Wednesday, October 31, 2018

End of Year Goals

My GoodReads reading goal was set at 520 books. I have read 483 books. I've got 37 books to go before reaching my goal. Of course, if you know me at all, you know I hope to read a lot more than thirty-seven books before the end of the year.

Picture books and board books: I've read 204 books. I'd love to read forty-six more. 250 sounds like a lovely total. That way my BEST post can include 25 titles.

Early readers and chapter books: I've read 72 books. I'd love to read eight more. That way my BEST post can include 8 titles.

Contemporary/general/realistic books: I've read 39 books. I'd love to read eleven more. That way my BEST post can include 5 titles.

Speculative fiction: I've read 32 books. I'd love to read eighteen more. That way my BEST post can include 5 titles.

Classics: I've read 45 books. I'd love to read at least five more. That way my BEST post can include 5 titles. (It would also be awesome to read 52 titles.)

Historical fiction: I've read 53 books. I'm happy enough with that total. (I've got my 5 minimum.) But it's also one of my favorite and best genres, so I'd be fine with aiming for more. If I read 27 more--which is A LOT--then I could include 8 in my top ten list.

Mysteries: I've read 33 books. I'm not happy with that total. I'm not. I want to read at least 50--in a perfectly perfect world. But can I read 17 more mysteries in two months?!

Nonfiction: I've read 57 books. I am happy with that total. But it would be great if I could read a few more. 23 more would get me to 80. Remember nonfiction includes nonfiction picture books. So maybe this is possible?

November goals:

23 picture books
4 early readers or early chapter books
6 contemporary/general/realistic
9 speculative fiction
3 classics
14 historical fiction
9 mysteries
12 nonfiction

December goals:

23 picture books
4 early readers or early chapter books
5 contemporary/general/realistic
9 speculative fiction
2 classics
13 historical fiction
8 mysteries
11 nonfiction

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

October Reflections

How many books have I read so far for the year? 483
How many board books or picture books have I read? 204
My favorite I read this month was:
The Remember Balloons. Jessie Oliveros. Illustrated by Dana Wulfekotte. 2018. Simon & Schuster. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
How many early readers or early chapter books have I read? 72
My favorite I read this month was:
The Hundred Dresses. Eleanor Estes. Illustrated by Louis Slobodkin. 1944/2004. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 96 pages. [Source: Library]
How many contemporary books have I read? 39
My favorite I read this month was:
A Heart in a Body in the World. Deb Caletti. 2018. 368 pages. [Source: Library]
How many speculative fiction books have I read? 32
My favorite I read this month was:
The Fourteenth Goldfish. Jennifer L. Holm. 2014. Random House. 208 pages. [Source: Library]  
How many classics have I read? 45
My favorite I read this month was?
Sylvia's Lovers. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1863/1997. Everyman Paperbacks. 560 pages. [Source: Bought]
How many historical fiction novels have I read? 53
My favorite I read this month was?
Louisiana's Way Home. Kate DiCamillo. 2018. Candlewick Press. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
How many mysteries? 33
My favorite I read this month was?
The Monogram Murders. (New Hercule Poirot Mystery #1) Sophie Hannah. 2014. 325 pages. [Source: Library]
How many nonfiction? 57
My favorite I read this month was?
Mary, Who Wrote Frankenstein. Linda Bailey. Illustrated by Julia Sarda. 2018. 56 pages. [Source: Library]
How many Christian fiction? 29
My favorite I read this month was? 
Agnes Grey. Anne Bronte. 1847. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
How many Christian nonfiction? 68
My favorite I read this month was?
The Rule of Love: How the Local Church Should Reflect God's Love and Authority. Jonathan Leeman. 2018. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
How many "new" books for the Good Rule challenge? 315
How many "old" books for the Good Rule challenge? 168
How many pages have I read so far for the year? 76, 210
Favorite short story or fairy tale of the month: none
Favorite audio book of the month: Rainbow Valley. L.M. Montgomery. 1919. Read for Librivox by Karen Savage. 7 hours and 25 minutes.
Favorite Victorian quote:  You cannot expect stone to be as pliable as clay. ~ Anne Bronte

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Louisiana's Way Home

Louisiana's Way Home. Kate DiCamillo. 2018. Candlewick Press. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I am going to write it all down, so that what happened to me will be known, so that if someone were to stand at their window at night and look up at the stars and think, My goodness, whatever happened to Louisiana Elefante? Where did she go? they will have an answer. They will know. This is what happened. I will begin at the beginning.

Premise/plot: The character of Louisiana Elefante was first introduced in a lovely little book called Raymie Nightingale. She was a sidekick to the main character. This book is set several years later and it is narrated by Louisiana herself.

Granny has decided that the time has come--the day of reckoning. She has decided that it is time to be moving on. Louisiana learns this the hard way--at 3AM--when she's packed up and put in the car. Soon Louisiana finds herself leaving Florida--not to mention her friends, her pets--behind and entering Georgia. Soon Louisiana finds herself behind the wheel--without a license--when Granny's toothache becomes too unbearable. Her first mission is to find a dentist. This is quickly followed up by finding a place to stay. And then there is her most familiar mission of all--a daily one--finding food to eat. Nothing comes easy for Louisiana--not anymore. (Not that life with Granny in Florida was super-easy, mind you.) But Louisiana finds friends in unlikely places...and her new friends may just be her saving grace.

My thoughts: I loved, loved, LOVED, loved this one. DiCamillo has written a gem of a book. I'm not sure what I loved most: the characterization, the narration, the quotability factor, or the compelling, oh-so-satisfying plot.

This is what happened. We stood on the side of the road. In Georgia. Just past the Florida-Georgia state line. Which is not at all--in any way--a line. Yet people insist that it exists. Think about that. (8)
If you have to choose between smiling and not smiling, choose smiling. It fools people for a short time. It gives you an advantage. (11)
I considered running down the highway, back to Florida. But I did not think I would be able to run fast enough. I have never been able to run fast enough. And by that I mean that no matter where I go, Granny seems to find me. Is that fate? Destiny? The power of Granny? (12)
You have to make small plans. That is one of the things I have discovered in this world. It is pointless to make big plans because you never know when someone is going to wake you up in the middle of the night and says, "The day of reckoning has arrived." Days of reckoning interfere with big plans. So I made small plans. The small plans were: Keep the car on the road. Find a dentist. Never forgive Granny. Although, when I think about it, never forgiving Granny would probably go in the "big plan" category. (34)
She had on her fur coat. Her hair was standing up straight on her head. Suddenly, I saw her like other people might see her and I will not lie to you: it scared me. How can I say this? She did not look trustworthy. She looked like somebody with a curse upon her head. Which, of course, was exactly the case. (46)
Your heart has to be involved with the music, or else there is no point. That is what Granny has always told me, and I believe it to be true. (73)
I sang as if the Blue Fairy from Pinocchio was smiling at me. I sang as if Beverly and Raymie and Archie and Buddy could hear me and would use the song to find their way to me. I sang as if I knew the name of the boy on the roof. I sang as if he knew my name, too. (77)
Whoever Reverend Frank Obertask was, he certainly believed in the power of the written word. And that was fine by me, because I believe in the power of the written word, too. (83)
Granny had always spoken poorly of bologna, but these bologna sandwiches tasted so good that it was just one more reason for me to doubt Granny and the truth of her utterances. And by that I mean this: If you are the kind of person who lies about something as small as bologna, what would stop you from lying about bigger, more important things? (102)
I didn't know if Granny would eat a bologna sandwich. In fact, a bologna sandwich might enrage her. Maybe I was hoping to enrage her. I don't know. But in any case, Burke went into the kitchen and came back out a minute later with two bologna sandwiches wrapped up in a paper towel. I was starting to see what kind of person he was. He was the kind of person who, if you asked him for one of something, gave you two instead. (108)
The next thing I remember is being carried. I smelled something sweet. I said, "What is that smell?" A man's voice answered me. He said, "That's cake, darling." I liked that answer very much. I think that "cake" is a very good word in general and that people should use it as an answer to questions more often. (134)
I ate the whole bowl of ice cream without once letting go of Grandfather Burke's hand. "That's the way to do it," he said. "That's just right." The peanuts on top of the sundae were particularly good. The house smelled like pineapple upside-down cake. Well, the whole world was upside down. But it was still spinning. Wasn't it? (180)
 "I want you to know something, Louisiana. We all, at some point, have to decide who we want to be in this world. It is a decision we make for ourselves. You are being forced to make this decision at an early age, but that does no mean that you cannot do it well and wisely. I believe you can. I have great faith in you. You decide. You decide who you are, Louisiana. Do you understand? (199)
It seems like a good thing to know the star that can keep you from being lost in this world. (216)

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Monday, October 29, 2018

The Polar Bear Wish

The Polar Bear Wish. Lori Evert. Photographs by Per Breiehagen. 2018. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Long, long ago, so high in the mountains and close to the stars that on clear nights you didn't need a lantern, lived an adventurous girl named Anja.

Premise/plot: A girl makes a Christmas wish. Did her wish come true? Or did she have a fantastical dream?

My thoughts: This is the fourth book in the Wish series. This is the first that I've read. Perhaps if I had a previous attachment with Anja or Erik--the (human) stars of this one--then I might have appreciated it more. I thought it was odd. Perhaps surreal is the better word choice. I think some readers will enjoy it very much. This reader didn't really "get it." But picture books are incredibly subjective.

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Currently #43

Something Old
Small House at Allington. Anthony Trollope. 1864. 695 pages. [Source: Bought]
Wives and Daughters. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1866. 649 pages. [Source: Bought]

Something New
Season of Grace. Lauraine Snelling. 2018. Bethany House.  320  pages.

Something Borrowed
The Dollar Kids. Jennifer Richard Jacobson. Illustrated by Ryan Andrews. 2018. Candlewick. 416 pages. [Source: Library]

Echo's Sister. Paul Mosier. 2018. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

Raymie Nightingale. Kate DiCamillo. 2016. 272 pages. [Source: Library]
Something True

KJV Single Column. 2010. Thomas Nelson. 1632 pages. [Source: Bought]

The New English Bible. Oxford University Press. 1970. 1502 pages. [Source: Bought]

Taste of Heaven: Worship in Light of Eternity. R.C. Sproul. 2006. 173 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Saturday, October 27, 2018

My Victorian Year #45

I am currently reading Anthony Trollope's Small House at Allington and Elizabeth Gaskell's Wives and Daughters. I am also currently listening to Agnes Grey by Anne Bronte.

Quotes from Small House at Allington:
  • I’ve always had a sort of aptitude for living in a pigsty; — a clean pigsty, you know, with nice fresh bean straw to lie upon.
  • “Are you going to forgive me before I go?” “Forgive you for what?” said she. “For daring to love you; for having loved you almost as long as you can remember; for loving you better than all beside. This alone you should forgive; but will you forgive me for having told it?”
  • Alas! alas! a man cannot so easily repent of his sins, and wash himself white from their stains!
  • “It was a matter of course,” said Bell. “It always is right in the novels. That’s why I don’t like them. They are too sweet.” “That’s why I do like them, because they are so sweet. A sermon is not to tell you what you are, but what you ought to be, and a novel should tell you not what you are to get, but what you’d like to get.”  
  • But if we are to have real life, let it be real.
  • Those slanders always are absurd; but what can we do? We can’t tie up people’s tongues.
  •  Mr Palliser had barely spoken to Mr Crosbie at Courcy, but then in the usual course of his social life he seldom did more than barely speak to anybody.
  • The speech was respectable, dull, and correct. Men listened to it, or sat with their hats over their eyes, asleep, pretending to do so;

Quotes from Wives and Daughters:
  •  'Papa, I should like to get a chain like Ponto's just as long as your longest round, and then I could fasten us two to each end of it, and when I wanted you I could pull, and if you did not want to come, you could pull back again; but I should know you knew I wanted you, and we could never lose each other.' (27)
  • 'I gave her the best advice in my power.' 'Advice! you ought to have comforted her. Poor little Molly!' 'I think that if advice is good it's the best comfort.' (120)
  • 'I did try to remember what you said, and to think more of others, but it is so difficult sometimes; you know it is, don't you?' (136)
  • 'It is difficult,' he went on, 'but by and by you will be so much happier for it.' 'No, I shan't!' said Molly, shaking her head. 'It will be very dull when I shall have killed myself, as it were, and live only in trying to do, and to be, as other people like. I don't see any end to it. I might as well never have lived. And as for the happiness you speak of, I shall never be happy again.' (136)
  • 'I used to think I managed her, till one day an uncomfortable suspicion arose that all the time she had been managing me. Still, it's easy work to let oneself be managed; at any rate till one wakens up to the consciousness of the process, and then it may become amusing, if one takes it in that light.' 'I should hate to be managed,' said Molly, indignantly. 'I'll try and do what she wishes for papa's sake, if she'll only tell me outright; but I should dislike to be trapped into anything.' (160)
  • 'Tell the truth, now and evermore. Truth is generally amusing, if it's nothing else!' (163)
  • Molly knew her father's looks as well as she knew her alphabet; his wife did not; and being an unperceptive person, except when her own interests were dependent upon another person's humour, never found out how he was worried by all the small daily concessions which he made to her will or her whims. (178)
  • 'I wish I could love people as you do, Molly!' 'Don't you?" said the other, in surprise. 'No. A good number of people love me, I believe, or at least they think they do; but I never seem to care much for any one. I do believe I love you, little Molly, whom I have only known for ten days, better than any one.' (219)
  • 'I wish I was good!' 'So do I,' said Molly, simply. 'Nonsense, Molly! You are good...I am not good, and I never shall be now. Perhaps I might be a heroine still, but I shall never be a good woman, I know.' 'Do you think it easier to be a heroine?' 'Yes as far as one knows of heroines from history. I'm capable of a great jerk, an effort, and then a relaxation--but steady, everyday goodness is beyond me. I must be a moral kangaroo.' (220)
  • 'Molly, I cannot have you speaking so to Lady Harriet,' said Mrs. Gibson as soon as she was left alone with her stepdaughter. 'You would never have known her at all if it had not been for me, and don't be always putting yourself into our conversation.' 'But I must speak if she asks me questions,' pleaded Molly. 'Well! if you must, you must, I acknowledge. I'm candid about that, at any rate. But there's no need for you to set up to have an opinion at your age.' 'I don't know how to help it,' said Molly. (293)
  • 'If there is one thing I hate more than another, it is the trying to make out an intimacy with great people.' (293)
  • 'Oh, how good you are, Molly! I wonder, if I had been brought up like you, whether I should have been as good. But I've been tossed about so.' 'Then, don't go and be tossed about no more,' said Molly, softly. (327)

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Friday, October 26, 2018

Me? Listen to Audio?! #39

Rainbow Valley. L.M. Montgomery. 1919. Read for Librivox by Karen Savage. 7 hours and 25 minutes.

I really enjoyed listening to L.M. Montgomery's Rainbow Valley. Karen Savage is an excellent reader. It is easy to take Rainbow Valley for granted in the Anne series, to not fully appreciate the gift it offers readers. But I really do enjoy it. It isn't Anne's story--and I'm perfectly okay with that. I love all of the many child-narrators in Rainbow Valley.

My review from 2016

First sentence: It was a clear, apple-green evening in May, and Four Winds Harbour was mirroring back the clouds of the golden west between its softly dark shores.

Premise/plot: Rainbow Valley is about the Blythe children and their best friends, the Meredith children. The Merediths are in interesting bunch! The father is a Presbyterian minister. The mother is dead and very much missed. The children are wild and wonderful. Over half the book centers on the adventures of Jerry, Faith, Una, and Carl. The other half focuses on the Blythe children: Jem, Walter, Nan and Di, Shirley, and Rilla. 

Why you should still read it even though it isn't about Anne: Montgomery is a great storyteller who excels at characterization. The Meredith children, particularly Faith, are great characters to spend time with. Mary Vance is another LIVELY character. Love her or hate her, you can't forget her! This one also has some lovely scenes with Walter about the 'Pied Piper' he hears calling in Rainbow Valley. Reading Rainbow Valley deepens the bond you feel for certain characters. The memories the two families create and share in Rainbow Valley--the place--are important in Rilla of Ingleside. Rilla of Ingleside is not to be missed. It is one of the BEST in the series.

My thoughts: I really loved the courtship in this one of the children's father!!! It was super-sweet and fun. I love this book not so much for its connection to Anne, as it is I just LOVE L.M. Montgomery in general. She's a wonderful writer whose birthday is very close to my own!

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Romanov Empress

The Romanov Empress. C.W. Gortner. 2018. 431 pages. [Source: Review copy]
First sentence: "We should dress alike," I said on that afternoon when life changed forever. I didn't yet understand how profound the change would be, but I could feel it as I sat riffling through the heap of boxes sent by Copenhagen's and London's finest emporiums, packed with satin-bowed shoes and beribboned hats, silk undergarments, dresses, corsets, shawls, leather gloves, and cloaks made of fine cashmere or Scottish wool.

Premise/plot: The narrator of this one is Maria Feodorovna (aka Minnie, aka Princess Dagmar of Denmark, aka Empress of Russia). Her husband was Emperor Alexander III. Her son was Emperor Nicholas II--the last tsar of Russia. She was a daughter, sister, princess, wife, mother, widow, mother-in-law, grandmother, empress, and dowager empress. The novel is written in first person--for better or worse. And this one spans decades.

My thoughts: I wanted to love this one. I wanted to be swept up, up, and away into this historical novel featuring several royal families. I wanted to find the narrative captivating, fascinating, intriguing, compelling--anything and everything but dull. To be honest, the book isn't dull so much as it is un-exciting.

I felt several degrees removed from all the action, from all the drama. Perhaps the narrative was supposed to reflect the poise, the dignity, the restraint, the respectability, the polish of the Empress? Perhaps the purpose was to focus solely on the interior thought life of a woman and not really get into the ACTION and DRAMA of the times in which she lived? I'm not sure.

It was interesting to read a book about the Romanovs from the perspective of a survivor. It didn't make the book less sad, less tragic. It was her son. It was her grandchildren. Obviously most--if not all--of her concern was towards their safety and not her own. She wasn't worried about herself--but them. How could they be saved? How could they be rescued? How could they be smuggled out of the country? She was out of touch--for the most part except for a few smuggled letters--with the people she loved most in the world. Their lives were in danger and she knew it. She lived with it. The last section of the book was the most intense. It almost made up for the dullness of the other five sections.

I would definitely read a nonfiction biography about her. I think her story probably is worth reading. But perhaps fiction wasn't the way to go--for me.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Fourteenth Goldfish

The Fourteenth Goldfish. Jennifer L. Holm. 2014. Random House. 208 pages. [Source: Library] 

First sentence: When I was in preschool, I had a teacher named Starlily. She wore rainbow tie-dyed dresses and was always bringing in cookies that were made with granola and flax and had no taste.

Premise/plot: When the novel opens Ellie isn't all that close to her Grandpa Melvin. Her mother and grandfather just don't get along all that well. Plus her grandfather is always super-busy with his scientific experiments. But all that changes one day when Melvin's experiment is a little too successful. He was looking for the fountain of youth...

Ellie finds herself going to middle school with her grandfather by her side--as a classmate.

Ellie was having a difficult time in middle school before this family drama began to unfold. But she has a unique opportunity to learn about life--and so does her grandfather. Both have a 'coming of age' experience....

My thoughts: I enjoyed rereading this one. It was fun; it was quick. There is something to be said for fun and quick. Imagine how many books I could read in a year if all books were so well-paced and entertaining. This one reminded me of why I tend to love reading middle grade novels.

I definitely want to read the new sequel which released this year. 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Monday, October 22, 2018

2019 Picture Book Reading Challenge

Original artwork by Charles Haigh-Wood (1856-1927)
Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up)
Duration: January - December 2019
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

Option 1: Read six picture books of your choice.
Option 2: Read at least six books from the checklist(s) below.

Feel free to copy/paste this. You can replace the _ with an X or a ✔ (copy/paste it) when you finish reading a book. If you list the books you read, that may help other people decide what to read.
Monthly Challenges (You may define "old" and "new" for yourself.)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

Seasonal Challenge

_ holiday of your choice
_ book set in winter
_ free picture book of your choice
_ free board book of your choice
_ free early reader or early chapter book of your choice

_ holiday of your choice
_ book set in spring
_ free picture book of your choice
_ free board book of your choice
_ free early reader or early chapter book of your choice

_ holiday of your choice
_ book set in summer
_ free picture book of your choice
_ free board book of your choice
_ free early reader or early chapter book of your choice

_ holiday of your choice
_ book set in fall
_ free picture book of your choice
_ free board book of your choice
_ free early reader or early chapter book of your choice
Alphabet Challenge (January - December)
  1. _ Title Beginning with A
  2. _ Author Beginning with A
  3. _ Illustrator Beginning with A
  4. _ Title Beginning with B
  5. _ Author Beginning with B
  6. _ Illustrator Beginning with B
  7. _Title Beginning with C
  8. _ Author Beginning with C
  9. _ Illustrator Beginning C
  10. _ Title Beginning with D
  11. _ Author Beginning with D
  12. _ Illustrator Beginning with D
  13. _ Title Beginning with E
  14. _ Author Beginning with E
  15. _ Illustrator Beginning with E
  16. _ Title Beginning with F
  17. _ Author Beginning with F
  18. _ Illustrator Beginning with F
  19. _ Title Beginning with G
  20. _ Author Beginning with G
  21. _ Illustrator Beginning with G
  22. _ Title Beginning with H
  23. _ Author Beginning with H
  24. _ Illustrator Beginning with H
  25. _ Title Beginning with I
  26. _ Author Beginning with I
  27. _ Illustrator Beginning with I
  28. _ Title Beginning with J
  29. _ Author Beginning with J
  30. _ Illustrator Beginning with J
  31. _ Title Beginning with K
  32. _ Author Beginning with K
  33. _ Illustrator Beginning with K
  34. _ Title beginning with L
  35. _ Author Beginning with L
  36. _ Illustrator Beginning with L
  37. _ Title Beginning with M
  38. _ Author Beginning with M
  39. _ Illustrator Beginning with M
  40. _ Title Beginning with N
  41. _ Author Beginning with N
  42. _ Illustrator Beginning with N
  43. _ Title Beginning with O
  44. _ Author Beginning with O
  45. _ Illustrator Beginning with O
  46. _ Title Beginning with P
  47. _ Author Beginning with P
  48. _ Illustrator Beginning with P
  49. _ Title beginning with Q
  50. _ Author or Illustrator beginning with Q
  51. _ Title beginning with R
  52. _ Author beginning with R
  53. _ Illustrator beginning with R
  54. _ Title beginning with S
  55. _ Author beginning with S
  56. _ Illustrator beginning with S
  57. _Title beginning with T
  58. _ Author beginning with T
  59. _ Illustrator beginning with T
  60. _ Title beginning with U
  61. _ Author or illustrator beginning with U
  62. _ Title beginning with V
  63. _ Author or illustrator beginning with V
  64. _ Title beginning with W
  65. _ Author beginning with W
  66. _ Illustrator beginning with W
  67. _ Title with an X ("ex")
  68. _ Author or illustrator -- more than one author, more than one illustrator (turning x into +)
  69. _ Title with a Z
  70. _ Author or illustrator beginning with Z
Sign up by leaving a comment. Do indicate which option you're leaning towards. And if you have a blog, please leave your blog address so I can visit you.

Reviews are not a requirement. But if you do review, you can share links to your reviews. I'm thinking of having check-in posts at the end of every month.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Allie All Along

Allie All Along. Sarah Lynne Reul. 2018. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: SNAP! Allie's crayon broke. I blinked. She was suddenly...furious, fuming, frustrated, and so, so, sooo ANGRY. She stomped, smashed, crashed, and threw a tantrum, a fuss, and a fit.

Premise/plot: Allie's brother helps her calm down and work through her many, many feelings in Sarah Lynne Reul's picture book Allie All Along. [For the record, I am guessing that it is her brother; it could just as well be a friend. Though a friend might be more likely to run far, far away until the storm is over. This person knows Allie and her moods very well.]

My thoughts: I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. I haven't loved a book about fits this much since reading FINN THROWS A FIT a few years ago. I'm not sure which of the two I'll end up liking more--only time will tell.

I loved the writing. I loved the concept. I loved the shedding of emotions. I loved the coping skills.  I loved the illustrations. It's a relatable book start to finish. And the ending is oh-so-right.    

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Currently #42

Something Old
Dear and Glorious Physician. Taylor Caldwell. 1958. 560 pages. [Source: Bought]
Small House at Allington. Anthony Trollope. 1864. 695 pages. [Source: Bought]
Wives and Daughters. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1866. 649 pages. [Source: Bought]

Something New
The Romanov Empress. C.W. Gortner. 2018. 431 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple. Jeff Guinn. 2017. 454 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Season of Grace. Lauraine Snelling. 2018. Bethany House.  320  pages. [Source: Review copy]
Something Borrowed
The Dollar Kids. Jennifer Richard Jacobson. Illustrated by Ryan Andrews. 2018. Candlewick. 416 pages. [Source: Library]

Echo's Sister. Paul Mosier. 2018. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

Raymie Nightingale. Kate DiCamillo. 2016. 272 pages. [Source: Library]

Something True
KJV Single Column. 2010. Thomas Nelson. 1632 pages. [Source: Bought]

The New English Bible. Oxford University Press. 1970. 1502 pages. [Source: Bought]

Taste of Heaven: Worship in Light of Eternity. R.C. Sproul. 2006. 173 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Always and Forever, Lara Jean. (To All The Boys I've Loved Before #3) Jenny Han. 2017. 325 pages. [Source: Library]
First sentence: I like to watch Peter when he doesn't know I'm looking.

Premise/plot: This is the third and final book in the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series by Jenny Han. I reviewed the second book in September 2018. I reviewed the first book in 2015.

Some series books can be read as stand-alones. This isn't one of them. Lara Jean is the middle sister. Her older sister, Margot, is in college--far away from home. Her younger sister, Kitty, is just eleven. Lara Jean is in her senior year of high school. Lara Jean is head over heels in love with Peter. He was her first fake boyfriend and her first real boyfriend. They've been through some stuff in the past, but in this book they are mainly strong and solid. In addition to being about the last few months of school before the two go to two different colleges, the book is about her father's upcoming wedding. Lara Jean isn't the only one whose life is changing...

My thoughts: I loved the first book. (Especially the first time I read it. Perhaps not as much the second time around.) I tolerated the second book. (It just didn't work for me because it had barely any Peter and Lara Jean in it. Not really.) The third book was quite enjoyable. I really loved that Peter and Lara Jean spend so much time talking. (Not that talking is all they ever do. But. I love seeing Peter interact with Lara Jean, with her sister, Kitty, with her Dad, etc. Peter just BELONGS with Lara Jean.)

I spent the whole book worried. In fact I cheated a few times and flipped to the end of the book. Would these two still be together at the end? Would she break up with Peter before going to college? Would they fight over something stupid? The book ends as well as it can for it to be just a chapter in a person's life.

What I want to see--what I need to see--a few years from now is for Jenny Han to write a new book (or perhaps a trilogy) starring KITTY as a main character. Wait for Kitty to mature a bit--get into high school and then GIVE READERS a treat. Let us see what is going on with this family once more. I'm guessing that if Kitty at age 11 is awesome that Kitty at age 15 or 16 would be worth spending time with.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

House of Dreams

House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery. Liz Rosenberg. 2018. Candlewick Press. 352 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: On a late June afternoon in 1905, Maud Montgomery sat in her grandmother's kitchen, writing. She sat not at the kitchen table, but perched on top of it, her feet set neatly on a nearby sofa, her notebook propped against her knees. From here she could jump down if someone stopped by for their mail, as was likely to happen--for the kitchen doubled as the post office of Cavendish, a tiny seaside village on Prince Edward Island.

Premise/plot: House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery is a new biography of Canadian author, Lucy Maud Montgomery. Montgomery is best known for the Anne series though she was also a poet and writer of short stories.

My thoughts: L.M. Montgomery is one of my favorite authors. Around the age of eleven (or so) I discovered the Anne and Emily books. It was LOVE. I reread these books often. (And I do mean often.) At some point I began reading her other books as well--Tangled Web, Blue Castle, various short story collections. I entertained the fantastical notion that if I had a real, live Anne Shirley in my life, my life would be so much better. Not only did I see Anne as a kindred spirit--but I imagined L.M. Montgomery to be one as well. 

I would not allow my eleven year old self to read this book. I wouldn't. There's a time and place perhaps for illusions to be shaken perhaps. I am not saying I regret reading the book as an adult.

L.M. Montgomery had mental health issues. She struggled throughout most—if not all of her life—with mental health. She was married to a minister who had severe mental health issues himself. He had several complete nervous breakdowns. Unfortunately, both Montgomery and her husband lived at a time when there was not much—if any—help for mental health disorders. They lived at a time where mental health issues brought SHAME and SCANDAL to a family. For a minister and his wife it would have been an impossible situation.

But even if she had come forward and sought help and sought help for her husband, would the medical community have been of any real good? I’m not convinced. What prescriptions Montgomery and her husband were taking—for various things—were (way) more harmful than helpful. Though they perhaps didn’t ever realize it.

We like to think that we know all there is to know--that medical science has made great advancements. That a doctor's advice is always good advice. That prescription pills are safe. That when a doctor prescribes something it will make us better--not worse. Only time will tell. It will always only be time that tells.

Still even if we don't know everything there is to know about every mental health disorder today--we know so much more than a hundred years ago. It can be outrageous to stop and think about what "treatments" were recommended for the mentally ill--even sixty or seventy years ago.

I do think it is important to talk about mental health. To be compassionate and empathetic--not only to those suffering directly from mental health disorders but also towards the caretakers--the friends and family of those impacted. It is nothing to be ashamed about. It shouldn't be something to hide, a burden one bears alone.

Did Montgomery commit suicide? Yes. No. Maybe. She was certainly VERY unhappy and life was a burden to her. She was worried and anxious about her oldest son. She was miserable with her husband. Recent injuries made it difficult for her to write by hand. She'd endured many losses in life. But did she overdose by pills intentionally or unintentionally? It could have been an accident. (She was taking SO many different prescriptions, and the combination would today be considered dangerous. Even if she was following doctor's directions precisely.) It could have been suicide. 

It wasn't Montgomery's mental health problems that troubled me so much as it was the breaking of the illusion that Montgomery was a [Christian] woman of faith. She may have grown up at a time and in a place where church attendance was a given for respectable families. Perhaps she even confessed/professed faith as child or teen. But by the time she was an adult, by the time she was a minister's wife, she had lost her belief in God. Or at least her belief in the God of the Bible. She denied there was a heaven or hell, a day of judgment. She believed instead in reincarnation. She maintained an appearance of orthodoxy--as did her husband--for appearances' sake. After all, would he be kept on as minister if he openly rejected God from the pulpit? But she held unorthodox views privately. Some of this creeps in subtly in her works.


© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Thursday, October 18, 2018

I Lost My Tooth

I Lost My Tooth (Unlimited Squirrels #1) Mo Willems. 2018. 96 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:  I lost my tooth! Th! What did you say, Zoom Squirrel? Th! Th! Th! I lost my tooth, Th-ip Squirrel. What did Zoom Squirrel say?

Premise/plot: Zoom Squirrel has lost a tooth. His squirrel friends have a hard time understanding what exactly this means. Their confusion goes on for over fifty pages. They imagine first that Zoom's tooth is MISSING. Then when Zoom explains that it was a baby tooth, his friends get really emotional. A BABY tooth is MISSING.

My thoughts: I think I would like this one more if it didn't go on so very long. The first fifty-eight pages are the 'big story.' But the book is ninety-six pages. The remaining pages are filled with junk. What kind of junk? Acorn-y jokes. There are a few non-fiction facts shared as well. I suppose these facts aren't technically junk. There's a page on HUMAN teeth. There's a page on SQUIRREL TEETH. And then there's the a bizarre page that shares facts about bear teeth and shark teeth. We also learn the oh-so-obvious-fact that plants do not have teeth. (Do we really need this quiz and answer page?!?!)

I am super-excited that Mo Willem is still writing books. I love his Pigeon series. I do. I love, love, love, crazy-love his Elephant and Piggie series. I enjoy Knuffle Bunny. There have been a few stand-alone books that I've enjoyed as well. This appears to be the start of a new series. I hope future books are better.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Agnes Grey

Agnes Grey. Anne Bronte. 1847. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: All true histories contain instruction; though, in some, the treasure may be hard to find, and when found, so trivial in quantity that the dry, shrivelled kernel scarcely compensates for the trouble of cracking the nut.

Premise/plot: Agnes Grey is a young woman who challenges herself to leave home and become a governess. Her family needs income, true, but her parents are not telling her to work or even wanting her to work. The Bloomfields are her first family and the Murrays are her second. Neither situation is ideal.

The Bloomfield children are out-of-control. Master Tom and Mary Ann rule the schoolroom and they know it. Agnes Grey has been given no authority to discipline the children. The parents expect her to rule without power or authority. Any misstep, any fault, any misbehavior--no matter how big or small--is her fault by default. She shouldn't call herself a governess if she can't manage naughty children. She learns quickly not to run to the parents with tales of misbehavior OR even with pleas for support. She'll receive no support from either parent. She doesn't last long at this first job, though the fact that she lasts more than a month or two says something about her fortitude.

The Murray children are much older. There are two young ladies: Miss Rosalie and Miss Matilda. Rosalie is 'out' in society and FLIRTATIOUS. Matilda is a year or two younger. Her biggest fault is her love of swearing. These two don't "misbehave" in the same way as the Bloomfields. No throwing themselves on the floor and rolling about, for example. But they don't apply themselves to lessons. And the parents don't mind. They want their daughters to outwardly conform and if they learn a little now and then--almost by accident--so much the better. But no biggie if they never learn to think. This second job lasts for several years.

While staying with the Murrays, Agnes Grey meets a curate, Edward Weston. These two occasionally speak with one another. What little she knows about him is enough to warm her heart and make her giddy. She doesn't hope that he like-likes her in return. But she has heart-eyes for him for sure.

Will Agnes Grey remain in the schoolroom for ever? Do governesses ever get happily ever after endings?

My thoughts: I loved, loved, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. Agnes Grey is a true kindred spirit. And her ideals are my ideals. I too would find Edward Weston swoon-worthy. She's a good woman who often finds herself in difficult circumstances. She has strong values, strong morals, strong beliefs. She knows right from wrong. She believes that children should be trained--disciplined. Boys and girls need to learn right from wrong, need to have their behavior corrected, need to apologize when they've misbehaved, need to learn kindness and compassion, need to take responsibility for what they say and do.

One of my favorite characters is Nancy Brown, a poor cottager that receives visits from Agnes Grey and Mr. Weston. Both read Scripture to her. 


On being a governess:
My pupils had no more notion of obedience than a wild, unbroken colt. The habitual fear of their father's peevish temper, and the dread of the punishments he was wont to inflict when irritated, kept them generally within bounds in his immediate presence. The girls, too, had some fear of their mother's anger; and the boy might occasionally he bribed to do as she bid him by the hope of reward; but I had no rewards to offer, and as for punishments, I was given to understand, the parents reserved that privilege to themselves; and yet they expected me to keep my pupils in order. (25)
To the difficulty of preventing him from doing what he ought not, was added that of forcing him to do what he ought. (26)
Patience, Firmness, and Perseverance were my only weapons; and these I resolved to use to the utmost. (26)
If I were quiet at the moment, I was conniving at their disorderly conduct, if, (as was frequently the case,) I happened to be exalting my voice to enforce order, I was using undue violence, and setting the girls a bad example by such ungentleness of tone and language. (38)
 You cannot expect stone to be as pliable as clay. (51) [Agnes' mother gives her daughter counsel.]
Rosalie and Agnes
"Oh, I don't mind his being wicked [Sir Thomas Ashby]; he's all the better for that; and as for disliking him--I shouldn't greatly object to being Lady Ashby of Ashby Park, if I must marry; but if I could always be young, I would be always single. I should like to enjoy myself thoroughly, and coquet with all the world, till I am on the verge of being called an old maid; and then, to escape the infamy of that, after having made ten thousand conquests, to break all their hearts save one, by marrying some high-born, rich, indulgent husband, whom, on the other hand, fifty ladies were dying to have." "Well, as long as you entertain those views, keep single by all means, and never marry at all, not even to escape the infamy of old-maidenhood." (77-8)
Agnes and Nancy
"Well, Miss Grey, if it's all the same to you, I'd like to hear that chapter in the First Epistle of Saint John, that says, 'God is love, and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.'" With a little searching I found these words in the fourth chapter. When I came to the seventh verse she interrupted me, and with needless apologies for such a liberty, desired me to read it very slowly, that she might take it all in, and dwell on every word; hoping I would excuse her as she was but a simple body. "The wisest person," I replied, "might think over each of these verses for an hour, and be all the better for it; and I would rather read them slowly than not." (87)
Mr. Weston and Nancy
‘“Well,” says he, “you know the first and great commandment—and the second, which is like unto it—on which two commandments hang all the law and the prophets? You say you cannot love God; but it strikes me that if you rightly consider who and what He is, you cannot help it. He is your father, your best friend: every blessing, everything good, pleasant, or useful, comes from Him; and everything evil, everything you have reason to hate, to shun, or to fear, comes from Satan—His enemy as well as ours. And for this cause was God manifest in the flesh, that He might destroy the works of the Devil: in one word, God is love; and the more of love we have within us, the nearer we are to Him and the more of His spirit we possess.”
‘“Well, sir,” I said, “if I can always think on these things, I think I might well love God: but how can I love my neighbours, when they vex me, and be so contrary and sinful as some on ’em is?”
‘“It may seem a hard matter,” says he, “to love our neighbours, who have so much of what is evil about them, and whose faults so often awaken the evil that lingers within ourselves; but remember that He made them, and He loves them; and whosoever loveth him that begat, loveth him that is begotten also. And if God so loveth us, that He gave His only begotten Son to die for us, we ought also to love one another. But if you cannot feel positive affection for those who do not care for you, you can at least try to do to them as you would they should do unto you: you can endeavour to pity their failings and excuse their offences, and to do all the good you can to those about you. And if you accustom yourself to this, Nancy, the very effort itself will make you love them in some degree—to say nothing of the goodwill your kindness would beget in them, though they might have little else that is good about them. If we love God and wish to serve Him, let us try to be like Him, to do His work, to labour for His glory—which is the good of man—to hasten the coming of His kingdom, which is the peace and happiness of all the world: however powerless we may seem to be, in doing all the good we can through life, the humblest of us may do much towards it: and let us dwell in love, that He may dwell in us and we in Him. The more happiness we bestow, the more we shall receive, even here; and the greater will be our reward in heaven when we rest from our labours.” I believe, Miss, them is his very words, for I’ve thought ’em ower many a time. An’ then he took that Bible, an’ read bits here and there, an’ explained ’em as clear as the day: and it seemed like as a new light broke in on my soul; an’ I felt fair aglow about my heart, an’ only wished poor Bill an’ all the world could ha’ been there, an’ heard it all, and rejoiced wi’ me. (92-3)
Mr. Weston and Agnes
I like wild-flowers,’ said he; ‘others I don’t care about, because I have no particular associations connected with them—except one or two.  What are your favourite flowers?’
‘Primroses, bluebells, and heath-blossoms.’
‘Not violets?’
‘No; because, as you say, I have no particular associations connected with them; for there are no sweet violets among the hills and valleys round my home.’
‘It must be a great consolation to you to have a home, Miss Grey,’ observed my companion after a short pause: ‘however remote, or however seldom visited, still it is something to look to.’
‘It is so much that I think I could not live without it,’ replied I, with an enthusiasm of which I immediately repented; for I thought it must have sounded essentially silly.
‘Oh, yes, you could,’ said he, with a thoughtful smile.  ‘The ties that bind us to life are tougher than you imagine, or than anyone can who has not felt how roughly they may be pulled without breaking.  You might be miserable without a home, but even you could live; and not so miserably as you suppose.  The human heart is like india-rubber; a little swells it, but a great deal will not burst it.  If “little more than nothing will disturb it, little less than all things will suffice” to break it.  As in the outer members of our frame, there is a vital power inherent in itself that strengthens it against external violence.  Every blow that shakes it will serve to harden it against a future stroke; as constant labour thickens the skin of the hand, and strengthens its muscles instead of wasting them away: so that a day of arduous toil, that might excoriate a lady’s palm, would make no sensible impression on that of a hardy ploughman.
‘I speak from experience—partly my own.  There was a time when I thought as you do—at least, I was fully persuaded that home and its affections were the only things that made life tolerable: that, if deprived of these, existence would become a burden hard to be endured; but now I have no home—unless you would dignify my two hired rooms at Horton by such a name;—and not twelve months ago I lost the last and dearest of my early friends; and yet, not only I live, but I am not wholly destitute of hope and comfort, even for this life: though I must acknowledge that I can seldom enter even an humble cottage at the close of day, and see its inhabitants peaceably gathered around their cheerful hearth, without a feeling almost of envy at their domestic enjoyment.’
‘You don’t know what happiness lies before you yet,’ said I: ‘you are now only in the commencement of your journey.’
‘The best of happiness,’ replied he, ‘is mine already—the power and the will to be useful.’
Rosalie and Agnes
She left me, offended at my want of sympathy, and thinking, no doubt, that I envied her.  I did not—at least, I firmly believed I did not.  I was sorry for her; I was amazed, disgusted at her heartless vanity; I wondered why so much beauty should be given to those who made so bad a use of it, and denied to some who would make it a benefit to both themselves and others.
But, God knows best, I concluded.  There are, I suppose, some men as vain, as selfish, and as heartless as she is, and, perhaps, such women may be useful to punish them. (122)
Mr. Weston and Agnes

‘I suppose it’s these things, Miss Grey, that make you think you could not live without a home?’
‘Not exactly.  The fact is I am too socially disposed to be able to live contentedly without a friend; and as the only friends I have, or am likely to have, are at home, if it—or rather, if they were gone—I will not say I could not live—but I would rather not live in such a desolate world.’
‘But why do you say the only friends you are likely to have?  Are you so unsociable that you cannot make friends?’
‘No, but I never made one yet; and in my present position there is no possibility of doing so, or even of forming a common acquaintance.  The fault may be partly in myself, but I hope not altogether.’
‘The fault is partly in society, and partly, I should think, in your immediate neighbours: and partly, too, in yourself; for many ladies, in your position, would make themselves be noticed and accounted of.  But your pupils should be companions for you in some degree; they cannot be many years younger than yourself.’
‘Oh, yes, they are good company sometimes; but I cannot call them friends, nor would they think of bestowing such a name on me—they have other companions better suited to their tastes.’
‘Perhaps you are too wise for them.  How do you amuse yourself when alone—do you read much?’
‘Reading is my favourite occupation, when I have leisure for it and books to read.’
From speaking of books in general, he passed to different books in particular, and proceeded by rapid transitions from topic to topic, till several matters, both of taste and opinion, had been discussed considerably within the space of half an hour, but without the embellishment of many observations from himself; he being evidently less bent upon communicating his own thoughts and predilections, than on discovering mine.  He had not the tact, or the art, to effect such a purpose by skilfully drawing out my sentiments or ideas through the real or apparent statement of his own, or leading the conversation by imperceptible gradations to such topics as he wished to advert to: but such gentle abruptness, and such single-minded straightforwardness, could not possibly offend me.
Agnes on Rosalie
And when I saw this, and when I beheld her plunge more recklessly than ever into the depths of heartless coquetry, I had no more pity for her.  ‘Come what will,’ I thought, ‘she deserves it.  Sir Thomas cannot be too bad for her; and the sooner she is incapacitated from deceiving and injuring others the better.’  (137)
Rosalie and Agnes
‘But could you not try to occupy his mind with something better; and engage him to give up such habits?  I’m sure you have powers of persuasion, and qualifications for amusing a gentleman, which many ladies would be glad to possess.’
‘And so you think I would lay myself out for his amusement!  No: that’s not my idea of a wife.  It’s the husband’s part to please the wife, not hers to please him; and if he isn’t satisfied with her as she is—and thankful to possess her too—he isn’t worthy of her, that’s all.  And as for persuasion, I assure you I shan’t trouble myself with that: I’ve enough to do to bear with him as he is, without attempting to work a reform. (177)
Mr. Weston and Agnes
‘I expect to like my parish better a year or two hence, when I have worked certain reforms I have set my heart upon—or, at least, progressed some steps towards such an achievement.  But you may congratulate me now; for I find it very agreeable to have a parish all to myself, with nobody to interfere with me—to thwart my plans or cripple my exertions: and besides, I have a respectable house in a rather pleasant neighbourhood, and three hundred pounds a year; and, in fact, I have nothing but solitude to complain of, and nothing but a companion to wish for.’
He looked at me as he concluded: and the flash of his dark eyes seemed to set my face on fire; greatly to my own discomfiture, for to evince confusion at such a juncture was intolerable.  I made an effort, therefore, to remedy the evil, and disclaim all personal application of the remark by a hasty, ill-expressed reply, to the effect that, if he waited till he was well known in the neighbourhood, he might have numerous opportunities for supplying his want among the residents of F--- and its vicinity, or the visitors of A---, if he required so ample a choice: not considering the compliment implied by such an assertion, till his answer made me aware of it.
‘I am not so presumptuous as to believe that,’ said he, ‘though you tell it me; but if it were so, I am rather particular in my notions of a companion for life, and perhaps I might not find one to suit me among the ladies you mention.’
‘If you require perfection, you never will.’
‘I do not—I have no right to require it, as being so far from perfect myself.’ (186)
 Mr. Weston and Agnes
‘My house is desolate yet, Miss Grey,’ he smilingly observed, ‘and I am acquainted now with all the ladies in my parish, and several in this town too; and many others I know by sight and by report; but not one of them will suit me for a companion; in fact, there is only one person in the world that will: and that is yourself; and I want to know your decision?’
‘Are you in earnest, Mr. Weston?’
‘In earnest!  How could you think I should jest on such a subject?’
He laid his hand on mine, that rested on his arm: he must have felt it tremble—but it was no great matter now.
‘I hope I have not been too precipitate,’ he said, in a serious tone.  ‘You must have known that it was not my way to flatter and talk soft nonsense, or even to speak the admiration that I felt; and that a single word or glance of mine meant more than the honied phrases and fervent protestations of most other men.’
I said something about not liking to leave my mother, and doing nothing without her consent.
‘I settled everything with Mrs. Grey, while you were putting on your bonnet,’ replied he.  ‘She said I might have her consent, if I could obtain yours; and I asked her, in case I should be so happy, to come and live with us—for I was sure you would like it better.  But she refused, saying she could now afford to employ an assistant, and would continue the school till she could purchase an annuity sufficient to maintain her in comfortable lodgings; and, meantime, she would spend her vacations alternately with us and your sister, and should be quite contented if you were happy.  And so now I have overruled your objections on her account.  Have you any other?’
‘You love me then?’ said be, fervently pressing my hand.
‘Yes.’ (192)
Happy ending time!
My Diary, from which I have compiled these pages, goes but little further.  I could go on for years, but I will content myself with adding, that I shall never forget that glorious summer evening, and always remember with delight that steep hill, and the edge of the precipice where we stood together, watching the splendid sunset mirrored in the restless world of waters at our feet—with hearts filled with gratitude to heaven, and happiness, and love—almost too full for speech. (192)

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

My Victorian Year #43

I am still reading Anthony Trollope's Small House at Allington. I will be sharing some quotes from the book. I have finished two books since the last Victorian Year post. The first is Sylvia's Lovers by Elizabeth Gaskell.  The second is Dracula by Bram Stoker. I've also watched an adaptation of Great Expectations (1946).

Great Expectations. 1946. Directed and adapted by David Lean. Starring John Mills, Valerie Hobson, Martita Hunt, Finlay Currie, Alec Guinness, Eileen Erskine, and Bernard Miles.

I feel I should first point out that this is the only adaptation of Great Expectations that I've seen. I have no other film with which to compare it. Is it faithful to the book? Somewhat. It does take liberties. With the ending it takes HUGE liberties. I'm not sure Estella is Estella enough--if that makes sense.

As I was watching it, Mom made the observation that Estella is in many ways similar to Scarlett O'Hara--in her selfish heartlessness. I don't know that Estella deserves a happily-ever-after ending. I would have more respect for Pip, perhaps, if he wasn't so head-over-heels with Estella and blind to her greatest faults. Oh, he knows she has faults. But he seems to ignore/dismiss them. Her insides don't match her outsides--and he seems okay with that, more than okay with that.

But when I really stop and consider Pip--is he a great judge of character in general? He is just as blind when it comes to Joe. The way Pip feels about Joe--the way he's ashamed of him, embarrassed by him, dismissive of him, at times rude to him--if only by default of complete and total ingratitude--makes me angry.

I liked the film okay. I do think they took a few liberties here and there. I'm not sure the film includes all my favorite dialogue-driven scenes. But I'd really have to watch the film again to double-check. (I don't want to.)

Quotes from Small House at Allington
A self-imposed trouble will not allow itself to be banished.
“Ah, that’s so like you. I always said you’d no feeling of real romance. If I cared for a woman I’d give her the coat off my back.” “I’d do better than that,” said Johnny. “I’d give her the heart out of my body. I’d be chopped up alive for a girl I loved; but it shouldn’t be for another man’s wife.”
We saw that he had difficulty in writing it, but the miracle was, that any man could have found it possible to write it.
Love does not follow worth, and is not given to excellence; — nor is it destroyed by ill-usage, nor killed by blows and mutilation.
“Mothers do not often get tired of their children, whatever the children may do of their mothers.”
“I don’t know that any good would be got by knocking him over the head. And if we are to be Christians, I suppose we ought to be Christians.”
“What sort of a Christian has he been?” “That’s true enough; and if I was Bernard, I should be very apt to forget my Bible lessons about meekness.” There are some things for which a man ought to be beaten black and blue.” “So that he shouldn’t do them again?” “Exactly.”

“I don’t know much about being in love with her,” said Johnny, turning very red as he spoke. “But I’d go through fire and water for her, my lord. I knew her years before he had ever seen her, and have loved her a great deal better than he will ever love any one. 
My belief is that in life people will take you very much at your own reckoning.
 There are certain maladies which make the whole body sore.
John Eames had reached his office precisely at twelve o’clock, but when he did so he hardly knew whether he was standing on his heels or his head.
No one thinks of defending himself to a newspaper except an ass; — unless it be some fellow who wants to have his name puffed.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Tuesday, October 16, 2018


Quiet. Tomie dePaola. 2018. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: "My, oh my," the grandfather said. "Everything is in such a hurry."

Premise/plot: One thing I love about picture books is that often what you see is what you get. This is a story celebrating quietness and stillness. A grandfather is on a walk with his grandchildren and a dog. Once the grandfather points out how 'everything' is in a hurry, they all take turns pointing out the busyness they see in nature as they walk along. But soon it is time to sit down and rest, to slow down their minds and bodies, to just be still. Just as nature can be busy, it can also be restful.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I agree with the conclusion--the moral, if you will--of this one: To be quiet and still is a special thing. There is a timelessness to this one which makes it somewhat unique.  I think Mr. Rogers would approve of this one!

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Monday, October 15, 2018

Currently #41

Something Old
Dear and Glorious Physician. Taylor Caldwell. 1958. 560 pages. [Source: Bought]
Small House at Allington. Anthony Trollope. 1864. 695 pages. [Source: Bought]
Something New
The Romanov Empress. C.W. Gortner. 2018. 431 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple. Jeff Guinn. 2017. 454 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Season of Grace. Lauraine Snelling. 2018. Bethany House.  320  pages. [Source: Review copy]

Something Borrowed
Always and Forever, Lara Jean. (To All The Boys I've Loved Before #3) Jenny Han. 325 pages. [Source: Library]

The Dollar Kids. Jennifer Richard Jacobson. Illustrated by Ryan Andrews. 2018. Candlewick. 416 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]

All That's Good: Recovering the Lost Art of Discernment. 2018. Moody. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Sylvia's Lovers

Sylvia's Lovers. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1863/1997. Everyman Paperbacks. 560 pages. [Source: Bought]
First sentence: On the north-eastern shores of England there is a town called Monkshaven, containing at the present day about fifteen thousand inhabitants.

Premise/plot: The heroine of Elizabeth Gaskell's Sylvia's Lovers is Sylvia Robson. (Relatively) soon after the novel opens, Sylvia falls in love with a specksioneer Charley Kinraid. This frustrates the plans of her cousin, Philip Hepburn. He is also in love with Sylvia. He hasn't been courting her, but, he has been tutoring her. Philip has heard a few rumors that Kinraid essentially has left a string of girls all madly in love with him. (He is a sailor.) But Sylvia isn't going to be warned or lectured or bossed about by her cousin!

One day Philip witnesses Kinraid being pressed into service--being taken up by the press gang. (Military service not being all voluntary at that time). Charley begs Philip to tell Sylvia what has happened, begs him to let her know that his disappearance was not of his doing. By the time Philip makes his way to visit Sylvia and her family--his family too mind you--word has reached them--the town/village--that Kinraid is DEAD. Some of his belongings have washed up from the sea. Philip decides--for better or worse--to keep quiet.

But Kinraid's disappearance does not necessarily mean that Philip will succeed in his efforts to woo the young and beautiful Sylvia. In fact, if Sylvia's father, Daniel, had stayed out of trouble, I'm confident that his efforts would have continued to fail. But. Daniel Robson acted the fool--a noble fool, perhaps. He decided to participate in a RIOT. He was right there in the heart of the action--no mistaking his intentions.

Who was there to take care of the family when Daniel Robson was arrested? imprisoned? taken away to face trial and sentencing? Good, kind, dependable Philip, that's who. He was so good, so kind, so compassionate, so faithful. When he does propose, she says yes. Even if there's a tiny bit of doubt at the back of her mind if it's the right thing to do. She doesn't love-love Philip. But. She does care for him some.

Philip thinks that there's a good chance that Charley will die in action during the war--the English are fighting the French--or at sea--storms do happen. But Charley returns. And Philip and Sylvia are in for quite a SHOCK when he does...

My thoughts: I really enjoyed Sylvia's Lovers. If there was a movie adaptation of it, I would definitely watch it. (Most of Gaskell's other novels have been adapted for film.) I think fans of Poldark may enjoy this one.

Oddly enough, I was Team Philip for most of the book. In some ways, I find him the most developed character of the book. Sylvia was developed to some extent, but she felt a bit distant to me.

I loved the religious/spiritual themes of this one. 

  • Will our descendants have a wonder about us, such as we have about the inconsistency of our forefathers, or a surprise at our blindness that we do not perceive that, holding such and such opinions, our course of action must be so and so, or that the logical consequence of particular opinions must be convictions which at present we hold in abhorrence? (63)
  • Then he went on to wonder if the lives of one generation were but a repetition of the lives of those who had gone before, with no variation but from the internal cause that some had greater capacity for suffering than others. (218)
  • I tell thee my flesh and blood wasn't made for forgiving and forgetting. Once for all, thou must take me at my word. When I love I love, and when I hate I hate, and him as has done harm to me, or to mine, I may keep fra' striking or murdering, but I'll niver forgive. (300)
  • It seemed to be Sylvia's fate to captivate more people than she cared to like back again. (313)
  • God pities us as a father pities his poor wandering children; the nearer I come to death the clearer I see him. (445)

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews