Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Thomas Edison and His Bright Idea

Thomas Edison and His Bright Idea. Patricia Brennan Demuth. Illustrated by Jez Tuya. 2016. Penguin. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Who was Thomas Edison? He was an inventor. An inventor thinks up new ideas. Thomas had a very bright idea. His idea lit up the world.

Premise/plot: Thomas Edison and His Bright Idea is a "level 3" "transitional" "guided reading level K" biography for young elementary students. (The book is not broken up into chapters.) The book is a basic introduction to Thomas Edison's life and inventions.

My thoughts: Where was this book when I was growing up. Seriously. Not that I was ever-curious about inventors. It just seemed like every single nonfiction biography was dry, wordy, and dusty-smelling. No bright, colorful illustrations. No design love. In some ways, it's more the exception to the rule these days to find unappealing, boring nonfiction. And that's a good thing!

I may be past the recommended age group, but, I'm glad to know that good nonfiction is being published for all ages of readers.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Share-a-Tea March Check-In

  • What are you currently reading for the challenge? 
  • Have you finished any books for this challenge this month?
  • Is there a book you're looking forward to starting next month?
  • Want to share any favorite quotes? It could be from your current read. It could be about reading. It could be about drinking tea. 
  • What teas have you enjoyed this month? 
  • Do you have a new favorite tea?
I'm currently reading two books for my tea-time: Here I Stand by Roland H. Bainton, a biography of Martin Luther.  But most often, the NIV Pursuit of God (aka "Tozer Bible"). I'm on-again-off-again reading 1984 by George Orwell. I hope to get back to it soon!

The books I've finished and reviewed:
Ugly. Robert Hoge. 2016. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
Bobbs Merril Third Reader. Edited by Clara Belle Baker and Edna Dean Baker. 1924/30/39. 293 pages. [Source: Bought]
A Stolen Heart. Amanda Cabot. 2017. Revell. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Trumpet of the Swan. E.B. White. Illustrated by Fred Marcellino. 1970. 272 pages. [Source: Library] 
Poetry for Cats: The Definitive Anthology of Distinguished Feline Verse. Henry Beard. 1994. 96 pages. [Source: Borrowed.]
French for Cats. Henry N. Beard. 1991. 96 pages. [Borrowed] 
Advanced French for Exceptional Cats. Henry N. Beard. 1992. 96 pages. [Source: Borrowed]
Holy Bible. 21st Century King James Version (KJ21) Edited by William D. Prindle. 1888 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Best Short Stories. Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Translated by David Magarshack. 2001. 320 pages. [Source: Library] 

The books I've finished but reviews aren't posted yet:
  • Stepping Out by Lin Oliver
  • The Dream Keeper and Other Poems by Langston Hughes
  • Wish by Barbara O'Connor
Book(s) I'm looking forward to reading in April:
Haven't planned that far ahead?!

Favorite quotes:

  • The world is full of talkers, but it is rare to find anyone who listens. (E.B. White, Trumpet of the Swan, 50)
  • "Sam, if a man can walk three miles in one hour, how many miles can he walk in four hours?" "It would depend on how tired he got after the first hour," replied Sam. (E.B. White, Trumpet of the Swan, 76)
  • Everyone is entitled to his likes and dislikes and to his prejudices. Come to think of it, I don't care for pistachio ice cream. I don't know why I don't like it, but I don't. (E.B. White, Trumpet of the Swan, 114) 
  • I knew I was ugly. But everyone is uglier than they think. We are all more beautiful too. We all have scars only we can own. (Ugly, Robert Hoge, 200)  
  • Life is sweet even in sorrow. It's good to be alive, however hard life is. (Dostoyevsky, 177)

 What teas have I enjoyed this month?
  • Triple Leaf Tea's White Tea. I love, love, love THIS one. I don't drink it sweetened. I've actually gotten down to just one sweetened tea a day! (That would be my cinnamon tea or my chocolate mint tea). 
  • Stash's English Breakfast Tea. This isn't my tea-time read-a-book tea. This is my first cup of the day, isn't life great with a cup of tea BREAKFAST tea. I don't drink it sweetened.
  • Stash's Fusion White and Green Tea blend. I try to have three cups of green tea a day. And I've been having this one count as one of my green teas! (The green tea I drink is Bigelow).

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


What's On Your Nightstand (March)

The folks at 5 Minutes For Books host What’s On Your Nightstand? the fourth Tuesday of each month in which we can share about the books we have been reading and/or plan to read.

Good news! I finished the KJ21 Bible, Quincunx, Caught in the Revolution, and Confidence. All listed on February's nightstand!

Pursuit of God Bible -- NIV. 2013. 1587 pages. [Source: Gift]

My current Bible is the NIV Tozer Bible. It will be my third Bible to tackle in 2017. (I finished the KJ21 Bible this month!)

An Exposition of Psalm 119. Thomas Manton. 2025 pages. [Source: Bought]

Best seven dollars I ever spent :) Who knew that I would fall so in love with a Puritan?!?!?!

Three Clerks. Anthony Trollope. 1858. 648 pages. [Source: Bought]
 I'm really enjoying this one. (Not a surprise).

Oliver Twist. Charles Dickens.  1838. 425 pages.
This is my Classics Club spin.

Here I Stand: A life of Martin Luther. Roland Bainton. 1950. 336 pages. [Source: Bought]

Really enjoying it.

Gosnell: The Untold Story of America's Most Prolific Serial Killer. 2017. 347 pages. [Source: Library]

Not enjoying it, but I think it's too important to ignore.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Who Was Laura Ingalls Wilder?

Who Was Laura Ingalls Wilder? Patricia Brennan Demuth. 2013. 112 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: In 1874, two horses slowly pulled a covered wagon across the open prairie. The man with the reins, Charles Ingalls, had twinkly blue eyes and a long curly beard. Inside the wagon were his wife and daughters, plus everything the family owned.

Premise/plot: This early chapter book is a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder. It is one of many titles in the "Who Was?" series. The biography clarifies for young readers the differences between her real life and the fictional Laura Ingalls that they may have met through either the series of books or the television series.

My thoughts: Would I have read this one as a child? Yes. I'm sure I would have. I was one of those kids who read and reread the Little House series dozens of times. In part because it was one of the series that we owned. We had one bookcase of books. And all of our books were well loved. In part, because I grew up watching the television series. As an adult, I didn't really learn anything new. But is that the standard by which to judge nonfiction written for children? Definitely not. So if you're an adult and have the choice of reading PIONEER GIRL with all its annotations or this children's biography, go with the adult biography. But providing interesting nonfiction books for all readers is important!

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Monday, March 27, 2017

Dr. Seuss: The Great Doodler

Dr. Seuss: The Great Doodler. Kate Klimo. Illustrated by Steve Johnson and Lou Fancher. 2016. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It is a beautiful day in La Jolla, California. A writer and artist is at work in his studio. A telephone rings. A reporter is calling with big news. The writer has won a big award for his books. It is the Pulitzer Prize. The writer is Ted Geisel, also known as Dr. Seuss.

Premise/plot: This step into reading (level 3) title is a biography of Dr. Seuss. It is beautifully illustrated. There is a lot of text per page, but it is written in an engaging style for the most part.

My thoughts: I thought this shared plenty of details with young readers. For example, did you know his inspiration for And To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street was the droning rhythm of a ship's engine? Did you know that 27 publishers rejected the manuscript?

Other aspects of his life were presented simply. For example his drawings during World War II. In the book, they are presented without question and simply. We were at war or nearly so. He created cartoon drawings and films along with others in Hollywood to "poke fun" of the Germans and Japanese. Some might call it patriotic work, others might call it propaganda.

Today especially out of context, one could say that his work during the war years was racist, offensive, inappropriate. One could conclude that Seuss was a terrible person because at one point in his life he drew these cartoons. How could a man who proclaimed a person is a person no matter how small depict the Japanese the way he did? This book doesn't go there.

The book covers some books, but not all books. Yes to the Lorax and The Butter Battle. You might be surprised that Green Eggs and Ham is not mentioned.

But a couple of things really surprised me. 1) The author makes a BIG mistake. She says he only wrote 44 books. Seriously?! He wrote around sixty books! I should know because I made a yearlong project of reading him chronologically a few years ago. There were plenty of weeks I covered two or three books! 2) She doesn't mention that he wrote under three different names. Why?! How could you write about Dr. Seuss and not mention Theo LeSieg?! I can understand not knowing about Rosetta Stone--the other pseudonym--but the other? Why not include this? It should be common enough knowledge! And if it isn't, it should be! How could you pull together enough research to write the book and not know these two basics?! Did she think it wasn't interesting?

Two of the titles written by LeSieg include Ten Apples Up on Top and I Wish That I Had Duck Feet. The Rosetta Stone title is Because A Little Bug Went Ka-Choo.
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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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