Saturday, March 24, 2018

My Victorian Year #12

I'm still slaving away happily reading pressing ahead in Anthony Trollope's Orley Farm. I have only one question: WHAT KIND OF BOOK HAS EIGHTY CHAPTERS?!?!

Every time I think I'm making some kind of progress, I get discouraged. I believe I've read forty-two or forty-three chapters. (Most books these days don't even have forty-three chapters!)

I am also reading Fyodor Dostoyevsky's Crime and Punishment. I will say this so far: it is more compelling than Orley Farm. (Also darker. Also a LOT more confusing. Characters are so much harder to keep track of when they are Russian and have a couple nicknames per character.)

Quotes from Crime and Punishment:
Efficiency's acquired with some effort, it doesn't just fall from the skies. (179)
'Where was it,' thought Raskolnikov, as he walked onward, 'where was it I read about a man who's been sentenced to die, saying or thinking, the hour before his death, that even if he had to live somewhere high up on a rock, and in such a tiny area that he could just stand on it, with all around precipices, an ocean, endless murk, endless solitude and endless storms--and had to stand there, on those two feet of space, all his life, for a thousand years, eternity--that it would be better to live like that, than to die so very soon! If only he could live, live and live! Never mind what life was like! As long as he could live!...What truth there is in that! Lord, what truth! Man is a villain. And whoever calls him a villain because of it is one himself!' he added a moment later. (191)
Quotes from Orley Farm:
Men will not labour who have gotten all that they require without work.
Why strive to deserve any woman, when women are plenty who do not care to be deserved? That plan of picking up the fallen apples is so much the easier.
Mrs. Furnival had made up her mind that war was expedient, — nay, absolutely necessary. She had an idea, formed no doubt from the reading of history, that some allies require a smart brush now and again to blow away the clouds of distrust which become engendered by time between them; and that they may become better allies than ever afterwards.
At last the battle began. He was not looking, but he heard her first movement as she prepared herself. “Tom!” she said, and then the voice of the war goddess was again silent. He did not choose to answer her at the instant, and then the war goddess rose from her seat and again spoke. “Tom!” she said, standing over him and looking at him.
© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Keep It Short #12

This week I read three L.M. Montgomery stories.

Robert Turner's Revenge
First sentence: When Robert Turner came to the green, ferny triangle where the station road forked to the right and left under the birches, he hesitated as to which direction he would take.

Premise/plot: Robert Turner has waited his whole life to get revenge on a childhood enemy. Will he changes his mind when he realizes that the person he'll be hurting most is his former sweetheart?

My thoughts: It was just okay for me.

The Fillmore Elderberries:
 First sentence: "I expected as much," said Timothy Robinson. His tone brought the blood into Ellis Duncan's face. The lad opened his lips quickly, as if for an angry retort, but as quickly closed them again with a set firmness oddly like Timothy Robinson's own.

Premise/plot: Ellis Duncan's father has died. Ellis finds it a real struggle to get work since he's a boy--not a "man" and since his father was known for his laziness. Fair or not, Ellis is going to have to prove himself to his community if he is to make it. And prove himself he does when he tackles a difficult job--clearing a pasture of elderberries/elders.

My thoughts: I liked this one so much better than Robert Turner's Revenge.

The Finished Story
First story: She always sat in a corner of the west veranda at the hotel, knitting something white and fluffy, or pink and fluffy, or pale blue and fluffy—always fluffy, at least, and always dainty. Shawls and scarfs and hoods the things were, I believe. When she finished one she gave it to some girl and began another. Every girl at Harbour Light that summer wore some distracting thing that had been fashioned by Miss Sylvia's slim, tireless, white fingers.

Premise/plot: Miss Sylvia stars in this short story. She is a magnet for young people. And young people love to tell her stories. One young man is a writer who shares a story he's hoping to have published. In the story, a young man goes away from his lover without declaring his love for her. He thinks it's nobler that way since they can never be together. Miss Sylvia is opinionated. Can she change his mind?

My thoughts: This one is definitely my favorite of the three.
But one evening, when I had known her a month, as time is reckoned, and long years as affection and understanding are computed, she told me her story—at least, what there was to tell of it. The last chapter was missing.
I was reading one of my stories to Miss Sylvia. In my own excuse I must allege that she tempted me to do it. I did not go around with manuscripts under my arm, inflicting them on defenceless females. But Miss Sylvia had discovered that I was a magazine scribbler, and moreover, that I had shut myself up in my room that very morning and perpetrated a short story. Nothing would do but that I read it to her.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Me? Listen to Audio?! #11

 This week I've kept up with Charles Dickens' Old Curiosity Shop. I've listened to episodes eleven through fifteen this week.

I've also finished The Inimitable Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse. The last episode was "Bingo and the Little Woman." There were eight thirty minute episodes. And they were all DELIGHTFUL. It was dramatized by Chris Miller.

I am super-super-super excited to begin The Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club. It is a mystery starring Lord Peter Wimsey whom I ADORE. Granted that it isn't my favorite Wimsey mystery. It was also adapted for radio by Chris Miller. "Ian Carmichael appeared as Lord Peter Wimsey for BBC Radio from 1973 to 1983, in addition to the BBC TV adaptations that were broadcast between 1972 and 1975."

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Friday, March 23, 2018

Annie Patches: My New Forever Home

Annie Patches: My New Forever Home. Marty Koblish. Photographs by Jessica Charous. 2015. 34 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: My mommy lived on the streets.

Premise/plot: This picture book tells the story of a foster kitty who found her furr-ever home. Her mom was a pregnant stray cat taken in by a foster family. Annie Patches was adopted a few months later and placed in a new home--a forever home. The book uses photographs to tell her story. Well, to show off her cuteness mainly. 

My thoughts: I bought this one at a local charity shop because of the photographs. To say I love cats would be a bit of an understatement. I just couldn't resist this one. Sadly, I lost a few pages just with the first read. The story is heartwarming and the photographs are ADORABLE.

 Text: 3 out of 5
Photographs: 5 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Thursday, March 22, 2018


Thunderhead (Arc of a Scythe #2) Neal Shusterman. 2018. 5014 pages. [Source: Library]
First sentence: Peach velvet with embroidered baby-blue trim. Honorable Scythe Braums loved his robe. True, the velvet became uncomfortably hot in the summer months, but it was something he had grown accustomed to in his sixty-three years as a scythe.

Premise/plot: Thunderhead is the sequel to Scythe. If you haven't read Scythe yet, you should. What should you know about the series?'s set in the future. Many advancements have been made. Immortality is the norm--for most. Gone are the days where you could die of disease or old age. Most people who die can be revived. Dead has become deadish. But a small percentage of the population is gleaned each year. That is the role of the Scythes. Readers meet many scythes in the first novel in the series. Two of the main characters in the first book were Rowan and Citra. Both characters are back in the sequel. Rowan has adopted the name "Scythe Lucifer" and is on a mission of his own. Citra has adopted the name "Scythe Anastasia." Two main characters that take prominence in Thunderhead are the THUNDERHEAD and Greyson Tolliver.

The Scythes are finding themselves divided into two factions: the 'old' guard that believe that the role of scythe is honorable but heavy with responsibility and the 'new order' which believe that killing is an exhilarating joy. They don't work with heavy hearts and solemnity. No, they approach the job as a pleasure. Scythe Anastasia and Scythe Curie are of the old guard faction.

There are some truly EVIL characters in Thunderhead.

My thoughts: I'm not sure I have words. The ending left me crushed and broken. (I can only compare it perhaps to listening to the whole Hamilton soundtrack.) I think the book is well written and well plotted. It almost goes without saying that it is incredibly compelling--intense and dramatic.

I do recommend the series. Read them back to back if you can. I did not reread the first book. If there is a third book, I will try to make a point to reread all the books.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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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