Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Share-a-Tea June Check-In

  • What are you currently reading for the challenge? 
  • Have you finished any books for this challenge this month?
  • Is there a book you're looking forward to starting next month?
  • Want to share any favorite quotes? It could be from your current read. It could be about reading. It could be about drinking tea. 
  • What teas have you enjoyed this month? 
  • Do you have a new favorite tea?
What are you currently reading for the challenge?

RSV Bible. 1977. Oxford University Press. 1904 pages. [Source: Gift]

The Wretched (Les Miserables) Victor Hugo. Translated by Christine Donougher. 1862/2013. 1456 pages. [Source: Bought]

 Have you finished any books for this challenge this month?
Is there a book you're looking forward to starting next month?

I just started the newest translation of Les Miserables. So I imagine between that and my current Bible, I'll stay busy!

Want to share any favorite quotes? It could be from your current read. It could be about reading. It could be about drinking tea.  
  • Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea. ~ Henry James
  • Because a book can have words and pictures and paper and tigers, but a book still isn't a book, not really, until it has a reader. And then you came along, and you read this book through to the very last page, which was how this book was made. Mac Barnett
  • “Have you drunk your tea?” asked the son. “Yes, and enjoyed it.” “Shall I give you some more?” The old man considered, placidly. “Well, I guess I’ll wait and see.” He had, in speaking, the American tone. “Are you cold?” the son enquired. The father slowly rubbed his legs. “Well, I don’t know. I can’t tell till I feel.” “Perhaps some one might feel for you,” said the younger man, laughing. “Oh, I hope some one will always feel for me! Don’t you feel for me, Lord Warburton?” “Oh yes, immensely,” said the gentleman addressed as Lord Warburton, promptly. “I’m bound to say you look wonderfully comfortable.”
    “The fact is I’ve been comfortable so many years that I suppose I’ve got so used to it I don’t know it.” “Yes, that’s the bore of comfort,” said Lord Warburton. “We only know when we’re uncomfortable.”  ~ Henry James
  • There are as many points of view in the world as there are people of sense to take them.~ Henry James
  • We see our lives from our own point of view; that is the privilege of the weakest and humblest of us; Henry James
What teas have you enjoyed this month? Green Tea. White Tea. Earl Grey.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


The Pianist

The Pianist. Wladyslaw Szpilman. Translated by Anthea Bell. 1946/1999. 222 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I began my wartime career as a pianist in the Cafe Nowoczesna, which was in Nowolipki Street in the very heart of the Warsaw ghetto.

Premise/plot: In 1946, I believe, Wladyslaw Szpilman published a memoir sharing his story of how he survived the war. The book was later translated into English and began to include extracts from the diary of Captain Wilm Hosenfeld. The book did inspire a film, and, the film won lots of awards. As for the contents of the book, the life he led during the war, the near-death encounters he experienced, the physical and emotional trials--shocks--he endured, I'm near speechless. His style is matter-of-fact. It is rich in detail that would have been fresh on his mind, but, his intention was not to shock or manipulate to gain sympathy. It is very unemotional. It isn't a book of feelings or emotions. It isn't a diary he recorded day-by-day that captures the in-the-moment horrors of the war.

My thoughts: I read this one before I watched the movie. I am glad I read it first. If it had packed the emotional punch of the movie though, I'm not sure I could have endured it. It isn't that the movie portrays things differently. In fact, one of the things I noticed almost immediately was how true-to-the-book it was. It was that by visualizing it--seeing it, hearing it--changes things. For example, the violence, the destruction, the horror of it all. If you've seen the movie, chances are you know what I'm talking about. There are dramatic, traumatic scenes that words just can't do justice to. At times I watched the movie almost in shock that humans could treat each other like this, that so much hatred could exist, that the world could be unjust. But then I'd switch from the movie to the news, and, it was all reaffirmed.

The movie is not devoid of hope, nor should it be. If its about humanity--it shows us at our best and at our worst. There is good to be found as well as evil. There are kind, generous, loving people as well as monsters.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What's On Your Nightstand (June)

The folks at 5 Minutes For Books host What’s On Your Nightstand? the fourth Tuesday of each month in which we can share about the books we have been reading and/or plan to read.

I finished most of what I had on my nightstand last month. I finished the KJV Reformation Study Bible, Basic Christianity, Dawn's Early Light, Blood, Bullets, and Bones, The Portrait of a Lady, and 44 Scotland Street.

I've made a good deal of progress in Thomas Manton's Exposition of Psalm 119. I've started sharing from it at Operation Actually Read Bible. Right now, I'm sharing just on Thursdays, but I might increase that as the summer continues.

I have not made much more progress in Mallthew: All Authority in Heaven and On Earth. Douglas Sean O'Donnell. I think I've read two chapters since last month.

What's NEW.

The Bertrams. Anthony Trollope. 1859. 496 pages. [Source: Bought]

I'm continuing to read Trollope chronologically. I hope to finish this one this week or weekend.

Fearless Living in Troubled Times. Michael Youssef. 2017. [August] Harvest House. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]

This is a very thought-provoking read. Youssef is teaching from the books 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers. Deborah Heiligman. 2017. 464 pages. [Source: Library]

I've decided that his family would have been perfect guests on the Dr. Phil show. But if Dr. Phil had gotten Vincent the help he needed, would he still be remembered today? Would his masterpieces even exist?

The Heirloom Murders. Kathleen Ernst. 2011. 349 pages. [Source: Library]

I've not read the first Chloe Ellefson murder yet--this is the second in the series--but this series shows some potential. I am most interested in reading the sixth book Death on the Prairie which has the heroine going to visit all the historic sites associated with Laura Ingalls Wilder.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Monday, June 26, 2017

Board Book: Welcome A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals

Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals. Mo Willems. 2017. 30 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Our research indicates this is YOU. Take a good look. How remarkable it is that you are you. You are a unique combination of LOVE + Time + Luck. I am lucky, too. I am lucky that you are here with me...while we read this book together.

Premise/plot: Mo Willems has a new picture book. It is for "new arrivals." It is written in the second person, presumably to your new baby. It celebrates reading books together among other things.

My thoughts: I asked for a second opinion on this one. My mom said, "what a disappointment! I expect more from a Mo Willems' book!" I concurred--which is why I went to her in the first place. I was very disappointed. Still, I want to talk about what this book is and isn't.

There is a mirror at the front and back of the book. Many books for babies feature mirrors. Babies do like to look at themselves...usually. So this could be a plus.

Also the cover is thicker and sturdier which may invite a certain amount of sucking and chewing. The pages themselves are not as sturdy or as thick as a traditional board book.

The text of the book is wordy. Or should I say verbose?! It is the sound of your voice reading anything, that babies enjoy, or so I've been told. So the fact that the book is text-heavy wouldn't have to be a deal breaker. Comprehension isn't the goal, right? Not at the 'new arrival' stage.

There is some repetition. Nine times we see the refrain, "while we read this book together." Repetition goes hand in hand with being a book for babies, toddlers, or preschoolers.

The book is all about being honest.
Please enjoy your stay. Many activities are available for you to enjoy, including, but not limited to: SLEEPING and WAKING, EATING and BURPING, POOPING and MORE POOPING. Other options are available upon request and will be updated on a regular basis. Of our current offerings, I can personally recommend your being right here with me...while we read this book together.
If you have further questions do not hesitate to CALL or FLAIL ABOUT or SCREAM LIKE A BANSHEE. Someone is standing by 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They will be with you as soon as possible. Right now I am here with you...while we read this book together.
Honesty is good.

Is the book truly for newborns? for very young babies? Or is the book written for new parents? Is the message really written for--directed to--new arrivals to this thing called parenting. If the "new arrivals" in question are actually the parents, then, I think it would make more sense!

Parents can establish the habit, the routine, of reading books aloud to their newborns. It is never too early to start reading aloud. One shouldn't worry if the baby can understand, comprehend, the text. As a bond-builder this one can more than suffice.

I guess what I found so disappointing were the illustrations. I just was not amused or impressed by the illustrations. I did not find them appealing. I found them dull, boring, uninspired.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 1 out of 5
Total: 5 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Prisoner's Base

Prisoner's Base. (Nero Wolfe #21) Rex Stout. 1952. 209 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: In Nero Wolfe's old brownstone house on West Thirty-fifth street that Monday afternoon in June, the atmosphere was sparky. I mention it not to make an issue of Wolfe's bad habits, but because it is to the point. It was the atmosphere that got us a roomer.

Premise/plot: Priscilla Eads shows up at Nero Wolfe's house expecting--hoping--that she can stay there for a week, that she can pay him room and board. She's hiding out from someone--a lawyer, a business partner. Archie lets her in, and tells her she can stay temporarily at least. The final word will come from Nero Wolfe, and he's not to be disturbed at the moment. (Readers can guess why.) Before the evening is out, two things occur: someone comes looking for her and wanting to hire Wolfe to find her AND Wolfe kicks Miss Eads out of his house. The next day, can you guess who's dead?!

Archie blames himself and takes it upon himself to FIND THE KILLER NO MATTER WHAT. And Wolfe finds himself with Archie as a client!!! Miss Eads was an heiress and she was about to come into a lot of stock and money as her birthday approached...

My thoughts: I really enjoy Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe series. I love, love, love, LOVE Archie Goodwin. This is a very satisfying, very quick read.

"If I had said I had read about you and seen a picture of you, and you fascinated me, and I wanted to be near you for one wonderful week, you'd have known I was lying." "Not necessarily. Millions of women feel like that but they can't afford the fifty bucks a day."
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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