Tuesday, November 30, 2010

November Accomplishments

These are a few of my favorite 'first' lines read in November 2010.

When I wrote essays at school I was always told to begin at the beginning and end at the end. I'm not at all sure that this story has an end. As for a beginning - well, in my opinion, it really begins - as I began - with my father. Anyway, that's where I'm going to start.

The best time to talk to ghosts is just before the sun comes up. That's when they can hear us true, Momma said. That's when ghosts can answer us

Ruth Handler looked absolutely nothing like a Barbie doll. And she did not aspire to.  

So there I was, holding a pink teddy bear in my hand. It had a red bow and an inviting, cute, bearlike smile. Also, it was ticking. 

The wind howled and the flames roared, but the books, as they died, merely fell silent.

November's Top Five:

A Pleasure To Burn: Fahrenheit 451 Stories. Ray Bradbury.
Miss Hargreaves. Frank Baker. 
Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins.
Bright Young Things. Anna Godbersen.
Blackout. Connie Willis.

Number of Board Books: 7

It's Christmas Time! Salina Yoon. 2010. Scholastic. 8 pages.
Duck & Goose, It's Time for Christmas. Tad Hills. 2010. Random House. 22 pages.
Hanukkah: A Counting Book. Emily Sper. 2010. Scholastic. 20 pages.
Clifford's First Christmas. Norman Bridwell. 2010. Scholastic. 20 pages.
Here Comes Christmas! Caroline Jayne Church. 2010. Scholastic. 14 pages.
Story of Christmas. Vivian French. Illustrated by Jane Chapman. 2010. Candlewick. 22 pages.
Cows Can't Jump by Dave Reisman. Illustrated by Jason A. Maas. 2008. Jumping Cow Press. 44 pages.  

Number of Picture Books: 12

Bedtime Bunnies. Wendy Watson. 2010. Clarion Books. 32 pages.
Can't Sleep Without Sheep. Susanna Leonard Hill. Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka. 2010. Walker Books. 40 pages.
Rain School. James Rumford. 2010. October 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. 
Ribbit Rabbit. Candace Ryan. Illustrated by Mike Lowery. 2011. February 2011. Walker. 32 pages.
Ivy Loves to Give. Freya Blackwood. 2010. Scholastic. 24 pages.
Guess How Much I Love You. Sam McBratney. Illustrated by Anita Jeram. 1994. Candlewick Press. 32 pages.
Guess How Much I Love You: All Year Round: Four Seasons, Four Stories. Sam McBratney. Illustrated by Anita Jeram. 2010. Candlewick. 72 pages.
And I Love You. Ruth Krauss. Illustrated by Steven Kellogg. 2010. October 2010. Scholastic. 40 pages.
A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens. Illustrated by Brett Helquist. 2009. HarperCollins. 40 pages.
The Hallelujah Flight. Phil Bidner. Illustrated by John Holyfield. 2010. Penguin. 32 pages.  
Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star. Petr Horacek. 2009. Candlewick. 32 pages.
More Bears! Kenn Nesbitt. Illustrated by Troy Cummings. 2010. November 2010. Sourcebooks. 32 pages.

Number of Children's Books: 4

I Love Christmas. (Noodles Series). Hans Wilhelm. 2010. Scholastic. 32 pages.
Anna Hibiscus. Atinuke. Illustrated by Lauren Tobia. 2010. Kane/Miller. 112 pages.
Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls: The New Girl (#2) Meg Cabot. 2008. Scholastic. 230 pages.
Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls: Best Friends and Drama Queens #3. Meg Cabot. 2009. Scholastic. 224 pages.

Number of Middle Grade: 5

Chains. Laurie Halse Anderson. 2008. Simon & Schuster. 320 pages.
The Haunting of Charles Dickens. Lewis Buzbee. With illustrations by Greg Ruth. 2010. October 2010. Feiwel & Friends. 368 pages.
Libyrinth. Pearl North. 2009. Tor. 336 pages.
Alcatraz Versus The Shattered Lens. Brandon Sanderson. 2010. Scholastic. 304 pages.
Enchanted Glass. Diana Wynne Jones. 2010. HarperCollins. 292 pages.

Number of YA: 3

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins. 2010. Scholastic. 390 pages.
Bright Young Things. Anna Godbersen. 2010. HarperCollins. 400 pages.
The Blending Time. Michael Kinch. 2010. Flux. 254 pages. 

Number of Adult: 7

Passionate Brood: A Novel of Richard the Lionheart and the Man Who Became Robin Hood. Margaret Campbell Barnes. 1944/2010. Sourcebooks. 368 pages.
Blackout. Connie Willis. 2010. Random House. 512 pages.
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal. 2010. Tom Doherty. 304 pages.
Miss Hargreaves. Frank Baker. 1940/2009. Bloomsbury. 336 pages.
Bellfield Hall: Or The Observations of Miss Dido Kent. Anna Dean. 2010. St. Martin's Press. 300 pages.
Desiree: The Bestselling Story of Napoleon's First Love. Annemarie Selinko. 1953/2010. Sourcebooks. 608 pages.
The Nonesuch. Georgette Heyer. 1962/2009. Sourcebooks. 352 pages.

Number of Christian: 7

We Believe in Christmas. Karen Kingsbury. Illustrated by Dan Brown. 2008. Zondervan. 40 pages.
Silent Night: A Christmas Carol is Born. Maureen Brett Hooper. Illustrated by Kasi Kubiak. 2001. Boyds Mill Press. 32 pages.
Music From Our Lord's Holy Heaven. Gathered and Sung by Gloria Jean Pinkney. Art by Jerry Pinkney, Brian Pinkney, and Myles C. Pinkney. Prelude by Troy Pinkney-Ragsdale. 2005. HarperCollins. 48 pages.
A Baby Born in Bethlehem. Martha Whitmore Hickman. Illustrated by Giuliano Ferri. 1999. Whitman. 32 pages.
This Is The Stable. Cynthia Cotten. Illustrated by Delana Bettoli. 2006. Henry Holt. 32 pages.
One Wintry Night. Ruth Bell Graham. Illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson. 1994. Baker. 72 pages.
What Good is God? In Search of A Faith That Matters. Philip Yancey. 2010. Faithwords [Hachette]. 287 pages

Number of Nonfiction: 5

The Good, The Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll's History and Her Impact On Us. Tanya Lee Stone. 2010. October 2010. Penguin. 144 pages.
Ray Bradbury: Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Wendy Mass. 2004. Enslow Publishers. (Authors Teens Love Series). 104 pages.
A Book About Color. Mark Gonyea. 2010. Henry Holt. 96 pages.
Unraveling Freedom: The Battle for Democracy on the Home Front During World War I. Ann Bausum. 2010. November 2010. National Geographic. 96 pages.
Candy Bomber: The Story of The Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot". Michael O. Tunnell. 2010. Charlesbridge. 120 pages.

Number of Graphic Novels: 1

Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean. Sarah Stewart Taylor. Illustrated by Ben Towle. 2010. Hyperion. 96 pages

Number of Poetry: 2

Roots and Blues: A Celebration. Arnold Adoff. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. 2011. January 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 96 pages.
Camille Saint-Saens's The Carnival of the Animals. Jack Prelutsky. Illustrated by Mary GrandPre. 2010. Random House. 40 pages. 

Number of Short Story Collections/Anthologies: 2

A Pleasure To Burn: Fahrenheit 451 Stories. Ray Bradbury. 2010. Subterranean Press. 300 pages.
Bespelling Jane Austen. By Mary Balogh, Susan Krinard, Colleen Gleason, Janet Mullany. 2010. Harlequin. 377 pages.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Bespelling Jane Austen

Bespelling Jane Austen. By Mary Balogh, Susan Krinard, Colleen Gleason, Janet Mullany. 2010. Harlequin. 377 pages.

From Almost Persuaded by Mary Balogh: Miss Jane Everett, middle daughter of Sir Horace Everett of Goodrich Hall in Hampshire, did not call as often as she ought at the vicarage in the village nearby. She called everywhere else--on tenants and laborers and others, on those who sick or elderly or in need of any sort. She took her duties very seriously.

From Northanger Castle by Colleen Gleason: Miss Caroline Merrill smoothed her ruffled-hem skirt as she settled into the chair against the wall. She quickly tucked her feet under the seat to keep them from being stepped upon or tripped over, and confirmed that the heavy, bulky reticule still dangled from her wrist. One never knew when one might need one of the accoutrements from within.

From Blood and Prejudice by Susan Krinard: It is a truth universally acknowledged that every decent straight guy who isn't dead broke, is in want of a good woman. As my dear Grandpa Bennet used to say...Bull.

From Little To Hex Her by Janet Mullany: "She turned me into a frog." I bit back the comment that he seemed to have recovered. "I can't tell you how sorry I am, Elton. I know it's no excuse, but it is almost full moon, and Harriet tends to be..." I paused and added a description of my assistant that seemed lame as soon as it was out of my mouth. "Difficult."

Bespelled By Austen is a collection of paranormal novellas "inspired by" four Jane Austen novels. Northanger Castle and Almost Persuaded are historical retellings of Persuasion and Northanger Abbey. (Names and situations have been altered.) Blood and Prejudice and Little To Hex her are modern day adaptations of Pride and Prejudice and Emma. Names have not changed though many aspects of the novel have been updated to reflect a contemporary setting. Each novella is by a different romance novelist. As you can imagine with reading any collection of novellas I have favorites and not so favorites. (My favorites may not be your favorites.)

My thoughts on "Almost Persuaded": I was not almost persuaded to believe in reincarnation. Unfortunately, that seemed to take precedence over the romantic aspects of this retelling of Persuasion. Much of the dialogue between our hero, Captain Mitford, and heroine, Jane Everett, seeming to be about past lives, soul mates, and such. You might not think it would be so intrusive to the text, but I found it to be so. When they weren't talking about the many times they got their love wrong in their past lives, they were doing things that seemed out of place with the historical time period. (Like shedding some clothes to go swimming together, and then getting intimate.) I did NOT like this one at all. Persuasion is my favorite Austen, and to see it "adapted" in this way irritated me.

My thoughts on "Northanger Castle": To be honest, I don't have many thoughts on this one. Unfortunately, I had a headache while reading this one, and I didn't feel a connection with this one. But. I think it was probably my fault. I think I would have been struggling to "enjoy" whatever I was reading at that time.

My thoughts on "Blood and Prejudice": This one was interesting. I thought I wouldn't like the modern-day adaptations. But I found both Blood and Prejudice and Little To Hex Her the best in the collection. Elizabeth, our heroine, finds out a secret about Mr. Darcy--and Mr. Wickham--they're vampires! But she's still doesn't have all her facts straight. Can Elizabeth discover the truth in time to find love for herself and her older sister, Jane? I liked this one.

My thoughts on "Little to Hex Her": This one was my favorite! Dare I say it? This one rivals Clueless for me on my favorite telling of Emma. (Emma is NOT my favorite Austen. I struggled through that one.) Emma, our heroine, is a matchmaker. That's her job. She runs a PARANORMAL dating service. Elton? Well, he's an Elf. Harriet? She's a werewolf. Frank Churchill? A vampire. Jane Fairfax? Well, she's a moody witch. Knightley? Well, he's a wizard. And her ex-boyfriend.  This adaptation was playful and flirty and fun. It worked really well--from the smallest details--"Missy" who can't stop talking about the emails she receives from Jane Fairfax--to the big declaration of love. I just loved this one. It would make a great movie!


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Candy Bomber

Candy Bomber: The Story of The Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot". Michael O. Tunnell. 2010. Charlesbridge. 120 pages.

When I was a boy I would watch beautiful silver airplanes fly high in the sky, going to faraway places with strange-sounding names. I didn't know then that when I grew up I would fly one of those silver birds myself. I never imagined I would fly food to boys and girls so they would not starve.

Candy Bomber is a thoroughly satisfying read. Should a nonfiction book be charming and satisfying? Should a nonfiction book make you feel good? Why not! it's a good story--a true story--of how one man started "Operation Little Vittles" during the Berlin Air Lift. The story of how Gail S. Halvorsen became inspired to drop chocolates, candy, and gum--via handkerchief parachutes--to the children of West Berlin. (All the while delivering more nourishing food--as he and many others did each and every day.)

I loved this one, I did. I loved learning about the Berlin Airlift. I loved learning about "Operation Little Vittles" and "Uncle Wiggly Wings." I loved seeing how the project grew through the months. How this "little" project grew in support--with volunteers providing candy, gum, chocolate, and, yes, even handkerchiefs. But more than anything--perhaps--I loved hearing how this program impacted the children. The book quotes from some of the many letters he received and even shares some of the artwork he received from kids.

I would definitely recommend this one. It has so much heart and substance.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Sunday Salon: Reading, Read, To Read #48

Happy Sunday! Do you remember how I said I wasn't going to be joining many challenges in 2011? Well, I might have spoken too soon. I do plan on being more selective about it though. 

What I've Reviewed:

Bright Young Things. Anna Godbersen. 2010. HarperCollins. 400 pages.
The Blending Time. Michael Kinch. 2010. Flux. 254 pages. 
Libyrinth. Pearl North. 2009. Tor. 336 pages.
Alcatraz Versus The Shattered Lens. Brandon Sanderson. 2010. Scholastic. 304 pages.
Enchanted Glass. Diana Wynne Jones. 2010. HarperCollins. 292 pages.
Cows Can't Jump by Dave Reisman. Illustrated by Jason A. Maas. 2008. Jumping Cow Press. 44 pages.  
More Bears! Kenn Nesbitt. Illustrated by Troy Cummings. 2010. November 2010. Sourcebooks. 32 pages. 
Camille Saint-Saens's The Carnival of the Animals. Jack Prelutsky. Illustrated by Mary GrandPre. 2010. Random House. 40 pages.  
Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls: The New Girl (#2) Meg Cabot. 2008. Scholastic. 230 pages.
Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls: Best Friends and Drama Queens #3. Meg Cabot. 2009. Scholastic. 224 pages.
 What Good is God? In Search of A Faith That Matters. Philip Yancey. 2010. Faithwords [Hachette]. 287 pages
A Book About Color. Mark Gonyea. 2010. Henry Holt. 96 pages.
Unraveling Freedom: The Battle for Democracy on the Home Front During World War I. Ann Bausum. 2010. November 2010. National Geographic. 96 pages.

Coming Soon:

Bespelling Jane Austen. By Mary Balogh, Susan Krinard, Colleen Gleason, Janet Mullany. 2010. Harlequin. 377 pages.



A Darcy Christmas: A Holiday Tribute to Jane Austen. By Amanda Grange, Carolyn Eberhart, and Sharon Lathan. Sourcebooks. 304 pages.


Candy Bomber: The Story of The Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot". Michael O. Tunnell. 2010. Charlesbridge. 120 pages. 

Currently Reading:


He Knew He Was Right. Anthony Trollope. 1869/2009. Oxford University Press. 992 pages.


Black Radishes. Susan Lynn Meyer. 2010. Random House. 240 pages.

What I'm Hoping to Properly Begin Soon:


Lady Anna. Anthony Trollope. 1874/2009. Oxford World's Classics. 560 pages.


The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James. 2007. HarperCollins. 352 pages.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

2011 Challenges: Victorian Literature Challenge

I am joining Words, Words, Words' Victorian Literature Challenge. This is another reading challenge that was "easy" for me to join! I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Victorian literature. I do. The challenge is for all of 2011. It covers books written between 1837 and 1901. 

I'll be reading Anthony Trollope, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell, and perhaps some George Eliot or a Bronte sister or two. Of course, I might add a few more authors along the way!

I am joining at the Great Expectations level--5 to 9 books. It will probably be closer to five than nine. But I *hope* to get to at least five of these in 2011!

1. A Study in Scarlet. Arthur Conan Doyle. 1887.
2.  Our Mutual Friend. Charles Dickens. 1864/1865. 880 pages.
3. North and South. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1854-1855. 452 pages.
4. Framley Parsonage. Anthony Trollope. 1861. 576 pages.
5. Little Dorrit. Charles Dickens. 1855-1857. Penguin. 928 pages.
6. The Small House at Allington. Anthony Trollope. 1864. 752 pages.
7. The Pickwick Papers. Charles Dickens. 1836/1837/1999. Penguin Classics. 810 pages.
8. The Last Chronicle of Barset. Anthony Trollope.
9. The Light Princess by George MacDonald
10. The Woman in White. Wilkie Collins.
11. Oliver Twist. Charles Dickens.



Our Mutual Friend. Charles Dickens. 1864/1865. 880 pages.

First sentence: In these times of ours, though concerning the exact year there is no need to be precise, a boat of dirty and disreputable appearance, with two figures in it, floated on the Thames, between Southwark Bridge which is of iron, and London Bridge which is of stone, as an autumn evening was closing in.


The Woman in White. Wilkie Collins. 1860. 672 pages.

First sentence: This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure, and what a Man's resolution can achieve.


Framley Parsonage. Anthony Trollope. 1861. 576 pages.

First sentence: When young Mark Robarts was leaving college, his father might well declare that all men began to say all good things to him, and to extol his fortune in that he had a son blessed with so excellent a disposition. 



The Small House at Allington. Anthony Trollope. 1864. 752 pages.

First sentence: Of course there was a Great House at Allington. How otherwise should there have been a Small House? Our story will, as its name imports, have its closest relations with those who lived in the less dignified domicile of the two; but it will have close relations also with the more dignified, and it may be well that I should, in the first instance, say a few words as to the Great House and its owner.


The Last Chronicle of Barset. Anthony Trollope. 1867.  928 pages.

First sentence: 'I can never bring myself to believe it, John,' said Mary Walker, the pretty daughter of Mr. George Walker, attorney of Silverbridge.


Little Dorrit. Charles Dickens. 1855-1857. 1024 pages.

First sentence: Thirty years ago, Marseilles lay burning in the sun, one day. 

Other possibilities:

Miss Marjoribanks by Margaret Oliphant
Hester by Margaret Oliphant
Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell
Life of Charlotte Bronte by Elizabeth Gaskell
Adam Bede by George Eliot
Mill on the Floss by George Eliot
Shirley by Charlotte Bronte
Vilette by Charlotte Bronte
The Daisy Chain by Charlotte Yonge
Lady Audley's Secret by Mary Elizabeth Braddon

If I should finish the three Trollope, I've got the Palliser novels to begin!

Can You Forgive Her?
Phineas Finn
The Eustace Diamonds
Phineas Redux
The Prime Minister
The Duke's Children

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

2011 Challenges: Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge

I am joining My Reader's Block's 2011 Vintage Mystery Reading Challenge. When I saw that six of my twenty-four titles for the TBR 2011 challenge fit into this one--it was an easy decision to make! I'll be joining at the GOLDEN AGE GIRLS level. Reading five to seven books from female authors from the vintage years. POST LINKS TO REVIEWS AT HER SITE.

All books must have been written before 1960 and be from the mystery category.

1. The Mysterious Affair At Styles. A Hercule Poirot Mystery. Agatha Christie. (1920)
2. Whose Body? Dorothy L. Sayers. (1923)
3. Unnatural Death. Dorothy L. Sayers.(1927)
4. Murder on the Orient Express. Agatha Christie. 1933
5. Strong Poison. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1930
6. Murder at the Vicarage. A Miss Marple Mystery. Agatha Christie. 1930.
7. Have His Carcase. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1932
8. The A.B.C. Murders. (Hercule Poirot). Agatha Christie. 1935
9. Gaudy Night. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1936
10. Five Little Pigs. (Hercule Poirot) Agatha Christie. 1941
11. The Body in the Library. (Miss Marple) Agatha Christie. 1941
12. 4:50 From Paddington. Agatha Christie. 1957
13. A Murder is Announced. Agatha Christie. 1950
14. Cards on the Table. Agatha Christie. 1937.
15. Appointment with Death. Agatha Christie. 1937/
16. Cat Among the Pigeons. Agatha Christie. 1959
17. Sad Cypress. Agatha Christie. 1939
18. The Moving Finger. Agatha Christie. 1942
19. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. Agatha Christie. 1926
20. The Big Four. Agatha Christie. 1927
21. Evil Under the Sun. Agatha Christie. 1940
22. Taken at the Flood. Agatha Christie. 1948
23. Dead Man's Folly. Agatha Christie. 1956
24.  A Man Lay Dead. Ngaio Marsh. 1934
25. The Woman in White. Wilkie Collins. 1860.
26.  They Do It With Mirrors. (Miss Marple). Agatha Christie. 1952
27. A Murder on the Links. Agatha Christie. 1923.  272 pages.
28. A Pocket Full of Rye. Agatha Christie. 1953. 256 pages.
29. Dumb Witness. Agatha Christie. 1937. HarperCollins. 320 pages.
30. Hercule Poirot's Christmas. Agatha Christie. 1938/1939. Black Dog & Leventhal. 272 pages.
31. Clouds of Witness. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1927/1966.
32. The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1928/
33. The Five Red Herrings. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1931.
34. Murder Must Advertise. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1933.
35. A Shilling for Candles. Josephine Tey. 1936. 240 pages.
36. The Nine Tailors. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1934.
37. Busman's Honeymoon. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1937.


I'll be reading some Josephine Tey, Dorothy L. Sayers, and perhaps some Agatha Christie. Is there a particular author you'd recommend for me?! I'm open for suggestions!


The Franchise Affair. Josephine Tey. 1948. 304 pages.

First sentence: It was four o'clock of a spring evening; and Robert Blair was thinking of going home. The office would not shut until five, of course. But when you are the only Blair, of Blair, Hayward, and Bennet, you go home when you think you will. And when your business is mostly wills, conveyancing, and investments your services are in small demand in the late afternoon. And when you live in Milford, where the last post goes out at 3:45, the day loses whatever momentum it ever had long before four o'clock.


A Shilling for Candles. Josephine Tey. 1936. 240 pages.

First sentence: It was a little after seven on a summer morning, and William Potticary was taking his accustomed way over the short down grass of the cliff-top. Beyond his elbow, two hundred feet below, lay the Channel, very still and shining, like a milky opal.



To Love and Be Wise. Josephine Tey. 1950. 224 pages.

First sentence: "Grant paused with his foot on the lowest step, and listened to the shrieking from the floor above. As well as the shrieks there was a dull continuous roar; an elemental sound, like a forest fire or a river in spate. As his reluctant legs bore him upwards he arrived at the inevitable deduction: the party was being a success."


Miss Pym Disposes. Josephine Tey. 1946. 240 pages.

First sentence: A bell clanged. Brazen, insistent, maddening. Through the quiet corridors came the din of it, making hideous the peace of the morning.


The Singing Sands. Josephine Tey. 1952. 224 pages.

First sentence: It was six o'clock of a March morning, and still dark. The long train came sidling through the scattered lights of the yard, clicking gently over the points.



Whose Body. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1923. 224 pages.

First sentence: "Oh damn!" said Lord Peter Wimsey at Piccadilly Circus. "Hi, driver!"

Other options:

  
The Tiger in the Smoke by Margery Allingham (library)
Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers (library)
Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers (library)
Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers (library)
Whose Body by Dorothy L. Sayers (library)
Lord Peter: A collection of all the Lord Peter Wimsey stories by Dorothy L. Sayers (library)
Have His Carcase by Dorothy L. Sayers (library)
The Nine Tailors by Dorothy L. Sayers (library)
Death and the Dancing Footman by Ngaio Marsh (library)
Nursing Home Murders by Ngaio Marsh (library)
A Man Lay Dead by Ngaio Marsh (library)

My library lists many Agatha Christie titles--too many to list. Is there one you'd recommend to a newbie?


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Library Loot: Fifth Trip in November

New Loot:

Dancing With Mr. Darcy: Stories Inspired by Jane Austen and Chawton House Library compiled by Sarah Waters.
The Boy from Ilysies by Pearl North
Prisoners in the Palace: How Victoria Became Queen With The Help of Her Maid, A Reporter, and a Scoundrel: A Novel of Intrigue and Romance by Michaela MacColl
The Ring of Solomon by Jonathan Stroud
Enchanted Ivy by Sarah Beth Durst
The Autobiography of Henry VIII: With Notes by His Fool, Will Somers, A Novel by Margaret George

Leftover Loot:

An Expert in Murder: A New Mystery Featuring Josephine Tey by Nicola Upson
Angel With Two Faces: A Mystery Featuring Josephine Tey by Nicola Upson
A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song by Steve Turner
Glitter Girls and the Great Fake Out by Meg Cabot


Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries 

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

The Blending Time (YA)

The Blending Time. Michael Kinch. 2010. Flux. 254 pages.

Jaym stirred as morning light slanted across his cot. He squinted at the pumpkin sun pushing through layers of smudge. No hint of a sea breeze to clean out the Corridor. He'd need a level-4 breather to hit the pavement today. And now he needed to hit it hard. It was getting too close to Cutoff. 

S'teeners do not have it easy. Just ask Jaym, Reya, or D'Shay.

The Blending Time has a promising premise, "In the year 2069, turning seventeen means mandatory Global Alliance work assignments that range from backbreaking drudgery to deadly canal labor." Three teens with different backgrounds have chosen to join SUN's "blending" project in Africa. (How much choice did they have? Well, it was a matter of choosing the army, the canal, or the blending project.) These three meet on the trip to Africa, and it is then that they learn the truth. They really will be "blending" with Africans. Each will be paired with someone--and essentially given the command to 'be fruitful and multiply.'

But it wouldn't be much of a dystopian if it was that easy, that simple.

There are many in Africa that are NOT happy with this SUN project. Many who react with violence. Many who seek to kill these blenders and destroy the villages where these blenders are located. Will Jaym, Reya, and D'Shay survive these dangers?


I didn't love The Blending Time. I'm not even sure I liked it. I did find it an interesting read--definitely interesting enough to keep turning pages. But the ending, well, it didn't quite satisfy. Readers are not given much closure. I have found from reading other reviews that there will be a sequel.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Friday, November 26, 2010

Enchanted Glass (MG/YA)

Enchanted Glass. Diana Wynne Jones. 2010. HarperCollins. 292 pages.

When Jocelyn Brandon died--at a great old age, as magicians tend to do--he left his house and his field-of-care to his grandson, Andrew Brandon Hope. Andrew himself was in his thirties. The house, Melstone House, was a simple matter of making a Will. But it had been old Jocelyn's intention to pass the field-of-care on in the proper way, personally. 

I am NOT a fan of this cover! If I wasn't already a fan of Diana Wynne Jones, if I didn't already know that she can tell some great stories, then I'm not sure I would have ever given this one a try. (What do you think? Do you like the cover? Isn't the UK cover a thousand times better?!)

I enjoyed so many things about Enchanted Glass. I liked "Professor" Hope. I liked Mr. Stock. And Mrs. Stock. (Oh how these two hate each other. One is the gardener, the other the housekeeper. BOTH of course have minds of their own. And think that they always, always know best. This gets quite comical.) I liked Aidan too. Who is he?! Well, that's a good question. One that Andrew eventually gets around to asking. You see, this young boy turns up one day--on a Monday--asking, in a way, for sanctuary. He's being stalked by evil creatures, you see, and his grandmother (who's recently died) always told him to see help at Melstone House if ever he was in trouble. He's just one of three visitors that turned up on that busy, busy Monday. And "Professor" Hope allows them all to stay--in one way or another. He hires an assistant (secretary) despite not really wanting one. He grants her a one month trial period. He hires an assistant groundskeeper, too, though this time on a week's trial. He likes to please people. But don't assume that he doesn't have his own tricks. He can manipulate people as well.

The story centers on Andrew Hope and Aidan Cain. And all the strange people (some human, others not quite) in their lives. Melstone House and its surrounding woods has an interesting history. There's something almost magical about the place. Something that Andrew will need to learn all about...he'll need to... if he hopes to protect those close to him.

I really enjoyed it. I just LOVED the first half. (I found it amusing and charming and lovely). The second half wasn't--in my opinion--as wonderful as the beginning. (Though I suppose you could say most of the action occurs in the second half. The confrontation between good and evil and such.) I didn't like the ending. There was something about it--which, of course, I can't say without spoiling it--that I didn't like at all.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Thursday, November 25, 2010

My Top Ten MG Heroines

10. Mandy. By Julie Edwards. Mandy, I admit, was a childhood favorite of mine. There was just something so heartfelt, so vital, about this young orphan girl who was searching for something to make her feel complete and found it in having her own little secret garden and cottage. Her dreams, her determination, her stubbornness made Mandy work for me.

9. Ida May stars in Julia Bowe's My Last Best Friend, My New Best Friend, and My Best Frenemy. (I would so want to be her friend, her best friend, you know, if she were real and I was a kid again.)

8. Zoe Elias stars in Linda Urban's A Crooked Kind of Perfect. This book was so perfect--so absolutely wonderful that I read it twice in one week!

7. Moxy Maxwell. I love Moxy, I do. My favorite Moxy is *probably* still her first adventure--the one where she is NOT going to read Stuart Little. (The first book was Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Stuart Little. The second book was Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Writing Thank-You Notes. The third is Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Practicing the Piano.)

6.  Laura. As in Laura Ingalls. I loved this series growing up. Especially The Long Winter and These Happy Golden Years. Little House in the Big Woods; Little House on the Prairie; On the Banks of Plum Creek; By the Shores of Silver Lake; The Long Winter; Little Town on the Prairie; These Happy Golden Years; The First Four Years.

5. Clementine. I love, love, love Clementine. She's starred in four books now!  Clementine (2006), The Talented Clementine (2007)Clementine's Letter (2008) and Clementine, Friend of the Week (2010). She has so much character. She's funny and insightful. She has a way of getting into trouble, but you can't help LOVING her anyway!

4. Julia Gillian. I loved discovering Julia Gillian this past year. I could really relate to her. True, she doesn't like to read. But. In so many ways, I can understand her, know her. She's starred in three adventures: Julia Gillian (And the Art of Knowing) and Julia Gillian (And the Quest for Joy, and Julia Gillian (And the Dream of the Dog).

3. Lucy Pevensie. From many of the adventures in The Chronicles of Narnia -- primarily, The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I love so many things about Lucy. Her wonder, her innocence, her kindness.

2. Anne Shirley. The little girl Matthew meets at the train station, the "unwanted" orphan whom almost everyone in Avonlea finds irresistible, is such a kindred spirit. I love, love, love Anne. We meet her first at a vulnerable age. Then all too quickly, perhaps, she begins to grow up, to mature. Yes, Anne is still Anne. And she's still a kindred spirit. But I can't help loving this earlier Anne the very best of all. Anne of Green Gables.


1. Ramona Quimby. Without a doubt, Ramona is my favorite and best. I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Ramona. Whether she's expressing herself (guts, guts, guts) or getting into trouble (like baking poor Bendix).  Beezus and Ramona, Ramona the Pest, Ramona the Brave, Ramona and Her Father, Ramona and Her Mother, Ramona Quimby Age 8, Ramona Forever, Ramona's World. Do you have a favorite Ramona book? A favorite Ramona story?



© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving! I thought I would take a little time to share with my readers the authors I'm thankful to have discovered in 2010!

Josephine Tey -- The Daughter of Time and The Man in the Queue.
Alison McGhee -- Julia Gillian (And the Art of Knowing, Julia Gillian (And the Quest for Joy, and Julia Gillian (And the Dream of the Dog).
Noel Streatfeild --  Ballet Shoes.
Alan Bradley --  Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie.
Kim Echlin -- The Disappeared.
Adam Gidwitz -- A Tale Dark and Grimm.
Kate Milford -- The Boneshaker.
Laurel Snyder -- Any Which Wall.
Clare Vanderpool -- Moon Over Manifest.
Mary Balogh -- First Comes Marriage. Then Comes Seduction. At Last Comes Love. Seducing an Angel.
Lori Ann Bloomfield -- The Last River Child.
Maryrose Wood -- The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling.
Sharon Draper -- Out of My Mind.
Paolo Bacigalupi -- Ship Breaker.
Michelle D. Kwasney -- Blue Plate Special
Lauren Oliver -- Before I Fall

Natasha Friend -- For Keeps.
Natalie Standiford -- How To Say Goodbye in Robot.


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Bright Young Things (YA)

Bright Young Things. Anna Godbersen. 2010. HarperCollins. 400 pages.

It is easy to forget now, how effervescent and free we all felt that summer. Everything fades: the shimmer of gold over White Cove; the laughter in the night air; the lavender early morning light on the faces of skyscrapers, which had suddenly become so heroically tall. Every dawn seemed to promise fresh miracles, among other joys that are in short supply these days. And so I will tell you, while I still remember, how it was then, before everything changed--that final season of an era that roared. 

I enjoyed Anna Godbersen's Bright Young Things. It's set in the summer of 1929--the novel actually starts in May--and is told through three narrators. Three young women--three very different young women--with different dreams, hopes, fears, and weaknesses.

Letty Larkspur dreams of fame. She can sing. She can dance. She wants to be a star. She has come to New York City with her very best friend, Cordelia, but one little argument separates these two friends. Now, on her own in a strange city, Letty is finding life challenging--but in a good way, mostly. Can she make it on her own? Can she charm her way into the good life?

Cordelia Grey is running away from home. It's a good thing her best friend, Letty, has always wanted to 'escape' to New York, has always dreamed of being a star. But, to tell the truth, she isn't going to New York to support her best friend in her pursuit of stardom. No, Cordelia has dreams of her own. She wants to find her father. She thinks her father is Darius Grey. An infamous character if ever there was one. (He's in the "import" business. He's taking full advantage of the Prohibition to make his fortune.) Will she find her father welcoming? Will he be happy to see her? Will knowing him change her life for the better? And can she ever hope to get along with her older half-brother, Charlie?

Astrid Donal is Charlie's girlfriend. Though, she claims to love him--and he claims to love her--this isn't the perfect relationship. There are jealousies on both sides, friction and tension. Astrid meets Cordelia on her first night at the mansion. And Astrid takes to her right away--true this distraction gets her out of a difficult argument with Charlie--but the two become good friends very quickly. What does Astrid want most in life? Perhaps not to be like her mother. Astrid is tired of her mother's selfishness. How her mother uses men and their money. There's definitely more to Astrid than what appears. Yes, she's a "flapper." But she's so much more than that.

I enjoyed this one. I liked the setting--the atmosphere. I liked the characters too. It was interesting to see the relationships develop, the story develop. There is romance and mystery and fashion.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Library Loot: Fourth Trip in November

New Loot:

Glitter Girls and the Great Fake Out by Meg Cabot
Bespelling Jane Austen by Mary Balogh, Colleen Gleason, Janet Mullany, Susan Krinard
A Darcy Christmas by Amanda Grange, Sharon Lathan, Carolyn Eberhart
Miss Julia Speaks Her Mind by Ann B. Ross
An Expert in Murder: A New Mystery Featuring Josephine Tey by Nicola Upson
Angel With Two Faces: A Mystery Featuring Josephine Tey by Nicola Upson
A Hard Day's Write: The Stories Behind Every Beatles Song by Steve Turner

Leftover Loot:
The Blending Time by Michael Kinch

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Alcatraz Versus the Shattered Lens (MG/YA)

Alcatraz Versus The Shattered Lens. Brandon Sanderson. 2010. Scholastic. 304 pages.
 
So there I was, holding a pink teddy bear in my hand. It had a red bow and an inviting, cute, bearlike smile. Also, it was ticking.
"Now what?" I asked.
"Now you throw it, idiot!" Bastille said urgently.

Alcatraz Smedry is back for his fourth adventure. (Alcatraz would want me to tell you it is yet another volume in his biography--not a fantasy novel at all.) The first three volumes are Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians, Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones, and Alcatraz Versus the Knights of Chrystallia. While we still don't know how Alcatraz ends up tied to an altar of outdated encyclopedias, readers do finally see how Alcatraz ended up a hero in the Free Kingdoms. For in this fourth adventure story, it is up to Alcatraz and his friends (and family) to save the kingdom of Mokia from the invading army of Evil Librarians. Can Alcatraz make the most of his talents? Can he lead a country--a kingdom--into battle? Can he handle the responsibility?

I love Alcatraz Smedry. I do. He is a great narrator!
If you've ever thought that books are boring, it's because you don't know how to read them correctly. From now on, when you read a book, I want you to scream the words of the novel out loud while reading them, then do exactly what the characters are doing in the story.
Trust me, it will make books way more exciting. Even dictionaries. Particularly dictionaries. So go ahead and try it out with this next part of this book. If you do it right, you'll win the bonus prize. (37)

Change. It's important to change. I, for instance, change my underwear every day. Hopefully you do too. If you don't, please stay downwind.
Change is frightening. Few of us ever want things to change. (Well, things other than underwear.) But change is also fascinating--in fact, it's necessary. Just ask Heraclitus. (56)

In the year 1288, if you were to pass by an old acquaintance on the way to Ye Old Chain Mail Shoppe and call him "nice," you'd actually be calling him an idiot.
If it were the year 1322 instead -- and you were on your way to the bookshop to pick up the new wacky comedy by a guy named Dante -- when you call someone "nice" you would be saying that they were timid.
In 1380, if you called someone "nice," you'd be saying they were fussy.
In 1405, you'd be calling them dainty.
In 1500, you'd be calling them careful.
By the 1700s -- when you were off to do some crowd surfing at the new Mozart concert -- you'd be using the word nice to mean "agreeable."
Sometimes, it's difficult to understand how much change there is all around us. Even language changes, and the same word can mean different things depending on how, where, and when it was said. The word awful used to mean "deserving of awe" -- full of awe. The same as awesome. Once, the word brave meant "cowardly." The word girl meant a child of either gender.
(So next time you're with a mixed group of friends, you should call them "girls" instead of "guys." Assuming you're not too brave, nice, nice, nice, or nice.)
People change too. In fact, they're always changing. We like to pretend that the people we know stay the same, but they change moment by moment as they come to new conclusions, experience new things, think new thoughts. Perhaps, as Heraclitus said, you can never step in the same river twice...but I think a more powerful metaphor would have been this: You can never meet the same person twice. (224-5)
I loved this one. I thought it was a great addition to a fun series of fantasy novels. If you're looking for action, adventure, fantasy, and humor...then consider reading the Alcatraz books! They're great fun!!!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

What's On Your Nightstand (November)

What's On Your Nightstand is hosted by 5 Minutes for Books.

Here's what I'm reading.

He Knew He Was Right by Anthony Trollope. Trollope is one of my favorite authors--and I'm hoping to finish this one and Lady Anna before the year is through! (I'm signed up for the Trollope Classics Circuit Tour).

Black Radishes by Susan Lynn Meyer. This children's book is set during World War II in France.

The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James. I loved James' Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte. I'm hoping to enjoy this one as well.

Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan. I'm still lacking one book on my 2010 TBR Challenge. This is one of my choices. I'm not quite sure I'm "liking" it yet. It's a bit strange. But we'll see.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Monday, November 22, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Unraveling Freedom

Unraveling Freedom: The Battle for Democracy on the Home Front During World War I. Ann Bausum. 2010. November 2010. National Geographic. 96 pages.

In the spring of 1917, as the United States prepared to declare war on Germany and enter the fight that would become known as World War I, perhaps as many as a quarter of all Americans had either been born in Germany or had descended from Germans. 

If you can enjoy a book about war, then I can definitely say that I enjoyed this one. The focus? On America's homefront during World War I. Bausum explores how individual freedoms--rights--were "unraveled" for the sake of creating a safer (better) America. With the war, differences--any differences--could make you a suspect--at least to your neighbors if not the government. Many things were now seen as being un-American. It went beyond suspecting those of German ancestry. It went beyond suspecting European immigrants.

Bausum could have easily kept the focus on one American war. Instead, she chooses to look at the pattern of how wars have a way of "unraveling" freedom and democracy. How fighting for those principles we love, often means compromising those freedoms--at least during wartime. She specifically makes a connection between the sinking of the Lusitania and World War I with the terrorist attacks of 9/11 and the Afghanistan/Iraq wars.

I found the book fascinating. The section on the Lusitania was heartbreaking, for example. If you're looking for a quick, compelling read, then I'd definitely recommend this one! I loved so many things about it--the layout, style, and format. It's just a beautifully detailed book. The use of color, space, photographs and other images and illustrations wowed me; everything just works well.

The back matter includes a guide to wartime presidents, a timeline, notes and acknowledgments, bibliography, resource guide, citations, index, and illustration credits. 
 

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Libyrinth (MG/YA)


Libyrinth. Pearl North. 2009. Tor. 336 pages.

The wind howled and the flames roared, but the books, as they died, merely fell silent.

I enjoyed Pearl North's Libyrinth. Haly, one of our two heroines, is a young girl with a great gift--a secret gift. The books talk to her. Without opening a book, she can "read" the pages within--the words on the page being a voice in her mind. Haly is a Libyrarian--or on her way to becoming one at any rate. Clauda, our second heroine, is a servant who sees and hears much. Some might even call her a gossip. But she brings word to both Haly and Selene of the danger to come. The threat that the Eradicants--the book burners--pose.

Haly is about to get a chance to know the Eradicants well. For she is captured, but even as a prisoner she holds some power over her captors. But this is one you should read on your own. I'm afraid of saying too much.

I really enjoyed this one. I enjoyed the world the author created. The different cultures. Their strengths and weaknesses. I enjoyed the style--how Pearl North incorporates books within her work. Her use of quotes was fun!
After the burning, Haly fled to the maze of bookshelves beneath the Libyrinth, to the books that had not been burned. "Two houses, both alike in dignity"; "He was just a country boy"; "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit." The multitude of familiar voices comforted her even as she grieved those she'd lost. (13)  
She does provide readers with a list of books she quoted throughout the novel. I liked the characterization too. I didn't quite love it--but I'd definitely still recommend it!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Sunday Salon: Reading, Read, To Read #47

Happy Sunday! Can you believe it is almost Thanksgiving?!

Have you read Shannon Hale's post "Hone your internal reader, not your internal literary critic"? It fits nicely with her "How to Be A Reader" series. She writes, in part, "...it's so much more beneficial to focus on understanding our own internal reader, and therefore ourselves. Where did the story fail you? Where did it work for you? So, what does that say about you? What were you hoping for? What did you need from the story?" She continues, "But I hope to call into question the sometimes assumed idea that we read books to label them as either good or bad." I thought it was a great post.

And Kirkus announced their "best of the year" lists. 2010 Best Children's Books. 2010 Best Books for Teens. As did School Library Journal. Best Books 2010: Fiction. Best Books 2010: Picture Books. Best Books 2010: Nonfiction.

What I've Reviewed:

The Haunting of Charles Dickens. Lewis Buzbee. With illustrations by Greg Ruth. 2010. October 2010. Feiwel & Friends. 368 pages.
Desiree: The Bestselling Story of Napoleon's First Love. Annemarie Selinko. 1953/2010. Sourcebooks. 608 pages.
The Nonesuch. Georgette Heyer. 1962/2009. Sourcebooks. 352 pages.
Ray Bradbury: Master of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Wendy Mass. 2004. Enslow Publishers. (Authors Teens Love Series). 104 pages. 
A Baby Born in Bethlehem. Martha Whitmore Hickman. Illustrated by Giuliano Ferri. 1999. Whitman. 32 pages.
This Is The Stable. Cynthia Cotten. Illustrated by Delana Bettoli. 2006. Henry Holt. 32 pages.
One Wintry Night. Ruth Bell Graham. Illustrated by Richard Jesse Watson. 1994. Baker. 72 pages.

The Hallelujah Flight. Phil Bidner. Illustrated by John Holyfield. 2010. Penguin. 32 pages.  
Suzy Goose and the Christmas Star. Petr Horacek. 2009. Candlewick. 32 pages.
I Love Christmas. (Noodles Series). Hans Wilhelm. 2010. Scholastic. 32 pages.
Anna Hibiscus. Atinuke. Illustrated by Lauren Tobia. 2010. Kane/Miller. 112 pages.

Coming Soon:



Libyrinth. Pearl North. 2009. Tor. 336 pages.
Alcatraz Versus The Shattered Lens. Brandon Sanderson. 2010. Scholastic. 304 pages.

Bright Young Things. Anna Godbersen. 2010. HarperCollins. 400 pages.


Candy Bomber: The Story of The Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot". Michael O. Tunnell. 2010. Charlesbridge. 120 pages.


Unraveling Freedom: The Battle for Democracy on the Home Front During World War I. Ann Bausum. 2010. November 2010. 96 pages.

Currently Reading: 


The Blending Time. Michael Kinch. 2010. Flux. 254 pages.


Enchanted Glass. Diana Wynne Jones. 2010. HarperCollins. 292 pages.



The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James. 2007. HarperCollins. 352 pages.


He Knew He Was Right. Anthony Trollope. 1869/2009. Oxford University Press. 992 pages.
What I'm Hoping To (Properly) Begin Soon:


Black Radishes. Susan Lynn Meyer. 2010. Random House. 240 pages.


I Shall Wear Midnight. Terry Pratchett. 2010. HarperCollins. 355 pages.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Library Loot: Third Trip in November (Don't Be Shocked Edition)

New Loot:

The Blending Time by Michael Kinch. 

No Leftover Loot!

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

The Haunting of Charles Dickens (MG)

The Haunting of Charles Dickens. Lewis Buzbee. With illustrations by Greg Ruth. 2010. October 2010. Feiwel & Friends. 368 pages.

London. Mid-summer night nearly upon us. Meg Pickel stood, as she had every night for six months now, at the edge of her family's roof-garden, and stared into the City, towards the massive black dome of St. Paul's Cathedral.

Meg, our heroine, is searching for her missing brother, Orion, while Mr. Charles Dickens, our heroine's godfather, is "searching" for his next novel. Can they succeed if they work together? Read and see for yourself in The Haunting of Charles Dickens by Lewis Buzbee.

I really enjoyed reading Steinbeck's Ghost. So I was excited to see Lewis Buzbee's next novel. While Steinbeck's Ghost had a modern day hero "discovering" Steinbeck through his works, The Haunting of Charles Dickens goes beyond that. Meg knows Charles Dickens. Or she knows certain aspects of him at least. He is more than an author she loves and adores. He is her friend. Readers "meet" Charles Dickens--as envisioned by Lewis Buzbee. (I'm not convinced Buzbee's Dickens resembles the actual Charles Dickens, but that's another story. Readers meet a kid-friendly Dickens minus some of his flaws.) It's a book about social injustices.
"We're all haunted, my friends," Mr. Dickens practically sang. "By what we forget. Now that we are un-forgetting, we must cease to be haunted. We must act...We must find Orion, Campion," he said. "You and Julia and myself, and Meg--Meg most of all--we must find Orion!"
Her father stood awkwardly and moved away from Mr. Dickens, his back to him. Aunt Julia leaned forward, suspended. Mr. Dickens waited. Her father turned.
"Charles, don't be so melodramatic. This isn't one of your novels."
"Not yet it isn't!" (83)
To call this head-dress a hat would be a gross injustice to all hats. What the lady wore on her head seemed quite undecided; it could not choose whether it wanted to be a very small piece of architecture or a rather large piece of French pastry. It was a head-dress, Meg thought, of considerable ambition. Along with its ambition, and its height--which matched its ambition--were the golden ornaments that hung about it, hiding here and there in the massive structure like sparrows in a hedge. (182)
I thought there were times when the writing worked well--Buzbee's descriptions were a nice touch. But it's not a perfect novel. There were times the writing seemed forced--like it was trying too hard, if that makes sense. (I'm not sure the Beatles references exactly fit.) But. I enjoyed reading this imagined behind-the-scenes story of Our Mutual Friend. And I enjoyed the illustrations. So while I didn't love, love, love it, I did like it.



© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

Pageloads Counter

Search Book Blogs Search Engine

The background is based on a background I found here...with some small adjustments on my part so it would work with the template.
Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP