Posted in books


Mom began teaching me how to read when I was three years old. Maybe even two, but I know she began in earnest when I was three. I remember following her finger on the page of my storybooks, skimming along the ink and paper with each word she spoke. At some point, I made the connection between the clusters of shapes and the words she was speaking. There was a book with poems by Christina Rosetti and Robert Louis Stevenson that she taught me to read from, plus the Winnie the Pooh books. I had another book, full of Stevenson’s poems that I just loved. It should still be in storage.

Mom and Dad never had a problem taking us to the library. I had my first library card at six years old and it was one of my prized possessions. In school I was always in the accelerated reading classes. The reading rack full of Scholastic titles was devoured by me halfway through third grade, and I’d finished the fifth grade reader weeks before that summer. I even found myself repeatedly in trouble in second grade for reading books after finishing a test or classwork instead of “rechecking” all my answers – which I’d already done. “Recheck them again” was the response of the teacher, which I thought was silly. (Note: First and second grades were regular-style school, while third was a return to Montessori, where I had more freedom to burst on ahead in my reading.)

I have a ton of books. Even after cringing and giving away many so I could move easier, I still have a ton of books. Then came my Nook, upon which I have at least 50 more. At least. Right now I am reading two: The Secret of Pembrooke Park by Julie Klassen, and A Year in the South 1865 by Stephen V. Ash. One is a light mystery romance set in Regency England, and the other is a look into four (real) people’s lives during the fall of the Confederacy and the beginning of Reconstruction, taken from letters and diaries of these four. I have to say I am enjoying both immensely.

Curious to see what novel I should look for next by Julie Klassen, I began reading reader comments and reviews on a couple websites. Nearly every one I found had the disclaimer at the bottom that the reviewer had received a free copy of the book through Such-and-Such place, and was not compensated for the fair and honest review. My first thought? How did everyone get to be reviewers?

I Googled one of the names (Bethany House, the publisher for the book) and found their information for book reviewers. What the heck, I thought, and signed up. They send out two emails each month – one for fiction and one for non-fiction. You can choose one book from each, or just one book, or no books if you haven’t got the time or if nothing catches your eye that month. They just request you write your review within four weeks of receiving the book, posting it on your blog and on a consumer site like Amazon or a book seller’s site. I’m excited to give this a try!

One note before you go over to check this out – Bethany House, if you couldn’t tell by the name, is a Christian publisher. Personally, I’m much more into historicals, historical fiction, and sci fi/ fantasy, but while at a Christian bookstore a couple weeks ago (passing the time while Hims paid the cable bill next door), a few of the covers caught my eye. A lesson in never dismissing your cover art! I love reading stories set in certain historical times, the Regency Period being one of them obviously, so I grabbed the book The Dancing Master by Klassen. I hummed and hawed, and when Hims met up with me I asked if he minded if I tried one of the books out. (I ask because it’s his money I’d be spending!) I decided on The Secret of Pembrooke Park because it was on sale that week. If I wound up not liking it, it wouldn’t be such a loss. As I said, it turns out I like it. I like her writing. There’s no ridiculous eye-rolling romance silliness, but period-correct manners and flirting. Okay – maybe one kiss wasn’t quite period-correct, but it totally worked. And as for what had worried me the most? It’s not preachy at all. In fact, I dare say there’s more of what I used to call “God-talk” in the history book about the Civil War than there is in this mystery/romance from a Christian author.

I’m curious to see what other fiction books might turn out this way, plus I’m always up for good history books. I’ve also signed up to be a reviewer for NetGalley, which offers allll sorts of books from children’s books to erotica, and everything in between. I already put in a request to read and review the latest Terry Brooks novel, though I’m sure they have enough people for that. I’ve been okayed for a history of Rome and an alternate history novel of Napoleon Bonaparte (see? Regency period!). These can be read on my Nook, which means they can be taken anywhere I go, for even faster reading.

Oh, and yes – I can read quite a bit. Thank you, Mom!

I can see this happening at my house…


Syd is a Midwestern girl who doesn’t think the term “girl” is sexist in the least – especially after she left her 20s. She holds a huge love for history (from WWI through the end of WWII, Victorian, Regency, and Elizabethan eras), some science fiction, and likes to pass the time reading, working with photography and needlework, and writing things. Lots of things. Syd likes to dance, too, but she looks like an utter goob doing so!

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