Sunday, December 31, 2017

December Reflections

Board books and picture books:

  1. Trains. Ian Graham. Illustrated by Stephen Biesty. 2017. Candlewick. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. Arthur's Perfect Christmas. Marc Brown. 2000. 48 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. A Christmas for Bear. Bonny Becker. Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton. 2017. Candlewick Press. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. How Does My Home Work? Chris Butterworth. Illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti. 2017. [Oct. 24] Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  5. The Nutcracker. New York City Ballet. Valeria Docampo (illustrator). 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  6. The Nutcracker: From The Story by E.T.A. Hoffmann. Illustrated by Valeria Docampo. 2016. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  7. The Nutcracker in Harlem. T.E. McMorrow. Illustrated by James Ransome. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  8. A World of Cookies for Santa: Follow Santa's Tasty Trip Around the World. M.E. Furman. Illustrated by Susan Gal. 2017. [October 17] Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  9. Sophie's Surprise. Lee Richardson. Illustrated by Shirley Holt. 1983. 28 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  10. Deck the Halls. Illustrated by Veronica Vasylenko. 2011. 18 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  11. The Merry Christmas Mystery. (Winnie the Pooh) Betty G. Birney. Illustrated by Nancy Stevenson. 1993. 24 pages. [Source: Bought]
  12. There Are Cats In This Book. Viviane Schwarz. 2008. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  13. There Are No Cats In This Book. Viviane Schwarz. 2010. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  14. The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC's (the Hard Way). Patrick McDonnell. 2017. Little, Brown. 48 pages. [Source: Library] 
  15. This Is My Book! Mark Pett. 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Library] 
  16. Here Comes The Easter Cat. Deborah Underwood. Illustrated by Claudia Rueda.  2014.  80 pages. [Source: Library]
  17. Here Comes Valentine Cat. Deborah Underwood. 2015. 88 pages. [Source: Library] 
  18. Here Comes the Tooth Fairy Cat. Deborah Underwood. Illustrated by Claudia Rueda. 2015. 96 pages. [Source: Library]
  19. The Little Reindeer. Nicola Killen. 2017. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  20. Pick a Pine Tree. Patricia Toht. Illustrated by Jarvis. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Early readers and early chapter books:
  1. Chicken in Mittens. Adam Lehrhaupt. 2017. [October 17] 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Contemporary (general/realistic) fiction, all ages:
  1. Love Over Scotland (44 Scotland Street #3) Alexander McCall Smith. 2006. 355 pages. [Source: Library]
Speculative Fiction (fantasy, science fiction, etc.) all ages:
  1. Among the Brave. (Shadow Children #5) Margaret Peterson Haddix. 2004. 256 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. Among the Enemy. (Shadow Children #6) Margaret Peterson Haddix. 2005. 240 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. Among the Free (Shadow Children #7) Margaret Peterson Haddix. 2006. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. The Nutcracker Mice. Kristin Kladstrup. Illustrated by Brett Helquist. 2017. [October 24] 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Historical fiction, all ages:
  1. The Librarian of Auschwitz. Antonio Iturbe. Translated by Lilit Thwaites. 2017. 424 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. Mr. Dickens and His Carol. Samantha Silva. 2017. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. Raid of No Return. (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #7) Nathan Hale. 2017. [November] Abrams. 128 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. The Nutcracker Mice. Kristin Kladstrup. Illustrated by Brett Helquist. 2017. [October 24] 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Mysteries, all ages:
Classics, all ages:
  1. A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens. 1843. 96 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  2. The Chimes. Charles Dickens. 1844. 116 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  3. The Cricket on the Hearth. Charles Dickens. 1845. 84 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. The Battle of Life. Charles Dickens. 1846. 88 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain. Charles Dickens. 1848. 100 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. Uncle Tom's Cabin. Harriet Beecher Stowe. 1852. 438 pages. [Source: Bought]
Nonfiction, all ages:
  1. Prairie Fires: the American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder. Caroline Fraser. 2017. 640 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. 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] 
  3. How Does My Home Work? Chris Butterworth. Illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti. 2017. [Oct. 24] Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Christian fiction:
  1. Keeping Holiday. Starr Meade. Illustrated by Justin Gerard. 2008. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. Uncle Tom's Cabin. Harriet Beecher Stowe. 1852. 438 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. The Ladies of Ivy Cottage. (Tales from Ivy Hill #2) Julie Klassen. 2017. Bethany House. 448 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Christian nonfiction:   
  1. CSB Spurgeon Study Bible, Holman Bible Publishers (B&H). 2017. 1840 pages. [Source: Gift]
  2. True Feelings: God's Gracious and Glorious Purpose for Our Emotions. Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Mahaney Whitacre. 2017. Crossway. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. 52 Little Lessons from A Christmas Carol. Bob Welch. 2015. Thomas Nelson. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. When Is It Right To Die? A Comforting and Surprising Look at Death and Dying. Joni Eareckson Tada. 1992/2018. Zondervan. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. Everyone A Child Should Know. Clare Heath-Whyte. 2017. 112 pages. [Source: Gift]  
  6. The Gathering Storm. R. Albert Mohler. Jr., 2017. 127 pages. [Source: Free download]

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Year in Review: Reflections

According to GoodReads, I read 668 books in 2017. I trust their math more than my own. But I do have my own way of keeping track. I do track the number of books read each month in various categories. And these--when totaled--present me with a lovely graphic chart.

Here are my categories:
  • Board books and picture books
  • Early readers and early chapter books
  • Contemporary (realistic) fiction
  • Speculative fiction
  • Historical fiction
  • Mysteries
  • Classics
  • Nonfiction
  • Christian fiction
  • Christian nonfiction
Here's how I did compared to last year:

In 2016, I read 105 picture books.
In 2017, I read 281 picture books.
In 2016, I read 38 early readers.
In 2017, I read 81 early readers.
In 2016, I read 28 contemporary books.
In 2017, I read 32 contemporary books.
In 2016, I read 71 speculative fiction books.
In 2017, I read 64 speculative fiction books.
In 2016, I read 51 historical fiction novels.
In 2017, I read 49 historical fiction novels.
In 2016, I read 28 mysteries.
In 2017, I read 30 mysteries.
In 2016, I read 47 classics.
In 2017, I read 67 classics.
In 2016, I read 63 nonfiction books.
In 2017, I read 66 nonfiction books.
In 2016, I read 31 Christian fiction novels.
In 2017, I read 39 Christian fiction novels.
In 2016, I read 120 Christian nonfiction books.
In 2017, I read 124 Christian nonfiction books.

I've spent the past few days making best-of lists.
 

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, December 30, 2017

Victorian Quarterly Check-In

  • What books for this challenge have you read (or reviewed) recently?
  • What are you currently reading?
  • Are there any quotes you'd like to share?
  • Who would you recommend? Anyone you would NOT recommend?
  • Best book you've read for the challenge?
  • Who was your favorite character?
  • What did you love most about the challenge?
  • What would you change about the challenge?
It's the end of the year. I think it may just be easier to show what I've read all year instead of trying to figure out what books went with each month.

✔ 1. A book under 200 pages
The Europeans. Henry James. 1878. 192 pages. [Source: Bought]
✔ 2. A book over 400 pages
The Adolescent. Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. 1875/2004. 647 pages. [Source: Library] 
✔  3. A book that REALLY intimidates you
Great Expectations. Charles Dickens. 1860. 640 pages. [Source: Library]  
✔ 4. A book you REALLY want to reread
Barchester Towers. Anthony Trollope. 1857. 418 pages. [Source: Bought]
✔ 5. A new-to-you book by a FAVORITE author
La Vendee. Anthony Trollope. 1850. 512 pages. [Source: Bought] 
✔ 6. A book with illustrations
Oliver Twist. Charles Dickens. 1838/1839. 608 pages. [Source: Bought]
✔ 7. A book that was originally published serially
The American. Henry James. 1877. 400 pages. [Source: Bought]

✔ 8. A book published between 1837-1849
The Macdermots of Ballycloran. Anthony Trollope. 1847. 636 pages. [Source: Bought]
9. A book published between 1850-1860
Doctor Thorne. Anthony Trollope. 1858. 639 pages. [Source: Bought]
✔ 10. A book published between 1861-1870
The Wretched. Victor Hugo. Translated by Christine Donougher. 1862/2013. 1456 pages. [Source: Bought] 
✔ 11. A book published between 1871-1880
Confidence. Henry James. 1879. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
✔ 12. A book published between 1881-1890
Portrait of a Lady. Henry James. 1881. 656 pages. [Source: Bought]
 ✔ 14. A book published between 1902-1999 with a Victorian setting

The Quincunx by Charles Palliser. 1990. 787 pages. [Source: Library]_ 15. A book published between 2000-2017 with a Victorian setting
✔ 16. A book by Charles Dickens
The Chimes. Charles Dickens. 1844. 116 pages. [Source: Bought]
17. A book by Wilkie Collins
Hide and Seek. Wilkie Collins. 1854. 384 pages. [Source: Bought] 
18. A book by Anthony Trollope
The Warden. Anthony Trollope. 1855. Oxford World's Classics. 294 pages. [Source: Bought] 
20. A book by George Eliot
Adam Bede. George Eliot. 1859. 624 pages. [Source: Bought]
✔ 21. A book by a new-to-you male author
Watch and Ward. Henry James. 1871. 128 pages. [Source: Bought]
✔ 22. A book by a new-to-you female author
Uncle Tom's Cabin. Harriet Beecher Stowe. 1852. 438 pages. [Source: Bought]
✔ 23. A book translated into English
The Karamazov Brothers. Fyodor Dostoevsky. Translated by Ignat Avsey. 1880/2008. 1054 pages. [Source: Library]
✔ 24. A fiction or nonfiction book about Queen Victoria
Victoria. Daisy Goodwin. 2016. 404 pages. [Source: Library] 
✔ 25. A book that has been filmed as movie, miniseries, or television show
Camille. Alexandre Dumas, fils. 1848. Translated by Edmund Gosse. 254 pages. [Source: Library]
✔ 26. A play OR a collection of short stories OR a collection of poems
The Best Short Stories. Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Translated by David Magarshack. 2001. 320 pages. [Source: Library] 
✔ 28. Genre or Subgenre of your choice (mystery, suspense, romance, gothic, adventure, western, science fiction, fantasy)
The Time Machine. H.G. Wells. 1895. Penguin. 128 pages. [Source: Bought] 
✔ 29. Book with a name as the title
Roderick Hudson. Henry James. 1875. 398 pages. [Source: Bought]
✔ 30. Book You've Started but Never Finished
The Kellys and the O'Kellys. Anthony Trollope. 1848. 537 pages. [Source: Bought]
✔ 33. A book with a number in the title
The Three Clerks. Anthony Trollope. 1858. 648 pages. [Source: Bought]
✔ 34. A book with a place in the title 
Washington Square. Henry James. 1880. 288 pages. [Source: Bought]
✔ 35. free choice
The Bertrams. Anthony Trollope. 1859. 496 pages. [Source: Bought]
✔ 36. free choice
Castle Richmond. Anthony Trollope. 1860. 500 pages. [Source: Bought]
✔ 37. free choice
A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens. 1843. 96 pages. [Source: Bought]  
✔ 38. free choice  
The Cricket on the Hearth. Charles Dickens. 1845. 84 pages. [Source: Bought]
✔ 39. free choice
The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain. Charles Dickens. 1848. 100 pages. [Source: Bought]
✔ 40. free choice
The Battle of Life. Charles Dickens. 1846. 88 pages. [Source: Bought]  

The categories I did NOT complete:

_ 13. A book published between 1891-1901
_ 19. A book by Elizabeth Gaskell
_ 27. Biography, Autobiography, or NONFICTION book about the Victorian era
_ 31. A Christian book fiction or nonfiction
_ 32. A children's book

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Year in Review: Top 30 Picture Books

Picture Books:

  1. Big Cat, Little Cat. Elisha Cooper. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]  
  2. Be Quiet! Ryan T. Higgins. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. Tea with Oliver. Mika Song. 2017. HarperCollins. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. Mouse and Hippo. Mike Twohy. 2017. Simon Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Library]  
  5. The Bossier Baby. Marla Frazee. 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Library] 
  6. Bunny's Book Club. Annie Silvestro. Illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]  
  7. This is a Good Story. Adam Lehrhaupt. 2017. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  8. Hooray for Books. Brian Won. 2017. HMH. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]   
  9. A Perfect Day. Lane Smith. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  10. Bear's House of Books. Poppy Bishop. Illustrated by Alison Egson. 2017. 25 pages. [Source: Library]  
  11. Bulldozer Helps Out. Candace Fleming. Illustrated by Eric Rohmann. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  12. Egg. Kevin Henkes. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  13. Here Comes Teacher Cat. Deborah Underwood. Illustrated by Claudia Rueda. 2017. 88 pages. [Source: Library]  
  14. Mother Bruce. Ryan T. Higgins. 2015. Disney-Hyperion. 44 pages. [Source: Library] 
  15. Chicken Story Time. Sandy Asher. Illustrated by Mark Fearing. 2016. (Dec) 40 pages. [Source: Library]  
  16. The Cat Book. Silvia Borando. 2017. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  17. Mama Cat Has Three Kittens. Denise Fleming. 1998. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  18. Minerva Louise. Janet Morgan Stoeke. 1988. 24 pages. [Source: Library] 
  19. We're All Wonders. R.J. Palacio. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]   
  20. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. Mem Fox. Illustrated by Julie Vivas. 1984/1985. Kane/Miller. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  21. Trains Don't Sleep. Andria Warmflash Rosenbaum. Illustrated by Deidre Gill. 2017. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  22. Counting with Tiny Cat. Viviane Schwarz. 2017. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  23.  Sister Day! Lisa Mantchev. Illustrated by Sonia Sanchez. 2017. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  24. Babies Can Sleep Anywhere. Lisa Wheeler. Illustrated by Carolin Buzio. 2017. Harry N. Abrams. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  25. The Plot Chickens. Mary Jane Auch. Illustrated by Herm Auch. 2009. Holiday House. 32 pages. [Source: Library]  
  26. Chicken in School. Adam Lehrhaupt. Illustrated by Shahar Kober. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library] 
  27. Sleeping Beauty. Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Erin McGuire. 2017. Disney-Hyperion. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  28. Happy Dreamer. Peter H. Reynolds. 2017. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  29. Baby Goes to Market. Atinuke. Illustrated by Angela Brooksbank. 2017. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  30. Buy My Hats. Dave Horowitz. 2010. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

Bonus Category: Board Books:
  1. Nighty-Night. Leslie Patricelli. 2017. Candlewick. 26 pages. [Source: Review copy; board book] 
  2. Board book: Tinyville Town: I'm A Librarian. Brian Biggs. 2017. Abrams. 22 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. Board book: Buildablock. Christopher Franceschelli. Illustrated by Peskimo. 2017. Harry N. Abrams. 90 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. Board book: Baby Loves Quantum Physics! Ruth Spiro. Illustrated by Irene Chan. 2017. Charlesbridge. 22 pages. [Source: Review copy]  

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Year in Review: Nonfiction and Realistic Fiction

Nonfiction:

Picture Books

  1. Language of Angels. Richard Michelson. 2017. Charlesbridge. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  2. The Legendary Miss Lena Horne. Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon. 2017. 48 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. Freedom in Congo Square. Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie. 2016. 34 pages. [Source: Library]  
  4. Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life. Ashley Bryan. 2016. 56 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. When Jackie Saved Grand Central. Natasha Wing. 2017. HMH. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. Penguin Day. Nic Bishop. 2017. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  7. How Does My Home Work? Chris Butterworth. Illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti. 2017. [Oct. 24] Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  8. I am Jim Henson. Brad Meltzer. Illustrated by Christopher Eliopoulos. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library] 
  9. This Is How We Do It. Matt LaMothe. 2017. Chronicle. 52 pages. [Source: Library]

MG & YA
  1. Ugly. Robert Hoge. 2016. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. Some Writer: The Story of E.B. White. 2016. HMH. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
Adult
  1. Caught in the Revolution. Helen Rappaport. 2017. 464 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. Gosnell: The Untold Story of America's Most Prolific Serial Killer. 2017. 347 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. Hidden Figures. Margo Lee Shetterly. 2016. 349 pages. [Source: Borrowed from Friend]
  4. Go Down Together. Jeff Guinn. 2008. 468 pages. [Source: Library]
Realistic Fiction:
  1. One Last Word. Nikki Grimes. 2017. Bloomsbury. 128 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess. Shari Green. 2017. 240 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. Real Friends. Shannon Hale. 2017. 214 pages. [Source: Library] 
  4. Wish. Barbara O'Connor. 2016. FSG. 240 pages. [Source: Library] 
  5. Train I Ride. Paul Mosier. 2017. HarperCollins. 192 pages. [Source: Library]
  6. Giant Pumpkin Suite. Melanie Heuiser Hill. 2017. Candlewick Press. 448 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  7. The Hate U Give. Angie Thomas. 2017. 444 pages. [Source: Library] 
  8. Piecing Me Together. Renee Watson. 2017. Bloomsbury. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  9. Big & Little Questions (According to Wren Jo Byrd). Julie Bowe. 2017. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
  10. Far from the Tree. Robin Benway. 2017. HarperCollins. 384 pages. [Source: Library]

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Year in Review: Genre Fiction

Best Speculative Fiction

  1.  The Wolf Hour. Sara Lewis Holmes. 2017. Scholastic. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2.  Wishtree. Katherine Applegate. 2017. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. The Nutcracker Mice. Kristin Kladstrup. Illustrated by Brett Helquist. 2017. [October 24] 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. Brave Red, Smart Frog: A New Book of Old Tales. Emily Jenkins. Illustrated by Daniel Eason. 2017. Candlewick. 104 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. The Button Girl. Sally Apokedak. 2017. 394 pages. [Source: Review copy provided by author] 
  6. Norse Mythology. Neil Gaiman. 2017. Norton. 299 pages. [Source: Library]
  7. Orphan Island. Laurel Snyder. 2017. 288 pages. [Source: Library]  
  8. Sputnik's Guide to Life on Earth. Frank Cottrell Boyce. 2017. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
  9. Your Sins and Mine. Taylor Caldwell. 1955/2017. Open Road Media. 105 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  10. Scythe. Neal Shusterman. 2016. 448 pages. [Source: Library] 
Best Historical Fiction
  1. The Librarian of Auschwitz. Antonio Iturbe. Translated by Lilit Thwaites. 2017. 424 pages. [Source: Library]   
  2. Hook's Tale: Being the Account of an Unjustly Villainized Pirate Written by Himself. John Leonard Pielmeier. 2017. 288 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. Blood Red Snow White. Marcus Sedgwick. 2016. 320 pages. [Source: Library; Audience: YA, Adult]  
  4. Projekt 1065. Alan Gratz. 2016. Scholastic. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. The War I Finally Won. (The War That Saved My Life #2) Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. 2017. 400 pages. [Source: Library]  
  6. Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night. Barbara J. Taylor. 2014. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
  7. Mr. Dickens and His Carol. Samantha Silva. 2017. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  8. Vincent and Theo: The Van Gogh Brothers. Deborah Heiligman. 2017. 464 pages. [Source: Library]
Best Mysteries
  1. The Wife Between Us. Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. 2018. St. Martin's Press. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. Twelve Angry Men. Reginald Rose. 1954/2006. 79 pages. [Source: Library]  
  3. Nate the Great and the Lost List. (Nate the Great #3) Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. Illustrated by Marc Simont. 1975. 80 pages. [Source: Library]  
  4. The Case of the Lucky Loser. Erle Stanley Gardner. 1957. 192 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. Champagne for One. Rex Stout. 1958. 205 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. Headed for Home. Mary Helen Brown. 2016. 178 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Week in Review: December 24-30

Chicken in Mittens. Adam Lehrhaupt. 2017. [October 17] 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Trains. Ian Graham. Illustrated by Stephen Biesty. 2017. Candlewick. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Arthur's Perfect Christmas. Marc Brown. 2000. 48 pages. [Source: Bought]
A Christmas for Bear. Bonny Becker. Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton. 2017. Candlewick Press. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Uncle Tom's Cabin. Harriet Beecher Stowe. 1852. 438 pages. [Source: Bought]
What's On Your Nightstand (December)
Christmas Book Parade
Year in Review: Top Ten Classics
Year in Review:  Non Victorian Classics
Year in Review: Victorian Classics
Year in Review: Early Readers and Chapter Books
Year in Review: Genre Fiction
Year in Review: Nonfiction and Realistic Fiction 
Year in Review: Picture Books (and Board Books)

CSB Spurgeon Study Bible, Holman Bible Publishers (B&H). 2017. 1840 pages. [Source: Gift]
Keeping Holiday. Starr Meade. Illustrated by Justin Gerard. 2008. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Uncle Tom's Cabin. Harriet Beecher Stowe. 1852. 438 pages. [Source: Bought]
True Feelings: God's Gracious and Glorious Purpose for Our Emotions. Carolyn Mahaney and Nicole Mahaney Whitacre. 2017. Crossway. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]
My Autumn with Psalm 119 #32
My Autumn with Psalm 119 #33
My Autumn with Psalm 119 #34
 Year in Review: Best of 2017

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, December 29, 2017

Year in Review: Early Readers and Chapter Books

  1. Charlie & Mouse. (Charlie & Mouse #1) Laurel Snyder. Illustrated by Emily Hughes. 2017. Chronicle Books. 48 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. Mr. Putter and Tabby Pour the Tea (Mr. Putter & Tabby #1) Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Arthur Howard. 1994. 44 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. The Case of the Missing Carrot Cake. (Wilcox and Griswold #1). Robin Newman. 2015. 40 pages. [Source: Library]  
  4. The Case of the Poached Egg. (Wilcox and Griswold #2) Robin Newman. Illustrated by Deborah Zemke. 2017. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. Princess Cora and the Crocodile. Laura Amy Schlitz. Illustrated by Brian Floca. 2017. Candlewick. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  6. Hippopotamister. John Patrick Green. 2016. 84 pages. [Source: Library] 
  7. My Kite Is Stuck and Other Stories. Salina Yoon. 2017. 64 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  8. Waylon! One Awesome Thing. Sara Pennypacker. Illustrated by Marla Frazee. 2016. 208 pages. [Source: Library]  
  9. Squirrel in the House. Vivian Vande Velde. Illustrated by Steve Bjorkman. 2016. Holiday House. 80 pages. [Source: Library]
  10. Mae and June and the Wonder Wheel. Charise Mericle Harper. 2017. HMH. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Year in Review: Top Ten Classics

This list is just new-to-me novels, not rereads.
  1. The Karamazov Brothers. Fyodor Dostoevsky. Translated by Ignat Avsey. 1880/2008. 1054 pages. [Source: Library]  
  2. Great Expectations. Charles Dickens. 1860. 640 pages. [Source: Library]    
  3. Twelve Angry Men. Reginald Rose. 1954/2006. 79 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. Your Sins and Mine. Taylor Caldwell. 1955/2017. Open Road Media. 105 pages. [Source: Review copy]   
  5. Uncle Tom's Cabin. Harriet Beecher Stowe. 1852. 438 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  6. Catch-22. Joseph Heller. 1961. 453 pages. [Source: Library]
  7. Camille. Alexandre Dumas, fils. 1848. Translated by Edmund Gosse. 254 pages. [Source: Library]
  8. Portrait of a Lady. Henry James. 1881. 656 pages. [Source: Bought]
  9. The Kellys and the O'Kellys. Anthony Trollope. 1848. 537 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  10. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. Jean Lee Latham. 1955. 251 pages. [Source: Bought]
Bonus Category: Favorite Rereads:
  1. Barchester Towers. Anthony Trollope. 1857. 418 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. Doctor Thorne. Anthony Trollope. 1858. 639 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  3. The Wretched. Victor Hugo. Translated by Christine Donougher. 1862/2013. 1456 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  4. Trumpet of the Swan. E.B. White. Illustrated by Fred Marcellino. 1970. 272 pages. [Source: Library]  
  5. Mandy. Julie Andrews Edwards. 1971. 320 pages. [Source: Bought]


© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Year in Review: Non-Victorian Classics

Twentieth-Century Classics

  1. We. Yevgeny Zamyatin. Translated by Clarence Brown. 1924/1993. 225 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  2. A Canticle for Leibowitz. Walter M. Miller Jr. 1959. 335 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. Out of the Silent Planet. C.S. Lewis. 1938. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  4. Hiroshima. John Hersey. 1946/1989. 152 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  5. Twelve Angry Men. Reginald Rose. 1954/2006. 79 pages. [Source: Library]
  6. Murder in the Cathedral. T.S. Eliot. 1930. 88 pages. [Source: Library]  
  7. The Skin of Our Teeth. Thornton Wilder. 1942. 176 pages. [Source: Library] 
  8. The Dream Keeper and Other Poems. Langston Hughes. 1996. 96 pages. [Source: Library]  
  9. Kolyma Tales. Varlam Shalamov. Translated by John Glad. 1978/1994. 508 pages. [Source: Library]
  10. Champagne for One. Rex Stout. 1958. 205 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  11. Prisoner's Base. (Nero Wolfe #21) Rex Stout. 1952. 209 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  12. Dawn's Early Light. Elswyth Thane. 1934/2017. Chicago Review Press. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  13. 1984. George Orwell. 1949. 268 pages. [Source: Bought]
  14. It Can't Happen Here. Sinclair Lewis. 1935. 400 pages. [Source: Library]
  15.  Verdict of Twelve. Raymond Postgate. 1940/2017. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  16. Catch-22. Joseph Heller. 1961. 453 pages. [Source: Library]
  17. The Circular Staircase. Mary Roberts Rinehart. 1908. 197 pages. [Source: Bought]
  18. The Case of the Fiery Fingers. Erle Stanley Gardner. 1951. 192 pages. [Source: Bought]
  19. The Case of the Lucky Loser. Erle Stanley Gardner. 1957. 192 pages. [Source: Bought]
  20. The Case of the Gilded Lily. (Perry Mason #50) Erle Stanley Gardner. 1956. 188 pages. [Source: Bought]
  21. The Case of the Daring Decoy. (Perry Mason #54) Erle Stanley Gardner. 1957. 198 pages. [Source: Bought]  
Christian Classics
  1. The Pilgrim's Progress. John Bunyan. 1678. 301 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  2. Your Sins and Mine. Taylor Caldwell. 1955/2017. Open Road Media. 105 pages. [Source: Review copy]   
  3. No One Hears But Him. Taylor Caldwell. 1966/2017. Open Road Media. 212 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Children's Classics
  1. The Apple and the Arrow. Mary and Conrad Buff. 1951/2001. HMH. 80 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  2. Carry On, Mr. Bowditch. Jean Lee Latham. 1955. 251 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. Schoolhouse in the Woods. Rebecca Caudill. Illustrated by Decie Merwin. 1949. 129 pages. [Source: Library] 
  4. Up and Down the River (Fairchild Family #3). Rebecca Caudill. Illustrated by Deci Merwin. 1951/2009. 143 pages. [Source: Library]  
  5. Schoolroom in the Parlor (Fairchild Family #4) Rebecca Caudill. Illustrated by Decie Merwin. 1959. 145 pages. [Source: Library]
  6. Bobbs Merril Third Reader. Edited by Clara Belle Baker and Edna Dean Baker. 1924/30/39. 293 pages. [Source: Bought]
  7. Trumpet of the Swan. E.B. White. Illustrated by Fred Marcellino. 1970. 272 pages. [Source: Library] 
  8. The Magician's Nephew (Chronicles of Narnia #6) C.S. Lewis. 1955. 221 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  9. The Horse and His Boy. (Chronicles of Narnia #5) C.S. Lewis. 1954. 224 pages. [Source: Library] 
  10. The Last Battle. C.S. Lewis. 1956. 224 pages. [Source: Library]  
  11. Too Big. Ingri d'Aulaire and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire. 1945/2008. NYR Children's Collection. 40 pages. [Source: Library] 
  12. Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Louis Sachar. 1978. 144 pages. [Source: Library] 
  13. The Sneetches and Other Stories. Dr. Seuss. 1961. Random House. 65 pages. [Source: Library]  
  14. Mandy. Julie Andrews Edwards. 1971. 320 pages. [Source: Bought]

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Year in Review: Victorian Classics

Novels by Anthony Trollope

  1. The Macdermots of Ballycloran. Anthony Trollope. 1847. 636 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  2. The Kellys and the O'Kellys. Anthony Trollope. 1848. 537 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. La Vendee. Anthony Trollope. 1850. 512 pages. [Source: Bought]   
  4. The Warden. Anthony Trollope. 1855. Oxford World's Classics. 294 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  5. Barchester Towers. Anthony Trollope. 1857. 418 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. The Three Clerks. Anthony Trollope. 1858. 648 pages. [Source: Bought]
  7. Doctor Thorne. Anthony Trollope. 1858. 639 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  8. The Bertrams. Anthony Trollope. 1859. 496 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  9. Castle Richmond. Anthony Trollope. 1860. 500 pages. [Source: Bought]
Novels by Henry James
  1. Watch and Ward. Henry James. 1871. 128 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  2. Roderick Hudson. Henry James. 1875. 398 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. The American. Henry James. 1877. 400 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  4. The Europeans. Henry James. 1878. 192 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. Confidence. Henry James. 1879. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  6. Washington Square. Henry James. 1880. 288 pages. [Source: Bought]
  7. Portrait of a Lady. Henry James. 1881. 656 pages. [Source: Bought]
Novels by Charles Dickens
  1. Oliver Twist. Charles Dickens. 1838/1839. 608 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  2. A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens. 1843. 96 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  3. The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain. Charles Dickens. 1848. 100 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. The Chimes. Charles Dickens. 1844. 116 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. The Cricket on the Hearth. Charles Dickens. 1845. 84 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. The Battle of Life. Charles Dickens. 1846. 88 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  7. Great Expectations. Charles Dickens. 1860. 640 pages. [Source: Library]   
Others:
  1. The Karamazov Brothers. Fyodor Dostoevsky. Translated by Ignat Avsey. 1880/2008. 1054 pages. [Source: Library]  
  2. The Adolescent. Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. 1875/2004. 647 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. The Best Short Stories. Fyodor Dostoyevsky. Translated by David Magarshack. 2001. 320 pages. [Source: Library] 
  4. Uncle Tom's Cabin. Harriet Beecher Stowe. 1852. 438 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. Adam Bede. George Eliot. 1859. 624 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. Hide and Seek. Wilkie Collins. 1854. 384 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  7. The Wretched. Victor Hugo. Translated by Christine Donougher. 1862/2013. 1456 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  8. Camille. Alexandre Dumas, fils. 1848. Translated by Edmund Gosse. 254 pages. [Source: Library] 
  9. Camille: A Play in Five Acts. Alexandre Dumas, fils. Translated by Matilda Heron. 1852. 72 pages. [Source: Library]
  10. The Time Machine. H.G. Wells. 1895. Penguin. 128 pages. [Source: Bought] 

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Share-a-Tea December Check-In

  • What are you currently reading for the challenge? 
  • Have you finished any books for this challenge this month?
  • Is there a book you're looking forward to starting next month?
  • Want to share any favorite quotes? It could be from your current read. It could be about reading. It could be about drinking tea. 
  • What teas have you enjoyed this month? 
  • Do you have a new favorite tea?
  • How many books did you read for this challenge throughout the year?
  • What was your favorite book?
  • What was your least favorite book?
  • Did you enjoy this reading challenge? Would you be interested in participating again?
  • What one thing would you change about the challenge?
Currently reading:
KJV Reader's Bible. 2016. Holman Bible Publishers. 1840 pages. [Source: Gift]

Finished this month:
Looking forward to:
    • Frameley Parsonage
    • Emily of New Moon
      Favorite quotes:
      • Any mind that is capable of a real sorrow is capable of good. Harriet Beecher Stowe
      • It is impossible for a person who does no good not to do harm. Harriet Beecher Stowe
      • What is freedom to a nation, but freedom to the individuals in it? Harriet Beecher Stowe
      • My private opinion is, and I hope you agree with me, that we might get on a great deal better than we do, and might be infinitely more agreeable company than we are. Charles Dickens
      • We count by changes and events within us. Not by years. Charles Dickens
      • Life, any life, is very short. But if you've managed to be happy for at least an instant, it will have been worth living. Antonio Iturbe
      • A book is like a trapdoor that leads to a secret attic; You can open it and go inside. And your world is different. Antonio Iturbe
       This month's teas:
      • PG Tips Black Tea
      • Earl Grey
      • Green Tea
      • English Breakfast
      • Peppermint
      • Candy Cane Lane
      • Lady Grey

      New Teas:
      • Sleepy Time Peach
      • Buttermint
      Next year's challenge sign up post:

      © 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      Wednesday, December 27, 2017

      Uncle Tom's Cabin

      Uncle Tom's Cabin. Harriet Beecher Stowe. 1852. 438 pages. [Source: Bought]

      Dear Uncle Tom's Cabin,

      I'm so sorry it took me this long to read you. You see, I blame The King and I. My only frame of reference to you was through that movie--and, well, let's be honest, that part of The King and I is hard to sit through. I didn't know you were better than that, and for that I do owe you an apology.

      So why did I read you now? The Classics Club. I included you on my list in the first place because you came recommended from one of my best, best, best friends. I trust her opinion. So on the list you went. But it took the 'classics club spin' to prompt me to read you NOW. And the truth is, I was hoping you were the one--the one to get picked. (And no, I'm not just saying that.)

      You're a rare gem of a novel. You are premise-driven AND character-driven--and dare I say plot-driven? The premise is simple: slavery is wrong for a million and one different reasons and there is no possible good defense to keeping it around. Some of the characters within the book are pro-slavery; some of the characters are anti-slavery. A few are confused or on the fence. Within your pages, these ideas do BATTLE. If you were just an idea-driven novel, you'd still be worth reading.

      But you're not just an idea-driven novel. You're more than that.

      You are definitely, without a doubt, a character-driven novel. Your characters LIVE and BREATHE. Uncle Tom. George Harris. Eliza. Miss Ophelia. Eva. St. Clare. Cassy. Emmeline. To name just a few. You might think, well, this book has an agenda--all of her characters will sound the same, act the same, hammer in the point--stick to the agenda: slavery is evil; down with slavery. And many of her characters--not just the slaves--are anti-slavery. There is an intense longing for freedom, for liberty. There is also anger and sorrow. But each slave is presented as an individual, as unique as can be. I really loved hearing each voice, learning each story. Every voice matters.

      If I had to pick just one favorite character--and I don't want to, mind you--I would pick Uncle Tom. I loved Tom's faith. I loved Tom's reliance on God's daily-given-grace to endure. I loved Tom's hope. Hope that the Lord does indeed hear his prayers, see his miseries, care about him. Hope that the victory is the Lord's, that justice will be done. Hope that the Lord will see him through, that he'll be an overcomer, that heaven is HIS. I loved Tom's heart. He loved. He was compassionate. He was an encourager. He also forgave. He lived the gospel--day in, day out. He didn't just live it by example; he also spoke it. He was a seed-planter. Even when his words fell on "deaf ears," so to speak, he continued to hold true to the gospel. He didn't see sharing the good news of Jesus Christ as a waste of breath. He wanted to see others around him KNOW Jesus as he knew Jesus. Whether they were white or black, free or slave. He prayed for the salvation of Augustine, of Simon Legree, of Sambo and Quimbo, of Cassy. He knew that God can save anyone, no one was beyond God's ability to save. And because he believed so strongly in heaven and hell, he CARED. He didn't want to see anyone in hell. Tom is in many ways, a saint, just like Eva. Faith didn't come easy to Tom. It wasn't like he was all: bring on the suffering, bring on the pain, do your worst and I'll smile and grin through it all. He prayed for deliverance. He prayed for the suffering to go away. He prayed for better circumstances. He longed for freedom. Being a Christian didn't stop him from wanting, from needing. But he was content that the Lord was his lot, his portion, his reward. Near the end he proclaims, "The Lord’s bought me, and is going to take me home,—and I long to go."

      As a Christian, it matters to me to see faith represented in fiction. And you do that so well. I wish there were more contemporary examples like you. Books with characters living, breathing the faith day in and day out--no matter how hard, no matter their doubts, no matter their weaknesses. Books that uphold that the Bible is the BOOK OF BOOKS. But. I'm getting distracted.

      Plot-driven. Yes, you're plot-driven too. There are scenes with such intensity, such drama, such danger and peril that I was worried and on the edge of my seat. Sometimes your action wasn't so much physical as emotional. What a roller coaster of a book. My poor heart.

      To sum it up, I LOVE YOU. And thank you for being you. I will do my best to encourage others to pick you up and read you. Oh. I also plan to come back and read you again.

      Love, Becky

      P.S. I've also reviewed you at Operation Actually Read Bible. I've included LOADS of quotes.

      © 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      Tuesday, December 26, 2017

      2018: Classics Reviewed

      January
      1. The Story of Live Dolls. Josephine Scribner Gates. Illustrated by Mabel Rogers. 1901. 1920. 116 pages. [Source: Read online]
      2. Dream Life for Children. Mattie K. Foster. 1918. 178 pages. [Source: Read online]
      3. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Lewis Carroll. Illustrated by John Tenniel. 1865/1871. 247 pages. [Source: Bought]
      4. My Antonia. Willa Cather. 1918. 336 pages. [Source: LIBRARY]
      5.  Framley Parsonage. Anthony Trollope. 1861. 573 pages. [Source: Bought]
      6. The Man in the Queue (Inspector Alan Grant #1) Josephine Tey. 1929. 255 pages. [Source: Bought]
      7. Emily of New Moon. L.M. Montgomery. 1923. Bantam. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]

      February
      March
      April
      May
      June
      July
      August
      September
      October
      November
      December

      © 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      What's On Your Nightstand (December)

      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.

      Currently reading:

      Uncle Tom's Cabin. Harriet Beecher Stowe. 1852. 438 pages. [Source: Bought]

      I have made good progress on this one since November. But I still have a ways to go before finishing. It needs to be finished and reviewed before January 1. It is my Classics Spin for the Classics Club challenge.

      KJV Reader's Bible. 2016. Holman Bible Publishers. 1840 pages. [Source: Gift]

      Started this one on Christmas day. I love getting a new Bible for Christmas.

      The Soul's Conflict and Victory Over Itself by Faith. Richard Sibbes. 1577-1635. 362 pages. [Source: Bought]

      I am LOVING Richard Sibbes.



      An Exposition of Psalm 119. Thomas Manton. 2025 pages. [Source: Bought]
      Thomas Manton is another Puritan I love and adore. I've read the first 67 sermons in this one. I'm blogging through the sermons one by one.
      © 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      Sunday, December 24, 2017

      Christmas Book Parade -- 2017

      Minerva Louise on Christmas Eve. Janet Morgan Stoeke. 2007. 24 pages. [Source: Library]

      First sentence: Minerva Louise loved the way the snow sparkled on the house with the red curtains.

      Premise/plot: Minerva Louise returns to the house with red curtains. She's curious about the sparkly tree topped with a hen and the goats on the roof. Why is the farmer wearing a red hat? So many questions this hen has. She's back and as silly as ever.

      My thoughts: It's Christmas and Minerva Louise is confused about all the changes inside and out! I really am fond of this chicken! My favorite is her confusion about why the strange man was eating her farmers' breakfast!

      Text: 5 out of 5
      Illustrations: 4 out of 5
      Total: 9 out of 10

      Here Comes Santa Cat. Deborah Underwood. 2014. 88 pages. [Source: Library]


      First sentence: Hey, Santa! Have you seen Cat? Cat! I didn't even recognize you. Why are you dressed like Santa? So you can give yourself a present? Oh, Cat. Santa will bring you a present, won't he? No? Why not? Ah. I see your problem.

      Premise/plot: Cat is worried that Santa will not bring him a present because he's been too naughty. It's Christmas Eve, and it's too late--isn't it--for him to start being nice enough to get on Santa's good list. Cat dresses up as Santa and attempts...well, he attempts many, many things! Will Cat's last minute efforts work? Will Cat get a Christmas present?

      My thoughts: I loved, loved, loved, LOVED this one. Cat and his signs are just too adorable. I love how expressive the illustrations are. This Cat is just super-super lovable. He would be a handful to live with perhaps. But as a character in a book, he's ideal! I love the conversational text. The narrative text is something I'd call practically perfect in every way.

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


      Stowaway in a Sleigh. C. Roger Mader. 2016. HMH. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

      First sentence: It was the darkest hour of night when Slipper heard strange footsteps in the house.

      Premise/plot: Slipper the cat is curious about her new acquaintance, Mr. Furry Boots. She sneaks unnoticed into his bag. After some adventures at the North Pole--she loves Ms. Furry Boots too--she begins to long for home.

      My thoughts: Oh, how I loved this one. LOVE. The text is simple and sweet. But it was the illustrations that left me smitten. Cat-lovers need this one. NEED. It is perfectly perfect.

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

      Harold at the North Pole. Crockett Johnson. 1958. HarperCollins. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

      First sentence: It was Christmas Eve, and Harold had to have a Christmas tree before Santa Claus arrived.

      Premise/plot: It's Christmas Eve and Harold needs a Christmas tree. With his purple crayon in hand, Harold's adventure begins. He's in search of a tree, so he must draw stars and woods and SNOW. Because he was a little TOO enthusiastic about the snow, Harold finds himself at the North Pole, and, Santa is snowed in. Can Harold draw Santa out of trouble?

      My thoughts: This one is so cute and charming. I loved the text. I loved the illustrations. I loved the scene where Harold draws the reindeer and harnesses them up to Santa's sleigh. Have you read this one? What did you think?

      Text: 4.5 out of 5
      Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
      Total: 9 out of 10
      All I Want For Christmas Is You. Mariah Carey. Illustrated by Colleen Madden. 2015. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

      First sentence: I don't want a lot for Christmas. There is just one thing I need.

      Premise/plot: Using the lyrics of Mariah Carey's Christmas song, "All I Want For Christmas is You," a holiday-themed love story is told to readers. The love story is between a little girl and a puppy. For it is a PUPPY that she's dreaming of this holiday season.

      My thoughts: The illustrations are by Colleen Madden. In my opinion, the illustrations do most of the work of telling the story. Chances are--adults and children alike--are already familiar, very familiar, with the lyrics of the song. The interest comes from the story told by the illustrations. How do the illustrations convey emotion and story? And how well do they do that?

      I enjoyed the illustrations. I did. I liked following the little girl throughout the holiday season. Readers see her in all her festive activities: shopping, crafting, baking, playing in the snow, skating, singing, visiting friends and family, etc. One of my favorite spreads shows that while all the other children are making snowmen, she's making a dog out of snow. He has pine cone ears. And he's just adorable.

      Text: 4.5 out of 5
      Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
      Total: 9 out of 10
      Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! Doreen Cronin. Illustrated by Betsy Lewin. 2015. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages.

      First sentence: Snow is falling. Lights twinkle. A few creatures are stirring. It is Christmas Eve. There is a jingle in the air. Farmer Brown stops to listen. Santa is on his way.

      Premise/plot: Farmer Brown is settling in to enjoy a nice Christmas. He's blissfully unaware of what some of the "creatures" on his farm are plotting or planning. Readers should pay careful attention to all the illustrations. They can track Santa's journey as well. But my guess is that the repetitive refrain: Ho, Ho, Uh-oh, might just be their favorite part.

      My thoughts: I think it must be really difficult to write a really, actually, GOOD Christmas-themed picture book. You can read a dozen or so Christmas books, and, only find one or two that stand out as being entertaining, or, FUNNY. (Funny as opposed to being sentimental, or, a book that is supposed-to-make-you-cry.) You also encounter plenty of books with awkward, forced rhymes. Or books where you're left asking, "And the point of this was....?!"

      But Doreen Cronin's Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! was good, really, really good. I liked the beginning, the middle, and the end. It was predictable in all the right ways. I love how the text and illustrations work together to build a suspenseful story. The readers definitely are more aware than poor Farmer Brown!!!

      Text: 4.5 out of 5
      Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
      Total: 9 out of 10

      How Many Sleeps 'Til Christmas? Mark Sperring. Illustrated by Sebastien Braun. 2014. Tiger Tales. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

      First sentence: One winter morning, before the sun had even woken, Little Pip climbed out of bed, padded across the floor, and "PSSST!" gave Daddy Grizzle a gentle nudge....

      Premise/plot: Little Pip is a young cub who is so super-excited about it being almost-Christmas that he wakes his dad (Daddy Grizzle) up every morning convinced that Christmas is HERE at last. Every day, Daddy Grizzle tells him how many "whole sleeps" until Christmas. They are able to fill their days with fun and exciting Christmas-y activities.

      My thoughts: I found this one ADORABLE. In part, perhaps, because of the illustrations by Sebastien Braun, but also because of the super-fun-and-adorable twist at the end of the book!!! True, I'm not sure that bears actually celebrate Christmas. But Little Pip and Daddy Grizzle are just adorable together. Love the enthusiasm and joy this one conveys throughout.

      Text: 4 out of 5
      Illustrations: 5 out of 5
      Total: 9 out of 10

      Merry Christmas, Mom and Dad. (Little Critter) Mercer Mayer. 1982. 24 pages. [Source: Bought]

      First sentence: I wanted to make Christmas very special, just for you, so I made a Christmas wreath. I wanted to decorate some Christmas cookies just for you, but I couldn't stop tasting them. I wanted to find a Christmas present just for you, but there were too many toys to look at.

      Premise/plot: Little Critter tries really hard to make Christmas really, truly special for his Mom and Dad. But, as you'd expect, things don't always go according to plan. Is it the thought that counts?!

      My thoughts: I love and adore Little Critter. I loved this one cover to cover. My favorite: "I wanted to wrap the baby's present just for you, but the tape was too sticky." It is a fact, by the way, that I was banned from using tape!

      Text: 5 out of 5
      Illustrations: 4 out of 5
      Total: 9 out of 10
      Little Babymouse and the Christmas Cupcakes. Jennifer L. Holm. Illustrated by Matthew Holm. 2016. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

      First sentence: It was Christmas Eve. And Babymouse was putting out cookies for Santa. Babymouse! Mmf. I couldn't wait! They looked so tasty! (Sigh.) I certainly hope Santa likes Christmas crumbs.

      Premise/plot: This picture book takes readers BACK to a time to when Babymouse (the star of a very popular graphic novel series) was LITTLE. After Babymouse "accidentally" eats Santa's cookies, she decides to do something different...and instead of baking more cookies...she decides to bake him cupcakes. But will all go according to plan?

      My thoughts: I love Babymouse. I do. I think this is a fun introduction to Babymouse for younger readers. As you might have guessed, Babymouse's imagination was ACTIVE even way back when.

      Text: 4 out of 5
      Illustrations: 4 out of 5
      Total: 8 out of 10

      Sophie's Surprise. Lee Richardson. Illustrated by Shirley Holt. 1983. 28 pages. [Source: Bought]

      First sentence: Mr. Kelly found Sophie in the alley behind his toy store. She was hungry and needed a home. He was lonely and needed a mouser.

      Premise/plot: Sophie has found a home in a lovely toy store. She's even found a perfect place to nap--on Brown Bear. Mr. Kelly is in for a big, big surprise come Christmas Eve! And it all happens in his display window case!

      My thoughts: I definitely enjoyed this one! It's a gem of a book. The story is sweet. If you love cats, you'll probably love it. If you have a soft spot for teddy bears, there's also a good chance you'll love it. For me, I found it irresistible. The illustrations are WONDERFUL. They are so detailed.

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

      © 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      Saturday, December 23, 2017

      Week in Review: December 17-24

      The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain. Charles Dickens. 1848. 100 pages. [Source: Bought]
      Love Over Scotland (44 Scotland Street #3) Alexander McCall Smith. 2006. 355 pages. [Source: Library]
      Among the Enemy. (Shadow Children #6) Margaret Peterson Haddix. 2005. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
      Among the Free (Shadow Children #7) Margaret Peterson Haddix. 2006. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
      20 Questions Book Tag
      Newbery Reading Challenge 2018

      The Ladies of Ivy Cottage. (Tales from Ivy Hill #2) Julie Klassen. 2017. Bethany House. 448 pages. [Source: Review copy]
      Journaling the CSB Spurgeon Bible #6
      My Autumn with Psalm 119 #28
      My Autumn with Psalm 119 #29
      My Autumn with Psalm 119 #30 
      My Autumn with Psalm 119 #31

      How Does My Home Work? Chris Butterworth. Illustrated by Lucia Gaggiotti. 2017. [Oct. 24] Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
      The Nutcracker. New York City Ballet. Valeria Docampo (illustrator). 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
      The Nutcracker: From The Story by E.T.A. Hoffmann. Illustrated by Valeria Docampo. 2016. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
      The Nutcracker in Harlem. T.E. McMorrow. Illustrated by James Ransome. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
      A World of Cookies for Santa: Follow Santa's Tasty Trip Around the World. M.E. Furman. Illustrated by Susan Gal. 2017. [October 17] Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]

      © 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      Friday, December 22, 2017

      2018 Reading Challenge: Newbery Reading Challenge

      Newbery Reading Challenge 2018
      Host: Smiling Shelves (sign-up)
      January - December 2018
      # of Books: I'm aiming for Spinelli. 30-44 points. 3 pts for each Newbery Medal; 2 pts for each Newbery Honor; 1 pt for Caldecott Medal or Honor.

      Newbery Winners

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

      Newbery Honors:

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

      Caldecott

      1.
      2.
      3.
      4.

      © 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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