Friday, April 03, 2020

51. Ready Player One

Ready Player One. Ernest Cline. 2011. 374 pages. [Source: Review copy] [speculative fiction; futuristic; gaming; science fiction; adult fiction]

First sentence: Everyone my age remembers where they were and what they were doing when they first heard about the contest.

Premise/plot: Wade/Parzival is the gaming hero in Ernest Cline’s Ready Player One. He is one of many—perhaps millions—hunting the Easter egg that James Halliday hid within the OASIS. Three keys, three gates, one prize. Wade is the first to unlock the first key and gate. His sudden appearance on the score board brings opportunities and dangers. The hunter becomes the hunted...

Is the game worth risking your actual life?!


My thoughts: I read this one because I enjoyed the movie. I think I prefer the movie to the book. Perhaps because I am not a gamer and lack the imagination to world build in my mind?! Perhaps because the text just begs to be translated to film?! I don’t regret reading it. Now I know.

I didn’t like the language in the book. I knew it had adult language, profanity if you will. But I was hoping that the pull of the story would be strong enough to keep me distracted from being bothered. It wasn’t. Perhaps because I have seen the movie. Though it has been long enough that there could be great differences between the two and I would be clueless.

I would probably watch the movie again. But I won’t be rereading the book.


© 2020 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Thursday, April 02, 2020

50. The Bone Fire

The Bone Fire. (Somershill Manor Mystery #4) S.D. Sykes. 2019. 400 pages. [Source: Library] [adult mystery; adult historical fiction; historical mystery]

First sentence: Our party left Somershill in the November of 1361, as soon as we heard that plague had crossed the river Darent.

Premise/plot: Oswald de Lacy is taking his wife and son (and mother) to safety during the latest outbreak of Plague. They will be staying with a friend in a fortified castle. Other families will be taking refuge as well. They may be safe from the disease but are they safe from one another?!?! Imagine Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None only with the threat of Black Death too. Okay, that may not be a fair comparison. But the truth is bodies do keep piling up....

My thoughts: I missed a book in the series. Perhaps my library branch didn’t have it on the shelf, maybe they don’t have it at all. But because of COVID I can’t get it now anyway. I missed his falling in love and marrying. But this story still makes sense even if there are three new characters.

I definitely enjoyed this one. The series is good.
 


© 2020 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

49. The Twilight Man: Rod Serling and the Birth of Television

The Twilight Man: Rod Serling and the Birth of Television. Koren Shadmi. 2019. 176 pages. [Source: Library] [graphic novel; biography; adult]

First sentence: Damn.

Premise/plot: Twilight Man is a biography of Rod Serling told in graphic novel format. The framework of the story is simple. Serling is on a flight and chatting up the beautiful woman beside him. He tells his life story to a stranger. Well, most of his life story. His story starts with the war, the Second World War; he was a paratrooper. Most focuses on his career as a writer, producer, director, celebrity.

My thoughts: I discovered The Twilight Zone as a kid. I loved, loved, loved some episodes; others were just okay. The show holds good memories for me. Though kids may find the show enjoyable, this graphic biography is written primarily for adults. I think older teens could read this one. But. I would definitely say the subject matter and language make it an extremely poor fit for a younger audience.

I would say that a familiarity with the Twilight Zone is an absolute must. If it’s been a while since you’ve watched the show, you might want to watch some classic episodes first. You’ll appreciate the illustrations more.

I didn’t love it. I enjoyed it well enough.


© 2020 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

March Reflections

Books Reviewed at Becky's Book Reviews

34. We Had to Be Brave: Escaping the Nazis on the Kindertransport. 2020. 368 pages. [Source: Library] [nonfiction; world war II; world at war]
35. A Boy and His Dog at the End of the World. C.A. Fletcher. 2019. 365 pages. [Source: Library] [post-apocalyptic; science fiction; speculative fiction; adult fiction]
36. Words on Fire. Jennifer A. Nielsen. 2019. 336 pages. [Source: Library] [Historical fiction; mg fiction; ya fiction]
37. Fever 1793. Laurie Halse Anderson. 2000. 252 pages. [Source: Library][historical fiction; mg historical; mg fiction]
38. An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793. Jim Murphy. 2003. 165 pages. [Source: Library] [nonfiction, mg nonfiction; history]
39. The Clergyman's Wife: A Pride and Prejudice Novel. Molly Greeley. 2019. 304 pages. [Source: Library] [adult historical; adult fiction; women's fiction; Austen adaptation]
40. The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. 350 pages. [Source: Library] [mg fiction; ya fiction; mg historical; ya historical; mg speculative fiction; ya speculative fiction]
41. Eve of Man. Giovanna Fletcher & Tom Fletcher. 2018. 400 pages. [Source: Library] [Science Fiction; YA Science Fiction; speculative fiction; YA Romance]
42. Ordinary Hazards. Nikki Grimes. 2019. 325 pages. [Source: Library] [memoir; ya nonfiction; nonfiction; poetry]
43. Brightly Burning. Alexa Donne. 2018. 394 pages. [Source: Library] [YA Fiction; YA Science Fiction; Space Opera]
44. Plague Land. (Somershill Manor Mystery #1) S.D. Sykes. 2015. 336 pages. [Source: Library] [adult fiction; historical; mystery]
45. Orphan Train. Christina Baker Kline. 2013. 278 pages. [Source: Library]
46. Mister Rogers' Neighborhood A Visual History. Melissa Wagner, Tim Lybarger, Jenna McGuiggan, et al. 2019. 272 pages. [Source: Library] [nonfiction; reference book; books to skim]
47. The Butcher Bird. (Somershill Manor Mystery #2) S.D. Sykes. 2015. 342 pages. [Source: Library] [adult mystery; adult historical]
48. Vanity Fair. William Makepeace Thackery. 1847. 867 pages. [Source: Bought] [Classic]

Books Reviewed at Young Readers

32. The Door Before. N.D. Wilson. 2017. 240 pages. [Source: Library] [j fiction; j fantasy]
33. 100 Cupboards. N.D. Wilson. 2007. 289 pages. [Source: Library] [j fiction, mg fiction, j fantasy, mg fantasy]
 34. Bear Came Along. Richard T. Morris. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. 2019. 40 pages. [Source: Library] [Caldecott Honor; picture book]
35. Snack Attack. Terry Border. 2019. 32 pages. [Source: Library] [Picture book; humor]
36. Exile. (Keeper of the Lost Cities #2) Shannon Messenger. 2013. 576 pages. [Source: Library][j fantasy; mg fantasy; j fiction; mg fiction; elves; magic]
37. The Willoughbys. Lois Lowry. 2008. 174 pages. [Source: Library][j fiction]
38. A Dog on Barkham Street. Mary Stolz. 1960. 192 pages. [Source: Library][j fiction; j realistic ficton; dogs; bullying; friendship; school]
39. Ducks! Deborah Underwood. Illustrated by T.L. McBeth. 2020. 40 pages. [Source: Library] [picture book]
40. The Bully of Barkham Street. Mary Stolz. 1963. 208 pages. [Source: Library] [j realistic fiction; realistic fiction; friendship; school; bullying]
41. The Explorer of Barkham Street. Mary Stolz. 1985. 179 pages. [Source: Library] [j realistic fiction; realistic fiction; friendship; school]
42. Orphan Train Girl. Christina Baker Kline. 2017. 234 pages. [Source: Library] [Children's Adaptation of an Adult Book; j fiction; j historical fiction; j realistic fiction]
43. Audrey (Cow) Dan Bar-el. 2014. 240 pages. [Source: Library][animal fantasy; children's book]
44. Casebook of a Private Cat's Eye. Mary Stolz. Illustrated by Pamela R. Levy. 1999. 128 pages. [Source: Library] [animal fantasy; mystery; children's book]
45. War Is Over. David Almond. David Almond. Illustrated by David Litchfield.  2018/2020. Candlewick Press. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Children's Book; Historical fiction; world war I; world at war]

Books Reviewed at Operation Actually Read Bible

23. Suffer Strong. Katherine and Jay Wolf. 2020. Zondervan. 224 pages. [Source: Library] [Biography; Christian Nonfiction; Christian Living]
24. The Mayflower Pilgrims: Sifting Fact from Fable. Derek Wilson. 2019. Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy] [nonfiction; adult nonfiction; christian nonfiction]
25. Seen. Known. loved: 5 Truths About Your Love Language and God. Gary Chapman and R. York Moore. 2020. [July 2020] 96 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Christian living]
26. Alive to the Purpose. Ronald A. Horton. 2020. [May 2020] BJU Press. 120 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Christian nonfiction; Christian living; Bible reading]
27. Finding the Right Hills to Die On: The Case for Theological Triage. Gavin Ortlund. 2020. [April] 176 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Christian nonfiction; theology; christian living]28. Stand Firm: Living in a Post-Christian Culture. John MacArthur. 2020. [April] 152 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Christian living; Christian Nonfiction; theology]
29. Discover Jesus: An Illustrated Adventure for Kids. Tracy M. Sumner. 2020. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Children's Book; Christian Nonfiction]

Bibles Reviewed at Operation Actually Read Bible

1. ESV MacArthur Study Bible. John F. MacArthur. 2010. Crossway. 2144 pages. [Source: Bought] [Bible, Study Bible]


The 5 Star Books
Words on Fire. Jennifer A. Nielsen. 2019. 336 pages. [Source: Library] [Historical fiction; mg fiction; ya fiction]
The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. 350 pages. [Source: Library] [mg fiction; ya fiction; mg historical; ya historical; mg speculative fiction; ya speculative fiction]
A Dog on Barkham Street. Mary Stolz. 1960. 192 pages. [Source: Library][j fiction; j realistic ficton; dogs; bullying; friendship; school]
Ducks! Deborah Underwood. Illustrated by T.L. McBeth. 2020. 40 pages. [Source: Library] [picture book]
Ordinary Hazards. Nikki Grimes. 2019. 325 pages. [Source: Library] [memoir; ya nonfiction; nonfiction; poetry]
Brightly Burning. Alexa Donne. 2018. 394 pages. [Source: Library] [YA Fiction; YA Science Fiction; Space Opera]
Plague Land. (Somershill Manor Mystery #1) S.D. Sykes. 2015. 336 pages. [Source: Library] [adult fiction; historical; mystery]
The Bully of Barkham Street. Mary Stolz. 1963. 208 pages. [Source: Library] [j realistic fiction; realistic fiction; friendship; school; bullying]
 ESV MacArthur Study Bible. John F. MacArthur. 2010. Crossway. 2144 pages. [Source: Bought] [Bible, Study Bible]
Orphan Train Girl. Christina Baker Kline. 2017. 234 pages. [Source: Library] [Children's Adaptation of an Adult Book; j fiction; j historical fiction; j realistic fiction] 
Orphan Train. Christina Baker Kline. 2013. 278 pages. [Source: Library]
Casebook of a Private Cat's Eye. Mary Stolz. Illustrated by Pamela R. Levy. 1999. 128 pages. [Source: Library] [animal fantasy; mystery; children's book]
 Vanity Fair. William Makepeace Thackery. 1847. 867 pages. [Source: Bought] [Classic]

March totals
Pages11055
Books36


2020 Totals
Pages30485
Books122



© 2020 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Friday, March 27, 2020

48. Vanity Fair

Vanity Fair. William Makepeace Thackery. 1847. 867 pages. [Source: Bought] [Classic]

First sentence: While the present century was in its teens, and on one sunshiny morning in June, there drove up to the great iron gate of Miss Pinkerton's academy for young ladies, on Chiswick Mall, a large family coach, with two fat horses in blazing harness, driven by a fat coachman in a three-cornered hat and wig, at the rate of four miles an hour.

 Premise/plot: Becky Sharp is the 'heroine' of Thackery's Vanity Fair. She is an ambitious, selfish soul--a bit like Scarlett O'Hara. (Both hate children. Both marry for the wrong reasons. Both can manipulate men for their own gain.) In contrast to Becky Sharp there is Amelia Sedley, a trusting, kind, loyal soul--a bit like Melanie Hamilton. Vanity Fair follows both young women through many, many, many dramas. Both Amelia and Becky attended Miss Pinkerton's school--that's where they met and became friendly, and that's where our story properly begins.

Becky has one ambition. That's a lie. She has many ambitions but all share a central theme. She wants to get to the tippy-top of society. She wants money, money, money and a place in society. The society that currently snubs her and looks down upon her as a nobody. She wants it ALL: an excellent place to call home, all the materialistic goods she can get her hands on, the admiration of all the men within driving distance.

Amelia has a dream too--to marry the love of her life, George Osborne, and live happily ever after surrounded by adorable children.

Both women face obstacles. 800 pages worth of obstacles I'd say!

Amelia's family suffers a devastating financial loss. The Osborne family who had always pushed the match suddenly withdraws their approval. George is forbidden to marry Amelia. Will George obey his domineering father? Will he marry someone else? Would Amelia be better off finding someone else too? Or will George marry Amelia in spite of his father's threats?

Becky's obstacles are different. She marries--not for love, not really--a man who could potentially be very wealthy. He has a dying aunt, I believe it is an aunt. He could be HEIR to a fortune. And he's a dashing soldier. She could do worse. Much worse. So a secret marriage occurs. But did Becky choose wisely? Or was she too hasty? Should she held out a little longer for a better offer? A richer offer?
Will Rawdon Crawley help her achieve her ambitions?! Will she be the making of him or the breaking of him? Will he come to regret his marriage?

My thoughts: I enjoyed Vanity Fair. It is a long book. It has a few dull chapters here and there. I won't lie. But. Overall I found it a good read. I found the main characters at least easy to keep up with and understand. Becky Sharp is an interesting heroine--far from boring. Amelia isn't exactly boring, it's just that I wanted to yell at her now and then.

Of the men in the book, I really only loved Dobbin. I didn't dislike Rawdon Crawley exactly. But it's hard to actually love a fool. Is he a fool? Perhaps not in all areas of his life. But certainly he's a fool when it comes to love and giving his heart a way. I do, for the record, admire him as a father and brother. So perhaps if he'd not married Becky, if he'd married someone more worthy...then he wouldn't be a fool at all. As for George, I didn't like him even a little bit. It would be like if Elizabeth Bennet ended up marrying George Wickham instead of Darcy!!!!

Quotes:
Although schoolmistresses' letters are to be trusted no more nor less than churchyard epitaphs; yet, as it sometimes happens that a person departs this life who is really deserving of all the praises the stone cutter carves over his bones; who IS a good Christian, a good parent, child, wife, or husband; who actually DOES leave a disconsolate family to mourn his loss; so in academies of the male and female sex it occurs every now and then that the pupil is fully worthy of the praises bestowed by the disinterested instructor. Now, Miss Amelia Sedley was a young lady of this singular species; and deserved not only all that Miss Pinkerton said in her praise, but had many charming qualities which that pompous old Minerva of a woman could not see, from the differences of rank and age between her pupil and herself.
"Revenge may be wicked, but it's natural," answered Miss Rebecca. "I'm no angel." And, to say the truth, she certainly was not. 
All the world used her ill, said this young misanthropist, and we may be pretty certain that persons whom all the world treats ill, deserve entirely the treatment they get.
The world is a looking-glass, and gives back to every man the reflection of his own face.
Frown at it, and it will in turn look sourly upon you; laugh at it and with it, and it is a jolly kind companion; and so let all young persons take their choice.
If Miss Rebecca Sharp had determined in her heart upon making the conquest of this big beau, I don't think, ladies, we have any right to blame her; for though the task of husband-hunting is generally, and with becoming modesty, entrusted by young persons to their mammas, recollect that Miss Sharp had no kind parent to arrange these delicate matters for her, and that if she did not get a husband for herself, there was no one else in the wide world who would take the trouble off her hands.
Joseph much anxious thought and alarm; now and then he would make a desperate attempt to get rid of his superabundant fat; but his indolence and love of good living speedily got the better of these endeavours at reform, and he found himself again at his three meals a day. He never was well dressed; but he took the hugest pains to adorn his big person, and passed many hours daily in that occupation. Like most fat men, he would have his clothes made too tight, and took care they should be of the most brilliant colours and youthful cut.
A woman with fair opportunities, and without an absolute hump, may marry WHOM SHE LIKES. Only let us be thankful that the darlings are like the beasts of the field, and don't know their own power. They would overcome us entirely if they did.
Are not there little chapters in everybody's life, that seem to be nothing, and yet affect all the rest of the history?
A tempest in a slop-basin is absurd. We will reserve that sort of thing for the mighty ocean and the lonely midnight. The present Chapter is very mild. Others—But we will not anticipate THOSE.
She did not pester their young brains with too much learning, but, on the contrary, let them have their own way in regard to educating themselves; for what instruction is more effectual than self-instruction?
Some are made to scheme, and some to love; and I wish any respected bachelor that reads this may take the sort that best likes him.
Some cynical Frenchman has said that there are two parties to a love-transaction: the one who loves and the other who condescends to be so treated. Perhaps the love is occasionally on the man's side; perhaps on the lady's...But this is certain, that Amelia believed her lover to be one of the most gallant and brilliant men in the empire: and it is possible Lieutenant Osborne thought so too.
"If he had but a little more brains," she thought to herself, "I might make something of him"; but she never let him perceive the opinion she had of him; listened with indefatigable complacency to his stories of the stable and the mess; laughed at all his jokes; When he came home she was alert and happy: when he went out she pressed him to go: when he stayed at home, she played and sang for him, made him good drinks, superintended his dinner, warmed his slippers, and steeped his soul in comfort.
If success is rare and slow, everybody knows how quick and easy ruin is. 
One of the great conditions of anger and hatred is, that you must tell and believe lies against the hated object, in order, as we said, to be consistent.
At any rate, never have any feelings which may make you uncomfortable, or make any promises which you cannot at any required moment command and withdraw. That is the way to get on, and be respected, and have a virtuous character in Vanity Fair.
Praise everybody, I say to such: never be squeamish, but speak out your compliment both point-blank in a man's face, and behind his back, when you know there is a reasonable chance of his hearing it again. Never lose a chance of saying a kind word.
By humbly and frankly acknowledging yourself to be in the wrong, there is no knowing, my son, what good you may do.
Those who like to lay down the History-book, and to speculate upon what MIGHT have happened in the world, but for the fatal occurrence of what actually did take place (a most puzzling, amusing, ingenious, and profitable kind of meditation), have no doubt often thought to themselves what a specially bad time Napoleon took to come back from Elba, and to let loose his eagle from Gulf San Juan to Notre Dame.
Did we know what our intimates and dear relations thought of us, we should live in a world that we should be glad to quit, and in a frame of mind and a constant terror, that would be perfectly unbearable.
When attacked sometimes, Becky had a knack of adopting a demure ingenue air, under which she was most dangerous. She said the wickedest things with the most simple unaffected air when in this mood, and would take care artlessly to apologize for her blunders, so that all the world should know that she had made them.
Becky's contempt for her husband grew greater every day. "Do what you like—dine where you please—go and have ginger-beer and sawdust at Astley's, or psalm-singing with Lady Jane—only don't expect me to busy myself with the boy. I have your interests to attend to, as you can't attend to them yourself. I should like to know where you would have been now, and in what sort of a position in society, if I had not looked after you."
On Selfishness—Of all the vices which degrade the human character, Selfishness is the most odious and contemptible. An undue love of Self leads to the most monstrous crimes and occasions the greatest misfortunes both in States and Families.
There are things we do and know perfectly well in Vanity Fair, though we never speak of them: as the Ahrimanians worship the devil, but don't mention him: and a polite public will no more bear to read an authentic description of vice than a truly refined English or American female will permit the word breeches to be pronounced in her chaste hearing.
Ah! Vanitas Vanitatum! which of us is happy in this world? Which of us has his desire? or, having it, is satisfied?—come, children, let us shut up the box and the puppets, for our play is played out.


© 2020 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

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.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge

2018 Kitty Lit Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge

Join the Victorian Reading Challenge
Linked to sign up page

Family Tree Reading Challenge

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Link to sign-up page

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge

2018 Share-a-Tea Challenge
Linked To Sign Up Page

2018 Charity Challenge (Sign Up)

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge
Link to sign up page

2018 Picture Book Challenge

2018 Picture Book Challenge
Link to sign-up page

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge

Join the 2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge
click image to go to sign up post

Good Rules Cheat List

Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007
Classics = anything published before 1968
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007
Christian books = new is anything published after 2000
Bibles = new is anything published after 1989

My Blog List

(Old) Challenge Participants

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP