Thursday, May 31, 2018

May Reflections

How many books have I read so far for the year? I have read 250 books this year.
How many board books or picture books have I read? I have read 92!!!! So close to 100!
My favorite I read this month was:  
Goodbye Brings Hello. Dianne White. Illustrated by Daniel Wiseman. 2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
How many early readers or early chapter books have I read? 52!
My favorite I read this month was: 
Who's a Pest? Crosby Newell Bonsall. 1962. Harper & Row. 64 pages. [Source: Bought] 
How many contemporary books have I read? 19
My favorite I read this month was: 
The Penderwicks on Gardam Street. Jeanne Birdsall. 2008. 308 pages. [Source: Library]
How many speculative fiction books have I read? 17
My favorite I read this month was: 
The Explorers: The Door in the Alley. Adrienne Kress. 2017. Random House. 320 pages. [Source: Library] 
How many classics have I read? 25
My favorite I read this month was? 
The Struggles of Brown, Jones, and Robinson, by One of the Firm. Anthony Trollope. 1862. 254 pages. [Source: Bought]
How many historical fiction novels have I read? 26
My favorite I read this month was? 
The Orphan Band of Springdale. Anne Nesbet. 2018. Candlewick. 448 pages. [Source: Library.]
How many mysteries? 18
My favorite I read this month was? 
Thirteen at Dinner. Agatha Christie. 1933. 228 pages. [Source: Bought] 
How many nonfiction? 27
My favorite I read this month was?  
How Sweet the Sound: the Story of Amazing Grace. Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by Frank Morrison. 2018. Simon & Schuster. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
How many Christian fiction? 14
My favorite I read this month was? 
The Watcher. Nikki Grimes. Illustrated by Bryan Collier. 2017. 42 pages. [Source: Library]
How many Christian nonfiction? 40
My favorite I read this month was? 
In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us To Reflect His Character. Jen Wilkin. 2018. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
How many "new" books for the Good Rule challenge? 144
How many "old" books for the Good Rule challenge? 106
How many pages have I read so far for the year? 36,925
Favorite short story or fairy tale of the month: The White Cat
Favorite audio book of the month: The Secret Garden
Favorite Victorian quote:

 If people care more for my clothes than they do for me, I don’t wish to see them. ~ Jo in Little Women


© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Historical Cats

Historical Cats. Peter Gethers and Norman Stiles. Illustrated by William Bramhall. 1996. 86 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Nathan Hale's Cat: "I only regret that I have but nine lives to give for my country."
Albert Einstein's Cat: Ran around the living room at the speed of light for no reason at all, relatively speaking.
Sigmund Freud's Cat: Discovered that the primary motivating factor behind all behavior is the urge to rub up against furniture.

Premise/plot: What if historical figures had cats? Cats who were perhaps just as famous or just as worthy of being famous?

My thoughts: If you love cats--I'm talking LOVE cats--and are easily amused this may be a good fit for you. It is a super-quick read. Each page features an illustration and one or two sentences. I think the aim of the book was to be clever and funny. I'll be honest, there is a LOT of hit or miss within the pages.

I paid fifty cents for my copy. I'm wishing it had been a quarter instead.
  • Marie Antoinette's Cat: "Let them eat dry food."
  • Ponce de Leon's Cat: POUNCE de Leon discovered the fountain of catnip.
  • Eva Peron's Cat: Felita: "Don't meow for me, Argentina."
  • Pablo Picasso's Cat: Accidentally ran into window and created cubism.
My favorite:
Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Cat. Wrote Crime and Punishment and Do It Again Anyway, a complex novel about an evil Russian Blue, Raskolnikat, who eats off his owner's plate despite many stern warnings. Raskolnikat has overwhelming feelings of guilt but looks so cute he is never punished and ultimately dies weighing 57 pounds. 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, May 28, 2018

Currently #22

Something Old
Little Women. Louisa May Alcott. 1868. 566 pages. [Source: Bought]

Rachel Ray. Anthony Trollope. 1863. 326 pages. [Source: Bought]

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

East of Eden. John Steinbeck. 1952. 601 pages. [Source: Bought]
Something New
More Than Meets the Eye. Karen Witemeyer. 2018. Bethany House. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Varina. Charles Frazier. 2018. Ecco. 368 pages. 

Something Borrowed
The Life of Mary, Queen of Scot: An Accidental Tragedy. Roderick Graham. 2008. 542 pages. [Source: Library]

Between the Lines. Nikki Grimes. 2018. 216 pages. [Source: Library]

Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire. Susan Tan. Illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte. 2017. 256 pages. [Source: Library]

Something True
Expository Exultation: Christian Preaching as Worship. John Piper. 2018. Crossway. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Journeys with Jesus: Every Path in the Bible Leads Us to Christ. Dennis E. Johnson. Abridged by Richard B. Ramsey. 2018. P&R Publishing. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Beyond Suffering Bible NLT: Where Struggles Seem Endless, God's Hope Is Infinite. Joni Eareckson Tada. Joni & Friends, Inc. 1016. Tyndale. 1696 pages.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, May 26, 2018

My Victorian Year #21

This week I read from two Victorian novels: Louisa May Alcott's Little Women and Anthony Trollope's Rachel Ray. I also finished watching the newest adaptation of Little Women that aired on PBS. It was good--very good.

Rachel Ray is a reread for me. In the first chapters we meet Mrs. Ray and her two daughters. The youngest, Rachel, is unmarried. The oldest daughter is a widow, Mrs. Prime. Mrs. Ray is the woman who 'cannot grow alone' and whose 'words and thoughts are genuine...but mistaken.' Mrs. Prime is trying to convince her mother that Rachel is misbehaving and up to no good with a local lad named Luke Rowan. He is a clerk hoping to be made partner in a local brewery.

From Rachel Ray:
There are women who cannot grow alone as standard trees; — for whom the support and warmth of some wall, some paling, some post, is absolutely necessary; who, in their growth, will bend and incline themselves towards some such prop for their life, creeping with their tendrils along the ground till they reach it when the circumstances of life have brought no such prop within their natural and immediate reach.
There was nothing hypocritical about Mrs. Prime, nor did she make any attempt to appear before men to be weighted with a deeper sorrow than that which she truly bore; hypocrisy was by no means her fault. Her fault was this; that she had taught herself to believe that cheerfulness was a sin, and that the more she became morose, the nearer would she be to the fruition of those hopes of future happiness on which her heart was set.
In all her words and thoughts she was genuine; but, then, in so very many of them she was mistaken!
It was all gospel to her. The parson in the church, and the parson out of the church, were alike gospels to her sweet, white, credulous mind; but these differing gospels troubled her and tormented her.
Such a one as Mrs. Prime is often necessary. But we all have our own pet temptations, and I think that Mrs. Prime’s temptation was a love of power.
Her sister was, in truth, only seven years her senior, but in all the facts and ways of life, she seemed to be the elder by at least half a century.
Obedience in this world depends as frequently on the weakness of him who is governed as on the strength of him who governs.
There is something in the very name of beer that makes money.
“All eyes will see a loaf of bread alike, or a churchyard stile, but all eyes will not see the clouds alike. Do you not often find worlds among the clouds? I do.”
“Do you never feel that you look into other worlds beyond this one in which you eat, and drink, and sleep? Have you no other worlds in your dreams?”
From Little Women:
It takes people a long time to learn the difference between talent and genius, especially ambitious young men and women.
If “genius is eternal patience,” as Michelangelo affirms, Amy had some claim to the divine attribute, for she persevered in spite of all obstacles, failures, and discouragements, firmly believing that in time she should do something worthy to be called “high art.”
Though after her father had told her that the language was good, the romance fresh and hearty, and the tragedy quite thrilling, he shook his head, and said in his unworldly way . . . “You can do better than this, Jo. Aim at the highest, and never mind the money.”
 Little notice was taken of her stories, but they found a market, and encouraged by this fact, she resolved to make a bold stroke for fame and fortune.
“Don’t spoil your book, my girl, for there is more in it than you know, and the idea is well worked out. Let it wait and ripen,” was her father’s advice, and he practiced what he preached, having waited patiently thirty years for fruit of his own to ripen, and being in no haste to gather it even now when it was sweet and mellow.
“It seems to me that Jo will profit more by taking the trial than by waiting,” said Mrs. March. “Criticism is the best test of such work, for it will show her both unsuspected merits and faults, and help her to do better next time. We are too partial, but the praise and blame of outsiders will prove useful, even if she gets but little money.”
“Do as he tells you. He knows what will sell, and we don’t. Make a good, popular book, and get as much money as you can. By-and-by, when you’ve got a name, you can afford to digress, and have philosophical and metaphysical people in your novels,” said Amy, who took a strictly practical view of the subject.
“You said, Mother, that criticism would help me. But how can it, when it’s so contradictory that I don’t know whether I’ve written a promising book or broken all the ten commandments?” cried poor Jo, turning over a heap of notices, the perusal of which filled her with pride and joy one minute, wrath and dismay the next.
“Come, Jo, it’s time.” “For what?” “You don’t mean to say you have forgotten that you promised to make half a dozen calls with me today?” “I’ve done a good many rash and foolish things in my life, but I don’t think I ever was mad enough to say I’d make six calls in one day, when a single one upsets me for a week.”
 If people care more for my clothes than they do for me, I don’t wish to see them.
 “I’m a crotchety old thing, and always shall be, but I’m willing to own that you are right, only it’s easier for me to risk my life for a person than to be pleasant to him when I don’t feel like it. It’s a great misfortune to have such strong likes and dislikes, isn’t it?”
“You asked me the other day what my wishes were. I’ll tell you one of them, Marmee,” she began, as they sat along together. “I want to go away somewhere this winter for a change.” “Why, Jo?” and her mother looked up quickly, as if the words suggested a double meaning.
“Where will you hop?” “To New York. I had a bright idea yesterday, and this is it. You know Mrs. Kirke wrote to you for some respectable young person to teach her children and sew. It’s rather hard to find just the thing, but I think I should suit if I tried.”
P.S. On reading over my letter, it strikes me as rather Bhaery, but I am always interested in odd people, and I really had nothing else to write about. Bless you!
I’m glad Laurie seems so happy and busy, that he has given up smoking and lets his hair grow. You see Beth manages him better than I did. I’m not jealous, dear, do your best, only don’t make a saint of him. I’m afraid I couldn’t like him without a spice of human naughtiness.
Speaking of books reminds me that I’m getting rich in that line, for on New Year’s Day Mr. Bhaer gave me a fine Shakespeare. It is one he values much, and I’ve often admired it, set up in the place of honor with his German Bible, Plato, Homer, and Milton, so you may imagine how I felt when he brought it down, without its cover, and showed me my own name in it, “from my friend Friedrich Bhaer.”
“You say often you wish a library. Here I gif you one, for between these lids (he meant covers) is many books in one. Read him well, and he will help you much, for the study of character in this book will help you to read it in the world and paint it with your pen.” I never knew how much there was in Shakespeare before, but then I never had a Bhaer to explain it to me. Now don’t laugh at his horrid name. It isn’t pronounced either Bear or Beer, as people will say it, but something between the two, as only Germans can give it.
She took to writing sensation stories, for in those dark ages, even all-perfect America read rubbish.
“People want to be amused, not preached at, you know. Morals don’t sell nowadays.” Which was not quite a correct statement, by the way.
Mr. Bhaer, in one of their conversations, had advised her to study simple, true, and lovely characters, wherever she found them, as good training for a writer. Jo took him at his word, for she coolly turned round and studied him—a proceeding which would have much surprised him, had he known it, for the worthy Professor was very humble in his own conceit.
“I almost wish I hadn’t any conscience, it’s so inconvenient. If I didn’t care about doing right, and didn’t feel uncomfortable when doing wrong, I should get on capitally. I can’t help wishing sometimes, that Mother and Father hadn’t been so particular about such things.”
But much as she liked to write for children, Jo could not consent to depict all her naughty boys as being eaten by bears or tossed by mad bulls because they did not go to a particular Sabbath school, nor all the good infants who did go as rewarded by every kind of bliss, from gilded gingerbread to escorts of angels when they departed this life with psalms or sermons on their lisping tongues. So nothing came of these trials, and Jo corked up her inkstand, and said in a fit of very wholesome humility.
“Well, the winter’s gone, and I’ve written no books, earned no fortune, but I’ve made a friend worth having and I’ll try to keep him all my life.”

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Keep it Short #21

This week I read two fairy tales from The Blue Fairy Book.

Felicia and the Pot of Pinks.

First sentence: Once upon a time there was a poor laborer who, feeling that he had not much longer to live, wished to divide his possessions between his son and daughter, whom he loved dearly.

Premise/plot: Felicia's brother Bruno is BAD NEWS. He has no intention of treating his sister well. You would think--perhaps if this wasn't a fairy tale--that he wouldn't begrudge his sister a pot of pinks--a flower pot. I mean it makes a little sense to begrudge a silver ring. But a flower pot?!?!

Felicia has left her home to fetch water so she can water her pot of pinks. She meets someone unexpected on her way--the 'Queen of the Woods.' But when she returns her pot of pinks is GONE. In its place is a CABBAGE. Upon seeing the replacement, she is so upset that she hurls the cabbage out the window. Much to the cabbage's dismay! You see, this is a TALKING CABBAGE. Because of course that makes perfect sense! The next day, she makes amends to the offended cabbage and she learns what happened to her pot of pinks. BRUNO. Felicia is tempted to take revenge--on her brother's hen. Fortunately, the hen is a TALKING hen. And the hen is able to convince her that all is not as it seems. (Felicia should have suspected as much by now, right?!)

Who is Felicia really? And will she get her pot of pinks back? If I've intrigued you, you can read what happens next

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one! 

The White Cat

First sentence: Once upon a time there was a king who had three sons, who were all so clever and brave that he began to be afraid that they would want to reign over the kingdom before he was dead.

Premise/plot:  The youngest son has the BEST adventure in this fairy tale. So the king, I believe, eventually gives his three sons three TASKS or three TESTS to see who will be his heir. The tests are whimsical, almost nonsensical in nature. Find me the most beautiful dog. Find me a piece of muslin so fine that it could be drawn through the eye of a needle. Bring home the loveliest princess. The last request makes a little bit of sense. The other two, not so much. Each task is given a full year to complete. So this story spans three full years!

As I said, the youngest son has the BEST story. On his journey, he comes across a mysterious castle with a LOVELY mistress--a white cat. He is CHARMED and DELIGHTED and completely CAPTIVATED. He forgets himself--literally. But the White Cat is always ready to help. She sends him back to the king with--you guessed it--the littlest dog, the finest piece of muslin, and the loveliest princess.

My thoughts: I loved, loved, LOVED, LOVED this story. Why did no one tell me about this fairy tale?!?! What other tales have I been missing out on?!



© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Me? Listen to Audio #20

This week I listened to Anne of Green Gables.

Anne of Green Gables. L.M. Montgomery. 1908. Version 3. Read by Karen Savage. Librivox. 2007. 8 hrs. 40 minutes.

I really enjoyed listening to Anne of Green Gables. Anne and I have long been kindred spirits. I've loved the book going on thirty years. I've reread it more times than I can count. This was my second time to listen to it on audio. (But my first time to enjoy it).

I would recommend this reader to anyone. Here are some of my favorite quotes.

The long platform was almost deserted; the only living creature in sight being a girl who was sitting on a pile of shingles at the extreme end. Matthew, barely noting that it WAS a girl, sidled past her as quickly as possible without looking at her. Had he looked he could hardly have failed to notice the tense rigidity and expectation of her attitude and expression. She was sitting there waiting for something or somebody and, since sitting and waiting was the only thing to do just then, she sat and waited with all her might and main.
A child of about eleven, garbed in a very short, very tight, very ugly dress of yellowish-gray wincey. She wore a faded brown sailor hat and beneath the hat, extending down her back, were two braids of very thick, decidedly red hair. Her face was small, white and thin, also much freckled; her mouth was large and so were her eyes, which looked green in some lights and moods and gray in others. 
"Would you rather I didn’t talk? If you say so I’ll stop. I can STOP when I make up my mind to it, although it’s difficult.” 
But if you call me Anne please call me Anne spelled with an E.” “What difference does it make how it’s spelled?” asked Marilla with another rusty smile as she picked up the teapot. “Oh, it makes SUCH a difference. It LOOKS so much nicer. When you hear a name pronounced can’t you always see it in your mind, just as if it was printed out? I can; and A-n-n looks dreadful, but A-n-n-e looks so much more distinguished. 
It’s all very well to read about sorrows and imagine yourself living through them heroically, but it’s not so nice when you really come to have them, is it?
“Do you never imagine things different from what they really are?” asked Anne wide-eyed. “No.” “Oh!” Anne drew a long breath. “Oh, Miss — Marilla, how much you miss!”
Somehow, things never are so good when they’re thought out a second time.
“Saying one’s prayers isn’t exactly the same thing as praying,” said Anne meditatively. 
Boiled pork and greens are so unromantic when one is in affliction. 
Isn’t it good just to be alive on a day like this? I pity the people who aren’t born yet for missing it. They may have good days, of course, but they can never have this one. 
“I think your Gilbert Blythe IS handsome,” confided Anne to Diana, “but I think he’s very bold. It isn’t good manners to wink at a strange girl.” But it was not until the afternoon that things really began to happen. 
Gilbert Blythe wasn’t used to putting himself out to make a girl look at him and meeting with failure. She SHOULD look at him, that red-haired Shirley girl with the little pointed chin and the big eyes that weren’t like the eyes of any other girl in Avonlea school. Gilbert reached across the aisle, picked up the end of Anne’s long red braid, held it out at arm’s length and said in a piercing whisper: “Carrots! Carrots!” Then Anne looked at him with a vengeance! She did more than look. She sprang to her feet, her bright fancies fallen into cureless ruin. She flashed one indignant glance at Gilbert from eyes whose angry sparkle was swiftly quenched in equally angry tears. “You mean, hateful boy!” she exclaimed passionately. “How dare you!” 
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it? Look at these maple branches. Don’t they give you a thrill — several thrills? I’m going to decorate my room with them.” 
I love bright red drinks, don’t you? They taste twice as good as any other color. 
Well, I suppose I must finish up my lessons. I won’t allow myself to open that new book Jane lent me until I’m through. But it’s a terrible temptation, Matthew. Even when I turn my back on it I can see it there just as plain. Jane said she cried herself sick over it. I love a book that makes me cry. But I think I’ll carry that book into the sitting room and lock it in the jam closet and give you the key. And you must NOT give it to me, Matthew, until my lessons are done, not even if I implore you on my bended knees. It’s all very well to say resist temptation, but it’s ever so much easier to resist it if you can’t get the key. 
You didn’t know just how I felt about it, but you see Matthew did. Matthew understands me, and it’s so nice to be understood, Marilla. 
“It’s because you’re too heedless and impulsive, child, that’s what. You never stop to think — whatever comes into your head to say or do you say or do it without a moment’s reflection.” “Oh, but that’s the best of it,” protested Anne. “Something just flashes into your mind, so exciting, and you must out with it. If you stop to think it over you spoil it all. Haven’t you never felt that yourself, Mrs. Lynde?”
When Miss Barry went away she said: “Remember, you Anne-girl, when you come to town you’re to visit me and I’ll put you in my very sparest spare-room bed to sleep.” “Miss Barry was a kindred spirit, after all,” Anne confided to Marilla. “You wouldn’t think so to look at her, but she is. You don’t find it right out at first, as in Matthew’s case, but after a while you come to see it. Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.
“Yes; but cakes have such a terrible habit of turning out bad just when you especially want them to be good,” sighed Anne.
“Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” “I’ll warrant you’ll make plenty in it,” said Marilla.
Mrs. Lynde says I’m full of original sin. No matter how hard I try to be good I can never make such a success of it as those who are naturally good. It’s a good deal like geometry, I expect. But don’t you think the trying so hard ought to count for something?
It isn’t very pleasant to be laid up; but there is a bright side to it, Marilla. You find out how many friends you have.
Mrs. Allan says we should never make uncharitable speeches; but they do slip out so often before you think, don’t they? I simply can’t talk about Josie Pye without making an uncharitable speech, so I never mention her at all. You may have noticed that. I’m trying to be as much like Mrs. Allan as I possibly can, for I think she’s perfect.
“Isn’t this evening just like a purple dream, Diana? It makes me so glad to be alive. In the mornings I always think the mornings are best; but when evening comes I think it’s lovelier still.”
Mr. Allan says everybody should have a purpose in life and pursue it faithfully. Only he says we must first make sure that it is a worthy purpose. I would call it a worthy purpose to want to be a teacher like Miss Stacy, wouldn’t you, Marilla? I think it’s a very noble profession.
Why can’t women be ministers, Marilla? I asked Mrs. Lynde that and she was shocked and said it would be a scandalous thing. She said there might be female ministers in the States and she believed there was, but thank goodness we hadn’t got to that stage in Canada yet and she hoped we never would. But I don’t see why. I think women would make splendid ministers. When there is a social to be got up or a church tea or anything else to raise money the women have to turn to and do the work. I’m sure Mrs. Lynde can pray every bit as well as Superintendent Bell and I’ve no doubt she could preach too with a little practice.” “Yes, I believe she could,” said Marilla dryly. “She does plenty of unofficial preaching as it is. Nobody has much of a chance to go wrong in Avonlea with Rachel to oversee them.”
There are so many things to be thought over and decided when you’re beginning to grow up. It keeps me busy all the time thinking them over and deciding what is right. It’s a serious thing to grow up, isn’t it, Marilla? But when I have such good friends as you and Matthew and Mrs. Allan and Miss Stacy I ought to grow up successfully, and I’m sure it will be my own fault if I don’t.
As Mrs. Lynde says, ‘If you can’t be cheerful, be as cheerful as you can.’
It’s good advice, but I expect it will be hard to follow; good advice is apt to be, I think.
“No, I wasn’t crying over your piece,” said Marilla, who would have scorned to be betrayed into such weakness by any poetry stuff. “I just couldn’t help thinking of the little girl you used to be, Anne. And I was wishing you could have stayed a little girl, even with all your queer ways. You’ve grown up now and you’re going away; and you look so tall and stylish and so — so — different altogether in that dress — as if you didn’t belong in Avonlea at all — and I just got lonesome thinking it all over.”
It won’t make a bit of difference where I go or how much I change outwardly; at heart I shall always be your little Anne, who will love you and Matthew and dear Green Gables more and better every day of her life.
“Wouldn’t Matthew be proud if I got to be a B.A.? Oh, it’s delightful to have ambitions. I’m so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be any end to them — that’s the best of it. Just as soon as you attain to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting.”
“That Anne-girl improves all the time,” she said. “I get tired of other girls — there is such a provoking and eternal sameness about them. Anne has as many shades as a rainbow and every shade is the prettiest while it lasts. I don’t know that she is as amusing as she was when she was a child, but she makes me love her and I like people who make me love them. It saves me so much trouble in making myself love them.”
For we pay a price for everything we get or take in this world; and although ambitions are well worth having, they are not to be cheaply won, but exact their dues of work and self-denial, anxiety and discouragement. 
“Well now, I’d rather have you than a dozen boys, Anne,” said Matthew patting her hand. “Just mind you that — rather than a dozen boys. Well now, I guess it wasn’t a boy that took the Avery scholarship, was it? It was a girl — my girl — my girl that I’m proud of.” He smiled his shy smile at her as he went into the yard. Anne took the memory of it with her when she went to her room that night and sat for a long while at her open window, thinking of the past and dreaming of the future. 
It was the last night before sorrow touched her life; and no life is ever quite the same again when once that cold, sanctifying touch has been laid upon it. 
Marilla, I’ve almost decided to give up trying to like Josie Pye. I’ve made what I would once have called a heroic effort to like her, but Josie Pye won’t BE liked. 
When I left Queen’s my future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does. It has a fascination of its own, that bend, Marilla. I wonder how the road beyond it goes — what there is of green glory and soft, checkered light and shadows — what new landscapes — what new beauties — what curves and hills and valleys further on. 
“Dear old world,” she murmured, “you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.” 
“‘God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world,’” whispered Anne softly. softly.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, May 25, 2018

The Orphan Band of Springdale

The Orphan Band of Springdale. Anne Nesbet. 2018. Candlewick. 448 pages. [Source: Library.]

First sentence:  Gusta Neubronner hadn't expected to be on a bus in Maine when she lost her father. She hadn't expected to be sitting alone scrunched up next to the dark blue coat of a woman she didn't know, or to have her French horn case balanced between her ankles, or for the weight of a night's worth of not sleeping to be pulling at her eyelids and making her mind slow and stupid just at the moment when she needed to be even more alert than her usual quick-brained self.

Premise/plot: The Orphan Band of Springdale is set during World War II in the months leading up to Pearl Harbor, to America officially joining the War. It's set in a small town in Maine. Nesbit does a MARVELOUS job with the setting.

Gusta--or Augusta--is our heroine. She has gone to live with her grandmother. Her father has fled the country--he's being hunted down by officials who dislike his union leanings. (Remember this is when standing for 'the union' and workers' rights means being a communist). Her mother has sent her to her grandmother for safekeeping. She soon finds friends her own age--a cousin who lives near by and a houseful of foster children that her grandma is caring for. (Some are not truly orphans, just children whose parents can no longer care for them. Remember this is during the Depression.)

School is school. She loves some aspects of it; not all aspects of it. There are a few SNOBS in her class that assume the worst about her, that accuse her of being an alien, of being a foreign spy, of being THE ENEMY.

Gusta needs glasses. Since money is hard to come by and the need is pressing, Mr. Bertmann, the oculist offers her a deal. She'll work for him in the afternoons in exchange for her glasses. Part of her work will include taking care of pigeons.

The other story has to do with 'the band.'

My thoughts: The Orphan Band of Springdale is a character-driven historical novel with HEART. Some books are ALL about the journey and not the destination. Such is The Orphan Band of Springdale. (I loved spending time with Gusta and her friends Delphine, Bess, and Josie.) I loved her at home and at school. I loved her when she was trying to be brave and do the right thing. I loved her when she got into messes. I loved all the banter between the competing milk company kids. It's just a great coming-of-age story.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, May 24, 2018

The Three Edwards

The Three Edwards (The Plantagenets #3) Thomas B. Costain. 1958. 480 pages. [Source: Library]
First sentence: The Crusades were running down like an unwound clock.

Premise/plot: The Three Edwards is the third volume in the nonfiction series by Thomas B. Costain on the Plantagenets. It covers the reigns of Edward I, Edward II, and Edward III. It covers the politics, the wars, and the personal dramas. It highlights various men and women who were influential during these years. 

Except perhaps for the reign of Edward II--that had its own dramas and conflicts--much of the book is spent on wars at home and abroad. Wars with Scotland and Wales. Wars with France.

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one--for the most part. My interest in specific battles is low I admit. I have no interest in battle tactics, etc. But there was also plenty of personal drama: wives and husbands, fathers and sons, and daughters being used as bargaining tools. Costain does a good job of presenting the strengths and weaknesses of each Edward. No person is solely good or evil. Holding onto power can be tricky, and power can go to one's head and corrupt.  

Other books in the series: The first volume is The Conquering Family. The second volume is The Magnificent Century.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Thirteen at Dinner

Thirteen at Dinner. Agatha Christie. 1933. 228 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The memory of the public is short. Already the intense interest and excitement aroused by the murder of George Alfred St. Vincent Marsh, fourth Baron Edgware, is a thing past and forgotten. Newer sensations have taken its place. My friend, Hercule Poirot, was never openly mentioned in connection with the case. This, I may say, was entirely in accordance with his own wishes.

Premise/plot: Thirteen at Dinner is the ninth novel in the Hercule Poirot mystery series by Agatha Christie. It is narrated by Poirot's good friend Captain Hastings. He is recounting for readers a case that Poirot himself was a bit ashamed of being involved in.

It begins with a performance: Hastings and Poirot witness a one-woman show, Carlotta Adams. One of the imitations she does is of actress Jane Wilkinson. Wilkinson has married into the nobility, Lord Edgware, but it has not been a successful match--at all.

Later that evening, Poirot meets Jane Wilkinson for himself. She has come to him--pleading with him. Will he be willing to go to Lord Edgware and ask him to grant her a divorce so she can remarry? If not she doesn't know what she'll do. Poirot agrees to go. Lord Edgware agrees to a divorce promptly. In fact, he claims that he agreed over six months ago letting her know by letter!

The next day Lord Edgware is DEAD. Who murdered him and why?!

My thoughts: If you've read Lord Edgware Dies, you've read Thirteen at Dinner. But. If you're like me, you won't mind a bit rereading this Christie mystery. It is one of my favorites. Why? Not because of the details of the mystery. But because of the WRITING. I love Hastings' narration. I love the banter between Hastings and Poirot. Poirot can be such a hoot! It was a TREAT to reread this one.

Quotes:
"Do you not know, my friend, that each one of us is a dark mystery, a maze of conflicting passions and desires and aptitudes? Mais oui, c'est vrai. One makes one's little judgments--but nine times out of ten, one is wrong."
"Not Hercule Poirot," I said smiling.
"Even Hercule Poirot! Oh! I know very well that you have always a little idea that I am conceited, but indeed, I assure you, I am really a very humble person."
I laughed.
"You--humble!"
"It is so. Except--I confess it--that I am a little proud of my moustaches. Nowhere in London have I observed anything to compare with them. (5-6)
"Stop Poirot!" I cried. "You are making my head spin. "
"No, no, my friend. We are only considering possibilities. It is like trying on the clothes. Does this fit? No, it wrinkles on the shoulder? This one? Yes, that is better--but not quite large enough. This other one is too small. So on and so on, until we reach the perfect fit--the truth." (65)
"I always find alibis very enjoyable," he remarked. "Whenever I happen to be reading a detective story I sit up and take notice when the alibi comes along." (101)
"Between the deliberate falsehood and the disinterested inaccuracy it is very hard to distinguish sometimes.."
"What do you mean?"
"To deceive deliberately--that is one thing. But to be so sure of your facts, of your ideas and of their essential truth that the details do not matter--that, my friend, is a special characteristic of particularly honest persons." (107)
"The positive witness should always be treated with suspicion, my friend. The uncertain witness who doesn't remember, isn't sure, will think a minute--ah! yes, that's how it was--is infinitely more to be depended upon!"
"Dear me, Poirot," I said. "You upset all my preconceived ideas about witnesses." (107-8)
"My good friend," he said. "I depend upon you more than you know."
I was confused and delighted by these unexpected words. He had never said anything of the kind to me before. Sometimes, secretly, I had felt slightly hurt. He seemed almost to go out of his way to disparage my mental powers.
Although I did not think his own powers were flagging, I did realize suddenly that perhaps he had come to depend on my aid more than he knew.
"Yes," he said dreamily. "You may not always comprehend just how it is so--but you do often, and often point the way."
I could hardly believe my ears.
"Really, Poirot," I stammered. "I'm awfully glad, I suppose I've learnt a good deal from you one way or another--"
He shook his head.
"Mais non, ce n'est pas ca. You have learnt nothing."
"Oh!" I said, rather taken aback.
"That is as it should be. No human being should learn from another. Each individual should develop his own powers to the uttermost, not try to imitate those of someone else. I do not wish you to be a second and inferior Poirot. I wish you to be the supreme Hastings. In you, Hastings, I find the normal mind almost perfectly illustrated." (111)
"You are like someone who reads the detective story and who starts guessing each of the characters in turn without rhyme or reason." (112)
"You have a theory, then?"
"A detective, M. Martin, always has a theory. It is expected of him. I do not call it a theory myself. I say that I have a little idea. That is the first stage."
"And the second stage?"
"If the little idea turns out to be right, then I know! It is quite simple, you see." (129)
"Do not antagonize your son! He is of an age to choose for himself. Because his choice is not your choice, do not assume that you must be right. If it is a misfortune, then accept misfortune. Be at hand to aid him when he needs aid. But do not turn him against you." (145)

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Saving Fiona

Saving Fiona: The Story of the World's Most Famous Baby Hippo. Thane Maynard. 2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: This is Fiona. She is a baby hippopotamus, but not just any baby hippopotamus. She is the first premature hippopotamus to be raised by humans. She is a survivor. This is her story.

Premise/plot: Saving Fiona is a nonfiction picture book for young readers. The Cincinnati Zoo was super-excited to welcome hippos to their new African animal habitat. The first two hippos in the exhibit were Henry and Bibi. They were hoping that these two would have a baby. They did! No one expected Fiona would be born several months premature, however. The zookeepers had to step in and raise her....until she was ready to be reunited with her parents. This book is about how they took care of Fiona in those early months.

My thoughts: I have watched Fiona's videos with great enthusiasm and interest. I found the picture book to be fascinating. It is full of pictures. It is full of facts. It's just an absorbing, compelling story. Readers of all ages might find Fiona's story a must read.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, May 21, 2018

Who's a Pest?

Who's a Pest? Crosby Newell Bonsall. 1962. Harper & Row. 64 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence:  Lolly, Molly, Polly and Dolly all looked at Homer. Homer was their brother. "I didn't do it," said Homer. "Yes, you did," they said. "Yes, you did. And you're a pest!" Then Lolly and Molly and Polly and Dolly all turned their backs. "Beans," said Homer, "I'm not a pest."

Premise/plot: Who's A Pest is a dialogue driven early reader from the early 1960s. It stars Homer, his sisters, and a LOT of animals. How very easy it is to be misunderstood!

My thoughts: I could not resist this one when I saw it in my local charity shop. The dialogue was so funny. Perhaps not ha-ha funny. But funny nonetheless.

Homer sat down.
Soon he heard a sound.
"Help," it said.
"Help! Help! Help!"
Homer looked around.
"Help who?" he asked.
"Help me," said the sound.
"Who's me?" Homer asked.
"Me is me. I don't know who you are," said the sound.
"I'm Homer," said Homer.
"Please help me, Homer," said the sound.
"Where are you?" cried Homer.
"Here," said the sound.
"Where's here?" asked Homer.
"Here is here," said the sound.
"Oh, my," cried Homer, "I'll never find you. I don't know where here is."
Homer soon enlists others to help him search for ME. Anyway, I found the book delightful. I'm not sure children will equally be delighted by this vintage I Can Read book. (It does have a LOT of text per page.) 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Currently Reading #21

Something Old
Little Women. Louisa May Alcott. 1868. 566 pages. [Source: Bought]



Rachel Ray. Anthony Trollope. 1863. 326 pages. [Source: Bought]


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

East of Eden. John Steinbeck. 1952. 601 pages. [Source: Bought]

Thirteen at Dinner. Agatha Christie. 1933. 228 pages. [Source: Bought]

Something New
More Than Meets the Eye. Karen Witemeyer. 2018. Bethany House. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Between the Lines. Nikki Grimes. 2018. 216 pages. [Source: Library]

Cilla Lee-Jenkins: Future Author Extraordinaire. Susan Tan. Illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte. 2017. 256 pages. [Source: Library]

Something Borrowed
The Three Edwards (The Plantagenets #3) Thomas B. Costain. 1958. 480 pages. [Source: Library]

The Life of Mary, Queen of Scot: An Accidental Tragedy. Roderick Graham. 2008. 542 pages. [Source: Library]
Something True
Beyond Suffering Bible NLT: Where Struggles Seem Endless, God's Hope Is Infinite. Joni Eareckson Tada. Joni & Friends, Inc. 1016. Tyndale. 1696 pages.

Old Paths. J.C. Ryle. 536 pages.
The Church in Babylon: Heeding the Call to Be a Light in the Darkness. Erwin W. Lutzer. 2018. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]


© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

Me? Listen to Audio?! #19

The first thing I listened to this week was...

The Wings of the Dove. Henry James. 1902. Adapted for BBC Radio 4 by Linda Marshall Griffiths. Directed by Nadia Molinari. Starring Aisling Loftus as Kate Croy, Nico Mirallegro as Merton Densher, Jodie Comer as Milly Theale. 

I listened to the omnibus edition. Each broadcast contains five parts. Part one. Part two.

I have never read the book. (Though I have read a few of Henry James' novels in the past.) I came to the audio drama with no expectations.

I found the drama to be confusing. I think it was purposefully so. I think they dramatized the psychological aspects of it. And it isn't easy to audibly capture one's INTERNAL struggles. I'm not sure if James was using stream of consciousness in the novel, but certainly the radio drama makes use of the concept. Once I read a summary (or two) of the novel, I was able to piece together the story and enjoy it. For better or worse.

My favorite character was the dying Milly Theale. My least favorite character was Kate Croy. At first, I was trying to make Kate Croy be the heroine, a sympathetic heroine. But she just was not staying in that mold, in that little box.

The Secret Garden. Frances Hodgson Burnett. 1911. Librovox. Read by Karen Savage. 7 hours. 

I have read this one several times. I enjoy so many things about the book. I love quite a few of the characters. It genuinely has a feel-good feeling to it. I don't love, love, love everything about the story. Some elements are slightly weird. (How Magic seems to take the place of God, for example.) But such a treat to listen to this one. Thought the reader did a GREAT job with the accents.

 What I really remember is the movie from 1987. Do you have a favorite adaptation of The Secret Garden?

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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My Victorian Year #20

I finished The Struggles of Brown, Jones, and Robinson by Anthony Trollope. I started the next Trollope book, Rachel Ray.

I also continued reading Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. 

Quotes from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott:
Amy was having hard times at Aunt March’s. She felt her exile deeply, and for the first time in her life, realized how much she was beloved and petted at home. Aunt March never petted any one; she did not approve of it, but she meant to be kind, for the well-behaved little girl pleased her very much, and Aunt March had a soft place in her old heart for her nephew’s children, though she didn’t think it proper to confess it.
Finding the child more docile and amiable than her sister, the old lady felt it her duty to try and counteract, as far as possible, the bad effects of home freedom and indulgence. So she took Amy by the hand, and taught her as she herself had been taught sixty years ago, a process which carried dismay to Amy’s soul, and made her feel like a fly in the web of a very strict spider.
The evenings were the worst of all, for Aunt March fell to telling long stories about her youth, which were so unutterably dull that Amy was always ready to go to bed, intending to cry over her hard fate, but usually going to sleep before she had squeezed out more than a tear or two.
“I’ve thought a great deal lately about my ‘bundle of naughties,’ and being selfish is the largest one in it, so I’m going to try hard to cure it, if I can. Beth isn’t selfish, and that’s the reason everyone loves her and feels so bad at the thoughts of losing her.
“Do you think Meg cares for him?” asked Mrs. March, with an anxious look. “Mercy me! I don’t know anything about love and such nonsense!” cried Jo, with a funny mixture of interest and contempt. “In novels, the girls show it by starting and blushing, fainting away, growing thin, and acting like fools.
“I did wrong to sigh, Jo. It is natural and right you should all go to homes of your own in time, but I do want to keep my girls as long as I can, and I am sorry that this happened so soon, for Meg is only seventeen and it will be some years before John can make a home for her. Your father and I have agreed that she shall not bind herself in any way, nor be married, before twenty.
Now and then, in this workaday world, things do happen in the delightful storybook fashion, and what a comfort it is.
There never was such a Christmas dinner as they had that day. The fat turkey was a sight to behold, when Hannah sent him up, stuffed, browned, and decorated. So was the plum pudding, which melted in one’s mouth, likewise the jellies, in which Amy reveled like a fly in a honeypot.
“Rather a rough road for you to travel, my little pilgrims, especially the latter part of it. But you have got on bravely, and I think the burdens are in a fair way to tumble off very soon,” said Mr. March, looking with fatherly satisfaction at the four young faces gathered round him.

“I’ll wait, and in the meantime, you could be learning to like me. Would it be a very hard lesson, dear?” “Not if I chose to learn it, but. . .” “Please choose to learn, Meg. I love to teach, and this is easier than German,” broke in John, getting possession of the other hand, so that she had no way of hiding her face as he bent to look into it.

“Oh, do somebody go down quick! John Brooke is acting dreadfully, and Meg likes it!”
“In most families there comes, now and then, a year full of events. This has been such a one, but it ends well, after all.”
“It can never be the same again. I’ve lost my dearest friend,” sighed Jo. “You’ve got me, anyhow. I’m not good for much, I know, but I’ll stand by you, Jo, all the days of my life. Upon my word I will!” and Laurie meant what he said.
 Don’t you wish you could take a look forward and see where we shall all be then? I do,” returned Laurie. “I think not, for I might see something sad, and everyone looks so happy now, I don’t believe they could be much improved.”
The girls gave their hearts into their mother’s keeping, their souls into their father’s, and to both parents, who lived and labored so faithfully for them, they gave a love that grew with their growth and bound them tenderly together by the sweetest tie which blesses life and outlives death.
 “I don’t want a fashionable wedding, but only those about me whom I love, and to them I wish to look and be my familiar self.”
So she made her wedding gown herself, sewing into it the tender hopes and innocent romances of a girlish heart. Her sisters braided up her pretty hair, and the only ornaments she wore were the lilies of the valley, which “her John” liked best of all the flowers that grew.
“Then I am satisfied. But please hug and kiss me, everyone, and don’t mind my dress. I want a great many crumples of this sort put into it today,” and Meg opened her arms to her sisters, who clung about her with April faces for a minute, feeling that the new love had not changed the old.
© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, May 18, 2018

Keep It Short #20

I read two fairy tales from The Blue Book this week.

Why the Sea is Salt.
First sentence: Once upon a time, long, long ago, there were two brothers, the one rich and the other poor.

Premise/plot: This one begins on Christmas Eve. The 'poor' brother begs the 'rich' brother for food. The rich brother begrudgingly gives him a ham--not a ham to eat, but a ham to sell. This is implied, I think. The rich man told the brother to take the ham to 'Dead Man's Hall.' On his way, the poor brother meets an old man. The old man gives advice. EVERYONE will want to buy the ham, but only agree to sell if if you can get the hand-mill behind the door. That is some very specific advice. But it's advice the poor man is willing to take. He returns to the old man--whom we now learn is an old woodcutter--and he teaches the poor man how to use the hand-mill. This is the most important aspect of the story--how to properly use the magical hand-mill.

The poor man's life changes with the hand-mill in his life. And the rich brother gets jealous. He NEEDS the hand-mill. It changes hands--for money. But the rich brother doesn't ask for instructions--and regrets it! The hand-mill changes hands again--for money. The poor brother gets paid to take it back!

The hand-mill changes hands one more time...this time to a skipper. Again the instructions are not passed along. We're told that the skipper is afraid the poor man would change his mind and so he rushed away to his boat. This time the hand-mill is asked to grind SALT. But with no instructions on how to stop it...well...you can see why the sea is salt.

My thoughts: What a super-fun story. If I have read this one before, I've completely forgotten it. I have read stories like it. I seem to remember a magical pot or kettle? Anyway, I'd recommend this one!

The Master Cat; or, Puss in Boots
First sentence: There was a miller who left no more estate to the three sons he had than his mill, his ass, and his cat.

Premise/plot: The youngest son is upset that his legacy is a cat. He thinks that the other brothers are better off. But is that true?! No, not really. The cat is a talking cat. And he wants to be a well-dressed cat at that. If he trusts this cat, then his fortunes might change completely. And with very little effort on his part.
The Cat, who heard all this, but made as if he did not, said to him with a grave and serious air: "Do not thus afflict yourself, my good master. You have nothing else to do but to give me a bag and get a pair of boots made for me that I may scamper through the dirt and the brambles, and you shall see that you have not so bad a portion in me as you imagine."
Monsieur Puss came at last to a stately castle, the master of which was an ogre, the richest had ever been known; for all the lands which the King had then gone over belonged to this castle. 
"I have been assured," said the Cat, "that you have the gift of being able to change yourself into all sorts of creatures you have a mind to; you can, for example, transform yourself into a lion, or elephant, and the like."
"That is true," answered the ogre very briskly; "and to convince you, you shall see me now become a lion." Puss was so sadly terrified at the sight of a lion so near him that he immediately got into the gutter, not without abundance of trouble and danger, because of his boots, which were of no use at all to him in walking upon the tiles. A little while after, when Puss saw that the ogre had resumed his natural form, he came down, and owned he had been very much frightened.
"I have been, moreover, informed," said the Cat, "but I know not how to believe it, that you have also the power to take on you the shape of the smallest animals; for example, to change yourself into a rat or a mouse; but I must own to you I take this to be impossible."
"Impossible!" cried the ogre; "you shall see that presently." And at the same time he changed himself into a mouse, and began to run about the floor. Puss no sooner perceived this but he fell upon him and ate him up.    
My thoughts: I enjoyed this one too!


© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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The Struggles of Brown, Jones, and Robinson

The Struggles of Brown, Jones, and Robinson, by One of the Firm. Anthony Trollope. 1862. 254 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: It will be observed by the literary and commercial world that, in this transaction, the name of the really responsible party does not show on the title-page. I — George Robinson — am that party.

Premise/plot: Brown, Jones, and Robinson may have failed miserably in their business venture BUT George Robinson's account of their attempt is a delightful treat. 

Mr. Brown is an older man, nearing retirement, let's say. He brings the money--the capital--to the business. He has two partners each with a twenty-five percent share. Mr. Jones is Mr. Brown's son-in-law. He's married to Sarah Jane, I believe. But Mr. Brown has ANOTHER daughter: Maryanne. Mr. Robinson has hopes to marry her one day. If she'll say yes and actually mean it. 

You see, Maryanne has ISSUES. First, she thinks the world revolves around her. Second, she doesn't like having just one suitor begging for her hand in marriage. Third, she doesn't care WHERE or HOW her father gets the money to pay her potential groom, so long as he does it SOON. Mr. Brisket is the other suitor. And he wants MONEY before saying I do. More money than Mr. Brown has. Perhaps more money than Mr. Brown can earn in the next year. 

Now don't be thinking that Maryanne is the only selfish person in the novel. She's not alone. Mrs. Jones--Sarah--is a piece of work as well. She wants what she wants when she wants it. And she's not above TAKING what she wants and hoping that no one else will notice. Her husband is like-minded. In fact, Robinson is all but sure that these two have been helping themselves to the store's money. That Mr. Brown probably WOULD have the money to pay Mr. Brisket if Mr. Jones wasn't such a scoundrel. The store seems destined for bankruptcy. 

Will she or won't she become Mrs. Robinson? Will she or won't she become Mrs. Brisket? Will Mr. Brown lose his home and his business? Will George Robinson land on his feet and find happiness and success elsewhere? Will lessons be learned?

My thoughts: George Robinson is far from perfect. He has mixed up priorities. But his narrative voice is so delightful. Even when the situation is dire--serious--there's a touch of humor to be found. I enjoyed this one so much. It was a GREAT reminder as to why I love Trollope. Orley Farm was a CHORE. But this one was a treat. 

Quotes: 
Advertise, advertise, advertise; — and don’t stop to think too much about capital.
Capital is a very nice thing if you can get it. It is the desirable result of trade. A tradesman looks to end with a capital. But it’s gammon to say that he can’t begin without it. You might as well say a man can’t marry unless he has first got a family. Why, he marries that he may have a family. It’s putting the cart before the horse.
To obtain credit the only certain method is to advertise. Advertise, advertise, advertise. That is, assume, assume, assume. Go on assuming your virtue. The more you haven’t got it, the more you must assume it.
 Smile sweet enough, and all the world will believe you. Advertise long enough, and credit will come.
 O Commerce, how wonderful are thy ways, how vast thy power, how invisible thy dominion! Thou civilizest, hast civilized, and wilt civilize. Civilization is thy mission, and man’s welfare thine appointed charge. The nation that most warmly fosters thee shall ever be the greatest in the earth; and without thee no nation shall endure for a day. Thou art our Alpha and our Omega, our beginning and our end; the marrow of our bones, the salt of our life, the sap of our branches, the corner-stone of our temple, the rock of our foundation. We are built on thee, and for thee, and with thee. To worship thee should be man’s chiefest care, to know thy hidden ways his chosen study. “Buy in the cheapest market and sell in the dearest.” May those divine words be ever found engraved on the hearts of Brown, Jones, and Robinson!
 “George,” said he, “all the world wears stockings; but those who require African monkey muffs are in comparison few in number.
The whole world wants stockings, [he began, not disdaining to take his very words from Mr. Brown] — and Brown, Jones, and Robinson are prepared to supply the whole world with the stockings which they want. One hundred and twenty baskets of ladies’ Spanish hose, — usual price, 1s. 3d.; sold by B., J., and R. at 9¾d. “Baskets!” said Mr. Brown, when he read the little book. Four hundred dozen white cotton hose, — usual price, 1s. 0½d.; sold by B., J., and R. at 7¼d. Eight stack of China and pearl silk hose, — usual price, 3s.; sold by B., J., and R. for 1s. 9¾d. Fifteen hundred dozen of Balbriggan, — usual price, 1s. 6d.; sold by B., J., and R. for 10½d. It may not, perhaps, be necessary to continue the whole list here; but as it was read aloud to Mr. Brown, he sat aghast with astonishment. “George!” said he, at last, “I don’t like it. It makes me quite afeard. It does indeed.”
“But, George,” said Mr. Brown, “I should like to have one of these bills true, if only that one might show it as a sample when the people talk to one.” “True!” said Robinson, again. “You wish that it should be true! In the first place, did you ever see an advertisement that contained the truth? If it were as true as heaven, would any one believe it? Was it ever supposed that any man believed an advertisement? Sit down and write the truth, and see what it will be! The statement will show itself of such a nature that you will not dare to publish it. There is the paper, and there the pen. “Did you ever believe an advertisement?” Jones, in self-defence, protested that he never had. “And why should others be more simple than you? No man, — no woman believes them. They are not lies; for it is not intended that they should obtain credit. I should despise the man who attempted to base his advertisements on a system of facts, as I would the builder who lays his foundation upon the sand. The groundwork of advertising is romance. It is poetry in its very essence. Is Hamlet true?”
Brown, Jones, and Robinson have sincere pleasure in presenting to the Fashionable World their new KATAKAIRION SHIRT, in which they have thoroughly overcome the difficulties, hitherto found to be insurmountable, of adjusting the bodies of the Nobility and Gentry to an article which shall be at the same time elegant, comfortable, lasting, and cheap. B., J., and R.’s KATAKAIRION SHIRT, and their Katakairion Shirt alone, is acknowledged to unite these qualities. Six Shirts for 39s. 9d. The Katakairion Shirt is specially recommended to Officers going to India and elsewhere, while it is at the same time eminently adapted for the Home Consumption.
 “There is nothing so fickle as the taste of the public. The most popular author of the day can never count on favour for the next six months.”
Would that women could be taught to hate bargains! How much less useless trash would there be in our houses, and how much fewer tremendous sacrifices in our shops!
As far as I can see, everything is mostly lies. The very worst article our people can get for sale, they call ‘middlings;’ the real middlings are ‘very superior,’ and so on. They’re all lies; but they don’t cost anything, and all the world knows what they mean.
Bad things must be bought and sold, and if we said our things was bad, nobody would buy them.
“Fourteen hours’ work a day is nothing, if you don’t do anything. A man may sweat hard digging holes and filling them up again. But what I say is, he does not do any good.
It’s only the sheep that lets themselves be shorn. The lions and the tigers know how to keep their own coats on their own backs.
The world of purchasers will have cheap articles, and the world of commerce must supply them.
The world of purchasers will have their ears tickled, and the world of commerce must tickle them.
Could it be that a man had a double duty, each separate from the other; — a duty domestic and private, requiring his devotion and loyalty to his wife, his children, his partners, and himself; and another duty, widely extended in all its bearings and due to the world in which he lived?

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, May 17, 2018

The Door in the Alley (The Explorers)

The Door in the Alley. Adrienne Kress. 2017. Random House. 320 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: This story begins, like most stories do, with a pig wearing a teeny hat. And I'm sure right now you're thinking to yourself, I've read this story before. But please let me assure you that this isn't that pig in a teeny hat story you're reading, but the other one. The one you haven't read. Yet. Unless you've read this story before.

Premise/plot: Sebastian is NOT looking for adventure...or excitement. And he's especially not looking for DANGER and INTRIGUE. He likes things just-so; he has a precise way of living. Everything in his world belongs in a perfectly-perfect logical way. But he stumbles into an adventure, and that stumbling begins--you guessed it--with a pig wearing a teeny hat. There are other things that coax him into a BIG, DANGEROUS adventure. Including a girl named Evie.

Evie is not looking exactly for ADVENTURE. But she is tired of her incredibly boring and predictable existence. It wouldn't be so bad if she felt loved, wanted, accepted. But since her parents death, she's had no one. She lives at a boarding school, I believe. And she's not friends with the other boarders or the other students. Her teachers have tried coaxing her out of self-pity and into a friendship with her peers. But, alas, Evie sees no way out of her despair. But when her oh-so-ordinary weekly dinner ends in a FIRE and men chasing her... well...she finds herself in the middle of a huge adventure. Sebastian joins her on this adventure. She talks him into it. He is still most reluctant.

This is an action-packed adventure story with DRAMA and DANGER. It does end in a cliff hanger.

My thoughts: I liked it. I probably will read the second book in the series. Sebastian and Evie are pleasant to spend time with. And the Explorers Club sounds intriguing.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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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.
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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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