Sunday, September 30, 2012

September Reflections

In September, I reviewed 41 books! 
My favorite poetry book: Shiver me Timbers! Douglas Florian. 
My favorite early reader:   Bink and Gollie: Two for One. Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee.
My favorite MG heroine: Hannah from  Hannah Is a Palindrome. Mindy Warshaw Skolsky and  Hannah and the Best Father of Route 9W. Mindy Warshaw Skolsky. 
My favorite verse novel: Little Dog Lost. Marion Dane Bauer.
My favorite historical romance set in World War II:  With Every Letter. Sarah Sundin. 
My favorite Christian historical:  Love's Reckoning. Laura Frantz.
My favorite (Christian) children's book:  Life with Lily. Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher.

Board Books, Picture Books, Early Readers:
  1. Chloe and the Lion. Mac Barnett. Pictures by Adam Rex. 2012. Hyperion. 48 pages.
  2. Extra Yarn. Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. 2012. HarperCollins. 40 pages. 
  3. Oh no! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed The World). Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Dan Santat. 2010. Hyperion. 40 pages.
  4. Oh No! Not Again! (Or How I Built A Time Machine To Save History) (Or At Least My History Grade). Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Dan Santat. 2012. Hyperion. 40 pages.  
  5. Joe on the Go. (Green Light Readers, Level 1) Peggy Perry Anderson. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages.
  6. Let's Clean Up. (Green Light Readers, Level 1) Peggy Perry Anderson. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages.  
  7. Bink & Gollie. Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee. Illustrated by Tony Fucile. 2010. [September 2010] Candlewick Press. 96 pages.   
  8.  Bink and Gollie: Two for One. Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee. Illustrated by Tony Fucile. 2012. [June 2012] Candlewick Press, 96 pages.  
  9. I Can Ride! (Bob Books, Level 1, Scholastic Reader). Lynn Maslen Kertell. 2012. Scholastic. 32 pages. 
  10. My School Trip (Bob Books, Level 1, Scholastic Reader). Lynn Maslen Kertell. Illustrated by Sue Hendra. 2012. Scholastic. 32 pages. 
  11.  Outdoor Adventures! (Bob Books, Level 1, Scholastic Reader). Lynn Maslen Kertell. Illustrated by Sue Hendra. 2012. Scholastic. 32 pages.   
  12. The New Puppy. (Bob Books, Level 1, Scholastic Reader). Lynn Maslen Kertell. Illustrated by Sue Hendra. 2012. Scholastic. 32 pages.  
Middle Grade and Young Adult Books:
  1. Hannah Is a Palindrome. Mindy Warshaw Skolsky. 1980. HarperCollins. 128 pages.
  2. Hannah and the Best Father of Route 9W. Mindy Warshaw Skolsky. 1982. Harper & Row. 122 pages.
  3. Princess Academy. Shannon Hale. 2005. Bloomsbury. 336 pages.
  4. Princess Academy: Palace of Stone. Shannon Hale. 2012. Bloomsbury.  336 pages.
  5. Shadow and Bone. Leigh Bardugo. 2012. Henry Holt. 368 pages.
  6. Goblin Secrets. William Alexander. 2012. Simon & Schuster. 240 pages.
  7. Double Dog Dare. Lisa Graff. 2012. Penguin. 304 pages.
  8. Little Dog Lost. Marion Dane Bauer. 2012. Illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages.
  9. Wonderstruck. Brian Selznick. 2011. Scholastic. 608 pages.
  10. A Boy and a Bear In a Boat. Dave Shelton. 2012. Random House. 304 pages.  
  11. Day of the Assassins. (Jack Christie #1) Johnny O'Brien. 2009. Candlewick. 224 pages.
  12. The Rose of York. Love & War. Sandra Worth. 2003. End Table Books. 340 pages.Sisters of Glass. Stephanie Hemphill. 2012. Random House. 160 pages.
  13. Beautiful Lies. Jessica Warman. 2012. Walker. 422 pages.

Adult Books:
  1.  The Case of the Runaway Corpse. Erle Stanley Gardner. 1954. 210 pages. 
  2. The Long Earth. Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. 2012. HarperCollins. 352 pages.

Poetry:
  1. Shiver me Timbers! Douglas Florian. Illustrated by Robert Neubecker. 2012. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages.
  2. Shakespeare's Seasons. Miriam Weiner. Illustrated by Shannon Whitt. 2012. Downtown Bookworks. 32 pages.
Christian Fiction and Nonfiction:
  1. Life with Lily. Mary Ann Kinsinger and Suzanne Woods Fisher. 2012. Revell. 288 pages.
  2. Love's Reckoning. Laura Frantz. 2012. Revell. 432 pages.
  3. With Every Letter. Sarah Sundin. 2012. Revell. 432 pages.
  4. A Memory Between Us. Sarah Sundin. 2010. Revell. 450 pages.
  5. Blue Skies Tomorrow. Sarah Sundin. 2011. Revell. 434 pages.
  6. The Welcome Committee of Butternut Creek. Jane Myers Perrine. 2012. FaithWords. 384 pages.
  7. The Secret Keeper. Sandra Byrd. 2012. Simon & Schuster. 352 pages.
  8. Worship: The Ultimate Priority. John MacArthur. 1983/2012. Moody. 192 pages.
  9. The Hole In Our Holiness. Kevin DeYoung. 2012. Crossway. 160 pages.
  10. Valley of Dreams. Lauraine Snelling. 2011. Bethany House. 342 pages.
  11. A Faith To Grow On. John MacArthur. 2000/2004. Thomas Nelson. 192 pages.
  12. Whatever Happened to the Gospel of Grace. James Montgomery Boice. 2001/2009. Crossway. 224 pages.


© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday Salon: Watching Bertie and Elizabeth

I recently watched Bertie & Elizabeth, The Story of King George VI & Queen Elizabeth. I just LOVED it. After watching and LOVING King's Speech, I wanted to know more about this royal couple...and I found Bertie & Elizabeth to be equally compelling and satisfying. It also provides a fuller portrait of this royal family, of this at times dysfunctional royal family. (The conflict between brothers was so well done!!! And Wallis Simpson makes for an intriguing villain in this one.)

I loved this biographical film. It follows his life from his courtship of Elizabeth to his funeral. I loved it as a romance. I loved it as a feel-good film showing that anything is possible with hard work, determination, courage and diligence. I also found the section on World War II to be fascinating!

I would definitely recommend this one!!!

Have you seen this one? What did you think?

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, September 29, 2012

Library Loot: Fourth Trip in September

New Loot:

  • The Baker's Daughter by Sarah McCoy
  • Whispers in the Wind by Lauraine Snelling
  • The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan
  • Twelve Unlikely Heroes by John MacArthur
  • Dodger by Terry Pratchett
  • Llama Llama Time To Share by Anna Dewdney
  • Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult & Samantha van Leer
  • Cinderella: Ninja Warrior by Maureen McGowan
  • Sleeping Beauty: Vampire Slayer by Maureen McGowan
  • One for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • The Secret Tree by Natalie Standiford
  • Snow in Summer: Fairest of Them All by Jane Yolen
  • Holes by Louis Sachar
  • Same Sun Here by Silas House and Neela Vaswani.
  • Let's Sing a Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy by Jan Thomas
  • Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

 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.  

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, September 28, 2012

The Long Earth

The Long Earth. Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter. 2012. HarperCollins. 352 pages.

In a forest glade: Private Percy woke up to birdsong. It was a long time since he had heard birdsong, the guns saw to that. For a while he was content to lie there in the blissful quiet.

There's a very good chance you'll like this one more than I did. Why? Well, let's just say that by the end of this one, we were not on good terms. I ended up hating this one. I didn't start out hating it, mind you. The first third--perhaps the first half--of the novel I thought the novel had potential to be for me. The good news is that the issues I had with the book are probably not going to be your issues. This book just happens to fall into the not-for-me category. I prefer those categories--a book being either for me or not for me--as opposed to saying that a book is either good or bad. The very qualities that make one person love a book, may make another hate a book. (My big issue with the book has more to do with ideology, philosophy, etc. I didn't find this one faith friendly in the slightest.)

So what can I say about this one? Well, the last part reminded me of the later Foundation novels by Isaac Asimov. In particular, the last novel of the Foundation series, the book that I've spent years trying to forget. I can't talk about details, obviously, without spoiling The Long Earth.

Characters and Pacing. This novel has SO MANY characters, so many points of views, so many story lines. And the book isn't always clear on chronology, meaning, as a reader I was always a bit unsure about how much time has passed. Has it been a year from step day, five years from step day, ten years from step day, twenty years from step day, etc. By just barely getting to know characters and just following their story for a chapter or two or three, one doesn't get a clear glimpse of how much time has passed, and how things are going--or not going--on Datum Earth.  The narrative gives us extremely brief, extremely limited "flashes" of what life is like on probably a dozen or so different Earths--maybe even a hundred--but no framework, no context is given to really grasp everything going on. Perhaps we're never meant to understand, perhaps it's beyond comprehension, perhaps that is the point--that endless earths with endless possibilities with endless variables is too much of a riddle to be solved by humanity. Pacing does become a slight issue at least because the moment the story begins to gain momentum and focus on something interesting and compelling, we're sent down another path. I felt, in some cases, there were characters/stories introduced that we never went back to.

The book that would have proved most interesting to me would have chosen a small handful of characters that we would follow as they pioneered across the Long Earth trying to find the right Earth for them as settlers. The book would have focused on new beginnings, establishing settlements, creating civilizations, facing unknown dangers, dealt with homesickness, etc. The book could have even focused on several settlements on several different Earths showing the differences in how societies, civilizations, governments, communities are set up, allowing for differences in politics, ideology, philosophy, etc. Perhaps showing the struggle between the new "earth" they were claiming as home, and the old earth with all its problems, etc. But The Long Earth does none of those things.

It is a science fiction adventure story. And it has many, many characters. And a few of these seem to be main character material. But I didn't particularly like the ones I was supposed to like most of all. I found myself more interested in the characters that were with us for five or six or maybe even twenty pages.

The book does start with an interesting premise, but, I ended up disappointed in the direction this one went. A good reminder, to me, that premise isn't everything.

Read The Long Earth
  • If the premise of having endless alternate Earths that you can 'step' between intrigues you
  • If the premise of each Earth having evolved differently based on small and large variables appeals to you; each Earth represents one "what if"
  • If the premise of humans exploring and settling these Earths fascinates you (just don't expect this to be a book about settling and establishing)
  • If you like science fiction adventure stories with a blend of human characters and artificial intelligence
© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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The Secret Keeper

The Secret Keeper. Sandra Byrd. 2012. Simon & Schuster. 352 pages.

I really enjoyed Sandra Byrd's To Die For. I equally enjoyed her newest novel, The Secret Keeper. Like To Die For it is set during the reign of Henry VIII, readers get the opportunity to view Henry VIII's last wife through the eyes of one of her closest friends. Juliana is our heroine, and she's in the service of Kateryn Parr. These two companions come to be close friends through the years which gives Juliana plenty of perspective on court life and the king and his three children.

While the book doesn't exclusively focus on the English Reformation--the Protestant Reformation--it certainly is one of the strengths of this one. Faith, religion, politics, and power struggles, this book has them all. The book also explores women's roles and rights. Intelligent, strong-willed, passionate-for-a-cause women who spoke out were taking a big risk. The book suggests to a certain degree that women had to use their power subtly and behind the scenes.

The narrative is personal, and it's a redemptive love story in a way. I definitely liked it and would recommend it.

Read The Secret Keeper
  • If you enjoy historical fiction or historical romance set in the Tudor dynasty
  • If you enjoy christian fiction or christian romance OR if you just enjoy a clean romance

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Hannah and the Best Father of Route 9W (MG)

Hannah and the Best Father of Route 9W. Mindy Warshaw Skolsky. 1982. Harper & Row. 122 pages.

Hannah sat in her secret place at the top of the mountain and looked down at the Hudson River. Her dog Skippy sat beside her. 

I have not read Mindy Warshaw Skolsky's Hannah series in order, but that hasn't stopped me from enjoying each and every one. My favorite is still Love From Your Friend, Hannah. I've also read Hannah Is A Palindrome. My most recent read is Hannah and the Best Father of Route 9W.

I love Hannah, I do. In this book, Hannah and her Dad are in similar situations. Her Dad is super-excited but still quite anxious. He has spent a lot of time repainting the Grand View restaurant. He's spent a lot of time painting shingles blue and yellow. He's got a whole theme going, and he's really hoping that the judges will love it too. For he wants to win the most attractive restaurant on Route 9W certificate. Sure, he's happy to have been awarded the cleanest restaurant last year, but this year he wants to win in the category he wants to win in. Hannah's just as excited and anxious as her father is about the judging, but, she's also excited about a dog show at the local movie theater. When things don't go as planned for this father and daughter, well, life lessons are learned and ice cream is eaten!

This book also features a visiting Aunt Becky who has brought her knitting needles and guess-whats for the entire family! Readers also learn that Aunt Becky loves opera. Hannah's father loves it too--but not in quite the same way. Hannah is NOT a fan, she'd rather listen to Let's Pretend on the radio.

Curious about Let's Pretend, you can listen online to some of the programs! The episode in this novel is 12 Dancing Princesses. Having listened to it, I can see why it is her favorite episode!

I loved Hannah. I loved her parents. I loved Aunt Becky. I loved how the book shows how each family member deals with stress, frustration, anxiety, and disappointment. The characterization is great in these books. I also love the historical detail.

Read Hannah and the Best Father of Route 9W
  • If you are looking for a great heroine to love; read any of the Hannah books
  • If you are a fan of Mindy Warshaw Skolsky
  • If you like historical children's books set in the early-to-mid 1930s

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Four Mac Barnett Picture Books

Chloe and the Lion. Mac Barnett. Pictures by Adam Rex. 2012. Hyperion. 48 pages.

This is me, Mac. I'm the author of this book. This is my friend, Adam. He's the illustrator of this book. And this is Chloe. She's the main character of this book. Wherever Chloe went, she looked for loose change. 

Poor Chloe, she's really not the star of this book. What is this book really about? Well, it's about the tug-of-war between the creative spirit of the author and the creative spirit of the illustrator. This adventure starts off okay, they agree that Chloe is a fun-loving girl who saves up all her coins, her money, so she can ride the merry-go-round in the park every Saturday. The fight starts with what happens one Saturday on Chloe's way back home....

The author feels that Chloe should meet a LION. The illustrator thinks it would be cooler if Chloe met a DRAGON. The two cannot settle their differences, so the author writes the illustrator out of the book....but is that the end of this story?

Chloe and the Lion is a very quirky book. It celebrates writing, drawing, storytelling, and teamwork. While I didn't personally love it, I do think it's a very unique book.

Extra Yarn. Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. 2012. HarperCollins. 40 pages. 

On a cold afternoon, in a cold little town, where everywhere you looked was either the white of snow or the black of soot from chimneys, Annabelle found a box filled yarn of every color. So she went home and knit herself a sweater. And when Annabelle was done, she had some extra yarn. So she knit a sweater for Mars, too. But there was still extra yarn. And when Annabelle and Mars went for a walk, Nate pointed and laughed and said, "You two look ridiculous." "You're just jealous," said Annabelle. "No, I'm not," said Nate. But it turned out he was. And even after she'd made a sweater for Nate and his dog, and for herself and for Mars, she still had extra yarn. 

Annabelle LOVES, LOVES, LOVES to knit. And since her supply of yarn seems to be never ending,  there's a good chance that her whole town will soon be covered in sweaters, scarves, and hats. But while many people welcome Annabelle and appreciate her special gift, there is one person who is very, very jealous...and he's willing to go to great lengths to get what he wants....

Extra Yarn is very quirky; it's definitely unique! For example, readers meet Mr. Crabtree.
She made sweaters for everyone, except Mr. Crabtree, who never wore sweaters or even long pants, and who would stand in his shorts with the snow up to his knees. "No sweater for me, thanks," said Mr. Crabtree. So she made Mr. Crabtee a hat. And even then Annabelle still had extra yarn. 
The characters, the story itself, the illustrations--there's just something very unique, very distinctive, very quirky about this one. Jon Klassen is the illustrator, and readers may notice that the animals from Klassen's I Want My Hat Back make an appearance in this one.

Oh no! (Or How My Science Project Destroyed The World). Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Dan Santat. 2010. Hyperion. 40 pages.

Oh no...
Oh man...
I knew it. 
I never should have built a robot for the science fair. 
Everything was going so well...
Until the rampage started, that is. 

Our narrator is a young girl who was a little TOO excited, a little TOO ambitious with her science fair project. Can she find a solution to the problem? Can she use her smarts to save the day?

This one was funny, in my opinion. The story was a little over-the-top, but in a good way. The text is simple, which gives the illustrations plenty of room. The illustrations do steal the show, perhaps. But the text is brilliant in its simplicity. "I probably shouldn't have given it a superclaw, or a laser eye, or the power to control dogs' minds" and "I should have given it ears. I should have taught it how to read."

Oh No! Not Again! (Or How I Built A Time Machine To Save History) (Or At Least My History Grade). Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Dan Santat. 2012. Hyperion. 40 pages.

Oh no. Not again. What a disaster. This is even worse than that time I built a gigantic rampaging robot. I didn't get a perfect score on my history test. I can't believe I missed the first question. Luckily, there's a simple solution. I just need to build a time machine and change history so I am right. Let's get this show on the road.

She's back. And this time the subject is history. When she misses the first question on her history test: "In what modern country do we find the oldest prehistoric cave paintings?" inspiration strikes again. She'll just build a time machine to make sure that Belgium has cave paintings that predates those in France. The problem? Well, you might guess that changing the past isn't that simple and definitely has dozens of consequences. I won't spoil this one for you, I really think you should read this one for yourself, but let's just say it's good...and she'd have been better off being happy with her A.

Read Mac Barnett
  • If you're looking for quirky, fun, funny, humorous, unique, distinctive picture books on a wide range of subjects.
  • If you're looking for books that celebrate creativity, art, and problem-solving.
  • If you're looking for books that celebrate storytelling.
© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Two Early Readers Starring Joe

Joe on the Go. (Green Light Readers, Level 1) Peggy Perry Anderson. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages.

"Let's go!" said Joe to Mother dear.
"Sorry, Joe, I am busy here."
"Let's go!" said Joe. Dad said, "No way. Today is family meeting day."
Then came cousins, uncles, and aunts. They came to visit, eat, and dance.


Joe is a very energetic little frog. But no one at the frog family reunion wants to play with him. Each has a reason or excuse. Each tells him no and sends him away. But Joe keeps trying, surely, someone wants to play with him. He meets that someone....in Grandma.

The text, as you might expect, is repetitive and predictable making it just about right for young readers beginning to read on their own. And it could be a read aloud, as well, for parents to read to little ones.

Let's Clean Up. (Green Light Readers, Level 1) Peggy Perry Anderson. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages.

Mother said, "I have the broom. Let's clean up this messy room." Mother cleaned high. Mother cleaned low. Mother cleaned the room for Joe. 

Another Joe adventure. Joe has an extremely messy room. His mom cleans the room, Joe is happy to see his floor again. He's eager to "rediscover" all his toys again. He makes his room a big, big mess. His mom is not happy that minutes later her son's room is out of control...again. The illustrations show her close to tears. But Joe has a way to make his mom happy again. He'll clean his room all by himself. And he'll do it much, much quicker. And, as long as his mom doesn't look in the yard, things should go well. 

In October, two more early readers will be released: Time for Bed, the Babysitter Said and To The Tub

Read Joe on the Go and Let's Clean Up
  • If you're looking for early readers to share with young beginning readers
  • If your little one likes frogs

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, September 24, 2012

The Case of the Runaway Corpse

The Case of the Runaway Corpse. Erle Stanley Gardner. 1954. 210 pages. 

Della Street, Perry Mason's confidential secretary, entered the lawyer's private office and said, "There are two women in the outer office who say they have to see you at once."
"What about Della?"
"They won't discuss it with a mere secretary."

The Case of the Runaway Corpse is my first Perry Mason novel, and I was definitely happy with it! In this detective novel, Perry Mason is hired by an unhappily married woman with a dying husband. The husband has been talking badly about her, telling others that his wife is trying to kill him, hinting that his wife has killed before. His wife, Myrna Davenport, knows that her husband has allegedly written a letter that will be delivered to the authorities if/when he dies. A letter that supposedly will paint quite a different picture of her. Her husband hasn't died just yet, though his death seems certain, when she hires Perry Mason to help her manage her estate. She gives Mason a key to her husband's office, a key for Mason to use once her husband has died. She hopes that Mason will discover the letter and the contents of the letter. That's the plan, at least. But that isn't exactly how events unfold....

I definitely enjoyed this one!!!  I would say more...but why spoil a good detective story?!

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Sunday Salon: Watching Return to Me

Return to Me is one of my favorite feel-good films. It's definitely an emotional film, I won't lie. The beginning, oh the beginning, it gets me every time. But it's a hopeful healing film, the kind that values family and friendship and living life to the fullest and making the most of your life.  I love the relationships in this one, I do, the friendships, the sense of community, of belonging. I love how easily Bob is accepted into the group, and how Bob does treasure these new relationships. And I absolutely adore the courtship of Grace and Bob, I do. It is magical and giddy-making. I love almost all of the characters--or at least the characters we're meant to care about. (I wasn't so fond of "water-lady"). It has its dramatic moments, of course, but it also has its humorous ones. And there are just some scenes that are WONDERFUL. (I love the bowling scene, for example, also the scene with "At Long Last Love." Well, I love most scenes.) If I could change just one little thing in this one, it would be some of the language in the film. Still there is enough in this film that makes it more than worthwhile. I just love it!!!

Have you seen it? Did you like it?

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

2012 Reading Challenges: Fall Into Reading





The Fall into Reading challenge is one of my favorites. It is hosted by Callapidder Days. (September 22nd through December 20th). (Link to sign-up page). I had great fun breaking my reading list into themes for the Spring Reading Thing, so I think I'll try to do the same for Fall Into Reading.


Historical Fiction

1. Dear America: Christmas After All. Kathryn Lasky.
2. Dear Mr. Darcy. Amanda Grange.
3. The Red Queen. Philippa Gregory.
4.  The Lady of the Rivers. Philippa Gregory.
5. The Kingmaker's Daughter. Philippa Gregory. 
6. Jump Into the Sky. Shelley Pearsall.
7. Yesterday's Dead. Pat Bourke.
8. Hannah Is a Palindrome. Mindy Warshaw Skolsky.
9. Hannah and the Best Father of Route 9W. Mindy Warshaw Skolsky.
10. Dear America: The Diary of Lydia Amelia Pierce, Like the Willow Tree, Portland Maine, 1918. Lois Lowry.

What historical fiction I hope to read:

1930s, America
Hannah and the Best Father of Route 9W by Mindy Warshaw Skolsky 

1918-1919, Canada

Yesterday's Dead by Pat Bourke
1930s, America
Dear America: Christmas After All: The Diary of Minnie Swift by Kathryn Lasky

15th century, England
The Red Queen by Philippa Gregory

15th century, England and France
Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory

15th century, England
The Kingmaker's Daughter by Philippa Gregory

Regency England
Dear Mr. Darcy by Amanda Grange

Science Fiction and Fantasy Series Books

1. The Giver. Lois Lowry.
2. Gathering Blue. Lois Lowry.
3. Messenger. Lois Lowry.
4. Son. Lois Lowry.
5. The Broken Lands. Kate Milford. 
6. Unwholly. Neal Shusterman.
7. The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) Robert Jordan.
8.  The Great Hunt. (Wheel of Time #2) Robert Jordan.
9. The Dragon Reborn. (Wheel of Time #3) Robert Jordan. 1991. Tor. 624 pages.   
10.  The Shadow Rising. (Wheel of Time #4) Robert Jordan.
11. The Fires of Heaven. (Wheel of Time #5) Robert Jordan.
12. Lord of Chaos. (Wheel of Time #6) Robert Jordan.
13. Catching Fire. Suzanne Collins.
14. Mockingjay. Suzanne Collins. 
15. Caught. (Missing #5) Margaret Peterson Haddix. 

What books I hope to read:

The Giver by Lois Lowry
Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry
Messenger by Lois Lowry
Son by Lois Lowry
Unwholly by Neal Shusterman

Caught (Missing Book #5) by Margaret Peterson Haddix

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan

The Broken Lands by Kate Milford

Middle Grade Books with Newbery Potential (or Mock Newbery Potential)

1. The Lions of Little Rock. Kristin Levine.
2. No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Michaux, Harlem Bookseller. Vaunda Micheaux Nelson.
3. Splendors and Glooms. Laura Amy Schlitz.
4. Three Times Lucky. Sheila Turnage.
5. Liar & Spy. Rebecca Stead.

Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead

Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

Splendor and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz

No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson

What Came From the Stars by Gary D. Schmidt

The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine

Nonfiction for MG/YA and Adult
1. Who Gets the Drumstick? Helen Beardsley.
2.
3.
4.
5.





© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, September 21, 2012

Goblin Secrets (MG/YA)

Goblin Secrets. William Alexander. 2012. Simon & Schuster. 240 pages.

Rownie woke when Graba knocked on the ceiling from the other side. Plaster dust drifted down from the knocking. Graba knocked again. Baskets hung on chains from the rafters, and they shook when she knocked.

Goblin Secrets was an almost-almost book for me. I do think that some readers will appreciate it, and I can see why some might even come to love it. For me, however, I was a little too confused about what was going on and what everything meant or really meant to enjoy it. The first half of the book, however, was lovely.

Rownie, our hero, has been "adopted" into Graba's "family." Graba is a local witch (of sorts) who always has a bunch of "grandchildren" around her to do her bidding. Rownie and his older brother, Rowan, were both "adopted" into this strange non-family. But now his brother is gone, and Rownie isn't really sure who he is and where he belongs. After being an audience volunteer at a goblin play, Graba throws him out of the house claiming he's a changeling. Rownie then seeks out the goblin troupe and joins them determined to learn their craft. Something that is illegal for him to do. (Only goblins can act in plays; only goblins can wear masks; only goblins can pretend to be something they're not.)

The premise is VERY interesting. But. It didn't quite work for me. There's one or two scenes in the middle that disoriented me almost, and I never quite recovered. I had a hard time connecting the dots between the weather--the flooding--and the masks.

Read Goblin Secrets
  • If you love fantasy and/or steampunk
  • If you love drama, theatre, traveling shows

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Two Bink and Gollie

Bink & Gollie. Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee. Illustrated by Tony Fucile. 2010. [September 2010] Candlewick Press. 96 pages.  

"Hello, Gollie," said Bink.
"What should we do today?"
"Greetings, Bink," said Gollie.
"I long for speed."
"Let's roller-skate!"


This chapter book contains three stories starring two friends: "Don't You Need a New Pair of Socks," "P.S. I'll Be Back Soon," and "Give a Fish A Home." I liked the two friends--one very short, one very tall--almost from the start. But while I like the characters, none of the stories really wowed me. The first story, "Don't You Need A New Pair of Socks" comes closest, perhaps. In this adventure, Bink discovers super-super bright socks at a bargain price. She loves her new socks so, so much. Gollie, however, is not a fan. At all. Bink later wants pancakes, Gollie, is happy to oblige, if and only if, Bink removes her offensively obnoxious oh-so-bright socks. Bink is hungry, very, very hungry, but she LOVES her socks. What is needed is a compromise, Bink removes one of her socks so she can have half a plate of pancakes. The second story is about wanting some alone-time. The third story is about a fish. The third story was probably my least favorite.

I did like the characters. I liked the friendship. I liked seeing the two contrasting personalities find ways to make it work.


 Bink and Gollie: Two for One. Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee. Illustrated by Tony Fucile. 2012. [June 2012] Candlewick Press, 96 pages.

Bink and Gollie are back for three more stories: "Whack a Duck," "You're Special, Aren't You?" and "Without Question." All three stories are set at a carnival or fair. In the first story, the poor man at the "Whack a Duck" booth gets more abuse than he bargained for. Poor Bink has terrible aim. She doesn't mean to keep hitting him with the ball--she really doesn't. But she WANTS to win the world's largest donut. In the second story, Gollie gets stage fright when she enters a talent show. In the third story, the two girls visit a fortune teller and hear about how they are going to be great friends always.

I definitely like the two characters Bink and Gollie. I like the characters more than I like the actual stories. Though the writing is good, I like some of the phrasing, for example.

"Whack something?" said the duck man.
"Win something?"
"I fear this can only end in tragedy," said Gollie.
"Did I win?" said Bink.
"Oh, Bink," said Gollie. "There are no winners here."
"Don't worry, Bink," said Gollie. "I'm sure the Whack-a-Duck man will be just fine."
"But I've never seen a grown man cry before," said Bink.
"Three bags of donuts, please," said Bink.
"I didn't win," said Bink.
"But we're all still alive," said Gollie.
"Duck a whack," said the duck man. "Step right up."
Read Bink & Gollie
  • If you like Kate DiCamillo
  • If you are looking for new early readers/chapter books to share with young readers
  • If you are looking for stories that emphasize friendship
© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Shiver Me Timbers!

Shiver me Timbers! Douglas Florian. Illustrated by Robert Neubecker. 2012. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages.

Douglas Florian is one of my favorite poets, I do tend to love his books. Shiver Me Timbers has to be one of my favorites. These pirate poems are so much fun!!! I definitely enjoyed the poems and the paintings. (I love the fact that the book says, "Pirates by Robert Neubecker.") I do have favorites, however!!!

I loved the opening poem, "Pirates Wear Patches." From the very first stanza, I knew that the book, the whole book, was going to be great fun.

And I couldn't wait to begin this adventure. I also loved "Me, Pirate." This poem is so much fun, very descriptive, and I just loved the ending! "Pirates Pirate" was also great fun! In fact, it may just be my favorite of the book. (Well, I'm not sure I could pick just one favorite. But if I had to narrow it down to one or two or three, this one would come close to being the one.) Here's how it begins: Some pirates pirate rubies. Some pirates pirate gold. Some pirates pirate diamonds: All that hands can hold.

I just love poetry like this. It is fun, playful, inviting, and it just flows so well, so rhythmic. I would definitely recommend this one!!! And I'd definitely recommend Douglas Florian!

The poems included:
  • Pirates Wear Patches
  • Pirate Patter
  • The Pirates' Code of Conduct
  • Names for Pirates
  • Pirate Punishment
  • Hiring Pirates
  • Pirates' Meal
  • Blackbeard
  • Buried Treasure
  • Me, Pirate
  • Pirates Pirate
  • Turtle Day
  • Captain Kidd
  • Pirate Flags
  • Me Pirate Weapons
  • Rule of the Pirate
  • Pyrates
  • Arrr!
  • A Pirate's Life
Read Shiver Me Timbers
  • If you're looking for fun, playful poetry that may excite readers to read/write poetry
  • If you're looking for pirate-themed picture books
© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Little Dog Lost (MG)

Little Dog Lost. Marion Dane Bauer. 2012. Illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages.

Little dog,
lost.
Little black dog with brown paws
and a brown mask
and a sweet ruffle of brown fur on her bum
just beneath her black whip of a tail.

Buddy is a dog who used to own a boy, but when her boy had to move to an apartment in a faraway city, well, Buddy was given to a nice-enough woman who didn't much care about having a dog for a friend. Buddy has a food bowl, a water bowl, a bed to sleep in. But companionship and attention and love? Not so much. So one day, she decides to run away. Of course, at the time she's more curious and wanting to explore the world outside her fenced yard that doesn't feel like home. But once she's out and about, once she's tasted freedom she's not particularly anxious to find her way back to her not-home.

Mark is a little boy who wants a dog, NEEDS a dog. He's tried just about EVERYTHING to get his mom's attention. So when Mark hears Buddy's "bark, bark, bark" he hears "Mark, Mark, Mark" and he's determined that this dog is destined to be his dog. But he's not the only one who hears Buddy, and he's not the only one in need of companionship.

I enjoyed this one. It is set in a very small town, and readers do get a glimpse of most of the town. And there are some interesting characters in town--some human, some dog, and one very opinionated cat who thinks she rules the town.

It is a verse novel which makes this one a very light read. I liked the novel. Yes, in a way it was sad, in that Buddy is mourning the loss of her boy and she doesn't understand why he had to move away with his family and why she couldn't come with them. But it is a novel about new beginnings too. 

Read Little Dog, Lost
  • If you're a dog lover, if you like reading dog books
  • If you like family-friendly children's books, books that make you feel-good
  • If you like books with small town settings

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Day of the Assassins (YA)

 Day of the Assassins. (Jack Christie #1) Johnny O'Brien. 2009. Candlewick. 224 pages.

The shock wave from an air burst lifted Jack up and threw him backward twenty feet, his body twisting in midair as he flew.

I wanted to like this one more. In fact, I was hoping to love it. I love history and love the premise of time travel in my fiction. Jack and his friend Angus are somewhat unlikely time travelers. Though, in a way, they've been preparing for it to a certain degree. Jack has a decided interest in a video game, "Point of Departure" about World War I. The game has levels, of course as you'd expect, and players can try to change history, etc. Angus enjoys the game, too. And one day while they are playing they discover a secret lab of sorts that they guess belonged to Jack's absent-father. They tell one of their teachers about it, and, of course, he just happens to be in the now. Turns out the teacher and Jack's father both know about the oh-so-secret invention of a time travel machine. Anyway, the two boys happen to be in the right place, right time to go back to 1914...and there are good guys and bad guys from the present and past after them. I liked the premise of this one better than the actual story. I'm not sure if it was just my mood, or, if it is a weak story. I liked it well enough, I definitely wanted to know what happened. But, I was hoping to like it more, I was wanting to be wowed. 

Read Day of the Assassins
  • If you enjoy science fiction and time travel
  • If you want to read more about World War I, the events leading up to the war 
  • If you enjoy adventure stories with a historical focus

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Rose of York: Love & War (YA)

The Rose of York. Love & War. Sandra Worth. 2003. End Table Books. 340 pages.

The messenger tore through the night. The desolate, snowy streets of London posed little danger in the comforting dark, but at London Bridge he reined in his nervous mount. 

I have mixed feelings on this first volume in Sandra Worth's Rose of York trilogy. First, you should know that I love this period in history. I have read half-a-dozen or so novels set during this time period. Some treat Richard III sympathetically, others not so much. Though Shakespeare, in my opinion, treats him the worst of all that I've read. I do like Richard III. I do like books who treat him sympathetically. Which is one reason this one was an enjoyable read. But does it take Richard III to the other extreme? Is he too perfect? too saintly? too heroic? I'm not sure. Is the romance between Anne and Richard too much of a fairy tale? I don't know.

Was Love and War an easy read for me because I am so familiar with the story? Or has Worth just simplified the story for her audience? Would others find it confusing and complex? I'm not sure. The truth is there are dozens of players in this royal drama. And the story itself is detailed and quite complex. It didn't feel that way in Love and War, at least not to me. It seems the characters have been simplified. Each falls quickly into either being "good" or "bad."

The writing was simple, a bit rushed in places, but overall simple and straightforward.

Is it fair to compare this one to Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman? True, not every reader would find Sunne in Splendour one of the best, best historical novels ever. True, some might be intimidated by a 900 page novel. Love & War, unlike Sunne in Splendour, doesn't try to tell a comprehensive, complex story. It is primarily a novel solely focused on romance--the romance between Richard and Anne. Yes, Richard's relationship with his brother, the King, and his relationship with Anne's father, "the Kingmaker," enter into it. As does his relationship with his other brother, George. But mainly as complications or obstacles to his one true love. Sunne in Splendour, on the other hand, really is about the time period, the politics, the society, the royal family and the nobility, the drama and chaos of war and love and loss and betrayal.

Read Love & War
  • If you like historical fiction with a strong emphasis on romance
  • If you like simple, sweet historical romances
  • If you are interested in Richard III and this time period (late fifteenth century)
And this is not to be missed:

 

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sunday Salon: Watching Robin Hood, Season 1

I recently watched the first season of the BBC Robin Hood series. While I didn't exactly LOVE it, I did find it compelling enough to keep watching. I'm not sure when I'll try to watch the rest of the series. But at some point, I probably will go back to the show. I like quite a few things about the show. For one, it has Richard Armitage.  He plays Guy of Gisbourne. I like the action, in many ways. Though it doesn't really compare to Errol Flynn and Basil Rathbone. Much (played by Sam Troughton) was probably my favorite character overall. I enjoyed him even more than Robin Hood (played by Jonas Armstrong). In some ways the show does improve after the initial episodes, in other ways, however, I thought the show declined. There was definitely promise and potential. Overall, I liked the basic idea of the series, but individual episodes disappointed or frustrated me. The costume design definitely disappointed me.

Have you seen this series? Did you like it? Should I watch season 2?

Watch Robin Hood, the BBC series
  • If you enjoy the story/legend of Robin Hood and don't mind modern changes to the story (dialogue, costumes, stories and plot twists)
  • If you enjoy BBC dramas
  • If you enjoy action with a little bit of romance
  • If you enjoy action, adventure stories. Lots of chasing, fighting, escaping, etc.

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Library Loot: Third Trip in September

New Loot:
  • Shirley by Charlotte Bronte
  • The Sadness of the Samurai by Victor del Arbol
  • Binky Takes Charge by Ashley Spires
  • No Crystal Stair by Vaunda Micheaux Nelson
  • The Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
  • A Memory Between Us by Sarah Sundin
  • Blue Skies Tomorrow by Sarah Sundin
  • Evolution of the Word by Marcus J. Borg
  • Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul

Leftover Loot:

  • Shiver Me Timbers: Pirate Poems and Paintings by Douglas Florian
  • City by Clifford D. Simak
  • Worship: The Ultimate Priority by John MacArthur
  • Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems
  • Mouse Paint by Ellen Stoll Walsh
  • Boy + Bot by Ame Dyckman
  • A Gentleman of Fortune by Anna Dean
  • A Woman of Consequence by Anna Dean
 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.  
 

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Sisters of Glass (YA)

Sisters of Glass. Stephanie Hemphill. 2012. Random House. 160 pages.

I feel Giovanna's fire 
as Mother prepares me for suitors,
polishes me
while Giovanna polishes glass. 

Sisters of Glass is a historical novel told in verse. It is the story of two sisters struggling to find happiness. The second daughter, Maria, if she follows her father's wishes and the terms of his will, is to marry nobility. Maria knows her older sister, Giovanna, begrudges her this so-called privilege. But what can she do? Doesn't she owe it to her father's memory to marry well? Doesn't she owe it to her mother, her sister, her brothers, her uncle? As a sign of respect and duty. So she goes along with the training, the preparation, the new rules. But is she happy about the situation? Not really. The family meets with several potential suitors before finally agreeing on a match with Andrea Bembo. The family visits Venice several times during this engagement. Giovanna seems more thrilled with Venice, with Andrea, than Maria.

And then there's Luca, a glassblower, who works for the family, who has just become a partner in the second fornica. She loves sneaking out to visit with him, to watch quietly as he works, to discuss his work, his art. She misses being involved in the work, in being a part of the family business. She misses helping, misses watching art happen.

Can "true love" find a way for both girls to be happy?

Read Sisters of Glass
  • If you enjoy historical fiction
  • If you enjoy historical romance
  • If you enjoy verse novels
  • If you enjoy books set in Italy

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2012 Completed Challenges: Classic Bribe

I am late in posting what I read for The Classic Bribe challenge/event.

1. Othello. William Shakespeare. 1603.
2. Martian Chronicles. Ray Bradbury. (1950)
3. Man in the Brown Suit. Agatha Christie (1924)
4. The Light Princess. George MacDonald. (1864)
5. The Secret Adversary. Agatha Christie (1922)
6. The Princess and the Goblin. George MacDonald.
7. Cousin Henry. Anthony Trollope. 1879. 336 pages.
8. Mrs. McGinty's Dead. Agatha Christie. 1952/2011. HarperCollins. 272 pages.
9. Much Ado About Nothing. William Shakespeare. 1599.
10. Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury. 1953/2003. Random House. 190 pages.
11. Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens.
12. Lin McLean by Owen Wister
13. Diary of a Pilgrimage by Jerome K. Jerome
14. Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie
15.  Idle Thoughts for an Idle Fellow by Jerome K. Jerome
16. The Princess and the Curdie by George MacDonald
17. Lorna Doone. R.D. Blackmore.
18. Lady Audley's Secret. Mary Elizabeth Braddon.
19. Black Beauty. Anna Sewell.
20. After Dark. Wilkie Collins.
21. Lady Susan. Jane Austen 1794?/1871. 64 pages.
22. The Story of the Trapp Family Singers. Maria Augusta Trapp. 1949/2001. HarperCollins. 320 pages.


© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hannah Is a Palindrome (MG)

Hannah Is a Palindrome. Mindy Warshaw Skolsky. 1980. HarperCollins. 128 pages.

On a beautiful warm day in Indian summer, Hannah's father told Hannah and her mother he had something he wanted to show them.
"It's a surprise," he said.
"Hooray!" said Hannah. She loved her father's surprises.
Hannah's mother looked worried. She didn't love Hannah's father's surprises as much as Hannah did.


While I didn't enjoy Hannah is a Palindrome as much as Love From Your Friend, Hannah--one of the sequels to this book--I did enjoy it. In this Hannah adventure, the family moves to Grand View and buys a restaurant/gas station. The family settles into their home-restaurant and opens their business. Hannah is involved in everything--as you might expect. And Hannah's mother begins to garden--something she has wanted to do most of her life but never been able to do since they've never had any land. Hannah's father is continuing to invent things, in this novel, for example, he invents a trap door in the bathroom leading to the cellar, and he invents something that makes nine (square) hamburgers all at once. A small amount of time is spent on Hannah's school life and homework, and, there is a delightful Halloween episode in this one. One of the school chapters is about Hannah being classroom monitor when the teacher steps out of the room. Some time is spent in the restaurant as well--showing Hannah waiting on customers.

Overall, this is an enjoyable historical novel for children set in the early 1930s.

Read Hannah is a Palindrome
  • If you enjoy historical fiction and want to meet a great narrator--Hannah is great!
  • If you are looking for realistic (but at the same time positive) books set during the Great Depression
  • If you like family-friendly books about loving, caring families 
© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone (MG)

Princess Academy: Palace of Stone. Shannon Hale. 2012. Bloomsbury.  336 pages.

Miri woke to the insistent bleat of a goat. She squeaked open one eye. Pale yellow sky slipped through the cracks in the shutters.

Miri and the other graduates of the Princess Academy are preparing to go to capital city to attend the princess-to-be, Britta. Miri will even have the privilege of attending Queen's Castle--a university. Peder, Miri's best friend, will be heading to the capital as well, as an apprentice to a stone carver. But the months leading up to Britta and Steffen will be anything but boring...

Katar, the delegate from Mount Eskel, confides in Miri that there is talk of revolution. The "shoeless" are conspiring against the aristocracy. And she's hoping that Miri can get to the bottom of it, discover who is plotting and why...and determine which side is in the right. And attending Queen's Castle, Miri does in fact discover how unhappy, restless, and angry people are with the royal family, with the way things are done in the kingdom. Miri listens quite sympathetically and decides that change does need to happen, that the people have a right to fight against injustice....so what does this mean for her relationship with Britta and the other royals?

Most of Palace of Stone focuses on Miri and her new friends and acquaintances. (Peder has some competition as well.) Politics definitely play a big role in this one! As does education and literacy.

I really loved it. I certainly couldn't put it down! The writing was great. Hale does have a way with words. I would definitely recommend both books.

Read Palace of Stone
  • If you're a fan of Shannon Hale
  • If you're a fan of Princess Academy
  • If you like a blend of fantasy and politics--think Megan Whalen Turner.
  • If you like fantasy with light romance

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Princess Academy (MG)

Princess Academy. Shannon Hale. 2005. Bloomsbury. 336 pages.

Miri woke to the sleepy bleating of a goat. The world was as dark as eyes closed, but perhaps the goats could smell dawn seeping through the cracks in the house's stone walls.

I decided to reread Princess Academy by Shannon Hale in anticipation of Princess Academy: Palace of Stone. It had been years since I'd read it, and I thought I would only appreciate the new novel more if I took the time to reread the first book. I am SO GLAD I did. This is a lovely fantasy novel!!!

The heroine of Princess Academy is a young girl named Miri. She's the youngest in her family, and much beloved by her father and older sister. So her parting with her family is definitely bittersweet. But sometimes girls don't have a choice in when they leave home, or why they leave home. Miri along with the other girls in her mountain village are compelled to attend a Princess Academy in preparation for a grand ball. It has been foretold that the Prince will marry a young girl from Mount Eskel, and so an academy must be formed to transform that mountain girl into a lady. It will ultimately be the Prince's choice, but all the young girls are potential princesses, all must receive equal training.

Princess Academy is a coming-of-age fantasy novel that delights!!! It's such a joy to spend time with Miri and Britta and some of the other young girls. And Peder is wonderful as well!!! Every glimpse of Peder is worth it! For Peder is the boy whom Miri loves dearly--though she's too afraid to say how much she likes him. Is this a proper-proper romance? I wouldn't say it was. There is something sweet, innocent, pure, and delightful about it.

I loved the characters, the writing, the pacing, and the setting!!! Everything was just about perfect. I definitely recommend this one.

Read The Princess Academy
  • If you enjoy children's fantasy novels 
  • If you are looking for a family-friendly fantasy novel
  • If you are a fan of Shannon Hale

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Double Dog Dare (MG)

Double Dog Dare. Lisa Graff. 2012. Penguin. 304 pages.

Most wars begin with a bang, or a blast, or an enormous KABOOM! The war in room 43H began with a simple question.  

I enjoyed Lisa Graff's Double Dog Dare. Did I love, love, love it as much as her novel, Umbrella Summer? Probably not. I mean Umbrella Summer was a really magical read for me. I just identified with that one a bit more than this one. But. I do think that Lisa Graff is a good writer and that her latest novel, Double Dog Dare, is worth reading.

Double Dog Dare is told from two perspectives. Our heroine, Francine, is a good girl, she's known for being a good girl: good grades, responsible, respectful, a rule-keeper. Our hero, Kansas Bloom, is the new kid. He's so new to the school, to the town, that his identity--his reputation--is still in the making. Kansas didn't exactly ask for all the attention that he's been given. But he certainly knows how to use it to his advantage. Though I never got the sense that Kansas was manipulative. Well. Not about the election/vote. So. Who are these two kids? Both Francine and Kansas are in the running to be news anchor for the school's morning announcements. The classroom vote was a tie, and the teacher, who was extremely relaxed, decided to let these two student "double dog dare" it out for the remaining weeks in the fall semester. Whoever wins the most dares, can get the job. The teacher does not interfere in the slightest--even when the dares involve Francine going into the boys bathroom to write "Francine was here" or when Kansas flies his underwear up the flagpole. Doesn't say a critical word about Francine's hair being dyed green or Kansas wearing a pink tutu all day long.

Both Francine and Kansas are having issues at home, which is revealed as the novel continues. Can these two find common ground and work out their differences?

I liked this one well enough. It was a quick read.

Read Double Dog Dare
  • If you're looking for realistic fiction for Middle Grade
  • If you're looking for school-related, friendship-related fiction
  • If you're a fan of Lisa Graff

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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