Wednesday, August 30, 2023

August Reflections

This month I have not done any sneak-peeking so I don't know beforehand a rough estimate of how many books I've reviewed...I am curious.

I read 51 books in August!

Books Reviewed at Becky's Book Reviews

139. Utterly Me, Clarice Bean. Lauren Child. 2005. 208 pages. [Source: Library] [illustrated chapter book] 

140. Lucille Ball Had No Eyebrows. Dan Gutman. (Wait! What? series) 2023. [May] 112 pages. [Source: Library] [nonfiction; elementary nonfiction] 

141. The Two Towers. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1954/1965. Houghton Mifflin. 352 pages. [Source: Bought] 

142. Anne of Green Gables. L.M. Montgomery. 1908. 448 pages. [Source: Bought] 

143. Dust (Silo #3) Hugh Howey. 2013. 458 pages. [Source: Bought] [Adult science fiction; dystopia; adult fiction]

144. Thee, Hannah! Marguerite de Angeli. 1940. 98 pages. [Source: Library] [children's classic; j fiction]

145. Code Name Bananas. David Walliams. 2020/2023. 384 pages. [Source: Library] [J Historical Fiction; MG Historical Fiction] 

146. Proud Sorrows. (Billy Boyle #18) James R. Benn. 2023. [September] 365 pages. [Source: Review copy] [historical fiction; mystery; world war II; series book] 

147. Rebecca of Salerno: A Novel of Rogue Crusaders, a Jewish Female Physician, and a Murder. Esther Erman. 2022. [August] 264 pages. [Source: Review copy] 

148. Canary Girls. Jennifer Chiaverini. 2023. [August] 432 pages. [Source: Library] [historical fiction; world war I; adult fiction] 

149. I'll Tell You No Lies. Amanda McCrina. 2023. [August] 224 pages. [Source: Library] [YA Historical fiction; YA Fiction; Cold War] 

150. Queen Wallis. C.J. Carey. 2023. [July] 416 pages. [Source: Library] [adult fiction; alternative history; 1950s; speculative fiction] 

151. Don't Trust the Cat. Kristen Tracy. 2023. [July] 336 pages. [Source: Library] [J Fiction; MG Fiction; Speculative fiction] 

152. Abandon Ship! The True World War II Story About the Sinking of the Laconia. Michael J. Tougias and Alison O'Leary. 2023. [February] 272 pages. [Source: Library] [MG Nonfiction; Nonfiction; World War II]

Books Reviewed at Young Readers

201. Sometimes Shy. Julie Bliven. Illustrated by Dang Khoa Tran. 2023. [May] 32 pages. [Source: Library] [Picture book]

202. This Is The First Book I Will Read To You. Francesco Sedita. Illustrated by Magenta Fox. 2023. [May] 32 pages. [Source: Library] [Picture book]

203. Something's Wrong: A Bear, A Hare, and Some Underwear. Jory John. Illustrated by Erin Kraan. 2021. 40 pages. [Source: Library] [Picture book]

204. Bing! Bang! Chugga! Beep! Bill Martin Jr. Michael Sampson. Illustrated by Nathalie Beauvois. 2023. [April] 32 pages. [Source: Library] [Picture book] 

205. Hope In the Valley. Mitali Perkins. 2023. 304 pages. [Source: Library] [J Fiction; MG Fiction; everybody-fiction, "historical" fiction, realistic fiction]

 206. Simon and the Better Bone. Corey R. Tabor. 2023. 40 pages. [Source: Library] [Picture book; animal fantasy; dogs; humor]

207. How To Talk Like a Bear. Charlie Grandy. Illustrated by Alex G. Griffiths. 2023. 32 pages. [Source: Library] [picture book; animal fantasy; bears; humor]

208. Fox Forgets (Goose and Bear Stories) Suzanne Bloom. 2013/2023. 32 pages. [Source: Library] [picture book; animal fantasy]

209. Bear Can Dance! (Goose and Bear Stories). Suzanne Bloom. 2015/2023. 32 pages. [Source: Library] [Picture book; animal fantasy] 

210. Adventures in Fosterland: Emmet and Jez (Adventures in Fosterland #1) Hannah Shaw. Illustrated by Bev Johnson. 2022. 144 pages. [Source: Library] [chapter book; animal fantasy; series]

211. Super Spinach (Adventures in Fosterland #2) Hannah Shaw. Illustrated by Bev Johnson. 2022. 173 pages. [Source: Library] [chapter book; animal fantasy; series] 

212. When Rubin Plays. Gracey Zhang. 2023. 56 pages. [Source: Library] [picture book; music appreciation; cats]

213. Luli and the Language of Tea. Andrea Wang. Illustrated by Hyewon Yum. 2022. 40 pages. [Source: Library] [picture book]

214. I Cannot Draw A Bicycle. Charise Mericle Harper. 2023. 48 pages. [Source: Library] [picture book]

215. YOU Can't Be a Pterodactyl! James Breakwell. Illustrated by Sophie Corrigan. 2023. 32 pages. [Source: Library] [picture book] 

216. See the Ghost: Three Stories about Things You Cannot See. David LaRochelle. Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka. 2023. 64 pages. [Source: Library] [early chapter book] [early reader]

217. Big Kids No Everything. Wednesday Kirwan. 2023. [April] 36 pages. [Source: Library] [Board book]

218. Baby Animals First Sounds. Alexandra Claire. 2023. [February] 20 pages. [Source: Library] [Board book]

219. My First Book of Fruit. Fred Wolter. 2023 [March] 20 pages. [Source: Library] [Board book]

220. My First Book of Veggies. Fred Wolter. 2023. [March] 20 pages. [Source: Library] [Board book]

221. Bear With Me. Kerascoët (Sebastien Cosset and Marie Pommepuy). 2023. [June] 40 pages. [Source: Library] [picture book] [near wordless picture book]

222. The Together Tree. Aisha Saeed. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. 2023. 40 pages. [Source: Library] [picture book] [school, bullying]

223.  Tap! Tap! Tap! Dance! Dance! Dance! Hervé Tullet. 2023. [May] 64 pages. [Source: Library] [Picture book] [interactive]

224. Fox Has a Problem. Corey R. Tabor. 2023. 32 pages. [Source: Library] [early reader]

225. Mindy Kim and the Summer Musical. Lyla Lee. Illustrated by Dung Ho. 2023. [July] 96 pages. [Source: Library] [early chapter book; series book]

 226. Bad Luck Lola (Hola, Lola) Keka Novales. Illustrated by Gloria Felix. 2022. 64 pages. [Source: Library] [early chapter book]

227. Dance of the Feather (Hola, Lola) Keka Novales. Illustrated by Gloria Felix. 2022. 64 pages. [Source: Library] [early chapter book] 

228. Mine! Candace Fleming. Illustrated by Eric Rohmann. 2023. [August] 40 pages. [Source: Library] [Picture book]

229. Who Made This Mess? Laura Gehl. Illustrated by Aleksandar Stojsic. 2023. [July] 32 pages. [Source: Library] [Picture book] 

230. NO is all I know! Chris Grabenstein. Illustrated by Leo Espinosa. 2023. [May] 40 pages. [Source: Library] [Picture book]

231. Jungle Cat. Andrew Larsen. Illustrated by Udayana Lugo. 2023. [May] 32 pages. [Source: Library] [Picture book]

Books Reviewed at Operation Actually Read Bible

55. Your God Is Too Small. By J.B. Phillips. (1952) 2004. Simon & Schuster. 128 pages. [Source: Bought]

56. The Great Love of God: Encountering God's Heart for a Hostile World. Heath Lambert. 2023. [April] 208 pages. [Source: Library]

57. Elisabeth Elliot: A Life. Lucy S.R. Austen. 2023. Crossway. 624 pages. [Source: Review copy] [adult nonfiction; biography]

58. No Greater Love: Experiencing the Heart of Jesus. A.W. Tozer. 2020. 158 pages. [Source: Library]

59. Being Elisabeth Elliot: The Authorized Biography: Elisabeth's Later Years. Ellen Vaughn. 2023. [September] 304 pages. [Source: Review copy] [biography]

Bibles Reviewed at Operation Actually Read Bible

9. Giant Print Handy Size Reprint NASB 1977 Edition. 2011. AMG Publishers. 2304 pages.


Totals for 2023

Books Read in 2023453
Pages Read in 202398677
# of Books50
# of Pages12848
# of Books72
# of Pages15241
# of Books55
# of Pages15216
# of Books55
# of Pages10876
# of Books52
# of Pages14695
# of Books46
# of Pages8196
# of Books72
# of Pages10400
# of Books51
# of Pages9868


© 2023 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Tuesday, August 29, 2023

152. Abandon Ship!

Abandon Ship! The True World War II Story About the Sinking of the Laconia. Michael J. Tougias and Alison O'Leary. 2023. [February] 272 pages. [Source: Library] [MG Nonfiction; Nonfiction; World War II]

First sentence: Port Tawfiq, Egypt, simmered in the summer sun of mid-August 1942.

Premise/plot:  Nonfiction book suitable for MG, YA, and Adults about the sinking of RMS Laconia on September 12, 1942, in the midst of the Second World War. It was carrying British soldiers, of course, but also women and children--in addition to 1,800 Italian Prisoners of War. The destination was Britain, but it sank shortly it was torpedoed. The German submarine realized afterwards that the ship they'd bombed had been carrying thousand plus ITALIAN POWs. Commander Werner Hartenstein decided to help rescue those he'd just attacked--yes, the Italians, but also all the others. Some he took aboard his own ship, others he helped find accommodations on lifeboats. (The lifeboats were a bit haphazard. Some too full. Others less so. Some more seaworthy than others.) The most in need of medical attention received it. Women and children were prioritized as well. But this isn't a sweet, warm-and-cozy rescue. For things got a LOT more complicated and complex as the rescue unfolded...

My thoughts: WHAT AN ORDEAL. I found this one captivating and fascinating. But also super-intense. I'm not sure I'd have been able to handle it as a child. But it is an incredibly told tale of survival. I do wish it was more well known. (I'd not heard of it before.) I would have been watching documentaries and such about it if I'd known. It tells a big picture story, but it also focuses in on some of the survivors and their MANY ordeals in the days and weeks (yes, WEEKS) spent at sea adrift.


© 2023 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Monday, August 28, 2023

151. Don't Trust the Cat

Don't Trust the Cat. Kristen Tracy. 2023. [July] 336 pages. [Source: Library] [J Fiction; MG Fiction; Speculative fiction]

First sentence: What if it's possible to fix your whole life in an instant?

Premise/plot: Poppy (a human fifth grader) changes places accidentally with Mitten Man (her mischievous cat). The novel is told in alternating view points. Poppy has no experience being a cat, of course. And Mitten Man has no experience being human, let alone a GIRL in fifth grade with delicate, fragile friendships. Both struggle with difficulties. Mitten Man isn't treated all that well by the parents OR the visiting aunt. Mitten Man is super-independent and before switching places was in troubles of his own--involving a feral cat (Death Tiger) and a turtle. Poppy, as I said, is having some typical troubles with her friend group. Poppy has to learn how to follow her cat instincts. Mitten Man has to LET GO of all his natural instincts and think about what is best for Poppy. (But is he capable of higher thinking????)

My thoughts: I wanted to love this one so much. I liked the premise. I think it could be relatable for young cat lovers. Cats can seem to have it all. But Mitten Man seems contrary. He doesn't seem to like any of the humans who live with him. (Not even Poppy). And everyone but Poppy seems to dislike Mitten Man. I personally don't like the way he's treated. (He's almost always being "punished" and stuck in the garage for hours on end. The VISITING aunt decides to go a step further, and put Mitten Man outside (lock him out). Since this is Poppy at that point, it's even more annoying. Ideal cat owners they are not. Mitten Man, to be fair, is super annoying. But I didn't want him to be annoying. I wanted to LOVE him. 

I ended up disliking almost all the characters in this one--but especially the adults.


© 2023 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

150. Queen Wallis

Queen Wallis. C.J. Carey. 2023. [July] 416 pages. [Source: Library] [adult fiction; alternative history; 1950s; speculative fiction]

First sentence: If pelicans cared about views, then the pelicans of St. James's Park would appreciate that the view from their home on the lake was the most historic in England.

Premise/plot: Queen Wallis is the sequel to Widowland. But is it the thrilling sequel to Widowland? (See my thoughts below). Both books imagine an intriguing what-if. What if Britain had formed an alliance with Nazi Germany instead of fighting in World War II. What would Britain have looked like in the 1950s. Obviously, one can tell from the title, that there would be a Queen Wallis--instead of Queen Elizabeth. 

Rose Ransom, our protagonist, spends her days rewriting literature and 'sanitizing' it for the present day. She removes anything offensive to the powers that be. No exceptions. Play it safe on what is "offensive." But Rose has a big secret--a secret that apparently she has forgotten completely. A secret that readers of the first novel may be aware of. But does someone know her secret? Is she a target?

MY thoughts: I do not think this is a thrilling sequel. The first novel was definitely premise-driven. It had plenty of action on top of an intriguing premise. So much of this one is Rose being clueless. There doesn't seem to be much of a plot. Definitely a LOT more dialogue this time around. (Or perhaps I'm misremembering the first book?) But it was hard to care about any of the characters. Not even Rose since Rose seems to sometimes forget who she is and what she stands for.


© 2023 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Friday, August 25, 2023

149. I'll Tell You No Lies

I'll Tell You No Lies. Amanda McCrina. 2023. [August] 224 pages. [Source: Library] [YA Historical fiction; YA Fiction; Cold War]

First sentence: Mom died on Monday morning, June 6, 1955, about half an hour after she dropped me off at school in Kaiserslautern. 

Premise/plot: Shelby Blaine is in for a whirlwind experience the summer after her mother dies. The family rushes back to the states. Her military father has a new mission. (Air Force Intelligence officer). He will be one of the men debriefing a Russian defector. Shelby never thought to be involved with Maksym (the Russian defector). But their chance meeting at a social event changes everything...just a day or two later (maybe just a day???) he's on the loose--escaped from custody.

Is he trustworthy? Maybe. Maybe not. Are the agents "protecting" or "guarding" him trustworthy? Maybe. Maybe not. So many stories. So many lies. Can Shelby make sense of anything at all? 

Shelby will be forced to question everything and everyone.

MY thoughts: I like this one. I don't know that I loved it. It keeps your head spinning for sure, which was the goal, I suppose. Having seen Alias multiple times, I kept expecting twists and turns--even though Shelby is not in intelligence at all. (She's eighteen and getting ready to go to college.) There were twists and turns. There was a LOT of action. I'm not sure that there needed to be hints of romance. (But there was).


© 2023 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Wednesday, August 23, 2023

148. Canary Girls

Canary Girls. Jennifer Chiaverini. 2023. [August] 432 pages. [Source: Library] [historical fiction; world war I; adult fiction]

First sentence: Lucy rested the heavy sack of vegetables and paper-wrapped meat on her hip, reluctant to set it down at her feet beside her suitcase despite the ache in her arms. 

My thoughts, part one: I love historical fiction (most of the time). I dislike sports (most of the time). If I had known ahead of time that this newest one features sports--football (aka soccer)--so heavily, so front and center, I probably would have passed on reading this one. 

Premise/plot: This newest novel by Jennifer Chiaverini has multiple narrators. Each narrator is affiliated with the same munitions factory. (One is married to the boss, but oversees here and there some of the concerns of the female workers; she is also involved in the sports team, the Thornshire Canaries.) The others work in the Danger Building doing the most dangerous work--involving potentially deadly chemicals. The factory workers are all experiencing health problems--hair turning ginger, skin turning yellow, sore throats, coughs, etc. The list goes on and on of their symptoms. But the pay is good and the motivation--to end the war quickly--is strong. All have loved ones in the war overseas. No sacrifice is too big when it comes to ending the war. Yes, the characters have names. No, the voices are not unique. 

My thoughts: I do enjoy reading fiction and nonfiction about the Great War (aka World War I, the War to End All Wars). I don't necessarily enjoy reading books with multiple narrators particularly when the voices are so similar and all the characterization blends together. I don't know if it is characters blending together OR if all the characters are drawn so shallowly that it seems to blend together. The book is essentially about their friendships--they work together, they sport together, they care about one another. 

I skimmed ALL sport-related sections. 

Obviously, if you like sports fiction OR enjoy watching sports in real life, then perhaps this one would hold greater appeal. 

© 2023 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Tuesday, August 22, 2023

147. Rebecca of Salerno

Rebecca of Salerno: A Novel of Rogue Crusaders, a Jewish Female Physician, and a Murder. Esther Erman. 2022. [August] 264 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Barcelona, 1195 CE "How beautiful you have grown, Rebecca." Uncle Carlos, my father's younger brother, had rushed to greet us when, after a long, harrowing voyage from England, our feet at last touched land in Barcelona. "But you, Isaac, you have only grown older."

Premise/plot: Rebecca of Salerno was written to be the sequel to Sir Walter Scott's Ivanhoe. Most of the novel is set circa 1205--give or take a year or two. Rebecca, our heroine, is leaving apart from her father (and rest of her family). She's settled in the Jewish community of Salerno. She's gone to medical school. She's a practicing physician and a teacher. She, for the most part, enjoys the community where Jews, Muslims, and Christians can coexist together. Perhaps not always equitably and friendly. But there's some amount of normalcy in coexisting. But this peace is shattered when a crusader is murdered. Rebecca teams up with Rafael, the man who has proposed dozens of times, to solve the crime. I honestly can't remember if Rafael is a fellow doctor, or, if his "job" is more academic. I know there's always talk of them working together to translate various texts--some medical, some not. A rabbi--a visiting rabbi with somewhat radical views, unpopular views--has been arrested and charged with the crime. Rafael and Rebecca believe that he is innocent of the crime, or, at the very least should be considered innocent until proof can be found. The powers that be--a duke, I believe???--just want this bother to be over and done with. Execute already. Who cares who's guilty and who's innocent??? Just kill the person you've already got locked up.

Rebecca and Rafael--but especially Rebecca--believe in justice even when it is uncomfortable and dangerous. What is best for the community at large cannot justify injustice for the individual.

MY thoughts: I don't often read in this time period. I have read Ivanhoe. I'm not sure I'm perfectly convinced that this Rebecca is THE Rebecca from Ivanhoe. Though I will say that I was interested in this Rebecca. She is essentially flawless. Essentially. Her flaw being that she's blind and a bit stupid when it comes to matters of the heart. I have a hard time believing that THE Rebecca would cling so fiercely to the idea of remaining true to Ivanhoe, the so-called love of her life, that she would lock her heart away and never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever marry. I would imagine that after a year or two, she'd start realizing that there is life out there to be lived. I also think this may be more of a LATER notion. I could be wrong, but I think at this time it was a LOT more common for arranged marriages and matchmaking to happen. That parents would be more likely to choose for their children instead of "love matches" and this idealized notion of "romantic love." Culturally and socially, I imagine that marriage and children would have been fundamental and foundational. Again, I could be wrong. I'm no expert in Jewish communities of the thirteenth century. I think readers can see the fact that she will eventually fall in love with Rafael by the end of the novel coming from the start.

I do wish we'd not jumped from 1195 to 1205. The immediate years following Ivanhoe are jumped over completely. Readers have to wait until the last few chapters for Rebecca to begin talking about her time in England and Ivanhoe. 

© 2023 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Monday, August 21, 2023

146. Proud Sorrows

Proud Sorrows. (Billy Boyle #18) James R. Benn. 2023. [September] 365 pages. [Source: Review copy] [historical fiction; mystery; world war II; series book]

First sentence (from the prologue): It began as a glow in the night sky, a faint flicker barely visible in the swirling, low clouds and the pelting rain. Stephen Elliot saw it as he shut the door behind him and made for his automobile. 

Premise/plot: Billy Boyle, our soldier-detective protagonist, returns for his eighteenth mystery in Proud Sorrows. In this one, set in November 1944, Billy Boyle (and his friend, Kaz) are on leave and visiting the home/manor of his girlfriend, Diana Seaton. They are guests of her father, but not the only guests. Kaz's sister is a guest as well and recovering from her injuries gotten at a concentration/detainment camp. She was experimented on. (Also a guest, her full-time nurse, a long-time resident of the village.) Diana herself is home on leave at this time. It should make for a lovely holiday--even for war times. Surely the end is near--at least on the European front, right? But this holiday seems doomed...

It isn't too long before Billy Boyle is back hard at work on a case, drawn into a complex mystery involving several dead bodies. A BODY has been found--washed up in the Wash--in a German war plane. Not so mysterious until they realize--almost right away--that it is not the German pilot in the pilot's seat--but a long-missing resident of the village, Stephen Elliot of Marston Hall. HOW did his body get in the plane? What happened to the German pilot? Elliot's death was obviously murder--based on the evidence of his skull--but was the German pilot murdered too? WHICH of the village residents are suspect? 

The case keeps getting more complex as he begins to question everything and everyone....there are MANY secrets in the village. Not all relate to the murders, of course, but all must be investigated to sort out WHO had the motive and opportunity to commit what might have been a near-perfect crime.

My thoughts: I loved this one. I ABSOLUTELY loved, loved, loved it. I loved the small ("quaint") British village. I love how the village was peopled--the characterization was marvelous. I love how substantive the mystery was. I love how it hinted at history. (The victim was researching King John and how he lost his treasure when attempting to cross the Wash). I love all the side characters that we've come to know throughout the book series--Kaz, of course, Big Mike, Diana, etc. But I also love all the villagers. (Well, most of them.) The book had a WONDERFUL quality to it. This presents a different element of the war mystery. This isn't so much front-lines and battle zones (as some have been) but more home-front and behind the scenes. This doesn't mean that Billy is safe and that there are no dangers....after all the village has at least one murderer....

Highly recommend the whole entire series.



© 2023 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Sunday, August 20, 2023

145. Code Name Bananas

Code Name Bananas. David Walliams. 2020/2023. 384 pages. [Source: Library] [J Historical Fiction; MG Historical Fiction]

First sentence: Life. Love. Laughter. The world had been plunged into a war of unimaginable horror, so these three things were more important than ever.

Premise/plot: Eric, an orphan, considers Gertrude, a gorilla in the London Zoo, his best friend. His uncle, Sid, a zoo keeper, works at the zoo. Eric loves to hang out at the zoo even when he's not supposed to be there. Like at night during air raids. Gertrude's life becomes endangered--other zoo keepers and the powers that be--think it best she be put down before she can escape (if, for example, bombs should damage the structure and integrity of the cage. After all, you wouldn't want a wild and dangerous gorilla running loose in the zoo or the streets. Sid and Eric, of course, disagree...but can they find a way to save her life?

My thoughts: What didn't I like about this one? After all, I generally love historical fiction, especially historical fiction set during the second world war. This one could have been animal fantasy--based on the cover--but it wasn't. (Which is fine. A book doesn't have to deliver on what's promised in the cover.) So what didn't I like???? Well. Imagine that it was written, directed, and stars the Three Stooges. Instead of anything substantive and potentially heart-warming, you've got three-hundred plus pages of slapstick and screwball so-called "comedy." Which again, could be fine. I have nothing against humor--in general. But if "bottom burps" aren't your cup of tea, well, you may be disappointed. Just when you think the book can't get any worse--as far as intelligence goes--it keeps sinking and sinking and sinking. Again, some people enjoy ridiculous, absurd, over-the-top, slightly-crude fiction. This one was not for me.


© 2023 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Thursday, August 17, 2023

144. Thee, Hannah!

Thee, Hannah! Marguerite de Angeli. 1940. 98 pages. [Source: Library] [children's classic; j fiction]

First sentence: Hannah stopped talking for a moment to listen to the night watch cry out the time. She heard the cry again, going on down the block, "Nine o'clock," and went on talking. 

My thoughts, part one: Thee, Hannah may have the dimensions of a picture book, but it is not a picture book. It is not an early chapter book. Yes, it has illustrations--occasionally--but consider it more a novel in a very odd format.

Premise/plot: Hannah, our heroine, is a Quaker. Hannah spends most of the novel feeling out of sorts about that. Why can't she dress like others? Why can't she talk like others? Why can't she be more like others? She isn't necessarily questioning faith--just how that faith is lived out. And not questioning in a twentieth-century or twenty-first century way. Hannah is not deconstructing. She's just wanting to wear a different kind of bonnet, a bonnet more like her friends wear. She dreams about owning a red dress, for example. Or having a sash like her friend has. The book doesn't have much of a plot--not really. It's just Hannah being Hannah day after day, week after week, month after month. It does offer a glimpse of the Quaker way of life in the nineteenth century. But is that a plot? Maybe. Maybe not. The most eventful event of the novel is when Hannah helps a runaway slave. (Her family--like many Quakers--were part of the underground railroad). 

My thoughts: I like historical fiction, generally. I like classics, mostly. I wasn't expecting this to be so text-heavy because of the [deceptive] picture book format. Maybe this was not an unusual format or layout in 1940. The novel is definitely a quiet, simple book. Definitely character driven and not plot-driven. Will the novel be easy to sell to children in 2023? I doubt it. I think the book could still be enjoyed by readers of various ages, but it will be a special reader that will be the best match. 

I do think that religion and spirituality are rarely tackled in modern writing and publishing. So it was nice that faith was so matter-of-fact in this story.


© 2023 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

143. Dust (Silo #3)

143. Dust (Silo #3) Hugh Howey. 2013. 458 pages. [Source: Bought] [Adult science fiction; dystopia; adult fiction]

First sentence:  "Is anyone there?" "Hello? Yes. I'm here."

Dust is the third book in the Silo series. The first two books in the series are Wool and Shift. The first book, Wool, is all kinds of amazing. IT is action-packed and fast-paced. It is a bit mysterious and suspenseful. The second book, Shift, is ambitious. It seeks to be a sequel and a prequel. I'm not sure it should have tried to been both at the same time. There are several past "threads," and one present thread. The story focuses on silo 1, silo 17, and silo 18. Dust, the third and final book, is a proper sequel. It continues the unfolding (more-straight-forward) story of silos 1, 17, and 18. A LOT happens. There's drama and suspense. Not so much mystery....but everything is all about resolution.

I loved the first book. I think the third book does a good job resolving some of the main stories. The second book was best at characterization.

I do recommend the series. But the books aren't necessarily equal and the same. 


© 2023 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Sunday, August 13, 2023

142. Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables. L.M. Montgomery. 1908. 448 pages. [Source: Bought]

I plan on rereading all the Anne books this year. [Maybe] It is such a dear favorite of mine. I couldn't begin to give an accurate accounting of just how many times I've read it. Out of all the Anne books, I think I love the first and last best of all. I think it only right that you begin and end the series in tears. [Very true].

Anne of Green Gables introduces readers to Anne Shirley, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, Rachel Lynde, Diana Barry, and Gilbert Blythe. And that's just naming a few. By the time you've read and reread this one a couple of times, the whole community seems to come alive.

The absolute basics: Anne Shirley is an eleven year old orphan who arrives in Avonlea on Prince Edward Island. Marilla and Matthew are a brother-and-sister looking to adopt...a boy. Earlier miscommunication ultimately leads our heroine, young Ann-with-an-e, to the depths of despair. But Matthew, even before he arrives back at Green Gables with Anne, has decided HE WANTS TO KEEP HER FOREVER AND EVER. Marilla is not ready to say "yes" that quickly. Though as you might predict, she does end up keeping her...and loving her dearly.

The book relates to readers her adventures and misadventures. There is never a dull moment because our heroine never makes the same mistake twice. Here are a few additional characters you should know:
Diana Barry is Anne's bosom friend. These two are inseparable from their first meeting on. The two are not all that alike, but, they get along so splendidly. Anne forgives Diana her lack of imagination as I would imagine most readers do as well.

Gilbert Blythe is swoon-worthy. Wait, that's me talking. Gilbert is technically the cutest boy in Avonlea. When he first sees Anne, he calls her "Carrots." He desperately wants her attention. But he ends up making an enemy. Anne may forgive Diana her lack of imagination, but, she won't forgive the oh-so-cute boy who called her CARROTS. For most of the book, these two are academic rivals.

Rachel Lynde is Marilla's best friend, for better or worse, and without a doubt the town's biggest gossip. Her first impression of Anne is quickly replaced with a much nicer one after Anne apologizes beautifully. Rachel has a 'soft spot' for Anne, and is, in fact, the one who sews up Anne's first dress with puffed sleeves.

The book is written from multiple points of view. Readers get to know Anne, of course, but also Matthew and Marilla. (The first chapter is told from Rachel Lynde's point of view.) I didn't really pay much attention to how much Marilla we get in this first book in the series until I was an adult. But in many ways, this is Marilla's "coming of age" story just as much as it is Anne's.


The long platform was almost deserted; the only living creature in sight being a girl who was sitting on a pile of shingles at the extreme end. Matthew, barely noting that it WAS a girl, sidled past her as quickly as possible without looking at her. Had he looked he could hardly have failed to notice the tense rigidity and expectation of her attitude and expression. She was sitting there waiting for something or somebody and, since sitting and waiting was the only thing to do just then, she sat and waited with all her might and main.
A child of about eleven, garbed in a very short, very tight, very ugly dress of yellowish-gray wincey. She wore a faded brown sailor hat and beneath the hat, extending down her back, were two braids of very thick, decidedly red hair. Her face was small, white and thin, also much freckled; her mouth was large and so were her eyes, which looked green in some lights and moods and gray in others. 
"Would you rather I didn’t talk? If you say so I’ll stop. I can STOP when I make up my mind to it, although it’s difficult.” 
But if you call me Anne please call me Anne spelled with an E.” “What difference does it make how it’s spelled?” asked Marilla with another rusty smile as she picked up the teapot. “Oh, it makes SUCH a difference. It LOOKS so much nicer. When you hear a name pronounced can’t you always see it in your mind, just as if it was printed out? I can; and A-n-n looks dreadful, but A-n-n-e looks so much more distinguished. 
It’s all very well to read about sorrows and imagine yourself living through them heroically, but it’s not so nice when you really come to have them, is it?
“Do you never imagine things different from what they really are?” asked Anne wide-eyed. “No.” “Oh!” Anne drew a long breath. “Oh, Miss — Marilla, how much you miss!”
Somehow, things never are so good when they’re thought out a second time.
“Saying one’s prayers isn’t exactly the same thing as praying,” said Anne meditatively. 
Boiled pork and greens are so unromantic when one is in affliction. 
Isn’t it good just to be alive on a day like this? I pity the people who aren’t born yet for missing it. They may have good days, of course, but they can never have this one. 
“I think your Gilbert Blythe IS handsome,” confided Anne to Diana, “but I think he’s very bold. It isn’t good manners to wink at a strange girl.” But it was not until the afternoon that things really began to happen. 
Gilbert Blythe wasn’t used to putting himself out to make a girl look at him and meeting with failure. She SHOULD look at him, that red-haired Shirley girl with the little pointed chin and the big eyes that weren’t like the eyes of any other girl in Avonlea school. Gilbert reached across the aisle, picked up the end of Anne’s long red braid, held it out at arm’s length and said in a piercing whisper: “Carrots! Carrots!” Then Anne looked at him with a vengeance! She did more than look. She sprang to her feet, her bright fancies fallen into cureless ruin. She flashed one indignant glance at Gilbert from eyes whose angry sparkle was swiftly quenched in equally angry tears. “You mean, hateful boy!” she exclaimed passionately. “How dare you!” 
“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it? Look at these maple branches. Don’t they give you a thrill — several thrills? I’m going to decorate my room with them.” 
I love bright red drinks, don’t you? They taste twice as good as any other color. 
Well, I suppose I must finish up my lessons. I won’t allow myself to open that new book Jane lent me until I’m through. But it’s a terrible temptation, Matthew. Even when I turn my back on it I can see it there just as plain. Jane said she cried herself sick over it. I love a book that makes me cry. But I think I’ll carry that book into the sitting room and lock it in the jam closet and give you the key. And you must NOT give it to me, Matthew, until my lessons are done, not even if I implore you on my bended knees. It’s all very well to say resist temptation, but it’s ever so much easier to resist it if you can’t get the key. 
You didn’t know just how I felt about it, but you see Matthew did. Matthew understands me, and it’s so nice to be understood, Marilla. 
“It’s because you’re too heedless and impulsive, child, that’s what. You never stop to think — whatever comes into your head to say or do you say or do it without a moment’s reflection.” “Oh, but that’s the best of it,” protested Anne. “Something just flashes into your mind, so exciting, and you must out with it. If you stop to think it over you spoil it all. Haven’t you never felt that yourself, Mrs. Lynde?”
When Miss Barry went away she said: “Remember, you Anne-girl, when you come to town you’re to visit me and I’ll put you in my very sparest spare-room bed to sleep.” “Miss Barry was a kindred spirit, after all,” Anne confided to Marilla. “You wouldn’t think so to look at her, but she is. You don’t find it right out at first, as in Matthew’s case, but after a while you come to see it. Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.
“Yes; but cakes have such a terrible habit of turning out bad just when you especially want them to be good,” sighed Anne.
“Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” “I’ll warrant you’ll make plenty in it,” said Marilla.
Mrs. Lynde says I’m full of original sin. No matter how hard I try to be good I can never make such a success of it as those who are naturally good. It’s a good deal like geometry, I expect. But don’t you think the trying so hard ought to count for something?
It isn’t very pleasant to be laid up; but there is a bright side to it, Marilla. You find out how many friends you have.
Mrs. Allan says we should never make uncharitable speeches; but they do slip out so often before you think, don’t they? I simply can’t talk about Josie Pye without making an uncharitable speech, so I never mention her at all. You may have noticed that. I’m trying to be as much like Mrs. Allan as I possibly can, for I think she’s perfect.
“Isn’t this evening just like a purple dream, Diana? It makes me so glad to be alive. In the mornings I always think the mornings are best; but when evening comes I think it’s lovelier still.”
Mr. Allan says everybody should have a purpose in life and pursue it faithfully. Only he says we must first make sure that it is a worthy purpose. I would call it a worthy purpose to want to be a teacher like Miss Stacy, wouldn’t you, Marilla? I think it’s a very noble profession.
Why can’t women be ministers, Marilla? I asked Mrs. Lynde that and she was shocked and said it would be a scandalous thing. She said there might be female ministers in the States and she believed there was, but thank goodness we hadn’t got to that stage in Canada yet and she hoped we never would. But I don’t see why. I think women would make splendid ministers. When there is a social to be got up or a church tea or anything else to raise money the women have to turn to and do the work. I’m sure Mrs. Lynde can pray every bit as well as Superintendent Bell and I’ve no doubt she could preach too with a little practice.” “Yes, I believe she could,” said Marilla dryly. “She does plenty of unofficial preaching as it is. Nobody has much of a chance to go wrong in Avonlea with Rachel to oversee them.”
There are so many things to be thought over and decided when you’re beginning to grow up. It keeps me busy all the time thinking them over and deciding what is right. It’s a serious thing to grow up, isn’t it, Marilla? But when I have such good friends as you and Matthew and Mrs. Allan and Miss Stacy I ought to grow up successfully, and I’m sure it will be my own fault if I don’t.
As Mrs. Lynde says, ‘If you can’t be cheerful, be as cheerful as you can.’
It’s good advice, but I expect it will be hard to follow; good advice is apt to be, I think.
“No, I wasn’t crying over your piece,” said Marilla, who would have scorned to be betrayed into such weakness by any poetry stuff. “I just couldn’t help thinking of the little girl you used to be, Anne. And I was wishing you could have stayed a little girl, even with all your queer ways. You’ve grown up now and you’re going away; and you look so tall and stylish and so — so — different altogether in that dress — as if you didn’t belong in Avonlea at all — and I just got lonesome thinking it all over.”
It won’t make a bit of difference where I go or how much I change outwardly; at heart I shall always be your little Anne, who will love you and Matthew and dear Green Gables more and better every day of her life.
“Wouldn’t Matthew be proud if I got to be a B.A.? Oh, it’s delightful to have ambitions. I’m so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be any end to them — that’s the best of it. Just as soon as you attain to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting.”
“That Anne-girl improves all the time,” she said. “I get tired of other girls — there is such a provoking and eternal sameness about them. Anne has as many shades as a rainbow and every shade is the prettiest while it lasts. I don’t know that she is as amusing as she was when she was a child, but she makes me love her and I like people who make me love them. It saves me so much trouble in making myself love them.”
For we pay a price for everything we get or take in this world; and although ambitions are well worth having, they are not to be cheaply won, but exact their dues of work and self-denial, anxiety and discouragement. 
“Well now, I’d rather have you than a dozen boys, Anne,” said Matthew patting her hand. “Just mind you that — rather than a dozen boys. Well now, I guess it wasn’t a boy that took the Avery scholarship, was it? It was a girl — my girl — my girl that I’m proud of.” He smiled his shy smile at her as he went into the yard. Anne took the memory of it with her when she went to her room that night and sat for a long while at her open window, thinking of the past and dreaming of the future. 
It was the last night before sorrow touched her life; and no life is ever quite the same again when once that cold, sanctifying touch has been laid upon it. 
Marilla, I’ve almost decided to give up trying to like Josie Pye. I’ve made what I would once have called a heroic effort to like her, but Josie Pye won’t BE liked. 
When I left Queen’s my future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does. It has a fascination of its own, that bend, Marilla. I wonder how the road beyond it goes — what there is of green glory and soft, checkered light and shadows — what new landscapes — what new beauties — what curves and hills and valleys further on. 
“Dear old world,” she murmured, “you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.” 
“‘God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world,’” whispered Anne softly. softly.



© 2023 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

141. Lord of the Rings: Two Towers

The Two Towers. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1954/1965. Houghton Mifflin. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]

I am still enjoying my reread of Lord of the Rings. The Two Towers consists of books three and four.

The fellowship has been broken, and, as a result the narrative has been completely split. The fourth book follows the adventures of Sam and Frodo (and Gollum).  The third book follows the adventures of everyone else: Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, etc.

The book opens with some drama: Merry and Pippin have been taken! Boromir has fallen valiantly in battle trying to protect them. He confesses all to Aragorn moments before he dies. (But the movie does it even better. That death scene in the extended edition is SOMETHING.)

Aragorn knelt beside him. Boromir opened his eyes and strove to speak. At last slow words came. ‘I tried to take the Ring from Frodo,’ he said. ‘I am sorry. I have paid.’ His glance strayed to his fallen enemies; twenty at least lay there. ‘They have gone: the Halflings: the Orcs have taken them. I think they are not dead. Orcs bound them.’ He paused and his eyes closed wearily. After a moment he spoke again. ‘Farewell, Aragorn! Go to Minas Tirith and save my people! I have failed.’ ‘No!’ said Aragorn, taking his hand and kissing his brow. ‘You have conquered. Few have gained such a victory. Be at peace! Minas Tirith shall not fall!’ Boromir smiled. ‘Which way did they go? Was Frodo there?’ said Aragorn. But Boromir did not speak again.
The company also learns that Sam and Frodo have left, have "broken" the fellowship. The mission has changed without a doubt, but the remaining members still have purpose.
‘The rumour of the earth is dim and confused,’ he said. ‘Nothing walks upon it for many miles about us. Faint and far are the feet of our enemies. But loud are the hoofs of the horses. It comes to my mind that I heard them, even as I lay on the ground in sleep, and they troubled my dreams: horses galloping, passing in the West. But now they are drawing ever further from us, riding northward. I wonder what is happening in this land!’ ‘Let us go!’ said Legolas. 

They decide to pursue the orcs and attempt a rescue of the hobbits. In their quest to save Merry and Pippin, they meet an old friend in a surprising place!

In addition to meeting an old friend, readers also meet some new characters: Treebeard, Éomer, Théoden, and Éowyn. Merry and Pippin encounter the Ents! Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, (and Gandalf) go to Rohan. I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this third book.

The fourth book concerns Frodo, Sam, Gollum. Readers meet Boromir's brother as well. It's good, very good. But I can't help thinking that it is largely redeemed by SAM.

Favorite quotes:
Gimli ground his teeth. ‘This is a bitter end to our hope and to all our toil!’ he said. ‘To hope, maybe, but not to toil,’ said Aragorn.  
‘Awake! Awake!’ he cried. ‘It is a red dawn. Strange things await us by the eaves of the forest. Good or evil, I do not know; but we are called. Awake!’
‘You may say this to Théoden son of Thengel: open war lies before him, with Sauron or against him. None may live now as they have lived, and few shall keep what they call their own.
The world is all grown strange. Elf and Dwarf in company walk in our daily fields; and folk speak with the Lady of the Wood and yet live; and the Sword comes back to war that was broken in the long ages ere the fathers of our fathers rode into the Mark! How shall a man judge what to do in such times?’ ‘As he ever has judged,’ said Aragorn. ‘Good and ill have not changed since yesteryear; nor are they one thing among Elves and Dwarves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.’ ‘True indeed,’ said Éomer. ‘But I do not doubt you, nor the deed which my heart would do. Yet I am not free to do all as I would. It is against our law to let strangers wander at will in our land, until the king himself shall give them leave, and more strict is the command in these days of peril.
There are some things that it is better to begin than to refuse, even though the end may be dark.
There are Ents and Ents, you know; or there are Ents and things that look like Ents but ain’t, as you might say. I’ll call you Merry and Pippin, if you please – nice names. For I am not going to tell you my name, not yet at any rate.’ A queer half-knowing, half-humorous look came with a green flicker into his eyes. ‘For one thing it would take a long while: my name is growing all the time, and I’ve lived a very long, long time; so my name is like a story. Real names tell you the story of the things they belong to in my language, in the Old Entish as you might say. It is a lovely language, but it takes a very long time to say anything in it, because we do not say anything in it, unless it is worth taking a long time to say, and to listen to.
‘Of course, it is likely enough, my friends,’ he said slowly, ‘likely enough that we are going to our doom: the last march of the Ents. But if we stayed at home and did nothing, doom would find us anyway, sooner or later. That thought has long been growing in our hearts; and that is why we are marching now. 
‘My name!’ said the old man again. ‘Have you not guessed it already? You have heard it before, I think. Yes, you have heard it before. But come now, what of your tale?’ The three companions stood silent and made no answer. ‘There are some who would begin to doubt whether your errand is fit to tell,’ said the old man. ‘Happily I know something of it. You are tracking the footsteps of two young hobbits, I believe. Yes, hobbits. Don’t stare, as if you had never heard the strange name before. You have, and so have I. Well, they climbed up here the day before yesterday; and they met someone that they did not expect. Does that comfort you? And now you would like to know where they were taken? Well, well, maybe I can give you some news about that. But why are we standing? Your errand, you see, is no longer as urgent as you thought. Let us sit down and be more at ease.’  
They all gazed at him. His hair was white as snow in the sunshine; and gleaming white was his robe; the eyes under his deep brows were bright, piercing as the rays of the sun; power was in his hand. Between wonder, joy, and fear they stood and found no words to say. At last Aragorn stirred. ‘Gandalf!’ he said. ‘Beyond all hope you return to us in our need! What veil was over my sight? Gandalf!’ Gimli said nothing, but sank to his knees, shading his eyes. 
Hope is not victory. War is upon us and all our friends, a war in which only the use of the Ring could give us surety of victory. It fills me with great sorrow and great fear: for much shall be destroyed and all may be lost. I am Gandalf, Gandalf the White, but Black is mightier still.’ 
Go where you must go, and hope! 
A king will have his way in his own hall, be it folly or wisdom.
Men need many words before deeds. 
 ‘Yet dawn is ever the hope of men,’ said Aragorn.
That must be my hope,’ said Legolas. ‘But I wish that he had come this way. I desired to tell Master Gimli that my tale is now thirty-nine.’ ‘If he wins back to the caves, he will pass your count again,’ laughed Aragorn. ‘Never did I see an axe so wielded.’ ‘I must go and seek some arrows,’ said Legolas. ‘Would that this night would end, and I could have better light for shooting.’ 
‘We will have peace,’ said Théoden at last thickly and with an effort. Several of the Riders cried out gladly. Théoden held up his hand. ‘Yes, we will have peace,’ he said, now in a clear voice, ‘we will have peace, when you and all your works have perished – and the works of your dark master to whom you would deliver us. You are a liar, Saruman, and a corrupter of men’s hearts. You hold out your hand to me, and I perceive only a finger of the claw of Mordor. Cruel and cold! Even if your war on me was just – as it was not, for were you ten times as wise you would have no right to rule me and mine for your own profit as you desired – even so, what will you say of your torches in Westfold and the children that lie dead there? And they hewed Háma’s body before the gates of the Hornburg, after he was dead. When you hang from a gibbet at your window for the sport of your own crows, I will have peace with you and Orthanc. So much for the House of Eorl. A lesser son of great sires am I, but I do not need to lick your fingers. Turn elsewhither. But I fear your voice has lost its charm.’ 
Now, Pippin my lad, don’t forget Gildor’s saying – the one Sam used to quote: Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.’
‘Don’t hurt us! Don’t let them hurt us, precious! They won’t hurt us will they, nice little hobbitses? We didn’t mean no harm, but they jumps on us like cats on poor mices, they did, precious. And we’re so lonely, gollum. We’ll be nice to them, very nice, if they’ll be nice to us, won’t we, yes, yess.’
We only wish to catch a fish, so juicy-sweet! 
‘Yess, yess, nice water,’ said Gollum. ‘Drink it, drink it, while we can! But what is it they’ve got, precious? Is it crunchable? Is it tasty?’
‘I am commanded to go to the land of Mordor, and therefore I shall go,’ said Frodo. ‘If there is only one way, then I must take it. What comes after must come.’
Sam said nothing. The look on Frodo’s face was enough for him; he knew that words of his were useless. And after all he never had any real hope in the affair from the beginning; but being a cheerful hobbit he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed. Now they were come to the bitter end. But he had stuck to his master all the way; that was what he had chiefly come for, and he would still stick to him. His master would not go to Mordor alone. Sam would go with him – and at any rate they would get rid of Gollum. 

All hobbits, of course, can cook, for they begin to learn the art before their letters (which many never reach); but Sam was a good cook, even by hobbit reckoning, and he had done a good deal of the camp-cooking on their travels, when there was a chance. He still hopefully carried some of his gear in his pack: a small tinder-box, two small shallow pans, the smaller fitting into the larger; inside them a wooden spoon, a short two-pronged fork and some skewers were stowed; and hidden at the bottom of the pack in a flat wooden box a dwindling treasure, some salt. But he needed a fire, and other things besides. He thought for a bit, while he took out his knife, cleaned and whetted it, and began to dress the rabbits. He was not going to leave Frodo alone asleep even for a few minutes. 
Sam drew a deep breath. ‘An Oliphaunt it was!’ he said. ‘So there are Oliphaunts, and I have seen one. What a life! But no one at home will ever believe me. Well, if that’s over, I’ll have a bit of sleep.’
‘I don’t like anything here at all,’ said Frodo, ‘step or stone, breath or bone. Earth, air and water all seem accursed. But so our path is laid.’ ‘Yes, that’s so,’ said Sam. ‘And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on – and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same – like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into?’ ‘I wonder,’ said Frodo. ‘But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.’
Still, I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We’re in one, of course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards. And people will say: “Let’s hear about Frodo and the Ring!” And they’ll say: “Yes, that’s one of my favourite stories. Frodo was very brave, wasn’t he, dad?” “Yes, my boy, the famousest of the hobbits, and that’s saying a lot.”’ ‘It’s saying a lot too much,’ said Frodo, and he laughed, a long clear laugh from his heart. Such a sound had not been heard in those places since Sauron came to Middle-earth. To Sam suddenly it seemed as if all the stones were listening and the tall rocks leaning over them. But Frodo did not heed them; he laughed again. ‘Why, Sam,’ he said, ‘to hear you somehow makes me as merry as if the story was already written. But you’ve left out one of the chief characters: Samwise the stouthearted. “I want to hear more about Sam, dad. Why didn’t they put in more of his talk, dad? That’s what I like, it makes me laugh. And Frodo wouldn’t have got far without Sam, would he, dad?”’ ‘Now, Mr. Frodo,’ said Sam, ‘you shouldn’t make fun. I was serious.’ ‘So was I,’ said Frodo, ‘and so I am. We’re going on a bit too fast. You and I, Sam, are still stuck in the worst places of the story, and it is all too likely that some will say at this point: “Shut the book now, dad; we don’t want to read any more.”’



© 2023 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews