Sunday, October 31, 2010

October Accomplishments

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

Some things start before other things

In the beginning there were nine of us. We left when we were young, almost too young to remember. Almost.

It was a pleasure to burn


I've watched through his eyes, I've listened through his ears, and I tell you he's the one. Or at least as close as we're going to get.

Ask Paris if a phone call can be deadly. She'll tell you. She learned the truth of it last night.


October's Top Five Ten:

They Called Themselves the K.K.K: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group. Susan Campbell Bartoletti.
The Wee Free Men. Terry Pratchett.
Wintersmith. Terry Pratchett.
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. Terry Pratchett.
Doomsday Book. Connie Willis.
The Odyssey. Gareth Hinds. 
One Crazy Summer. Rita Williams-Garcia. 
Touch Blue. Cynthia Lord.
Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury. 
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance. Jennifer Armstrong.

Number of Board Books: 2

ABC, Baby Me! Susan B. Katz. Illustrated by Alicia Padron. 2010. September 2010. Random House. 28 pages.
Baby Baby Baby! by Marilyn Janovitz. 2010. October 2010. Sourcebooks. 24 pages.

Number of Picture Books: 16


Ninja Cowboy Bear Presents The Way of the Ninja. David Bruins. Illustrated by Hilary Leung. 2010. September 2010. Kids Can Press. 32 pages.
Tuck Me In. Dean Hacohen and Sherry Scharschmidt. 2010. Candlewick Press. 40 pages.
Cat the Cat, Who Is That? Mo Willems. 2010. HarperCollins. 24 pages. 
Knuffle Bunny Free: An Unexpected Diversion. Mo Willems. 2010. September 2010. HarperCollins. 52 pages.
Naked Mole Rat Gets Dressed. Mo Willems. 2009. Hyperion. 40 pages.
Goodnight Goon. Michael Rex. 2008. Penguin. 32 pages.
The Runaway Mummy: A Petrifying Parody. Michael Rex. 2009. Penguin. 32 pages.
Furious George Goes Bananas: A Primate Parody. Michael Rex. 2010. May 2010. Penguin. 32 pages.
The Adventures of Granny Clearwater & Little Critter. Kimberly Willis Holt. Illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith. 2010. October 2010. Henry Holt. 32 pages.
My Mommy Hung the Moon. Jamie Lee Curtis. Illustrated by Laura Cornell. 2010. September 2010. HarperCollins. 40 pages.
The Gobble Gobble Moooooo Tractor Book. Jez Alborough. 2010. September 2010. Kane/Miller. 32 pages.
Mad at Mommy. Komako Sakai. 2010. October 2010. Scholastic. 40 pages.
Miles to Go. Jamie Harper. 2010. Candlewick Press. 32 pages.
How To Raise a Dinosaur. Natasha Wing. Illustrated by Pablo Bernasconi. 2010. October 2010. Running Press. 24 pages.
Spork. Kyo Iona Maclear. Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. 2010. Kids Can Press.  32 pages.
Babyberry Pie. Heather Vogel Frederick. Illustrated by Amy Schwartz. 2010. October 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages.

Number of Children's Books: 2

We Are In A Book! Elephant and Piggie Series. Mo Willems. 2010. September 2010. Hyperion. 64 pages.
I Will Surprise My Friend: An Elephant and Piggie Book. Mo Willems. 2008. Hyperion. 64 pages.


Number of Middle Grade: 4

Touch Blue. Cynthia Lord. 2010. August 2010. Scholastic. 192 pages.
One Crazy Summer. Rita Williams-Garcia. 2010. [January 2010] HarperCollins. 218 pages.
Ballet Shoes. Noel Streatfeild. 1937. Random House. 256 pages.
The Memory Bank. Carolyn Coman. Illustrations by Rob Shepperson. 2010. October 2010. Scholastic. 288 pages.

Number of YA: 12

The Wee Free Men. Terry Pratchett. 2003. HarperCollins. 400 pages.
I Am Number Four. Pittacus Lore. 2010. August 2010. HarperCollins. 440 pages.
The Lighter Side of Life and Death. C.K. Kelly Martin. 2010. May 2010. Random House. 240 pages.
Dark Sons. Nikki Grimes. 2005. Hyperion. 218 pages.
Inside Out. Maria V. Snyder. 2010. April 2010. Harlequin Teen. 320 pages.
Restoring Harmony. Joelle Anthony. 2010. May 2010. Penguin. 320 pages.  
A Hat Full of Sky. Terry Pratchett. 2004. HarperCollins. 288 pages
The Maze Runner. James Dashner. 2009. Random House. 384 pages.
Wintersmith. Terry Pratchett. 2006. HarperCollins. 325 pages.
Behemoth. Scott Westerfeld. 2010. October 2010. Simon & Schuster. 485 pages.
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. Terry Pratchett. 2001. HarperCollins. 242 pages.
Lockdown. Walter Dean Myers. 2010. HarperCollins. 247 pages.

Number of Adult: 7

Evil Genius. Wilkie Collins. 1886. 348 pages. 
Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Alan Bradley. 2009. Random House. 304 pages.
Elizabeth, Captive Princess: Two Sisters, One Throne. Margaret Irwin. 2010. Sourcebooks. 352 pages.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Shirley Jackson. 1962. Penguin. 214 pages.
Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury. 1953. 179 pages.
Doomsday Book. Connie Willis. 1992. Random House. 592 pages. 
Frankenstein's Monster. Susan Heyboer O'Keefe. 2010. October 2010. Crown Publishing. 352 pages.  

Number of Christian: 10

God's Mighty Acts in Salvation. Starr Meade. 2010. August 2010. Crossway. 87 pages.
The Road to Paris. Nikki Grimes. 2006. Penguin. 160 pages.
I Will Rejoice. Karma Wilson. Illustrated by Amy June Bates. 2007. Zondervan. 32 pages.
Mortimer's Christmas Manger. Karma Wilson. Illustrated by Jane Chapman. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages.
Embers of Love (Striking a Match #1) Tracie Peterson. Bethany House. 352 pages.
The Evangelicals: What They Believe, Where They Are, And Their Politics. Christopher Catherwood. 2010. August 2010. Crossway. 168 pages.
While We're Far Apart. Lynn Austin. 2010. October 2010. Bethany House. 416 pages.
Snow Day. Billy Coffey. 2010. October 2010. FaithWords. 195 pages.
Cottonwood Whispers. Jennifer Erin Valent. 2009. Tyndale. 352 pages.
The First Christmas: A Changing-Picture Book. Illustrated by Sophy Williams. 2010. Candlewick. 14 pages.

Number of Nonfiction: 4

They Called Themselves the K.K.K: The Birth of an American Terrorist Group. Susan Campbell Bartoletti. 2010. August 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 172 pages.
Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance. Jennifer Armstrong. 1998. Random House. 144 pages.
Just One Bite: 11 Animals and their Bites at Life Size! Lola M. Schaefer. Illustrated by Geoff Waring. 2010. September 2010. Chronicle Books. 40 pages.
The Life of Rice: From Seedling to Supper. Richard Sobol. 2010. Candlewick. 40 pages.

Number of Graphic Novels: 12

Ender's Game: Battle School. (Graphic Novel) Orson Scott Card. Pasqual Ferry. Christopher Yost. 2009. Marvel. 128 pages. 
Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation. Ray Bradbury. Illustrated by Tim Hamilton. 2009. July 2009. FSG. 160 pages.
The Odyssey. Gareth Hinds. 2010. October 2010. 256 pages.
Binky to the Rescue. Ashley Spires. 2010. Kids Can Press. 64 pages.
Beowulf. Gareth Hinds. 2007. Candlewick Press. 128 pages
The Muppet Show Comic Book: Meet the Muppets. Roger Langridge. 2009. Boom. 112 pages.
Muppet Robin Hood. Tim Beedle. 2009. Boom. 112 pages.
Muppet Peter Pan. Grace Randolph. 2010. Boom. 112 pages.
Muppet King Arthur. Paul Benjamin and Patrick Storck. 2010. Boom. 112 pages.
Nothing But Trouble. Adapted by John Green. 2010. Disney. 32 pages.
The Chronicles of Meap. Adapted by John Green. 2010. Disney. 32 pages.
The Plain Janes. Cecil Castellucci. Jim Rugg. Minx. 176 pages.

Number of Poetry: 1

Frankenstein Makes A Sandwich. Adam Rex. 2006. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages.


Number of Short Story Collections/Anthologies: 0

I've partially reviewed one book: Ray Bradbury, Part One; Ray Bradbury, Part Two; Ray Bradbury, Part Three;

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Frankenstein's Monster

Frankenstein's Monster. Susan Heyboer O'Keefe. 2010. October 2010. Crown Publishing. 352 pages. 

I killed my father again last night.

I'm not sure I can say I loved this one. At least not love, love, love. But. I really liked this one. There were places that I just LOVED it--and other places where I began to have doubts. Frankenstein's Monster is a sequel to Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. For the most part, it is set ten years after the original novel.

Time has not treated Robert Walton well. For his brief friendship with Victor Frankenstein has led to madness. After Walton speaks with the monster--the creature--he has no choice (or he claims to have no choice) but to follow in Frankenstein's footsteps. He must see to the destruction of the creature. He must make sure the earth is rid of such a monstrous beast. For better or worse, Walton gives himself over to this one path, one obsession. (It doesn't help that his first 'battle' with the creature lost him a finger.)

But while this is a story of madness, of obsession, of the consequences of extremes, it isn't Walton's story. It is the story of the ever-hunted monster. A monster who is still pondering philosophy--does he have a soul; is he a man, monster, or beast--and dealing (sometimes surprisingly well) with his anger, his frustrations. (After all, he could kill Walton at any time. Why let this mad man chase him all over the world?)

In Frankenstein's Monster we meet the Winterbournes. Margaret, Robert Walton's sister, her husband, who becomes (for a brief time) a father-figure to the monster (now calling himself Victor Hartman), and their daughter, Lily, whose madness is already evident. Lily teases and provokes him like no other woman has ever done. He's drawn to her beauty. And there are times she seems to like him, to accept him, to treat him (almost) decently. But then there are times he sees hatred in her eyes, repulsion, anger, madness. Lily has her violent moments. Her rages. She's self-destructive. In a way, Lily 'reflects' some of his own weaknesses. Could Lily be the companion he's wanted for years? 

Frankenstein's Monster is about the monster coming to terms with who he is. He's learning to accept the fact that he can make his own decisions, his own choices, that he doesn't have to be the 'monster' Frankenstein created him to be. He can choose to be better than that. He can choose to live with hope.

The writing was good. I thought it was a compelling story. I thought O'Keefe did a good job with Victor Hartman--showing his strengths and weaknesses, balancing his good and bad impulses. Lily was an interesting character--as were her parents and uncle. I thought the relationship--complicated as it was, complicated as it would have to be--added depth to this one. It took Victor finding a Lily for him to realize some things about himself. And though O'Keefe made a few decisions that I'm not completely happy with--I still enjoyed this one. (There was one scene that I could have done without completely. One of Victor's lowest moments.)

I did like the ending. I would recommend this one to fans of the original. To any reader who has had a little sympathy (or perhaps compassion is the better word?) with 'the monster' Shelley created. It is definitely my favorite sequel/retelling of this classic.


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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R.I.P Challenge Completed

What I've read for the challenge:

1. Paul is Undead. Alan Goldsher.
2. Moonstone by Wilkie Collins
3. Bleak House by Charles Dickens
4. Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley
5. The Maze Runner. James Dashner.
6. Jane Eyre, the Graphic Novel;
7. Frankenstein, the Graphic Novel
8. Jane Slayre by Charlotte Bronte and Sherri Browning Erwin.
9. I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore
10. A Pleasure to Burn by Ray Bradbury (review coming Tuesday)
11. Frankenstein's Monster. Susan Heyboer O'Keefe. 

Short Stories: Ray Bradbury, Part One; Ray Bradbury, Part Two; Part Three


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday Salon: Reading, Read, To Read #44


Happy Sunday! October has been a great month for me! I've read so many amazing books. Discovered--and rediscovered--some great authors. My 'monthly accomplishment' post will be up later today. But. You'll probably notice that some authors are dominating! Do you go through periods like that--where you want to read everything an author's ever written? I've also read more graphic novels and short stories.

What I've Reviewed:

Frankenstein's Monster. Susan Heyboer O'Keefe. 2010. October 2010. Crown Publishing. 352 pages.
Behemoth. Scott Westerfeld. 2010. October 2010. Simon & Schuster. 485 pages.
The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. Terry Pratchett. 2001. HarperCollins. 242 pages.
Lockdown. Walter Dean Myers. 2010. HarperCollins. 247 pages.
Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury. 1953. 179 pages.
Doomsday Book. Connie Willis. 1992. Random House. 592 pages.
The Memory Bank. Carolyn Coman. Illustrations by Rob Shepperson. 2010. October 2010. Scholastic. 288 pages. 
 The First Christmas: A Changing-Picture Book. Illustrated by Sophy Williams. 2010. Candlewick. 14 pages.
 The Life of Rice: From Seedling to Supper. Richard Sobol. 2010. Candlewick. 40 pages.
Babyberry Pie. Heather Vogel Frederick. Illustrated by Amy Schwartz. 2010. October 2010. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages.
I Will Surprise My Friend: An Elephant and Piggie Book. Mo Willems. 2008. Hyperion. 64 pages.
Nothing But Trouble. Adapted by John Green. 2010. Disney. 32 pages.
The Chronicles of Meap. Adapted by John Green. 2010. Disney. 32 pages.
The Plain Janes. Cecil Castellucci. Jim Rugg. Minx. 176 pages.

Coming Soon:


A Pleasure To Burn: Fahrenheit 451 Stories. Ray Bradbury. 2010. Subterranean Press. 300 pages.


Passionate Brood: A Novel of Richard the Lionheart and the Man Who Became Robin Hood. Margaret Campbell Barnes. 1944/2010. Sourcebooks. 368 pages.


Blackout. Connie Willis. 2010. Random House. 512 pages.


Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean. Sarah Stewart Taylor. Illustrated by Ben Towle. 2010. Hyperion. 96 pages.



Chains. Laurie Halse Anderson. 2008. Simon & Schuster. 320 pages.


Frankenstein's Monster. Susan Heyboer O'Keefe. 2010. October 2010. Crown Publishing. 352 pages.

Currently Reading: 


Desiree: The Bestselling Story of Napoleon's First Love. Annemarie Selinko. 1953/2010. Sourcebooks. 608 pages.


East of Eden. John Steinbeck. 1952/2003. Penguin. 608 pages.


He Knew He Was Right. Anthony Trollope. 1869/2009. Oxford University Press. 992 pages.

What I'm Hoping to (Properly) Begin Soon:


Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal. 2010. Tom Doherty. 304 pages.


Bellfield Hall: Or The Observations of Miss Dido Kent. Anna Dean. 2010. St. Martin's Press. 300 pages.


Miss Hargreaves. Frank Baker. 1940/2009. Bloomsbury. 336 pages.


I Shall Wear Midnight. Terry Pratchett. 2010. HarperCollins. 355 pages.


The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan. 2010. Hyperion. 576 pages.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Weekly Geeks: Books You Waited Too Long to Read

This week's weekly geeks asks us to share books we wish we'd read sooner. 

Once in a while I read a book I have had for years and I think “How the hell did I miss this one?  Why did I not read this one before?

Is there a book that has hang around your reading pile for far too long before you got to it, A book that probably got packed away until you accidentally got to it or a book that you read a few pages in and never got back to.

If so share or ask your readers about that book that really made an impression on them (good or bad) after having it or hearing about it for far too long?
Connie Willis' Doomsday Book. As much as I loved, loved, loved To Say Nothing of the Dog, WHY didn't I pick up this one too?! As much as I am fascinated by time travel, by science fiction, WHY didn't I make this one a priority?! As much as I love historical fiction, WHY didn't I "know" that I would love this one?! I read Doomsday Book this past week. I more than loved it. I LOVED it. This is one I want to recommend to everyone!

My next choice isn't really a particular book--it's an author! Terry Pratchett. I wish I'd known how much I was going to LOVE, LOVE, LOVE him! I wish I'd read The Wee Free Men, Hat Full of Sky, and Wintersmith sooner. And then there's The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. I'll be reading I Shall Wear Midnight next. But where should I go from there?!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Doomsday Book

Doomsday Book. Connie Willis. 1992. Random House. 592 pages.

Mr. Dunworthy opened the door to the laboratory and his spectacles promptly steamed up.
"Am I too late?" he said, yanking them off and squinting at Mary.

I loved Connie Willis' To Say Nothing of the Dog. I just LOVED it. But I think I loved Doomsday Book a little bit more. It was incredibly compelling. It was intense, emotional, and impossible to put down.

The writing was as great as I expected. Willis does a wonderful job with her characters. They feel very real--very human. The setting--the world building--is also amazing. She does a great job building the past--the fourteenth century--and the "present" which is a time-traveling future. (The story alternates between past and present.) She blends mystery, science fiction, and historical fiction--and blends them well!

Doomsday Book is dramatic. Kivrin--our heroine--is a historian traveling to the Middle Ages--to 1320 to be exact. The fourteenth century has just been opened up to historians. And this is a dream come true for Kivrin. While, certain years will most likely remain "too dangerous" to visit--like the year 1348--the year the Black Death was first recorded in England--there is much to learn, to explore. And Kivrin is excited--thrilled--to be the one to go. She'll be spending two weeks in the past--in a small village--during Advent. Mr. Dunworthy, however, has his doubts. And he's not afraid to voice them. Kivrin thinks he's being too cautious. That he's just being silly, ridiculous. Of course, she'll take all the necessary precautions--like her vaccinations and such--but she's an educated woman capable of taking care of herself--no matter the century.

But. From the start, there is something wrong with the drop. It starts with the technician, Badri, becoming ill. Soon the whole area is quarantined. Cases start coming in--and soon medical staff are overwhelmed. What is this disease--this illness? How is it spread? Where did it come from? Is it fatal? Is there a cure? Is Badri the first case? Did he have a chance to pass this on to Kivrin before she went through the Net? What was Badri trying to communicate to Dunworthy at the last minute?

Readers meet dozens of characters in both centuries as this mystery unfolds. And while it is serious--dramatic--and emotional--people will die--it's not without its lighter moments of wit. I loved the narrative. I loved the way this story was told. This one I'll definitely be recommending!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, October 29, 2010

Library Loot: Sixth Trip in October

New Loot:

Impossible Things by Connie Willis
The Heat of the Day by Elizabeth Bowen
A World of Love by Elizabeth Bowen
The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England by Ian Mortimer
Bellfield Hall by Anna Dean
The Postmistress by Sarah Blake
Naomi and Her Daughters by Walter Wangerin, Jr.
Frankenstein's Monster by Susan Heyboer O'Keefe
Dark Water by Laura McNeal
Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker
The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury
The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
The October Country by Ray Bradbury
Doctor Zhivago by Boris Pasternak. Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhon
East of Eden by John Steinbeck
The Spoils of Eden by Linda Lee Chaikin

Leftover Loot:

Michael Townsend's Amazing Greek Myths of Wonder and Blunders.

A Pleasure to Burn: Fahrenheit 451 Stories by Ray Bradbury
The Odyssey by Homer. Translated by Robert Fagles
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
The Good, The Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll's History and Her Impact On Us by Tanya Lee Stone
I Sing the Body Electric and Other Stories by Ray Bradbury
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Waiting for Odysseus by Clemence McLaren
The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire 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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The Memory Bank (MG)

The Memory Bank. Carolyn Coman. Illustrations by Rob Shepperson. 2010. October 2010. Scholastic. 288 pages.

"Don't forget your whistle!" Hope reminded Honey--every morning of every day. Honey needed that whistle, in case of emergency, in case things went terribly wrong. Hope and Honey Scroggins were the closest of sisters, had been right from the start. Truly, they were lucky to love each other so! Not so lucky when it came to their parents, though. Mr. and Mrs. Scroggins were simply awful people.

The Memory Bank is told through words and pictures. (Though not to the extent that The Invention of Hugo Cabret is.) It reminded me--in a way--of several Lois Lowry novels--The Willoughbys and The Giver. It stars a young girl, Hope, who is doing the best she can to cope with incredibly cruel parents. How cruel? One day they leave Hope's younger sister, Honey, on the side of the road. They tell Hope to forget her. And they mean it. Not a word about Honey is allowed. Hope is an only child now. There is nothing good about Mr. and Mrs. Scroggins. Fortunately--for everyone--they enter into the story very little.

For Hope becomes terribly depressed. She stops living life--and starts dreaming it. It's just too painful to be awake. To live her "new" life. She'll spend most hours of the day and night sleeping. She dreams of her sister mostly. While her parents don't notice--or don't care--someone does notice. The powers that be of The World Wide Memory Bank. (They notice that she's not contributing her quota of memories.) And while the strangers that arrive in her home to arrest her seem intimidating at first, Hope soon realizes that there's hope at last for a better life.

It's an interesting book. The "fight" between the World Wide Memory Bank and the Clean Slate Gang. The connection between memories and dreams. I found it an entertaining read.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, October 28, 2010

Lockdown (YA)

Lockdown. Walter Dean Myers. 2010. HarperCollins. 247 pages.


"I hope you mess this up! I hope you blow it big-time! You're supposed to be smart. You think you're smart, right?"

Reese, just fourteen, is serving time at Progress--a juvenile detention center. Because he's shown promise in the twenty-two months he's been there, he's chosen for a new work program. He'll be working ten days a month at Evergreen, an assisted living center for senior citizens. He's hoping that his good behavior and his new and improved attitude, will help him get released sooner.

But. Nothing is ever that easy. Life at Progress isn't easy. No matter how much he tries to stay out of fights, tries to not let himself be provoked into bad situations, Reese struggles. Daily. Reese never expected to find a role model at Evergreen. Especially one as cranky as Mr. Hooft. This "friendship" is a struggle too. But it's worth it.

I liked Lockdown. I liked Reese. It was an easy read, a compelling one. I would recommend this one.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, October 27, 2010

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents (MG/YA)

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. Terry Pratchett. 2001. HarperCollins. 242 pages.

Rats! 
They fought the dogs and killed the cats, and--
But there was more to it than that. As the Amazing Maurice said, it was just a story about people and rats. And the difficult part of it was deciding who the people were, and who were the rats.
But Malicia Grim said it was a story about stories.
It began--part of it began--on the mail coach that came over the mountains from the distant cities of the plain.

I loved The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. I just LOVED it. I loved the characters. Maurice, the cat, and many of the rats--including Hamnpork, Dangerous Beans, Peaches, Darktan, Sardines, etc. And the humans, Keith and Malicia. I loved seeing these characters interact with one another. I loved the story too! It was such a great adventure story. And the writing--of course--I just loved it! Terry Pratchett is a new favorite of mine!!!

What is this one about? Maurice has a scheme to get rich. He travels with a human piper, Keith, and 'his' educated rodents (rats). (Both the rats and the cat can talk.) They go from town to town--or village to village--though never in places too close together. First, they'll be an outbreak of rats. Then Keith will appear as a rat piper to save the day and lead the rats away. For a fee, of course. They split the money between them.

Readers see their "last" adventure in the town of Bad Blintz. All does not go according to plan...

One of my favorite things about this one is Mr. Bunnsy Has An Adventure. These rats LOVE the book Mr. Bunnsy Has An Adventure. And many of the chapters begin with a quote from this book.

One day, when he was naughty, Mr. Bunnsy looked over the hedge into Farmer Fred's field and saw it was full of fresh green lettuces. Mr. Bunnsy, however, was not full of lettuces. This did not seem fair. (1)

Mr. Bunnsy had a lot of friends in Furry Bottom. But what Mr. Bunnsy was friendly with more than anything else was food. (20)

The important thing about adventures, thought Mr. Bunnsy, was that they should not be so long as to make you miss mealtimes. (49)

There were big adventures and small adventures, Mr. Bunnsy knew. You didn't get told what size they were going to be before you started. Sometimes you could have a big adventure even when you were standing still. (79)
I would definitely recommend this one!


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Plain Janes (YA)

The Plain Janes. Cecil Castellucci. Jim Rugg. Minx. 176 pages. 

Metro City. Last spring. When it happened, I fell. There was a pop and then nothing. I didn't know what was happening. 

I was surprised by how much I really enjoyed The Plain Janes. I didn't expect to like it so much. I didn't expect it to be so compelling. I was surprised by the depth, the substance, of the characterization.

Jane, our heroine, is just one of many Janes in her new school, new town. And at first, she finds her new world to be uninviting. But. After meeting the other Janes, she finds hope and makes a plan. A plan that will include bending a few rules. She'll start a club--a secret club--called P.L.A.I.N. People Loving Art in Neighborhoods. Her role--while anonymous--brings some great people into her life. But it isn't without some risk.

The focus is on family, friends; life at home and school. I would definitely recommend The Plain Janes.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, October 25, 2010

Behometh


Behemoth. Scott Westerfeld. 2010. October 2010. Simon & Schuster. 485 pages.

Alek raised his sword. "On guard, sir!"
Deryn hefted her own weapon, studying Alek's pose.
His feet were splayed at right angles, his left arm sticking out behind like the handle of a teacup. His fencing armor made him look like a walking quilt. Even with his sword pointed straight at her, he looked barking silly.

Behemoth is the sequel to Leviathan. It's a science fiction action-packed historical novel that presents an alternate what-if to the Great War. Its alternative world is fascinating. A world divided into two camps: Clankers (those who love machines and technology) and Darwinists (those who love splicing together 'incredible' new beings).

The books have two narrators: Alek, a young boy who is trying to hide his real identity, and Deryn, a young woman who is trying to keep her gender hidden so she can be in the British Air Service. She's living her new life as Dylan Sharp. In the first novel, these two begin an unpredictable friendship. After all, he's a Clanker, she's a Darwinist. Both have secrets--if his secret is revealed, he'd become a prisoner--if her secret is revealed, then her military career would be over. (She's guessed his secret. But he doesn't have a clue about hers.) Can they trust each other? Can they help each other?

The setting for Behemoth is interesting. It's set in Istanbul, the Ottoman Empire. It's a compelling novel. I enjoyed it more than the first novel.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Sunday Salon: Reading, Read, To Read #43

Happy Sunday! I thought I would talk a little today about obsessions. Though I'm not sure obsessions is the right word. I'm talking about discoveries and journeys. But I'm also talking about needing wanting more, more, more of something. Like Greek Mythology. Like Terry Pratchett. Like Ray Bradbury. Like graphic novels.

Which leads to me joining the Odyssey readalong hosted by Love, Laughter, and A Touch of Insanity. Since reading the graphic novel, I've been wanting more. I've checked out Robert Fagles' translation of Homer's Odyssey. And The Penelopiad. And The Lost Books of Odysseus. And Waiting for Odysseus. And King of Ithaka.

What books/authors/series have you become obsessed with lately?

What I've Reviewed:

Wintersmith. Terry Pratchett. 2006. HarperCollins. 325 pages.
One Crazy Summer. Rita Williams-Garcia. 2010. [January 2010] HarperCollins. 218 pages.
Ballet Shoes. Noel Streatfeild. 1937. Random House. 256 pages.
We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Shirley Jackson. 1962. Penguin. 214 pages.   
While We're Far Apart. Lynn Austin. 2010. October 2010. Bethany House. 416 pages.
Snow Day. Billy Coffey. 2010. October 2010. FaithWords. 195 pages.
Cottonwood Whispers. Jennifer Erin Valent. 2009. Tyndale. 352 pages.
Binky to the Rescue. Ashley Spires. 2010. Kids Can Press. 64 pages.
Beowulf. Gareth Hinds. 2007. Candlewick Press. 128 pages
The Muppet Show Comic Book: Meet the Muppets. Roger Langridge. 2009. Boom. 112 pages.
Muppet Robin Hood. Tim Beedle. 2009. Boom. 112 pages.
Muppet Peter Pan. Grace Randolph. 2010. Boom. 112 pages.
Muppet King Arthur. Paul Benjamin and Patrick Storck. 2010. Boom. 112 pages.
The Gobble Gobble Moooooo Tractor Book. Jez Alborough. 2010. September 2010. Kane/Miller. 32 pages.
Mad at Mommy. Komako Sakai. 2010. October 2010. Scholastic. 40 pages.
Miles to Go. Jamie Harper. 2010. Candlewick Press. 32 pages.
How To Raise a Dinosaur. Natasha Wing. Illustrated by Pablo Bernasconi. 2010. October 2010. Running Press. 24 pages.
Spork. Kyo Iona Maclear. Illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault. 2010. Kids Can Press.  32 pages.

Coming Soon: 


Behemoth. Scott Westerfeld. 2010. October 2010. Simon & Schuster. 485 pages.


The Plain Janes. Cecil Castellucci. Jim Rugg. Minx. 176 pages.  


The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents. Terry Pratchett. 2001. HarperCollins. 242 pages.


Lockdown. Walter Dean Myers. 2010. HarperCollins. 247 pages.


The Memory Bank. Carolyn Coman. Illustrations by Rob Shepperson. 2010. October 2010. Scholastic. 288 pages.

Currently Reading:


Passionate Brood: A Novel of Richard the Lionheart and the Man Who Became Robin Hood. Margaret Campbell Barnes. 1944/2010. Sourcebooks. 368 pages.


The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood. 2005. Canongate Books. 224 pages.


Doomsday Book. Connie Willis. 1993. Random House. 592 pages.


The Odyssey. Homer. Robert Fagles (translator). Penguin. 2006. 560 pages.


The Danger Box. Blue Balliett. 2010. Scholastic. 320 pages.

What I'm Hoping To Start Soon:


The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan. 2010. Hyperion. 576 pages.


Blackout. Connie Willis. 2010. Random House. 512 pages.


I Shall Wear Midnight. Terry Pratchett. 2010. HarperCollins. 355 pages.


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Library Loot: Fifth Trip in October

New Loot:

Michael Townsend's Amazing Greek Myths of Wonder and Blunders.
Phineas and Ferb: Nothing But Trouble adapted by John Green
Phineas and Ferb: Chronicles of Meap adapted by John Green
A Pleasure to Burn: fahrenheit 451 Stories by Ray Bradbury
The Odyssey by Homer. Translated by Robert Fagles
Shades of Milk and Honey by Mary Robinette Kowal
The Good, The Bad, and the Barbie: A Doll's History and Her Impact On Us by Tanya Lee Stone
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
I Will Surprise My Friend by Mo Willems

Leftover Loot:

I Sing the Body Electric and Other Stories by Ray Bradbury
Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Blackout by Connie Willis
Waiting for Odysseus by Clemence McLaren
The Lost Books of the Odyssey by Zachary Mason
Janes in Love by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

Charlotte and Emily: A Novel of the Brontes by Jude Morgan
From the Dust Returned by Ray Bradbury
Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury
Farewell Summer by Ray Bradbury
The Penelopiad by Margaret Atwood

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire 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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Muppet King Arthur

Muppet King Arthur. Paul Benjamin and Patrick Storck. 2010. Boom. 112 pages.

Britain without a king. A dark, foreboding place.
A contest to remove the fabled sword Excalibur from its hold
begins our story of this tale oft told.

I enjoyed Muppet King Arthur more than Muppet Robin Hood. But I didn't like Muppet King Arthur quite as much as Muppet Peter Pan. While I enjoyed many things about Muppet King Arthur, I'll be honest: I hated the illustrations.

The story is enjoyable--though again liberties have been taken--and the casting works. (I liked having a chicken in the role of Guinevere and Gonzo cast as Sir Lancelot.) There are hundreds of jokes in Muppet King Arthur. It's a very silly adaptation.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Muppet Peter Pan

Muppet Peter Pan. Grace Randolph. 2010. Boom. 112 pages.

This is London Town.

I really liked Muppet Peter Pan. I think it works so much better than Muppet Robin Hood. One of the things I liked best about the book was the fact that it acknowledges the flaws of the original. Peter Pan is selfish. Peter Pan is always thinking of himself. He's the center of his universe.

Muppet Peter Pan isn't afraid to make changes in its storytelling. This Peter Pan is set in America--in Boston--in 1912. The father is played by Sam the Eagle. Wendy played--for better or worse--by Janice. Peter Pan, of course, is Kermit. And Miss Piggy is Piggytink. Can you guess who plays Captain Hook and Smee? Gonzo and Rizzo!

When Piggytink first meets Peter Pan, she is sad that he's been abandoned by his mom. She thinks everyone deserves a childhood, so she takes him to Never-swamp. She means him to have a childhood--not an everlasting childhood. But Peter hears what he wants to hear. And he thinks that he will never ever have to grow up. Lately, Peter Pan has been visiting three children. He loves to hear the stories they tell. (Readers should note that they are telling stories about Peter Pan--his ever-famous adventure of how Captain Hook lost his hand.) You know the rest, he's lost his shadow, Wendy "helps" him out, and the adventure begins.

Plenty of changes have been made to the story. But I liked the changes. I thought it was a very fun adaptation. I would recommend it.


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Muppet Robin Hood

Muppet Robin Hood. Tim Beedle. 2009. Boom. 112 pages.

It is 1192 in our great kingdom of England. For three long years our beloved sovereign, King Richard the Lionheart, has been occupied with The Crusades, leaving his brother Prince John to rule the realm.

Kermit stars as Robin Hood in the Muppet adaptation of Muppet Robin Hood. Maid Marian, of course, is played by the lovely Miss Piggy. Some of the other casting choices may surprise you. (I wasn't expecting the ever-annoying Pepe the King Prawn to be Richard.) There were some pleasant surprises. For example, the Crusades Richard is "occupied" with is a rock band--he's part of the band, and they're on tour.

Muppet Robin Hood didn't quite work for me. I liked it in places. But. For the most part, I was disappointed. I hated Janice as Willa Scarlet. I don't think I liked any of her scenes--or lines. I think the book would have been better with someone else in the role.

It is very silly. And silly can be good. But I didn't enjoy Muppet Robin Hood as much as I wanted to.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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The Muppet Show Comic Book: Meet the Muppets

The Muppet Show Comic Book: Meet the Muppets. Roger Langridge. 2009. Boom. 112 pages.

A Muppet Show comic book! Oh no, they're back to corrupt a whole new medium.
Why's it called a medium?
Cause it's rarely well done!

I enjoy the Muppets. Some projects more than others. But. I am a fan of The Muppets. I liked this one. It contains four stories highlighting Kermit, Fozzie, Gonzo, and Miss Piggy. Each of the four stories is in the Muppet Show format. So you'll have 'episodes' of Pigs in Space, Veterinarian's Hospital, Muppet Labs, and even The Muppet Ballroom. Each story has a plot--Kermit being homesick, Miss Piggy being jealous, Fozzie feeling unfunny, Gonzo being weird--but, of course, there are plenty of "skits" interrupting the story.

If you enjoy The Muppet Show, you might just like this one.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, October 22, 2010

Beowulf by Gareth Hinds

Beowulf. Gareth Hinds. 2007. Candlewick Press. 128 pages

In the days of old, the House of the Scyldings ruled in Denmark.

The good news? It was a quick read. The bad news? I was disappointed with this graphic novel adaptation. There are many pages that are all action and no text. The fight scenes between Beowulf and Grendel, Beowulf and Grendel's mother, and Beowulf and the dragon. For those that enjoy graphic novels, that enjoy illustrated fight scenes, then Beowulf may not disappoint. The lack of text might even be considered a good thing by many readers. It may make Beowulf more reader-friendly.

After loving Gareth Hinds adaptation of The Odyssey, I was hoping to find something similar. I loved how he adapted the text for the format. The Odyssey is a thicker graphic novel. It's a long story; yet I was never bored. Beowulf, though shorter, though action-packed, never made me care. I didn't connect with the characters, the story.

While I love, love, loved the art for The Odyssey, I just didn't care about the art in Beowulf. 

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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We Have Always Lived in the Castle

We Have Always Lived in the Castle. Shirley Jackson. 1962. Penguin. 214 pages. 

My name is Mary Katherine Blackwood. I am eighteen years old, and I live with my sister Constance. I have often thought that with any luck at all I could have been born a werewolf, because the two middle fingers on both my hands are the same length, but I have had to be content with what I had. I dislike washing myself, and dogs, and noise. I like my sister Constance, and Richard Plantagenet, and Amanita phalloides, the death-cup mushroom. Everyone else in my family is dead.

Our narrator, Merricat--Mary Katherine Blackwood--tells her story in the first person. It's a strange story--to be sure--about two sisters who are still haunted in many ways by their tragic past.

Merricat--the sister "brave" enough to leave the house--hates to go to town. She does it because she must. Because groceries and library books are essential to life. Constance never goes outside the gates of the family estate--though she loves to be outside in her garden.

Most of We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a flashback. It shows how things went from bad to worse after the arrival of their cousin Charles. I'll say no more. I think it's better not to know what this one is "about" before beginning.

Did I like it? Well enough to keep reading! I read this one for the 24 Hour Read-a-thon. And it was a great choice. It was a quick read. In part because it's so short, but also because it's suspenseful, compelling.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Wintersmith (MG/YA)

Wintersmith. Terry Pratchett. 2006. HarperCollins. 325 pages.

When the storm came, it hit the hills like a hammer. No sky should hold as much snow as this, and because no sky could, the snow fell, fell in a wall of white.

Wintersmith is the third Tiffany Aching Adventure. The first two are The Wee Free Men and A Hat Full of Sky. As much as I loved The Wee Free Men, I think Wintersmith might be the better novel. It's a great adventure, a great fantasy.

Tiffany has unknowingly walked into danger. Or should I say danced her way into danger, danced her way into story. The story. Of winter and summer. Wintersmith--the elemental god--has fallen in love with her. Even when he finds out that she's no goddess, well, he's fascinated by her, by her humanness. He sets out to become human. But how can the god of winter become human?

No matter if he's a god or a human, Wintersmith's passion means trouble for the human world. In big ways--ice bergs in the likeness of Tiffany--in small ways, Tiffany-shaped snowflakes. Tiffany caused this problem, she'll need to be the one to solve it. Of course, she can count on help from other witches--Granny Weatherwax, Miss Treason, and Nanny Ogg especially--and, of course, the Nac Mac Feegles. Rob Anybody is always there for Tiffany.

I loved this one. I just LOVED it! It was such a great story. This series features some very interesting characters, very enjoyable characters. And the books always offer a little humor too! One of my favorite comedic scenes? When Tiffany begins to read the romance novel the Nac Mac Feegles bring her to "help" her understand the "romance" of the story she has found herself in. I loved the passages about the librarian too!

The librarians were mysterious. It was said they could tell what book you needed just by looking at you, and they could take your voice away with a word. (180)
I would definitely recommend this series!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Ballet Shoes (MG)

Ballet Shoes. Noel Streatfeild. 1937. Random House. 256 pages.

The Fossil sisters lived in the Cromwell Road. At that end of it which is farthest away from the Brompton Road, and yet sufficiently near it so one could be taken to look at the dolls' houses in the Victoria and Albert every wet day.

Pauline, Petrova, and Posy are three children adopted by Gum. Gum is Great Uncle Matthew. He "found" each one of them and brought them home. He didn't stay home to help with the raising of them, but he provided money enough to keep them for a handful of years. Nana and Miss Sylvia had hoped he'd return soon--very soon--before the money began to run out. But that isn't quite the case. The children--for better or worse--end up in a special performing arts school. Posy, who loves to dance, is thrilled. As is Pauline for whom acting comes naturally. Petrova, on the other hand, is less thrilled by the training. Her heart is just not in it.

Ballet Shoes is their story. A story of three sisters--they chose the last name "Fossil" themselves. A story of how they tried to make a name for themselves. We see them struggle; we see them succeed.

I liked this one very much. It was very enjoyable, very pleasant.


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

One Crazy Summer (MG)

One Crazy Summer. Rita Williams-Garcia. 2010. [January 2010] HarperCollins. 218 pages.

Good thing the plane had seat belts and we'd been strapped in right before takeoff. Without them, that last jolt would have been enough to throw Vonetta into orbit and Fern across the aisle.

Historical fiction set in the summer of 1968. 

Three girls travel cross country to visit the mother that abandoned them in Rita Williams-Garcia's newest novel, One Crazy Summer. Delphine, the oldest of the three, narrates. Of the three, she is the one who remembers their mother best--which isn't saying all that much. What can they learn from their mother in 28 days?

In many ways, 28 days feels like forever. Especially since their mother continues to push them away. She makes it clear--time and time again--that she does not want them in her home, in her life, and especially in her kitchen. But. The girls continue to try, continue to cope. Like it or not, they're there for the month. And since their mother doesn't want to spend any of her time with them, well, they're on their own. The three end up spending their days in the community learning about the Black Panthers--from the Black Panthers.

One Crazy Summer is a novel about relationships--between mother and daughter, of course, but also between sisters. These three have their issues--with one another--but they love one another too. And Delphine struggles with being both a sister and a substitute mom. It's also a coming of age story.

I enjoyed One Crazy Summer. It's a great novel. Written very well. The narrative voice is incredible--moving, compelling, believable. I would definitely recommend this one.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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