Monday, May 31, 2021

May Reflections

In May I read twenty-seven books. Twenty-two were review copies. One book was borrowed from my mom. One book was won in a contest several years ago. And three were books I bought myself through the years. Four books this month were rereads.

Three books were retellings or adaptations of Jane Eyre! My favorite of the bunch was John Eyre by Mimi Matthews which releases in August 2021.

Books Reviewed At Becky's Book Reviews

40. The Tobacco Girls. Lizzie Lane. 2021 [January] 318 pages. [Source: Review copy]
41. Violet and Daisy: The Story of Vaudeville's Famous Conjoined Twins. Sarah Miller. 2021. [April] 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]
42. The Wife Upstairs. Rachel Hawkins. 2021. [January] 290 pages. [Source: Review copy]
43. Mrs. Rochester's Ghost. Lindsay Marcott. 2021. [August] 398 pages. [Source: Review copy]
44. Isabelle and Alexander. Rebecca Anderson. 2021. [May] 324 pages. [Source: Review copy]
45. Big Apple Diaries. Alyssa Bermudez. 2021. [August] 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
46. John Eyre. Mimi Matthews. 2021. [August] 312 pages. [Source: Review copy]
47. Sword of the Seven Sins. (The Seven Sins #1) Emily Colin. 2020. [August] 300 pages. [Source: Review copy]
48. The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) Robert Jordan. 1990. Tor. 814 pages. [Source: Bought]

Books Reviewed at Young Readers

47. Baby Island. Carol Ryrie Brink. Illustrated by Helen Sewell. 1937. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]
48. Pumpkin Heads. Wendell Minor. 2021. [August] 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
49. Board Book: Disney All Aboard! Mickey's Railway. Nichole Mara. Illustrated by Andrew Kolb. 2021. [March] 8 pages. [Source: Review copy]

50. Something Stinks. Jonathan Fenske. 2021. [June] 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
51. Cookies: Bite-Size Life Lessons. Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Illustrated by Jane Dyer. 2006. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy?]
52. Wake Up, Crabby! Jonathan Fenske. (A Crabby Book #3) 2019. [November] 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]
53. Moon Camp. Barry Gott. 2021. [May] 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
54. A Secret Shared. Patricia MacLachlan. 2021. [September] 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]
55. Board book: Comparrotives. Janik Coat.  2021. [June] 36 pages. [Source: Review copy]
56. Board book: Colors My First Pop Up. Matthew Reinhart. Art by Ekaterina Trukhan. 2021. [May] 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]
57. Five Children and It (Five Children #1) E. Nesbit. 1902. 237 pages. [Source: Bought]
58. Sloth and Smell the Roses. Eunice Moyle and Sabrina Moyle. 2021. [January] 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]
59. Pancakes, Pancakes! Eric Carle. 1970. 36 pages. [Source: Bought]

Books Reviewed at Operation Actually Read Bible

29. Board books: Bible Stories for Little Hearts. Sandra Magsamen. 2019. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]
30. Come Back To Me (Waters of Time #1) Jody Hedlund. 2021. [July] 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]
31. Go and Do Likewise: The Parables and Wisdom of Jesus. John Hendrix. 2021. [February] 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
32. Providence. John Piper. 2021. 752 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Bibles Reviewed at Operation Actually Read Bible

4. NIV Reader's Bible (2011 Translation). God. 2017. 1984 pages. [Source: Won a Contest]

May Totals

number of books27
number of pages7391

Yearly Totals

2021 Totals


© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Friday, May 28, 2021

48. The Eye of the World

The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) Robert Jordan. 1990. Tor. 814 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.

Premise/plot: The Eye of the World is the first book in the Wheel of Time series. Three young lads are at the center of this misadventure which has good and evil facing off once again. Rand, Perrin, and Mat are country boys--farmers, sheep farmers, villagers. They never planned or wished for this adventure to befall them. And, truth be told, the excitement wore off quickly. But it's literally all or nothing for their lives are at stake--no, the future of the world is at stake.

They are not alone. There is a fellowship of sorts. Two young women--also from the same community (Emond's Field)--Nynaeve (the village wisdom) and Egwene (her apprentice). Egwene wanted to join in the adventure and is seeking a little something more to life. Nynaeve is distrustful and hesitant. Her mission is to get them all back home safe so life can return to NORMAL. (Well, that's her mission at first). The adults along for the ride are from the outside. There is a gleeman, Thom Merrilin, an Aes Sedai, Moiraine, and her warder, Lan. They also pick up one more along the way, notably Loial. (Would they have made it without him???)

So what should you expect: a tedious journey with a near impossible mission to complete on their quest. Tedious not for the reader--necessarily--but for those actually on the journey. It is full of hardships and literal nightmares. Night and day they must find the strength to keep on keeping on and resisting evil at every single turn.

My thoughts: This is my third time to read The Eye of the World. I really do love it. I forget just how much because I see it on my bookshelf--along with all the OTHER books in this massive series--and I find a plethora of reasons not to read the series....just yet. But I have an oh-so-faithful friend who encouraged me to pick it up again, that now is the time. She had more faith in me than I had in myself. I thought there was no way I could read it in a week, and, she thought YES YOU CAN. She was right. By the third day it was almost easy how right it felt to just read the one book. 

Expect world-building: introducing the world, introducing the cultures and traditions, introducing lore and legends, introducing characters, the formations of relationships--friendship and possibly romantic.

My advice for those that are intimidated by the prologue and perhaps the first few chapters is to keep on keeping on. Don't try to understand/comprehend the WHOLE world at once. Go with the flow and absorb the world at your own pace. 

My review from 2014.
My review from 2012.

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Friday, May 21, 2021

47. Sword of the Seven Sins

Sword of the Seven Sins. (The Seven Sins #1) Emily Colin. 2020. [August] 300 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The first time I condemned a man to death, I was ten years old. I was standing with the rest of the Commonwealth of Ashes in Clockverk Square, beneath the giant clockwork tower that stood watch over us all.

Premise/plot: Sword of the Seven Sins is a dystopian YA novel set in the future starring Eva, our heroine, and Ari, our hero. They live in a very unforgiving, strict, life-or-death society. There are, you guessed it, seven sins. And breaking any of the sins could lead to exile or death--most likely death. The sin tempting both Eva and Ari is the sin of lust. Now in this society, men and women do not fall in love, get married, have a family. Babies are conceived in a test tube and raised communally. There are no family units. No bonds between parent and child, no bonds between siblings, no attachments allowed ever. Well, you're supposed to be super-super-super loyal to the Commonwealth and serve where you're supposed to serve. But essentially, you're not supposed to be all feely-feely and think about the meaning of life.  

Eva had hopes of being chosen to be a computer tech, but, she's chosen instead to be a warrior. Ari is her mentor/trainer and fellow warrior. These warriors are called bellators.

The first book is all about world-building and initial conflicts leading to bigger conflicts. The goal of book one is to make the heroes feel angsty about the world they're living in and to get them to start questioning big things, little things, everything.

When the two begin to have some big doubts about the Powers That Be, will they risk everything to do what they think is right?

My thoughts: It has been a while since I've read a new-to-me dystopia. I've revisited dystopias off and on through the past few years. I've started rewatching some dystopian movies lately (Hunger games series, Divergent series, etc.) and so I was in the mood to revisit what used to be a favorite sub-sub-genre of me.

I liked it. I did. It is very much a YA DYSTOPIA. 

You might be it "ruined" with a love triangle?!?!?! I can say that there is NO LOVE TRIANGLE!!! That is fantastic news. Is it "ruined" with insta love??? That's more complicated. Romance is a super-strong element of this one. If you absolutely HATE romance mixed in with your dystopia, then I can see this one might drive you crazy! If you don't mind romance so long as it feels right and not forced, not rushed, then you might enjoy this one. It is intended to be a steamy read. And the last bit of the novel especially is all let's explore each other bodies now that the big chase scene stuff is over!

What agenda(s) does it have? This future nightmarish world is brought about due to climate change, bad immigration policies, and racism.

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Sunday, May 16, 2021

46. John Eyre

John Eyre. Mimi Matthews. 2021. [August] 312 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: John Eyre stood over the freshly turned heap of earth, his head bent and his gloved hands clasped behind his back. The sun was breaking over the bleak Surrey Hills, a slowly rising rim of molten gold. It burned at the edges of the morning fog that blanketed the valley, pushing back the darkness, but doing nothing at all to alleviate the bone-numbing chill that had settled into his limbs.

Premise/plot: Mimi Matthews' newest book is a retelling of Jane Eyre. But it isn't your traditional retelling; it isn't a light update or a slight remix.

For one thing she reverses the genders of many of the characters. John Eyre is a tutor advertising for a new job, looking for new pupils. Mr. Fairfax contacts him about tutoring TWO wards of a widow woman, a Bertha (Mason) Rochester: two young lads Stephen and Peter. He makes his way to Yorkshire and Thornfield Hall...but his new job holds some surprises for him.

It keeps the historical setting--Victorian England 1840s. But it turns up the horror and thriller aspects by a thousand degrees. All while managing to hold onto the threads of romance.

My thoughts: John Eyre is the third Jane Eyre retelling I've read in the month of May. It is probably the most successful in my opinion. (I am not talking successful in terms of sales--it's not even releases yet--or even others ratings of it--again not released yet--but successful in terms of working for me personally.)

I loved the narrative. It is told from TWO perspectives. The present story is told from the perspective of John Eyre. (Though it is NOT told in first person--either first person past or first person present). Readers experience events as they unfold. Mystery is added in with the second perspective that of Bertha (Mason) Rochester. We come to know her story through LETTERS AND DIARIES. (A very Victorian way to add mystery and suspense and just plain old tell a good story. I can think of a handful of Victorian novels that use multiple narrators and multiple narrative techniques--including letters, diaries, etc.)

I love how the story is woven together. Trust me TWO stories are woven together--quite brilliantly in my opinion. The two stories are both CLASSIC NOVELS. One being Jane Eyre...the other being equally famous, equally dark (if not more so), both Victorian. I will NOT be the one to name names.

I love how she incorporates some of the best bits of Jane Eyre.

“You examine me, Mr. Eyre. Do you find me beautiful?” “No, ma’am.” The reply passed his lips before he’d fully deliberated on it. A feeling of horror followed. Had he just said…? Good lord. If a hole in the floor had opened up at that moment, he’d have gladly jumped into it. “Upon my word, sir, you’re a man of decided opinions. And you don’t cringe from uttering them, for all that you sit there as quiet and contemplative as a man of God.” “I beg your pardon. I ought to have said that questions about appearances are difficult to answer. Tastes differ so widely.” “I’m not to your taste, is that it?” He inwardly groaned. He was making things worse, but couldn’t seem to stop himself. Why couldn’t he have simply admitted to her beauty? He’d thought her beautiful before, hadn’t he? Strangely beautiful. And oddly forbidding.

I would recommend it to readers who love Victorian literature and are up for a good, solid spin on two of the best. 


© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Thursday, May 13, 2021

45. Big Apple Diaries

Big Apple Diaries. Alyssa Bermudez. 2021. [August] 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It's the first week of seventh grade.

Premise/plot: Alyssa Bermudez shares some of her diary entries in her new book, Big Apple Diaries. This nonfiction illustrated diary (is it a graphic novel or an illustrated diary?) opens in September 2000. She is entering seventh grade. The book covers both her seventh and eighth grade years, 2000 through 2002. It covers school life (friends, teachers, classes, homework) and home life (her parents' divorce, living in two homes, her freedom or lack thereof, her friends, her hobbies, etc.). One of the big topics is her crush on Alejandro, a classmate/deskmate. I should mention, I suppose, it is set at a Catholic School. As the title suggests, it's set in New York City.

My thoughts: I think adults and tweens will approach this book differently--for better or worse. As an adult, when I read the date--September 2000--I was like I bet this book covers 9/11. Emotionally I was already sent a shock wave--is that the right word??? Finding out that her father works at the World Trade Center and that her mother also works downtown, it was another punch. I felt a connection and was invested in Alyssa's story. The target audience for this one would have been born between 2008 and 2011. I'm not sure there will be this immediate connection or concern because they didn't live through this. 9/11 if thought of as all is probably an event in a history book, it doesn't come with mental/emotional baggage.

I don't want you to think the whole book is about 9/11. It isn't. Alyssa is your typical (somewhat typical) tween. The issues she is facing at this time in her life are universal and super relatable. And I think that is important. Readers today can connect with Alyssa still.

I definitely liked this one. 

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Monday, May 10, 2021

44. Isabelle and Alexander

Isabelle and Alexander. Rebecca Anderson. 2021. [May] 324 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Isabelle Rackham stood in the morning parlor staring into the mirror, grateful to be alone for a moment; that nobody was fidgeting with buttons, bows, fasteners, or pins. She took as deep a breath as her corseting allowed and ran her hands down the waist of her bridal gown, allowing herself a little shiver of delight.

Premise/plot: Isabelle and Alexander have an arranged marriage, a bit of marriage of convenience. The two certainly aren't madly in love with each other at the start. Living side by side as strangers, the two face quite a challenge when Alexander is thrown from a horse and suffers severe injuries. Will his injury (and his recovery) bring them closer together or drive them further apart?

This one is set in 1850 in northern England. The two mainly live in a manufacturing town (Manchester) and he is a mill owner. Her husband also owns a country estate.

My thoughts: Isabelle and Alexander isn't your typical romance novel. For better or worse. This one isn't all about the swoon-y falling-in-love moments that happen before saying I do and making vows before God. This one is about marriage and the testing of marriage. For better or worse, richer or poorer, in sickness and in health. They face challenges both together--as a couple--and as individuals.

I would say this one is more about the knitting together of two souls than focusing on the physical lusts. True it's a proper romance title so it wouldn't get too smutty anyway.

I believe this is my second title in my nearly thirty years of reading romance novels where one of the leads is in a wheel chair and is differently abled. (The other I read was an Amish romance.)

I also loved getting to know the Kenworthy family. I loved, loved, loved the character of Glory.

I have seen other reviewers comparing this one to North and South. I don't know that I'd stretch it that far. There are some surface similarities for sure: the manufacturing town setting, the owning of a mill, the awkwardness of a couple who barely know how to communicate with one another. But really the two are quite different. 

This one doesn't really focus in on class differences nor does it focus in on unions, strikes, and disagreements between owners and workers. There's a tension in North and South that just isn't there in Isabelle and Alexander.

I would say upon further thought that this one is about Isabelle reorienting herself to her new circumstances. She's newly married, newly moved, adjusting to a new house that doesn't yet feel like a home. She doesn't have friends in the neighborhood--at least not at first. She is hoping that her husband will soon start to feel like a husband instead of a stranger.

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

43. Mrs. Rochester's Ghost

Mrs. Rochester's Ghost. Lindsay Marcott. 2021. [August] 398 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: In my mind, I can picture it clearly. Thorn Bluffs. December 17. Their fourth wedding anniversary.

Premise/plot: Mrs. Rochester's Ghost by Lindsay Marcott is a contemporary retelling of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. This retelling is set in California. Our heroine, Jane, is down on her luck. She's lost her job and her mother within a short span of time. And she's recently discovered her boyfriend and best friend were having an affair. A quick summer getaway (free) sounds like just what she needs. In exchange for tutoring, Jane can stay in a little guest cottage at a big estate--Evan Rochester's estate. Sophia, his daughter, is a mess--and understandably so. These two have the potential to help one another. But Jane discovers in the weeks following that all may not be as it appears. In particular, her employer, Evan Rochester, is still under investigation for the death and/or disappearance of his wife, Beatrice, a former super model.

Jane will have to decide ultimately who she trusts...

My thoughts: Mrs. Rochester's Ghost alternates between two narrators--Beatrice and Jane. (Occasionally we also get the point of view of Evan Rochester.) As I mentioned earlier, it is a retelling of Jane Eyre. Was it successful??? I'll do my best to share my thoughts.

Is it successful as a mystery? Maybe. Mostly. Though I can't help but think that if it was told solely from Jane's point of view it would have been a better mystery/thriller. I think by having dual narration, readers learn a bit too much before the other characters become aware...thus losing some suspense. Even so, there's plenty of elements that make this one a decent mystery with a few gothic elements thrown in.

Is it successful as a romance? NO. Not really. Here's the problem, readers probably won't like to see the main character, Jane, get gaslighted by Evan Rochester for hundreds of pages. It's hard to believe that readers will cheer on this coupling when Mr. Rochester is clearly all about gaslighting the women in his life! Seriously. I don't have a problem with Jane choosing to have a fling with him--against her better judgment and ours--I can't really say I want this relationship to last long term.

Are the relationships well developed? I will say the relationship between Jane and Evan was more lusty-lust than true love. HOWEVER. I will say this, I really did enjoy the developing relationship between Sophia and Jane. It was a gradual building up of trust. It may appear a bit rushed towards the end of the novel. But I will forgive the novel that because this relationship is really the novel's greatest strength. I wouldn't say the novel was character-driven, far from it, but it has at least a little bit of development.

Is it successful as a retelling? In places I feel it does capture the essence of the original. Not in the romance between Jane and Rochester. There are scenes that I felt were inspired directly by the original that come off decently. (For example, Jane being haunted--feeling haunted--and the strange things she almost sees and definitely hears as she stays on the estate.)

I didn't find Mrs. Rochester's Ghost as compelling and engaging as The Wife Upstairs. However, Mrs. Rochester's Ghost definitely has more likeable characters.


© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Monday, May 03, 2021

42. The Wife Upstairs

The Wife Upstairs. Rachel Hawkins. 2021. [January] 290 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It is the absolute shittiest day for a walk. Rain has been pouring down all morning, making my drive from Center Point out here to Mountain Brook a nightmare, soaking the hem of my jeans as I got out of the car in the Reeds’ driveway, making my sneakers squelch on the marble floors of the foyer. But Mrs. Reed is holding her dog Bear’s leash, making a face at me, this frown of exaggerated sympathy that’s supposed to let me know how bad she feels about sending me out in the rain on this Monday morning.

Premise/plot: If Rod Serling and Alfred Hitchcock got together to retell Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, it might look a little something like Rachel Hawkins' The Wife Upstairs.

What should you know going into it? Well, I'd say very little. I'll keep this section to a bare minimum. It's contemporary. Set in Alabama. A psychological thriller.

My thoughts: No doubt about it if I'd read this one in my night-owl days I'd have stayed up all night to read it in one sitting. As it is I had to split it into two readings. I definitely found it engaging and thought-provoking. (These characters stayed on my mind when I wasn't reading the book. I thought about them throughout the day as I was anticipating picking up the book again.)

It isn't strictly just a retelling of Jane Eyre. It's more like Jane Eyre is the jumping off place for a crazy psychological thriller. Crazy mostly in a good way.

One element completely lacking from The Wife Upstairs is what my mom would call the preachiness of Jane Eyre. Gone are all the religious/moral overtones and imagery. I doubt they'd work well in a contemporary novel anyhow.

I think the gothicness of Jane Eyre AND Rebecca combine well with the Southern setting.

It is told from three perspectives: Jane, Bea, and Eddie. (Though Hawkins keeps us waiting until the (very) end for Eddie's perspective). Because it isn't told in alternating chapters--rigidly going from one to the other in a strict pattern--the suspense builds and builds and builds. (In my opinion).

 Did I love it? I wouldn't say love is the right word. Depending on if you look for premise-driven and/or plot-driven books OR if you are mainly a fan of character-driven works. One or two words about the characters, I can't think of a single character (perhaps with the exception of all the dogs) that I'd classify as likeable. In other words, Hawkins isn't all about sympathetic characters that you cheer on and care about.

Is it clean? Not really. I'd say the number one reason it isn't clean is the language--lots of casual cussing. The language is far from ideal if that matters to you. The smut is kept to a bare minimum of description and gets very little page space. So I wasn't horribly bothered by the content.

Would I recommend it to Jane Eyre lovers that don't like psychological thrillers? No. Yes. Maybe.
No. I would not recommend The Wife Upstairs if Jane and Edward are your most favorite romantic couple of all time and one that you revisit a couple times a year. If what you love is the romance of the original--reader, I married him--then you'll probably be disappointed and not even call this a retelling. You might even call it a murder.
Yes. I would recommend if you enjoy the atmosphere of JANE EYRE and REBECCA and DRAGONWYCK. (Dragonwyck is by Anya Seton). This one is all about SUSPENSE, DANGER, MYSTERY, HORROR, THRILLS. If the actual feel-good romance and happily ever after ending was your least favorite part of the original, this one is for you.
Maybe. If you enjoy the original novel a great deal--perhaps even love and adore it--BUT are also open to psychological thrillers and suspense novels in general, then this one may appeal. If you're open to deconstructing and rearranging, then this one may just work well for you.

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Sunday, May 02, 2021

41. Violet & Daisy

Violet and Daisy: The Story of Vaudeville's Famous Conjoined Twins. Sarah Miller. 2021. [April] 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Of course their mother screamed when they were born. She screamed so loudly and for so long on February 5, 1908, the neighbors pounded on the wall to command her to stop. But twenty-one-year-old Kate Skinner could not help but scream. After fourteen hours of unrelenting pain, her baby had not come. It had not even seemed to budge. The midwife, Mary Hilton, began to fear that the unborn infant had died. She ran downstairs and out of the house to call for the doctor.

Premise/plot: Violet and Daisy is nonfiction biography. It is listed as being YA Nonfiction, but honestly I can see adults reading it too. So Violet and Daisy were conjoined twins who--for better or worse, mainly for worse I imagine--lived life in the spotlight from an incredibly young age. Think toddlers. Born in 1908, the two lived at a time when it was all but impossible for 'freaks' not to be exploited or gawked at. I use the word freaks not because I genuinely believe they were freaks of nature and 'monstrous' but that is how they were perceived at the time by many.

Miller's biography chronicles their lives. It's not an easy task but a layered one full of puzzles and mysteries. You see, Violet and Daisy were "raised" (not nurtured by any stretch) by people who told flim flams as often as they breathed in and out. In other words, from an extremely young age, the two learned that truth was flexible and ever-changing. It wasn't so much what is actually-actually-actually true but what can bring in the most publicity and thus the most money. The "truth" being sold (or peddled) depended entirely on the audience and the day.

Piecing together their lives a century later requires much discernment and some intuition.

My thoughts: I found it compelling and fascinating. Also bleak--very bleak. Sarah Miller seems to be drawn to stories that are darker in nature, OR incredibly sad, or infuriating. Perhaps a bit of all three. Her nonfiction works include: The Borden Murders: Lizzie Borden and the Trial of the Century, The Miracle and Tragedy of the Dionne Quintuplets, and Violet and Daisy: The Story of Vaudeville's Famous Conjoined Twins. I think she treats all her subjects with dignity--even though especially with the last two books the subjects were often exploited or taken advantage of. Miller is great at capturing the humanity of her subjects. And to be fair, that means the good, the bad, and the ugly. (Not literally ugly).

It's a bleak read, I won't lie. There were highs, for sure, moments when the two seemed to be actually truly authentically happy to be living their lives just as they wanted on their own terms. But mostly, this is a bittersweet story of two misunderstood often exploited souls who were seen as money-making tools.

It's sad in many ways. But no matter how I emotionally react to Miller's story, I found it engaging.

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Saturday, May 01, 2021

40. The Tobacco Girls

The Tobacco Girls. Lizzie Lane. 2021 [January] 318 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Slight of stature, dark-haired and dark-eyed, fifteen-year-old Maisie Miles was currently engrossed in a world of her own. Though the newspaper sellers and the wireless shouted warnings of war to come, it meant nothing to her.

Premise/plot: Tobacco Girls is set in England (Bristol to be precise) at the start of World War II (1939). It follows the adventures and misadventures of three young women--factory workers all--Maisie Miles, Phyllis Mason, and Bridget Milligan. Each young woman (the youngest being Maisie) faces her own difficult struggles and challenges.

Phyllis Mason is engaged to a controlling man she doesn't really love--or even like. But he is "a catch," (even with a difficult mother), and her mother is pressuring her to just go with the flow.

Bridget Milligan is from a large Irish family--she's witnessed the cost of that large family--and she's questioning if love makes those hardships worth it.

Maisie Miles has an older brother who looks after her, but, her mother and father, well, life at home is anything but safe. Her father is a vile human being, and, her mother is helpless to protect herself or her daughter. What is her father capable of? What is he not capable of?

My thoughts: The Tobacco Girls is a historical soap opera. I sought this one out because of its world war two setting. I love to read books set during this period. It is very much "women's fiction." For better or worse. I enjoyed the drama--even when it bordered slightly on the melodramatic. I did come to care for all the characters. So much so that I felt like yelling at a few of them when they got into sticky situations.

It isn't clean nor smutty. The situations can be quite gritty--perhaps triggering for those who have lived through some dark stuff--but there's only a handful of scenes that I would consider bordering on adult. 



© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews