[Review] A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

Publisher and Publication Date: Fall River Press, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Company. 2019. First published in 1843.
Genre: Fiction. Classic. Christmas story.
Pages: 125 printed pages.
Format: Leather edition.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers of Charles Dickens’ stories. Readers who enjoy Christmas stories.
Rating: Excellent.

Illustrations are by John Leech.

The front cover I’ve shown above is not the exact edition I own. The edition I own holds only A Christmas Carol.


A Christmas Carol is considered a novella by Charles Dickens. It has been created in film several times. There is a lengthy list of various editions printed.

People who have not read the story (most certainly) has seen the film. So, I am going to skip a summary that I usually type out and focus on the My Thoughts section.

My Thoughts:

I adore this story. It is one of my top favorites. Most Christmas’s I read it.

Several reasons why I love this story:

  1. Charles Dickens does not merely describe a character; he gives the character teeth and skin accompanied with vigorous and rich verbs.
  2. The story is memorable.
  3. The story is a moral story.
  4. The story is sentimental.
  5. The story is a ghost story, but it is not scary. The ghosts are used as guides, teachers, visionaries, and mentors.
  6. The main character, Ebenezer Scrooge, is a character who evolves. He transforms during the story and is a remarkably different person at the conclusion.
  7. The story is a teaching story using comparisons and themes. For example, indifference versus compassion. Miser versus humanitarian. Pride versus humility. Judgmental versus forgiving.
  8. The story without stating it is Christian because the teachings are a part of the teachings of Christ. I’m reminded of the Beatitudes in Matthew chapter 5. “And the second, like it, is this: You Shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.” Mark 12:31. NKJV.
  9. Charles Dickens wrote stories for entertainment, but he also wrote stories that had a purpose. For example, he wrote stories pointing out social injustice. In A Christmas Carol, I see this theme with a deep and memorable impact. The injustices of the social-economic system especially in regard to children. Those who are rich and people who are poor. The two segments in society rarely mix. The upper society has criticism and presumptions and arrogance towards those who are poor (including against the children.) The division between the two is rarely met even in conversation. Except in this short story the two groups are represented by Scrooge and the Cratchit family.

Scripture links are to Bible Gateway.


[Review] Modern Magic: Five Stories by Louisa May Alcott

Publisher and Publication Date: The Modern Library. 1995.
Genre: Fiction.
Pages: 275.
Format: Hardcover.
Source: Library.
Audience: Readers with an interest in other stories Alcott wrote.
Rating: Good for A Pair of Eyes. Okay for most of the stories. My Mysterious Mademoiselle is the one I dislike.

Link for the book @ Amazon.

Modern Magic is a collection of five short stories.

  1. A Pair of Eyes; or, Modern Magic.
  2. The Fate of the Forrests.
  3. Behind a Mask; or, A Woman’s Power.
  4. Perilous Play.
  5. My Mysterious Mademoiselle.

I’m in the process of reading Little Women for the first time. While at the library a couple of weeks ago, I came across a book of Alcott’s short stories which I’d already heard were vastly different than Little Women.

I cannot say with honesty that I enjoyed reading any of the stories. They are different. They most certainly were different in the 19th century when they were written. I’m not sure what was going on in Alcott’s head to prompt her to write at least one of them. It satisfied a curiosity in me to read this book.

The introduction in this book helps. The introduction in my copy of Little Women published by Penguin Classics certainly helps.

My review will contain spoilers, because if I do not give a little information about one of the stories you will be left wondering what I’m referring too that is so odd about one particular story.

In the first story, A Pair of Eyes. The main character is an artist who lives for his art. He considers that he is married to his work. However, he meets a woman who has these “mysterious eyes” that he must paint. The more time he spends with her the more he is enchanted with her and is overtaken with overwhelming feelings.

I feel this story has excellent dialogue, storyline, mystery, especially in the building up of the story.

A Pair of Eyes is my favorite.

The Fate of the Forrests is a story about a Hindoo curse on a family. I had a hard time becoming apart of the story. I understand the plot and storyline. I just did not care for it.

Behind a Mask is another story in the book about manipulation and control which is a strong theme running through all the stories. At least in this story there is a nice ending.

Perilous Play is about curiosity to use hashish bonbons. I am glad the story is one of the shorter ones because I was ready to move on.

My Mysterious Mademoiselle is the story I dislike, but it too is brief. A middle age unmarried English man meets a kittenish young girl on a train. The description of this girl is feminine with golden curls. This man is smitten. The two share a compartment on the train and exchange a light flirtation. The man takes a nap. When he wakes up, he is seated near a young man-a teenager. This young man is revealed to be the nephew of the man. The young man in female clothes is not what bothers me, it is the young man knew this was his uncle he was flirting with. It’s been a ploy. And at the end, the two leave together as if this “almost escalated” situation is not a big deal.

What I learned from reading Alcott’s short stories:

  1. She can write both long stories and short stories. Not all writers can do this.
  2. She writes excellent dialogue.
  3. She writes unusual and creative stories.
  4. I don’t see the stories as wicked which is what many in the 19th century thought of them. I have 21st century eyes and views, etc. I do believe they are melodramatic, dark, a little sinister and mysterious.
  5. In all the stories there are characters who are untrustworthy because they are manipulative, calculating, and have a ploy.

[Review] Tales From The Perilous Realm by J. R. R. Tolkien, illustrated by Alan Lee

Publisher and Publication Date: Mariner, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2021.
Genre: Fantasy fiction. Poetry. Middle-earth.
Pages: 432.
Format: Paperback.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Tolkien and Middle-earth readers.
Rating: Excellent.

Link @ Amazon

For further reading:
Tolkien Estate
Tolkien’s legendarium-Wikipedia

The book is organized in this order:
Introduction by Tom Shippey.
Roverandom was first published in 1998.
Farmer Giles of Ham was first published in 1949.
The Adventures of Tom Bombadil was first published 1961.
Smith of Wootton Major was first published in 1967.
Leaf by Niggle was first published in Tree and Leaf in 1964.
Starting on page 313 through page 400 is the Appendix. The title is On Fairy-Stories and is written by J. R. R. Tolkien.
The book ends with an Afterword by Alan Lee the illustrator.

Roverandom is the story of the adventures of a little dog who becomes lost. He also suffers under the spell of a wizard named Artaxerxes.

Farmer Giles of Ham has a problem with a giant who is a menace and is terrorizing the land.

The Adventures of Tom Bombadil is several poems that rhyme. Examples of titles are Bombadil Goes Boating, Errantry, Princess Mee, The Man In The Moon Came Down Too Soon, and Cat.

Smith of Wooten Major is simply a man named Smith who lives in the village of Wooten Major. He recounts his tales of Fairyland.

Leaf By Niggle began for Tolkien as a dream he had. It is a blending of Middle-earth and Faerie.
The story begins: “There was once a little man called Niggle, who had a long journey to make. He did not want to go, indeed the whole idea was distasteful to him; but he could not get out of it. He knew he would have to start sometime, but he did not hurry with his preparations.” Page 285.

The last is a brief teaching on fairy-stories by Tolkien.
My favorite quote from this chapter:
“Fantasy is a natural human activity. It certainly does not destroy or even insult Reason; and it does not either blunt the appetite for, nor obscure the perception of, scientific verity. On the contrary. The keener and the clearer is the reason, the better fantasy will it make. If men were ever in a state in which they did not want to know or could not perceive truth (facts or evidence), then Fantasy would languish until they were cured.” Page 370.

Several reasons why I love this book:
1. It holds a variety of short stories and poetry. It is a Tolkien buffet.
2. The last chapter on fairy-stories is a gem.
3. I love the illustrations (black and white) throughout the book. This adds a visual beauty to the book.
4. The story of the little dog named Rover is endearing. I actually gushed while reading.
5. Farmer Giles is humorous. I love this little man who puffs up his courage to take on a giant.
6. This volume is an over-all enjoyable-escape read!

(Review) The Molehill, Volume 5, Edited by A. S. Peterson

Publisher and Publication Date: Rabbit Room Press. 2018.
Genre: Short stories. Fiction and nonfiction. Poetry.
Pages: 252.
Source: Self-purchase.
Audience: Readers who love short stories, essays, nonfiction, and poetry. Eclectic readers.
Rating: Excellent.

Rabbit Room Press link

This is volume 5. Volumes 1 and 2 are not available. Volumes 3 and 4 are available at Rabbit Room Press.

The Molehill is considered an annual journal of a variety of short reading material.
The volumes are not published every year.
Volume 5, published in 2018.
Volume 4, published in 2016.
Volume 3, published in 2014.
Volume 2, published in 2013.
Volume 1, published in 2012.

I have volume 4 sitting in a To Be Read stack. I just ordered volume 3. I’m disappointed volumes 1 and 2 are no longer available.

I love The Rabbit Room website because I can read their information plus listen to music on The Rabbit Room playlist via Spotlight.
The Rabbit Room has a podcast.
The Rabbit Room has an online bookstore. The books available are children’s, Christian nonfiction (including devotional type), fantasy fiction, and classic literature.

A book I reviewed recently was published by (and I purchased from) The Rabbit Room Press/Store. This book is The Door on Half-Bald Hill by Helena Sorensen.

I do not review for them specifically. I happened to come across information about The Door on Half-Bald Hill on one of the pages I follow on Facebook. I have purchased all their books from The Rabbit Room Store and have chosen to review.
After placing orders from them, I’ve been pleased with their prompt service.

My Thoughts:
Several reasons why I love this volume and gave an excellent rating.
~I read the volume in ONE sitting-cover to cover.
~It’s a good mix of different writings that can please any type of reader.
~Pen and ink illustrations.
~Some of my favorites is a chapter on Vincent van Gogh. Another chapter is on the Country Music singer, George Jones. All of the poems, especially those by George MacDonald, Helena Sorensen, Chris Yokel, A. S. Petersen, Adam Whipple, Dawn Morrow, and G. K. Chesterton (actually that’s all the poetry contributors). The graphic illustrations from John Hendrix.

A great benefit of a volume of various types of writings is there is something for every type of reader.

(Review) The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty by Eudora Welty

Publisher and Publication Date: Harcourt Brace. 1982.
Genre: Fiction. Short Stories.
Pages: 648.
Source: Self-purchase.
Rating: Excellent.


I’d had this weighty book in my to be read pile for a few years. I’d started and then became distracted by other books. I became determined to finish this book in 2017 and the goal was met.

Several years ago I took a writing class. The teacher exclaimed that not all writers can write short stories. It takes a certain style and talent to pull off a story in a few pages. I did not fully understand this comment until I read, The Collected Stories of Eudora Welty. While reading this collection of short stories, I studied Welty’s style. She packs a punch in the first sentence or paragraph. She does not wait for a later moment to begin the crescendo for storytelling. I noticed an even pace to all the stories. They are not rushed. They are not too slow. They have a steady rhythm. I wondered if she listened to a metronome while she was writing (just kidding.) The characters bloom at the start of the story. The characters are important to the overall story. The characters are not props or fill-ins to add something that is truly unneeded. Lastly, the stories have meaning. They have a message to pass to the reader.

A total of 41 stories are included. The stories have dates written between 1941 and 1966.

The stories show a view of society and culture of the south. This is the period of time just before the civil rights era. The last two chapters were written with Medgar Evers, and a violence during a demonstration in mind.

The stories include a strained mother and daughter relationship, people at a train station, Mrs. Larkin and her garden, and a couple who meet in New Orleans.

My favorite story is No Place For You, My Love.  The setting is a Sunday afternoon in summer. The place is New Orleans, Louisiana. A couple see each other at a luncheon party. He invites her to take a drive south, away from New Orleans. A drive just to see how far the road takes them. They spend the day together. The day is hot and sticky. I wondered if the insects are accompanying them like an invading army or maybe they are being chaperoned? I have read this story twice. I read it a second time to see if I missed anything and I had. Welty uses the two characters voices, including their thoughts, and she pans out away from them and tells the story herself. He sees something in the woman. He has been observing her dress, hat, hair, mannerisms. Their drive down south was a sightseeing experience. From a large perspective of what they see to a smaller detailed view. Emphasis is made to the sun, heat, wind, insects, speed of the car, preconceived thoughts, the road itself, and the lone bar at the end of the road. My favorite lines from the entire book are in this story.

A thing is incredible, if ever, only after it is told-returned to the world it came out of. For their different reasons, he thought, neither of them would tell this (unless something was dragged out of them): that, strangers, they had ridden down into a strange land together and were getting safely back-by a slight margin, perhaps, but margin enough. Page 480.

I loved this story. Two people, strangers who by chance spend the day together. They were lonely people. They connected. In later years, probably neither one of them told a soul about this memorable day. It is not that I look at this story as romantic and worthy of a heavy sigh. I believe it is a memorable story, because it is filled with the reality of humanity. Despite living in a populated world, some people are still lonely, and they reach out hoping someone will fill that empty spot.