Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Do you want to join me...?

Do you want to join me in reading Connie Willis' Doomsday Book this December?!

I first read this novel last year, and I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED it. I knew then that it would be a book I wanted to reread. Here's my first review of Doomsday Book.


I'll be posting my review of the novel around the 15th or 16th of December.  If you post a review, please leave a link in the comments of that post!

You can always just share your  own thoughts or write your own review.... OR you can answer some of these questions...

What did you like most about the novel? (Or what did you like least...)
Which storyline did you prefer? The past or the present?
Which characters did you like best? Where there any characters that you hated?
Do you think the novel is more plot-driven or character-driven?
Is this a novel you'd recommend to others?

I would love it if you could join me. 

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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November Reflections

I read 20 books in November.

Picture books: 1; Children's Books: 2; Middle Grade: 3; Young Adult: 1; Adult: 8; Christian Fiction: 1; Christian Nonfiction: 3; Graphic Novels: 1.

Review Copies: 3; Library Books: 14; Books I Bought: 3.


My top five:

The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus #2). Rick Riordan.
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.
The Two Towers. J.R.R. Tolkien.
I'll Be There. Holly Goldberg Sloan.
Mary Poppins Comes Back. P.L. Travers.

Reviews at Becky's Book Reviews:

Alice I Have Been. Melanie Benjamin. 2009. Random House. 352 pages.
Dumb Witness. Agatha Christie. 1937. HarperCollins. 320 pages.
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.
Christmas in Harmony. Philip Gulley. 2002. HarperCollins. 96 pages.
Murder Must Advertise. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1933. Harper & Row. 323 pages.
The Fellowship of the Ring. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1954/1965. Houghton Mifflin. 423 pages.
The Two Towers. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1954/1965. Houghton Mifflin. 352 pages.
Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte. 1847.  300 pages.
A Very Babymouse Christmas. Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm. 2011. Random House.
I'll Be There. Holly Goldberg Sloan. 2011. Little, Brown. 392 pages.
Lucky for Good. Susan Patron. 2011. Simon & Schuster. 210 pages.
The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus #2). Rick Riordan. 2011. Hyperion. 525 pages.
Sparrow Road. Sheila O'Connor. 2011. Penguin. 246 pages.


Reviews at Young Readers:

Happy Pig Day. An Elephant & Piggie Book. Mo Willems. 2011. Hyperion. 64 pages.
Mary Poppins Comes Back. P.L. Travers. 1935. Harcourt. 315 pages.
Llama Llama Home With Mama. Anna Dewdney. 2011. Penguin. 40 pages.


Reviews at Operation Actually Read Bible:


Ten Lies About God And How You Might Already Be Deceived. Erwin Lutzer. 2000. Thomas Nelson. 238 pages.
Hope Underground. Carolos Parra Diaz. As told to Mario Veloso & Jeanette Windle. 2011. Imago Dei Books. 191 pages.
Going Deep. Gordon MacDonald. 2011. Thomas Nelson. 383 pages.
Jesus + Nothing = Everything. Tullian Tchividjian. 2011. Crossway Books. 220 pages.




© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, November 28, 2011

Revisiting Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte. 1847.  300 pages.

There was no possibility of taking a walk that day.

I know not everyone sees value in rereading books. But. I just can't help it. If I love a book once, I'm going to want to revisit it. Again and again and again. After all, if I never wanted to read it again...ever...could I even really say I loved it? Or loved, loved, loved it?

Jane Eyre was a pleasure to reread. It really was. From the first page to the last, it kept me satisfied. There was so much to savor, so much to slowly absorb. I didn't rush this one. I didn't want to rush this one. I wanted to enjoy every moment of this one. Because books as wonderful as Jane Eyre just aren't that easy to find.

Though Jane Eyre has been adapted to films many times, I don't think it's a novel that adapts particularly well. The novel is told in first person. We see EVERYTHING through Jane's eyes. It is a very personal connection the reader has to make with Jane if the novel is to be appreciated and loved. If you don't come to love Jane, if you don't come to understand Jane, if you don't come to see the world through Jane's eyes, if you don't see Mr. Rochester as Jane does, if you don't LOVE him as Jane does, then you're not getting the full experience.

I was disappointed with the 2011 adaptation. Especially with Mr. Rochester. Why? Well, if you didn't already LOVE Mr. Rochester, then you would have no real reason--other than appearance, perhaps?--to love him. By taking the words out of his mouth, by eliminating almost all of his dialogue with Jane, by eliminating the oh-so-crucial gypsy scene, viewers see only a slightly teasing Mr. Rochester with a very deep, very dark secret. We see him only at his very, very worst, for the most part. And the scene after Jane knows the truth, well, it just seems so far removed from anything in the book. It was seeking out that scene in the book, it was wanting to know how the *real* Mr. Rochester treated Jane after the big shocking reveal, that led me to reread the book.

The BBC production (from early 1980s) starring Timothy Dalton and Zelah Clarke is a much, much, much better adaptation. In my opinion. I loved, loved, loved how Jane's relationship with Mr. Rochester developed. I loved their scenes together. I loved the dialogue. I loved how we really got to know both characters through the episodes. (It is over five hours long!) Everything that I loved about the book (almost everything) was present in this adaptation. It just felt right!!!

Do you have a favorite adaptation of Jane Eyre?


My original review.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday Salon: Week In Review #47

What I Reviewed at Becky's Book Reviews:

Christmas in Harmony. Philip Gulley. 2002. HarperCollins. 96 pages.
A Very Babymouse Christmas. Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm. 2011. Random House.
The Two Towers. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1954/1965. Houghton Mifflin. 352 pages.

What I Reviewed at Operation Actually Read Bible:

Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian. 2011. Crossway Books. 220 pages.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, November 25, 2011

Christmas in Harmony

Christmas in Harmony. Philip Gulley. 2002. HarperCollins. 96 pages.

My first memory of Christmas was in 1966. I was five years old and standing in line at Kivett's Five and Dime with my mother and brother, Roger, waiting to see Santa Claus, who looked suspiciously like Bud Matthews, the man in our town who did odd jobs. He smelled like Bud Matthews, too--a blend of Granger pipe tobacco, Old Spice aftershave, and sawdust.

I enjoyed this novella by Philip Gulley. My first introduction to Harmony was Home to Harmony. Home to Harmony is more a collection of short stories about one town--one community, one church--than it is a traditional novel. It introduces readers to some wonderfully eccentric (quirky) characters in a small town. Christmas in Harmony is a novella set within that community of characters. If you haven't met these characters yet, this book is a good place to start. Especially if you are looking for cozy-type Christmas stories. Not that the book is too sweet--far from it! It's very funny, in places, as different members in the congregation have strong opinions on how to have the right Christmas Eve service. One member STRONGLY believing that they should try something new, a progressive live nativity scene, where members drive through town stopping at each place on the map. (One house for the sheep, one house for the shepherds, one house for the wise men, one house for Mary and Joseph, etc. The last stop being of course the place where you find the cocoa and cookies.) Others want a more traditional service--the reading of the nativity in Luke followed by cookies in the basement, I believe. So along with the tension of the present Christmas, there are remembrances of former Christmases. Stories about Christmas trees, shopping, seeing Santa, etc.

I am enjoying reading Philip Gulley, for the most part, and this novella would make a great introduction if you are in a seasonal mood.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, November 24, 2011

A Very Babymouse Christmas

A Very Babymouse Christmas. Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm. 2011. Random House.

This review will be VERY short simply because there is not that much to say. If you love Babymouse, if you love Babymouse's crazy imagination, if you love her fantasies and daydreams...then you're going to want to read the newest in the series.

Christmas is fast approaching, and Babymouse is mainly just thinking of one thing. The thing that she wants the MOST of all. For she just knows that she HAS TO HAVE the WhizBang.

Will she be pleased on Christmas morning?

I love Babymouse. I do. I think she's a great character. And she's made me smile--made me laugh--plenty of times. While this wouldn't be my favorite in the series, I'm glad I read it!

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Ten Characters I'm Thankful To Have Met In 2011

Happy Thanksgiving! I thought I'd share a list of the top ten characters I'm thankful to have met in 2011!!!

These aren't necessarily in any order.

1. LORD PETER WIMSEY. (Dorothy Sayers) Oh, how I love, love, love and adore Lord Peter Wimsey.

2. ARCHIE GOODWIN and NERO WOLFE. (Rex Stout) I love, love, LOVE these two! I do! I love Archie for so many reasons. Yet I love his boss, Nero Wolfe, too!

3. MISS MARPLE and HERCULE POIROT. (Agatha Christie)

The Mysterious Affair At Styles. Murder on the Orient Express. Murder at the Vicarage. A Miss Marple Mystery. The A.B.C. Murders. (Hercule Poirot). The Body in the Library. (Miss Marple). Five Little Pigs. (Hercule Poirot), A Murder is Announced. 4:50 From Paddington. Cards on the Table. Appointment with Death. At Bertram's Hotel. Cat Among the Pigeons. Sad Cypress. And Then There Were None. The Moving Finger. The Murder of Roger Ackroyd. A Caribbean Mystery. The Big Four. Evil Under the Sun. Taken at the Flood. Dead Man's Folly. Nemesis.They Do It With Mirrors. Elephants Can Remember. A Murder on the Links. A Pocket Full of Rye. Dumb Witness.


4. PERSIMMONY SMUDGE. The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic. Jennifer Trafton.


5. RILEY CASE. Doggirl. Robin Brande.

6. MATTIE ROSS. True Grit. Charles Portis.

7. THE VIRGINIAN. The Virginian. Owen Wister.

8. JOHN EAMES. The Small House At Allington. Last Chronicle of Barset. Anthony Trollope.

9. JOHN ROKESMITH. Our Mutual Friend.

10. JAMES LIANG. Kinfolk. Pearl S. Buck.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Library Loot: Fourth Trip in November

New Loot:

Mississippi Writings by Mark Twain (collection of novels)
The Gilded Age and Later Novels by Mark Twain (collection of novels)
Historical Romances by Mark Twain (collection of novels)
The Time Machine and The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
The Eerie Adventures of the Lycantrope Robinson Crusoe
The Time Quake by Linda Buckley Archer
We Love You, Strawberry Shortcake by Sierra Harimann
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott
The Life and Times of Charles Dickens by Peter Ackroyd
Twelfth Night by William Shakespeare
The Fool's Girl by Celia Rees
Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare

Leftover Loot:

Until the Dawn's Light by Aharon Appelfeld; translated from the Hebrew by Jeffrey M. Green
The Time Thief by Linda Buckley-Archer
All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen
The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma; translated by Nick Caistor
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
Johnny Swanson by Eleanor Updale
The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
Here There Be Dragons by James A. Owen
Love Poems and Sonnets of William Shakespeare
The Great Good Thing by Roderick Townley
Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers
The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Mary Poppins Opens the Door by P.L. Travers
Mary Poppins in the Park by P.L. Travers
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol and Other Stories by Charles Dickens


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.    



© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, November 21, 2011

The Two Towers

The Two Towers. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1954/1965. Houghton Mifflin. 352 pages.

Aragorn sped on up the hill. 

I must admit that The Two Towers is my favorite of the Lord of the Rings movies. I just love it so very much!!! Taking a chance on a sequel to a movie that I didn't much care for--at least the first time through--was definitely worth it! For in discovering The Two Towers, I discovered a great series. The Two Towers made me come to appreciate--really appreciate--the first one all the more.

So the fellowship has been broken, and here is where all the action begins! Or so it seems! The third part focuses on Aragorn and friends. The fourth part focuses on Frodo, Sam, and Gollum.

I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the third book. I am a big fan of Treebeard and the Ents. And of course I loved following Aragorn and the others into action, into the uncertainties of war. War is coming--there is no denying that evil is coming and coming fast. So it was compelling to read this section. It felt familiar and right to read this one.
'Halfling! But they are only a little people in old songs and children's tales out of the North. Do we walk in legends or on the green earth in the daylight?'
'A man may do both,' said Aragorn. 'For not we but those who come after will make the legends of our time. The green earth, say you? That is a mighty matter of legend, though you tread it under the light of day!' (37) 
While I can't say that I absolutely loved the fourth book--Sam and Frodo's book--as much as the other, I can say that I definitely appreciated it. I just love Sam! I do!

He never had any real hope in the affair from the beginning; but being a cheerful hobbit he had not needed hope, as long as despair could be postponed. (246)

"I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We're in one, of course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards. And people will say: let's hear about Frodo and the Ring!" (321)
I am definitely loving these books! I wish I had read them sooner. But the timing just happens to be right for me now.


© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sunday Salon: Week In Review #46

Reviews from Becky's Book Reviews

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.
Murder Must Advertise. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1933. Harper & Row. 323 pages.
The Fellowship of the Ring. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1954/1965. Houghton Mifflin. 423 pages.

Reviews from Operation Actually Read Bible  

Going Deep. Gordon MacDonald. 2011. Thomas Nelson. 383 pages.
The Names of God Bible. General Editor: Ann Spangler. Translation: God's Word. (Though that translation is considerably modified especially in the Old Testament.) 2011. Revell. 1730 pages. (I read Genesis, Ruth, Isaiah, and Revelation.)

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, November 19, 2011

Library Loot: Third Trip in November

New Loot:

Until the Dawn's Light by Aharon Appelfeld; translated from the Hebrew by Jeffrey M. Green
I Am Half Sick of Shadows by Alan Bradley
The Time Thief by Linda Buckley-Archer
All Men of Genius by Lev AC Rosen
The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma; translated by Nick Caistor

Leftover Loot:

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
Johnny Swanson by Eleanor Updale
The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Here There Be Dragons by James A. Owen
Bed-knob and broomstick by Mary Norton
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
Death of a Cad by M.C. Beaton
Love Poems and Sonnets of William Shakespeare
Tom Trueheart and the Land of Dark Stories by Ian Beck
The Great Good Thing by Roderick Townley
The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill
The Silmarillion by J.R.R Tolkien
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher
Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
September by Rosamunde Pilcher
 Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers
The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Mary Poppins Opens the Door by P.L. Travers
Mary Poppins in the Park by P.L. Travers
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol and Other Stories by Charles Dickens
Here Lies Linc by Delia Ray


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.    


© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Fellowship of the Ring

The Fellowship of the Ring. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1954/1965. Houghton Mifflin. 423 pages.

When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton.

This is my first 'proper' reading of Lord of the Rings. And it did take a few false starts, but, putting all that aside, I thought it was a wonderful, wonderful book. I loved so much about it: the characters, the setting, the storytelling, the richness of it. I think it's a book that needs multiple readings perhaps--a story that you're not quite ready to be done with.

I found Fellowship of the Ring fascinating. Which isn't exactly how I found the first movie--the first time round! I loved the different settings. I loved the pacing of it. I loved how the adventure builds and builds. The danger of it, the intensity of it, I mean. The opening in the shire--the birthday festivities--well, they're just so pleasant, so delightful. It isn't until readers learn just how badly this 'one ring' is wanted that the pace picks up. But even when they know the threat and risk involved, it still takes a while for them to truly get how life and death it all is, how real it all is.

Sam and Aragorn are probably my favorite characters--though I really am fond of everyone in the fellowship. I definitely am enjoying this series!!!

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us. (60)
On Gollum and the ring:

He hated it and loved it; as he hated and loved himself. He could not get rid of it. He had no will left in the matter. (64)

On 'why' Frodo was 'chosen' to have the ring:

You may be sure that it was not for any merit that others do not possess: nor for wisdom, at any rate. (70)
From one of my favorite songs:

O! Water Hot is a noble thing! (111)
It is perilous to study too deeply the arts of the Enemy, for good or for ill. (278)

Where there are so many, all speech becomes a debate without end. But two together may perhaps find wisdom. (413)

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Murder Must Advertise

Murder Must Advertise. Dorothy L. Sayers. 1933. Harper & Row. 323 pages.

"And by the way," said Mr. Hankin, arresting Miss Rossiter as she rose to go, "there is a new copy-writer coming in today."

I love and adore Lord Peter Wimsey. I do. Dorothy Sayers' mysteries had me at hello. In fact, after the first one, I knew I just HAD to read the entire series. So in this Lord Peter adventure, he is going undercover to solve a murder. He has been hired as a copy-writer for an advertising agency. The man he is replacing had a horrid accident on the stairs. Was it really an accident? Or did he have some enemies? Did those enemies come from within the agency? Or was he just hanging out with the wrong crowds after hours?

It took more than a few chapters for Lord Peter to reveal himself to readers. For the first third of the novel, readers just know him as the new employee. Yes, this new employee is asking questions here, there, and everywhere. And, of course, I was a little suspicious and a lot hopeful that he would turn out to be Lord Peter.

Did I like this one? Of course!!! It's Lord Peter! What's not to love? I'm not sure it's my favorite or best. But with the exception of one little chapter, I found it satisfying and just about perfect. Lord Peter can definitely make me giddy!
"Truth in advertising is like leaven, which a woman hid in three measures of meal. It proves a suitable quantity of gas, with which to blow out a mass of crude misrepresentation into a form that the public can swallow." (68) 
Others in the series:

I still need to read:
  • The Nine Tailors (1934)
  • Busman's Honeymoon (1937)
  • Complete Stories of Lord Peter (1972)
  • Thrones, Dominations (Dorothy Sayers and Jill Paton Walsh) (1998)
  • A Presumption of Death (Jill Paton Walsh) (2002)
  • The Attenbury Emeralds (Jill Paton Walsh) (2010)

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, November 14, 2011

The Sunne in Splendour

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 Sunne in Splendour is one of the best books I read all year. I started it in July and finished in October: I loved almost every minute of it. This historical novel is just a wonderful, wonderful read. Is it for every reader? At over 900 pages? Probably not. But ANY reader who loves historical fiction, this book is a true must read.

So this novel is about the man who became Richard III. The novel follows him through the decades of his life. And it was quite a dangerous life because of who he was, who his family was. He was of the House of York. And Richard lost many, many family members during the war- for the throne. His brother was Edward IV--and he fought more than once for the throne, for the kingdom. And Richard was always loyal to his brother. Even when he thought his brother was making a few too many mistakes. Still, the two were surrounded by enough traitors, enough men who were ambitious and unwise.

If you're looking for historical romance--and ONLY historical romance--then The Sunne in Splendour might not be the best match for you. If you like historical fiction that has it all--a little politics, a little action, a little romance, a little mystery, a little drama--in other words a lot of life--than The Sunne in Splendour may just be for you.

I loved just about everything in The Sunne in Splendour. I thought the characterization was excellent. Penman did a great job in bringing these historical figures to life. And while there were many, many characters to follow, I wasn't overwhelmed. Same with the descriptions. Yes, the book is detailed, and yes, the book is descriptive, but I wasn't bored. The story, the characters, were just fascinating. Which is saying something since  the ending won't be surprise to many! I loved seeing the different perspectives as well. This isn't only Richard's story. Though it is definitely told sympathetically towards Richard.

The Sunne in Splendour was one of those books I finished and knew that I would want to reread again (and again).

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

Sunday Salon: Week In Review #45

What I Reviewed At Becky's Book Reviews:

The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus #2). Rick Riordan. 2011. Hyperion. 525 pages.
I'll Be There. Holly Goldberg Sloan. 2011. Little, Brown. 392 pages.
Sparrow Road. Sheila O'Connor. 2011. Penguin. 246 pages.

What I Reviewed At Young Readers:

Llama Llama Home With Mama. Anna Dewdney. 2011. Penguin. 40 pages.
Mary Poppins Comes Back. P.L. Travers. 1935. Harcourt. 315 pages.

What I Reviewed At Operation Actually Read Bible:

 Ten Lies About God And How You Might Already Be Deceived. Erwin Lutzer. 2000. Thomas Nelson. 238 pages. (Newly reprinted as paperback by Kregel publications in January 2009).


© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, November 12, 2011

Library Loot: Second Trip in November

New Loot:

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson
Doomsday Book by Connie Willis
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
Muddle Earth by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Johnny Swanson by Eleanor Updale
The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
Perchance to Dream by Lisa Mantchev
Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta
Here There Be Dragons by James A. Owen
Bed-knob and broomstick by Mary Norton
The Borrowers by Mary Norton
Death of a Cad by M.C. Beaton
Love Poems and Sonnets of William Shakespeare
A Cars Christmas by Melissa Lagonegro

Leftover Loot:

Tom Trueheart and the Land of Dark Stories by Ian Beck
The Great Good Thing by Roderick Townley
The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill
Gideon the Cutpurse: Being the First Part of the Gideon Trilogy by Linda Buckley-Archer
The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
The Silmarillion by J.R.R Tolkien
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher
Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
September by Rosamunde Pilcher
 Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers
The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Mary Poppins Opens the Door by P.L. Travers
Mary Poppins in the Park by P.L. Travers
David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol and Other Stories by Charles Dickens
Here Lies Linc by Delia Ray
Hercule Poirot's Christmas 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.    

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Sparrow Road (MG)

Sparrow Road. Sheila O'Connor. 2011. Penguin. 246 pages.

In the shadowed glow of headlights the old pink house looked huge, rambling like the mansions on Lake Michigan. A fairy tale tower rose high above the roof. The pillared front porch sagged.

Raine, our heroine, did NOT want to spend the summer living at Sparrow Road, a private retreat for artists. But her mom has taken a job there--as cook--and that's the end of that. No amount of whining will change that. Soon after her arrival she learns how very, very strict the rules are. The NO-TALKING rule seems especially harsh--and it's in fact most of the day, six days a week. There's also no TV, no Internet, no phones. So what's a girl to do?

Raine charms many (though not all) of the artists at Sparrow Road. A few really befriend her and support and encourage her. Raine learns the secret history of the place. How Sparrow Road was an orphanage for many, many years. She sees the attic where the boys slept--sees the remnants of that past, that existence. And what she sees makes her curious and inspired...

She decides to write a story told from the perspective of one of the orphan boys....

And that is just part of this one. For Raine has some growing of her own to do. Her mom took the job for a very, very important reason. A potentially life-changing reason...


I liked this one. I did. I thought it was a very good book. I liked the characters. I really loved some of them actually! I thought the story was very sweet, very moving.



© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, November 08, 2011

I'll Be There (YA)

I'll Be There. Holly Goldberg Sloan. 2011. Little, Brown. 392 pages.

The days of the week meant nothing to him. Except Sunday. Because on Sundays he listened to pipe organs and pianos.

How resilient is the human spirit? How powerful is love? I'll Be There is a wonderfully bittersweet novel that answers those two questions. Readers meet Sam and Riddle Border, the two sons of a horrible, horrible man. Riddle has been sick most of his life--and needlessly so since medicine could greatly improve his life--what joy he has he gains from drawing extremely detailed mechanical pictures. His older brother, Sam, doesn't believe in God but takes comfort in church music whenever, wherever he can. They move a lot. His father is more than a little anti-government, anti-society (and that's just the start of it.)

One Sunday, Sam slips into the back row of a Unitarian church. There is a singer, Emily Bell, who is trying her best--and not really hiding her nerves--to sing "I'll Be There." She's decided to focus on one person, one face on the back row. And guess who that would be?!

Sam feels that Emily (though of course he doesn't know her name just yet) is singing this song just for him. And what they share in those few minutes changes everything...

Sam is strange--to be sure--especially to Emily's family and friends. He won't talk about his Dad. He doesn't have a phone. He won't give anyone his address. He won't talk about his past...at all. He doesn't go to school. He doesn't say much of anything about himself...but there is something about him that Emily loves and treasures.

This novel is bittersweet, it goes to some dark places before the end. But it was worth every intense moment...

What a great book! Very emotional, very touching!

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, November 07, 2011

The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus #2)

The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Olympus #2). Rick Riordan. 2011. Hyperion. 525 pages.

The snake-haired ladies were starting to annoy Percy. They should have died three days ago when he dropped a crate of bowling balls on them at the Napa Bargain Mart. They should have died two days ago when he ran over them with a police car in Martinez. They definitely should have died this morning when he cut off their heads in Tilden Park.  

I loved this book. I just LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book. The Son of Neptune is the sequel to The Lost Hero. In the first book, a new hero, Jason Grace, is introduced to readers. He with two other newbies (Piper and Leo) are trying to reach the relative safety of the Camp Half Blood, the Greek camp. They arrive, of course, meet everyone--including some characters that we know and love--and are sent on a big, big, big mission of their own.

The second book stars Percy Jackson. He is trying to make his way to camp--but not the Greek camp that is his home away from home. No, when readers meet Percy he can't remember who he is--not really. Though he has a very strong but very vague memory of Annabeth. No, he's on his way to the Roman camp for demi-gods.

This book is all about Roman mythology. We see how the sons and daughters of Roman gods and goddesses do things. Is this Roman camp anything like Camp Half-Blood?! Percy becomes close with two campers in particular Frank and Hazel. In fact, the story is told in alternating perspectives of the three.

I really, really, really loved reading all three perspectives. I loved the new characters, the new mythologies, the new stories. I loved the action and adventure of it. I thought it was an exciting read. It was just a great, great book!

I would definitely recommend this one. But I'd start with the first book of the first series, The Lightning Thief, and go from there.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, November 06, 2011

Sunday Salon: Week In Review #44

What I Reviewed At Becky's Book Reviews

Dumb Witness. Agatha Christie. 1937. HarperCollins. 320 pages.
Alice I Have Been. Melanie Benjamin. 2009. Random House. 352 pages.
Lucky for Good. Susan Patron. 2011. Simon & Schuster. 210 pages.

What I Reviewed at Operation Actually Read Bible

Hope Underground. Carolos Parra Diaz. As told to Mario Veloso & Jeanette Windle. 2011. Imago Dei Books. 191 pages.

What I Reviewed at Young Readers 

Happy Pig Day. An Elephant & Piggie Book. Mo Willems. 2011. Hyperion. 64 pages.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, November 04, 2011

Library Loot: First Trip in November

New Loot:

The Death Cure by James Dashner
The Fat Man: A Tale of North Pole Noir by Kenneth Harmon
The Secret History of Tom Trueheart by Ian Beck
Tom Trueheart and the Land of Dark Stories by Ian Beck
The Great Good Thing by Roderick Townley
The Year of Miss Agnes by Kirkpatrick Hill
Gideon the Cutpurse: Being the First Part of the Gideon Trilogy by Linda Buckley-Archer
The Silver Chair by C.S. Lewis
A Picnic Adventure by Lisa Gallo
The Silmarillion by J.R.R Tolkien
The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Book of Lost Tales, volume one by J.R.R. Tolkien
Bilbo's Last Song by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Shell Seekers by Rosamunde Pilcher
Winter Solstice by Rosamunde Pilcher
September by Rosamunde Pilcher
 Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy L. Sayers
The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Mary Poppins in the Park by P.L. Travers
Mary Poppins Opens the Door by P.L. Travers
Mary Poppins Comes Back by P.L. Travers

Leftover Loot:

David Copperfield by Charles Dickens
Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
A Christmas Carol and Other Stories by Charles Dickens
Here Lies Linc by Delia Ray
The Warden by Anthony Trollope
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope
The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
Hercule Poirot's Christmas 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.   

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, November 03, 2011

Dumb Witness

Dumb Witness. Agatha Christie. 1937. HarperCollins. 320 pages.

Miss Arundell died on May 1st.

Dare I say it? I think I like Hercule Poirot! I always always thought I'd prefer Miss Marple to Poirot. And maybe I've just been finding exceptions the past few reads, or maybe I'm just REALLY in a mood for Christie, but I just LOVED Dumb Witness!!! It just felt so right when I was reading it.

So Hercule Poirot receives a letter from an old woman, a potential client. She suspects someone in her family--one of her nieces or nephews, or perhaps it's great-nephews and great-nieces?--of trying to kill her. There is something about her accident--her tumble down the stairs in the middle of the night--that doesn't feel right at all.

Circumstances being what they are, this letter isn't mailed until after Miss Emily Arundell has died. Did the would-be murderer try again? Or was her death by natural causes after all? Or are there two murderers in the family? Hercule Poirot could walk away from the case, his client is dead, but if he did....he wouldn't be Hercule Poirot!

I love Agatha Christie. I really enjoyed this one!

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Alice I Have Been

Alice I Have Been. Melanie Benjamin. 2009. Random House. 352 pages.

But oh my dear, I am tired of being Alice in Wonderland. Does it sound ungrateful? Only I do get tired.

I enjoyed this one. I did. I am not sure that I LOVED it as much as I loved The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb, that book made me want to read more Melanie Benjamin.

Alice I Have Been is the fictional memoir of Alice Liddell, the little girl who "inspired" Alice in Wonderland. It is told through the eyes of a much older and much wiser Alice. An Alice who is perhaps just coming to terms with her past. An Alice who is asking questions and finding answers.

Explored in this one, of course, is her relationship--her family's relationship--with Charles Dodgson. This relationship is seen through both perspectives--as a little girl who idolizes a man that makes a big ado about spending play time with these children, and as an adult who questions what her feelings for the man really were after play time was over.

But the novel goes beyond those childhood years. Readers see her as a married woman with children of her own.

I thought the novel was well written. I found it fascinating. It was never boring!!! I think Melanie Benjamin is a great writer, a great storyteller. And I've really enjoyed both of her books.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Lucky for Good

Lucky for Good. Susan Patron. 2011. Simon & Schuster. 210 pages.

The enemies invaded the trailers.

Lucky's adventures in her small desert community continue.  

Since I enjoyed the second book in this series--at least more than I did the first book, the award-winning first book, The Higher Power of Lucky--I wanted to read the third book, Lucky For Good. (The second book is Lucky Breaks.)

If you have enjoyed both previous books, chances are you'll enjoy this one too. You may find it a charming addition to the series. You may appreciate the changes going on in Lucky's life and in Lucky's community. Some of the changes are even big--Miles' mother coming back, for example. Family issues--family relationships--are explored and tested in this one.

But. I just didn't enjoy this one. I didn't feel a connection--a good connection at least--with any of the characters. And the plot, well, it didn't hold my attention. Reading is subjective, and if you have loved the characters in the past, then you might think this well worth reading.

© 2011 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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