Tuesday, June 27, 2017

What's On Your Nightstand (June)

The folks at 5 Minutes For Books host What’s On Your Nightstand? the fourth Tuesday of each month in which we can share about the books we have been reading and/or plan to read.

I finished most of what I had on my nightstand last month. I finished the KJV Reformation Study Bible, Basic Christianity, Dawn's Early Light, Blood, Bullets, and Bones, The Portrait of a Lady, and 44 Scotland Street.

I've made a good deal of progress in Thomas Manton's Exposition of Psalm 119. I've started sharing from it at Operation Actually Read Bible. Right now, I'm sharing just on Thursdays, but I might increase that as the summer continues.

I have not made much more progress in Mallthew: All Authority in Heaven and On Earth. Douglas Sean O'Donnell. I think I've read two chapters since last month.

What's NEW.

The Bertrams. Anthony Trollope. 1859. 496 pages. [Source: Bought]

I'm continuing to read Trollope chronologically. I hope to finish this one this week or weekend.

Fearless Living in Troubled Times. Michael Youssef. 2017. [August] Harvest House. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]

This is a very thought-provoking read. Youssef is teaching from the books 1 and 2 Thessalonians.

Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers. Deborah Heiligman. 2017. 464 pages. [Source: Library]

I've decided that his family would have been perfect guests on the Dr. Phil show. But if Dr. Phil had gotten Vincent the help he needed, would he still be remembered today? Would his masterpieces even exist?

The Heirloom Murders. Kathleen Ernst. 2011. 349 pages. [Source: Library]

I've not read the first Chloe Ellefson murder yet--this is the second in the series--but this series shows some potential. I am most interested in reading the sixth book Death on the Prairie which has the heroine going to visit all the historic sites associated with Laura Ingalls Wilder.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Monday, June 26, 2017

Board Book: Welcome A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals

Welcome: A Mo Willems Guide for New Arrivals. Mo Willems. 2017. 30 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Our research indicates this is YOU. Take a good look. How remarkable it is that you are you. You are a unique combination of LOVE + Time + Luck. I am lucky, too. I am lucky that you are here with me...while we read this book together.

Premise/plot: Mo Willems has a new picture book. It is for "new arrivals." It is written in the second person, presumably to your new baby. It celebrates reading books together among other things.

My thoughts: I asked for a second opinion on this one. My mom said, "what a disappointment! I expect more from a Mo Willems' book!" I concurred--which is why I went to her in the first place. I was very disappointed. Still, I want to talk about what this book is and isn't.

There is a mirror at the front and back of the book. Many books for babies feature mirrors. Babies do like to look at themselves...usually. So this could be a plus.

Also the cover is thicker and sturdier which may invite a certain amount of sucking and chewing. The pages themselves are not as sturdy or as thick as a traditional board book.

The text of the book is wordy. Or should I say verbose?! It is the sound of your voice reading anything, that babies enjoy, or so I've been told. So the fact that the book is text-heavy wouldn't have to be a deal breaker. Comprehension isn't the goal, right? Not at the 'new arrival' stage.

There is some repetition. Nine times we see the refrain, "while we read this book together." Repetition goes hand in hand with being a book for babies, toddlers, or preschoolers.

The book is all about being honest.
Please enjoy your stay. Many activities are available for you to enjoy, including, but not limited to: SLEEPING and WAKING, EATING and BURPING, POOPING and MORE POOPING. Other options are available upon request and will be updated on a regular basis. Of our current offerings, I can personally recommend your being right here with me...while we read this book together.
If you have further questions do not hesitate to CALL or FLAIL ABOUT or SCREAM LIKE A BANSHEE. Someone is standing by 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. They will be with you as soon as possible. Right now I am here with you...while we read this book together.
Honesty is good.

Is the book truly for newborns? for very young babies? Or is the book written for new parents? Is the message really written for--directed to--new arrivals to this thing called parenting. If the "new arrivals" in question are actually the parents, then, I think it would make more sense!

Parents can establish the habit, the routine, of reading books aloud to their newborns. It is never too early to start reading aloud. One shouldn't worry if the baby can understand, comprehend, the text. As a bond-builder this one can more than suffice.

I guess what I found so disappointing were the illustrations. I just was not amused or impressed by the illustrations. I did not find them appealing. I found them dull, boring, uninspired.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 1 out of 5
Total: 5 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Sunday, June 25, 2017

Prisoner's Base

Prisoner's Base. (Nero Wolfe #21) Rex Stout. 1952. 209 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: In Nero Wolfe's old brownstone house on West Thirty-fifth street that Monday afternoon in June, the atmosphere was sparky. I mention it not to make an issue of Wolfe's bad habits, but because it is to the point. It was the atmosphere that got us a roomer.

Premise/plot: Priscilla Eads shows up at Nero Wolfe's house expecting--hoping--that she can stay there for a week, that she can pay him room and board. She's hiding out from someone--a lawyer, a business partner. Archie lets her in, and tells her she can stay temporarily at least. The final word will come from Nero Wolfe, and he's not to be disturbed at the moment. (Readers can guess why.) Before the evening is out, two things occur: someone comes looking for her and wanting to hire Wolfe to find her AND Wolfe kicks Miss Eads out of his house. The next day, can you guess who's dead?!

Archie blames himself and takes it upon himself to FIND THE KILLER NO MATTER WHAT. And Wolfe finds himself with Archie as a client!!! Miss Eads was an heiress and she was about to come into a lot of stock and money as her birthday approached...

My thoughts: I really enjoy Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe series. I love, love, love, LOVE Archie Goodwin. This is a very satisfying, very quick read.

"If I had said I had read about you and seen a picture of you, and you fascinated me, and I wanted to be near you for one wonderful week, you'd have known I was lying." "Not necessarily. Millions of women feel like that but they can't afford the fifty bucks a day."
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Case of the Poached Egg

The Case of the Poached Egg. (Wilcox and Griswold #2) Robin Newman. Illustrated by Deborah Zemke. 2017. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: 10:00 am, Headquarters. "Headquarters. Wilcox, here." "This is Henrietta Hen. My precious Penny is missing." "Did she fly the coop?" I asked. "Oh no! She can't fly." "Did she run away?" I probed. "Oh no! She can't run." "Can't fly or run? I've never heard of a chicken who couldn't cross the road." "She's not a chicken." "Not a chicken? What is she?" "An egg." I sure had egg on my face. "Are you sure she's gone?" "Yes, Detective. I always count my chickens before they hatch." "We're on our way!" I said. "Captain, we've got a Code 0, a poached egg." The captain held up a pot of water. "Not poached as in boiled," I said, "poached as in stolen!" We jumped into our cruiser and flew to the coop.

Premise/plot: This is the second book in the early reader mystery/detective series by Robin Newman. Wilcox and Griswold have another case to solve on the farm. This time it's a kidnapping case. Someone stole an egg. But who? And why? Can these two solve the crime and return Penny to her mother before she's hatched?!

My thoughts: I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this series. I loved the first book, and I love the second book just as much if not more. I love Robin Newman's writing. I love her puns. I love the dialogue. I love the pace. I also love just the energy these two bring to any case they are working on. I would definitely recommend this series to young readers.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Victorian Quarterly Check-In

  • What books for this challenge have you read (or reviewed) recently?
  • What are you currently reading?
  • Are there any quotes you'd like to share?
  • Who would you recommend? Anyone you would NOT recommend?
  • Favorite book you've read so far...
What books for this challenge have you read (or reviewed) recently?

✔ 6. A book with illustrations
Oliver Twist. Charles Dickens. 1838/1839. 608 pages. [Source: Bought] 
9. A book published between 1850-1860
Doctor Thorne. Anthony Trollope. 1858. 639 pages. [Source: Bought] 
✔ 12. A book published between 1881-1890
Portrait of a Lady. Henry James. 1881. 656 pages. [Source: Bought]
✔ 33. A book with a number in the title
The Three Clerks. Anthony Trollope. 1858. 648 pages. [Source: Bought]
✔ 34. A book with a place in the title 
Washington Square. Henry James. 1880. 288 pages. [Source: Bought]

 What are you currently reading?

The Bertrams by Anthony Trollope

 Are there any quotes you'd like to share?
  • Under certain circumstances there are few hours in life more agreeable than the hour dedicated to the ceremony known as afternoon tea. ~ Henry James
  • There are as many points of view in the world as there are people of sense to take them.  ~ Henry James
  • You must save what you can of your life; you mustn’t lose it all simply because you’ve lost a part. ~ Henry James
  • A mistake’s made before one knows it. ~ Henry James
  • “I’m rather ashamed of my plans; I make a new one every day." ~ Henry James
  • Don’t mind anything any one tells you about any one else. Judge everyone and everything for yourself.” “That’s what I try to do,” said Isabel “but when you do that people call you conceited.” “You’re not to mind them — that’s precisely my argument; not to mind what they say about yourself any more than what they say about your friend or your enemy.” Isabel considered. “I think you’re right; but there are some things I can’t help minding: for instance when my friend’s attacked or when I myself am praised.” “Of course you’re always at liberty to judge the critic. Judge people as critics, however,” Ralph added, “and you’ll condemn them all!” ~ Henry James
  • You must be prepared on many occasions in life to please no one at all — not even yourself. ~ Henry James
  • When you’ve lived as long as I you’ll see that every human being has his shell and that you must take the shell into account. By the shell I mean the whole envelope of circumstances. There’s no such thing as an isolated man or woman; we’re each of us made up of some cluster of appurtenances. ~ Henry James
  • Wherever there are two men, there will be two opinions. ~ Anthony Trollope
  • All persons who have a propensity to lecture others have a strong constitutional dislike to being lectured themselves. ~ Anthony Trollope
  • “it doesn’t take long to like a person — when once you begin.” Henry James
  • “The alphabet of common sense is something you will never learn,” the Doctor permitted himself to respond. ~ Henry James
  •  It is so much easier to preach than to practise. ~ Anthony Trollope
  • How is one to have an opinion if one does not get it by looking at the things which happen around us?  ~ Anthony Trollope
  • Our sheep have to put up with our spiritual doses whether they like them or not.  ~ Anthony Trollope
  • “You haven’t got another cup of tea, have you?” “Oh, uncle! you have had five.” “No, my dear! not five; only four — only four, I assure you; I have been very particular to count. I had one while I was—” “Five uncle; indeed and indeed.” “Well, then, as I hate the prejudice which attaches luck to an odd number, I’ll have a sixth to show that I am not superstitious.”  ~ Anthony Trollope
  • When one is impatient, five minutes is as the duration of all time, and a quarter of an hour is eternity.  ~ Anthony Trollope
  • We strain at our gnats with a vengeance, but we swallow our camels with ease. ~ Anthony Trollope
  • Wounds sometimes must be opened in order that they may be healed.  ~ Anthony Trollope
  • Love can only be paid in its own coin: it knows of no other legal tender.   ~ Anthony Trollope
Who would you recommend? Anyone you would NOT recommend?

I'm reading a lot of Henry James and Anthony Trollope this year!

Favorite book you've read so far...

The Karamazov Brothers. Fyodor Dostoevsky. Translated by Ignat Avsey. 1880/2008. 1054 pages. [Source: Library] 

© 2016 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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