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Mainly reviews of children's and young adult literature. Primarily focuses on new literature, 2004-present, but may feature older titles if they are "favorites" of mine. Feel free to leave comments. I always enjoy reading what others have to say!
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26. Two Get Into Art Books

Get Into Art: Animals. Susie Brooks. 2013. Kingfisher. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 If you were going to draw an animal, what would it be? You have so much choice, it might be hard to decide! Animals are a great subject for artists because there are so many shapes, colors, and characters to choose from...Look at the different ways in which animals have inspired famous artists--and then let them inspire you, too!

What a fun concept book for sharing art with children! Get Into Art Animals shares twelve famous artworks with children. Facts about the artists are given for each work of art. In addition, there is a recommended hands-on art project inspired by each work. A glossary in the back defines art terms. There's also a list of everything you'll need to do all the projects.

The Snail, Henri Matisse, 1953
Suspense, Sir Edwin Landseer, 1861
Crinkly Giraffe, Alexander Calder, 1971
The Bird, Georges Braque, 1949
Peacock and Magpie, Edward Bawden, 1970
Fish (E59), M.C. Escher, 1942
Carnival of Harlequin, Joan Miro, 1924-1925
Totem Poles, Wayne Alfred and Beau Dick 1991 and Ellen Neel 1955
Yellow Cow, Franz Marc, 1911
Dragon Wish, Chinese artist 1600-1635
Portrait of Maurice, Andy Warhol, 1976
Jockeys in the Rain, Edgar Degas, 1883-1886

The project for "Totem Poles" is "Crafty Totem." Making your own totem pole out of a cardboard tube and paper. But my favorite may just be "Colorful Cats" a project inspired by Andy Warhol.
Colorful Cats
Warhol's silk-screen method was complicated, but you can get a similar effect with a simple stencil.
1. On a piece of card stock, draw the outline of an animal and carefully cut it out. You'll end up with two stencils like these. (Cut out the eyes, nose and mouth on the second stencil).
2 Lay stencil 1 on a piece of thick paper and attach it with paper clips. Sponge yellow paint all over it.
3. When the paint is dry, lift the stencil and move it slightly down and to one side. Sponge red paint unevenly over it and then leave it to dry.
4. Now lay stencil 2 on top of the picture and sponge blue paint over the holes. Leave it to dry, and then remove the stencil. Cut out the animal and stick it onto a colorful background. (You can print whiskers by dipping the edge of a strip of card stock in paint.)
Warhol often repeated his prints in different colors. Try making a set like this. (27)
Get Into Art: People. Susie Brooks. 2013. Kingfisher. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Can you think of an art subject that's always around? Just look in a mirror for the answer! Artists often base their work on themselves or other people. Some create portraits to remember people by or characters to illustrate a story. Others capture feelings, actions, fashions, or imaginary faces. The great thing is that people are all different, and artists can bring them to life in many ways. See how people have inspired famous artists--then let them inspire you, too!

I have really enjoyed looking at both books in this art-appreciation series. Like the previous book, this one introduces twelve works of art to children. Facts about each artist are shared. Each work is connected to a hands-on art project. A project materials checklist and a glossary are included in the back.

Vertumnus, Giuseppe Arcimboldo, about 1590
Weeping Woman, Pablo Picasso, 1937
David, Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1501-1504
The Scream, Edvard Munch, 1893
Children's Games, Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1560
Portrait of Adele Bloch-Bauer 1, Gustav Klimt, 1907
A Sunday Afternoon On the Island of La Grande Jatte, Georges Seurat, 1884
Grotesque Faces, Leonardo da Vinci, 1500s
Egyptian Burial Mask, Ancient Egyptian craftspeople, around 3000 BC to A.D. 1st Century
Girl in Mirror, Roy Lichtenstein, 1964
Lawn Tennis, Eadweard Muybridge, 1887
Las Meninas, Diego Velazquez, 1656

There are so many great project ideas in this one! I find myself liking the projects better in Get Into Art People than in Get Into Art Animals. I'm not sure why! I like how the project for "David" is teaching proportion in drawing. It shows step by step how to draw a face (and body) in proper proportion. The Mummy Mask looks like so much fun!!! However, the example I'd like to share with you is inspired by the photograph action sequences of Eadweard Muybridge.
Action Snaps
To photograph your own action sequences you'll need a camera and a friend.
1. Decide what movement you are going to photograph. It's best if it's something that can be done slowly. Get your friend to try moving in slow motion and holding each stage of the pose. When you're ready to start, stand at a good distance from your subject so that he or she fills the camera frame.
2. Keep the same distance between you and your friend as you photograph each stage of the action. If your model moves in one direction, you should move too.
3. If you're photographing something quick, like a somersault, get your friend to repeat the movement and press the shutter button at a different stage each time.
4. Print out your photos and arrange them in sequence--or "stitch" them together on a computer.  (27)
I would recommend both of these books by Susie Brooks. 

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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27. Library Loot: Fifth Trip in August

New Loot:
  • Courage for Beginners by Karen Harrington 
Leftover Loot:
  • The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America by John F. Kasson
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.   

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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28. August Reflections

In August I read 51 books.

Picture books, early readers:

  1. Clifford Visits the Zoo. Norman Bridwell. 2014. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Dreidel. Caryn Yacowitz. Illustrated by David Slonim. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  3. If Kids Ran the World. Leo and Diane Dillon. 2014. Scholastic. 32 Pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. My Grandfather's Coat. Jim Aylesworth. Illustrated by Barbara McClintock. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  5. The Night Parade. Lily Roscoe. Illustrated by David Walker. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. Noodle Magic. Roseanne Greenfield Thong. Illustrated by Meilo So. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  7. The Cat, The Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, The Wolf, and Grandma. Diane and Christyan Fox. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  8. Thanksgiving for Emily Ann. Teresa Johnston. Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  9. Fly Guy #14 Fly Guy's Amazing Tricks. Tedd Arnold. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  10. Petal and Poppy. (Level 2, Green Light Readers) Lisa Clough. Illustrated by Ed Briant. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  11. Petal and Poppy and the Penguin. (Level 2, Green Light Readers) Lisa Clough. Illustrated by Ed Briant. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  12. Steve & Wessley in The Ice Cream Shop. (Level 1 Reader) J.E. Morris. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  13. Days of the Knights. (Level 2 Reader) Robert Neubecker. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  14. Little Big Horse: Where's My Bike? (Level 1) Dave Horowitz. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  15. Drop It, Rocket! (Step 1) Tad Hills. 2014. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction:
  1. The Book Thief. Markus Zusak. 2006. Random House. 560 pages. [Source: Book I Bought] 
  2. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Kate DiCamillo. 2006. Candlewick. 200 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. Kate's Story, 1914. (Secrets of the Manor #2) Adele Whitby.  2014. Simon & Schuster. 160 pages. [Source: Library] 
  4. Beth's Story, 1914. (Secrets of the Manor #1) Adele Whitby. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 160 pages. [Source: Library] 
  5. The 101 Dalmatians. Dodie Smith. 1956/1989 Penguin. 192 pages. [Source: Owned Since Childhood] 
  6. The Glass Sentence. S.E. Grove. 2014. Penguin. 512 pages. [Source: Library]  
  7. Oliver and the Seawigs. Philip Reeve. Illustrated by Sarah McIntyre. 2014. Random House. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  8. Absolutely Almost. Lisa Graff. 2014. Penguin. 304 pages [Source: Library]  
  9. Out of the Dust. Karen Hesse. 1997. Scholastic. 240 pages. [Source: Bought]
  10. The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher. Jessica Lawson. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
  11. Kiss of Deception. (The Remnant Chronicles #1) Mary E. Pearson. 2014. Henry Holt. 489 pages. [Source: Library]
  12. Platypus Police Squad: The Ostrich Conspiracy. Jarrett J. Krosoczka. 2014. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
  13. The One. Kiera Cass. 2014. HarperCollins. 323 pages. [Source: Library]
Adult fiction and nonfiction:
  1. The Dog Who Could Fly: The Incredible True Story of a WWII Airman and the Four-Legged Hero Who Flew At His Side. Damien Lewis. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 304 pages. [Source: Library]  
  2. The Birth of Britain (History of the English Speaking People #1). Winston Churchill. 1956. 496 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. The Belton Estate. Anthony Trollope. 1866/1993. Penguin. 432 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. The Daughter of Time. Josephine Tey. 1951/1995. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. The Red House Mystery. A.A. Milne. 1922. Dover. 156 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court At Kensington Palace. Lucy Worsley. 2010. Walker. 432 pages [Source: Bought] 
  7. A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life. James Bowen. 2013. St. Martin's Press. 279 pages. [Source: Library] 
  8. The Princess of Celle. Jean Plaidy. 1967/1985. Ballantine. 400 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  9. The Convenient Marriage. By Georgette Heyer. (1934) Read by Richard Armitage. 2010. August 2010. Naxos Audiobooks. 5 hrs. 6 minutes. [Source: Review copy]
  10. Earth Awakens. Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston. 2014. Tor. 400 pages. [Source: Library] 
  11. Charity Envieth Not. (George Knightley #1) Barbara Cornthwaite. 2009. CreateSpace. 260 pages. [Source: Library]  
  12. Lend Me Leave. (George Knightley #2) Barbara Cornthwaite. 2011. CreateSpace. 246 pages. [Source: Library]
Christian fiction and nonfiction:
  1. The Auschwitz Escape. Joel C. Rosenberg. 2014. Tyndale. 468 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. Bridge to Haven. Francine Rivers. 2014. Tyndale House. 468 pages. [Source: Library]  
  3. In Perfect Time. Sarah Sundin. 2014. Revell. 416 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. The Wonder-Working God. Jared C. Wilson. 2014. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  5. Centurion: Mark's Gospel As A Thriller. Ryan Casey Waller. 2013. Interlochen Ink. 190 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  6. Captured by Love. Jody Hedlund. 2014. Bethany House. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7. Miracle in a Dry Season. Sarah Loudin Thomas. 2014. Bethany House. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  8. Making Sense of the Bible. David Whitehead. 2014. Bethany House. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  9. Sweet Mercy. Ann Tatlock. 2013. Bethany House. 400 pages. [Source: Gift]
  10. Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ. John MacArthur. 2010. December 2010. Thomas Nelson. 227 pages. [Source: Bought]
  11. PROOF: Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistable Grace. Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones. 2014. Zondervan. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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29. Week in Review: August 24-30

The Daughter of Time. Josephine Tey. 1951/1995. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Red House Mystery. A.A. Milne. 1922. Dover. 156 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court At Kensington Palace. Lucy Worsley. 2010. Walker. 432 pages [Source: Bought]
The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher. Jessica Lawson. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
Kiss of Deception. (The Remnant Chronicles #1) Mary E. Pearson. 2014. Henry Holt. 489 pages. [Source: Library]
Platypus Police Squad: The Ostrich Conspiracy. Jarrett J. Krosoczka. 2014. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
Slave: The Hidden Truth About Your Identity in Christ. John MacArthur. 2010. December 2010. Thomas Nelson. 227 pages. [Source: Bought]
PROOF: Finding Freedom Through the Intoxicating Joy of Irresistable Grace. Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones. 2014. Zondervan. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]

This week's favorite:

It wasn't as easy as you might think. I found many of these books charming and delightful or absorbing and compelling. But. There is something about The Daughter of Time that I just love and adore. I have to go with the book that I love most, right? But honorable mentions could definitely be given for Kiss of Deception and The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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30. 2014 Reading Challenges: RIP IX

Host: Stainless Steel Droppings, (sign up) (reviews)
Title: RIP (Readers Imbibing Peril) IX
Duration: September and October
# of Books: at least 4, peril the first --

Mystery.
Suspense.
Thriller.
Dark Fantasy.
Gothic.
Horror.
Supernatural.

What I Read:

1)
2)
3)
4)
5)
6)
7)
8)

What I Recommend:


I read one book in the spring that I'd definitely recommend to others joining this challenge. The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman. 

What I Plan on Reading:

The Twilight of Lake Woebegotten
The Lost
The Attenbury Emeralds
The Late Scholar
Fahrenheit 451
Northanger Abbey
Death of a Schoolgirl
My Cousin Rachel

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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31. #35 Daughter of Time

The Daughter of Time. Josephine Tey. 1951/1995. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]

Grant lay on his high white cot and stared at the ceiling. Stared at it with loathing. He knew by heart every last minute crack on its nice clean surface. He had made maps of the ceiling and gone exploring on them; rivers, islands, and continents. He had made guessing games of it and discovered hidden objects; faces, birds, and fishes. He had made mathematical calculations of it and rediscovered his childhood; theorems, angles, and triangles. There was practically nothing else he could do but look at it.


It's hard for me to imagine that just a little over four years ago I was not a mystery reader. While I was willing to try a new genre and a new author based on my best friend's recommendation, I didn't think I'd actually enjoy it, as in LOVE what I'm reading. In July 2010, I read two Josephine Tey books: The Man in the Queue, which I've read only once, and The Daughter of Time, which I've reread again and again. This is the fourth time I've read The Daughter of Time!

The Daughter Of Time isn't a typical mystery. The hero, Inspector Grant, is stuck in a hospital bed with a broken leg. He sees visitors. He sees doctors and nurses. He could spend his time reading. But. He isn't really satisfied with the fiction close at hand provided by his friends. What he really wants is to have a case to solve. That seems impossible until someone suggests he solve a case from the past. He seeks out a mystery from history. He chooses Richard III. The action in the novel comes from thinking, reading, researching, and brainstorming with his friends.

Since I've read it four times, you have to know that I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this one. I love it even more each time I read it! And this SONG is a must!!!!  

It was brought home to him for the first time not only what a useless thing the murder of the boys would have been, but what a silly thing. And if there was anything that Richard of Gloucester was not, beyond a shadow of a doubt, it was silly. (137)

 "Of course I'm only a policeman," Grant said. "Perhaps I never moved in the right circles. It may be that I've met only nice people. Where would one have to go to meet a woman who became matey with the murderer of her two boys?"
"Greece, I should think," Marta said. "Ancient Greece."
"I can't remember a sample even there."
"Or a lunatic asylum, perhaps. Was there any sign of idiocy about Elizabeth Woodville?"
"Not that anyone ever noticed. And she was Queen for twenty years or so."
...
"Yes of course. It's the height of absurdity. It belongs to Ruthless Rhymes, not to sober history. That is why historians surprise me. They seem to have no talent for the likeliness of any situation. They see history like a peepshow; with two-dimensional figures against a distant background."
"Perhaps when you are grubbing about with tattered records you haven't time to learn about people. I don't mean about the people in the records, but just about People. Flesh and blood. And how they react to circumstances." (151)

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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32. The Ostrich Conspiracy (2014)

Platypus Police Squad: The Ostrich Conspiracy. Jarrett J. Krosoczka. 2014. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

I still like the premise of this mystery-detective series. But I think I liked the first book more than the second. Or else I was just really in the right mood to love the novelty of it, the humor of it. Mood does play a significant part sometimes. That being said, I did like this one. I liked our platypus heroes. I liked Zengo and his partner O'Malley. The book opens with a crime or potential crime. Something goes horribly wrong on the opening night of the new indoor/outdoor amusement park. As horribly wrong as you'd expect a juvenile mystery to get perhaps. Someone tampered with the power, people were stuck on rides for hours, the fireworks went off early and before the roof could be opened up, and the fireworks caused some fires. So not a great opening day but certainly memorable for all the wrong reasons. Zengo and O'Malley decide to take the case and see if it was all deliberate. They have a feeling it was, but, no proof at the beginning. They have strong feelings about some of the people--or should that be ANIMALS--involved. But they have to look for evidence and proof to build a case. Some characters readers met in the first book, but, plenty are new to the second book.

I liked this one. There are a handful of action sequences in it. Those who are looking for ACTION may like it more than the first one.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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33. The Kiss of Deception (2014)

Kiss of Deception. (The Remnant Chronicles #1) Mary E. Pearson. 2014. Henry Holt. 489 pages. [Source: Library]

Kiss of Deception was an excellent fantasy. It is probably one of the best fantasies I've read all year. From start to finish, it held my attention. I really enjoyed the mystery aspect of it that held up for three-quarters of the book. The mystery being who is who.

Kiss of Deception has multiple narrators. Princess Lia is our heroine, our runaway bride. Some chapters are narrated by "The Prince," and other chapters are narrated by "The Assassin." To add to the delight OR possibly add to the confusion, there are chapters narrated by Rafe and Kaden. Readers know that Rafe could be the Prince OR the Assassin. Likewise, readers know that Kaden could be either the Prince or the Assassin. The first third of the novel focuses more on all three being on the go. The Princess has runaway, taking her maid Pauline with her. The Prince is chasing after her. The Assassin is chasing after her too. Of course, he has been hired by someone to kill her. And the Prince's motivations are vague. What happens when these two men find her hiding in a small country town? What happens when she begins to get to know these two men, Rafe and Kaden, over the course of a week or two?

Kiss of Deception was definitely suspenseful in places. There's a bit of an intrigue mixed dangerously OR delightfully with romance. Readers learn that there is so much to learn about the world in which this novel is set. There is a hint of depth to it. I wanted more--in a good way. It wasn't that this novel was inadequate, it was that what we know is so small in comparison to what we don't know. And there's this wanting to see more, know more. If fantasy worlds feel fake, then, the wanting is completely different. It isn't curiosity but frustration.

I felt this novel was well-written. I enjoyed the world-building. I enjoyed the characterization.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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34. What's On Your Nightstand (August)


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 five of the books I mentioned in July. Reviews of In Search of England, Dancers in Mourning, Unbroken, The Lost, and Kiss of Deception will be posted in the next few weeks. 


Victoria Victorious. Jean Plaidy. 1985. Three Rivers Press. 564 pages. [Source: Bought]

Still reading this one here and there. I haven't dedicated my time to it. Shorter chapters or even chapters of any sort would be so helpful! 


An Autobiography. Agatha Christie. 1977/1996. Berkley. 635 pages. [Source: Bought]
I am enjoying this one so much!!! It is a fascinating read, and so far I don't even think you have to be a fan of Christie or mystery novels to find it so. (I love Agatha Christie's mystery novels. But her details about growing up are so interesting, so detailed, that anyone who loves history should give it a try.)


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


I am rereading this one. I am enjoying it so far.


Persuasion. Jane Austen 1818/1992. Knopf Doubleday. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]

Persuasion is one of my favorite Austen novels. One of my goals for 2014 was to reread all of Austen's novels.


The Only Thing To Fear. Caroline Tung Richmond. 2014. Scholastic. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]

You might have noticed that many of my current reads are lengthy. I like to read some shorter fiction as well. The Only Thing To Fear is set in the future, and it's both alternate history and dystopia. The what if of the novel is what if Hitler had won the war, what if the United States was divided into sections and ruled by Germans and Japanese. The heroine is a young woman named Zara. She has secrets to hide from the Nazi, secrets that if known would endanger her life...



© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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35. Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher

The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher. Jessica Lawson. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages. [Source: Library]

I was surprised by how much I LOVED The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher. I think the timing was just right for me to love it.

Becky Thatcher is new in town. Her father is a judge. Her mother is a mess. To be fair, her mother is grieving the loss of her son, Jon. Becky and her father miss him too, of course. But. Her mother is deeply stuck in a very dark and melancholy place. Becky has her own way of dealing with her loss. For one, she likes to put on her brother's clothes, take him with her, if you will, and have lots of adventures. She wants to see everything, do everything, just take in each and every moment. It's not that she is out to break all the rules for the sake of breaking every rule. It's that she doesn't want to stop living and having adventures. So. She's sneaking out of the house and going off exploring and adventuring without the knowledge of either parent. Which means that her neighbor that oh-so-horrible Tom Sawyer can tattle on her often. And he does. He is a big tattle-tale which makes him about the least popular kid in town. If there's one kid you can count on to be far away from trouble, it's Tom Sawyer.

So the novel is her adventures, her coming-of-age story. One of the people she meets is Samuel Clemens. He's a riverboat captain temporarily stranded in their small town. He oversees the adventures and misadventures of all the kids in town.

I liked this one. I think I even LOVED it.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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36. The Courtiers (2010)

The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court At Kensington Palace. Lucy Worsley. 2010. Walker. 432 pages [Source: Bought]
The Great Drawing Room, crammed full of courtiers, lay at the heart of the Georgian royal palace. Here the king mingled most evenings with his guests, signalling welcome with a nod and displeasure with a blank stare or, worse, a turned back. The winners and the losers of the Georgian age could calculate precisely how high they’d climbed – or how far they’d fallen – by the warmth of their reception at court. High-heeled and elegant shoes crushed into the floorboards of the drawing room the reputations of those who’d dropped out of favour, while those whose status was on the rise stood firmly in possession of their few square inches of space.
 I found Lucy Worsley's The Courtiers to be fascinating! The book focuses on the reigns of George I and George II of England. The book provides a behind-the-scenes look at court life during those decades. The author was inspired by the portraits found in the King's Grand Staircase.

She writes,
In this book, we’ll meet kings and queens, but also many of the people who worked to meet their most intimate needs. The Georgian royal household was staggeringly vast and complicated. The highest ranking of its members, the courtiers proper, were the ladies- and gentlemen-in-waiting.
Beneath them in status were about 950 other royal servants, organised into a byzantine web of departments ranging from hairdressing to rat-catching, and extending right down to the four ‘necessary women’ who cleaned the palace and emptied the ‘necessaries’ or chamber pots.
If you want to know what these people looked like, you need only visit Kensington Palace. There, in the 1720s, the artist William Kent painted portraits of forty-five royal servants that look down upon palace visitors from the walls and ceiling of the King’s Grand Staircase.
Kensington Palace itself had existed long before the Hanoverian dynasty arrived in Britain to replace the Stuarts in 1714, yet it was also the one royal home that George I and his son really transformed and made their own. The servants there witnessed romance and violence, intrigue and infighting, and almost unimaginable acts of hatred and cruelty between members of the same family. I often find myself climbing the King’s Grand Staircase during the course of my working day, and the faces of the people populating it have always fascinated me. I’ve spent many hours studying them, wondering who they all were, and curiosity finally compelled me to try to find out. When I first began investigating their identities, I was surprised to discover that some of the names traditionally attached to the characters were wrong, while other obvious connections had been overlooked. My efforts to unearth each sitter’s true story led me on a much longer and more exciting journey than I’d expected, through caches of court papers in London, Windsor, Oxford and Suffolk. I found myself examining paintings at Buckingham Palace, gardens in Germany, and hitching lifts from kind strangers in rural Hertfordshire. My adventures both in and outside the archives led eventually to this book. I’ve selected the stories of just seven of them to illuminate the strange phenomenon of the Georgian court and to give a new perspective upon the lives of the kings, queens and princes inhabiting the rarefied court stratosphere above their heads.
The author does a great job in sharing primary accounts of the times. These accounts can be very gossipy. One definitely gets a sense of who's who, who all the celebrities of the times were. Worsley gives us a glimpse of all of society really. I appreciated the focus on personalities. History is so interesting, so entertaining, when the focus is on individual people.

Readers learn more about George I, George II, Queen Caroline, Prince Frederick, Princess Augusta, and George III. (Did you know that George II was the grandfather not the father of George III?) Readers get public and private glimpses. The private stuff, I admit, gets messy! The royal family could be very dysfunctional! Readers get to hear all about the arguments and scandals!

I liked this one because it was rich in detail. I liked it because it was interesting. The narrative is very friendly.


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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37. The Red House Mystery (1922)

The Red House Mystery. A.A. Milne. 1922. Dover. 156 pages. [Source: Bought]

In the drowsy heat of the summer afternoon the Red House was taking its siesta. 

I loved The Red House Mystery. I did. It was so much fun! I loved meeting Antony Gillingham and his friend Bill Beverley. These two team up to solve a murder mystery. Bill Beverley is staying at the Red House estate--owned by Mark Ablett. He is one of a handful of guests. Antony Gillingham is not of the guests. Not originally. He just happens to be staying at an inn nearby. He hears from someone that Bill Beverley is down visiting. He wants to call on his friend and does so. But his visit does not go as expected. Instead of meeting Bill Beverley and having a lovely chat. He comes across Matthew Cayley--Mark's cousin he later learns--and a dead body! These two men are the first on the crime scene.

I would definitely recommend this one!

Quotes:
"Are you prepared to be the complete Watson?" he asked. "Watson?" "Do-you-follow-me-Watson; that one. Are you prepared to have quite obvious things explained to you, to ask futile questions, to give me chances of scoring off you, to make brilliant discoveries of your own two or three days after I have made them myself all that kind of thing? Because it all helps." "My dear Tony," said Bill delightedly, "need you ask?" Antony said nothing, and Bill went on happily to himself, "I perceive from the strawberry-mark on your shirt-front that you had strawberries for dessert. Holmes, you astonish me. Tut, tut, you know my methods. Where is the tobacco? The tobacco is in the Persian slipper. Can I leave my practice for a week? I can."
"I say," he said, almost pleadingly, "don't tell me that you can see into people's pockets and all that sort of thing as well." Antony laughed and denied it cheerfully. "Then how do you know?" "You're the perfect Watson, Bill. You take to it quite naturally. Properly speaking, I oughtn't to explain till the last chapter, but I always think that that's so unfair. So here goes. Of course, I don't really know that he's got it, but I do know that he had it. I know that when I came on him this afternoon, he had just locked the door and put the key in his pocket." 
"Good man," said Antony at the end of it. "You are the most perfect Watson that ever lived. Bill, my lad," he went on dramatically, rising and taking Bill's hand in both of his, "There is nothing that you and I could not accomplish together, if we gave our minds to it." "Silly old ass." "That's what you always say when I'm being serious. Well, anyway, thanks awfully. You really saved us this time."
"Of course it's very hampering being a detective, when you don't know anything about detecting, and when nobody knows that you're doing detection, and you can't have people up to cross-examine them, and you have neither the energy nor the means to make proper inquiries; and, in short, when you're doing the whole thing in a thoroughly amateur, haphazard way." 
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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38. Library Loot: Fourth Trip in August

New Loot:
  • Lucy's Christmas by Donald Hall
  • Silver Packages by Cynthia Rylant
  • Boy Who Loved Trains by Sahin Erkocak

Leftover Loot:
  • The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming
  • The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America by John F. Kasson
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  •  Death of a Dowager by Joanna Campbell Slan
  • Flight by Elephant by Andrew Martin  
  • The Magic Half by Annie Barrows
  • Friends Help Each Other by Farrah McDoogle
  • Thank You Day by Farrah McDoogle

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.   

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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39. Week in Review: August 17-23

The Belton Estate. Anthony Trollope. 1866/1993. Penguin. 432 pages. [Source: Bought]
A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life. James Bowen. 2013. St. Martin's Press. 279 pages. [Source: Library]
The Princess of Celle. Jean Plaidy. 1967/1985. Ballantine. 400 pages. [Source: Bought]
Oliver and the Seawigs. Philip Reeve. Illustrated by Sarah McIntyre. 2014. Random House. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Absolutely Almost. Lisa Graff. 2014. Penguin. 304 pages [Source: Library]
Out of the Dust. Karen Hesse. 1997. Scholastic. 240 pages. [Source: Bought]
Miracle in a Dry Season. Sarah Loudin Thomas. 2014. Bethany House. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Making Sense of the Bible. David Whitehead. 2014. Bethany House. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Sweet Mercy. Ann Tatlock. 2013. Bethany House. 400 pages. [Source: Gift]

This week's favorite:

I LOVED Anthony Trollope's The Belton Estate. I also loved Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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40. Reread #34 Out of the Dust

Out of the Dust. Karen Hesse. 1997. Scholastic. 240 pages. [Source: Bought]

I first reviewed Out of the Dust in March 2008. Out of the Dust is a historical verse novel that I likely would have avoided at all costs as a kid. It is set in Oklahoma during the Dust Bowl and Depression.

Billie Jo is our piano-playing heroine. Life was hard enough for Billie Jo and her family BEFORE the tragic accident. Multiple crop failures in a row. Worry and doubt weighing down whole communities, and, not without cause. But after the accident, things are even worse.

Added to despair and doubt is anger and bitterness and regret. Billie Jo doesn't know how to talk to her father anymore. She doesn't know how to be in the same house with him. Things are just off between them. Both are suffering souls. Both have needs that aren't being met. Both need time to heal at the very least.

The novel spans two years, 1934 and 1935. These two years are very hard emotionally for almost all the characters. Out of the Dust is a great coming-of-age novel. I think I liked it even more the second time.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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41. Absolutely Almost (2014)

Absolutely Almost. Lisa Graff. 2014. Penguin. 304 pages [Source: Library]

I loved Absolutely Almost. I think I loved it at least as much as Umbrella Summer. Maybe even a little bit more. I don't know. Time will tell. I don't actually have to choose between the two, right?! I can LOVE two GREAT books by one very talented middle grade author, can't I?!

Albie is the protagonist of Absolutely Almost. His narration gives the book a just right feel. It's a satisfying read about a boy who struggles with meeting expectations: his parents, his grandparents, his teachers, his own. He's never good or great, he's always only almost. Almost good at this or that. Almost ready for this or that. And this oppressive almost gets him down now and then. Not always, mind you. I don't want to give the impression that Albie is sad and depressed and unable to cope with life. Albie is more than capable of having a good time, of enjoying life, of appreciating the world around him.

I really appreciated Graff's characterization. Not only do readers come to love (in some cases I imagine love, love, love) Albie, but, all the characters are well written or well developed. Albie's parents at times seem to be disconnected, out of touch with who their son is, what life is like for him, what he wants, what he needs. But just when I get ready to dismiss them as neglectful or clueless, something would happen that would make me pause and reconsider. Readers also get to know several other characters: his nanny, Calista, his math teacher, Mr. Clifton, and his friend, Betsy. For the record, he does have more than one friend. But Betsy is his new friend, his first friend that he makes at his new school. It is their friendship that is put to the test in the novel. It is his relationship with Betsy that allows for him to progress a bit emotionally. If that makes sense. (So yes, I know that his best-best friend is Erlan. But Erlan has been his friend for as long as he can remember, probably since they were toddlers. He's completely comfortable in that friendship. Their friendship does come into the novel here and there. But for me, it wasn't the most interesting aspect of the novel.)

I loved the setting of Absolutely Almost. I loved how we get to spend time with Albie in school and out of school. I loved how we get to see him in and out of his comfort zone. I loved that we got to see his home life. We got to see for ourselves how he interacts with parents. I love how Albie is able to love his parents even if they don't really make him top priority. Especially his Dad. Albie's need for his Dad's attention, the right kind of attention, can be FELT. Albie held onto hope that one day his Dad would find time to spend with him, that one day his Dad would see him--really see him. There were moments that hope lessened a bit as Albie gave into his emotions-of-the-moment. But Albie's love for his dad always won out at the end. His hope would return.

The writing. I loved it. I did. I think the quality of the writing was amazing. There were chapters that just got to me. Their were paragraphs that just resonated with me. The writing just felt TRUE.

Absolutely, Almost is set in New York City.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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42. Oliver and the Seawigs (2014)

Oliver and the Seawigs. Philip Reeve. Illustrated by Sarah McIntyre. 2014. Random House. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I didn't not like it. I could easily say I liked it well enough. But you know how there are certain books that you read and get excited about and just can't wait to talk about? This wasn't that kind of book for me. While there was not one thing about the book that I didn't like, I just didn't find myself loving it. I don't know why readers feel, in some ways, obligated to love everything they read.

I liked the opening paragraphs. "Oliver Crisp was only ten years old, but they had been a busy and exciting ten years, because Oliver's mother and father were explorers. They had met on top of Mount Everest. They had been married at the Lost Temple of Amon Hotep, and had spent their honeymoon searching for the elephants' graveyard. And when young Oliver was born, they simply bought themselves a back carrier and an off-road baby carriage and went right on exploring." See. It starts off cute and promising. And it doesn't disappoint. You know from the start what kind of book this will be. And you get just that.

I liked the characters. I liked Oliver Crisp. I liked the wandering albatross, Mr. Culpeper. I liked the near-sighted mermaid, Iris. I liked the island, Cliff. I liked how they met and became friends. You can certainly see this is a unique story.

I liked the pacing. It is a nice, imaginative adventure story starring unique characters.

I like the illustrations. I like the layout. Many kids, like Lewis Carroll's fictional Alice, do look for stories with plenty of pictures! It's a sign of it not being horribly dull. If you share Alice's opinion on books that is.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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43. The Princess of Celle (1967)

The Princess of Celle. Jean Plaidy. 1967/1985. Ballantine. 400 pages. [Source: Bought]

The Princess of Celle felt longer than it actually was. Perhaps because the chapters were so long. Perhaps because the book was complicated. If it helps, it was necessarily complicated. It is the story of a dysfunctional German family, one of whom would come to the throne of England as George I.

I was a bit disappointed that George Lewis does not become George I until the epilogue of this one! I suppose I had the silly idea that this book would focus on the obviously unhappy marriage between George Lewis (George I) and Sophia Dorothea (the so-called Princess of Celle). And, in a way, it is. But George Lewis is one of the most unimportant characters in the whole book. Seriously. Readers get to know--for better or worse--his mother, his father, his uncle, his aunt, some of his brothers. But for George himself? Well, he gets a tiny fraction of the author's attention.

If I had to describe The Princess of Celle, I would say it was a tug of war between multiple generations of mistresses in a super dysfunctional German family. I would say that almost all the men in the novel are vile, power-hungry, lusty creatures with big egos. I would say that the mistresses in the novel are vile, power-hungry, lusty creatures with big egos. The wives, well, have to make the best of it. They may hate their husbands. They may hate the mistresses their husbands keep. They may be humiliated in public by those mistresses. But they can take comfort that their children are legitimate.

For better or worse, the "main" story of The Princess of Celle begins in the middle of the novel. It is at the halfway point that readers see Sophia Dorothea marry her cousin George Lewis. She had wanted to marry someone else, another cousin. He had not cared who he married. He was content to marry whomever pleased his mother...and his father. He very much cared about picking his own mistresses. But a wife?! Not worth his bother. It's not like he'll be enjoying her company!

Is Sophia Dorothea the main character? I'm not sure that she is if I'm honest. She's not the strongest character. The most obnoxious or ambitious or strong-willed. George Lewis's mother is SOMETHING. As is his father's mistress, Clara von Platen. I would say that Clara gets more time and attention from the novel than any other character in this one. What does Clara want? What will Clara do to get what she wants? Who will Clara hurt to get her way? How many lives can she destroy? How much power can she grab? How can she keep the power? Clara is a disgusting character, truly revolting.

Did I like Sophia Dorothea? Well. She may not be as horrid as Clara. Who could be?! But she could not keep my sympathy. Yes, to a certain point I could see why she was so miserable and so trapped. She could not escape her in-laws and her husband. Not that her husband stayed remotely close to her. He was off doing whatever, whenever, whoever. But court-life was miserable for her because of the dominant women: her mother-in-law and her father-in-law's mistress. There were people at court, namely Clara that hated her and were actively plotting against her, plotting to ruin her life thoroughly. It was almost Clara's one ambition in life to destroy Sophia Dorothea, or perhaps the right word is obsession.

A sick love triangle. What every book needs is a love triangle, right?! Sophia Dorothea falls for the same man as Clara. His name was Königsmarck. There was nothing about him that I could admire or respect. Because his love for Sophia Dorothea was oh-so-pure and oh-so-true, he satisfied his lusts with Clara. Until he went off to war and was thought to be missing in action. Then Sophia Dorothea rejoiced with his return! Of course, she abandoned her morals, she was so happy! Clara then takes evil to a whole new level. You see, Clara already hated her and despised her. She already was out to get her. But NOW...she was a million times more determined to win the day.

I did not like spending time with any of these characters. I really didn't.


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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44. 101 Dalmatians (1956)

The 101 Dalmatians. Dodie Smith. 1956/1989 Penguin. 192 pages. [Source: Owned Since Childhood]

I have been meaning to read this one for decades. The Disney adaptation is one of my favorites. It is. I love and adore it. Kanine krunchies can't be beat they make each meal a special treat. It's just a satisfying movie that is practically perfect in every way.

So. What did I think of the book? Well. It's different that's for sure. Missis and Pongo are the lovely dalmatian couple with fifteen adorable puppies. The human couple, Mr. and Mrs. Dearly, seeks out another dalmatian wet nurse, if you will. The vet says that no dog can successfully nurse fifteen puppies and have them all thrive. So seven of the pups become Perdita's to raise. The three dogs become quite close friends. The happy couple pities Perdita for she lost her love, Prince, and her own puppies. (Mr. Dearly does NOT write songs. He's an accountant or something along those lines. The book merely says he's a financial wizard who did something or other for the government.)

Cruella de Vil and her HUSBAND are social acquaintances of Mr. and Mrs. Dearly. She wears fur year-round. Her husband is a furrier, and, she doesn't hide the fact that she married him because of it.

The basics of the story are the same. Cruella de Vil wants the puppies and hires someone to steal the puppies. True, there are two nannies tending to the puppies instead of just one. But, the end result is the same. The puppies are gone. Pongo and Missis do the twilight bark, eventually they hear back that the puppies are found.

I liked this one.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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45. The Glass Sentence (2014)

The Glass Sentence. S.E. Grove. 2014. Penguin. 512 pages. [Source: Library]

The Glass Sentence has an intriguing premise with incredible potential. As soon as I heard the premise, I knew I had to read it. And, in many ways, it is a premise-driven novel. And there's nothing at all wrong with that, not when the premise is so unique. What is the premise? A Great Disruption occurs (roughly 1799) which fragments time itself. Continents and countries are displaced in time, if you will. So explorers are not just traveling from place to place, but also time to time. It makes exploring even more dangerous and unpredictable. Some societies want to forbid travel between Ages, want to stop foreigners from coming to their land, want to forbid travelers from leaving.

In The Glass Sentence, readers meet Sophia Tims. Her parents are explorers that have been missing most of her life. She has been raised by her uncle Shadrack, a cartologer. He insisted that her parents leave her behind. She was just three. She loves him, she does, but she misses her parents. She holds onto the hope that they'll come back OR that she'll go off adventuring and find them. Shortly after the novel opens, he begins to teach Sophia what he knows. He begins to share his secrets with her; he tells her that there are many different types of maps. That maps can be written on things besides paper. They can be written on glass, for instance, or even water. She's looking forward to learning...

But. Just when it is getting started, Sophia returns home to learn that her uncle has been kidnapped and that his study has been destroyed. Sophia and a new friend, Theo, a former zoo exhibit, team up to save the day. Can they find her uncle? Can they rescue him? Can the bad guys be defeated?

The world building works. It's an interesting and complex world. And, as I said, the premise has great potential. It's just an exciting sounding premise with plenty of appeal.

I liked it. I did. I didn't quite love it as I was hoping. But it was well worth a read.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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46. #33 Convenient Marriage

The Convenient Marriage. By Georgette Heyer. (1934) Read by Richard Armitage. 2010. August 2010. Naxos Audiobooks. 5 hrs. 6 minutes. [Source: Review copy]

"Lady Winwood being denied, the morning caller inquired with some anxiety for Miss Winwood, or, in fact, for any of the young ladies. In face of the rumour which had come to her ears it would be too provoking if all the Winwood ladies were to withhold themselves."

I can't do justice in my review. I just can't. This audio book is perfect. Not practically perfect. But actually perfect. (Dare I say that Richard Armitage and Georgette Heyer go together better than chocolate and caramel?) Those five hours, well, they feel so delightfully delicious and satisfying. (An audio sample is available from Naxos Audiobooks).

The book itself is one of Georgette Heyer's best. I loved it the first time I read it. And I've appreciated it more with each rereading. (My first review is from 2009; my second review is from 2010; my third review is from 2013.) Best is a tricky word, I admit. Every single Heyer fan has strong opinions on what her "best" books are. And reading is subjective. And opinions can and do change over time. I know I struggle with having a favorite with Heyer BECAUSE whatever book I just read (by Heyer) I may just say is my favorite or best. That's one of the reasons why, last year, I wanted to challenge myself to read ALL of her romances in one year so that I could have them all fresh in my mind and decide--though not decide once and for all--which books were best, which books were definitely my favorites.

Heyer created dozens of heroes and heroines. But Lord Rule (Marcus) and Horatia (Horry) are probably among my favorite and best. They make a great couple!!! But the novel has great overall characterization. There are many characters to love! And in some cases, characters that you can't help loving-to-hate. Not many romance novels spend enough time with other characters, with "minor characters," so it is always wonderful to find.

From my first review:
We meet the Winwood family early on in The Convenient Marriage. We spy on them (in a way) as Mrs. Maulfrey comes to call--or should I say get the juicy gossip on the latest news in the family. Elizabeth, the oldest sister is upset and rightfully so. Her mother, Lady Winwood, has just agreed to an engagement between her and the rich Earl Rule. The problem? Elizabeth is in love with a poor (at least relatively speaking) soldier, a Mr. Edward Heron. Charlotte, the middle sister, doesn't see what the big deal is. After all, in her way of thinking marriage doesn't amount to much. She has no interest--so she claims--in becoming someone's wife. But the youngest sister, Horatia feels her sister's pain. And she's determined--though she stutters or stammers and has thick eyebrows--to do something to solve this dilemma. She gives Mr. Heron her word that she will not let their hearts be broken. Her plan is quite bold and quite wonderful. By that I mean it is deliciously entertaining. The first few chapters of this one are so full of promise. Especially the second and third chapters. If there was an award for the best-ever-second-chapter-in-a-book, I'd nominate The Convenient Marriage.

However, the book soon settles down. As you can probably guess from the title, it is about a marriage--a husband and wife. Marcus Drelincourt (a.k.a. The Earl, or Marcus, or simply 'Rule') and his wife, Horatia (or Horry). And since the marriage occurs early in the book--by page sixty--the reader knows that there must be some drama in the works. And indeed there is. There's the former (and somewhat still current) mistress who's jealous and spiteful, Lady Massey. There's the cousin-who-would-inherit-it-all-if-only-Rule-would-hurry-up-and-die, Mr. Crosby Drelincourt, a cousin. And the villainous and cold-hearted Lord Lethbridge. All three of these people add to the drama--each in their own little way. All want to get revenge on Rule. All want to see the happy little couple become miserable. And oh the plotting that goes on that tries to break up this pair!

Horatia's closest friend is her brother, Pelham. Though he's a bit of a gambler--and often an unlucky one at that--he's got a good heart. I don't know if it was Heyer's intent to make him so likable, so enjoyable, but I just really liked him in spite of his flaws. He truly had his sister's best interests at heart. And she does need someone to look out for her with all the villains roaming about the town (or should that be ton) out for revenge.

None of the characters in The Convenient Marriage are perfect. All are flawed in one way or another. But the relationships are genuinely enjoyable, and are quite well done. The atmosphere of The Convenient Marriage--much like Heyer's other novels--is so rich, so detailed, so luxuriously drawn. The society. The fashion. The wit. The charm. The dangers of being unique in a world where conformity reigns. The delicate balance between being respectable, being boring, and being the Talk or Toast of the ton.
From my second review:
Listening to the novel (abridged though it may be) gave me a greater appreciation for Georgette Heyer. Why? While I've always appreciated Heyer's dialogue--it being a chance for her characters to be witty, charming, or romantic--I appreciate it even more having heard it performed. The wit seems funnier. The action scenes even more dramatic. The love scenes even more romantic. I wouldn't have thought it possible for one narrator to convey the chemistry between two characters--but with Armitage narrating it works really well.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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47. Week in Review: August 10-16

The Dog Who Could Fly: The Incredible True Story of a WWII Airman and the Four-Legged Hero Who Flew At His Side. Damien Lewis. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 304 pages. [Source: Library] 
The Convenient Marriage. By Georgette Heyer. (1934) Read by Richard Armitage. 2010. August 2010. Naxos Audiobooks. 5 hrs. 6 minutes. [Source: Review copy]
Kate's Story, 1914. (Secrets of the Manor #2) Adele Whitby.  2014. Simon & Schuster. 160 pages. [Source: Library]
Beth's Story, 1914. (Secrets of the Manor #1) Adele Whitby. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 160 pages. [Source: Library]
The 101 Dalmatians. Dodie Smith. 1956/1989 Penguin. 192 pages. [Source: Owned Since Childhood]
The Glass Sentence. S.E. Grove. 2014. Penguin. 512 pages. [Source: Library] 
Charity Envieth Not. (George Knightley #1) Barbara Cornthwaite. 2009. CreateSpace. 260 pages. [Source: Library]
Lend Me Leave. (George Knightley #2) Barbara Cornthwaite. 2011. CreateSpace. 246 pages. [Source: Library]
The Wonder-Working God. Jared C. Wilson. 2014. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Centurion: Mark's Gospel As A Thriller. Ryan Casey Waller. 2013. Interlochen Ink. 190 pages. [Source: Bought]
Captured by Love. Jody Hedlund. 2014. Bethany House. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]

This week's favorite:

I'm going with nonfiction this week. For the record, I love, love, love The Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer. I listened to the audio book narrated by Richard Armitage. It was WONDERFUL. But it was also abridged. I recommend it in spite of it being abridged because Armitage does such a fabulous job. But still I wish it had been unabridged.

The Dog Who Could Fly is my choice this week. I really loved it. I recommend it for those interested in World War II, OR in flying, OR anyone who is a dog lover! It was a compelling and memorable read.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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48. Library Loot: Third Trip in August

New Loot:
  • The Magic Half by Annie Barrows
  • The Orphan and the Mouse by Martha Freeman
  • Friends Help Each Other by Farrah McDoogle
  • Thank You Day by Farrah McDoogle
Leftover Loot:
  • Tudors Versus Stewarts by Linda Porter  
  • The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming
  • The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America by John F. Kasson
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  •  Death of a Dowager by Joanna Campbell Slan
  •  Elephant Company by Vicki Constantine Croke
  • Flight by Elephant by Andrew Martin 
Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.    

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

0 Comments on Library Loot: Third Trip in August as of 8/16/2014 7:11:00 PM
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49. The Belton Estate

The Belton Estate. Anthony Trollope. 1866/1993. Penguin. 432 pages. [Source: Bought]

 To state it simply: it was LOVE. I have loved quite a few Anthony Trollope novels in the past. So it wasn't a big, big surprise that I loved Belton Estate. Perhaps I was surprised by just how MUCH I loved, loved, loved it! It was completely satisfying and practically perfect.

Clara Amedroz is the heroine of The Belton Estate. When her brother dies--he committed suicide--Clara's future becomes uncertain. Her father's property is entailed. She's unable to inherit from her father despite his wishes. There was a slim possibility that an aunt-like figure--a wealthy woman, of course--could leave her something. But she's left out of that will as well.

There are two men who could potentially "save" Clara. Captain Frederic Aylmer is a young (and I'm assuming relatively handsome) relation of Mrs. Winterfield (the aunt-like figure to Clara). He is the one who inherits her estate. She really wanted Clara and Frederic to marry one another. She spoke often about how much she wanted these two to marry. Days after her death, Clara receives a proposal of sorts from Frederic. The other potential "savior" is Will Belton. He is a distant cousin. He is the one who will be inheriting Clara's father's estate. He visits. Unlike Mr. Collins (from Pride and Prejudice) he is charming and likable and within weeks--if not days--Clara and her father LOVE him. He loves, loves, loves Clara. He does. He seeks permission to marry her. Clara's father thinks that would be lovely. What a good son he'd be! He also proposes to Clara.

Which man is right for Clara? Which proposal will she accept? Will she have a happily ever after?

It was oh-so-easy for me to have a favorite! I adore Will Belton. I do. I just LOVE him. I enjoyed the characters in this one so very much. I loved getting to spend so much time with Clara. This is one of Trollope's "simple" novels. Instead of having three or more couples to keep up with, or, three or more stories to follow since not all stories may end up in romance, readers just get treated to one fully developed story. There are more characters, of course. We meet Clara's closest friend and her husband. We meet Frederic's family. His mother is SOMETHING. I thought the characterization was great. I also thought it was a very thoughtful novel.

I would recommend Belton Estate to anyone who loves classic romances or historical romances. It is a GREAT love story.

Quotes:
And what did Will Belton think about his cousin, insured as he was thus supposed to be against the dangers of love? He, also, lay awake for awhile that night, thinking over this new friendship. Or rather he thought of it walking about his room, and looking out at the bright harvest moon;—for with him to be in bed was to be asleep. He sat himself down, and he walked about, and he leaned out of the window into the cool night air; and he made some comparisons in his mind, and certain calculations; and he thought of his present home, and of his sister, and of his future prospects as they were concerned with the old place at which he was now staying; and he portrayed to himself, in his mind, Clara's head and face and figure and feet;—and he resolved that she should be his wife. He had never seen a girl who seemed to suit him so well. Though he had only been with her for a day, he swore to himself that he knew he could love her. Nay;—he swore to himself that he did love her. Then,—when he had quite made up his mind, he tumbled into his bed and was asleep in five minutes.
"But, my dear, why should not he fall in love with you? It would be the most proper, and also the most convenient thing in the world."
"I hate talking of falling in love;—as though a woman has nothing else to think of whenever she sees a man."
"A woman has nothing else to think of."
"I have,—a great deal else. And so has he."
"It's quite out of the question on his part, then?"  "Quite out of the question. I'm sure he likes me. I can see it in his face, and hear it in his voice, and am so happy that it is so. But it isn't in the way that you mean. Heaven knows that I may want a friend some of these days, and I feel that I may trust to him. His feelings to me will be always those of a brother." "Perhaps so. I have seen that fraternal love before under similar circumstances, and it has always ended in the same way."
"I hope it won't end in any way between us."
"But the joke is that this suspicion, as you call it,—which makes you so indignant,—is simply a suggestion that a thing should happen which, of all things in the world, would be the best for both of you."
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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50. A Street Cat Named Bob

A Street Cat Named Bob: And How He Saved My Life. James Bowen. 2013. St. Martin's Press. 279 pages. [Source: Library]

A Street Cat Named Bob is a simple story in many ways. It's the story of one man and his cat: how they found each other, how they changed each other's lives, how they got to be so close, so fast. At the time the book opens, James Bowen was a street musician--a busker--and a recovering drug addict. He had taken steps to get off the street--at one time he was homeless and addicted to drugs--but the road ahead was still long and uncertain. He sees a stray cat, "a ginger tom," near his building, he sees that it could use a little help. He's injured. He's hungry. He decides to take the cat in and nurse him back to health. He didn't know it at the time, but, Bob wouldn't be going anywhere. Bob had found his home.

If Bob had been an ordinary cat, readers would never have heard of him or James Bowen. Bob would not have become a YouTube star. But ordinary doesn't exactly describe Bob.

Bob wasn't content to stay at home and let James go off busking. He wanted to go along. He wanted in on the action. James found that with a cat, he was irresistible, or rather Bob was irresistible. Wherever he and Bob went, Bob got ATTENTION and ADORATION. Busking became a LOT easier for him when Bob was there sitting on his guitar case and looking cute and adorable. People wanted to take Bob's picture. People wanted to take video. People wanted to pet him. People wanted to give him treats. People wanted to KNIT him clothes. But busking was still rough and unpredictable as the book shows. Eventually, James and Bob gave it up and pursued one of the few things possible. He was still on the streets, still out with Bob, but, now he was selling a magazine, Big Issue, instead of a song.

The book, as I mentioned, is in a way simple, a story of man meets cat. Happy cat. Happy man. But it's also got a bit of a message. And by message, I don't mean the preachy kind. It's the story of a man who went from invisible to visible. He talks about how having the cat gave him back his humanity, his dignity. The book, in a way, is about how we see others. Do we see the homeless, the poor? Do we see them or brush them aside?

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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