Monday, December 11, 2017

Family Tree Reading Challenge

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up)
January - December 2018
# of books: minimum 3,

Love reading? Love family? Love researching family history? Want a family-friendly reading challenge? 

Goal: To read a book from the birth year of your selected family members. You do not have to mention them by name, unless you want. But do please list the years you'll be reading. You may include yourself in your 'family tree.'

Minimum of three books (and three family members). You can read more, of course.

Sign up by leaving a comment.

What books count towards the reading challenge?
  • Fiction
  • Nonfiction
  • Board books
  • Picture Books
  • Early Readers
  • Early Chapter Books
  • Chapter Books
  • Graphic Novels
  • Middle Grade Books
  • Young Adult Books
  • Adult Books
  • Poetry
  • Short Stories
  • Plays
Is a blog required? Are reviews required? No. If you do blog, I'd love a link to your blog so I can read your reviews and book recommendations. If you review books on GoodReads, leave a link to your profile so I can friend you and follow your reviews!

If you're on twitter, you can contact me @blbooks and talk cats OR books!

You can comment on this post or any challenge-related post to update others on your progress.



© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2018 Reading Challenges: Family Tree

Family Tree Reading Challenge
Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up)
January - December 2018
# of books: I'm aiming for twelve

The years I'll be reading:

1918
1931
1918
1924
1951
1955
1960
1976
1977
1978
2009
2011

If I finish those:

1949
1953

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, December 09, 2017

Week in Review: December 3-9

The Librarian of Auschwitz. Antonio Iturbe. Translated by Lilit Thwaites. 2017. 424 pages. [Source: Library]
Prairie Fires: the American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Caroline Fraser. 2017. 640 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Chimes. Charles Dickens. 1844. 116 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Cricket on the Hearth. Charles Dickens. 1845. 84 pages. [Source: Bought]
Among the Brave. (Shadow Children #5) Margaret Peterson Haddix. 2004. 256 pages. [Source: Library]
Favorite Quotes from A Christmas Carol
Back to the Classics Challenge 2018 

The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC's (the Hard Way). Patrick McDonnell. 2017. Little, Brown. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
This Is My Book! Mark Pett. 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
Here Comes The Easter Cat. Deborah Underwood. Illustrated by Claudia Rueda.  2014.  80 pages. [Source: Library]
Here Comes Valentine Cat. Deborah Underwood. 2015. 88 pages. [Source: Library]
Here Comes the Tooth Fairy Cat. Deborah Underwood. Illustrated by Claudia Rueda. 2015. 96 pages. [Source: Library]

A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens. 1843. 96 pages. [Source: Bought]
When Is It Right To Die? A Comforting and Surprising Look at Death and Dying. Joni Eareckson Tada. 1992/2018. Zondervan. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
52 Little Lessons from A Christmas Carol. Bob Welch. 2015. Thomas Nelson. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
My Autumn with Psalm 199 #21
My Autumn with Psalm 119 #22
My Autumn with Psalm 119 #23
My Autumn with Psalm 119 #24
Journaling the Spurgeon Bible #4 

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Back to the Classics 2018

Back to the Classics 2018
Host: Books and Chocolate (sign up)
January - December 2018
# of books: 6 - 12

_ 19th century classic
_ 20th century classic
_ classic by a woman author
_ classic in translation
_ children's classic
_ classic crime story
_ classic travel or journey narrative
_ classic with a single-word title
_ classic with a color in the title
_ classic by a new-to-you author
_ a classic that scares you
_ re-read a favorite classic

And here are the categories for the 2018 Back to the Classics Challenge:

1.  A 19th century classic - any book published between 1800 and 1899.


2.  A 20th century classic - any book published between 1900 and 1968. Just like last year, all books MUST have been published at least 50 years ago to qualify. The only exception is books written at least 50 years ago, but published later, such as posthumous publications.


3.  A classic by a woman author


4.  A classic in translation.  Any book originally written published in a language other than your native language. Feel free to read the book in your language or the original language. (You can also read books in translation for any of the other categories). Modern translations are acceptable as long as the original work fits the guidelines for publications as explained in the challenge rules.


5. A children's classic. Indulge your inner child and read that classic that you somehow missed years ago. Short stories are fine, but it must be a complete volume. Picture books don't count!


6.  A classic crime story, fiction or non-fiction. This can be a true crime story, mystery, detective novel, spy novel, etc., as long as a crime is an integral part of the story and it was published at least 50 years ago. Examples include The 39 Steps, Strangers on a Train, In Cold Blood, The Murder of Roger Ackroyd, etc.  The Haycraft-Queen Cornerstones list is an excellent source for suggestions. 


7. A classic travel or journey narrative, fiction or non-fiction. A journey should be a major plot point, i.e., The Hobbit, Unbeaten Tracks in Japan, Kon-Tiki, Travels with Charley, etc.

8. A classic with a single-word title. No articles please! Proper names are fine -- Emma, Germinal, Middlemarch, Kidnapped, etc.).


9. A classic with a color in the title. The Woman in White; Anne of Green Gables; The Red and the Black, and so on.


10. A classic by an author that's new to you. Choose an author you've never read before.


11. A classic that scares you. Is there a classic you've been putting off forever? A really long book which intimidates you because of its sheer length? Now's the time to read it, and hopefully you'll be pleasantly surprised!


12. Re-read a favorite classic. Like me, you probably have a lot of favorites -- choose one and read it again, then tell us why you love it so much. 


© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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The Cricket on the Hearth

The Cricket on the Hearth. Charles Dickens. 1845. 84 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: The kettle began it! Don’t tell me what Mrs. Peerybingle said. I know better. Mrs. Peerybingle may leave it on record to the end of time that she couldn’t say which of them began it; but, I say the kettle did. I ought to know, I hope! The kettle began it, full five minutes by the little waxy-faced Dutch clock in the corner, before the Cricket uttered a chirp.

Premise/plot: This novella doesn't have chapters, it has chirps. Readers meet a happily married couple with a baby: Mr. and Mrs. Peerybingle. (His name is John. Her name is Dot). The couple's wedding anniversary is nearing, and an acquaintance of theirs is soon to be wed. But Tackleton, the groom-to-be is nothing like John. And the bride-to-be, May, is not in love. Tackleton knows this, and is rather proud. He feels Mr. Peerybingle is foolish for loving his wife as he does, and plants seeds of doubt in his mind. Does Dot really truly love him? Or is he blinded by his own love for her? Could his wife even be carrying on with another man behind his back?!

Mr. Peerybingle is not quite as bad as Othello in terms of jealousy. But is that because he's got a Cricket in the hearth watching over his home and preventing the worst of it?! Perhaps. His wife is keeping a secret from her husband, but, it's a good secret. One concerning a friend. She isn't the only one with a secret that's a burden.

Caleb Plummer has been lying to his blind daughter, Bertha, for YEARS. The biggest lie of all is that the man who employs them to make toys--Tackleton--is a kind, good, pleasant man. The problem is, he's mean, inconsiderate, and extremely UNpleasant. She's fallen in love with a lie--a man of her father's creation. Her heart is breaking that Tackleton is marrying.

With Dot's help, Caleb is going to tell her the truth. John will learn the truth as well; some details come from his wife, but others come from the Cricket and the household fairies.

Will May and Tackleton marry? Or does the day hold surprises of its own?

My thoughts: This was my first time to read The Cricket on the Hearth. It had its worrying moments. In the hand of Thomas Hardy, I don't think I could have gone on. John has to walk down a dark valley and be sorely tempted. This one could easily have gone the way of Othello. Fortunately, Dickens did not go that route! Perhaps because this one provides such a contrast of human emotion, the happy ending was all the more joyful.

Favorite quotes:
  • The kettle had had the last of its solo performance. It persevered with undiminished ardour; but the Cricket took first fiddle and kept it. Good Heaven, how it chirped! Its shrill, sharp, piercing voice resounded through the house, and seemed to twinkle in the outer darkness like a star. There was an indescribable little trill and tremble in it, at its loudest, which suggested its being carried off its legs, and made to leap again, by its own intense enthusiasm. Yet they went very well together, the Cricket and the kettle. The burden of the song was still the same; and louder, louder, louder still, they sang it in their emulation.
  • When she came back, and sat down in her former seat, the Cricket and the kettle were still keeping it up, with a perfect fury of competition. The kettle’s weak side clearly being, that he didn’t know when he was beat. There was all the excitement of a race about it. Chirp, chirp, chirp! Cricket a mile ahead. Hum, hum, hum — m — m! Kettle making play in the distance, like a great top. Chirp, chirp, chirp! Cricket round the corner. Hum, hum, hum — m — m! Kettle sticking to him in his own way; no idea of giving in. Chirp, chirp, chirp! Cricket fresher than ever. Hum, hum, hum — m — m! Kettle slow and steady. Chirp, chirp, chirp! Cricket going in to finish him. Hum, hum, hum — m — m! Kettle not to be finished. Until at last they got so jumbled together, in the hurry-skurry, helter-skelter, of the match, that whether the kettle chirped and the Cricket hummed, or the Cricket chirped and the kettle hummed, or they both chirped and both hummed, it would have taken a clearer head than yours or mine to have decided with anything like certainty.
  • Tackleton the Toy-merchant, pretty generally known as Gruff and Tackleton — for that was the firm, though Gruff had been bought out long ago; only leaving his name, and as some said his nature, according to its Dictionary meaning, in the business — Tackleton the Toy-merchant, was a man whose vocation had been quite misunderstood by his Parents and Guardians.
  • ‘We have arranged to keep our Wedding-Day (as far as that goes) at home,’ said John. ‘We have made the promise to ourselves these six months. We think, you see, that home —’ ‘Bah! what’s home?’ cried Tackleton. ‘Four walls and a ceiling! (why don’t you kill that Cricket? I would! I always do. I hate their noise.) There are four walls and a ceiling at my house. Come to me!’ ‘You kill your Crickets, eh?’ said John. ‘Scrunch ’em, sir,’ returned the other, setting his heel heavily on the floor. ‘You’ll say you’ll come? it’s as much your interest as mine, you know, that the women should persuade each other that they’re quiet and contented, and couldn’t be better off. I know their way. Whatever one woman says, another woman is determined to clinch, always. There’s that spirit of emulation among ’em, sir, that if your wife says to my wife, “I’m the happiest woman in the world, and mine’s the best husband in the world, and I dote on him,” my wife will say the same to yours, or more, and half believe it.’
  • Caleb and his daughter were at work together in their usual working-room, which served them for their ordinary living-room as well; and a strange place it was. There were houses in it, finished and unfinished, for Dolls of all stations in life. Suburban tenements for Dolls of moderate means; kitchens and single apartments for Dolls of the lower classes; capital town residences for Dolls of high estate. Some of these establishments were already furnished according to estimate, with a view to the convenience of Dolls of limited income; others could be fitted on the most expensive scale, at a moment’s notice, from whole shelves of chairs and tables, sofas, bedsteads, and upholstery. The nobility and gentry, and public in general, for whose accommodation these tenements were designed, lay, here and there, in baskets, staring straight up at the ceiling; but, in denoting their degrees in society, and confining them to their respective stations (which experience shows to be lamentably difficult in real life), the makers of these Dolls had far improved on Nature, who is often froward and perverse; for, they, not resting on such arbitrary marks as satin, cotton-print, and bits of rag, had superadded striking personal differences which allowed of no mistake.
  • When, suddenly, the struggling fire illumined the whole chimney with a glow of light; and the Cricket on the Hearth began to Chirp! No sound he could have heard, no human voice, not even hers, could so have moved and softened him. The artless words in which she had told him of her love for this same Cricket, were once more freshly spoken; her trembling, earnest manner at the moment, was again before him; her pleasant voice — O what a voice it was, for making household music at the fireside of an honest man! — thrilled through and through his better nature, and awoke it into life and action.
  • ‘All things that speak the language of your hearth and home, must plead for her!’ returned the Cricket. ‘For they speak the truth.’
  • Friends, one and all, my house is very lonely to-night. I have not so much as a Cricket on my Hearth. I have scared them all away. Be gracious to me; let me join this happy party!’ He was at home in five minutes. You never saw such a fellow. What HAD he been doing with himself all his life, never to have known, before, his great capacity of being jovial! Or what had the Fairies been doing with him, to have effected such a change!

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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