Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Nonfiction Five Completed

I don't know which five I'll be reading for the challenge. But I'll be reading something.

1. Mind-Rain (edited by Scott Westerfeld) (collection of essays)
2. The Anne Frank Case: Simon Wiesenthal's Search for The Truth by Susan Goldman Rubin (picture book for older readers)
3. The Wall by Peter Sis (picture book for older readers)
4. Margaret Mitchell & John Marsh: The Love Story Behind Gone With The Wind by Marianne Walker
5. To Be A Slave by Julius Lester
6. Clara's War by Clara Kramer

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

September Accomplishments

These are a few of my favorite 'first' lines read in September of 2009:

Not every thirteen-year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial, and found guilty. But I was such a girl, and my story is worth relating even if it did happen years ago.

I had this story from one who had no business to tell it to me, or to any other.

I'm not the hero of this story.

'The best thing about the seaside,' said the albino pirate, 'is putting seaweed on your head and pretending you're a lady.'

I have received a proposal of marriage.

September's Top Five:

The Ask and the Answer. Patrick Ness.
The Indigo Notebook by Laura Resau.
The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte. Syrie James.
Tomorrow, When the War Began. John Marsden.
Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty.

Number of Picture Books: 5

The Little Dump Truck. Margery Cuyler. 2009. Illustrated by Bob Kolar. Henry Holt.
One Dragon's Dream by Peter Pavey. 1978/2009. Candlewick Press.
The Tiger Who Came To Tea by Judith Kerr. 1968/2009. Candlewick Press.
Kisses on the Wind by Lisa Moser. 2009. Candlewick Press. Illustrated by Kathryn Brown.
Mortimer's First Garden. Karma Wilson. 2009. Simon & Schuster. Illustrated by Dan Andreasen.

Number of Board Books: 8

I Love Fall!: A Touch and Feel Board Book by Alison Inches. Simon & Schuster. 2009.
Where is Baby's Beach Ball? A Lift the Flap Book. Karen Katz. 2009. Simon & Schuster.
The Birthday Box. Leslie Patricelli. 2009. Candlewick Press.
Fisher-Price: Snuggly Time. A "Soft to Touch" Book. HarperCollins. 2009.
Helen Oxenbury's All Fall Down/Clap Hands/Say Goodnight/Tickle, Tickle. 2009. Simon & Schuster.
Lucy Cousin's Maisy Dual-Language Books: Maisy's Clothes, Maisy's Food, Maisy's Animals, Maisy's Toys. 2009. Candlewick Press.
Sweet Dreams, Maisy. Lucy Cousins. Candlewick Press. 2009.
Maisy's Snowy Christmas Eve. Lucy Cousins. Candlewick Press. 2009.


Number of Children's Books: 1

My Story Bible: 66 Favorite Stories by Jan Godfrey and Paola Bertolini Grudina. 2009. Tyndale. 141 pages.

Number of YA Books: 10

Night Runner
by Max Turner. 2009. St. Martin's Press. 288 pages.
Ash by Malinda Lo. 2009. Little, Brown. 272 pages.
The Ask and the Answer. Patrick Ness. 2009. Candlewick Press. 519 pages.
Look for Me By Moonlight. Mary Downing Hahn. 1995. Houghton Mifflin. 198 pages.
The Indigo Notebook by Laura Resau. 2009. Random House. 336 pages.
Gifted: Out of Sight, Out of Mind. Marilyn Kaye. 2009. Kingfisher. 229 pages.
The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong. 2009. HarperCollins. 357 pages.
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. Avi. 1990. 278 pages.
Tomorrow, When the War Began. John Marsden. 1993. 277 pages.
The Dead of Night by John Marsden. 1994. 278 pages.

Number of Christian Books: 1

Fearless by Max Lucado. Thomas Nelson Publishers. 221 pages.

Number of Adult Books: 17

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley. 1831. 283 pages. (Dover Large Print Edition)
The Martian Child by David Gerrold. 2002. 190 pages. Tor.
Cleopatra's Daughter by Michelle Moran. 2009. 448 pages. Crown Publishers.
A Monster's Notes by Laurie Sheck. 2009. 532 pages.
Kilmeny of the Orchard. By L.M. Montgomery. 1910. 144 pages.
The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick. 2009. 560 pages. Sourcebooks.
Lady Susan. Jane Austen. 80 pages.
Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse by Victor Gischler. 2008. 324 pages. Simon & Schuster.
Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. 1914. 262 pages.
The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview. 2009. Sourcebooks. 327 pages.
Vampire A Go-Go by Victor Gischler. 2009. Simon & Schuster. 338 pages.
Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey. 1912.
Twilight of Avalon: A Novel of Trystan and Isolde. Anna Elliott. 2009. Simon & Schuster. 448 pages.
The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte. Syrie James. 2009. HarperCollins. 454 pages.
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. 1853. 293 pages.
Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty. 2007. 312 pages.
Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty. 2009. 258 pages.

Number of Verse Novels:

Number of Graphic Novels: 2

The Storm in the Barn by Matt Phelan. 2009. Candlewick Press. 203 pages.
Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood: A Graphic Novel. 2009. Tony Lee, Sam Hart, Artur Fujita. Candlewick Press. 160 pages.

Number of Nonfiction: 1

The Boy Who Invented TV: The Story of Philo Farnsworth. Kathleen Krull. 2009. (September 2009). Random House. Illustrated by Greg Couch.

Number of Short Story Collections, Anthologies, Poetry Books:

Movies Watched/Reviewed:

10 Things I Hate About You (1999)
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986)
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier (1989)
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991)
Star Trek: Generations (1994)
Star Trek: First Contact (1996)
Star Trek: Insurrection (1998)
A Knight's Tale (2001)
Star Trek: Nemesis (2002)
Galaxy Quest (1999)
Steel Magnolias
Notting Hill
George of the Jungle

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Perfect Fifths


McCafferty, Megan. 2009. Perfect Fifths. 258 pages.

When Jessica Darling blindly collides into Marcus Flutie on this crisp, unclouded January morning, she can't remember the last time she had imagined where she would be--and who he would be--at the moment of their inevitable collision. For him, however, it's a very different story.

Since a review consisting of "wow, wow, wow" and "love, love, love" probably isn't ever going to do this one justice, I'm a little at a loss for words. It's the fifth in the series. Sequel to Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, Charmed Thirds and Fourth Comings. The first four books are told in the first person. Jessica Darling, our heroine, usually plays the role of narrator. But in this fifth installment, there's a switch--a clever switch in my humble opinion. Here we get the third person account of one of my favorite, favorite couples: Marcus and Jessica. And for the *very* first time, readers are able to get into the mind of Marcus!

Marcus Flutie, oh how I love you. I've always loved you. You had me at hello back in Sloppy Firsts. What does it say about me that I always take your side over Jessica's? Well, some of the time, at least. It's not that Marcus is perfect. It's just that there is something so unconditional about my love for Marcus that makes me care even when he's being difficult. And that something unconditional is how Marcus feels about Jessica. He loves her for who she is, for what she is, loves her unconditionally and without strings attached.

Perfect Fifths is practically perfect in every way. It's giddy making too. (I'd say squeal-worthy, but would you be able to interpret that as a good thing???) I really liked that Fourth Comings focused on one week. And I loved--just loved--that Perfect Fifths is just one day. (Well, not even a full twenty-four hours.) But oh what a day! A day for the history books. Well, it is if you're Marcus. Or Jessica. Or Marin. (I love that her niece is always there telling her that she should be with Marcus. I love, love, love that Jessica ends up telling Marin first that she's bumped into Marcus. I loved Marin's response. For that would be my response too.)

What is Perfect Fifths about? It's about the potentially awkward first meeting after the big break up of Fourth Comings. It's been a little over three years (three years and three months give or take a week) since they've last seen each other, since they've last spoken, since she said no to his proposal. Where do they meet? An airport. She's on her way to Percy and Bridget's wedding. But. She misses her flight. Just barely. Marcus is at the airport too. He's just returned (along with his roommate, the ever-annoying Natty) from New Orleans. While she's waiting for another flight, Marcus is there to keep her company. The whole book is practically their dialogue, their conversations, over the course of this one day. I think that is what makes this one so very, very amazing.

As you can see, I just loved this one. I could pick out all the little things I loved. (Like part three which is told through he-and-she-said senryu verses. And part four had some great chapters. Did chapters 15/16 make anyone else giddy??? And this isn't even getting to the best parts. Like the elevator conversation. But really, when it comes down to it, how could I ever choose which parts are my favorite and my best???) This story's charms are often in the details. But some things I think readers should discover on their own. It's best that way. Trust me.

I really appreciated where this one went. Jessica is finally, finally grown up. And while I thought I would never admit this, I am actually quite proud of the woman she's become. She's changed a lot since those days when she filled all her journals with whine, whine, whine. She's gone from being someone with a horrible attitude and annoying, obnoxious qualities to someone who thinks before she speaks, who thinks before she acts. She's got a heart now. And she's thinking of others beside herself. And finally, finally I think maybe she is someone worthy of Marcus.

Have you read any in this series? What did you think? If you've read this one, do you have a favorite part?

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

The Dead of Night (YA)


Marsden, John. 1994. The Dead of Night. 278 pages.

Damn this writing. I'd rather sleep. God how I'd love to sleep. But I can't. It's been a long time since I had a peaceful night's sleep. Not since I went to Hell. Since I went to that complicated place called Hell.

Yes, my friends, Hell is complicated. But maybe not for the reasons you're thinking. Because Ellie and her friends (well, some of her friends at least) are hiding out and surviving in the Australian bush. And 'Hell' is their nickname at least for their hideaway. This uninhabitable region is associated with an urban-legend type of legend about being the 'home' of a murderer hermit. (As I said, it's complicated.) Really, before the holiday, Ellie and her friends (and everyone else) would have told you that it is inhabitable. It's impossible to reach this place. You can see it from afar, yes, but there's no way down.

The Dead of Night is the sequel to Tomorrow When the War Began. And it continues the adventures of Ellie and her friends. There are some new dangers in these adventures. And as always, life proves challenging as they battle to stay alive. Sometimes the enemies you fight inside your own mind (your own shadows) prove harder to fight than any 'real' enemy. Perhaps because you can't outrun them. War is NOT pretty. And it's not a game. Can these teens manage on their own to survive in an invaded country?

I'm enjoying this series if 'enjoy' is the right word. They're a bit intense really. But that can be a very good thing.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Monday, September 28, 2009

Tomorrow When the War Began (YA)


Marsden, John. 1993. Tomorrow When the War Began. 277 pages.

It's only half an hour since someone--Robyn I think--said we should write everything down, and it's only twenty-nine minutes since I got chosen, and for those twenty-nine minutes I've had everyone crowded around me gazing at the blank page and yelling ideas and advice.

Meet Ellie, our narrator. Ellie and seven of her friends (Corrie, Kevin, Homer, Fi, Lee, Robyn, Chris) are in for quite a journey. It all starts on holiday. These teens have the brilliant notion to "go bush" that is camping in the outback. (Yes, I should probably mention that this one is set in Australia.) Some parents are okay with their kids heading off on their own for a week, others need some convincing. But when all is said and done, this casual trip turns out to be a blessing in disguise. You see, when they return, they discover that life as they knew it...simply isn't anymore. Their homes are deserted. Their pets and animals are dead and rotting. Their parents (and/or siblings) have vanished. What happened to everyone? Who did this? Why?

Intense doesn't even begin to describe this one. It's full of danger and adventure--and that's just the start. These teens have to come together to survive, something that isn't always easy with so many personality conflicts going on not to mention the emotional roller coaster they are on.

If you enjoyed How I Live Now, I think you'll really, really love this one. Honestly, I enjoyed this one so much more than How I Live Now.


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Salon: Reading, Read, To Read #39

I can't believe another week has gone by! Can you believe September is almost gone? Anyway, whether it feels like it or not, it is Sunday, which means it's a time of reckoning. What I really need to do is have a major reckoning with challenges. But since I'm scared to even think about going there, I'll put that off. Again. I'm hoping to get some things done this week. I mean purposefully get things done. The things that I really should have tackled a couple of weeks ago if I was staying on top of things. Like reading Girl in the Arena. I can't believe the blog tour is coming up in a few weeks, and I still haven't gotten around to reading it. Usually, I'm much better about these things. But guilt doesn't make you more productive. So I'm trying to not feel guilty for not reading books I *should* have read by now. I can only do so much.

If you hurry, you can still be a part of the voting at The Classics Circuit to choose the first 'dead author' we tour.

Movies this week:

Notting Hill
George of the Jungle

What I read in a previous week, but reviewed this week:

The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview. 2009. Sourcebooks. 327 pages.
The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong. 2009. HarperCollins. 357 pages.

What I read this past week and reviewed:

My Story Bible: 66 Favorite Stories by Jan Godfrey and Paola Bertolini Grudina. 2009. Tyndale. 141 pages.
Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey. 1912.
Twilight of Avalon: A Novel of Trystan and Isolde. Anna Elliott. 2009. Simon & Schuster. 448 pages.
The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte. Syrie James. 2009. HarperCollins. 454 pages.
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell. 1853. 293 pages.
Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty. 2007. 312 pages.
The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. Avi. 1990. 278 pages.

What I read this past week and haven't reviewed yet:

Evermore by Alyson Noel
Confessions of A Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty
Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden
The Dead of Night by John Marsden

What I've read and really, really need to review:

What I'm currently reading:

Graveyard for Lunatics by Ray Bradbury

What I'm just fooling around that I'm reading
:

Vampire Kisses: The Beginning by Ellen Schreiber
Monsters And The Curse of Frankenstein by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler
A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell
Putting the Amazing Back Into Grace by Michael Horton
The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope
Going Bovine by Libba Bray

What I've abandoned
:

Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez
Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
The Highwayman's Footsteps by Nicola Morgan

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Classics Challenge Completed


Hosted by Trish of Trish's Reading Nook. The challenge has/had its own blog--the Classics 2009 Challenge blog. The challenge is/was from April 1 through October 31, 2009.

I'm going with option three--Classics Feast--Read six classics. (Plus one, bonus book if desired that is a "new" classic; so a total of seven books possibly).

1. The Warden by Anthony Trollope
2. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
3. Middlemarch by George Eliot
4. Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
5. Three Men In A Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
6. Three Men On A Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome
7. The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
8. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley
9. Lady Susan by Jane Austen
10. Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
11. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi (new classic)

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Explaining an addiction

Are you new to the book blogging scene? Are you wondering what's up with all the reading challenge talk? Not quite sure what all the fuss is about? Wondering why all these bloggers make such a big deal about joining and finishing challenges? I'll try to answer two big questions in today's post:

What is a reading challenge?

and

What are the benefits of joining a reading challenge?

A reading challenge is typically hosted by one person or one blog. (Though this isn't always the case.) That person sets the rules and guidelines for the challenge. He/she helps facilitate participants by setting up special posts, pages, sites, or groups related to the challenge. For example, Carl, of Stainless Steel Droppings, hosts the R.I.P challenge. He posts the sign up challenge on his own blog. And he has a separate blog for posting links to the reviews.
Most reading challenges give participants rules as to how many books are required and the deadline for reading those books. 6 books for 6 months, for example. 12 books for 12 months, etc. An average book challenge might ask readers to read anywhere from six books to twelve books. (Though some are larger like the 999 challenge, the A to Z challenge, the 100+ challenge, etc.) Some are seasonal (fall, winter, spring, summer). Some are topical (science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, mysteries, romance, historical fiction, chick lit, classics, etc.) Some require reviews, some don't.

Reading challenges come in all different shapes and sizes. They all have different goals. Though typically the goal is to have fun reading books. Sometimes there is more of a challenge involved than others. Some ask you to go where you haven't gone before. To get out of your comfort zone.

The benefits. Are there benefits? Most addicts would probably say yes. I'm guessing. First, you're challenging yourself. You are setting goals and making a commitment. Can you read six classics in six months? Can you read three Shakespeare plays over the summer? Can you read five nonfiction books in five months? Can you read 100 books in a year? Second, you're meeting new people, making new friends. By joining challenges, you are bringing new readers to your own blog, and most likely, adding new blogs to your feed reader. It's a great opportunity to become part of the community. Visit other participants. See what they're reading. See if you want to read it too! Comment on their blogs! Encourage them! They'll most likely be dropping by your blog too throughout the course of the challenge. You may just make a few friends. Third, you're more likely to read books that you wouldn't have otherwise. Yes, that's a bit of an awkward sentence. But I hope you understand what I'm trying to say. Would you have read that book, that author, that genre without a little bit of motivation? a little bit of encouragement? Was this your first time to read a mystery? a romance? a thriller? Did you try an author that you thought you'd never, ever try? Did you like him/her? Will you be back for more? Reading challenges are all about growing. Growing you as a reader. So not only will your blog roll grow (most likely) and your TBR pile grow (that's a given), you may just grow as a person.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Fourth Comings


McCafferty, Megan. 2007. Fourth Comings. 310 pages. (Sequel to Sloppy Firsts, Second Helpings, Charmed Thirds)

This one surprised me. A lot. I liked it. I really liked it. I suppose I should start off by saying that I had low expectations for this one. I barely made it through Charmed Thirds. I was so very angry with Jessica Darling. So I expected this one to be more of the same. More of me wanting to slap Jessica around. But. This one charmed me in a way. In a way the previous ones hadn't. Perhaps because of how it is written. The book is written for Marcus. She's filling these two notebooks (I believe that there are two notebooks) for her boyfriend. He's popped the question--the BIG question. The thing is, she'd been thinking about breaking up with him.

And

S
P
O
I
L
E
R

he'd been thinking about breaking up with her. You see, no matter how much she loves him. (And she does. You get that.) And no matter how much he loves her. (He does. You get that too.) The timing is just not ever right for these two to really, truly be together. Jessica has graduated from college. She's a bit scared to be "entering adulthood" and trying to find a job and support herself and, you know, be a grown up. And Marcus is finally ready to start college. He's had his years to find himself, to get ready for this next step in his life. Is she ready to commit to him? To move from New York City to be with him while he goes to Princeton? Is she willing to give the long distance relationship one more go? To visit back and forth on weekends? If she's not willing to compromise. If she has to have it all or nothing--as Marcus is always pointing out--then what will it be? All or nothing???

Another thing I liked about this one is that it doesn't try to do *too* much. It follows the course of a week. The one week she promised Marcus that she'd think about his proposal. (I think I felt so disconnected from Charmed Thirds because it did try to do too much by covering all of Jessica's college years. That and the fact that there was barely any Marcus.)


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Cranford


Gaskell, Elizabeth. 1853. Cranford. 293 pages.

In the first place, Cranford is in possessions of the Amazons; all the holders of houses, above a certain rent, are women. If a married couple come to settle in the town, somehow the gentleman disappears; he is either fairly frightened to death by being the only man in the Cranford evening parties, or he is accounted for by being with his regiment, his ship, or closely engaged in business all the week in the great neighboring commercial town of Drumble, distant only twenty miles on railroad. In short, whatever does become of the gentlemen, they are not at Cranford. What could they do if they were there? The surgeon has his round of thirty miles, and sleeps at Cranford; but every man cannot be a surgeon.

How did I like Cranford (the book that is!)? Well, I found it charming in some ways--many ways I suppose. It is old-fashioned. It is written with the focus being on characters that are characters--if you know what I mean! If the book has a weakness, it would be that there isn't one great plot. There are a few strains of plot connecting the chapters at times. But overall, these chapters are just loosely connected. Shared characters, of course, and shared tone--heartfelt and genuine. The book is many things. It can be funny. It can be witty. It can be heartbreaking. It can be sweet. Is that enough to interest modern readers? Maybe. Especially with the movie being released recently. But this style of storytelling--as wonderful as it can be--doesn't always mean that the book is hard to put down. There isn't this urgency to read it. That doesn't mean that it isn't interesting in its own way. But it's more here a chapter, there a chapter than anything else.

So what is the book about? Well, it's about friendship. It's about life. There is some talk of gossip and parties and fashion and such. It's about manners, society, and class.

The central character--in many ways--is a little old maid Miss Matty. Though she would never in a million years place herself in the center of the community, she is in many ways the heart of the community. And what this community does to show their support...well...it's really touching. But I'll say no more about that!

This is my second Gaskell novel. I've also read and reviewed Wives and Daughters. While I enjoyed Cranford (it's much, much shorter than Wives and Daughters) I think I prefer Wives and Daughters more.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (MG)


Avi. 1990. The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle. 278 pages.

Not every thirteen-year-old girl is accused of murder, brought to trial, and found guilty. But I was such a girl, and my story is worth relating even if it did happen years ago. Be warned, however, this is no Story of a Bad Boy, no What Katy Did. If strong ideas and action offend you, read no more. Find another companion to share your idle hours. For my part I intend to tell the truth as I lived it.

Set in 1832, The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle is an exciting adventure--a sea adventure, I might add--starring a young girl, Charlotte, as she learns some of the harsher facts of life aboard The Sea Hawk. She seeks passage home to America. Her father has made all the arrangements. But something unusual, something dangerous is happening aboard ship. The problem is, can Charlotte discover the truth about the dangers before it's too late? Who should she trust? The captain? Or the crew? One thing is for certain, her life will never be the same again! For better or worse...

What did you think of the opening? Did it grab your attention like it grabbed mine? I don't know what I was expecting with this one, but I don't think I expected this one to be quite so exciting. Don't get me wrong, it's still historical fiction. And I know that historical fiction isn't for every reader. But there is action and adventure and some mystery as well. It's not about being prim and proper and dressing up to have tea.

This one received a Newbery Honor.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Library Loot: Fourth Week in September


So this is me showing self-restraint! How do you think I did? Of course, if you count the leftover loot, then maybe I still have a problem. But I think I did much better this time round.


Darkness Be My Friend by John Marsden
Burning for Revenge by John Marsden
The Night is For Hunting by John Marsden
The Other Side of Dawn by John Marsden

Notes: In a way, I'm glad I waited so long to read these. Because it would have been torture to read these as they were released. It's satisfying (to me at least) to read them all after the other and really become absorbed in the story. So far, I've read the first two...and am currently in the third. These are the last four of the series.



Emily's Ghost: A Novel of the Bronte Sisters by Denise Giardina

Note: I'm really excited about this one. I hope it doesn't let me down. Will it be as good as The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte? I'll let you know.


Evermore by Alyson Noel

Note: The good news, my library finally had this one. I'd been searching the catalog for it every week for months. It was always checked out.



Songs for the Butcher's Daughter by Peter Manseau
Life of Pi by Yann Martel

Notes: Both of these are "risks" for me. In a way. I picked up Songs for the Butcher's Daughter because the title got my attention, then I saw a little sticker "National Jewish Book Awards Winner" and the back reads "Winner, 2009 Sophie Brody Medal." I need one more read for the Book Awards 3 challenge. With the Book Awards challenge being fresh in my mind, I managed to come home with Life of Pi. I was looking for other books--I wasn't *searching* for this one or anything. But here it is all the same.



Son of the Shadows by Juliet Marillier

Note: The second book in the Sevenwaters Trilogy. I have no idea if I'll get to the first one in the series (see leftover loot below) but in case I fall head over heels with it, it's always good to be prepared, right???

Leftover Loot:

A Killing Frost by John Marsden
The Belgariad. Volume 1 (3-in-1 collection) David Eddings (Includes: Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, Magician's Gambit)
Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier.
The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell
Graveyard for Lunatics by Ray Bradbury
Federations. Edited by John Joseph Adams.
Fast Ships, Black Sails. Edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steineck
Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini
Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel
2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur Clarke
Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi
The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet by Colleen McCullough
Claudius the God by Robert Graves
Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty
Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte


James, Syrie. 2009. The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte. HarperCollins. 512 pages.

I have received a proposal of marriage.

I can't promise you that you'll love this one, but I think that if you're a fan of the Brontes (Charlotte, Emily, or Anne) you owe it to yourself to at least try this one. As for myself, I tended to love it.

This "diary" is based (mostly) on fact. The author included a long explanation in the back of the book explaining what's true, what's thought to be true, and what's conjectured for the sake of moving the story along.

The book has a unique structure, a clever one. And for the most part, I think this works really well. It isn't a straightforward plot. Instead, Charlotte reveals the past bit by bit by bit. Out of order, in a way, and yet in a way that thematically works. As she 'chooses' to share it with the reader. The framework of this one, in a way, is her relationship with her father's curate, Arthur Bell Nicholls. Her story starts with the revelation that he's proposed. She then takes us back to where she first met him (it didn't go well on her part). And the narrative builds from there. Until slowly but surely, we get the details of that proposal (and wow, what a proposal!) and subsequent courtship (the road to love was not that smooth for this couple). But this book isn't just about that romance. Far from it. Yes, it serves as the frame. But the picture within that frame, if you will, is the dynamic relationships of the Bronte family. Patrick Bronte, the blind (for the most part) clergy man, Branwell Bronte, the alcoholic brother, and the three remaining Bronte sisters: Charlotte, Emily, and Anne. (Did you know that there were other Bronte sisters who (tragically) died?) More specifically, it deals with the passionate determination of all three sisters to write--both poetry and novels. Yes, the heart and soul of this one in many ways is the writing life itself. What were these women authors really like?

I learned so much from reading this one. Am I the only one who was so clueless? Did you know that Charlotte Bronte was married? Did you know that her father outlived all three Bronte sisters?

The book is engaging and compelling. It made me want to read more. Yes, I've read Jane Eyre. Yes, I've read Wuthering Heights. But now, I want to read more. How many Brontes have you read? Do you have a favorite sister? Which book would you recommend I read next?

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Twilight of Avalon: A Novel of Trystan & Isolde


Elliott, Anna. 2009. Twilight of Avalon. A Novel of Trystan and Isolde. Simon & Schuster. 448 pages.

The dead man's eyes were weighted with gold.

Loved the cover, liked the book. That's not to say that the book was a disappointment. I think it had its magical moments where it worked well. For example, Elliott was great at world-building. Her envisioning of ancient Britain was incredible. I felt immersed in it. (Which is what you want in a good fantasy novel.)

Isolde is the granddaughter of King Arthur. The daughter of Modred and Gwynefar. The widow of High King Constantine (or King Con). When we first meet her she is alone and vulnerable. But it would be a mistake to count her out. She is far from finished with her destiny.

It's a novel with ambition and power plays. A novel where men try to use each other--and women as well--as pawns in a game. As widow of the High King, there are men who would marry Isolde for their own selfish reasons. Her lands. Her wealth. Her position. But Isolde can see through a lot of these men. She knows that all is not as it appears. She suspects the worse--the very worst--in some of these men.

I think those who love a blending of politics with their action will love Twilight of Avalon. I think those who are looking for empowered heroines may enjoy this one as well. If you come expecting a passionate romance or a compelling love story, then you'll likely feel let down. That's not the book's fault by the way. It is what it is.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Awakening


Armstrong, Kelley. 2009. The Awakening. HarperCollins. 357 pages.

When the door to my cell clicked open, the first thought that flitted through my doped-up brain was that Liz had changed her mind and come back. But ghosts don't open doors. They will, on occasion, ask me to open one, so I can raise and interrogate the zombies of supernaturals killed by a mad scientist, but they never need one opened for themselves.

Will they or won't they...escape successfully...that is the question driving this book. Will our ghost-seeing heroine, Chloe, escape from the evil powers-that-be? Will her friends escape too? Will she ever feel "safe" again?

This is the second in a series. It is sequel to The Summoning a book that I enjoyed for the most part. It ended oh-so-dramatically with a "shock" of an ending. So it was a book begging for a sequel, and yet, for some odd reason I can't help wondering if I wouldn't have been happier off without picking the story back up. I didn't feel that way (obviously) before I picked this one up. I wanted to like this second one just as much as I liked the first. And yet, it just didn't capture my attention the way the first one did. Perhaps there wasn't enough tension and suspense? Or perhaps I just didn't care as much as I thought I did? I don't know for sure.

For a book containing a whole lot of chase scenes, I found it lacking in intensity. What I enjoyed most about the first one just wasn't there in this second one. It's not that nothing happened. It's just that I felt that I was waiting for something big to happen. And it really never did. Perhaps the difference between the two was this one focused more on character building and exploring the dynamics of the relationships between the characters. Mainly between Chloe and the two guys in her life, Simon and Derek.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

In Which Mom Is Interviewed about Tortilla Flat


To catch up, this interview is part of Me? Read That?! An ongoing mother-daughter challenge where we dare each other to read books. (I pick what she reads; she picks what I read.) This interview is part of the second round. I am asking the questions, mom is answering. The book in question is Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck. You can read my review of Tortilla Flat that I wrote back in March.

So you've read John Steinbeck before, so you had some idea of what to expect. How do you think Tortilla Flat compares with the other novels you've read by him?

It definitely has a humorous tone. Although it deals with poverty--it does it with sarcasm (mild) and humor. Some of his other works (Grapes of Wrath, The Pearl) deal with tragedy.

What do you think is the book's greatest strength? Do you think the book has any major weaknesses?

Strength: Humor, dialogue, characterizations
Weaknesses: more like a series of short stories instead of a continuous plot.

Do you have a favorite character?

The Pirate and his dogs.

What is your favorite "episode" in the book?

The family with all the kids who got digestive troubles when they ate anything except beans.

Do you think the book is in any way intimidating? Did it change the way you think about 'classics' at all? Do you think it would be a good introduction to Steinbeck?

This book was not intimidating. I've learned not to judge one "classic" by another "classic" written by the same author. I think it would probably be a good introduction to Steinbeck but not a complete picture of the talent of this author.

[I just have to add in mom's first response. "This is considered a classic?!" Which I thought was just cute. No one would hesitate to call Grapes of Wrath or Of Mice and Men or East of Eden classics. I honestly don't know if anyone considers Tortilla Flat a classic or not. It's by an author who is typically valued by the literary community though.]

Were you surprised that my second selection was so "easy" compared to Frankenstein? Are you worried that I'll try to "get you" on the third book?

Yes and yes.


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Voting is now open...

Want to participate in The Classics Circuit tour for November? The voting is now open. She's narrowed it down to four Victorian writers. (Who will you vote for?! I know I had a tough time deciding!) Want to find out more about this awesome, awesome project? I encourage you to go to Rebecca's website and read all about it!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

In Which I'm interviewed about Riders of the Purple Sage


To catch up, this interview is part of Me? Read That?! An ongoing mother-daughter challenge where we dare each other to read books. (I pick what she reads; she picks what I read.) This interview is part of the second round. Mom is asking the questions. I am answering them.

What was your initial reaction to the choice of a Zane Grey western?

No, not that!

Of the literary elements that make up a novel (style, setting, plot, characterization, etc.) which was the strongest and weakest in this work?

Hard question. I know the weakest is probably his style. Because I think style would encompass the descriptions and the dialogue. Not all of the dialogue was that bad. But some of it was groan-worthy. His strength would probably be plot and pacing. While I didn't have the easiest time with this one, the last hundred or a hundred and fifty pages really worked well.

Did this novel encourage any interest in further reading of this historical period or type of work?

I *think* mom is asking if I'm still allergic to westerns. And the answer is yes, I'm still allergic. I'm just not interested in reading "westerns" because I find the content--whether shooting Mormons or Indians or outlaws, etc.--to be offensive. I just don't like bang, bang shoot'em up stories. Guns and horses are not my thing.

Can you briefly tell about the villain and the hero in this story?

Well, there are several villains. And most of these villains are Mormon men. The crimes of these men include things like beating up gentiles, trying to run gentiles out of Utah, taking the property and land of gentiles and gentile sympathizers, working (conspiring) with horse and cattle thieves, kidnapping a woman and child. One of the villains, I think, is just a rustler or thief. (I can't remember if he steals horses and cattle or just one or the other. As if it matters.) The heroes are both gentiles. Men who for various reasons have come to suspect and hate Mormons.

One of the heroes, Lassiter, falls in love with a Mormon woman, Jane, and struggles with that. She wants him to put away his guns. To live peaceably and stop the violence. She begs him time and time and time again not to be so quick to shoot Mormons. Even as these men are hurting her (taking her cattle, taking her horses, taking all her riders and workers, making threats against her, etc.) She doesn't want any blood to be shed on her account. She doesn't want to be the reason someone loses their life. He's just quick to tell her that she's blind and stupid when it comes to faith. And that some people need to get what's coming to them. That some people shouldn't be forgiven.

What was the most surprising thing you discovered while reading this novel?

I was expecting to absolutely hate it from cover to cover. And yet, I found myself caring about some of these characters. Caring doesn't mean loving. It doesn't even mean liking. (Because some of these characters just did things that I couldn't reconcile myself too.) It's just that I wanted to know how it all turned out. I wanted to know what happened next.


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Fall Into Reading 2009


Fall Into Reading 2009
September 22, 2009 - December 20 2009
Callapidder Days
Sign Up Here
Post Reviews Here (link coming soon)

It's always so tough to choose just what to list...there are so many books I want to get to this fall. And it never fails that the second I list the book officially, I lose all desire to read it. (Why is that?!)


Searching for Pemberley by Mary Lydon Simonsen
Willoughby's Return by Jane Odiwe
A Match for Mary Bennet by Eucharista Ward, OSF

Note: All three of these are published by Sourcebooks, and I've got reviews 'due' in October and November.


The Tudor Rose: A Novel of Elizabeth of York by Margaret Campbell Barnes
The White Queen by Philippa Gregory

Note: The Philippa Gregory depends entirely on my local library. Because I'm certainly not going to buy this one without having read it first. Gregory is entirely too hit/miss for me. As for the Margaret Campbell Barnes, I've loved reading King's Fool and My Lady of Cleves.


Bending Toward the Sun by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie
Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife by Francine Prose



Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty
Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty

Notes: I really loved the first two books in the series. But really didn't like the third. I expect it get worse before it gets better. But I have high hopes for the last book. Jennie made it sound like it was worth my time.

Note: Bending Toward the Sun is described as an inter-generational tale. It "reveals how deeply the Holocaust remains in the hearts and minds of survivors, influencing even the lives of their descendants." And Anne Frank: The Book, The Life, The Afterlife "tells the extraordinary story of the book that became a force in the world." They both sound like something I'd really enjoy.


Girl in the Arena by Lise Haines
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Note: Catching Fire (as if you didn't know) is the sequel to The Hunger Games. Part of me is curious. Will I like this one? Or will my contrariness come through? Girl in the Arena is a book I'm doing a blog tour for in October. It *sounds* very similar to The Hunger Games. "It’s a fight to the death—on live TV—when a gladiator’s daughter steps into the arena."


East of Eden by John Steinbeck (Family and Self)
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (Crime)

Note: Both of these would be for the Guardian (1000 Books) challenge hosted by Biblio File. The reason I'm listing them for this challenge. Is that these are the only two (categories) I'm missing for the whole challenge. So if I can get to them, it would be wonderful. (Of Mice and Men also would count towards the 1% Challenge.)


The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope

Note: This one is for Amy's 50 Books for Our Times challenge.


Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell
Dracula by Bram Stoker

Note: These three are all book club/group reads. Cranford and A Thread of Grace are for Heather. Dracula is for Fizzy Thoughts.


Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey

Note: This is for round two of Me? Read That?!


Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle.

Note: I've been "saving" this one for the right season.



Tender Morsels by Margo Lanagan
Nation by Terry Pratchett
Going Bovine by Libba Bray
Front and Center by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

Note: The first two are books I've been meaning to read for over a year. And the last two are books that have only recently arrived that I'm looking forward to reading.



Tomorrow When the War Began
by John Marsden
The Dead of Night by John Marsden
A Killing Frost by John Marsden

Note: I always *mean* to start the Tomorrow series by Australian author, John Marsden. These books have been on my want-list since this post of Jen's back in August of 2007. Another review that reminded me I *wanted* to read these is from Bart's Bookshelf.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Riders of the Purple Sage


Grey, Zane. 1912. Riders of the Purple Sage.

For those of you who don't know, I'm allergic to westerns. I first noticed this allergy to the bang, bang, shoot'em up formula as a young child. So what would possess me to read Zane Grey? Well, it's the book my mom chose for round two of Me? Read That?! (You can find out all about our get back at one another fun challenge in that original post. And that's the post that will feature links to all of my posts that deal with the challenge.)

So what is Riders of the Purple Sage about? Short answer: shooting Mormons. The long answer is slightly more complicated. It has two heroines and two heroes. The setting is Utah in the 1870s.

The content. This was published in 1912. I try to remember that when reading it. But it's not the easiest thing to do. But I wasn't comfortable reading this one. The casual shooting of others--in this case Mormons--didn't sit easy with me. And there were several things the "heroes" did that I just didn't agree with at all.

So who are the characters? Well, there's Jane Withersteen. She's one we meet on page one. She's a wealthy land owner. Single. A Mormon. She's at the center of the trouble in the novel because she has the unpleasant (to the villains that is) habit of befriending gentiles (non-mormons). She's also a bit too independent for their tastes. Why doesn't she get married? Why doesn't she start a family? What kind of believer is she if she doesn't want to raise the next generation of Mormons? The Mormon men--led by someone named Tull, I believe--will stop at nothing to run friends out of Utah. One of her friends is a man named Venters. This 'action' scene serves as an introduction into the story really. A showdown between Elder Tull and Venters. But it's one that is interrupted by the arrival of a strange man, Lassiter. He's a gunman, one known for his hatred of Mormons. One who has been known to shoot a few. He's on a mission, that's for sure, he's looking for vengeance. (His sister was "kidnapped" by Mormons. It's been almost twenty years since, and while she's long dead...he's still bitter.) He stops the men from beating Venters. There are a few other characters, of course, another woman, one named Bess. But I won't tell you exactly how she enters into this drama.

The writing. It started out very painful. Zane Grey, in my humble opinion, needed an editor badly. The descriptions. Oh, they hurt! Chapter five is the most painful chapter of the book. The descriptions were boring and repetitive. And I had to laugh when Venters "soliloquized" to the sage. (Okay, technically, he was probably talking to himself or possibly the unconscious person he'd just shot. But still.) His phrasing at times struck me as awkward and ill-formed.

Broad daylight and a hint of sunshine high on the cliff-rim to the west brought him to consideration of what he had better do. (49)

"A good tracker could trail me," he muttered. "And I'd be cornered here. Let's see. Rustlers are a lazy set when they're not on the ride. I'll risk it. Then I'll change my hiding-place." (49)

Venters was conscious of an indefinite conflict of change within him. It seemed to be a vague passing of old moods, a dim coalescing of new forces, a moment of inexplicable transition. He was both cast down and uplifted. He wanted to think and think and think of the meaning, but he resolutely dispelled emotion. His imperative need at present was to find a safe retreat, and this called for action. (80)

This sad-eyed girl was so utterly different from what it would have been reason to believe such a remarkable life would have made her. (110)

So the story. Aside from talking about shooting Mormons, what happens in this book? (And there is more talk than action.) Well, there are horses and horse races. And cattle. And cattle rustlers. And romance. Two couples falling in love, and the obstacles they face along the way.

I'm almost embarrassed to admit this, but for the last hundred pages, I was hooked. Not hooked in a wow-this-is-a-great-book way, but still I didn't want to put the book down until I found out how it all worked out. The pacing and tension in these last pages worked really, really well. Not well enough to make up for the painfulness of the earlier chapters--particularly that awful fifth chapter--but enough for me to think that maybe just maybe Grey was good at what he set out to do.

So am I still allergic to westerns? Yes. Give me a scenario where there are no guns and no horses, and I'll maybe reconsider.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Monday, September 21, 2009

The Other Mr. Darcy


Fairview, Monica. 2009. The Other Mr. Darcy. Sourcebooks. 368 pages. October 2009 release.

Caroline Bingley sank to the floor, her silk crepe dress crumpling up beneath her.

Can Monica Fairview do the seemingly impossible task of making Caroline Bingley a sympathetic, likable heroine? I think she does--and does it well!--in The Other Mr. Darcy. Who is this "other" Mr. Darcy? He is a Mr. Robert Darcy. An American cousin. A cousin "trapped" in England for the duration of the war. This Mr. Darcy serves as messenger and escort. You see, poor Elizabeth Darcy (nee Bennet) has miscarried, and Mr. Darcy has arrived to let Charles and Jane know. Elizabeth wants her sister Jane. And since Louisa (minus the snoozing husband whom Fairview conveniently killed off before page one) and Caroline live with Charles and Jane, well, they're there for the news as well. Charles and Jane ride on ahead--but Mr. Darcy remains behind to stay with Caroline and Louisa. The three (plus a mystery guest whom Caroline insists on inviting) will join the others at Pemberley in a week or so.

Is it love at first sight for Robert and Caroline? What do you think? There's something about this couple that just works. I hesitate to tell you too much more than that. It's a surprisingly delightful read. One that had me smiling in many places. One that left me satisfied. One of the things that pleased me about this one is that it is a clean read.

Definitely recommended for those that can't get enough of Pride and Prejudice. (As well as for those that just love a good Regency romance.)

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Salon: Reading, Read, To Read #38

Happy Sunday everyone! I've been thinking about challenges--reading challenges that is--lately. Thinking about which ones I want to host next year, and which ones I'd be happy to let go. And of course, that leads me to think about which ones I want to join next year. What makes a reading challenge special? What factors make a challenge so enjoyable that they become a "must" for participants. The thing is I don't think these "factors" can be replicated. I don't think there's any one perfect way to host a challenge. (Though if Carl wanted to teach a class on how to be a perfect host, I'd be ready to sign up.) So I'm asking you what makes you enthusiastic about a challenge? What can the host do to keep you motivated? Other than giving away things, I mean. (Most of the time giveaways hold little sway over whether or not I join a challenge or finish a challenge. I know that they can be great fun though. It's just that I like reading as its own reward.)

I probably should ask you which challenges you want to see return for the 2010 season. But there are some that I've just lost interest in so completely that I wouldn't want to bother with hosting anymore. The two that I have NOT lost interest in are the 18th and 19th Century Women Writers Reading Challenge and the It's The End of the World challenge. Would anyone be interested in continuing the 42 Challenge??? I'll probably start a poll in the sidebar.

One thing going on in the bloggy world that I hope to take part in....is Rebecca's idea for a Dead Author Blog Tour. Since she mentioned it last Monday, I've been thinking and thinking about it. How much fun it would be. How much I would LOVE to see this happen.

Movies this week:
Steel Magnolias

What I read in a previous week, but reviewed this week:

Tarzan of the Apes by Edgar Rice Burroughs. 1914. 262 pages.
Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood: A Graphic Novel. 2009. Tony Lee, Sam Hart, Artur Fujita. Candlewick Press. 160 pages.
Ash by Malinda Lo. 2009. Little, Brown. 272 pages.

What I read this past week and reviewed:

The Indigo Notebook by Laura Resau. 2009. Random House. 336 pages.
Gifted: Out of Sight, Out of Mind. Marilyn Kaye. 2009. Kingfisher. 229 pages.
Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse by Victor Gischler. 2008. 324 pages. Simon & Schuster.
Vampire A Go-Go by Victor Gischler. 2009. Simon & Schuster. 338 pages.

What I read this past week and haven't reviewed yet:

The Awakening by Kelley Armstrong. 2009. HarperCollins. 357 pages.

What I've read and really, really need to review:

The Other Mr. Darcy by Monica Fairview. 2009. Sourcebooks. 327 pages.

What I'm currently reading:

A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
Riders of the Purple Sage by Zane Grey
Twilight of Avalon by Anna Elliott
Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
Vampire Kisses: The Beginning by Ellen Schreiber
Monsters And The Curse of Frankenstein by Dorothy and Thomas Hoobler
Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez

What I'm just fooling around that I'm reading:

Going Bovine by Libba Bray
The Highwayman's Footsteps by Nicola Morgan
Putting the Amazing Back Into Grace by Michael Horton
The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope

What I've abandoned:


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Library Loot: Third Week in September

Once again, my impulsiveness has won out over my common sense. Look what I brought home this week.



The Life and Opinions of Tristam Shandy by Laurence Sterne
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steineck
Cup of Gold by John Steinbeck
The Acts of King Arthur And His Noble Knights by John Steinbeck

Notes: Tristam Shandy (if I get to it) would count for the 1% Well Read Challenge.
It's *almost* embarrassing how many times I've checked out Grapes of Wrath. I still have never gotten past the first chapter.
Cup of Gold is the first Steinbeck, and I think it's about pirates. So that could be fun.
The Acts of King Arthur, I don't have a solid explanation, though I am in the Arthurian challenge. So that may be why I *felt* the need to take it home with me.


Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini
Secret History of the Pink Carnation by Lauren Willig
A Place of Greater Safety by Hilary Mantel

Notes: Ever since watching reading The Scarlet Pimpernel, I've been wanting to read more books set during the French Revolution. I even started a fun little mini-challenge, have you heard?


2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur Clarke
Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi

Notes: I've not read any Arthur C. Clarke. So I have no idea what to expect. The Scalzi I'm looking forward to. I have checked this out before. But I found rushing into this one right after Ghost Brigades and The Last Colony a bit too much. I'm hoping now that I'll be able to click with this one since it's been a few months since my last Scalzi.


The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet by Colleen McCullough
Antony and Cleopatra by Colleen McCullough
Claudius the God by Robert Graves

Notes: I've heard some dreadful, dreadful things about The Independence of Miss Mary Bennet. If that's true, then I get to blog about it. And on the off chance that it turns into a wonderful read, then I get to be contrary. I don't know why the other two came home with me other than Michelle Moran got me curious on Cleopatra (a wee bit anyway) and I've been meaning to get back to the Graves. I loved I, Claudius.


Fourth Comings by Megan McCafferty
Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty

Notes: I really loved the first two books in the series. But really didn't like the third. I expect it get worse before it gets better. But I have high hopes for the last book. Jennie made it sound like it was worth my time.

Leftover Loot

Whales on Stilts by M.T. Anderson
The Clue of the Linoleum Lederhosen by M.T. Anderson

Gilda Joyce: Psychic Investigator by Jennifer Allison

Gilda Joyce: The Ladies of the Lake by Jennifer Allison

The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi

See No Evil by Jamila Gavin

Rampant by Diana Peterfreund
Ruled Britannia by Harry Turtledove

Twilight of Avolon by Anna Elliott

We Never Talk About My Brother by Peter S. Beagle

The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte by Syrie James

The Reavers by George MacDonald Fraser

How Do I Love Thee? by Nancy Moser



Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden
The Dead of Night by John Marsden
A Killing Frost by John Marsden
What the Moon Saw by Laura Resau
Red Glass by Laura Resau
The Belgariad. Volume 1 (3-in-1 collection) David Eddings (Includes: Pawn of Prophecy, Queen of Sorcery, Magician's Gambit)
Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler
Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez
Fingersmith by Sarah Waters
Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier.
The Winter King by Bernard Cornwell
Graveyard for Lunatics by Ray Bradbury
The Vampire of Ropraz by Jacques Chessex
Federations. Edited by John Joseph Adams.
Fast Ships, Black Sails. Edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Marg that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

The Indigo Notebook (YA)


Resau, Laura. 2009. The Indigo Notebook. Random House. 336 pages.

Yeah, you've got that something,
I think you'll understand.
When I say that something
I want to hold your hand...
-- The Beatles

It's always the same, no matter where in the world we happen to be. Just when I get used to noodle soup for breakfast in Laos, or endless glasses of supersweet mint tea in Morocco, or crazy little tuk tuk taxis in Thailand, Layla gets that look in her eyes, that faraway, wistful look, as though she's squinting at a movie in the distance, and on the screen is a place more exotic, more dazzling, more spiritual than wherever we are.

I love Zeeta, the heroine of The Indigo Notebook, and her "wild" free-spirited mother, Layla. Zeeta is a teen girl who dreams of having a normal life. A life that doesn't involve moving to a different country every single year. When the novel opens, these two are on the move again. This time the destination is Ecuador. (Otavalo to be exact.)

Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for. That's something that Zeeta learns in The Indigo Notebook. Wendell, her love interest, has to learn that lesson as well. The hard way. These two meet in the market place. In an adorably clueless way. He doesn't speak Spanish. And she does. He's on a mission, a mission that's doomed unless he finds a friend to help him out. His mission is to find his birth parents. He's adopted, you see, and he knows that his parents are from the area. He has no idea how difficult this could prove to be. How dangerous this could prove to be.

Life in Ecuador certainly is interesting, Zeeta finds. Full of adventure, mystery, magic, danger, love, and laughter. It's a coming of age story as well. A story of discovering who you are, what you want, and what you really need. It's a complex story exploring family dynamics and relationships.

I think one of my favorite things about it is that it's multicultural without being "multicultural." It doesn't scream and shout, "Hey, look I'm multicultural. I'm all about the other." It feels authentic and natural.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Friday, September 18, 2009

Gifted: Out of Sight, Out of Mind (MG)


Kaye, Marilyn. 2009. Gifted: Out of Sight, Out of Mind. Kingfisher. 240 pages.

I'm looking through you, where did you go
I thought I knew you, what did I know
You don't look different, but you have changed
I'm looking through you, you're not the same
-- The Beatles

Sometimes I look in a mirror and there's nobody looking back. I know I have a reflection. I just don't see it. Maybe it's all in my mind. Maybe I've got bad eyesight. Or maybe it's something else.

Tracey Devon feels invisible. The older sister in a large family--a really large family--she feels invisible at home and at school. A nobody. (Her siblings are "the Devon Seven.")

Amanda Beeson is the queen of mean. The most popular girl in eighth grade. But this mean girl is mean for a very specific reason. Do you want to know her secret?

Meadowbrook Middle School--the school that both Tracey and Amanda attend--is keeping a few secrets of its own. Secrets about a handful of their students. Nine students if you include Amanda. These are "gifted" students with unique "gifts." Of course, all these students have different ways of looking at their "gifts." Some definitely feel more like curses than blessings.

What is Tracey's gift? What is Amanda's gift? Read and see for yourself in this first book in a new series.

What did I think about this one? Well, I think it is what it is. A lighthearted, fun read right for its target audience. It's a quick read. An entertaining one. Will Gifted be the most amazing read ever for adults? Not really. But that's okay. It doesn't need to be.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Poetry Friday Round-Up


Hi! Welcome to Becky's Book Reviews. I'm happy to be hosting this week's Poetry Friday round-up. Please leave a link in the comments. I'll be rounding up throughout the day.

Author Amok has an interview with Edie Hemingway, author of Road to Tater Hill.

Karen Edmisten is sharing "To The Light of September."

Lorie Ann Grover of readertotz is sharing "Little Nancy Etticoat."

She's also sharing (at On Point) Moms.

Shelf Elf is in with some Christina Rosetti. "Who Has Seen the Wind."

Jama Rattigan is sharing Barter by Sara Teasdale.

Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast is in with "Ex Libris" by Eleanor Wilner.

Laura Salas is in with an "Without Rancor" and her 15 Words or Less Poems.

Windspirit_girl is in with "Failure's Art."

G.R. LeBlanc is sharing a haiku this week by Myra Cohn Livingston.

Kimberly from Lectitans has Rain by Edward Thomas.

Linda has a poetry stretch.

Random Noodling shares a poem on Frederick Douglass.

Read Write Believe is sharing "Do You Have Any Advice?"

My Juicy Little Universe is sharing some Tom Chapin.

Kelly Fineman is in with "Bad Day" by Kay Ryan.

The Stenhouse Blog is sharing To Myself by Franz Wright.

Notes from New England is sharing some love this week.

The Write Sisters are sharing the love of dance.

A Year of Reading is in with Patriotism by Ellie Schoenfeld.

Irene Latham is sharing a poem by Ludelphia.

Little Willow is sharing some Emily Dickinson.

Mitali Perkins is in with COCONUT COWGIRL.

Liz in Ink is in with some John O'Donohue.

Wild Rose Reader is talking about writing/posting original poems.

Blue Rose Girls is sharing Language Lessons by Alexandra Teague.

The Miss Rumphius Effect is sharing "Rereading Frost." She's also sharing the results of her Poetry Stretch this week.

MotherReader is in with a poem about ereaders.

FatherGoose is sharing a fun poem.

Semicolon is sharing one of her favorite hymns.

Gottabook is sending you to see A Poetry Window.

The Drift Record is sharing some photographs of poets.

Susan Taylor Brown is in with Snapshot.

Catherine is in with No Pedals, No Medals.

Book Crumbs is in with Reflection.

Gavin is in with a poem by Louise Gluck.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

Pageloads Counter

Search Book Blogs Search Engine

The background is based on a background I found here...with some small adjustments on my part so it would work with the template.
Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP