Thursday, June 30, 2011

June Reflections


June was a very exciting month! I read some great mysteries. I read a little Rex Stout, a little Dorothy Sayers, a little Agatha Christie, a little Lilian Jackson Braun. I also read some middle grade and young adult books! I haven't been reading as many of those in recent months, so it was nice to get back to that. I had some reading lows (books that I had to keep forcing myself to read) and some reading highs (books that I didn't want to put down at all). There were times I was super-excited to be reading, and a few times where I didn't want to read ANYTHING at all.

As far as challenges go, I was able to read at least one book for each of these challenges: New Author ChallengeTBR Pile Challenge, Historical Fiction, Cruisin' Thru the Cozies. I also joined the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge and the Not-so-Mini Nero Wolfe challenge

This month I read 56 books! It helped that I participated in two read-a-thons, the Spring Into Summer Readathon and the 48 Hour Readathon! I also completed two challenges: The Once Upon A Time challenge and the Spring Reading Thing challenge

Picture Books: 3; Children's Books: 3; Middle Grade: 8; Young Adult: 7; Adult: 16; Christian Nonfiction: 5; Christian Fiction: 10; Nonfiction: 2; Graphic Novels: 2.

Review Copies: 27; Library Books: 23; Books I Bought: 6.

My top five:

The Golden Spiders. Rex Stout. 
The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic. Jennifer Trafton.
Doggirl. Robin Brande.
To Dream in the City of Sorrows. (Babylon 5: Book #9). Kathryn M. Drennan.
A Monster Calls. Patrick Ness. 

Reviews at Becky's Book Reviews

Our Only May Amelia. Jennifer L. Holm. 1999. HarperCollins.
A Monster Calls. Patrick Ness. Inspired by an idea from Siobhan Dowd. 2011. September 2011. Candlewick Press. 224 pages.
Doggirl. Robin Brande. 2011. Ryer Publishing. 269 pages.
The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic. Jennifer Trafton. With illustrations by Brett Helquist. 2010. Penguin. 352 pages.
The Rumpelstiltskin Problem. Vivian Vande Velde. 2000. Houghton Mifflin. 116 pages.
William's Midsummer Dreams. Zilpha Keatley Snyder. 2011. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages.
Small Acts of Amazing Courage. Gloria Whelan. 2011. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages.
The Boy at the End of the World. Greg van Eekhout. 2011. Bloomsbury. 224 pages.
As I Wake. Elizabeth Scott. 2011. September 2011. Penguin. 224 pages.
Beauty Queens. Libba Bray. 2011. Scholastic.  400 pages.
Legend by Marie Lu. 2011. November 2011. Penguin. 336 pages.
Ruby Red. Kerstin Gier. 2011. Henry Holt. 336 pages.
Rage. Jackie Morse Kessler. 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 228 pages.
Front and Center. Catherine Gilbert Murdock. 2009. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 256 pages.
Miles from Ordinary. Carol Lynch Williams. 2011. St. Martin's Press. 208 pages.
Crocodile on the Sandbank. Amelia Peabody Mystery #1. Elizabeth Peters. 1975/2002. Hachette Books. 272 pages.
The Golden Spiders. Rex Stout. 1953. Random House. 206 pages.
True Grit. Charles Portis. 1968. Overlook Press. 224 pages.
Too Many Cooks. A Nero Wolfe Mystery. Rex Stout. 1938/1993. Bantam. 240 pages.
Death of a Doxy. A Nero Wolfe Mystery. Rex Stout. 1966/1996. Chivers Press. 202 pages.
Three at Wolfe's Door. Rex Stout. 1960. Viking. 186 pages
The Cat Who Could Read Backwards. Lilian Jackson Braun. 1966. Compass Press. 227 pages.
The Cat Who Turned On and Off. Lilian Jackson Braun. 1968. Penguin. 265 pages.
The Cat Who Saw Red. Lilian Jackson Braun. 1986. Penguin. 250 pages.
The Cat Who Played Brahms. Lilian Jackson Braun. 1987. Penguin. 256 pages.
Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance. Gyles Brandreth. 2007. Simon & Schuster. 368 pages.
Fer-de-lance. A Nero Wolfe Mystery. Rex Stout. 1934/1997. Random House. 304 pages.
Clouds of Witness. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1927/1966. Avon. 224 pages.
Nemesis. Agatha Christie. 1971/2011. HarperCollins. 304 pages.
The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1928/1995. HarperCollins. 256 pages.
To Dream in the City of Sorrows. (Babylon 5: Book #9). Kathryn M. Drennan. Based on the series by J. Michael Straczynski. 1997. Random House. 352 pages. 

Reviews at Young Readers

Should I Share My Ice Cream: An Elephant and Piggie Book. Mo Willems. 2011. Hyperion. 64 pages.
Back to School with Betsy. Carolyn Haywood. 1943. 176 pages.
Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator. Mo Willems. 2011. HarperCollins. 72 pages.
How To Get a Job By Me The Boss. Sally Lloyd Jones and Sue Heap. 2011. Random House. 40 pages.
Slightly Invisible: Featuring Charlie and Lola. Lauren Child. 2011. Candlewick Press. 40 pages.
Press Here. Herve Tullet. 2011. Chronicle. 56 pages.
Just Being Audrey. Margaret Cardillo. Illustrated by Julia Denos. 2011. HarperCollins. 32 pages.
If Rocks Could Sing: A Discovered Alphabet. Leslie McGuirk. 2011. Random House. 48 pages.
Babymouse Mad Scientist (Babymouse #14). Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm. 2011. Random House. 96 pages.
Squish Super Amoeba (Squish #1) by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm. 2011. Random House. 96 pages.

Reviews at Operation Actually Read Bible

Hope Rekindled. Tracie Peterson. 2011. Bethany House. 352 pages.
In Grandma's Attic. Arleta Richardson. 1974/2011. David C. Cook. 144 pages.
More Stories from Grandma's Attic. Arleta Richardson. 1979/2011. David C. Cook. 144 pages.
Note to Self: The Discipline of Preaching to Yourself. Joe Thorn. Foreword by Sam Storms. 2011. Crossway Books. 144 pages.
How Huge the Night. Lydia Munn and Heather Munn. 2011. Kregel. 304 pages.
China Cry. Nora Lam with Richard Schneider. 1991. Thomas Nelson. 260 pages.
Saint Training. Elizabeth Fixmer. 2010. Zonderkidz. 256 pages.
Pompeii: City On Fire. T.L. Higley. 2011. B&H Publishing Group. 368 pages.
Mirror Ball. Matt Redman. 2011. David C. Cook. 176 pages.
Troo Makes A Splash (Rainforest Friends). Cheryl Crouch. Illustrated by Kevin Zimmer. 2011. Zonderkidz. 32 pages.
Troo's Secret Clubhouse. Cheryl Crouch. Illustrated by Kevin Zimmer. 2011. Zonderkidz. 32 pages.
Troo's Big Climb. Cheryl Crouch. Illustrated by Kevin Zimmer. 2011. Zonderkidz. 32 pages.
Tombstones and Banana Trees: A True Story of Revolutionary Forgiveness. Medad Birungi with Craig Borlase. 2011. David C. Cook. 208 pages.
Am I Really A Christian? Mike McKinley. Foreword by Kirk Cameron. 2011. Crossway. 160 pages.
Martha. Diana Wallis Taylor. 2011. Revell. 256 pages.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Boy At The End of the World (MG)

The Boy at the End of the World. Greg van Eekhout. 2011. Bloomsbury. 224 pages.

This is what he knew:
His name was Fisher.
The world was dangerous.
He was alone.
And that was all.

I definitely enjoyed Greg van Eekhout's The Boy At The End of the World. If you like survival stories or action-adventure stories or post-apocalyptic stories, then this one may be for you. Fisher, our hero, is truly the boy at the end of the world. There's a good possibility that he's the only human left on earth. At least the only human awakened from his pod. And if the other arks on earth look like Fisher's, well, the world could be in trouble.

But he's not completely alone in the world. He's guided by a robot, Click, and together they set out on a journey. To find other arks--other survivors, perhaps, and to put as much distance as possible between themselves and the bad guys--the evil robots that have destroyed Fisher's ark. (Not that it was *his* ark. But the ark that housed his pod.)

The Boy at the End of the World is imaginative. The author has created quite a world--an unfriendly world--for our hero to try to navigate. Some of the creatures that have evolved or survived-long-enough-in-the-world-to-evolve are quite interesting. (Though they take some getting used to perhaps.) I did enjoy this one. It was a quick read with plenty of action and suspense.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, June 28, 2011

To Dream in The City of Sorrows

To Dream in the City of Sorrows. (Babylon 5: Book #9). Kathryn M. Drennan. Based on the series by J. Michael Straczynski. 1997. Random House. 352 pages.

From the prologue: Marcus Cole walked with a limp, a fact that did not go unnoticed by the young Minbari acolyte as Marcus entered the small temple. Marcus didn't recognize the rather chubby Minbari and briefly wondered where Sech Turval was, but as he was not in the mood for conversation, he simply made a note to seek out the venerable Minbari teacher at a later time.

From chapter one: "Alpha 7 to Alpha Leader, I'm hit!" 

I almost don't know where to start with this review. I could start by asking you if you've discovered how wonderful a show Babylon 5 is. I could mention that at the moment, at least, you can watch the first season online at the WB. (Though I discovered--the hard way--that these moments of "generosity" (aka availability) aren't to be taken for granted. What is available for a few weeks at a time, may disappear suddenly leaving folks a bit disgruntled.) Amazon also offers individual episodes for download--for a price, of course. If you're a fan, I'd be curious to know how many episodes it took for you to get hooked, for me, it was five. Once I saw Parliament of Dreams, well, I knew that it was the start of a beautiful friendship. Or obsession. You know, whichever you prefer.

So the framework of To Dream In The City of Sorrows--the prologue and epilogue--take place shortly after season three's "Grey 17 is Missing," and are narrated by Marcus Cole. (I just LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Marcus Cole!) But most of the book focuses on what was happening with Jeffrey Sinclair after he left Babylon 5. (The gap between the last episode of season one, "Chrysalis," and the incredibly intense two-part episode "War Without End" of season three.)

IN the first episode of season two, viewers learn that Jeffrey Sinclair has been suddenly removed from his position on Babylon 5 and reassigned to Minbar. Officially he is the "ambassador from Earth" on Minbar. The FIRST human ambassador to Minbar. Unofficially, well, he's out of favor with Earth Alliance. But that may just prove to everyone's advantage.   


In the introduction, J. Michael Straczynski writes, "What you hold in your hand is an official, authorized chapter in the Babylon 5 story line. This is the definitive answer to the Sinclair question, and should be considered as authentic as any episode in the regular series."

Read To Dream in the City of Sorrows
  • If you want to know what Sinclair was doing in season two and three
  • If you want to know what became of Catherine Sakai, to learn if these two were able to make their troubled relationship work...with the added drama of Shadows and Rangers
  • If you want to know more even more about the Shadows' movements during this time
  • If you want to learn about how Sinclair became Ranger One and re-energized the Rangers (first started by Valen)
  • If you want to learn more about Minbari prophecies (also their culture and caste system)
  • If you want to learn more about the Vorlons; in particular readers are introduced to Ulkesh. (Loved Sinclair's first impression of him! And his insights about the Vorlons in general. How Kosh may not be the most representative of his race.)
  • If you want to learn more about Marcus. Readers meet William Cole AND Marcus Cole. Two brothers with an imperfect relationship. William is an eager ranger-in-training trying to get Marcus to join him, but, things don't always go as planned. Viewers get some of this story--was it in "Ceremonies of Light and Dark?"
I just LOVED this book. I loved learning more of Sinclair's story. I loved the introduction to Marcus Cole. Granted, I already loved him, but learning more of his story, well, it makes me love him even more! It's just a GREAT book.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, June 27, 2011

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club

The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1928/1995. HarperCollins. 256 pages.

"What in the world, Wimsey, are you doing in this Morgue?" demanded Captain Fentiman, flinging aside the "Evening Banner" with the air of a man released from an irksome duty.

Lord Peter Wimsey's skills will be tested in The Unpleasantness at The Bellona Club. For a great deal of money depends on his preciseness, his thoroughness. General Fentiman, a ninety-year-old man, died at his club (and Peter's club). No one thought anything of it at all.

Until they learned that the General's sister, Lady Dormer, had also died that morning. Until they learned that there was some question as to inheritance.

If the General died first, then Ann Dorland would inherit most of Lady Dormer's money, Major Robert Fentiman and Captain George Fentiman would receive a little money. If Lady Dormer died first, then the General would have inherited most of his sister's money. And with the General being dead too, well, that leaves his two sons quite a bit wealthier.

But who died first? The Lady's death was discovered first. But that doesn't necessarily mean she died first. For nobody is quite sure when the General died. No one suspected him of being dead. He was just sitting still in his chair holding a newspaper for hours and hours.

So Lord Peter Wimsey is asked to help 'solve' this mystery. And at first, it is just a matter of determining when he died naturally. But some of the clues just don't make sense unless he died by unnatural causes.

Was it murder? Can Lord Peter Wimsey solve this case?

I love Lord Peter Wimsey. I do. I love him. And I enjoyed The Unpleasantness at The Bellona Club. I thought it was an interesting mystery.

Lord Peter Wimsey to Mr. Murbles:
"Acid man you are," said Wimsey. "No reverence, no simple faith or anything of that kind. Do lawyers ever go to heaven?"
"I have no information on that point," said Mr. Murbles dryly. (15)

Marjorie Phelps to Lord Peter:

"Peter Wimsey! You sit there, looking a perfectly well-bred imbecile, and then in the most underhand way you twist people into doing things they ought to blush for. No wonder you detect things. I will not do your worming for you!" (162)

"Moral certainty is not the same thing as proof." (205)
Other books in the series:
  • Whose Body (1923)
  • Clouds of Witness (1926)
  • Unnatural Death (1927)
  • The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club (1928)
  • Strong Poison (1931)
  • Five Red Herrings (1931)
  • Have His Carcase (1932)
  • Murder Must Advertise (1933)
  • The Nine Tailors (1934)
  • Gaudy Night (1935)
  • Busman's Honeymoon (1937)
  • Complete Stories of Lord Peter (1972)
  • Thrones, Dominations (Dorothy Sayers and Jill Paton Walsh) (1998)
  • A Presumption of Death (Jill Paton Walsh) (2002)
  • The Attenbury Emeralds (Jill Paton Walsh) (2010)


© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Classics Circuit: John Steinbeck Tour In August!!!

John Steinbeck is one of my *favorite* authors, and he's the featured author on tour this August. You can sign up now at The Classics Circuit

The Steinbeck I've reviewed:


© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Joining the Agatha Christie Reading Challenge

I knew that Kerrie was trying to read Agatha Christie's novels in the order of publication, but I didn't know it was an official-official reading challenge where readers could read at their own pace and in whatever order they liked. So I am happy to join this one--a little late, perhaps. But I've been reading Christie for all of 2011, so I'm going to "count" those too. I am relatively sure the challenge was open at that point. And there's a monthly Agatha Christie book carnival too! (When I think of all the reviews I could have been submitting...oh well, what's done is done!)

  1. The Mysterious Affair At Styles.  
  2. Murder on the Orient Express.
  3. Murder at the Vicarage. A Miss Marple Mystery.  
  4. The A.B.C. Murders. (Hercule Poirot).  
  5. The Body in the Library. (Miss Marple).
  6. Five Little Pigs. (Hercule Poirot)
  7. A Murder is Announced.
  8. 4:50 From Paddington
  9. Cards on the Table.  
  10. Appointment with Death.  
  11. At Bertram's Hotel
  12. Cat Among the Pigeons
  13. Sad Cypress.  
  14. And Then There Were None
  15. The Moving Finger
  16. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd
  17. A Caribbean Mystery.  
  18. The Big Four.  
  19. Evil Under the Sun.  
  20. Taken at the Flood.  
  21. Dead Man's Folly.
  22. Nemesis
  23. Elephants Can Remember. Agatha Christie.  
  24. A Murder on the Links
  25.  A Pocket Full of Rye.
  26. Dumb Witness.
  27. Hercule Poirot's Christmas.  [2011 ends]
  28. The Tuesday Club Murders. Agatha Christie.  
  29. Poirot Investigates. Agatha Christie. 1924/2011. HarperCollins. 256 pages.
  30. Mrs. McGinty's Dead. Agatha Christie. 1952/2011. HarperCollins. 272 pages.   
  31. The Man in the Brown Suit. Agatha Christie. 1924/2012. HarperCollins. 320 pages.
  32. One, Two Buckle My Shoe. Agatha Christie. 1940/2011. HarperCollins. 240 pages.    
  33. The Seven Dials Mystery. Agatha Christie. 1929/2012. HarperCollins. 304 pages.
  34. The Secret Adversary. Agatha Christie. 1922/2012. HarperCollins. 352 pages. 
  35. The Mystery of the Blue Train. Agatha Christie. 1928/2011. HarperCollins. 320 pages.
  36. The Secret of Chimneys. Agatha Christie. 1925/2012. HarperCollins. 336. 



    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    Sunday Salon: Week in Review #26

    What I Reviewed at Becky's Book Reviews

    The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic. Jennifer Trafton. With illustrations by Brett Helquist. 2010. Penguin. 352 pages.
    The Rumpelstiltskin Problem. Vivian Vande Velde. 2000. Houghton Mifflin. 116 pages.
    William's Midsummer Dreams. Zilpha Keatley Snyder. 2011. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages.
    Small Acts of Amazing Courage. Gloria Whelan. 2011. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages. 
    Nemesis. Agatha Christie. 1971/2011. HarperCollins. 304 pages.
    Front and Center. Catherine Gilbert Murdock. 2009. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 256 pages.
    Miles from Ordinary. Carol Lynch Williams. 2011. St. Martin's Press. 208 pages.


    What I Reviewed at Young Readers

    Press Here. Herve Tullet. 2011. Chronicle. 56 pages.
    Back to School with Betsy. Carolyn Haywood. 1943. 176 pages.
    Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator. Mo Willems. 2011. HarperCollins. 72 pages.
    If Rocks Could Sing: A Discovered Alphabet. Leslie McGuirk. 2011. Random House. 48 pages.
    Babymouse Mad Scientist (Babymouse #14). Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm. 2011. Random House. 96 pages.
    Squish Super Amoeba (Squish #1) by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm. 2011. Random House. 96 pages.


    What I Reviewed at Operation Actually Read Bible

    Saint Training. Elizabeth Fixmer. 2010. Zonderkidz. 256 pages.
    Pompeii: City On Fire. T.L. Higley. 2011. B&H Publishing Group. 368 pages.
    Mirror Ball. Matt Redman. 2011. David C. Cook. 176 pages.
    Troo Makes A Splash (Rainforest Friends). Cheryl Crouch. Illustrated by Kevin Zimmer. 2011. Zonderkidz. 32 pages.
    Troo's Secret Clubhouse. Cheryl Crouch. Illustrated by Kevin Zimmer. 2011. Zonderkidz. 32 pages.
    Troo's Big Climb. Cheryl Crouch. Illustrated by Kevin Zimmer. 2011. Zonderkidz. 32 pages.
    Tombstones and Banana Trees: A True Story of Revolutionary Forgiveness. Medad Birungi with Craig Borlase. 2011. David C. Cook. 208 pages.
    Am I Really A Christian? Mike McKinley. Foreword by Kirk Cameron. 2011. Crossway. 160 pages.

    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    Saturday, June 25, 2011

    Library Loot: Fifth Trip in June

    New Loot:

    Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator by Mo Willems
    Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace
    Betsy-Tacy and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace
    Betsy-Tacy Go Over the Big Hill by Maud Hart Lovelace
    City of Tranquil Light by Bo Caldwell
    So Big by Edna Ferber
    The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
    Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson

    Leftover Loot:

    Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith
    Sleeping Murder: A Miss Marple mystery by Agatha Christie
    A Pocket Full of Rye: A Miss Marple mystery by Agatha Christie
    They Do it With Mirrors a Miss Marple mystery by Agatha Christie
    The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side: A Miss Marple mystery by Agatha Christie
    Elephants Can Remember by Agatha Christie
    A Presumption of Death by Jill Paton Walsh and Dorothy Sayers
    The Attenbury Emeralds by Jill Paton Walsh
    An Expert in Murder: A New Mystery Featuring Josephine Tey by Nicola Upson
    The Islands of the Blessed by Nancy Farmer
    The Pendericks by Jeanne Birdsall
    The Pendericks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall
    Betsy and the Boys by Carolyn Haywood
    Angel Isle by Peter Dickinson
    Jane's Adventures by Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy (Jane's Adventures in and out of the book, Jane's Adventures on the Island of Peeg, Jane's Adventures in a Balloon)


    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.   

    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    Friday, June 24, 2011

    Nemesis

    Nemesis. Agatha Christie. 1971/2011. HarperCollins. 304 pages.

    In the afternoons it was the custom of Miss Jane Marple to unfold her second newspaper.

    I wouldn't say that it's essential that you read A Caribbean Mystery before reading Nemesis. But. If you have read it, you might appreciate Nemesis more.

    Nemesis opens with Miss Marple reading about the death of Mr. Rafiel in the newspaper. She met him in the Caribbean, and he was her greatest ally there when she was busy solving that mystery. She liked him a good deal, even though they never reconnected in England afterward. And Mr. Rafiel had great respect for Miss Marple!

    One day Miss Marple is contacted by Rafiel's lawyers. They have something important to tell her. It seems that Mr. Rafiel left her a final challenge, a final mystery to solve.

    Have you read the book of Daniel? Do you remember when King Nebuchadnezzar dreamed something disturbing and wanted help interpreting that dream. He asked all the wise men for help. But. He refused to tell them the dream. They must come up with the dream and the interpretation. If they weren't able to do both, then they'd be killed.

    Nemesis reminded me of this Bible story. For Mr. Rafiel has not provided Miss Marple with any details. Not a where. Not a when. Not a how. Not a who. Not a why. Her greatest chance for solving this one and earning the money he's left her, is for her to go on the vacation he's planned for her: a tour group traveling by bus through England visiting beautiful, historic homes and gardens.

    Can Miss Marple do the seemingly impossible?

    I enjoyed this one. I wouldn't say it is my favorite Miss Marple mystery. But I'm very glad my library got a copy of this one! (And very happy that HarperCollins has recently published such lovely editions of the Miss Marple mysteries.) If you don't mind a couple of small spoilers, I have something to discuss at the end of this post.

    Professor Wanstead and Miss Marple:
    "I don't think I know exactly what you mean."
    "You are being careful. You are quite right to be careful."
    "I have made it a habit," said Miss Marple.
    "To be careful?"
    "I should not put it exactly like that, but I have made a point of being always ready to disbelieve anything that is told to me." (127)
    S
    P
    O
    I
    L
    E
    R

    I was disappointed with the way rape was presented in Nemesis. The discussions about rape in the novel were unsettling to say the least. Now, these words weren't coming from Miss Marple herself. So I don't blame the character of Miss Marple for these careless and harmful words.

    Professor Wanstead:
    "That told against him, of course. Not in the jury's mind, because of course they did not hear about that until after the judge's summing up, but certainly in the judge's mind. It told against him, but I made a few enquiries myself afterwards. He had assaulted a girl. He had conceivably raped her, but he had not attempted to strangle her and in my opinion--I have seen a great many cases which come before the Assizes--it seemed to me highly unlikely that there was a very definite case of rape. Girls, you must remember, are far more ready to be raped nowadays than they used to be. Their mothers insist, very often, that they should call it rape. The girl in question had had several boyfriends who had gone further than friendship. I did not think it counted very greatly as evidence against him." (136)
    Mr. Broadribb:
    "Well, we all know what rape is nowadays. Mum tells the girl she's got to accuse the young man of rape even if the young man hasn't had much chance, with the girl at him all the time to come to the house while mum's away at work or dad's gone on holiday. Doesn't stop badgering him until she's forced him to sleep with her. Then, as I say, mum tells the girl to call it rape." (165)
    These passages made me angry! They did. I wanted to shout at the book. So it's only rape if the woman is a virgin? So the fact that a woman says yes to one man means that she doesn't have the right to say no to any other man...ever? So women are "ready" to be raped? In fact they are out pursuing it?! They are "badgering" and "forcing" them to have sex. Yes, that's right, these poor guys are the victims. Accusing someone of rape is SO MUCH FUN that the women just can't help themselves. They're just begging to be assaulted and raped so they can tell their story to anyone and everyone dumb enough to believe them. What kind of crazy logic is this? It's just wrong on SO MANY levels.



    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    Thursday, June 23, 2011

    Small Acts of Amazing Courage (MG/YA)

    Small Acts of Amazing Courage. Gloria Whelan. 2011. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages.

    How can kindness get you into so much trouble? It started when Mother dropped into sickness and I was left on my own. No, before that, when the war came and Father, a major in the British Indian Army who led a battalion of Gurkha Rifles, went off to the war. The battalion was sent to fight in countries I had never heard of and whose names I couldn't spell.

    Set in India immediately following World War I, Small Acts of Amazing Courage is the coming-of-age story of our heroine, Rosalind, who grew up with a little too much freedom to be a 'proper' lady. Or at least a proper English lady. Rosalind prefers to spend her time with her best friend, Isha. Isha has picked up English, and Rosalind has picked up Hindi. These two love to go to the bazaar. Rosalind isn't allowed--by her father, at least--to go. And Isha, well, Isha--though the same age as Rosalind, is already a married woman; her husband has a stall at the bazaar. Her mother hasn't been feeling the best, so Rosalind has spent the past year or so making her own rules. When her father returns, he's worried. He fears that he'll never be able to make a proper lady of her if she remains in India. She needs some polishing. She needs decorum. She needs to learn a little discipline and obedience.

    But. Her mother pleads for Rosalind to be allowed to stay. But there are a few incidents--you might just call them small acts of amazing courage--that lead her father to make the ultimate decision. His daughter goes. No matter what his wife says. No matter how much his daughter pleads. No, she'll go to England to live with her two aunts. End of story.

    Except that isn't the end of the story at all. For Rosalind will go on encouraging small acts of courage right there in England under the nose of her oh-so-bossy aunt. One of her aunts has spent her life being bullied. And with Rosalind's help, freedom may come at last!

    Of course, that is only half the story. For Rosalind and Aunt Louise's fight for independence mirrors that of India. Readers learn about Gandhi and his followers who were making a non-violent stand of their own.

    Readers might also want to read Padma Venkatraman's Climbing the Stairs.

    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    Wednesday, June 22, 2011

    William's Midsummer Dreams (MG)

    William's Midsummer Dreams. Zilpha Keatley Snyder. 2011. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages. 

    It was on a Saturday near the end of September when the doorbell at 971 Eleanor Street rang long and loud, and then rang again. 

    In William S. and The Great Escape, William and three of his siblings (Jancy, Buddy, and Trixie) escaped their abusive home and traveled on their own--with a little "help" from a friend, Clarice--to see their Aunt Fiona. They were hoping, of course, that she would be willing to open her home to them. She was. And for the first time in a long time--since the death of his mother--William was able to feel good about his life, his situation.

    The first thirty-two pages of William's Midsummer Dreams rushes the reader through nine months of their lives in their new home. (Chapter four, for example, takes us from mid-October to mid-June.) The focus--if you can call anything that abbreviated focused--is on William counting down the days until summer. He is oh-so-excited about the opportunity to audition for a role in Mannsville's summer production of A Midsummer Night's Dream that it is all he can think about, dream about, or talk about. His sister, Jancy, is understandably annoyed. (I thought it was understandable anyway!) He's memorized every one of Puck's lines, every one of his cues. He's READY. He's more than ready. But he can't help being nervous too.

    He'll be spending most of his summer vacation in Mannsville with Clarice, Miss Scott, and the rest of the cast and crew. He'll be living his dream, acting in a real production with real actors.

    So the novel is ALL about William's adventures in the theatre. The drama that happens on stage and off stage.

    If you like Shakespeare OR the theatre OR historical fiction set in the 1930s OR family stories about brothers and sisters, then William S. and The Great Escape and William's Midsummer Dreams may be books you'd enjoy.

    Did I like it? Yes. I definitely liked it. I am not sure that I absolutely loved it. (I was a little hesitant about the beginning, it didn't get off to the best of starts.) But. For the most part, I did enjoy this second book about William. I didn't realize until I finished this one how much I missed Jancy and Buddy and Trixie. The novel didn't have quite the same charm as the first one. But what it lacks in family drama, it makes up for in the theatre. 

    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    Tuesday, June 21, 2011

    Miles from Ordinary (YA)

    Miles from Ordinary. Carol Lynch Williams. 2011. St. Martin's Press. 208 pages.

    There are mice.

    Lacey, our heroine, is holding on to hope. Hope that everything is going to be okay. Hope that her mom will be able to handle her new job at the grocery store. Hope that she'll get to volunteer at the local library as she's planned. But with Lacey's mom, it's hard to be certain about anything. So much depends on what her Granddaddy tells her momma.

    The novel opens with a bad dream, but one could argue that Lacey's bad dream is nothing compared to her real life, the daily trauma of living with a mother who is mentally ill. It's a painful life, a lonely life, having that much responsibility, feeling the weight of the whole world on her shoulders.

    In the quietest of moments, Lacey dreams of simple things: having a friend to talk and laugh with, having some time to herself--time for herself, I should say. No one is taking care of Lacey. No one is helping her, supporting her.

    Miles from Ordinary is the story of one day--just one day--in the life of a troubled family. On this one day, her mom will start her new job, she'll start her new volunteer job for the summer at the library, she'll talk to the cutest guy in the neighborhood, Aaron, and maybe just maybe make a real friend. Of course, that is just the part of the day that goes well...

    Miles from Ordinary is a compelling read, dark yet powerful. It's well written, and oh the characters! Especially Lacey and Aaron.

    Carol Lynch Williams is also the author of The Chosen One and Glimpse.

    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    Spring Reading Thing Completed

    Spring Reading Thing was hosted by Callapidder Days.

    I didn't read exclusively from my list. (I rarely do). And I've chosen some of my favorite spring reads to add to the post. The "not on the list" books are books I read during the time of the challenge that I hadn't planned on reading "for" the challenge.

    My favorite book originally on the list would have to be The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope. (But I loved and adored Mansfield Park too. More than I ever thought I would. I fell for Henry Crawford, I must admit!!!)

    I don't know that I could pick just one favorite that wasn't on the list! I mean that's why I'm including them here! So I can try to persuade people to give them a try. If I had to pick a top three from the not on the list it would be: The Golden Spiders. Rex Stout, The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton, and Doggirl. Robin Brande.

    I do have an un-favorite. I just hated Bumped by Megan McCafferty. 

    From the list:

    1. Mansfield Park. Jane Austen.
    2. Jubilee by Margaret Walker
    3. Persuasion by Jane Austen
    4. Matched. Ally Condie.
    5. XVI. Julia Karr.
    6. Wither. Laura DeStefano.
    7. Elizabeth and the Prince of Spain. Margaret Irwin.
    8. Wickham's Diary. Amanda Grange.
    9. The Throne of Fire. Kane Chronicles #2 Rick Riordan.
    10. Bumped by Megan McCafferty.
    11. The Story of Britain From the Norman Conquest to the European Union by Patrick Dillon.
    12. The Last Chronicle of Barset by Anthony Trollope
    13. Front and Center. Catherine Gilbert Murdock

    Not from the list:

    1. The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton
    2. Doggirl. Robin Brande.
    3. The Black Orchid. Rex Stout
    4. The Silent Speaker. Rex Stout
    5. Some Buried Caesar. Rex Stout
    6. The Golden Spiders. Rex Stout
    7. Death of a Doxy Rex Stout
    8. Three at Wolfe's Door Rex Stout
    9. Too Many Cooks Rex Stout
    10. Fer-de-lance. Rex Stout
    11. Kinfolk. Pearl S. Buck.
    12. East Wind: West Wind. Pearl S. Buck.
    13. The Virginian. Owen Wister.

    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    Monday, June 20, 2011

    Front and Center (YA)

    Front and Center. Catherine Gilbert Murdock. 2009. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 256 pages.

    Here are ten words I never thought I'd be saying...

    Dairy Queen and The Off Season

    D.J. Schwenk, our heroine, is excited to be going back to school. (No, it's not August or September.) But she's been away from home tending to one of her older brothers, Win, after he was seriously injured playing college football. What excites D.J. most--besides returning to a familiar routine--is the fact that it is basketball season. She loves the game, she does. And when she's not worried about pleasing her coach and her family and her teammates and herself and any college coaches or scouts that may be watching her every little move, she's quite good at it. But it's not without pressure. For her coach--wanting only what is best for her--is encouraging her to start looking ahead to college, to start calling different coaches at different universities and seeing what scholarship possibilities there may be for her when the time comes. Yes, she's only a junior, but the time to act is now. If she puts it off until next year, well, chances are that there will be fewer opportunities. But what bothers D.J, what bothers Coach K, what bothers her brother, Win, is D.J.'s inability to vocalize on the court. She sees what needs to be done, but she doesn't speak up. She has all the skills needed to be a great player, but there is something holding her back. And the sooner she finds her voice, the better.

    D.J. doesn't like being the 'front and center' of attention. She doesn't like the way one of her best friends, Beaner, is looking at her. He wants more from her than friendship. And while part of her wants a distraction from her heartbreak--her disappointing relationship with Brian Nelson--another part of her knows that she could never, ever feel anything close to romantic love for Beaner. He's great for laughs, great for hanging out with, he's a good guy, a nice guy, but. He's no Brian. Now she tries to talk herself into the relationship, using his very differences from Brian to show that he has to be a better match for her. But still. D.J. knows that it won't really work out.

    I loved all three books in the series. I loved D.J. I loved her family. I loved how these novels were about D.J. finding herself and getting to be more comfortable in her own skin. Each book we see a vulnerable D.J. get just a little bit stronger, a little bit better, a little more confident. These novels have heart. They may be about sports--football and basketball--but they are character-driven too!

    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    Once Upon a Time Challenge Completed

    The Once Upon a Time challenge was hosted by Carl of Stainless Steel Droppings. I completed Quest the First.

    1. The Ropemaker. Peter Dickinson.
    2. The Land of the Silver Apples. Nancy Farmer.
    3. Inside Grandad. Peter Dickinson.
    4. The Spellcoats. Diana Wynne Jones.
    5. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader. C.S. Lewis
    6. The Throne of Fire. Kane Chronicles #2 Rick Riordan. 2011. Hyperion. 464 pages.
    7. The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood
    8. The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton
    9. The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde

    My FAVORITE, FAVORITE book that I read was The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton. My second favorite book was The Land of Silver Apples by Nancy Farmer.

    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    Sunday, June 19, 2011

    The Rumpelstiltskin Problem (MG)

    The Rumpelstiltskin Problem. Vivian Vande Velde. 2000. Houghton Mifflin. 116 pages.

    The Rumpelstiltskin Problem is a collection of short stories. Each short story puts a twist on the fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin. In the author's note, Vivian Vande Velde picks apart all the problems with the original story, alerts readers of all the holes in logic, argues that the story is obviously incomplete! She plays around with this in her stories, proving that there are many sides to a story, many ways to interpret a story. Some are clever. Some are amusing. All are well-crafted, in my opinion.

    If I had to choose just one as a favorite, it would be Straw into Gold.

    The six short stories are:

    A Fairy Tale in Bad Taste
    Once upon a time, before pizzerias or Taco Bells, there was a troll named Rumpelstiltskin who began to wonder what a human baby would taste like.
    Straw Into Gold
    Once upon a time, in the days before Social Security or insurance companies, there lived a miller and his daughter, Della, who were fairly well-off and reasonably happy until the day their mill burned down.
    The Domovoi
    Once upon a time, before home security systems and trained guard dogs, if you lived in Russia the way to keep your home safe and happy was to have a domovoi living beneath your basement. 
    Papa Rumpelstiltskin
    Once upon a time, before bread was plastic-wrapped and sold in supermarkets, there lived a miller named Otto and his daughter, Christina.
    Ms. Rumpelstiltskin
    Once upon a time, before eyelash curlers and lip liner, there lived a very plain girl by the name of Rumpelstiltskin.
    As Good As Gold
    Once upon a time, before movie stars or rock singers or professional athletes, the people everybody most wanted to meet were kings and queens.

    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic (MG)

    The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic. Jennifer Trafton. With illustrations by Brett Helquist. 2010. Penguin. 352 pages.

    From the prologue: There is a very good possibility that you will not believe a word I say. Alas, it is the risk all historians take. The truest things are often the most unbelievable.
    There is an island in the world, a small but lovely piece of earth, which its inhabitants call (rightly or wrongly) the Island at the Center of Everything. On the day before my story begins, it was as nearly perfect a place as an island in the world could reasonably expect to be.
    From the first chapter: On a dark night in a dense forest while the great wide wonder of the stormy sky threatened to burst through the trees and swallow her up, a girl lost her hat.
    This would not be an event worth recording in the annals of history, except that the girl not only lost her hat, she lost her head. Which is to say, she panicked. When a gust of wind swept off her hat and sent it flying above the trees, she left the path she had been so carefully following to run after the vanishing blue speck. It is not surprising that when she finally recovered her head and sat down to think, she realized that she had now lost both her hat and her way home. 

    I loved The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic. I just LOVED it. For me, at least, it falls into the practically-perfect-in-every-way category of books. The kind of book that you read and instantly fall in love with. The kind of book that you want to reread again and again. The kind of book that you want EVERYONE to know about so they can read it themselves and discover how wonderful it is.

    Persimmony Smudge, our heroine, lost her hat and thus saved the world. For if she hadn't lost her hat, she wouldn't have gotten lost. And if she hadn't gotten lost, she wouldn't have been chased. And if she hadn't been chased, she wouldn't have sought refuge in a hollow tree. And if she hadn't been hiding in that tree, she wouldn't have heard the conspirators talking about digging for the king's gold. And if she hadn't heard about the gold, she wouldn't have known to warn the King. And if she hadn't warned the King, she would have never been sent on her quest. And that quest turned out to be oh-so-important. To the king, it was a joke. But some dangers shouldn't be laughed at! Especially when that danger is...

    Well, of course, I'm NOT going to tell you!!!

    This book is delightful. It's just a JOY to read this one! Great story! Great writing! Great characters! I loved Persimmony. I loved the characters she meets along the way. Some, of course, are friendly. Others not so much. King Lucas the Loftier, for example, is SUCH a brat when we first meet him. I liked Worvil the Worrier--he reminded me of Puddleglum from The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis. And then there is the King's adviser, Professor Quibble. I loved the world she created. I enjoyed getting to know the different inhabitants of the island: the Leafeaters, the Rumblebumps, and the humans (Sunspitters).

    It's a fantasy novel and adventure story--complete with quest. It also has a fairy tale feel to it.

    A broom. A hat. A girl. A hole. Such small things in a big world. But without the small things, there would be no story to tell, and--most importantly--I would not still be alive to tell it. (14)

    "I need more pepper. I can't live without pepper! Don't you know that my thirteenth birthday is less than two weeks away? How can I have a birthday party without any pepper to serve my guests? It would be...It would be...It would be extremely discumbersomebubblating."
    "I beg your pardon, Your Highness, but I believe you mean discombobulating."
    "How dare you tell me what I mean, Nubbins?"
    "Of course, of course, forgive me! I did not hear you correctly at first. I often feel discumbersomebubblated myself."
    "You do not. No one can feel discumbersomebubblated except a king." (18)

    "Why don't you just build another house in a tree that stays put?"
    "You mean move again?" he groaned.
    "Well, anyway, that was brave of you, jumping onto a moving tree like that," she said, trying to make him feel better.
    Worvil sat up quickly. "Brave? Was that brave? Oh, no! I'll never do it again, I promise."
    "But someday you might--"
    "DON'T! Don't say that word!"
    "What word? I didn't even get a chance to finish!"
    "You said might!" Worvil covered his face with his hands. "Of all the words that have ever been invented, that is the worst. All of the terror in the world hangs on the word might. The Leafeaters might kidnap me and keep me locked up underground forever. They might tie me to a tree and leave me to be eaten by poison-tongued jumping tortoises. A hurricane might flood the Willow Woods and both of us drown.."
    "Well, there certainly isn't much chance of that happening!" said Persimmony. "The sun is shining and there isn't a cloud in the sky."
    "But it might. Anything might happen."
    "Right. You might find your house again and live happily ever after."
    "But I might not."
    Persimmony stared at Worvil and discovered that she liked him. He was a coward, certainly, but he had Imagination. She liked people with Imagination. (42-43)

    Life is a mess and a miracle. So pick up a broom and dance. (328)

    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    Sunday Salon: Week In Review #25

    What I reviewed at Becky's Book Reviews

    Doggirl. Robin Brande. 2011. Ryer Publishing. 269 pages.  
    The Cat Who Saw Red. Lilian Jackson Braun. 1986. Penguin. 250 pages.
    The Cat Who Played Brahms. Lilian Jackson Braun. 1987. Penguin. 256 pages.
    Oscar Wilde and a Death of No Importance. Gyles Brandreth. 2007. Simon & Schuster. 368 pages.
    Fer-de-lance. A Nero Wolfe Mystery. Rex Stout. 1934/1997. Random House. 304 pages.
    Clouds of Witness. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1927/1966. Avon. 224 pages.

    What I reviewed at Young Readers
    Just Being Audrey. Margaret Cardillo. Illustrated by Julia Denos. 2011. HarperCollins. 32 pages.
    How To Get a Job By Me The Boss. Sally Lloyd Jones and Sue Heap. 2011. Random House. 40 pages.
    Slightly Invisible: Featuring Charlie and Lola. Lauren Child. 2011. Candlewick Press. 40 pages.
    Should I Share My Ice Cream: An Elephant and Piggie Book. Mo Willems. 2011. Hyperion. 64 pages.


    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    Saturday, June 18, 2011

    SiS Readathon Report #2

    I had so much fun reading in the Spring Into Summer Readathon! I hope this event is repeated next year! I'd love to do it again. I thought it was just the right length for a readathon!!!

    Books read for the readathon:
    • The Search for Wondla by Tony Diterlizzi
    • Back to School with Betsy by Carolyn Haywood
    • Squish Super Amoeba by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm
    • Babymouse Mad Scientist by Jennifer Holm and Matthew Holm
    • Nemesis by Agatha Christie
    • Saint Training by Elizabeth Fixmer
    • Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan
    • The Rumpeltstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde
    • The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton
    • William's Midsummer Night Dream by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
    Other books read from for the readathon that I did NOT complete:
    • Psalms 1-50 (The Bible, NASB)
    • The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon
    • Joy Comes in the Morning by Betty Smith
    • Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers
    • Pompeii by T.L. Higley
    • Possession by Elana Johnson
    • Cold Lonely Courage by Soren Paul Petrek
    Final Update

    It is now: 9:00 PM
    Total Books Read: 10
    Books Read From: 17
    Total Pages Read: 2427
    Books Read Since Last Update: 0
    Pages Read Since Last Update: 38
    Total Time read: 13 hrs 32 minutes

    Favorite Books

    If I had to pick just one book to have as a favorite, it would be The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton. It is just a WONDERFUL fantasy. Loved the writing style, the language, the world she built; loved the characters and the story. It was just a great book!

    If I get two "honor" books then I'd definitely go with William's Midsummer Dreams by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. It's set in the late 1930s (1938 or 1939?) and it's about William S. Hardison and his perfect summer away from home. He LOVES Shakespeare. And he gets to be Puck in a production of A Midsummer Night's Dream. If you love historical fiction, if you love Shakespeare, if you love drama, then this one is a must! Speaking of historical fiction, Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan is quite the read. It's set in India in 1919. Our heroine, Rosalind, is fifteen or so, and she's getting more independent every day. Her father thinks that his daughter needs the discipline that only her aunts can provide back in England. (And truth be told, one of the aunts IS that frightening.) But her mother doesn't want to lose her daughter. Rosalind becomes interested in Gandhi and the Congress party--the movement to free India from British rule. And this one has some drama!

    Mini-Challenges & More Thoughts on the Readathon

    I did many mini-challenges--I think I skipped two or three? (Still, I did more of the mini-challenges for this readathon than I usually do for Dewey's 24 Hour Readathon.) I thought the mini-challenges were good. They were creative, but not overwhelming. Which is a GOOD thing.
    I have enjoyed many things about this read-a-thon. I liked having updates every two hours during the day. It was just enough space in between to get some reading done. Yet they provided structure and a sense of accomplishment too.
    I am pleased with what I was able to read. Ideally, I would have liked to read two or three more hours so I could have finished one more book. BUT at the same time, it was important for me to have a couple of breaks so I could relax.
    I loved the updates and I love the mini-challenges being timed as they were.
    I wouldn't change a thing! I loved the start time and end time. I thought everything went smoothly!
    YES!!! I would love to participate in another readathon--of course, part of that would depend on the date! But still, I'd love to do this again!
    Thanks for hosting!!!


    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    SiS Readathon Update #11

    I finished reading The Search for Wondla by Tony Diterlizzi.  

    It is now: 7:00 PM
    Total Books Read: 10
    Books Read From: 16
    Total Pages Read: 2389
    Books Read Since Last Update: 1
    Pages Read Since Last Update: 174
    Total Time read: 760 minutes

    The Mini-challenge this time is to answer this question: If you could live in the world of one book, which would it be and why?

    I'd probably go with the Anne books of L.M. Montgomery. I wouldn't want to be Anne. I would be happy just to be one of her friends.

    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    SiS Readathon Update #10 and Mini-Challenge

    Well, I've been able to do some reading today! I was beginning to worry that I might not get my focus back. I was able to read Psalms 26-50 in the NASB--14 pages; Back To School with Betsy by Carolyn Haywood--176 pages; and 303 pages of The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi.

    It is now: 5:10 PM
    Total Books Read: 9
    Books Read From: 16
    Total Pages Read: 2,215
    Books Read Since Last Update: 1
    Pages Read Since Last Update: 493
    Total Time read: 715 minutes

    The mini-challenge is to talk about the books we've been reading.

    So far I've read two graphic novels (Squish and Babymouse), four historical fiction novels (Saint Training, Small Acts of Amazing Courage, William's Midsummer Dreams, Back to School with Betsy), two fantasies (The Rumpeltstiltskin Problem and The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic), and one mystery (Nemesis).

    There were some funny parts in Saint Training. Here is a quote from the book--and the back cover.
    Dear Reverend Mother,
    My name is Mary Clare O'Brian and I am in sixth grade. I would like to join the convent right after eighth grade before I start liking boys too much. I'm already having problems with boys liking me. Gregory in my class throws spitballs at me and told my best friend he likes me. I haven't told him that I want to be God's bride yet. Do you think I should?
    As for inspiring, well, my favorite would probably be Small Acts of Amazing Courage.

    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    Library Loot: Fourth Trip in June

    New Loot:

    An Expert in Murder: A New Mystery Featuring Josephine Tey by Nicola Upson
    The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi
    Press Here by Herve Tullet
    The Islands of the Blessed by Nancy Farmer
    The Pendericks by Jeanne Birdsall
    The Pendericks on Gardam Street by Jeanne Birdsall
    Back to School with Betsy by Carolyn Haywood
    Betsy and the Boys by Carolyn Haywood
    Angel Isle by Peter Dickinson
    Jane's Adventures by Jonathan Gathorne-Hardy (Jane's Adventures in and out of the book, Jane's Adventures on the Island of Peeg, Jane's Adventures in a Balloon)

    Leftover Loot:

    Nemesis: A Miss Marple mystery by Agatha Christie
    Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan
    The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde

    Saint Training by Elizabeth Fixmer 
    William's Midsummer Night Dreams by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
    The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton

    The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
    Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith
    Sleeping Murder: A Miss Marple mystery by Agatha Christie
    A Pocket Full of Rye: A Miss Marple mystery by Agatha Christie
    They Do it With Mirrors a Miss Marple mystery by Agatha Christie
    The Mirror Crack'd from Side to Side: A Miss Marple mystery by Agatha Christie
    Elephants Can Remember by Agatha Christie
    The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon
    Thrones, Dominations by Dorothy L. Sayers & Jill Paton Walsh
    A Presumption of Death by Jill Paton Walsh and Dorothy Sayers
    The Attenbury Emeralds by Jill Paton Walsh
    Cat Sitter on a Hot Tin Roof: A Dixie Hemingway Mystery by Blaize Clement
    Duplicity Dogged the Dachshund: A Dixie Hemingway Mystery by Blaize Clement
    Raining Cat Sitters and Dogs: A Dixie Hemingway mystery by Blaize Clement
    Cat Sitter Among the Pigeons: A Dixie Hemingway mystery by Blaize Clement
    Even Cat Sitters Get the Blues: A Dixie Hemingway Mystery by Blaize Clement

    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.   

    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    SiS Readathon Update #7 and Mini Challenge

    I read two graphic novels this time. Babymouse Mad Scientist by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm (96) and Squish Super Amoeba by Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm (96). Both books were short, of course, but I'm still feeling unfocused. I need a good plan for getting back into reading. But thinking about lunch may distract me!

    It is now: 11:20 AM
    Total Books Read: 8
    Books Read From: 14
    Total Pages Read: 1722
    Books Read Since Last Update: 2
    Pages Read Since Last Update: 192
    Total Time read: 625

    The mini-challenge this time is to name one book you think should be taught in school, grade of your choice.

    Uglies by Scott Westerfeld might make a good choice. There are so many things you could discuss about this one. You could bring in some Twilight Zone episodes, some other short stories about beauty and self-image, you could bring in magazines, etc. And you've got books like Bogus to Bubbly: An Insider's Guide to the World of Uglies and Mind Rain: Your Favorite Authors on Scott Westerfeld's Uglies Series.


    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    SiS Readathon Update #6

    Since my report last night, I've finished one book. I finished Agatha Christie's Nemesis--181 pages. I also read a chapter in The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon--21 pages; and a chapter in Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers--23 pages; and the first 14 pages of Joy in the Morning by Betty Smith. You could say I was a bit restless and unsettled. I wanted to be up and reading something. But I kept going from one book to another to another before settling in and finishing the Christie.

    It is now: 9:50 AM
    Total Books Read: 6
    Books Read From: 12
    Total Pages Read: 1530
    Books Read Since Last Update: 1
    Pages Read Since Last Update: 239
    Total Time read: 595 minutes



    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    Friday, June 17, 2011

    SiS Readathon: Report #1

    So it's time for the report at the end of day one of the Spring Into Summer Readathon. I'll be reading for a couple more hours tonight--at least--but I probably won't do any more updating until tomorrow morning. Since my last update, I've read in two books--not finishing either of them...yet. I've read 100 pages in Agatha Christie's Nemesis, and I've read 74 pages in Elana Johnson's Possession. 

    It is now: 9:10 PM
    Total Books Read: 5
    Books Read From: 9
    Total Pages Read: 1291
    Books Read Since Last Update: 0
    Pages Read Since Last Update: 174
    Total Time read: 445

    My favorite read of the day is The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton.
    I enjoyed the book puzzle and the book-title-sentences. 
    I've loved reading!
    I don't have a least favorite thing. I mean I've gotten sleepy at several points of the day because I've been focused so much on reading.
    Yes, I've definitely met my goals!
    I plan on participating tomorrow. I think I'll take a few more breaks throughout the day. But I still plan on reading.

    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    SiS Readathon Update #5 and Mini Challenge

    I have now read one more book. It was Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan. And it was quite a book! I'd definitely recommend it to anyone who likes historical fiction. It's set in India and England in 1919.

    It is now: 7:15
    Total Books Read: 5
    Books Read From: 7
    Total Pages Read: 1, 117
    Books Read Since Last Update: 1
    Pages Read Since Last Update: 217
    Total Time read: 365


    The mini-challenge this time is to create a complete sentence using three book titles. My sentence is: Elizabeth and the Prince of Spain bumped our mutual friend.


    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    SiS Readathon Update #4 and Mini Challenge

    It's my fourth update, and I can happily say that I've read four good books today! I read William's Midsummer Dreams by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. It is the sequel to William S. and the Great Escape.

    It is now: 5:10PM
    Total Books Read: 4
    Books Read From: 6
    Total Pages Read: 900
    Books Read Since Last Update: 1
    Pages Read Since Last Update: 210
    Total Time read: 305 minutes



    This mini-challenge is about creating a puzzle of three-or-so images that describe a book's title.

    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    SiS Readathon Update #3 (No mini-challenge)

    Since my last update, I've finished one book. And it was a GREAT book. I absolutely loved The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton. It's a fun fantasy novel for children, and it was just a delightful read! I enjoyed the storytelling, the characters, and the characters' names! It's everything a fantasy book should be!!! 

    It is now: 3:10 PM
    Total Books Read: 3
    Books Read From: 5
    Total Pages Read: 690
    Books Read Since Last Update: 1
    Pages Read Since Last Update: 340
    Total Time read: 245 minutes

    I am not participating in the mini-challenge this time.

    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    Sis Readathon Update #2 and Mini Challenge

    So this is my second update to Enna Isilee's Spring Into Summer Readathon. In the past two hours--since my last update--I've been able to read in two books. One book, The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde, I finished. It was a collection of short stories, each story being a twist on the fairy tale Rumpelstiltskin. The other book, Cold Lonely Courage by Soren Paul Petrek, I'm giving up on. It's just a not-for-me book. Which is sad, in a way, because it's set during World War II, and I tend to like books set in that era. But it's about an assassin, and it's just too graphic in violence. I just don't see myself being able to finish it. But I was able to read over fifty pages in it.

    It is now: 1:20PM
    Total Books Read: 2
    Books Read From: 4
    Total Pages Read: 350
    Books Read Since Last Update: 1
    Pages Read Since Last Update: 168
    Total Time read: 155 minutes

    The mini-challenge this time was to create a Wordle.

    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    SiS Readathon Update #1 and Mini-Challenge

    So this is my first update post for Enna Isilee's Spring Into Summer Readathon. I read Psalms 1-25 in the New American Standard Bible. (This is the *last* book I have to complete before finishing the Bible in that translation. So I am so excited to be this close to the end.) So the first twelve pages of this challenge were in the Bible. The first book I completed was Saint Training by Elizabeth Fixmer. I'd already read 68 pages of this one--but 170 pages of it were completed today!

    It is now: 11AM
    Total Books Read: 1
    Books Read From: 2
    Total Pages Read: 182
    Books Read Since Last Update: this is the first update!
    Pages Read Since Last Update: this is the first update!
    Total Time read: 75 minutes

    The FIRST mini-challenge for this readathon is to share our favorite and least favorite move adaptations of a book.

    Favorite book-movie adaptation: This one is SO hard. I just love the most recent adaptation to Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. I loved JJ Feild as Henry Tilney. It was one giddy-making film that captured the fun playfulness of the original novel quite well. While, I wouldn't say that it is my favorite, favorite, favorite movie ever, I would say that they did a great job with the adaptation.


    Worst book-movie adaptation: This one isn't as hard. My choice is The Lightning Thief. The movie was almost a mess from start to finish. At least if you had read the book and actually enjoyed the story and characters. They did so many things that were just wrong!!!

    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    Spring Into Summer Readathon Begins Today!

    I am so HAPPY to be starting the Read-a-thon. (And I'm only half an hour late! But breakfast is important.) Enna Isilee is asking participants to answer a few questions to get things started.

    What do you hope to read during the read-a-thon?

    Saint Training by Elizabeth Fixmer
    The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde
    Small Acts of Amazing Courage by Gloria Whelan
    William's Midsummer Dreams by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
    The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic by Jennifer Trafton
    The Mockingbirds by Daisy Whitney
    Thrones, Dominations by Dorothy L. Sayers & Jill Paton Walsh
    Duplicity Dogged the Dachshund: A Dixie Hemingway Mystery by Blaize Clement
    Nemesis: A Miss Marple mystery by Agatha Christie
    The Story of Beautiful Girl by Rachel Simon

    What book are you starting with? I'm actually going to read my Psalms for the day before starting a book. *But* the first novel I'll be reading is Saint Training by Elizabeth Fixmer.
    I hope to read: 4 to 6 books

    Where are you going to read? At home.

    What will you include in your update?

    Total Books Read:
    Books Read From:
    Total Pages Read:
    Books Read Since Last Update:
    Pages Read Since Last Update:
    Total Time read:


    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    Thursday, June 16, 2011

    Clouds of Witness

    Clouds of Witness. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1927/1966. Avon. 224 pages.

    Lord Peter Wimsey stretched himself luxuriously between the sheets provided by the Hotel Meurice. After his exertions in the unraveling of the Battersea Mystery, he had followed Sir Julian Freke's advice and taken a holiday.

    Lord Peter's holiday is disrupted by shocking news! His sister's fiance, Captain Denis Cathcart, has been murdered, and his brother, the Duke of Denver, Gerald, is the number one suspect. He was spotted standing over the dead body at 3AM outside his home. Lady Mary Wimsey, the sister, was too shocked to make much sense in her statements to the authorities.  Lord Peter Wimsey (and Bunter) arrive to help decipher the clues in this case, in this investigation.

    His family isn't exactly helping him. His brother won't say a word in his own defense. Won't let anyone--not even his brother--know where he was on the night of the murder. And his sister? Well, Lord Peter has his suspicions--as does Parker (Scotland Yard)--that she's not telling the whole truth. In fact, her story is a string of lies. So Lord Peter begins to expand his search to the surrounding neighborhood...

    Can Lord Peter find a way to free his brother? Can he find a way to help his sister? Can he solve the case so that justice prevails?

    I love Lord Peter Wimsey. I do. I just LOVE him. (Just don't ask me to choose between Archie Goodwin and Lord Peter Wimsey--because at the moment, I don't know that I could!!!!) I would have loved to read all the Lord Peter Wimsey books in order, but, I didn't own them all when I first began my adventure into vintage mysteries. So I'm catching up now! According to Wikipedia, the proper order of the books are:
    While I wouldn't say that Clouds of Witness is as good as say Strong Poison or Gaudy Night, I must say it is still a fun read!

    Lord Peter to Inspector Charles Parker:
    "True, O King. Well, you've sat on all my discoveries so far. Never mind. My head is bloody but unbowed. Cathcart was sitting here--"
    "So your brother said."
    "Curse you, I say he was; at least, somebody was; he's left the impression of his sit-me-down-upon on the cushion."
    'That might have been earlier in the day."
    "Rot. They were out all day. You needn't overdo this Sadducee attitude, Charles. I say Cathcart was sitting here..." (38)
    Lord Peter to Inspector Charles Parker:
    "I say, I don't think the human frame is very thoughtfully constructed for this sleuth-hound business. If one could go on all-fours, or had eyes in one's knees, it would be a lot more practical." (48)

    Lord Peter to Inspector Charles Parker:
    "Did you ever read The Lay of the Last Minstrel?"
    "I learnt a good deal of it at school," said Parker. "Why?"
    "Because there was a goblin page-boy in it," said Lord Peter, "who was always yelling 'Found! Found! Found!' at the most unnecessary moments. I always thought him a terrible nuisance, but now I know how he felt. See here." (52)

    Sir Impey Biggs to the Dowager Duchess:
    "Lawyers enjoy a little mystery, you know. Why, if everybody came forward and told the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth straight out, we should all retire to the workhouse." (62)
    A solemn Peter...
    With that instinct which prompts one, when depressed, to wallow in every circumstance of gloom, Peter leaned sadly upon the hurdles and abandoned himself to a variety of shallow considerations upon (1) The vanity of human wishes; (2) Mutability; (3) First love; (4) The decay of idealism; (5) The aftermath of the Great war; (6) Birth-control; (7) The fallacy of free-will. (71)

    Lord Peter to Inspector Charles Parker:
    "Mother said--well, I told you what she said. By the way, how do you spell ipecacuanhna?"
    Mr. Parker spelt it.
    "Damn you!" said Lord Peter. "I did think I'd stumped you that time. I believe you went and looked it up beforehand. No decent-minded person would know how to spell ipecacuanha out of his own head. Anyway, as you were saying, it's easy to see which side of the family has the detective instinct."
    "I didn't say so--"
    "I know. Why didn't you? I think my mother's talents deserve a little acknowledgment. I said so to her, as a matter of fact, and she replied in these memorable words: 'My dear child, you can give it a long name if you like, but I'm an old-fashioned woman, and I call it mother-wit, and it's so rare for a man to have it that if he does you write a book about him and call him Sherlock Holmes.'" (97)

    © 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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