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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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1. 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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2. 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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3. 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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4. 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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5. 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

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6. 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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7. #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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8. 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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9. 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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10. Beth and Kate's Stories, 1914

Kate's Story, 1914. (Secrets of the Manor #2) Adele Whitby.  2014. Simon & Schuster. 160 pages. [Source: Library]

I ended up reading the second book first in this series, Secrets of the Manor. But I do plan on going ahead and reading Beth's Story, 1914.

Beth and Kate are cousins. Kate is American. Beth is English. Beth is slightly older apparently. On her twelfth birthday, she received a super special heirloom necklace from her great-grandmother, I believe. Kate will be receiving her own super-special necklace on her twelfth birthday. Beth has traveled all the way across the ocean to be there! Well, her visit is to be for six to eight weeks or so. Was. But this is the summer of 1914. And things get tense after the assassination.

This book is all about the two girls, two cousins, meeting each other for the very first time. Kate has been waiting years and years to meet her cousin. She's beyond ecstatic to spend time with her. They've only corresponded before this. Beth seems just as enthusiastic to be best friends.

Secrets. These two thrive on secrets. The whole premise of the series is on secrets!

I liked this one. I will definitely go back and read the first book!

Beth's Story, 1914. (Secrets of the Manor #1) Adele Whitby. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 160 pages. [Source: Library]

Secrets of the Manor is a new historical fiction series by Adele Whitby. The first book in the series is Beth's Story, 1914. The book introduces readers to Beth and her family. Readers learn that Beth is from a well-to-do family. When the novel opens, Beth is several days away from her twelfth birthday. Her twelfth birthday is apparently the most exciting, thrilling, wonderful thing ever. For that is the day she'll receive the Elizabeth necklace, an heirloom necklace worn by every Elizabeth in the family. The is also a Katherine necklace. Beth's cousin Kate, who lives in America, will receive her heirloom necklace on her twelfth birthday in a few months.

For Beth's birthday, her French cousin Gabrielle (15) and her maid Helena come to stay with the family. Beth really really wants her cousin to be a good friend. She's very eager to make a connection with her older cousin. Her older cousin, however, can barely conceal her indifference to Beth. Gabrielle is definitely the villain in this one!

Secrets. Beth discovers that her family has secrets. She takes her first steps to finding out what there is to know. Readers won't learn all the secrets in this first book of course!

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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11. The Dog Who Could Fly (2014)

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]

Read this book!!! Read it now! I loved, loved, loved this nonfiction biography. Damien Lewis tells the story of a RAF pilot and his dog in this new book. It is quite a remarkable story! Robert Bozdech fled Czechoslovakia before the Nazis invaded. He first joined the French in fighting the Nazis. During one of his early missions, he and another pilot crash. They seek refuge in an abandoned house. There they find a puppy. Robert didn't exactly plan on adopting this puppy for the duration, in fact, he hoped that the puppy would stay there and allow them to try for safety once darkness came. After all they are in enemy territory or close to it. But the dog had different ideas. They were destined to be together for better or worse...

Robert and Antis (the dog) end up fleeing to England and joining the RAF. Robert was one of many Czech pilots who joined the RAF during the early years of the war. Not all Czech pilots flew with a dog, however.

The book is about his experiences as a pilot, and his experiences as a dog owner. The book is very much focused on Antis! The dog was truly something special.

The story itself is compelling and fascinating. I loved learning about the RAF pilots. I loved the behind the scenes look at some of the missions. There are places this book is very intense!!! I loved the sections that were narrated by Antis. It was a great read.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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12. Sundays with Jane: Two by Cornthwaite

Charity Envieth Not. (George Knightley #1) Barbara Cornthwaite. 2009. CreateSpace. 260 pages. [Source: Library]
and
Lend Me Leave. (George Knightley #2) Barbara Cornthwaite. 2011. CreateSpace. 246 pages. [Source: Library]

I absolutely loved reading Charity Envieth Not and Lend Me Leave. These two books tell the novel Emma through the perspective of George Knightley. I almost wish they were combined into one edition, however. Still, I can't begin to recommend these enough to all Austen fans!!!

I enjoyed many aspects of both books. I really, really loved George Knightley. That in and of itself is far from shocking. Dare I say he's probably the best thing about Austen's novel?! I loved seeing the characters (and/or the community) through his eyes. I loved his involvement in the community. I loved meeting various characters--rich and poor, from all classes or statuses. I especially, especially liked Spencer! I loved getting to know his brother John better. And I liked seeing him in the role of uncle! I liked how wide the perspective is--if that makes sense! Emma, to me, comes across as very self-centered, the world through her eyes seem a bit narrow.

I also appreciate how both books treat the character of Emma. I think to fully appreciate Emma, one HAS to see her AS Knightley sees her. This book accomplishes that! I don't think I've ever seen Emma in such a positive light before. And it made me think a bit, what if Emma is blinded to her strengths JUST as she's blinded to her weaknesses. OR in other words, what if the narration is a bit too close to accurately judge her strengths/weaknesses. Of course, Knightley cannot absolutely read all her motives and intentions, so maybe he's reading more compassion, more tenderness, more generosity than is really truly there. But maybe just maybe Emma's heart is bigger than I have previously thought. And maybe just maybe her mind isn't quite as empty as I thought it. I kept asking myself what does Knightley see in Emma that I don't?

I would recommend it to those who already love Emma, and even to those that don't really like her. Knightley is a great hero! And he's definitely worth reading about!

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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13. Library Loot: Second Trip in August

New Loot: 
  • A Moment in Time by Tracie Peterson
  • Tudors Versus Stewarts by Linda Porter
Leftover Loot:
  • Useful Enemies: John Demjanjuk and America's Open-Door Policy for Nazi War Criminals by Richard Rashke
  • Simple Faith by Anna Schmidt
  • The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming
  • The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America by John F. Kasson
  • Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  •  Death of a Dowager by Joanna Campbell Slan
  • Elephant Company by Vicki Constantine Croke
  • A Murder at Rosamund's Gate by Susanna Calkins
  • Three Things You Need To Know About Rockets by Jessica A. Fox
  • 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

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14. Week in Review August 3-9

The Auschwitz Escape. Joel C. Rosenberg. 2014. Tyndale. 468 pages. [Source: Library]
Bridge to Haven. Francine Rivers. 2014. Tyndale House. 468 pages. [Source: Library]
In Perfect Time. Sarah Sundin. 2014. Revell. 416 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Kate DiCamillo. 2006. Candlewick. 200 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Birth of Britain (History of the English Speaking People #1). Winston Churchill. 1956. 496 pages. [Source: Bought]
Earth Awakens. Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston. 2014. Tor. 400 pages. [Source: Library]
The One. Kiera Cass. 2014. HarperCollins. 323 pages. [Source: Library]
Clifford Visits the Zoo. Norman Bridwell. 2014. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Dreidel. Caryn Yacowitz. Illustrated by David Slonim. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
If Kids Ran the World. Leo and Diane Dillon. 2014. Scholastic. 32 Pages. [Source: Review copy]
My Grandfather's Coat. Jim Aylesworth. Illustrated by Barbara McClintock. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Night Parade. Lily Roscoe. Illustrated by David Walker. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Noodle Magic. Roseanne Greenfield Thong. Illustrated by Meilo So. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Cat, The Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, The Wolf, and Grandma. Diane and Christyan Fox. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Thanksgiving for Emily Ann. Teresa Johnston. Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Fly Guy #14 Fly Guy's Amazing Tricks. Tedd Arnold. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Petal and Poppy. (Level 2, Green Light Readers) Lisa Clough. Illustrated by Ed Briant. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
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]
Steve & Wessley in The Ice Cream Shop. (Level 1 Reader) J.E. Morris. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Days of the Knights. (Level 2 Reader) Robert Neubecker. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Little Big Horse: Where's My Bike? (Level 1) Dave Horowitz. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Drop It, Rocket! (Step 1) Tad Hills. 2014. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

This week's favorite:

This week I choose Francine Rivers' Bridge to Haven. I would love, love, love to see this book adapted into a movie. If and only if, it wasn't too cleaned up for audiences. Francine Rivers' books know how to illustrate grace perhaps in large part due to the fact that she doesn't stay way from WHY grace is needed. In other words, she's not afraid to have her characters be sinners and make wrong choices. Their fictional lives are messy and sometimes ugly. Her fiction is oh-so-realistic.

One of the reasons I want a movie is the time period in which it is set: the 1940s and 1950s. I can imagine how wonderful the soundtrack would be! And the clothes and the hair! That and the fact that half the book is set in Hollywood in the 1950s!

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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15. Reread #32 The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Kate DiCamillo. 2006. Candlewick. 200 pages. [Source: Bought]

I enjoyed rereading The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. I hadn't read it in years, and it was definitely time to read it again. Edward Tulane, the "hero" of the novel is a porcelain rabbit. He is the prized possession of a little girl, a spoiled little girl, named Abilene. Though between Abilene and Edward Tulane, it is Edward with the biggest ego. He is a very conceited toy. Abilene's grandmother feels this somehow. That Edward does not love anyone or anything but himself. That Edward hasn't a clue what love is. During the novel, Edward will learn at high cost what love is all about. He won't do it as Edward though.

Edward Tulane goes on a vacation with Abilene and her family. Abilene is being teased by some bullies on the ship. Her precious Edward Tulane is grabbed up and tossed about and in fact tossed overboard. Edward Tulane is later fished out of the sea, but, his life has taken a different path. He's got new owners. These new owners will be the first in a long line of new owners.

With each new owner, with each new phase in his life, Edward is renamed, almost reborn. It doesn't take long for him to become a very changed rabbit. He learns to listen. He learns to feel compassion or pity. He learns to feel fear and pain. And most importantly he learns to love, truly love.

Will his journey have a happy ending?!

I definitely enjoyed this one. It is very satisfying. It's an emotional journey that this little toy takes over several decades. While Edward Tulane may not have started out a likable protagonist in the beginning, by the end, it's hard not to love him.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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16. Earth Awakens (2014)

Earth Awakens. Orson Scott Card and Aaron Johnston. 2014. Tor. 400 pages. [Source: Library]

I enjoyed reading Earth Awakens the third in a new series by Orson Scott Card. At first, I had a hard time reconnecting to all the characters because it's been a year since the last book. There are many characters to keep up with after all. But by the time I was halfway through this one, I was hooked once more. I liked the characters. I didn't always like how they acted. But Card can write flawed characters that I actually like.

In this third book, all the characters are trying to fight the Formics. Some are working together officially to defeat the aliens. Others are more on their own with their own plan. For example, some characters are fighting them on earth; other characters are fighting them in space. But by the end of this one, all the characters stories have merged into one which is probably for the best.

Series books are always so difficult to review because to talk about plot reveals spoilers from the other books. But essentially I liked this one. Maybe not love, love, love but a good, solid like.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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17. The One (2014)

The One. Kiera Cass. 2014. HarperCollins. 323 pages. [Source: Library]

One thing I can definitely say about all three books in this series is that they are all super-quick reads. Once I start reading, I don't want to stop. That being said, I can't say that I actually think about the books or the characters or the story after I'm done. I don't forget the story or the characters mind you. I've always liked that I can pick up the next book without any worries or confusion. That could be because the books aren't all that complex though.

In the third book, readers spend time with Prince Maxon and America Singer. She's one of four young ladies still in the running to be the next princess. The others are Celeste, Kriss, and Elise. Prince Maxon and America have always, always argued with one another. He brings out the fight in her. And he can't get enough of her honestly. Perhaps because she is so very different than his mother?

America (finally) admits to herself that she is really, truly not-kidding-around in LOVE with Maxon. Does she tell him? Are you kidding? She wouldn't dream of actually communicating with him. She'd rather nag, nag, nag him for keeping the other girls around. His excuse? You never, ever show me how you feel about me, you just yell at me. He has a point. But I suppose she does as well.

Communication is something that America fails at, I have to say. Even though America knows that she doesn't love Aspen anymore in that way, she is not telling him that. And she's not telling Maxon that she loves him. And then she realizes that sooner or later, Maxon may need to be told that at one point in her past, Aspen was a love interest.

The trilogy is definitely predictable and a bit silly. But it's almost an irresistible silly.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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18. The Auschwitz Escape (2014)

The Auschwitz Escape. Joel C. Rosenberg. 2014. Tyndale. 468 pages. [Source: Library]

The Auschwitz Escape is a compelling historical novel starring two wonderful heroes. Readers meet Jean Luc Leclerc a pastor who follows his heart and sets out to rescue as many Jews as he can. He "rescues" them by providing for the needs of refugees. He takes Jews into his home and hides them, he encourages every one in his town to do so. His rescue work continues for several years before he is arrested by the Nazis and taken to Auschwitz. Readers also meet a young Jewish man named Jacob Weisz. He is part of the Resistance, Belgium Resistance, I believe? He is doing his all to help as well. He too is captured by the Nazis and sent to Auschwitz. However they don't learn his true name for many months. Both men learn the upsetting fate of most Jews upon arrival. Both realize that it is not a work camp, but, instead a death camp. Both men are chosen by others in the camp to be part of an underground resistance. Both are chosen to be part of an escape program. They feel very strongly that several teams of two-men need to escape from the camp and seek not only immediate refuge, but, to be messengers. They feel that if the outside world had even a small clue what was happening, they would act, they would do something, they couldn't not do something, right? So Luc and Jacob are the third or maybe fourth team over a year to attempt to escape. Will their escape succeed? Will they survive? Will they be able to find help? What will happen when they speak the truth?

The Auschwitz Escape is fiction. But there were men who did manage to escape who did carry messages and horrific proof about the camp with them to share with the outside world.

I would definitely recommend this one.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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19. July Reflections

In July I read 48 books.

Board books, picture books, early readers:

  1. Very Little Red Riding Hood. Teresa Heapy. Illustrated by Sue Heap. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  2. Peppa Pig and the Vegetable Garden. 2014. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. Peppa Pig and the Great Vacation. Candlewick Press. 2014. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. Help! We Need A Title! Herve Tullet. 2014. Candlewick Press. 64 pages. [Source: Review copy]    
  5. I Pledge Allegiance. Pat Mora and Libby Martinez. Illustrated by Patrice Barton. 2014. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. Duck & Goose: Go To The Beach. Tad Hills. 2014. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]   
  7. The School for Cats. Esther Averill. 1947/2005. New York Review Children's Collection. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  8. Jenny's Moonlight Adventure. Esther Averill. 1949/2005. New York Review Children's Collection. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  9. Jenny's Birthday Book. Esther Averill. 1954/2005. New York Review Children's Collection. 44 pages. [Source: Library]
  10. The Fire Cat. Esther Averill. 1960/1983. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Own]
  11. Jenny and the Cat Club: A Collection of Favorite Stories About Jenny Linsky. Esther Averill. 1973/2003. New York Review Children's Collection. 176 pages. [Source: Library]
Middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction:
  1. Hidden Like Anne Frank. Marcel Prins. Peter Henk Steenhuis. Translated by Laura Watkinson. Scholastic. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]   
  2. The Girl From the Tar Paper School. Teri Kanefield. 2014. Abrams. 56 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. What the Moon Said. Gayle Rosengren. 2014. Penguin. 224 pages. [Source: Library] 
  4. Alice-Miranda At School. Jacqueline Harvey. 2010/2011. Random House. 257 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. Dualed. Elsie Chapman. 2013. Random House. 304 pages. [Source: Library] 
  6. Enders. Lissa Price. 2014. Random House. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7. The Swift Boys & Me. Kody Keplinger. 2014. Scholastic. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  8. The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days. Michele Weber Hurwitz. 2014. Random House. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  9. Soldier Doll. Jennifer Gold. 2014. Second Story Press. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  10. Don't Even Think About It. Sarah Mlynowski. 2014. Random House. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  11. The Railway Children. E. Nesbit. 1906/2011. Penguin. 304 pages.  [Source: Bought]  
  12. You'll Like It Here (Everybody Does). Ruth White. 2011/2012. Random House. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  13. The Dust Girl (American Fairy #1) Sarah Zettel. Random House. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  14. The Hotel Cat. Esther Averill. 1969/2005. New York Review Children's Collection. 180 pages. [Source: Library] 
  15. Captains of the City Streets. Esther Averill. 1972/2005. New York Review Children's Collection. 164 pages. [Source: Library]  
  16. Jenny Goes to Sea. Esther Averill. 1957/2005. New York Review Children's Collection. 140 pages. [Source: Library]
Adult fiction and nonfiction:
  1. North and South. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1854-1855. 452 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. 50 Children: One Ordinary American Couple's Extraordinary Rescue Mission Into the Heart of Nazi Germany. Steven Pressman. 2014. HarperCollins. 320 pages. [Source: Library]  
  3. To Say Nothing of the Dog. Connie Willis. 1998. Bantam. 493 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  4. The Duke's Children. Anthony Trollope. 1880. 560 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]  
  5. Lost in Shangri-La. Mitchell Zuckoff. 2011. HarperCollins. 384 pages. [Source: Library] 
  6. The Merry Monarch's Wife. (A Queens of England Novel). Jean Plaidy. 1991/2008. Crown. 352 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  7. To Love And Be Wise. (Inspector Grant #4) Josephine Tey. 1951. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]
  8. China Dolls. Lisa See. 2014. Random House. 376 pages. [Source: Library]
Christian fiction and nonfiction:
  1. Out of the Depths. Edgar Harrell, with David Harrell. 2014. Bethany House. 192 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. Mission at Nuremberg. Tim Townsend. 2014. HarperCollins. 400 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. Seeing the Unseen. Randy Alcorn. 2013. Eternal Perspective Ministries. 120 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  4. Luminary. Krista McGee. 2014. Thomas Nelson. 311 pages. [Source: Library]  
  5. Here Is Our God. Kathleen Buswell Nielson and D.A. Carson, editors. 2014. Crossway. 221 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. The Screwtape Letters. C.S. Lewis. 1942. HarperCollins. 224 pages. [Source: Library] 
  7. The Great Divorce. C.S. Lewis. 1945. HarperCollins. 160 pages. [Source: Library]  
  8. Burning Sky. Lori Benton. 2013. Waterbrook Press. 416 pages. [Source: Library]
  9. A Match Made in Texas: A Novella Collection. Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Carol Cox, and Mary Connealy. 2014. Bethany House. 384 pages. [Source: Library]  
  10. A Sensible Arrangement. Tracie Peterson. 2014. Bethany House. 336 pages. [Source: Library] 
  11. A Captain for Laura Rose. Stephanie Grace Whitson. 2014. FaithWords. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
  12. Full Steam Ahead. Karen Witemeyer. 2014. Bethany House. 352 pages. [Source: Library]
  13. 50 Days of Heaven: Reflections That Bring Eternity to Light. Randy Alcorn. 2006. Tyndale. 288 pages. [Source: Bought]

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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20. Reread #31 Book Thief

The Book Thief. Markus Zusak. 2006. Random House. 560 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]

First the colors. Then the humans. That’s usually how I see things. Or at least, how I try. HERE IS A SMALL FACT You are going to die. I am in all truthfulness attempting to be cheerful about this whole topic, though most people find themselves hindered in believing me, no matter my protestations. Please, trust me. I most definitely can be cheerful. I can be amiable. Agreeable. Affable. And that’s only the A’s. Just don’t ask me to be nice. Nice has nothing to do with me. REACTION TO THE AFOREMENTIONED FACT Does this worry you? I urge you—don’t be afraid. I’m nothing if not fair. —Of course, an introduction. A beginning. Where are my manners? I could introduce myself properly, but it’s not really necessary. You will know me well enough and soon enough, depending on a diverse range of variables. It suffices to say that at some point in time, I will be standing over you, as genially as possible. Your soul will be in my arms. A color will be perched on my shoulder. I will carry you gently away. At that moment, you will be lying there (I rarely find people standing up). You will be caked in your own body. There might be a discovery; a scream will dribble down the air. The only sound I’ll hear after that will be my own breathing, and the sound of the smell, of my footsteps. The question is, what color will everything be at that moment when I come for you? What will the sky be saying? Personally, I like a chocolate-colored sky. Dark, dark chocolate. People say it suits me. I do, however, try to enjoy every color I see—the whole spectrum. A billion or so flavors, none of them quite the same, and a sky to slowly suck on. It takes the edge off the stress. It helps me relax.

The Book Thief is one of those books that I've read again and again and again. I reviewed it in 2007, 2008, and 2012. I started the year knowing that I would have to include it among my rereads. It's just a great book, a great book that is not diminished by rereading. It stays compelling and beautiful. It was also recently filmed. I wanted to read the book around the same time I watched the movie.

I watched the movie before rereading The Book Thief. If I'd never read the Book Thief, I would not have felt right seeing the movie first. This worked well for me. I think it worked to the movie's benefit in fact. I was able to become absorbed in the story and the characters. I wasn't comparing every second of the movie to every word in the book. I wasn't seeing the movie within the framework of what has been left out and what has been changed. Watching the movie, I was reminded of why I love the characters I love, reminded of why they are so memorable to me. They are just as memorable to me as say Anne, Marilla, Matthew, and Gilbert. The Book Thief was a book that deserved a film of equal quality to be made, and, I think it was done beautifully. That doesn't mean that everything in the movie was in the book or that everything in the book was in the movie. One thing I did notice after reading the book was the fact that Hans did not take the accordion with him into the shelter raids. (Though it did make a great movie moment.)

I loved rereading The Book Thief. It is always an experience. I don't think I can improve upon my last review:

The Book Thief leaves me speechless. If humans leave Death, the narrator, feeling haunted, I can say the same of the narrator. Could a book have a better narrator? I doubt it. There is something so perfectly-perfectly-perfect about The Book Thief. It is beautiful and brilliant; absorbing and compelling. It goes ugly places, to be sure, but the language, the style, just can't be beat. I mean this is a novel that wows and amazes. The characters are so real, so vivid. I mean these characters are very real, very human, very flawed, but the connection is so intense.

I don't love it because it's an easy read. I don't love it because it's a happy, happy novel. I love it because it is beautiful, haunting, ugly, yet hopeful.

Favorite quotes:
Yes, often, I am reminded of her, and in one of my vast array of pockets, I have kept her story to retell. It is one of the small legion I carry, each one extraordinary in its own right. Each one an attempt—an immense leap of an attempt—to prove to me that you, and your human existence, are worth it. Here it is. One of a handful. The Book Thief. If you feel like it, come with me. I will tell you a story. I’ll show you something.
Yes, an illustrious career. I should hasten to admit, however, that there was a considerable hiatus between the first stolen book and the second. Another noteworthy point is that the first was stolen from snow and the second from fire. Not to omit that others were also given to her. All told, she owned fourteen books, but she saw her story as being made up predominantly of ten of them. Of those ten, six were stolen, one showed up at the kitchen table, two were made for her by a hidden Jew, and one was delivered by a soft, yellow-dressed afternoon.
When she came to write her story, she would wonder exactly when the books and the words started to mean not just something, but everything. Was it when she first set eyes on the room with shelves and shelves of them? Or when Max Vandenburg arrived on Himmel Street carrying handfuls of suffering and Hitler’s Mein Kampf? Was it reading in the shelters? The last parade to Dachau? Was it The Word Shaker? Perhaps there would never be a precise answer as to when and where it occurred. In any case, that’s getting ahead of myself. Before we make it to any of that, we first need to tour Liesel Meminger’s beginnings on Himmel Street...
To most people, Hans Hubermann was barely visible. An un-special person. Certainly, his painting skills were excellent. His musical ability was better than average. Somehow, though, and I’m sure you’ve met people like this, he was able to appear as merely part of the background, even if he was standing at the front of a line. He was always just there. Not noticeable. Not important or particularly valuable. The frustration of that appearance, as you can imagine, was its complete misleadence, let’s say. There most definitely was value in him, and it did not go unnoticed by Liesel Meminger. (The human child—so much cannier at times than the stupefyingly ponderous adult.)
A DEFINITION NOT FOUND IN THE DICTIONARY Not leaving: an act of trust and love, often deciphered by children
Insane or not, Rudy was always destined to be Liesel’s best friend. A snowball in the face is surely the perfect beginning to a lasting friendship.
I guess humans like to watch a little destruction. Sand castles, houses of cards, that’s where they begin. Their great skill is their capacity to escalate.
A SMALL BUT NOTE WORTHY NOTE I’ve seen so many young men over the years who think they’re running at other young men. They are not. They’re running at me.
On the ration cards of Nazi Germany, there was no listing for punishment, but everyone had to take their turn. For some it was death in a foreign country during the war. For others it was poverty and guilt when the war was over, when six million discoveries were made throughout Europe.
For some reason, dying men always ask questions they know the answer to. Perhaps it’s so they can die being right.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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21. Week in Review: July 27 - August 2

From August:
The Book Thief. Markus Zusak. 2006. Random House. 560 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]

From July:
The Girl From the Tar Paper School. Teri Kanefield. 2014. Abrams. 56 pages. [Source: Library] 
Dualed. Elsie Chapman. 2013. Random House. 304 pages. [Source: Library]
To Love And Be Wise. (Inspector Grant #4) Josephine Tey. 1951. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Bought] 
China Dolls. Lisa See. 2014. Random House. 376 pages. [Source: Library]
 Don't Even Think About It. Sarah Mlynowski. 2014. Random House. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Full Steam Ahead. Karen Witemeyer. 2014. Bethany House. 352 pages. [Source: Library]
50 Days of Heaven: Reflections That Bring Eternity to Light. Randy Alcorn. 2006. Tyndale. 288 pages. [Source: Bought]

This week's favorite: 

The Book Thief. I love, love, love, LOVE The Book Thief. I don't love it because it's a happy, happy novel. I love it because it is beautiful, haunting, ugly, yet hopeful.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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22. Library Loot: My First trip in August

New Loot:
  • The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen
  • Elephant Company by Vicki Constantine Croke
  • A Murder at Rosamund's Gate by Susanna Calkins
  • My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier
  • Three Things You Need To Know About Rockets by Jessica A. Fox
  • Flight by Elephant by Andrew Martin
Leftover Loot:
  • Useful Enemies: John Demjanjuk and America's Open-Door Policy for Nazi War Criminals by Richard Rashke
  • Simply Satisfying Over 200 Vegetarian Recipes You'll Want to Make Again and Again by Jeanne Lemlin
  • Simple Faith by Anna Schmidt
  • The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming
  • The Little Girl Who Fought the Great Depression: Shirley Temple and 1930s America by John F. Kasson
  • Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel
  • Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier
  • The Fantastic Laboratory of Dr. Weigl by Arthur Allen
  • Death of a Dowager by Joanna Campbell Slan
  • The Quaker and the Rebel by Mary Ellis
  • The Family Cooks: 100+ Recipes to Get Your Family Craving Food That's Simple, Tasty, And Incredibly Good for You by Laurie David, recipes by Kirstin Uhrenholdt
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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23. Nine 2014 Picture Books

Clifford Visits the Zoo. Norman Bridwell. 2014. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I'm Emily Elizabeth and this is my dog. His name is Clifford. Today we are going to the zoo. The people at the zoo have never seen anything like Clifford. So I tell them, Clifford is my dog. And he is very friendly. The first animals we see are penguins. The penguins are small. And Clifford is very, very big!

There are many, many books in the Clifford series. In this latest book, Norman Bridwell has Clifford visiting the zoo with Emily Elizabeth. The focus is on opposites. Readers observe one thing about an animal (the penguins are small) and note how Clifford is the exact opposite (he is very very big). This pattern continues through the entire book: animal by animal. The opposites include small and big, sleeping and awake, light and heavy, dirty and clean, noisy and quiet, slowly and quickly, hard and soft, up and down, curly and straight, wet and dry. The book concludes with a few facts about each of the animals visited at the zoo: penguins, koalas, monarch butterflies, hippopotamuses, howler monkeys, sloths, tortoises, birds, chameleons, and seals.

I liked this one. I'm not a big fan of Clifford in general, with a series this big, it would be hard to have each book in the series be of equal quality. But this one was a nice book.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Dreidel. Caryn Yacowitz. Illustrated by David Slonim. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I know an old lady who swallowed a dreidel,
A Chanukah dreidel she thought was a bagel...
Perhaps it's fatal.
I know an old lady who swallowed some oil--
A pitcher of oil, 'bout ready to boil.
She swallowed the oil to wash down the dreidel,
A Chanukah dreidel she thought was a bagel…
Perhaps it's fatal.

I have read a handful of "Old Lady Who Swallowed A…" books in the past. This one fits the pattern, but with an obvious Jewish theme. Items swallowed include a dreidel, oil, latkes, sauce, brisket, gelt, menorah, and candles.

For readers of all ages who enjoy those kinds of books, then this one will prove an interesting addition. For more impatient readers who tired of the "Old Lady" books after the first or second imitation, this one is not extraordinary enough to make it a must read. At least the text alone isn't extraordinary enough. However. I must say that the illustrations are quite wonderful.

David Slonim chose classic art masterpieces to parody in his illustrations. Each spread pays unique tribute to a masterpiece while matching perfectly the text of the story. The masterpieces: Mona Lisa, The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicholaes Tulp, American Gothic, The Milkmaid, The scream, Nighthawks, Campbell's Soup Cans, Spectrum II, Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 (Whistler's Mother), The Thinker, Doctor and Doll, Christina's World, The Starry Night, and Dance I. The illustrators note includes the name of each piece, the date, and the museum location of the original.

I definitely enjoyed this one; I enjoyed it mostly because of the illustrations. But I don't think that is a bad thing. Illustrations are very important to storytelling and reading.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

If Kids Ran the World. Leo and Diane Dillon. 2014. Scholastic. 32 Pages. [Source: Review copy]

If kids ran the world, we would make it a kinder, better place.
Maybe we'd run the world in a big tree house, and everybody would be welcome.
We'd take care of the most important things.
We know people are hungry, so all over the world, everyone would have enough to eat.


If Kids Ran The World is saturated in lessons. It's just dripping with moral messages. It's not that the message of peace and love and joy and harmony are bad. But as the Peppa Pig episode, "International Day" CLEARLY shows, "Peace and harmony in all the world," is not easily achieved even among children, or especially among children.

The book's premise is that children are more mature than adults. That somehow children are more innocent, more kind, more forgiving, more loving, more sensitive, more compassionate, more generous than adults. The premise is that children could solve problems like health care, the environment, bullying, world hunger, poverty, etc. just by being their little lovable selves. (Of course kids NEVER are selfish, ALWAYS willing to share, NEVER tell lies, ALWAYS speak kindly. NEVER exclude anyone or call names ALWAYS include everybody no matter their age or gender.)

Is that premise true? Each reader will have to decide that for themselves. Some readers may embrace the optimism and positiveness of this one. Others may question it from cover to cover.

I found this one to be very message-heavy. And the illustrations in my opinion were strange and quirky. It was little things really. Like all the slanted eyes. Like all the rosy cheeks. But there were a few big things as well that made this one, well, creepy. Like on the title page. The illustration has a globe of the Earth for a head on a body. This "person" also has wings. This globe-head character also shows up towards the end in a two-page spread that features two other creepy additions. A child's body with a lion's head and a child's body with a lamb's head. 

Perhaps the illustrations are supposed to "represent" children from around the globe? But if this is the case, it has a very "It's A Small World" feel to it.

Text: 1 out of 5
Illustrations 1 out of 5
Total: 2 out of 10

My Grandfather's Coat. Jim Aylesworth. Illustrated by Barbara McClintock. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

My grandfather came to America when he was very young. He came alone and with little more than nothing at all. The years passed, and he became a tailor. He worked very hard. And then, on the luckiest day of his life, he met my grandmother, and they fell in love. When she agreed to marry him, my grandfather went right to work. He snipped, and he clipped, and he stitched, and he sewed, and he made for himself a handsome coat…that he wore on his wedding day.

This is a retelling of a story based on the Yiddish folksong "I Had A Little Overcoat." It is a sweet story spanning the generations. The beloved coat transforms from coat to jacket to vest to tie to toy to material for a mouse's nest, to nothing but a story. It's a family-oriented story which makes it a gem in my opinion.

I loved the illustrations. I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the illustrations. I love seeing the story come to life. I love watching his family grow. From his own wedding to his daughter's wedding to his playing with his own grandchildren and great-grandchildren. There was just so much sweet going on. I loved it!!!

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10


The Night Parade. Lily Roscoe. Illustrated by David Walker. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Have you ever wondered what happens at night while mothers and fathers lie sleeping? Children wake up. They clamp out of their beds, some crawling, some running, some leaping. As the moon shines down they escape into town. To the night parade they go sneaking…

The Night Parade is a silly, imaginative book. Roscoe has created a "secret world" of sorts where children nightly sneak out of their houses and do amazing things with other children. Things like make cakes for the moon, turn somersaults in the park, dress up in costumes, tell mermaid stories, etc. They also read LOTS AND LOTS of books. By morning, all children will be safely back in their beds.

This one was okay. I didn't love it. I didn't hate it. The children are super-active, super-creative. The illustrations match the playfulness of the text. My favorite page was probably of the children marching by in their costumes. Even the moon is dressed up. Then again, I also liked the idea of all those cakes and all that frosting.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10


Noodle Magic. Roseanne Greenfield Thong. Illustrated by Meilo So. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The emperor's birthday was coming, and excitement filled the air. Every day, Mei watched Grandpa Tu make magic with his hands and a bit of dough. She loved the powdery flakes that hung in the air and freckled the morning light. Every evening, Grandpa slapped the dough on the table, kneaded it with his hands, and stretched it into coils. Everyone oohed and aahed over Grandpa Tu's noodles--even the Moon Goddess, who brightened the night sky.

Mei loves, loves, loves to watch her Grandpa Tu make noodles. She thinks--the whole village in fact--thinks that there is something magical about Grandpa Tu's noodles. So everyone--Mei included--is shocked that Grandpa Tu chooses NOT to make noodles to celebrate the emperor's birthday. Instead he chooses Mei for the job. He wants her to find the magic within herself, he wants her to see that she too can do it. Readers watch as Mei tries and tries her best to make noodles special enough, magical enough, for the occasion. At times, it seems Grandpa Tu has more confidence in his granddaughter than she does in herself. Even the moon goddess thinks Mei can do it!

I liked this one. I really liked some aspects of it. I liked the writing, the language. I liked the imagery. For example, "powdery flakes that hung in the air and freckled the morning light." There were places this one worked really well for me. I also liked the focus on the grandfather-granddaughter relationship. I definitely liked the ending!

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

The Cat, The Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, The Wolf, and Grandma. Diane and Christyan Fox. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The Cat, The Dog, Little Red, the Exploding Eggs, The Wolf, and Grandma celebrates storytelling. To be precise, this book celebrates interruptions at story time. The cat is trying very, very hard to tell the story of Little Red Riding Hood to the dog. By the end, this cat is VERY frustrated. The dog, you might say, has trouble focusing his attention on the actual story. Dog imagines the story a bit differently. For one, he gets the wrong impression from the very beginning. The dog hears about the red cape and instantly thinks SUPER HERO, SUPER POWERS. The cat has to veto all the dog's changes to the story, which is where the EXPLODING EGGS come into it. The dog does ask some good, solid questions. For example, if the wolf wanted to eat the little girl--as he clearly does when he's dressed up as Grandma--WHY didn't he eat her in the woods to begin with?

This book was fun and playful. I liked the focus on storytelling, liked the questioning of it too.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

Thanksgiving for Emily Ann. Teresa Johnston. Illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Emily Ann just had to say, she was not very thankful on Thanksgiving Day.
Her brother was mean. Her sister, a bore.
And with Grandpa in town she slept on the floor.
There was food to be cooked and chores to be done.
With everyone busy there was no time for fun.


Well, it is what it is. It's a Thanksgiving-themed story in rhyme. Emily Ann goes from ungrateful to grateful in 32 pages. The story includes all the things you'd expect: an emphasis on food, and an emphasis on family. The rhyming. Well. Some pages worked better than others. I liked the illustrations better than the text.

Text: 2 out of 5
Illustration: 3 out of 5
Total: 5 out of 10


Fly Guy #14 Fly Guy's Amazing Tricks. Tedd Arnold. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

A boy had a pet fly. He named him Fly Guy. And Fly Guy could say the boy's name--Buzz!
Chapter 1: Buzz's friends came to see The Amazing Fly Guy Circus. Buzz said, "Get ready for Fly Guy's amazing new tricks!" "Now," said Buzz, "The Backstroke." "Now," said Buzz, "The Dizzy Doozie!" "And now," said Buzz, "The Big Booger!" "Time for supper, said Mom. Buzz's friends all went home.

I liked this one. Fly Guy has learned some "amazing" new tricks. The tricks went over well with his friends for their circus. The tricks do not go over well with his parents when Fly Guy performs at the dinner table. Of course that wasn't the end of Fly Guy. But. He did have to learn when NOT to perform. The last chapter is perhaps the funnest. Someone starts teasing Buzz, and, Fly Guy "saves" the day by driving the bully away.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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24. Six Early Readers (2014)

Petal and Poppy. (Level 2, Green Light Readers) Lisa Clough. Illustrated by Ed Briant. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Poppy is not here. It is time to practice my tuba. Bah-bwab-baah! Bwah-bu-baah! 
Ack! Petal is practicing. It is time to go scuba diving!

Petal and Poppy are best friends. (Petal is the elephant. Poppy is the rhinoceros.) They are best friends, but, they are very different from one another. In this first book, readers learn that Petal can be a worrywart, and that Poppy is very understanding.

Poppy goes scuba diving. Petal comes along. She brings her tuba. She alternates playing her tuba and panicking about Poppy. Is Poppy okay? How about now? And now?

Did I like it? Sure. I didn't not like it. With the exception of Elephant and Piggie, I am unlikely to get EXCITED about any early readers I pick up.

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]

Someone has stomped on my flowers. Uh-oh--a storm is coming! Boom! Honk, honk! Who is there? Ahhh! A monster! 

Was there really a monster? Or was Petal, the elephant, just panicking again? Poppy, the rhinoceros, is such a good and understanding friend. Poppy will "save" Petal from the monster outside who is stomping on the flowers. Who is the monster making spooky sounds? A penguin, of course! It is called Petal and Poppy and The Penguin after all. These two take the penguin in. Petal very reluctantly. But these three may be great friends yet.

I liked this second book better than the first. I'm not surprised. I think with series books it can take a few books sometimes for readers to make a connection with characters. The third book in the series will be released at the end of August.  Petal and Poppy and the Spooky Halloween.

Steve & Wessley in The Ice Cream Shop. (Level 1 Reader) J.E. Morris. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Steve walked down the street. 
Steve walked by an ice cream shop.
Did someone say "ice cream"?
Steve liked ice cream.
Steve liked ice cream very much.

I like Steve. I do. He may not be very bright or smart. But there is something about him that is just likable. (Maybe he reminds me of Pinky?) In this book, Steve really wants ice cream. He wants it bad. One thing is standing in his way. The door. It won't open. Steve is very frustrated. What is the deal with this door?!

Wessley is much smarter than Steven. He realizes that some doors you push, and other doors you pull. 

I liked this one fine. The second book in this new series will release at the end of August. The Sea Monster.

Days of the Knights. (Level 2 Reader) Robert Neubecker. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

"What's up, Joe?" asked Lilly. 
"I'm doing a report on the Middle Ages." Joe shrugged. 
"With knights and queens and castles? What fun!"
"I guess so," mumbled Joe.
"I'll help you research," said Lilly. She tapped the keys on the library computer...

In Days of the Knights, readers meet Lilly, Joe, and Red the Time Dragon. Red the Time Dragon is their personal guide to the middle ages. Lilly and Joe learn a handful of facts about the middle ages during their brief stay. Red the Time Dragon also manages to find time to lead a peasant revolt against Sir Vile, a selfish knight.

I don't know what to think about this new series. I really don't! The second adventure is Racing the Waves. It releases in late August.


Little Big Horse: Where's My Bike? (Level 1) Dave Horowitz. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I can't wait for class to be over. 
Finally.
To the bikes!
Where is my bike? I left it right here.

Someone has stolen his bike! Who did it? Why? What motivated the crime? Will he get his bike back?

This one is very simple. Of all the books I'm reviewing today, this one is the simplest. Simple can be a good thing. Young readers need access to simple books with big font.

I liked it well enough. I liked the illustrations. I liked reading the emotions on the faces of the two characters we meet.

Drop It, Rocket! (Step 1) Tad Hills. 2014. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Rocket and the little yellow bird love words. They love their word tree, too. "Are you ready to find new words for our word tree?" asks the bird. "Yes, I am!" says Rocket.

Readers may be familiar with the character of Rocket already. Rocket is the star of several picture books: How Rocket Learned to Read and Rocket Writes a Story.

This story is simple and repetitive. Rocket wants to learn new words and add new words to the word tree. He brings new things--new objects--to his friend the yellow bird. The bird tells him to "drop it" each time. Rocket is usually a good dog, so he obeys. New words are added. But what happens when Rocket does not want to drop it?

I liked this one. I liked the problem solving. It's a cute story.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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25. Birth of Britain (1956)

The Birth of Britain (History of the English Speaking People #1). Winston Churchill. 1956. 496 pages. [Source: Bought]

The Birth of Britain is the first of four volumes in Winston Churchill's History of the English Speaking People series. It begins around the time of Julius Caesar and ends on Bosworth Field with the death of Richard III.

 "I write about the things in our past that appear significant to me, and I do so as one not without some experience of historical and violent events in our own time."

He later writes,

Every nation or group of nations has its own tale to tell. Knowledge of the trials and struggles is necessary to all who would comprehend the problems, perils, challenges, and opportunities which confront us to-day."
  
And,

"Five years is a lot. Twenty years is the horizon to most people. Fifty years is antiquity. To understand how the impact of destiny fell upon any generation of men one must first imagine their position and then apply the time-scale of our own lives. Thus nearly all changes were far less perceptible to those who lived through them from day to day than appears when the salient features of an epoch are extracted by the chronicler."

I enjoyed it. I really did. I love history. I do. And British history, well, it's my favorite and best. It's a subject that more often than not I find fascinating. Not to say that I'm never puzzled as I try to absorb new information. But for a history lover, absorbing new information is part of the fun, part of the appeal. So, yes, this one could prove challenging and complex at times. But it could also prove quite entertaining. I did feel it was more balanced than say Charles Dickens' history! If you remember, I did not think Dickens treated women fairly...at all.

Table of Contents

Book I: The Island Race
  1. Britannia
  2. Subjugation
  3. The Roman Province
  4. The Lost Island
  5. England
  6. The Vikings
  7. Alfred the Great
  8. The Saxon Dusk
Book II: The Making of the Nation
  1. The Norman Invasion
  2. William the Conqueror
  3. Growth and Turmoil
  4. Henry Plantagenet
  5. The English Common Law
  6. Coeur de Lion
  7. Magna Carta
  8. On the Anvil
  9. The Mother of Parliaments
  10. King Edward I
  11. Bannockburn
  12. Scotland and Ireland
  13. The Long-Bow
  14. The Black Death
Book III: The End of the Feudal Age
  1. King Richard and the Social Revolt
  2. The Usurpation of Henry Bolingbroke
  3. The Empire of Henry V
  4. Joan of Arc
  5. York and Lancaster
  6. The Wars of the Roses
  7. The Adventures of Edward IV
  8. Richard III
I share the table of contents because that is what I would be curious about. I share quotes as well because to me how a writer says something is sometimes just as significant as what is being said.

Quotes:
One morning Duke Robert of Normandy, the fourth descendant of Rollo, was riding towards his capital town, Falaise, when he saw Arlette, daughter of a tanner, washing linen in a stream. His love was instantly fired. He carried her to his castle, and, although already married to a lady of quality, lived with her for the rest of his days. To this romantic but irregular union there was born in 1027 a son, William, afterwards famous.
When death drew near his sons William and Henry came to him. William, whose one virtue had been filial fidelity, was named to succeed the Conqueror in England. The graceless Robert would rule in Normandy at last. For the youngest, Henry, there was nothing but five thousand pounds of silver, and the prophecy that he would one day reign over a united Anglo-Norman nation. This proved no empty blessing.
Few mortals have led so full a life as Henry II or have drunk so deeply of the cups of triumph and sorrow. In later life he fell out with Eleanor. When she was over fifty and he but forty-two he is said to have fallen in love with “Fair Rosamond”, a damosel of high degree and transcendent beauty, and generations have enjoyed the romantic tragedy of Queen Eleanor penetrating the protecting maze at Woodstock by the clue of a silken thread and offering her hapless supplanter the hard choice between the dagger and the poisoned cup. Tiresome investigators have undermined this excellent tale, but it certainly should find its place in any history worthy of the name.
It has often been said that Joan of Arc first raised the standard of nationalism in the Western world. But over a century before she appeared an outlaw knight, William Wallace, arising from the recesses of South-West Scotland which had been his refuge, embodied, commanded, and led to victory the Scottish nation. Edward, warring in France with piebald fortune, was forced to listen to tales of ceaseless inroads and forays against his royal peace in Scotland, hitherto deemed so sure. Wallace had behind him the spirit of a race as stern and as resolute as any bred among men. He added military gifts of a high order. Out of an unorganised mass of valiant fighting men he forged, in spite of cruel poverty and primitive administration, a stubborn, indomitable army, ready to fight at any odds and mock defeat. The structure of this army is curious. Every four men had a fifth man as leader; every nine men a tenth; every nineteen men a twentieth, and so on to every thousand; and it was agreed that the penalty for disobedience to the leader of any unit was death. Thus from the ground does freedom raise itself unconquerable.
When Henry V revived the English claims to France he opened the greatest tragedy in our medieval history. Agincourt was a glittering victory, but the wasteful and useless campaigns that followed more than outweighed its military and moral value, and the miserable, destroying century that ensued casts its black shadow upon Henry’s heroic triumph.
Out of her own mouth can she be judged in each generation. She embodied the natural goodness and valour of the human race in unexampled perfection. Unconquerable courage, infinite compassion, the virtue of the simple, the wisdom of the just, shone forth in her. She glorifies as she freed the soil from which she sprang. All soldiers should read her story and ponder on the words and deeds of the true warrior, who in one single year, though untaught in technical arts, reveals in every situation the key of victory.
It was upon this community that the agonies of the Wars of the Roses were now to fall. We must not underrate either the great issues which led to the struggle or the conscious, intense, prolonged efforts made to avert it. The need of all men and their active desire was for a strong and capable Government. Some thought this could only be obtained by aiding the lawful, established régime. Others had been for a long time secretly contending that a usurpation had been imposed upon them which had now become incompetent.
Historians have shrunk from the Wars of the Roses, and most of those who have catalogued their events have left us only a melancholy and disjointed picture. We are however in the presence of the most ferocious and implacable quarrel of which there is factual record. The individual actors were bred by generations of privilege and war, into which the feudal theme had brought its peculiar sense of honour, and to which the Papacy contributed such spiritual sanction as emerged from its rivalries and intrigues. It was a conflict in which personal hatreds reached their maximum, and from which mass effects were happily excluded. There must have been many similar convulsions in the human story. None however has been preserved with characters at once so worldly and so expensively chiselled. 
History has scolded this prince of twenty-two for not possessing immediately the statecraft and addiction to business for which his office called. Edward united contrasting characters. He loved peace; he shone in war. But he loved peace for its indulgences rather than its dignity.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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