Monday, December 05, 2016

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain. 1876. 225 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: “TOM!” No answer. “TOM!” No answer. “What’s gone with that boy, I wonder? You TOM!” No answer. The old lady pulled her spectacles down and looked over them about the room; then she put them up and looked out under them.

Premise/plot: Tom Sawyer is a mischievous young boy who almost always finds himself at the center of adventure. He's joined by other boys in the town, most notably Huckleberry Finn. Tom may be young, but he's not too young to "fall in love" with a certain Becky. Will that love last? Maybe, maybe not. After all, before Becky moved to town, he was in love with another little girl. So Tom may be a small-town Romeo in the making. One thing about Tom: he loves to fool everybody and even when fooled himself likes to make you think he is cleverer than anyone.

My thoughts: I read Huckleberry Finn earlier this year. I really do prefer Huck as narrator. But Tom can be charming when he chooses. (And if you can forget the way he treats Jim in Huckleberry Finn, he's fun to spend an afternoon or two with. But having just read the other book this year, I can't help seeing some of Tom's flaws!)

I would recommend both books. This one is definitely less weighty than Huckleberry Finn. There are at least three or four adventures in this one. And the book moves at a very steady pace!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, December 04, 2016

Treasury of Christmas Stories

Treasury of Christmas Stories. Edited by Ann McGovern. 1960. Scholastic. 152 pages. [Source: Bought]

Treasury of Christmas Stories was a delightful discovery for me, a true vintage find. The book was published in 1960, and it features stories and poems mainly published in the 1930's and 1940's. I liked that it was a blend of everything: fiction and nonfiction, stories and poems. I enjoyed the black and white illustrations as well. The illustrator is David Lockhart. Overall, both text and illustrations have a lovely, vintage feeling.

My top three poems would be, "Presents" by Marchette Chute, "Day Before Christmas" by Marchette Chute," and "A Visit from St. Nicholas" by Clement Clarke Moore. My top three stories would be: "A Piano by Christmas" by Paul Tulien, "Christmas Every Day" by W.D. Howells, and "A Miserable, Merry Christmas" by Lincoln Steffens.

Secret in the Barn by Anne Wood (poem)
It's nearly Christmas--it's Christmas Eve!
And it's snowing all over the place,
The roof of the barn is sugary white--
Its eaves are lined with lace.
A Christmas Gift for the General by Jeannette Covert Nolan (1937) (story)
Kennet, at the window, thought that the day was not at all like Christmas. The street he looked into was silent, almost desolate; the few people passing walked quickly with bent heads, as if they were cold, or sad--or both.
Christmas by Marchette Chute (1946) (poem)
My goodness, my goodness,
It's Christmas again.
The bells are all ringing.
I do not know when
I've been so excited.
The tree is all fixed,
The candles are lighted,
The pudding is mixed.
Christmas Every Day by W.D. Howells (story)
The little girl came into her papa's study, as she always did Saturday morning before breakfast, and asked for a story. He tried to beg off that morning, for he was very busy, but she would not let him. So he began: "Well, once there was a little pig--" She put her hand over his mouth and stopped him at the word. She said she had heard little pig stories till she was perfectly sick of them. "Well, what kind of story shall I tell, then?" "About Christmas. It's getting to be the season. It's past Thanksgiving already."
Ashes of the Christmas Tree by Yetza Gillespie (1946) (poem)
When Christmas trees at last are burned
Upon the hearth, they leap and flash
More brilliantly than other wood,
And wear a difference in the ash.
The Fir Tree by Hans Christian Anderson (story)
Once upon a time there was a pretty, green little Fir Tree. The sun shone on him; he had plenty of fresh air; and around him grew many large comrades, pines as well as firs. But the little Fir was not satisfied.
Presents by Marchette Chute (1932) (poem)
I wanted a rifle for Christmas,
I wanted a bat and a ball,
I wanted some skates and a bicycle,
But I didn't want mittens at all.
A Miserable, Merry Christmas by Lincoln Steffens (1931, 1935) (excerpt from an autobiography)
What interested me in our new neighborhood was not the school, nor the room I was to have in the house all to myself, but the stable which was built back of the house.
The Bells by Edgar Allan Poe (poem)
Hear the sledges with the bells--
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
Yuletide Customs in Many Lands by Lou Crandall (1941) (nonfiction)
Christmas in May? It sounds strange, doesn't it? And yet in the early centuries of Christianity, the birthday of Jesus probably was sometimes celebrated in May, sometimes in other months; certainly it was often observed in January. This was because the exact date of the birth of Christ has never been known.
Lord Octopus Went to the Christmas Fair by Stella Mead (1934) (poem)
Lord Octopus went to the Christmas Fair;
An hour and a half he was traveling there.
Then he had to climb
For a weary time
To the slimy block
Of a sandstone rock,
And creep, creep away
To the big wide bay
Where a stout old whale
Held his Christmas Sale.
Christmas Tree by Aileen Fisher (1946) (poem)
I'll find me a spruce
in the cold white wood
with wide green boughs
and a snowy hood.
Silent Night, Holy Night (traditional song)
Deck the Halls (traditional song)
It Came Upon A Midnight Clear (traditional song)
O Christmas Tree (traditional song)
Wassail Song (traditional song)
The Birds (traditional song)
Shepherds, Shake Off Your Drowsy Sleep (traditional song)
The Jar of Rosemary by Maud Lindsay (excerpt from a book)
There was once a little prince whose mother, the queen, was sick. All summer she lay in bed, and everything was kept quiet in the palace; but when the autumn came she grew better.
One Night by Marchette Chute (1941) (poem)
Last winter when the snow was deep
And sparkled on the lawn
And there was moonlight everywhere,
I saw a little fawn.
Mr. Edwards Meets Santa Claus by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1935) (excerpt from a book)
The days were short and cold, the wind whistled sharply, but there was no snow.
Day Before Christmas by Marchette Chute (1941) (poem)
We have been helping with the cake
And licking out the pan,
And wrapping up our packages
As neatly as we can.
A Piano by Christmas by Paul Tulien (1957) (story)
There was one thing Billy's mother had been wanting, and that was a piano. Mother liked to play, and before her marriage she had played on her sister's piano every evening.
A Visit from St. Nicholas by Clement Clarke Moore (poem)
'Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, not even a mouse;
The stockings were hung by the chimney with care,
In hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there.
How Santa Claus Found the Poorhouse by Sophie Swett (1956) (story)
Heliogabalus was shoveling snow. The snow was very deep, and the path from the front door to the road was a long one, and the shovel was almost as big as Heliogabalus. But Gobaly--as everybody called him for short--didn't give up easily.
Golden Cobwebs by Rowena Bennett (poem)
The Christmas tree stood by the parlor door,
But the parlor door was locked
And the children could not get inside
Even though they knocked.
The Gift of St. Nicholas by Anne Malcolmson (1941) (story)
Three hundred years ago in the little city of New Amsterdam lived a young cobbler named Claas.
A New Song by Ernest Rhys (1946) (poem)
We will sing a new song
That sounds like the old:
Noel.
© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Back to the Classics 2017

Back to the Classics 2017
Host: Books and Chocolate (sign up)
January - December 2017
# of books: 6-12

1.  A 19th Century Classic - any book published between 1800 and 1899.

2.  A 20th Century Classic - any book published between 1900 and 1967. 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).


5.  A classic published before 1800. Plays and epic poems are acceptable in this category also.


6.  
An romance classic. I'm pretty flexible here about the definition of romance. It can have a happy ending or a sad ending, as long as there is a strong romantic element to the plot.


7.  A Gothic or horror classic. For a good definition of what makes a book Gothic, and an excellent list of possible reads, please see this list on Goodreads

8.  A classic with a number in the title. Examples include A Tale of Two Cities, Three Men in a Boat, Slaughterhouse Five, Fahrenheit 451, etc.


9.  A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title.  It an actual animal or a metaphor, or just the name. Examples include To Kill a Mockingbird, Of Mice and Men, The Metamorphosis, White Fang, etc. 


10. A classic set in a place you'd like to visit. It can be real or imaginary: The Wizard of Oz, Down and Out in Paris and London, Death on the Nile, etc.

11. An award-winning classic. It could be the Newbery award, the Prix Goncourt, the Pulitzer Prize, the James Tait Award, etc. Any award, just mention in your blog post what award your choice received.


12. A Russian Classic. 2017 will be the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, so read a classic by any Russian author. 

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Countdown to Christmas, day 4

So Kailana (The Written Word) and I are teaming up again...this time to celebrate CHRISTMAS. 25 days of answering questions! You are definitely welcome to join in on the fun!

My gift recommendations for the 2016 holiday season. 
First, I just have to say that I hate this question. Hate it.  But since I have to answer it, I'm going to go with ten to fifteen gift ideas that are more on the unique side.

Artoo Tea-Too Teapot

Build Your Own Marble Coaster

Library Card Socks

2017 Color Your Year Daily Calendar

The Dr. Seuss Coloring Book

Tea with Mr. Tumnus Necklace

Hobbit Road Mug 

Jane Austen Coffee Mug  

Yellow Submarine Transforming Mug


A Novel Journal: Jane Eyre (diary)

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, December 03, 2016

2017 Sci-Fi Experience

Sci Fi Experience
Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings (sign up)
December 2016, January 2017
My goal: read at least 2 to 3 books!

It's the Christmas season and there isn't any reason...I can't read some science fiction!

Currently reading: Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
Hope to read: Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller Jr.
Currently watching: BABYLON 5, season 2, disc 3 because I'm picking up where I left off last 'experience'

© 2016 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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