Sunday, September 30, 2018

Third Quarter Check-ins (Or Check-ups)

A Century of Books
Host: Stuck in a Book and The Captive Reader  About the challenge
Dates: They're aiming for a year; I'm aiming for a year plus a little wiggle room; let's say 18 mos.
My century: 1918-2017

I've read from 1918, 1923, 1924, 1926, 1928, 1929, 1931, 1933, 1936, 1937, 1944, 1945, 1947, 1949, 1951, 1952, 1956, 1958, 1962, 1971, 1972, 1974, 1975, 1978, 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1985,  1986, 1987, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1994, 1995, 1996,  1997, 1998, 1999, 2000,  2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014,  2015, 2016, 2017,

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge (2018)
Host: Escape with Dollycas (sign up here)
January 2018 - December 2018
# of books: 26+ I am going to try for 4 bowls of soup

I still need:

Bowl #1: E, Q, X, Y,
Bowl #2: I, N, T, Y,
Bowl #3: G, K, N, Y, Z
Bowl #4 (authors): C, H, I, K, N, Q, U, V, Y,

Author Love Challenge
Because Reading (sign up)
January - December 2018
My goal to read Anthony Trollope chronologically. I started this project in 2017.

I've read four books. I'm currently reading The Small House at Allington which will make five.

1. Framley Parsonage. Anthony Trollope. 1861. 573 pages. [Source: Bought]
2. Orley Farm. Anthony Trollope. 1862. 825 pages. [Source: Bought]
3.  The Struggles of Brown, Jones, and Robinson, by One of the Firm. Anthony Trollope. 1862. 254 pages. [Source: Bought]
4. 4. Rachel Ray. Anthony Trollope. 1863. 326 pages. [Source: Bought]


Back to the Classics 2018
Host: Books and Chocolate (sign up)
January - December 2018
# of books: 6 - 12

_ classic with a color in the title
Charity Reading Challenge
Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up here)
Duration: January-December 2018
# of books: You decide

I've read twenty-eight books.

2018 Dread and Read Challenge
Host: Hotchpot Cafe (sign up) Be sure to link to all book reviews.
Dates: January - December 2018
# of books: I'm aiming for 4
 I've just read one book.

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up)
January - December 2018
# of books: I'm aiming for twelve
I've read nine books so far: 1951, 2009, 2011, 1918, 1931, 1918, 1924, 1978, 1949,  (none read since last update)

Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up)
Duration: January 2018 - December 2018
Inspiration: It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones. C.S. Lewis
# of books: readers decide

I've read 275 new books and 156 old books.

Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up here)
Duration: January - December 2018
Goal: To read books with CATS
# of books: minimum of 3

I've read 44 books.

Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up)
Duration: January - December 2018
# of books: minimum of 6
I've read thirty-five.

Newbery Reading Challenge 2018
Host: Smiling Shelves (sign-up)
January - December 2018
# of Books: I'm aiming for Spinelli. 30-44 points. 3 pts for each Newbery Medal; 2 pts for each Newbery Honor; 1 pt for Caldecott Medal or Honor.
I've read nine books and earned twenty-three points. (15 for Winners; 8 for Honors)

Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge
Host: Read-at-Home-Mom (sign up)
Check in at the end of each month with a list of what you've read and links to any reviews you have posted. When you post on social media, tag your posts with #OldSchoolKidlit2018
January - December 2018
# of books: 42

I've read twenty-three books.


Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up)
Duration: January - December 2018
Goal: To have adults read more picture books. To celebrate the fact that picture books are for everyone! Families are, of course, welcome to join in!
# of books: minimum of 6
I'm signing up for Option 3.

_9. Title beginning with E
_18. Author beginning with I
_27. Title beginning with N
_30. Author beginning with O
_42. Title or Author beginning with X or “Ex”
_43. Title beginning with Y
_44. Author beginning with Y
_56. holiday of your choice — board book or early reader
_57. holiday of your choice — picture book
_63. free choice
_66. a title with the word “first” in it 
__ 68. a book set in a place you’d like to visit
_79. oversized book

Read It Again, Sam
Host: My Reader's Block (sign up here)
Dates: January - December 2018
# of books: A Trip Down Memory Lane: Reread 12 books

I've read thirty-one books!

Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up here)
Duration: January - December 2018
# of books: minimum of 2

I've read twenty books.



The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge
Host: Adam (Roof Beam Reader) sign up here
Dates: January 2018 - December 2018
# of Books: 12 (+2 alternates)

I've read six books.

Victorian Reading Challenge
Host: Becky's Book Reviews
Duration: January - December 2018
Goal: Read a minimum of 4 Victorian books

I've read eleven books so far. 


Vintage Mystery Challenge: Just the Facts, Ma'am
Host: My Reader's Block (sign up here)
January - December 2018
# of books: my goal is CONSTABLE. 6 books -- one from each category.
 I've read ten books. I need another WHO and another WHERE.




© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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September Reflections

How many books have I read so far for the year? 431
How many board books or picture books have I read? 178
My favorite I read this month was:
Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise. David Ezra Stein. 2018. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
How many early readers or early chapter books have I read? 70
My favorite I read this month was:
Good Rosie. Kate DiCamillo. Illustrated by Harry Bliss. 2018. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
How many contemporary books have I read? 35
My favorite I read this month was:
The Opposite of Innocent. Sonya Sones. 2018. 272 pages. [Source: Library]
How many speculative fiction books have I read? 30
My favorite I read this month was:
Bob. Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead. 2018. Feiwel & Friends. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
How many classics have I read? 38
My favorite I read this month was?
Frankenstein (Oxford World's Classics). Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. 1818/1998. 261 pages. [Source: Bought in College.]
How many historical fiction novels have I read? 47
My favorite I read this month was?
Promises and Primroses. Josi S. Kilpack. 2018. Shadow Mountain. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
How many mysteries? 31
My favorite I read this month was?
The Grave's A Fine and Private Place. Flavia de Luce #9. Alan Bradley. 2018. 365 pages. [Source: Library]
How many nonfiction? 50
My favorite I read this month was? 
Mary Shelley: The Strange True Tale of Frankenstein's Creator. Catherine Reef. 2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
How many Christian fiction? 26
My favorite I read this month was? 
The Love Knot. Karen Witemeyer. 2018. 140 pages. [Source: Library]
How many Christian nonfiction? 62
My favorite I read this month was?
The Quotable Tozer. A.W. Tozer. Compiled by James L. Snyder. 2018. Bethany House. 369 pages. [Source: Review copy]
How many "new" books for the Good Rule challenge? 275
How many "old" books for the Good Rule challenge? 156
How many pages have I read so far for the year? 65,323 pages
Favorite short story or fairy tale of the month: Goblin Market
Favorite audio book of the month: Bleak House by Charles Dickens
Favorite Victorian quote:

There are deeds which will not bear a gloss, — sins as to which the perpetrator cannot speak otherwise than as a reptile; circumstances which change a man and put upon him the worthlessness of vermin. ~ Anthony Trollope


© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, September 29, 2018

My Victorian Year #37

This week I finished listening to Bleak House on audio. I began listening to Charles Dickens' Great Expectations on audio. I've also continued reading Louisa May Alcott's Little Men and Anthony Trollope's Small House at Allington. It's been a great week.

From Small House at Allington:
I enjoy a snooze after dinner; I do indeed; I like it; but then, when one comes to go to bed, one does it in such a sneaking sort of way, as though one were in disgrace!
And my sister, she thinks it a crime — literally a sin, to go to sleep in a chair. Nobody ever caught her napping!
Few liars can lie with the full roundness and self-sufficiency of truth; and Crosbie, bad as he was, had not yet become bad enough to reach that perfection.
But he was chiefly angry with himself for this, — that he had been a villain without gaining anything by his villainy; that he had been a villain, and was to lose so much by his villainy. 
There are deeds which will not bear a gloss, — sins as to which the perpetrator cannot speak otherwise than as a reptile; circumstances which change a man and put upon him the worthlessness of vermin.
“What are we to do to him?” said Bernard, after a while. “Treat him as you would a rat. Throw your stick at him, if he comes under your feet; but beware, above all things, that he does not get into your house. That is too late for us now.” “There must be more than that, uncle.”
From Little Men:
"Happy is the man who can put temptation in his pocket and learn self-denial from so sweet a little teacher!" added Mr. Bhaer.
Money is the root of all evil, and yet it is such a useful root that we cannot get on without it any more than we can without potatoes.
Daisy knew nothing about women's rights; she quietly took all she wanted, and no one denied her claim, because she did not undertake what she could not carry out, but unconsciously used the all-powerful right of her own influence to win from others any privilege for which she had proved her fitness.
Nan attempted all sorts of things, undaunted by direful failures, and clamored fiercely to be allowed to do every thing that the boys did. They laughed at her, hustled her out of the way, and protested against her meddling with their affairs. But she would not be quenched and she would be heard, for her will was strong, and she had the spirit of a rampant reformer.
"You must put swearing away in your fault-drawer, and lock it up; that's the way I do with my badness." 
"I play that my mind is a round room, and my soul is a little sort of creature with wings that lives in it. The walls are full of shelves and drawers, and in them I keep my thoughts, and my goodness and badness, and all sorts of things. The goods I keep where I can see them, and the bads I lock up tight, but they get out, and I have to keep putting them in and squeezing them down, they are so strong. I don't think there is a lock strong enough to keep my badness shut up. Any way my room is in such a clutter I don't know how to clear it up."


It is never too early to try and plant them [good principles] in a child, and never too late to cultivate them in the most neglected person.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, September 28, 2018

Frankenstein

Frankenstein (Oxford World's Classics). Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. 1818/1998. 261 pages. [Source: Bought in College.]

You will rejoice to hear that no disaster has accompanied the commencement of an enterprise which you have regarded with such evil forebodings.

Premise/plot: Robert Walton is on the adventure of a lifetime; he's always, always, always wanted to be an arctic explorer. He just wishes he had a best-good-buddy to share it with. As he's sharing his longing for a friend with his sister--via letter--he stumbles across a candidate for the job. He's a strange, odd man with one super-crazy story to tell. He's also a man full of warnings and woes. His name is Victor Frankenstein. You might have heard of him. Maybe.

Victor Frankenstein understands dreaming big. If asked what he wanted to be when he grew up, he might have responded oh-so-seriously: GOD. You see, Victor spends way too much time thinking about how life is created. Well. Perhaps I should rephrase that. When he's thinking about creation, he's thinking about how to reanimate DEAD BODIES and RECREATE life.

Frankenstein becomes more than a little obsessed with his science project. I personally could never figure out the appeal. He isn't interested in bringing the dead back to life--as is. That is, reanimating the life of a specific person. He is interested in piecing together bits and pieces of dead humans into a new super-human form. Taller. Stronger. Bigger. And definitely uglier. He isn't interested in prolonging life or reuniting families. What does he hope to gain by his creation? Does he see himself as a Creator? What does he owe his creature--if anything? What does his creature owe him--if anything?

If man is created in the image of God, is the monster created in the image of Frankenstein? Does the monster share the characteristics of Victor Frankenstein? Are the two more alike or different? Does the monster reveal the heart and mind of his Creator?

My thoughts: I've read Frankenstein so many times now. I think I've really only ever read the 1818 text of the novel. Most of the time I stick with the same copy I used in college.

I love the book.


© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, September 27, 2018

Me? Listen to Audio? #37 My Victorian Year #36

Bleak House. Charles Dickens. 1852-1853. Read by Mil Nicholson. Version 3. Librivox. 39 hours and 25 minutes. 

First sentence: London. Michaelmas Term lately over, and the Lord chancellor sitting in Lincoln's Inn Hall. Implacable November weather. As much mud in the streets, as if the waters had but newly retired from the face of the earth, and it would not be wonderful to meet a Megalosaurus, forty feet long or so, waddling like an elephantine lizard up Holborn Hill.

I've read Bleak House twice. I first read and reviewed it in 2010. I read it the second time in 2016. When I was looking for a new audio to start, it made sense to me to revisit Bleak House by Charles Dickens. I was hoping that my familiarity with the book and with the movie would make these characters seem like OLD FRIENDS. I was right. The unabridged audio was just what I needed.

Is Bleak House my absolute favorite Dickens? I'm not sure. Perhaps with the exception of A Christmas Carol, it is the one I've read most, especially if you count the audio book as a third rereading of the novel. (I think I've read Oliver Twist more than once, but I think I like it less each time I read it.)

There are so many of his novels that I feel the *need* to reread before deciding my "absolute" favorite.

A word from Esther:

I don't know how it is, I seem to be always writing about myself. I mean all the time to write about other people, and I try to think about myself as little as possible, and I am sure, when I find myself coming into the story again, I am really vexed and say, "Dear, dear, you tiresome little creature, I wish you wouldn't!" but it is all of no use. I hope any one who may read what I write, will understand that if these pages contain a great deal about me, I can only suppose it must be because I have really something to do with them and can't be kept out. (102-3)
A description of Sir Leicester:
Sir Leicester is generally in a complacent state, and rarely bored. When he has nothing else to do, he can always contemplate his own greatness. It is a considerable advantage to a man, to have so inexhaustible a subject. (139)
A description of Mr. Smallweed:
Everything that Mr. Smallweed's grandfather ever put away in his mind was a grub at first, and is a grub at last. In all his life he has never bred a single butterfly. (257)
From Lady Dedlock to Mr. Tulkinghorn:
"Of repentance or remorse, or any feeling of mine," Lady Dedlock presently proceeds, "I say not a word. If I were not dumb, you would be deaf. Let that go by. It is not for your ears." (509)


© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Rabbit Hill

Rabbit Hill. Robert Lawson. 1944. 127 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: All the Hill was boiling with excitement. On every side there rose a continual chattering and squeaking, whispering and whistling, as the Animals discussed the great news. Through it all could be heard again and again the words, "New Folks coming."

Premise/plot: Rabbit Hill is an animal fantasy novel that won the Newbery Medal in 1945. Little Georgie, one of the characters, is bringing news with him: NEW folks are moving in. Will the NEW folks be good or bad for the Hill? Will the animals lives be better for the change or worse? No doubt about it, times have been hard the past few years. But are good days ahead of them again? Little Georgie, unlike his mother, is prone to hope instead of worry.

The animal community is unbalanced. They depend on the humans--for gardens, for scraps, etc. But they also dread the humans--guns, traps, dogs. The animals are starving because there aren't any humans there to care for the land. But are humans the answer? 

My thoughts: It was a quick read. I will give it that. I'm not sure if I liked it. I didn't dislike it, mind you; my reaction wasn't that strong. The book introduces us to many characters. (My favorite character was Little Georgie. I felt no connection to the others, not really.) 

Overall, I found the book a bit on the boring side. I didn't want to find it boring. I wanted it to be a fabulous animal fantasy like Charlotte's Web. But at the very least it wasn't a Stuart Little!



© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

The Opposite of Innocent

The Opposite of Innocent. Sonya Sones. 2018. 272 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:
The Friend of the Family
I've always been in love with Luke.
For as far back
as I can remember.
I used to climb into his lap,
throw my arms around his neck,
and tell him I was gonna marry him
when I grew up.
And Luke would smile down at me
and say,
"I'll wait for you, Lily. I promise."
 Premise/plot: The Opposite of Innocent is a verse novel for young adults. I hesitate to add for young adults--though perhaps not for the reason you might suspect. (I'll address this in 'my thoughts' below.) Lily, our narrator, is fourteen. She is head over heels in love with Luke, a twenty-nine year old man, a family friend who has known Lily's father practically forever. (Lily's parents think it is SO ADORABLE that their Lily has a "little girl" crush on Luke.) In fact, Luke is living with the family these days as he's looking for his own place. He's in no hurry and neither are they.

If Luke were to leave who would take care of their children? Who would take them to school? pick them up from school? stay home with them when they're sick? help them with their homework? take them to the library? If Luke weren't around, one of them at least would have to actually parent.

Lily doesn't dare to hope that Luke is as madly in love with her as she is with him. But lately she's been noticing him noticing her. Could her dreams finally be coming true at last? Does Luke LOVE her back?

My thoughts: The Opposite of Innocent handles a mature topic--sexual abuse. It is just as much of a must-read as Laurie Halse Anderson's SPEAK, in my opinion. It is intense, compelling, and dramatic. Dare I say more than a little scary?

As far as content goes, it is a mature topic. Lily is NOT ready for the relationship LUKE wants to have with her. Lily does not have the life-experience to know that Luke is manipulating her. Not only in the present tense, but that he has spent years manipulating her--grooming her. Not only her but her parents as well. Lily's parents trust Luke 110%. No reservations. No rules.

So it does get graphic. I won't lie and say this is a clean read when it isn't. But the fact that it is graphic should not keep (strict) parents from allowing their (teen) children to read it. It is too important a topic to ignore. It is a book that needs to be read and discussed. Parents should read the book too.

I'll go a step further. Adults should be reading this one. Parents. Teachers. Librarians. Anyone. Everyone.

The topic does stay front and center, but it is also very much character-driven. If you've not read Sonya Sones' novels before, you should give them a try.


© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, September 24, 2018

Currently #38

Something Old

Small House at Allington. Anthony Trollope. 1864. 695 pages. [Source: Bought]
Little Men. Louisa May Alcott. 1871. 329 pages. [Source: Bought]

Dear and Glorious Physician. Taylor Caldwell. 1958. 560 pages. [Source: Bought]

Frankenstein (Oxford World's Classics). Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. 1818/1998. 261 pages. [Source: Bought in College.]
Something New
The Romanov Empress. C.W. Gortner. 2018. 431 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Al Capone Throws Me A Curve. (Al Capone at Alcatraz #4) Gennifer Choldenko. 2018. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Something Borrowed
The Monogram Murders. (New Hercule Poirot Mystery #1) Sophie Hannah. 2014. 325 pages. [Source: Library]
To Be Honest. Maggie Ann Martin. 2018. 304 pages. [Source: Library]

Hearts Entwined: A Historical Romance Novella Collection. Karen Witemeyer. Mary Connealy. Regina Jennings. Melissa Jagears. 2018. Thorndike Press Large Print. 602 pages.

Something True 
NIV Rainbow Study Bible. 2015. Holman Bible Publishers. 1632 pages. [Source: Review copy]

New American Standard Bible Reference Edition. 1971. Lockman Foundation. 1730 pages. [Source: Bought]
 Contentment: Seeing God's Goodness. Megan Hill. 2018. P&R Publishing. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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My Victorian Year #35

I have continued reading Louisa May Alcott's Little Men and Anthony Trollope's Small House at Allington.

Quotes from Small House at Allington
  • You are my bird that I have shot with my own gun; and the assurance of my success is sufficient for my happiness. [Lily to Crosbie]
  • As she herself had said, he was her bird, the spoil of her own gun, the product of such capacity as she had in her, on which she was to live, and, if possible, to thrive during the remainder of her life.
  • He who was now everything to her might die; nay, it was possible that he might be other than she thought him to be; that he might neglect her, desert her, or misuse her.
  • But she had resolved to trust in everything, and, having so trusted, she would not provide for herself any possibility of retreat.
  • The little sacrifices of society are all made by women, as are also the great sacrifices of life.
  • A man who is good for anything is always ready for his duty, and so is a good woman always ready for a sacrifice.
  • It is, however, no doubt, true that thought will not at once produce wisdom.
  • It may almost be a question whether such wisdom as many of us have in our mature years has not come from the dying out of the power of temptation, rather than as the results of thought and resolution.
  • Last days are wretched days; and so are last moments wretched moments. It is not the fact that the parting is coming which makes these days and moments so wretched, but the feeling that something special is expected from them, which something they always fail to produce.
  • When last days are coming, they should be allowed to come and to glide away without special notice or mention. And as for last moments, there should be none such.
  • I have almost more to think of than I know how to manage.  
  • But listen to me. I should not die if you left me, — not be utterly broken-hearted. Nothing on earth can I ever love as I have loved you. But I have a God and a Saviour that will be enough for me. I can turn to them with content, if it be well that you should leave me. I have gone to them, and— [Lily to Adolphus Crosbie]
  • “And who is the old gentleman who chanted the Litany?” he asked the verger afterwards, as he allowed himself to be shown round the monuments of the cathedral. “That’s our precentor, sir, Mr Harding. You must have heard of Mr Harding.” But Crosbie, with a full apology, confessed his ignorance. “Well, sir; he’s pretty well known too, tho’ he is so shy like. He’s father-in-law to our dean, sir; and father-in-law to Archdeacon Grantly also.” “His daughters have all gone into the profession, then?” “And who is his granddaughter?” “Why Lady Dumbello, as will be the Marchioness of Hartletop.”
 Quotes from Little Men
  • "Why don't I remember you then, Aunty? Was I too young?" asked Demi. "Rather, dear."
  •  "I suppose my memory hadn't come then. Grandpa says that different parts of the mind unfold as we grow up, and the memory part of my mind hadn't unfolded when you were little, so I can't remember how you looked," explained Demi.
 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, September 21, 2018

The Grave's A Fine and Private Place

The Grave's A Fine and Private Place. Flavia de Luce #9. Alan Bradley. 2018. 365 pages. [Source: Library]
First sentence: I am on my deathbed. Again.

Premise/plot: The Grave's A Fine and Private Place is the ninth Flavia de Luce mystery novel. Flavia is on a vacation of sorts--a holiday boating trip--when she discovers a dead man floating in the river. She secures a few things from the crime scene--or the body, in this case--and sets to work solving a mystery away from home. She has some help from Dogger along the way. But not everyone she meets in town is prepared for the awesomeness that is Flavia. Not everyone wants the crime to be solved...

My thoughts: I had completely blocked from memory the TRAGEDY that occurred at the end of the last novel. So beginning this one was like discovering it all over again. It was a ROUGH start for that reason. My bad memory is not the author's fault--though I suppose you could blame him for taking the plot in that direction in the first place.

I enjoyed spending time with Flavia for the most part. I wish I'd taken the time to tag the passages that made me smile. Flavia can be quite witty. Some of her jokes fall flat, in my opinion, but overall I do like her.

She IS maturing. I was going to write for better or for worse. But that wouldn't be fair. She's growing up, and no one stays exactly the same. If after eight adventures she hasn't changed at all, then that would be reason for concern. Realistic characters age.

For those new to the series, I would recommend reading them in order. The series is set in England in the early 1950s.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, September 20, 2018

Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins. Based on the novel by P.L. Travers. Adapted by Amy Novesky. Illustrated by Genevieve Godbout. 2018. [October 23, 2018] HMH. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: If you are looking for Number Seventeen Cherry Tree Lane--and it is likely that you are, for this book is all about this particular house--you'll find it.

Premise/plot: This book is a picture book adaptation of the novel. It is beautifully illustrated by Genevieve Godbout. Amy Novesky, the adapter, has selected a few scenes from the novel to share with young readers. These scenes may or may not be what you expect. (There's no kite-flying, for example. Nor jumping into sidewalk pictures. The match-man is simply the 'match-man' and not BERT.) The children do visit Mr. Wigg and have a tea party on the ceiling, visit a special bakery with gold stars, and visit the zoo at night.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed the illustrations. I thought they were WONDERFUL.

I'm not sure how I feel about the adaptation of the narrative. Perhaps because I've read Mary Poppins several times and I can't imagine leaving out a single scene--or character. Perhaps because it feels a bit rushed.

For example, in this picture book Mary Poppins just shows up. Readers are not told the family was looking for a nanny. There were no advertisements placed. She is just THERE. She moves in without a single person questioning who she is and why she's there. Which brings something else to mind, never once does the picture book mention that this is the BANKS family.

I like the idea of a picture book adaptation. (Though I'd also recommend just reading the original novel aloud to young children. There is something DELIGHTFUL about the novel. Reading novels aloud should be encouraged. One doesn't have to stick with picture books.)

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

The Dress and the Girl

The Dress and the Girl. Camille Andros. Illustrated by Julie Morstad. 2018. Harry N. Abrams. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Back when time seemed slower and life simpler, there was a dress. A dress much like many others, made for a girl by her mother. The dress loved the girl, and the girl loved the dress. They spent each day together, an ordinary girl wearing an ordinary dress. Every day the same story.

Premise/plot: The Dress and The Girl has two narrators: the girl and the dress. (One certainly expects to find the point of view of a girl in a book--a picture book. But one does not expect to ever really read a book from the point of view of a dress.) The two are inseparable until they aren't. What will the dress do without the girl? What will the girl do without the dress?

My thoughts: I just want to say that if you can fall in love with a book based on the end papers alone, I fell in love. It's just that simple. The brown fabric spoke to me, called me by name, said CREATE. I also love the illustrations. They are beautiful and compelling. They compliment the story so well. I'm not as sure about the text as I am the illustrations. I liked it. I did. But at the same time I didn't. I loved when the dress and the girl were together. I liked when the dress and the girl were reunited decades later. But when the dress is on its own, well, the narrative is just so ODD. 

I think adults may appreciate this one more. This book screams out SYMBOLISM. I think the dress symbolizes one's connection to the past, to a way of life, to traditions, to memories; it is tangible reminder of the past, of where you've been. 

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Bob

Bob. Wendy Mass and Rebecca Stead. 2018. Feiwel & Friends. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I feel bad that I can't remember anything about Gran Nicholas's house. On the table in her kitchen Gran has lined up three things I do not remember: A green stuffed elephant in overalls; a net bag full of black chess pieces; a clunky old tape recorder. "You loved these things when you were here before," Gran Nicholas tells me.

Premise/plot: Livy last visited her Australian grandmother when she was five. She is ten now. She'll be spending a week or two with her grandmother as her mother travels around Australia visiting old friends and showing off her new baby. Livy's genuine memories of her time here before are few and far between. She remembers playing a bump-bump game on the stairs. She thinks she might remember a special chicken that was a bit different than the others. But as she settles in, a few things come back to her. First and foremost there is BOB who is waiting for her in "her" closet. Bob, a "zombie" in a "chicken suit" has been waiting patiently/impatiently for her to return. She's both shocked and overjoyed. How could she have forgotten BOB?! But now that she's older and wiser, she can't help thinking WHAT IS BOB? WHY CAN I SEE HIM? CAN OTHERS SEE HIM TOO? WHERE DOES HE COME FROM? DOES HE HAVE FAMILY?

The chapters alternate between Livy and Bob. Livy is determined to find out all she can about Bob before she has to return to the United States.

My thoughts: I really loved this fantasy novel for young readers. At first I thought Bob might be purely imaginary. That would have been a fun story too, but, this wasn't that story. There is a definite mystery surrounding Bob. And Livy has quite a task ahead of her. I loved both narratives.


© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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P.S. I Still Love You

P.S. I Still Love You. (To All The Boys I've Loved Before #2) Jenny Han. 2015. Simon & Schuster. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Dear Peter, I miss you. It's only been five days but I miss you like it's been five years.

Premise/plot: P.S. I Still Love You is the sequel to Jenny Han's To All The Boys I've Loved Before. Peter and Lara Jean, our hero and heroine, are together--except for when they're not. Their now "real" relationship gets tested. Tested by the reality and aftermath of the hot tub video. Tested by Peter's friendship with his ex. Tested by Lara Jean's relationship with another recipient, John Ambrose McClaren. Will they still be together by the end of the book? Or will Lara Jean have a new boyfriend?

My thoughts: I recently watched the Netflix adaptation of To All The Boys I've Loved Before. I loved, loved, loved it. It brought to mind all the reasons why I enjoyed the first book. I would have reread the first book, but the holds list was LONG. So I began with the second book. I have memories of starting it before--but not finishing it. (Probably because it wouldn't renew not because it was dreadful.) How do I feel about the second book? I don't love, love, love it.

What I loved about the first book was the connection between Lara Jean and Peter as revealed by their conversations. In the little things these two shared together as their relationship developed. It's not that these two never, ever, ever talk in the second book, BUT more often than not the dialogue is an ARGUMENT, a misunderstanding, or just awkward.

The person she's having those sweet, little, get-to-know-you conversations with in this book is John Ambrose McClaren. It begins with an exchanging of letters. Then they begin to hang out in real life. Then they begin a flirtation of sorts. Lara Jean feels justified because Peter is still talking--even hanging out with--his ex.

Though always telling the truth was written into their new contract, Lara Jean and Peter struggle to communicate with one another. There is little--if any--trust between them. Peter is jealous of John. Lara Jean is jealous of Genevieve. Lara Jean is more than a little worried about how-to-be-a-girlfriend.

One thing I did love was her sister Kitty. Kitty turns ten in this one.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, September 17, 2018

Currently #37

Something Old

Small House at Allington. Anthony Trollope. 1864. 695 pages. [Source: Bought]
Little Men. Louisa May Alcott. 1871. 329 pages. [Source: Bought]

Dear and Glorious Physician. Taylor Caldwell. 1958. 560 pages. [Source: Bought]

Frankenstein (Oxford World's Classics). Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. 1818/1998. 261 pages. [Source: Bought in College.]
Something New
The Romanov Empress. C.W. Gortner. 2018. 431 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Al Capone Throws Me A Curve. (Al Capone at Alcatraz #4) Gennifer Choldenko. 2018. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]


Something Borrowed
Hearts Entwined: A Historical Romance Novella Collection. Karen Witemeyer. Mary Connealy. Regina Jennings. Melissa Jagears. 2018. Thorndike Press Large Print. 602 pages. 

The Grave's A Fine and Private Place. Flavia de Luce #9. Alan Bradley. 2018. 365 pages. [Source: Library]
Something True 
NIV Rainbow Study Bible. 2015. Holman Bible Publishers. 1632 pages. [Source: Review copy]

New American Standard Bible Reference Edition. 1971. Lockman Foundation. 1730 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Quotable Tozer. A.W. Tozer. Compiled by James L. Snyder. 2018. Bethany House. 369 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 Contentment: Seeing God's Goodness. Megan Hill. 2018. P&R Publishing. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]



© 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.
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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