Thursday, August 31, 2017

2017 Challenges: R.I.P. XII

R.EADERS I.MBIBING P.ERIL XII (RIPXII)
Hosted by Estella's Revenge
Duration: September - October 2017
# of books: I'm aiming for ONE

The Stand. Stephen King. 1978/2001. 1153 pages. [Source: Bought]

One goal, I have only one goal, to read King's The STAND.  Obviously if I read other books that qualify, I'll list them. But. I don't want other books to distract me from this chunkster.

ETA. I am NOT loving The Stand. I am almost 350 pages into it--and I am not loving it one little bit. I could keep going and see if that changes. I could give it another two hundred pages and reevaluate then. Or. I could give myself permission to say THIS BOOK IS NOT FOR ME AND THAT IS OKAY.

SO NEW PLAN: How many mysteries can I read in two months. Go.

1) Blood, Bullets, and Bones. The Story of Forensic Science from Sherlock Holmes to DNA. Bridget Heos. 2016. 263 pages. [Source: Library]
2) Heirloom Murders. (Chloe Ellefson Mystery #2) Kathleen Ernst. 2011. 349 pages. [Source: Library]
3) Light Keeper's Legacy. (Chloe Ellefson Mystery #3) Kathleen Ernst. 2012. 360 pages. [Source: Library]
4) The Case of the Gilded Lily. (Perry Mason #50) Erle Stanley Gardner. 1956. 188 pages. [Source: Bought]
5)The Case of the Daring Decoy. (Perry Mason #54) Erle Stanley Gardner. 1957. 198 pages. [Source: Bought] 
6) The Wife Between Us. Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen. 2018. St. Martin's Press. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
7)  The Case of the Fiery Fingers. Erle Stanley Gardner. 1951. 192 pages. [Source: Bought]
8) Death of a Cad. M.C. Beaton. 1987. 214 pages. [Source: Library]
9) The Case of the Lucky Loser. Erle Stanley Gardner. 1957. 192 pages. [Source: Bought]

The purpose of the R.I.P. Challenge is to enjoy books that could be classified as:

Mystery.
Suspense.
Thriller.
Dark Fantasy.
Gothic.
Horror.
Supernatural.




© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

August Reflections

Favorite picture book published in 2017: Big Cat, Little Cat. Elisha Cooper. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
Favorite picture book for older readers: Books! Books! Books! Explore the Amazing Collection of the British Library. Mick Manning. Illustrated by Brita Granstrom. 2017. Candlewick. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
Favorite board book: Where's The Giraffe. Ingela P. Arrhenius. 2017. Candlewick. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Favorite MG: Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess. Shari Green. 2017. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
Favorite YA: The Hate U Give. Angie Thomas. 2017. 444 pages. [Source: Library]
Favorite classic:  Great Expectations. Charles Dickens. 1860. 640 pages. [Source: Library]
Favorite historical:  Hook's Tale: Being the Account of an Unjustly Villainized Pirate Written by Himself. John Leonard Pielmeier. 2017. 288 pages. [Source: Library]

Board books and 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. Books! Books! Books! Explore the Amazing Collection of the British Library. Mick Manning. Illustrated by Brita Granstrom. 2017. Candlewick. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. Bear's House of Books. Poppy Bishop. Illustrated by Alison Egson. 2017. 25 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. Bulldozer Helps Out. Candace Fleming. Illustrated by Eric Rohmann. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  6.  Plankton is Pushy. Jonathan Fenske. 2017. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7. Too Big. Ingri d'Aulaire and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire. 1945/2008. NYR Children's Collection. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  8. Monkey: Not Ready for the Baby. Marc Brown. 2016. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  9. Fiona's Little Lie. Rosemary Wells. 2016. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  10. Make & Play Nativity. Illustrated by Joey Chou. 2017. Candlewick Press. 26 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  11. Board book: Duck & Goose Colors. Tad Hills. 2015. 22 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  12. Board book: Gossie & Friends Say Goodnight. Olivier Dunrea. 2017. HMH. 18 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  13. Board book: The Three Little Pigs. Michael Robertson, illustrator. 2017. Scholastic. 7 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  14. Board book: Where's The Giraffe. Ingela P. Arrhenius. 2017. Candlewick. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  15. Board book: Where's the Ladybug? Ingela P. Arrhenius. 2017. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  16. Board book: First Words Baby Signing. 2017. Scholastic. 18 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  17. Board book: I'm Scared (My First Comics #4) Jennifer L. Holm. Illustrated by Matthew Holm. 2017. Random House. 18 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  18. Board book: Sleepy Toes. Kelli McNeil. Illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld. 2017. Scholastic. 26 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  19. Board book:   Happy Birthday (Sing Along with Me) Yu-Husan Huang. 2017. Candlewick. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  20. Board book: Hey Diddle Diddle (Sing Along With Me) Yu-Hsuan Huang. 2017. Candlewick Press. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  21. Board book: Making Faces: A First Book of Emotions. 2017. Abrams. 14 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  22. Board book: Peppa's First Colors. 2017. Scholastic. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  23. Board book: Are You My Cuddle Bunny? Sandra Magsamen. 2017. Scholastic. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  24. Board book: Good Night, Sweetie. Joyce Wan. 2017. Scholastic. 14 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  25. Board book: I Dare You Not to Yawn. Helene Boudreau. Illustrated by Serge Bloch. 2017. Candlewick Press. 28 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  26. Board book: Maisy's Sailboat. Lucy Cousins. 2017. Candlewick. 18 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  27. Board book: Maisy's Bus. Lucy Cousins. 2017. Candlewick. 18 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  28. Board book:   Train. Chris Demarest. 1996/2017. HMH. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  29. Board book: Bus. Chris Demarest. 1996/2017. HMH. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  30. Board book: Tinyville Town: I'm a Firefighter. Brian Biggs. 2016. Abrams. 22 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  31. Board book: Tinyville Town: I'm a Veterinarian. Brian Biggs. 2016. Abrams. 22 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  32. Board book: Peppa and the Big Train. 2017. Scholastic. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  33. Goodnight, Numbers. Danica McKellar. Illustrated by Alicia Padron. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  34. Sam Sorts. Marthe Jocelyn. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  35. Triangle. Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. 2017. Candlewick. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  36. I Lost My Sock. P.J. Roberts. Illustrated by Chris Eliopolous. 2017. Abrams. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  37. Secret Agent Man Goes Shopping for Shoes. Tim Wynne-Jones. Illustrated by Brian Won. 2016. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  38. Spy Guy: The Not So Secret Agent. Jessica Young. Illustrated by Charles Santoso. 2015. HMH. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  39. My Favorite Pets: By Gus W. for Ms. Smolinski's Class. Jeanne Birdsall. Illustrated by Harry Bliss. 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  40. The Princess and the Pizza. Mary Jane Auch and Herm Auch. 2002. Holiday House. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  41. Princess Super Kitty. Antoinette Portis. 2011. HarperCollins. 40 pages. [Source: Library]  
  42. School's First Day of School. Adam Rex. 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  43. Mr. Moon. Michael Paraskevas. 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  44. Trucks. Byron Barton. 1986. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  45. Trains. Byron Barton. 1986. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  46. And the Train Goes. William Bee. 2007. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 

Early readers and early chapter books:
  1. What Is Chasing Duck? Jan Thomas. 2017. HMH. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  2. There's A Pest in the Garden. Jan Thomas. 2017. HMH. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. Five Minute Pete the Cat Stories. James Dean. 2017. HarperCollins. 192 pages. [Source: Library]  
  4. Pumpkin the Hamster. (Dr. Kitty Cat #6) Jane Clarke. 2017. Scholastic. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. Lulu and the Brontosaurus. Judith Viorst. Illustrated by Lane Smith. 2010. 128 pages. [Source: Library]
  6. Lulu Walks the Dogs. Judith Viorst. Illustrated by Lane Smith. 2012. 160 pages. [Source: Library]
  7. Lulu's Mysterious Mission. Judith Viorst. Illustrated by Kevin Cornell. 2014. 185 pages. [Source: Library] 
  8. Nate the Great Goes Undercover. (Nate the Great #2) Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. Illustrated by Marc Simont. 1974. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
  9. Nate the Great and the Lost List. (Nate the Great #3) Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. Illustrated by Marc Simont. 1975. 80 pages. [Source: Library]
  10. Nate the Great and the Phony Clue. (Nate the Great #4) Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. Illustrated by Marc Simont. 1977. 80 pages. [Source: Library]  
  11. Nate the Great and the Sticky Case (Nate the Great #5). Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. Illustrated by Marc Simont. 1978. 80 pages. [Source: Library]
  12. Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Louis Sachar. 1978. 144 pages. [Source: Library] 
  13. Counting Sheep (Calpurnia Tate #2) Jacqueline Kelly. 2017. 112 pages. [Source: Library]
Contemporary (general/realistic) fiction, all ages:
  1. Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess. Shari Green. 2017. 240 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. The Hate U Give. Angie Thomas. 2017. 444 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old. Henrik Groen. Translated by Hester Velmans. 2017. 384 pages. [Source: Library]
Speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, etc.) all ages:
  1. Yours Sincerely, Giraffe. Megumi Iwasa. Illustrated by Jun Takabatake. 2017. 104 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. 1984. George Orwell. 1949. 268 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. It Can't Happen Here. Sinclair Lewis. 1935. 400 pages. [Source: Library]
Historical fiction, all ages:
  1. Hook's Tale: Being the Account of an Unjustly Villainized Pirate Written by Himself. John Leonard Pielmeier. 2017. 288 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. Skitterbrain. Irene Bennett Brown. 1978. 112 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. Counting Sheep (Calpurnia Tate #2) Jacqueline Kelly. 2017. 112 pages. [Source: Library]
Mysteries, all ages:
  1. Nate the Great Goes Undercover. (Nate the Great #2) Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. Illustrated by Marc Simont. 1974. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. Nate the Great and the Lost List. (Nate the Great #3) Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. Illustrated by Marc Simont. 1975. 80 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. Nate the Great and the Phony Clue. (Nate the Great #4) Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. Illustrated by Marc Simont. 1977. 80 pages. [Source: Library]  
  4. Nate the Great and the Sticky Case (Nate the Great #5). Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. Illustrated by Marc Simont. 1978. 80 pages. [Source: Library]
Classics, all ages:
  1. Great Expectations. Charles Dickens. 1860. 640 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. 1984. George Orwell. 1949. 268 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. It Can't Happen Here. Sinclair Lewis. 1935. 400 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. Hide and Seek. Wilkie Collins. 1854. 384 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. Too Big. Ingri d'Aulaire and Edgar Parin d'Aulaire. 1945/2008. NYR Children's Collection. 40 pages. [Source: Library] 
  6. Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Louis Sachar. 1978. 144 pages. [Source: Library]
Nonfiction, all ages:
  1. Go Down Together. Jeff Guinn. 2008. 468 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. Eight Hands Round: A Patchwork Alphabet. Ann Whitford Paul. 1991. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

Christian fiction:
  1. The Return. (Amish Beginnings #3) Suzanne Woods Fisher. 2017. Revell. 330 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. Godless. (Fatherless #3) James Dobson and Kurt Bruner. 2014. 416 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. Make & Play Nativity. Illustrated by Joey Chou. 2017. Candlewick Press. 26 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  4. Treasured Grace (Heart of the Frontier #1) Tracie Peterson. 2017. Bethany House. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. Great Expectations. Charles Dickens. 1860. 640 pages. [Source: Library]
  6. 1984. George Orwell. 1949. 268 pages. [Source: Bought]

Christian nonfiction: 
  1.  Asking the Right Questions: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Applying the Bible. Matthew S. Harmon. 2017. Crossway. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids. David Murray. Illustrated by Scotty Reifsnyder. 2017. Crossway. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. Reformation Sketches: Insights Into Luther, Calvin, and the Confessions. W. Robert Godfrey. 2003. 151 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. The Bruised Reed. Richard Sibbes. 1630. [Source: Bought]
  5. Missions: How the Local Church Goes Global. Andy Johnson. 2017. Crossway. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  6. The Gospel According to Peanuts. Robert L. Short. Introduced by Martin E. Marty. 1965/2000. 130 pages. [Source: Library]


© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Yours Sincerely, Giraffe

Yours Sincerely, Giraffe. Megumi Iwasa. Illustrated by Jun Takabatake. 2017. 104 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: This is the African savanna, home to one bored giraffe.

Premise/plot: Giraffe, one of the heroes of the book, is BORED. One day he sees a sign advertising a new business. A BORED pelican has decided to start a mail delivery service. Giraffe decides he will write a letter, and the letter is to be delivered to the first animal pelican meets "on the other side of the horizon." Pelican delivers the letter, and Giraffe waits...and waits...and waits. Will Giraffe receive a letter in return? Will he find a friend? Will Giraffe and Pelican find relief from their boredom?

My thoughts: This one was originally published in New Zealand. It stars four characters: Pelican, Giraffe, Whale, and Penguin. I really enjoyed all four characters; each is special in his own way. The book includes the text of each letter, and the letters are quite amusing. For example, "When I read your letter, I learned for the first time that there is such a thing as a neck. I think maybe I don't have a neck. Or maybe I am all neck?" (54) Another favorite:
"You asked what I look like, but looking is a very odd thing....No matter whether the sea looks blue or green or orange, when I scoop up a bucketful the water becomes transparent. Isn't that strange? Perhaps it isn't looking that's strange, but the sea itself. Or maybe it's the bucket. But you asked what I look like. I think that I am mostly black and white. Even when I climbed into a bucket, my feathers did not change. So I think that must be right." (60-1)
I would definitely recommend this one!



© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess

Macy McMillan and the Rainbow Goddess. Shari Green. 2017. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Our house on Pemberton Street with the red front door wildflower garden out back window seat just right for reading has a For Sale sign jammed in the front lawn. It's the ugliest thing I've ever seen.

Premise/plot: Macy McMillan is the heroine of Shari Green's new free verse novel for middle grade readers. What we know about the heroine: a) she hates the fact her mom is getting married; it's always been just the two of them; b) she is frustrated by her school assignment of doing a family tree; c) she's having trouble with her best friend, Olivia, understanding her frustration; d) she LOVES, LOVES, LOVES to read; e) she loves to garden as well; e) she is also deaf. The heroine's deafness might seem like it should be the most important thing about Macy--but it isn't. In fact, for better or worse, I think you could take away her deafness from the plot altogether and have the exact same story.

Early in the novel, Macy's mom suggests that she help her neighbor, Iris, pack up her books. (Her neighbor also has a 'for sale' sign in the yard. Iris will be going into a nursing home.) Macy is hesitant at first. She doesn't know Iris, and all of a sudden, Macy will be going over to her house nearly every day helping her pack. Iris is old, and Macy thinks every "old" person IS cranky. What Macy learns is that Iris is a) named after a rainbow goddess, a messenger of the gods; b) loves, loves, loves to read; c) loves, loves, loves to bake; d) is a GREAT storyteller; e) a true kindred spirit.

My thoughts: I loved this one. I really liked Macy. But I loved, loved, loved Iris. Together these two make for a GREAT read. I also enjoyed the other characters in the book. (Her best friend, Olivia, her mother, her step-father-to-be, Alan, her step-sisters-to-be, Kaitlin and Bethany.) Macy is a flawed heroine--my favorite kind. So in terms of characterization, this one was wonderful.

The language--the writing--was great. Did it need to be free verse? Maybe, maybe not. But if it was written in prose, I would say the writing was lyrical and poetic in places.

Favorite quotes:
If you love something
you should love it extravagantly (46)
Chocolate chip cookies say
"You'll be okay."
Oatmeal cookies say
"You're strong enough...you can do this."
Peanut butter cookies send joy
and laughter.
Sugar and spice cookies whisper
"You are loved, you belong."
It's the most important message
of all. (58)
I make a point of connecting with people
who come into my life
because even if only for a moment
their story connects with mine.
That should mean something...
even if there's no chapter in a cafe next door. (67)
I learned much from Anne--
that the hard things in life
sometimes turn out to be the very things
that equip us for what comes next...
that there's nothing so precious
as a kindred spirit
and a place to call home...
that we need one another...
that words are magical...
and that it's possible--more than possible--
to survive the depths of despair
and come out strong. (86)
My gaze lands
on the well-loved book
she gave me
reminding me
of the depths of despair
and I realize
Iris hasn't only been sharing books.
She's been sharing stories.
It seems like a good time
to tell her a story
of my own. (92)
When you're in the midst of a good story
it's hard to remember
there are more wonderful tales to be told. (104)
Why do we think
we can know anything about a person
by how they look
what they can do
what life is like for them now?
Because it turns out
we really can't.
The only way to know that stuff
is if someone
tells you the story. (152)
I can whip through chapter after chapter
of a good book
but starting a new chapter
of my own story
is not
my specialty. (200)
Turns out
there are as many stories
in the bits and bobs
as there are in the books
but those ones...those are the kind of stories
that need to be shared
while drinking lemonade
and eating sugar & spice cookies
baked by a rainbow goddess
the kind of stories that start from a seed
a scrap
a spark of memory
and then
when you begin to tell them
they burst into bloom
like a field of wildflowers
on the first hot day
of summer.
No wonder Iris doesn't want
to lose them.
No wonder she hangs on
to books, clippings, memories.
They're stories
all of them.
Someday maybe
I'll have to tell them for her
and someday maybe
I'll have to tell them to her
--and I will
because stories
are worth saving
sharing
hanging on to
and giving away. (222-3)
A rainbow goddess
needs to be able
to send messages. (225)
Hearts are waiting, worrying, hurting
--in need of a message
you can send. (226)


© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Go Down Together

Go Down Together. Jeff Guinn. 2008. 468 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Clyde Barrow's father, Henry, never had much luck in life, and the hard times started for him right out of the womb.

Premise/plot: The subtitle of Jeff Guinn's Go Down Together sums the premise of the book up perfectly: the true, untold story of Bonnie and Clyde. It is a fascinating story of the Barrows, the Parkers, West Dallas, the Great Depression, the last days of Prohibition, the Dust Bowl, and the justice system of the 1920s and 1930s.

My thoughts: It was interesting to read Go Down Together at the same time I was reading Victor Hugo's Les Miserables. What both books have in common is an up-close-and-personal look at extreme poverty and some of the injustices of the prison system.
Destroy the mine of Ignorance, and you destroy the underminer, Crime. To put in a few words some of what we have been writing about: the only social peril is darkness. Humanity is of one kind. All men are of the same clay. With no difference, here below at least, in their predetermined fate. The same obscurity before, the same flesh during, the same dust afterwards. But ignorance mingled with the stuff of humankind blackens it. This incurable blackness spreads inside man and there becomes Evil. Victor Hugo
Go Down Together is by no means great literature, but, it does ask some thought-provoking questions; questions that perhaps Victor Hugo would have had a ready answer for.

It is a very HUMAN book. I get the idea that the author was not seeking to make great heroes or great villains out of Bonnie or Clyde. When they were alive, these two inspired outlandish stories. "True crime" stories were incredibly popular back in the day; criminals were the vampires and werewolves of the thirties perhaps! Newspapers depended on ENTERTAINING stories to sell copies; it was more important to sell copies than to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth. After their deaths, the stories continued. Books and movies flourished. It didn't matter how much truth there was to be found--so long as the public bought it and kept coming back for more, more, more. What was selling was the idea of Bonnie and Clyde.

Who was Bonnie Parker? Who was Clyde Barrow? What was the Barrow family like? What was the Parker family like? What were their lives like? What was important to them? What did they want out of life? How did it all go so wrong? What were their options?

The author is CLEAR that while their stories are sad, and pitiful, crime was not the best option or the only option. Clyde was not the only young man who was living in extreme poverty, facing class discrimination, struggling to find a decent job, struggling to have a good life--a home, food to eat, clothes to wear. Bonnie was not the only young woman who felt TRAPPED by poverty. Both, I would imagine, felt trapped by a system they didn't like or trust, a system holding them down, holding them back. Poverty and class and injustice.

For example, as a young man long before his crime spree started, Clyde felt picked on by the police. Any time, or every time, a crime was committed he was hauled in for questioning. Most of the time there was no evidence linking him to the crime in question, he was just a "general suspect." The book mentions how Clyde would hold down a job for a couple days or a week or two, but, inevitably the police would come and get him while he was working, and he'd be fired. The few jobs he got, he lost--Clyde blamed the police, "the laws." Now, Clyde was not innocent. He did grow up stealing--along with at least one brother, maybe two--small things. The small things got bigger and bigger and bigger as he grew. And when he was convicted of theft, he was guilty. And he did get sent to prison. But prison made him a thousand times worse than he was before. And that might be an understatement. If the prison system--to be specific, the prison system in Texas in the late 1920s to early 1930s--had been better--more just, less corrupt would BONNIE AND CLYDE and their infamous Barrow Gang have come to be at all? The details of the prison system were difficult to read about.

The book was fascinating and packed with details. I loved the focus on family. I think it was fitting as well. One thing that might have led to their ultimate downfall was the fact that FAMILY CAME FIRST to both Bonnie and Clyde. No matter what these two always, always, always, always came back to visit their families. And the more stressed they were, the more hunted they were, the more important it was to them to see their family "one more time."

Bonnie enjoyed writing poetry. She gave her mother a poem a few weeks, I believe, before the two died. I'll quote the beginning and the end of "The End of the Line".
You've read the story of Jesse James--
Of how he lived and died;
If you're still in need
Of something to read
Here's the story of Bonnie and Clyde.
Now Bonnie and Clyde are the Barrow gang.
I'm sure you all have read
How they rob and steal
And those who squeal
Are usually found dying or dead.
There's lots of untruths to those write-ups;
They're not so ruthless as that;
Their nature is raw;
They hate the law--
The stool pigeons, spotters, and rats.
They don't think they're too smart or desperate,
They know the law always wins;
They've been shot at before,
But they do not ignore
That death is the wages of sin.
Some day they'll go down together;
And they'll bury them side by side,
To a few it'll be grief--
To the law a relief--
But it's death for Bonnie and Clyde.
It was also interesting to read Go Down Together right after seeing a WONDERFUL production of the musical. The musical doesn't do as great a job as Guinn's book at context. It does tend to keep things on the glamorous side, a bit. It also leaves out a LOT of information. For example, Bonnie's injury as a result of a car crash that left her crippled. Clyde had to carry her EVERYWHERE for the last year. But the music was WONDERFUL. And the humor in the dialogue was just about perfect. I had no idea the show would have me laughing.






© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Monday, August 28, 2017

Share-a-Tea August 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?
What I'm currently reading for the challenge:

ESV Reformation Study Bible. Edited by R.C. Sproul. Reformation Trust. 2560 pages. [Source: Gift/Bought]

MEV Personal Size Large Print. Passio. 2014. 1952 pages. [Source: Bought]

The Wretched (Les Miserables) Victor Hugo. Translated by Christine Donougher. 1862/2013. 1456 pages. [Source: Bought]

Adam Bede. George Eliot. 1859. 624 pages. [Source: Bought]

Books I've finished this month:
 Books! Books! Books! Explore the Amazing Collection of the British Library. Mick Manning. Illustrated by Brita Granstrom. 2017. Candlewick. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Hide and Seek. Wilkie Collins. 1854. 384 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old. Henrik Groen. Translated by Hester Velmans. 2017. 384 pages. [Source: Library]
Great Expectations. Charles Dickens. 1860. 640 pages. [Source: Library] 
Asking the Right Questions: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Applying the Bible. Matthew S. Harmon. 2017. Crossway. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
Reformation Sketches: Insights Into Luther, Calvin, and the Confessions. W. Robert Godfrey. 2003. 151 pages. [Source: Library]
The Bruised Reed. Richard Sibbes. 1630. [Source: Bought]
 The Return. (Amish Beginnings #3) Suzanne Woods Fisher. 2017. Revell. 330 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Looking forward to...
  • Finishing Les Miserables
  • Continuing Adam Bede
  • Beginning Catch 22
Favorite quotes:

From Les Miserables:
  • Youth, even in its sorrows, always has its own brightness. Victor Hugo
  • Don’t you know, to do nothing is a fateful choice to make? Victor Hugo
  • Where the telescope ends, the microscope begins. Which of the two has the greater vision? You choose. Victor Hugo
  • To replace thought with daydreaming is to mistake a poison for sustenance. Victor Hugo
  • Destroy the mine of Ignorance, and you destroy the underminer, Crime. To put in a few words some of what we have been writing about: the only social peril is darkness. Humanity is of one kind. All men are of the same clay. With no difference, here below at least, in their predetermined fate. The same obscurity before, the same flesh during, the same dust afterwards. But ignorance mingled with the stuff of humankind blackens it. This incurable blackness spreads inside man and there becomes Evil. Victor Hugo
  • To read aloud is to lend authority to your reading. There are people who read very loudly and seem to be vouching on their word of honour for what they are reading. Victor Hugo
  • He never went out without a book under his arm and he often returned with two. Victor Hugo 
  • ‘Peace is happiness settling down.’ Victor Hugo
  • What tidal waves ideas are! How quickly they drown all that it is their mission to destroy and bury, and how swiftly they create tremendous depths! Victor Hugo
 From Adam Bede
  • Imagination is a licensed trespasser: it has no fear of dogs, but may climb over walls and peep in at windows with impunity. George Eliot
  • Let evil words die as soon as they're spoken. George Eliot, Adam Bede
  • When death, the great Reconciler, has come, it is never our tenderness that we repent of, but our severity. George Eliot
  • My life is too short, and God's work is too great for me to think of making a home for myself in this world. George Eliot, Adam Bede
  • "Ah, dear friends, we are in sad want of good news about God; and what does other good news signify if we haven't that? For everything else comes to an end, and when we die we leave it all. But God lasts when everything else is gone. What shall we do if he is not our friend? George Eliot, Adam Bede
  • I know a man must have the love o' God in his soul, and the Bible's God's word. But what does the Bible say? Why, it says as God put his sperrit into the workman as built the tabernacle, to make him do all the carved work and things as wanted a nice hand. And this is my way o' looking at it: there's the sperrit o' God in all things and all times—weekday as well as Sunday—and i' the great works and inventions, and i' the figuring and the mechanics. And God helps us with our headpieces and our hands as well as with our souls; and if a man does bits o' jobs out o' working hours—builds a oven for 's wife to save her from going to the bakehouse, or scrats at his bit o' garden and makes two potatoes grow istead o' one, he's doin' more good, and he's just as near to God, as if he was running after some preacher and a-praying and a-groaning. George Eliot, Adam Bede 
From Hide and Seek
  • Art wouldn't be the glorious thing it is, if it wasn't all difficulty from beginning to end. (120)
From The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen
  • Someone ought to bring a class-action lawsuit against the packaging industry for physical damage and mental distress. They have to be doing it on purpose. If they can send people to the moon, surely they ought to be able to come up with an easy twist-off lid. (157)
  • We lose some capacities as we age, but being a busybody isn't one of them. (292)
From Great Expectations
  • "If I give you the money for this purpose, will you keep my secret as you have kept your own?" "Quite as faithfully." "And your mind will be more at rest?" "Much more at rest." "Are you very unhappy now?" She asked this question, still without looking at me, but in an unwonted tone of sympathy. I could not reply at the moment, for my voice failed me. She put her left arm across the head of her stick, and softly laid her forehead on it. "I am far from happy, Miss Havisham; but I have other causes of disquiet than any you know of. They are the secrets I have mentioned." After a little while, she raised her head, and looked at the fire Again.
    "It is noble in you to tell me that you have other causes of unhappiness, Is it true?" "Too true." "Can I only serve you, Pip, by serving your friend? Regarding that as done, is there nothing I can do for you yourself?" "Nothing. I thank you for the question. I thank you even more for the tone of the question. But there is nothing." She presently rose from her seat, and looked about the blighted room for the means of writing. There were none there, and she took from her pocket a yellow set of ivory tablets, mounted in tarnished gold, and wrote upon them with a pencil in a case of tarnished gold that hung from her neck.
    She read me what she had written; and it was direct and clear, and evidently intended to absolve me from any suspicion of profiting by the receipt of the money. I took the tablets from her hand, and it trembled again, and it trembled more as she took off the chain to which the pencil was attached, and put it in mine. All this she did without looking at me. "My name is on the first leaf. If you can ever write under my name, "I forgive her," though ever so long after my broken heart is dust pray do it!" "O Miss Havisham," said I, "I can do it now. There have been sore mistakes; and my life has been a blind and thankless one; and I want forgiveness and direction far too much, to be bitter with you."
This month's teas:
  • English Breakfast
  • White Tea
  • Green Tea
  • Peppermint
  • Earl Grey 
New teas:
  • Wild Raspberry Hibiscus (really like)
  • Peach/Honey White Tea (really dislike)
  • Moroccan Mint (really like)
  • Sweet Dreams (love, love, LOVE)

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Counting Sheep

Counting Sheep (Calpurnia Tate #2) Jacqueline Kelly. 2017. 112 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: What I'm going to tell you about took place on our farm in Fentress, Texas, in the early spring of 1901.

Premise/plot: Calpurnia Tate is one of seven children growing up in rural Texas at the turn of the century. She has five brothers too many in her opinion. (I think she makes an exception for her younger brother, Travis.) But Callie has more opinions than brothers. Strong opinions. Opinions that clash with her mother's ideal often. But the same traits and qualities that make her at odds with her mother, endear her to her grandfather. Those two are super-super close. Both have scientific minds; both love nature; both love animals. In this one, Callie 'rescues' a butterfly with a broken wing AND saves a sheep and a lamb. (The sheep has twins. The first one she gives birth to without any problem at all; the second, well, it's a good thing Callie has read plenty of books and observed the local vet as he works as well.

My thoughts: It's an early chapter book. It's the second in a new historical series for young readers. The characters are not new, however. They originally appeared in two books written for an older audience. (The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate and The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate.) I would not have thought to continue the series with a younger audience in mind. But. I think it works well for the most part. I really enjoyed the illustrations. It's great to see quality books published for this age group.
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Bear's House of Books

Bear's House of Books. Poppy Bishop. Illustrated by Alison Egson. 2017. 25 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Once there lived four friends who loved stories. Every night at bedtime, they read the same worn-out storybook. The cover was scuffed and the pages were sticky, but they didn't mind one bit. It had been theirs since they were all very little.

Premise/plot: This lovely picture book (originally published in the UK) stars a fox, a mouse, a hedgehog, and a bunny. All four friends LOVE, LOVE, LOVE to read. The problem? They only have ONE book between them. Where do new books come from, they wonder?! Do you dig them up like potatoes? Do they fall from the skies like stars? These four set out to have a book-finding adventure. Do they find a new book? Yes. But perhaps more importantly, they find a new friend too.

My thoughts: I really loved this one. I loved the five characters in it--particularly bear!!! It was fun to see so many characters get so excited about reading, about books with happy endings! This book has a VERY happy ending because Bear decides to open his house so that others can enjoy his books. But there are RULES too. Rules that I can get behind 100%.

Favorite quote:
"Who left sticky pawprints on this cover?" he grumbled. "And a sandwich in the middle!" he rumbled. "Who's been reading my books?!"
Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10



© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Week in Review: August 20-26

Bulldozer Helps Out. Candace Fleming. Illustrated by Eric Rohmann. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
 Books! Books! Books! Explore the Amazing Collection of the British Library. Mick Manning. Illustrated by Brita Granstrom. 2017. Candlewick. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]
What Is Chasing Duck? Jan Thomas. 2017. HMH. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]
There's A Pest in the Garden. Jan Thomas. 2017. HMH. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Eight Hands Round: A Patchwork Alphabet. Ann Whitford Paul. 1991. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Skitterbrain. Irene Bennett Brown. 1978. 112 pages. [Source: Bought]
Nate the Great and the Phony Clue. (Nate the Great #4) Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. Illustrated by Marc Simont. 1977. 80 pages. [Source: Library]
Nate the Great and the Sticky Case (Nate the Great #5). Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. Illustrated by Marc Simont. 1978. 80 pages. [Source: Library]
Hook's Tale: Being the Account of an Unjustly Villainized Pirate Written by Himself. John Leonard Pielmeier. 2017. 288 pages. [Source: Library]
The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old. Henrik Groen. Translated by Hester Velmans. 2017. 384 pages. [Source: Library]
 Plankton is Pushy. Jonathan Fenske. 2017. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Duck & Goose Colors. Tad Hills. 2015. 22 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Gossie & Friends Say Goodnight. Olivier Dunrea. 2017. HMH. 18 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Goodnight, Numbers. Danica McKellar. Illustrated by Alicia Padron. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Sam Sorts. Marthe Jocelyn. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Triangle. Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. 2017. Candlewick. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]
I Lost My Sock. P.J. Roberts. Illustrated by Chris Eliopolous. 2017. Abrams. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Princess and the Pizza. Mary Jane Auch and Herm Auch. 2002. Holiday House. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

Asking the Right Questions: A Practical Guide to Understanding and Applying the Bible. Matthew S. Harmon. 2017. Crossway. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Reformation Sketches: Insights Into Luther, Calvin, and the Confessions. W. Robert Godfrey. 2003. 151 pages. [Source: Library]
The Bruised Reed. Richard Sibbes. 1630. [Source: Bought]

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Plankton is Pushy

Plankton is Pushy. Jonathan Fenske. 2017. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Why, hello, Mister Mussel! I said, "HELLO, MISTER MUSSEL!" Well, that is just RUDE! Let me tell you how this works.

Premise/plot: When Plankton greets "Mister Mussel" and doesn't get a response, well, Plankton gets PUSHY. Also frustrated, exasperated, and sarcastic. Will Mister Mussel open his mouth and speak? Will Plankton really want him to when all is said and done?

My thoughts: For readers--young and old--who like picture books with twist-endings, this is a fun treat. I'd also recommend it to anyone who read and loved Barnacle is Bored. I think if you enjoyed the first book, you'll probably like this one as well. I haven't quite figured out how to voice Plankton, but, I'm going to guess that it can be done and done well. (Maybe not by me...but we'll see. Barnacle is Bored is one of my favorite read alouds.)

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen

The Secret Diary of Hendrik Groen, 83 1/4 Years Old. Henrik Groen. Translated by Hester Velmans. 2017. 384 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Another year, and I still don't like old people. Their walker shuffle, their unreasonable impatience, their endless complaints, their tea and cookies, their bellyaching. Me? I am eighty-three years old.

Premise/plot: This is the 'diary' of Hendrik Groen. The jacket flap reads, "There's not one sentence that's a lie, but not every word is true." The novel spans the year 2013, and readers should know it's set in the Netherlands. It was originally titled, "Attempts to Make Something of Life." Essentially, our hero is bored with life in his retirement home. He starts a club, the OLD BUT NOT DEAD CLUB. Membership is limited to only the best of the best, his closest friends--his friends with the best sense of humor, his friends that still find moments of joy despite the aches, pains, worries, and fears of life. Each member plans an outing for the group. I'm sure I'll accidentally leave out one of his friends, but to the best of my ability the members are: Evert, Edward, Ria, Antoine, Grietje, and most importantly Eefje.

My thoughts: Our hero challenges himself to write in his diary every day. The original title perhaps captures his ambitions better.
Live as if today were your last day. (129)
Maybe I shouldn't grumble so much. I should just work harder at making sure that every day is worth living. Or at least every other day. There have to be rest days too, just like the ones in the Tour de France. (140)
His diary entries record what he's done that day (if anything), who he spent time with, what made him happy--or sad, or mad, etc. Also what he's feeling or thinking. The novel covers such a wide range of emotions. The book is at time funny and at other times depressing.
We lose some capacities as we age, but being a busybody isn't one of them. (292)
I heard that, on the heels of hospital clowns for sick children, special clowns are being deployed to cheer up lonely old folks. I don't know what they're called or where they come from, but I should like to warn them in advance: if any clown arrives to brighten my day, so help me God, I'll use my last ounce of strength to bash his jovial skull in with a frying pan. (276)
Someone ought to bring a class-action lawsuit against the packaging industry for physical damage and mental distress. They have to be doing it on purpose. If they can send people to the moon, surely they ought to be able to come up with an easy twist-off lid. (157)
One of my favorite quotes is on the last page of the novel. But to share it would be to spoil the novel for everyone else. So I won't. But note to self: I really loved the last page even if I was getting ready to put the entire book in the freezer for the last hundred pages.

Another note to self: This one openly discussed the idea of assisted suicide and euthanasia as a great positive. I was really worried for a while that this would come to be the main theme of the book and that this would be a hammer-you-over-the-head issue book. It never became that. And thinking big picture, it would only be natural that on any given day in a year a person would be/could be depressed now and then.


© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Friday, August 25, 2017

Hook's Tale

Hook's Tale: Being the Account of an Unjustly Villainized Pirate Written by Himself. John Leonard Pielmeier. 2017. 288 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: When I was six years old or thereabouts, I had a horrific nightmare that I still remember quite clearly.

Premise/plot: Hook's Tale is the long-lost, recently-found "memoir" of Captain James Cook. I recommend it to anyone who loves or hates Peter Pan. It is a retelling. Mind you, it is not a silly retelling, or an overly romantic retelling, or an obnoxious retelling. It is a CLEVER retelling. The adventure really begins when our hero--at age of 14--is kidnapped at an inn and forced into the Navy. In his possession--hidden in a book--is a map, a treasure map. He shares this map, and, well, the results are mixed. His life will NEVER be the same again.

My thoughts: I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. I didn't love everything about it. (There were a few scenes that led to it being a bit adult in content.) But overall, I LOVED it. I loved the hero. I loved him as a young boy, as a teen, as a man, as an old man. (Not that he was perfect mind you.) I love the contrast between him and Peter. The character of Peter is so chilling, so creepy, so ODD. There were so many FANTASTIC scenes in this one. It was just a great read. I loved how time worked--or didn't work--in this one.
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Books! Books! Books!

 Books! Books! Books! Explore the Amazing Collection of the British Library. Mick Manning. Illustrated by Brita Granstrom. 2017. Candlewick. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Welcome to the greatest library in the world! We're going to take you on an amazing tour of its treasures--including some that are so rare they are kept under lock and key.

Premise/plot: Mick Manning gives readers a tour of the British Library in his newest picture book, Books! Books! Books! The tour stops include: the St. Cuthbert Gospel, the Lindisfarne Gospels, Beowulf, the Magna Carta, Geoffrey Chaucer, the Klencke Atlas, Lady Jane Grey's Prayer Book, the cookbook collection, the medical book collection, William Shakespeare, Jane Austen, the Bronte Sisters, the Brothers Grimm, Charles Dickens, Leonardo da Vinci, Oliver Goldsmith, Charles Darwin, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, the newspaper collection, George Frideric Handel, and Sherlock Holmes. As you can see, the tour includes individual works, genre collections, and author collections. This picture book for older readers actually has a narrative flow to it--a conversational flow to it. It is packed with facts and details. But it's not dry or boring.

My thoughts: I definitely enjoyed reading this one. It probably wouldn't surprise anyone if I said I loved, loved, loved it. I found it informative and fascinating. If you love books about books, it's a must-read! I also like the fact that by reading it one can get an idea of what kinds of special collections libraries can have.

It is a picture book for older readers. I might even say it's more for adults than kids.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Thursday, August 24, 2017

There's A Pest in the Garden

There's A Pest in the Garden. Jan Thomas. 2017. HMH. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Munch munch. There's a pest in the garden! He's eaten ALL the beans! Gulp. What's that PEST going to eat next? Quack? CORN! But corn is my favorite!

Premise/plot: There's a PEST in the garden. Duck and his friends can just stand by and watch as their garden disappears before their eyes. Or is there something they can do to stop the pest?! Duck has an idea--but it's an idea that comes with a price. I won't spoil how Duck "saves" the garden from the pest. I won't enter into discussion on if his save-the-garden plan is actually saving the garden either. But I will say it's FUN.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this new early reader by Jan Thomas. I do wish some of Duck's other friends were part of the series. (No cow or chicken. But the sheep, the dog, and the donkey are there). I would definitely recommend the series to families.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Nate the Great and the Sticky Case

Nate the Great and the Sticky Case (Nate the Great #5). Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. Illustrated by Marc Simont. 1978. 80 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I, Nate the Great, was drying off from the rain. I was sitting under a blanket and reading a detective book. My dog, Sludge, was sniffing it.

Premise/plot: Claude hires Nate to find a missing stamp--a stamp with a dinosaur on it. Nate is happy to take the case, though he couldn't help noticing that Claude seems to lose at least a thing or two per day. Nate will do his best to find out how the stamp came to be missing--he doesn't really suspect any of his friends--Annie, Pip, or Rosamond--to have taken it on purpose. It will take some observation and careful thinking to solve this case.

My thoughts: I like this one. I do. Here's one of the notes Nate writes his mom, "Dear mother, I am on a sticky case. When I find something big that is small I will be back. Love, Nate." I would definitely recommend this series. I hope to read more soon.
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Wednesday, August 23, 2017

What is Chasing Duck?

What Is Chasing Duck? Jan Thomas. 2017. HMH. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Quack! What is chasing Duck? Quack! You say it's something wild and hairy? Wild and Hairy! Oh dear! Let's get out of here!

Premise/plot: Something is chasing Duck?! Who is chasing him? And why is he being chased in the first place? Duck and friends overreact a little bit, you might say. But that might be expected. This gang has overreacted in the past. Now that they star in an early readers series, should things be all that different?

My thoughts: I really love, love, love Jan Thomas. I love her characters, for the most part. And you can always count on her books for a smile or two. They are also super-super fun to read aloud. Because you can be very expressive while reading her stories.
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Nate the Great and the Phony Clue

Nate the Great and the Phony Clue. (Nate the Great #4) Marjorie Weinman Sharmat. Illustrated by Marc Simont. 1977. 80 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I, Nate the Great, am a great detective. I have just solved a big case. It did not look like a big case when it started this morning.

Premise/plot: This case isn't like an ordinary case for Nate. Though he doesn't know that at the beginning. Careful readers can pick up on this from the start: "The Phony Clue." Nate follows clues throughout, but, the first clue is a piece of paper he finds with the word "vita" on it. It's a ripped piece of paper--Nate knows it's part of a larger message. But what is the message, and, who is it for?

My thoughts: Of the books I've read so far in the series, this is my least favorite. Though I must say it was nice to see Annie and Fang again. And also we meet Finley and Pip. I like meeting the kids in the neighborhood. And Nate himself is always fun to spend time with.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Bulldozer Helps Out

Bulldozer Helps Out. Candace Fleming. Illustrated by Eric Rohmann. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: The construction site bustled. Cement Mixer was stirring...stirring...stirring. Crane Truck was lifting...lifting...lifting. Digger Truck was scooping...scooping...scooping. And Bulldozer was--"Watching...watching...watching," he said with a sigh.

Premise/plot: Will Bulldozer get to work on this construction project? Construction work, he's told, is for rough, tough trucks. Can Bulldozer be rough and tough? The other construction trucks give him a work assignment, but can Bulldozer follow through?

My thoughts: I don't know what I was expecting from this one, but I was certainly surprised with the direction it went. Just when I thought a book couldn't surprise me.

S
P
O
I
L
E
R

I was oh-so-surprised by the ADORABLE kittens that Bulldozer finds on the construction site. I was also surprised by the reaction of the other trucks.
"They're pretty cute, kid," said Dump Truck. "But taking care of babies? Now that's a rough, tough job."
I liked it okay in the beginning, but by the end I was loving it.

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



© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

What's On Your Nightstand (August)

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.


Go Down Together. Jeff Guinn. 2008. 468 pages. [Source: Library]

I meant to read this before going to see the musical live....but that didn't quite happen. I started reading it a couple of hours after the show this past Sunday and it is REALLY fascinating. 

The Wretched. Victor Hugo. Translated by Christine Donougher. 1862/2013. 1456 pages. [Source: Bought]

This is actually Les Miserables. I started it late June, and it looks like I'll still be reading it come September. I am over halfway done--closer to 60% actually. But other books keep saying read me.


Castle Richmond. Anthony Trollope. 1860. 500 pages. [Source: Bought]

Continuing my way through Trollope chronologically. This one is set in Ireland.

Seeking Mansfield. Kate Watson. 2017. 300 pages. [Source: Library]

A contemporary YA retelling of Jane Austen's Mansfield Park.

Once and For All. Sarah Dessen. 2017. 358 pages. [Source: Library]

Sarah Dessen's newest YA romance.

ESV Reformation Study Bible. 2015. Edited by R.C. Sproul. Reformation Trust. 2560 pages. [Source: Gift/Bought]

I am committing to read all 66 books of the Bible, all 66 book introductions, and any in-text articles that appear in the books of the Bible.

The Bible also contains these creeds and confessions: "The Apostles' Creed," "The Nicene Creed," "The Chalcedonian Definition of the Faith," "The Heidelberg Catechism," "The Belgic Confession," "The Canons of Dort," "The Westminster Confession of Faith," "The Westminster Larger Catechism," "The Westminster Shorter Catechism," "The 1689 London Baptist Confession of Faith."

I haven't decided yet if I'm going to commit to reading ALL of these. I have an e-book that has a lot of these creeds, catechisms, and confessions. That may be easier on the eyes! I will NOT, I repeat NOT be reading the study notes. Not because I don't believe in study notes, but because Sproul is very wordy and there is no conciseness!


Learning to Love the Psalms. W. Robert Godfrey. 2017. Reformation Trust. 318 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I spent a week listening to W. Robert Godfrey's teaching series on Church History. I was so excited to get the chance to review his newest book. And it's on the PSALMS!



© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Monday, August 21, 2017

Skitterbrain

Skitterbrain. Irene Bennett Brown. 1978. 112 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Early dawn glowed softly across the harsh Kansas prairie outside the sod house where Larned "Larnie" Moran was just waking up.

Premise/plot: Skitterbrain is a coming of age novel set in Kansas in 1875. Larnie, the heroine, is responsible for the family's milk cow, Bessie. When Bessie wanders off, Larnie takes the family's mule and heads off after her. (She does not tell her mother or father where she's going or why.) Bessie is not an easily found cow. In fact, little of this search goes as planned. Bessie gets mixed up with other cattle in a cattle herd; Larnie's mule gets stolen; she's forced to decide how badly she wants this. Larnie thinks of only one thing: her mother is days away from having a baby. Her new baby brother--or baby sister--will NEED the milk from that cow to survive. Her mom is just not able. So finding this cow is a matter of life and death--as she sees it. Larnie proves her fierceness in this one.

My thoughts: It wasn't instant love. I can tell you that much at least. At first I was yelling at Larnie a lot. I just didn't understand why she didn't go to her Dad for help within minutes after discovering the cow was gone. Sure, he might have been upset. He might have called her "skitterbrain." But I still think that would have been the right thing to do--the responsible thing to do. I was also upset with the young thief whom Larnie ultimately ends up loving enough to bring back home to her parents saying, please adopt him. It wasn't just that he made one bad mistake; he kept on taking advantage of her time and time and time again. By the end, I was happy enough with how everything turned out. This book was a quick read, and I don't want my time back despite not loving it.


© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Eight Hands Round

Eight Hands Round: A Patchwork Alphabet. Ann Whitford Paul. 1991. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Patchwork is pieces of fabric cut into different shapes and sewn together into patterns. During the first one hundred years after the signing of the Declaration of Independence, many women and girls--and even a few men and boys--sewed patchwork.

Premise/plot: It is an alphabet book, but it is an alphabet book for older readers. The goal isn't to teach little ones the alphabet. Each letter of the alphabet shares information about a particular quilt pattern. Information is included providing background on how people lived and showing that how they lived influenced the name of the pattern. (Churn Dash, Grandmother's Fan, Log Cabin, etc.)

My thoughts: My mom is the quilter of the family. She loves to sew quilt blocks by hand. She has books of patterns. She is always looking for new books on quilting at the library. I shared this one with her. I wanted her perspective. She had opinions! What we both loved was that we get to see in each pattern both the one block AND the whole quilt. Not all quilt books include this 'big picture.' There were some letters where she was, "I wouldn't have chosen that block for that letter...."

Overall, I liked it well enough.
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Saturday, August 19, 2017

Week in Review: August 13-19


Princess Super Kitty. Antoinette Portis. 2011. HarperCollins. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
School's First Day of School. Adam Rex. 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Three Little Pigs. Michael Robertson, illustrator. 2017. Scholastic. 7 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Mr. Moon. Michael Paraskevas. 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Trucks. Byron Barton. 1986. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Five Minute Pete the Cat Stories. James Dean. 2017. HarperCollins. 192 pages. [Source: Library]
Sideways Stories from Wayside School. Louis Sachar. 1978. 144 pages. [Source: Library]
The Hate U Give. Angie Thomas. 2017. 444 pages. [Source: Library]
Hide and Seek. Wilkie Collins. 1854. 384 pages. [Source: Bought]
 
Where's The Giraffe. Ingela P. Arrhenius. 2017. Candlewick. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Where's the Ladybug? Ingela P. Arrhenius. 2017. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]
First Words Baby Signing. 2017. Scholastic. 18 pages. [Source: Review copy]
I'm Scared (My First Comics #4) Jennifer L. Holm. Illustrated by Matthew Holm. 2017. Random House. 18 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Sleepy Toes. Kelli McNeil. Illustrated by Cori Doerrfeld. 2017. Scholastic. 26 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Hey Diddle Diddle (Sing Along With Me) Yu-Hsuan Huang. 2017. Candlewick Press. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]
 Happy Birthday (Sing Along with Me) Yu-Husan Huang. 2017. Candlewick. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]


Exploring the Bible: A Bible Reading Plan for Kids. David Murray. Illustrated by Scotty Reifsnyder. 2017. Crossway. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Return. (Amish Beginnings #3) Suzanne Woods Fisher. 2017. Revell. 330 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Godless. (Fatherless #3) James Dobson and Kurt Bruner. 2014. 416 pages. [Source: Library]
Psalm 119 #13
Psalm 119 #14

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Trucks

Trucks. Byron Barton. 1986. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: On the road here come the trucks. They come through tunnels. They go over the bridge.

Premise/plot: Trucks are useful, always working. This is a simple introduction to the working class of trucks. The intended audience is preschoolers or toddlers.

My thoughts: I like this one. The text is super simple. It is not text heavy. As a read aloud it flows well. The illustrations are bold and colorful. I'd recommend this to parents with truck-obsessed little ones. I do think that it could transition to an easy to read on their own book.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give. Angie Thomas. 2017. 444 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I shouldn't have come to this party.

Premise/plot: The Hate U Give is a thoughtful, intense, compelling, relevant, and timely book. The book opens with a party. When the party becomes violent, Starr and Khalil leave quickly hoping to avoid drama and danger. Unfortunately, their car is pulled over by a cop on their way home. The situation escalates within minutes; Starr will be forever haunted by the memory of a (white) cop killing her friend right in front of her. The book is about the aftermath of that shooting, and also of Starr's difficulties finding her voice and overcoming her fears.

My thoughts: What did I appreciate most about this one? I'd have to say the strong characterization of ALL the characters. Starr, her mother, her father, her siblings and half-siblings, her boyfriend, her uncle, her friends. A few words about Starr are perhaps in order. Well, she identifies closely with the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Though she still lives in Garden Heights, she attends a mostly white private school. She feels stuck being "the black girl" in her class. Stuck may not be the right word. Then again, maybe it is. She doesn't feel safe being her absolute true self in that environment. She filters things. In her own neighborhood, she doesn't quite fit in either. Going to that school, that rich-person school, that white-person school makes her different, not in a good way. It is only at home that she's able to authentically be her whole self all the time. What led to her being sent to that school is the fact that she witnessed her best friend being killed in a drive-by shooting: they were both ten. Now violence has again turned her world upside down...but this time she's old enough to do something in response if she's brave enough.

Is the book issue-driven? Yes. Is that a bad thing? I don't think so. Not in this case. I think any person who has watched the news in the past few years can see that this book addresses real issues in an authentic way. I think for an issue book to work, it HAS to have strong characters. Since this one does, it works beautifully.

I will say it was a difficult read for me personally. The book has (understandably) strong language. It has a good bit of profanity. This profanity includes blasphemy. I am NOT saying the book is inauthentic, that the profanity is out of place or doesn't belong. The situations in the book are INTENSE and DRAMATIC. I am also NOT saying that the book is inappropriate for readers. I think in many ways this book is a must-read. I could see this one as being a great choice for classrooms and book clubs. Books should be judged for what they are, not for what any one reader wishes or hopes they were instead. I'd be surprised if this one isn't recognized with a few big awards.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Review Policy

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

I also review adult books.

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

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

I am especially fond of:

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

I am not a fan of:

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

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

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

You should know several things before you contact me:

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

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

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

Pageloads Counter

Search Book Blogs Search Engine

My Blog List

Becky's Hosting These Challenges

100 Books Project: Fill in the Gaps

Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP