The Night Circus“The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it, no paper notices on downtown posts and billboards, no mentions in advertisements in local newspapers. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not.”

By Erin Morgenstern

Published by Anchor Books, 2012

516 Pages

They say it is called Le Cirque des Rêves – The Circus of Dreams – and it must be. How could it not be, when it is only open at night? And although it lacks all physical color, with every magnificent tent, unique performer, delectable treat, and even the dirt under your feet clothed in swaths of swirling black, grey, and white, somehow it sparks the most colorful of emotions within you. Your imagination runs wild as you bear witness to the unimaginable, the purely unbelievable.

From the outside perspective – that is, yours – it is simply illusion. Beautiful, unprecedented, magical illusion, but nothing more than wonderful trickery at its heart. What you don’t realize is that, at the center of it all, two young magicians participate in a mysterious game where the rules are mostly unknown and the boundaries seem invisible. Trained for this since they were mere children, Celia and Marco know that there can only be one victor, but the cost of the game may prove to be more than they are willing to sacrifice. And as they slowly tumble into love and dangerous secrets, the lives of everyone – from the performers to the patrons – may prove to be interwoven in it all.

The Night Circus receives 11 out of 12 pages turned!

“You think, as you walk away from Le Cirque des Rêves and into the creeping dawn, that you felt more awake within the confines of the circus. You are no longer quite certain which side of the fence is the dream.”

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The Night Circus has been recommended to me by a number of people, and I’m glad that I ultimately acted on their suggestions. This novel has been described in many ways – deliciously detailed, but agonizingly slow in plot movement; a beautiful love story, yet frustratingly nonexistent for the majority of the book. And while I concur in some measures with these comments, this was what I loved about the book: there is no YA book like it. In fact, I likely wouldn’t have considered it much of a Young Adult book at all due to the nature of most books in this genre these days. And by most YA books, I mean the fast-paced, completely and utterly unrealistic love stories born out of an adventure that magically develops the characters in a matter of minutes and supplies mostly-cheesy and cliché romance for teens to feel satisfied with the world. No, The Night Circus was different and because of that it was refreshing to read. It was purposefully and thoughtfully drawn out, developing a competition over years and not just a couple of days. The reader feels enveloped by the imagery and specificity of the author, so much so that they could almost be inside Le Cirque des Rêves if only they believed so. Because of this, the answers to all of the questions that the characters (and the readers as they go) have been asking for the entirety of the book are revealed bit by bit and so gradually that it feels realistic and suspenseful. There is a quality of magic, a trace of the unknown and the excitement that travels with it, that passes through the air while the reader is immersed in an unhurried love story that reflects real life in the midst of the utterly unreal. I’m not entirely certain whether I can truly explain it beyond that, but this I do know: I have never read anything so satisfactory in my life that left me, simultaneously, with so many unanswered questions. It was refreshing to have something that actually took time to develop rather than racing through the details (although I do admit that sometimes the plot and details were a bit too slow for my liking), and I will most certainly be keeping this novel on my shelf to read again.

Character Development: 2

Plot Movement: 1.5

Attention to Detail: 1.5

Writing Style/Voice: 2

Entertainment Factor: 4



CaravalBy Stephanie Garber

Published by Flatiron Books, 2017

407 Pages

“Some things are worth pursuit regardless of the cost.”

Everyone says that Caraval is just a performance – a wonderful, magical act, but a performance nonetheless. That’s what Scarlett Dragna and her sister Tella believed, too, until the mysterious Master of Caraval sends them an invitation to attend this year. With Scarlett’s arranged marriage to a Count she’s never met just around the corner, the opportunity to leave her cruel father and the tiny island that comprise her life is growing slim. Always the more cautious of the two sisters, Scarlett determines not to leave – but Tella has different plans. With the help of a mysterious sailor, Tella sweeps Scarlett into the game.

But the moment the spectacle begins, Tella is kidnapped. It appears that the object of this year’s Caraval is to discover where the mastermind behind the game has hidden Scarlett’s sister, or else Tella may disappear forever. And as Scarlett becomes increasingly entangled in the confusion of magic and love, the five nights she has to find her sister might not be enough to save Tella.

Caraval receives 9 out of 12 pages turned!

“She remembered thinking falling for him would be like falling in love with darkness, but now she imagined he was more like a starry night: the constellations were always there, constant, magnificent guides against the ever-present black.”

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I can’t be trusted in Barnes & Noble. As I roam the aisles, searching for a book on my to-read list, novels like this – with their flashy, mysterious, enticing covers – beg me to pick them up. And once I’ve touched one, it’s practically impossible not to buy it. So when I last walked into that wonderful store, my mind set on purchasing a copy of The Night Circus, and I noticed Caraval sitting near it, I knew that I would be leaving with two books instead of one that day. Since I’m heading out of town soon, with no ability to take the book with me, I’ve already read it – and it was one of the most interesting books I’ve read yet. I have to say that it wasn’t my absolute favorite, but I am glad that I have a copy. Stephanie Garber’s writing style is a complex mix of both Young Adult and Steampunk styles, and although I often found some of her explanations long-winded, repetitive, and sometimes unnecessary, she succeeded in surprising me with every chapter. At times I found myself complaining internally – Why is Scarlett so focused on Julian and not Tella? Why is she taking so long to explain herself and still not explaining herself correctly? Did she really need to take that much time to note Scarlett’s feelings when she should have been hurrying to find the next clue? – but then would be startled by how clever the book’s flaws really were. Garber craftily used pieces of the book that seemed unnecessary and too drawn-out to confuse the reader so that the truth of Scarlett’s situation wasn’t revealed until the very end. No matter how many times the reader thought that they had figured out who each character was and what Scarlett needed to do in order to win the game, the author always managed to mix everything up until the fixed truth became a garbled mess once again. It made for a surprising ending, albeit somewhat cheesy. Ultimately, I would recommend this book as a The Hunger Games-meets-The Night Circus-meets-Alice in Wonderland type of story.

Character Development: 2

Plot Movement: 1

Attention to Detail: 1.5

Writing Style/Voice: 1

Entertainment Factor: 3.5


Clockwork Dynasty*I received an Advanced Reader Copy of this book from NetGalley for the purpose of review*

By Daniel H. Wilson

To be published by Doubleday, August 1st, 2017

320 Pages (Tentatively)

June Stefanov has spent her entire adult life researching ancient machines. Inspired by a mechanical relic gifted to her by her grandfather, June works to understand how, without modern technological advances, ancient civilizations managed to produce seemingly complex automatons. But when she uncovers a terrible secret within the workings of a 300-year-old mechanical doll, she is suddenly thrown into the midst of a world of ancient technology rising just beneath her own.

Back in the Russia of 1725, two incredibly human-like automatons are brought to life by the tsar’s mechanician. As brother and sister, the two robots must fully grasp the power they have been gifted and fulfill their destinies in a mechanical war that has raged for centuries.

The Clockwork Dynasty receives 10 out of 12 pages turned!

“When I hold this relic in my hands and let my eyelids meet, mind-reeling eons of time seem to stretch out before me like a star-filled sky.”

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There are a lot of great aspects to this book… like how the author reveals things to the reader at the same time as the character so as to create an atmosphere of suspense, and how the author deftly incorporates his own prior knowledge and extended research with a fascinating plot. Ultimately, this story caught me – hook, line, and sinker – from the get-go. But there are still some mistakes throughout the book that haven’t yet been edited out, and there are times when I wonder whether a certain section isn’t a bit too repetitive, and that is why I can’t quite give this book full marks. I am not a writer, much less an author, and I am certainly not an editor or publisher, but I am fully confident that these flaws will disappear by the time it’s actually published. As such I am choosing to ignore many of the minor issues that I found (primarily grammatically) throughout the book while reading (an example, spoken by a main character about 35% of the way into the book: “But we are all are trained to protect the secret of our existence from humanity . . .”). And I would absolutely recommend this novel to anyone interested in a semi-steampunk read when it comes out on August 1st!

Character Development: 2

Plot Movement: 2

Attention to Detail: 2

Writing Style/Voice: 1

Entertainment Factor: 3


Song of the SparrowBy Lisa Ann Sandell

Published by Scholastic Press, 2007

394 Pages

Elaine has lived among King Arthur’s men for the majority of her life, and at 16 years of age the militaristic world she knows increasingly highlights how alone she truly is. Despite deep friendships with many of the soldiers she has grown up with, only Arthur’s sister – Morgan – proves to be Elaine’s mentor and companion. Yet not even Morgan knows of the secret love Elaine harbors for Arthur’s trusted second-in-command, Lancelot.

When the Dux Bellorum of the Britons is killed, Arthur must step up to take his place. As he assumes this position of authority, some of the men cease supporting him due to his youth and seeming inexperience. In an effort to appease the dissenters, Arthur agrees to accept the hand of Gwynivere – the daughter of an influential supporter. But the introduction of another female into the mix does not have the effect Elaine hoped it would, and rather than inspiring friendship and comradery between the two it only reveals intense jealousy and hatred. In the end, Elaine must determine what her part is when it comes to the birth of an empire.

Song of the Sparrow earns 10 of 12 pages turned!

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To be honest, I only picked up this book and read it for the first time because I thought that the cover looked pretty. I was in 4th grade, the book was featured at my school book fair, and I was determined to spend the $10 my mother had given me for the fair – whether or not I really knew what I was buying. And of all the spontaneous purchases I have made over the years, this has proven to be the best investment of $10 I could just about imagine. I’ve read this book over 5 times, and it has proven to be a quick but enjoyable read every time. Just a heads up: it’s written in verse, which several reviews have harped on considering it’s not the most rhythmic verse you’ll ever read, but it’s overall quite well done.

Character Development: 1.5

Plot Movement: 2

Attention to Detail: 2

Writing Style/Voice: 1

Entertainment Factor: 3.5


This semester, I have had the amazing opportunity to read and blog for a class – which is something that I have always wanted to do, but have never had the incentive to. I have read a lot of books throughout the year, several of which are not listed here as I didn’t review them, so if you’re interested in following what I read as I go feel free to check out my Goodreads (attached at the bottom of this page)! So without further ado, here are my top ten books from this semester!

i-am-the-messenger#1 – I Am the Messenger – 357 Pages

Ed, a deadbeat cab driver, is picked by an anonymous sender to deliver messages to people throughout the city, unwittingly helping them through difficult situations and saving himself in the meantime. This was my top pick for the semester; it was beautifully written and an absolutely fascinating plot!

the-martian#2 –  The Martian – 369 Pages

A man is stranded alone on Mars and must work with science to get himself back home. Not only did I love the science behind this book (although I certainly didn’t understand all of it), but the writing style of Andy Weir is one of my favorites!

Anne of Green Gables#3 – Anne of Green Gables – 309 Pages

Newly adopted by Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, Anne is an imaginative, fiery redhead who seems to fit right in at Green Gables. As a child, I loved this book – and now that I have the vocabulary to understand everything in this novel, I couldn’t put it down!

Screen Shot 2017-03-26 at 2.02.23 PM#4 – Dawn – 81 Pages

The moral convictions of a principled young man rise to conflict with the reality of what he has been commanded to do – commit murder for the sake of Jewish freedom. Dawn is an insightful and thought-provoking read that I would readily pick up again any day.

the-host#5 – The Host – 619 Pages

Despite her efforts to keep out the voice in her head, Wanderer finds herself more and more attached to her host body as they set out to find the man her host loves. This was an epic comeback for Stephenie Meyer, and I LOVED it!

Edgar Allan Poe#6 – Edgar Allan Poe: Complete Tales and Poems – 1020 Pages

Poe is known among writers as being a pioneer of science-fiction, mystery, horror, and modern poetics, having written hundreds of shorts stories, plays, and poems for newspapers and more. This collection of all of Poe’s written works was fascinating and entertaining to read, although it took a long time to get through.

#7 – 1984 – 245 Pages

Although Winston Smith is determined to rebel against the government in his own small way, eventually he may find that he, too, loves Big Brother. Everyone should read this book sometime during their life!

letters-to-the-lost#8 – Letters to the Lost – 388 Pages

Hidden identities and the exchanging of letters leads to two teens opening up to each other about the different ways that they grieve. I really enjoyed this book, despite how sad it was, and it reminded me a lot of Whisper to Me by Nick Lake (which is one of my favorite books).

surprised-by-joy#9 – Surprised by Joy – 238 Pages

C.S. Lewis writes a memoir depicting his life as a child and young man, and through the use of reason determines the beauty and purpose of Joy. I loved reading this book, but at times it was taxing to read. So even though I rated it quite high, it wasn’t my absolute favorite.

The Centurion#10 – The Centurion – 301 Pages

A Roman centurion facilitates the crucifixion of Jesus and is immediately entangled in one of the greatest periods of world history: the birth of the Christian Church, and the rule of the Roman Empire. Historical Fiction is one of my favorite genres, and I was not disappointed by this interesting perspective!

I also read the following books throughout this semester, listed from top to bottom in order of preference.

The_Castle_in_the_Attic_coverThe Castle in the Attic – 179 Pages

10-year-old William is gifted a model castle and soon discovers that the miniature knight that came with it is actually alive. Although I rated this book lower than several of the others I read, it was a childhood favorite and as such I really enjoyed reading it again.

Anne of AvonleaAnne of Avonlea
 – 276 Pages

As the new schoolma’am in Avonlea, Anne finds herself starting a new chapter of her life. Overall, I loved this book but I didn’t love it quite as much as its prequel. It’s still a wonderful, classic read! I would highly recommend it to anyone appreciative of Anne of Green Gables.

Red Queen – 383 Pages

Mare Barrow challenges the way everyone sees the world when she, a Red, is discovered to have the supernatural abilities of a Silver. I really enjoyed this book, but after thinking over it for a while I determined that it was fairly typical for a YA novel. Still, it was good!

The Sun is Also a Star – 348 Pages

Two perspectives on immigration meet as Natasha and Daniel fall in love in the duration of a day. I think that this book could have been good, but it was essentially a stereotypical, fast-paced YA novel with unrealistic circumstances mixed in with cultural appropriation and written in a mostly mediocre manner.

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Summer’s List – 288 Pages

Having spent most of her life helping others instead of herself, Summer is asked by her ailing grandmother to spend the next few months completing a list of her dreams. While the idea for this book was endearing, it wasn’t well executed and felt forced.

The Lonely Hearts Hotel – 389 Pages

Two orphans find their destinies entwined as they grow together and, eventually, part ways; ultimately, their lively interpretation of life will reconnect them. I felt conflicted about this book, because the imagery and writing style was marvelous, yet most of the book was sexually explicit and uncomfortable to read.

Twilight – 498 Pages

Bella moves from Arizona to Forks, Washington to live with her dad, and despite hating small-town life she quickly finds love with a mysterious vampire. This was my least favorite book that I read this semester, as it was cheesy and Stephanie Meyer wasn’t an experienced writer yet so her writing style wasn’t well-developed.

TOTAL PAGE COUNT: 6,288 pages read this semester; 349 pages read per week

Thank you so much for following my progress this semester! I will continue to read and blog about my literary adventures, and although my format may change a bit the heart of the content should not.

I will be in Douala, Cameroon, serving as a Cook on the Africa Mercy (a medical ship with the organization Mercy Ships) between the months of June and October, so my posting may be a bit scattered. However, I still plan to try to read a book each week; it may just depend on time and the availability of WiFi.

I have appreciated all of your comments and criticisms throughout this last semester, and I look forward to seeing you next week!



The_Castle_in_the_Attic_coverBy Elizabeth Winthrop

Published by Holiday House, 1985

179 Pages

At 10 years old, William can’t imagine life without his beloved nanny – Mrs. Phillips. So when she decides to move back to England, he desperately attempts to prevent her from leaving him. In order to appease him, Mrs. Phillips gifts a magnificent model castle to William, complete with a miniature knight and a fully functional drawbridge. And the moment that William touches the Silver Knight, he comes to life in his hands…

The Castle in the Attic receives 9.5 of 12 pages turned!

(Click here to see my Rating System; it will open to a new tab.)

I first read this novel in elementary school, and it struck me then as being similar to The Indian in the Cupboard and, simultaneously, Pilgrim’s Progress (although likely The Little Pilgrim’s Progress, not the original). This book is enchanting, and although it is an incredibly easy read now I found myself immersed in the story. I will say this, though: I remember loving this book immensely as a 4th grade student, but reading it now points out so clearly to me that this is a children’s book and, as such, there are  few details and the writing style is catered to that of a kid. There’s nothing wrong with that, it just diminished the fun of the story a bit in my eyes. I am positive that, were I reading this to a little girl or boy, it would be absolutely enthralling. 🙂

Character Development: 2

Plot Movement: 2

Attention to Detail: 1

Writing Style/Voice: 1

Entertainment Factor: 3.5


Edgar Allan Poe“I have graven it within the hills, and my vengeance upon the dust within the rock.”
The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket

*Please see my previous post!*

By Edgar Allan Poe 

Published by Fall River Press, 2012

Pages 111-1020

*NOTE: If you’re interested, my favorite short story that I read was How to Write a Blackwood Article – it’s absolutely hilarious, and even if you aren’t a fan of Poe I would definitely recommend looking it up and giving it a shot!*

Edgar Allan Poe is one of those writers most people simply don’t know much about – a few of his works (primarily “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “A Tell-Tale Heart,” “Annabel Lee,” and of course “The Raven”) are analyzed by students across the United States, but few others of his have carried through from his writing career into the modern-day. Interestingly, Poe is known among writers as being a pioneer of science-fiction, mystery, horror, and modern poetics, having written hundreds of shorts stories, plays, and poems for newspapers and more.

Edgar Allan Poe’s Complete Poems receives 11 out of 12 pages turned.

(Click here to see my Rating System; it will open to a new tab.)

As stated previously in my review of the poetry section of this book, I have been a fan of Poe’s for a while now. I find his writing to be refreshing and clever, and as someone who loves abundant details this was exactly the book for me. Everyone knows about the depressing and morbid side of Poe’s literature, but most of his works were actually quite comedic in nature – even those that dealt largely with death. One of his short stories, entitled “Loss of Breath,” a man loses his breath when he becomes angry with his wife – literally. As in, he actually is rendered speechless and just ends up wandering around town with no breath. Many of Poe’s stories also are magnificent precursors to modern science-fiction – much of the time, I would find myself reading a story in which he launched into detailed explanations of things that were so technical in nature that they just flew over my head. Best of all, Poe wrote several stories in which he created a fictional story with the intent of convincing the reader that it actually happened. So he would go to great lengths to make it sound like a hot-air balloon actually can float up to the moon, or that there is a tropical island located in the middle of Antarctica where a tribe of savages lives complete estranged from the outside world. In all, this was highly amusing to read – although time-consuming, and sometimes difficult to get through.

“‘Villains!’ I shrieked, ‘dissemble no more! I admit the deed! – tear up the planks! here, here! – it is the beating of his hideous heart!'”
The Tell-Tale Heart

Character Development: 2 –  There were so many stories with so many beautiful and fascinating plots; I can’t help but give this category full points.

Plot Movement: 2 – As stated above, well-developed plots were in abundance, although occasionally a story or two were iffy on this front.

Attention to Detail: 1.5 – Poe uses a lot of detail, which I normally would applaud, but considering that often its meaning or usefulness escaped me I can’t quite give the full 2 points for this.

Writing Style/Voice: 1.5 – Overall, I love Poe’s writing style, but as I said in the above category there were times when he over-embellished and it just took way too long to read.

Entertainment Factor: 4 – I love Edgar Allan Poe, and now I can say that I’ve read ALL of his stories and poems! 😀 I would highly recommend this book, or at least any of his poems and/or short stories if you aren’t willing to make in the investment and read the whole collection! 



Edgar Allan Poe

“Deep in earth my love is lying / And I must weep alone.”
“Deep In Earth”

*This review is of the poetry section ONLY of a 1,020 page compilation of all of Edgar Allan Poe’s written works. Please keep this in mind throughout the review.*

By Edgar Allan Poe 

Published by Fall River Press, 2012

Pages 1-110

Edgar Allan Poe is one of those writers most people simply don’t know much about – a few of his works (primarily “The Fall of the House of Usher,” “A Tell-Tale Heart,” “Annabel Lee,” and of course “The Raven”) are analyzed by students across the United States, but few others of his have carried through from his writing career into the modern day. Interestingly, Poe is known among writers as being a pioneer of science-fiction, mystery, horror, and modern poetics, having written hundreds of shorts stories, plays, and poems for newspapers and more.

Edgar Allan Poe’s Complete Poems receives 10.5 out of 12 pages turned.

(Click here to see my Rating System; it will open to a new tab.)

I have been a fan of Edgar Allan Poe since I first read Annabel Lee in 7th grade. However, I was largely unaware of his poems that discussed such subjects as nature and dreams, told stories about life and praised large architectural feats, and even those quite comedic ones scattered throughout (such as one entitled “The Conqueror Worm”). Overall, I greatly enjoyed this compilation and I look forward to finishing the second portion of the book (the sum of Poe’s short stories).

“Out – out are the lights – out all! / And, over each quivering form, / The curtain, a funeral pall, / Comes down with the rush of a storm, / While the angels, all pallid and wan, / Uprising, unveiling, affirm / That the play is the tragedy, “Man,” / And its hero, the Conqueror Worm.”
“The Conqueror Worm”

Character Development: 1 –  Since poetry is not known for extensive storylines, characters had little to no time to develop.

Plot Movement: 1.5 – This category is much like the first in that plots were quite limited. However, these were more developed than the characters were as many of the poems were little stories in themselves.

Attention to Detail: 2 – Detail was certainly not lacking in this set of poetry, and it was altogether quite enjoyable.

Writing Style/Voice: 2 – As I mentioned previously, I have been a fan of Poe’s writing for quite a while, and his style is absolutely entertaining to read.

Entertainment Factor: 4 – Ultimately, Edgar Allan Poe’s complete poems were quite likable and I would recommend them.


Anne of Avonlea“…I think,’ concluded Anne, hitting on a very vital truth, ‘that we always love best the people who need us.”
Anne of Avonlea

By L.M. Montgomery

Published by L.C. Page & Co., 1909

276 Pages

The new schoolma’am of Avonlea, the newly 16-year-old Anne has decided to remain at Green Gables to help Marilla, whose eyesight is proving worse for the wear. In the 5 years since Matthew and Marilla first adopted her, Anne has earned both a reputation for getting into scrapes and the love of the villagers in Avonlea, and despite being grown-up it is clear that much of that Anne is still left in the young woman teaching at the local school. Truly, much of her character is left to be tested – especially when Marilla adopts orphan twins, and she finds a dear friend in the handsome Gilbert Blythe.

Anne of Avonlea earns 11 out of 12 pages turned!

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The sequel to such an entertaining read, Anne of Avonlea promised to be amusing although I admit I was predisposed to believe it couldn’t live up to its prequel. Truthfully, I thoroughly enjoyed this novel and would highly recommend it to those who have read Anne of Green Gables, but I can’t quite say that it was just as good as the first book. Much of this was due to the fact that it seemed a bit like the interlude in an ever-continuing drama, like it was simply meant to be a filler between two chapters of Anne’s life. However, it was well-written and very humorous and overall absolutely fantastic.

“Perhaps she had not succeeded in ‘inspiring’ any wonderful ambitions in her pupils, but she had taught them, more by her own sweet personality than by all her careful precepts, that it was good and necessary in the years that were before them to live their lives finely and graciously, holding fast to truth and courtesy and kindness, keeping aloof from all that savoured of falsehood and meanness and vulgarity. They were, perhaps, all unconscious of having learned such lessons; but they would remember and practice them long after they had forgotten the capital of Afghanistan and the dates of the Wars of the Roses.”
Anne of Avonlea

Character Development: 1.5 – Had this novel been the first in its series, I believe that I might have given this category the full 2 points. But since this novel took place in just 2 years, whereas the first did over 5, many of the characters seemed hardly to change whatsoever. Of course, this isn’t strictly true – there were notable changes in many of the characters, but in comparison with Anne of Green Gables it was considerably lesser. 

Plot Movement: 2 – As with the first book, Anne of Avonlea featured a wonderful plot that was indisputably interesting.

Attention to Detail: 1.5 – Just like I said in the first category, this novel wasn’t necessarily lacking in detail and yet in comparison with the prequel it seemed much less.

Writing Style/Voice: 2 – L.M. Montgomery was a prolific writer, and this is evidenced by her brilliant voice in this second novel. Thankfully, this was one of the categories I found myself delighted with when reading the book, due to its unchanged nature despite following up the notable Anne of Green Gables.

Entertainment Factor: 4 – And of course, I absolutely loved this book despite its minor flaws. I recommend this book to any interested reader.