Wednesday, May 22, 2019

World at War: Ten Cents A Dance

Ten Cents A Dance. Christine Fletcher. 2008. Bloomsbury. 356 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: We heard the music even before we got to Union Hall.

Premise/plot: The year is 1941, the place Chicago. Ruby Jacinski hates her job--bottling pig feet. Though just sixteen she is the family's sole source of income. (Her mother can no longer work at the packinghouse, and she's in no condition physically to find a job elsewhere.) What does Ruby love? She loves to DANCE. So when someone--a cute, dashing older boy--mentions that she could get a job as a taxi dancer and potentially make $50 a week...well, she's intrigued.

What does a taxi dancer do? She dances or socializes with the customers. A ticket costs ten cents. It's a ticket a dance/song. Five cents is for the dance hall (Starlight in this case). Five cents is hers to keep. Any tip is hers to keep. The customer is nearly, always right. She's to make herself agreeable--to a certain degree. If she goes too far at the dance hall, she's in danger of losing her job. A customer can clock a girl out early with enough money and take her someplace else--another club, a restaurant, etc. Ruby learns that this is even better than dancing.

She has to look her best to appeal to customers. This costs money, of course, for dresses, stockings, shoes, jewelry, accessories, makeup, perfume. But even with these added costs, she is now able to pay the back rent on their place, pay off their debts with the shops, and keep food--even meat--on the table. But she learns there is a secret cost to pay, one that she never considered: the secrets and lies.

Ruby cannot tell her mother the truth about where she works and how she gets the money. She invents a job--telephone operator--a salary--$18 a week--and coworkers. At first the lies come relatively easy to her, but there comes a point in time where it is much too much to juggle.

And then there's that cute, dashing older boy, the one who told her about the job to begin with. His name is Paulie. And he's got a well-earned bad reputation. Some might even call him a mad dog. He's got plans of his own for Ruby, and though adult readers may see where this 'relationship' is going...Ruby's just naive enough to think differently.

How will the war change her future?

My thoughts: This is my third time to read Ten Cents a Dance. I first read it in 2008, and then again in 2014. I really do think this would make an excellent movie. I think the characterization is excellent. It's a compelling read.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Voices from the Underground Railroad

Voices from the Underground Railroad. Kay Winters. Illustrated by Larry Day. 2018. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Tonight's the night.

Premise/plot: Jeb and Mattie are two slaves that have decided to run away. Their stories are told in verse. The perspectives alternate between the two. Occasionally readers hear other voices as well from men and women working on the underground railroad.

My thoughts: I would definitely recommend this picture book for older readers. It is a compelling story told completely in verse. The back matter includes an author's note and extensive bibliography. The illustrations are lovely.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Monday, May 20, 2019

The Wide Horizon

The Wide Horizon. Loula Grace Erdman. 1956/2007. Bethlehem Books. 279 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Katie Pierce was sure she must be the luckiest girl in the whole Panhandle of Texas. Luckier even than her older sister Melinda who, after five years of waiting, was going to marry Dennis Kennedy in June and go with him to live in Amarillo. Dennis was a real doctor now, driving around the town and the surrounding country, looking after sick folks.

Premise/plot: The Wide Horizon is the middle book in a series. The first book is The Wind Blows Free and the last book is The Good Land. Each Pierce sister has their own novel. Melinda's story was The Wind Blows Free. Caroline's story will be The Good Land. Katie's story is The Wide Horizon.

Katie is the middle sister. Her older sister, Melinda, is literally about to get married when the novel opens. She'll be moving to Amarillo with her husband. This will make Katie the oldest sister still at home. (The twins Bert and Dick are still older. They're seventeen, I believe.) She'll be the one called Miss Pierce. She's soon to go away to school back in East Texas. But life has a way of reshuffling plans. When their grandmother falls and breaks a bone, it is their mother--not Katie--that heads East. Katie will be the woman of the house. The cooking, cleaning, sewing, tending will fall to her. She has watched her mother and Melinda for years--but those chores haven't really been hers. Is she ready to be a woman?

My thoughts:  I love, love, love, love, love, love this one. It is a favorite from my childhood. I did not grow up reading The Wind Blows Free or The Good Land. But The Wide Horizon was a book I owned and reread countless times. I loved spending time with Katie both at home and at school. (At home, she's learning to cook and bake. At school, she's given the responsibility of teaching art.) I also love how Melinda's friend, Annie Foster, is sticking around in this second book. Her love story happens in this one!

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Saturday, May 18, 2019

Georgian Check-In #3

  •    What books for this challenge have you read (or reviewed) recently?
    •    What are you currently reading?
    •    Are there any quotes you'd like to share?
    •    Who would you recommend? Anyone you would NOT recommend?
    •    Favorite book you've read so far...

These are the books I've reviewed since last time:

13. Kidnapped. Robert Louis Stevenson. 1886. 276 pages. [Source: Bought]
14. Sense and Sensibility. Jane Austen. 1811. 409 pages. [Source: Bought]
15. Hebrew Melodies. George Gordon, Lord Byron. 1815/1824. 70 pages. [Source: Bought]
16. Daisies and Devotion (Mayfield Family #2) Josi S. Kilpack. 2019. Shadow Mountain. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Currently reading:

Cecilia by Fanny Burney

Quotes from Kidnapped:

"Captain," says Alan, "I doubt your word is a breakable. Last night ye haggled and arglebargled like an apple wife; and then passed me your word, and gave me your hand to back it; and ye ken very well what was the upshot. Be damned to your word!" says he. (86)
Charles the Second declared a man could stay outdoors more days in the year in the climate of England than in any other. This was very like a king, with a palace at his back and changes of dry clothes. (113)
I have seen wicked men and fools, a great many of both; and I believe they both get paid in the end, but the fools first. (118)
At first I proposed I should give him for a signal the "Bonnie House of Airlie," which was a favorite of mine; but he objected that as the piece was very commonly known, any ploughman might whistle it by accident; and taught me instead a little fragment of a Highland air, which has run in my head from that day to this, and will likely run in my head when I lie dying. (239)
I enjoyed all the books I've read so far.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Stars Upon Thars #20

5 Stars
Les Miserables. Victor Hugo. Translated by Julie Rose. 1862/2008. Modern Library. 1330 pages. [Source: Bought]
Daisies and Devotion (Mayfield Family #2) Josi S. Kilpack. 2019. Shadow Mountain. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy] 

4 Stars
Paperback Crush: The Totally Radical History of '80s and '90s Teen Fiction. Gabrielle Moss. 2018. Quirk Books. 256 pages. [Source: Library]
 Crossing Stones. Helen Frost. 2009. FSG. 184 pages. [Source: Library]
Louise Loves Bake Sales (Louise Readers #1) Laura Driscoll. Illustrated by Kelly Light. 2018. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
A Good Team (Unicorn and Yeti #2) Heather Ayris Burnell. Illustrated by Hazel Quintanilla. 2019. Scholastic. 64 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© 2019 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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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
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