Friday, December 31, 2010

Year in Review: My Favorite and Best

Just how much did I read in 2010? I read 812 books in 2010. (July was the month I read most, December was the month I read least.) Review copies made up 58.2% of my reading (470). Library books were 30% of my reading (242). Borrowed books were 7.9% of my reading (64). Bought-books made up 3% (24). Gift-books made up  .9% (7). I am pleased to see that 42% of what I read came from sources other than review copies. In total, I read 143,766 pages this year.

My Favorite Board Books: I read 71 board books. (8.7%) My top ten:

My Favorite Picture Books: I read 164 picture books. (20.2%) My top twenty:

My Favorite Children's Books: I read 79 children's books. (9.7%) My top ten:

My Favorite Middle Grade Books: I read 81 middle grade books. (10%). My top ten:

My Favorite YA Books: I read 116 YA books. (14.3%) My top fifteen:
  • Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver. 2010. [March 2010]. HarperCollins. 480 pages. 
  • Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney. 2009. Chronicle Books. 366 pages.
  • For Keeps. Natasha Friend. 2010. [April 2010] Penguin. 272 pages. [YA Realistic Fiction/YA Romance]
  • Scarlett Fever. Maureen Johnson. 2010. February 2010. Scholastic. 352 pages.
  • Airhead. Meg Cabot. 2008. Scholastic. 340 pages.
  • The House of Dead Maids by Clare B. Dunkle. 2010. September 2010. Henry Holt. 160 pages.
  • Ship Breaker. Paolo Bacigalupi. 2010. May 2010. Little Brown. 326 pages.
  • Grace. Elizabeth Scott. 2010. September 2010. Penguin. 208 pages.
  • Monsters of Men. Patrick Ness. 2010. September 2010. Candlewick Press. 608 pages.
  • Real Live Boyfriends. E. Lockhart. 2010. December 2010. Random House. 240 pages.
  • The Wee Free Men. Terry Pratchett. 2003. HarperCollins. 400 pages.
  • Wintersmith. Terry Pratchett. 2006. HarperCollins. 325 pages.
  • Prom & Prejudice. Elizabeth Eulberg. 2011. [January 2011] Scholastic. 288 pages.
  • Jane. April Lindner. 2010. Little Brown. 373 pages.
  • Perfect Chemistry. Simone Elkeles. 2008. [December 2008] Walker & Company (Bloomsbury). 368 pages.

My Favorite Adult Books: I read 92 adult books (11.3%). My top twelve:


My Favorite Christian Books: I read 95 Christian books. (11.7%) My top ten:

Five favorite Christian nonfiction:

Five favorite Christian fiction:
My Favorite Nonfiction Books: I read 56 nonfiction books. (6.9%)

 Top five for younger readers:

Top five for older readers:
My Favorite Graphic Novels: I read 30 graphic novels. (3.7%) My top five:

My Favorite Poetry Books: I read 22 books poetry books. (2.7%) My top three:
My Favorite Short Story Collections/Novellas: I read 6 short story/novella collections. (.7%) I've got two short story collections I'd like to highlight:
 

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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December Accomplishments

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

She spoke to him before the world fell apart.
 
It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single girl of high standing at Longbourn Academy must be in want of a prom date.

Why I feel the sudden urge to relate, in pen and ink, a relationship of the most personal nature, which I have never before acknowledged, I cannot say


Less than a year into the marriage that made her mistress of one of England's finest houses, Elizabeth Darcy knew she still had much to learn about the place she now called home. Of one thing, however, she was certain. A ghost haunted Pemberley.

Sometimes there are these bizarre people who actually like physical education class.


December's Top Five:

He Knew He Was Right. Anthony Trollope. 
Lady Anna. Anthony Trollope.
The Weed That Strings The Hangman's Bag. (Flavia de Luce #2). Alan Bradley. 
The Butler Gets A Break. A Bellweather Tale. Kristin Clark Venuti.
Prom & Prejudice. Elizabeth Eulberg.

Number of Board Books: 4

Baby Nose to Baby Toes. Vicky Ceelen. 2009. Random House. 24 pages.
Farm Parade! Thom Wiley. Illustrated by Benji Davies. 2011. [January 2011] Scholastic. 12 pages.
What Am I? Salina Yoon. 2010. Scholastic. 12 pages.
Who am I? Salina Yoon. 2011. [January 2011] Scholastic. 12 pages.

Number of Picture Books: 11

Let It Snow. Maryann Cocca-Leffler. 2010. Scholastic. 24 pages.
The Littlest Christmas Star. Brandi Dougherty. Illustrated by Sanja Rescek. 2010. Scholastic. 32 pages.
My Two Holidays. Danielle Novack. Illustrated by Phyllis Harris. 2010. Scholastic. 32 pages.
It's Christmas, David! David Shannon. 2010. Scholastic. 32 pages.
Llama Llama Holiday Drama. Anna Dewdney. 2010. Penguin. 40 pages.
The Christmas Magic. Lauren Thompson. Illustrated by Jon J. Muth. 2009. Scholastic. 40 pages.
All The Things I Love About You. LeUyen Pham. 2010. November 2010. HarperCollins. 40 pages.
To Whom the Angel Spoke: A Story of the Christmas. Terry Kay. 2009. Peachtree. 32 pages.
The Gingerbread Pirates. Kristin Kladstrup. Illustrated by Matt Tavares. 2009. Candlewick. 32 pages.
Sweet Moon Baby: An Adoption Tale. Karen Henry Clark. Illustrated by Patrice Barton. 2010. November 2010. Random House. 32 pages.
The Christmas Giant. Steve Light. 2010. Candlewick. 32 pages.

Number of Children's Books: 7

Brand New Readers: Winter Fun! Various. 2010. Candlewick Press. 80 pages.
Turkey Day (School Reader Level 1) Grace Maccarone. Illustrated by John Manders. 2010. Scholastic. 32 pages.
There's A Mouse in the House! (School Reader Level 1). Wendy Cheyette Lewison. Illustrated by Hans Wilhelm. 2010. Scholastic. 32 pages.
Who Wears Glasses? (School Reader Level One) Ana Galan. Illustrated by Sebastian Burnett. 2010. Scholastic. 32 pages.
A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time. Mary Pope Osborne. Illustrated by Sal Murdocca. 2010. Random House. 128 pages.
Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman. Francesca Simon. Illustrated by Tony Ross. 2010. Sourcebooks. 112 pages.
The Emperor's Code. (The 39 Clues #8). Gordon Korman. 2010. Scholastic. 176 pages.

Number of Middle Grade: 1

The Butler Gets A Break. A Bellweather Tale. Kristin Clark Venuti. 2010. Egmont USA. 240 pages.

Number of YA: 7

Chasing Brooklyn. Lisa Schroeder. 2010. Simon & Schuster. 412 pages.
The Boy From Ilysies. Pearl North. 2010. Tom Doherty Associates. 320 pages.  
Jane. April Lindner. 2010. Little Brown. 373 pages.
Prom & Prejudice. Elizabeth Eulberg. 2011. [January 2011] Scholastic. 288 pages.
My Fair Godmother. Janette Rallison. 2009. Walker. 320 pages.  
The Scorch Trials. James Dashner. 2010. Random House. 368 pages.
Captivate. Carrie Jones. 2010. Bloomsbury. 276 pages. 

Number of Adult: 10

He Knew He Was Right. Anthony Trollope. 1869/2009. Oxford University Press. 992 pages.
Lady Anna. Anthony Trollope. 1874/2009. Oxford World's Classics. 560 pages.
The Weed That Strings The Hangman's Bag. (Flavia de Luce #2). Alan Bradley. 2010. Random House. 364 pages.
A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens. 1843. 96 pages.
Pride and Prescience: Or A Truth Universally Acknowledged. A Mr. and Mrs. Darcy Mystery. 2004. Tor. 288 pages.
North by Northanger: Or, The Shades of Pemberley. A Mr. & Mrs. Darcy Mystery. Carrie Bebris. 2006. Tor. 320 pages.
The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James. 2007. HarperCollins. 352 pages.
What Happens in London. Julia Quinn. 2009. HarperCollins. 384 pages.
Ten Things I Love About You. Julia Quinn. 2010. HarperCollins. 384 pages.
Death of a Gossip. A Hamish Macbeth Murder Mystery. M.C. Beaton. 1985/2008. Robinson. 210 pages.

Number of Christian: 2

Mystery of the Holy Spirit. R.C. Sproul. 1990/1994. Tyndale. 191 pages.
Miracle of Christmas: God With Us. John MacArthur. 1993. Zondervan. 144 pages

Number of Nonfiction: 3

The Crossing: How George Washington Saved The American Revolution. Jim Murphy. 2010. Scholastic. 96 pages.
Your Baby Is Speaking To You: A Visual Guide to the Amazing Behaviors of Your Newborn and Growing Baby. Dr. Kevin Nugent. Photographs by Abelardo Morell. 2011. January 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 106 pages.
Rags and Riches: Kids in the Time of Charles Dickens. Magic Tree House Research Guide #22. Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce. 2010. Random House. 128 pages.

Number of Graphic Novels:
Number of Poetry:

Number of Short Story Collections/Anthologies: 1

A Darcy Christmas: A Holiday Tribute to Jane Austen. By Amanda Grange, Carolyn Eberhart, and Sharon Lathan. Sourcebooks. 304 pages.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Year in Review: 12 Book of the Months


January: For Keeps. Natasha Friend.
February: Sweet Thursday. John Steinbeck.
March: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling. Maryrose Wood.
April: Out of My Mind. Sharon M. Draper.
May: Countdown by Deborah Wiles.
June: Smells Like Dog. Suzanne Selfors.
July: Venetia. Georgette Heyer
August: A Tale Dark and Grimm. Adam Gidwitz.
September: The Disappeared. Kim Echlin.
October: Doomsday Book. Connie Willis.
November: Miss Hargreaves. Frank Baker.
December: The Weed That Strings The Hangman's Bag. (Flavia de Luce #2). Alan Bradley

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Library Loot: Sixth Trip in December

I *thought* I'd had my final trip to the library this year, but, a few more holds came in and I was able to pick them up this morning! 2010 was a great year for library visits. I had 54 library loot posts. I reviewed 242 library books in 2010, which accounts for 30% of my reading this year! I am very pleased with that number!

New Loot:

Four novels of the 1960s by Philip K. Dick* 
Lady of No Man's Land by Jeanne Williams**
Messenger of Truth by Jacqueline Winspear
The War of the Worlds, Plus Blood, Guts and Zombies by H.G. Wells and Eric S. Brown
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan

Leftover Loot:

The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox
The Glass of Time: The Secret Life of Miss Esperanza Gorst by Michael Cox
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear
Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear
The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie
The Tuesday Club Murders: A Miss Marple Mystery by Agatha Christie
Murder at the Vicarage: A Miss Marple Mystery by Agatha Christie
The Body in the Library a Miss Marple Mystery by Agatha Christie
Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers
Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers
The Matters at Mansfield, or, The Crawford Affair by Carrie Bebris
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie


*I've read The Man in the High Castle, I have not read The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? or Ubik.

**This was COMPLETE impulse. It wasn't the cover that grabbed me--it didn't--but the description said read me. Here are the first two paragraphs of the jacket flap:
"Swedish orphan Kirsten Mordal, seventeen years old, crosses the ocean with her younger sister, Lucia, to seek the promise of a country so rich that it can give away fertile acres of land. But the long journey proves too arduous for Lucia; when her sister dies, Kirsten finds herself alone on the harsh American frontier. Determined to pursue her dream of claiming and cultivating her own homestead, Kirsten devises a plan that will enable her to explore the wild western plains, to choose a site for her future stake, and to save enough money to build a home. With a natural talent for dress design, Kirsten purchases a sewing machine and wagon, and travels through the countryside, stopping at isolated homesteads to sew wedding gowns and party dresses, baby togs and mourning clothes." 
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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Best First Lines


These are the best of the best. The first lines that have stuck with me through the entire year (2010) and made a lasting impression:

 She spoke to him before the world fell apart.

When I wrote essays at school I was always told to begin at the beginning and end at the end. I'm not at all sure that this story has an end. As for a beginning - well, in my opinion, it really begins - as I began - with my father. Anyway, that's where I'm going to start.

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

Owen Jester tiptoed across the gleaming linoleum floor and slipped the frog into the soup.

Once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome.

Strange things can happen at a crossroads.

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.

That morning they were making paper boys.

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.

The story goes that even after the Return they tried to keep the roller coasters going

Cannery Row in Monterey in California is a poem, a stink, a grating noise, a quality of light, a tone, a habit, a nostalgia, a dream

Finn likes peaches. Usually.

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

Third place: Finn likes peaches. Usually.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Year in Review: 52 Book of the Weeks









What I've done is gone through my 'Sunday Salon' posts of the past year where I shared my week's reading. I picked my favorite-and-best from each week. These books may not have ended up in that month's top five, but these are the best books I read week by week by week. I chose to focus on middle grade through adult. (I excluded picture books from this list. I'll do a best-of-picture books feature at another time.)

1. The Fiddler's Gun. A.S. Peterson.
2. The Magician's Elephant. By Kate DiCamillo.
3. A Lady Like Sarah. By Margaret Brownley.
4. For Keeps. Natasha Friend.
5. Under the Dome by Stephen King.
6. Almost Astronauts: 13 Women Who Dared To Dream. Tanya Lee Stone.
7. Blizzard! The Storm That Changed America. By Jim Murphy.
8. Sweet Thursday. John Steinbeck.
9. Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney.
10. An American Plague: The True and Terrifying Story of the Yellow Fever Epidemic of 1793. By Jim Murphy.
11. Cosmic. Frank Cottrell Boyce.
12. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling. Maryrose Wood.
13. Perfect Chemistry. Simone Elkeles.
14. Catching Fire. Suzanne Collins.
15. Scarlett Fever. Maureen Johnson.
16. Out of My Mind. Sharon M. Draper.
17.  Princess of Glass. Jessica Day George.
18. Countdown by Deborah Wiles.
19. The Bookends of the Christian Life. Jerry Bridges and Bob Bevington.
20. North and South. Elizabeth Gaskell.
21. Ship Breaker. Paolo Bacigalupi.
22. Grace. Elizabeth Scott.
23. The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette's Journey to Cuba. Margarita Engle.
24. Smells Like Dog. Suzanne Selfors
25. Monsters of Men. Patrick Ness.
26. Armadale. Wilkie Collins.
27. The Daughter of Time. Josephine Tey.
28. Real Live Boyfriends. E. Lockhart.
29. The Boneshaker. Kate Milford.
30. She Stoops to Conquer. Oliver Goldsmith.
31. Venetia. Georgette Heyer.
32. A Tale Dark and Grimm. Adam Gidwitz.
33. The Devil in Pew Number Seven: A True Story. Rebecca Nichols Alonzo with Bob DeMoss.
34. Crunch. Leslie Connor.
35. Turtle in Paradise. Jennifer L. Holm.
36. Jane Slayre. Charlotte Bronte and Sherri Browning Erwin.
37. Wench. Dolen Perins-Valdez.
38. The Disappeared. Kim Echlin.
39. The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.
40. Bleak House. Charles Dickens.
41. The Wee Free Men. Terry Pratchett.
42. Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance. Jennifer Armstrong.
43. Wintersmith. Terry Pratchett.
44. Doomsday Book. Connie Willis.
45. A Pleasure To Burn: Fahrenheit 451 Stories. Ray Bradbury.
46. Miss Hargreaves. Frank Baker.
47. The Haunting of Charles Dickens. Lewis Buzbee.
48. Bright Young Things. Anna Godbersen.
49. He Knew He Was Right. Anthony Trollope.
50. Lady Anna. Anthony Trollope.
51.  The Weed That Strings The Hangman's Bag. (Flavia de Luce #2). Alan Bradley.
52. Prom & Prejudice. Elizabeth Eulberg.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Library Loot: Fifth Trip in December

New Loot:

The Meaning of Night by Michael Cox
The Glass of Time: The Secret Life of Miss Esperanza Gorst by Michael Cox
Maisie Dobbs by Jacqueline Winspear
Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
An Incomplete Revenge by Jacqueline Winspear
Among the Mad by Jacqueline Winspear
The A.B.C. Murders by Agatha Christie

Leftover Loot:

The Tuesday Club Murders: A Miss Marple Mystery by Agatha Christie
Murder at the Vicarage: A Miss Marple Mystery by Agatha Christie
The Body in the Library a Miss Marple Mystery by Agatha Christie
Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers
Strong Poison by Dorothy L. Sayers
The Matters at Mansfield, or, The Crawford Affair by Carrie Bebris
Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
Unnatural Death by Dorothy L. Sayers
Five Little Pigs by Agatha Christie

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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Captivate (YA)

Captivate. Carrie Jones. 2010. Bloomsbury. 276 pages.  

Sometimes there are these bizarre people who actually like physical education class.

Captivate is the sequel to Need. Both Need and Captivate would be good for fans of Stephenie Meyer and Melissa Marr. (Wicked Lovely, Ink Exchange, and Fragile Eternity immediately come to mind.) It's YA fantasy with plenty of thrills--a dangerous romance. Zara, our heroine, is confused about many things. Her relationship with her father? Too complicated to fathom. Part of her hates the fact that she's had to lock him up so that the slaughtering of human boys would stop in her Maine town. But part of her realizes of course that while killing is never "good" it is sometimes necessary. She's also confused about pixies in general. After meeting--after rescuing--one pixie in particular, she's beginning to think for the first time that there may be a few good pixies out there. For this mysterious pixie--we don't learn his name (Astley) for quite a while--saves Zara time and time again. He seems to make it his business to keep her safe. (Which of course is threatening Nick's role in this drama.)

But there is one thing that Zara is NOT confused about. Her love for Nick. She loves him. Oh how she loves him. She needs him. She wants him. She can't stop thinking about him. He's her everything. He'd do anything to keep her safe. And she'd do anything to keep him safe.

Captivate is dramatic. For me, the highlight of this one was the introduction of Astley. I liked the scenes between Zara and Astley best.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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The Scorch Trials (YA)

The Scorch Trials. James Dashner. 2010. Random House. 368 pages.

She spoke to him before the world fell apart.

The Scorch Trials is the sequel to The Maze Runner. Thomas and the other Gladers thought the game was over. They thought they had beat the system. They thought they had been rescued. They certainly celebrated that victory. But the opening chapters of The Scorch Trials reveal that the games have just begun. Thomas and his friends will have to survive a second phase of testing in order to be "cured" of the disease that they've just recently learned they have. (Confused? Well, it's meant to be mysterious.)

What is Thomas' role in all of this? What clues to the present danger can be revealed in his dreams--his memories--of the past? And what about Teresa? The woman whom he can communicate with telepathically? Is she to be trusted? Or is she a betrayer?

The Scorch Trials was certainly an intense read. Very suspenseful. Very mysterious. It kept me guessing. I certainly didn't predict where this one was going.

I would recommend these to fans of The Hunger Games trilogy and the Chaos Walking Trilogy.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2011 Challenges: Chunkster

Chunkster Blog
February 1, 2011 - January 31, 2012.
I am aiming for the "Mor-book-ly Obese" level. Eight or more chunksters. Three of the eight have to be over 750 pages. The rest have to be over 450 pages. Adult books only.

1. Our Mutual Friend. Charles Dickens. 1864/1865. 880 pages.
2. Little Dorrit. Charles Dickens. 1855-1857. 928 pages,
3. Framley Parsonage. Anthony Trollope. 1861. 576 pages.
4. The Small House at Allington. Anthony Trollope. 1864. 752 pages.
5. Jubilee. Margaret Walker. 1966. 512 pages.
6. The Pickwick Papers. Charles Dickens. 1836/1837/1999. Penguin Classics. 810 pages.
7. The Last Chronicle of Barset. Anthony Trollope. 1867.  928 pages.
8. The Sunne in Splendour: "A fascinating portrait of the controversial King Richard III--a monarch betrayed in life by his allies and betrayed in death by history." by Sharon Kay Penman. 944 pages.
9. The Woman in White. Wilkie Collins. 1860. 672 pages.
10. Katherine. Anya Seton. 1954/2004. Chicago Review Press. 512 pages.
11. I, Claudius. Robert Graves. 1934. 480 pages.
12. A Heart Revealed (Winds of Change Series #2) Julie Lessman. 2011. Revell. 500 pages.
13. Grapes of Wrath. John Steinbeck. 1939. Penguin. 619 pages.
14. The Help by Kathryn Stockett. 2009. Thorndike Press. 722 pages.
15. Doomsday Book. Connie Willis. 1992. Random House. 592 pages. 


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Our Mutual Friend Challenge Completed


Our Mutual Read (Sign UP Post) The challenge blog link.
Level 2: 8 Books at least four written during 1837-1901.

1. The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: The Mysterious Howling. Maryrose Wood. (2010)
2. Emma Brown: A Novel From the Unfinished Manuscript by Charlotte Bronte. Clare Boylan. (2005)
3. She Walks in Beauty by Siri Mitchell (2010)
4. North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (1854-1855)
5. Scarlet Letter. Nathaniel Hawthorne. (1850)
6. Doctor Thorne by Anthony Trollope (1858)
7. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte (1848)
8. Armadale by Wilkie Collins (1866)
9. Soulless by Gail Carriger (2009)
10. Bleak House by Charles Dickens (1852-1853)
11. Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (1868)
12. He Knew He Was Right by Anthony Trollope (1869)
13. Lady Anna. Anthony Trollope. (1874)

Mini Challenge to watch Period Movies

1. North and South, the movie
2. Bleak House, the movie (2005)


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Graphic Novel Challenge Completed


Graphic Novel 2010 Challenge
Level Intermediate
January - December 2010
I will be reviewing the books at Becky's Book Reviews

1. The First Escape by G.P. Taylor
2. Science Fiction Classics (Graphic Classics #17)
3. Julius Caesar (Manga Shakespeare) Mustashrik Mahbab (Illustrator). Richard Appignanesi (Text).
4. Calamity Jack. By Shannon and Dean Hale.
5. Manga Shakespeare: Much Ado About Nothing. William Shakespeare. 2009. Ill. Emma Vieceli. Adapted by Richard Appignanesi.
6. Manga Shakespeare: As You Like It. William Shakespeare.
7. Mary Anne Saves The Day. Raina Telgemeier and Ann M. Martin. 2007. Scholastic. 158 pages.
8. Lunch Lady and the Author Visit Vendetta. Jarrett J. Krosoczka.
9. Olympians: Zeus: King of the Gods. George O'Connor.
10. Olympians: Athena: Grey-Eyed Goddess. George O'Connor
11. Mercury by Hope Larson
12. The Sons of Liberty by Alexander Lagos and Joseph Lagos
13. Babymouse Burns Rubber #12. Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm.
14. Babymouse Cupcake Tycoon (#13) Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm.
15. Ender's Game: Battle School. (Graphic Novel) Orson Scott Card.
16. Jane Eyre The Graphic Novel -- Original Text -- Charlotte Bronte
17. Frankenstein The Graphic Novel -- Original Text -- Mary Shelley
18. Koko Be Good. Jen Wang.
19. Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451: The Authorized Adaptation. Ray Bradbury. Illustrated by Tim Hamilton.
20. The Odyssey. Gareth Hinds.
21. Muppet King Arthur. Paul Benjamin and Patrick Storck.
22. Muppet Robin Hood. Tim Beedle.
23. Muppet Peter Pan. Grace Randolph
24. The Plain Janes. Cecil Castellucci
25. Amelia Earhart: This Broad Ocean. Sarah Stewart Taylor.


© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, December 27, 2010

My Fair Godmother

My Fair Godmother. Janette Rallison. 2009. Walker. 320 pages. 

Here's my definition of a bad day: your boyfriend of four months--who until twelve seconds ago, you thought was the most perfect guy to set foot on earth--breaks up with you. My definition of a truly horrible day: the aforementioned boy dumps you for none other than your sister. The definition of my life: he does all of this right after you inform him that you blew your last dollar buying your dream prom dress. He asks if you can get a refund. It turns out he'll be asking your sister. 

Chrysanthemum (Chrissy) Everstar, who is just a "fair" godmother, has been assigned to the Delano family. She's not exactly told which sister is her assignment, but after observing these sisters in crisis, she makes her decision. Savannah, the "cheated" younger sister, will get three wishes. But, as you can imagine, Savannah's three wishes do not go according to plan.

For her "fair" godmother, is a little too literal for the imprecise wishing of a confused teen girl. For Savannah does not truly want to be Cinderella. Or Snow White. She does not want to be in the Middle Ages at all. She soon learns that she's not the only one affected by her wishing. For Chrissy has sent Tristan, a guy who is semi-interested in Savannah, to the Middle Ages as well, in an attempt to make Savannah's prom date a prince. These wishes will test Savannah. Challenge her to examine herself, her choices, her priorities. By feeling responsible for Tristan, Savannah learns a little something about love and life. Can she "save" her would-be prince?
She lowered her wand and sent me a condescending look. "You know, even for a mortal, you're really ungrateful."
"Ungrateful for what? To be here? A cyclops tried to eat me not long ago."
She brushed off my comment with one perfectly manicured hand. "Did you think wishes were like kittens, that all they were going to do was purr and cuddle with you?" She shook her head benevolently. "Those types of wishes have no power. The only wishes that will ever change you are the kind that may, at any moment, eat you whole. But in the end, they are the only wishes that matter." (243)
I enjoyed My Fair Godmother. I enjoyed the light romance. I enjoyed the humor. (I loved the time Savannah spent as Snow White. I loved the seven dwarves.) Yes, some of it was at Savannah's expense. But still, even though these situations were painful for Savannah, they helped change her for the better.

See also: Just One Wish by Janette Rallison

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Top Ten Library Reads of 2010

I love my library. I just LOVE reading library books. And since I do keep track of 'where my books come from,' I thought I would highlight ten of my favorite books that I borrowed from the library this year. These are books that I wouldn't have had access to if I hadn't had such a great library.

The Boneshaker by Kate Milford. My review. What I said, "Read this book. Now. Why? Because this book is so very, very good. It's one of those books where the moment you finish it, you want to start it all over again. You don't want it to be over. You want to keep experiencing it. What did I love about this book? The characters, the story, the storytelling, the setting, the atmosphere, the descriptions. It was such an amazing blend of history, mystery, and fantasy."

Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey. My review. What I said, "One of the reasons I loved The Daughter of Time was I thought it was unique. The book is about a man becoming fascinated with history, with a mystery within history. And how he goes about "solving" the case since he can't very well go about interviewing the witnesses and investigating the crime scene. Most of his research is done by reading. But he doesn't accept everything he reads. No, he questions everything. He thinks, really thinks, about everything closely. And I loved that. I loved how Inspector Grant pulls others in on this investigation. I loved how enthusiastic everyone becomes while 'working' on this case."

The Weed That Strings The Hangman's Bag. Alan Bradley. My review. What I said, "I liked Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. I did. But as much as I liked it, as charming as I found it, it wasn't quite love. I LOVED the second novel in the series, The Weed That Strings the Hangman's Bag. I just LOVED it. Flavia is still Flavia. She's still eleven. She's still hating her sisters--but to be fair, they hated her first. She's still to be found in her chemistry lab doing experiments and uncovering the mysteries of poisons--that is when she's not out uncovering the town's secrets on Gladys, her bicycle, and breaking into the library's storage shed where old newspapers are kept. Alan Bradley is great at developing characters within a community. There are some eccentric people in this one! But it's got heart and soul too! I loved Flavia! I loved her spirit. I loved her intelligence, her curiosity. I would definitely recommend it!"

 Miss Hargreaves by Frank Baker. My review. What I said, "What did I like about this one? I loved so many things about it! The characters. The relationships. The premise. The story. It just worked really well for me! I found it very compelling! I found it difficult to put down. It's wonderfully quirky and deliciously sinister. Miss Hargreaves and Norman would definitely feel right at home in The Twilight Zone."

Doomsday Book by Connie Willis. My review. What I said, "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. 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! 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!"


The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett. My review. What I said, "I think I knew it was love from the very first page. I just fell in love with the first few chapters of The Wee Free Men. I loved Miss Tick. I loved our young heroine, Tiffany Aching. Even before the introduction of Nac Mac Feegle. Before we meet Rob Anybody. Before we meet No'-as-Big-As-Medium-Sized-Jock-But-Bigger-Than-Wee-Jock-Jock. Before the journey to fairy land. Though of course, my love just grew as the novel progressed. I loved the writing. I mean I LOVED the writing. It was so much fun to read this one!"



The Disappeared by Kim Echlin. My review. What I said, "When Anne Greves, our heroine, was sixteen she met the love of her life, Serey, a Cambodian student and musician. The relationship is intense from the start. The Disappeared is her story of how powerful and enduring love is. Of how heartbreaking it is. How the loss of it can overwhelm you, shape you. It's an emotional story--beautifully written. I found The Disappeared to be compelling. I didn't want to put it down. It was beautiful. It was powerful. It was haunting. I thought the writing was incredible. It gets ugly in some places--because war, terror, death, and hate are ugly."

 Jane Slayre by Charlotte Bronte and Sherri Browning Erwin. My review. What I said, "Jane Slayre is a paranormal retelling of Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre. I don't always love like paranormal fiction. Vampires, zombies, and werewolves don't typically thrill me. But. I really enjoyed Jane Slayre. I thought it was clever. I thought it worked well. It's not that I think the original needed improving. But the changes seem more natural than I ever would have thought possible. I liked Sherri Browning Erwin's Jane. She was strong and fearless. (She saw her slaying as a gift.) Yet she was tender too. She fell in love with a man with a past. And she had a few tough decisions to make. I definitely recommend this one!"

Armadale by Wilkie Collins. My review. What I said, "Is it possible to summarize Armadale in a sentence or two? In a paragraph or two? Probably not. Wilkie Collins is all about layers. Who else besides Collins would premise a novel with fifty-eight pages of prologue? A prologue that establishes the background of three of his main characters. A foreshadowing prologue that shapes and reshapes the novel. Two men. One name. One dark secret. Armadale is about the struggle of the human soul between good and evil. A novel that asks the question--should children suffer for the sins of their fathers? A novel that explores the idea of Fate and free will."

Frankenstein's Monster. Susan Heyboer O'Keefe. My review.What I said, "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. 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. It is definitely my favorite sequel/retelling of this classic."

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sunday Salon: Reading, Read, To Read #52

Happy Sunday! I hope everyone had a great Christmas! Did you get any books?! I am delighted with my new Anthony Trollope novels and Dorothy Sayers mysteries.

There have been several new challenges announced in the past few weeks that are tempting to me. Among them, the "I'm Mad for Maisie" read-a-long at Book Club Girl and Red Headed Book Child's A-Z Mystery Author Challenge. And I just discovered the Wordsworth Classics Reading Challenge.

What I've Reviewed:

Prom & Prejudice. Elizabeth Eulberg. 2011. [January 2011] Scholastic. 288 pages.
The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James. 2007. HarperCollins. 352 pages.
What Happens in London. Julia Quinn. 2009. HarperCollins. 384 pages.
Ten Things I Love About You. Julia Quinn. 2010. HarperCollins. 384 pages.
Death of a Gossip. A Hamish Macbeth Murder Mystery. M.C. Beaton. 1985/2008. Robinson. 210 pages.
Your Baby Is Speaking To You: A Visual Guide to the Amazing Behaviors of Your Newborn and Growing Baby. Dr. Kevin Nugent. Photographs by Abelardo Morell. 2011. January 2011. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 106 pages.
Rags and Riches: Kids in the Time of Charles Dickens. Magic Tree House Research Guide #22. Mary Pope Osborne and Natalie Pope Boyce. 2010. Random House. 128 pages.
Turkey Day (School Reader Level 1) Grace Maccarone. Illustrated by John Manders. 2010. Scholastic. 32 pages.
There's A Mouse in the House! (School Reader Level 1). Wendy Cheyette Lewison. Illustrated by Hans Wilhelm. 2010. Scholastic. 32 pages.
Who Wears Glasses? (School Reader Level One) Ana Galan. Illustrated by Sebastian Burnett. 2010. Scholastic. 32 pages.
A Ghost Tale for Christmas Time. Mary Pope Osborne. Illustrated by Sal Murdocca. 2010. Random House. 128 pages.
Horrid Henry and the Abominable Snowman. Francesca Simon. Illustrated by Tony Ross. 2010. Sourcebooks. 112 pages.
The Emperor's Code. (The 39 Clues #8). Gordon Korman. 2010. Scholastic. 176 pages.
The Christmas Giant. Steve Light. 2010. Candlewick. 32 pages.
Baby Nose to Baby Toes. Vicky Ceelen. 2009. Random House. 24 pages.

Coming Soon:

The Scorch Trials. James Dashner. 2010. Random House. 368 pages.


My Fair Godmother. Janette Rallison. 2009. Walker. 320 pages. 

Currently Reading:


Rot and Ruin. Jonathan Maberry. 2010. Simon & Schuster. 458 pages.


The Passage. Justin Cronin. 2010. Random House. 766 pages.


Captivate. Carrie Jones. 2010. Bloomsbury. 276 pages.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas



Merry Christmas everyone! I hope you have a great holiday!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, December 24, 2010

TBR Challenge 2011


I am excited to join the 2011 TBR Challenge. Here are the books I'll be reading.



Original Twelve


Mrs. Mike: "The Heartwarming Classic Story of the Boston Girl Who Married A Rugged Canadian Mountie." by Benedict & Nancy Freedman. 1947. 284 pages.

First sentence: The worst winter in fifty years, the old Scotsman had told me. I'd only been around for sixteen, but it was the worst I'd seen, and I was willing to take his word for the other thirty-four.


Tisha. "The Wonderful True Love Story of A Young Teacher in The Alaskan Wilderness." Robert Specht. 1976. 342 pages.

First sentence: Even though it was barely eight o'clock and the sun had just come up, practically the whole town of Eagle had turned out to see the pack train off.


The Sunne in Splendour: "A fascinating portrait of the controversial King Richard III--a monarch betrayed in life by his allies and betrayed in death by history." by Sharon Kay Penman. 1982. 944 pages.

First sentence: Richard did not become frightened until darkness began to settle over the woods.

The Pilgrimage: The Unforgettable SF Masterpiece of the Strangers Among Us: The First Book of The People. Zenna Henderson. 1961. 255 pages.

First sentence: The window of the bus was a dark square against the featureless night.


A Tree Grows In Brooklyn. Betty Smith. 1943/2006. Harper. 528 pages.

First sentence: Serene was a word you could put to Brooklyn, New York. Especially in the summer of 1912. Somber, as a word, was better. But it did not apply to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Prairie was lovely and Shenandoah had a beautiful sound, but you couldn't fit those words into Brooklyn. Serene was the only word for it; especially on a Saturday afternoon in summer.


The Franchise Affair. Josephine Tey. 1948. 304 pages.

First sentence: It was four o'clock of a spring evening; and Robert Blair was thinking of going home. The office would not shut until five, of course. But when you are the only Blair, of Blair, Hayward, and Bennet, you go home when you think you will. And when your business is mostly wills, conveyancing, and investments your services are in small demand in the late afternoon. And when you live in Milford, where the last post goes out at 3:45, the day loses whatever momentum it ever had long before four o'clock.


A Shilling for Candles. Josephine Tey. 1936. 240 pages.

First sentence: It was a little after seven on a summer morning, and William Potticary was taking his accustomed way over the short down grass of the cliff-top. Beyond his elbow, two hundred feet below, lay the Channel, very still and shining, like a milky opal.


The Story of the Amulet. E. Nesbit. 1906. 228 pages.

First Sentence: There were once four children who spent their summer holidays in a white house, happily situated between a sandpit and a chalkpit.


Enchanted Castle. E. Nesbit. 1907. 304 pages.

First sentence: There were three of them -- Jerry, Jimmy, and Kathleen.


Our Mutual Friend. Charles Dickens. 1864/1865. 880 pages.

First sentence: In these times of ours, though concerning the exact year there is no need to be precise, a boat of dirty and disreputable appearance, with two figures in it, floated on the Thames, between Southwark Bridge which is of iron, and London Bridge which is of stone, as an autumn evening was closing in.


The Woman in White. Wilkie Collins. 1860. 672 pages.

First sentence: This is the story of what a Woman's patience can endure, and what a Man's resolution can achieve.


Framley Parsonage. Anthony Trollope. 1861. 576 pages.

First sentence: When young Mark Robarts was leaving college, his father might well declare that all men began to say all good things to him, and to extol his fortune in that he had a son blessed with so excellent a disposition.

Alternate Twelve


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

First sentence:  The Salinas Valley is in Northern California. It is a long narrow swale between two ranges of mountains, and the Salinas River winds and twists up the center until it falls at last into Monterey Bay.



Grapes of Wrath. John Steinbeck. 1939. Penguin. 619 pages.

First sentence: To the red country and part of the gray country of Oklahoma, the last rains came gently, and they did not cut the scarred earth. 


Jubilee. Margaret Walker. 1966. 512 pages.

First sentence: "May Liza, how come you so restless and uneasy? You must be restless in your mind." 
"I is. I is. That old screech owl is making me nervous."


To Love and Be Wise. Josephine Tey. 1950. 224 pages.

First sentence: "Grant paused with his foot on the lowest step, and listened to the shrieking from the floor above. As well as the shrieks there was a dull continuous roar; an elemental sound, like a forest fire or a river in spate. As his reluctant legs bore him upwards he arrived at the inevitable deduction: the party was being a success."


Miss Pym Disposes. Josephine Tey. 1946. 240 pages.

First sentence: A bell clanged. Brazen, insistent, maddening. Through the quiet corridors came the din of it, making hideous the peace of the morning.


The Singing Sands. Josephine Tey. 1952. 224 pages.

First sentence: It was six o'clock of a March morning, and still dark. The long train came sidling through the scattered lights of the yard, clicking gently over the points.


Whose Body. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1923. 224 pages.

First sentence: "Oh damn!" said Lord Peter Wimsey at Piccadilly Circus. "Hi, driver!"


Little Dorrit. Charles Dickens. 1855-1857. 1024 pages.

First sentence: Thirty years ago, Marseilles lay burning in the sun, one day.


The Small House at Allington. Anthony Trollope. 1864. 752 pages.


First sentence: Of course there was a Great House at Allington. How otherwise should there have been a Small House? Our story will, as its name imports, have its closest relations with those who lived in the less dignified domicile of the two; but it will have close relations also with the more dignified, and it may be well that I should, in the first instance, say a few words as to the Great House and its owner.


The Last Chronicle of Barset. Anthony Trollope. 1867.  928 pages.

First sentence: 'I can never bring myself to believe it, John,' said Mary Walker, the pretty daughter of Mr. George Walker, attorney of Silverbridge.


Secret Life of Bees. Sue Monk Kidd. 2002. 336 pages.

First sentence: At night I would lie in bed and watch the show, how bees squeezed through the cracks of my bedroom wall and flew circles around the room, making that propeller sound, a high-pitched zzzzzz that hummed along my skin.

The Egypt Game by Zilpha Keatley Snyder. 1966/2007. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages. 

First sentence:  Not long ago in a large university town in California, on a street called Orchard Avenue, a strange old man ran a dusty shabby store.

Neither the 'original' or 'alternate' lists can change after January 1, 2011.

What I read:

January: Whose Body? Dorothy L. Sayers.
February: Mrs. Mike: "The Heartwarming Classic Story of the Boston Girl Who Married A Rugged Canadian Mountie." by Benedict & Nancy Freedman AND Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens
March: Framley Parsonage. Anthony Trollope. Little Dorrit. Charles Dickens. Small House at Allington by Anthony Trollope.
April: Jubilee by Margaret Walker. The Pilgrimage: The Unforgettable SF Masterpiece of the Strangers Among Us: The First Book of The People. Zenna Henderson.
May: The Last Chronicle of Barset. Anthony Trollope.
June:
July: The Story of the Amulet. E. Nesbit.
August: Grapes of Wrath. John Steinbeck.
September:
October: The Woman in White. Wilkie Collins. 1860. 672 pages.
November: The Sunne in Splendour: "A fascinating portrait of the controversial King Richard III--a monarch betrayed in life by his allies and betrayed in death by history." by Sharon Kay Penman. 1982. 944 pages.
December: A Shilling for Candles. Josephine Tey. 1936. 240 pages.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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