Wednesday, October 16, 2019

World at War: Lady Cop Makes Trouble

Lady Cop Makes Trouble. Kopp Sisters #2. Amy Stewart. 2016. 310 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I handed the newspaper back to Mrs. Headison. “I suppose you replied to the box-holder?”

Premise/plot: Will she or won’t she be hired on as deputy?! That is the underlying question throughout the second book in the Kopp sisters series by Amy Stewart. Constance, Norma, and Fleurette are the Kopp sisters. The first book ended with Constance searching for a job. She has now found work as an unofficial-almost deputy to Sheriff Heath and matron of the jail. Her official job has her overseeing the female prisoners. Her unofficial job has her hunting down big time fugitives. Can she prove her worth and get the job done?

My thoughts: This book like Girl Waits with Gun is based on true people and events as reported in newspapers of the time. It even includes a photograph of the real Constance Kopp. I loved, loved, loved the first book which focused more on her relationship with her sisters. It had plenty of action and adventure. This second book focuses almost exclusively on her professional life. I liked it. I did. But maybe not quite as much. I would still recommend the series. 


© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, October 15, 2019

William Shakespeare's Get Thee Back To the Future

William Shakespeare's Get Thee...Back to the Future! Ian Doescher. 2019. Quirk. 176 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Now gentles, pray, your patience for this play./ In heart and mind, let fancy hold its sway—

Premise/plot: At long last readers can finally experience what it would have been like if William Shakespeare had penned Back to The Future!!! This perhaps may be a most excellent example of a book you never knew you needed.

The prologue sets the stage and asks the audience to imagine themselves four hundred years into the future in the New World. “View wonders! On our stage do we arrive—E’en late October, nineteen eighty-five.”

The five acts that follow are delightful both for their familiarity and unfamiliarity. Marty plays the lute, for example. But you’ve never heard Earth Angel or Johnny B. Good quite like this.

My thoughts: I absolutely have to find my copy of Back to the Future now. It’s been too long since I’ve seen it. This was a favorite growing up though I didn’t love all the movies in the trilogy equally. This play was awesome, fun, silly, clever. I loved how the author thought through things as if it was a play that could be acted on stage (players must have time to change costumes) instead of just a gimmicky novelty. I also loved the pops of actual Shakespeare lines.

Quotes:

Do you believe in love? So do our youth, And this, the heart of rock and roll we’ll hear, This music that the pow’r of love releaseth.


It is this power makes the world go round. ‘Tis strong and sudden, sent by heav’n above, It May just save thy life, this pow’r of love.


I parry, dodge, and drive e’en faster yer, To keep their bullets from their target—me! Yet faster,car, drive on, be fleet of wheel, Like chariots of fire leave all behind And in a blaze of glory help me ‘scape.


Surrender, Marty, to this blazing light, That thou mayst live again another night!


Be not so timid, lass. Thou likest me, And wantest Biff to give himself to thee.


I shall—because thou to our school art new—Grant thee, This once, a merciful reprieve. Now make thou like a tree, and thither flee.


O mistress mine, Earth angel mine, O darling of my heart, I’m thine. Shalt thou be mine, this year or next, Why leave my loving heart perplex’d? Sing nonny heigh, sing nonny ho, Earth angel sweet, come dwell below. O mistress mine, Earth angel mine, One I adore, who doth so shine. ‘‘Tis only thee for whom I care, And I shall love thee, pet, fore’er. Sing nonny heigh, sing nonny ho, Earth angel sweet, come dwell below.


Be ready for audacious episodes—Whither we go, we have no need of roads. 



© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, October 14, 2019

The Sunne in Splendour

The Sunne in Splendour. Sharon Kay Penman. 1982. 936 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Richard did not become frightened until darkness began to settle over the woods.

Premise/plot: The Sunne in Splendour is an historical novel by Sharon Kay Penman. The central character is Richard, the “last born son of the Duke of York,” the man who would become the last Plantagenet king, Richard III. Does the name make you want to boo and hiss?! Or perhaps does it send you on a tirade about how he was slandered by those evil Tudors and treated unfairly?! The book opens when he is just a child (1459), before all the drama really gets started between Yorkists and Lancastrians. Or perhaps I should add that all the drama that came before was “normal” to the young boy. The novel is divided into sections. It has its ups and downs—moments of grandness or splendor, moments of incredible heartbreak and sadness. It tells an epic story, a slice of English history.

My thoughts: I have been meaning to reread this book for years. I love, love, love Richard III. I am Team Richard all the way. I do not believe he murdered his nephews, the princes in the tower. I boo,hiss Henry VII. I do. I can’t remember when I first became interested in this time period; but it’s something that I have been reading about for quite a while now. I still haven’t made up my mind if this is my absolute favorite on the subject or if that would be Josephine Tey’s Daughter of Time. I have probably reread that one more because it is much shorter!!!

I love the relationship between Richard and Anne in this book. I hate the ending—of course how could it end any differently then it does?! Richard III does not survive the battle. There is no happy ending for any one with a drop of royal blood that could challenge or match Henry Tudor’s claim

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, October 13, 2019

Tidelands

Tidelands. (The Fairmile #1) Philippa Gregory. 2019. 448 pages. [Source: Library]

  First sentence: The church was gray against a paler gray sky, the bell tower dark against the darker clouds.

Premise/plot: Tidelands is an historical novel set in England in 1648/1649. It is Philippa Gregory’s newest novel and the first in a new series. The premise is that the main heroine, Alinor, comes under suspicion by her neighbors for witchcraft. Why? She has been abandoned by her seafaring husband, (a husband that took not a care about preserving her reputation). She should be poor, desperately poor, starving, unable to support herself and her son, Rob, and daughter, Alys. Yet she is not. Somehow between selling herbs, attending births, fishing, etc. she is making enough money to survive—even saving back a little for her daughter’s dowry. Her son—who should have no future ahead of him because he is a nobody who comes from nothing—is first chosen to be a companion to the lord’s son and then is gifted an apprenticeship. Her neighbors have only one explanation: she is a witch descended from witches. She could never deserve such good fortune otherwise. The problem? Readers get the story from her perspective from start to finish and she simply is not a witch. So those readers hoping to find a witch-themed story will be disappointed. The explanation is much simpler. Bribery. Alinor meets a Catholic priest on his way to the lord’s house and she discovers the family’s religious and political leanings. She doesn’t ask for money, opportunities, etc. in exchange for her silence. But she’s given them and doesn’t refuse. Sadly she finds herself falling in love with this priest-traitor, “James Summer.” It does not go well...

My thoughts: I might have yelled at this book. Okay I did yell at some of the characters. I wasn’t surprised at the direction this one took—I could see what was coming almost from the start. But I also felt there were scenes—bits of dialogue—that were dropped in perhaps with an agenda. Unwanted pregnancies are nothing new. Perhaps one could eavesdrop on any decade in human history and find women talking about how they “need” or “want” or “must” get rid of the baby. How “it” will ruin their lives. But this one went out of its way perhaps to state that while she—the heroine—would never, ever, ever end the pregnancy, she would never ever judge another woman for choosing differently. Making the argument that women have the right to do whatever they want, whenever they want, with their body. No one has the right to force a woman to have a baby she doesn’t want. No one has the right to force a woman to end a pregnancy. Only one voice counts. There were several conversations that made me squirm a bit. Her daughter—who is also pregnant and unmarried (though betrothed) begs and pleads with her mother to have an abortion; she stands in judgment of her mother for having sex outside of marriage. The mother never once stands in judgement of her. The conversation that had me screaming however was with “James.” There are no words to describe him—words that I would want to go on record as saying or thinking.

I might be interested in the next book, but part of me hopes it doesn’t pick up where it left off in this family saga.

I was not disappointed at the lack of witchcraft.


© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, October 12, 2019

Stars Upon Thars #41

5 Stars
Bear's Book. Claire Freedman. 2019. 34 pages. [Source: Library]
The Penderwicks at Last. Jeanne Birdsall. 2018. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]

4 Stars
Most Marshmallows. Rowboat Watkins. 2019. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
The First Wave (Billy Boyle #2) James R. Benn. 2007. 304 pages. [Source: Library]
 

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, October 09, 2019

World at War: The First Wave

The First Wave (Billy Boyle #2) James R. Benn. 2007. 304 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was dark, and I was at sea, hunkered down in a flat-bottomed landing craft, slamming through four-foot swells and chugging noisily towards shore, leaving the relative safety of our troop transport behind.

Premise/plot: The First Wave is the second book in the historical mystery series starring Billy Boyle. The first novel was set in England in 1942; the second novel is set in North Africa (Algeria) in late 1942. The plan was supposed to be simple: Harding and Boyle are supposed to be involved in the negotiations for the surrender of the Vichy French forces. But it’s a snafu from the start. The surrender won’t happen quickly—if at all. Soon Boyle is back to solving murders—and the body count keeps going up.

My thoughts: I wanted to love this one just as much as the first book. I do still really like the characters Boyle and Kaz. I was heartbroken over Diana’s situation. I think the weightiness of that kept me from fully engaging with this one. The mystery element also disappointed me. I don’t know why, but, I guessed the identity of the murderer super early. I usually don’t do this in the first half. Sometimes authors keep me guessing until the last handful of pages. I like the suspense. This one definitely reads more like a trauma-filled war novel. Gritty—very much showing the horrors of war.
© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, October 08, 2019

On the Beach

On the Beach. Nevil Shute. 1957. 296 pages. [Source: Library]

 First sentence: Lieutenant-Commander Peter Holmes of the Royal Australian Navy woke soon after dawn.
Premise/plot: On the Beach is a behind the scenes glimpse of the end of the human race as seen through the eyes of an American (Dwight Towers) and several Australians (Peter and Mary Holmes, Moira Davidson, John Osborne). It is set after an extremely brief but devastating war. There is only one way this one will end—the death of every single character. Not even Shakespeare was this brutal. The novel poses the question: is war worth it? When all is said and done is pride, greed, ambition, love of power, stubbornness, selfishness, the need to be right...worth the extinction of humanity. In case you didn’t pick up on it, this one is a bit didactic or agenda-driven. Nuclear warfare is bad, bad, all kinds of bad. It’s a lose/lose situation. It is preventable if everyone uses common sense. It is too late for the fictional world Shute has created, but it is not too late for us in the real world.

My thoughts: This novel is bleakity-bleak. Hope is not to be found here. It isn’t just that life as we know it is over...it isn’t that we’ve been sent back to the dark ages...it isn’t that 80% of the population has died. No. Every human on the planet is either dead, dying, or soon to be dying. Death is stalking the characters, creeping closer and closer as the seasons change and the wind blows the poison—the radiation—closer and closer. The book isn’t about the destination, but the journey. How do these characters choose to live day after day knowing what it is coming?! What changes? What stays the same? Who do they choose to spend time with? What do they choose to do? How do they cope? Do they cope?

I don’t expect every apocalyptic novel or post-apocalyptic novel to deal with religious themes or undertones. God is not to be found within this one. None of the characters believe in God or even a god. Faith and religion—spirituality—is not a part of this one. None of the characters seem to believe in heaven or hell.
This would not be at all surprising if published now, but would it have seemed so in 1957? Would readers have wondered why the characters didn’t pray, make peace with God, find comfort in a faith community?

I also wonder if it would have been controversial at the time it was published in regards to how it ended. Having pills ready and waiting at the pharmacy available for request—free of charge—to anybody who wants the “dignity” of ending their own life. I think times have probably changed in regards to this as well.

The hardest part was the fact that Peter and Mary have a baby. They have to plan to kill their baby so that she is not left on her own in case she outlives her parents.

If there is a theme it is live for today because humans are stupid.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, October 07, 2019

Max Tilt: 80 Days Or Die

Max Tilt: 80 Days or Die (Max Tilt #2) Peter Lerangis. 2018. 416 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: No one ever paid attention to the man with the drooping eye.

Premise/plot: Max Tilt: 80 Days or Die is the second book in a new series by Peter Lerangis. The plot has/had the potential to be great. Max is a descendant of French writer, Jules Verne. Verne’s legacy lives on...in a series of codes and puzzles. Max and Alex went on quite the quest in the first book. Max thought the solution to his biggest problem could be saved by money—lots of it. But it turns out that money can’t buy everything. Max is shocked by this—adult readers shouldn’t be. It turns out that the next quest will be a matter of life and death.

Verne’s mysterious letters indicate that by combining a series of fantastic near-impossible-to-find ingredients together that any and every sickness/illness can be cured. Death could be thwarted if and only if you possess this magical concoction.

Evelyn is his friend with a terminal illness. She only has a few months to live. This is enough to motivate him to do something he thought he’d never do again—risk his own life to trek the globe on an dangerous adventure. Mid-trip he learns that his mom’s cancer has returned. Max is stunned!!! He never expected that...after all it was the money he found that sent her to “the best doctors and best hospitals” that money could buy! Now it is more important than ever that the quest is successful. But it won’t be easy...bad guys come in all shapes, sizes, ages, and genders.

My thoughts: I found the second book to be obnoxious. Clearly both books ask readers to suspend disbelief. Clearly both are fantasy novels even though both are set in the “real world.” It isn’t the only middle grade novel where all adults are either absent, negligent, or evil.

The fact that the book trivializes serious real-life issues is what I find so annoying. It’s one thing to go on a quest to save the world from...demons, wizards, vampires, aliens, etc. It is quite another to go on a quest for a cure-all for EVERY disease or malady (gunshot wound or cancer). (Verne used it after a gunshot wound.) I found the book to be over the top ridiculous...and predictable.

Whether any child likes it or not...some diseases do prove terminal. Traveling the world on your own...placing a person’s wellbeing on your doing so...it’s just too much. Max doesn’t need to feel responsible for the lives of his friend and mom.
© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, October 06, 2019

The Penderwicks at Last

The Penderwicks at Last. Jeanne Birdsall. 2018. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Lydia believed in dancing wherever she could—on sidewalks, in supermarket aisles, libraries, swimming pools, parking lots. Today her stage was a bench at the bus stop.

Premise/plot: Lydia Penderwick narrates the fifth installment of the series by Jeanne Birdsall. When readers last visited the family, Lydia was a princess obsessed toddler—a pest of a sister. Now Lydia is a fifth grader obsessed with all things dance. (Though oddly enough one who will not take dance classes because she wants to dance her way and only her way. Who needs instruction and critique when you could just watch movies and videos?! That is her thinking. But I’m not sure it is all that smart if you want to be a dancer.) It is summer and the family is returning to Arundel, to Jeffrey’s estate. They’ve been assured that Mrs. Tifton is never, never there—she lives in New York now. They are there to celebrate a wedding. Rosalind is marrying Tommy Geiger. Lydia is making fast friends with Cagney’s daughter Alice—also a sheep named Blossom. Lydia is rumored to like just about anyone...will that prove true when she meets Mrs. Tifton?!

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I loved, loved, loved a few things about it. Though it was not giddy-making cover to cover perhaps. I appreciated the playful nods to classic literature. From the start I saw the Alcott elements. Though thankfully there is no Beth-like character!!! But Batty has always, always, always reminded me of Amy. Therefore I have long predicted that somehow, some way she and Jeffrey (the Laurie character) would end up falling for each other. This doesn’t happen really-truly in this one, but it is strongly hinted at. The sisters have a feeling that these two will get together because they are obviously soul mates. There is a scene that screams out Pride and Prejudice—Mrs. Tifton demands, commands that they swear absolutely that no Penderwick sister will ever ever ever marry Jeffrey. They refuse. Who Skye ends up with does not surprise me either—given who Jo ended up with in Little Women.

So overall I enjoyed it...

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, October 05, 2019

Stars Upon Thars #40

5 Stars

Girl Waits With Gun. (Kopp Sisters #1) Amy Stewart. 2015. 408 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Cold Sassy Tree. Olive Ann Burns. 1984. 405 pages. [Source: Bought]
How To Read A Book. Kwame Alexander. Illustrated by Melissa Sweet. 2019. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, October 04, 2019

A Family of Strangers

A Family of Strangers. Emilie Richards. 2019. 491 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: What do alligators dream about?

Premise/plot: Ryan Gracey is a successful podcaster with a true crime show. Her sister, Wendy, calls her out of the blue sounding desperate. Her business trip has gone horribly wrong. She can’t come back home. She fears that she might be a suspect in a murder. She is making a run for it. Can Ryan go and take care of her two nieces?! It’s not like Ryan is given a choice. To Florida she goes! Her nieces are essentially strangers to her...but so too is her much older sister. How much does she truly know about who her sister is...past or present?! When Ryan was born, Wendy was already in college. By the time she was starting school—her earliest memories—Wendy was married and living out of state. Could Ryan know only what Wendy wants her to know?!

There are dozens of indications that all is not as it appears...in her sister’s home, her sister’s marriage, her sister’s alibi. Has Ryan got a crime to solve within her own immediate family?!

Ryan’s journey takes her straight back to her hometown where an ex-boyfriend still lives...will it take two to solve this case?!

My thoughts: I am torn with this one. The first half was so packed with suspense that I just HAD to cheat and flip to the end. But once I had peeked, I regretted it. Gone was the suspense and tension. My compelling read turned ho-hum. Everything seemed too obvious once I had cheated. But it’s not as if the author forced me to peek. In fact, this is a case where I am clearly in the wrong. If I had not peeked...would there have been twists and turns in the story that kept me hooked...and guessing...until the end?! Would I have solved this mystery on my own long before the big reveal without cheating?!

I do think the romance element was completely predictable. Perhaps with one exception...this was the first romance novel I have read that starred a hero with a prosthetic leg.

Romance isn’t something I “need” in a mystery or a thriller. It’s an added ingredient—perhaps like raisins. It was not a clean romance either. But I will say this it wasn’t a horribly graphic one either—in terms of amount of detail/text.

If I could undo my cheating, I would.
© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, October 03, 2019

The Penderwicks in Spring

The Penderwicks In Spring. Jeanne Birdsall. 2015. 352 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Only one low mound of snow still lurked in Batty Penderwick’s yard, under the big oak tree out back, and soon that would be gone if Batty continued to stomp on it with such determination.

Premise/plot: The Penderwicks in Spring is the fourth title in Birdsall’s middle grade series. The focus has shifted from the older Penderwicks (Rosalind, Skye, Jane) to the younger (Batty, Ben, Lydia). Batty and Ben receive the most narrative focus.

The novel remains character-driven. This is not an action-packed novel with twists and turns. There isn’t a bit of suspense or tension—not really. The Penderwicks are struggling financially. But this isn’t the focus. Jeffrey is in love with Skye. But this isn’t the focus. The whole family misses their next door neighbor, Nick, who’s away fighting in a war. But this isn’t the focus. Batty is mourning the loss of Hound. But again this isn’t the focus. There isn’t a central focus, just dozens of tiny family moments captured in print.

My thoughts: I enjoyed the first half very much. I enjoyed spending time with Batty. (This is the first time we see a more mature Batty.) I liked seeing Batty fall in love with playing music and singing. I liked seeing Batty in the role of big sister. But I didn’t enjoy the second half nearly as much. I ached for Batty when she overheard something no child should ever have to hear. I felt horrible as I watched her world crumble and shake. I knew that it would resolve itself by the end of the book. There was no actual tension. But it was like pulling a bandaid off slowly—perhaps taking some skin too—to read the second half. The charm was largely missing. It may be completely realistic for an eleven year old to feel this emotional...but I wanted to fast forward time.

I do want to read the last book in the series. I have not read anything about it. But I have a few things I want to see happen.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, October 02, 2019

World at War: Girl Waits With Gun

Girl Waits With Gun. (Kopp Sisters #1) Amy Stewart. 2015. 408 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Our troubles began in the summer of 1914, the year I turned thirty-five. The Archduke of Austria had just been assassinated, the Mexicans were revolting, and absolutely nothing was happening at our house, which explains why all three of us were riding to Paterson on the most trivial of errands.

Premise/plot: The world may be heading towards war—the war to end all wars—but Constance and her two sisters, Norma and Fleurette, are heading for a war of their own. To say the book begins with a crash, boom, bang would not be an exaggeration. The sisters carriage is hit by an automobile filled with hooligans. Henry Kaufman may come from a well-to-do family, but he is a number one jerk. Soon after she sends him a civil letter asking that he pay for damages, the threats start. Will she be able to keep her sisters safe on the family farm?! Should she go to the police? Get a lawyer? Should she shut up or speak up?!

My thoughts: I absolutely loved loved loved this one! It had me hooked from the first page. It kept me turning pages. One thing I could never have guessed is that it is based on a true story or sequence of events. Though some elements are pure fiction. I wouldn’t change a thing about this lovely historical suspense.
© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, October 01, 2019

Cold Sassy Tree

Cold Sassy Tree. Olive Ann Burns. 1984. 405 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Three weeks after Granny Blakeslee died, Grandpa came to our house for his early morning snort of whiskey, as usual, and said to me, “Will Tweedy? Go find yore mama, then run up to yore Aunt Loma’s and tell her I said git on down here. I got something to say. And I ain’t a-go’n say it but once’t.”

Premise/plot: Olive Ann Burns’ historical novel is set in the fictional town of Cold Sassy, Georgia, in 1906/07. The narrator is a young boy—14, I believe—named Will Tweedy. It will be a huge year for him: his grandpa remarries just three—yes, three—weeks after his grandma’s death; he gets run over by a train and lives to tell the tale; he not only rides in his first automobile but he learns to drive; he kisses a girl. But there are losses as well. It is a substantive coming of age novel. I wouldn’t be surprised if you laughed and cried while reading it.

My thoughts: Cold Sassy Tree is a fantastic read. I loved just about everything. The characters are well developed. As are the relationships. Will has a special relationship with his grandpa and his new wife, Miss Love. It is an unusual relationship with Miss Love. While the rest of the family is upset, scandalized, bitter, Will becomes her close friend and confidante. Some secrets he comes by honestly—things told to him directly. Other secrets he learns via his eavesdropping. But even the tension-filled relationships are done well. For example, Will’s relationship with his Aunt Loma!!! I also loved the narrative voice. Will’s narrative is complex. He is a storyteller. He knows how to keep things light-hearted and humorous—even when the joke is at his expense. But he can also be serious and somber. Life has thrown him some huge changes—like his best friend’s death—and he has to work out what it all means and where he belongs. Who could help loving him? This doesn’t mean that he has all the answers and is perfectly perfect in terms of morals, ethics, and maturity. But this work in progress is lovable.

Quotes:

One Wednesday night he ended a long prayer with “Lord, forgive me for fittin’ [fighting] thet man yesterd’y—though Thou knowest if I had it to do over again I’d hit him harder.” (20)
There wasn’t a grown person in Cold Sassy who couldn’t pass away the time after Sunday dinner by recollecting who’d died of what when, but Granny was the only one I ever heard be interesting about it. (57)
In Cold Sassy, nobody under forty had ever made or waved an American Flag. Even today, in 1914, there’s not but one United States flag in the whole town. The post office being in one corner of the drug store, Dr. Clark is required to fly a U.S. flag. On July 4, 1906, he put it down to half-mast. (61)
I definitely plan on rereading this one at some point. First I need to convince my mom to read it.


© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, September 30, 2019

September Reflections

September# of Books
Becky's Book Reviews10
Young Readers5
Operation Actually Read Bible6



21

September
# of Pages
Becky's Book Reviews3085
Young Readers350
Operation Actually Read Bible1224


Totals4659



# of Books# of Pages
January7414571
February5810646
March5510974
April6311095
May6211932
June518565
July4810313
August143263
September214659


Totals So Far

Books Read
446
Pages Read
86018

New-to-me Highlights

Reread Highlights

none this month

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, September 28, 2019

Victorian Check-In Post #4

  • 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 only read one book that qualifies since the last check-in post in July.

The Lady and the Highwayman. Sarah M. Eden. 2019. Shadow Mountain. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I'm not currently reading any either. Unless you count Margaret Mitchell's Gone With The Wind...

I do hope to start one soon. 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Stars Upon Thars #39

5 Stars
Sophia: Mother of Kings. Catherine Curzon. 2019. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Billy Boyle (Billy Boyle #1) James R. Benn. 2006. 294 pages. [Source: Library]
The Mostly True Story of Pudding Tat Adventuring Cat. Caroline Adderson. Illustrated by Stacy Innerst. 2019. 128 pages. [Source: Library]
Nixie Ness: Cooking Star. (After School Superstars) Claudia Mills. 2019. 144 pages. [Source: Library] 

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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September Share-a-Tea Check-In Post

Jean McLane, Tea Time
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?

Currently reading the second book in the Kopp Sisters series. 

Books read since last time:

81. A Place to Belong. Cynthia Kadohata. Illustrated by Julia Kuo. 2019. 416 pages. [Source: Library]
82. The Hobbit. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1937.  320 pages. [Source: Bought]
83. The Fellowship of the Ring. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1954/1965. Houghton Mifflin. 423 pages. [Source: Bought]
84.  The Two Towers. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1954/1965. Houghton Mifflin. 352 pages.
85.   The Return of the King. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1955/1965. Houghton Mifflin. 440 pages.
86. The Lady and the Highwayman. Sarah M. Eden. 2019. Shadow Mountain. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
87. One Good Deed. David Baldacci. 2019. 432 pages. [Source: Library]
88. The Lightest Object in the Universe. Kimi Eisele. 2019. 325 pages. [Source: Library]
89. Sophia: Mother of Kings. Catherine Curzon. 2019. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
90. The Tuscan Child. Rhys Bowen. 2018. 336 pages. [Source: Library]

I have tried a new tea this month. I love, love, love Stash's Jasmine Blossom Green Tea.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Chunkster Challenge Check-In #3

How are you doing on the challenge?
What books have you read?
What book are you currently reading?
How many points have you earned?
Do you have any questions about the challenge?

I haven't read any chunksters since the last update. I did read all three books in the LOTR series, but I didn't use an omnibus edition...so I'm not counting them since none of the individual titles qualify as a chunkster. I've read several large print books that were over 450 pages...but that was because they were large print. The regular print had them being between 430 and 440 pages. So it's been a few months of almost qualifiers.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, September 27, 2019

The Lightest Object in the Universe

The Lightest Object in the Universe. Kimi Eisele. 2019. 325 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Thirteen days into the second month of the year, the lights began to go out.

Premise/plot: The Lightest Object in the Universe is a post-apocalyptic romance novel starring Carson Waller and Beatrix Banks. When the darkness comes (which is after the deadly flu, by the way) Carson and Beatrix are lovers separated by a continent. He lives in New York; she lives in California. They’ve always used technology to communicate on a near daily basis. They visit one another via plane. Their love blossomed before...life as they knew it, as everyone knew it disappeared in a matter of days. Carson heads out on foot—following railway tracks—to California. Beatrix, meanwhile, has a tough choice to make. Should she stay put and work on turning her own community into a communal haven? Or should she follow the vague directions of her fellow roommates?! The chapters do not alternate narrators—for better or worse. Each chapter switches back and forth and back and forth. There are no design indicators to let readers—perhaps sleepy readers—know who is narrating.

My thoughts: This is a good example of an almost love for me. On the one hand, I enjoy post-apocalyptic novels; I enjoy dystopian novels. The community Beatrix becomes a part of seems utopian. The community (the Center) that both Carson and Beatrix are skeptical of is definitely dystopian. This has a light thread of romance which acts as hope. On the other hand, this stayed a premise driven novel. The characters remained a bit too distant for me. I wanted them to find each other again, I did. But I didn’t really feel a true connection with either. There was a potential for tension and suspense. But I never felt the life-and-death danger of this new world they were adjusting to.

I don’t regret my time. But I don’t see myself rereading this one.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, September 26, 2019

Sophia: Mother of Kings

Sophia: Mother of Kings. Catherine Curzon. 2019. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: ‘The princess SOPHIA, who was a daughter and mother of a king, was herself mistress of every qualification requisite to adorn a crown. [Sophia was] the most accomplished lady in Europe.’

Premise/plot: This biography is divided—for better or worse—into three acts. Each act covers a role in her incredible life: princess, duchess, and electress. So who was Sophia? She was the daughter of Frederick V, Elector Palatine of the Rhine, and Princess Elizabeth Stuart, daughter of King James I of England. She was their twelfth child, seemingly unimportant to the politics of the nations. But by the end of her life, oh how things would change! For she and her offspring would enter into the succession. Sophia was the mother of the first Hanoverian king of England, George I. This book covers ALL her life and the other key players of the times.

My thoughts: I loved, loved, loved this one. I would say it was far from dry and boring. I might even dare to say it was a thrilling read. Might. I think for those that—like me—love history OR love the royal family OR both it will be a compelling read. Usually I complain when a book has lengthy chapters. I do. I need potential stopping places—lots of them. But the lack of chapters did not bother me. I sped through the first two acts. I was getting caught up in the story, talking about it with my mom, keeping her updated with all the twists and turns, tuning out distractions. I was INTO the book. It read like a real life soap opera. It used a lot of quotes from Sophia’s own diary or autobiography. So it felt personal. I will say that the book began to drag a bit towards the end. There comes a point when it’s less soap opera and more obituary column. But when it’s good, it’s GOOD.
© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, September 25, 2019

World at War: Billy Boyle

Billy Boyle (Billy Boyle #1) James R. Benn. 2006. 294 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I typed the date under my name: Lieutenant William Boyle, August 6, 1942.

Premise/plot: Billy Boyle is the lovable, oh-so-human, cop turned soldier starring in James R. Benn’s historical mystery series. Billy is an Irish cop/detective from Boston. After Pearl Harbor, his mom pulls some strings and gets her son an “easy” or “safe” posting. He goes to officer school, becomes a lieutenant, and gets assigned to General Eisenhower’s headquarters in London, England. “Uncle” Ike is pleased to give Boyle a task or two that will utilize his detective skills. His first assignment concerns the Norwegians. He’s told that there is likely a spy among them. He’s also told (by the Norwegians) that a crate or two of gold was stolen during transport—as the government was fleeing for their lives, the treasury was also being transported to safety. But the real investigation is a murder. This will be his first case as lead detective. It is tricky because it’s a delicate political situation. One of the top Norwegians has been murdered. Boyle wants free access to everyone there—regardless to nationality, rank, class, etc. But many answers would be top secret and classified. Can Boyle solve the case? Will justice be done?

My thoughts: I love, love, love this one. I can’t believe this series has been around over a decade and I’m just now hearing about it?! Why did no one tell me?! I love historical fiction. I love books set during the Second World War. I love books set in England. I especially am interested in books about American soldiers serving in England during the war. (My grandfather did.) I love mysteries. This book just screamed out that it was written just for me. Indeed I found it a magical read. I absolutely loved the narrative. Boyle’s voice is unique and charming. I loved the characters—Daphne and Kaz especially. Whether the characters were featured a little or a lot—they felt human and real. The mystery was great. The murder didn’t occur until halfway through which could have proven problematic if the writing wasn’t so wonderful. I “need” all the books in the series.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, September 24, 2019

The Mostly True Story of Pudding Tat

The Mostly True Story of Pudding Tat Adventuring Cat. Caroline Adderson. Illustrated by Stacy Innerst. 2019. 128 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: This is the mostly true story of Pudding Tat, much-traveled cat, whose adventuring life began in the first year of a new and promising century. Not ours, but one long ago.

Premise/plot: Pudding Tat is the (cat) hero of this middle grade animal fantasy. He was born in 1901 in Ontario, Canada; he’s not like the other kittens born to Mother Tat—he’s an albino. His mother worries about him because he’s mostly blind. How can he hunt mice?! How can he avoid foxes?! How he can he stay out of the way of humans?! But Pudding Tat is a cat seemingly destined for adventures—big ones that will take him across borders and seas. This novel is told in episodic adventures spanning 1901-1915. Pudding is host to one flea—could this flea be unlike his 499 brothers and sisters?! These two communicate in an unusual way.

My thoughts: There was something satisfying and enjoyable about this one. I enjoyed the characters and stories. There are many humans that go in and out of Pudding’s life. The author admits—though most readers could probably guess on their own—that this mostly true story is pure fiction with some true events occurring in the background. (For example, the sinking of the Titanic.)

I loved the full circle-ness of this one!!!

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, September 18, 2019

World at War: The Tuscan Child

The Tuscan Child. Rhys Bowen. 2018. 336 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: He was going to die, that was quite obvious.

Premise/plot: Joanna Langley is on a quest to discover/uncover family secrets in this historical mystery by Rhys Bowen. The novel has two narrators: Hugo Langley in 1944/1945 and Joanna Langley in 1973. The book is set in England and Italy. After her father’s death (in 1973), Joanna discovers that there were many things in her father’s past that she was clueless about. She has an older half-brother, for example. Who knew that her father had been married twice?! Why did he never mention his ex-wife or. His son?! Who knew that he’d been shot down over Italy?! He never talked about his time there. But he did send a love letter to an Italian woman after the war. (It was returned unopened.) The letter mentions a child?! Could she have another half-brother?! She decides that she has to go to Tuscany to find out the truth for herself.

My thoughts: As often as I review novels with dual narratives you’d think I seek them out. Not so! I was drawn to this one because of the pilot of World War II aspect.

I will start with the good: I read it in one day. I cared enough about the unfolding mystery to keep reading one chapter after another.

Now for the bad...I was ultimately disappointed. I felt the title was tricksy. The build up is that she is on a quest to find a half-brother. She wants to find him and make a connection—reach out. If she can’t find him then she at least wants to find more truths—more clues indicating the kind of man her father was. The man she knew was distant, reserved, uninvolved, uncaring.

His narrative reveals a more passionate man who is in desperate conditions. He fears for his life; he is dependent on a super beautiful woman to keep him supplied with food and medicine. He is hiding out in an abandoned monastery. They share conversations and time. Could this be love?

How did this young man become that kind of father?!

I thought that Joanna’s narrative had too many mini-mysteries and sub-plots to work well. I felt like the book couldn’t make up its mind as to genre. Is it a drama? A mystery? A romance? Should it end with a couple embracing and pledging to love each other forever and ever? Should it end in a family reunion?

My favorite character was a friend she made in Tuscany, Paola.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, September 14, 2019

Stars Upon Thars #37

5 Stars
One Good Deed. David Baldacci. 2019. 432 pages. [Source: Library]

4 Stars
Amy Wu and the Perfect Bao. Kat Zhang. Illustrated by Charlene Chua. 2019. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, September 12, 2019

Max Tilt: Fire the Depths

Max Tilt: Fire the Depths (Max Tilt #1) Peter Lerangis. 2017. HarperCollins. 368 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Before the day he was abandoned, Max Tilt thought life was pretty much perfect.

Premise/plot: When Max’s mom gets sick, his parents leave him in the care of his older cousin, Alex, as they seek treatment out of town. The two (Max and Alex) soon discover that the parents have been horribly irresponsible. The electricity is turned off the second day, I think! The eviction notice has been served and is due to take effect within a week maybe two. Instead of contacting the parents (either Max or Alex’s), the two decide that by selling the contents of the home online and perhaps getting a part-time job they should be able to get the bills paid and stay in the home. One of the items they list brings trouble to their door! The item is an empty trunk that belonged to Jules Verne, THE Jules Verne. The two set out on a quest when they find a hidden text by Verne, the bad guys are never far behind. In fact, they end up keeping close company with the villains for most of the book. Can they best them by the end and get their hands on the lost manuscript?

My thoughts: I liked the premise of this one. Max and Alex are descendants of Jules Verne. They have inherited some of his things and discover a secret, hidden, mystery text. The descendants of Captain Nemo (or descendant) know about this mystery letter/manuscript and have been hunting for it. The two must battle it out in the book. Both claim that they want to save the world.

You have to suspend ALL your disbelief if you want to enjoy this one. It isn’t unusual for this sub genre. In fact it reminds me a bit of The Magician’s Nephew by C.S. Lewis. Two kids without much—if any—adult support set out to save the world. But it wasn’t the adventure quest that had me stumbling. It was the parents leaving Max in such a horrible position. How could they knowingly leave their son knowing that the electric bill is overdue?! Knowing that other utilities will soon follow?! Knowing that the family will be evicted in a few weeks?! It sounds like they are skipping town and abandoning Max. How could they not know about their unpaid bills?! How could they leave knowing?!

Perhaps they expected Alex to take Max home with her?!

I also wondered how the two made it to New York City since both had no money....

But the book did keep me reading. I have plans to read the second book in the series.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, September 11, 2019

World at War: One Good Deed

One Good Deed. David Baldacci. 2019. 432 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was a good day to be free of prison.

Premise/plot: Aloysius Archer is out on parole; he’s been resettled in the small, rural town of Poca City. The community is small enough that everyone know everybody’s business. Ex-cons tend to stick out, but Archer isn’t like other ex-cons. He was innocent of the crime he was convicted of. He is determined to stay out of trouble that might lead him back to prison. In addition to being fresh out of prison, Archer is a war veteran. The novel is set in 1949. America—Archer included—is still very much impacted by the war. One doesn’t simply forget the war and jump back effortlessly into “normal“ life.

So on his first day in town he picks up an unusual job. He is collect the collateral of a debt. Both men—the one who made the loan and the one who took out the loan—are unsavory chaps. Neither man seems “good”. Both seem super dangerous and unreasonable. But he is desperate for a job and this one pays $100. Will accepting this job be the biggest mistake of his life? Will he escape with his life?

My thoughts: I love, love, love historical fiction. I love, love, love mystery novels. When an amateur detective happens to love reading detective novels...I find it giddy making. So much of this one was just happy making. It was a compelling and suspenseful read. But it wasn’t so much about the destination—at least for me. It was every step of the journey. I hope this is the start of a new series. I want to spend more time with Archer!

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, September 07, 2019

Georgian Check-In #5

  •    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 haven't finished reading any Georgian books since the last update.

I am STILL reading Cecilia by Fanny Burney. I suppose I shouldn't have put Pride and Prejudice on hold to help me "focus" more on Burney!!! I do still plan on finishing my reread of P&P.

I don't think there are any quotes to share. The writing has turned dense and not at all quotable. (Unlike Austen.)

If you've never read Burney before...don't start with Cecilia.



© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Stars Upon Thars #36

5 Stars
The Lady and the Highwayman. Sarah M. Eden. 2019. Shadow Mountain. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]

4 Stars

The Flight Girls. Noelle Salazar. 2019. 384 pages. [Source: Library] 
The Wolf in Underpants. Wilfrid Lupano. Illustrated by Mayana Itoiz and Paul Cauuet. 2019. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, September 06, 2019

The Rule of One

The Rule of One. Ashley and Leslie Saunders. 2018. 258 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I am falling. The dark is claustrophobic, like I’m buried underground.

Premise/plot: The Rule of One is a YA dystopian novel set for the most part in Texas—a Texas in the future. The premise that drives the book is that a strict one-child policy is in force. Ava and Mira are identical twins living a lie. Both are living as Ava Goodwin. But only one has the required microchip; only one is legal. The father is a high up political somebody; he too is part of the lie. But their family is worth any and every risk, right? So early on in the novel the lie is uncovered. The girls are forced to flee. Their first stop is Amarillo by morning. They hope to find the first of several safe houses. But life on the one is anything but easy. Resources are few, prejudices are many. The haves have spent decades learning not to care about the have-nots. Did they really need to be taught? Can Ava and Mira survive long enough to take a stand. And have a political impact?!

My thoughts: I found this premise driven novel to have plenty of action. Their on the go route is a familiar one minus Montana and Canada. I could almost imagine the sights they would see. But it is also important to keep in mind this is a dark and troubled future. Cities and towns have been abandoned because they cannot afford to rebuild after devastating storms and fires. No government assistance for rebuilding or resettling. In fact very little government assistance at all for those impoverished for any reason.

I liked it enough to read in one day. I am not sure it is love in terms of characters and writing. But the plot kept me reading.

There is a sequel. I will probably read it.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, September 04, 2019

World at War: The Flight Girls

The Flight Girls. Noelle Salazar. 2019. 384 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: The surf swirled and frothed around my ankles as the sweet Hawaiian trade winds whispered through palm trees, carrying the scent of coconut oil across the sand to where I stood staring at the skyline.

Premise/plot: Audrey Coltrane is a woman pilot, a flight instructor, who witnesses the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Several years later she joins the new program for women pilots, WASP. The book focuses on her training, her ferrying, and life after the WASP disbanded. She has always dreamed of owning her own airfield; of flying being an integral part of her life. This scares most men off, men who want a woman to be a wife, a mother, a stay-at-home mother. Audrey has always known she didn’t fit in that conventional box. But does that mean she’ll never find her one true love?!

My thoughts: This is a blend of historical romance and historical fiction. Audrey’s story is interesting for the most part. Her parents are supportive and kind; she makes friends easily; men always find her beautiful; she is never in a situation that she can’t handle. No matter life throws her she knows just what to do. She seems a bit too good to be true at times.

I will say this: I am SO thankful the author didn’t commit the unforgivable sin (in my book) of adding a superfluous S to WASP. I find it hard to respect any book—fiction or nonfiction—that does. It stands for Women Airforce Service Pilots. I edited oral histories of WASP pilots for several years when I was in graduate school. These histories focused on backgrounds, training, and serving. I learned much about the times. Some of these ladies were incredible! Some perhaps were better storytellers.

The one part of the story that felt a bit off to me was when she found a way to fly overseas to Europe so that she could search for her missing in action boyfriend.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, September 03, 2019

The Lady and the Highwayman

The Lady and the Highwayman. Sarah M. Eden. 2019. Shadow Mountain. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Rumor had it, Fletcher Walker wasn’t born but had simply appeared one day, swaggering down the streets of London.

Premise/plot: Elizabeth Black and Fletcher Walker are both authors living in Victorian London. He writes penny dreadfuls. She writes silver-forks. He is the “king” of his genre until another King starts outselling him, a Mr. Charles King to be exact. Walker fears that King may not be a kindred spirit—one who will do just about anything, legal or not, to help the down and out children. Who is this man? Can he be trusted? Should he be invited to join the Dreadful Penny Society? Will he help their cause or hurt it? Does he want to see the poorest, dirtiest children get off the streets and receive an education?

Fletcher Walker asks Miss Black for assistance. Does she have any idea who this Charles King is?! Could she help him follow the clues and solve a mystery?! All indications point to her keeping his identity secret—but why? Likewise it seems Walker has his own secrets he keeps close. Will love bloom between these two authors?!

My thoughts: I absolutely love Sarah Eden’s romances. This one is not an exception. I loved that we get excerpts from each of their serial novels. It is a fun play on a genre that has not truly survived into this century. (Though one could argue that cheap, formulaic non-literature for the masses has. One could also dive into the topic of what makes a book worth reading...what makes a book “good.”) I loved the hero and heroine. I loved them individually and as a couple. I also cared for the fictional heroes and heroines within the story—the characters created by Walker and King. Granted I’m not sure that outside the framework I would want to spend hours with them. But maybe I would?! A novella length perhaps! Eden’s writing kept me turning pages. Turning pages and sometimes grinning from ear to ear.

I would recommend this one if you enjoy clean romance or historical romance. I loved the setting of Victorian London. It was romance packed with adventure.



© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, August 31, 2019

August Reflections

August# of Books
Becky's Book Reviews10
Young Readers4
Operation Actually Read Bible0



14

August
# of Pages
Becky's Book Reviews3039
Young Readers224
Operation Actually Read Bible0


Totals3263



# of Books# of Pages
January7414571
February5810646
March5510974
April6311095
May6211932
June518565
July4810313
August143263


Totals So Far

Books Read
425
Pages Read
81359


New-to-me Highlights
Reread Highlights

© 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
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