Friday, December 15, 2017

2018 Reading Challenge: Dread & Read Challenge

2018 Dread and Read Challenge
Host: Hotchpot Cafe (sign up) Be sure to link to all book reviews.
Dates: January - December 2018
# of books: I'm aiming for 4

1. Arabian Nights, Anonymous (800)
I'm not "dreading" this one so much as the length of it intimidates me.
2. The Tempest by William Shakespeare (1610)
It's not the length this time, but the language. I've read and reread the same eight or so Shakespeare plays but tackling new ones isn't something I do often.
3. Clarissa. Samuel Richardson. 1748.
The length. Definitely the length.
4. Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo (1831)
I love and adore Les Miserables, so why am I so hesitant to read this one? I don't know. I just am.
5. Old Curiosity Shop. Charles Dickens. 1840-41.
This isn't a Dickens I'm looking forward to because I've heard things about Little Nell.
6.  Shirley by Charlotte Bronte (1849)
I love Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. I've never read her other works. Am I afraid they'll disappoint? Maybe.
7. Villette by Charlotte Bronte (1853)
Same as above.
8. Sylvia's Lovers. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1863.
I think I'm "dreading" reading this one because it's the last of Gaskell's novels that I haven't read. And I'm putting off reading "the last one."
9. Romola. George Eliot. 1863.
I want to like George Eliot. But I don't always. I own all of her books, and it feels wrong to have them just sitting around taunting me.
10. Crime and Punishment. Fyodor Dostoyevsky. 1866.
I read Dostoyevsky for the first time last year. I want to read more. Part of me doesn't know where to start or what to read next.
11. The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy (1921)
I have owned this one since college days.
12. Raintree County by Ross Lockridge Jr. (1948)
I know nothing about this one except it's long--very long. So I'm not sure it's fair to say I'm dreading it. I'm not. I just want incentive to get it read this year. 

Treats I Like:
  • Tea. Since my diet is restricted so much because of food sensitivities and allergies, I really cherish my tea time. Tea is almost always gluten-free, dairy free, and egg-free. (I'm also allergic to cashews. But so far, that's the only nut that seems to cause a reaction.)
  • Book-marks. Doesn't really need an explanation, does it? I think I still have every bookmark I've ever received as a gift or bought for myself. 
  • Post-it Notes. Pens. Pads. Almost goes without saying. I love post-it-notes because I use them to tag pages in books I want to quote in a review. Pens and Paper because I still make lists the old-fashioned way. 

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Picture Book Parade

Option 1:
  • What picture books did you read this month?
  • Which squares did you fill?
  • Which squares are you having trouble with?
  • How many until you bingo?
  • Do you have suggestions for other participants?

Option 2:
  • What picture books did you read this month?
  • Which categories did you check off your list?
  • What is your goal? How close are you to meeting that goal?
  • Which categories are you having trouble with?
  • Do you have suggestions for other participants?

Option 3:
  • What picture books did you read this month?
  • Which letters have you read?
  • How many more to go until you've read the alphabet?
  • Which letters are you having trouble with? 
  • Do you have suggestions for other participants?
Books read since last time:
  1. Sophie's Surprise. Lee Richardson. Illustrated by Shirley Holt. 1983. 28 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. Deck the Halls. Illustrated by Veronica Vasylenko. 2011. 18 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. The Merry Christmas Mystery. (Winnie the Pooh) Betty G. Birney. Illustrated by Nancy Stevenson. 1993. 24 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. There Are Cats In This Book. Viviane Schwarz. 2008. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. There Are No Cats In This Book. Viviane Schwarz. 2010. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  6. The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC's (the Hard Way). Patrick McDonnell. 2017. Little, Brown. 48 pages. [Source: Library]  
  7. This Is My Book! Mark Pett. 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Library] 
  8. Here Comes The Easter Cat. Deborah Underwood. Illustrated by Claudia Rueda.  2014.  80 pages. [Source: Library]
  9. Here Comes Valentine Cat. Deborah Underwood. 2015. 88 pages. [Source: Library]  
  10. Here Comes the Tooth Fairy Cat. Deborah Underwood. Illustrated by Claudia Rueda. 2015. 96 pages. [Source: Library]
  11. How The Queen Found the Perfect Cup of Tea. Kate Hosford. Illustrated by Gabi Swiatkowska. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  12. The Little Reindeer. Nicola Killen. 2017. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  13. Pick a Pine Tree. Patricia Toht. Illustrated by Jarvis. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  14. Norman the Slug with the Silly Shell. Sue Hendra. 2017. (2011 UK) 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  15. Max at School (Max and Ruby). Rosemary Wells. Illustrated by Andrew Grey. 2017. [Oct. 24] 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  16. The Santa Claus Book. Eileen Daly. Illustrated by Florence Sarah Winship. 1972. 24 pages. [Source: Bought]
  17. Here Comes Santa Cat. Deborah Underwood. 2014. 88 pages. [Source: Library]  
  18. This is the Kiss. Claire Harcup. Illustrated by Gabriel Alborozo. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  19. I'm Sorry. Gina Mayer and Mercer Mayer. 1995. 24 pages. [Source: Bought]
  20. Milly and the Macy's Parade. Shana Corey. Illustrated by Brett Helquist. 2002. 40 pages. [Source: Bought]
  21. 88 Instruments. Chris Barton. Illustrated by Louis Thomas. 2016. 32 pages. [Source: Library]  
  22. I Can Read With My Eyes Shut. Dr. Seuss. 1978. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Dear Fahrenheit 451

Dear Fahrenheit 451: Love and Heartbreak in the Stacks: A Librarian's Love Letters and Breakup Notes to the Books in Her Life. Annie Spence. 2017. 256 pages. [Source: Library]

Premise/plot: Most of the book consists of "letters" to various books from the author's life--personal and professional, read and unread. Some letters are 100% snark. Others are more sentimental and gushy. A good many contain profanity, the profanity that isn't so much necessary (warranted) as deemed entertaining and "cool."

My thoughts:

Dear Fahrenheit 451,
I wanted to love you. I mean just LOOK at that cover. It promises great things. And it wasn't just your cover I was drawn to, it was also your premise. A book about books, what is there not to love? But I could have done with a little more sincerity and a little less snark. Don't get me wrong, I can appreciate snark. But it has its time and place. A pickle goes great with many meals, but who would want to eat a meal consisting solely of pickles?!
What I loved best was the premise. I would love to start writing letters to the books in my life--past and present. I think I will.
I do think you will find a readership. There are plenty of readers--of all ages--who will find themselves nodding their heads, smiling, wanting to read some of your passages aloud to anyone and everyone who will listen, or pretend to listen. (I loved her letter to Color Me Beautiful).


Favorite quotes:
[Dear Miss Maple Series,]
Who would have thought a gossipy spinster from St. Mary Mead could bring us all together? Sometimes I wonder if the library could get by on a collection that was just you, A Child Called It, The Five Love Languages, and some Rick Steve travel DVDs. Honestly, I think we'd make it a week before someone complained. But you're my favorite, Miss M. My good-time gal. Props, Annie. (18-9)
Dear Frog and Toad Storybook Treasury,
I've been with a lot of books and had other characters who've imprinted themselves on my heart. But your main character Toad is my spirit animal. For starters, we are both pear shaped. But it's so much more than body types. Toad's very character aligns so closely with my own that I find myself going to some of your stories for advice. What would Toad do, I ask myself, when faced with a challenge. Would he go home and sleep or make some food? Either way, it's excellent counsel...(42-3)
Dear Fahrenheit 451,
Don't ever change. And stay here with us, always. You were created in a library, and I'm comforted by the fact that you'll remain on library shelves around the world...(85-6)
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Thursday, December 14, 2017

Raid of No Return

Raid of No Return. (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #7) Nathan Hale. 2017. [November] Abrams. 128 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: On March 8th, 1862, near the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay, the confederate ironclad CSS Virginia steamed into battle.

Premise/plot: Raid of No Return is part of a graphic-novel historical series written by Nathan Hale and starring Nathan Hale. Nathan Hale is joined by his executioners. He is delaying his execution by telling super-exciting action-packed stories from history, from the future. In this seventh adventure, he is turning to the second world war. This book is ALL about the Doolittle Raid or the Tokyo Raid of 1942. The adventure begins with the Japanese training to attack the United States.

My thoughts: I love, love, love this series. This is a good addition to that series. I love that the book follows all sixteen planes and their crews that took part in the raid. A few of the names were familiar to me, but not all of them. I would definitely recommend this one to anyone who enjoys history. You don't have to "love" graphic novels to be swept up into this story. 

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Wednesday, December 13, 2017

The Nutcracker Mice

The Nutcracker Mice. Kristin Kladstrup. Illustrated by Brett Helquist. 2017. [October 24] 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: There were mice at the Mariinsky.

Premise/plot: The Nutcracker Mice is set in Saint Petersburg, Russia in 1892. It takes place mostly in the theatre. A new ballet is about to premiere, The Nutcracker. The humans and the mice are hard at work on their productions. The mice face a more difficult challenge. They fear mice will not come to see--pay to see--a play where mice are the villains and are killed. They also fear that mice that are interested in seeing the new ballet, would choose to see the humans--with their elaborate costumes and sets--perform for free. And then there's the challenge of staying alive in the first place--finding enough food and avoiding mouse traps.

The heroine of The Nutcracker Mice is a young mouse named Esmerelda. She befriends a young girl, Irina, the daughter of a janitor and costume maker. Esmerelda's quick-thinking may just save the day.

My thoughts: I really LOVED this one. I loved, loved, loved that Esmerelda and the mice decided to rewrite the Nutcracker, to adapt it to suit their audience. This one was just satisfying to read. I loved every minute of it. Much like I love every minute of the Nutcracker Suite. 

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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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