Tag Archives: Janet Taylor Lisle

WWW Wednesday, 23-March-2016

23 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


BrooklynCurrently reading: I’ve had to put Harry Potter y el misterio del príncipe (Half-Blood Prince) by J.K. Rowling on hold for the moment. I’ve got some other reading obligations to attend to first.
I’ve been making a point to get through Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. I’m on chapter 8 of 10 so I know I’m getting close to the end. Maybe I can finish this in a week or two? Maybe?
After some intense audiobook switching, I’m still listening to A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin on CD audio in my car. I’m moving along fine and with some other books requiring my attention, this seemed the best decision at the moment.
I put Potter aside to pick up a copy of Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller. My book club is going through this one right now and I’m only a few chapters in but I’m really enjoying it so far. The writing reminds me of my friend John’s style and it’s making me happy to read it. The premise is a bit different than I expected from the title, but I’m enjoying it.
A sudden decision, I’m listening to Brooklyn by Colm Toibin on my phone. I was sent a copy of the BlueRay movie if I would post a book and movie review by the end of the month. Agreed! I was supposed to get a copy of the book in the mail, but it hasn’t arrived and I had an hour and a half drive on Friday so I jumped into it. So far, so good!

Black DuckRecently finished: I finished off Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle AND got the book review posted on Monday! Look at that efficiency! Super proud of myself and glad I was able to finish a book. Woo!

Reading Next: I’ve got enough going right now that there’s no plan on starting another book anytime soon. I’ll get through what’s in front of me first.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle (3/5)

21 Mar

As someone hoping to publish a YA novel set in the 20s, I try to often read YA novels set in the 20s. My husband was alerted to this book, a 2006 novel that I should look into. It was an easy choice when I saw the eaudio was available.

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Cover image via Goodreads.com

Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle

Summary from Goodreads:

It is spring 1929, and Prohibition is in full swing. So when Ruben and Jeddy find a dead body washed up on the shore of their small coastal Rhode Island town, they are sure it has something to do with smuggling liquor. Soon the boys, along with Jeddy’s strongwilled sister, Marina, are drawn in, suspected by rival bootlegging gangs of taking something crucial off the dead man. Then Ruben meets the daring captain of the Black Duck, the most elusive smuggling craft of them all, and it isn’t long before he’s caught in a war between two of the most dangerous prohibition gangs.

The book is aimed at more of a middle-grade level than my book will be, which I wasn’t expecting with the subject matter of the book. Gangsters with alcohol and guns are not normally aimed at middle schoolers, but the writing and the characters of this book were good for a middle-grade level. I didn’t find a lot of the ‘big revelations’ to be very surprising because the author set them up pretty obviously, but it was a good story. I wasn’t a huge fan of the ‘story within a story’ trope. It was hard for me to believe that Ruben would tell his story in such a professional manner and it would have seemed more natural to me for it to be a simple first person narrative instead of an oral story to a 13-year-old.

Lisle did a good job of creating characters. I liked how she led us to sympathize with the rum runners who were employing local guys and were only breaking laws that no one supported. The New York and Boston mobsters were portrayed in a bad way, understandably, but I liked Billy’s outfit. I thought Marina was a great addition to the story. I only loosely understood her purpose in the story at first, but I grew to like her character a lot and thought she was a great tie-in to the plot. I thought their opinions and actions represented 1929 well.

Ruben was a great protagonist. It was easy to follow and agree with his thought pattern and he never did anything out of character that made me frustrated with him. I rooted for him the whole time and got frustrated at Jeddy with him. I liked him for being friends with Tom and for trying to do what his father wanted him to do.

Part of what made Ruben a great character was how easy it was to relate to him. I remember a lot of the feelings he describes from my youth even though I didn’t live through prohibition or get kidnapped by a mob. I had fights with my friends. I had secrets I was afraid to tell my parents. I hated to hide things from people but was afraid what they’d say if I told them I knew. I saw things I wish I hadn’t seen. Ruben’s experiences were universal but culminated in a great adventure. Of that I was jealous.

Janet Taylor Lisle Image via the author's website

Janet Taylor Lisle
Image via the author’s website

Without spoiling it, I’ll say that the ending was my favorite part. I thought the story culminated in a great adventure with the Black Duck. I think the relationships that formed as a result of that adventure were very fitting and showed a great arc from the beginning of the story. I would never have expected that ending from what I read at the beginning and that made me appreciate what Lisle was able to do with her characters.

I didn’t have a specific part that I disliked, but there were parts of the book I thought were slow and I think that’s the nature of reading middle-grade fiction as an adult. It comes off as childish, rightfully so, and as an adult reader, I was a bit frustrated by it. I had the whole ‘Get on with it!’ mentality, just wanting to see the book through to the end. That’s the main reason I couldn’t fully enjoy the story.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by David Ackroyd. I thought he did a good job of building tension with his narration and storytelling. I was disappointed that he didn’t use voice inflection to differentiate the characters so that Marina sounded much like Ruben. I would have liked to see a little bit more of this.

Like many prohibition stories, the story has a good message about right and wrong not being a black and white thing. Jeddy thinks it’s that simple, that mobsters are bad and cops are good. By that logic, his dad is the best of them all. But as the reader, we know that Chief MacKenzie is dealing with some shady stuff and that Charlie is mixed up in the worst of it. Billy would seem to be a bad guy, but he’s able to help out a lot of guys who are down on their luck. It’s good to show a middle-grade audience that these choices and designations are not always easy.

Writer’s Takeaway: The ‘story within a story’ structure didn’t work for me and is the main thing I would have changed were it my story. I felt that the only main purpose it showed was that [SPOILER] Ruben and Marina ended up together. I didn’t think that was worth structuring the book in such a way. The story could have been a first-person narrated flashback, told entirely by Ruben without David being involved at all. I didn’t think David added anything to the story.

Overall, a good middle-grade book, but not one a lot of adults will enjoy. Three out of Five stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Review #44 (6-6-14) | Book Inspired
Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle Reviewed by Aarron Ward | On The Edge
Black Duck | Agutt’s Blog
Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle | Benji’s Book Blog

WWW Wednesday, 16-March-2016

16 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

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The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


PrincipeCurrently reading: I’m a bit farther Harry Potter y el misterio del príncipe (Half-Blood Prince) by J.K. Rowling. It’s been a crazy few weeks but I’m on Spring Break right now with grad school so I’m using it to my advantage and trying to read a bit more.
Still going slowly with Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut. My husband has been working late a bit more so I’m eating dinner alone and trying to have this with me and make some progress. I’m on chapter 6 now so it’s coming along.
I’ve gotten through a lot more of the A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin audio than I thought I would. I believe I’m on disk 13 now (out of 30) and I’m waiting to get the eaudio back. I need to start another book soon and it’s going to account for a big jumbling around (that’s totally a thing) of my audiobooks to keep it all going. I have a plan.
Part of that plan involves finishing Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle. I’ve got two hours left on my audio and I’m listening every spare second I can to get through it and hope the A Clash of Kings eaudio comes back so I can make it my phone audiobook and start a new car-audio for my book club.

Recently finished: You all guessed it, no change here. Second week in a row I haven’t finished anything. Yikes!

NorwegianReading Next: My book club met on Monday and our next selection is Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller. I’m hoping to listen to this one on audio so I can keep on with Potter and try to get through it. Let’s hope all the pieces fall into place for me. (Fingers crossed.)


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 9-March-2016

9 Mar

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at Should be Reading and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community.


Black DuckCurrently reading: I’ve made good progress with Harry Potter y el misterio del príncipe (Half-Blood Prince) by J.K. Rowling. Having him finally show up at school is making me read as fast as I can because I love that setting. I’m still a long way out but I know I’ll enjoy the ride.
Not much with Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut this week. I tend to read my ebook while I’m eating lunch at work but last week was a lot of working lunches for me, just trying to get a few more minutes of work done each day!
The audio of A Clash of Kings by George R.R. Martin is still awesome. I’m doing slow but steady progress with the disks until the eaudio comes back. It makes me want to drive more!
I couldn’t stand waiting around with no audiobook on my phone so I grabbed Black Duck by Janet Taylor Lisle. My husband brought this book to my attention and thought I might like it a few months ago. It’s short, only about five hours on audio, so should make for some fun listening while I’m doing things around the house.

Recently finished: Nothing finished this week. Sad day.

However! I did post a review of Shanghai Girls by Lisa See on Monday. Go check that one out, I gave it 4 out of 5 stars.

Hanging OutReading Next: I’m still hoping to start Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling before my next book club selection. If I don’t have time, I’ll have to go straight to Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller. Either one will be good by me.


Leave a comment with your link and a comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!