast'.

I highly recommend it.
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Title: Anne of Green Gables
Author: Lucy Maud Montgomery
Genre: Classic
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 303
Date read: Apr 2006, May 2011

When Marilla Cuthbert's brother, Matthew, returns home to Green Gables with a chatty redheaded orphan girl, Marilla exclaims, "But we asked for a boy. We have no use for a girl." It's not long, though, before the Cuthberts can't imagine how they could ever do without young Anne of Green Gables--but not for the original reasons they sought an orphan. Somewhere between the time Anne "confesses" to losing Marilla's amethyst pin (which she never took) in hopes of being allowed to go to a picnic, and when Anne accidentally dyes her hated carrot-red hair green, Marilla says to Matthew, "One thing's for certain, no house that Anne's in will ever be dull."

I don't know how it's possible, but I keep forgetting from read to read just how much I LOVE this book! It's charming, it's touching, it's funny, it's poignant - it's everything I want in a book. I can't believe I haven't read it in 5 years! But I recently watched the first Sullivan Anne movie, was utterly charmed by it, and knew I was due for a reread of the series.

I love how LMM allows the characters to grow. Mostly Anne, of course, but honestly I think it's even more apparent in Marilla, and it pleases me more with every reread. LMM really has a way with words, and there are so many favourite quotes in this book - sure, I know most of them by heart, but that just means it's like revisiting an old friend.

I can't help but wonder if Anne and Diana would have been as good friends if Anne had had other options. Kindred Spirits though she might claim, they don't seem to have all that much in common. I know that it's absolutely necessary in a friendship, but it just got me thinking.
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Title: Anne's House of Dreams
Author: Lucy Maud Montgomery
Genre: Classics
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 227
Date read: May 2006, May 2011


Summary: Anne's own true love, Gilbert Blythe, is finally a doctor, and in the sunshine of the old orchard, among their dearest friends, they are about to speak their vows. Soon the happy couple will be bound for a new life together and their own dream house, on the misty purple shores of Four Winds Harbor.

A new life means fresh problems to solve, fresh surprises. Anne and Gilbert will make new friends and meet their neighbors: Captain Jim, the lighthouse attendant, with his sad stories of the sea; Miss Cornelia Bryant, the lady who speaks from the heart -- and speaks her mind; and the tragically beautiful Leslie Moore, into whose dark life Anne shines a brilliant light.

Review: I have very mixed feelings about AHoD. It's a gorgeous book, but it no longer (like the later ones) feels like an 'Anne' book. It's still LMM at her best, but it doesn't have quite the charm of the first 4. That's not to say I don't love it - especially the story line about Leslie and Owen. And Captain Jim and Miss. Cornelia are wonderful characters.

Book List
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Title: Anne of Windy Willows (Poplars)
Author: Lucy Maud Montgomery
Genre: Classics
Rating: 4.5/5
# pages: 258
Date read: May 2006, May 2011


Anne Shirley has left Redmond College behind to begin a new job and a new chapter of her life away from Green Gables. Now she faces a new challenge: the Pringles. They're known as the royal family of Summerside - and they quickly let Anne know she is not the person they had wanted as principal of Summerside High School. But as she settles into the cozy tower room at Windy Poplars, Anne finds she has great allies in the widows Aunt Kate and Aunt Chatty - and in their irrepressible housekeeper, Rebecca Dew. As Anne learns Summerside's strangest secrets, winning the support of the prickly Pringles becomes only the first of her triumphs.

The 4th Anne book has two different titles depending on whether you get the British or the American version (apparently the American publisher feared people would confuse "Windy Willows" with "Wind in the Willows"). LMM herself wanted to call it AoWW, so that's what I consider the 'proper' title myself. Also, I've been told that AoWP is abridged compared to AoWW, but I haven't checked myself.

Many people find AoWW the weakest of the Anne books, because we hear so little about the characters of the other books. I'm not among them though. I love reading books made up of letters, so this is one of my favourites. The last star was removed solely because there were some of the plotlines/characters I didn't care about at all (e.g. Gerald and Geraldine... or whatever their names were ;) ).
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Title: Anne of the Island
Author: Lucy Maud Montgomery
Genre: Classics
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 243
Date read: May 2006, March 2010, May 2011


New adventures lie ahead as Anne Shirley packs her bags, waves good-bye to childhood, and heads for Redmond College. With old friend Prissy Grant waiting in the bustling city of Kingsport and frivolous new pal Philippa Gordon at her side, Anne tucks her memories of rural Avonlea away and discovers life on her own terms, filled with surprises...including a marriage proposal from the worst fellow imaginable, the sale of her very first story, and a tragedy that teaches her a painful lesson. But tears turn to laughter when Anne and her friends move into an old cottage and an ornery black cat steals her heart. Little does Anne know that handsome Gilbert Blythe wants to win her heart, too. Suddenly Anne must decide if she's ready for love...

This is probably my favourite Anne book, although it's difficult to say as they're all good :) I love reading about her life at Patty's Place, and Redmond. Also, I think the Roy-issue is very well written and a very atypical inclusion in this type of book - although I am glad she ended up with Gilbert after all!
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Title: Anne of Avonlea
Author: Lucy Maud Montgomery
Genre: Classics
Rating: 4/5
# pages: 276
Date read: May 2006, May 2011


At sixteen Anne is grown up. . . almost. Her gray eyes shine like evening stars, but her red hair is still as peppery as her temper. In the years since she arrived at Green Gables as a freckle-faced orphan, she has earned the love of the people of Avonlea and a reputation for getting into scrapes. But when Anne begins her job as the new schoolteacher, the real test of her character begins. Along with teaching the three Rs, she is learning how complicated life can be when she meddles in someone else's romance, finds two new orphans at Green Gables, and wonders about the strange behavior of the very handsome Gilbert Blythe. As Anne enters womanhood, her adventures touch the heart and the funny bone.

Definitely comfort reading, but for that the Anne books are the best :) They're perfect to turn to when I feel blue. This one is not quite as good as its predecessor - it did occasionally feel more like a bunch of short stories tied together with a common thread, than a novel in its own right - but it's still a charming story.
goodreads: (Peanut: Book geek)
Title: The Time-Traveler's Wife
Author: Audrey Niffenegger
Genre: Fiction
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 518
Date read: June 2006, May 2011, May 2015

The Time Traveler's Wife, is the story of Clare, a beautiful art student, and Henry, an adventuresome librarian, who have known each other since Clare was six and Henry was thirty-six, and were married when Clare was twenty-three and Henry thirty-one. Impossible but true, because Henry finds himself periodically displaced in time, pulled to moments of emotional gravity from his life, past and future. His disappearances are spontaneous, his experiences unpredictable, alternately harrowing and amusing.

The Time Traveler's Wife depicts the effects of time travel on Henry and Clare's marriage and their passionate love for each other, as the story unfolds from both points of view. Clare and Henry attempt to live normal lives, pursuing familiar goals -- steady jobs, good friends, children of their own. All of this is threatened by something they can neither prevent nor control, making their story intensely moving and entirely unforgettable.

I love the idea of this book and am amazed by how well Audrey Niffenegger pulled it off. It's an extremely interesting book - well written, with almost all loose threads tied up as we go along, and no inconsistencies that I could find at least. It's a sad book, but a brilliant book.

2011: I recently watched the movie, which I thought nothing special in itself, but made me want to reread the book. I still love it :)
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Title: Title: Anne of Ingleside
Author: Lucy Maud Montgomery
Genre: Classics
Rating: 3/5
# pages: 274
Date read: September, 2006

Anne is the mother of five, with never a dull moment in her lively home. And now with a new baby on the way and insufferable Aunt Mary Maria visiting -- and wearing out her welcome -- Anne's life is full to bursting.

Still Mrs. Doctor can't think of any place she'd rather be than her own beloved Ingleside. Until the day she begins to worry that her adored Gilbert doesn't love her anymore. How could that be? She may be a little older, but she's still the same irrepressible, irreplaceable redhead -- the wonderful Anne of Green Gables, all grown up... She's ready to make her cherished husband fall in love with her all over again!

Not as good as the other books in the series. I guess reading about Anne's children just isn't nearly as interesting as reading about Anne herself, or perhaps it just shows a tad too clearly that this book was written as the very last Anne book - long after LMM had grown tired of writing about her.

I still greatly enjoyed most of the book, but have to admit to skimming over some of the chapters of mishaps that befell Nan or Di.
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Title: Rilla of Ingleside
Author: L.M. Montgomery
Genre: Classic
Rating: 5/5
# pages: 277
Date read: Oct 2006, May 2011

PSA: Apparently, the Bantam edition of this is abridged - with some 4500 words having been left out from the original. The Gutenberg edition should be complete though.

Anne's children are almost grown up, except for pretty, high-spirited Rilla. No one can resist her bright hazel eyes and dazzling smile. Rilla, almost fifteen, can't think any further ahead than going to her very first dance at the Four Winds lighthouse and getting her first kiss from handsome Kenneth Ford.

But undreamed-of challenges await the irrepressible Rilla when the world of Ingleside becomes endangered by a far-off war. Her brothers go off to fight, and Rilla brings home an orphaned newborn in a soup tureen. She is swept into a drama that tests her courage and leaves her changed forever.

Again, not an "Anne"-book as such, as the focus is definitely on Rilla. Still, one can forgive LMM for that, as it's still mostly about Anne's children, and because it's such an excellent portrayal of life in rural Canada during WW1. Knowing that LMM went through much of this herself lends it a credence and authenticity I haven't found elsewhere.

It's been quite awhile since I last cried that much over a book - my husband got rather concerned at times! - but it's a beautiful and, despite its sadness, hopeful book. I do wish LMM had stuck to her guns and kept the original title though. I by far prefer Rilla-My-Rilla!

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