Sunday, June 25, 2017

Prisoner's Base

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Saturday, June 24, 2017

The Case of the Poached Egg

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

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

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

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Victorian Quarterly Check-In

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

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

 What are you currently reading?

The Bertrams by Anthony Trollope

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

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

Favorite book you've read so far...

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

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, June 23, 2017

Piggy's Pancake Parlor

Piggy's Pancake Parlor. David McPhail. 2002. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Piggy grew up on a small farm just below the hilltop village of West Wee. He was the runt of a large litter of pigs. The farm was owned by Mr. and Mrs. Farmer Todd, who took Piggy in because he was weak and underfed.

Premise/plot: Piggy, a runt raised by a farmer and his wife, learns the family's secret recipe for making the BEST PANCAKES EVER. He goes into business with Fox and starts a pancake parlor. These two friends learn many, many things together as the business grows and their customers keep coming back for MORE, MORE, MORE.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. It is an early chapter book: 48 pages in length, but nine chapters in total. It is illustrated. I love that the Fox--whom readers first meet IN a hen house stealing eggs--is not the automatic villain. I love that Piggy and his human parents are compassionate and generous. But my favorite FAVORITE aspect of this one was how they use Piggy's interest in TOY TRAINS in the restaurant--with mixed results!!! I loved the story, the characters, the writing.
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Death of a Gossip

Death of a Gossip. M.C. Beaton. 1985. 179 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: 'I hate the start of the week,' said John Cartwright fretfully.

Premise/plot: Death of a Gossip is the first mystery starring Hamish Macbeth. The series is set in Scotland. The setting of the first book is largely a fishing school/club and its surrounding rivers and lakes. John and Heather Cartwright manage the school, most of the students are out-of-town tourists. The students this eventful week are: Marvin and Amy Roth, Lady Jane Winters, Jeremy Blythe, Alice Wilson, Charlie Baxter, Major Peter Frame, and Daphne Gore. By the end of the week, one of these guests/students will be dead. Though technically Chief Inspector Blair is the detective on the case, it is really Hamish Macbeth, local constable, that gets the job done.

My thoughts: My mom hasn't read this first book, but she has been LOVING the later books in the series. I remember reading this one and not being all that impressed. But. I wanted to give Hamish Macbeth another try. I hope to see the television series soon. I am still not all that impressed. SO MUCH FISHING. I'm hoping that the series will improve as it goes on.


© 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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