Saturday, August 31, 2013

August Reflections

In August I read 41 books, and I celebrated seven years of blogging! My blogging philosophy is simple: I blog consistently by Whimsy. I let one book lead to another. I follow my interests and passions. I try to cultivate new interests and discover new-to-me authors and/or genres. But, of course, I have plenty of favorites already!!! I read what I want. I will always read what I want. I will always reread books.

My top four:

Cotillion. Georgette Heyer.
Duke. Kirby Larson.
Frozen: Heart of Dread. Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston. 
On Distant Shores. Sarah Sundin.

Children's Books:

  1. You Wouldn't Want To Be A Shakespearean Actor. Jacqueline Morley. Illustrated by David Antram. 2010. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. You Wouldn't Want To Be A World War II: Air Battles You Might Not Survive. Ian Graham. Illustrated by David Antram. 2009. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. You Wouldn't Want To Be Joan of Arc! A Mission You Might Want To Miss. Fiona MacDonald. 2010. Illustrated by David Antram. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  4.  You Wouldn't Want To Be In Alexander The Great's Army. Jacqueline Morley. 2005. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Library]  
  5. A Porcupine Named Fluffy. Helen Lester. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review Copy] 
  6. It Wasn't My Fault. Helen Lester. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review Copy] 
  7. Me First. Helen Lester. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review Copy] 
  8. Listen, Buddy. Helen Lester. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review Copy] 
  9. Now We Are Six. A.A. Milne. 1927. 101 pages. [Source: Library]
  10. When We Were Very Young. A.A. Milne. 1924. 100 pages. [Source: Library]  
Middle Grade and Young Adult:
  1. Duke. Kirby Larson. 2013. Scholastic. 240 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
  2. Mary Poppins Comes Back. P.L. Travers. 1935. Harcourt. 315 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. The Road to Oz. L. Frank Baum. 1909. 272 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  4. The Boy on the Bridge. Natalie Standiford. 2013. Scholastic. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  5. Paradox. A.J. Paquette. 2013. Random House. 240 pages. [Source: Review Copy] 
  6. Solstice by P.J. Hoover. 2013. Tor. 384 pages. [Source: Review Copy]  
  7. Unthinkable. Nancy Werlin. 2013. Penguin. 400 pages. [Source: Review Copy]      
  8. Counting by 7s. Holly Goldberg Sloan. 2013. Penguin USA. 384 pages. [Review Copy]
  9. Secrets at Sea. Richard Peck. 2011/2012. Penguin. 256 pages. [Source: Review Copy] 
  10. New Lands (Chronicles of Egg #2). Geoff Rodkey. 2013. Penguin. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  11. Frozen: Heart of Dread. Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston. 2013. Penguin. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  12. Imperfect Spiral. Debbie Levy. 2013. Bloomsbury. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  13. Highway Robbery. Kate Thompson. 2008. HarperCollins. 128 pages. [Source: Library]
Adult Books:
  1. Pride and Prejudice and Kitties. Jane Austen, Pamela Jane, and Deborah Guyol. 2013. Sky Horse Publishing. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. Queen Emma and the Vikings. Harriet O'Brien. 2005. Bloomsbury. 288 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. Cotillion. Georgette Heyer. 1953/2007. Sourcebooks. 362 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
  4. The Toll Gate. Georgette Heyer. 1954. Harlequin. 304 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. The Black Dudley Murder. Margery Allingham. 1929. 224 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  6. The Unruly Queen: The Life of Queen Caroline. Flora Fraser. 1996/2009. Anchor Books. 560 pages. [Source: Library]
  7. Royal Mistress. Anne Easter Smith. 2013. Simon & Schuster. 489 pages. [Source: Review Copy] 
  8. The Borgia Bride. Jeanne Kalogridis. 2005. St. Martin's Press. 528 pages. [Source: Library] 
  9. The Quiet Gentleman. Georgette Heyer. 1951/2005. Arrow. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
Christian Books:
  1. On Distant Shores. Sarah Sundin. 2013. Revell. 432 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
  2. Captives (The Safe Lands #1) Jill Williamson. 2013. Zondervan. 400 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. Undaunted: Daring To Do What God Calls You To Do (Student Edition). Christine Caine. 2013. Zondervan. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. How to Make Friends and Monsters. Ron Bates. 2013. Zondervan. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. Love Finds A Home. Janette Oke. 1989. Bethany House. 240 pages. [Source: Owned for decades]   
  6. Pleasure and Profit in Bible Study. D.L. Moody. 167 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  7. Is The Bible True...Really? Josh McDowell and Dave Sterrett. 2011. Moody. 144 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  8. Weakness Is The Way. J.I. Packer. 2013. Crossway. 128 pages. [Source: Review Copy] 
  9. God Knows My Name: Never Forgotten, Forever Loved. Beth Redman. 2010. David C. Cook. 192 pages. [Source: Bought]
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

On Blogging for Seven Years

This weekend, Becky's Book Reviews celebrates seven years. Seven years is a long time.

Seven Favorite Authors From 2006
  • Carolyn Meyer 
  • Scott Westerfeld
  • Sarah Dessen
  • Rick Riordan
  • Orson Scott Card
  • Stephenie Meyer
  • Shannon Hale
Seven Favorite Authors From 2013
  • Georgette Heyer
  • Agatha Christie
  • Anthony Trollope
  • L.M. Montgomery
  • Veronica Roth
  • Robin LaFevers
  • Charles Dickens
Seven Favorite Books From 2006
Seven Favorite Books From 2013
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Library Loot: Fifth Trip in August

New Loot:
  • Foundation: The History of England From Its Earliest Beginnings to the Tudors by Peter Ackroyd
  • Just Like Fate by Cat Patrick and Suzanne Young
  • Viking: The Norse Warrior's Unofficial Manual by John Haywood
  • Elephantantrum by Gillian Shields 
Leftover Loot:
  • You Wouldn't Want To Be A Greek Athlete by Michael Ford
  • You Wouldn't Want To Be A Slave in Ancient Greece by Fiona Macdonald
  • You Wouldn't Want to Be A Roman Gladiator by John Malam
  • You Wouldn't Want To Be An Aztec Sacrifice by Fiona Macdonald
  • You Wouldn't Want to Be A Roman Soldier by David Stewart
  • You Wouldn't Want To Be an 18th Century British Convict by Meredith Costain
  • You Wouldn't Want To Be A Victorian Servant by Fiona Macdonald
  • The Life and Times of Joan of Arc by Jim Whiting
  • Dynasty: The Stuarts, 1560-1807 by John Macleod
  • A Royal Affair: George III and His Scandalous Siblings by Stella Tillyard
  • Princesses: The Six Daughters of George III by Flora Fraser
  • The Duchess of Drury Lane by Freda Lightfoot
  • If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley 
  • The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer
  • A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer
  • The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff
  • Becoming Shakespeare: The Unlikely Afterlife That Turned a Provincial Playwright into the Bard by Jack Lynch
  • The Borgias: The Hidden History by G.J. Meyer
  • The Armada by Garrett Mattingly
  • How To Create the Perfect Wife: Britains Most Ineligible Bachelor and His Enlightened Quest to Train the Ideal Mate by Wendy Moore
  • How Shakespeare Changed Everything by Stephen Marche
    Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire and Marg 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.

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Friday, August 30, 2013

R.I.P. VIII

Host: Carl at Stainless Steel Droppings
Name: R.I.P VIII (sign-up; sharing reviews)
Dates: September and October
# of Books: I'm signing up for Peril the Second, 2 books. I am really hoping to read 4 books (Peril the First), but, I'm not sure what I'll get read.

What I'm Planning on Reading:


I'm SUPER-EXCITED to be reading Rookwood by William Harrison Ainsworth (1834). Ever since discovering this addictive and giddy-making little video, I've wanted to read Rookwood. The book is described as gothic romance which definitely qualifies!

Other books I'm considering reading for the challenge:

  • William Shakespeare's Macbeth (because it's been a few years since I read it last)
  • Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (because I love it and it has been at least two years, I think!)
  • Drood by Dan Simmons (because I do love Dickens and Collins and I've been meaning to read this one for ages)
  • Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre (not sure I'll get to this one, but it is a favorite)
  • A Sicilian Romance by Ann Radcliffe (I've been wanting to read another Radcliffe, I really did enjoy Mysteries of Udolpho.)
What I Read:
1) Rookwood. William Harrison Ainsworth.
2) Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury.
3) A Houseboat on the Styx. John Kendrick Bangs. 1895. 194 pages. [Source: Bought]

4) The Pursuit of the Houseboat Being Some Further Account of the Divers Doings of the Associated Shades. John Kendrick Bangs. 1897. 108 pages. [Source: Bought]
5) The Enchanted Typewriter. John Kendrick Bangs. 1899. 90 pages. [Source: Bought]
6) The Black Robe. Wilkie Collins. 1881. 320 pages. [Source: Bought]
7)  The Nine Lives of Alexander Baddenfield. John Bemelmans Marciano. Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. 2013. Penguin. 144 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
8) Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. Robert Louis Stevenson. 1886. 144 pages. [Source: Bought]
9) Drood. Dan Simmons. 2009. Little, Brown. 784 pages. [Source: Bought]


© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Week In Review: August 25-31

You Wouldn't Want To Be A Shakespearean Actor. Jacqueline Morley. Illustrated by David Antram. 2010. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
You Wouldn't Want To Be A World War II: Air Battles You Might Not Survive. Ian Graham. Illustrated by David Antram. 2009. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
The Toll Gate. Georgette Heyer. 1954. Harlequin. 304 pages. [Source: Library]
The Boy on the Bridge. Natalie Standiford. 2013. Scholastic. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Paradox. A.J. Paquette. 2013. Random House. 240 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
Solstice by P.J. Hoover. 2013. Tor. 384 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

Mary Poppins Comes Back. P.L. Travers. 1935. Harcourt. 315 pages. [Source: Library]
On Distant Shores. Sarah Sundin. 2013. Revell. 432 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
Captives (The Safe Lands #1) Jill Williamson. 2013. Zondervan. 400 pages. [Source: Library]
Undaunted: Daring To Do What God Calls You To Do (Student Edition). Christine Caine. 2013. Zondervan. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
How to Make Friends and Monsters. Ron Bates. 2013. Zondervan. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Solstice (2013)

Solstice by P.J. Hoover. 2013. Tor. 384 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

Solstice hints at being a dystopian novel, but, in truth it is a retelling of a Greek myth. It is set in the future in a devastated world, a world with endless summer and no changing seasons. For eighteen years, the world has suffered tremendously, Piper, our heroine, has never known the world to be any different.

Solstice won't please every reader. Some readers find romance-driven dystopias to be sickening--especially when there are two men madly in love with the same young woman, when it appears that she cannot make up her mind. I can see why Piper might annoy some readers. The author offers readers an excuse, some might see it as completely valid, others might dismiss it.

The two men in Piper's life are Reese and Shayne. Reese is the son of a councilmen. He encourages Piper to break the rules set by her mother, and the two share a memorable first date. Piper has a busy night, however, for that is also her first date with Shayne, a classmate. She finds both men completely irresistible. Though she never really has a second date with Reese, he's never out of influence.

Shayne fascinates Piper, and she loves seeing where he lives...how he lives...though some of what she learns she finds unsettling at times.

Greek mythology is at the heart of this YA romance. It worked for me at times, though not ever  perfectly.   

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Thursday, August 29, 2013

The Boy on the Bridge (2013)

The Boy on the Bridge. Natalie Standiford. 2013. Scholastic. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The Boy on the Bridge is set in Russia in 1982. Our heroine, Laura Reid, is an American college student studying abroad for one semester in Russia. The book covers that semester January through June.

So early in the novel, Laura meets Alexei (Alyosha). Yes, they meet on a bridge. He "rescues" her from some gypsies demanding money. They talk a few minutes; he tells her he would love to get to know her better, hands her his phone number, tells her how to get in touch. She's not to use any phone near the University. It would be dangerous for them both if their friendship were to be discovered. He wants to practice his English, so he says. And she wants to practice her Russian. And that is how this romance starts.

The Boy on The Bridge is very much a romance novel, one set in a unique place and time in history. It is very feelings-oriented. Laura is swept up in all these emotions as she falls hard for Alyosha. He becomes her entire world; she becomes his everything. It is pure agony to be away from each other even ten or twelve hours.

Is the relationship healthy? Is the relationship genuine? Is Alyosha wanting to marry her so he can get a green card and come to the United States? Is he using her to get out of Russia? Has he attempted this before? Those are the questions that haunt the pages of this romance novel. Laura has been warned by her friends, roommates, classmates, advisers, etc. that she is being too trusting, that she isn't using common sense.

The romance seems sweet in a few ways. But there are a few places where it grows darker. Readers will have to judge for themselves if the relationship is genuine and healthy.

I thought this one was very realistic in its ending.

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Parodox (2013)

Paradox. A.J. Paquette. 2013. Random House. 240 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

The fate of the earth may depend on a young girl with amnesia. Her name is Ana. She wakes up in a rocket with minimum instructions or clues. She's on an alien planet, that much is clear, and there is a countdown. She has twenty-four hours to accomplish something for a mission. But what mission? She hasn't a clue! And neither do readers, not really. The alien world is dangerous, and, full of surprises. Including the fact that she's not as alone as she first thought. There are three others with her, all teens.

Plenty of action, a good dose of mystery. Ultimately, however, I was a bit disappointed. It has its moments, but, it wasn't quite enough to make me love it. It has an interesting premise, but a premise that vaguely reminded me of vintage science fiction. It never felt quite real to me.  

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

The Toll Gate (1954)

The Toll Gate. Georgette Heyer. 1954. Harlequin. 304 pages. [Source: Library]

I persevered through my rereading of The Toll-Gate. I am on a quest to reread all of Heyer's romances this year after all. But I can't say that I enjoyed revisiting this one. I think I enjoyed it much better the first time.

So Captain John (Jack) Staple has returned to the neighborhood to celebrate with his family. Having tired of his family quickly, he dashes off to visit with a friend instead. He never arrives. He gets distracted by a young boy, Ben Bream, who has been abandoned by his father. Ben's father is an official toll-gate-keeper. He's left his post and his son. Jack (Captain) decides to take on both...at least temporarily. The day after his arrival he meets the oh-so-beautiful Nell. It is love at first sight essentially for both. The romance is at a minimum. A few scenes at best between the two. It is most unsatisfying.

Unless this particular mystery happens to intrigue you, the reader must endure two-thirds of the novel being written in hard-to-understand dialogue (slang or thieves' cant). Jack talks to many people as he tries to solve this mystery. And it is hard to keep up with all the people and the names they are connected to. Especially when you don't care, when you just want the mystery to be solved so the romance can be resolved.

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Monday, August 26, 2013

Two More "You Wouldn't Want To" Books

You Wouldn't Want To Be A World War II: Air Battles You Might Not Survive. Ian Graham. Illustrated by David Antram. 2009. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

Last Monday, I reviewed two books in this series, You Wouldn't Want to Be in Alexander The Great's Army and You Wouldn't Want to Be Joan of Arc. Today I am sharing two more books with you. The first is You Wouldn't Want To Be A World War II Pilot! This nonfiction picture book would be a good introduction of the subject for young readers. Older readers would probably want to know even more.

From the introduction: "You are 16. Home is San Antonio, Texas. The year is 1934. You're crazy about aircraft and flying. Your room is filled with models and posters of airplanes. You go to your local airfield, Stinson Field, to study pilots and their planes at every opportunity..."

The spreads include: "Learning to Fly," "Joining Up," "Fighter Training," "The Spitfire," "First Post," "Combat," "Passing Time," "Bailing Out," "Pearl Harbor," "Pacific Fighters," "Under U.S. Command," and "Peace at Last."

While this picture book may begin in the United States, it soon crosses the Atlantic. After the war begins, American pilots volunteer for Britain's RAF. This picture book, in a way, tells that story. After all, it takes several years for the U.S. to enter the war.

I liked this one. I didn't quite love it like some of the others in the series. But I thought it was good.

Horrible Histories, Woeful Second World War, RAF Song


You Wouldn't Want To Be A Shakespearean Actor. Jacqueline Morley. Illustrated by David Antram. 2010. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 

I loved You Wouldn't Want To Be A Shakespearean Actor by Jacqueline Morley. I thought it was a great introduction to the Elizabethan theatre. Readers learn about James and Richard Burbage and William Shakespeare, of course. It was very reader-friendly. I thought it was informative and straight-forward.

From the introduction:
 "It's 1594 and you're a young boy growing up in Shoreditch, a neighborhood on the outskirts of London. Until about 20 years ago, it was a quiet spot. Then actors from the city arrived and put up a "playhouse" here--a building just for putting on plays! Before this, actors--who are called players--had always traveled the country, setting up makeshift stages wherever they could find an audience. Puritans, like your parents, don't approve of acting. They say that players don't do real work--they just play. They also say that plays are just longer versions of the foolish shows that wandering entertainers have been putting on since medieval times. But you think your parents are wrong to say that plays are displeasing to God; they've never been to one! Well, you have (unknown to them, of course), and you think plays are the best thing ever. You'd love to act in one."
I loved learning all the behind-the-scenes details. For example, from the spread "Stretching Your Memory,":
You're a star player now, the company's first choice for female leads. But there's a downside to success. You're up till midnight, studying lines until you feel your head will split. The trouble is, to keep the audiences coming, the company performs a different play each day. There are some 40 plays to choose from, and you must act in all of them. You have to remember every part you've ever learned! About 15 plays a year will be new; the rest are revivals of old plays. In some plays, you perform more than one role, so altogether you need to keep at least 50 parts in your head. Minor actors, who each play more than one part, may need to memorize 100 roles. (14)
I would definitely recommend this one!!!

Horrible Histories, William Shakespeare Song



© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Sunday Salon: Reading Mary Poppins Comes Back (1935)

Mary Poppins Comes Back. P.L. Travers. 1935. Harcourt. 315 pages. [Source: Library]

It was one of those mornings when everything looks very neat and bright and shiny, as though the world had been tidied up overnight.

I definitely enjoyed rereading Mary Poppins Comes Back. There are a few chapters in this sequel that I just LOVE. (For example, "The Kite," "Miss Andrew's Lark," and "The New One.") I didn't love the stories--or the chapters--equally, however.

In this sequel, Mary Poppins returns to the Banks family. The four children have definitely missed her. So have Mr. and Mrs. Banks; they are so relieved that she's returned. In this sequel, a new baby joins the family. But Mary Poppins, of course, still manages to make everything run smoothly.

My favorite quotes:
"I want to know how you've been behaving since I went away," remarked Mary Poppins sternly. Then she took out the Thermometer and held it up to the light.
"Careless, thoughtless, and untidy," she read out. Jane stared.
"Humph!" said Mary Poppins, and thrust the Thermometer into Michael's mouth. He kept his lips tightly pressed upon it until she plucked it out and read.
"A very noisy mischievous, troublesome little boy."
"I'm not," he said angrily.
For answer she thrust the Thermometer under his nose and he spelt out the large red letters.
"A-V-E-R-Y-N-O-I-S---"
"You see?" said Mary Poppins looking at him triumphantly. She opened John's mouth and popped in the Thermometer.
"Peevish and Excitable." That was John's temperature.And when Barbara's was taken Mary Poppins read out the two words "Thoroughly spoilt."
"Humph!" she snorted. "It's about time I came back!"
Then she popped it quickly in her own mouth, left it there for a moment, and took it out. "A very excellent and worthy person, thoroughly reliable in every particular." (22)
"She was called Miss Andrew and she was a Holy Terror!"
"Hush!" said Mrs. Banks, reproachfully.
"I mean--" Mr. Banks corrected himself, "she was--er--very strict. And always right. And she loved putting everybody else in the wrong and making them feel like a worm. That's what Miss Andrew was like!" (32)
"Well?" she said gruffly smiling a thin smile. "I don't suppose you know who I am?"
"Oh, yes we do!" said Michael. He spoke in his friendliest voice for he was very glad to meet Miss Andrew. "You're the Holy Terror!" (39)
"Doing nothing takes a great deal of time! All the time, in fact!" (156)

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Week in Review: August 18-24

Now We Are Six. A.A. Milne. 1927. 101 pages. [Source: Library]
You Wouldn't Want To Be Joan of Arc! A Mission You Might Want To Miss. Fiona MacDonald. 2010. Illustrated by David Antram. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
You Wouldn't Want To Be In Alexander The Great's Army. Jacqueline Morley. 2005. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
The Black Dudley Murder. Margery Allingham. 1929. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
A Porcupine Named Fluffy. Helen Lester. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
It Wasn't My Fault. Helen Lester. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
Me First. Helen Lester. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
Listen, Buddy. Helen Lester. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
Unthinkable. Nancy Werlin. 2013. Penguin. 400 pages. [Source: Review Copy]    
Counting by 7s. Holly Goldberg Sloan. 2013. Penguin USA. 384 pages. [Review Copy]

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Library Loot: Fourth Trip in August

Is this my biggest library loot of the year?! 

New Loot:
  • You Wouldn't Want To Be A Greek Athlete by Michael Ford
  • You Wouldn't Want To Be A Slave in Ancient Greece by Fiona Macdonald
  • You Wouldn't Want to Be A Roman Gladiator by John Malam
  • You Wouldn't Want To Be An Aztec Sacrifice by Fiona Macdonald
  • You Wouldn't Want to Be A Roman Soldier by David Stewart
  • You Wouldn't Want To Be an 18th Century British Convict by Meredith Costain
  • You Wouldn't Want To Be A Victorian Servant by Fiona Macdonald
  • The Life and Times of Joan of Arc by Jim Whiting
  • Dynasty: The Stuarts, 1560-1807 by John Macleod
  • A Royal Affair: George III and His Scandalous Siblings by Stella Tillyard
  • Princesses: The Six Daughters of George III by Flora Fraser
  • Alfred the Great by Justin Pollard
  • The Duchess of Drury Lane by Freda Lightfoot
  • Here Comes The Big, Mean Dust Bunny by Jan Thomas
  • The Wednesday Sisters by Meg Waite Clayton
  • If Walls Could Talk: An Intimate History of the Home by Lucy Worsley

Leftover Loot:
  • Alexander the Conqueror: The Epic Story of the Warrior King by Laura Foreman
  • The Norman Conquest of England by Janice Hamilton
  • Far Traveler by Rebecca Tingle
  • The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer
  • The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer
  • A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer
  • The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • Charlie and the Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl
  • How the Barbarian Invasions Shaped the Modern World: The Vikings, Vandals, Huns, Mongols, Goths, and Tartars Who Razed the Old World and Formed the New by Thomas J. Craughwell
  • Becoming Shakespeare: The Unlikely Afterlife That Turned a Provincial Playwright into the Bard by Jack Lynch
  • Captives by Jill Williamson
  • The Borgias: The Hidden History by G.J. Meyer
  • The Armada by Garrett Mattingly
  • How To Create the Perfect Wife: Britains Most Ineligible Bachelor and His Enlightened Quest to Train the Ideal Mate by Wendy Moore
  • How Shakespeare Changed Everything by Stephen Marche 
  • The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer
  • Charlotte & Leopold: The True Story of the Original People's Princess by James Chambers 
  • Macbeth: A True Story by Fiona Watson
    Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire and Marg 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.

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Friday, August 23, 2013

Counting by 7s (2013)

Counting by 7s. Holly Goldberg Sloan. 2013. Penguin USA. 384 pages. [Review Copy]

Willow Chance is her own person. She may be a little different, a little distant, a little odd. But. There is something truly special about her. At the end of the first chapter, Willow returns home with the school counselor and two other new friends, to discover the police are waiting to tell her horrible news: both of her parents are dead. Willow has no other family; there aren't even any family friends that she knows about, that she could stay with. Mai and Quang-ha her new friends step up and volunteer. They lie. They say their families have known each other for years; of course, Willow will have a home with them, at least temporarily. The school counselor knows the truth, of course, he introduced them not so very long ago, but he stays silent. The novel then goes back to show what happened before: how Willow started the school year, how Willow "needed" counseling, how Willow made some new friends, why Willow suddenly got inspired to learn Vietnamese, how knowing Willow has changed the lives of two different men (the school counselor; a taxi driver). The reader also learns about the accident in greater detail. (Some of the details leading up to the event disappointed me; I thought it was too much.)

My favorite character in Counting by 7s was not Willow Chance. Willow's influence on other people is encouraging, proof that she is special, but Willow's narration alone did not win my heart. My two favorite characters were Mr. Dell Duke, the school counselor, and Jairo Hernandez, the taxi-driver. I enjoyed the other characters as well: Mai, Quang-ha, and their mother, Pattie.

The novel's greatest strength is in its quirkiness. It never felt sentimental. This is not your typical "sad book" about death and grief. There is humor and hope and courage. 

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Unthinkable (2013)

Unthinkable. Nancy Werlin. 2013. Penguin. 400 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

Fenella Scarborough is consumed with one desire: she wants to die. She has been trapped--tormented--for hundreds of years in the faerie realm. And now after Lucy has finally overcome the Scarborough curse, Fenella wants nothing more to die. She had been unaware that she'd been placed under a second curse by Padraig, one of immortality. Now the Queen--the new queen--has told her there is hope. If Fenella is up to the challenge that is. She'll be sent to the human realm, given three tasks of destruction, the destruction must be against her very own family. If she fails, she'll be Padraig's forever. Fenella is so desperate that she's eager to consent, not counting the cost. She's not on her own in her quest, Ryland, the queen's own brother, will go with her--as a cat.

Unthinkable is the sequel to Nancy Werlin's Impossible. (My review of Impossible.) Readers get to spend time with Lucy, Zach, their daughter, Dawn, Miranda, Soledad and Leo. Readers also get to meet a young man, Walker. Fenella has not been of the world for hundreds of years, she finds everything so strange; she has a lot of adapting to do!

I enjoyed Unthinkable. I liked how it is both a prequel and a sequel to Impossible. I enjoyed learning about how the first curse came about. 

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Four by Helen Lester (2013)

Listen, Buddy. Helen Lester. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

 Buddy's father had a beautiful big nose. He was a great sniffer. Buddy's mother had beautiful big teeth. She was a great chomper. Buddy had beautiful big ears. It didn't matter.

Buddy has a problem, a big problem: he doesn't listen. It doesn't bother Buddy a bit, though it annoys his parents greatly! But one day, Buddy finds himself in peril!!! Will he learn his lesson for good?!

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

Me First. Helen Lester. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

Pinkerton was pink, plump, and pushy. He would do anything to be first, even if it meant bouncing off bellies, stepping on snouts, or tying tails. 

Pinkerton gets more than he bargained for in Me First. When asked who wants a sandwich, he is first to exclaim "Me first!" But when the sandwich turns out to be a sand witch, well, Pinkerton learns that selfish people are NOT fun to be around.

Text: 2 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 5 out of 10

It Wasn't My Fault. Helen Lester. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

Things did not always go well for Murdley Gurdson. He couldn't control the toothpaste. He fell into wastebaskets. And he dropped only valuable vases. Whatever happened, it was usually his fault. One day he went for a walk in his one too big new shoe. He had stepped out of the other one. He couldn't remember where. Before long someone laid an egg on Murdley Gurdson's head. 

Who's to blame for Murdley Gurdson's bad day? And Murdley is not the only one having a bad day. There is quite a story to be told. If you enjoyed Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo by Rosetta Stone, then you may appreciate It Wasn't My Fault by Helen Lester.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

A Porcupine Named Fluffy. Helen Lester. Illustrated by Lynn Munsinger. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

When Mr. and Mrs. Porcupine had their first child, they were delighted. Now he needed a name. Should they call him Spike? No. Spike was too common. Should they call him Lance? No. Lance sounded too fierce. Should they call him Needleroozer? No. Needleroozer was too long. Prickles? Pokey? Quillian? Then together they had an idea. "Let's call him Fluffy. It's such a pretty name. Fluffy!"

One day Fluffy realizes he is NOT fluffy. He tries again and again and again to be fluffy. But he can't escape who he is; he is a porcupine, and porcupines are not fluffy by nature. He's quite unhappy until he meets a friend, a true friend, someone who understands. His friend? A rhinoceros named Hippo. They are a perfect pair!

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The Black Dudley Murder (1929)

The Black Dudley Murder. Margery Allingham. 1929. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]

I'm so glad that The Black Dudley Murder was not my first introduction to Margery Allingham or Albert Campion. (The Case of the Late Pig was a fantastic introduction.)

George Abbershaw, our narrator, is a house-guest at a weekend party in a country house. (The "country house" is quite gothic in nature.) He accepted the invitation because he's madly in love with a young woman, Margaret Oliphant, and he'd heard that she was to be in attendance. A whole weekend with her, he might even work up the nerve to propose! Other than Wyatt Petrie, he knows no other guests at all. His narration reveals his first impressions, and some of these first impressions at least are quite correct.

Typically when one goes to a party, one expects to be able to leave when one wants. Even if the host dies of a "heart attack." But that is not the case in The Black Dudley Murder. The guests find themselves held hostage. They have no contact with the world, no way to alert anyone--neighbors, police, etc. of the dangerous situation. (Even if they could manage to get to the garage and their cars without being shot or caught and bound, the cars have all been drained of gasoline.)

Albert Campion is a minor character in this one. He is not the hero of the day--or the hour--and he doesn't exactly steal the scenes he's in. I had a hard time enjoying any of the characters in this one. Or perhaps it's better to say I had a hard time getting to know any of the characters. Perhaps reading Agatha Christie, Georgette Heyer, and Dorothy Sayers has spoiled me.
English detectives are a race apart. They are evident at the first glance. (87)
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Monday, August 19, 2013

Two "You Wouldn't Want To Be" Books

You Wouldn't Want To Be In Alexander The Great's Army. Jacqueline Morley. 2005. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

I have only recently discovered the "You Wouldn't Want To Be" nonfiction picture book series published by Scholastic. You Wouldn't Want To Be in Alexander The Great's Army: Miles You'd Rather Not March was the first I read. I really enjoyed it. It's reader-friendly, conversational, and informative as well. When I say the book is conversational, I mean it. The book is addressed to the reader; the reader is the YOU of the text.
It is the 4th Century BC and you are a sheep farmer living in the hilly land just north of Greece known as Macedonia. You Macedonians are tough country people, used to a hard life. Though you might speak Greek and worship Greek gods, the Greeks of the south look down on you as rough and uncivilized foreigners. However, Macedonians have been teaching those soft-living southern Greeks a thing or two recently. Macedonia used to be weak and divided but your previous king, Philip II, made it united and strong and turned the Macedonians into a fighting force that now controls most of Greece. His son, Alexander III, who is only 20, is about to start on a great scheme that his father was planning when he died. He is going to invade the mighty Persian Empire. He needs soldiers, so why not leave those bleak hills, join him and see the world?
Alexander's story is told in two-page spreads: "Joining up," "334 BC Alexander Sets Off," "332 BC Siege of Tyre," "332-331 BC In Egypt," "331 BC The Battle of Gaugamela," "330 BC Sacking of Persepolis," "330 BC King Darius Dies," "329 BC Crossing the Hindu Kush," "327 BC Scaling the Sogdian Rock," "326 BC Into India," "325 BC The Gedrosian Desert," "323 BC: The Death of Alexander."

I really enjoyed the way the information was conveyed to the reader. The information was clearly presented and quite interesting. While the illustrations by David Antram aren't what I consider great, they began to grow on me as I read and reread this one.

Horrible Histories, Alexander the Great:



You Wouldn't Want To Be Joan of Arc! A Mission You Might Want To Miss. Fiona MacDonald. 2010. Illustrated by David Antram. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

I really enjoyed reading Fiona MacDonald's You Wouldn't Want To Be Joan of Arc! I wish my library had every single book in this series. This one had me at hello.
The year? It's 1428. The place? Domremy, a village in northeast France. And you? You're Joan, the daughter of peasant farmers. Your family is neither very rich nor very poor. Like all the other local youngsters, you've grown up living in fear. For years, war has been raging throughout France. One of your cousins has been killed in battle, and the village church--next door to your family's house--has been burned down by the enemy. So far, you've managed to stay safe. But you face great dangers ahead. Why? Because you dream of a secret, sacred mission: to rescue France from its attackers! You're young--just 16. You're not a famous or powerful person. You can't read or write, and you haven't been trained to use weapons. You don't understand politics or know how to plan a battle. But you're utterly convinced that you must save your country. How can you fulfill your dream?
This picture book biography of Joan of Arc is simple and straight-forward. There is enough information for younger readers; obviously, older readers might want or need a more in-depth biography more appropriate for their age-group. But this picture book biography is fun and clearly presented. I love how the information is shared with readers.

The two page spreads include: "Dutiful Daughter," "In The War Zone," "Rival Rulers," "Hearing Voices," "An Urgent Mission," "Royal Meeting," "Saving a City," "The King is Crowned," "Sensing Doom," "A Terrifying Trial," "Life--or Death?," "Glorious Memory."

I think this series is good because it makes history exciting and entertaining. It's never too early to cultivate a love of history, perhaps, the earlier the better!

Horrible Histories, Joan of Arc



© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday Salon: Reading Now We Are Six (1927)

Now We Are Six. A.A. Milne. 1927. 101 pages. [Source: Library]

While I don't absolutely love, love, love Milne's two poetry collections as much as I love his two Pooh novels, I do appreciate them. My favorite poems from Now We Are Six include:
  • Busy
  • Binker
  • Us Two
  • The Engineer
  • The End
From Busy
I think I am a Muffin Man. I haven't got a bell.
I haven't got the muffin things that muffin people sell.
Perhaps I am a Postman. No, I think I am a Tram.
I'm feeling rather funny and I don't know what I am--
BUT
Round about
And round about
And round about I go--
All around the table,
The table in the nursery--
Round about
And round about
And round about I go;
I think I am a Traveller escaping from a Bear;
I think I am an Elephant,
Behind another Elephant
Behind another Elephant who isn't really there...
 From Binker
Binker--what I call him--is a secret of my own,
And Binker is the reason why I never feel alone.
Playing in the nursery, sitting on the stair,
Whatever I am busy at, Binker will be there.
Oh, Daddy is clever, he's a clever sort of man,
And Mummy is the best since the world began,
And Nanny is Nanny, and I call her Nan--
But they can't
See
Binker.
From Us Two
Wherever I am, there's always Pooh,
There's always Pooh and Me.
Whatever I do, he wants to do,
"Where are you going today?" says Pooh:
"Well, that's very odd, 'cos I was too.
Let's go together," says Pooh, says he.
"Let's go together," says Pooh.
© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Week in Review: August 11-17

When We Were Very Young. A.A. Milne. 1924. 100 pages. [Source: Library]
The Unruly Queen: The Life of Queen Caroline. Flora Fraser. 1996/2009. Anchor Books. 560 pages. [Source: Library]

Secrets at Sea. Richard Peck. 2011/2012. Penguin. 256 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
New Lands (Chronicles of Egg #2). Geoff Rodkey. 2013. Penguin. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Frozen: Heart of Dread. Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston. 2013. Penguin. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Imperfect Spiral. Debbie Levy. 2013. Bloomsbury. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Love Finds A Home. Janette Oke. 1989. Bethany House. 240 pages. [Source: Owned for decades] 
Pleasure and Profit in Bible Study. D.L. Moody. 167 pages. [Source: Bought]

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Library Loot: Third Trip in August

New Loot:
  • You Wouldn't Want to Be in Alexander the Great's Army by Jacqueline Morley
  • You Wouldn't Want to Be a Shakespearean Actor by Jacqueline Morley
  • You Wouldn't Want to Be A World War II Pilot: by Ian Graham
  • You Wouldn't Want to Be Joan of Arc by Fiona Macdonald
  • Alexander the Conqueror: The Epic Story of the Warrior King by Laura Foreman
  • The Norman Conquest of England by Janice Hamilton
  • Far Traveler by Rebecca Tingle
  • The Unknown Ajax by Georgette Heyer
  • The Nonesuch by Georgette Heyer
  • A Civil Contract by Georgette Heyer
  • The Lantern Bearers by Rosemary Sutcliff
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory by Roald Dahl
  • Charlie and the Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl
  • How the Barbarian Invasions Shaped the Modern World: The Vikings, Vandals, Huns, Mongols, Goths, and Tartars Who Razed the Old World and Formed the New by Thomas J. Craughwell
  • Becoming Shakespeare: The Unlikely Afterlife That Turned a Provincial Playwright into the Bard by Jack Lynch
  • Captives by Jill Williamson
  • The Borgias: The Hidden History by G.J. Meyer
  • The Armada by Garrett Mattingly
  • How To Create the Perfect Wife: Britains Most Ineligible Bachelor and His Enlightened Quest to Train the Ideal Mate by Wendy Moore
  • How Shakespeare Changed Everything by Stephen Marche
Leftover Loot:
  • The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England by Ian Mortimer
  • Charlotte & Leopold: The True Story of the Original People's Princess by James Chambers 
  • Macbeth: A True Story by Fiona Watson
   Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire and Marg 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.   

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Friday, August 16, 2013

Challenge Updates, part 1

Host: Roof Beam Reader
Name: TBR Pile
Dates: Jan - Dec
# of Books: 12
Limitations: Must be from list of 12 +2 alternates; pre-2012 publication date

I've read ELEVEN out of twelve books. That is the good news. This is the closest I've come to finishing Adam's challenge! The bad news? Well, the three remaining books on the list have fallen into the I would rather be reading anything else category. I have zero interest in reading them this year--if at all. How does this happen? Why??? Can I choose one of the three and persevere through it? Perhaps! I do have four months for an attitude adjustment.

1. Pollyanna by Eleanor Porter, 1913
2. Pollyanna Grows Up, Eleanor Porter, 1915
3. Brentwood, Grace Livingstone Hill, 1937
4. The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer, 1928
5. Powder and Patch by Georgette Heyer, 1930
6. Party Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, 1946
7. Skating Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, 1951
8. Faro's Daughter by Georgette Heyer, 1941
9. The League of Frightened Men by Rex Stout, 1935
10. The Rubber Band by Rex Stout, 1936
11. The Red Box by Rex Stout, 1937  

My three choices: Lord Peter Complete Stories by Dorothy Sayer. The sad thing? I started this one last winter got about halfway through and decided I just didn't care for her short stories. I Will Repay by Baroness Emma Orczy. If I can work past my need to reread Scarlet Pimpernel, this one might not be as intimidating? But my reread of Scarlet Pimpernel--I started in the spring--hasn't gone well. Lighthouse by Eugenia Price. I started this one last spring too. But my paperback copy stinks.

Host: My Reader's Block
Name: Vintage Mysteries
Dates: Jan - Dec
# Target Books: 8 - 16
Limitations: Mysteries published BEFORE 1960

I have to confess that I ADORE this challenge. I've always managed to complete the vintage mystery challenge in previous years, but this challenge just brings me so much joy!!!  It is challenging and rewarding.

So far, I've definitely finished 18 books. I will probably keep adding books in the various categories. There are several easy categories that I haven't used up just yet. But my goal was 16 and I've matched that!!! The 18th book will be reviewed later this month.

What I read:

1. Final Curtain by Ngaio Marsh (1947) qualifies as #4 leave it to the professionals
2. The Cape Cod Mystery by Phoebe Atwood Taylor (1931) qualifies as #3 amateur night
3. Why Shoot a Butler by Georgette Heyer (1933) qualifies as #23 the butler did it...or not
4. The Case of the Late Pig by Margery Allingham (1948) qualifies as #8, dangerous beasts
5. Hamlet, Revenge by Michael Innes (1937) qualifies as #13 staging the crime
6. Peril at End House by Agatha Christie (1932) qualifies as #33 international detectives
7. Lord Edgware Dies (aka Thirteen at Dinner) (1933) qualifies as #11, a book with a man in the title
8. Unpleasantness at the Bellona Club by Dorothy Sayers (1928) qualifies as #14 scene of the crime
9. The Daughter of Time. (Inspector Grant #5). Josephine Tey. 1955 qualifies as #35 authors who wrote under a pseudonym
10. The Red Box. Nero Wolfe. (Nero Wolfe #4) 1936. qualifies as #1 a book with a color in the title
11. Envious Casca. Georgette Heyer. 1941. qualifies as #16 a locked-room mystery
12. Strong Poison. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1930 qualifies as #27 as psychic phenomenon*
13. The Five Red Herrings. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1931. qualifies as # 2 murder by the numbers
14. A Blunt Instrument by Georgette Heyer (1938) qualifies as #12 murderous methods
15. The Case of the Cautious Coquette by Erle Stanley Gardner (1949) qualifies as #10 a book with a woman in the title
16. Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie (1937) qualifies as #18 murder on the high seas
17. Death in the Clouds by Agatha Christie (1935) qualifies as #19 planes, trains, and automobiles
18.The Crime at Black Dudley by Margery Allingham (1929) qualifies as #17 country house murder

Host: Turning the Pages
Name: 2013 pre-1960 Classic Children's Books
Dates: Jan- Dec
# of Books: my goal is 52

What I Read:

1. Thomas the Tank Engine Collection--512 pages; 14 picture books published as one story collection, 1945-1960.
2. Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery, 1908
3. Pollyanna, Eleanor Porter, 1913
4. Racketty-Packetty House, Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1906
5. Heidi, Johanna Spyri, 1880
6. The Real Mother Goose, 1916
7. The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett, 1911
8. Anne of Avonlea, L.M. Montgomery, 1909
9. Pollyanna Grows Up, Eleanor Porter, 1915
10. Elsie Dinsmore, Martha Finley, 1867
11. The Story Girl, L.M. Montgomery, 1911
12. Daddy-Long-Legs, Jean Webster, 1912
13. The Golden Road, L.M. Montgomery, 1913
14. Anne of the Island, L.M. Montgomery, 1915
15. Understood Betsy. Dorothy Canfield Fisher. 1916.
16. Anne's House of Dreams. L.M. Montgomery. 1917.
17. Rainbow Valley. L.M. Montgomery. 1919.
18. Rilla of Ingleside. L.M. Montgomery. 1921
19. Party Shoes. Noel Streatfeild. 1946. Oxford Children's Classics. 320 pages.
20. Skating Shoes. Noel Streatfeild. 1951. 224 pages.
21. Treasure Island. Robert Louis Stevenson. 1883. 311 pages.
22. The Little Prince. Antoine de Saint-Exupery. 1943/2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 112 pages.
23. A Little Princess. Frances Hodgson Burnett. 1905.
24. The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe. C.S. Lewis. 1950.
25. The Hobbit. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1937.
26. Little House in the Big Woods. Laura Ingalls Wilder. 1932.
27. Little House on the Prairie. Laura Ingalls Wilder. 1935.
28. Pinocchio. Carlo Collodi.  1883.
29.  The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. L. Frank Baum. 1900.
30. The Marvelous Land of Oz. L. Frank Baum. 1904.
31. Ozma of Oz. L. Frank Baum. 1907.
32. Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz. L. Frank Baum. 1908.
33. Emily of New Moon. L.M. Montgomery. 1923.
34. Emily Climbs. L.M. Montgomery. 1925.
35. Emily's Quest. L.M. Montgomery. 1927.
36. Mary Marie. Eleanor H. Porter. 1920.
37. The Belgian Twins. Lucy Fitch Perkins. 1917. 124 pages.
38. The Jungle Book. Rudyard Kipling. 1894/1895/2012. Random House. 320 pages.
39. Magic for Marigold. L.M. Montgomery. 1929. 274 pages.
40. The Magic Pudding. Norman Lindsay. 1918. 144 pages. [Source: Bought]
41. Half Magic. Edward Eager. 1954. 192 pages. [Source: Library]
42. Mary Poppins. P.L. Travers. Illustrated by Mary Shepard. 1934/2006. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
43. I Saw Esau: The Schoolchild's Pocket Book. Iona and Peter Opie. Illustrations by Maurice Sendak. 1947/2012. Candlewick Press. 160 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
44. The Road to Oz. L. Frank Baum. 1909. 272 pages. [Source: Bought]
45. When We Were Very Young. A.A. Milne. 1924. 100 pages. [Source: Library]

Host: Doing Dewey
Name: Book to Movies
Dates: Jan - Dec
# Books & Movies: Movie Lover, 9

What I Read & Watched:

1. Book review: Anne of Green Gables  movie review: Anne of Green Gables
2. Book review: Heidi movie review: Heidi
3. Book review: Pollyanna movie review: Pollyanna
4. Book review: Pygmalion movie review: Pygmalion
5. Book review: English Governess at the Siamese Court; movie review: King and I
6. Book review: Les Miserables; movie review: Les Miserables
7. Book review: Stardust; movie review: Stardust
8. Book review: Invention of Hugo Cabret; movie review: Hugo
9. Book review and movie review: Death on the Nile.
Just realized I finished this one!!! 

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Imperfect Spiral (2013)

Imperfect Spiral. Debbie Levy. 2013. Bloomsbury. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Imperfect Spiral is a novel about finding your voice, and finding courage and strength to take a stand. Danielle Samuelson doesn't think she has much courage, ever since her huge panic attack the day of her bat mitzvah, she has doubted herself and her ability to ever be in public without making a fool of herself. (Specifically talking in public). Her best friend, Becca, wanted her to be a camp counselor with her. But Danielle was hesitant; instead she chose to babysit one kid for the summer. His name was Humphrey. The first chapter reveals the tragedy: Danielle and Humphrey were walking home from the park one evening when Humphrey was hit by a van. He died in Danielle's arms. His death upsets a community; neighbors are calling for change and reform. They want sidewalks. They want street lights. They want stronger immigration laws. (The driver of the van was an illegal immigrant.)

What I loved most about Imperfect Spiral was the depth of the characterization. I loved Danielle and her family. I especially loved Danielle's older brother, Adrian. I love how there he is for her during this. I also loved her best friend, Becca. I thought the author did a great job establishing Danielle in relationships. Danielle was a character I cared for. And I wanted her to succeed, to find the strength to speak up.

If the novel has a weakness, it may be in a series of coincidences that are revealed toward the end of the novel. To speak of these coincidences would be to spoil the book.

I liked this one. 

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Frozen: Heart of Dread (2013)

Frozen: Heart of Dread. Melissa de la Cruz and Michael Johnston. 2013. Penguin. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I love Frozen for many reasons. I love it for the world-building. It is a fantasy novel with post-apocalyptic themes. So there are magical/fantastical elements to this dark dystopian society. I like how everything is not explained all at once, there is some mystery as well. It is a hard world to live in, survival doesn't come easy or without sacrifice. I love it for the characterization. All our characters--major and minor--have some issues, have some flaws. This makes things interesting! Nat, our heroine, is looking for a way to escape. It is not safe for her where she is, though she has made some friends in New Vegas, but her escape is just as dangerous, if not more so, than staying would be. She is, when she admits it, in search of the mythical Blue, a mysterious, legendary place unaffected by the new Ice Age. She hires one man, Ryan Wesson, and his crew to take her. From the start this is a difficult journey. I loved getting to know Ryan, and some of the crew as well. I liked some of the quirkiness to these characters. In a way, the characters were predictable, but in other ways, they were complex too. Nat and Ryan's relationship may be obvious, but, it wasn't rushed either. I definitely appreciated that it was just the one romance and there wasn't a hint of a love triangle!!! I liked the strangeness of some of the characters, and the magical elements of the story. I thought the storytelling was good. I liked the journey aspect, the dangers along the way, the chance to see the world--bleak and harsh and strange as it may be. I liked the different glimpses of society and community on land and at sea.

If you like dark fantasy OR dystopias OR post-apocalyptic fiction, then this one may be just right for you.

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

New Lands (2013)

New Lands (Chronicles of Egg #2). Geoff Rodkey. 2013. Penguin. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I hung my head over the side of the Thrush and watched the prow carve the seawater into a hissing spray. Viewed up close, the Blue Sea wasn't all that blue, and I wondered--for the umpteenth time in the past few days--who had named it that, and why they hadn't bothered to get it right.

I really enjoyed the first book in the series. Egg and Guts are on a quest, and the journey ahead of them is dangerous and uncertain. These two somewhat unlikely friends make a great pair! I didn't have much of an opinion on Guts in the first book, but he definitely grew on me in the second. (The way he named his hook, Lucy, the way he loves to play guitar, how he loves his foreign language lessons, etc.) I also enjoyed the two female characters, Kira, a native (Okalu), and Millicent Pembroke. (I have mixed feelings on Millicent though). One of my favorite characters, however, is a minor one. I really loved seeing Burn Healy again!!!

If you enjoy adventure-fantasy with a historical feel, then this series might satisfy! I enjoy the action, the adventure, the humor. I really like the way these two are narrated! 

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Secrets At Sea (2011)

Secrets at Sea. Richard Peck. 2011/2012. Penguin. 256 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

I definitely enjoyed this animal fantasy novel by Richard Peck. Helena, our narrator, is the oldest surviving sibling in a family of mice. Her mother and two sisters shared the same fate--drowning, and her father also had an unfortunate accident. So Helena is the oldest, she's the boss, supposedly. Do the other mice like being obedient? Not so much. Helena has two sisters: Beatrice and Louise and one brother: Lamont. They live with the Cranston family. When the Cranston family decides to go to Europe in an attempt to marry their oldest daughter off (Olive), the mice family has an important decision to make. Do they stay behind in the empty house and take their chances, or, do they dare risk it all and travel with their human family? Helena takes the advice of an aunt (who tells fortunes) and they decide to go with their family. They even decide to take an interest in their humans, they will be trying to help them...

I especially loved this one once the journey began. I loved meeting all the other mice on board the ship. I loved seeing the society of mice. And the romance in this one are sweet. The novel is set in the Victorian period, and ends with Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee.

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Unruly Queen (1996)

The Unruly Queen: The Life of Queen Caroline. Flora Fraser. 1996/2009. Anchor Books. 560 pages. [Source: Library]

George IV married Caroline because his father (and/or parliament) agreed to pay off his debts if he got married. This marriage was a complete disaster. Not only was it a loveless marriage, it was extremely bitter! He HATED his wife. And I believe she hated him as well. Half the biography focuses on the bickering and the back-and-forth correspondence between her legal advisers, his legal advisers, and King George III. The situation was complex because George III and George IV (he was Prince of Wales, but it's easier for me to just call him George IV) did not get along at all. They fought continuously. Their relationship was extremely strained. There were times when George III sided with "the injured Princess" Caroline instead of with his son. His wife was at various times popular with the people as well. George IV, well, he wasn't very well-liked. He had a habit of spending lots of money and wanting parliament to pay all the bills. He also had more than a few mistresses. Some of these mistresses were in favor with society--were popular enough, I suppose--others were NOT. He was never faithful to Caroline; he never even pretended to like her or love her. He made it clear that he hated to be even in the same room with her. For better or worse, the two did have one child together. (Princess Charlotte was conceived within the first month of marriage.) Princess Charlotte was more popular than her mother and father.

The biography is very detailed. It details correspondence and records. It follows Caroline's movements from her marriage to George through her death--just three weeks after her husband's coronation. She was banned from attending. For Caroline was not always on good terms with her in-laws. Sometimes she enjoyed the favor of George III and his wife. Other times, her treatment was barely civil. There were definitely times she embarrassed the family and they disapproved of her.

The Unruly Queen was an interesting read.



© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Sunday Salon: Reading When We Were Very Young (1924)

When We Were Very Young. A.A. Milne. 1924. 100 pages. [Source: Library]

 If I loved poetry more, I think I would appreciate When We Were Very Young more than I do. I found the introduction charming. It does contain plenty of poems that I like, love, or even adore. Poems that are easier perhaps to adore if you were lucky enough to have heard them sung. (Winnie the Pooh: 17 Songs from the Pooh Song Book: Starring Jack Gilford. The album features: "Sing Ho! For the Life of A Bear," "Cottleston Pie," "Lines Written By A Bear of Very Little Brain," "Oh! The Butterflies are Flying," "I Lay On My Chest," "3 Cheers for Pooh," "They All Went Off To Discover the Pole," "Christopher Robin is Going," "Missing," "In the Fashion," "Halfway Down," Buckingham Palace," "Politeness," "The Christening," "Brownie," "Lines and Squares," and "Vespers."). My favorite poems from When We Were Very Young are:
 
Buckingham Palace
Lines and Squares
Politeness
Missing
Halfway Down
Teddy Bear

From Teddy Bear
A bear, however hard he tries,
Grows tubby without exercise.
Our Teddy Bear is short and fat
Which is not to be wondered at;
He gets what exercise he can
By falling off the ottoman,
But generally seems to lack
The energy to clamber back.
From Missing
Has anybody seen my mouse?
I opened his box for half a minute,
Just to make sure he was really in it,
And while I was looking, he jumped outside!
I tried to catch him, I tried, I tried...
I think he's somewhere about the house.
Has anyone seen my mouse?
From Buckingham Palace
They're changing guard at Buckingham Palace--
Christopher Robin went down with Alice.
Alice is marrying one of the guard.
"A soldier's life is terrible hard,"
Says Alice.
Do you have a favorite Milne poem? 

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Week in Review: August 4-10

Duke. Kirby Larson. 2013. Scholastic. 240 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
Pride and Prejudice and Kitties. Jane Austen, Pamela Jane, and Deborah Guyol. 2013. Sky Horse Publishing. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
Queen Emma and the Vikings. Harriet O'Brien. 2005. Bloomsbury. 288 pages. [Source: Library]
Cotillion. Georgette Heyer. 1953/2007. Sourcebooks. 362 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
Highway Robbery. Kate Thompson. 2008. HarperCollins. 128 pages. [Source: Library]
Royal Mistress. Anne Easter Smith. 2013. Simon & Schuster. 489 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

The Road to Oz. L. Frank Baum. 1909. 272 pages. [Source: Bought]
Is The Bible True...Really? Josh McDowell and Dave Sterrett. 2011. Moody. 144 pages. [Source: Bought]
Weakness Is The Way. J.I. Packer. 2013. Crossway. 128 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
God Knows My Name: Never Forgotten, Forever Loved. Beth Redman. 2010. David C. Cook. 192 pages. [Source: Bought]

© 2013 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

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.

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

Pageloads Counter

Search Book Blogs Search Engine

The background is based on a background I found here...with some small adjustments on my part so it would work with the template.
Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP