Monday, July 27, 2015

The Armstrong Girl (2015)

The Armstrong Girl: A Child for Sale: The Battle Against the Victorian Sex Trade. Cathy Le Feuvre. 2015. Lion. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 I loved, loved, loved Cathy Le Feuvre's The Armstrong Girl. I think you might love it too.

Do you enjoy reading nonfiction? Do you enjoy biographies?
Do you enjoy reading about the Victorians--fiction or nonfiction?
Do you love history books RICH in primary sources?
Do you like to read about law cases and the legal system?
Looking for a good--true--story about women's rights?
Have an interest in journalism, reporting, and publishing?
Have an interest in learning more about the history and/or origins of The Salvation Army?
Do you enjoy compelling narratives? How about complex ethical dilemmas?

The Armstrong Girl is set in England around 1885. One man--with a good amount of help--sets out to right some wrongs. He is upset--and rightly so--that young girls--young virgins--are being sold into prostitution and sometimes even trafficked out of the country into foreign brothels. He wants to prove that it is relatively easy to find a young girl--thirteen or so--to buy for immoral purposes. He goes undercover himself to prove that this is so. Now, for the record, his intentions are to save her once he's bought her. To place her safely among friends in The Salvation Army so that she is not sold again. Who is he? He's William Thomas Stead of the Pall Mall Gazette. His series of stories about child prostitution and sex trafficking were called The Maiden Tribute of Modern Babylon. His big goal was to strongly encourage--compel, force--parliament to raise the age of consent from 13 to 16.
Here is how he 'warned' his readers:
Therefore we say quite frankly today that all those who are squeamish, and all those who are prudish, and all those who prefer to live in a fool's paradise of imaginary innocence and purity, selfishly oblivious to the horrible realities which torment those whose lives are passed in the London Inferno, will do well not to read the Pall Mall Gazette of Monday and the three following days. The story of an actual pilgrimage into a real hell is not pleasant reading, and is not meant to be. It is, however, an authentic record of unimpeachable facts, "abominable, unutterable, and worse than fables yet have feigned or fear conceived." But it is true, and its publication is necessary. 
The first half of the book focuses on the articles he wrote and the legislation that resulted from his reporting. The second half of the book focuses on the legal aftermath of his reporting. He is arrested and placed on trial. Others who helped him--knowingly or unknowingly--are put on trial as well. Will he be found guilty? How about the others, will they be found guilty as well?


I loved this book. I found it fascinating. It was well-written. It was compelling--complex and detailed, full of oh-so-human characters. It was rich in primary sources: excerpts from the articles, testimonies from the trial, journal entries and letters from some of the participants, etc. It was just an absorbing read.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Library Loot: Fifth Trip in July

New Loot:
  • The Lost Princess by George MacDonald
  • Murder at Longbourn by Tracy Kiely
  • Murder on the Bride's Side by Tracy Kiely
  • Murder Most Persuasive by Tracy Kiely
  • Murder Most Austen by Tracy Kiely
  • Mr. Churchill's Secretary by Susan Ella MacNeal
  • Emma by Jane Austen
Leftover Loot:
  • Wouldn't it Be Deadly an Eliza Doolittle and Henry Higgins Mystery by D.E. Ireland
  • The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman
  • An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd
  • A Bitter Truth by Charles Todd
  •  Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
  • Finding Serendipity by Angelica Banks
  • The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah
  • Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst
  • The Little Way of Ruthie Leming by Rod Dreher
  • Wish You Well by David Baldacci 
  • Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle Earth by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • P.S. I Still Love You by Jenny Han
  • Search the Dark by Charles Todd
  • Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are by Dr. Seuss
  • In A People House by Dr. Seuss
  • The Kashmir Shawl by Rosie Thomas
        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  

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Mom School (2015)

Mom School. Rebecca Van Slyke. Illustrated by Priscilla Burris. 2015. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 First sentence: When I go to school, I learn how to cut and glue paper, count to 100, and sing silly songs. My mom says she went to school, too. I think she went to Mom School.

Premise/plot: A little girl is convinced that her Mom went to Mom School to learn how to be the BEST BEST mom in the whole world. She imagines all the things her Mom might have learned at Mom School. Things such as:
  • learning how to go grocery shopping without losing any kids
  • learning how to pitch a ball slowly so a kid can actually hit it
  • learning how to go on scary rides
  • learning how to talk on the phone and do hair at the same time
  • learning how to cook and listen to silly made-up songs at the same time
  • learning how to make forts out of couch cushions
And that's just a small sampling of one little girl's imagination.

My thoughts: This one was super-sweet and adorable. Predictably so, yes. But it's irresistibly charming in some ways. If you're looking for a sweet mom-and-daughter read that celebrates family life. I really love the little girl's pigtails. I do.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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To All The Boys I've Loved Before

To All The Boys I've Loved Before. Jenny Han. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 288 pages. [Source: Library]

I enjoyed rereading Jenny Han's To All The Boys I've Loved Before. I wanted to reread the book because the second book is finally available. I wanted to reconnect with Lara Jean and Peter.

Did I enjoy it as much the second time around? Probably not. Oh, I still liked it a lot. I did. I loved some scenes very much. I like having Peter hang out with Lara Jean and Kitty and her Dad. And the Christmas cookie scene is still very fun. But I noticed myself being more intolerant and less forgiving of some of the other characters. For example, Lara Jean's friend, Chris. For some reason, I was annoyed by every single scene with her in it. And I don't remember feeling that annoyed the first time around! Josh also annoyed me more the second time around.

So I am glad I read it. But I didn't find it as delightful and surprising as the first time around. Some books are like that though. I am still looking forward to reading the second book.


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Week in Review: July 19-25

The Daughter of Time. Josephine Tey. 1951/1995. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Children of Hurin. J.R.R. Tolkien and Christopher Tolkien. 2007. HarperCollins. 313 pages. [Source: Library]
Hatchet. Gary Paulsen. 1986. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
Phantoms in the Snow. Kathleen Benner Duble. 2011. Scholastic. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]
At The Back of the North Wind. George MacDonald. 1871. 346 pages. [Source: Bought]
All We Have Is Now. Lisa Schroeder. 2015. Scholastic. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Miss Patch's Learn-to-Sew Book. Carolyn Meyer. 1969/2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Board Books: Picture This: Homes. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2015. 42 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Board books: Picture This: Shapes. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2015. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Lorax. Dr. Seuss. 1971. Random House. 72 pages. [Library]
Transforming Grace. Jerry Bridges. 1991. NavPress. 207 pages. [Source: Borrowed]
Embracing Obscurity. Anonymous. 2012. B&H. 192 pages. [Source: Borrowed]
Humility. C.J. Mahaney. 2005. Multnomah. 176 pages. [Source: Borrowed]

This week's recommendation(s):  I enjoyed quite a few books this week. I reread one of my favorite books--The Daughter of Time. Children of Hurin was a great fantasy read. And imperfect as it may have been, I couldn't put down All We Have Is Now.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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