Sunday, November 30, 2014

November Reflections

In November, I read 56 books. 

Picture books and board books:

  1. Santa Clauses: Short Poems From the North Pole by Bob Raczka. 2014. Lerner Publishing Group. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. A Little Women Christmas. Heather Vogel Frederick. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. Once Upon An Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters. Oliver Jeffers. 2014. Penguin. 112 pages. [Source: Library] 
  4. Penguin in Peril. Helen Hancocks. 2014. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  5. The Animals' Santa. Jan Brett. 2014. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]    
  6. The Book With No Pictures. B.J. Novak. 2014. Penguin. 48 pages. [Source: Library] 
  7. The Great Thanksgiving Escape. Mark Fearing. 2014. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  8. Gobble, Gobble, Tucker! Leslie McGuirk. 2014. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  9. Maisy's Christmas Tree. Lucy Cousins.  2014. Candlewick. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  10. Little Blue Truck's Christmas. Alice Schertle. Illustrated by Jill McElmurry. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  11.  Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel! A Sing-along book! Illustrated by Shahar Kober. 2014. Scholastic. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  12. Eight Jolly Reindeer. Ilanit Oliver. Illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers. 2014. Scholastic. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]   
Middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction:
  1. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights. Steve Sheinkin. 2014. Roaring Brook. 208 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. Countdown by Deborah Wiles. 2010. May 2010. Scholastic. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. The Fourteenth Goldfish. Jennifer L. Holm. 2014. Random House. 208 pages. [Source: Library] 
  4. Courage for Beginners. Karen Harrington. 2014. Little, Brown. 304 pages. [Source: Library]  
  5. Dead in the Water. (World War II #2) Chris Lynch. 2014. Scholastic. 188 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  6. A Snicker of Magic. Natalie Lloyd. 2014. Scholastic. 320 pages. [Source: Library]   
  7. The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia. Candace Fleming. 2014. Random House. 304 pages. [Source: Library] 
  8. Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) Robin LaFevers. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 387 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  9. Tell Me. Joan Bauer. 2014. Penguin. 272 pages. [Source: Library]  
  10. The Quilt Walk. Sandra Dallas. 2012. Sleeping Bear Press. 215 pages. [Source: Library]
  11. The Magic City. E. Nesbit. 1910. 212 pages. [Source: Bought]
  12. The Enchanted Castle. E. Nesbit. 1907. 291 pages. [Source: Bought]
  13. Mortal Heart. Robin LaFevers. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 464 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  14. Miracle on 34th Street. Valentine Davies. Illustrated by Tomie de Paola. 1947/2001. HMH. 136 pages. [Source: Library] 
  15. Bo at Ballard Creek. Kirkpatrick Hill. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. 2013. Henry Holt. 288 pages. [Source: Library]  
  16. Black Beauty. Anna Sewell. 1877. 245 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  17. A Time to Dance. Padma Venkatraman. 2014.  Nancy Paulsen Books. 320 pages. [Source: Library] 
  18. Ghosts of Tupelo Landing. Sheila Turnage. 2014. Penguin. 368 pages. [Source: Library]  
  19. Stand There! She Shouted: The Invincible Photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. 2014. Candlewick. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Adult fiction and nonfiction:
  1. Persuasion. Jane Austen 1818/1992. Knopf Doubleday. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. Is He Popenjoy? Anthony Trollope. 1878/1993. Penguin. 632 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  3. The Man Who Invented Christmas. Les Standiford. 2008. Crown. 241 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. Where There's A Will. Rex Stout. (Nero Wolfe #8) 1940. Bantam. 258 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens. 1843. 96 pages. [Source: Bought] 

Christian fiction and nonfiction:
  1. Tolkien: How An Obscure Oxford Professor Wrote the Hobbit and Became the Most Beloved Author of the Century. Devin Brown. Abingdon Press. [Source: Review copy]
  2. Look and Live. Matt Papa. 2014. Bethany House. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. The Advent Bride. Mary Connealy. 2014. Barbour. 88 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. Beside Bethesda: 31 Days Toward Deeper Healing. Joni Eareckson Tada. 2014. NavPress. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. ESV Women's Devotional Bible. 2014. Crossway. 1664 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  6. Living a Prayerful Life. Andrew Murray. 160 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  7. Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life By Beginning IN Jesus' Name. Bryan Chapell. 2005. Baker Publishing. 208 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  8. The Christmas Quilt. Patricia Davids. 2011. Love Inspired. 215 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  9. The Christmas Cat. Melody Carlson. 2014. Revell. 169 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  10. The Secret of Pembrooke Park. Julie Klassen. 2014. Bethany House. 460 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  11. The Psalm 119 Experience: A Devotional Journey You Will Not Forget. John Kramp. 2014. B&H Publishing. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  12. The Most Misused Verses in the Bible: Surprising Ways God's Words is Misunderstood by Eric J. Bargerhuff. 2012. Bethany House. 172 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  13. God's Way of Peace. Horatius Bonar. 112 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  14. Christmas at Rose Hill Farm. Suzanne Woods Fisher. 2014. Revell. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  15. Every Valley. Albert L. Blackwell. 2014. Westminster John Knox Press. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  16. Surprised by Love. Julie Lessman. 2014. Revell. 416 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  17. God's Way of Holiness. Horatius Bonar. 1864. 175 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  18. The Study and Teaching of the English Bible. G. Campbell Morgan. 1910. [Source: Bought]  
  19. The Bible in Five Years. A Comprehensive Outline for Study of the Entire Sacred Volume. G. Campbell Morgan. 1922. [Source: Bought]  
  20. At Bluebonnet Lake. Amanda Cabot. 2014. Revell. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2015 Challenges: Sci-Fi Experience

Host: Stainless Steel Droppings
Name: 2015 Sci-Fi Experience (sign up) (share reviews)
Dates: December 1, 2014 - January 31, 2015
# of books: It's not a challenge, so 1 or more books counts as a success

I'm currently watching Babylon 5, season 1. I'm planning out January's reads at the moment. And I do plan on reading/rereading some science fiction.
  • Tesla's Attic by Neal Shusterman
  • Boundless by Kenneth Oppel
  • 5th Wave by Rick Yancey
  • The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
  • Folk of the Fringe by Orson Scott Card (one of Card's that I've never read before)
  • Worthing Saga by Orson Scott Card (probably my favorite Card novel)
  • The Martian by Andy Weir
What I Read:
1) The 5th Wave. Rick Yancey. 2013. Penguin. 457 pages. [Source: Review copy]
2) It's The End of the World As We Know It. Saci Lloyd. 2015. Hachette Books. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
3) To Dream in the City of Sorrows. (Babylon 5: Book #9). Kathryn M. Drennan. Based on the series by J. Michael Straczynski. 1997. Random House. 352 pages.  [Source: Bought]
4) The Worthing Saga. Orson Scott Card. 1990. Tor. 465 pages. [Source: Bought]
5) The Infinite Sea (Fifth Wave #2) Rick Yancey. 2014. Penguin. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
6) Station Eleven. Emily St. John Mandel. 2014. Knopf Doubleday. 352 pages. [Source: Library]
7) Brave New World. Aldous Huxley. 1932. 268 pages. [Source: Bought]

What I View:
1) Babylon 5, disc one
2) Babylon 5, disc two
3) Babylon 5, disc three 
4) Babylon 5, disc four and five 
5) Babylon 5, disc six 
6) Babylon 5, season two, discs one and two

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Miracle on 34th Street (1947)

Miracle on 34th Street. Valentine Davies. Illustrated by Tomie de Paola. 1947/2001. HMH. 136 pages. [Source: Library]

I have almost always loved the movie. I can now say that I love the book. If you love the movie, and, if you love to read, then, you should consider reading Miracle on 34th Street. True, it is not substantially different from the movie. But there are subtle differences, I found. I liked these differences small as they may be. The book is sweet and charming in all the right ways. I liked spending time with Kris Kringle, Doris and Susan Walker, and Fred Gayley. The book moves quickly, from scene to scene to scene. The book may not be as detailed and descriptive as a typical novel; it still has a movie-feel to it: going from scene to scene without pausing to ponder or describe. If I read the book first, would I get a sense, true sense, of the characters? I'm not sure. I'd like to think so. But it's hard to come to this story new. I know this story. I love this story.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Library Loot: Fifth Trip in November

New Loot:
  • The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey
  • The Upstairs Room by Johanna Reiss
  • Xander's Panda Party by Linda Sue Park
  • Millions of Cats by Wanda Ga'g
  • Her Royal Spyness by Rhys Bowen
  • A Royal Pain by Rhys Bowen
  • Royal Flush by Rhys Bowen
  • The Martian by Andy Weir
  • Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs
  • Bomb by Steve Sheinkin
  • Here I Stand by Roland H. Bainton
  • Quinny & Hopper by Adriana Brad Schanen 
Leftover Loot:
  • The Art of the English Murder by Lucy Worsley
  • What If...? by Anthony Browne  
  • Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie
  • Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer
  • McElligot's Pool by Dr. Seuss
  • Horton Hatches The Egg by Dr. Seuss
  • And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss
  • The King's Stilts by Dr. Seuss
  • The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss
  • The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott
  • Train by Judi Abbot
  •  The Time Traveler's Almanac ed. by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
  • A Great and Glorious Adventure by Gordon Corrigan
   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.   

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2015 Challenges: Genre Decades Challenge

Host: Becky's Book Reviews
Name: 2015 Genre Decades Challenge (sign up)
Dates: January - December 2015
# of Books: 10 per decade;

1930s -- Mysteries, Science Fiction, Historical Fiction, Romance]

1930
1931
1932 Brave New World. Aldous Huxley. 1932. 268 pages. [Genre: Science Fiction]
1933 The Case of the Velvet Claws. (Perry Mason #1) Erle Stanley Gardner. 1933. Random House. 215 pages [Genre: Mystery]
1934
1935
1936
1937
1938
1939

I hope to do a second decade--either the forties or fifties. But I want to concentrate on the thirties first.


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2015 Challenges: Cloak & Dagger Mystery Challenge


 Host: A Bookish Girl
Name: Cloak and Dagger (sign up) Note: there will be monthly link-up posts and giveaways.
Dates: January - December (January's link-up)
# of books: reader decides; I'm aiming for 12-24

What I Read:

January
1) Twelve Drummers Drumming. Father Christmas Mystery #1. C.C. Benison. 2011. Doubleday. 384 pages. [Source: Library]
2) Eleven Piper Piping. Father Christmas Mystery #2. C.C. Benison. 2012. Delacorte. 474 pages. [Source: Library]
3) Ten Lords A-Leaping. Father Christmas #3. C.C. Benison. 2013. Delacorte. 512 pages. [Source: Library]
4) The Case of the Velvet Claws. (Perry Mason #1) Erle Stanley Gardner. 1933. Random House. 215 pages. [Source: Bought]

February
1) Dying in the Wool. (Kate Shackleton #1) Frances Brody. 2009/2012. Minotaur Books. 368 pages. [Source: Library]
2) Medal for Murder. (Kate Shackleton #2) Frances Brody. 2010/2013. Minotaur Books. 432 pages. [Source: Library]
3) Murder in the Afternoon. (Kate Shackleton #3) Frances Brody. 2011/2014. Minotaur Books. 400 pages.  [Source: Library]
4) The Case of the Stuttering Bishop. (Perry Mason #9) Erle Stanley Gardner. 1936. 189 pages. [Source: Bought]
5) Her Royal Spyness (Her Royal Spyness #1) Rhys Bowen. 2007. Berkley. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
6) As Chimney Sweepers Come To Dust. Flavia de Luce #7. Alan Bradley. Random House. 392 pages. [Source: Review copy] 

March
1) The Killings At Badger's Drift. (Inspector Barnaby #1) Caroline Graham. 1987/2005. Felony & Mayhem. 272 pages. [Source: Library]
2) Death of A Hollow Man. (Inspector Barnaby #2) Caroline Graham. 1989/2006. Felony & Mayhem. 306 pages. [Source: Library]
3) The Case of the Cursed Dodo: A Jungle Noir (Endangered Files #1) Jake G. Panda. 2014. Wooly Family Studios. 180 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
4) The Case of the Vanishing Emerald (Maisie Hitchins #2) Holly Webb. 2013/2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
5)  Space Case. Stuart Gibbs. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
6) Sparkling Cyanide. (Colonel Race #4) Agatha Christie. 1944/2002. HarperCollins. 288 pages. [Source: Bought] 



© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Week in Review: November 23-29

The Magic City. E. Nesbit. 1910. 212 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Enchanted Castle. E. Nesbit. 1907. 291 pages. [Source: Bought]
Mortal Heart. Robin LaFevers. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 464 pages. [Source: Review copy]
A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens. 1843. 96 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Man Who Invented Christmas. Les Standiford. 2008. Crown. 241 pages. [Source: Library]
Where There's A Will. Rex Stout. (Nero Wolfe #8) 1940. Bantam. 258 pages. [Source: Bought]
Tolkien: How An Obscure Oxford Professor Wrote the Hobbit and Became the Most Beloved Author of the Century. Devin Brown. Abingdon Press. [Source: Review copy]
Look and Live. Matt Papa. 2014. Bethany House. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Advent Bride. Mary Connealy. 2014. Barbour. 88 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Beside Bethesda: 31 Days Toward Deeper Healing. Joni Eareckson Tada. 2014. NavPress. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
ESV Women's Devotional Bible. 2014. Crossway. 1664 pages. [Source: Bought]

This week's favorite:

I loved, loved, loved E. Nesbit's The Magic City. I did. I loved, loved, loved Devin Brown's biography of J.R.R. Tolkien. It's horrible having to pick between the two!!! I was swept into the story--the fantasy world--that Nesbit created. I was. It was just a joy to read Magic City. I also found the biography to be captivating. I learned SO much. It was a book I just couldn't put down. Actually I couldn't put Magic City down either. Because I have to choose, I suppose I'll go with the nonfiction. It is a new release after all. It would make a lovely gift for Tolkien fans!!!

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, November 28, 2014

Reread #48 A Christmas Carol

A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens. 1843. 96 pages. [Source: Bought]

MARLEY WAS DEAD, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.

 I have watched A Christmas Carol more times than I've read it, and I've read it two or three times at least. The story is oh-so-familiar; the phrasing is oh-so-familiar. It's a book that has an old-friend feel even if you haven't read it dozens of times. There are scenes and descriptions that just feel incredibly right and familiar. For example,
Oh! but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire, secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shriveled his cheek, stiffened his gait, made his eyes red, his thin lips blue, and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wiry chin. He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.
and
“A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!” cried a cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge’s nephew, who came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation he had of his approach. “Bah!” said Scrooge. “Humbug!” He had so heated himself with rapid walking in the fog and frost, this nephew of Scrooge’s, that he was all in a glow; his face was ruddy handsome; his eyes sparkled, and his breath smoked again.
“Christmas a humbug, uncle!” said Scrooge’s nephew. “You don’t mean that, I am sure?” “I do,” said Scrooge. “Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough.”
“Come, then,” returned the nephew gaily. “What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough.” Scrooge, having no better answer ready on the spur of the moment, said “Bah!” again; and followed it up with “Humbug!”
“Nephew!” returned the uncle sternly, “keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.” “Keep it!” repeated Scrooge’s nephew. “But you don’t keep it.” “Let me leave it alone, then,” said Scrooge. “Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you!” “There are many things from which I might have derived good by which I have not profited, I dare say,” returned the nephew, “Christmas among the rest. But I am sure I have always thought of Christmas-time, when it has come round—apart from the veneration due to its sacred name and origin, if anything belonging to it can be apart from that—as a good time; a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time; the only time I know of, in the long calendar of the year, when men and women seem by one consent to open their shut-up hearts freely, and to think of people below them as if they really were fellow-passengers to the grave, and not another race of creatures bound on other journeys. And therefore, uncle, though it has never put a scrap of gold or silver in my pocket, I believe that it has done me good, and will do me good; and I say, God bless it!”
Other details, I've found, are less memorable perhaps.
“Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask,” said Scrooge, looking intently at the Spirit’s robe, “but I see something strange, and not belonging to yourself, protruding from your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw?” “It might be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it,” was the Spirit’s sorrowful reply. “Look here.” From the foldings of its robe, it brought two children, wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its garment. “O Man! look here! Look, look, down here!” exclaimed the Ghost. They were a boy and girl. Yellow, meager, ragged, scowling, wolfish; but prostrate, too, in their humility. Where graceful youth should have filled their features out, and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shriveled hand, like that of age, had pinched and twisted them, and pulled them into shreds. Where angels might have sat enthroned, devils lurked, and glared out menacing. No change, no degradation, no perversion of humanity, in any grade, through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters half so horrible and dread. Scrooge started back, appalled. Having them shown to him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children, but the words choked themselves, rather than be parties to a lie of such enormous magnitude. “Spirit! are they yours?” Scrooge could say no more. “They are Man’s,” said the Spirit, looking down upon them. “And they cling to me, appealing from their fathers. This boy is Ignorance. This girl is Want. Beware of them both, and all of their degree, but most of all beware this boy, for on his brow I see that written which is Doom, unless the writing be erased. Deny it!” cried the Spirit, stretching out its hand toward the City. “Slander those who tell it ye! Admit it for your factious purposes, and make it worse! And bide the end!” “Have they no refuge or resource?” cried Scrooge. “Are there no prisons?” said the Spirit, turning on him for the last time with his own words. “Are there no workhouses?” The bell struck Twelve.
I don't recall thinking much of the two children Ignorance and Want, of thinking about what message Dickens was sending. But when I was reading The Man Who Invented Christmas, Standiford stressed their significance. (Standiford called A Christmas Carol, "a bald-faced parable that underscores Dickens's enduring themes: the deleterious effects of ignorance and want.") Why had I not noticed them before? I can only suppose that I've been rushing through the text looking for what was familiar and beloved, not really considering the book as a whole.

I like A Christmas Carol. I don't love, love, love it. I have found it to be a Christ-less Christmas story. A book that doesn't really focus on the Savior--newborn babe or risen Savior--so much as it focuses on humanity improving and changing and saving themselves. The message to Scrooge isn't, you're a bad man; you need a Savior; consider your eternal soul. The message is whether that even Scrooge, as horrible as he was, can change; he can change the way he lives; he can become a good man, a great man. He can avoid after-life horrors by changing his behavior. That isn't a Christian message.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2015 Genre Decades Reading Challenge

I'm excited to host the Genre Decades Reading Challenge. Here's how it works:

1) Choose a decade. I'd recommend starting with one. If you finish you can always come back for another! You will be reading TEN books. One book for each year of the decade you choose. You may choose to sign up for more than one decade from the start. But it's ten books per decade you choose. So it would be committing to twenty books if you choose two.

2) Choose your genre. Or genres. You may choose up to five genres for a single decade. (Two books per genre.) It is up to you if you want a single genre or multiple genres. Genre is different from audience. So if you choose fantasy, you may read fantasy for children, young adults, or adults. But "young adult" is not in and of itself a genre. You can definitely make this challenge your own. For example:
  • sci-fi from the seventies
  • fantasy from the eighties
  • historical fiction from the thirties
  • mysteries from the fifties
  • romances from the forties
  • paranormal from the nineties
3) If you want to make the challenge more difficult, you might consider reading one book per genre per year of your decade. So minimum of ten books, maximum of fifty.

4) Up to five rereads are allowed per decade. I love to reread I do. But part of a challenge is to discover new books and new authors.

5) Reviews are not required. But. They are fun to read! So if you do blog your reviews, you may share links. You may give updates on your progress by leaving comments if you do not have a blog. Definitely let me know when you finish the challenge. I'd love to see your finished list.

6) Sign up in the comments on this post.

ETA (January):
*While I prefer participants to read books from ten different years, I am not horribly strict. So if you are having a difficult time finding one or two years for your decade, for example, feel free to read two more books from any year in that decade so you can complete the challenge.
* As for sharing review links--not a requirement, by the way--you may either add links and titles to your sign-up post--So that there are working links to all the reviews in one convenient post. OR you may leave review links in the comment of this post.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Ten Library Books I'm Thankful To Have Read This Year


Happy Thanksgiving! I thought I would share the top ten library books I'm thankful to have read this past year. If you love the library, you might want to create a top ten list of your own! I'd love to read your list if you do make one!

1. The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Library]

I love and adore Jonathan Auxier's The Night Gardener. Love and adore is probably even an understatement. I read this one twice this year. I have a review here at Becky's Book Reviews and a review at Operation Actually Read Bible.

Here's how this one begins:

The calendar said early March, but the smell in the air said late October. A crisp sun shone over Cellar Hollow, melting the final bits of ice from the bare trees. Steam rose from the soil like a phantom, carrying with it a whisper of autumn smoke that had been lying dormant in the frosty underground. Squinting through the trees, you could just make out the winding path that ran from the village all the way to the woods in the south. People seldom traveled in that direction, but on this March-morning-that-felt-like-October, a horse and cart rattled down the road. It was a fish cart with a broken back wheel and no fish. Riding atop the bench were two children, a girl and a boy, both with striking red hair. The girl was named Molly, and the boy, her brother, was Kip. And they were riding to their deaths. This, at least, was what Molly had been told by no fewer than a dozen people as they traveled from farm to farm in search of the Windsor estate.

2. Goodnight, Mr. Tom. Michelle Magorian. 1981. HarperCollins. 320 pages. [Source: Library]

I checked out the book and the movie from the library. Both are highly recommended!!!

3. Unbroken. Laura Hillenbrand. 2010. Random House. 473 pages. [Source: Library]


This memoir is so intense and compelling!!!


4. Bridge to Haven. Francine Rivers. 2014. Tyndale House. 468 pages. [Source: Library]

Historical fiction set in the 1950s. Would love to see this as a movie!!!

5. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights. Steve Sheinkin. 2014. Roaring Brook. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

Love this nonfiction title!

6.  Poem Depot: Aisles of Smiles. Douglas Florian. 2014. Penguin. 160 pages. [Source: Library]

Without a doubt my favorite poetry book of the year!!! 

7.  Frozen in Time. Mitchell Zuckoff. 2013. Harper. 391 pages. [Source: Library]

Yes, it's more nonfiction! And, yes, it's set during World War II.

8. The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson. 2013. Simon & Schuster. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

More World War II. But it's so good. A Holocaust book for the audience of Number the Stars perhaps. 

9. The Midnight Library. Kazuno Kohara. 2014. Roaring Brook. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

There is something oh-so-magical about this picture book. It just captured my heart.

10.  A Snicker of Magic. Natalie Lloyd. 2014. Scholastic. 320 pages. [Source: Library]

It wasn't easy choosing the final book. Hence why there will be honorable mentions!

Honorable Mentions:

Bo at Ballard Creek. Kirkpatrick Hill. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. 2013. Henry Holt. 288 pages. [Source: Library]

Free to Fall. Lauren Miller. 2014. HarperCollins. 480 pages. [Source: Library]

Kiss of Deception. (The Remnant Chronicles #1) Mary E. Pearson. 2014. Henry Holt. 489 pages. [Source: Library]

Absolutely Almost. Lisa Graff. 2014. Penguin. 304 pages [Source: Library]

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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The Magic City (1910)

The Magic City. E. Nesbit. 1910. 212 pages. [Source: Bought]

Dare I say I have a new favorite-favorite Nesbit?! I loved, loved, LOVED The Magic City. I enjoyed The Enchanted Castle. I enjoyed it very much. But it doesn't come close to describing how I feel about The Magic City. I LOVE it so much! 

Philip, the hero, has been raised by his much older sister, Helen. When she marries a widower with a daughter, Lucy, around his own age, he is upset. He just knows that he will HATE Lucy. (It almost seems like he'd feel too guilty to hate his uncle--Helen's husband. But hating Lucy, well, it almost feels necessary.) Philip goes to his new home, and, his attitude could use some improvement. But if there is one thing that he doesn't hate about his new home is the nursery full of toys. At first, he's not allowed to touch anything--not even one toy! The nurse doesn't have permission from Lucy to allow Philip to play with her things. But the nurse in a brief moment of kindness changes her mind. Philip is allowed to play, to imagine. And he does. He builds, I believe, two wonderful cities. He builds them from toys--not just blocks, but all sorts of toys. He builds them from books. He builds with things he finds around the house. These cities are a work of an artist--a creator. But days later--I believe it is days--the nurse returns in a very bad mood. (She'd been called away for personal family business.) She is very angry. She yells. She threatens. She assures him that the cities will be torn down the very next day. By this point, his attitude has calmed down quite a bit. Most of the staff--the servants--like him if not love him now. In the middle of the night, he goes to see what his cities look like in the moonlight...and that decision changes everything. It is the beginning of the proper adventures!

I loved this one. I loved spending time with Philip and Lucy. I love how their relationship changes throughout the book. I loved meeting all the characters, or almost all the characters! I loved seeing the residents of the city. Particularly Mr. Noah and his son. The book is super-fun and just a joy to read. I loved the premise of this one too.
Philip drew a deep breath of satisfaction, went straight up to the nursery, took out all the toys, and examined every single one of them. It took him all the afternoon. The next day he looked at all the things again and longed to make something with them. He was accustomed to the joy that comes of making things. He and Helen had built many a city for the dream island out of his own two boxes of bricks and certain other things in the house — her Japanese cabinet, the dominoes and chessmen, cardboard boxes, books, the lids of kettles and teapots. But they had never had enough bricks. Lucy had enough bricks for anything. He began to build a city on the nursery table. But to build with bricks alone is poor work when you have been used to building with all sorts of other things. ‘It looks like a factory,’ said Philip discontentedly. He swept the building down and replaced the bricks in their different boxes. ‘There must be something downstairs that would come in useful,’ he told himself, ‘and she did say, “Take what you like.”’ By armfuls, two and three at a time, he carried down the boxes of bricks and the boxes of blocks, the draughts, the chessmen, and the box of dominoes. He took them into the long drawing-room where the crystal chandeliers were, and the chairs covered in brown holland — and the many long, light windows, and the cabinets and tables covered with the most interesting things. He cleared a big writing-table of such useless and unimportant objects as blotting-pad, silver inkstand, and red-backed books, and there was a clear space for his city.
And the city grew, till it covered the table. Philip, unwearied, set about to make another city on another table. This had for chief feature a great water-tower, with a fountain round its base; and now he stopped at nothing. He unhooked the crystal drops from the great chandeliers to make his fountains. This city was grander than the first. It had a grand tower made of a waste-paper basket and an astrologer’s tower that was a photograph-enlarging machine. The cities were really very beautiful. I wish I could describe them thoroughly to you. But it would take pages and pages. Besides all the things I have told of alone there were towers and turrets and grand staircases, pagodas and pavilions, canals made bright and water-like by strips of silver paper, and a lake with a boat on it. Philip put into his buildings all the things out of the doll’s house that seemed suitable. The wooden things-to-eat and dishes. The leaden tea-cups and goblets. He peopled the place with dominoes and pawns. The handsome chessmen were used for minarets. He made forts and garrisoned them with lead soldiers. He worked hard and he worked cleverly, and as the cities grew in beauty and interestingness he loved them more and more. He was happy now. There was no time to be unhappy in.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Enchanted Castle (1907)

The Enchanted Castle. E. Nesbit. 1907. 291 pages. [Source: Bought]

I really enjoyed reading The Enchanted Castle by E. Nesbit. I had started this one at least twice before, but, I had never been in the right mood to properly appreciate this children's fantasy novel. I was in the right mood this time.

If you enjoy adventure fantasy novels, you'll probably enjoy spending time with Jerry, Jimmy, Cathy, and Mabel. Jerry, Jimmy, and Cathy are siblings. When these three first meet Mabel, they mistake her for a princess. At the time, they are having an adventure looking for an enchanted castle. So finding a princess within that castle makes complete sense! Mabel is actually the niece of the housekeeper. She confesses that a bit later on. That first meeting is magical enough! She shows them a secret room behind a paneled wall. This room is fabulous if you're looking for treasures. While in the room, the children find (and pick up) a ring. This ring is central to all their further adventures. And Mabel is their new best friend. She's always part of the group.

This one was a very fun read. It reminded me of why I love E. Nesbit in the first place. It wasn't a perfect novel. But flaws and all, it worked well enough for me. It was a joy to read of their adventures and misadventures. The ring gets them into trouble more often than it gets them out of trouble.

Favorite quotes:
“Go then, and be not more naughty than you must.”
“If we were in a book it would be an enchanted castle — certain to be,” said Kathleen. “It is an enchanted castle,” said Gerald in hollow tones. “But there aren’t any.” Jimmy was quite positive. “How do you know? Do you think there’s nothing in the world but what you’ve seen?” His scorn was crushing.
“I think magic went out when people began to have steam-engines,” Jimmy insisted, “and newspapers, and telephones and wireless telegraphing.” “Wireless is rather like magic when you come to think of it,” said Gerald. “Oh, that sort!” Jimmy’s contempt was deep. “Perhaps there’s given up being magic because people didn’t believe in it any more,” said Kathleen. “Well, don’t let’s spoil the show with any silly old not believing,” said Gerald with decision. “I’m going to believe in magic as hard as I can. This is an enchanted garden, and that’s an enchanted castle, and I’m jolly well going to explore.
“I am so hungry!” said Jimmy. “Why didn’t you say so before?” asked Gerald bitterly. “I wasn’t before.” “Then you can’t be now. You don’t get hungry all in a minute. What’s that?”
“Well, then — a detective.” “There’s got to be something to detect before you can begin detectiving,” said Mabel. “Detectives don’t always detect things,” said Jimmy, very truly. “If I couldn’t be any other kind I’d be a baffled detective. You could be one all right, and have no end of larks just the same. Why don’t you do it?” “It’s exactly what I am going to do,” said Gerald. “We’ll go round by the police-station and see what they’ve got in the way of crimes.” They did, and read the notices on the board outside. Two dogs had been lost, a purse, and a portfolio of papers “of no value to any but the owner.” Also Houghton Grange had been broken into and a quantity of silver plate stolen. “Twenty pounds reward offered for any information that may lead to the recovery of the missing property.”
You know pretty well what Beauty and the Beast would be like acted by four children who had spent the afternoon in arranging their costumes and so had left no time for rehearsing what they had to say. Yet it delighted them, and it charmed their audience. There is a curtain, thin as gossamer, clear as glass, strong as iron, that hangs for ever between the world of magic and the world that seems to us to be real. And when once people have found one of the little weak spots in that curtain which are marked by magic rings, and amulets, and the like, almost anything may happen.And what more can any play do, even Shakespeare’s?

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

2015 Challenges: Birthday Month Reading Challenge

Host: You, Me, and a Cup of Tea
Name: 2015 Birthday Month Reading Challenge (sign up here)
Dates: January - December 2015
# of Books: 12
Note to self: remember to leave links to reviews on her linkies post. 

January:
Zora Neale Hurston.
Their Eyes Were Watching God. Zora Neale Hurston. 1937. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]
Wilkie Collins
Jezebel's Daughter. Wilkie Collins. 1880. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]
February:
Charles Dickens
Hard Times. Charles Dickens. 1854/1992. Everyman's Library. 336 pages.  [Source: Library]
Laura Ingalls Wilder
On the Banks of Plum Creek. Laura Ingalls Wilder. 1937. 340 pages. [Source: Library]
March:
Dr. Seuss
The Cat In the Hat. Dr. Seuss. 1957. Random House. 61 pages.  [Source: Library]
Lois Lowry
The Giver. Lois Lowry. 1993. Houghton Mifflin. 180 pages. [Source: Library]  
April:
Beverly Cleary
Ramona the Pest. Beverly Cleary. 1968. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library] 
May:
Irene Hunt
Up A Road Slowly. Irene Hunt. 1966. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]
June:
Sarah Dessen
Saint Anything. Sarah Dessen. 2015. Penguin. 432 pages. [Source: Library]
July:
Josephine Tey
The Daughter of Time. Josephine Tey. 1951/1995. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Bought] 
August:
David Baldacci
Wish You Well. David Baldacci. 2000/2007. Grand Central Publishing. 432 pages. [Source: Library]September:
Jon Scieszka
The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs. Jon Scieszka. Illustrated by Lane Smith. 1989. 32 pages. [Source: Library]  
October:
Julie Andrews (Edwards)
The Great American Mousical. Julie Andrews Edwards. 2006. HarperCollins. 160 pages. [Source: Library]
November:
Louisa May Alcott
Eight Cousins. Louisa May Alcott. 1874. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
December: Connie Willis
Doomsday Book. Connie Willis. 1992. Random House. 592 pages.  [Source: Book I Bought]

Ideas for each month:
January
  • J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Wilkie Collins
February
  • Charles Dickens
  • Victor Hugo
  • Mo Willems
March
  • Dr. Seuss
  • Lois Lowry
April
  • Margaret Oliphant
  • Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Anthony Trollope
  • Beverly Cleary
  • Charlotte Bronte
  • Ngaio Marsh
May
  • Jerome K. Jerome
  • Pat Frank (Alas, Babylon)
  • Arthur Conan Doyle
June
  • Dorothy Sayers
  • Thomas Hardy
July
  • Josephine Tey
  • Erle Stanley Gardner
  • Candice F. Ransom
  • Joan Bauer
August
  •  Georgette Heyer
  • Orson Scott Card
  • E. Nesbit
  • Kenneth Oppel
  • Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
  • P.L. Travers
  • Diana Wynne Jones
September
  • Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Agatha Christie
  • Roald Dahl
  • Gail Carson Levine

October
  • Julie Andrews Edwards
  • Karen Cushman
  • Lois Lensky
  • Shel Silverstein
  • Jessica Day George
  • Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
  • Katherine Paterson
November
  • C.S. Lewis
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Astrid Lindgren
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Mark Twain
  • George Eliot
  • L.M. Montgomery
  • Louisa May Alcott
  • Neal Shusterman
December
  • Avi
  • Connie Willis
  • Carol Ryrie Brink
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • Mercer Mayer
  • Rex Stout
  • George MacDonald

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2015 Challenges: Hard Core Re-reading Challenge

Host: You, Me, and a Cup of Tea
Name: Hard Core Rereading Challenge (sign up here) (share links here)
Dates: January - December 2015 (books started before January do not count)
# of Books: Level 5; 50+ Rereading Coma
Note to self: check back to see about review linkies. MUST, MUST, MUST add links to reviews to the linkies.

What I (Actually) Reread
1. And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss
2. The Girl With The White Flag. Tomiko Higa. Translated by Dorothy Britton. 1989. 130 pages. [Source: Bought]
3. The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins. 1938/1965. Random House. 56 pages. [Source: Library]
4. The Trumpeter of Krakow. Eric P. Kelly. 1928. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
5. Millions of Cats. Wanda Gag. 1928. Penguin. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
6. Their Eyes Were Watching God. Zora Neale Hurston. 1937. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]
7) Horton Hatches An Egg. Dr. Seuss. 1940/1968. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
8) Trifles. A Play in One Act. Susan Glaspell. 1916. 20 pages. [Source: Read online]
9) The Worthing Saga. Orson Scott Card. 1990. Tor. 465 pages. [Source: Bought]
10)  To Dream in the City of Sorrows. (Babylon 5: Book #9). Kathryn M. Drennan. Based on the series by J. Michael Straczynski. 1997. Random House. 352 pages.  [Source: Bought]
11) On the Banks of Plum Creek. Laura Ingalls Wilder. 1937. 340 pages. [Source: Library]
12) The Warden. Anthony Trollope. 1855. Oxford World's Classics. 294 pages. [Source: Bought]
13) By the Shores of Silver Lake. Laura Ingalls Wilder. 1939. HarperCollins. 291 pages. [Source: Library]
14) The 100 Dresses. Eleanor Estes. Illustrated by Louis Slobodkin. 1944/2004. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 96 pages. [Source: Library]
15) Emil and Karl. Yankev Glatshteyn. Translated from the Yiddish by Jeffrey Shandler. 1940/2006. Roaring Book Press. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
16) Horton Hears A Who! Dr. Seuss. 1954. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
17) The Little Prince. Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Translated by Richard Howard. 1943/2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]
18) Enchantress from the Stars. Sylvia Louise Engdahl. 1970/2003. Penguin. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]
19) Fox in Socks. Dr. Seuss. 1965. Random House. 72 pages. [Source: Library]
20) The Magic Pudding. Norman Lindsay. 1918. 144 pages. [Source: Bought]
21) Hop On Pop. Dr. Seuss. 1963. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
22) Princess Academy. Shannon Hale. 2005. Bloomsbury. 314 pages. [Source: Library]
23) Palace of Stone. (Princess Academy #2) Shannon Hale. 2012. Bloomsbury. 323 pages. [Source: Library]
24) Sleep Book. Dr. Seuss. 1962. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
25) Christy. Catherine Marshall. 1967. 512 pages. [Source: Bought]
26) Ten Apples Up On Top! Dr. Seuss (Theo LeSeig). Illustrated by Roy McKie. 1961. Random House. 72 pages. [Source: Library]
27) The Sneetches and Other Stories. Dr. Seuss. 1961. Random House. 65 pages. [Source: Library]
28) B is for Betsy. Carolyn Haywood. 1939. 144 pages. [Source: Library]
29) Scarlet. A.C. Gaughen. 2012. Walker. 292 pages. [Source: Library]
30) Lady Thief. A.C. Gaughen. 2014. Walker Books. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]
31) Green Eggs and Ham. Dr. Seuss. 1960. Random House. 62 pages. [Source: Library]
32) Charlotte's Web. E.B. White. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1952. HarperCollins. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
33) The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. C.S. Lewis. 1950. HarperCollins. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
34) Prince Caspian. C.S. Lewis. 1951. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Bought]
35) One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish. Dr. Seuss. 1960. Random House. 60 pages. [Source: Library]
36) YUM: Your Ultimate Manual for Good Nutrition. Daina Kalnins. 2008. Lobster Press. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
37) Number the Stars. Lois Lowry. 1989. (Won Newbery in 1990) 137 pages. [Source: Bought]
38)  Beezus and Ramona. Beverly Cleary. 1955. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
39) Ramona the Pest. Beverly Cleary. 1968. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
40) Ramona the Brave. Beverly Cleary. 1975. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
41) Ramona and Her Father. Beverly Cleary. 1977. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
42) Ramona and Her Mother. Beverly Cleary. 1977. HarperCollins. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
43) Ramona Quimby, Age 8. Beverly Cleary. 1981. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
44) Ramona Forever. Beverly Cleary. 1984. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
45) Ramona's World. Beverly Cleary. 1999. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
46) Gospel: Recovering the Power That Made Christianity Revolutionary. J.D. Greear. Foreword by Timothy Keller. 2011. B&H Books. 266 pages. [Source: Bought]
47) Dragon Slippers. Jessica Day George. 2007. Bloomsbury USA. 324 pages. [Source: Library]
48) Dragon Flight. Jessica Day George. Bloomsbury USA. 272 pages. [Source: Library]
49)  Dragon Spear. Jessica Day George. 2009. Bloomsbury USA. 248 pages. [Source: Library]
50) The Cat In the Hat Comes Back. Dr. Seuss. 1958. Random House. 63 pages. [Source: Library]
51) The Giver. Lois Lowry. 1993. Houghton Mifflin. 180 pages. [Source: Library] 
52) Henry and Beezus. Beverly Cleary. 1952. HarperCollins. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
53) Little Town on the Prairie. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1941. 374 pages. [Source: Library]
54) These Happy Golden Years. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1943. HarperCollins. 289 pages. [Source: Library]
55) The Cat In the Hat. Dr. Seuss. 1957. Random House. 61 pages.  [Source: Library]
56) Ella Minnow Pea. Mark Dunn. 2001. Random House. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
57) The Long Winter. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1940. 335 pages. [Source: Library]
58)
59)
60)




What I Plan On Rereading: 

Georgette Heyer Novels I Want To Reread in 2015:
  1. Devil's Cub
  2. These Old Shades
  3. Frederica
  4. Venetia
  5. Civil Contract
  6. Sprig Muslin
  7. Black Sheep
  8. Masqueraders
  9. Cousin Kate
  10. Convenient Marriage
  11. False Colors
  12. Talisman Ring
Elizabeth Gaskell Novels I Want to Reread in 2015:
  1. Ruth
  2. Wives and Daughters
  3. North and South 
Anthony Trollope Novels I Want To Reread in 2015:
  1. Lady Anna
  2. He Knew He Was Right
  3. Belton Estate
Charles Dickens Novels I Want to Reread in 2015:
  1. Our Mutual Friend
  2. Bleak House
  3. Oliver Twist
Wilkie Collins Novels I Want To Reread in 2015:
  1. Woman in White
  2. Armadale
  3. Man and Wife
Mystery Novels I Want To Reread in 2015:
  1. Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
  2. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
  3. Some Buried Caesar by Rex Stout
  4. The Golden Spiders by Rex Stout
  5. Have His Carcase by Dorothy Sayers
  6. Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers
  7. The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers
  8. Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers
  9. Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers
Historical Novels I Want to Reread
  1. Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman
  2. London by Edward Rutherfurd
  3. Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd
  4. Gone with The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
Science Fiction Novels I Want To Reread in 2015
  1. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
  2. Worthing Saga by Orson Scott Card
  3. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
  4. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
  5. Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  6. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
  7. Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov
  8. Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov 
  9. Babylon 5: To Dream in the City of Sorrow by Kathryn M. Drennan
  10. Babylon 5: The Shadow Within by Jeanne Cavelos
  11. Bablyon 5: In the Beginning by Peter David
  12. Babylon 5: Legions of Fire: The Long Night of Centauri Prime by Peter David
  13. Babylon 5: Legions of Fire: Armies of Light and Dark by Peter David
  14. Babylon 5: Legions of Fire: Out of the Darkness by Peter David 
  15. Wool by Hugh Howey
  16. Shift by Hugh Howey
Fantasy Novels I Want to Reread in 2015
  1. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
  2. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
  3. The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan
  4. The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan
  5. The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
  6. The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan
  7. Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan
  8. A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan
  9. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
Children's Novels I Want to Reread in 2015 (I'm sure I'll be adding *more* to the list.)
  1. Welcome to the Grand View, Hannah by Mindy Warshaw Skolsky
  2. You're the Best, Hannah by Mindy Warshaw Skolsky
  3. Love From Your Friend, Hannah by Mindy Warshaw Skolsky
Dr. Seuss Books I Want to Reread in 2015
  1. 1937 -- And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street
  2. 1938 -- The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins
  3. 1939 -- The King's Stilts
  4. 1940 -- Horton Hatches An Egg
  5. 1947 -- McElligot's Pool
  6. 1948 -- Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose
  7. 1949 -- Bartholomew and the OObleck
  8. 1950 -- If I Ran The Zoo
  9. 1953 -- Scrambled Eggs Super
  10. 1954 -- Horton Hears a Who
  11. 1955 -- On Beyond a Zebra
  12. 1956 -- If I Ran the Circus
  13. 1957 -- How The Grinch Stole Christmas
  14. 1957 -- The Cat in the Hat
  15. 1958 -- The Cat In the Hat Comes Back
  16. 1958 -- Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories
  17. 1959 -- Happy Birthday to You
  18. 1960 -- One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
  19. 1960 -- Green Eggs and Ham
  20. 1961 -- The Sneetches and Other Stories
  21. 1961 -- Ten Apples Up On Top (Theo LeSieg)
  22. 1962 -- Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book
  23. 1963 -- Dr. Seuss's ABC
  24. 1963 -- Hop On Pop
  25. 1965 -- Fox in Socks
  26. 1965 -- I Wish That I Had Duck Feet (Theo LeSieg)
  27. 1965 -- I Had Trouble Getting to Solla Sollew
  28. 1968 -- The Foot Book
  29. 1969 -- I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today and Other Stories
  30. 1970  -- Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?
  31. 1971 -- The Lorax
  32. 1972 -- Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now
  33. 1972 -- In A People House (Theo LeSieg)
  34. 1973 -- Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are
  35. 1974 -- There's A Wocket in My Pocket
  36. 1974 -- Great Day for Up
  37. 1974 -- Wacky Wednesday (Theo LeSieg)
  38. 1975 -- Oh, The Thinks YOu Can Think!
  39. 1975 -- Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo (Rosetta Stone)
  40. 1975 -- Would You Rather Be A Bull Frog (Theo LeSieg)
  41. 1976 -- Hooper Humperdink…? Not Him (Theo LeSieg)
  42. 1977 -- Please Try to Remember the first of Octember (Theo LeSieg)
  43. 1978 -- I Can Read With My Eyes Shut
  44. 1979 -- Oh Say Can You Say
  45. 1980 -- Maybe You Should Fly A Jet (Theo LeSieg)
  46. 1981 -- The Tooth Book (Theo LeSieg)
  47. 1982 -- Hunches in Bunches
  48. 1984 -- The Butter Battle Book
  49. 1986 -- You're Only Old Once
  50. 1987 -- I Am Not Going To Get UP Today
  51. 1990 -- Oh, The Places You'll Go
  52. 1995 -- Daisy-Head Mayzie
  53. 1996 -- My Many Colored Days
  54. 1998 -- Hooray for Diffendoofer Day
  55. 2011 -- The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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What's On Your Nightstand (November)


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

Reviews Coming Soon...in December...

Brown Girl Dreaming. Jacqueline Woodson

Jane Austen's First Love by Syrie James

Princess in Black by Shannon Hale
Recently finished:

Tolkien: How An Obscure Oxford Professor Wrote the Hobbit and Became the Most Beloved Author of the Century. Devin Brown. Abingdon Press. 145 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I'll be reviewing this one at Operation Actually Read Bible this week or next. It was WONDERFUL.

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell. Review will be coming in January. (Yes, I'm all booked up for December already, at least at Becky's Book Reviews.)

 Operation Bunny (Wings & Co. #1) Sally Gardner. Review will be coming in January.

Sleep In Peace Tonight. James MacManus. Review will be in January.

Currently Reading:

Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Mortal Heart (2014)

Mortal Heart. Robin LaFevers. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 464 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I liked it. I did. I really did. But I'm not sure I LOVED it. I do think it met my expectations, however. I expected it to focus on Annith. I expected it to uniquely tell her story, reveal more of who she is, and what makes her strong. And readers definitely get that. How did Annith come to the convict? What was it like for her to spend her entire life at the convent, to not know what life outside was like? What was it like for her to train all those years, to see others come and go? Has she had an easier time of it than Ismae and Sybella? Why is Annith never the one chosen to go on assignment, long-term or short-term assignment? Does not being chosen mean she's too weak or not trustworthy enough in the Abbess' mind? How does she cope with waiting? These questions are all answered in the third book of the trilogy. If you've dared to find Annith boring or obedient in previous books, you'll be challenged.

I did come to like Annith, to appreciate her story. (Sybella's story, I believe, remains my favorite.) And I did like the romance. I don't think I can say one word about the romance. If you haven't read it, then that might make no sense since usually, I don't consider naming a potential love interest a spoiler. But if you have read it, you probably can guess why I'm afraid of spoiling things. I will say I thought it was well done. I wasn't disappointed by it. (I think Sybella and Beast remain my favorite couple, however.)

I also really liked that half the book brings us back into company with Ismae and Duval and Sybella and the Beast. The first half of the book covers almost the same time period as Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph. The last half is more of a sequel, the plot progresses forward. Readers spend time with Duchess Anne and those close to her. What does Brittany's future look like? Will Anne ever have enough military support to hold onto Brittany's independence? Will the French be successful? How many will lose their lives in war to fight for the country they love?

While all three books have teased readers with mythology, with world-building, this one I think does so even more. I solidly like it. I do. I would definitely recommend people finish the series if they've enjoyed the previous books.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, November 24, 2014

2015 Challenges: TBR Pile

Host: Roof Beam Reader
Name: 2015 TBR Pile (sign up here) Note to self: actually go and share review links each month
Dates: January - December 2015
# of books: 12 to 14

My list of twelve:

Rachel Ray by Anthony Trollope. 1863. 403 pages. [Source: Bought]

Miss Marjoribanks. Margaret Oliphant. 1865. 512 pages. [Source: Bought]

Footsteps in the Dark. Georgette Heyer. 1932. 336 pages. [Source: Bought]

Green for Danger. Christianna Brand. 1944. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]

Georgette Heyer. Jennifer Kloester. 2013. 464 pages. [Source: Bought]

Escape from Sobibor. Richard Rashke. 1982/1995. 416 pages. [Source: Bought]

The Nazi Officer's Wife. Edith Hahn Beer. 1999. 305 pages. [Source: Bought]

The New World (History of the English Speaking Peoples, Vol. 2) Winston Churchill. 1956. 400 pages. [Source: Bought]

Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze. Elizabeth Foreman Lewis. 1932. SquareFish. 306 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I, Juan de Pareja.  Elizabeth Borton de Trevino. 1965. SquareFish. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Thimble Summer. Elizabeth Enright. 1938. SquareFish. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]

 Schindler's List. Thomas Keneally. 1982. 429 pages. [Source: Bought]

My two alternates:

Ayala's Angel. Anthony Trollope. 1881. 631 pages. [Source: Bought]

The Silmarillion. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1977. 386 pages. [Source: Bought]


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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The Man Who Invented Christmas (2008)

The Man Who Invented Christmas. Les Standiford. 2008. Crown. 241 pages. [Source: Library]

Different readers will have different expectations when they see the full title of this one: The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits.

The focus is not so much on Christmas, as it is on Charles Dickens: his private and public life, his writing career, his inspirations, his fears and worries, his relationship with his publishers. The focus isn't solely on A Christmas Carol. Yes, this work gets discussed in detail. But the same can be said of many of Dickens' novels. The book, despite the title, focuses on Dickens' career as a writer or novelist. This book mentions and in some cases discusses most of Dickens' published works. Not just his books published BEFORE A Christmas Carol, but his whole career.

A Christmas Carol gets special treatment in this one, perhaps, not because it has a Christmas theme, but, because it is a significant to his career. Before A Christmas Carol, he'd had a few really big bestsellers. But. He'd also experienced some failures. His last three books were disappointing to his fans. They didn't sell as well. The critics didn't like them. His publishers were discouraged and worried. Dickens needed his next book to be something wonderful, something that would sell, something that would be loved by one and all. He needed a success: a feel-good success, something to give him confidence and something to give his publishers confidence in him again, and a financial success, something to get him out of debt, something to pay his bills.

The secondary focus of this one is not Christmas. Readers might expect it to be related to Christmas, the history of Christmas, its invention, or reinvention. But. Something gets more time and attention than Christmas. And that is the writing and/or publishing industry. The book gives readers a history lesson in publishing. How books were written, illustrated, printed, published, sold. Not just what went on BEFORE it was published, but also what typically happened next. How novels were adapted to the stage by others, by many others. How little control--if any--that the publisher and author had over their books, their stories, their characters and plots. Plays could do justice, at times, to the books they were based upon. But they could also be absolutely dreadful. The lack of copyright laws or international copyright laws. How publishers in other countries could steal entire books, republish them, not paying the author anything at all. The book even has a chapter or two on fan fiction. Not that he calls it fan fiction. But he writes of how other writers could "borrow" characters and give them further adventures and publish them.

Does the book talk about Christmas at all? Yes. It does. It tells of two extremes: those in the past who celebrated Christmas too wildly, too wantonly, and those in the past who refused to celebrate it all, who would have it be illegal. Either extreme seems a bit hard to believe, perhaps, for modern readers. The book tells of traditions. Some traditions being somewhat established before A Christmas Carol, and other traditions becoming more established by being described in A Christmas Carol. What I probably found most interesting was his mention of how traditionally it was goose served for the Christmas feast UNTIL the publishing of A Christmas Carol. When Scrooge buys a turkey to give to Bob Cratchit and his family, it seems he inspired his readers to change their traditions. Turkeys becoming more and more popular.

For readers interested in the life and death of Charles Dickens, his whole career, this one has some appeal. It provides plenty of details about his books and the publishing industry, how he was received by the public.

For readers looking for a quick, feel-good holiday read, this one may prove to be a chore to get through.

I liked it well enough. I've read a good many of his novels. I have some interest in his life. It worked for me. It was packed with plenty of information.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Perpetual Challenge: Victorian Bingo

Host: Becky's Book Reviews
Name: Perpetual Victorian Bingo (sign up)
Dates: for me--any book read from January 1, 2014 on
# of books: minimum 8, I'd love to get multiple bingos or even fill up the whole card!!!

My card for 2014.

1837
1838
1839
1840
1841
1842
1843
A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens. 1843. 96 pages. [Source: Bought] (review coming late November)
1844
1845
1846
1847
Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte. 1847.  300 pages. [Source: Own] (review coming late December)
1849
1850
1851
1852
1853
1854
A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens. 1854/2003. Bantam Classics. 382 pages. [Source: Bought]
North and South. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1854-1855. 452 pages. [Source: Bought]
Hard Times. Charles Dickens. 1854/1992. Everyman's Library. 336 pages.  [Source: Library
1855
The Warden. Anthony Trollope. 1855. Oxford World's Classics. 294 pages. [Source: Bought]
1856
A Rogue's Life. Wilkie Collins. 1856. 159 pages. [Source: Book I bought]
1857
1858
1859
The Semi-Detached House. Emily Eden. 1859. 172 pages. [Source: Bought] 
1860
1861
1862
No Name. Wilkie Collins. 1862/1998. Oxford University Press. 748 pages.
1863
Rachel Ray by Anthony Trollope. 1863. 403 pages. [Source: Bought]
1864
1865
1866
The Belton Estate. Anthony Trollope. 1866/1993. Penguin. 432 pages. [Source: Bought]
Miss Marjoribanks. Margaret Oliphant. 1866. 512 pages. [Source: Bought]
1867
1868
1869
Stepping Heavenward. Mrs. Elizabeth Prentiss. 1869/1998. Barbour Books. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]   
1870
1871
1872
1873
The Eustace Diamonds. Anthony Trollope. 1873. 794 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
1874
Phineas Redux. Anthony Trollope. 1874. 768 pages. [Source: Book I bought]
1875
The Law and the Lady. Wilkie Collins. 1875. 430 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
1876
The Prime Minister. Anthony Trollope. 1876. 864 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]   
1877
Black Beauty. Anna Sewell. 1877. 245 pages. [Source: Bought] 
1878
Is He Popenjoy? Anthony Trollope. 1878/1993. Penguin. 632 pages. [Source: Bought]
1879
1880
The Duke's Children. Anthony Trollope. 1880. 560 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
Jezebel's Daughter. Wilkie Collins. 1880. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]
1881
Ayala's Angel. Anthony Trollope. 1881. 631 pages. [Source: Bought]
1882
1883
1884
1885
1886
1887
1888
1889
1890
1891
1892
1893
1894
1895
1896
1897
1898
1899
The Story of the Treasure Seekers. E. Nesbit. 1899. Puffin. 250 pages. [Source: Bought]
1900
1901
Melisande. E. Nesbit. Illustrated by P.J. Lynch. 1901/1988/1999. Candlewick. 48 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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