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Posts Tagged ‘maud hart lovelace reading challenge’

Happy new year!  It’s hard to believe that 2010 is already over and that it’s time to wrap up the reading challenges in which I participated over the year.  I only signed up for 4 challenges, and I’m proud of myself for completing them all.  Here’s what I read:

2010 War Through the Generations Challenge: The Vietnam War

For the 2010 War Through the Generations Vietnam War Reading Challenge that I co-hosted with Serena (which ran from Jan. 1, 2010-Dec. 31, 2010), I signed up for 11+ books.  Although I didn’t read as many as I’d hoped for this challenge, I still completed it by finishing 13 books.

1. Playing Basketball With the Viet Cong by Kevin Bowen

2. The Lotus Eaters by Tatjana Soli

3. Dien Cai Dau by Yusef Komunyakaa

4. Song of Napalm by Bruce Weigl

5. Letter to My Daughter by George Bishop

6. Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

7. A Hundred Feet Over Hell by Jim Hooper

8. Paco’s Story by Larry Heinemann

9. The Fall of Saigon:  The End of the Vietnam War by Michael V. Uschan

10. Fatal Light by Richard Currey

11. The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien

12. Shooting the Moon by Frances O’Roark Dowell

13. Matterhorn by Karl Marlantes

2010 Jane Austen Challenge hosted by The Life (and Lies) of an inanimate flying object

For the 2010 Jane Austen Reading Challenge hosted by The Life (and) Lies of an inanimate flying object (which ran from Jan. 1, 2010-Dec. 31, 2010), I signed up for the “Fanatic” level of 5+ Jane Austen retellings, sequels, or reimaginings and 6+ original works by Jane Austen.  I finished this one by reading 7 in the retellings/sequels/reimaginings category and 6 works by Jane Austen.

1. Mansfield Park Revisited by Joan Aiken

2. Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy: The Last Man in the World by Abigail Reynolds

3. The Darcys & the Bingleys by Marsha Altman

4. The Plight of the Darcy Brothers by Marsha Altman

5. Mr. Darcy’s Great Escape by Marsha Altman

6. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies:  Dawn of the Dreadfuls by Steve Hockensmith

7. Mr. Darcy Broke My Heart by Beth Patillo

******

1. Sanditon by Jane Austen

2. Persuasion by Jane Austen

3. Lady Susan by Jane Austen

4. The Watsons by Jane Austen

5. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

6. Love and Freindship by Jane Austen

2010 Everything Austen II Challenge hosted by Stephanie's Written Word

For the 2010 Everything Austen II Challenge hosted by Stephanie’s Written Word (which ran from July 1, 2010-Jan. 1, 2011), I had to read 6 Austen-themed books.  I went a little overboard on this challenge, and finished 13 books.

1. To Conquer Mr. Darcy by Abigail Reynolds

2. Mr. Darcy’s Little Sister by C. Allyn Pierson

3. Darcy’s Voyage by Kara Louise

4. Persuasion by Jane Austen

5. Captain Wentworth’s Diary by Amanda Grange

6. Anne Elliot, A New Beginning by Mary Lydon Simonsen

7. Mr. Darcy’s Obsession by Abigail Reynolds

8. Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford

9. Lady Susan by Jane Austen

10. The Watsons by Jane Austen

11. Pemberley Ranch by Jack Caldwell

12. Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen

13. Love and Freindship by Jane Austen

2010 Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge hosted by A Library is a Hospital for the Mind

For the 2010 Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge hosted by A Library is a Hospital for the Mind (which was held during the month of October), I had to read just 1 book by Maud Hart Lovelace, but I completed the challenge by reading 3.

1. Emily of Deep Valley by Maud Hart Lovelace

2. Betsy Was a Junior by Maud Hart Lovelace

3. Betsy and Joe by Maud Hart Lovelace

How did you do on your 2010 reading challenges, and what are you plans for 2011?  I will be posting my 2011 challenge sign ups soon.

Wishing you all the best in 2011!

© 2011 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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A Library is a Hospital for the Mind hosted the Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge during the  month of October.  I’d hoped to complete the last 4 books in the Betsy-Tacy series and read the 2 Lovelace books recently reissued by HarperCollins.  Well, I read three out of the six, which is good enough for me.  Here are the links to my reviews:

Emily of Deep Valley

Betsy Was a Junior

Betsy and Joe

Those of you following my reviews of Lovelace’s novels know how much I love the charming stories taken from her childhood, how she transports readers back to a simpler time, and how she’s given me a friend in Betsy Ray.  It’s not too late for you to discover the beauty of these books, since I only started the series for the first time last year.

A big thanks to A Library is a Hospital for the Mind for hosting the challenge!

© 2010 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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In Miss Bangeter’s Shakespeare class they sat side by side at the back of the room.  Miss Bangeter, with her dark magnetic eyes and sonorous voice, had almost transformed that roomful of desks and blackboards into the Forest of Arden.  Trees with love songs hung and carved upon them seemed to rise between the desks.  The sun slanted down through leafy aisles upon gallants and fair ladies, shepherds, shepherdesses, clowns, and courtiers.  The Forest of Arden always made Betsy think of the Big Hill.

She underlined a sentence and passed it across to Joe.  “Fleet the time carelessly, as they did in the golden world.”

“That’s what I’d like to do,” she whispered.

“That’s what we’ll do next spring,” Joe whispered back, while even Miss Bangeter looked pleased.

(from Betsy and Joe, page 445)

Betsy and Joe is the eighth book in Maud Hart Lovelace’s beloved Betsy-Tacy series, which is based on her childhood in Mankato, Minnesota.  (Just a warning — In my plot summary, I stick to the basics of the plot, but if you haven’t read the previous seven books, you might find out more than you want to know.) In this installment, Betsy Ray and her best friends, Tacy Kelly and Tib Muller, are in their senior year at Deep Valley High School.  The girls have a lot on their plates as they prepare for graduation, and things change rapidly as the year progresses.  Their lives are full of extracurricular activities, college plans, and of course, boys and clothes.

Betsy and Joe Willard, her longtime rival in the school’s Essay Contest, began corresponding the summer after their junior year.  Betsy and Joe have a love of reading and writing in common, but while Betsy is outgoing and living a basically carefree life, the orphaned Joe must work several jobs to pay for the room he rents.  As their relationship takes off, Betsy’s personality rubs off on Joe, and he begins taking part in class activities, sharing them with Betsy.

However, Tony Markham, Betsy’s first crush who has become more like a brother in the years since they were freshmen, takes a romantic interest in Betsy.  He hangs out with a rough crowd, but he begins to change under Betsy’s influence — and Betsy is afraid that saying no when he beats Joe in asking her to a dance will push him away.  Betsy must choose whether to ruin a good friendship or upset Joe.

Like the previous Betsy-Tacy books, Betsy and Joe is a charming look at life in a small town in the early 1900s.  Lovelace does a good job showing Betsy’s transformation into a young woman and Joe’s evolution as his fondness for Betsy grows.  Betsy, Tacy, and Tib are typical girls when it comes to clothes and boys, although their conversations about the opposite sex often turn toward marriage — which is not on the minds of most 18-year-old girls today.  Despite Betsy’s feelings for Joe, however, she is determined to pursue a career in writing, and her family and friends provide much encouragement.  Betsy and Joe’s budding romance is sweet and very innocent.  I know that has a lot to do with the time in which the story takes place and the year it was published (1948) — and some might argue that such a courtship isn’t realistic today — but it was a breath of fresh air to read a book about young love that is more about common interests than sex.

I can’t believe I only have two more books in this series to read.  Part of me wants to hurry up and finish them because I’m dying to know what happens, but the other part of me wants to savor them because I know it’ll be hard to say goodbye to Betsy and the gang.  I just love how Lovelace’s characters feel so real to me, and while some might see the books as old-fashioned and outdated, Lovelace writes about universal experiences.  Betsy is one of those characters you can’t help but love, and her adventures and antics are always entertaining.

Other Maud Hart Lovelace reviews:

Betsy-Tacy
Betsy-Tacy and Tib
Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill
Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown
Heaven to Betsy
Betsy in Spite of Herself
Betsy Was a Junior
Emily of Deep Valley

Disclosure: I received a copy of Betsy and Joe from HarperCollins for review purposes. I am an Amazon associate.

© 2010 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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But all of them were growing up, Betsy thought intensely.  They would never be quite so silly again.  The foolish crazy things they had done this year they would do less and less frequently until they didn’t do them at all.

“We’re growing up,” Betsy said aloud.  She wasn’t even sure she liked it.  But it happened, and then it was irrevocable.  There was nothing you could do about it except try to see that you grew up into the kind of human being you wanted to be.

(from Betsy Was a Junior, page 292)

First published in 1947 and reissued by HarperCollins in 2009, Betsy Was a Junior is the 7th book in the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace.  I really wish I’d discovered these gems when I was  younger, but I’m enjoying them nonetheless.  Lovelace based Betsy Ray on herself, and the rest of the characters in the Betsy-Tacy series are based on her family and friends in Mankato, Minnesota.  Betsy Was a Junior covers Betsy’s junior year at Deep Valley High from 1908-1909.

Betsy makes a lot of plans for her junior year and has a lot of great ideas that don’t always turn out like she planned.  She plans to “go with” Joe Willard, her rival in the annual Essay Contest, but he’s seeing the rich and beautiful Phyllis Brandish, the sister of Betsy’s ex-boyfriend, Phil.  So she attends dances and parties with the silent but handsome Dave Hunt.  When her sister, Julia, starts her freshman year at the University of Minneapolis and decides to join the Epsilon Iotas, Betsy and her best friends, Tacy Kelly and Tib Muller (who just moved back to Deep Valley from Milwaukee), start their own sorority, the Okto Deltas.  However, the exclusivity of the Okto Deltas may have been exciting and mysterious to start, but the consequences threaten to ruin Betsy’s junior year.

Lovelace writes with a fondness and a tenderness for her past and for her family and friends.  I love the glimpses of life at the turn of the century — the music, the fashion, the courting customs, the old traditions.  And I especially love the happiness and closeness of the Ray family and the innocence of Betsy and the Crowd.  There is a seriousness to Betsy Was a Junior that isn’t in the previous books because, for the first time, Betsy realizes that she and her friends are growing up.  Life can’t always be fun and carefree, and that’s a lesson we all have to learn at some point.  Though I wasn’t as outgoing or popular as Betsy during my high school years, Betsy Was a Junior brought me back to all the fun times I had with my friends and the sadness as we realized we’d all be going our separate ways soon enough.  Lovelace created an endearing character in Betsy, a girl who loves life and makes us love her — flaws and all.

Other Maud Hart Lovelace reviews:

Betsy-Tacy
Betsy-Tacy and Tib
Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill
Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown
Heaven to Betsy
Betsy in Spite of Herself
Emily of Deep Valley

Disclosure: I received a copy of Betsy Was a Junior from HarperCollins for review purposes. I am an Amazon associate.

© 2010 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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She did bring home books from the library, in armloads, replenishing them every two or three days.  She read avidly, indiscriminately, using them as an antidote for the pain in her heart.  But they didn’t help much.  There was no one to talk them over with.  They were almost as useless as the newspapers.

“I know what I’ll do,” she decided.  “I’ll go up to the high school.  We had such fun that day we went before.”

But the visit was not a success.  It was not at all like the merry expedition with the girls.  The seniors were chattering about class pins and caps.  The Philomathians and Zetamathians were having their annual fight for members.  And none of it concerned Emily any more — not even the debating club.

(from Emily of Deep Valley, pages 103-104)

I fell in love with Maud Hart Lovelace’s charming, old fashioned stories based on her childhood in Mankato, Minnesota, when I read the first six books in the Betsy-Tacy series last year (click here for links to all of my Betsy-Tacy reviews).  Emily of Deep Valley is one of the three books in Lovelace’s Deep Valley series (which recently were reissued by HarperCollins), and many of the characters from the Betsy-Tacy books make brief appearances.

The book opens in 1912 with Emily Webster preparing to graduate from Deep Valley High School.  Her cousin, Annette, and their friends are getting ready to leave for college, but despite Emily’s longing to study sociology and become more like Jane Addams, she must stay in Deep Valley to take care of her grandfather.  Her parents and grandmother have been dead for many years, and even though there is enough money to hire someone to handle her grandfather’s care, she wouldn’t think of leaving him.  While Betsy Ray is outgoing and vibrant, Emily is quiet and reserved (yet outgoing enough to be very persuasive when it comes to debates).  When the Crowd leaves for college, Emily falls into a depression, and when everyone comes home for the holidays, she realizes they now have little in common.

Piano lessons, dance lessons, and a reading group focused on the works of Robert Browning breathe some life into Emily, and her interactions with children from the nearby Syrian community change many lives, including her own.  She befriends Jed Wakefield, a new teacher at Deep Valley High, but she still has feelings for Annette’s beau, Don, who seems to enjoy knowing that Emily is pining for him.

While some might say Lovelace’s stories are outdated, I loved reading about life in a small town in the early 1900s.  And the more I get to know Lovelace’s characters, the more I realize that her books are timeless.  It was easy for me to identify with Emily, from her bouts of depression to feeling out of place as friends grow apart — and of course, most of us remember having crushes on guys who didn’t deserve our attention.

Emily of Deep Valley is a heartwarming coming-of-age story, and I enjoyed watching Emily grow and find herself.  I loved Emily’s grandfather and his stories of marching to Gettysburg in the Civil War, and I admired Emily for making a such a sacrifice for the man who took care of her for so many years.  Lovelace did a great job bringing her numerous secondary characters to life (even if it can be difficult to keep track of them all), mainly because they are based on people from her childhood.  In fact, the book ends with a special feature telling the story of Marguerite March, who inspired the character of Emily.

Disclosure: I received a copy of Emily of Deep Valley from HarperCollins for review purposes. I am an Amazon associate.

© 2010 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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I really try to restrict the number of reading challenges I join, mainly because I’m busy co-hosting the War Through the Generations challenge, but I couldn’t resist this one.

A Library is a Hospital for the Mind is hosting the 2nd Maud Hart Lovelace Reading Challenge from Oct. 1-Oct. 31.  All the details can be found here.

I read several of the Betsy-Tacy novels last year, when I first discovered Maud Hart Lovelace.  For the challenge, I definitely will read Emily of Deep Valley and Carney’s House Party/Winona’s Pony Cart.  If I have time, I’d like to finish up the remainder of the Betsy-Tacy series:  Betsy Was a Junior/Betsy and Joe and Betsy and the Great World/Betsy’s Wedding.  The books aren’t long, but the challenge is short, so wish me luck! And I hope some of you will join me!

[On a side note, I just want to apologize to those of you participating in the Vietnam War Reading Challenge at War Through the GenerationsSerena and I hope to catch up in adding reviews and other content to the site soon.  Real life just gets in the way some times, and we are thankful for your patience.]

Disclosure: I am an Amazon associate.

© 2010 Anna Horner of Diary of an Eccentric. All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or republish content without permission.

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