Tuesday, November 13, 2018

That's My Book! And Other Stories

That's My Book! And Other Stories. (Duck, Duck, Porcupine #3) Salina Yoon. 2017. Bloomsbury. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I am bored, Porcupine. Me, too, Big Duck. Hey, Little Duck. That looks like fun! Can we borrow some books?

Premise/plot: This early reader stars Big Duck, Little Duck, and Porcupine. Readers may know these three from previous titles in the series: Duck, Duck, Porcupine and My Kite is Stuck. Once again they appear in three stories. The stories in this collection are, "That's My Book!," "Let's Have A Talent Show!," and "Dress-Like-a-Pirate Day." In the first story, the three discover the many joys of books. (Not all of them involve actually reading books.) In the second story, the three decide to have a talent show. But do all three have talents worth showing off? In the third story, there is some misunderstanding about what they are playing. Are they playing pirates? OR are they playing doctor?

My thoughts: I really love these characters. I do. As I mentioned in my last review--the review of the second book--I hope this series is LONG. I would recommend this series. It's quite enjoyable.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Monday, November 12, 2018

Marilla of Green Gables

Marilla of Green Gables. Sarah McCoy. 2018. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
First sentence:  The sun and moon shine alike during snowstorms.

Premise/plot: Ever wondered what Marilla Cuthbert's was like as a young girl? Sarah McCoy shares her version--her imagining--in her newest book.

The book is divided into three sections: "Marilla of Green Gables" is set in 1837, "Marilla of Avonlea" is set in 1838-1839; "Marilla's House of Dreams" is set in 1860.

When the novel opens Marilla is thirteen and Matthew, her older brother, is twenty-one.

My thoughts: I do have PLENTY of thoughts about Marilla of Green Gables. In some ways it meets expectations. Readers know to expect that at some point Marilla and John Blythe will start courting and also that at some point their romance will sour because of a big fight. Readers expect Marilla to share a close bond with her brother, Matthew. Readers will likely guess that Rachel--Marilla's best friend in her adult life--will appear. All these things do happen. Expectations met. But in other ways it doesn't meet MY expectations at all.


you've been warned


  • I wasn't expecting Marilla to be a book-loving, free-spirit, outspoken, take-action abolitionist and political activist. 
  • I wasn't expecting Marilla--at age thirteen or possibly fourteen--to be elected the first president of the LADIES AID SOCIETY. I can't fathom ANY community let alone Avonlea with such strong, stubborn, fierce women to choose a child to lead them. 
  • I wasn't expecting Matthew to have had a drunken past where he almost burns down Green Gables.
  • I wasn't expecting Matthew to have been courting an Andrews sister. She crushes his heart on more than one occasion.
  • I wasn't expecting Marilla to be courting John Blythe at age thirteen. The two go for BUGGY RIDES alone. At one point when he's tutoring her, he falls into a stream, takes off his shirt, and the two make out a lot. There is touching--lots of touching. 
  • I wasn't expecting Marilla's family to be the way they were. Her mother and aunt--are twins--and they wear make-up. I wasn't expecting ANY woman in Avonlea to be wearing makeup in the 1830s. (Maybe I read this wrong and just Aunt Izzy wears make-up?)
  • I wasn't expecting the novel to be 70% politics. Should Canada declare their independence and break away from Great Britain? Should they rebel and take up arms? Should they stay loyal to the Crown? 
  • I wasn't expecting Marilla to be so caught up in abolition. I knew, of course, that slaves would seek to reach Canada where they would be free--could live free. But I wasn't expecting Marilla to be right there in the middle of it. I wasn't expecting Marilla to be hiding "fugitive" slaves right there at Green Gables. 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Currently #45

Something Old

Show Boat. Edna Ferber. 1926. 398 pages. [Source: Bought]

Ruth. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1853. 432 pages. [Source: Bought]

Can You Forgive Her? (Palliser #1) Anthony Trollope. 1865. 847 pages. [Source: Bought]

Christy. Catherine Marshall. 1967. 512 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Something New
The Calculating Stars (Lady Astronaut #1) Mary Robinette Kowal. 2018. Tor. 432 pages. [Source: Library]
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple. Jeff Guinn. 2017. 454 pages. [Source: Review copy]Something Borrowed
River to Redemption. Ann H. Gabhart. 2018. Revell. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
Something True
ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible. 2017. Crossway. 1904 pages. [Source: Gift]

KJV Single Column. 2010. Thomas Nelson. 1632 pages. [Source: Bought]
Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn't Make Sense. Paul David Tripp. 2018. Crossway. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Leviticus 15-27 (Thru the Bible #7) J. Vernon McGee. 168 pages. [Source: Bought]

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Saturday, November 10, 2018

My Victorian Year #47

I am currently reading RUTH by Elizabeth Gaskell and CAN YOU FORGIVE HER? by Anthony Trollope. I am enjoying both of these books very much. Both are rereads.

Quotes from Can You Forgive Her?
  • The eschewing of marquises is not generally very difficult. Young ladies living with their fathers on very moderate incomes in or about Queen Anne Street are not usually much troubled on that matter.
  • It’s a very fine theory, that of women being able to get along without men as well as with them; but, like other fine theories, it will be found very troublesome by those who first put it in practice.
  • People always do seem to think it so terrible that a girl should have her own way in anything.
  • I haven’t much of my own way at present; but you see, when I’m married I shan’t have it at all. You can’t wonder that I shouldn’t be in a hurry. A person may wish for a thing altogether, and yet not wish for it instantly.
  • In this world things are beautiful only because they are not quite seen, or not perfectly understood.
  • Poetry is precious chiefly because it suggests more than it declares.
  • You are never cross, though you are often ferocious. 
  • A man never likes having his tooth pulled out, but all men do have their teeth pulled out, — and they who delay it too long suffer the very mischief.
  • I was thinking of something. Don’t you ever think of things that make you shiver?”  “Indeed I do, very often; — so often that I have to do my shiverings inwardly. Otherwise people would think I had the palsy.”
  • “What don’t you understand, aunt?” “You only danced twice last night, and once you stood up with Captain Bellfield.” “But what harm can Captain Bellfield do me?” “What good can he do you? That’s the question. You see, my dear, years will go by.
Quotes from Ruth
  • The daily life into which people are born, and into which they are absorbed before they are well aware, forms chains which only one in a hundred has moral strength enough to despise, and to break when the right time comes—when an inward necessity for independent individual action arises, which is superior to all outward conventionalities.
  • Well, my dear, you must learn to think and work too; or, if you can't do both, you must leave off thinking. Your guardian, you know, expects you to make great progress in your business, and I am sure you won't disappoint him. 
  • The night before, she had seen her dead mother in her sleep, and she wakened, weeping. And now she dreamed of Mr Bellingham, and smiled. And yet, was this a more evil dream than the other? 
  • The poor old labourer prayed long and earnestly that night for Ruth. He called it "wrestling for her soul;" and I think his prayers were heard, for "God judgeth not as man judgeth." 
  • The future lay wrapped in a golden mist, which she did not care to penetrate; but if he, her sun, was out of sight and gone, the golden mist became dark heavy gloom, through which no hope could come. He took her hand. 
  • Low and soft, with much hesitation, came the "Yes;" the fatal word of which she so little imagined the infinite consequences. The thought of being with him was all and everything.
  • I always think it right, for my own morals, to put a little scorn into my manners when such as her come to stay here; but, indeed, she's so gentle, I've found it hard work to show the proper contempt. 
  • Poor Ruth! her faith was only building up vain castles in the air; they towered up into heaven, it is true, but, after all, they were but visions. 
© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Friday, November 09, 2018


Joy. Corrine Averiss. Illustrated by Isabelle Follath. 2018. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Fern loved Nanna. She loved her butterfly cakes, her mantelpiece mice, and her cat, Snowball. Most of all, she loved her smile. But recently, Nanna had stopped baking cakes, the mice were dusty, and Snowball was more like a ball of fuzz. Worst of all, Nanna hardly ever smiled.

Premise/plot: In Corrine Averiss' Joy, Fern, our lovable narrator, goes on a mission--a mission to CATCH or capture joy. She wants to give this captured-joy to her grandmother--her Nanna. Will her hunt for joy succeed? Perhaps. Fern finds herself surrounded by whooshes of joy all over the place. But how do you capture a feeling? How can you give it away?

My thoughts: I really loved this one the first time I read it. I love it when picture books focus on the oh-so-special relationship between child and grandparent--in this case a girl and her grandmother. I loved, loved, loved seeing Nanna's huge SMILE when she was talking to her granddaughter. "You bring me all the joy in the world just by being you." It's SUPER-SUPER sweet.

I didn't love it quite so much the second time I read it. I don't suspect--I know--that I am now overthinking things. Is Fern genuinely worried about Nanna's mental and emotional health? Is Fern being empathetic and compassionate or selfish? Does Fern just want her fun playmate back? Does she just miss the butterfly cakes? Why are the butterfly cakes mentioned first in the things she loves about her grandmother? Doesn't she realize that there will be a time when her Nanna no longer is able to bake cakes?! Doesn't she realize that she's blessed just to have her Nanna around? The cakes are ultimately meaningless. It's Nanna that matters. Not what Nanna can do for her.  She probably doesn't. Fern is in a happy little innocent bubble. She's taking everything for granted. And perhaps that is the way it should be.

But what really bothered me the second time around were the illustrations. Nanna is in a wheel chair. Fern is pushing her chair through the park. The last spread shows Nanna and Fern relaxing on a blanket at the park. Surrounded by multiple cakes. No chair in sight. How did Nanna get down on the ground? How will she get back up again? Getting grandparents back up off the floor--even if they've never spent time in a wheel chair--usually isn't easy. I got down here but how am I going to get back up again. This conversation happens. It's real. So I'm worried even if Fern isn't.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2018 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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