Saturday, March 23, 2019

Stars Upon Thars #12

5 Stars
To Kill A Mockingbird: A Graphic Novel. Original text by Harper Lee. Adapted and illustrated by Fred Fordham. 2018 [October 30] 208 pages. [Source: Library]
Stepsister. Jennifer Donnelly. 2019. Scholastic. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Number the Stars. Lois Lowry. 1989. (Won Newbery in 1990) 137 pages. [Source: Bought]
Refugee. Alan Gratz. 2017. Scholastic. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Miss Buncle's Book. D.E. Stevenson. 1934. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]
Bicycle to Treachery: A Miss Mallard Mystery. Robert Quackenbush. 1985/2019. Simon & Schuster. 80 pages. [Source: Library]

4 Stars
Gondola to Danger: A Miss Mallard Mystery. Robert M. Quackenbush. 1983/2019. Simon & Schuster. 80 pages. [Source: Library]
Sparky & Spike: Charles Schulz and The Wildest, Smartest Dog Ever. Barbara Lowell. Illustrated by Dan Andreasen. 2019. Cameron Kids. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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March Share-a-Tea Check-In

The Ladies' Home Journal, 1889
What are you currently reading for the challenge?
Have you finished any books for this challenge this month?
Is there a book you're looking forward to starting next month?
Want to share any favorite quotes from a past or current read?
What teas have you enjoyed this month?

I'm currently reading Mark Twain's Innocents Abroad, Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, and Laura Hillenbrand's Unbroken.

Yes. I've finished quite a few books since the last check-in post.

32. The Christian Book of Mystical Verse: A Collection of Poems, Hymns, and Prayers for Devotional Reading. A.W. Tozer, editor. 1991/2016. 177 pages. [Source: Bought]
33. Venetia. Georgette Heyer. 1958/2009. Harlequin. 368 pages. [Source: Gift]
34. Three Men in a Boat. Jerome K. Jerome. 1889. 174 pages. [Source: Bought]
35. Knowing Christianity. J.I. Packer. 1995. 191 pages. [Source: Bought]
36. Shirley. Charlotte Bronte. 1849. 624 pages. [Source: Bought]
37. Alone in the Wild (The Oregon Trail #5) Jesse Wiley. 2019. Scholastic. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
38. God is the Gospel: Meditations on God's Love as the Gift of Himself. John Piper. 2005. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Bought] 
39. Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation. Adapted by Ari Folman. Original text by Anne Frank. Illustrated by David Polonsky. 2018. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]
40. Because. Mo Willems. Illustrated by Amber Ren. 2019. Hyperion. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
41. 31 Verses to Write On Your Heart. Liz Curtis Higgs. 2016. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
42. These Old Shades. Georgette Heyer. 1926/2008. Harlequin. 384 pages. [Source: Bought]
43. Miss Buncle's Book. D.E. Stevenson. 1934. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]
44. The Institutes of the Christian Religion. Abridged. John Calvin. (1536) Edited by Tony Lane and Hilary Osborne (1987). Baker Books. 272 pages. [Source: Bought]

There will always be books I look forward to starting....the struggle for me is making myself finish "current" books before beginning new books.

I quoted so much in my review of Three Men in a Boat. If you haven't read that one yet, you should.
But the book I loved, loved, LOVED this month was D.E. Stevenson's Miss Buncle's Book.

She had lived for so long among these people and had suffered so many afternoon teas that she was able to say the expected thing without thinking about it at all. You simply put a penny in the machine and the expected thing came out at once, all done up in a neat little packet, and suitably labeled.
He had already noticed that Miss Buncle was either monosyllabic and completely inarticulate, or else overpowered by a stream of words which forced themselves between her lips like water from a bursting dam.
She tried to fix her mind on the sermon. It was all about loving your neighbor, and how you must seek out the good in people and only see the good. Mr. Hathaway said that was the way to make people good—by refusing to see the evil. Barbara wondered if this were true, and, if so, how deep it went. If you refused to see the evil in a murderer, did that cure him? Doubtful.
 Mr. Abbott had never before read a novel about a woman who wrote a novel about a woman who wrote a novel—it was like a recurring decimal, he thought, or perhaps even more like a perspective of mirrors such as tailors use, in which the woman and her novel were reflected back and forth to infinity. It made your brain reel if you pursued the thought too far, but there was no need to do so, unless you wanted to, of course. So much for the main theme.
I discovered a new favorite this month: Bigelow's Constant Comment GREEN. I'd tried the Constant Comment Black Tea years ago and enjoyed it well enough but it wasn't a love. The green one is. I also tried Bigelow's Pomegranate Green. I didn't care for it much. 

  • Honey Vanilla Camomile
  • Camomile
  • Perfect Peach
  • Pomegranate Green
  • Wild Raspberry Hibiscus
  • Constant Comment Green 


© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, March 22, 2019

To Kill A Mockingbird Graphic Novel

To Kill A Mockingbird: A Graphic Novel. Original text by Harper Lee. Adapted and illustrated by Fred Fordham. 2018 [October 30] 208 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: When he was nearly thirteen my brother Jem got his arm badly broken at the elbow.

Premise/plot: This is a graphic novel adaptation of Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird. It stars unforgettable characters: Scout, Jem, Dill, Atticus, Cal, and Boo Radley--to name just a few. If you've read the novel or watched the movie, then you should definitely consider picking this one up. It is faithful to the spirit of the book--and the text is definitely recognizably Harper Lee's.

My thoughts: I really LOVED this one. I am not saying that I love the graphic novel adaptation more than the original novel. I am not even saying that I love the graphic novel more than the movie. (Fordham's rendering of Atticus does not resemble Gregory Peck in the slightest, by the way.) But the book reminded me of all the reasons why I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the (original) book in the first place.

It is faithful to the actual book. It has scenes that are definitely not in the movie adaptation. I think this is important to know. At times with classics one rewatches the movie more than rereads the book. Especially perhaps in the case of To Kill A Mockingbird. Though for the record, my copy of To Kill A Mockingbird is looking a bit tattered. I am not sure how many more times it can hold up to a rereading. I would have bought a replacement copy years ago--if I ever came across it at a used book store. But this isn't one you see about in used bookstores. I think people tend to hold onto their copies forever and ever. It's just that good.

I love the writing. I love the characters. I do enjoy the illustrations.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, March 21, 2019

Stepsister

Stepsister. Jennifer Donnelly. 2019. Scholastic. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence of the prologue: Once upon always and never again, in an ancient city by the sea, three sisters worked by candlelight. 

First sentence from chapter one: In the kitchen of a grand mansion, a girl sat clutching a knife. Her name was Isabelle. She was not pretty.

Premise/plot: Stepsister is a retelling of the fairy tale Cinderella told from the point of view of one of the stepsisters. But is it more than that?

The prologue sets the stage: a battle is coming, a battle between FATE and CHANCE. (There are three FATE sisters, but, primarily this novel features the crone. Chance is Marquis de la Chance.) The setting is a French village--primarily.

Chance has stolen a map--a map of a particular mortal, Isabelle. He's hoping that HER map can be changed. That the destiny that Fate has written her--or drawn for her--can be thwarted. The Crone angered that Chance has dared to steal from her--from them--sets out on a journey to find the girl and make sure that Chance doesn't give the girl any ideas of trying to fight back or change her story, her destiny. Which is exactly what Chance hopes to do with a little help.

The novel opens AFTER the ball. Isabelle has witnessed the pain, the agony, the humiliation of her sister, Octavia (aka "Tavi"). Their mother's insistence that the girls cut their bodies--their feet--in order to fit into the glass slipper is about to lead Isabelle to a similar fate.
How many times had she cut away parts of herself at her mother's demand? The part that laughed too loudly. That rode too fast and jumped too high. The part that wished for a second helping, more gravy, a bigger slice of cake. If I marry the prince, I will be a princess, Isabelle thought. And one day a queen. And no one will dare call me ugly ever again. (11)
As you might have guessed, neither girl--neither stepsister--fools the prince, not for longer than a few seconds, a few minutes anyway.

Stepsister is the story of what happens next....what happens in the small village where everyone knows what you did, what you tried to do. It was bad enough everyone calling you ugly...now they think you're evil and twisted too.

Can Isabelle write her own story? Can she find the strength, courage, and heart to be true to herself and become the person she's always wanted to be?

My thoughts: I love, love, love this one. Not because it is premise-driven. Not because it is a "feminist" retelling of a fairy tale. No, I love it because of the characters. I love Isabelle and Tavi. I love their relationship and conversations. I don't love their mother; if you thought she was only cruel to Cinderella, you'd be wrong. But though in some ways she's true to the evil stepmother stereotype, she's also a dimensional character. One you wouldn't want as a mother, as a neighbor, as a friend, or even an acquaintance--but one that must have a back story somewhere that would explain why she is the way she is. I don't love her--or even remotely like her--but there were a few scenes where I almost, almost, almost pitied her. I also enjoy seeing Isabelle and Tavi interact with a neighbor, Hugo. I could go on about all the characters I enjoyed meeting, but to do so would be to spoil the plot. That wouldn't be fair. The book isn't even released yet.

I also love it because of the writing.
Isabelle had a strong will. She did not know that this was a good thing for a girl to have because everyone had always told her it was a terrible thing. Everyone said a girl with a strong will would come to a bad end. Everyone said a girl's will must be bent to the wishes of those who know what's best for her. Isabelle was young, only sixteen; she had not yet learned that everyone is a fool. (12)
One by one they'd all disappeared, each loss like the swipe of a carver's knife. Whittling her down. Smoothing her edges. Making her more like the girl Maman wanted her to be. Isabelle had cut off her toes, but sometimes she could still feel them. Maman had cut out her heart. Sometimes she could still feel that, too. (40)
The wolves in the woods have sharp teeth and long claws, but it's the wolf inside who will tear you apart. (43)
History books say that kings and dukes and generals start wars. Don't believe it. We start them, you and I. Every time we turn away, keep quiet, stay out of it, behave ourselves. The wrong thing, the cowardly thing, the easy thing. You do it fast. You put it behind you. It's over, you tell yourself as you hurry off. You're finished with it. But it may not be finished with you. (46)
Envy, resentment, shame--Maman had rubbed these things against Isabelle's heart, and Tavi's until they were raw. Maman was subtle; she was clever. She'd started early. She'd started small. She knew that even tiny wounds, left untended, can fester and swell and turn a heart black. (66)
Most people will fight when there is some hope of winning, no matter how slim. They are called brave. Only a few will keep fighting when all hope is gone. They are called warriors. Isabelle was a warrior once, though she has forgotten it. (75)
Fear is the most misunderstood of creatures. It only wants the best for you. It will help you if you let it. Isabelle understood this. She listened to her fear and let it guide her. He's faster than you! It shouted as the chicken thief rushed her. So she retreated under low-hanging tree branches, which scratched his face and poked his eyes, slowing him. He's stronger than you! her fear howled. So she led him over the tree's knobby roots and made him trip. (88)
Pretty hooks you fast and kills you slowly. (124)
Call a girl pretty once, and all she wants, forevermore, is to hear it again. (124)
Pretty's a noose you put around your own neck. Any fool can tighten it on you and kick away your footing. (125)


© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, March 20, 2019

World at War: Number the Stars

Number the Stars. Lois Lowry. 1989. (Won Newbery in 1990) 137 pages. [Source: Bought]

 First sentence: "I'll race you to the corner, Ellen!" Annemarie adjusted the thick leather pack on her back so that her schoolbooks balanced evenly. "Ready?" She looked at her best friend.

Premise/plot: Annemarie Johansen stars in Lois Lowry's Number the Stars. She is a young girl living with her family in Denmark during World War II. She happens to have a Jewish best friend. She doesn't fully understand what is going on and why Hitler is the way he is; but she knows that Ellen's life is in danger. She must be brave and do her part.

My thoughts: Annemarie is the heroine of Number the Stars. I loved her. I loved her courage and loyalty. Ellen is Annemarie's best friend. I love that readers get an opportunity to see these two be friends before it gets INTENSE. I also love Annemarie's family. I do. I don't think I properly appreciated them as a child reader. One thing that resonated with me this time around was Annemarie's older sister, her place in the story. The setting. I think the book did a great job at showing what it could have been like to grow up in wartime with enemy soldiers all around. In some ways it was the little things that I loved best. For example, how Annemarie, Ellen, and Kirsti (Annemarie's little sister) play paper dolls together, how they act out stories, in this case they are acting out scenes from Gone with The Wind. I think all the little things help bring the story to life and make it feel authentic.

For a young audience, Number the Stars has a just-right approach. It is realistic enough to be fair to history. It is certainly sad in places. But it isn't dark and heavy and unbearable. The focus is on hope: there are men and women, boys and girls, who live by their beliefs and will do what is right at great risk even. Yes, there is evil in the world, but, there is also good.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Refugee

Refugee. Alan Gratz. 2017. Scholastic. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Crack! Bang!

Premise/plot: Refugee has three narrators and three settings. Josef Landau's story takes place in Germany and at sea in 1939; Isabel Fernandez's story takes place in Cuba and at sea in 1994; Mahmoud Bishara's story takes place in Syria and surrounding regions in 2015. Refugee is about three families who had no choice but to flee their countries.

There are many stories about Jews trying to escape Hitler. Josef Landau and his family make it aboard a ship bound for Cuba. You would think that they'd feel safe and secure; confident that at last they've managed to escape Hitler. But Josef's father's time in a camp has made it impossible for him to trust. Josef wants to believe the best....

Isabel and her family have wanted to leave Cuba for years--probably as long as Isabel has been alive. But when protests take an ugly turn and Castro relents and 'allows' people to leave the island, her family jumps at the chance. (It may be her father's ONLY chance to survive. To return to Cuba would at the very least mean imprisonment if not death since he was an active participant in the violent protests.) But they know they are not safe until they've literally walked on dry land in the States. To be "rescued" at sea would be a cruel punishment.

Mahmoud's family is desperate to leave Syria. Many--if not most are. They have no choice but to leave everything behind and set out on a long journey to an uncertain future. Their goal is Europe--the European Union. So few countries in the world are accepting refugees...

These three stories share a common theme.

My thoughts: Refugee is an intense, compelling, engaging read. I read it one sitting; the book would not let me put it down. The situations are dramatic and tense. The characters are well drawn. You can't help getting emotionally involved in their lives and stories. Within a few chapters, how could anyone fail to be drawn into the story?

Refugee is a story that you know is intentionally written to get you to think or rethink where you stand on important issues of immigration and refugees. One could make the argument that it is an issue-driven novel, a "problem" novel.

Refugee is a story whose characters live and breathe. How could it be anything other than a character-driven novel? Or, for that matter how can it be anything other than a plot-driven novel? I mean the ACTION is packed into this one. Each story is a matter of life-and-death. Each chapter pushes you closer and closer. WILL THE FAMILIES FIND SAFETY? Will these characters that you've come to love SURVIVE?



© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, March 18, 2019

Miss Buncle's Book

Miss Buncle's Book. D.E. Stevenson. 1934. 304 pages. [Source: Bought] 

First sentence: One fine summer’s morning the sun peeped over the hills and looked down upon the valley of Silverstream.

Premise/plot: Miss Barbara Buncle lives in the quiet and peaceful village of Silverstream. But Miss Buncle has a secret which is so BIG, so EXPLOSIVE, that it will shake up an entire community. Her secret? Necessity has driven her to write a book, and since she lacks an imagination, her book is peopled with her actual neighbors. In some ways no one is more surprised that the book will be published than Miss Buncle herself. Can she keep her secret intact and protect herself from a potential mob? The book is published under the name JOHN SMITH. This gives Miss Buncle some time at least! But there are a few people who will dedicate their lives to uncovering the REAL identity of the author. While there are busybodies trying to discover John Smith's identity, Miss Buncle is spending her time WRITING A SEQUEL.

My thoughts: I loved, loved, LOVED this one. I wish I'd known about it sooner in my life. I loved spending time with Miss Buncle. I loved meeting everyone in the village. I especially loved the doctor's wife, Sarah, and the young Sally Carter. (I also loved, loved, loved the publisher, Mr. Abbott.)

This is a novel that is just OH-SO-RIGHT that you can't help wanting to live in it and savor every single minute of it. I loved the characterization, as I've hinted at, but I also loved the WRITING. One could almost open it up to any page and find something worthy of quoting.

I loved how the events of Miss Buncle's books start happening in real life...

Favorite quotes:
What fools the public were! They were exactly like sheep…thought Mr. Abbott sleepily…following each other’s lead, neglecting one book and buying another just because other people were buying it, although, for the life of you, you couldn’t see what the one lacked and the other possessed. But this book, said Mr. Abbott to himself, this book must go—it should be made to go. Pleasant visions of bookstalls piled with neat copies of Chronicles of an English Village and the public clamoring for more editions passed dreamily through his mind.
John Smith, what a name! An assumed name, of course, and rather a good one considering the nature of the book. Every single character breathed the breath of life. There was not a flat two-dimensional character in the book—rather unusual that!
It was queer, it was unusual, it was provocative, and, strangely enough, it was also extremely funny.
“Why did you write it? How did you feel when you were writing it? Have you ever written anything before?” he explained. “I wanted money,” said Miss Buncle simply. Mr. Abbott chuckled. This was a new kind of author. Johnson’s dictum that nobody but a donkey wrote for anything except money was as true today as it had ever been and always would be, but how few authors owned to the fact so simply! They either told you that something stronger than themselves compelled them to write, or else that they felt they had a message to give the world. 
In his opinion Disturber of the Peace was a golden egg, but whether Miss Goose Buncle would lay anymore was beyond the power of man to tell.
 Barbara watched it all with interest; it was such fun to watch people and see how they reacted to one another’s personality.
Nobody in Silverstream cared what Barbara Buncle thought; the woman was nothing but an idiot.
She had lived for so long among these people and had suffered so many afternoon teas that she was able to say the expected thing without thinking about it at all. You simply put a penny in the machine and the expected thing came out at once, all done up in a neat little packet, and suitably labeled.
He had already noticed that Miss Buncle was either monosyllabic and completely inarticulate, or else overpowered by a stream of words which forced themselves between her lips like water from a bursting dam.
(It was almost as if she were on oath to speak the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth all day long and every day of the week).  
“Ugh, damn and blast!” he cried, rubbing his ear with a thoroughly grimy hand, and decided for a bath. The decision had been made for him by a spider (not for the first time had this intelligent insect helped a gallant soldier to make an important decision at a critical moment. It will be remembered that Robert the Bruce was similarly guided).
She tried to fix her mind on the sermon. It was all about loving your neighbor, and how you must seek out the good in people and only see the good. Mr. Hathaway said that was the way to make people good—by refusing to see the evil. Barbara wondered if this were true, and, if so, how deep it went. If you refused to see the evil in a murderer, did that cure him? Doubtful.
 “Ladies and gentlemen, we have met together today to discuss this book—Disturber of the Peace—which has been flung into our peaceful village like a poison bomb. Before the publication of this book we were all living together like a big happy family, but now there are rifts in the lute and the music is discordant and harsh.
A person can read when they’re knitting, but they can’t write, can they? 
“What about history?” suggested Sally. “I’m awfully ignorant about history, you know.” “We had better start with history, then,” Ernest said. “Everyone should know something about history, shouldn’t they?” Sally demanded.
“Nobody even thought of you. You could never have written Disturber of the Peace. Sarah Walker has brains. I don’t care for the woman at all—never did. She has no idea of how a lady ought to behave. Barbara was hurt, and amused, intensely relieved, and very much annoyed all at the same time.
Christmas came and went; Silverstream went to church and gave each other small and somewhat useless presents just as it always did at this season of the year.
Ernest learned quite as much as Sally at these history lessons—not much history, of course, but there are other things just as important as history.
 Mr. Abbott had never before read a novel about a woman who wrote a novel about a woman who wrote a novel—it was like a recurring decimal, he thought, or perhaps even more like a perspective of mirrors such as tailors use, in which the woman and her novel were reflected back and forth to infinity. It made your brain reel if you pursued the thought too far, but there was no need to do so, unless you wanted to, of course. So much for the main theme.
 Miss Buncle’s writing had come on a lot, and yet it had not lost the extraordinary simplicity which some people had taken for satire.
Mr. Abbott sat and thought about it for a long time, and then he smiled. He saw the end of the book quite clearly, and it was an end that satisfied him—he hoped sincerely that it would satisfy Miss Buncle. He found a sheet of foolscap and outlined his idea for the completion of The Pen is Mightier—. The letter which he enclosed with the manuscript and the notes took him much longer to write, and he re-wrote it several times before he was satisfied with its wording.
An episode that has actually happened in real life cannot be said to be too improbable for a novel.
 
© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, March 16, 2019

Stars Upon Thars #11

5 Stars
Because. Mo Willems. Illustrated by Amber Ren. 2019. Hyperion. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation. Adapted by Ari Folman. Original text by Anne Frank. Illustrated by David Polonsky. 2018. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Truth About Martians. Melissa Savage. 2018. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
 One-Third Nerd. Gennifer Choldenko. 2019. Random House. 224 pages. [Source: Library]

4 Stars
These Old Shades. Georgette Heyer. 1926/2008. Harlequin. 384 pages. [Source: Bought]
Square. (Shapes Trilogy #2) Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. 2018. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
Dig to Disaster. Robert M. Quackenbush. 1982. 81 pages. [Source: Library]

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, March 15, 2019

These Old Shades

These Old Shades. Georgette Heyer. 1926/2008. Harlequin. 384 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: A gentleman was strolling down a side street in Paris, on his way back from the house of one Madame de Verchoureux.

Premise/plot: These Old Shades has a lively, impulsive, honest heroine in Leonie.  The hero, Justin Alistair, is equally unforgettable, a man with a horrid reputation with the ladies. (Among other things, he's even KIDNAPPED a lady in an attempt to get her to marry him.) He's not called 'devil' for nothing. But try telling Leonie that Justin is anything but an absolute angel! You see, he rescued her from her mean brother, he bought her. Of course, even that isn't quite what it appears to be. For Leonie was then posing as, Leon, a young man. (She'd been living as a boy since she'd turned twelve.) So Avon first meets Leon, likes the red hair and dark eyebrows, and decides the boy would be a good page. It would be useful to him to have the boy in his household...

There are also hints of villainy throughout These Old Shades as Justin prepares to use Leonie as a weapon against one of his own enemies...


My thoughts: These Old Shades has an intriguing opening and a marvelous conclusion. (The last seventy-five pages or so are just wonderful!) There are some lively conversations in between, of course. As Leon is taken to England and transforms into Leonie. As Avon tries through two women (his sister, his cousin) to teach her how to be a lady, how to dress, how to walk, how to talk, what to say, and most importantly what NOT to say. Readers are introduced to Justin's family: his sister, his brother-in-law, his brother, his neighbors, etc. Rupert, Justin's brother, becomes a playmate of sorts for Leonie. Both being immature, teasing, silly.

These Old Shades is my mother's favorite novel by Georgette Heyer. It isn't necessarily my favorite. But I do enjoy rereading it very much.

There is a connection--a connection in my opinion that has to be intentional--between The Black Moth and These Old Shades. I do wish that the names matched since These Old Shades is essentially a sequel set four years later. Lavinia has been renamed Fanny; Richard has been renamed Edward; Jack has been renamed Anthony Merivale; Diana has been renamed Jennifer; Tracy has been renamed Justin.


I found out yesterday that Mom has NEVER read The Black Moth. I was a bit shocked because I thought she'd read every Heyer novel! I am curious to see if she makes the connections between These Old Shades and The Black Moth and if she reaches the same conclusion I did.

Quotes:
"Vengeance?" Hugh leaned forward. "I thought you disliked melodrama, my friend?"
"I do; but I have a veritable passion for justice."
"You've nourished thoughts of--vengeance--for twenty years?"
"My dear Hugh, if you imagine that the lust of vengeance has been my dominating emotion for twenty years, permit me to correct the illusion."
"Has it not grown cold?" Hugh asked, disregarding.
"Very cold, my dear, but none the less dangerous."
"And all this time not one opportunity has presented itself?"
"You see, I wish it to be thorough," apologized the Duke.
"Are you nearer success now than you were--twenty years ago?"
A soundless laugh shook Justin.
"We shall see. Rest assured that when it comes, it will be--so!" Very slowly he clenched his hand on his snuff-box, and opened his fingers to show the thin gold crushed.
Hugh gave a little shiver.
"My God, Justin, do you know just how vile you can be?"
"Naturally: Do they not call me Satanas?" The mocking smile came; the eyes glittered. (27)

"Remind me one day to teach you how to achieve a sneer, Hugh. Yours is too pronounced, and thus is but a grimace. It should be but a faint curl of the lips." (88)

"It is always wise to believe the worst of me, Fanny."
"I confess I don't understand you, Justin. 'Tis most provoking."
"It must be," he agreed.
She drew nearer, coaxing him.
"Justin, I do wish that you would tell me what is in your mind!"
He took a pinch of snuff, and shut the box with a snap.
"You must learn, my dear Fanny, to curb your curiosity. Suffice it that I am as a grandfather to that child. It should suffice." (122)

"Did you think we had eloped?" Rupert inquired.
"That explanation did present itself to me," admitted his Grace.
"Eloped?" Leonie echoed. "With Rupert? Ah, bah, I would as soon elope with the old goat in the field!"
"If if comes to that, I'd as soon elope with a tigress!" retorted Rupert. "Sooner, by Gad!"
"When this interchange of civilities is over," said his Grace languidly, "I will continue. But do not let me interrupt you." (196)


© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, March 14, 2019

Because

Because. Mo Willems. Illustrated by Amber Ren. 2019. Hyperion. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Because a man named Ludwig wrote beautiful music--a man named Franz was inspired to create his own. Because many years later, people wanted to hear Franz's beautiful music--they formed an orchestra. Because a man had practiced since he was a kid--he was asked to join.

Premise/plot: A young girl's life is changed forever when she attends a symphony. Half the story focuses on the before--the many, many becauses that lead up to that magical moment. Half the story focuses on the after--again using many, many becauses. Essentially the premise is MUSIC IS FOOD FOR THE SOUL. Also that it only takes a moment for a life to be changed.
From that moment on, the girl learned everything she could about music--because it fed her.
Soon, she started to write music, too--because, like Franz, the young woman had something to share.  
My thoughts: I loved, loved, loved, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. It is a BEAUTIFUL picture book. It had me at hello--with the end pages. Though to be fair, there is something about the cover of this one that says READ ME, READ ME. Though to be honest, I would have read this one anyway no matter what the cover looked like BECAUSE it's MO WILLEMS.

I thought this one was beautifully written. This one is perhaps a bit more sentimental than most of Mo Willem's previous books. Willem may perhaps be best known for two super-popular series: Elephant & Piggie and Pigeon. There is something almost lyrical about the text of this one--pure magic.

I also thought this one was beautifully illustrated. I'll never know if the illustrations alone would have hooked me--swept me up, up, and away--because I also fell head over heels in love with the text. But together magic is made in this one.

I would recommend this one FOR ALL AGES. The symphony that inspired her was playing Schubert's Symphony No. 8.

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



© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation

Anne Frank's Diary: The Graphic Adaptation. Adapted by Ari Folman. Original text by Anne Frank. Illustrated by David Polonsky. 2018. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: No one would believe me, but at the age of 13, I feel totally alone in this world.

Premise/plot: This is a graphic novel adaptation of Anne Frank's Diary of a Young Girl. It is not unabridged by any means; the text has been condensed/adapted. But much of the text remains recognizably Anne's own words.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. I don't usually enjoy graphic novels....but...every now and then I find myself loving one. Did I love this one? Yes, for the most part. I think the adaptation was well done. It condensed some of the material--which almost by necessity is a bit repetitive--and put the emphasis on some of the more dramatic sections. The book remains a coming-of-age memoir; readers witness Anne's emotional ride through puberty in the midst of war and uncertainty. I liked how the amount of text varied throughout. Sometimes Anne's own words are more powerful than any image could ever hope to be. And sometimes the illustrations really convey Anne's inner life remarkably well. For example, there's a spread where the illustrator is showing how Anne feels about being compared to her "perfect" sister Margot. That was PRICELESS in my opinion. Another great example is an illustration revealing Anne's disgust with her dentist roommate. She finds HIS UNDERWEAR on Kitty--her diary. That would certainly explain a lot if it is true.

I reviewed the definitive edition of her diary earlier this year where I discussed my reactions to Anne's text.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Truth About Martians

The Truth About Martians. Melissa Savage. 2018. 336 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: In a fiery blaze. That's how they show themselves for the very first time. It's not like a Martian invasion is the first thing I think of when I see it, because I'm not crazy. But it's definitely the second.

Premise/plot: Mylo Affinito stars in Melissa Savage's The Truth About Martians. This one is set near Roswell, New Mexico, in the summer of 1947. Mylo witnesses a fiery blaze in the sky; he knows it couldn't be lightning. He knows that his very best friend, Dibs, would think it MARTIANS. But is it?! It may just be worth investigating in the light of day. And that's just what they do: Dibs, Mylo, Gracie, and a few other kids. What will they find in a farmer's field? Though Mylo is not looking for it--he may just find his "missing courage part."

My thoughts: I was expecting a humorous adventure story. I was not expecting a character-driven novel with HEART AND SOUL. But that is exactly what I got. This is a compelling coming-of-age novel with well-developed characters that you can't help loving.

I love Mylo. I love Dibs. I love Mylo and Dibs. I ached for both of them. I did. I was cheering for them both. There were other characters that I loved as well.

I love the honesty of this one. Mylo has grown up in a religious/spiritual family. The family attends church weekly and prays often throughout the day--as a family. But since his older brother died, Mylo has felt out of sorts. How could God let his brother die? Why didn't God answer his prayers to heal his brother? Throughout the book, Mylo struggles with his faith. But this struggle feels honest and genuine. Mylo LAMENTS. I recently read a book about laments--the steps of lamenting and how healthy it is to lament in response to grief or loss. The book features Christianity in a way that is not preachy.

The book addresses some big questions: why am I here? how should I live? what does it mean to love your neighbor?

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, March 11, 2019

One-Third Nerd

One-Third Nerd. Gennifer Choldenko. 2019. Random House. 224 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Fifth grade is not for amateurs. You have to watch yourself. Kids notice stuff. What books you read. What sports you follow. What devices you own. And how nerdy you are.

Premise/plot: Liam stars in Gennifer Choldenko's newest middle grade novel. Liam has two sisters--both younger--Dakota and Izzy. Dakota especially is a handful and a half. She is one hundred percent nerd. She loves, loves, loves science and experimenting. Izzy has 47 chromosomes and has some learning difficulties. His parents are divorced but everything is mostly amicable. The big drama in this one is about the family dog, Cupcake. The landlord is threatening to kick the family out of their apartment if they don't get rid of their dog. Can these three siblings find a way to save the dog?

My thoughts: I love, loved, loved this one. Choldenko is such a great writer. Her characterization is excellent. I loved spending time with Liam at school and at home. I loved his two friends, Dodge and Moses. It was just a TREAT to read from cover to cover. 

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, March 09, 2019

Stars Upon Thars #10

5 Stars
The Crayon Man: The True Story of the Invention of Crayola Crayons. Natascha Biebow. Illustrated by Steven Salerno. 2019. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Dust Bunny Wants A Friend. Amy Hevron. 2019. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

4 Stars
How I Became A Spy. Deborah Hopkinson. 2019. Random House. 272 pages. [Source: Library]
Alone in the Wild (The Oregon Trail #5) Jesse Wiley. 2019. Scholastic. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Marguerite Makes a Book. Bruce Robertson. Illustrated by Kathryn Hewitt. 1999. 44 pages. [Source: Bought]
Hooray for Babies! Susan Meyers. Illustrated by Sue Cornelison. 2019. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, March 08, 2019

Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc

Voices: The Final Hours of Joan of Arc. David Elliott. 2019. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I recall it as if it were yesterday.

Premise/plot: Voices is a verse novel starring Joan of Arc. Many of the poems are from Joan's point of view. But many are not. Those that are not almost steal the show--for better or worse. One perspective that we repeatedly hear from is FIRE. We also hear from a candle, a tree, a needle, cows, her virginity, a road, a sword, a dress, a tunic, her hair, an altar, her armor, an arrow, a pitchfork, a warhorse, a crossbow, etc. Sprinkled throughout are excerpts from the Trial of Condemnation and the Trial of Nullification.

My thoughts: My interest in Joan of Arc started with a super-catchy song from Horrible Histories. I've read a few books on her since then. This one is interesting if not a little too abstract. Some of the more abstract poems do use poetic forms from the middle ages. (Some of the human poems also use medieval forms.) So from a literary point of view--and not necessarily a reader's point of view--the book is fascinating.

I liked this one well enough. I wish we'd heard more from humans and less from objects and abstract concepts--virginity and victory to name just two. But I did really enjoy some of the poems. One of my favorites was a shape poem from a needle's point of view. The poem I liked least was 'The Sword' which was all about her holding "my manly parts."


© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, March 07, 2019

Alone in the Wild

Alone in the Wild (The Oregon Trail #5) Jesse Wiley. 2019. Scholastic. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It's 1849, and you and your family are settlers on the journey of a lifetime on the Oregon Trail. So far, the trip has been filled with challenges: runaway oxen, bandits, illness, dangerous wildlife, broken wagon parts, and more. You're lucky you've all made it to South Pass, Wyoming--your halfway point.

Premise/plot: This is a stand alone title in the Oregon Trail Choose Your Own Adventure series by Jesse Wiley. In this one, the reader finds himself/herself ALONE after the fording of a river goes wrong. There are twenty possible endings but only one where you are a) alive and b) reunited with parents. (Not to be confused with the ending where you're a) barely alive and b) reunited with your parents but they're likely to die soon too.) How wisely will you choose?

My thoughts: I loved reading all four books last year in the series. I would recommend all the books.  I enjoyed this stand-alone adventure. I wouldn't mind having even MORE stand-alone adventures. There are still plenty of scenarios left unexplored at this point.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, March 06, 2019

World at War: How I Became A Spy

How I Became A Spy. Deborah Hopkinson. 2019. Random House. 272 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I wasn't thinking about becoming a spy that night. I was just trying to be brave, do a good job, and stay out of trouble. It wasn't going well.

Premise/plot: Bertie Bradshaw stars in this World War II adventure. It begins during an air raid. Bertie and his dog, L.R. "Little Roo," are doing their duty--their volunteer service. He sees a girl drop something--what turns out to be a journal--and later sees a woman collapsed on the sidewalk. He goes for help, but by the time he returns the woman is gone. It is only later when he begins to read the journal that he realizes what he's stumbled upon. The journal belongs to a spy. Half of the journal is written in cypher. From what he can tell, the spy is convinced that someone is passing along information to the Nazis! Can Bertie and his friends solve the mystery and warn the British government in time?

My thoughts: I liked this one. I did. I liked Bertie, Little Roo, Eleanor, and David. (David is one of the Jewish children sent to Britain early on in the war--circa 1938? Eleanor is the American girl who accidentally dropped the journal in the first place. Little Roo is a brave dog that won my heart early on in the novel. I was so THANKFUL that this was not a sad dog book.

The ending felt a bit rushed and slightly unfinished. I still don't know WHO the double agent was or HOW they discovered his identity. The author just jumps forward to the end where the children are meeting with the higher-ups and all is well.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, March 05, 2019

Shirley

Shirley. Charlotte Bronte. 1849. 624 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Of late years, an abundant shower of curates has fallen upon the north of England: they lie very thick on the hills; every parish has one or more of them; they are young enough to be very active, and ought to be doing a great deal of good.

Premise/plot: On the first page of chapter one, the author tells readers, "If you think, from this prelude, that anything like a romance is preparing for you, reader, you never were more mistaken." Take her at her word.

Shirley is NOT an easy book to summarize. You'd think that Shirley would be the main character and that the book would focus on her love life or lack of love life. You'd be wrong--mostly. Shirley is introduced as a character about halfway through the novel, and probably a dozen or so pages focus on her love life.

So if Shirley isn't the main character, who is? My vote would be a young woman called Caroline or "Lina" Helstone. She has a cousin, Robert Moore, whom she is in love with. And Caroline becomes chummy with Shirley for a while. (Caroline does worry that maybe just maybe Shirley is falling in love with Robert.)

Robert Moore is definitely one of the main characters--the hero--if you will. He owns a mill or factory. He is not well-liked and he's facing some opposition from the community.

My thoughts: I wanted to love Shirley. I didn't love it. I also didn't hate it. I would say I'm slightly disappointed with the plot and pace. I don't mind books that are more about the journey than the destination--if the journey has some scenery worth taking in. The writing--at times I enjoyed it very much.

Quotes:
  • Cheerfulness, it would appear, is a matter which depends fully as much on the state of things within, as on the state of things without and around us. (67)
  • Human nature is human nature is everywhere, whether under tile or thatch, and that in every specimen of human nature that breathes, vice and virtue are ever found blended, in smaller or greater proportions, and that the proportion is not determined by station. I have seen villains who were rich, and I have seen villains who were poor, and I have seen villains who were neither rich nor poor. (89)
  • Cherish hope, not anxiety. (99)
  • Suspense is irksome, disappointment bitter. (108). 
  • When I meet with real poetry, I cannot rest till I have learned it by heart, and so made it partly mine. (119)
  • Men and women never struggle so hard as when they struggle alone, without witness, counsellor, or confidant; unencouraged, unadvised, and unpitied. (200)
    Our power of being happy lies a good deal in ourselves. (222)
  • If men could see us as we really are, they would be a little amazed; but the cleverest, the acutest men are often under an illusion about women: they do not read them in a true light: they misapprehend them, both for good and evil: their good woman is a queer thing, half doll, half angel; their bad woman almost always a fiend. Then to hear them fall into ecstasies with each other's creations, worshipping the heroine of such a poem--novel--drama, thinking it fine--divine! Fine and divine it may be, but often quite artificial--false as the rose in my best bonnet there. (343)
  • Talking a bit! Just like you! said Shirley. It is a queer thing all the world is so fond of talking over events: you talk if anybody dies suddenly; you talk if a fire breaks out; you talk if a mill-owner fails; you talk if he's murdered. What good does your talking do? (345)
  • Love is real: the most real, the most lasting--the sweetest and yet the bitterest thing we know. (366)
  • 'Is change necessary to happiness?' 'Yes.' 'Is it synonymous with it?' 'I don't know; but I feel monotony and death to be almost the same.' (385)
  • It is pleasant to write about what is near and dear as the core of my heart: none can deprive me of this little book, and through this pencil, I can say to it what I will. (487)
  • I believe--I daily find it proved--that we can get nothing in this world worth keeping, not so much as a principle of conviction, except out of purifying flame, or through strengthening peril. We err; we fall; we are humbled--then we walk more carefully. (505)


© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, March 04, 2019

Speak

Speak. Laurie Halse Anderson. 1999. 224 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It is my first morning of high school. I have seven new notebooks, a skirt I hate, and a stomachache.

Premise/plot: In To Kill A Mockingbird, Scout receives some great advice from her father.
"First of all," he said, "if you can learn a simple trick, Scout, you'll get along a lot better with all kinds of folks. You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view--"
"Sir?"
"--until you climb into his skin and walk around in it." (30)
Speak invites readers to "climb into the skin" of a victim of sexual assault and "walk around in it." But whether you've been there yourself or not--Melinda, our heroine--is worth getting to know. Her story is powerful and compelling.

Speak places high school life under the microscope. In minute detail, the reader sees what high school is like perhaps from a perspective that is new to them. (Or perhaps one that feels all-too-familiar). The teachers. The students. The classmates. The classes. The cafeteria. The bus rides. Melinda isn't happy, and it shows, but she's an example of how appearances can be deceiving. Labeled a trouble maker by a few of her teachers and some of the administration, despised by most of her classmates, she would be easy to brush off, to cast aside as just another lazy, rebellious teen. A teen that needs discipline, punishment, stern lectures, but never a teen that needs compassion and mercy and understanding. But there is always more going on underneath the surface. Always.

My thoughts: I think Speak should be required reading for any adult who is working with teens or who plans to work with teens. As for requiring it for teens within the classroom setting, I'm not so sure. For one, any time a book is required it loses its power. If you "have" to read it, then it strips away most of your natural inclinations to like it. I certainly never "liked" any of my assigned reading. The message of Speak might lose its resonance if it is forced. Especially if it is dissected and analyzed for hidden messages and symbolism. That being said, I do feel it's a true must-read. And it does have much that would be discussion-worthy.

What do I love about Speak? Well, it's authentic. And it's thought-provoking. If you're an adult, it makes you remember (or is prone to making you remember) your own high school days. Rather those days were painful and you're still a bit bitter or if you were one of the rare who actually remember high school "as the best time of your life." It's all in the details. The small things. The small daily interactions of how you relate with others, and how they relate to you. All the little things that add up to create the big picture. I didn't read it as a teen. The book was published when I was in college. But I would hope that the book would help those teens who are going through some of these situations not feel so alone, so isolated. I would hope that they'd feel understood. And for those teens that are bullies, I hope that the book would make them think about their actions a little more, take time to think about how these "little" things are adding up to big-time misery for those that are 'beneath' them. I'm not naive enough to think that this book will have the same impact on every one who reads it. It is just one book after all. But I hope that those who do read it, it will have a strong enough impact that the story will stay with them for a while.

Quotes:
I have entered high school with the wrong hair, the wrong clothes, the wrong attitude. (4)
The first ten lies they tell you in highschool
1. We are here to help you.
2. You will have enough time to get to your class before the bell rings.
3. The dress code will be enforced.
4. No smoking is allowed on school grounds.
5. Our football team will win the championship this year.
6. We expect more of you here.
7. Guidance counselors are always available to listen.
8. Your schedule was created with your needs in mind.
9. Your locker combination is private.
10. These will be the years you look back on fondly. (6)
Mr. Neck makes a note in his book. "I knew you were trouble the first time I saw you. I've taught here for twenty-four years and I can tell what's going on in a kid's head just by looking in their eyes. No more warnings. You just earned a demerit for wandering the halls without a pass." (9)
Homework is not an option. My bed is sending out serious nap rays. I can't help myself. The fluffy pillows and warm comforter are more powerful than I am. I have no choice but to snuggle under the covers. (16)
It's Nathaniel Hawthorne Month in English. Poor Nathaniel. Does he know what they've done to him? We are reading The Scarlet Letter one sentence at a time, tearing it up and chewing on its bones. (100)
It is easier to floss with barbed wire than admit you like someone in middle school. (108)
Mother: "That's the point, she won't say anything! I can't get a word out of her. She's mute."
Guidance Counselor: "I think we need to explore the family dynamics at play here."
Mother: "She's jerking us around to get attention."
Me: [inside my head] Would you listen? Would you believe me? Fat chance. (114)
Mr. Freeman: "Art without emotion is like chocolate cake without sugar. It makes you gag." (122)
Ten More Lies They Tell You In High School
1. You will use algebra in your adult lives.
2. Driving to school is a privilege that can be taken away.
3. Students must stay on campus for lunch.
4. The new textbooks will arrive any day now.
5. Colleges care about more than your SAT scores.
6. We are enforcing the dress code.
7. We will figure out how to turn off the heat soon.
8. Our bus drivers are highly trained professionals.
9. There is nothing wrong with summer school.
10. We want to hear what you have to say. (148)



© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, March 02, 2019

Stars Upon Thars #9

5 Stars
Three Men in a Boat. Jerome K. Jerome. 1889. 174 pages. [Source: Bought]
Hattie Big Sky. Kirby Larson. 2006. 289 pages. [Source: Library]
Venetia. Georgette Heyer. 1958/2009. Harlequin. 368 pages. [Source: Gift]

4 Stars
Time Jumpers #3 Fast-Forward to the Future. Wendy Mass. Illustrated by Oriol Vidal. 2019. Scholastic. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]


© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Victorian Reading Challenge Check-In #1

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

The Jungle Book. Rudyard Kipling. 1893/1894. 138 pages. [Source: Bought]
A Book of Comfort for Those In Sickness. Philip Bennett Power. 1876/2018. Banner of Truth. 97 pages. [Source: Bought]
Queen Victoria: Twenty-Four Days That Changed Her Life. Lucy Worsley. 2019. 432 pages. [Source: Library]
The Crown and the Crucible. (The Russians #1) Michael R. Phillips and Judith Pella. 1991. Bethany House. 416 pages. [Source: Bought]
Three Men in a Boat. Jerome K. Jerome. 1889. 174 pages. [Source: Bought]

I am currently reading SHIRLEY by Charlotte BRONTE.

Quotes:
It seems to be the rule of this world.  Each person has what he doesn’t want, and other people have what he does want. ~ Jerome K. Jerome
How good one feels when one is full—how satisfied with ourselves and with the world!  People who have tried it, tell me that a clear conscience makes you very happy and contented; but a full stomach does the business quite as well, and is cheaper, and more easily obtained.  We cannot work, we cannot think, unless our stomach wills so.  It dictates to us our emotions, our passions.  We are but the veriest, sorriest slaves of our stomach.  Reach not after morality and righteousness, my friends; watch vigilantly your stomach, and diet it with care and judgment.  ~ Jerome K. Jerome
I have enjoyed all the books to one degree or another.

The favorite book I've read so far....

A Book of Comfort for Those in Sickness is a Christian living book that I loved and adored.
The Crown and the Crucible is set in Russia during the 1870s. It was fabulous.
Three Men in a Boat is absolutely hilarious.



© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, March 01, 2019

Inheritance

Inheritance: A Memoir of Genealogy, Paternity, and Love. Dani Shapiro. 2019. 272 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: When I was a girl I would sneak down the hall late at night once my parents were asleep.

Premise/plot: In this memoir, Dani Shapiro shares her experiences with DNA testing. Her results surprised her: it begins with a match for a first cousin she doesn't know. If this stranger is her first cousin, it means that her father--the father who raised her--is not her biological father. She remembers something slightly off her mother said about her conception years ago. Within a matter of days she finds her biological father--a sperm donor. What should she do with this information? Should she try to make contact with him? meet him? have a relationship with him? Does it mean anything mentally, emotionally, spiritually that this man--this stranger--is her father?

My thoughts: I wanted this to be a compelling read. I really did. I tend to watch these kinds of stories on the news. It sounded like it would be fascinating. But for me it wasn't. I found the narrative to be tedious at times. Was there enough material for a full-length book? I'm not sure there was. Was there enough for an essay or article? Definitely.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, February 28, 2019

February Reflections

February# of Pages
Becky's Book Reviews6545
Young Readers800
Operation Actually Read Bible3301


Totals10646

February# of Books
Becky's Book Reviews24
Young Readers19
Operation Actually Read Bible15


Totals58


Totals So Far

Books Read
132
Pages Read
25217

New to me highlights

Re-reads highlights
  •  The Book Thief. Markus Zusak. 2006. Random House. 560 pages. [Source: Bought]
  • Three Men in a Boat. Jerome K. Jerome. 1889. 174 pages. [Source: Bought]
  • Hattie Big Sky. Kirby Larson. 2006. 289 pages. [Source: Library]
  • Venetia. Georgette Heyer. 1958/2009. Harlequin. 368 pages. [Source: Gift]

© 2019 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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Good Rules Cheat List

Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007
Classics = anything published before 1968
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007
Christian books = new is anything published after 2000
Bibles = new is anything published after 1989

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