Thursday, January 31, 2019

January Reflections

The year has gotten off to a GREAT start. I know that some people hate January, but not me...I love it. It has a tendency to make me GIDDY. I love the fresh starts and new possibilities.

January Totals

I have reviewed 74 books.
32 reviewed at Becky's Book Reviews.
23 reviewed at Young Readers
19 reviewed at Operation Actually Read Bible.

The total number of pages read is 14,571.

9,514 pages for books reviewed at Becky's Book Reviews.
1,472 pages for books reviewed at Young Readers.
3,585 pages for books reviewed at Operation Actually Read Bible.

New-to-me highlights
  1. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers. Illustrated by Luke Flowers. 2019. [March] Quirk. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. Into the Jungle: Stories for Mowgli. Katherine Rundell. Illustrated by Kristjana S. Williams. 2018. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster. Jonathan Auxier. 2018. 368 pages. [Source: Library]  
  4. Odd and the Frost Giants. Neil Gaiman. Illustrated by Brett Helquist. 2008. 117 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  5. Winnie's Great War. Lindsay Mattick and Josh Greenhut. Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. 2018. Little, Brown. 244 pages. [Source: Library] 
  6. Tisha: The Wonderful True Love Story of a Young Teacher in the Alaskan Wilderness. As told to Robert Specht. 1976. 342 pages. [Source: Bought]
  7. Ivanhoe. Walter Scott. 1819. 544 pages. [Source: Bought]
  8. 84, Charing Cross Road. Helene Hanff. 1970. 97 pages. [Source: Library]
  9. Lost in the Antarctic: The Voyage of the Endurance. Tod Olson.  2019. Scholastic. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  10. The Murder of Patience Brooke. (Charles Dickens Investigations #1)  J.C. Briggs. 2018. Sapere Books. 290 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  11. Express Train to Trouble (Miss Mallard Mystery) Robert M. Quackenbush. 1981/2018. 80 pages. [Source: Library] 
  12. The Purr-fect Scoop (Sprinkle Sundays #3) Coco Simon. 2018. 160 pages. [Source: Library] 
  13. Love to Everyone. Hilary McKay. 2018. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
  14. The Christmas Tree Who Loved Trains. Annie Silvestro. Illustrated by Paola Zakimi. 2018. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  15. Meet Miss Fancy. Irene Latham. Illustrated by John Holyfield. 2019. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  16. Santa Bruce. Ryan T. Higgins. 2018. Disney-Hyperion. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  17. What Is Given From the Heart. Patricia C. McKissack. Illustrated by April Harrison. 2019 [January]. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  18. Board book: The Giant Jam Sandwich. Janet Burroway. Story and Pictures by John Vernon Lord. 1972/2018. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 28 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Re-reads highlights
  1. Grave Mercy. Robin LaFevers. 2012/2019. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 560 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  2. Winnie the Pooh. A.A. Milne. Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard. 1926. 163 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083. Andrea White. 2005. 448 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. The Black Moth. Georgette Heyer. 1921/2009. Sourcebooks. 355 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
  5. Evelina. Fanny Burney. 1778. 455 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. The Diary of a Young Girl. Anne Frank (The Definitive Edition). Edited by Otto Frank and Mirjam Pressler. Translated by Susan Massotty. 1947/1996. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  7. 4:50 From Paddington. (Miss Marple #8) Agatha Christie. 1957/2007. 288 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  8. Death in the Stocks. Inspectors Hannasyde & Hemingway #1) Georgette Heyer. 1935/2019. Sourcebooks. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  9. Ballet Shoes. (Shoes #1) Noel Streatfeild. 1936/2018. Random House. 256 pages. [Source: Library] 
  

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Annelies

Annelies. David R. Gillham. 2019. 480 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: She lies sprawled among the dead who carpet the frozen mud flats, time slipping past, her thoughts dissolving. The last of her is leaking away as the angel of death hovers above, so close now. So close that she can feel him peeling away her essence.

Premise/plot:  What if Anne Frank had survived? That is the premise of David Gillham's new book Annelies. The first third of the novel--roughly--novelizes the time Anne Frank spent with her family in hiding. The novel also briefly tells of her cruel days in the concentration camps. But, for the most part, the novel gives us alternate history. What if Anne Frank survived until the concentration camp was liberated. What if she returned to Amsterdam and was reunited with her father? What would her story--her journey, if you will--look like? How would she have settled back down into living life?

My thoughts: I love the premise of this one. I'm relatively new to this what-if genre of literature. The question is worth asking, in my opinion. Gillham's Anne felt a little older, but not too much so. She is definitely not the same Anne readers know and perhaps love. She is haunted/traumatized by her time in the concentration camp and near-death experience. Literally. It is like her sister never left her side. This Anne is hungry for life and new experiences yet angry too. 

I think my favorite part of the novel was the ending which was set in 1961. (We flash forward from 1946 to 1961 to get an ending worthy of a bow.) If you want to know, look below the spoiler alert.

But did I like this one? really like it? love it? I can't say that I did more than like it. I found it interesting. Yet I didn't find it as compelling as The Diary of A Young Girl. Also as much as I love the idea of loving the ending--it seems like the author skipped over how Anne grew up and got to that peaceful, content place in life. Because when we left her in 1946 she was still in full-angst-mode. (Not that there's anything wrong with that. She's endured/suffered/witnessed too much. She's traumatized no other word for it. And the world still wasn't all that welcoming or supportive to the Holocaust victims that survived.)

Is the Diary of a Young Girl powerful and compelling and heartbreaking BECAUSE Anne died at a young age? because she died at the hands of the Nazis? Think carefully before you answer. All voices--all stories--have worth, have value. All should be known. Those that survive. Those that died. All should be remembered.

S
P
O
I
L
E
R

A
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e

y
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u

s
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e
?

Diary of a Young Girl was still published. Anne Frank is answering fan mail. We get to read the correspondence. It's the best possible ending that one could hope for. The real Anne's dream come true--being a writer, being famous.


© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, January 30, 2019

Connect Five #1 Number in the Title

2019 Connect Five Books Reading Challenge
Host: Book Date (sign up here)
LAST WEDNESDAY OF EVERY MONTH IS A CHECK-IN POST; 
January - December 2019
January 2019 -- Number in the Title

1)  84, Charing Cross Road. Helene Hanff. 1970. 97 pages. [Source: Library]
2) 4:50 From Paddington. (Miss Marple #8) Agatha Christie. 1957/2007. 288 pages. [Source: Bought]
3) Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083. Andrea White. 2005. 448 pages. [Source: Bought]
4) Seven Alone. Honore Willsie Morrow. 1926/1977. Scholastic. 240 pages. [Source: Own]
5) I Survived The Children's Blizzard, 1888 (I Survived #16). Lauren Tarshis. 2018. 144 pages. [Source: Library]

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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World at War: The Diary of a Young Girl

The Diary of a Young Girl. Anne Frank (The Definitive Edition). Edited by Otto Frank and Mirjam Pressler. Translated by Susan Massotty. 1947/1996. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence (from the foreword): Anne Frank kept a diary from June 12, 1942, to August 1, 1944. Initially, she wrote it strictly for herself. Then, one day in 1944, Gerrit Bolkestein, a member of the Dutch government in exile, announced in a radio broadcast from London that after the war he hoped to collect eyewitness accounts of the suffering of the Dutch people under the German occupation, which could be made available to the public. As an example, he specifically mentioned letters and diaries. Impressed by this speech, Anne Frank decided that when the war was over she would publish a book based on her diary. She began rewriting and editing her diary, improving on the text, omitting passages she didn't think were interesting enough and adding others from memory. At the same time, she kept up her original diary.

Premise/plot: Who doesn't know the story of Anne Frank a teenage girl who went into hiding with her family during the second world war? Still it would be wrong to not try to summarize the book in some way. So here I go...

Anne could be any girl in any place and time. But because she was born a Jew--because Hitler came to power--her life--her perfectly ordinary life--was cut short. The Diary of A Young Girl captures both the drama of adolescence on top of extreme political and social upheaval The war. The threat of death. The threat of captivity. The threat of starvation and disease. But it also captures youth. What it means to be young, to be at that ever-awkward stage in life, in development. Always a me-in-the-making, never quite done finding out who you are and what you believe and what you want out of life. The reader gets a glimpse into the lives of real people through the eyes of one very young sometimes-mature, sometimes-immature girl.

The book begins in June of 1942. The last entry is in August of 1944. In these two years, these two turbulent years, Anne and her family and several other people as well all go into hiding in the Secret Annexe. Mr. and Mrs. Frank. Margot, the older sister. Mr. and Mrs. Van Daan. Their son Peter. And Mr. Dussel. Eight people. Cramped living conditions. This isn't reality TV. This is life and death. Yes, every person gets super-cranky and super-sensitive. But wouldn't you?

Each entry is a snapshot into that one day, that one hour, that one moment. When you're young, (and even when you're older and supposedly all grown up) your mood, your outlook changes moment by moment, day by day. Happy one minute, miserable the next. Such is the case with Anne.

The Diary of A Young Girl was originally published in Holland in 1947. It was soon translated into other languages, including English, and printed in the United States. 1952 is the first publication date for the United States. Almost from the very beginning, it was recognized as a good book, a powerful book, a book worthy of time and attention and respect.

My thoughts: I can't remember if I've ever read the definitive edition before or not. I know I've read the other edition at least twice. It is that other edition that has had an impact on my life. I hate to say this but I think I prefer it. Some entries were just too personal, too much information, too unfiltered.

Perhaps this honesty--this rawness--is to be applauded. But I like the idea of not knowing every single thought someone else has ever had. Some might think that the ability to know someone else's every thought would be a good thing--a way to "really" know someone. But I'm not one of them. There are two extremes--filtering too much and filtering not enough.

Since Anne did not survive the war, we'll never know exactly how she'd have edited or rewritten the entries before allowing the public at large to read them. I'm guessing that things she felt at thirteen or fourteen would have been super-embarrassing and eye-rolling to her by the age she was twenty. If not twenty then definitely by forty. It's hard to look back on those awkward years and embrace them to say I LOVED FEELING THIS WAY. THIS AGE WAS AWESOME. I WISH I COULD GO BACK AND EXPERIENCE ALL THIS AGAIN. I am speaking not of Anne's situation--but generally speaking.

This is just my opinion--take it or leave it--but I think if Anne had lived she'd have wanted to "take back" some of what she wrote before publishing. If Anne had survived and her mother and sister still perished--would she regret all the many, many entries where she was hating on them? In particular her mother. Mother-daughter relationships can be incredibly complex. Any family relationship can be super-intense and complicated. Dysfunction isn't unusual. Add in Anne's awkward age and any 'dysfunction' is magnified a hundred times--if not more. But here's the thing--Anne never got the chance to grow out of this I HATE MY MOTHER stage. Anne never got the chance to know her mother as an adult. To see her through grown-up, mature, fully developed eyes. Anne is forever stuck hating on her mother and despising her. Surely if she'd lived even if driven by nothing else but regret and guilt, she'd not have wanted her super-personal entries about how horrible and terrible her mother was to be made public for all the world to see. One thing that haunted me this time around was wondering--would Anne have made peace with her mother if both had lived and survived the war?

I've been focusing in on her relationships...but there's also the matter of the intimate details that she writes about openly. I prefer the filter of the other book to this in-your-face awkward-bluntness. I am not saying that Anne's curiosity was unnatural or abnormal or immoral or wrong. I'm not. I'm saying that it's too personal to share. There should be a difference of some sort between what you think and keep completely private, what you talk about privately with your closest friends and family, and finally what you make PUBLIC and share with anyone, everyone.

  • Paper has more patience than people. (6)
  • Memories mean more to me than dresses. (20)
  • I get frightened myself when I think of close friends who are now at the mercy of the cruelest monsters ever to stalk the earth. And all because they're Jews. (70)
  • No matter what I'm doing, I can't help thinking about those who are gone. I catch myself laughing and remember that it's a disgrace to be so cheerful. But am I supposed to spend the whole day crying? No, I can't do that. This gloom will pass. (70)
  • It's not easy being the badly brought up center of attention of a family of nitpickers. In bed at night, as I ponder my many sins and exaggerated shortcomings, I get so confused by the sheer amount of things I have to consider that I either laugh or cry, depending on my mood. Then I fall asleep with the strange feeling of wanting to be different than I am or being different than I want to be, or perhaps of behaving differently than I am or want to be. Oh dear, now I'm confusing you too. Forgive me, but I don't like crossing things out, and in these times of scarcity, tossing away a piece of paper is clearly taboo. So I can only advise you not to reread the above passage and to make no attempt to get to the bottom of it, because you'll never find your way out again. (72)
  • Sometimes I'm afraid my face is going to sag with all this sorrow and that my mouth is going to permanently droop at the corners. The others aren't doing any better. Everyone here is dreading the great terror known as winter. (135)
  • I cling to Father because my contempt of Mother is growing daily and it's only through him that I'm able to retain the last ounce of family feeling I have left. He doesn't understand that I sometimes need to vent my feelings for Mother. He doesn't want to talk about it, and he avoids any discussion involving Mother's failings. (141)
  • I'm the opposite of Mother, so of course we clash. I don't mean to judge her; I don't have that right. I'm simply looking at her as a mother. She's not a mother to me--I have to mother myself. I've cut myself adrift from them. I'm charting my own course, and we'll see where it leads me. I have no choice, because I can picture what a mother and a wife should be and can't seem to find anything of the sort in the woman I'm supposed to call "Mother." (141)
  • The worst part is that Father and Mother don't realize their own inadequacies and how much I blame them for letting me down. Are there any parents who can make their children completely happy? (141)
  • In recent weeks I've developed a great liking for family trees and the genealogical tables of royal families. I've come to the conclusion that once you begin your search, you have to keep digging deeper and deeper into the past, which leads you to even more interesting discoveries. (176)
  • So should I actually feel more sympathy for Mother? Should I help her? And Father? -- I can't. I'm always imagining another mother. I just can't. How could I? (186)
  • Seriously, though, ten years after the war people would find it very amusing to read how we lived, what we ate and what we talked about as Jews in hiding. Although I tell you a great deal about our lives, you still know very little about us. (245)
  • I know I can write. A few of my stories are good, my descriptions of the Secret Annex are humorous, much of my diary is vivid and alive, but...it remains to be seen whether I really have talent. (250)
  • I always used to bemoan the fact that I couldn't draw, but now I'm overjoyed that at least I can write. And if I don't have the talent to write books or newspaper articles, I can always write for myself. But I want to achieve more than that. I can't imagine having to live like Mother, Mrs. van Daan and all the women who go about their work and are then forgotten. I need to have something besides a husband and children to devote myself to! I don't want to have lived in vain like most people. I want to be useful or bring enjoyment to all people, even those I've never met. I want to go on living even after my death! And that's why I'm so grateful to God for having given me this gift, which I can use to develop myself and to express all that's inside me! When I write I can shake off all my cares. My sorrow disappears, my spirits are revived! But, and that's a big question, will I ever become a journalist or a writer? (251)
  • We've been strongly reminded of the fact that we're Jews in chains, chained to one spot, without any rights, but with a thousand obligations. We must put our feelings aside; we must be brave and strong, bear discomfort without complaint, do whatever is in our power and trust in God. One day this terrible war will be over. The time will come when we'll be people again and not just Jews. Who has inflicted this on us? Who has set us apart from all the rest? Who has put us through such suffering? It's God who has made us the way we are, but it's also God who will lift us up again. (262)
  • One of the many questions that have often bothered me is why women have been, and still are, thought to be so inferior to men. It's easy to say it's unfair, but that's not enough for me; I'd really like to know the reason for this great injustice! (319)
  • It's a wonder I haven't abandoned all my ideals, they seem so absurd and impractical. Yet I cling to them because I still believe, in spite of everything, that people are truly good at heart. It's utterly impossible for me to build my life on a foundation of chaos, suffering and death. (333)


© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, January 29, 2019

The Children's Blizzard

The Children's Blizzard. David Laskin. 2004. 307 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence from the prologue: On January 12, 1888, a blizzrd broke over the center of the North American continent.

First sentence from chapter one: Land, freedom, and hope.

Premise/plot: The Children's Blizzard is a nonfiction account of the 'Children's Blizzard' of 1888. (There were many long, hard winters--each has a nickname of its own in the history books. In 1888, there was a blizzard that took everyone by surprise and proved devastating.) Laskin's approach is compelling. It is an account of the pioneer families from multiple states; it is an account of the weather forecasters (aka indication officers) working/observing at the time; it is an account of the storm itself; it is an account of what happens to the body when exposed to cold and snow. (Perhaps the part that was the most uncomfortable to read was the account of what happens to your cells and organs--your body--as they freeze.)

The first two chapters introduce readers to the PEOPLE, the pioneers, we'll be following. Some he traces from Europe--Norway, Ukraine, etc.--all the way to the midwest. These seventy-five pages are key I think to having a personal touch to the story.

The third chapter, "Disturbance" is all science-y and weather-related. What causes cold fronts? What causes blizzards?

The fourth and fifth chapter focuses on the forecasters--or indication officers--the men responsible for observing the weather and passing along messages and warnings from one station to another. Readers learn about Thomas Mayhew Woodruff. We'll be spending a good bit of time with him in the upcoming chapters.

Chapters six through nine cover the storm--often from the perspective of those who were caught up in it. Though not always--sometimes we follow those who are WAITING for a loved one and worried about their safety. This storm was COSTLY, deadly even.

Chapters ten through twelve are about the aftermath of the storm.

My thoughts: I found this one to be a super compelling read. It was INTENSE. It was dramatic. I believe it to be well-researched. There are many, many sources listed--and the sources are listed for each chapter. I found the personal touches to this one to be fascinating--history is more alive--more "real" when there are names attached to stories and events. It's impossible not to care. The book is packed with information. I am THANKFUL for the modern advancements made in meteorology.


© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, January 28, 2019

Ballet Shoes

Ballet Shoes. (Shoes #1) Noel Streatfeild. 1936/2018. Random House. 256 pages. [Source: Library]

 First sentence: The Fossil sisters lived in the Cromwell Road.

Premise/plot: Pauline, Petrova, and Posy are the Fossil sisters--not related by blood, perhaps--but sisters all the same. Each was adopted by gum--Great Uncle Matthew. He is an ADVENTURER. And on three of his trips he brought home children--babies--instead of just fossils. While he is away, the children are being raised by Sylvia (Matthew's great-niece), Nana, and Cook. When money runs low, it's decided that they will take boarders. As the children grow they enter a special school that teaches acting, singing, dancing, performing. The children can begin earning money when they're twelve by performing...

The children have vowed repeatedly throughout the book to make the name of FOSSIL famous....will they?

My thoughts: I enjoyed rereading Ballet Shoes. It's been nine years since I've last read it! I definitely appreciated it more this time. That is one reason why I love to reread books. Sometimes once isn't enough.

Quotes:
They went to church--even Posy--and sang, "Hark, the Herald Angels," "O Come, All Ye Faithful," and "The First Noel." They had been afraid that perhaps they would only get one that they knew and the rest some dull tune that was supposed to belong to Christmas and did not really. (69)
Original audience born circa 1924 to 1928.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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What Is Poetry?

What is Poetry? The Essential Guide to Reading and Writing Poems. Michael Rosen. Illustrated by Jill Calder. 2019. Candlewick Press. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence from the introduction: Poetry belongs to all of us; everyone can read poems, make up poems, or share poems with others.

First sentence from chapter one: A poem is a poem if the writer and the reader agree it's a poem. But people don't always agree, and when they argue about it, they try to find some special things about poetry that you can't find in other kinds of writing.

Premise/plot: This lovely little book is divided into seven chapters: "What Is Poetry?", "What Can You Do With a Poem?", "My Thoughts as I Was Writing Some Poems," "Ways To Start A Poem," "Writing Poems," "Some Technical Points About Poems," "So What Is Poetry?".

The first chapter should really be named "What Can Poetry Do?" Rosen sets out to illustrate what poems can do. It's show and tell time with poetry. He'll introduce a poem--often a classic--and then write out the thinking process as it's read and reread. He showcases a poem for each point.
  • Poetry Can Suggest Things
  • Poetry Can Give an Impression
  • Poetry Can Play with Words
  • Poetry Can Be Symbolic
  • Poetry Can Be Personal
  • Poetry Can Borrow Voices
  • Poetry Can Capture A Moment
  • Poetry Can Be Ironic
  • Poetry Can Make New Sense
  • Poetry Can Make Familiar Things Feel Unfamiliar and Unfamiliar Things Feel Familiar
Perhaps the list isn't exhausting or comprehensive. But it's a great beginning.

The second chapter is just as valuable and practical as the first. It asks not 'What Can Poetry Do?' but 'What can YOU do with a Poem?' He begins with the obvious, 'read it,' but the list is longer than you might think. I love what he has to say about memorizing poems:
"People say that it's important to memorize poems. I think differently. I reckon it's important only when it's important to you. So if you love a poem, you might want to learn it by heart." (83)
I also love his conclusion:
"In fact, you can do anything you want with a poem. You can ignore it, forget it, decide you don't like it--or leave it for fifty years and rediscover it later." (88)
If chapter one gives readers a behind the scenes glimpse of how Rosen reads poems, then chapter three gives readers a behind the scenes glimpse of how Rosen WRITES poems. He shares one of his own poems and then shares his thoughts on the writing of it.

Chapters four and five are about WRITING poems--some tips and suggestions on how readers can write their own poems.

Chapter six includes some 'technical' details about poems. A traditional approach to teaching poetry might have started with this chapter. Rhythm and Rhyme. Alliteration. Assonance. Metaphor. Simile. Metonymy. Personification. Persona. Allusion.

Chapter seven is BLANK essentially. It gives readers blank pages to answer the question for themselves...what is poetry?

My thoughts: I really thought this was a great little introduction to a subject often thought to be super-intimidating. Poetry doesn't have to be intimidating, overwhelming, scary. Poetry can be FUN, delightful, memorable. I love how we get to see poetry from all sides. I really loved some of the chapters. I can't say that I loved all the chapters equally. Some of his examples were a bit difficult to understand. BUT Rosen gives his readers permission to not understand, to dislike or hate, to skip.


© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, January 26, 2019

January Share-a-Tea Check-In

Carl Thomsen, A Sunday Afternoon
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?

---
What are you currently reading for the challenge?
I almost always read the Bible for one of my tea times. The other tea time I read whatever is handy. Last night I started Through Gates of Splendor by Elisabeth Elliot.

Have you finished any books for this challenge this month?
YES.

1. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood: The Poetry of Mister Rogers. Illustrated by Luke Flowers. 2019. [March] Quirk. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]
2. Into the Jungle: Stories for Mowgli. Katherine Rundell. Illustrated by Kristjana S. Williams. 2018. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
3. Tisha: The Wonderful True Love Story of a Young Teacher in the Alaskan Wilderness. As told to Robert Specht. 1976. 342 pages. [Source: Bought]
4.  A Garden in Paris. Stephanie Grace Whitson. 2005. 285 pages. [Source: Bought]
5. Ivanhoe. Walter Scott. 1819. 544 pages. [Source: Bought]
6. The Murder of Patience Brooke. (Charles Dickens Investigations #1)  J.C. Briggs. 2018. Sapere Books. 290 pages. [Source: Review copy]
7. Together Forever (Orphan Train #2) Jody Hedlund. 2018. Bethany House. 343 pages. [Source: Library]
8. The Black Moth. Georgette Heyer. 1921/2009. Sourcebooks. 355 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
9. Not God Enough: Why Your Small God Leads to Big Problems. J.D. Greear. 2018. Zondervan. 237 pages. [Source: Review copy]10.
11. Winnie's Great War. Lindsay Mattick and Josh Greenhut. Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. 2018. Little, Brown. 244 pages. [Source: Library]
12. The Plot Against America. Philip Roth. 2004. 391 pages. [Source: Library]
13. Evelina. Fanny Burney. 1778. 455 pages. [Source: Bought]
14. When We Were Very Young. A.A. Milne. 1924. 100 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
15. Now We Are Six. A.A. Milne. 1927. 102 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
16. Winnie the Pooh. A.A. Milne. Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard. 1926. 163 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
17.What Is Given From the Heart. Patricia C. McKissack. Illustrated by April Harrison. 2019 [January]. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
18. Death in the Stocks. Inspectors Hannasyde & Hemingway #1) Georgette Heyer. 1935/2019. Sourcebooks. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
19 Abridged Classics: Brief Summaries of Books You Were Supposed to Read But Probably Didn't. 2018. 160 pages. [Source: Library] 

Is there a book you're looking forward to starting next month?
Yes. I hope to read Shirley by Charlotte Bronte and Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. Also finishing up Three Men in A Boat by Jerome K. Jerome.

Favorite quotes:
"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?" "What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?" "I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughfully. "It's the same thing," he said. ~ A.A. Milne
Love is fragile as your tears.
Love is stronger than your fears.
When your heart can sing another's gladness
Then your heart is full of love.
When your heart can cry another's sadness
Then your heart is full of love. ~ Fred Rogers
She does not, beautiful as she is, seize the soul by surprise, but, with more dangerous fascination, she steals it almost imperceptibly. ~ Fanny Burney
January Teas
  • Green
  • Perfect Peach
  • PG Tips
  • White Tea
  • Peppermint
  • Peppermint Bark
  • I Love Lemon
  • Wild Raspberry Hibiscus
  • Earl Grey Jasmine
  • Camomile
  • Candy Cane Lane
  • Honey Vanilla Camomile
  • Meyer Lemon
  • Black Cherry Berry
  • Cranberry Vanilla Wonderland

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Stars Upon Thars #4

5 Star Books Reviewed This Week
  • Odd and the Frost Giants. Neil Gaiman. Illustrated by Brett Helquist. 2008. 117 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  • Winnie the Pooh. A.A. Milne. Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard. 1926. 163 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  • Love to Everyone. Hilary McKay. 2018. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
  • Grave Mercy. Robin LaFevers. 2012/2019. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 560 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  • Death in the Stocks. Inspectors Hannasyde & Hemingway #1) Georgette Heyer. 1935/2019. Sourcebooks. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  • Bruce's Big Move. Ryan T. Higgins. 2017. Disney-Hyperion. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  • Santa Bruce. Ryan T. Higgins. 2018. Disney-Hyperion. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  • What Is Given From the Heart. Patricia C. McKissack. Illustrated by April Harrison. 2019 [January]. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
4 Star Books Reviewed This Week
  • none this week

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Abridged Classics

Abridged Classics: Brief Summaries of Books You Were Supposed to Read But Probably Didn't. 2018. 160 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Ulysses. James Joyce. Dublin, something, something, something, run-on sentence.
Moby Dick. Herman Melville. Man vs. whale. Whale wins.
War and Peace. Leo Tolstoy. Everyone is sad. It snows.

Premise/plot: What you see is what you get...for the most part. Each classic book featured has an illustration (sometimes two) and a few sentences. It's as concise as can be.

Peter Pan. J.M. Barrie. Some kids and a crocodile pester an amputee. 
Wuthering Heights. Emily Bronte. A sort-of brother and sister fall in love. It's foggy.
Sense and Sensibility. Jane Austen. Two sisters catch husbands. And one catches a cold.
My thoughts: I read this one in one sitting. Anyone could. I read it with a cup of tea in hand. It was delightful--for the most part, both the tea and the book. I could write BOOKS about how they summarized the Bible wrong. But. I won't. (For those that are curious, the summary is "Be good or else.") I would recommend this one for anyone who enjoys a super-quick read. Especially if your library has it. (I don't know that I could ever justify buying it--at least to myself. It just took me about fifteen minutes to read.)



© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, January 25, 2019

Death in the Stocks

Death in the Stocks. Inspectors Hannasyde & Hemingway #1) Georgette Heyer. 1935/2019. Sourcebooks. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It was past midnight, and the people who lived in the cottages that clustered round the triangular green had long since gone to bed and to sleep.

Premise/plot: You know how some murder mysteries seem to take forever before the body appears and the detectives arrive? Not Death in the Stocks. Within the first two pages we have a corpse: Arnold Vereker. He was found stabbed to death in the village stocks. How peculiar indeed. He only comes down to the village occasionally on weekends--usually with a woman. His family isn't surprised that he's dead. He wasn't well-loved--or even liked. It could even be likely--in terms of motive--that one of his own family did the crime.

Throughout the novel readers get a chance to know his family quite well: Antonia, "Tony," and her brother, Kenneth. Giles Carrington, their cousin and lawyer. Tony is engaged to a man who was pilfering money from Arnold Vereker's company. Kenneth is engaged to a gold digger. No doubt the inspectors soon realize this family is CRAZY ECCENTRIC. But is anyone in the family capable of murder?

My thoughts: I loved, loved, loved this one. I believe this was my second time to read this one. I love the characters. I love the dialogue. I love the pacing. It was just a delight to spend time with the characters.

Quotes:
  • And I have one of those cast-iron alibis which I understand render one instantly suspect.
  • 'People who start a sentence with personally (and they're always women) ought to be thrown to the lions. It's a repulsive habit.'
  • 'Whatever will you say next, Miss Tony? Your own brother too, as wouldn't hurt a fly.' 'If you had a fly-swotting competition, he'd win it.' Antonia replied sensibly. 
  • 'She can't possibly not talk at all, Kenneth,' said Antonia reasonably. 'What he means is, Don't talk Art.' 'Thank you. I'm quite aware that nobody but Kenneth knows anything about Art.' 
  • 'My fiancee says it's such a rotten story you're bound to believe it. She ought to know. She reads about seven detective thrillers a week, so she's pretty well up on crime.'
  • 'That boy is either an incorrigibly truthful young ass, or a brilliantly clever actor.'
  • 'Obviously if you were clever enough to commit a murder and plant yourself down in the murdered man's house afterwards you ought to have told as many people as you could that you were going down to have it out with Arnold. No one'd believe you killed him after that.'
  • 'But I don't like policemen. Some people feel the same about cats. Always know the instant one comes into the room, and begin to get creepy. Not that I've any objection to cats, mind you. Far from it. In fact, if I had to be bothered with any sort of animal, I think I should choose a cat.'
  • If there's one thing that wears me out quicker than anything it's having to choose a lot of food for someone else to eat. 


© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, January 24, 2019

Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy. Robin LaFevers. 2012/2019. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 560 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:
Brittany 1485
I bear a deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch’s poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb. That I survived, according to the herbwitch, is no miracle but a sign I have been sired by the god of death himself.
I am told my father flew into a rage and raised his hand to my mother even as she lay weak and bleeding on the birthing bed. Until the herbwitch pointed out to him that if my mother had lain with the god of death, surely He would not stand idly by while my father beat her.
I risk a glance up at my husband-to-be, Guillo, and wonder if my father has told him of my lineage. I am guessing not, for who would pay three silver coins for what I am? Besides, Guillo looks far too placid to know of my true nature. If my father has tricked him, it will not bode well for our union. That we are being married in Guillo’s cottage rather than a church further adds to my unease.
I feel my father’s heavy gaze upon me and look up. The triumph in his eyes frightens me, for if he has triumphed, then I have surely lost in some way I do not yet understand. Even so, I smile, wanting to convince him I am happy—for there is nothing that upsets him more than my happiness.
Premise/plot: I have two words for you: assassin nuns. Of course, our heroine, Ismae isn't a nun in the Catholic church. No, she's in a special nunnery, the nuns live to serve Death whom they call St. Mortain, and she's received very special training. They've taught her to kill, to be an assassin. The nuns are loyal to the Duchess of Brittany, and the victims are often her political enemies--foreign or domestic--those that pose the greatest threat to Brittany's independence.

While we do see her first few jobs carried out, most of the novel focuses on one job in particular. The abbess wants her to team up with Duval, the Duchess' older (half) brother and her most trusted friend and advisor. She's to pose as his mistress, and travel with him to the Duchess' household. There she will "help him" find any possible traitors. He doesn't exactly trust her; he knows exactly what she's capable of, and who she serves. He knows that if given orders, she'd kill him to please her Lord. She doesn't exactly trust him either. Though the marque hasn't appeared on him yet--the special sign or symbol that she sees on her victims before they're killed--she knows that he could be lying to her, that his loyalty to the Duchess could be an act. But both know that it is of the utmost importance to protect the Duchess, and to find any traitors and uncover any conspiracies, if that means working together, so be it. Of course, this means spending a LOT of time with one another...

...the time will come when Ismae must choose who to trust and who to believe...

Politics. Romance. Drama. Dysfunctional Families. Poison. Murder. Betrayal. Mystery. Suspense.


It is set in Brittany in the late 1480s. You can read more about the time period in which this historical novel is set. One of the central characters is Anne of Brittany. Some might feel it is heavy on politics, but, I enjoyed the politics and the tension.

My thoughts: This is my FOURTH time to read Grave Mercy. I love, love, love this one. There is now a fourth book in the series. The first three books have been reissued with new covers in paperback. I plan on rereading all three books before tackling the new book. I am SO excited to reread these. Of course I am looking forward to the newest book as well. 

This one probably won't please every reader. Some may not be able to get past the premise of old or ancient religions continuing to exist under the guise of Christianity. And this one isn't squeaky clean. For those that have no tolerance whatsoever when it comes to sensuality. (I would consider it mild up until the very end when their relationship changes.) But. For those that can, well, this is one COMPELLING read. My favorite character happens to be Duval. I just LOVED him. I did. He was such a swoon-worthy hero!!! And our heroine, Ismae, is quite strong and resourceful. I loved the drama. I loved the history. I loved seeing the court life and family drama play out. I enjoyed the setting, the characters, the writing. It worked really well for me.

Quotes:
"Are you drunk?" I try to put as much scorn into my words as he did.
"No. Yes. Perhaps a little. Definitely not enough." The bleakness is back and he turns to stare into the flames.
I am torn between wanting to leave him to wallow in his despair and wanting to rush to his side and chase that look from his eyes. That I long to do this appalls me, sets panic fluttering against my ribs.
"I suggest you return to your room," Duval says, his gaze still fixed woodenly on the fire. "Unless you have come to practice your lessons of seduction on me?" His mouth twists in bitter amusement. "That could well entertain me till sunrise."
I jerk my head back as if I have been slapped. "No, milord. I had thought only to pray for your soul if Madame Hivern had seen fit to poison you. Nothing more." And with that, I turn and flee the room, then bolt the door against the disturbing glimpse of both his soul and mine. Whatever games are being played here, he is master at them, and I will do well to remember that. (155)
"What is my fair assassin so afraid of? I wonder."
"I'm not afraid."
Duval tilts his head to the side. "No?" He studies me a long moment, then rises out of his chair. I hold my breath as he crosses to my bed. "Are you afraid I will draw closer, perhaps?" His voice is pitched low, little more than a purr. My breath catches in my throat, trapped by something I long to call fear but that doesn't feel like fear at all. (174)
His smile flashes, quick and surprising in the darkness. "When one consorts with assassins, one must expect to dance along the edge of a knife once or twice. I bid you good night." (218)


© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, January 23, 2019

World at War: Love to Everyone

Love to Everyone. Hilary McKay. 2018. 336 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: More than one hundred years ago, in the time of gas lamps and candlelight, when shops had wooden counters and the streets were full of horses, a baby girl was born.

Premise/plot: Clarissa "Clarry" Penrose is the star of this LOVELY historical novel set in turn of the century England. It follows her from birth (c. 1900) through the first World War I (1918) and a teeny bit beyond. Clarry has a brother, Peter, and a cousin, Rupert. Her favorite, favorite, favorite time of year are the summer holidays when she and Peter go to visit their grandparents in Cornwall. While she loves seeing her grandparents well enough it is seeing Rupert again that thrills her. But life isn't all that easy--Clarry and Peter's father is a GRUMP to say the least. He never, ever wanted kids and he has them all on his own since his wife died. (Clarry was just three days old when her mother died.) Clarry will have to fight for an education if she's to have one since her father does not think it's necessary--or even proper--for women.

Soon their little circle has expanded to include new friends...but war threatens everything Clarry holds dear.

My thoughts: I really LOVED this one. I love character-driven, relationship-driven novels. I love books that are more about the journey than the destination. I love spending time in the heads of characters I consider friends. It helps that this one is historical fiction set in England right around the first world war. (The novel breezes over her life until about the age of twelve or so and really dwells on those turbulent, topsy-turvy war years.) I would definitely recommend this one.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Winnie the Pooh

Winnie the Pooh. A.A. Milne. Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard. 1926. 163 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Here is Edward Bear, coming downstairs now, bump, bump, bump, on the back of his head, behind Christopher Robin. It is, as far as he knows, the only way of coming downstairs, but sometimes he feels that there really is another way, if only he could stop bumping for a moment and think of it. And then he feels that perhaps there isn't. Anyhow, here he is at the bottom, and ready to be introduced to you. Winnie-the-Pooh.

 Premise/plot: Christopher Robin has MANY friends who live in the forest. Among them are Winnie the Pooh (or Winnie-ther-Pooh), Piglet, Owl, Rabbit, Kanga, Roo, and EEYORE. (Who I am sure just now is saying,"You didn't forget about me which is more than I expected.") There are ten chapters in all; each chapter is a new adventure:
  • In Which We Are Introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees, and the Stories Begin
  • In Which Pooh Goes Visiting and Gets Into A Tight Place
  • In Which Pooh and Piglet Go Hunting and Nearly Catch a Woozle
  • In Which Eeyore Loses a Tail and Pooh Finds One
  • In Which Piglet Meets a Heffalump
  • In Which Eeyore Has a Birthday and Gets Two Presents
  • In Which Kanga and Baby Roo Come to the Forest, And Piglet Has a Bath
  • In Which Christopher Robin Leads an Expotition to the North Pole
  • In Which Piglet Is Entirely Surrounded by Water
  • In Which Christopher Robin Gives Pooh a Party and We Say Goodbye
My thoughts: I love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love, love Winnie the Pooh and House at Pooh Corner. I have just about decided that I'm a blend between Pooh and Piglet. I love the characters. I love the hums. I love singing the hums when I'm reading. I love reading aloud my favorite bits to whomever I can find. I love everything about this one. The writing is the best of the best of the best. It just doesn't get better than Pooh.

Quotes:
"I think the bees suspect something!" "What sort of thing?" "I don't know. But something tells me that they're suspicious!" "Perhaps they think that you're after their honey." "It may be that. You never can tell with bees." (19)
"I think," said Christopher Robin, "that we ought to eat all our Provisions now, so that we shan't have so much to carry." "Eat all our what?" said Pooh. "All that we've brought," said Piglet, getting to work. "That's a good idea," said Pooh, and he got to work too. "Have you all got something?" asked Christopher Robin with his mouth full. "All except me," said Eeyore. "As usual." He looked round at them in his melancholy way. "I suppose none of you are sitting on a thistle by any chance?" "I believe I am," said Pooh. "Ow!" He got up, and looked behind him. "Yes, I was. I thought so." "Thank you, Pooh. If you've quite finished with it." He moved across to Pooh's place, and began to eat. "It don't do them any Good, you know, sitting on them," he went on, as he looked up munching. "Takes all the Life out of them. Remember that another time, all of you. A little Consideration, a little Thought for Others, makes all the difference." (113)
"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?" "What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?" "I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughfully. "It's the same thing," he said. (147-48)
Original audience born circa 1920 to 1924.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, January 21, 2019

Odd and the Frost Giants

Odd and the Frost Giants. Neil Gaiman. Illustrated by Brett Helquist. 2008. 117 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: There was a boy called Odd, and there was nothing strange or unusual about that, not in that time or place. Odd meant the tip of a blade, and it was a lucky name. He was odd, though. At least, the other villagers thought so. But if there was one thing that he wasn't, it was lucky.

Premise/plot: Odd has a marvelous--though unexpected--adventure one winter. Out of all the Viking boys in his village, Odd might be the one voted least likely to have an adventure. His adventure begins, in a way, with his encounter with a fox, eagle, and a bear. Looks can be deceiving, for this isn't an ordinary fox, eagle, or bear. These are Norse gods...and they need a little help defeating their enemy.

My thoughts: DELIGHTFUL. I loved every minute of this one. I loved the story, the characters, the pacing, the writing. It was just a joy to read this little fantasy novel.

Original audience born circa 1996 to 2000.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, January 19, 2019

Stars Upon Thars #3

5 Star Books Reviewed This Week

4 Star Books Reviewed This Week


© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Evelina

Evelina. Fanny Burney. 1778. 455 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: CAN any thing, my good Sir, be more painful to a friendly mind, than a necessity of communicating disagreeable intelligence?

Premise/plot: Fanny Burney's Evelina is an epistolary novel that was first published in 1778. Most of the letters are between Evelina and her guardian, Mr. Villars. Though others are included as well.

Evelina has been raised by Reverend Arthur Villars. She has been happy and content with her lot in life--even if she's never known her mother or father. Her life has been a bit sheltered in the past, but now that she's a young woman she's gaining opportunities to go out into the world. The book is a series of letters chronicling this new-and-exciting-adventure of growing up. It begins when Evelina goes to visit a friend of the family, Lady Howard. But that is just the start of her journey...

My thoughts: I really LOVED this one. There are EIGHTY-FOUR letters in all. A handful of those are lengthy, but most are not. Most just take a few minutes to read. Because the letters tend to be on the short side, it was easy to get swept up in this one saying just one more, just one more, just one more.

The novel is peopled with CHARACTERS. Some of them are oh-so-easy to love. A few of them fall into the hate-to-love or love-to-hate category. (For example, she meets her maternal grandmother and some of her cousins. They are so UNLIKE anyone she's ever met before.) And then there's Evelina's stalker, Clement Willoughby (boo, hiss). I haven't figured out exactly WHAT is going on in his world--I mean his mind--but I know he's TROUBLE. Evelina is in danger several times in this one. Evelina is a super-super-innocent heroine. The men in her life vary in shades of honor. Lord Orville stands in contrast to the villainy of Willoughby.

Evelina would make for a lovely period drama. Jane Austen was NOT the only woman writer in her day, and others deserve attention as well.

Quotes:
A youthful mind is seldom totally free from ambition; to curb that, is the first step to contentment, since to diminish expectation is to increase enjoyment.
I have just had my hair dressed. You can’t think how oddly my head feels; full of powder and black pins, and a great cushion on the top of it.
I believe you would hardly know me, for my face looks quite different to what it did before my hair was dressed. When I shall be able to make use of a comb for myself I cannot tell; for my hair is so much entangled, frizzled they call it, that I fear it will be very difficult.
Indeed, the more forcibly you are struck with improprieties and misconduct in another, the greater should be your observance and diligence to avoid even the shadow of similar errors.
“Indeed,” cried Sir Clement, “I must own myself no advocate for hats; I am sorry the ladies ever invented or adopted so tantalizing a fashion: for, where there is beauty, they only serve to shade it; and, where there is none, to excite a most unavailing curiosity. I fancy they were originally worn by some young and whimsical coquette.”
The play was Love for Love; and though it is fraught with wit and entertainment I hope I shall never see it represented again; for it is so extremely indelicate-to use the softest word...
“O yes, Sir, yes, very frequently: I have no time to read play-bills; one merely comes to meet one’s friends, and shew that one’s alive.” “Ha, ha, ha!-and so,” cried the Captain, “it costs you five shillings a-night just to shew you’re alive! Well, faith, my friends should all think me dead and underground before I’d be at that expense for ‘em. But, now I think of it, I believe I have a bill in my pocket; O, ay, here it is-Love for Love, ay,-true, ha, ha!-how could I be so stupid!” “O, easily enough, as to that, I warrant you,” said the Captain;
Generosity without delicacy, like wit without judgment, generally gives as much pain as pleasure.
How strange it is, Sir, that this man, not contented with the large share of foppery and nonsense which he has from nature, should think proper to affect yet more!
“So Miss,” said Mr. Branghton, “you’re quite in the fashion, I see-so you like operas? Well, I’m not so polite; I can’t like nonsense, let it be never so much the taste.” 
“There is nothing,” answered he, “which requires more immediate notice than impertinence, for it ever encroaches when it is tolerated.”
Indeed the more I reflect upon it, the more angry I am. I was entirely in his power, and it was cruel in him to cause me so much terror.
I felt myself very uneasy in his presence; for I could not look at him, nor hear him speak, without recollecting the chariot adventure; but, to my great amazement, I observed that he looked at me without the least apparent discomposure, though, certainly, he ought not to think of his behaviour without blushing.
The passion he pretends for you has neither sincerity nor honour; the manner and the opportunities he has chosen to declare it, are bordering upon insult.
 She lost her patience, and I my time.
But alas, my dear child, we are the slaves of custom, the dupes of prejudice, and dare not stem the torrent of an opposing world, even though our judgements condemn our compliance!
Nothing is so delicate as the reputation of a woman; it is at once the most beautiful and most brittle of all human things. 
 My heart beat with resentment; I pushed him away from me with all my strength, and demanded how he dared treat me with such insolence? “Insolence!” repeated he. “Yes, Sir Clement, insolence; from you, who know me, I had a claim for protection,-not to such treatment as this.”
 “The long alleys!” repeated Mr. Branghton, “and pray, what had you to do in the long alleys? why, to be sure, you must all of you have had a mind to be affronted!”    
 Where any thing is doubtful, the ties of society, and the laws of humanity, claim a favourable interpretation;
“My dear Ma’am, you must be a little patient; I assure you I have no bad designs, I have not upon my word; but, really, there is no resolving upon such a thing as matrimony all at once; what with the loss of one’s liberty, and what with the ridicule of all one’s acquaintance,-I assure you Ma’am you are the first lady who ever made me even demur upon this subject; for, after all, my dear Ma’am, marriage is the devil.”
“Your opinion, Sir,” answered I, “of either the married or the single life, can be of no manner of consequence to me; and therefore I would by no means trouble you to discuss their different merits.” 
   “Why, really, Ma’am, as to your being a little out of sorts, I must own I can’t wonder at it; for, to be sure, marriage is all in all with the ladies; but with us gentlemen it’s quite another thing!
How little has situation to do with happiness!
She is not, indeed, like most modern young ladies, to be known in half an hour: her modest worth, and fearful excellence, require both time and encouragement to show themselves.
She does not, beautiful as she is, seize the soul by surprise, but, with more dangerous fascination, she steals it almost imperceptibly.”
“You are in the right,” said Mrs. Selwyn, “not to watch time, lest you should be betrayed, unawares, into reflecting how you employ it.” “Egad, Ma’am,” cried he, “if Time thought no more of me than I do of Time, I believe I should bid defiance, for one while, to old age and wrinkles; for deuce take me, if ever I think about it at all.”
         

© 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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