Sunday, January 31, 2010

January Accomplishments

These are a few of my favorite 'first' lines read in January 2010.

Finn likes peaches. Usually
.

When I was sixteen, I was given a cloak made entirely of feathers.

The moon refused to hush or come down, so Ariel Farwalker was forced to climb up.

They had flown from England to Minneapolis to look at a toilet.

By ten-forty-five it was all over.

Of course this is a completely outlandish story. In India, all stories are outlandish, though only a few are completely outlandish.



January's Top Six:

The Magician's Elephant. By Kate DiCamillo.
Tiger Moon. Antonia Michaelis.
Ice Land by Betsy Tobin.
How To Say Goodbye in Robot. Natalie Standiford.
For Keeps. Natasha Friend.
The Timekeeper's Moon by Joni Sensel.

For my favorites in children's books visit Young Readers.

Number of Board Books: 5

Maisy's Book Tower. Lucy Cousins. 2010. [February 2010]. Candlewick. 80 pages.
Curious Baby: My Curious World. "By" H.A. Rey. 2009. [September 2009]. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 10 "pages".
Me Hungry! By Jeremy Tankard. 2010 Board Book Edition. (February 2010). Candlewick. 34 pages.
Curious Baby: Music Play: A Book and CD. "By" H.A. Rey. 2009. (September 2009). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 10 pages.
The Very Best Mother Goose Book Tower. By Iona Opie. Illustrated by Rosemary Wells. 2010. (February 2010). Candlewick. 80 pages.

Number of Picture Books: 15

Too Purpley. By Jean Reidy. Illustrated by Genevieve Leloup. 2010 (January 2010) Bloomsbury USA. 32 pages.
Animal Crackers Fly the Coop written and illustrated by Kevin O'Malley. (March 2010). 2010.

Where Teddy Bears Come From. Mark Burgess. Illustrated by Russell Ayto. 2009. Peachtree. 32 pages. 32 pages.
Bedtime for Mommy. Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. 2010. (March 2010). Bloomsbury. 32 pages.
I'm Number One by Michael Rosen. Illustrated by Bob Graham. 2009. (December 2009). Candlewick Press. 32 pages.
The Perfect Gift. By Mary Newell Depalma. 2010. (January 2010). Scholastic. 32 pages.
Finn Throws A Fit! By David Elliott. Illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering. 2009. Candlewick Press. 32 pages.
Milo Armadillo. By Jan Fearnley. 2009. (December 2009). Candlewick Press. 40 pages.
Lawn to Lawn. Dan Yaccarino. 2010. [January 2010] Random House. 40 pages.
The Grasshopper Hopped. Elizabeth Alexander. Illustrated by Joung Un Kim. 2010 [January 2010]. Random House. 14 pages.
Alex and Lulu: Two of A Kind. Lorena Siminovich. 2009. [March 2009] Candlewick Press. 32 pages.
Benjamin and the Silver Goblet. Jacqueline Jules. Illustrated by Natascia Ugliano. 2009. [March 2009]. Kar-Ben Publishing. 32 pages.
Higher! Higher! Leslie Patricelli. 2009. [March 2009] Candlewick Press. 32 pages.
The Lion & The Mouse. Jerry Pinkney. 2009. [September 2009] Little, Brown. 40 pages.
All The World. By Liz Garton Scanlon. Illustrated by Marla Frazee. 2009. [September 2009] Simon & Schuster. 40 pages.

Number of Children's Books: 5

Nate The Great and the Hungry Book Club. By Marjorie Weinman Sharmat and Mitchell Sharmat. Illustrated by Jody Wheeler. 2009. (November 2009) Random House. 64 pages.
A Birthday for Bear. By Bonny Becker. Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton. 2009. (September 2009). Candlewick Press. 56 pages.
Calendar Mysteries #1: January Joker. By Ron Roy. Illustrations by John Steven Gurney. 2009. [December 2009] Random House. 96 pages.
Calendar Mysteries #2: February Friend. By Ron Roy. Illustrations by John Steven Gurney. 2009. [December 2009] Random House. 80 pages.
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming. 1964*. Random House. 160 pages

Number of Middle Grade: 3

The Dog in the Wood. By Monika Schroder. 2009. (November 2009). Boyds Mill Press. 168 pages. [MG Historical Fiction]
The Magician's Elephant. By Kate DiCamillo. 2009. (September 2009). Candlewick Press. 208 pages.
The Timekeeper's Moon by Joni Sensel. 2010 (March 2010). Bloomsbury USA. 352 pages.

Number of YA: 10

Food, Girls, And Other Things I Can't Have. By Allen Zadoff. 2009 [September 2009] Egmont USA. 320 pages. [YA Realistic Fiction/YA Sports]
Saving Juliet. By Suzanne Selfors. 2008. Walker Books. 272 pages. [YA Romance/YA Fantasy]
Prada & Prejudice. by Mandy Hubbard. 2009. Penguin. 288 pages. [YA Romance/YA Fantasy]
For Keeps. Natasha Friend. 2010. [April 2010] Penguin. 272 pages. [YA Realistic Fiction/YA Romance]
How To Say Goodbye in Robot. Natalie Standiford. 2009. [October 2009] Scholastic. 288 pages. [YA Realistic Fiction]
Into The Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern. 2009. Feiwel & Friends. 256 pages.
Magic Under Glass. Jaclyn Dolamore. 2009. [December 2009] Bloomsbury. 225 pages.
Of All The Stupid Things. Alexandra Diaz. 2009. [December 2009]. Egmont. 272 pages.
Once Was Lost. By Sara Zarr. 2009. [October 2009]. Little, Brown. 224 pages.
Tiger Moon. Antonia Michaelis. 2008. [November 2008]. Harry N. Abrams. 384 pages. (Translated into English by Anthea Bell.)


Number of Adult: 7

Ice Land by Betsy Tobin. 2008/2009. Penguin. 368 pages. [Historical/Fantasy/Mythology/Romance]
The Blackstone Key. By Rose Melikan. 2008. Simon & Schuster. 435 pages. [Historical/Mystery]
Juliet, Naked. Nick Hornby. 2009. [September 2009] Penguin. 352 pages [Romance, Contemporary]
The Moon is Down by John Steinbeck. 1942. Penguin. 144 pages.
Mr. Darcy's Great Escape: A Tale of The Darcys and The Bingleys. Marsha Altman. 2010. (February 2010) Sourcebooks. 496 pages.
2001 A Space Odyssey. By Arthur C. Clarke. 1968. Penguin. 320 pages.
Under the Dome by Stephen King. 2009. [November 2009]. Simon & Schuster. 1088 pages.

Number of Christian: 7

The Crippled Lamb. By Max Lucado. Illustrated by Liz Bonham. Thomas Nelson Pub. 1994/9. 32 pages. [Christian Picture Book]
The Oak Inside the Acorn. By Max Lucado. Illustrated by George Angelini. 2006. Thomas Nelson Pub. 48 pages. [Christian Picture Book]
The Apothecary's Daughter. By Julie Klassen. 2009. [January 2009] Bethany House. 416 pages. [Historical Fiction/Romance]
The Silent Governess. By Julie Klassen. 2010. (January 2010). Bethany House. 448 pages. [Historical Fiction/Romance]
A Lady Like Sarah. By Margaret Brownley. (A Rocky Creek Romance). 2009. Thomas Nelson. 320 pages. [Historical Fiction/Romance]
The Gospel In Genesis: From Fig Leaves to Faith by Martin Lloyd-Jones. 2009. Crossway. 160 pages. [Christian Nonfiction]
A Moment Between by Nicole Baart. 2009. Tyndale. 384 pages. [Contemporary Fiction]


Number of Nonfiction: 6

The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy). Barbara Kerley. 2010. (January 2010). Scholastic. [Picture Book Biography/Picture Book Nonfiction] 48 pages.
Tarra & Bella. The Elephant and Dog Who Became Best Friends. By Carol Buckley. 2009. (September 2009). Penguin. 32 pages.
The Champion of Children: The Story of Janusz Korczak. By Tomek Bogacki. 2009. [September 2009]. FSG. 40 pages.
Down, Down, Down: A Journey To The Bottom of the Sea. By Steve Jenkins. 2009. [May 2009]. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages.
Bring Me Some Apples And I'll Make You A Pie: A Story About Edna Lewis. Robbin Gowley. 2009. [January 2009]. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice. Phillip Hoose. 2009. FSG. 144 pages.

Number of Graphic Novels: 7

The First Escape (The Doppel Ganger Chronicles #1) by G.P. Taylor. 2008. Tyndale. 288 pages. (MG)
Science Fiction Classics: Graphic Classics Volume Seventeen. Featuring Stories by Jules Verne, Stanley G. Weinbaum, E.M. Forster, H.G. Wells, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Lord Dunsany. 2009. (June 2009). Eureka Productions. 144 pages. (Edited by Tom Pomplun.) (YA)
Julius Caesar (Manga Shakespeare) Mustashrik Mahbab (Illustrator). Richard Appignanesi (Text). 2008. Abrams. 208 pages. (YA)
Calamity Jack. By Shannon and Dean Hale. Illustrated by Nathan Hale. 2010. Bloomsbury USA. 144 pages.
Manga Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing. William Shakespeare. 2009. Ill. Emma Vieceli. Adapted by Richard Appignanesi. 208 pages. (YA)
Mary Anne Saves The Day. Raina Telgemeier and Ann M. Martin. 2007. Scholastic. 158 pages.
Manga Shakespeare: As You Like It. William Shakespeare. 2009. Ill. Chie Kutsuwada. Adapted by Richard Appignanesi. 208 pages. (YA)

Number of Poetry: 1

Be Glad Your Nose Is On Your Face And Other Poems. By Jack Prelutsky. Illustrated by Brandon Dorman. 2008. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [POETRY]

Number of Short Story Collections/Anthologies:

Number of Movies Reviewed: 18

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968)
Shop Around the Corner (1940)
You've Got Mail (1998)
Much Ado About Nothing (1993)
Shrek (2001)
To Catch A Thief (1955)
To Sir With Love (1967)
Mamma Mia (2008)
My Man Godfrey (1936)
Anna and the King of Siam (1946)
Guess Who's Coming To Dinner (1967)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999)
A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935)
My Favorite Wife (1940)
Pillow Talk (1959)
Send Me No Flowers (1964)
Lover Come Back (1961)
The Gay Divorcee (1934)

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Under the Dome


Under the Dome by Stephen King. 2009. [November 2009]. Simon & Schuster. 1088 pages.

From two thousand feet, where Claudette Sanders was taking a flying lesson, the town of Chester's Mill gleamed in the morning light like something freshly made and just set down.

How many books can you think of that make you thankful--really thankful--for fresh air, for oxygen?

Stephen King's Under the Dome is quite a book. At over a thousand pages, it has plenty of drama to offer readers. King's message that absolute power corrupts absolutely is well played out in its pages. As readers meet some really dirty, really corrupt, downright evil politicians.

The book begins by introducing us to Dale Barbara, one of the heroes--one of the good guys; he is on his way out of town. After having one too many confrontations with "Junior" the son of the most evil politician (who just happens to be a used car salesman too) in town, Barbie has decided he's had enough. It's time to move on. And quickly. But. He never makes it out of town. Something stops him. The dome. On the day the dome appears (October 21), life changes dramatically and drastically. The dome isolates this little town. No one can get in or out. In fact, nothing can get in or out. Not water. Not wind. Not rain. Not air. (Not much air at any rate.)

What's to keep the residents from panicking? Not much! Especially with Jim Rennie in charge. In fact, he thinks Dome Day is just about the best thing that ever happened to him. Suddenly, he's the guy in charge. There is no one to stop him. He can implement anything in the name of "doing good for the city" and who can challenge his authority? The fact that the President of the United States has chosen Dale Barbara to take command? Not gonna stop Big Jim! It's just one more reason why Barbie (or Baaarbie needs to be taken care of). And Barbie knows it. As do his friends.

How long can a community stay a community? How long before residents start turning on one another? How long before they become "us" and "them"? How long before the mob mentality takes over completely? Will any one be safe under the dome?

I imagine it has enough appeal for readers of horror and readers of science fiction. Is it for everyone? No. I don't think a book has to be for everyone. This one has plenty of horrific details. The language. The graphic nature of death and violence and sex and drug use. It's going to turn some readers off. Also this one could definitely be offensive to those who are religious. King's depiction of Christianity is abrasive, harsh. (No question about that!) What I wasn't expecting exactly in this very dark, very horrific book is the humor. (Though it was often a dark sense of humor.) Like this description of a trucker colliding with the Dome:

The trucker might have been overloaded and moving too fast, Barbie thought, but at least he was getting a Viking funeral. (41)
Or this one of an unlucky farmer:
On God Creek Road, Bob Roux had been digging potatoes. He came in for lunch (more commonly known as "dinnah" in those parts), sitting astride his old Deere tractor and listening to his brand new iPod, a gift from his wife on what would prove to be his final birthday. His house was only half a mile from the field he'd been digging, but unfortunately for him, the field was in Motton and the house was in Chester's Mill. He struck the barrier at fifteen miles an hour, while listening to James Blunt sing "You're Beautiful." He had the loosest of grips on the tractor's steering wheel, because he could see the road all the way to his house and there was nothing on it. So when his tractor came to a smash-halt, the potato-digger rising up behind and then crashing back down, Bob was flung forward over the engine block and directly into the Dome. His iPod exploded in the wide front pocket of his bib overalls, but he never felt it. He broke his neck and fractured his skull on the nothing he collided with and died in the dirt shortly thereafter, by one tall wheel of his tractor, which was still idling. Nothing, you know, runs like a Deere. (34)
Expect plenty of drama and devastation. But I found the book to be an engaging read.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday Salon: Reading, Read, To Read #5

Happy Sunday everyone! I'll be posting my monthly 'accomplishments' later in the day. If you should be so curious to want to know every little thing I've read and reviewed this week. It also includes my favorite 'first' lines of the month and my top six favorite books. (I gave up on narrowing it to a top five. It seems there is always *one* more book that just begs to be on the list.)

What was your favorite book that you read this month? I'd love to know! I think mine would probably be Tiger Moon. I just loved this one.

What I've Reviewed This Week:

Under the Dome by Stephen King. 2009. [November 2009]. Simon & Schuster. 1088 pages.
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice. Phillip Hoose. 2009. FSG. 144 pages.
Mr. Darcy's Great Escape: A Tale of The Darcys and The Bingleys. Marsha Altman. 2010. (February 2010) Sourcebooks. 496 pages.
2001 A Space Odyssey. By Arthur C. Clarke. 1968. Penguin. 320 pages.
Of All The Stupid Things. Alexandra Diaz. 2009. [December 2009]. Egmont. 272 pages.
Once Was Lost. By Sara Zarr. 2009. [October 2009]. Little, Brown. 224 pages.
Tiger Moon. Antonia Michaelis. 2008. [November 2008]. Harry N. Abrams. 384 pages. (Translated into English by Anthea Bell.)
Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming. 1964*. Random House. 160 pages
Manga Shakespeare: As You Like It. William Shakespeare. 2009. Ill. Chie Kutsuwada. Adapted by Richard Appignanesi. 208 pages. (YA)
Me Hungry! By Jeremy Tankard. 2010 Board Book Edition. (February 2010). Candlewick. 34 pages.
Curious Baby: Music Play: A Book and CD. "By" H.A. Rey. 2009. (September 2009). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 10 pages.
The Very Best Mother Goose Book Tower. By Iona Opie. Illustrated by Rosemary Wells. 2010. (February 2010). Candlewick. 80 pages.
Higher! Higher! Leslie Patricelli. 2009. [March 2009] Candlewick Press. 32 pages.
The Lion & The Mouse. Jerry Pinkney. 2009. [September 2009] Little, Brown. 40 pages.
All The World. By Liz Garton Scanlon. Illustrated by Marla Frazee. 2009. [September 2009] Simon & Schuster. 40 pages.

What I'm Currently Reading:


American Rust by Philipp Meyer. 2009. Random House. 384 pages.


The Sea of Trolls. Nancy Farmer. 2004. Simon & Schuster. 480 pages.


The Counterfeit Guest by Rose Melikan. 2009. Simon & Schuster. 432 pages.


Mules and Men by Zora Neale Hurston. 1935. HarperCollins. 336 pages.

What I Hope To Begin/Finish Soon:


The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer. 1921/2009. Sourcebooks. 355 pages.


Mare's War. Tanita S. Davis. Random House. 352 pages.


Where The Mountain Meets The Moon by Grace Lin. Little, Brown. 288 pages.


A Million Shades of Gray by Cynthia Kadohata. 2010. (January 2010) Simon & Schuster. 216 pages.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, January 30, 2010

Tiger Moon (YA)


Tiger Moon. Antonia Michaelis. 2008. [November 2008]. Harry N. Abrams. 384 pages. (Translated into English by Anthea Bell.)

Of course this is a completely outlandish story. In India, all stories are outlandish, though only a few are completely outlandish.

Wow, wow, wow. I just loved this one! I did! Anyone who loves a good story, appreciates good storytelling, where telling the story is half the fun, should consider this one a must! Safia is the eighth wife of Ahmed Mudhi, an extremely wealthy merchant. Because he's been sick, he hasn't discovered that his new-wife "Safia" does not live up to her name, "Virtue." Safia knows that when he finds out that she is not a virgin, that it will mean death for her. What can she do in the meantime? She can tell a story! A story to one of the servants of the harem, a young man named Lalit. (Though his name is Lagan, "The Right Time.") Do words have power? Can a story change someone's life?

The story Safia tells is a fantastic one. About a young man, Farhad, called by a god (Krishna) to take on a dangerous journey, a quest. He's called to be a hero. To save a princess from the demon king. Farhad isn't a hero. He doesn't feel like he's one at any rate. And the idea of him undertaking such a long, dangerous journey, well, it's unthinkable. But he accepts this journey, takes on this task. Can he with the help of the white tiger (a sacred tiger) named Nitish, rescue the princess in time?

What did I love about this one? The story. The characters. The writing. The pacing of it all. Michaelis has really told quite an incredible story. I found it hard to put down and easy to recommend.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, January 29, 2010

Manga Shakespeare: As You Like It (YA)


Manga Shakespeare: As You Like It. William Shakespeare. 2009. Ill. Chie Kutsuwada. Adapted by Richard Appignanesi. 208 pages.

As I remember, Adam, it was bequeathed me by will a thousand crowns to breed me well.

A romantic comedy. I must admit I like Shakespeare's romantic comedies a bit more than his tragedies. This was my first time reading "As You Like It." And I must say I liked it overall. A bit complicated perhaps. But it works.

There are four couples sharing the stage in this one, but I suppose the main focus of this one is on Rosalind and Orlando. Do you think that their path to love and happiness will run smooth?

This one also stars the melancholy Jacques, who was very appropriately illustrated in this one.

All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, January 28, 2010

2001 A Space Odyssey


2001 A Space Odyssey. By Arthur C. Clarke. 1968. Penguin. 320 pages.

The drought had lasted now for ten million years, and the reign of the terrible lizards had long since ended.

I'm not quite sure what to say, what to share about this one. This is my first Arthur C. Clarke novel. And I am glad I read it. But. I also found it a bit confusing in places. I found it hard to connect with in some ways. Most of the novel concerns David Bowman and his life aboard the Discovery. As his ship--mostly controlled by the computer Hal--heads towards Saturn. Things don't go according to plan--Bowman's plan that is. And not quite according to Earth's plans either. Knowing that rescue or return is futile, Bowman sets out to explore to the last.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Of All The Stupid Things (YA)


Of All The Stupid Things. Alexandra Diaz. 2009. [December 2009]. Egmont. 272 pages.

Of all the stupid things he could have done, Brent Staple had to go and do that.

Did he or didn't he? Did Tara's boyfriend, Brent, mess around with a cheerleader. A guy cheerleader? When Whitney Blaire tells Tara he did, then she believes her best friend. Without giving much of a chance to Brent to explain. He does deny it, by the way. But the idea of his being with another guy so disturbs her--whether it's true or not--that she can't be with him.

And no one at school has ever mentioned anything about Brent swinging both ways. Not now, not before. I feel like someone played a cruel joke on me, just to make the thought haunt me at night. Part of me argues that I should take Brent back because the incident really wasn't true. That said, knowing the rumor is false still doesn't change the images swimming in my head. (32)
OF All the Stupid Things is a messy book. Overly complicated by having too many narrators. The story is told through three characters. Three supposed best friends. Tara. Whitney. Pinkie. I think if this story had been Tara's alone it probably would have worked better. Tara's story is the main focus, in my opinion, her falling out of love (or lust, or like, or whatever) with Brent, and falling into love with someone new. Someone the cover claims is "forbidden." Step aside, Brent, and walk right in Riley. A gymnast who sweeps Tara off her feet. Tara never thought she'd have a girlfriend, but now that she's met Riley, well, she's so happy with her.

The main problem I had with this one is how mean and unsympathetic and annoying most of the three narrators were. Whitney was someone I didn't just dislike, I absolutely hated her. She was mean. She was spiteful. She was as horrible as horrible can be. Pinkie I didn't dislike so much as I just pitied her. As in cringing while I read her narration because I just felt so absolutely sorry for her. (By the end, I actually started liking Pinkie.) And Tara, well, Tara I was indifferent to. Mainly.

I also thought the jacket flap gave 100% of the plot away. It was definitely way too much information. Jacket flaps should tease readers into picking up a book.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Library Loot: Fourth Trip in January


New Loot:

An American Plague by Jim Murphy
Blizzard! The Storm That Changed America by Jim Murphy
Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang by Ian Fleming
Of All The Stupid Things by Alexandra Diaz
The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
The Land of the Silver Apples by Nancy Farmer
The Islands of the Blessed by Nancy Farmer
Joe Rat by Mark Barratt
Sweet, Hereafter by Angela Johnson
Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan
A Million Shades of Gray by Cynthia Kadohata
The Rose of Sebastopol by Katharine McMahon
The Counterfeit Guest by Rose Melikan
Perfect World by Brian James
Jason & Kyra by Dana Davidson
Toning the Sweep by Angela Johnson
Looking for Red by Angela Johnson
Heaven by Angela Johnson
Bird by Angela Johnson
Bone by Bone by Bone by Tony Johnston

Leftover Loot:

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
One Second After by William R. Forstchen
Tiger Moon by Antonia Michaelis
My Lord John by Georgette Heyer
Pistols for Two by Georgette Heyer
The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer
The Fifth Queen by Ford Madox Ford
Tattoo by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Candor by Pam Bachorz
Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris
Romeo's Ex: Rosaline's Story by Lisa Fiedler
Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini
2001 Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke
Redemption by Karen Kingsbury and Gary Smalley

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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Chitty Chitty Bang Bang


Chitty Chitty Bang Bang by Ian Fleming. 1964*. Random House. 160 pages

Most motorcars are conglomerations (this is a long word for bundles) of steel and wire and rubber and plastic, and electricity and oil and gasoline and water, and the toffee papers you pushed down the crack in the backseat last Sunday.

This is a children's book about a magical car named Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. It stars an eccentric family by the name of Pott. Commander Caractacus Pott (explorer, inventor), his wife, Mimsie, and their eight-year-old twins Jeremy and Jemima. After selling his Crackpot Whistling Candies to the Skrumshus candy factory, the family has enough money to buy a car. They could have bought any car--they certainly were rich enough now--but Commander Pott wanted a special car, a unique car, so he bought one that would take some work. He bought the car that would become Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Owning this car will lead to a few adventures.

How does the book compare with the movie? Well, they have very little in common. For example, they take poor Mimsie out all together and add in a 'Truly Scrumptious' who will ultimately prove the love interest to this lonely not-so-old widower. Now was that very nice to kill off the poor kids' mother? (Grandpa is also a movie addition.) Besides changing characters, the movie also changes plenty when it comes to the plot, the story. Chitty Chitty Bang Bang does transform into a boat and plane (when necessary) and there is promise of so much more in the book as to what it could do. It's truly a magical car in the book. With a mind of its own. In the movie, the "magical" aspects are really just found in the story-sequence. I have a few little problems with the story-sequence in the movie.**

I liked the book a bit better than the movie.

I read this book for the Read the Book, See the Movie challenge.

*This edition published 2003, the new cover art is by Brian Selznick. The inside illustrations are by Ian Cunliffe.
**Like the fact that Caractacus Potts is telling this story. And he conveniently writes in a love song for Truly to sing about how much she loves him.



© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Once Was Lost (YA)


Once Was Lost. By Sara Zarr. 2009. [October 2009]. Little, Brown. 224 pages.

The whole world is wilting. Shriveling. Giving up. Dying. Maybe not the whole world. Somewhere, I guess, it's not ninety-one degrees at four in the morning. I would like to be in that place. I would like to be somewhere, anywhere, that life feels possible and not smothered under a layer of heat and hopelessness.

Sam (not short for Samantha, but Samara) is a preacher's kid. And this summer is her worst yet. Her mom's in court-ordered rehab. Her dad is her dad. He's so caught up in being "Pastor Charlie" that he has forgotten that his family should come first. When he's not ignoring her, he's not listening to her. (Could this be one reason why her mom turned to alcohol?!) Sam's family is falling apart. It's more than her mom's drinking and her dad's absence. There are financial worries as well. Sam might have to switch schools. She just feels so alone, so depressed, so angry. This is a summer when doubts and questions and fears arise.

When Jody Shaw, a church kid, only thirteen, disappears, then Sam just sees it as one more thing gone wrong, one more reason to doubt God. As a community comes together for thirteen anxious days, she becomes closer to Jody's older brother, Nick. Both teens are struggling. For better or worse, this crisis is changing her as a person. Can she find her way? Can she find a way to believe in miracles again?

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Mr. Darcy's Great Escape

Mr. Darcy's Great Escape: A Tale of The Darcys and The Bingleys. Marsha Altman. 2010. (February 2010) Sourcebooks. 496 pages.

In early April of 1812, four families gathered in Hertfordshire. At this stage, getting them all together was no small task.
Link
This is the third novel in Marsha Altman's Darcys and Bingleys series. The first book, The Darcys & The Bingleys: Pride and Prejudice Continues: A Tale of Two Gentlemen's Marriages to Two Most Devoted Sisters, I reviewed in September 2008. The second book, The Plight of the Darcy Brothers: A Tale of Siblings and Surprises, I reviewed in August 2009. I must say that I enjoyed the first two much more than this one.

This series has always been complex. Following multiple couples, siblings, various relations, etc. The Darcys. The Bingleys. The Maddoxs. (Dr. Daniel Maddox is married to Caroline Bingley.) But this latest one had a bit too much going on, in my opinion. What is it about? Well, it's about Mr. Darcy and Dr. Maddox having really, really bad luck. Bad. Stuff. Happens. You see, Marsha Altman created a character, Brian Maddox, the brother of Daniel, and he got into trouble when he married a Transylvanian Princess. A barren Transylvanian Princess with a tyrannical father. And when the couple runs away (fearing for their lives) this father tricks Dr. Maddox into visiting, and holds him prisoner. Unfortunately, Mr. Darcy was traveling with him. So both men are now prisoners.

The action of this one--the story line--is so far removed from the original novel. The characters so distant, in a way, from who they were in the original novel that this one can be a bit hard to believe. It's definitely more on the ridiculous side of things. It's a very long, very tedious, over-the-top sequel. I was very disappointed with it. I really did enjoy the first two in the series. But I can't recommend this one.

It reminds me of the third Anne movie actually.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, January 25, 2010

Nonfiction Monday: Claudette Colvin Twice Toward Justice


Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice. Phillip Hoose. 2009. FSG. 144 pages.

Claudette Colvin: I was about four years old the first time I ever saw what happened when you acted up to whites.

Have you heard of Claudette Colvin? Have you heard her story? Before Rosa Parks, there was Claudette Colvin. She was arrested for refusing to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery bus. Only 15 at the time, there wasn't a consensus in the community to support her, to rally around her, to make this incident the needed catalyst to fight Jim Crow laws. Yet, even though she may not be as famous as Parks, her story is important and significant. Because she did make a significant contribution to the civil rights movement.

What I enjoyed most about this one is hearing the story in Claudette's own words. The author conducted a series of interviews with Claudette Colvin (among others) and these frame the book well. I thought it was a good balance really. We hear from Claudette Colvin (and other eyewitnesses), yet we also have strong narration by Hoose to piece it all together. We see the big picture, yet, at the same time we get an intimate behind-the-scenes look.

Winner of the National Book Award. Also a Sibert Honor. And a Newbery Honor.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Centuries Reading Challenge Update #1

I hope you're enjoying the Centuries Reading Challenge so far! Have you read any good books for the challenge? Do you have any you'd want to recommend to other participants? Have you had to abandon any that just weren't-for-you? Feel free to start conversations in the comments about your progress (or lack of progress for that matter). If you have review links for the first three months of the challenge (January through mid-March) this is the place to leave them. In the MckLinky below. The second update post will be posted on March 22, 2010.



© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Sunday Salon: Reading, Read, To Read #4

Happy Sunday! Have you read any good books lately? I have read some great ones this past week! And some of those I haven't reviewed yet. Did you see the announcements on Monday?! I wish there had been a few more surprises. But overall I was pleased with the awards and honors.

What I've Reviewed This Week:

Maisy's Book Tower. Lucy Cousins. 2010. [February 2010]. Candlewick. 80 pages.
Curious Baby: My Curious World. "By" H.A. Rey. 2009. [September 2009]. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 10 "pages".
Alex and Lulu: Two of A Kind. Lorena Siminovich. 2009. [March 2009] Candlewick Press. 32 pages.
Benjamin and the Silver Goblet. Jacqueline Jules. Illustrated by Natascia Ugliano. 2009. [March 2009]. Kar-Ben Publishing. 32 pages.
Calendar Mysteries #2: February Friend. By Ron Roy. Illustrations by John Steven Gurney. 2009. [December 2009] Random House. 80 pages.
For Keeps. Natasha Friend. 2010. [April 2010] Penguin. 272 pages. [YA Realistic Fiction/YA Romance]
How To Say Goodbye in Robot. Natalie Standiford. 2009. [October 2009] Scholastic. 288 pages. [YA Realistic Fiction]
Into The Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern. 2009. Feiwel & Friends. 256 pages.
Magic Under Glass. Jaclyn Dolamore. 2009. [December 2009] Bloomsbury. 225 pages.
The Gospel In Genesis: From Fig Leaves to Faith by Martin Lloyd-Jones. 2009. Crossway. 160 pages. [Christian Nonfiction]
A Moment Between by Nicole Baart. 2009. Tyndale. 384 pages. [Contemporary Fiction]
Bring Me Some Apples And I'll Make You A Pie: A Story About Edna Lewis. Robbin Gowley. 2009. [January 2009]. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 48 pages
The Champion of Children: The Story of Janusz Korczak. By Tomek Bogacki. 2009. [September 2009]. FSG. 40 pages.
Manga Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing. William Shakespeare. 2009. Ill. Emma Vieceli. Adapted by Richard Appignanesi. 208 pages. (YA)
Mary Anne Saves The Day. Raina Telgemeier and Ann M. Martin. 2007. Scholastic. 158 pages.

What I'm Currently Reading:



The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins. 1860/2005. Simon & Schuster. 784 pages. (Classic)


Under the Dome. By Stephen King. 2009. Simon & Schuster. 1088 pages. (Adult Horror/Science Fiction)

What I Hope To Begin/Finish Soon:



Mr. Darcy's Great Escape: A Tale of The Darcys and The Bingleys. Marsha Altman. 2010. (February 2010) Sourcebooks. 432 pages.



The Black Moth by Georgette Heyer. 1921/2009. Sourcebooks. 355 pages.

Movies Reviewed This Week:

Shop Around the Corner
You've Got Mail
Much Ado About Nothing
Shrek
To Catch A Thief
To Sir With Love

Challenges Joined This Week:

Scottish Reading Challenge
Themed Reading Challenge
French Historicals Challenge

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

Mary Anne Saves The Day (MG)


Mary Anne Saves The Day. Raina Telgemeier and Ann M. Martin. 2007. Scholastic. 158 pages.

The Babysitter's Club (BSC) is in BIG, BIG trouble in this third graphic novel of the series. Can "shy" and "babyish" Mary Anne save the day? Can this club survive long enough for Mary Anne's curfew to be extended to 10PM? Will she ever be able to take down the Mother Goose posters in her room? Will those braids ever go? Find out the answers to these pressing questions (and more) in Mary Anne Saves the Day.

Kristy, Mary Anne, Claudia, and Stacey are the founding members of the Baby Sitter's Club. But conflicts are arising. Some people (cough, cough) are being accused of being job-hogs. While others are being called out for being bossy. Where does Mary Anne fit into all of this? I had forgotten that Mary Anne can have quite the temper when provoked. I remembered her as more of the peace-maker.

Did you grow up reading The Baby Sitter's Club? Did you read them all? Or just a few? Do you have a favorite book?

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Catching Up with Bilbo


Eva, the host of the Hobbit read-a-long, is asking...

* Where are you in the story? So far, has the book lived up to your expectations (for first-timers)/memories (for rereaders)? What’s surprising or familiar?

I meant to just read a few more chapters before answering these questions so that I wouldn't embarrassingly be still only three chapters along. But. Once I started, I couldn't stop. I read the rest of the book in two days. So I am finished with the book. Yes. This wasn't my first time through. (It was my third.) So my expectations were met. I did notice a few things I hadn't before. Like how 'my precious' refers to Gollum himself. I guess I always assumed that the 'precious' was the ring itself. That he was talking to the ring. I don't know why I assumed that. I guess that's the impression I got from the movies maybe.

* Have you been bogged down anywhere in the book?

Not really.

* Let’s talk about the songs…are you skipping over them to get back to the prose? Why or why not?

I really tried to read them all. I can't say that I appreciated them as poems exactly. But at least I didn't just skip them altogether.

* What do you think of the narrator’s voice?

I like it. I think what I appreciate most about the book is the humor. And by humor I mean wit. Sometimes it feels like you're laughing at the characters (be it Bilbo or one (or more) of the dwarfs), and other times it feels you're laughing with the characters. I love the matter-of-fact-ness about it as well. I think that is one reason why I always buy into the story, I never have trouble "suspending my disbelief" with this one. He (the narrator) tells me it is so, and I believe him.

* Does your edition have illustrations or maps? Have you been ignoring them or referring back to them?

I am reading a *really* tacky copy. It's older too. So the pages aren't the best in the world. I would love to own a really nice edition of this one at some point.

* Now it’s time to play favourites! Who’s your favourite main character? Who’s your favourite minor character (i.e.: villains, random helpers, etc.)? What’s your favourite scene? Do you have a favourite quote to share?

I do love Bilbo. I love him *so* much more than Frodo. I loved this quote, "It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterward were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait." (205) And again, "It was a terrible battle. The most dreadful of all Bilbo's experiences, and the one which at the time he hated most--which is to say it was the one he was most proud of, and most fond of recalling long afterwards, although he was quite unimportant in it. Actually I must say he put on his ring early in the business, and vanished from sight, if not from all danger." (267) For my favorite scene, I'd have to say Bilbo's (daring) conversation with Smaug, a battle of wits. As for a favorite minor character, I liked Beorn. I liked how Gandalf 'tricked' him into being such a good (and friendly) host. That whole story (with all its interruptions) is just a delight to read.


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Into The Wild Nerd Yonder (YA)


Into The Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern. 2009. Feiwel & Friends. 256 pages.

I so used to love the first day of school.

Meet Jessie, our heroine, who for various reasons is about to go to 'the dork side'. But since Bizza and Char her best friends have abandoned her for the punk crowd--Bizza even going so far as to shave her head--Jessie is left on her own to make new friends. And for reasons she can't quite explain, she's drawn to the dorks, the nerds. She's afraid of what she might become if she goes with it, but she can't deny that Dottie and Henry are both really fun to be around. And that game they play, Dungeons and Dragons, well, it's super-fun. And the fact that they accept her for who she is and aren't all about using her, well, that's a plus, of course. You see, Bizza and Char loved hanging out with Jessie because Jessie's brother, Barrett, is in a punk band named Crudhoppers. And the drummer of that punk band, Van, is oh-so-cute-and-dreamy. Even Jessie has to admit that. She's been crushing on him for years and years. But when Van and Bizza hook up--albeit only for one night--well, Jessie has to draw the line somewhere. (As does her brother.)

One of the things I enjoyed most about this one is that Jessie is a reader. She's always listening to an audio book or reading a book. And it really made me smile to see that she just loved Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. (If you haven't read that one, you should.) To see how books were a part of her life, her normal every day life, was a nice touch. I also loved to see such a strong portrayal of friendship between siblings. Barrett and Jessie were close, and it was really nice to see that family is important to her. (Unfortunately, Jessie's parents were of the barely-there-variety.)

I liked this coming-of-age novel about the importance of being true to yourself. It's got humor and romance. I would recommend this one.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, January 22, 2010

Manga Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing (YA)


Manga Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing. William Shakespeare. 2009. Ill. Emma Vieceli. Adapted by Richard Appignanesi. 208 pages.

Don Pedro of Aragon comes this night to Messina.

Without a doubt Much Ado About Nothing is my favorite and my best when it comes to Shakespeare. The love story between Beatrice and Benedick is among my favorite of all times. Of course, this isn't their story alone. There's also Hero and Claudio's romance. But. For me, this one is all about Beatrice and Benedick. And how hate can melt away into love...with a little help from their (interfering) friends.

I haven't always loved Manga Shakespeare. Some adaptations work better for me than others. Some I really don't quite understand or get. And others I think are quite well done. This one, Much Ado About Nothing, is practically perfect. (My second choice would probably be A Midsummer Night's Dream.) I even loved the art by Emma Vieceli. You can see sample spreads here. The story was easy to follow. And I found it easy to recognize the characters. (Something that can be more than a little tricky with other Manga Shakespeare titles. And since there is no he said, she said, if you don't recognize the character based on the art alone, then you can get a little confused as to who's saying what.)

Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
Men were deceivers ever,
One foot in sea and one on shore,
To one thing constant never:
Then sigh not so, but let them go,
And be you blithe and bonny,
Converting all your sounds of woe
Into Hey nonny, nonny.
Sing no more ditties, sing no moe,
Of dumps so dull and heavy;
The fraud of men was ever so,
Since summer first was leafy:
Then sigh not so, & c.

So I'd definitely recommend Much Ado About Nothing, any way you can get it. The original play, the manga adaptation, and, of course, the movie.



© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, January 21, 2010

How To Say Goodbye in Robot (YA)


How To Say Goodbye In Robot. Natalie Standiford. 2009. [October 2009]. Scholastic. 288 pages.

Goebbels materialized on the back patio, right before we moved to Baltimore, and started chewing through the wicker love seat. We figured he was an escapee from one of the neighbors' houses, probably the Flanagans two doors down.

Bea and Jonah. Robot Girl and Ghost Boy. Can these two 'misfit' teens find happiness (or something approaching happiness at least) by sticking together?

Bea is new to town, new in school. She's the "new girl." So obviously, undisguisedly new. Most of her classmates have known each other for years--some even ten or twelve years. So how will she fit in at this private school?

Jonah just doesn't fit in. At all. Not even a little bit. Does he care? Not really. You see fitting in at his high school is not part of his plan. (And he does have a plan.) He's been "Ghost Boy" since junior high. They even had a funeral service for him way back when. He's been labeled many things, odd being the nicest most likely. But for some reason, Bea is drawn to him. For a "ghost" he seems more real than anyone else in school. He definitely makes her curious. Starting with when he slips her a note:

To: Beatrice
From: 1120 AM. Midnight Tonight. Beatrice of the Future will thank you.

How To Say Goodbye in Robot is definitely an odd book, unique too. The story. The characters. The dialogue. The friendship. Everything is odd in good way. An amazing way. It reminds me of John Green's Looking for Alaska and Laurie Halse Anderson's Speak. But not for the reasons you might think. I definitely recommend it.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Magic Under Glass (YA)


Magic Under Glass. Jaclyn Dolamore. 2009. [December 2009] Bloomsbury. 225 pages.

The audience didn't understand a word we sang. They came to see our legs. As the posters said, TROUSER GIRLS FROM THE EXOTIC LAND OF TASSIM! We were billed just under the acrobats and the trained dogs.

Nimira, a dark-skinned beauty, is a trouser girl. But not for long. Not after the mysterious stranger, a sorcerer at that, Hollin Parry, offers her another job. Is it a better job? Only time will tell. But Nimira, or Nim as she is called, has been hired to sing with a piano-playing automaton. She's not the first young woman to be offered the job--or the first young woman to have accepted it. You see, he warns her, the others have been skittish. Claimed that the automaton is haunted or cursed. Is this beautiful (or I suppose I should say handsome) automaton crafted by the fairies haunted? Nimira is more than willing to take a chance. After all, even if he is haunted, even if he is a bit spooky, what harm could he possibly do her? How could an automaton be dangerous?



So Nimira joins Parry's household. And it's a strange one. With somewhat of a gothic feel to it like Rebecca or Jane Eyre. As the mystery unfolds, the reader is drawn into a strange and exciting world. A dangerous world.

I liked this one. I can't say that I love it. [The romance didn't quite work for me.] But I would definitely recommend it to readers who love YA fantasy or YA romance.

Now. The cover. The unfortunate cover. Bloomsbury's cover model doesn't look much like Nimira. Does she? Is she dark-skinned? Is she exotic? Nimira is beautiful. She has a great voice. But there are some who would look down on her anyway. Who wouldn't want her as part of their society, their company. She is exotic, foreign, altogether other. Nimira deals with prejudice. (The party scene illustrates this well, I thought.)

Is this the best representation they could find for this strong heroine? Why go with a white girl, a white woman, when the story is about a person of color? Is it a case of the people behind-the-scenes not being familiar with the book, the story, the characters? Or is it more than that? In a world where people judge books by their covers, what are the publishers really trying to say, to convey, to readers by whitewashing the cover? This cover definitely has a lot of people talking.

ETA: Bloomsbury is changing the cover. Details here.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Library Loot: Third Trip in January


Here are the books I couldn't resist this week. It's a good example of what happens when I go in with a list of five titles to get.

New Loot:

Manga Shakespeare: As You Like It by William Shakespeare
Manga Shakespeare: King Lear by William Shakespeare
Manga Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare.
Manga Shakespeare: Othello by William Shakespeare.
The Babysitters Club #3 Mary Anne Saves the Day (Graphic Novel)
The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
Tattoo by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
Candor by Pam Bachorz
Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris
Romeo's Ex: Rosaline's Story by Lisa Fiedler
The Collector's Book of Science Fiction by H.G. Wells
Scaramouche by Rafael Sabatini
2001 Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke
Redemption by Karen Kingsbury and Gary Smalley

Leftover Loot:

Once Was Lost by Sara Zarr
One Second After by William R. Forstchen
Tiger Moon by Antonia Michaelis
Into the Wild Nerd Yonder by Julie Halpern
My Lord John by Georgette Heyer
Pistols for Two by Georgette Heyer
The Masqueraders by Georgette Heyer
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose
The Norton Book of Science Fiction (Stories) by ?
The Fifth Queen by Ford Madox Ford
The Martian Race by Gregory Benford
Hannah Coulter by Wendell Berry
How Do I Love Thee by Nancy Moser
The Edge of the World by Kevin J. Anderson
According to Jane by Marilyn Brant
Drift: Stories by Victoria Patterson
The Moment Between by Nicole Baart
Sweet Thursday by John Steinbeck
Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
The Red Pony by John Steinbeck
The Museum of Mary Child by Cassandra Golds
Gregor the Overlander by Suzanne Collins
The Science Fiction Hall of Fame, Volume 2B: The Greatest Science Fiction Novellas of All Time

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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CFBA Blog Tour: A Lady Like Sarah


A Lady Like Sarah. By Margaret Brownley. (A Rocky Creek Romance). 2009. Thomas Nelson. 320 pages.

Vultures signaled trouble ahead..

"She's an outlaw. He's a preacher. Both are in need of a miracle."
That's how it's described on the back cover. I must admit I was a little skeptic heading into this one. Would it be 'too western' for me? After all, it is set in the 1870s and it does feature an outlaw or two?! But my worries went away after I began reading.

The book stars the frustrated but good-intentioned preacher, Justin Wells, and the scared-and-somewhat-embittered outlaw, Sarah Prescott. It was not love at first sight.

When he first stumbles across Sarah, she's handcuffed. The U.S. marshal escorting her back to the Texas town of Rocky Creek has been shot and is in very poor condition. Justin not yet knowing that the prisoner is really a she promises the marshal to take "the prisoner" on to Texas, to see justice done, to take a message to the marshal's family. But can he keep his promise after he knows....

After he knows that "the prisoner" is a woman? She may not be dressed as one. She may not act like one, a lady, I mean. But she is woman through and through. And after hearing her side of the story, after hearing about her troubled past, after hearing her declare her innocence and after hearing about the mockery of a trial that condemned her to hang, after he's come to believe her...how can he keep that promise now? When he knows that there is a very good possibility--that she will hang. Can he live with having her her death on his hands?

She stared at the manacles in his hands and wondered what he saw when he looked at her. Did he see an outlaw or someone else--the woman whose heart suddenly yearned to be held by a man? By him? Cheeks aflame, she looked up.
Head lowered, he reached for her hand, but before cuffing her, he hesitated.
She searched his face and he met her gaze. She wanted him to look at her like she had seen her brothers look at other women. But anything would be better than the pity she saw in his eyes.
Look at me, she wanted to cry. Look at me. Without thinking, she threw her arms around his neck. If he was surprised, she couldn't tell. For his lips melted against hers, sending waves of heat down her body. His mouth on hers was both gentle and demanding, sweet and warm, and more than anything, persuasive. She drank in the moment, wishing it would last forever.
Great sand and sagebrush! How come no one ever told her that kissin' a man was even more fun than fightin' a bear? She'd heard tell about this man and woman stuff, but no one ever said it felt this good, felt so completely and utterly right.
The kiss ended far too soon. One hand on her shoulder, he firmly pushed her away. The mouth that moments earlier had been soft and yielding was now hard and unrelenting. No pity showed in his eyes now. Only rejection...and, somehow, that was even worse.
Her senses in turmoil, she didn't know what to think. She wondered if she had only imagined his response, imagined that he welcomed her kiss.
Confused as much by her own actions as his, she stared up at him.
"I'm sorry, Sarah."
She couldn't have felt more humiliated had she been thrown from a horse.
For the longest while, they stared at each other like two wild animals meeting by chance.
"Forgive me," he pleaded. "I can't do this."
Had he thrust a knife in her heart, he couldn't have hurt her more. "Because of who I am?" she lashed out at him. "Because I'm a wanted woman and not fit to wipe your feet?"
He shook his head sadly. "No, Sarah. Because of who I am." (48-49)


Sarah isn't just Sarah. She's Sarah Prescott. Her brothers are "the Prescott brothers." A no-good robbing gang that go about holding up as many "Wells Fargo" wagons as they can. She doesn't like her brothers, but she loves them. She can't forget that she is--like it or not--a Prescott.

Justin Wells knows just a little about being falsely accused, although he doesn't have a criminal record, his rushed exit from Boston, his reassignment to a little Texas town he's never heard of--Rocky Creek--is not particularly of his choosing. He doesn't feel led to minister here. So he's a bit confused as well as to where he belongs and what he wants and needs.

Together can these two come to trust God, in his will? Will justice be served?

A Lady Like Sarah is a compelling story, a historical romance. The pacing was great. I was always wanting more, more, more. I couldn't put it down. It was enjoyable. It was satisfying. It was good.


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

For Keeps (YA)


For Keeps. Natasha Friend. 2010. [April 2010] Penguin. 272 pages.

It's the last Friday night in August, and instead of dancing on a table at Melanie Jaffin's party with the rest of the soon-to-be junior class, I am crouched behind a tower of Meow Mix in the pet-food aisle of Shop-Co, watching my mother hyperventilate.

Josie Gardner has never met her dad, Paul Tucci. Both sets of parents were against this match. When Josie's mom, Kate, got pregnant her junior year of high school, her love, Paul, moved away to Arizona. Never to return. Now facing her own junior year of high school, Josie has quite a lot to contemplate. You see, the Tuccis are back. Paul's parents. Back in town. And they're part of the reason Josie's mom is losing it. She loses it whenever she bumps into someone from her high school days. Should Josie want to know her grandparents? Should she reach out to them and let them know that she exists? And does that mean that her father, Paul, could show up at some point? What would she do if he did? Would she be willing to let him into her life? Would she be able to listen to his side of the story?

What did I appreciate about this one? Quite a lot! I thought the characterization was wonderful. Everyone was fully developed. Not just Josie. Not just Josie's love interest, Matt. Not just Josie's best friend, Liv. But everybody. Her mom. Her mom's new love interest, Jonathan. Her best friend's two dads, Dodd and Pops. Her boss, Bob. Everybody who matters to Josie, everyone whom she interacts with on a daily basis is fleshed out for the readers. Of course, some are more fully fleshed than others. Is Jonathan as important as Liv? Of course not! But he's there nonetheless, and sturdier than mere cardboard.

I liked the complications. Life isn't simple, it's complex, and it shows in For Keeps. The complications felt real. Not for show. Not for drama. But authentic problems a young person might face. That doesn't mean that this is an "issue" novel. It doesn't feel heavy-handed like you're supposed to be learning something big-and-important.

I appreciated the way relationships are explored in this one. Josie's complicated relationship with her mom. How it varies through the course of the novel. Her mom isn't automatically the enemy. She isn't someone to automatically rebel against, disobey, yell at. Yet, their relationship isn't perfect either. They are friends, yes, especially in the beginning, but as complications arise, they have to work on their relationship to maintain that closeness. And her relationship with her best friend? So well done. Again, it's not perfect. It's something that takes a bit of work, a bit of give and take. But it is something that just felt real, felt right. It didn't feel forced. It felt believable that Liv and Josie were best friends. That Liv existed as more than a plot device, more than a stereotype.

I would definitely recommend this one!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, January 18, 2010

The Big Day Has Arrived


Or....The Winners, The Honors, My Thoughts and Reviews...
The link to the press release*

Newbery Honors...

Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose.
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly (my review of The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate)
Where The Mountain Meets The Moon by Grace Lin.
The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick. (my review of The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg.)

My thoughts: I'd have loved it if The Small Adventure Of Popeye and Elvis by Barbara O'Connor had been included. I do look forward to reading the two Honors I haven't read yet.

John Newbery Medal Winner...

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (my review of When You Reach Me)

My thoughts: A bit disappointed. I liked the book. But I only liked it. It didn't wow me like Heart of a Shepherd by Rosanne Parry. Or Love, Aubrey by Suzanne LaFleur. Or Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff. Or Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin.

Caldecott Honor Books

All The World by Liz Garton Scanlon, illustrated by Marla Frazee
Red Sings From Treetops: A Year in Colors by Joyce Sidman, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski

Randolph Caldecott Medal Winner

The Lion & The Mouse written and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

My thoughts: Haven't read any of these. Though of course I've heard of All the World and The Lion & The Mouse.

Printz Honor Books

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman**
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey
Punkzilla by Adam Rapp
Tales of the Madman Underground: An Historical Romance, 1973 by John Barnes

My thoughts: I abandoned two of these actually. Though I can't remember if I ever included them in my Sunday Salon posts as 'abandoned'. I will be picking up The Monstrumologist again. And I hope to get to Punkzilla too.

Michael L. Printz Award Winner

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

My thoughts: I haven't read Going Bovine. And it could be really, really wonderful and oh-so-amazing. But really, I was hoping for Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork.

Coretta Scott King (Author) Honor

Mare's War by Tanita S. Davis.

Coretta Scott King (Author) Winner

Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal by Vaunda Micheau Nelson. Illustrated by R. Gregory Christie.

My thoughts: I am looking forward to reading both of these. I do have a copy of Mare's War about the house somewhere, so I'll probably get to that one first. But the other looks good too. And it's illustrated by one of my favorite illustrators, R. Gregory Christie!

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Honor

The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes, illustrated by E.B. Lewis

Coretta Scott King (Illustrator) Winner

My People by Langston Hughes, illustrated by Charles R. Smith Jr. (My review of My People).

My thoughts: I loved My People. I did. I thought it was beautiful and amazing. I'll have to seek the other out at some point.

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award

The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon

My thoughts: I really really want to read this one!

Coretta Scott King -- Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement

Walter Dean Myers

My thoughts: Definitely deserves this! Need to read and review more Myers here on the blog.

Pura Belpre (Illustrator) Honors

Diego: Bigger Than Life by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, illustrated by David Diaz
My Abuelita by Tony Johnston, illustrated by Yuyi Morales
Gracias Thanks by Pat Mora, illustrated by John Parra

Pura Belpre (Illustrator) Winner

Book Fiesta! Celebrate Children's Day/Book Day; Celebremos El dia de los ninos/El dia de los libros by Pat Mora, Illustrated by Rafael Lopez.

Pura Belpre (Author) Honors)

Diego: Bigger Than Life by Carmen T. Bernier-Grand, illustrated by David Diaz
Federico Garcia Lorca by Georgina Lazaro, illustrated by Enrique S. Moreiro

Pura Belpre (Author) Winner

Return to Sender by Julia Alvarez


Schneider Family Book Award

Django by Bonnie Christensen (written and illustrated)
Anything But Typical by Nora Raleigh Baskin (my review of Anything But Typical)
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork (my review of Marcelo in the Real World)

My thoughts: Oh so excited to see two of my favorites win here! (I haven't come across Django though it sounds like it would be really good too. And I do love jazz-related picture books.)

William C. Morris Award

Flash Burnout by L.K. Madigan

My thoughts: And to think I was this close to picking this one up on my last trip to the library.

Geisel Honor Books

I Spy Fly Guy by Tedd Arnold (My review I Spy Fly Guy!)
Little Mouse Gets Ready by Jeff Smith
Mouse and Mole: Fine Feathered Friends by Wong Herbert Yee
Pearl and Wagner: One Funny Day by Kate McMullan

Theodor Seuss Geisel Award

Benny and Penny in the Big No-No by Geoffrey Hayes

Margaret A. Edwards Award (Lifetime Achievement)

Jim Murphy

My thoughts: I'm really excited to see Jim Murphy win! I definitely need to review more of his books! I really love the few of his that I've read. Though I think most of them came in pre-blogging days.

Sibert Honor Books

The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors by Chris Barton, illustrated by Tony Persiani
Moonshot: The Flight of Apollo 11 by Brian Floca
Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice by Phillip Hoose.

Robert F. Sibert Medal Winner

Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared To Dream by Tanya Lee Stone

My thoughts: Definitely need to seek all of these out!

Batchelder Honor Books

Big Wolf and Little Wolf by Nadine Brun-Cosme, illustrated by Olivier Tallec, translated by Claudia Bedrick
Eidi by Bodil Bredsdorff, translated by Kathryn Mahaffy
Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness by Nahoko Uehashi, illustrated by Yuko Shimizu, translated by Cathy Hirano

Mildred L. Batchelder Award Winner

A Faraway Island by Annika Thor, translated by Linda Schenck

My thoughts: I'll be reading Moribito II and A Faraway Island at some point I know. I'll see if I can find the others as well.

*Also included in the press release, the Alex Awards, the May Hill Arbuthnot Honor Lecture Award, Andrew Carnegie Medal, and the Odyssey Award.

**Also won the YALSA Excellence in Nonfiction Award

ETA: The BEST BOOKS FOR YOUNG ADULTS (BBYA) 2010 list is now available.
Also their TOP TEN LIST.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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