Monday, November 30, 2009

November Accomplishments

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

For months I had wished and wished the baby would be a girl, a little sister. Maybe I shouldn't have wished so hard. A boy might have lived.

All this happened, more or less.

I spend a lot of time thinking about f-words.

November's Top Five:

Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas.
Here Comes The Big, Mean Dust Bunny! by Jan Thomas.
Positively. Courtney Sheinmel.
Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales. Lucy Cousins.
Nation. Terry Pratchett.

Number of Picture Books: 8

My Elephant. Petr Horacek. 2009. Candlewick Press.
The Legend of Ninja Cowboy Bear. David Bruins and Hilary Leung. 2009. Kids Can Press.
Under the Star: A Christmas Counting Story. Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Vlasta van Kampen. Key Porter Kids.
The Seeing Stick. Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini. Running Press.
Pumpkin Baby by Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Susan Mitchell. Key Porter Kids.
Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas. 2009. Simon & Schuster.
Here Comes The Big, Mean Dust Bunny! by Jan Thomas. 2009. Simon & Schuster.
The Scarecrow's Dance. Jane Yolen. 2009. Simon & Schuster.

Number of Board Books: 0

Number of Children's Books: 10

The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow. Andy Griffiths. Illustrated by Terry Denton. 2009. Feiwel and Friends. 124 pages. (Early Reader)
Dessert First by Hallie Durand. 2009. Simon & Schuster. 154 pages.
Ruby Flips for Attention. (Ruby and the Booker Boys). 2009. Derrick Barnes. Scholastic. 130 pages.
Road to Tater Hill. Edith M. Hemingway. 2009. Random House. 214 pages.
No Girls Allowed (Dogs Okay) by Trudi Trueit. 2009. Simon & Schuster. 118 pages.
The Funeral Director's Son by Coleen Murtagh Paratore. 2009. Simon & Schuster. 135 pages.
Dog Whisperer: The Rescue by Nicholas Edwards. 2009. SquareFish. 216 pages.
The Cat On The Mat Is Flat by Andy Griffiths. 2007. Feiwel and Friends. 167 pages.
Black Angels. Linda Beatrice Brown. 2009. Penguin. 260 pages.
Bystander. James Preller. 2009. Feiwel and Friends. 226 pages.

Number of YA Books: 8

Devil's Paintbox. Victoria McKernan. 2009. Random House. 360 pages.
The Indigo King (The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica). James A. Owen. Simon & Schuster. 2008. 375 pages.
Positively. Courtney Sheinmel. 2009. Simon & Schuster. 216 pages.
Al Capone Shines My Shoes. Gennifer Choldenko. 2009. Penguin. 274 pages.
The Shadow Dragons. James A. Owen. 2009. 417 pages.
Wanting Mor. Rukhsana Kahn. 2009. Groundwood Books. 190 pages.
Jacquelyn by Jeffie Ross Gordon. 1985. Scholastic. (Sunfire Romance.) 332 pages.
Nation. Terry Pratchett. 2008. HarperCollins. 370 pages.

Number of Adult Books: 6

Willoughby's Return. Jane Odiwe. 2009. Sourcebooks. 352 pages.
Mary Barton. Elizabeth Gaskell. 487 pages.
Casebook for Victor Frankenstein. Peter Ackroyd. 2008. 353 pages.
Slaughterhouse-Five. Kurt Vonnegut. 1969. 205 pages.
Colonel Brandon's Diary. Amanda Grange. 2008. 295 pages.
Arabella. Georgette Heyer. 1949/2009. 312 pages.

Number of Christian books: 4

The Swiss Courier. Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey. 2009. Revell. 324 pages.
Touched by a Vampire: Discovering the Hidden Messages in the Twilight Saga by Beth Felker Jones. 2009. Multnomah. 180 pages.
Thirsty. Tracey Bateman. 2009. Waterbrook Press. 376 pages.
A Constant Heart by Siri Mitchell. 2008. Bethany House. 384 books.

Number of Verse Novels: 1

Brushing Mom's Hair by Andrea Cheng. Wordsong. 60 pages

Number of Nonfiction: 0

Number of Short Story Collections, Anthologies, Poetry Books: 1

Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales. Lucy Cousins. 2009. Candlewick Press. 128 pages.
Link
Movies Watched/Reviewed:

The Woman in White (1948)
You For Me (1952)
Where the Boys Are (1960)
Sunday in New York (1963)
One Man's Journey (1933)
You Can't Run From It (1956)
Return to Me (2000)

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Dewey's Books Reading Challenge Completed

I completed Dewey's Books Reading Challenge. Each of these books were recommended (and/or reviewed) by Dewey of Hidden Side of A Leaf.

1. Chocolat by Joanne Harris
2. How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff
3.Maus: A Survivor's Tale: My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman. 1986.
4. Maus II : A Survivor's Tale: And Here My Troubles Began by Art Spiegelman. 1991. 136 pages.
5. The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
6. Nation by Terry Pratchett



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Nation (YA, Adult)


Pratchett, Terry. 2008. Nation. HarperCollins. 370 pages.

Imo set out one day to catch some fish, but there was no sea.

Because the prologue didn't hook me, I put off reading this one. Despite the fact that oh-so-many were blogging about it and singing its praises, I wasn't sure this would be my kind of book. I knew I wanted to read it one day, sometimes I felt even one day soon. But it wasn't until a few weeks ago that I made reading this one a top priority.

Mau is a young boy whose strength and courage is challenged above and beyond when tragedy strikes. A giant wave--a tsunami--has destroyed his island village. He is the only survivor. But not for long. Soon others begin to arrive. A young white girl renaming herself Daphne, the lone survivor of a shipwreck, is the first one he meets. A new mother and her starving babe, an old priest, arrive soon after. More and more come. Can a young boy restore a nation?

This one is not only beautifully and brilliantly written, it's also incredibly suspenseful and action-packed. I should also mention it's amazingly thought-provoking. It's hard to put this one down.

"I thought you saved her life."
"Yes, but the first time I saved her life, I saved mine, too. Do you understand? If she hadn't been here, I'd have held the biggest rock I could find and gone into the dark current. One person is nothing. Two people are a nation." (252)
I definitely recommend this one. There was just so much I loved about it. Great characters. Great storytelling. Great pace.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday Salon: Reading, Read, To Read #48

Happy Sunday everyone! November is almost gone whether it feels like it or not. I read some great books this week. Nation wowed me almost from the start. I can't believe I put off reading it so long. I hope to have a review up tomorrow. It was my last book needed for completing Dewey's challenge. The Year of The Bomb really surprised me. This is a book that I'd never have picked up on my own--the cover just didn't say read me, read me. But I just loved that one. I've also been reading two chunksters this week: The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope (just lacking about seventy pages) and Man and Wife by Wilkie Collins. Trollope is just too much fun!!! I am loving him!

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

Black Angels. Linda Beatrice Brown. 2009. Penguin. 260 pages.
Bystander. James Preller. 2009. Feiwel and Friends. 226 pages.
Arabella. Georgette Heyer. 1949/2009. 312 pages.

What I read this past week and reviewed:

The Scarecrow's Dance. Jane Yolen. 2009. Simon & Schuster.
Jacquelyn by Jeffie Ross Gordon. 1985. Scholastic. (Sunfire Romance.) 332 pages.
Nation by Terry Pratchett. 2008. 370 pages. HarperCollins.

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

The Unwritten Rule by Elizabeth Scott. 2010. Simon & Schuster. 210 pages.
The Year of the Bomb. Ronald Kidd. 2009. Simon & Schuster. 202 pages.
The Mysterious Benedict Society and The Prisoner's Dilemma. Trenton Lee Stewart. 2009. Little, Brown. 391 pages.
Man and Wife. Wilkie Collins. 1870. 688 pages.

What I've read and really, really need to review: none this week!

What I'm currently reading:

The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope.
Treasured: Knowing God by The Things He Keeps by Leigh McLeroy.

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

Walking Backward by Catherine Austen.

What I've abandoned
:

Searching for Pemberley by Mary Lydon Simonsen

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Jacquelyn (MG, YA)


Gordon, Jeffie Ross. 1985. Jacquelyn. Scholastic. Sunfire Romance. 332 pages.

Christmas vacation! Home, presents, and time to spend with Broderick!

This one is set in the Depression. In Chicago. Beginning at the end of 1931, to be exact. Jacquelyn, our heroine, may seem like a spoiled brat at first. But she's about to lose it all. Will what she's learned be enough to keep her and her family together?

The book opens with her coming home for Christmas. What she learns turns her world upside down. Her father has lost it all. There is no family fortune. Not anymore. And the family will have to struggle to survive--to keep food on the table, a roof over their heads. Her family becomes her responsibility when her father suffers a stroke and her mother loses herself in the past and loses touch with reality. Forced into the workplace, Jacquelyn learns just what she's made of. That she's stronger than she ever thought possible. That independence is a good thing.

Jacquelyn is just one of the delightful 'name-books' in the Sunfire Romance series. And it is one of the best in my opinion. It's richly detailed and the writing was so well done. The character development is above and beyond what you might expect. And the story has substance. It had been years--probably at least fifteen--since I'd read it yet I could still recall specific details, scenes, from this one.

I loved this one so very much. It was just as magical for me now--all these years later--as it was the first time around. And it is sad to me that these are out of print. I would so love to see a revival of these!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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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 as I can.



Author Amok is sharing a pi/e poem.




Susan Taylor Brown is sharing Grocery Shopping with Mom.



A Year of Reading is in with Manners.



Reflective Ink is in with two haiku.



Shelf Elf is in with Winter Trees.



PaperTigers is in with a post on the poetry of Spike Milligan.



Write Time is in with an original Thanksgiving poem.



Random Noodling is in with Perhaps the World Ends Here.



Ruth is in with a review of E-Mails from Scheherazad.



A Chair, A Fireplace, & A Tea Cozy is in with a review of Only A Witch Can Fly.



Wild Rose Reader shares pictures and links for a party celebrating Lee Bennett Hopkins.



Political Verses shares a poem about Sarah Palin.



Blue Rose Girls shares Eating Poetry, a poem honoring Lee Bennett Hopkins.



Carol is in with a review of Pony Island.


Color Online is spotlighting Tara Betts.

Poetry for Children is in with a review of Pumpkin Butterfly.

Writing and Ruminating is in with some Lewis Carroll.

Julie shares The Day After.


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

The Sound of Music


A Classic Collectible Pop-Up: The Sound of Music. By Rodgers & Hammerstein and Lindsay & Crouse. Adapted by Bert Fink. Illustrated by Dan Andreasen. Paper Engineering by Bruce Foster. 2009. Simon & Schuster. October 2009. 14 pages.

If you love the Sound of Music, then this really is a must-have. I love, love, love the Sound of Music. So this book made me giddy. Very, very giddy. In the must-show-to-all-my-friends way. This book brings all your favorite movie scenes to life. Each scene pops-up to reveal in wonderful detail the oh-so-magical story of Maria. (It would be hard to pick a favorite spread. Though the twirling Maria from the opening spread is a wonderful representation of how right this one is.) The story has been adapted and is told within the book--very cleverly in my opinion--in the mini-pop-ups/flaps. All the lyrics are included as well. Which was very nice.



© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Black Angels (MG, YA)


Brown, Linda Beatrice. 2009. Black Angels. Penguin. 260 pages.

Luke took the key out of the sideboard drawer in the dining room, took a rifle and put the key back very carefully.

Luke is a slave contemplating running away. He hopes to join up with the Union army. He isn't quite sure where or how. But he's ready to go off on an adventure. When he sets out initially, he is hoping to meet up with others. He's heard a handful of other slaves arranging a meeting place and time. But either he's too early or too late. But he's not to be alone for long. No, he'll meet up with two children as different as can be--at least on the surface. A slave girl, Daylily, who is fleeing from the horror of war. (She witnessed several murders at the hands of soldiers. She knows that if her hiding place had been discovered, she'd be dead as well.) And a young white boy, Caswell, who is also lost and alone and afraid. Can these three seemingly unlikely friends find a way to survive. Can they discover they're more alike than different? Can Luke lead them all to safety? Will any of the three ever find a "home" again?

This book is about survival, war, and friendship. It spans roughly a decade (though it focuses on a few months of the war). It was so compelling. Hard to put down.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Bystander (MG)


Preller, James. 2009. Bystander. Feiwel and Friends. 226 pages.

The first time Eric Hayes ever saw him, David Hallenback was running, if you could call it that, running in a halting, choppy-stepped, stumpy-legged shamble, slowing down to look back over his shoulder, stumbling forward, pausing to catch his breath, then lurching forward again.

Bystander is a book about bullying. Eric, our narrator, fits strangely into his new school. New and slightly confused, he begins associating with the wrong crowd. Kids he knows to be bullies. Because--at least at first--he's not the target of the bullying, he accepts everything. There are a few instances here and there that make him squirm. But at the same time, it's easy to laugh along with the other kids, the other witnesses or bystanders. As long as the bullying isn't too much--then he's not willing to speak up about it. But there comes a time when it does get to be too much. When what he witnesses makes him so uncomfortable that he wakes up and gets a conscience. But now that he doesn't want to be all buddy-buddy with his former friends, will he become the next target? Will standing up for what he knows to be right lead to his own fall? And can he live with that if it is?

What's a boy to do when so many of the kids around him are bullies? True, not everyone bullies with kicks and punches, but there are so many different ways of bullying. Why does everyone have to be so mean in middle school?

This is more of a message-oriented novel.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Arabella


Heyer, Georgette. 1949/2009. Arabella. Sourcebooks. 312 pages.

The schoolroom in the parsonage at Heythram was not a large apartment, but on a bleak January day, in a household where the consumption of coals was a consideration, this was not felt by its occupants to be a disadvantage.

Arabella Tallant, a young country girl, has been invited by her godmother to London. She's to have her season, an unexpected surprise, in a way, though much hoped for. Her parents--especially her mother--hope she will find a husband during this season--since it will likely be her one and only season in town. Arabella wishes this as well. She's not wanting a magnificently wealthy husband or a titled husband.

When Arabella has an accidental encounter with a well-dressed stranger, well, her temper gets the best of her. And she declares herself to be fabulously wealthy. Before she knows it, everyone in town has heard the news. Arabella is quite an heiress! And she's become the town's new It girl. Everyone simply loves adoring her, making much of her. But can Arabella find a husband who will love her for who she really is?

Arabella is a very likable character. She's spirited and opinionated. And the man who's 'destined' to win her heart is quite nice as well!

I enjoyed spending time in this one! Yes, it's a bit formulaic in places. But I almost always enjoy the books anyway. There is just something comforting, satisfying, and happy-making about them. Most Heyer books feel like good friends.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

Sunday Salon: Reading, Read, To Read #47

Happy Sunday everyone! I can't believe it is almost Thanksgiving! Reading challenges have been popping up ALL over the place. Which is just TOO MUCH fun. I just love discovering new challenges and seeing if they fit into my reading for next year. To keep track of which challenges I'm joining, you might want to visit my challenge blog. Some months are definitely busier than others! I can imagine that November and December are going to be pretty busy over there though! I was very excited to finish Mary Barton. Not only did that mean I got to participate in the Classics Circuit blog tour of Elizabeth Gaskell, but it means I finished up the Guardian Reading Challenge! I'm also busy at work finishing up Nation as well. I hope to complete the Dewey Reading Challenge this week.

I'm really considering joining the Lord of the Rings Readalong. (January through April 2010)

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

Brushing Mom's Hair by Andrea Cheng. Wordsong. 60 pages
Mary Barton. Elizabeth Gaskell. 487 pages.
Colonel Brandon's Diary. Amanda Grange. 2008. 295 pages.
Touched by a Vampire: Discovering the Hidden Messages in the Twilight Saga by Beth Felker Jones. 2009. Multnomah. 180 pages.
Thirsty. Tracey Bateman. 2009. Waterbrook Press. 376 pages.

What I read this past week and reviewed:

Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas. 2009. Simon & Schuster.
Here Comes The Big, Mean Dust Bunny! by Jan Thomas. 2009. Simon & Schuster.
The Cat On The Mat Is Flat by Andy Griffiths. 2007. Feiwel and Friends. 167 pages.
Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales. Lucy Cousins. 2009. Candlewick Press. 128 pages.

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

Arabella by Georgette Heyer. 1949/2009. Sourcebooks. 312 pages.
Bystander by James Preller. 2009. Feiwel and Friends. 226 pages.
Black Angels by Linda Beatrice Brown. 2009. Penguin. 260 pages.

What I've read and really, really need to review: none this week!

What I'm currently reading:

Man and Wife. Wilkie Collins.
The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope.
Walking Backward by Catherine Austen.
Nation by Terry Pratchett.

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

Searching for Pemberley by Mary Lydon Simonsen

What I've abandoned
:

The Silver Blade by Sally Gardner (just for now, I'll go back to it later)

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Guardian (1000 Novels) Challenge Completed

Biblio File's challenge.
February 1, 2009 through February 1, 2010

1. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (Comedy)
2. Silas Marner by George Eliot (State of the Nation)
3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (Love)
4. Maus I by Art Spiegelman; Maus II by Art Spiegelman (War and Travel)
5. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick (Science Fiction)
6. Crime: Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
7. Family and Self: Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell
8. Wild Card: (Love) Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence
9. Wild Card: (State of the Nation) Middlemarch by George Eliot
10. Wild Card: (Comedy) Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Weekly Geeks 2009-43 (Top Ten of 2009)

This week's weekly geek is to list our top ten published in 2009.

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork. (YA Realistic Fiction)
The Ask and the Answer. Patrick Ness. (YA Science Fiction)
All the Broken Pieces. Ann E. Burg. (YA Historical Fiction, YA Verse Novel)
Lips Touch Three Times. Laini Taylor. (YA Romance/YA Fantasy)
The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby. (YA Historical Fiction/YA Romance)
The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams. (YA Realistic Fiction)
The Year The Swallows Came Early by Kathryn Fitzmaurice. (Middle Grade Realistic Fiction)
Umbrella Summer. Lisa Graff. (Middle Grade Realistic Fiction)
The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte. Syrie James. (Adult Historical Fiction)
Perfect Fifths by Megan McCafferty. (Adult Romance/Chick Lit)

I wanted to be a little diverse in including books for middle grade, young adult, and adult. I also wanted to make sure I covered books I read throughout the year--and not just in the past six weeks.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Celebrate the Author (2009) Completed

January: House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne, Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne, When We Were Very Young by A.A. Milne
February: Tortilla Flat by John Steinbeck, The Wayward Bus by John Steinbeck, Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck, Burning Bright by John Steinbeck, Winter of Our Discontent by John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck
March: The Dangerous Days of Daniel X by James Patterson
April: The Warden by Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
May: Three Men In A Boat by Jerome K. Jerome, Three Men On A Bummel by Jerome K. Jerome
June: Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen, Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen
July: Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
August: Talisman Ring by Georgette Heyer, Frederica by Georgette Heyer, Convenient Marriage by Georgette Heyer, The Grand Sophy by Georgette Heyer, The Corinthian by Georgette Heyer
September: Mary Barton and Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell
October: Casebook for Victor Frankenstein. Peter Ackroyd.
November: Middlemarch by George Eliot and Silas Marner by George Eliot
December: The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, November 20, 2009

Elizabeth Gaskell: Mary Barton

Gaskell, Elizabeth. 1848. Mary Barton. Penguin English Library. 488 pages.

There are some fields near Manchester, well known to the inhabitants as 'Green Heys Fields,' through which runs a public footpath to a little village about two miles distant. In spite of these fields being flat and low, nay, in spite of the want of wood (the great and usual recommendation of level tracts of land), there is a charm about them which strikes even the inhabitant of a mountainous district, who sees and feels the effect of contrast in these common-place but thoroughly rural fields, with the busy, bustling manufacturing town, he left but half an hour ago.

Jem Wilson has always only loved Mary Barton. He may not be rich. He may not live in a grand house. But his heart and soul have belonged to Mary Barton. And there's nothing he wouldn't do for the love of his life. Even if he feels that love is unrequited.

On the day he proposed, Mary Barton refused him thoroughly. And, to poor Jem, it seemed rather cruel, heartless, and final. He dramatically declares:

'And is this the end of all my hopes and fears? the end of my life, I may say, for it is the end of all worth living for!' His agitation rose and carried him into passion. 'Mary! you'll hear, may be, of me as a drunkard, and may be as a thief, and may be as a murderer. Remember! when all are speaking ill of me, you will have no right to blame me, for it's your cruelty that will have made me what I feel I shall become.' (175)
But even though he'll never have Mary as his wife, when Mary's aunt, Esther, asks him to watch out for her, to take care of her, he can't quite refuse. You see, Esther fears for Mary. Fears that Mary Barton is in love with a dangerous man, a rich man who is out to seduce her. His rival's name is Harry Carson. And he seems to have it all. But his luck is about to run out.

Mary Barton was Elizabeth Gaskell's first novel. And it's so much more than a suspenseful love story. (Despite my description, this one is told mainly through the eyes of Mary Barton. Though at times it is told from other perspectives. John Barton, Mary's father, plays a large role in this one.) It's a novel about social class and economics. Of the haves and the have-nots. The Bartons and the Wilsons and almost everyone else of note in the novel are living at the poverty level. Below it more like it. Death from starvation, death by disease, these are very real concerns. Life isn't easy or pretty. It's one hardship after another after another. (It's enough to get you down and keep you down.) John Barton takes these losses poorly. He becomes angry and bitter. He blames the rich for all his problems. Is his anger justified? You be the judge!

One of the strengths of the novel is characterization. We meet Mary Barton, her family, her friends, her community. We meet so many different characters. Characters that are so easy to care about. (For example, Job Legh, Margaret Jennings, and Will Wilson. I particularly enjoyed Job!) All her characters have depth and substance. It's a very human book. The novel is also rich in detail and is very atmospheric.

What I wasn't expecting--and you may not be expecting either--was how rich this one was spiritually. It has some definite spiritual tones and by the end especially its rich spiritual significance really stands out. Something you don't find in just any classic.

I'm happy to be a part of the Elizabeth Gaskell blog tour. To see the rest of the bloggers on tour, visit The Classics Circuit! This was not my first time reading Elizabeth Gaskell. I've also read and reviewed Wives and Daughters and Cranford.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Brushing Mom's Hair (YA)


Cheng, Andrea. 2009. Brushing Mom's Hair. Wordsong. 60 pages.

Ann's mom has breast cancer, and this has changed everything. Just fourteen, Ann is worrying about so much, such heavy stuff, she wishes that life could be, would be okay again. Brushing Mom's Hair is a verse novel told from a young teen's perspective on how cancer changes her family.

This is the opening poem:

Ballet

We stretch,
thin arms
touching toes.
Linda says,
Can you believe
my mom's friend
had one of her breasts
cut off?
Becky covers her mouth
with her hand.
Really?
I look at them
in the mirror,
eyebrows raised,
eyes open
wide.
I bend
and touch my forehead
to my knee.
I don't say,
My mom
had both her breasts cut off
and now she has stitches
covered by bandages
where they were.

It's a quick read. An emotional story as you'd expect as each family member seeks to cope in their own way. Each finds a way to deal with their own emotions and at the same time to provide support for the one with cancer.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Colonel Brandon's Diary


Grange, Amanda. 2008. Colonel Brandon's Diary. Penguin. 295 pages.

I thought the holidays would never arrive, but I am on my way home at last.

I'm not the biggest fan of Sense and Sensibility. (Though I'd rate it higher than Emma and Mansfield Park.) But I really loved Amanda Grange's Colonel Brandon's Diary. I really loved Colonel Brandon. It was such a relief after reading the oh-so-disappointing Willoughby's Return. But finally here was Colonel Brandon as lovable and as right as he should be.

This one begins decades before Sense & Sensibility. The year is 1778 and the focus is on Colonel Brandon's first love, his first attachment, to a young woman, the ward of his father, Eliza, a woman forced into marriage against her will, a marriage to Colonel Brandon's worthless (though older) brother. We follow Brandon through the years until finally he gets a second chance at love, true love when he meets the Dashwood sisters.

For the most part, I think this one works really really well. There were a few scenes now and then that I thought the book lost a little perspective. Where I questioned Colonel Brandon's perspective. A couple of places where I'm not sure he would really have an insider's behind-the-scenes view of what was going on. But for the most part, I thought it was just about perfect.

I couldn't put this one down. I just loved reading it. I definitely recommend it.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Thirsty


Thirsty. Tracey Bateman. 2009. Waterbrook Press. 376 pages.

Thick bass blared through amped-up speakers and drew Markus from his slumber.

Meet Nina Parker. She'd be the first to admit her mistakes. Her life has been full of mistakes. And it's cost her. Her husband has divorced her. He has full custody of both of her children. Her daughter, Meg, doesn't want anything to do with her. She's been arrested several times. She doesn't have a job or a place to live. At the start, anyway. But Nina Parker is being given a second chance. She's moving in with her sister (who is a sheriff) and returning to her hometown of Abbey Hills, a small town in the Ozarks. She'll be waitressing at Barney's, the local diner. And for this first week back, she'll have her daughter, Meg, with her. Can this week start the two on a new path. Can this relationship begin to heal? Can they learn from each other and begin to understand one another?

Unfortunately, this week isn't going to be easy on either of them. In fact, they may not survive the week. You see, there's a murderer on the loose in Abbey Hills. And victims (both human and animal) are being discovered: their bodies drained of blood, their hearts cut out. Who is the murderer, the monster, in their midst?

Thirsty--in case you couldn't tell by the cover alone--is a vampire novel. A so-called Christian vampire novel. You can read an interview with Tracey Bateman here.


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Constant Heart


Mitchell, Siri. 2008. A Constant Heart. Bethany House. 384 pages.

"But how could he not like you?"

I can see how this one might not be for everyone. But. Oh how I loved this book. And I think you will too. If you like historical fiction. If you like historical romance. If you like books (fiction or nonfiction) about the Tudors. This "Christian" romance is set during Elizabethan times. Elizabeth I is on the throne, and the hero of this one is one of her courtiers, a nobleman, Lord Lytham. (For the record, he is fictional. Some of the other characters are not fictional--they were real people in her court.) Down on his luck--no thanks to his brother's gambling, he marries the daughter of a knight--the beautiful Marget. Her dowry will help him--he can buy back his family's estate, for starters. But these two have different expectations from their marriage.

He married for anything but love. He didn't want a beautiful wife, a passionate wife, someone he could love and adore. He wanted a plain, practical wife. Someone he could keep in the country, hidden away most of the year. Out of sight, out of mind. The fact that his betrothed is stunningly beautiful is a big drawback for him. But it was too late. The agreement, the settlement, had been reached and there was no turning back.

She wanted a husband she could love and respect. A companion, a friend, a lover. She wanted a real marriage.

Rich in details, this book is an intimate (but not in a graphic, inappropriate way) look at court life. What life was like--the pretenses, the expenses, the vanities, the absurdities, the jealousies. Marget will (within reason) do anything to help her husband's career. Even if it means pretending she doesn't love him. But will it be enough, can anything ever be enough, to please the Queen.

Though this one is published by a Christian publishing house, there is nothing preachy or didactic about it. (I know some people avoid "Christian fiction".) I would definitely recommend this one to anyone and everyone regardless. It's just a great historical book. Well-written. Compelling. Believable.


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, November 16, 2009

The Swiss Courier

Goyer, Tricia and Mike Yorkey. 2009. The Swiss Courier. Revell. 324 pages.


He hoped his accent wouldn't give him away.

There was so much to love about this one. It's historical fiction. Set during World War II. 1944 to be exact. I've read many books set during this time period, but this one was unique--at least to me. It is set in Switzerland, for the most part, and stars heroes and heroines who are spies. They are men and women going undercover in Germany and risking their lives for the Allied Cause. Our heroine is the young and attractive Gabi Mueller. She's been given a secret mission--well, one big secret mission--she must help smuggle someone out of Germany. Will she succeed? Will her contribution make a difference to the war?

I think this one has much to offer readers. It's an enjoyable read that happens to be historical. If you love this time period, you should definitely seek it out.

Available October 2009 at your favorite bookseller from Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sunday Salon: Reading, Read, To Read #46

Happy Sunday everyone! I've been watching my skating--like always--and one thing that really stood out to me yesterday was the commentary. Figure skating commentary can be really harsh and not-so-nice. True, anyone can tell when a skater is really, really off. But sometimes the commentary gets a bit too much. A bit too Simon Cowell in places. It can definitely be subjective; and commentators can play favorites. Anyway, here is one of my favorites--not for the commentary--there is none--but for the skating itself.



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

Road to Tater Hill. Edith M. Hemingway. 2009. Random House. 214 pages.
No Girls Allowed (Dogs Okay) by Trudi Trueit. 2009. Simon & Schuster. 118 pages.
The Funeral Director's Son by Coleen Murtagh Paratore. 2009. Simon & Schuster. 135 pages.
Dog Whisperer: The Rescue by Nicholas Edwards. 2009. SquareFish. 216 pages.
Dessert First by Hallie Durand. 2009. Simon & Schuster. 154 pages.
Al Capone Shines My Shoes. Gennifer Choldenko. 2009. Penguin. 274 pages.
The Shadow Dragons. James A. Owen. 2009. 417 pages.
The Swiss Courier. Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey. 2009. Revell. 324 pages.

What I read this past week and reviewed:

Wanting Mor. Rukhsana Kahn. 2009. Groundwood Books. 190 pages.
Casebook for Victor Frankenstein. Peter Ackroyd. 2008. 353 pages.
Slaughterhouse-Five. Kurt Vonnegut. 1969. 205 pages.
A Constant Heart by Siri Mitchell. 2008. Bethany House. 384 books.

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

Mary Barton. Elizabeth Gaskell. 487 pages.
Colonel Brandon's Diary by Amanda Grange. 2008. 295 pages.
Brushing Mom's Hair by Andrea Cheng. 2009. Wordsong. 60 pages.

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

Touched by a Vampire: Discovering the Hidden Messages in the Twilight Saga by Beth Felker Jones. 2009. Multnomah. 180 pages.
Thirsty. Tracey Bateman. 2009. Waterbrook Press. 376 pages.

What I'm currently reading:

Man and Wife. Wilkie Collins.
Arabella by Georgette Heyer
Searching for Pemberley by Mary Lydon Simonsen

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

The Silver Blade by Sally Gardner

What I've abandoned
:

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey (just for now; I'll be back to it later)
Dracula by Bram Stoker (probably abandoned until next year)
The Monk by Matthew Lewis (same here)

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Chunkster Challenge Completed

Chunkster Challenge
Dana
Now - November 15, 2009
Your Choice: Morbookly Obese

I committed to the Mor-book-ly Obese option. (A chunkster is 450 pages or more of ADULT literature (fiction or nonfiction) The challenge ends November 15, 2009.

1. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
2. Middlemarch by George Eliot
3. Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
4. A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell
5. A Monster's Notes by Laurie Sheck.
6. The Greatest Knight by Elizabeth Chadwick
7. The Secret Diaries of Charlotte Bronte. Syrie James.
8. To Say Nothing of the Dog. Connie Willis.
9. The 19th Wife by David Ebershoff.
10. The Bone Doll's Twin by Lynn Flewelling.
11. The Traitor's Wife by Susan Higginbotham.
12. Nefertiti by Michelle Moran.

For this level of challenge you must commit to 6 or more chunksters OR three tomes of 750 pages or more. You know you want to.....go on and give in to your cravings.


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sarah Dessen Mini-Challenge Progress

Someone Like You by Sarah Dessen
Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
If you're reading this post on another site, or another feed, the content has been stolen.

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Library Loot Third Week in November


I was in a bit of a rush this week at the library. So there aren't all that many reasons why some books got chosen over others. I will tell you that I went in specifically to get A Rose for the Crown. But the others were all random. So it was a bit of an odd week for me, I don't know if any of these will be 'for me' or not.


The Moon Looked Down by Dorothy Garlock


A Rose for the Crown by Anne Easter Smith


Old Filth by Jane Gardam
Check Spelling
The People On Privilege Hill


Margherita Dolce Vita by Stefano Benni


The School on Heart's Content Road by Carolyn Chute


By A Lady by Amanda Elyot

Leftover Loot:

Hollywood Buzz by Margit Liesche
Colonel Brandon's Diary by Amanda Grange
The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots by Carolly Erickson
The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt

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

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Slaughterhouse-Five


Vonnegut, Kurt. 1969. Slaughterhouse-Five. Delacorte Press. 205 pages.

All this happened, more or less. The war parts, anyway, are pretty much true. (first sentence chapter one)
Listen:
Billy Pilgrim has become unstuck in time.
(first sentence of chapter two)

How would I describe this one? Weird but in a mostly good way. It's an odd little novel--to be sure--what with Billy Pilgrim's voyaging in and out of time. The brief moments here and there that the reader gets glimpses of. Shuffled memories of a hard life. We spend a lot of time with Billy during the war--World War II for those that may not be familiar with this one. He was a prisoner of war. He was a survivor of the Dresden bombings. If the "time travel" doesn't weird you out, perhaps his kidnapping by aliens will. You'll learn a lot about Tralfamadore along the way. But it is an almost always compelling read, one that was hard to put down.

Here are a few of my favorite passages:

The time would not pass. Somebody was playing with the clocks, and not only with the electric clocks, but the wind-up kind, too. The second hand on my watch would twitch once, and a year would pass, and then it would twitch again. There was nothing I could do about it. As an Earthling, I had to believe whatever clocks said---and calendars. (19)


The most important thing I learned on Tralfamadore was that when a person dies he only appears to die. He is still very much alive in the past, so it is very silly for people to cry at his funeral. All moments, past, present, and future, always have existed, always will exist. The Tralfamadorians can look at all the different moments just the way we can look at a stretch of the Rocky Mountains, for instance. They can see how permanent all the moments are, and they can look at any moment that interests them. It is just an illusion we have here on Earth that one moment follows another one, like beads on a string, and that once a moment is gone it is gone forever.
When a Tralfamadorian sees a corpse, all he thinks is that the dead person is in bad condition in that particular moment, but that the same person is just fine in plenty of other moments. Now, when I myself hear that somebody is dead, I simply shrug and say what the Tralfamadorians say about dead people, which is "So it goes." (25-26)
Because this one focuses a lot on war, we hear "so it goes" a lot. I don't know that this one is for everyone. But I enjoyed it. It was more fractured narrative than what I'm used to, yet I still found a compelling story.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, November 13, 2009

The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein


Ackroyd, Peter. 2008. The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein. Doubleday. 353 pages.

I was born in the alpine region of Switzerland, my father owning much territory between Geneva and the village of Chamonix where my family resided.

This book is a reimagining of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. Our narrator is Victor Frankenstein. It weaves small doses of fact into the fiction by having Victor become friends with Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Shelley, Lord Byron, and John William Polidori. Sounds interesting, right? Like it might have some potential.


This might be a good time to talk about expectations. I had high hopes for this one. I *really* wanted to like it. I wanted to connect with this one right from the start. I wanted it to be really smart and clever and fun. I wanted it to be engaging. Perhaps if I'd had lower expectations, I wouldn't have been so let down.

I can't say if it's fortunate or unfortunate, but the jacket flap is really something else. Containing phrases like: "tour de force" "world's most accomplished" "incomparable" "brilliantly reimagines" "penned in period-perfect voice" and "sure to become a classic of the twenty-first century." (I've long thought that the phrase "sure to become a classic" should be banned from all jacket flaps and blurbs.)

Did I like this one? Not really. Why didn't I like this one? Well, it disrespected Mary Shelley's original. I could live with it playing around with the original novel. (Elizabeth being his sister and not his love interest. There being different murder victims than in the original book.) I could even come to like the directions and twists this one took. The character development of this Victor Frankenstein. The big twist did make me think. It is still making me think. (I'm still trying to puzzle out if it really truly works as a whole. Knowing the ending, does all that come before still work. Or does it all fall apart?) So the fact that this one wasn't faithful to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein didn't bother me all that much. But it disrespected history itself. By having Victor Frankenstein interact with real people--with Percy and Mary Shelley, with Lord Byron, with others of the time period you add in a whole other level.

Yes, this book is fiction. It never claims otherwise. But what few facts find their way into the book get so compressed and distorted and out of order that it was just weird. At least weird to me. It is fiction. The author can do anything he wants. It's his choice, his right. Will this bother most readers? I don't know. Probably not. And I suppose that's the good news.

Plus, this one got disgusting. Unlike the original which tended to leave things to your imagination, this one got too detailed and disturbing. (I could choose a scene or two to describe, but I don't really want to go there. I'm not comfortable going there.)

Is it readable? Is it compelling? I read it in two days. Half the time I was hating it, but I still kept reading. This isn't a book I wanted to give up on in the middle, you know, just in case it got good and redeemed itself by an oh-so-amazing ending. How easy is it to read? Well, I'd say it was about as challenging as the original novel. Ackroyd did fairly good at imitating Victor Frankenstein's complex style. Is this one for you? Maybe. Maybe not.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Wanting Mor (MG, YA)


Khan, Rukhsana. 2009. Wanting Mor. Groundwood Books. 190 pages.

I thought she was sleeping.

Jameela is a young Afghan girl with a world of sorrow. After losing her mother (the Mor in the title), her father decides to sell what he can, pack what he can, and head back to Kabul. He is her only family, and so while she doesn't want to leave the only home she's known, her place is with him. Even if she doesn't like her father's choices and the company he keeps.

Jameela treasures up every memory she has of her mother. Mor always told Jameela that "if you can't be beautiful, you should at least be good." And Jameela feels those words must be true. If she can just be good enough, work hard enough, the people around her should start to appreciate her, respect her, and maybe just maybe come to care for her. She knows she isn't beautiful. She was born with a cleft lip. But surely she is more than that. She is more than her imperfect face. Can anyone look beyond and see what strength, what devotion lies beneath?

This was an emotional read for me. Jameela was such a strong (yet vulnerable) heroine. I loved her resilience and respected her devotion to her faith. This book is set in 2001 in Afghanistan.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Shadow Dragon (YA, Adult)


Owen, James A. 2009. The Shadow Dragons. (Book #4 in The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica.) Simon & Schuster. 417 pages.

"We are definitely lost," John said with decisive authority. "I haven't the faintest idea where we are."

The fourth in the series. (The first book: Here There Be Dragons; The second book: The Search for the Red Dragon; The third book: The Indigo King). How do you review a book that's fourth in a fantasy series? I want to just say read this book if you like fantasy and time travel and Arthurian legends. Or read this book if you like action and adventure. Or read this book if you like reading literature. Because there is nothing I can say that will do this one (or any of the others) justice.

Even though these are marketed as young adult, I think they are just as much for adults as anyone else. They're long, complex fantasy novels. Our three heroes aren't young teens on a quest. They are all older men. They get older with every book. (So far we've spanned from around World War I through World War II in these four books.) These books are rich in detail. The more fantasy you've read, the more you'll appreciate everything. That's not to say you have to be well-read to appreciate the action and adventure. I'm just trying to say that this one has enough to offer a variety of readers.

This fantasy stars three Inklings: C.S. Lewis (Jack), J.R.R. Tolkien (John), and Charles Williams. These three are caretakers of the Imaginarium Geographica. And in this fourth book, we meet even more caretakers.

The book begins in the late 1930s. But there is so much time travel involved, that much of the action takes places in their future. (World War II.) We've got wars on both sides--in the Archipelago of Dreams and the real world. And of course, these wars are connected. To win the world war, these three caretakers (and friends) will need to battle the real enemy in the Archipelago, and that enemy is not a new enemy.

I really loved this one.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Al Capone Shines My Shoes (MG, YA)


Choldenko, Gennifer. 2009. Al Capone Shines My Shoes. Penguin. 275 pages.

Nothing is the way it's supposed to be when you live on an island with a billion birds, a ton of bird crap, a few dozen rifles, machine guns, and automatics, and 278 of America's worst criminals--"the cream of the criminal crop" as one of our felons likes to say. The convicts on Alcatraz are rotten to the core, crazy in the head, and as slippery as eels in axle grease.

This is the sequel to Al Capone Does My Shirts. And I liked it. Moose Flanagan is still a compelling narrator. I *still* don't know what Moose sees in Piper. How he can possibly like her like her when a wonderful girl like Annie is around. But Moose is still a good guy, even if he doesn't have the best taste in girls. If you thought life would calm down after Natalie, Moose's autistic sister, got accepted into a special school, then think again. Life gets very, very messy in the sequel. An exciting messy though. And a scary messy now that I think about it.

This one is a unique historical fiction novel about family and friends, criminals and baseball. (This one is set in 1935.) I don't want to tell you *too* much about the book itself. Because some books are just like that. There is joy in discovering the book for yourself. But I can say that I enjoyed this one. I found it an exciting, compelling read. I didn't know quite what to expect. I didn't know if I would like it as much as I liked the first book. I wasn't sure--at the start--that the book "needed" a sequel. I'm still not convinced that the sequel had to happen. (I think the first one stands alone just fine.) But the sequel is good. It wasn't a disappointment. It was nice to revisit these characters. So I'm definitely glad I read it!

I love the author's note on this one.

Other reviews:

The Bluestocking Society,
Kids Lit
Killin’ Time Reading
The Novel World
Peaceful Reader
Welcome to My Tweendom

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Road to Tater Hill (MG)


Hemingway, Edith M. 2009. Road to Tater Hill. Random House. 213 pages.

For months I had wished and wished the baby would be a girl, a little sister. Maybe I shouldn't have wished so hard. A boy might have lived.

The year is 1963. The summer of 1963. And Annie's got some growing up to do. Fortunately, she won't be all on her own. This will be a time of growth and healing for all.

This one had me at hello. From the very first paragraph, I was drawn into Annie's story. Annie is eleven and carrying a heavy burden of grief and worry. Her father is in the military--and he's overseas. Her mother just had her baby prematurely. Mary Kate. Her sister's name was Mary Kate. But she lived only a day. These two (mother and daughter) are staying with her grandparents. Will grief bring this family together or tear it apart?

Annie often goes off on her own. And on one of her trips, she finds a rock baby. A baby just the right size, right weight. She wraps it in the precious yellow blanket--the blanket she made for her new sister--and holds it. But that's not all she finds in her explorations. She also discovers an older woman living in a mess of a house--more of a shack than a proper house. A woman, Eliza McGee, with issues of her own. Alone, both seem a bit hopeless. As these two come together, healing begins. It's a great story of inter-generational friendship. A really great story.

If you're looking for a family-friendly, coming-of-age novel (that happens to be historical) then I really recommend this one. I loved so many things about it. I loved the fact that both Annie and Eliza love to read. That both draw power from words. From stories. I loved the use of poetry and literature in the book. (How absorbed Annie becomes in A Wrinkle in Time.)

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, November 08, 2009

Sunday Salon: Reading, Read, To Read #45

Happy Sunday everyone! I've watched two movies this week: The Woman in White (1948) and You For Me (1952). And endless hours of figure skating. I love, love, love watching skating. I've done some reading--some for fun and some for Cybils.

I've been thinking about challenges for 2010. I've posted about a few of the challenges I'm hosting. (Celebrate the Author, Young Readers, A to Z, 18th and 19th Century Women Writers, etc.) But I've also been seeking out other challenges. I was happy to see the announcement for the TBR 2010 challenge. Though the TBR challenge has always been love/hate with me. I always get so very excited signing up for it. Creating a list. Knowing that it is a list with little wiggle room. 12 Books, 12 Alternates. That's it. But both years I've participated I've ended up fighting with myself. I put that on the list??? Why??? What was I even thinking??? I look at my list four or five months later and it's like a stranger wrote it. So how can I prevent this happening again? I *really* do want to join in again.

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

Devil's Paintbox. Victoria McKernan. 2009. Random House. 360 pages.
Willoughby's Return. Jane Odiwe. 2009. Sourcebooks. 352 pages.

What I read this past week and reviewed:

My Elephant. Petr Horacek. 2009. Candlewick Press.
The Legend of Ninja Cowboy Bear. David Bruins and Hilary Leung. 2009. Kids Can Press.
Under the Star: A Christmas Counting Story. Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Vlasta van Kampen. Key Porter Kids.
The Seeing Stick. Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Daniela Jaglenka Terrazzini. Running Press.
Pumpkin Baby by Jane Yolen. Illustrated by Susan Mitchell. Key Porter Kids.
The Big Fat Cow That Goes Kapow. Andy Griffiths. Illustrated by Terry Denton. 2009. Feiwel and Friends. 124 pages. (Early Reader)
Ruby Flips for Attention. (Ruby and the Booker Boys). 2009. Derrick Barnes. Scholastic. 130 pages.

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

Dessert First by Hallie Durand. 2009. Simon & Schuster. 154 pages.
Road to Tater Hill. Edith M. Hemingway. 2009. Random House. 214 pages.
Al Capone Shines My Shoes. Gennifer Choldenko. 2009. Penguin. 274 pages.
The Shadow Dragons. James A. Owen. 2009. 417 pages.
No Girls Allowed (Dogs Okay) by Trudi Trueit. 2009. Simon & Schuster. 118 pages.
The Funeral Director's Son by Coleen Murtagh Paratore. 2009. Simon & Schuster. 135 pages.
Dog Whisperer: The Rescue by Nicholas Edwards. 2009. SquareFish. 216 pages.

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

The Swiss Courier. Tricia Goyer and Mike Yorkey. 2009. Revell. 324 pages.
Touched by a Vampire: Discovering the Hidden Messages in the Twilight Saga by Beth Felker Jones. 2009. Multnomah. 180 pages.
Thirsty. Tracey Bateman. 2009. Waterbrook Press. 376 pages.


What I'm currently reading:

Mary Barton. Elizabeth Gaskell. 487 pages.
Man and Wife. Wilkie Collins.

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

The Silver Blade by Sally Gardner
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
Dracula by Bram Stoker
The Monk by Matthew Lewis

What I've abandoned:

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Library Loot Second Week in November


You probably have *no* idea how much I've missed the library these past few weeks. But I managed to get there today. And I had some great finds.


Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut

Note: This one was on the display rack *right* by the check-out. I'd been meaning to give Vonnegut a try, and so this one just jumped into the bag.


Hollywood Buzz by Margit Liesche

Note: Why is it it's not until I get home that I realize this one is the second in the series. Oh well. I picked it up because the cover caught my eye. In a let's-read-the-back-cover way. And when I saw the word WASP (as in pilot), I knew I needed to give it a chance. I suppose I'll give this one a brief try. But I don't know if I can read it knowing that there's a first book out there.


A Constant Heart by Siri Mitchell

Note: A Christian book (published by Bethany House) set during Elizabeth England. It's not a surprise this one begged to go home with me.



Colonel Brandon's Diary by Amanda Grange

Note: This isn't the first time this one has come home with me. But it *might* be the last time. I was so disappointed with the last Sense-and-Sensibility inspired book I read, I'm hoping this one will prove better. I see that there is also an Edmund Bertram's Diary. And a Mr. Darcy's Diary. And a Captain Wentworth's Diary. But unfortunately, my library doesn't have any of those. Bother, bother. (Though they do have Mr. Knightley's Diary. I'll have to keep that one in mind.)



The Casebook of Victor Frankenstein by Peter Ackroyd

I was pleasantly surprised to find this one on the shelf. It made my day really! I just hope it's better than A Monster's Notes. If it is, then maybe I'll recommend it to my blogging friends that were so disappointed/frustrated with Laurie Sheck's Frankenstein-inspired novel.



The Memoirs of Mary Queen of Scots by Carolly Erickson

Note: I don't think I've read anything about Mary Queen of Scots (fiction or nonfiction).



The Children's Book by A.S. Byatt

Note: I remember reading Nymeth's review of this earlier in the year and wanting to read it. But this is the first time I've seen it at the library. So I *knew* despite its length (675 pages) it had to come home with me today.

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

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Thursday, November 05, 2009

Positively (MG)


Sheinmel, Courtney. 2009. Positively. Simon & Schuster. 216 pages.

When my mother died I imagined God was thinking, "One down, and one to go."

Our heroine, Emerson Price has known she was HIV positive since she was four. (She's now 13.) But when her mother dies, Emmy's world begins to collapse. (Her mother had AIDS.) She's sent to live with her father and stepmother. (There's a little one on the way too.) And Emmy begins to question everything.

Why is she taking her medications if she's just going to die anyway? (Why didn't the meds work for her mother???) Why bother if she's never going to have a normal life? If she's never going to have the opportunity of growing up, falling in love, being with someone, and starting her own family? Can one girl find the will to live her life to the fullest? Can Emmy work past the anger and bitterness and realize that there are plenty of reasons to live, to love living?

After several desperate cries for help (not that Emmy would say they were desperate cries for help), her parents (father and stepmother) decide to send her to Camp Positive. A six-week camp for children with HIV. Can the camp experience change Emmy's life? Can this broken family be healed? Is there hope for Emmy yet?

Positively is a heartbreaking (in some ways raw) novel about grief and brokenness. It's a redemptive novel about finding hope, family, and friendship in unexpected places. This one is a compelling book, one that I couldn't put down.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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