Friday, April 30, 2010

April Accomplishments

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

Words. I'm surrounded by thousands of words. Maybe millions. Cathedral. Mayonnaise. Pomegranate. Mississippi. Neapolitan. Hippopotamus. Silky. Terrifying. Iridescent. Tickle. Sneeze. Wish. Worry. Words have swirled around me like snowflakes--each one delicate and different, each one melting untouched in my hands.

My name is Dovey Coe, and I reckon it don't matter if you like me or not. I'm here to lay the record straight, to let you know them folks saying I done a terrible thing are liars. I aim to prove it, too. I hated Parnell Caraway as much as the next person, but I didn't kill him.

It was four thirty in the morning and Scarlett wanted answers. Unfortunately, four-thirty-in-the-morning questions are often of a very different nature than, say, three-twenty-in-the-afternoon questions.

It was a burnished, cloudless day with a tug-of-war wind, a fine day for flying.


April's Top Six:

Scarlett Fever. Maureen Johnson.
Out of My Mind. Sharon M. Draper.
Catching Fire. Suzanne Collins.
The Runaway Dragon by Kate Coombs.
Princess of Glass. Jessica Day George.
Airhead. Meg Cabot.

Results of April's Poll:

How long do you stick with a book that just isn't working for you?

There were 194 votes! The majority of you (36%) give a book one to two chapters. 27% of you give a book three to four chapters. 21% of you give a book a 100 pages. And 14% of you give a book 50 pages.

Number of Board Books: 7

Who's that Snoring? A Pull-the-Tab Bedtime Book. Jason Chapman. 2010. January 2010. Simon & Schuster. 12 pages.
Where's Your Nose? Begin Smart Books. 2010. May 2010. 16 pages.
My Little Baby. Begin Smart Books. 2010. May 2010. 16 pages.
Animal Faces. Begin Smart Books. 2009. October 2009. 8 pages.
Baby Says. Begin Smart Books. 2009. October 2009. 16 pages.
Look Around and Listen. Begin Smart Books. 2009. October 2009. 8 pages.
Bouncy Baby. Begin Smart Books. 2009. October 2009. 12 pages.

Number of Picture Books: 14

Where the Mild Things Are: A Very Meek Parody. By Maurice Send-Up. Illustrated by Bonnie Leick. 2009. September 2009. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages.
Wee Little Bunny. Lauren Thompson. Illustrated by John Butler. 2010. January 2010. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages.
The Little Red Hen and the Passover Matzah. By Leslie Kimmelman. Illustrated by Paul Meisel. 2010. February 2010. Holiday House. 32 pages.
Aunt Mary's Rose. By Douglas Wood. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. 2010. March 2010. Candlewick Press. 32 pages.
Just Like A Baby. Juanita Havill. Illustrated by Christine Davenier. 2009. February 2009. Chronicle Books 32 pages.
Dogs. Emily Gravett. 2010. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages.
Baby Blessings: A Prayer for the Day You Are Born. Deloris Jordan. Illustrated by James E. Ransome. 2010. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages.
Farm. Elisha Cooper. 2010. April 2010. Scholastic. 48 pages.
Moon Bear. Brenda Z. Guiberson. Illustrated by Ed Young. 2010. May 2010. Henry Holt. 40 pages.
Let's Say Hi to Friends Who Fly (A Cat the Cat Book) by Mo Willems. 2010. February 2010. HarperCollins. 24 pages.
What's Your Sound, Hound the Hound (A Cat the Cat book) by Mo Willems. 2010. April 2010. HarperCollins. 32 pages.
Lily Brown's Paintings. By Angela Johnson. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis. 2007. Scholastic. 32 pages.
Not All Princesses Dress in Pink. By Jane Yolen and Heidi E.Y. Stemple. Illustrated by Anne-Sophie Lanquetin. 2010. June 2010. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages.
Princesses Are Not Perfect. Kate Lum. Illustrated by Sue Hellard. 2010. March 2010. Bloomsbury. 32 pages.

Number of Children's Books: 5

Porky and Bess. By Ellen Weiss and Mel Friedman. Illustrated by Marsha Winborn. 2010. February 2010. Random House. 48 pages.
Mercy Watson Thinks Like A Pig. Kate DiCamillo. Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. 2008. Candlewick. 80 pages.
The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz. Illustrated by Angela Barrett. 2010. February 2010. Candlewick Press. 128 pages.
Max Spaniel: Funny Lunch. David Catrow. 2010. May 2010. Scholastic. 40 pages.
I Am Going! (An Elephant & Piggie Book). Mo Willems. 2010. Hyperion. 64 pages.

Number of Middle Grade: 9

The Other Half of My Heart. Sundee T. Frazier. 2010. June 2010. Random House. 304 pages.
The Runaway Dragon by Kate Coombs. 2009. FSG. 304 pages.
The Thirteenth Princess. Diane Zahler. 2010. HarperCollins. 245 pages.
The Line. Teri Hall. 2010. March 2010. Penguin. 224 pages.
Dovey Coe. Frances O'Roark Dowell. 2000. Simon & Schuster. 192 pages.
Chicken Boy. Frances O'Roark Dowell. 2005. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages
Out of My Mind. Sharon M. Draper. 2010. March 2010. Simon & Schuster. 295 pages.
The Year of Goodbyes. Debbie Levy. 2010. Hyperion. 144 pages.
Warriors in the Crossfire. Nancy Bo Flood. 2010. March 2010. Boyds Mill Press. 142 pages.

Number of YA: 15

Catching Fire. Suzanne Collins. 2009. [September 2009] Scholastic. 400 pages.
Rules of Attraction by Simone Elkeles. 2010. April 2010. Walker (Bloomsbury) 336 pages.
The Lost Conspiracy. Frances Hardinge. 2009. September 2009. HarperCollins. 576 pages.
Scarlett Fever. Maureen Johnson. 2010. February 2010. Scholastic. 352 pages.
The Best and Hardest Thing. Pat Brisson. 2010. May 2010. Penguin. 240 pages.
Gone. Lisa McMann. 2010. February 2010. Simon & Schuster. 214 pages.
Bleeding Violet. Dia Reeves. 2010. January 2010. Simon & Schuster. 454 pages.
Splendor. Anna Godbersen. 2009. HarperCollins. 391 pages.
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. 1996. HarperCollins. 224 pages.
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. 2000. HarperCollins. 288 pages.
The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. 2006. HarperCollins. 400 pages.
Princess of Glass. Jessica Day George. 2010. May 2010. Bloomsbury USA. 272 pages.
Paisley Hanover Acts Out by Cameron Tuttle. 2009. Penguin. 432 pages.
Airhead. Meg Cabot. 2008. Scholastic. 340 pages.
Being Nikki. Meg Cabot. 2009. Scholastic. 352 pages.

Number of Adult: 5

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. Kelly O'Connor McNees. 2010. Penguin. 336 pages.
The Darcy Cousins. Monica Fairview. 2010. Sourcebooks. 432 pages.
Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford. 2009. [December 2009]. Random House. 320 pages.
Enclave by Kit Reed. 2009. Tor. 368 pages.
Within the Hollow Crown. Margaret Campbell Barnes. 1948/2010. SourceBooks. 368 pages.

Number of Christian: 9

As Young As We Feel. Melody Carlson. 2010. March 2010. David C. Cook (Pub). 352 pages.
God's Little Princess Devotional Bible. By Sheila Walsh. 2006. Thomas Nelson. 352 pages.
My First Read-Aloud Bible. Retold by Mary Batchelor & Penny Boshoff. 2010. February 2010. Scholastic. 256 pages.
Sixteen Brides. Stephanie Grace Whitson. 2010. April 2010. Bethany House. 352 pages.
She Walks In Beauty by Siri Mitchell. 2010. April 2010. Bethany House. 400 pages.
Raised With Christ: How The Resurrection Changes Everything by Adrian Warnock. 2010. January 2010. Crossway. 272 pages.
What Does God Want of Us Anyway?: A Quick Overview of the Whole Bible. Mark Dever. 2010. Crossway. 128 pages
Dig Deeper: Tools for Understanding God's Word. By Nigel Beynon and Andrew Sach. 2010. Crossway. 160 pages.
Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus. D.A. Carson. 2010. February 2010. Crossway Publishers. 173 pages.

Number of Nonfiction: 4

Surviving the Angel of Death. The Story of a Mengele Twin in Auschwitz. Eva Mozes Kor and Lisa Rojany Buccieri. 2009. [November 2009]. Tanglewood Press. 175 pages.
Prowling the Seas. Exploring the Hidden World of Ocean Predators. By Pamela S. Turner. 2009. October 2009. Walker. 40 pages.
If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking The Secrets of Stonehenge. Marc Aronson. 2010. March 2010. National Geographic. 64 pages.
Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story From Africa. Jeanette Winter. 2008. Harcourt. 32 pages.

Number of Graphic Novels: 0

Number of Poetry: 2

Think Again. JonArno Lawson. Illustrated by Julie Morstad. 2010. Kids Can Press. 64 pages.
Dinothesaurus: Prehistoric Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian. 2009. March 2009. Simon & Schuster. 56 pages.

Number of Short Story Collections/Anthologies: 0



© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Within the Hollow Crown


Within the Hollow Crown. Margaret Campbell Barnes. 1948/2010. SourceBooks. 368 pages.

Young Richard Plantagenet knelt by a richly blazoned tomb in Canterbury Cathedral while priests and monks chanted prayers for the repose of his father's soul.

I didn't love this one. Margaret Campbell Barnes is an author whose works I generally enjoy. I've read and reviewed My Lady of Cleves, King's Fool, and A Tudor Rose. All three were set in a time period that fascinates me--two set during the reign of Henry VIII, and the other was about Henry VIII's parents. So perhaps that makes a difference.

This novel is about the reign of Richard II. I knew nothing of this time period going into this one, and I don't feel this novel is the best introduction to the times. What did I learn about this one? It's hard to be king. Sounds simple and obvious, right? Of course it's hard to be king. Hard to balance what you want with what your country wants with what all the noblemen want. Richard didn't necessarily have the love and support of any of those. His own family, his own friends, his own countrymen plotting against him. But this book isn't just about how much of a struggle it is to be born royal--it's also about how it isn't always easy to be a good king and a good husband. (Though I must say I think he did much better than Henry VIII!)

I think it is possible to enjoy this one if you allow yourself the freedom not to worry about names and dates. Knowing nothing about this time, I didn't really get a feel for who was important and who wasn't. I don't feel I got a great introduction to any of the characters really except the king and queen. About the dates. I didn't feel the author did a good job with transitions. Going from chapter to chapter a few days might pass or a few years.

So while I didn't love this one, I still plan on reading more of Margaret Campbell Barnes.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Top Ten Picks: Favorite Young Adult Novels


Random Ramblings topic this week for Top Ten Picks is Young Adult Novels.

Life As We Knew It (2006) by Susan Beth Pfeffer. I find myself reading this one again and again. Which means I've written multiple reviews through the years. Here's my first review from the fall of 2006.

Imagine waking up one day to find that everything had changed practically over night. All over the world massive destruction due to one natural disaster after another. And what if there was no way to turn back the clock. To wake up knowing that each day will be worse than the one before. No electricity. No phone service. No gas or oil. Limited food supplies. What is there left to hope for? How would you live your last days?

Meet Miranda your personal guide through this terrifying adventure.
Miranda's story continues in This World We Live In.

The Book Thief (2006) by Markus Zusak. I've read this one twice and listened to it on audio book. (I definitely think this is one of the BEST audio books ever.) Death never sounded so good! This book is wonderful. I'm not saying it doesn't have its difficult moments. But there's something incredibly beautiful--though haunting--about this novel set in Nazi Germany.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson (1999). This one was my first 'real' YA book. I read it in college, and it is one of many reasons why I do what I do. It led me to take all sorts of classes and to eventually get my degree in library science.
Meet Melinda. A ninth grader, a freshman. Maybe her experiences will remind you of your own high school days. Maybe not. But whether you were popular or among the outcasts, Speak has something vital to offer readers. Her story is powerful, yet not without humor.
The Truth About Forever (2006) by Sarah Dessen. I love Sarah Dessen. I do. I find her teen romances to be oh-so-magical. And I'd recommend just about anything she writes. How can I choose a favorite? Well, I'm going to go with the one I read first which would be this one, The Truth About Forever. (I think Dessen is just like that. I think you stay loyal to whichever one you read first. Though I think most fans love them all.)


Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (2005) I've read this series a couple of times.
Uglies is a fast-paced novel taking a typical YA topic--self esteem, conformity, and the perception of beauty--and treating it in a new and ultimately satisfying way by speculating about where current values of beauty and perfection might lead us as a society if taken to the extreme. By setting Uglies in the future instead of a contemporary high school, Westerfeld is able to provide reflection and commentary on a serious topic in a new and original way.
I really love Elizabeth Scott. I really have loved all of her books: The Unwritten Rule, Love You Hate You Miss You, Something Maybe, Living Dead Girl, Stealing Heaven, Perfect You, and Bloom. Each has its place. And I'd definitely recommend all of them. But if I had to pick just one, I'd pick Bloom (2007). Why? It's the first one I read. And it just made me really happy, almost giddy.

The Ask and The Answer by Patrick Ness (2009). It's almost impossible for a new book to go straight to my top ten list. (Not this top ten list, but, you know the list. The list that you keep in your head of your favorite-books-of-all-time.) But this one did. Which was unexpected and wonderful. I wasn't a fan of the first novel in the series, The Knife of Never Letting Go, yet I was willing to give the second one a try. This one restored my faith in reading. I've never had that kind of experience with a book.
Everything is so very complex. Not in an overwhelming this-is-so-over-my-head way, not in an I-need-to-go-get-the-dictionary-way but in a wow, I didn't know it was even possible for writers to be so brilliant way.
Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork (2009) I just loved this book. Loved it. I loved Marcelo's voice. I loved his observations. I loved his interactions, his conversations. I loved that his special interest was God, religion. I loved his intelligence; his way of digesting the world and discerning for himself right from wrong. I loved his strength, his character. Here is a man with heart and soul, with substance. I loved that this is a complex novel and a beautiful one.


Rash by Pete Hautman (2006). This one may seem like a strange choice. It isn't super-popular like Looking for Alaska by John Green. And I do only have two books left, BUT the truth is that I love, love, love this book. And it is a book that I think has gone neglected too long. It's one of the few books that took more than one post to praise. Words can't begin to describe how much I love this one. How much I wish people would pick this one up to read it. It's an intriguing novel with a great premise. It's funny. It's a book that is just-right. Set roughly in the 2070s, Rash provides readers with a clever and imaginative look at the future. Opening, in my opinion, with one of the greatest first lines I've ever read:
"Gramps, who was born in 1990, once told me that when he was my age the only way to wind up in prison in the USSA (back when it had only one S) was to steal something, kill somebody, or use illegal drugs" (3).
But times have changed quite a lot since then as our hero Bo Marsten finds out. But the lessons Bo learns about life, friendship, pizza, and football--which is also illegal by the way--open up his eyes to a whole new world.

Shannon Hale. She's one of those authors that is oh-so-easy to love. I am choosing Goose Girl (2003) simply because it is the first Hale novel that I read. And. Because it is the start of a great series. I have two posts about this one because I just couldn't stop talking about it. I have read and loved almost all her novels. There is only one that I haven't read yet. So I can't honestly say that I've loved all her books. Hale writes in the oh-so-delicious genre (or sub-genre) of fairy tale (or fairy-tale-like) novelizations.



© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Being Nikki (YA)


Being Nikki. Meg Cabot. 2009. Scholastic. 352 pages.

I'm cold.
I'm freezing actually.


Being Nikki is the sequel to Airhead. And the review below does contain spoilers for the first novel.

How easy is it for Em Watts to be Nikki Howard? Not all that easy as it turns out. But Em doesn't have much of a choice in the matter. For legally, she is Nikki Howard. And no matter how much she wants to cling to her old life, reach out to her old friends, like Christopher, she has to accept her new reality. Fortunately, appearances can be deceiving, and Nikki's best friend, Lulu, is a keeper. She's someone that Em genuinely likes. (Unlike some of Nikki's ex-boyfriends. Em admits that they are good kissers, but some are real jerks!)

Life can have a few surprises for anybody. But when your living another person's life, well, the surprises never seem to stop. And Em has quite a few to deal with in Being Nikki.

I loved this one. The mystery surrounding Em, Nikki, and Stark Enterprises continues to unfold. And the characters are developed more fully in this second novel. I definitely found it to be as compelling as the first (if not more so!). I can't wait to read the third one. I really, really want it!

Other reviews: Jen Robinson, OMS Book Blog, Ms. Yingling Reads, The Book Muncher, Em's Bookshelf, Read This Book!, One Literature Nut, Pop Culture Junkie, And Another Book Read.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Airhead (YA)


Airhead. Meg Cabot. 2008. Scholastic. 340 pages.

"Emerson Watts," called my first-period Public Speaking teacher, Mr. Greer, startling me from the light doze into which I'd drifted.

I loved this one. I did. I wasn't expecting to love it as much as I did. I thought it would be a light read, an easy read, a forgettable-but-enjoyable read. But. I really loved this one. It surprised me in oh so many ways.

Emerson Watts, our narrator, didn't have the perfect life. But it was her life. And she was happy with it. She wasn't one of those teens who'd give anything and everything to be one of the beautiful, popular people. She didn't want to be a supermodel when she grew up. She didn't want to be famous. She might not have all that many friends, but she loved the friends she did have. In fact, she was secretly in love with her best friend, Christopher.

Em definitely didn't want to go with her sister to the grand opening of the Stark Megastore. She didn't care who was performing. Her sister, Frida, may be head over heels with the British singer, Gabriel Luna, but Em, well, she doesn't care all that much about things like that. But one day can change oh-so-much as she comes to realize!

For Em wakes up--after a terrible accident--to discover something startling. Something that will change her life--and her family's life--forever.

There is something very compelling about Airhead. I definitely recommend it!

In a way, it reminds me of Eva by Peter Dickinson and The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson.

Other reviews: Teen Book Review, Em's Bookshelf, Jen Robinson, 3 Evil Cousins, The Compulsive Reader, Reader Rabbit, Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf, Reading the Best of the Best, Teenage Fiction for All Ages, Galley Smith, Liv's Book Reviews, Harmony Book Reviews, The Reading Zone, And Another Book Read, The YA YA YAs.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Warriors In The Crossfire (MG)


Warriors in the Crossfire. Nancy Bo Flood. 2010. March 2010. Boyds Mill Press. 142 pages.

Set on the small island of Saipan during World War II, Warriors in the Crossfire is a novel about the impact of war on families and communities. I've always been interested to read war stories (fiction or not) about how war impacts others. War isn't just about soldiers and battlefields after all. It effects women and children too.

In Warriors in the Crossfire, readers learn how it impacted the island natives. Joseph, our narrator, is placed in a difficult position. He's forced to be 'the man of the house' when the war comes to the island. He's seen the Japanese soldiers be cruel to his people. But he's also heard terrible things about the Americans. He's heard that they eat children. So he knows--or thinks he knows--that the American soldiers can't be trusted either. So is there any place where Joseph and his family can be safe? How can Joseph know who to trust? How can Joseph find the strength and courage to make those tough decisions?

Warriors in the Crossfire is fiction. But there are certain events in the novel which are all too true. This was my first time to learn about Suicide Cliff.

If you enjoyed this story, you might consider reading The Girl With the White Flag by Tomiko Higa. That book is nonfiction, and it is simply amazing.

To read what others are saying:

Whispers of Dawn, Cafe of Dreams, The Hungry Readers, My Own Little Corner of the World, KidzBookBuzz.com, Reading is My Superpower, 5 Minutes for Books, Becky’s Book Reviews, Fireside Musings, My Utopia

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Paisley Hanover Acts Out (YA)


Paisley Hanover Acts Out by Cameron Tuttle. 2009. Penguin. 432 pages.

I took a deep breath outside the door to Yearbook class and then sauntered--yes, I actually sauntered--into the room, doing my best imitation of calm, confident me. I was totally nervous. I had butterflies in my brain. But it was good nervous, excited nervous. I was one of the chosen people.

Paisley Hanover feels she's destined for greatness. In fact, she has it all planned out. And it all starts with being part of Yearbook her sophomore year. But. When things don't go her way--when they turn embarrassingly awful, in fact--Paisley has to rethink everything. Rejected from Yearbook, Paisley's forced into drama. What she learns about herself, about others, well, it's the stuff movies are made of. Does Paisley have more in common with the weird freaks and geeks and nobodies than with the popular people? Who is she really?

I liked this one. It was a nice blend of humor and social commentary. In so many ways it is a familiar story. Paisley's drama with her so-called best friends. Especially her on-again-off-again best friend, Jen. Paisley's drama with the guys in her life. Her having crushes on two completely different guys (Eric and Clint). Not being sure if either of them like her like her. Not being sure which one she really would want to be with. You know, if they ever actually asked her out. Paisley discovering her hidden talents and growing up just a bit as she realizes that unpopular people matter too. There was something that just worked with this one.

What do you think of the cover of this one? The first one (left) is the paperback cover that matches the look of the second novel, Paisley Hanover Kisses and Tells. The second one (right) is the original hardcover. I really liked the original cover. I thought it matched the style of the book. It is unique. Playful. Quirky. The red hair of the main character is emphasized. I'm not all that sure the new cover gets that right at all.

Other reviews: For the Love of Books, Lauren's Crammed Bookshelf, Reader Rabbit, Harmony Book Reviews, Finding Wonderland.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Enclave


Enclave by Kit Reed. 2009. Tor. 368 pages.

Departure Day. It's almost time. Gangplank up, repel all boarders. Destination: the last safe place.

Where to start? Sargent, one of our narrators, has started Clothos Academy. He is claiming it is the last safe place on Earth for our children. For the right price, of course, parents can rest assured that their child will be safe come what may. The world may end tomorrow, but this Academy on the top of a mountain, can withstand anything. Or so he claims. But is he really doing it for the children? And is the world really on the brink of destruction?

The Enclave has multiple narrators. This can be hit or miss with me. I don't always appreciate novels with that approach. But with The Enclave I think it works. I liked seeing the different perspectives. Because the truth is this isn't one person's story to tell.

One of my favorite characters was Killer Stade. He was one of the reasons I kept reading. He is one of the teens being "saved" in these end times. And I thought his voice worked a bit better than some of the adult ones.

The Enclave had an interesting premise. I picked it up thinking it was one thing, and while it wasn't quite what I expected, I don't regret reading it. But. I had some issues with this one. I thought the ending was a bit rushed, a bit fragmented. The epilogue didn't quite work for me.


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Sunday Salon: Reading, Read, To Read #17

Happy Sunday! Have you seen the latest edition of the Bookworms Carnival? It's up at Linus's Blanket. You can find out more about upcoming editions here.

And if you love science fiction and fantasy, you need to check out Charlotte's weekly updates.

And what about the Carnegie shortlist? I've read four of the books: Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness, and Nation by Terry Pratchett. I do want to read Philip Reeve's Fever Crumb. Though the U.S. cover looks nothing like the UK's. Which do you prefer?

What I've Reviewed This Week:

Splendor. Anna Godbersen. 2009. HarperCollins. 391 pages.
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. 1996. HarperCollins. 224 pages.
The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. 2000. HarperCollins. 288 pages.
The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. 2006. HarperCollins. 400 pages.
Princess of Glass. Jessica Day George. 2010. May 2010. Bloomsbury USA. 272 pages.
If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking The Secrets of Stonehenge. Marc Aronson. 2010. March 2010. National Geographic. 64 pages.
The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. Kelly O'Connor McNees. 2010. Penguin. 336 pages.
The Darcy Cousins. Monica Fairview. 2010. Sourcebooks. 432 pages.
Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford. 2009. [December 2009]. Random House. 320 pages.
Max Spaniel: Funny Lunch. David Catrow. 2010. May 2010. Scholastic. 40 pages.
I Am Going! (An Elephant & Piggie Book). Mo Willems. 2010. Hyperion. 64 pages.
Farm. Elisha Cooper. 2010. April 2010. Scholastic. 48 pages.
Moon Bear. Brenda Z. Guiberson. Illustrated by Ed Young. 2010. May 2010. Henry Holt. 40 pages.
Let's Say Hi to Friends Who Fly (A Cat the Cat Book) by Mo Willems. 2010. February 2010. HarperCollins. 24 pages.
What's Your Sound, Hound the Hound (A Cat the Cat book) by Mo Willems. 2010. April 2010. HarperCollins. 32 pages.

Currently Reading:


Within the Hollow Crown. Margaret Campbell Barnes. 1948/2010. SourceBooks. 368 pages.


A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner. 2010. March 2010. HarperCollins. 316 pages.


Crossing Oceans by Gina Holmes. 2010. April 2010. Tyndale. 384 pages.


Paisley Hanover Kisses and Tells by Cameron Tuttle. 2010. July 2010. 352 pages.

What I Hope To Begin/Finish Soon:



Crispin: The End of Time. Avi. 2010. June 2010. HarperCollins. 240 pages.


This Is Me From Now On by Barbara Dee. 2010. April 2010. Simon & Schuster. 272 pages.


Countdown by Deborah Wiles. 2010. May 2010. Scholastic. 400 pages.


Fever Crumb. Philip Reeve. 2010. April 2010. Scholastic. 336 pages.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Princess of Glass (MG/YA)


Princess of Glass. Jessica Day George. 2010. May 2010. Bloomsbury USA. 272 pages.

"Perfect," the Corley said, lips stretched wide in a smile. She took a shallow pan of molten glass and set it in the air over her head. "Yes, everything will be perfect this time."

Princess of Glass is a companion novel to Princess of the Midnight Ball. The first book was a novelization of the fairy tale, the "Twelve Dancing Princesses". This second book is a novelization of the fairy tale "Cinderella". But it may surprise you to find out just who is narrating this one!

Poppy, one of our primary narrators, is one of the twelve dancing princesses. Her enchantment has been broken. And thanks to Galen, her brother-in-law, she now has an appreciation for magic charms and knitting. Gifts which will help her be able to recognize the truth about one of the maids.

One of our other narrators is a young man, Prince Christian. The royal families have worked out an exchange program of sorts. Poppy and Prince Christian are just two of the royals involved in this matchmaking scheme between a handful of countries. These two are visiting the country of Breton.

And then there's Ella. Poor, poor Ella. You might think you know everything about Cinderella. But do you really? I loved this re-imagining of Cinderella. For any who think that Cinderella sounds a little too good to be true, you might just appreciate Jessica Day George's creation! I know I did!

I loved so many things about this one! I liked to see Poppy struggling with her past. How she has to deal with it, but that it isn't an easy process. I liked Prince Christian as well. I loved seeing things from "Prince Charming"'s perspective.

Prince Christian rode with his eyes straight ahead. As long as he didn't make eye contact with any of the girls lining the streets of Damerhavn to watch him go by, they wouldn't do anything foolish.
Like pretend to faint under the hooves of his horse.
Or throw a handkerchief at him, hoping that he would keep it as a memento.
The last time that had happened, his horse had spooked at the sight of the white fluttery thing, and Christian had nearly been thrown into the waiting arms of a horde of hopeful young ladies. He wanted to ride, needed to get out of the palace and away from his parents and tutors, but it was never as relaxing as he hoped it would be. (8)
I thought this one was a fun read. It had just the right blend of romance and fantasy. I really loved where Jessica Day George took this familiar story.

The quotes are taken from the ARC.

I've reviewed these Jessica Day George books as well: Princess of the Midnight Ball. Dragon Slippers. Dragon Flight. Dragon Spear. Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow.

Other reviews: YA Book Nerd,

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

The King of Attolia (MG/YA)


The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. 2006. HarperCollins. 400 pages.

The queen waited.

The King of Attolia is the third novel in Megan Whalen Turner's series. The first two are The Thief and The Queen of Attolia. If you haven't read the first two books, you probably should skip this review.

Costis, one of our main narrators, hates the new King of Attolia. He is loyally serving his Queen. But. The thought of serving his new king, an Eddisian, well he hates it. Not that he's one of the men trying to sabotage Eugenides. He's not putting sand in his bed or his food. He's not releasing the hunting dogs while the King is walking by. But that doesn't mean he's completely innocent. He does do something in the heat of the moment that could just be his undoing. But Eugenides has plans for Costis, and they're not plans to harm him oddly enough. These plans will bring him even closer to the King, make him part of the inner circle. What is he to think of all this? What is he to think of this new king?

I was fascinated by this one. It is very different from The Thief and The Queen of Attolia. I liked Costis. I liked seeing the story through his eyes. Eugenides seems even more mysterious if that's possible! It's an exciting read with political schemes, adventures, intrigues. I love seeing Eugenides all grown up! In some ways he has changed so much from when we first met him. I definitely recommend this series!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

The Queen of Attolia (MG/YA)


The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. 2000. HarperCollins. 288 pages.

He was asleep, but woke at the sound of the key turning in the lock.

Things are not looking so good for Eddis' Thief, Eugenides, for he has been caught by the Queen of Attolia. The queen first met Gen in The Thief. And he didn't exactly make the greatest impression by telling her she was beautiful but not all that kind. It may have been true. (The Queen is not known for her mercy.) But it's not the kind of flattery that will win him royal friends. What will she do now that she has him? What is the best way to hurt him? To hurt his Queen, the uglier-but-kinder Queen he serves?

Queen Eddis is angered when Eugenides is returned. Oh, she's thankful enough that he is still alive. But to see her thief now one-handed, well, it hurts. She's rightfully worried about him. She cares about what this will mean to him. Can Eugenides accept what has happened to him? Can he find the will, the strength he needs? Can he prove just how valuable he is to his Queen, to his country?

The Queen of Attolia is the sequel to The Thief. It is different from The Thief in quite a few ways. It is more focused on politics, on royal intrigues than on adventure-for-the-sake-of-adventure. I am liking this series very much!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

The Thief (MG/YA)


The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. 1996. HarperCollins. 224 pages.

I didn't know how long I had been in the king's prison. The days were all the same, except that as each one passed, I was dirtier than before.

Gen is a thief. He's in prison--in Sounis--for boasting that he could steal anything. Well, more precisely that he could steal something from the King. Has he been forgotten? Not exactly. There are those that would have him released from prison so they can use his services. Magus, with the approval of the King, wants Gen to steal something of mythological importance from a neighboring country. Hamiathe's Gift. Can he do it? He must if he wants his freedom! He will embark on a journey, on an adventure, with some interesting companions. Can he turn these enemies into friends?

I really enjoyed The Thief. I loved the world Megan Whalen Turner created. There are three very different countries explored: Sounis, Eddis, Attolia. Different countries, different monarchs, different intrigues, different gods and goddesses. This is a richly detailed fantasy novel. And I thought the storytelling worked well. I would definitely recommend this one!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Friday, April 23, 2010

Top Ten Picks: Worst Books You've Ever Read


Random Ramblings topic of the week is "Worst Books You've Ever Read." She's asking us to list our top ten worst books. The list isn't about being mean. Because reading is completely subjective. And just because I hate the book doesn't mean that you will hate the book.

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy.

Oh. How. I. HATE. HATE. HATE. This book. The good news is that if I ever for a moment question why I hate this one, I have a good friend who will take the time to remind me just why this is one of the worst books ever.

The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs by Jack Gantos

Part of me is surprised that I actually finished this one. It's not so much that this one is so horrible, so awful. It's not the writing I find fault with. More this book was so not for me. Not at all. Not even a little bit. I do think if you've got a very dark, very wicked, very twisted sense of humor, you might enjoy this one.

Foundation and Earth by Isaac Asimov

I regret reading the later Foundation novels. I do. I wish I could have just been happy reading the original Foundation trilogy. But this one, the last Foundation novel, really soured me on Isaac Asimov. I hate how this series ended. The writing (at least for me) just isn't as good as it should have been, could have been.

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

I really didn't expect this series to end the way I wanted because I was Team Jacob. But I didn't expect it to end the way it did either. I wanted it to make some sense. Where do I start?!

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

I don't exactly hate this one. It's one I love to hate, and hate to love. In some ways, this one could be described as beautiful. But. It could also be described as awful. I think I just find it so very manipulative.

Animal Farm by George Orwell.

I really hate this one. I wish I could unread this book.


The Book of Everything by Guus Kuijer

I found The Book of Everything to be extremely offensive.


Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

I have reread this one as an adult. But I still don't like it. Still don't understand how anyone could think this one is a love story. There is nothing romantic about this one. Nothing likable about these characters.

Romeo & Juliet by William Shakespeare

I have NEVER liked this one. And it's not because it's Shakespeare. It's not because the language is tricky. It's not because it ends badly for everyone. I do like some Shakespeare. (In fact, I love, love, love Much Ado About Nothing and A Midsummer Night's Dream.) I even like some of Shakespeare's tragedies. But this one, not so much.

Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews.

Can a book be so bad that you just have to keep reading? I think it can!



© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Splendor (YA)


Splendor. Anna Godbersen. 2009. [October 2009] HarperCollins. 391 pages.

In the mornings, she liked to walk along the seawall. She went by herself and usually only passed one or two gentlemen, canes ticking against the stone, for the locals preferred to stroll later in the day, after siesta.

Splendor is the fourth in the Luxe series by Anna Godbersen. (The first three are: Luxe, Rumors, and Envy.) I honestly don't know of a way to review this one without spoiling previous titles in the series. So if you haven't read the series and but are planning on it, you might want to skip this review.

Elizabeth is newly married. But what does she really know of her new husband? Why did Teddy have to disappear just around the time Elizabeth started noticing just how wonderful he is?!

Diana. Poor, poor Diana. She's still chasing the impossible dream. Still longing after Henry. Even though Henry is another woman's husband, he still is making Diana swoon. Her love for Henry has taken her away from her family and on quite the adventure. Will it be worth it in the end?

Penelope. Here's a character that is so easy to hate. She's gotten Henry, but can she keep him? Does she even want him now that she has him? Has she ever really wanted him? Or has she only ever been in love with the idea of having his money? Will Penelope ever learn her lesson?

Carolina/Lina. Here's yet another schemer. Can this "lady" finally get what she's wanted all along? Will having all this money finally make her biggest dreams come true? Now that she has the outward appearance of wealth, is the world really hers for the taking? Is this social success worth the cost?

I liked this one. It is the final book in the series. And I thought it did well at concluding the series. I liked the way it ended.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Jane Bites Back


Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford. 2009. [December 2009]. Random House. 320 pages.

It was not, of course, exactly what Jane had written to her sister that long-ago Christmas Eve, but the sentiment was the same. Besides, after more than two-hundred years, she could hardly be expected to remember every little detail of her voluminous correspondence. Although she supposed she could check for herself--there was a collection of her letters sitting on a shelf not ten feet away. Instead, she remained where she was and imagined how she would describe the disagreeable woman standing before her in a letter to Cassie.
Jane Bites Back has a super-fun premise. What if Jane Austen was a vampire?! What would Jane be doing today? What would Jane be thinking about this new Austen phenomenon? What would Jane think of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?

Michael Thomas Ford imagines Jane Austen to be living in a small town in Upstate New York under the name Jane Fairfax. She is the owner of an independent book store. A book store that happens to have its own Austen section. (It even sells Jane Austen finger puppets!) In addition to running her own business, she's busy sending off her manuscript, Constance. It has received hundreds of rejections in the past two hundred years. Making Jane question if her best work is behind her after all. But she's not giving up. No, she's too determined for that. And soon after the novel opens, her luck does begin to change. It seems that Constance has finally found a publisher. Will this new book bring her good attention or bad? Can Jane Austen handle what bloggers have to say about her newest work? It seems one blogger in particular has it out for her! Violet Grey.

When she's not busy with books, is there time for love in her life?! Jane Austen may just meet her true love yet. But will he be able to accept the fact that she's been keeping a few big secrets from him, from everyone?!

I found Jane Bites Back to be very enjoyable! It is not without its violent moments, however, so it may not be for every Austen fan. But. For those that can entertain the idea of Austen being a vampire--though not a sparkly one--there is much to appreciate in Michael Thomas Ford's book.
One of my favorite elements of this one--though I won't spoil it in this review--is just who turned Jane to begin with! And this certain someone with a huge ego, does play a part in the novel! Which I just loved. Do we meet other vampires? Yes! Just a few. But still. I thought both vampires added a certain something to this one. What I enjoyed most about this one was the humor!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

The Darcy Cousins


The Darcy Cousins. Monica Fairview. 2010. Sourcebooks. 432 pages.

The church door flew open and footsteps resounded through the church, forcing its lethargic inmates into sudden animation. Mr. Collins, whose sermon on fire and brimstone had taken on a decidedly monotonous rhythm, was awakened into new fervour.

What's disrupting services? The arrival of more Darcy cousins, of course! Miss Clarissa Darcy and her brother, Frederick, have come to visit their British relatives. This includes their brother Robert Darcy and his new wife, Caroline; Fitzwilliam Darcy and his wife, Elizabeth, and Miss Georgiana Darcy. But this visit happens to be taking place at Rosings! Which means readers get to see one cranky Lady Catherine and one ever-shy Anne.

Clarissa and Georgiana become great chums. Which is a good thing since both are heading to London to debut. Both hoping to have great seasons. Both hoping to find true love. But what if they were to fall for the same man?!

I really enjoyed Monica Fairview's The Other Mr. Darcy. I loved that one. And while I don't love this one quite as much as the first, I still enjoyed it a good deal. I loved Georgiana having her own story. I loved the attention to detail. I thought the characters were well done. And I love the fact that it's clean. (I have a hard time appreciating Pride and Prejudice sequels that go a bit too far.)

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott


The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott. Kelly O'Connor McNees. 2010. Penguin. 336 pages.

It didn't take long for the Alcott sisters to finish unpacking their clothes.

In 1855, Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass was published. But was this also the year that Louisa May Alcott found true love?! In The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott, Kelly O'Connor McNees crafts a love story for one of America's finest writers of the nineteenth century.

When the novel opens, Louisa is unpacking and settling into the Alcott's new home. Her family has recently moved to Walpole, New Hampshire. Like her older sister, Anna, Louisa has become tired of her life. Tired of living at home with her parents. Tired of her father's ideals creating economic impossibilities. Anna feels it is time--past time really--to find a young man, marry, and settle down in her own home. And she is crossing her fingers that Walpole will be the place she finds him. Louisa, on the other hand, has other plans. Plans that include her being independent, leaving her family, moving to Boston, and writing, writing, writing. And getting published of course! She has big dreams, big plans. And these dreams don't include having a husband.

Will these two sisters find love in unexpected ways? How will reading Walt Whitman impact Louisa's life? Can Louisa find happiness on her own terms?

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Monday, April 19, 2010

Much Ado About Shakespeare Challenge Completed

This one was hosted by The Little Bookworm. The initial challenge post. The reviews post.

1) A Midsummer Night's Dream (1999)
2) A Midsummer Night's Dream (1935)
3) William S. and the Great Escape. Zilpha Keatley Snyder.
4) Manga Shakespeare: Julius Caesar
5) Saving Juliet by Suzanne Selfors
6) Manga Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing
7) Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne
8) Romeo's Ex: Rosaline's Story. By Lisa Fiedler.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Nonfiction Monday: If Stones Could Speak


If Stones Could Speak: Unlocking The Secrets of Stonehenge. Marc Aronson. 2010. March 2010. National Geographic. 64 pages.

Stonehenge, Near Salisbury, England.
It is a typical September day in western England--we had heavy rain yesterday, and the sky is still slate gray, but when the clouds break there are sudden moments of clear sunlight. I keep noticing the changing light because I am dashing to stay out of the way of a Japanese film crew. They are following the archaeologist Mike Parker Pearson as he leads them around Stonehenge--the mysterious circle of stones that was built on Salisbury Plain 4,500 years ago and is now a World Heritage site.
Somebody went to a great effort very long ago to shape these stones and then lift them into place. But unlike the Egyptians who were raising their great pyramids at the exact same time, the builders did not know how to write. All they left behind was this beautiful circle of stone. And so we walk around it, snapping photos, and wonder, What are you telling us, stones? What did you mean to those who put you here? We want the stones to speak. We sense that if we could only understand them, we would be able to reach back in time. We would be in the world of Ancient Britain.
This one just fascinated me! I loved learning more about Stonehenge. About the various theories people--mainly archaeologists--have come up with. About how this place has fascinated so many for so long. I loved reading about the new insights, the new discoveries made just recently.

This one had everything I look for in a nonfiction. The writing was engaging. It was full of information. And the photos and illustrations were great!


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Sunday Salon: Reading, Read, To Read #16

Happy Sunday! It's been a busy week for picking up library books. Did you see my loot?! One of the many reasons I love the library is that I get a chance to read books that I normally wouldn't. Like the ever-fun Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford. I'll be finishing that one up very soon.

It has been a great week for surprises. I discovered Airhead and Being Nikki by Meg Cabot. These books weren't what I was expecting at all. And I ended up just loving them! I can't wait for the third book to come out now!

What I've Reviewed This Week:

The Line. Teri Hall. 2010. March 2010. Penguin. 224 pages.
Dovey Coe. Frances O'Roark Dowell. 2000. Simon & Schuster. 192 pages.
Chicken Boy. Frances O'Roark Dowell. 2005. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages
Out of My Mind. Sharon M. Draper. 2010. March 2010. Simon & Schuster. 295 pages.
The Year of Goodbyes. Debbie Levy. 2010. Hyperion. 144 pages.
Mercy Watson Thinks Like A Pig. Kate DiCamillo. Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. 2008. Candlewick. 80 pages.
The Night Fairy by Laura Amy Schlitz. Illustrated by Angela Barrett. 2010. February 2010. Candlewick Press. 128 pages.
Just Like A Baby. Juanita Havill. Illustrated by Christine Davenier. 2009. February 2009. Chronicle Books 32 pages.
Dogs. Emily Gravett. 2010. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages.
Baby Blessings: A Prayer for the Day You Are Born. Deloris Jordan. Illustrated by James E. Ransome. 2010. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages.
Prowling the Seas. Exploring the Hidden World of Ocean Predators. By Pamela S. Turner. 2009. October 2009. Walker. 40 pages.
What Does God Want of Us Anyway?: A Quick Overview of the Whole Bible. Mark Dever. 2010. Crossway. 128 pages
Dig Deeper: Tools for Understanding God's Word. By Nigel Beynon and Andrew Sach. 2010. Crossway. 160 pages.

Currently Reading:



The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner. 1996. HarperCollins. 224 pages.




Enclave by Kit Reed. 2009. Tor. 368 pages.



Paisley Hanover Acts Out by Cameron Tuttle. 2009. Penguin. 432 pages.



Jane Bites Back by Michael Thomas Ford. 2009. [December 2009]. Random House. 320 pages.


Within the Hollow Crown. Margaret Campbell Barnes. 1948/2010. SourceBooks. 368 pages.

What I Hope To Begin/Finish Soon:



The Queen of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. 2000. HarperCollins. 288 pages.



The King of Attolia by Megan Whalen Turner. 2006. HarperCollins. 400 pages.


Little Vampire Women. Louisa May Alcott and Lynn Messina. 2010. May 2010. HarperCollins. 320 pages.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Read more...

Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

Pageloads Counter

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

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by Ourblogtemplates.com 2008

Back to TOP