Friday, November 17, 2017

2018 Challenges: Read It Again, Sam

Read It Again, Sam
Host: My Reader's Block (sign up here)
Dates: January - December 2018
# of books: A Trip Down Memory Lane: Reread 12 books

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.



© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2018 Reading Challenge: TBR Pile Challenge (RoofbeamReader)

The Official 2018 TBR Pile Challenge
Host: Adam (Roof Beam Reader) sign up here
Dates: January 2018 - December 2018
# of Books: 12 (+2 alternates)
Note to self: MONTHLY CHECK-INS ON THE 15TH
Another note to self: On Social Media, please use #TBR2018RBR

I am not foolish enough to think that the first list of books will remain THE official list of books heading into the new year, though I like to think that at least half of them will stick. But here is my post announcing my intentions of joining. The list will be must be finalized by January 15, 2018.

_ 1. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (1952)
_ 2. Show Boat by Edna Ferber (1926)
_ 3. Orley Farm by Anthony Trollope (1862)
_ 4. Sylvia's Lovers by Elizabeth Gaskell (1863)
_ 5. The Struggles of Brown, Jones, and Robinson by Anthony Trollope (1862)
_ 6. Raintree County. Ross Lockridge (1948)
_ 7. Richard the Third by Paul Murray Kendall (1955) 
_ 8. How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn. 1939.
_ 9. Tender Victory by Taylor Caldwell (1956)
_ 10. Crystal Cave. Mary Stewart. 1970.
_ 11. On the Beach. Nevil Shute. 1957.
_ 12. Complete Brothers Grimm Fairy Tales. 1812.
alternates
_ 13 Romola by George Eliot (1863)
_ 14. The Forsyte Saga by John Galsworthy (1921)

Feel free to copy/paste this. You can replace the _ with an X or a ✔ (copy/paste it) when you finish reading a book.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, November 16, 2017

Children of Refuge

Children of Refuge. Margaret Peterson Haddix. 2017. Simon & Schuster. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: The man lunged out of the darkness to grab me as I ran by.

Premise/plot: Children of Refuge is a companion novel to Margaret Peterson Haddix's Children of Exile. The narrator of this second novel is Edwy, Rosi's skeptic friend. Edwy hasn't been in Cursed Town long before he disappears--is kidnapped. Rosi hasn't a clue where he's disappeared to, if he's dead or alive. Readers aren't kept in the dark long; Edwy's father has "kidnapped" him and sent him away to Refuge City, to be with his older brother (Enu) and sister (Kiandra). Refuge City is nothing like Cursed Town. Most of the book is about Edwy discovering--uncovering--secrets and searching for the truth.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I'm not sure I loved, loved, loved it. But it had plenty of action, especially towards the end. (Earlier action is more like Edwy playing basketball, video games, talking to his sister, and going to a soup kitchen.) If you enjoy your science fiction with aliens, this is a solid read.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, November 15, 2017

2017 Completed Challenge: Back to Classics


Back to the Classics 2017
Host: Books and Chocolate (sign up)
January - December 2017
# of books: 6-12
Russian Classic: We. Yevgeny Zamyatin. Translated by Clarence Brown. 1924/1993. 225 pages. [Source: Bought]
Romance classic: The Kellys and the O'Kellys. Anthony Trollope. 1848. 537 pages. [Source: Bought]
A 20th Century Classic -  A Canticle for Leibowitz. Walter M. Miller Jr. 1959. 335 pages. [Source: Bought]
An award-winning classic.(Newbery) Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. Jean Lee Latham. 1955. 251 pages. [Source: Bought]
A classic with a number in the title. Twelve Angry Men. Reginald Rose. 1954/2006. 79 pages. [Source: Library]
A classic about an animal or which includes the name of an animal in the title.   Stuart Little. E.B. White. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1945. 131 pages. [Source: Library]
A 19th Century Classic -  La Vendee. Anthony Trollope. 1850. 512 pages. [Source: Bought]
A classic set in a place you'd like to visit. Barchester Towers. Anthony Trollope. 1857. 418 pages. [Source: Bought]
A classic in translationThe Adolescent. Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. 1875/2004. 647 pages. [Source: Library]
A Gothic or horror classic.  Great Expectations. Charles Dickens. 1860. 640 pages. [Source: Library]
Classic Published Before 1800. The Bruised Reed. Richard Sibbes. 1630. [Source: Bought]
3.  A classic by a woman author. Adam Bede. George Eliot. 1859. 624 pages. [Source: Bought]

contact info (if I win) laney_po AT yahoo DOT com


© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Picture Book Check-In

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?
Everyone:

Would you be interested in a similar picture book challenge next year? Or not so much?

First, an announcement: the 2018 Picture Book Reading Challenge sign-up has been posted.

Now for the books I've read since last time:
  1. Where Teddy Bears Come From. Mark Burgess. Illustrated by Russell Ayto. 2009. Peachtree Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. The Aristocats: A Counting Book. Walt Disney Productions Presents. 1970. Whitman Tell-a-Tale Book. 26 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. On This Special Night. Claire Freedman. Illustrated by Simon Mendez. 2009. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. Julius. Syd Hoff. (An I Can Read Book) 1959. 64 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. Lambert The Sheepish Lion. Bill Peet. Walt Disney Company. 1970/1977. 42 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  6.  I Took My Frog to the Library. Eric A. Kimmel. Illustrated by Blanche Sims. 1990. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]
  7. The Log and Admiral Frog. B. Wiseman. 1961. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]
  8. Sleeping Beauty. Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Erin McGuire. 2017. Disney-Hyperion. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  9. The Little Red Hen. Lucinda McQueen. 1985. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]
  10. Paul's Christmas Birthday. Carol Carrick. Illustrated by Donald Carrick. 1978. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  11. Robinson. Peter Sis. 2017. Scholastic. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  12. The Hole Story. Paul Bright. Illustrated by Bruce Ingman. 2016. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  13. Machines at Work. Byron Barton. 1987. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  14. I Was So Mad. Mercer Mayer. 1983. Random House. 24 pages. [Source: Bought]
  15. School Bus. Donald Crews. 1984. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]
  16. Too Many Cats. Leah Raechel Killen. 1988. 30 pages. [Source: Bought]
  17. Life. Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Brendan Wenzel. 2017. 48 pages. [Source: Library]  
  18. I Won't Eat That. Christopher Silas Neal. 2017. [November] 
  19. The Quilt Story. Tony Johnston. Illustrated by Tomie dePaola. 1985. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]
  20. If You See A Kitten. John Butler. 2002. Peachtree. 24 pages. [Source: Library]
  21. Big Cat. Ethan Long. 2016. 24 pages. [Source: Library]
  22. Babies Can Sleep Anywhere. Lisa Wheeler. Illustrated by Carolin Buzio. 2017. Harry N. Abrams. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  23. Groovy Joe: Ice Cream and Dinosaurs. Eric Litwin. Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. 2016. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  24. The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse. Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]  
  25. Happy Dreamer. Peter H. Reynolds. 2017. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  26. Hug This Book. Barney Saltzberg. Illustrated by Fred Benaglia. 2016. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  27. Tinyville Town: Gets to Work! Brian Biggs. 2016. Abrams. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  28. Baby Goes to Market. Atinuke. Illustrated by Angela Brooksbank. 2017. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  29. Imagine That! How Dr. Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat. Judy Sierra. Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. 2017. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  30. Board Book: I'm Sunny. (My First Comics) Jennifer L. Holm. 2016. 22 pages. [Source: Library]
  31. Board book: I'm Grumpy. (My First Comics) Jennifer L. Holm. 2016. 22 pages. [Source: Library]
  32. Found Dogs. Erica Sirotich. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  33. Follow the Track All The Way Back. Timothy Knapman. Illustrated by Ben Mantle. 2017. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  34. World Pizza. Cece Meng. Illustrated by Ellen Shi. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]  
  35. Creation. Cynthia Rylant. 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  36. Nativity. Cynthia Rylant. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2018 Reading Challenge: Victorian

Victorian Reading Challenge
Host: Becky's Book Reviews
Duration: January - December 2018
Goal: Read a minimum of 4 Victorian books

I'm signing up for Option B. I'll be focusing on ANTHONY TROLLOPE.

_ Framley Parsonage. Anthony Trollope. 1861.
_ The Struggles of Brown, Jones & Robinson. Anthony Trollope 1862
_ Orley Farm. Anthony Trollope. 1862
_ Rachel Ray. Anthony Trollope. 1863
_ The Small House at Allington. Anthony Trollope. 1864.
_ Can You Forgive Her? Anthony Trollope. 1865.
_ Miss MacKenzie. Anthony Trollope. 1865
_ The Belton Estate. Anthony Trollope. 1866.
_ The Last Chronicle of Barset. 1867.
_ The Claverings. Anthony Trollope. 1867
_ Nina Balatka. Anthony Trollope. 1867.
_ Linda Tressel. Anthony Trollope. 1868.
_ Phineas Finn. Anthony Trollope. 1869.
_ He Knew He Was Right. Anthony Trollope. 1869. 

I'll also be focusing on the 1860s

_ The Woman in White. Wilkie Collins (1860)
_ Mill on the Floss. George Eliot. 1860.
_ Silas Marner. George Eliot. 1861. 
_ Les Miserables, Victor Hugo, translated by Julie Rose. 1862/2008.
_ No Name. Wilkie Collins. (1862)
_ Sylvia's Lovers. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1863.
_ Doctor's Family. Margaret Oliphant. 1863.
_ Romola. George Eliot. 1863.
_ The Perpetual Curate. Margaret Oliphant. 1864.
_ Our Mutual Friend. Charles Dickens. 1864-65
_ Wives and Daughters. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1865.
_ Miss Marjoribanks. Margaret Oliphant. 1866.
_ Armadale. Wilkie Collins. 1866.
_ Crime and Punishment. Fyodor Dostoyevsky. 1866.
_ Felix Holt. George Eliot. 1866. 
_ The Moonstone. Wilkie Collins. 1868.
_ The Idiot. Fyodor Dostoyevsky. 1869.
_ Little Women. Louisa May Alcott. 1869.

 If I need even more books to *try* to read: I can refer to these lists
1860
1861
1862
1863
1864
1865
1866
1867
1868
1869

If by some miracle I need even MORE books to read: I can shift focus to the 1850s.

Feel free to copy/paste this. You can replace the _ with an X or a ✔ (copy/paste it) when you finish reading a book.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Children of Exile

Children of Exile. Margaret Peterson Haddix. 2016. Simon & Schuster. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: We weren't orphans after all. That was the first surprise. The second was that we were going home.

Premise/plot: Rosi and Bobo are two of many children who are being sent back home to their real parents. For the past twelve years, the children have been raised not by their birth parents, their "real parents" but by the Freds of Fredtown. The children range in ages and reactions. Some are hopeful; some are angry. A few are very, very suspicious. Among the most suspicious is a boy named Edwy. Rosi is typically annoyed with Edwy's conspiracies and negativity. But she changes her mind after arriving "back home." Nothing in Fredtown could have prepared her for the harsh, cruel "real" world of her parents. And assimilation is not easy. Are the children safe? Are their lives now in danger?

My thoughts: Haddix's novels are always--or almost always--quick and compelling reads. Even if the plot later falls apart as you think more and more about the characters, the story, the writing. For better or worse, I'm rarely plagued with questions and doubts as I read the book itself. Did I love Children of Exile. I don't know now. Ask me later. As in when I've finished the second book in the series. Personally, I'd rather have one large book that tells a whole story than two smaller books that just tease you and leave you frustrated.
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, November 14, 2017

2018 Reading Challenges: Good Rule

Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up)
Duration: January 2018 - December 2018
Inspiration: It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones. C.S. Lewis
# of books: readers decide
1. I want a yearly challenge based on genres.
2. I will set the goal number of books based on genres. Once I meet my goals, I *may* adopt a whatever-I-want-to-read approach. Or adapt my goals.

Board books and picture books = 200 (150 new; 50 old)
Early readers and chapter books = 40 (30 new; 10 old)
Contemporary (general/realistic) = 20 (15 new; 5 old)
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy) = 52 (39 new; 13 old)
Historical fiction = 52 (26 new; 26 old)
Mysteries = 36 (18 new; 18 old)
Nonfiction = 20 (15 new; 5 old)
Total: 420

I will keep track of my Christian fiction and nonfiction at Operation Actually Read Bible. As well as my Bibles.

3. Depends on the genre. May change this once the challenge starts. Right now mostly 75% new, 25% old.

4. Depends on the genre--my definition of "old" and "new."
Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007

5. DONE and then some!

6. My structured posts which will take the place of monthly reflection posts but NOT week in review posts.
Books Read in 2018
Early readers and early chapter books:
Contemporary (general/realistic) fiction, all ages:
Speculative Fiction (fantasy, science fiction, etc.) all ages:
Historical fiction, all ages:
Mysteries, all ages:
Nonfiction, all ages:

7. Goodread's shelves: old and new

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2018 Reading Challenge: Alphabet Soup

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge (2018)
Host: Escape with Dollycas (sign up here)
January 2018 - December 2018
# of books: 26+ I am going to try for 3 bowls of soup

Bowl #1 Board Books and Picture Books (Fiction/nonfiction)

A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
W
X
Y
Z

Bowl #2 Children's and Middle Grade (fiction/nonfiction)

A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
W
X
Y
Z

Bowl #3 Young Adult and Adult (Fiction/Nonfiction)

A
B
C
D
E
F
G
H
I
J
K
L
M
N
O
P
Q
R
S
T
U
V
W
X
Y
Z

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2018 Reading Challenge: Middle Grade

Girl reading a book by Federico Zandomeneghi
Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up)
Duration: January - December 2018
# of books: minimum of 6


Feel free to copy/paste this. You can replace the _ with an X or a ✔ (copy/paste it) when you finish reading a book. If you list the books you read, that may help other people decide what to read.

_1. Title beginning with A
_2. Author beginning with A
_3. Title beginning with B
_4. Author beginning with B
_5. Title beginning with C
_6. Author beginning with C
_7. Title beginning with D
_8. Author beginning with D
_9. Title beginning with E
_10. Author beginning with E
_11. Title beginning with F
_12. Author beginning with F
_13. Title beginning with G
_14. Author beginning with G
_15. Title beginning with H
_16. Author beginning with H
_17. Title beginning with I
_18. Author beginning with I
_19. Title beginning with J
_20. Author beginning with J
_21. Title beginning with K
_22. Author beginning with K
_23. Title beginning with L
_24. Author beginning with L
_25. Title beginning with M
_26. Author beginning with M
_27. Title beginning with N
_28. Author beginning with N
_29. Title beginning with O
_30. Author beginning with O
_31. Title beginning with P
_32. Author beginning with P
_33. Title or Author beginning with Q
_34. Title beginning with R
_35. Author beginning with R
_36. Title beginning with S
_37. Author beginning with S
_38. Title beginning with T
_39. Author beginning with T
_40. Title or Author beginning with U
_41. Title or Author beginning with V or W
_42. Title or Author beginning with X or “Ex”
_43. Title beginning with Y
_44. Author beginning with Y
_45. Title or Author beginning with Z
_46. 2018 Newbery Winner or Honor
_47. Newbery Winner or Honor from 2010-2017
_48. Newbery Winner or Honor from 2000-2009
_49. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1990-1999
_50. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1980-1989
_51. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1970-1979
_52. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1960-1969
_53. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1950-1959
_54. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1940-1949
_55. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1932-1939
_56. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1922-1931
_57. Notable Children's Book from 2018 or 2017
_ 58. Any book by a Wilder Award author
_ 59. verse novel
_ 60. graphic novel
_ 61. biography or memoir
_ 62. nonfiction
_ 63. poetry
_ 64. audio book
_ 65. first in a series
_ 66. any book in a series
_ 67. last book in a series
_ 68. favorite author
_ 69. new to you author
_ 70. British author
_ 71. Australian author
_ 72. Canadian author
_ 73. translated into English from another language
_ 74. American author
_ 75. set in the state you live
_ 76. set in a place you'd like to visit
_ 77. set in an imaginary place you'd like to visit
_ 78. picture book for older readers
_ 79. book about a pet
_ 80. animal fantasy
_ 81. fantasy
_ 82. alternate reality
_ 83. science fiction
_ 84. adventure
_ 85. action/suspense
_ 86. mystery/detective
_ 87. realistic fiction
_ 88. school setting
_ 89. multiple points of view
_ 90. historical fiction -- world war I
_ 91. historical fiction -- world war II
_ 92. historical fiction, your choice
_ 93. historical fiction, mystery or suspense
_ 94. oh the sads
_ 95. happy, happy ending
_ 96. laugh until you cry
_ 97. coming of age
_ 98. "diary" or "notebook"
_ 99. classic, your choice
_ 100. out of print
_ 101. library book
_ 102. impulse pick
_ 103. published in 2018
_ 104. YOUR pick for Newbery 2019

Bonus/alternate picks:
_ made into a good movie
_ made into a horrible movie
_ book from your childhood
_ free choice
_ multiple authors
_ orphan child
_ vacation setting or road trip
_ first crush
_ new book by favorite author
_ time travel or steam punk


© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2018 Reading Challenges: Picture Book

Original artwork by Charles Haigh-Wood (1856-1927)
Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up)
Duration: January - December 2018
Goal: To have adults read more picture books. To celebrate the fact that picture books are for everyone! Families are, of course, welcome to join in!
# of books: minimum of 6
I'm signing up for Option 3.

Feel free to copy/paste this. You can replace the _ with an X or a ✔ (copy/paste it) when you finish reading a book. If you list the books you read, that may help other people decide what to read.

_1. Title beginning with A
_2. Author beginning with A
_3. Title beginning with B
_4. Author beginning with B
_5. Title beginning with C
_6. Author beginning with C
_7. Title beginning with D
_8. Author beginning with D
_9. Title beginning with E
_10. Author beginning with E
_11. Title beginning with F
_12. Author beginning with F
_13. Title beginning with G
_14. Author beginning with G
_15. Title beginning with H
_16. Author beginning with H
_17. Title beginning with I
_18. Author beginning with I
_19. Title beginning with J
_20. Author beginning with J
_21. Title beginning with K
_22. Author beginning with K
_23. Title beginning with L
_24. Author beginning with L
_25. Title beginning with M
_26. Author beginning with M
_27. Title beginning with N
_28. Author beginning with N
_29. Title beginning with O
_30. Author beginning with O
_31. Title beginning with P
_32. Author beginning with P
_33. Title or Author beginning with Q
_34. Title beginning with R
_35. Author beginning with R
_36. Title beginning with S
_37. Author beginning with S
_38. Title beginning with T
_39. Author beginning with T
_40. Title or Author beginning with U
_41. Title or Author beginning with V or W
_42. Title or Author beginning with X or “Ex”
_43. Title beginning with Y
_44. Author beginning with Y
_45. Title or Author beginning with Z
_46. An alphabet book
_47. A counting book
_48. A color word in the title
_49. A number word in the title
_50. Concept book of your choice— picture book
_51. Concept book of your choice — board book
_52. bedtime book —board book
_53. bedtime book — picture book
_54. book that rhymes —picture book
_55. book that rhymes — early reader OR board book
_56. holiday of your choice — board book or early reader
_57. holiday of your choice — picture book
_58. wordless picture book
_59. new to you author
_60. new to you illustrator
_61. favorite author
_62. favorite illustrator
_63. free choice
_64. fairy or folk tale adaptation
_65. fairy or folk tale traditional
_66. a title with the word “first” in it
_67. a book set in the state you live
_68. a book set in a place you’d like to visit
_69. a book set in an imaginary place
_70. a book set in the past — fiction or nonfiction
_71. a book set in the present
_72. picture book for older readers — fiction
_73. picture book for older readers — nonfiction
_74. early reader — fiction
_75. early reader — nonfiction
_76. picture book with photographs
_77. one word title
_78. long title (four or more words)
_79. oversized book
_80. tiny book
_81. a book about playing (hide and seek, tag, or peekaboo, etc.)
_82. a book about school
_83. a book about hobbies (art, dance, music, crafts, sports)
_84. a title that is a question
_85. a title that is an exclamation
_86. an award winner or an honor book
_87. a collection (of poems OR stories)
_88. a book with animals (fiction)
_89. a book with animals (nonfiction)
_90. a book about books or reading
_91. a book celebrating family
_92. first book in a series
_93. any book in a series
_94. book with an adventure or misadventure
_95. a book about a pet
_96. A title with the word “yes” or “no” in it
_97. A title with the word “big” or “little” in it
_98. a classic published before 1968
_99. a book you think should be considered a classic
_100. Out of print
_101. Library book
_102. Impulse Pick
_ 103. Board book published in 2018
_ 104. Picture book published in 2018
 

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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The Wolf Hour

The Wolf Hour. Sara Lewis Holmes. 2017. Scholastic. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Once upon a time there was a Wolf. When he wasn't anymore, there was another one. And another one. How could this be? A Wolf without end? Welcome, my little lambs, to the Puszcza, where even wolves must live and die by the rules. It's an ancient forest, a keeper of the deepest magic, and there, fairy tales of the darkest kind are real. Some even call them spells, for if you're unlucky enough to be caught in one of them, you must play your part, all the way to the bitter end.

Premise/plot: WOW what a book. Can I leave it at that? No?! Are you sure?! Okay, I'll do my best. Magia is the heroine of this one. She's a girl who wants to be a woodcutter just like her father. She wants a red cap of her own to protect her in the Puszcza. She longs to enter--safely--the wild woods that call to her. But her father and mother have different ideas of what she should do. Her mother wants her to SING. And Magia's voice is something beautiful, something brilliant. But that's her mother's dream, not her own. It is in obeying her mother that she goes to visit Miss Grand in town for a music lesson. And it is what happens at that music lesson that changes everything. For she sets Miss Grand's metronome--a pig--to doing a jig and it BREAKS. Soon after that, her mother gives birth and EVERYTHING seems broken in her family after the baby dies. Everyone wants to find a solution--but some solutions are COSTLY.

Magia is NOT the only hero of the book. There is also MARTIN, a book-loving wolf. His mother is unable to protect him, though his memories of being loved continue to give him strength and courage in his darkest hours. And dark hours there are plenty of in the Puszcza. Their stories are intertwined--for better or worse. Can a wolf get a happy ending?

My thoughts: I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. It was MAGIC, pure magic. I loved it cover to cover. The way it was written, the narrative style, the storytelling. It was a thing of beauty. It begs to be read again and again and again and again. It is one of those rare books where you could open it up to almost any page and be sucked into the story. Every page--nearly--has some sentence worth quoting.

This is how she introduces Martin to readers:
You see, my little lambs? As promised, a Wolf's tale and a Girl's. Both laid upon the table, juicy and fresh. Dinner is served! Alas. There is a troubling smell in the air. If you don't scent it, ask yourself this question: Is a Story truly like a meal? Can we eat it in any order we please? Of course not. A Story, no matter who makes it, isn't a series of events plopped hodgepodge on the dinner plate. No, those events must be arranged in the right order. Served in courses, if you will. (79)
This is how Martin's mother warns him of the dangers of the woods:
"A story is like a spider," his mother said. "it throws out one gauzy strand, and then another. You're intrigued. You watch as a pattern develops. Ooh! So pretty!" She nudged her son sharply. "Then you're stuck. You struggle, but you cannot get out. It's a trap!" (84) 

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, November 13, 2017

2018 Reading Challenge: Share-a-Tea

Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up here)
Duration: January - December 2018
# of books: minimum of 2
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© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Boy Called Christmas

Boy Called Christmas. Matt Haig. Illustrated by Chris Mould. 2015/2016. Random House. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: You are about to read the true story of Father Christmas.

Premise/plot: "Can you believe there was a time when no one in the world knew about him? A time when he was just an ordinary boy called Nikolas, living in the middle of nowhere, or the middle of Finland, doing nothing with magic except believing in it? A boy who knew very little about the world except the taste of mushroom soup, the feel of a cold north wind, and the stories he was told. And who only had a doll made out of a turnip to play with. But life was going to change for Nikolas, in ways he could never have imagined. Things were going to happen to him. Good things. Bad things. But if you are one of those people who believe that some things are impossible, you should put this book down right away. It is most certainly not for you. Because this book is full of impossible things."

I normally never share so long a quote. But this excerpt from the first chapter captures not only what the book is about, but also the spirit or style of it. And if that quote doesn't draw you in, then this probably isn't the book for you. Nothing I could add would change your mind.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. I found it fun and charming. Nikolas was just your average poor boy UNTIL his father decides to leave him to go off on an adventure looking for ELVES. Nikolas was left to the care of his aunt. And this aunt is AWFUL. Eventually, he decides to run away and go on a quest to find his father. That adventure--full of misadventures--will prove to be his making.
 
This is a fun holiday-themed coming-of-age fantasy.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, November 12, 2017

2018 Reading Challenge: Kitty Lit

Jeppe, Bruno Liljefors, 1860-1939  
Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up here)
Duration: January - December 2018
Goal: To read books with CATS
# of books: minimum of 3

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© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2018 Reading Challenge: Charity

Charity Reading Challenge
Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up here)
Duration: January-December 2018
# of books: You decide


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© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Week in Review: November 5-11

Tru & Nelle. G. Neri. 2016. HMH. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Tru & Nelle: A Christmas Tale. G. Neri. 2017. [October 24, 2017]. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 304 pages.  [Source: Review copy]
Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe. Melissa de la Cruz. 2017. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Brave Red, Smart Frog: A New Book of Old Tales. Emily Jenkins. Illustrated by Daniel Eason. 2017. Candlewick. 104 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Snow & Rose. Emily Winfield Martin. 2017. Random House. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Classic Spin #16

A Reader's Guide to the Major Writings of Jonathan Edwards. Edited by Nathan Finn and Jeremy Kimble. 2017. Crossway. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
How Can I Be Right With God. R.C. Sproul. 2017. Reformation Trust. 71 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The New Testament in the Language of the People. Charles B. Williams 1937. 572 pages. [Source: Bought]
Is Your Thanks-Giving Conditional? 
Progress of Spurgeon Study Bible 
My Autumn with Psalm 119 #13
My Autumn with Psalm 119 #14

Lambert The Sheepish Lion. Bill Peet. Walt Disney Company. 1970/1977. 42 pages. [Source: Bought]
 I Took My Frog to the Library. Eric A. Kimmel. Illustrated by Blanche Sims. 1990. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Log and Admiral Frog. B. Wiseman. 1961. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]
Sleeping Beauty. Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Erin McGuire. 2017. Disney-Hyperion. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
The Little Red Hen. Lucinda McQueen. 1985. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]
Paul's Christmas Birthday. Carol Carrick. Illustrated by Donald Carrick. 1978. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, November 10, 2017

Tru & Nelle: A Christmas Tale

Tru & Nelle: A Christmas Tale. G. Neri. 2017. [October 24, 2017]. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 304 pages.  [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: "Do you think he'll be any taller?" asked Big Boy.

Premise/plot: This is the second book fictionalizing the friendship of Harper Lee and Truman Capote. This one focuses specifically on Christmas--three Christmases to be exact. The first Christmas, readers see a custody battle over Truman. His mother has renamed herself, Nina, and remarried. Joe Capote wants to adopt Truman. Truman's father wants custody, but doesn't want Truman. That is, if he wins, Truman will come to live full-time forever-and-ever with his cousins in Alabama. Nelle is disappointed--as is Big Boy--that the mother wins custody. The second Christmas comprises most of the book--except for the epilogue. In this adventure--or misadventure since Truman thinks he's cursed--Truman has run away from military school. He returns home, but, unfortunately his homecoming is spoiled by a fire that destroys their home. Truman and all of his cousins (minus Callie who has died since Tru & Nelle) move in with Big Boy and his family. (The first story is set in 1935; the second in 1937.) Nelle, Truman, and Big Boy are all older now, will they be just as good as friends as before now that life is more than fun and games? The third Christmas is an epilogue set in New York City in 1956.

My thoughts: I definitely enjoyed reading this holiday-themed coming-of-age story. I enjoyed the characters. In some ways, this is a more emotionally intense read. I would definitely recommend both books.
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, November 09, 2017

Design Originals

I recently received three books for review from Design Originals.

The first is Christmas Papercrafting: Holiday Cards, Gift Tags, & More. It is a craft book and not a coloring book.

The book is divided into two sections: Project Ideas and Crafting Materials. Crafting Materials take up the bulk of this one. It includes cards, large-format art, mini-cards, gift tags, bookmarks, envelope templates, and scrapbook paper.

50 greeting cards
16 gift tags
18 mini-cards
6 book marks
large envelope template
small envelope template
scrapbook paper "stash"

This one would be good for families to use together.

The second is Cute Christmas Holiday Coloring Book. Featured are puppies, kittens, snowmen, and the occasional PIG. (I loved this picture. It reminded me of a toy pig I used to have that would oink Jingle Bells.) All the pictures are adorable and cute, just as promised.


The pages are thick and each is also perforated so that they can be easily taken out of the book.

The artists for Cute Christmas were Jenny Newland and William Vanderdasson.


The third is Santa's Kitty Helpers Holiday Coloring Book. This one is probably my favorite of the three. I love, love, love cats. I love, love, love Christmas.

I liked the art in Cute Christmas. I did. But I really LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the art in Santa's Kitty Helpers. The artist is Kayomi Harai.





I'd describe the kittens and cats as adorable, irresistible and dare I say PRECIOUS?!?!


There are plenty of beans to color!

Definitely all three should be given BEFORE Christmas.



© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Brave Red, Smart Frog

Brave Red, Smart Frog: A New Book of Old Tales. Emily Jenkins. Illustrated by Daniel Eason. 2017. Candlewick. 104 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: There was once a frozen forest, cold as cold ever was.

Premise/plot: Brave Red, Smart Frog is a collection of fairy tales retold by Emily Jenkins. This collection features seven stories: "Snow White," "The Frog Prince," "Three Wishes," "Toads and Pearls," "Red Riding Hood," "The Three Great Noodles," and "Hansel and Gretel."

My thoughts: I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. I loved the writing, first of all. I found it beautifully written. Here are some of the phrases and sentences that caught my attention.
His new wife had walked out of the winter forest one day and charmed him with beauty like an icicycle--sharp and slippery. She called herself January, and when she moved into the castle, she brought along nothing but an enchanted mirror. This new queen felt invisible without a reflection of herself nearby. (4)
There are so many ways to measure beauty, and so many ways to enchant a mirror. (6)
He stopped his horse and watched her breathing. Her eyelids fluttered. Prince Beacon liked Snow White's face for its courage and kindness, and he was also a curious fellow who liked most pretty girls and all new adventures. And so, he woke her up. Now, some kisses break enchantments. And other kisses begin them. Beacon's kiss was the second kind, not the first.(16)
I loved the selection of stories. I loved the variety of familiar and unfamiliar stories. I think my favorites were actually the new-to-me stories of "Toads and Pearls" and "Three Wishes."

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Snow & Rose

Snow & Rose. Emily Winfield Martin. 2017. Random House. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Once, there were two sisters.

Premise/plot: Snow & Rose is a re-imagining of the fairy tale Snow White and Rose Red; it is written and illustrated by Emily Winfield Martin. These two sisters had a great life before their father disappeared mysteriously in the woods, before the family had to move from their big estate to a tiny cottage near those same woods, before their mother became consumed with grief and sorrow. Will life be great again? Can Snow & Rose find a will and a way to be happy again?

My thoughts: If I'd read the original fairy tale, it was years and years ago. I did not remember it. I'm not sure if that's for better or worse! I found Snow & Rose to be a compelling, magical read. I was drawn into this one by both the characterization and the illustrations. It's just a beautiful book to hold in your hands. It makes for a great reading experience. The suspense in the book was great. If I had known the original story, perhaps that might have been lessened? Regardless, I enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Classic Spin (my second; their 16th)

My list of twenty books for the Classic Spin. Number will be posted at the Classics Club on Friday, November 17. The number was--is--4. I'll be reading Uncle Tom's Cabin!

1. Spurgeon Study Bible
2. East of Eden by John Steinbeck (1952)
3. To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee. 1960.
4.  Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (1852)
5. Mill on the Floss. George Eliot. 1860.
6. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell (1936)
7. Deerbrook. Harriet Martineau. 1839.
8. David Copperfield. Charles Dickens. 1849-1850
9.  Pickwick Papers. Charles Dickens. 1836-37
10. Hester by Margaret Oliphant (1883)
11.  Crime and Punishment. Fyodor Dostoyevsky. 1866.
12. Show Boat by Edna Ferber (1926)
13. Don Quixote. Miguel de Cervantes. 1605
14. How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn. 1939.
15. Raintree County by Ross Lockridge Jr. (1948)
16. Commentary on Romans by Martin Luther
17. Dear and Glorious Physician. Taylor Caldwell. 1958.
18. Robinson Crusoe. Daniel Defoe. 1719.
19. Framley Parsonage. Anthony Trollope. 1861.
20. Richard the Third by Paul Murray Kendall (1955) 


© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe

Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe. Melissa de la Cruz. 2017. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: A Taylor Swift cover of "Last Christmas," originally recorded by Wham! in 1986, strummed from the stereo of the sleek, black town car, where Darcy was sitting in the backseat.

Premise/plot: Darcy Fitzwilliam is a successful business woman who hasn't returned to her hometown of Pemberley, Ohio, in eight years--not even for Christmas. But when her mother has a heart attack, Darcy returns, and seemingly just in time for their annual Christmas party. At the party she bumps into a lot of her former classmates, ex-boyfriends, and friends--among them two of the Bennet brothers, Jim and Luke. Bingley Charles, her (gay) best friend falls in love at first sight with Jim. But Luke and Darcy, well, it takes standing under the mistletoe for the magic to happen. And magic it is. But will Darcy and Luke be able to put aside their pride and prejudice and move forward?

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I do love Pride and Prejudice. I am always curious to read adaptations. Equal parts curiosity and anxiety if I'm being honest. Overall, I'd recommend this one to those who enjoy reading contemporary romances who also enjoy all things Pride and Prejudice. This holiday-themed romance is definitely Austen-inspired, but it has its original moments as well. Not every character from the book has its parallel. And definitely not every scene--which is for the best. It keeps the book from being tedious. If it was a movie, I'd definitely watch it every holiday season.
See, it is an assumption universally made that any beautiful, brilliant, single woman who is rich as hell will be in want of a husband. 
"Maybe just for the sake of tradition?" he blurted, gesturing at the mistletoe. "I mean..." She blushed a little. "It is tradition." Did I really just say that? She couldn't believe it. Am I honestly going to let Luke Bennet kiss me? Wait. Do I actually want him to kiss me? In that moment, she couldn't deny it. In the middle of this mess of a party, all she wanted was for the adrenaline to keep rushing. 
Darcy cursed. "What is with my family and mistletoe? Hang it up in one place, sure, but all over the house? I mean this is just excessive. Good thing this time I'm under it alone." "Not anymore," Luke said, sliding up next to her so that they were both, once again, standing together under the mistletoe. Wait a second, she thought, is he still thinking about me too? What does he want from me? Do we--she grimaced inwardly--have feelings for each other?
Is it a "clean" romance? There is some cursing--taking the Lord's name in vain. The sex is kept PG-13, and mainly happens off the page or off screen.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, November 06, 2017

2018: Nonfiction, all ages:

Nonfiction, all ages:
Nonfiction = new is anything published after 2007; goal = 20 (15 new; 5 old)


January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2018: Classics, All Ages

Classics, all ages:

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2018: Mysteries, all ages:

Mysteries, all ages:
Mysteries = new is anything published after 1988; goal is 36 (18 new; 18 old)

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December


© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2018: Historical fiction, all ages:

Historical fiction, all ages:
Historical fiction = new is anything published after 2007; goal is 52 (26 new; 26 old)

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2018: Speculative Fiction (fantasy, science fiction, etc.) all ages

Speculative Fiction (fantasy, science fiction, etc.) all ages:
Speculative fiction (sci-fi/fantasy = new is anything published after 2007; goal is 52 (39 new; 13 old)

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2018: Contemporary (general/realistic) fiction, all ages


Contemporary (general/realistic) fiction, all ages:
Contemporary (general/realistic) = new is anything published after 2007; goal is 20 (15 new; 5 old)

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2018: Early readers and early chapter books

Early readers and early chapter books:
Early readers and chapter books = new is anything published after 2013; goal is 40 (30 new; 10 old)

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2018: Board books and picture books


Board books and picture books:
Board books and picture books = new is anything published after 2013; goal is 200 (150 new; 50 old)

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Books Read in 2018

Pierre-Auguste Renoir: "Gabrielle lisante" and "Liseuse a la Venus"
Books Read in 2018

Board books and picture books:
Highlights from:

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

Early readers and early chapter books:
Highlights from:

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

Contemporary (general/realistic) fiction, all ages:
Highlights from:

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

Speculative Fiction (fantasy, science fiction, etc.) all ages:
Highlights from:

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

Historical fiction, all ages:
Highlights from:

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

Mysteries, all ages:
Highlights from:

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

Classics, all ages:
Highlights from:

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

Nonfiction, all ages:
Highlights from:

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

Christian fiction and nonfiction:
Highlights from:

January
February
March
April
May
June
July
August
September
October
November
December

Other (listed here):

Bibles Read in 2018
Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall


© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tru & Nelle

Tru & Nelle. G. Neri. 2016. HMH. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: When Truman first spotted Nelle, he thought she was a boy.

Premise/plot: Tru & Nelle is set in Monroeville, Alabama, during the Great Depression. It features a young Harper Lee and Truman Capote. The book IS historical fiction, but the two were definitely friends in real life, particularly as children.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. To Kill A Mockingbird is one of my favorite books and one of my favorite movies as well. Scout has to be one of the best characters ever. So it was interesting to see a young Nelle in action. The focus is more on Truman, or Tru, perhaps. This book is an account of their adventures and misadventures. It spans several years. I know there are at least two Halloweens mentioned. These two discover they have something in common: a love of books, a love of reading, a love of MYSTERY. These two become Sherlock and Watson, and, the town best beware! Nelle's father later gifts them with a type writer to spare the town their meddling and to encourage them to solve FICTIONAL mysteries instead.

If historical coming-of-age novels are something you enjoy, I'd recommend this one. 

"Life is a heck of a hill to climb, Little Chappie. But if it gets too steep for ya, just get down on your hands and knees and keep going. Sooner or later, you'll get over the hump," Bud said. (62)

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, November 04, 2017

Week in Review: October 29 - November 4

Robinson. Peter Sis. 2017. Scholastic. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Among the Barons. (Shadow Children #4) Margaret Peterson Haddix. 2003. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
Almost Autumn. Marianne Kaurin. Translated by Rosie Hedger. 2012/2017. Scholastic. 278 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Giant Pumpkin Suite. Melanie Heuiser Hill. 2017. Candlewick Press. 448 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Whistling in the Dark. Shirley Hughes. 2015/2017. Candlewick. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The Hole Story. Paul Bright. Illustrated by Bruce Ingman. 2016. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Machines at Work. Byron Barton. 1987. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
I Was So Mad. Mercer Mayer. 1983. Random House. 24 pages. [Source: Bought]
School Bus. Donald Crews. 1984. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]
Too Many Cats. Leah Raechel Killen. 1988. 30 pages. [Source: Bought]





The Gospel for Muslims: An Encouragement to Share Christ With Confidence. Thabiti M. Anyabwile. 2018. [January 2018] Moody. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Austen Escape. Katherine Reay. 2017. Thomas Nelson. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]
When Christ Appears: An Inspirational Experience Through Revelation. David Jeremiah. 2018. [January] 196 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Pizza with Jesus (No Black Olives). P.J. Frick. 2017. CreateSpace. 158 pages. [Source: Review copy]
2018 Reformation Reading Challenge (I'm hosting)
Completed 2017 Challenge Reformation
5 Months. 5 Goals. Update the Third.
Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018
My Autumn with Psalm 119 #11
My Autumn with Psalm 119 #12

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, November 03, 2017

Whistling in the Dark

Whistling in the Dark. Shirley Hughes. 2015/2017. Candlewick. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Northwest England, autumn 1940.

Premise/plot: Joan Armitage is the heroine of Shirley Hughes' Whistling in the Dark. This one is set in Liverpool during the second world war. The book focuses on the daily experiences of life during the war through the eyes of a thirteen year old. Her father was a merchant marine; WAS. Now her mother is dating someone else, and only the youngest of the family, little Judy, is pleased. The rest of Joan's family (Brian and Audrey) agrees with her: he's trying WAY too hard to be trustworthy. There's drama at school and home.

Some of the drama concerns a Polish refugee, Ania, who joins Joan's class. Joan and her best friend, Doreen, do their best to help her feel welcome and safe. There are some in the class who target her for their bullying.

My thoughts: Whistling in the Dark is very much character-driven. All of the characters are developed. The community feels genuine. The details of daily lives abound. I found it a compelling read. It isn't an action-packed war drama where lives are at stake 24/7. It's much quieter than that. But I think it can be a thought-provoking read.

I admit that at first all I could think of was that somewhere in town, there was a tiny John Lennon.


© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, November 02, 2017

2018 Vintage Mystery Challenge

Vintage Mystery Challenge: Just the Facts, Ma'am
Host: My Reader's Block (sign up here)
January - December 2018
# of books: my goal is CONSTABLE. 6 books -- one from each category. If things are going well and I complete the Constable level, I may choose to go for DETECTIVE SERGEANT -- two books from each category. All mysteries must be published BEFORE 1960.

She has a LOVELY detective notebook, but I'm going to use the checklist to keep track of what I read.

Feel free to copy/paste this. You can replace the _ with an X or a ✔ (copy/paste it) when you finish reading a book. If you list the books you read, that may help other people decide what to read.

Who (For the "Who" category, the who may be the sleuth, victim, or other quite prominent character. It should not be a minor character who only shows up once or twice in the book and isn't really crucial to the plot.)
_ An Academic
_ Crime-Solving Duo
_ An amateur detective
_ In the medical field
_ a journalist/writer
_ an artist/photographer
_ retired from or in the armed services
_ matriarch/patriarch of the family

What
_ pseudonymous author
_ number in the title
_ color in the title
_ animal in the title
_ means of murder in the title
_ reference to man or woman in title
_ book published under more than one title
_ title contains two words beginning with same letter

When
_ during a recognized holiday
_ a historical crime
_ time/date in title
_ timing of crime is crucial (An example for the item "Timing of the crime is crucial" might be that X murders Y before their 21st birthday to prevent them from inheriting. Or X knocks off Great-Uncle Y to prevent him from changing his will. Just be prepared to explain what the crucial element is.)
_ during a weather event
_ during a trip/vacation/cruise, etc.
_ during a performance of any sort
_ during a special event (birthday, village fete, etc.)

Where
_ At a country house
_ on a mode of transportation
_ on an island
_ at a school
 _ set in a small village
_ in a hospital/nursing home
_ features a courtroom scene
_ in a locked room

How
_ death by drowning
_ crime involved fire/arson
_ death by poison
_ death by strangulation
_ death by knife/dagger
_ death by shooting
_ at least two deaths by different means
_ death by blunt instrument

Why
_ it won an award of any sort
_ it made a best of list {For the "Made a best of list" item, the "best of list" can be a well-known list from a journal or newspaper, from Goodreads, or even from a fellow blogger. Please reference the list you have used.}
_ has been read/reviewed by a fellow challenger at any time
_ has been on your tbr list
_ out of your comfort zone
_ an author you've never tried
_an author you've read and loved
_ book made into tv/film/play

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Giant Pumpkin Suite

Giant Pumpkin Suite. Melanie Heuiser Hill. 2017. Candlewick Press. 448 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Rose's bow zinged off the cello strings. Thomas hit the button on his stopwatch and grinned.

Premise/plot: Rose and Thomas are fraternal twins, though you'd never be able to guess. She's very tall for her age; he is very short. She can't seem to stop growing; he can't seem to start. She's several grades ahead of him as well. What do you need to know about Rose? She LOVES, LOVES, LOVES playing the cello, loves and adores Bach especially. She also is EXTREMELY fond of Charlotte's Web. In fact, she reads it at least once a month, and has for years. She hates her height and her curly hair. We know a little less about Thomas, but what we do know is easy to love. He's kind, compassionate, curious, eager to help, excited about life, optimistic.

The book opens in May, I believe, Rose and Thomas come to the aid of their friend and neighbor, Mr. Pickering. He's fallen down the basement stairs. Fortunately, Thomas finds him soon after, and Rose calls 911. Mr. Pickering asks them to take care of a precious seed and get it planted for him. This seed is for a GIGANTIC pumpkin.

The good news: Pickering's life is never in danger. The bad news: The summer doesn't quite go as planned. It ends up being the best-worst summer ever.

Thomas is beyond excited about the pumpkin project. Rose is a little more hesitant to commit ALL her free time to a plant. Even if her music teacher asks her to practice less, practice outside, and to play Bach for the plant. There is a big Bach competition coming up and Rose is nervous and feeling the pressure.

The competition never happens--not for Rose. What will Rose gain by losing?

My thoughts: I really loved this one. I loved the focus on family. Rose's family is close. Rose and Thomas are being raised by their mom and grandma. I loved how supportive they are of one another. I also loved the focus on friendship. Mr. Pickering and Mrs. Kiyo are two elderly neighbors that also love having Rose and Thomas in their lives.

There is a family in the neighborhood as well--the Jacobis. Rose doesn't "like" any of the kids. Jesse and James are identical twins. Jane is a girl near her own age. Rose calls her CALAMITY Jane, but the nickname is a bit unearned. Jane and Rose both want to have the library's copy of Charlotte's Web checked out ALL THE TIME. So much so that the librarian has a system: one week Rose, one week Jane, one week on the shelf to have available for another patron. Speaking of the librarian, she LOVES musicals. As in SINGS at the library on the job. This librarian is like a second mother to Jane. But over the course of this best-worst summer, Rose is invited into the group.

The book has a community theme to it. And friendship. It encourages dreams, but also asks what are you willing to do badly out of sheer love for it?!

It is a long book. But it was a good long book. So I personally, as an adult, didn't mind that!

© 2017 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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