Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin – Audiobook Review & Giveaway

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm has delighted readers for over 100 years. Published in 1903, when girls were inevitably depicted as pretty, gentle and proper, Rebecca Rowena Randall burst onto the scene of children’s literature. Sent to live with her prim and proper Aunt Miranda, who is expecting her much more demure sister, Rebecca is a “bird of a very different feather”. She has “a small, plain face illuminated by a pair of eyes carrying such messages, such suggestions, such hints of sleeping power and insight, that one never tired of looking into their shining depths…” To her Aunt Miranda’s continual dismay, Rebecca is exuberant, irrepressible, and spirited – not at all “proper” or “demure”. She wins over her aunt soon enough, and the whole town, and thousands of readers and listeners everywhere.

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
Published 2017 by Post Hypnotic Press (Originally Published 1903)
Format: e-audiobook; 8 hours, 11 minutes
Classics / Young Adult
Also By This Author: The Bird’s Christmas Carol, Mother Carey’s Chickens
Goodreads | Audible
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

Surprisingly, I had never heard of this novel until very recently, which shocks me because it’s the type of classic young adult novel that I usually gravitate towards. I was also pretty surprised at the similarities between this novel and L.M. Montgomery’s novels Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon, especially since Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm was published several years beforehand.

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm follows the journey of Rebecca Randall as she leaves her family home to live with her two polar opposite aunts. When Rebecca arrives, she is rather plain and unbecoming, but her personality and imagination are quite the opposite. Her guardians, especially Aunt Miranda, do their best to raise Rebecca into a respectable young lady. If you’re familiar with L.M. Montgomery’s most iconic heroine, Anne Shirley, then you will probably notice the similarities between her and Wiggin’s Rebecca Randall, although I would argue that Rebecca is a milder mix between Anne Shirley and Emily Starr, another one of Montgomery’s heroines.

My favorite aspect of Wiggin’s novel was Rebecca’s character growth. She reigns in her temper and impulsive reactions fairly quickly, and her adolescent mistakes become fortuitous opportunities, such as when she sells a large amount of soap to Adam Ladd. She also possesses a pure heart and genuinely cares about others.

Read This Book If…

…you enjoy novels with fierce, unconventional heroines.
…you appreciate the traditions and values of small town, early 20th century life.
…you are a fan of novels like Anne of Green Gables and Emily of New Moon by L.M. Montgomery.

Audiobook Review

I previously listened to (and loved!) the first three Anne of Green Gables novels which were produced by Post Hypnotic Press, so I was looking forward to listening to their adaptation of Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. Ann Richardson’s performance did not disappoint! She brought a liveliness to the characters that was enjoyable and engaging. I especially love listening to classic novels on audiobook, and I would definitely listen to another one of Ann Richardson’s narrations :)

Ann-Richardson-headshot.jpgAbout the Narrator: Ann Richardson has been narrating for major publishers as well as independently published authors since 2008, happily giving voice to classics such as “Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm” (Kate Douglas Wiggin), “Greenwillow” (B.J. Chute), and Zane Grey’s “Riders of the Purple Sage”. Her narrations have been awarded AudioFile Magazine’s Earphones Awards, as well as having been finalists in the Voice Arts Awards in 2016 and 2017. In her spare time Ann is a volunteer narrator for Learning Ally (formerly Recording For the Blind and Dyslexic), and speaks to author groups and at writers’ conferences about the process of making an audiobook.

Giveaway!
Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm Giveaway: 3-Month Audible Membership

Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm Banner.jpg

And stop by the tour page to check out other blogger’s reviews for Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm :)

DisclaimerI received this audiobook as part of my participation in a blog tour with Audiobookworm Promotions. The tour is being sponsored by Post Hypnotic Press. The gifting of this audiobook did not affect my opinion of it.

 

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The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery

The Blue Castle

Valancy lives a drab life with her overbearing mother and prying aunt. Then a shocking diagnosis from Dr. Trent prompts her to make a fresh start. For the first time, she does and says exactly what she feels. As she expands her limited horizons, Valancy undergoes a transformation, discovering a new world of love and happiness. One of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s only novels intended for an adult audience, The Blue Castle is filled with humour and romance.

The Blue Castle by L.M. Montgomery
Published 1926 by McClelland and Stewart
Format: e-book rental from Hoopla*; 218 pages
Classics/Romance/Adventure
Also By This Author: Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the Island, Kilmeny of the Orchard
Goodreads | Amazon 
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

Happy Valentine’s Day! Today I am blogging about a new favorite love story of mine by one of my favorite authors.

The Blue Castle was the first book I read in 2018, and as soon as I finished, I knew I had found my favorite read of the year. I know I will probably read 40+ more books this year, but I don’t think any of them will resonate with me more than The Blue Castle. It’s a hidden gem of a novel and I only wish I had read it sooner!

The characters in this novel are so bold and entertaining. The heroine, Valancy Sterling, is as lovable and admirable as Anne Elliot, Jane Eyre, and Jo March, and the supporting characters will honestly make you laugh until you cry. There was a smile plastered on my face for most of the novel (with the exception of a few moving scenes–I mean, this is L.M. Montgomery we’re discussing!).

The Blue Castle is one of those books you bring with you everywhere, just in case you’re able to sneak in a page or chapter while you’re out, and once you finish the book, you’re ready to start it all over again. I felt so happy and thrilled when I finished it, and I couldn’t stop recommending it to friends.

You May Also Enjoy…

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte
Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell
Persuasion by Jane Austen
Dr. Thorne by Anthony Trollope
(I haven’t read this one yet, but I loved the miniseries!)

Final Musings

I tried listening to The Blue Castle on audiobook, but it just wasn’t good. This is one of those books you need to read in print.

One of my favorite things about reading The Blue Castle is that I didn’t know anything about it beforehand, and even the blurb on the cover gives nothing away, so I was in full suspense and surprised by so many of the plot points. That’s why I’ll keep this review short and sweet, but if you have read it and would like to gush about it with me, leave a comment below :)

*Hoopla is one of my favorite bookish services! It’s a free online digital library that offers 6 e-book, audiobook, album, or film rentals a month, and there are NO waitlists! If they have it, you can check it out. They partner with public libraries, so see if your library offers membership :)

Kilmeny of the Orchard by L.M. Montgomery

Kilmeny

When twenty-four-year-old Eric Marshall arrives on Prince Edward Island to become a substitute schoolmaster, he has a bright future in his wealthy family’s business. Eric has taken the two-month teaching post only as a favor to a friend — but fate throws in his path a beautiful, mysterious girl named Kilmeny Gordon. With jet black hair and sea blue eyes, Kilmeny immediately captures Eric’s heart. But Kilmeny cannot speak, and Eric is concerned for and bewitched by this shy, sensitive mute girl. For the first time in his life Eric must work hard for something he wants badly. And there is nothing he wants more than for Kilmeny to retum his love.

Kilmeny of the Orchard by L.M. Montgomery
Published 1910 by L.C. Page & Company
Format: Hardcover, 134 pages; Audiobook, 4 hours
Classics/Romance
Also By This Author: Anne of Green Gables, Anne of Avonlea, Anne of the IslandEmily of New Moon series, The Blue Castle
Goodreads | Amazon

My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

I am a strong believer in judging a book by its cover, especially when the cover is gorgeous like Kilmeny of the Orchard. I have been scouring every local bookstore and thrift store in town trying to find any copies of the Bantam editions of L.M. Montgomery’s novels because the covers are beautiful enough to frame. (Side note: if anyone finds Bantam editions of Kilmeny or The Blue Castle that are in good condition, please let me know! I’ve never been a book collector before, but it’s almost become a hobby of mine to own all of Bantam editions of L.M. Montgomery’s novels)

The story of Kilmeny isn’t the most endearing of Montgomery’s novels, but the writing is captivating. The first orchard scene, when Eric happens upon Kilmeny as she’s playing her violin, is probably my favorite scene in the novel. Montgomery’s descriptions are so poetic and vibrant that I feel as if I’m walking through the orchard myself.

It was an elusive, haunting melody, strangely suited to the time and place; it had in it the sigh of the wind in the woods, the eerie whispering of the grasses at dewfall, the white thoughts of the June lilies, the rejoicing of the apple blossoms; all the soul of all the old laughter and song and tears and gladness and sobs the orchard had ever known in the lost years; and besides all this, there was in it a pitiful, plaintive cry as of some imprisoned thing calling for freedom and utterance.

I admire L.M. Montgomery’s ability to be wistful and hopeful at the same time. Whenever I read any of her books I always simultaneously feel nostalgic and desirous of enjoying every beautiful little moment.

Read This Book If…

…you need a happy novel that will touch you deep in your heart.
…you’re ready for it to be Spring!
…you love Romantic characters and poetic language.

Final Musings

I’ve read three L.M. Montgomery novels since the New Year, and I’m currently on my fourth (Chronicles of Avonlea). I would love to buddy read some more of her novels this year, or participate in any L.M. Montgomery blogging events, so please drop me a line in the comments if you know of any or if you’d like to buddy read with me!

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

One pitch-black London morning, a ghoulish little man tramples a young girl and continues heedlessly on his way. Caught by a passerby and returned to the scene of the crime, the man is forced to pay £100 in restitution. He produces ten pounds in gold and a check for the remainder. Curiously, the check bears the signature of the well-regarded Dr. Henry Jekyll. Even stranger, Dr. Jekyll’s will names this same awful and mysterious little man, Mr. Hyde, as the sole beneficiary. Troubled by the coincidence, Dr. Jekyll’s attorney visits his client. What he uncovers is a tale so strange and terrifying it has seeped into the very fabric of our consciousness.

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson
Published January 5, 1886 by Longmans, Green & Co.
Format: e-book/audiobook; 64 pages/3 hours 3 minutes
Classics/Science Fiction
Also By This Author: Treasure IslandKidnapped
Goodreads | Amazon
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts:

I was really looking forward to reading this spooky gothic classic by Robert Louis Stevenson, especially during the Halloween season. Unfortunately, I was sadly disappointed. While the novel’s plot and characters were intriguing, I found the writing style incredibly boring. It took me at least two weeks to finish a three hour audiobook, mainly because I kept zoning out and losing interest as the story went on.

Everyone knows the basic plot of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: a curious scientist drinks a potion that turns him into a murderous lunatic, and overtime Dr. Jekyll becomes consumed by this psychotic half of his split-personality. It’s a fascinating plot for a story, which is why Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde remains so popular over a century later. While I did enjoy the beginning and the end of this novel, I felt that the middle dragged on without very many exciting things happening, aside from some very lengthy passages of dialogue that could have used a sentence or two of description.

I would recommend this book to fans of gothic lit and classic sci-fi (namely H.G. Wells’s novels), but I wouldn’t necessarily recommend an audiobook version unless the narrator is extremely entertaining. I believe the version I listened to was from Librivox.

You May Also Enjoy:

img_1269FrankensteinThe Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Warleggan (The Poldark Saga #4) by Winston Graham – Audiobook Review

Warleggan

When Ross Poldark plunges into a highly speculative mining venture, he risks not only his family’s financial security but also his already turbulent marriage. When his old flame, Elizabeth, reenters his life, Ross is tested like never before. But soon his wife, Demelza, retaliates, becoming dangerously involved with a handsome Scottish cavalry officer of her own.

With the looming threat of bankruptcy and scandal, the Poldarks now face the possibility of disaster on all fronts. Will they be able to keep it together before everything falls apart?

A tale of romance, revenge, and risk, Warleggan brings you characters and rivalries you won’t soon forget.

Warlegga(The Poldark Saga #4) by Winston Graham
Published 1953
Format: audiobook; 14 hours 19 minutes
Classics/Historical Fiction
Also By This Author: Ross Poldark (The Poldark Saga #1)Demelza (The Poldark Saga #3), Jeremy Poldark (The Poldark Saga #3), Cordelia
Goodreads
My Rating: ♥♥♥

Thoughts

Honestly, I was dreading reading this volume of the Poldark Saga. If you watch the BBC/Masterpiece show, you’ll understand why. Without giving away too many spoilers, Ross does something unforgivable, and it threatens to destroy his entire family. Fortunately, I watched Season 2 before reading Jeremy Poldark and Waleggan (the two books Season 2 is based on), so I was prepared, and although it was a really difficult section of the book to read, the ending was very sweet and made up for it (mostly).

Surprisingly, I ended up enjoying Warleggan more than its predecessor. It felt like so much more happened in this novel than in Jeremy Poldark, and near the end I was more into the book than I originally anticipated.

Season 2 of Poldark is still rather fresh in my mind since I recently rewatched the last few episodes before Season 3 premiered, so I was doing a lot of comparing and contrasting between the novel and it’s on-screen adaptation. In my opinion, the tv show handles Ross’s infidelity and the other characters’ reactions to it in a much more realistic and forgiving light. In the book, it feels like Ross pretty much has his way and the female characters involved simply submit to his will and desires. I was very disappointed with how almost passive Demelza was in the book. She’s one of the fiercest literary characters I know of, and I felt that her reaction in the tv show was more realistic. I think this may be the part of the series where TV Demelza branches off from Book Demelza. I think this can probably be attributed to the fact that the show’s writer is a woman ;)

Audiobook Review

For the most part, I really enjoyed this narration of Warleggan. The narrator, Oliver Hembrough, has an entertaining voice that is easy to listen to. The only letdown for me was that his voice for most of the ladies, Demelza especially, was pitiful. Demelza is fierce, yet the narrator depicted her in a moping way that I was not a fan of. I can understand Elizabeth sounding that way, but not passionate Demelza.

Final Musings

The ending of Warleggan was very touching, and there are several reconciliations that will pull at your heartstrings. I’m very tempted to pick up the next book before this season is even over, but at the same time I don’t want to spoil anything! I enjoy watching the show and then reading the books afterwards.

Just for fun, and because it doesn’t actually happen in the novel, here’s my favorite scene from Season 2 of Poldark:

 

 

Jeremy Poldark (The Poldark Saga #3) by Winston Graham

Jeremy Poldark

Ross Poldark faces the darkest hour of his life in this third novel of the Poldark series. Reeling from the tragic death of a loved one, Captain Poldark vents his grief by inciting impoverished locals to salvage the contents of a ship run aground in a storm-an act for which British law proscribes death by hanging. As Ross is brought to trial for his involvement, his wife Demelza tries to rally support to save him and their family. But plenty of enemies would be happy to see her husband convicted, not the least of which is George Warleggan, the powerful banker whose personal rivalry with Ross threatens to destroy the Poldarks.

The third book in Winston Graham’s hugely popular Poldark series,
Jeremy Poldark brings to vivid life the clash of rich and poor, loss and love, powerful and powerless in a mesmerizing saga you won’t forget.

Jeremy Poldark (The Poldark Saga #3) by Winston Graham
Published 1950
Format: paperback; 244 pages
Classics/Historical Fiction/Romance
Also By This Author: Ross Poldark (The Poldark Saga #1)Demelza (The Poldark Saga #3)Marnie, Cordelia
Goodreads
My Rating: ♥♥♥

 

Thoughts:

I’ve finally started catching up on the Poldark novels, now that Season 3 has premiered. If, like me, you are a fan of the BBC/Masterpiece show Poldark, Jeremy Poldark covers the events from the first half of Season 2. If you haven’t watched up to that point in the show, or if you haven’t read the first two novels, beware of spoilers :)

Jeremy Poldark gets its name from a character that isn’t even introduced until the end of the novel; for the most part the book follows Ross Poldark’s trial (remember: he was arrested at the end of Demelza) and his ever growing rivalry with George Warleggan. Like the previous Poldark novel (and what I’m gathering is an interwoven theme throughout the entire series), this book has its fair share of heartbreak. Ross and Demelza are very much grieving the death of their daughter Julia, but they also have tender moments between themselves and close friends.

My favorite part about this novel is the blossoming relationship between Dr. Dwight Enys and Caroline Penvenen. Since I’m watching the show first before reading the books each season is based on, I was already a fan of Dwight and Caroline, but this book made me fall in love with both characters and their relationship even more. Book-Caroline is as headstrong as TV-Caroline, but she also has an even deeper streak of sassiness that I wish we saw more of on the show.

Read This Book If…

…you enjoy family sagas, especially ones including plenty of tension and drama.
…you’re a fan of historical fiction.
…you are intrigued by novels that feature opposing socioeconomic classes.
…you’ve already read Ross Poldark and Demelza.

Final Musings:

Here’s a trailer for Season 2 of the show (they make it look like a dramatic soap opera, I know, but it kind of is in some ways). I’ll let you guess what my favorite scene is (even though it doesn’t even happen in the books)…

The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells

img_1269

Notable for its sheer invention, suspense, and psychological nuance, The Invisible Man focuses on Griffin, a scientist who has discovered the means to make himself invisible. His initial, almost comedic, adventures are soon overshadowed by the bizarre streak of terror he unleashes upon the inhabitants of a small village.

 

The Invisible Man by H. G. Wells
Published 1897 by Pearson’s Weekly
Format: e-book/library hardcover/audiobook; 192 pages (clearly I couldn’t put this book down!)
Classics/Science Fiction
Also By This Author: War of the Worlds, The Time Machine
Goodreads
My Rating: ♥♥♥♥

Thoughts

What a creepy story! I have to admit, when I first picked up The Invisible Man, I was not expecting it to be a Gothic suspense story, so I was pleasantly surprised to read the subtitle: a grotesque romance. I love Gothic literature, especially when paired with science fiction! [side note: there is no romance in this novella; according to the footnote, that description refers to the fact that this story deals with supernatural incidents that are removed from every day life.]

The Invisible Man starts off right away by throwing readers into suspense and intrigue. We meet our antihero, whom we later learn is called Griffin, as he arrives at an inn and begins terrorizing the local townspeople. Terrorizing is a little harsh; at first he is simply worrying them with his shroud of mystery, but as the novel progresses and Griffin’s condition worsens, he enacts a self-proclaimed reign of terror.

I must confess that in the beginning I liked Griffin, despite the fact that he was impatient, rude, and prone to outbursts. He reminded me of Mr. Rochester from Jane Eyre and he had an unusual sense of humor about him. But then Griffin started harming other people without remorse, and I felt torn over my former sympathy for his predicament and my later fear of and disappointment in his mental decline.

There are several minor characters, but none of them are nearly as interesting as Griffin; however, I did feel for both Marvel and Dr. Kemp at times.

The ending was appropriately abrupt, and the story was resolved in a surprising and inevitable way (the best type of ending!). This was my third H. G. Wells novel, after War of the Worlds and The Time Machine, and I will definitely be reading more of his novels in the future.

Read This Book If…

…you enjoy classic novels and science fiction.
…you appreciate Gothic literature.
…you’re interested in books that feature a villain or antihero as the main character.
…you’re looking for a suspenseful story that has a fair amount of creepiness.

You May Also Enjoy…

waroftheworldsFrankensteinThe Birthmark

The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

The Birthmark by Nathaniel Hawthorne