Saturday, March 24, 2018

My Victorian Year #12

I'm still slaving away happily reading pressing ahead in Anthony Trollope's Orley Farm. I have only one question: WHAT KIND OF BOOK HAS EIGHTY CHAPTERS?!?!

Every time I think I'm making some kind of progress, I get discouraged. I believe I've read forty-two or forty-three chapters. (Most books these days don't even have forty-three chapters!)

I am also reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. I will say this so far: it is more compelling than Orley Farm. (Also darker. Also a LOT more confusing. Characters are so much harder to keep track of when they are Russian and have a couple nicknames per character.)

Quotes from Crime and Punishment:
Efficiency's acquired with some effort, it doesn't just fall from the skies. (179)
'Where was it,' thought Raskolnikov, as he walked onward, 'where was it I read about a man who's been sentenced to die, saying or thinking, the hour before his death, that even if he had to live somewhere high up on a rock, and in such a tiny area that he could just stand on it, with all around precipices, an ocean, endless murk, endless solitude and endless storms--and had to stand there, on those two feet of space, all his life, for a thousand years, eternity--that it would be better to live like that, than to die so very soon! If only he could live, live and live! Never mind what life was like! As long as he could live!...What truth there is in that! Lord, what truth! Man is a villain. And whoever calls him a villain because of it is one himself!' he added a moment later. (191)
Quotes from Orley Farm:
Men will not labour who have gotten all that they require without work.
Why strive to deserve any woman, when women are plenty who do not care to be deserved? That plan of picking up the fallen apples is so much the easier.
Mrs. Furnival had made up her mind that war was expedient, — nay, absolutely necessary. She had an idea, formed no doubt from the reading of history, that some allies require a smart brush now and again to blow away the clouds of distrust which become engendered by time between them; and that they may become better allies than ever afterwards.
At last the battle began. He was not looking, but he heard her first movement as she prepared herself. “Tom!” she said, and then the voice of the war goddess was again silent. He did not choose to answer her at the instant, and then the war goddess rose from her seat and again spoke. “Tom!” she said, standing over him and looking at him.
© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Keep It Short #12

This week I read three L.M. Montgomery stories.

Robert Turner's Revenge
First sentence: When Robert Turner came to the green, ferny triangle where the station road forked to the right and left under the birches, he hesitated as to which direction he would take.

Premise/plot: Robert Turner has waited his whole life to get revenge on a childhood enemy. Will he changes his mind when he realizes that the person he'll be hurting most is his former sweetheart?

My thoughts: It was just okay for me.

The Fillmore Elderberries:
 First sentence: "I expected as much," said Timothy Robinson. His tone brought the blood into Ellis Duncan's face. The lad opened his lips quickly, as if for an angry retort, but as quickly closed them again with a set firmness oddly like Timothy Robinson's own.

Premise/plot: Ellis Duncan's father has died. Ellis finds it a real struggle to get work since he's a boy--not a "man" and since his father was known for his laziness. Fair or not, Ellis is going to have to prove himself to his community if he is to make it. And prove himself he does when he tackles a difficult job--clearing a pasture of elderberries/elders.

My thoughts: I liked this one so much better than Robert Turner's Revenge.

The Finished Story
First story: She always sat in a corner of the west veranda at the hotel, knitting something white and fluffy, or pink and fluffy, or pale blue and fluffy—always fluffy, at least, and always dainty. Shawls and scarfs and hoods the things were, I believe. When she finished one she gave it to some girl and began another. Every girl at Harbour Light that summer wore some distracting thing that had been fashioned by Miss Sylvia's slim, tireless, white fingers.

Premise/plot: Miss Sylvia stars in this short story. She is a magnet for young people. And young people love to tell her stories. One young man is a writer who shares a story he's hoping to have published. In the story, a young man goes away from his lover without declaring his love for her. He thinks it's nobler that way since they can never be together. Miss Sylvia is opinionated. Can she change his mind?

My thoughts: This one is definitely my favorite of the three.
But one evening, when I had known her a month, as time is reckoned, and long years as affection and understanding are computed, she told me her story—at least, what there was to tell of it. The last chapter was missing.
I was reading one of my stories to Miss Sylvia. In my own excuse I must allege that she tempted me to do it. I did not go around with manuscripts under my arm, inflicting them on defenceless females. But Miss Sylvia had discovered that I was a magazine scribbler, and moreover, that I had shut myself up in my room that very morning and perpetrated a short story. Nothing would do but that I read it to her.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Me? Listen to Audio?! #11

 This week I've kept up with Charles Dickens' Old Curiosity Shop. I've listened to episodes eleven through fifteen this week.

I've also finished The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse. The last episode was "Bingo and the Little Woman." There were eight thirty minute episodes. And they were all DELIGHTFUL. It was dramatized by Chris Miller.

I am super-super-super excited to begin The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club. It is a mystery starring Lord Peter Wimsey whom I ADORE. Granted that it isn't my favorite Wimsey mystery. It was also adapted for radio by Chris Miller. "Ian Carmichael appeared as Lord Peter Wimsey for BBC Radio from 1973 to 1983, in addition to the BBC TV adaptations that were broadcast between 1972 and 1975."

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Friday, March 23, 2018

Annie Patches: My New Forever Home

Annie Patches: My New Forever Home. Marty Koblish. Photographs by Jessica Charous. 2015. 34 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: My mommy lived on the streets.

Premise/plot: This picture book tells the story of a foster kitty who found her furr-ever home. Her mom was a pregnant stray cat taken in by a foster family. Annie Patches was adopted a few months later and placed in a new home--a forever home. The book uses photographs to tell her story. Well, to show off her cuteness mainly. 

My thoughts: I bought this one at a local charity shop because of the photographs. To say I love cats would be a bit of an understatement. I just couldn't resist this one. Sadly, I lost a few pages just with the first read. The story is heartwarming and the photographs are ADORABLE.

 Text: 3 out of 5
Photographs: 5 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Thursday, March 22, 2018


Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2) Neal Shusterman. 2018. 5014 pages. [Source: Library]
First sentence: Peach velvet with embroidered baby-blue trim. Honorable Scythe Braums loved his robe. True, the velvet became uncomfortably hot in the summer months, but it was something he had grown accustomed to in his sixty-three years as a scythe.

Premise/plot: Thunderhead is the sequel to Scythe. If you haven't read Scythe yet, you should. What should you know about the series?'s set in the future. Many advancements have been made. Immortality is the norm--for most. Gone are the days where you could die of disease or old age. Most people who die can be revived. Dead has become deadish. But a small percentage of the population is gleaned each year. That is the role of the Scythes. Readers meet many scythes in the first novel in the series. Two of the main characters in the first book were Rowan and Citra. Both characters are back in the sequel. Rowan has adopted the name "Scythe Lucifer" and is on a mission of his own. Citra has adopted the name "Scythe Anastasia." Two main characters that take prominence in Thunderhead are the THUNDERHEAD and Greyson Tolliver.

The Scythes are finding themselves divided into two factions: the 'old' guard that believe that the role of scythe is honorable but heavy with responsibility and the 'new order' which believe that killing is an exhilarating joy. They don't work with heavy hearts and solemnity. No, they approach the job as a pleasure. Scythe Anastasia and Scythe Curie are of the old guard faction.

There are some truly EVIL characters in Thunderhead.

My thoughts: I'm not sure I have words. The ending left me crushed and broken. (I can only compare it perhaps to listening to the whole Hamilton soundtrack.) I think the book is well written and well plotted. It almost goes without saying that it is incredibly compelling--intense and dramatic.

I do recommend the series. Read them back to back if you can. I did not reread the first book. If there is a third book, I will try to make a point to reread all the books.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Wednesday, March 21, 2018

No Nap! Yes Nap!

No Nap! Yes Nap! Margie Palatini. Illustrated by Dan Yaccarino. 2014. Little, Brown for Young Readers. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Mama says, Nap. Baby says, NO NAP! Nap, yes, says Mama. Yes yes yes! Nap, no! No no no!

Premise/plot: Will Baby take a nap? How long will it take to get Baby to nap? Will Mama need a nap too?!

My thoughts: I like this one. I do. I think the enjoyment--in part--comes from not overthinking it. How can you overthink a picture book? By worrying about the dangers of baby talk. By seeing the short, simple incomplete sentences as a threat to your child's language acquisition. By judging the mom for everything she does or doesn't do right. By seeing the BABY not as humorous or realistic but as a super-dangerous role model, a threat or danger to your own child. Read what you want to read to your child, with your child. Be as scrupulous as you want. But here's the my personal aren't taught to misbehave or be naughty through books. Naughtiness comes naturally. Even if you never pick up No Nap! Yes Nap! chances are that a power struggle over nap time will occur at your house if you have a little one.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Shaking Things Up

Shaking Things Up: 14 Young Women Who Changed the World. Susan Hood. Illustrated by Selina Alko, Sophie Blackall, Lisa Brown, Hadley Hooper, Emily Winfield Martin, Oge Mora, Julie Morstad, Sara Palacios, LeUyen Pham, Erin K. Robinson, Isabel Roxas, Shadra Strickland, and Melissa Sweet. 2018. HarperCollins. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

Premise/plot: Shaking Things Up is a nonfiction (biographical) poetry book celebrating remarkable women past and present. The fourteen women included are Molly Williams (first known female firefighter in the U.S.), Mary Anning (paleontologist), Nellie Bly (journalist), Annette Kellerman (athlete and designer/inventor of the modern swimsuit), Pura Belpre (Latina author/librarian), Frida Kahlo (artist), Jacqueline and Eileen Nearne (secret agents), Frances Moore Lappe (anti-hunger activist/author), Ruby Bridges (civil rights pioneer), Mae Jemison (first African American astronaut), Maya Lin (architect and sculptor), Angela Zhang (scientist and cancer researcher), Malala Yousafzai (youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize).

Each spread includes a biographical poem and is illustrated by a different artist. Just as there is variety in the women highlighted in the book, the poems are written in a variety of styles or forms.

My favorite poem:
There once was a mermaid queen,
lovely and lithesome and lean,
who swam afternoons
without pantaloons--
her swimsuit was deemed obscene!
The lady was quickly arrested.
Unafraid, she calmly protested:
Who can swim fifty laps
wearing corsets and caps?
Her statement could not be contested.
She streamlined the suit of the day
and invented our water ballet.
By changing the fashions
she fueled swimming passions
as women made waves in the spray. (15)
My thoughts: I really loved this one overall! Some of the women were completely new to me. I was glad that the back matter included a suggested reading list for each woman. I would recommend this one to anyone who enjoys nonfiction OR poetry OR inspirational reads in general.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Monday, March 19, 2018

Currently Reading #12

Something Old
Orley Farm. Anthony Trollope. 1862. 825 pages. [Source: Bought]

Short Stories of Lucy Maud Montgomery from 1909-1922. L.M. Montgomery. 2008/2010. 312 pages. [Source: Bought]

Something New
Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2) Neal Shusterman. 2018. 5014 pages. [Source: Library]

Something Borrowed
Crime and Punishment. Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Translated by David McDuff. 671 pages. [Source: Library]

Something True

NASB Quick Study Bible. 2006. Thomas Nelson. 1920 pages. [Source: Bought]

Following Christ. R.C. Sproul. 1991. 392 pages. [Source: Bought]

Old Paths. J.C. Ryle. 536 pages.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Saturday, March 17, 2018

Me Listen to Audio?! #10

This week I've continued to listen to Charles Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop. I've listened to episodes five through ten so far. I've reached the part of the story where it's completely new to me. I'd attempted the novel a few years ago. It is holding my interest. Some story lines more than others. There are a few characters--okay ONE character in particular--that I just can't help boo-hissing every time he enters a scene. I have come to loathe his voice simply because I hate the character so much. I believe there are twenty-five episodes in all. What keeps it perhaps from becoming overwhelming is the fact that each episode is less than fifteen minutes long!

I also listened to "The Delayed Exit of Claude and Eustace."  There is just one more episodes of The Inimitable Jeeves left. It has been so much fun to revisit these stories. I definitely enjoy it more than The Old Curiosity Shop!!!

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Keep it Short #11

This week I read three short stories by L.M. Montgomery.

First sentence: When the vegetable-man knocked, Jessamine went to the door wearily. She felt quite well acquainted with him. He had been coming all the spring, and his cheery greeting always left a pleasant afterglow behind him.

Premise/plot: Jessamine never expected to fall in love with anyone, but love knocks at her door one day. He's the nephew of her regular vegetable-man, Mr. Bell.

 My thoughts: I enjoyed this one! Jessamine, our heroine, lives with her brother and his snooty wife. But she longs for the country life she was forced to leave. I am so glad she got her happily ever after ending!

Miss Sally's Letter
First sentence: Miss Sally peered sharply at Willard Stanley, first through her gold-rimmed glasses and then over them.

Premise/plot: Willard Stanley is madly in love with Miss Sally's niece, Joyce. But Miss Sally has sworn that she would never, ever, ever give her consent for Joyce to marry anyone. Miss Sally's heart was crushed and broken once--men are not to be trusted. Willard Stanley is determined and clever. He seeks Miss Sally's help in decorating his new house. He acts as if he'll be bringing home a bride soon. And Miss Sally assumes that it is someone besides Joyce. He lets her believe this. Now Miss Sally loves, loves, loves, loves to fix up old houses. If they'd had HGTV back in the day, she'd have had her own show. Will Miss Sally get to know and trust Willard doing this home renovation project? Will Joyce and Willard get their happily ever after?

My thoughts: I really loved this one!

"But I think it will do," mused Miss Sally. "We'll make it do. There's such satisfaction getting as much as you possibly can out of a dollar, and twice as much as anybody else would get. I enjoy that sort of thing. This will be a game, and we'll play it with a right good will. But I do wish you would give the place a sensible name."
"It will be Eden for me when she comes." "I suppose you tell her all that and she believes it," said Miss Sally sarcastically. "You'll both find out that there is a good deal more prose than poetry in life."
Prose, rightly written and read, is sometimes as beautiful as poetry.

My Lady Jane
First sentence: The boat got into Broughton half an hour after the train had gone. We had been delayed by some small accident to the machinery; hence that lost half-hour, which meant a night's sojourn for me in Broughton. I am ashamed of the things I thought and said. When I think that fate might have taken me at my word and raised up a special train, or some such miracle, by which I might have got away from Broughton that night, I experience a cold chill. Out of gratitude I have never sworn over missing connections since.

Premise/plot: A man is given a second chance at love. This story is completely silly but has a charm about it as well. Clark Oliver and Elliott Cameron are cousins who could be identical twins. They hate each other. They LOATHE each other. Elliott had no intention of seeking out his cousin's company, but, he missed his train. Delayed for a day, he sees his cousin and ends up agreeing to do him a favor. He will pretend to be Clark for the evening and attend a social dinner. At the dinner he sees an old girlfriend that had broken his heart. In the role of Clark, the two talk and chat...will he get a second chance?!

My thoughts: This one is essentially a short story version of George Strait's LEAD ON. I liked it very much.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


My Victorian Year #11

This week I continued reading Anthony Trollope's Orley Farm. I also made a strong effort in Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. The premise of Crime and Punishment is a dark one. The narrator, our "hero," is a bit mad. He's got a notion in his head of committing murder and seeing if he can get away with it. The crime has been committed now, and I'm just awaiting whatever "punishment" may be coming next. Assuming that the title tells all!

Quotes from Crime and Punishment:
One death to a hundred lives--I mean, there's arithmetic for you! And anyway, what does the life of that horrible, stupid, consumptive old woman count for when weighed in the common balance? No more than the life of a louse, a cockroach, and it's not even worth that, because the old woman is harmful. (80)
To be quite honest, if one goes into all the ins and outs of everyone, are there really going to be all that many good people left? (162)
One can always forgive a man for telling lies; lying's a harmless activity, because it leads to the truth. (163)
"We've got facts," they say. But facts aren't everything: at least half the battle consists in how one makes use of them! (164)
 Quotes from Orley Farm:
Mr. Furnival might feel himself sufficient to secure the acquittal of an innocent person, or even of a guilty person, under ordinary circumstances; but if any man in England could secure the acquittal of a guilty person under extraordinary circumstances, it would be Mr. Chaffanbrass.
Why should I not? Such had been the question which Sir Peregrine Orme had asked himself over and over again, in these latter days, since Lady Mason had been staying at his house; and the purport of the question was this: — Why should he not make Lady Mason his wife?
I and my readers can probably see very many reasons why he should not do so; but then we are not in love with Lady Mason. Her charms and her sorrows, — her soft, sad smile and her more lovely tears have not operated upon us.
Lady Mason was rich with female charms, and she used them partly with the innocence of the dove, but partly also with the wisdom of the serpent.
“You have every right. You shall have every right if you will accept it. Lady Mason, I am an old man, — some would say a very old man. But I am not too old to love you. Can, you accept the love of an old man like me?”
“It shall not be withdrawn. Do not let that feeling actuate you. Answer me out of your heart, and however your heart may answer, remember this, that my friendship and support shall be the same. If you will take me for your husband, as your husband will I stand by you. If you cannot, — then I will stand by you as your father.”
© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Friday, March 16, 2018

With My Hands

With My Hands: Poems About Making Things. Amy Ludwig VanDerwater.  Illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson. 2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I am a maker.

Premise/plot: With My Hands is a themed collection of poems by Amy Ludwig VanDerwater. The theme of the collection is "making things." What kinds of things? All sorts. Not just artsy things like drawings, paintings, cards, and collages. But all sorts. For example, I wasn't expecting a poem about soap carving or making shadow puppets on the wall! I think there is enough variety to inspire and encourage every young reader to say I want to try that!

My thoughts: I enjoyed this collection very much. It celebrates creativity in all its forms. And it captures the joy of play and creation. I had a few favorite poems in this one. I thought "Card" was a sweet poem celebrating a child's love for his/her dad. (The poem is written in first person. The speaker could be a girl or a boy. But the illustration is of a boy.) But my favorite poem is "Mess."

Yes. It's a mess.
Do not let it distress you.
I'm making a project
that might just impress you.
Projects are messy--
all makers agree.
And the messiest maker
of projects

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE that poem because it is so me.

I think this book would pair well with Peter Reynold's Happy Dreamer.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Thursday, March 15, 2018

The Magician's Hat

The Magician's Hat. Malcolm Mitchell. Illustrated by Joanne Lew-Vriethoff. 2018. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Family Fun Day at the library was filled with exciting events. Book scavenger hunts. Storytelling. Reading rallies. Today, for the first time, a magician arrived with a bag of tricks and a BIG hat.

Premise/plot: Do libraries need visiting magicians to be magical places? NO! But in this picture book, a magician who loves books happens to be visiting. He tells the children that books are magic, that books can take you to places you've only dreamed about. The book does seem to be occupied chiefly with associating books with occupations. "What do you want to be when you grow up?" "I've got a book for that in my hat!" (The quotes are NOT from the book, just my summing up of the book's plot.)

My thoughts: I love books. I love reading. I love the message that books can be magical. But. I didn't quite love this one. Books aren't only for figuring out what you want to do in life. That is such a narrow, narrow focus of what books have to offer readers. There are hundreds of reasons why kids might pick up a book. There are hundreds--if not thousands--of reasons why adults might continue to read books.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Journey of Little Charlie

The Journey of Little Charlie. Christopher Paul Curtis. 2018. 256 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I'd seent plenty of animals by the time I was old 'nough to start talking, but only one kind worked me up so much that it pult the first real word I said out my mouth.

Premise/plot: Charlie Bobo is anything but little, he's enormous for his age. After his father's tragic death, this twelve-year-old is forced to grow up super-fast. "Captain" Buck appears on the scene, threatening him and his mother, and, well he won't take no for an answer. Charlie will join him on a journey north to recover stolen goods--or else.

The journey is a physical one, of course, but it's also symbolic. Charlie is journeying from being a boy to being a young man and determining who he is and who he wants to be. One thing he knows from the start, he does NOT want to follow in the footsteps of Cap'n Buck. He does not want to learn what the old man is teaching.

My thoughts: The Journey of Little Charlie surprised me. Charlie is poor; he's white; and he's fallen into the hands of a slave-catcher. Charlie has never really thought much about darkies or slaves. He's never considered their plight or fate. He's always been too concerned with his own. He comes from a family of sharecroppers. If they've managed to have a few pieces of furniture in their shack and some food on the table, well, it's a blessing to be thankful for and not anything to be taken for granted. Captain Buck does not realize that Charlie is a thoughtful, reflective young man and not a thug. He's counting on Charlie to be impressionable and obedient--to be the bully, brute force when needed since he's so big.

I do wish the author's note had been at the BEGINNING of the novel. I think it would have helped me appreciate the novel sooner. 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Tuesday, March 13, 2018

How To Stop Time

How To Stop Time. Matt Haig. 2018. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I am old. That is the main thing to tell you. The thing you are least likely to believe. If you saw me you would probably think I was about forty, but you would be very wrong. I am old –old in the way that a tree, or a quahog clam, or a Renaissance painting is old. To give you an idea: I was born well over four hundred years ago on the third of March 1581, in my parents’ room, on the third floor of a small French château that used to be my home.

Premise/plot: Tom Hazard has had to live with regrets for a long time--a very long time. His biggest regret is leaving his daughter, Marion, behind all those centuries ago. At the time, he didn't know she'd inherited his gift, his curse. He left for her good--their good. His wife, Rose, and his daughter are in danger so long as he's near. Tainted by his "witchcraft" and "sorcery" by never aging. He doesn't want their fate to be like that of his mother.

The narrative is ever-shifting in time. In the present, Tom is a teacher, a history teacher, in London. He's falling for another teacher, Camille, who teaches French. He hates being part of the Albatross Society, but he fears the only way he'll ever find his daughter is with their help. These sections of the book provide some thriller action. Most of the book, however, is flashes of his past.

My thoughts: I enjoyed How To Stop Time. It was an odd book. A fast-slow book. Fast in that it provides action, suspense, and mystery. There is a showdown coming. Readers can feel it coming closer and closer. But also it is a slow novel in that it philosophizes a good deal. Much of the book is spent inside Tom's mind. And it's a reflective, inspective novel.

It would be interesting to see this as a film; interesting to see how this strange balance could come across.

What I enjoyed most was the writing:
  • History isn’t something you need to bring to life. History already is alive. We are history. History isn’t politicians or kings and queens. History is everyone. It is everything. 
  • Forever, Emily Dickinson said, is composed of nows. But how do you inhabit the now you are in? How do you stop the ghosts of all the other nows from getting in? How, in short, do you live?  
  • All we can ever be is faithful to our memories of reality, rather than the reality itself, which is something closely related but never precisely the same thing. 
  • That, I suppose, is a price we pay for love: the absorbing of another’s pain as if our own.  
  • I have long convinced myself that the piano is like a drug, seductive and strong, and it can mess you up, it can awaken dead emotions, it can drown you in your lost selves. It is a nervous breakdown waiting to happen. 
  • I realise there is a reason I am doing this. Why I want to become a history teacher. I need to tame the past. That is what history is, the teaching and telling of it. It is a way to control it and order it. To turn it into a pet. But history you have lived is different to history you read in a book or on a screen. And some things in the past can’t be tamed.  
  • The key to happiness wasn’t being yourself, because what did that even mean? Everyone had many selves. No. The key to happiness is finding the lie that suits you best. 
  • All you can do with the past is carry it around, feeling its weight slowly increase, praying it never crushes you completely.
  • Change is just what life is. It is the only constant I know.  
  • Truth is a straight line you sometimes need to curve, you should know that by now. 
  • Music simply uncovers what is there, makes you feel emotions that you didn’t necessarily know you had inside you, and runs around waking them all up. A rebirth of sorts.  
  • People are only ever half present where they are these days. They always have at least one foot in the great digital nowhere.
  • You are not the only one with sorrows in this world. Don’t hoard them like they are precious. There is always plenty of them to go around.
  • To be good at writing is to be good at pulling out your own hair. What use is a talent that pains you? It is a gift that smells to heaven and it smells of fox shit. You should rather be a whore in the Cardinal’s Hat than be a writer. My quill is my curse.
  • It is strange how close the past is, even when you imagine it to be so far away. Strange how it can just jump out of a sentence and hit you. Strange how every object or word can house a ghost.  
  • The past is not one separate place. It is many, many places, and they are always ready to rise into the present. One minute it is the 1590s, the next it is the 1920s. And it is all related. It is all the accumulation of time. It builds up and builds up and can catch you violently off guard at any moment. 
  • There is no possible way of living in a world without books or trees or sunsets. There just isn’t.  
  • Love at first sight might or might not be a thing, but love in a single moment is. Maybe that is what it takes to love someone. Finding a happy mystery you would like to unravel for ever. We sit in silence for a while, like a couple, watching Abraham gallop around with a Springer spaniel. And I am enjoying the happy weight of her head on my shoulder, for two minutes or so. 
  • Life has a strange rhythm. It takes a while to fully be aware of this. Decades. Centuries, even. It’s not a simple rhythm. But the rhythm is there. The tempo shifts and fluctuates; there are structures within structures, patterns within patterns. It’s baffling. Like when you first hear John Coltrane on the saxophone. But if you stick with it, the elements of familiarity become clear. The current rhythm is speeding up. I am approaching a crescendo. Everything is happening all at once. That is one of the patterns: when nothing is happening, nothing continues to happen, but after a while the lull becomes too much and the drums need to kick in.
  • There comes a time when the only way to start living is to tell the truth. To be who you really are, even if it is dangerous.
  • That’s the thing with time, isn’t it? It’s not all the same. Some days –some years –some decades –are empty. There is nothing to them. It’s just flat water. And then you come across a year, or even a day, or an afternoon. And it is everything. It is the whole thing.’ 
  • The time ahead of you is like the land beyond the ice. You can guess what it could be like but you can never know. All you know is the moment you are in.  
  • To teach feels like you are a guardian of time itself, protecting the future happiness of the world via the minds that are yet to shape it. It isn’t playing the lute for Shakespeare, or the piano at Ciro’s, but it’s something as good. And goodness has its own kind of harmony.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Monday, March 12, 2018

Currently Reading #11

Something Old
Orley Farm. Anthony Trollope. 1862. 825 pages. [Source: Bought]

The Blue Fairy Book. Andrew Lang. 1887. 390 pages. [Source: Bought]
Something New

How To Stop Time. Matt Haig. 2018. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Something Borrowed
The Journey of Little Charlie. Christopher Paul Curtis. 2018. 256 pages. [Source: Library]

Crime and Punishment. Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Translated by David McDuff. 671 pages. [Source: Library]

Something True
NASB Quick Study Bible. 2006. Thomas Nelson. 1920 pages. [Source: Bought]

Following Christ. R.C. Sproul. 1991. 392 pages. [Source: Bought]

Old Paths. J.C. Ryle. 536 pages. 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Saturday, March 10, 2018

Me? Listen to Audio?! #9

This week I've listened to an assortment of things. I've started listening to Charles Dickens' The Old Curiosity Shop. I'm not sure how many episodes per week BBC Radio 4 will be airing. If it's one or two a week, it may take quite a while to listen to this one. And I'm not sure--at this early stage--if it will hold my interest. I believe there are 25 episodes in the series! This week I listened to episodes one through four.

I am also still listening to the Inimitable Jeeves. I've listened to The Purity of the Turf and The Metropolitan Touch.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


My Victorian Year #10

This week I read often in Anthony Trollope's Orley Farm. I also began Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Crime and Punishment was the classic spins winner.

From Orley Farm:
  • The body dries up and withers away, and the bones grow old; the brain, too, becomes decrepit, as do the sight, the hearing, and the soul. But the heart that is tender once remains tender to the last.
  • “But, mamma, would you let a man die because it would cost a few pounds to cure him?” “My dear, we all hope that Mr. Graham won’t die — at any rate not at present. If there be any danger you may be sure that your papa will send for the best advice.”
  • But Madeline was by no means satisfied. She could not understand economy in a matter of life and death.
  • “He’s all right; only he’ll be as fretful as a porcupine, shut up there. At least I should be. Are there lots of novels in the house? Mind you send for a batch to-morrow. Novels are the only chance a man has when he’s laid up like that.”
  • She would have thought, had she brought herself absolutely to think upon it, that all speech of love should be very delicate; that love should grow slowly, and then be whispered softly, doubtingly, and with infinite care.“And when a man knows he’s right, he has a deal of inward satisfaction in the feeling.”
  • You can put two and two together as well as I can, Mr. Mason. I find they make four. I don’t know whether your calculation will be the same. My belief is, that these people are determined to save that woman.
  • In speaking of the character and antecedents of Felix Graham I have said that he was moulding a wife for himself. The idea of a wife thus moulded to fit a man’s own grooves, and educated to suit matrimonial purposes according to the exact views of the future husband was by no means original with him.
  • It is open, in the first place, to this objection, — that the moulder does not generally conceive such idea very early in life, and the idea when conceived must necessarily be carried out on a young subject.
  • Such a plan is the result of much deliberate thought, and has generally arisen from long observation, on the part of the thinker, of the unhappiness arising from marriages in which there has been no moulding. Such a frame of mind comes upon a bachelor, perhaps about his thirty-fifth year, and then he goes to work with a girl of fourteen.
  • On the whole I think that the ordinary plan is the better, and even the safer. Dance with a girl three times, and if you like the light of her eye and the tone of voice with which she, breathless, answers your little questions about horseflesh and music — about affairs masculine and feminine, — then take the leap in the dark. There is danger, no doubt; but the moulded wife is, I think, more dangerous.
From Crime and Punishment
  • On an exceptionally hot evening early in July a young man came out of the garret in which he lodged in S. Place and walked slowly, as though in hesitation, toward K. bridge.
  • It would be interesting to know what it is men are most afraid of.
  • But I am talking too much. It’s because I chatter that I do nothing. Or perhaps it is that I chatter because I do nothing.
© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Keep It Short #10

This week I read several stories in the L.M. Montgomery collection this week.

Christmas at Red Butte
First sentence: "Of course Santa Claus will come," said Jimmy Martin confidently. Jimmy was ten, and at ten it is easy to be confident.

Premise/plot: Will Santa Claus come visit the poor family in this story? Someone comes to visit. And there are gifts. But technically it is not Santa Claus.

My thoughts: This is a generic Christmas story. In December, I think it would be a pleasant enough read, but maybe not so much in March.

How We Went to the Wedding: "If it were to clear up I wouldn't know how to behave, it would seem so unnatural," said Kate. "Do you, by any chance, remember what the sun looks like, Phil?" "Does the sun ever shine in Saskatchewan anyhow?" I asked with assumed sarcasm, just to make Kate's big, bonny black eyes flash.

Premise/plot: Kate and Phil have quite the adventure in traveling to a friend's wedding.

My thoughts: I've never really thought of Montgomery writing stories starring Native Americans felt like an odd story. Yet the twist about the ham made up for it a bit.
The sergeant gave us the tent and stove, and sent a man down to the Reserve for Peter Crow. Moreover, he vindicated his title of friend by making us take a dozen prairie chickens and a large ham—besides any quantity of advice. We didn't want the advice but we hugely welcomed the ham.

Presently our guide appeared—quite a spruce old Indian, as Indians go. I had never been able to shake off my childhood conviction that an Indian was a fearsome creature, hopelessly addicted to scalping knives and tomahawks, and I secretly felt quite horrified at the idea of two defenceless females starting out on a lonely prairie trail with an Indian for guide.
Kate, however, was as blithe and buoyant as usual. She knew no fear, being one of those enviable folk who can because they think they can.
"I don't believe Peter Crow could be so dishonest," said Kate rather shortly. "His wife has worked for us for years, and she's as honest as the sunlight." "Honesty isn't catching," I remarked, but I said nothing more just then, for Kate's black eyes were snapping. "Anyway, we can't have ham for breakfast," she said, twitching out the frying pan rather viciously.

She'll never know he isn't with us till the trip is over, so that is all right. We're going to have a glorious day. But, oh, for our lost ham! 'The Ham That Was Never Eaten.' There's a subject for a poem, Phil. You write one when we get back to civilization. Methinks I can sniff the savoury odour of that lost ham on all the prairie breezes."
My very thoughts are tired. I can't even think anything funny about the ham.
"Mary," said Kate in a tragic whisper, "have—you—any—ham—in—the—house?"

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Friday, March 09, 2018

Too Many Lollipops

Too Many Lollipops. Robert M. Quackenbush. 1975. 32 pages. [Source: Book from my childhood]

First sentence:  One sweltering Sunday Henry the duch had a headache. So he called his doctor. The doctor told him to wear a woolen bonnet, and rest...and EAT A LOT OF LOLLIPOPS. Out shopping on muggy Monday Henry the duck was caught in a flash storm and got a sore throat. The doctor told him to wrap a scarf around it, and rest...AND EAT A LOT OF LOLLIPOPS.

Premise/plot: Will Henry the duck need a new doctor, a better doctor by the end of the week?!?!

My thoughts: Too Many Lollipops is one of my favorite books from childhood. It is definitely one of the more memorable. It has lollipop end papers. The repetitive text which just keeps building and building and it is just DELIGHTFUL. I love the illustrations as well.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Thursday, March 08, 2018

Brightly Burning

Brightly Burning. Alexa Donne. 2018. HMH. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]
First sentence: The gravity stabilizers were failing again.

Premise/plot: Love Jane Eyre? Love science fiction? Now you don't have to choose between reading your favorites. Brightly Burning by Alexa Donne is inspired by the classic novel Jane Eyre. It is set several hundred years--at least--in the future. Earth is uninhabitable, and humanity resides in fleets of star ships or space ships. Stella Ainsley, our heroine, has lived on several. She lived on Empire--one of the finest--until she was orphaned. When the novel opens, she's living on Stalwart and working as an engineer and part-time teacher. She wants to transfer OFF the Stalwart and find a teaching position. But teaching positions are hard to come by for the most part. But one position does become available, a position aboard the Rochester as a private governess for a little girl, Stella is super-excited about the opportunity. She doesn't know it, but her life will never be the same again...

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one! I began reading it the day I received it. I was really intrigued by the idea of Rochester in space. I appreciated the fact that the names and situations have changed. It is inspired by a classic, but it doesn't stick to all the same particulars. Hugo, our hero, is just a few years older than Stella. And it is his sister--not his foster daughter--that needs a governess. The book offers plenty of drama and addition to some romance. 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Wednesday, March 07, 2018

Ashes on the Moor

Ashes on the Moor. Sarah M. Eden. 2018. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]
First sentence: Through a thick fog of grief, Evangeline Blake suffered the blow of each clang of the distant funeral bells.

Premise/plot: When the novel opens, Evangeline Blake, our heroine, has lost everything--almost. She has lost a father, a mother, and two brothers. Lucy, her younger sister, is her sole immediate family. That day Evangeline makes a promise that they'll be together--stay together--no matter what. But within a day or two, at most, that promise proves empty. Lucy, so she's told, is to live with her grandfather. Evangeline, however, is to become a teacher in a mill town. It is what is best for everyone. Oh, and Evangeline is not to tell anyone about how she's related to them or her grandfather.

Evangeline finds herself in a desperate situation for sure. She's young, unskilled and untrained in teaching, same goes in housekeeping and cooking. She's HUNGRY and cold. She finds herself in need of so much, and she finds so much of what she needs in her neighbor, Dermot McCormick. He's relatively new to town; he's Irish; he's a single father raising an autistic son; he's compassionate. Did I mention this is set in Yorkshire in Victorian times?!

My thoughts: I loved this one. I LOVED IT from the first page to the last. It was a satisfying historical romance. I loved the teaching aspect of it. How she is changed just as much by her students as they are changed by her. I loved the focus on the Yorkshire language, and how she tried to write down stories for them in their own language so that they could learn to read in a natural environment. I loved how she is transformed by her new home, new surroundings, new situations. In some ways, this one reminds me of Elizabeth Gaskell's North and South. 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Tuesday, March 06, 2018

What Does Bunny See?

What Does Bunny See? A Book of Colors and Flowers. Linda Sue Park. Illustrated by Maggie Smith. 2005. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: In a cottage garden flowers in their beds Bunny hopping down the path what she sees is--red! Blushing scarlet poppies bloom just above her head. In a cottage garden past the pussy willow Bunny nibbles tender shoots what she sees is--

Premise/plot: This picture book newly reprinted in paperback format is a concept book teaching colors and flowers. It is also a fun way to celebrate spring with little ones.

My thoughts: When I received this one in the mail, I was skeptical. I knew Linda Sue Park was a good author. I've read a few of her novels. But every year there are paperback books published celebrating spring or Easter or the like with text that is mostly, always forgettable. But I ended up LOVING this one. Yes, I used the word love.

I enjoyed the illustrations most of all. I absolutely LOVE the illustrations by Maggie Smith. The text itself is pleasant and enjoyable. It's a rhyming book, a predictable book, a repetitive book. Except for the last spread, each one begins "In a cottage garden...."

Text: 3.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Monday, March 05, 2018

Classics Club Spin #17

I think this is my third spin to participate in since joining the Classics Club. Here are my list of twenty books. The date the number is announced is March 9. The book "must" be finished by April 30, 2018. The number was THREE.

  1. Blue Fairy Book. Andrew Lang. 1887.
  2. The Conqueror by Georgette Heyer. 1931. 
  3. Crime and Punishment. Fyodor Dostoyevsky. 1866.
  4. Dear and Glorious Physician. Taylor Caldwell. 1958. 
  5. Don Quixote. Miguel de Cervantes. 1605.
  6. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (1952)
  7. The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy (1921)
  8. Gone With The Wind. Margaret Mitchell (1936) 
  9. Hester by Margaret Oliphant (1883)
  10. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
  11. Lucy Maud Montgomery Short Stories: 1909-1922
  12. North and South. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1854-55
  13. Old Paths by J.C. Ryle 
  14. One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Alexander Solzhenitsyn (1963)
  15. Orley Farm by Anthony Trollope (1862)
  16. Raintree County by Ross Lockridge Jr. (1948)
  17. Richard the Third by Paul Murray Kendall (1955)   
  18. Shirley by Charlotte Bronte (1849)
  19. Show Boat by Edna Ferber (1926)
  20. The Tempest by William Shakespeare (1610) 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Daughter of Time

The Daughter of Time. Josephine Tey. 1951/1995. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Grant lay on his high white cot and stared at the ceiling. Stared at it with loathing. He knew by heart every last minute crack on its nice clean surface. He had made maps of the ceiling and gone exploring on them; rivers, islands, and continents. He had made guessing games of it and discovered hidden objects; faces, birds, and fishes. He had made mathematical calculations of it and rediscovered his childhood; theorems, angles, and triangles. There was practically nothing else he could do but look at it.

Premise/plot: What is a police inspector to do when he's stuck in a hospital bed with a broken leg? Uninterested in solving any recent cold cases, he turns to the past for inspiration. He sets out to solve the mystery of who killed the two princes in the tower. He begins his investigation by looking at the so-called prime suspect: King Richard III. But he's troubled by what he's discovered. All the evidence "against" Richard is faulty, weak, unsubstantiated; in short in a modern case, everything would be inadmissible. The evidence feels contrived--pieced together decades after the boys disappeared. More importantly, it feels politically motivated all being written during the Tudor dynasty--in the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII. But if Alan Grant has pardoned Richard III--eliminated him as a suspect--who does he think committed the crime? And did the crime occur when everyone thinks it did? Could the boys have been alive when Henry VII defeated Richard III at Bosworth Field?!

My thoughts: I love, love, love, LOVE this mystery novel by Josephine Tey. It was the first mystery novel that I LOVED. (My very first mystery novel was also by Tey. But I didn't "love" it.) I found the writing to be enjoyable and quite quotable!!! That is rarely the case in a mystery novel where it is all about who did it.

Alan Grant on popular fiction authors:

The Sweat and the Furrow was Silas Weekley being earthly and spade-conscious all over seven hundred pages. The situation, to judge from the first paragraph, had not materially changed since Silas's last book: mother lying-in with her eleventh upstairs, father laid-out after his ninth downstairs, eldest son lying to the Government in the cow-shed, eldest daughter lying with her lover in the the hayloft, everyone else lying low in the barn. The rain dripped from the thatch, and the manure steamed in the midden. Silas never omitted the manure. It was not Silas's fault that its steam provided the only uprising element in the picture. If Silas could have discovered a brand of steam that steamed downwards, Silas would have introduced it. (13)
Did no one, any more, no one in all this wide world, change their record now and then? Was everyone nowadays thirled to a formula? Authors today wrote so much to a pattern that their public expected it. The public talked about "a new Silas Weekley" or "a new Lavinia Fitch" exactly as they talked about "a new brick" or a "new hairbrush." They never said "a new book by" whoever it might be. Their interest was not in the book but in its newness. They knew quite well what the book would be like. (14)
The Rose of Raby proved to be fiction, but at least easier to hold than Tanner's Constitutional History of England. It was, moreover, the almost-respectable form of historical fiction which is merely history-with-conversation, so to speak. An imaginative biography rather than an imagined story. Evelyn Payne-Ellis, whoever she might be, had provided portraits and a family tree, and had made no attempt, it seemed, to what he and his cousin Laura used to call in their childhood "write forsoothly." There were no "by our Ladys," no "nathelesses" or "varlets." It was an honest affair according to its lights. And its lights were more illuminating than Mr. Tanner. Much more illuminating. It was Grant's belief that if you could not find out about a man, the next best way to arrive at an estimate of him was to find out about his mother. (59)
Alan Grant on Sir Thomas More
He came to the surface an hour later, vaguely puzzled and ill at ease. It was not that the matter surprised him, the facts were very much what he had expected them to be. It was that this was not how he had expected Sir Thomas to write. "He took ill rest at nights, lay long waking and musing; sore wearied with care and watch, he slumbered rather than slept. So was his restless heart continually tossed and tumbled with the tedious impression and stormy remembrance of his most abominable deeds." That was all right. But when he added that "this he had from such as were secret with his chamberers" one was suddenly repelled. An aroma of back-stair gossip and servants' spying came off the page. So that one's sympathy tilted before one was aware of it from the smug commentator to the tortured creature sleeping on his bed. The murderer seemed of greater stature than the man who was writing of him. Which was all wrong. Grant was conscious too of the same unease that filled him when he listened to a witness telling a perfect story that he knew to be flawed somewhere... (71)
He was five. When that dramatic council scene had taken place at the Tower, Thomas More had been five years old. He had been only eight when Richard died at Bosworth. Everything in that history had been hearsay. And if there was one word that a policeman loathed more than another it was hearsay. Especially when applied to evidence. He was so disgusted that he flung the precious book on to the floor before he remembered that it was the property of a Public Library and his only by grace and for fourteen days. More had never known Richard III at all. He had indeed grown up under a Tudor administration. That book was the Bible of the whole historical world on the subject of Richard III--and it was from that account that Holinshed had taken his material, and from that Shakespeare had written his--and except that More believed what he wrote to be true it was of no more value than what the soldier said.... Grant had dealt too long with the human intelligence to accept as truth someone's report of someone's report of what that someone remembered to have seen or been told. (81)
Other favorite quotes:
"One would expect boredom to be a great yawning emotion, but it isn't, of course. It's a small niggling thing." (16)
"I'm feeling like a policeman. I'm thinking like a policeman. I'm asking myself the question that every policeman asks in every case of murder: Who benefits? And for the first time it occurs to me that the glib theory that Richard got rid of the boys to make himself safer on the throne is so much nonsense. Supposing that he had got rid of the boys. There were still the boys' five sisters between him and the throne. To say nothing of George's toy: the boy and girl. George's son and daughter were barred by their father's attainder; but I take it that an attainder can be reversed, or annulled, or something. If Richard's claim was shaky, all those lives stood between him and safety."
"And did they all survive him?"
"I don't know. But I shall make it my business to find out. The boys' eldest sister certainly did because she became Queen of England as Henry's wife." (105)
It was brought home to him for the first time not only what a useless thing the murder of the boys would have been, but what a silly thing. And if there was anything that Richard of Gloucester was not, beyond a shadow of a doubt, it was silly. (137)
"Of course I'm only a policeman," Grant said. "Perhaps I never moved in the right circles. It may be that I've met only nice people. Where would one have to go to meet a woman who became matey with the murderer of her two boys?"
"Greece, I should think," Marta said. "Ancient Greece."
"I can't remember a sample even there."
"Or a lunatic asylum, perhaps. Was there any sign of idiocy about Elizabeth Woodville?"
"Not that anyone ever noticed. And she was Queen for twenty years or so."
"Yes of course. It's the height of absurdity. It belongs to Ruthless Rhymes, not to sober history. That is why historians surprise me. They seem to have no talent for the likeliness of any situation. They see history like a peepshow; with two-dimensional figures against a distant background."
"Perhaps when you are grubbing about with tattered records you haven't time to learn about people. I don't mean about the people in the records, but just about People. Flesh and blood. And how they react to circumstances." (151)
The spectacle of Dr. Gairdner trying to make his facts fit his theory was the most entertaining thing in gymnastics that Grant had witnessed for some time... As a contortionist Dr. Gairdner was the original boneless wonder. More than ever Grant wondered with what part of their brains historians reasoned. It was certainly by no process of reasoning known to ordinary mortals that they arrived at their conclusions. (173)
 Historians should be compelled to take a course in psychology before they are allowed to write. (201) 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Sunday, March 04, 2018

Currently Reading #10

Something Old
Orley Farm. Anthony Trollope. 1862. 825 pages. [Source: Bought]

The Blue Fairy Book. Andrew Lang. 1887. 390 pages. [Source: Bought]
Something New
Ashes on the Moor. Sarah M. Eden. 2018. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]

How To Stop Time. Matt Haig. 2018. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Brightly Burning. Alexa Donne. 2018. HMH. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Something Borrowed
The Journey of Little Charlie. Christopher Paul Curtis. 2018. 256 pages. [Source: Library]

Something True
Old Paths. J.C. Ryle. 536 pages. 

NASB Quick Study Bible. 2006. Thomas Nelson. 1920 pages. [Source: Bought]

Faith Alone: The Doctrine of Justification. Thomas R. Schreiner. 2015. 284 pages. [Source: Bought]

© 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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