Thursday, March 31, 2016

March Reflections

Stand-Out Books Read in March 2016
  1. There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight. Penny Parker Klostermann. Illustrated by Ben Mantle. 2015. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. How To Dress A Dragon. Thelma Lynne Godin. Illustrated by Eric Barclay. 2016. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. Ann Likes Red. Dorothy Z. Seymour. Illustrated by Nancy Meyeroff. 1965. 28 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear. Lindsay Mattick. Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. 2015. Little, Brown. 56 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. Hour of the Bees. Lindsay Eagar. 2016. Candlewick. 360 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  6. The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor. Mark Schatzker. 2015. Simon & Schuster. 272 pages. [Source: Library]
5 Places "visited" in March:
  1. Narnia
  2. Iran
  3. New Mexico
  4. Prince Edward Island
  5. London, England
Picture books (also board books now and then):
  1. There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight. Penny Parker Klostermann. Illustrated by Ben Mantle. 2015. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Library] [Humor]
  2. How To Dress A Dragon. Thelma Lynne Godin. Illustrated by Eric Barclay. 2016. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Humor]
  3. Peppa's Busy Day Magnet Book. 2016. Scholastic. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Novelty]
  4. Last Stop on Market Street. Matt de la Pena. Illustrated by Christian Robinson. 2015. 32 pages. [Source: Library] [Award Winner]
  5. The House That Zack Built. Alison Murray. 2016. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. A Big Surprise for Little Card. Charise Mericle Harper. Illustrated by Anna Raff. 2016. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Early readers (also a few early chapter books now and then):
  1. Ann Likes Red. Dorothy Z. Seymour. Illustrated by Nancy Meyeroff. 1965. 28 pages. [Source: Bought] [Childhood Favorite]
  2. Moo Bird. David Milgrim. 2015. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Review copy] [Early Reader]
  3. Clover the Bunny (Dr. KittyCat #2) Jane Clarke. Scholastic. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]  [Early Chapter Book, Animal fantasy]
  4. A Pig, A Fox, and a Box. Jonathan Fenske. 2015. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]  [Early reader, animal fantasy]
  5. Ballet Cat Dance! Dance! Underpants. Bob Shea. 2016. Disney-Hyperion. 56 pages. [Source: Library] [early reader, animal fantasy]
Contemporary (General, realistic) fiction, all ages:
  1. Hour of the Bees. Lindsay Eagar. 2016. Candlewick. 360 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Slight fantasy, possible magical realism, definite coming-of-age]
  2. Skinnybones. Barbara Park. 1982/2016. 111 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Humor, sports]
  3. American Ace. Marilyn Nelson. 2016. 128 pages. [Source: Library] [Verse novel]
  4. The Pastures of Heaven. John Steinbeck. 1932. 207 pages. [Source: Library] [Short stories]
Speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, etc.) all ages:
  1. The Adventures of Miss Petitfour. Anne Michaels. 2015. [November 2015] Tundra. 144 pages. [Source: Library] [Slight fantasy--think Mary Poppins, only with CATS, lots of cats]
  2. Tuck Everlasting. Natalie Babbitt. 1975. FSG. 139 pages. [Source: Library] [Slight fantasy, coming -of-age]
  3. Little Cat's Luck. Marion Dane Bauer. Illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell. 2016. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages. [Source: Library] [animal fantasy, verse novel]
  4. The Silver Chair. (Chronicles of Narnia #4) C.S. Lewis. 1953. HarperCollins. 243 pages. [Source: Bought] [fantasy, children's classic]
  5. The Screwtape Letters. C.S. Lewis. 1942. HarperCollins. 224 pages. [Source: Bought] [adult fantasy, christian classic]
  6. Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury. 1953/1991. Del Rey. 179 pages. [Source: Bought]  [classic, dystopia]
  7. Hour of the Bees. Lindsay Eagar. 2016. Candlewick. 360 pages. [Source: Review copy] [slight fantasy, part realistic coming-of-age]
  8. Megan's Brood. Roy Burdine. 2015. 105 pages. [Source: Review copy] [fantasy]
Historical fiction, all ages:
  1. My Name Is Not Friday. Jon Walter. 2016. Scholastic. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy] [civil war/slavery]
  2. By the Stars. Lindsay B. Ferguson. 2016. Cedar Fort. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy] [world war II, romance]
  3. Defend and Betray. (William Monk #3) Anne Perry. 1992. 439 pages. [Source: Bought] [historical mystery, series book]
  4. A Sudden, Fearful Death. Anne Perry. 1993. 464 pages. [Source: Library] [historical mystery, series book]
  5. The Sins of the Wolf (William Monk #5). Anne Perry. 1995. 436 pages. [Source: Library]  [historical mystery, series book]
Mysteries, all ages:
  1. Defend and Betray. (William Monk #3) Anne Perry. 1992. 439 pages. [Source: Bought] [historical mystery, series book]
  2. A Sudden, Fearful Death. Anne Perry. 1993. 464 pages. [Source: Library] [historical mystery, series book]
  3. The Sins of the Wolf (William Monk #5). Anne Perry. 1995. 436 pages. [Source: Library] [historical mystery, series book]
Classics, all ages:
  1. Anne of Avonlea. L.M. Montgomery. 1909. 304 pages. [Bought] [children's classic, series book]
  2. The Pastures of Heaven. John Steinbeck. 1932. 207 pages. [Source: Library] [short stories]
  3. Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury. 1953/1991. Del Rey. 179 pages. [Source: Bought] [dystopia, science fiction]
  4. The Screwtape Letters. C.S. Lewis. 1942. HarperCollins. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]  [adult fiction, christian classic]
  5. The Silver Chair. (Chronicles of Narnia #4) C.S. Lewis. 1953. HarperCollins. 243 pages. [Source: Bought] [children's classic, fantasy]
  6. Mere Christianity. C.S. Lewis. 1943. 256 pages. [Source: Library][Christian classic]
Nonfiction, all ages:
  1. Not Without My Daughter. Betty Mahmoody. 1987. 432 pages. [Source: Library] [Memoir]
  2. Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World's Most Famous Bear. Lindsay Mattick. Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. 2015. Little, Brown. 56 pages. [Source: Library] [Picture book]
  3. The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor. Mark Schatzker. 2015. Simon & Schuster. 272 pages. [Source: Library] [Adult nonfiction]
  4. My Name is Mahtob. Mahtob Moody. 2015. Thomas Nelson. 352 pages. [Source: Library] [Memoir]

Christian fiction:
  1. A Sweet Misfortune. Maggie Brendan. 2016. Revell. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Historical Romance]
  2. The Screwtape Letters. C.S. Lewis. 1942. HarperCollins. 224 pages. [Source: Bought] [Adult fantasy]
  3. The Temple: Sacred Poems and Private Ejaculations. George Herbert. 1633. 192 pages. [Source: Library] [poetry]
Christian nonfiction:  
  1. Habits for Our Holiness. Philip Nation. 2016. Moody Publishers. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Christian living, spiritual disciplines, theology]
  2. Touching the Hem: A Biblical Response to Physical Suffering. Elizabeth A. Johnson. 2013. Ambassador International. 160 pages. [Source: Bought] [christian living, suffering, christian nonfiction]
  3. Lessons from a Hospital Bed. John Piper. 2016. Crossway. 80 pages. [Source: Free from Desiring God Ministries.] [Gift book, christian living, suffering]
  4. A Peculiar Glory. John Piper. Crossway. 2016. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy] [book about the Bible, christian nonfiction, theology]
  5. Parables. John MacArthur. 2015. Thomas Nelson. 288 pages. [Source: Gift from Grace to You] [book about the Bible, christian nonfiction]
  6. Walking As He Walked. Joel R. Beeke. 2002/2007. 133 pages. [Source: Bought] [Christian living, christian nonfiction]
  7. Hosea and Joel. J. Vernon McGee. 1978/1996. Thomas Nelson. 180 pages. [Source: Bought] [Bible commentary]
  8. Mere Christianity. C.S. Lewis. 1943. 256 pages. [Source: Library] [Christian classic]
  9. 1 Corinthians: The Word of the Cross. Stephen T. Um. 2015. Crossway. 368 pages. [Source: Review copy] [Bible commentary]
  10. My Name is Mahtob. Mahtob Moody. 2015. Thomas Nelson. 352 pages. [Source: Library] [Memoir]
  11. The Answer to Bad Religion is Not No Religion. Martin Thielen. 2014. Westminster John Knox. 160 pages. [Source: Library] [Not exactly recommended]
  12. Healed of Cancer. Dodie Osteen. 1986/2003. Lakewood Church. 81 pages. [Source: Borrowed] [Definitely not recommended]
© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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A Big Surprise for Little Card

A Big Surprise for Little Card. Charise Mericle Harper. Illustrated by Anna Raff. 2016. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Little Card lived in a building with all of his card friends. Each card had a special job.

Premise/plot: Each card has a purpose, a unique purpose. Little Card receives a letter in the mail marked "L.C." he begins training as a birthday card. But it seems there was a mix-up. Long Card was meant to receive that training, and he was meant to be a LIBRARY card. How is the library like a birthday? Little Card sees some similarities. Little Card isn't just "a" library card, he is Alex's library card. Readers learn along with Alex and Little Card about the library.

My thoughts: It has a unique premise, in my opinion. I'm not sure I absolutely needed to see a talking library card in order to appreciate the library. But it could always be worse. I do LOVE the library. And I do love books. And this picture book celebrates reading and the library. So there is that!

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Pastures of Heaven

The Pastures of Heaven. John Steinbeck. 1932. 207 pages. [Source: Library]

This was not my first Steinbeck, but, even so I didn't know quite what to expect. Sometimes I love, love, love his work, and, other times I really almost hate it. The Pastures of Heaven is a collection of inter-connected short stories set in California, spanning several decades, I believe.

I wouldn't consider myself a fan of short stories--usually. The one notable exception being my love for L.M. Montgomery's short stories. But. I found the stories within The Pastures of Heaven to be compelling and entertaining. I read the book all in one sitting, it was just that hard to put down. True, it's not a huge book. But still, it's worth noting all the same. There was a time when I read many books quickly, but, that isn't the case anymore.

The characters. What can I say? Some I really liked. Some I really hated. Some I almost felt pity for more than anything else. I think overall one could easily say that Steinbeck created very human, very flawed, very authentic-feeling characters. Some stories were on the amusing side; others were almost melancholy. I liked the variety. Not just of the emotions within the stories and the types of stories, but, also of the narratives, of the narrators.

I was not a fan of Grapes of Wrath, but, I am a fan of Pastures of Heaven.

Favorite quote:
He knew that the people who were to be his new neighbors were staring at him although he could never catch them at it. This secret staring is developed to a high art among country people. They have seen every uncovered bit of you, have tabulated and memorized the clothes you are wearing, have noticed the color of your eyes and the shape of your nose, and, finally have reduced your figure and personality to three or four adjectives, and all the time you thought they were oblivious to your presence. (12)


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, March 29, 2016

The House That Zack Built

The House That Zack Built. Alison Murray. 2016. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: This is the house that Zack built. And this is the fly that buzzed on by, over the house that Zack built. This is the cat that stalked the fly that buzzed on by, over the house that Zack built.

Premise/plot: A retelling, of sorts, of The House that Jack Built. Zack, the house-builder, lives on the farm. And animals feature prominently in this retelling.

My thoughts: While I am not a fan of The House That Jack Built, I am very much a fan of The House that Zack Built. Part of the charm, for me, is the CAT. This gray-and-white cat had me at hello. And finding the cat on each page, and seeing the cat's expression was great fun for me. This cat has ATTITUDE, trust me. I liked the text. I did. I thought the rhythm and rhyme of it worked well. But I really enjoyed the illustrations.

Text: 3.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, March 28, 2016

Ballet Cat Dance! Dance! Underpants

Ballet Cat Dance! Dance! Underpants. Bob Shea. 2016. Disney-Hyperion. 56 pages. [Source: Library]

For the record, I have not read the first Ballet Cat book. So perhaps if I had, I would have maybe liked this one more than I did. It's not that I didn't like it, mind you. It's just that I didn't find it amazingly wonderful and laugh-out-loud funny.

Ballet Cat is playing with Butter Bear. She wants to play ballet. Butter Bear wants to play ballet, too, so long as playing ballet doesn't include mandatory leaps--or super high leaps. Ballet Cat is insistent. Leaping is required. No exceptions. Butter Bear makes half-a-dozen or so excuses...before revealing the real reason. Why won't Butter Bear leap???

The answer, my friend, is in the title. So it's not a complete surprise, perhaps. But if you have a little one who laughs and giggles every time the word "underpants" or "underwear" is mentioned, then this one is worth picking up.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, March 27, 2016

What Easter is About



© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, March 26, 2016

There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight

There Was An Old Dragon Who Swallowed a Knight. Penny Parker Klostermann. Illustrated by Ben Mantle. 2015. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: There was an old dragon who swallowed a knight. I don't know why he swallowed the knight. It's not polite! There was an old dragon who swallowed a steed that galloped around at a terrible speed. Oh, how the dragon wished it would stop, that clippity, clippity, clippity clop. He swallowed the steed right after the knight. I don't know why he swallowed the knight. It's not polite!

Premise/plot: A rendition of "There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly" starring a fire-breathing dragon...

My thoughts: For the record, I just have to say that I loathe "There Was An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly." It is not a story or song that I particularly enjoy, and definitely not one that I like to see copied, adapted, parodied endlessly by other writers. But you might notice the five stars I gave it. Why? If I don't "like" the original, and if I usually don't like other renditions?! Because this one is fun, lively, and delightful. Half the book focuses on the 'old dragon' swallowing stuff--a knight, a steed, a squire, a cook, etc--and half the book focuses on the 'old dragon' burping all that stuff back up. Or does he?!

The text works--for me--because the rhythm and rhyme of it work. It is crucial for me to have it; it is that certain something that makes a book decidedly good. A picture book without a proper working of rhythm and rhyme, a natural flow--though not overly forced or it becomes embarrassingly unnatural and awkward--is just sad. A good picture book text should flow naturally enough that any one should be able to read it aloud easily and comfortably. Some books require a good amount of practice and experimentation and energetic effort to get the "reading aloud" just right.

The illustrations also work well for me. I love them. The illustrations were quite detailed and expressive. I loved the last spread.

Overall, I'd say this one was quite satisfying.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, March 25, 2016

How To Dress A Dragon

How To Dress A Dragon. Thelma Lynne Godin. Illustrated by Eric Barclay. 2016. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: If you have to dress a dragon, you must be prepared to catch him as he flies by. You may have to tickle-tackle him to the floor and give him belly kisses.

Premise/plot: A boy demonstrates for readers HOW to dress a dragon. It isn't an easy task certainly!!!! The book is quite informative. Dragons LOVE underwear, but, hate shirts and pants. (Good thing they like capes, shorts, and hats!)

My thoughts: I love, love, love this one. So silly. So funny. So quirky. (Its endpapers are underwear!) It just had me at hello from the very start. I think I "knew" how good this one would be based on the cover alone.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 10 out of 10


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, March 24, 2016

Hour of the Bees

Hour of the Bees. Lindsay Eagar. 2016. Candlewick. 360 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I adored Lindsay Eagar's Hour of the Bees. Sometimes I wish 'reviewing' books was as simple as saying: READ THIS BOOK. TRUST ME. But it's never that simple. Words have to be found somehow to try to do this book justice.

Carol, the heroine, isn't exactly thrilled that she'll be spending the summer with her family on her grandfather's sheep farm in the New Mexico desert. Her father and grandfather have not gotten along, and so this is the first time he'll be meeting his grandchildren: Carol and Lu. (Or as he likes to call them Carolina and Luis. There is also Carol and Lu's half-sister, Alta.) Since they don't get along, why are they going? For the simple reason that he is getting older, and, he has dementia. He "needs" to be at a facility where he can be looked after closely. Living on an isolated drought-plagued farm miles away from any town is not an option anymore. But as you might imagine, he does not want to go; he doesn't want to leave the home he shared with his wife, Rosa. (Rosa died the same day Carol was born.)

Perhaps the first day was a bit of a struggle full of strange, awkward moments where no one was quite comfortable. But relatively soon after their arrival, Carol becomes drawn to her grandpa like a magnet. She especially loves to hear him tell stories. The stories are vivid and magical, and, they almost always start the same way: Once upon a time, there was a tree...

The family works HARD; it is exhausting work in the heat. And whether the drought has been 'a hundred years' like her grandfather claimed, or just a few years, it is HOT and miserable. Yet Carol finds herself having the best summer of her life. How can this be?!

One unusual thing about this summer is that bees seem to follow Carol EVERYWHERE. She is always seeing or hearing bees. Her grandfather, Serge, claims that the bees will bring the rain. That it was in fact the bees who took the lake--each one taking one drop of the lake as they flew off...

The stories Serge tells feel timeless...and that's one reason why Carol can't get enough of them. But can she actually believe in her grandfather's stories? Will you?

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, March 23, 2016

By The Stars

By the Stars. Lindsay B. Ferguson. 2016. Cedar Fort. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Do you enjoy reading books about World War II? Do you enjoy reading romance novels? Would you find it refreshing to read a book with Mormon characters that isn't about polygamy and sister wives? By the Stars by Lindsay B. Ferguson may be just the book you're looking for. The book is primarily set in Utah, except for the chapters that follow our hero, Cal, to training camp and war. The story has a framework, someone has come to Cal's home to interview him. Subsequently, Cal is telling his story--his and Kate's story humbly and simply. Most of the book, I suppose, is what I'd call a flashback.

Cal and Kate met in junior high school. Their lockers were next to each other. For him, it was love at first sight. For her, well, she wasn't looking for love right then. And while she was friendly enough, she wasn't overly interested in being best-best friends or having him as a boyfriend. But that was then. The book gives readers glimpses of their encounters, meetings. A scene here and there spread out over ten years.

I can see why these glimpses had to be so short and almost disconnected. To keep the story moving. After all, if the narrative were continuous, and the book started when he was in eighth grade, the book would be at least a couple hundred more pages. And it would have a lot more angst more likely. That being said, I had a hard time at first really connecting with the characters. This didn't stay the case by any means. But it was almost like I was waiting for the "real" story to begin.

After Cal returns from his three year mission trip for the church (which we learn little about besides his bus trip there, and his first day there), he reconnects with Kate. But don't imagine for a second, that it will be easy to woo her. For Kate won't easily be persuaded to say "I do" to anyone. She doesn't, she asserts again and again, believe in marriage....

Cal's time in the war was in the last year. Readers get glimpses of the war as well....

Once the romance starts, the story picks up. If you like romance, I think this one will work for you. I have to be in the exact right mood for romance. (I think of Anne Shirley needing just the right kind of pen in order to be able to right mushy love letters to Gilbert Blythe in Anne of Windy Poplars.) I wasn't in that right mood while I was reading this one. But even so, I found it enjoyable enough.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Clover the Bunny (2016)

Clover the Bunny (Dr. KittyCat #2) Jane Clarke. Scholastic. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I would have LOVED, LOVED, LOVED the Dr. Kittycat series as a child. I would have. I know it. Partly because even as an adult, I am charmed and quite pleased. Partly because I've always had a fondness for cats and animals.

So Clover the Bunny is the second book in the series. Dr. KittyCat and Peanut are planning a camping trip. Sadly, some animals who were planning to go with them came down with paw pox. Fortunately, not everyone got sick. (You do only get paw pox once, and if you've had it, you're immune.) Clover, a bunny, is one of the animals going camping. And it is Clover who happens to need quite a bit of medical attention throughout the book! Dr. KittyCat is always prepared, and so is Peanut!

The story is cute and charming, and, probably won't appeal to every adult certainly. It probably won't appeal to every single child either. But for the right child, this might be the series that gets them super-excited to pick up a book! And series books are so essential in this stage of development!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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What's On Your Nightstand (March)


The folks at 5 Minutes For Books host What’s On Your Nightstand? the fourth Tuesday of each month in which we can share about the books we have been reading and/or plan to read.
Stuffed: An Insider's Look At Who's (Really) Making America Fat And How the Food Industry Can Fix It. Hank Cardello. 2009. 258 pages. [Source: Library]

I'm about halfway through this one. It is interesting. Perhaps not as interesting as The Dorito Effect which I reviewed earlier this month. But interesting all the same. I'm finding it a bit dated actually. Which I think is a good thing. Since some of the "new" and "coming soon" things he was talking about have come to pass. (For example, restaurants making nutrition information available to customers, fast food restaurants offering salads, etc.)

Eat Fat, Get Thin. Mark Hyman. 2016. Little Brown. 400 pages. [Source: Library]

I am next on the hold list. Assuming that the person ahead of me isn't fond of late fees and returns the book on time, I should have this one by the weekend! Not that I'm counting down the days. Okay. Maybe a little. I've seen the author talk about the book on Dr. Oz, and, I've seen glimpses of the PBS special. And I'm looking forward to seeing the big picture and not just excerpt-size bits. This is probably one of my most-anticipated reads of the year.

Churchill: The Power of Words: His Remarkable Life Recounted Through His Writings and Speeches. Winston Churchill. Selected. Edited. Introduced by Martin Gilbert.

That's Not English: Britishisms, Americanisms, and What Our English Says About Us. Erin Moore. 2015. 223 pages. [Source: Library]

I'm not very far into this one. But I hope to make time for it soon. 

Heaven and the Afterlife: The Truth About Tomorrow and What It Means for Today. Erwin Lutzer. 2016. Moody. 480 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Essentially this is an omnibus edition of three of Lutzer's books: One Minute After You Die, How You Can Be Sure You Will Spend Eternity with God, and Your Eternal Rewards. All were originally published in the 1990s, I believe. I've read them all before, but, they're so good they deserve rereading. (Actually, I'm not sure I love, love, love the third book in the trilogy.)

1 Corinthians: The Word of the Cross. Stephen T. Um. 2015. Crossway. 368 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I really have enjoyed Crossway's Preaching the Word commentary series. 1 Corinthians is one of the books I find trouble digesting, so maybe this commentary will help me appreciate it a bit more!


What About Free Will? Reconciling Our Choices with God's Sovereignty by Scott Christensen. 2016. P&R. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I won't lie, this one is scholarly. It requires you to have your thinking cap on, and to take your time reading it. But I'm finding it well-written and interesting.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, March 21, 2016

Anne of Avonlea (1909)

Anne of Avonlea. L.M. Montgomery. 1909. 304 pages. [Bought]

Do I love Anne of Avonlea? I do. I really do. True, I often forget about it being among my favorites because it isn't the first or the last. And it isn't the one with the giddy-making proposal between Anne and Gilbert. But the fact that this sequel to Anne of Green Gables is so very, very good says something about Montgomery's talents.

Highlights of Anne of Avonlea:
  • Anne begins her first job--teaching in Avonlea; it is rewarding, sometimes; exhausting, almost always.
  • Anne discovers an unlikely kindred spirit in Mr. Harrison, her neighbor; she does NOT love his parrot.
  • Anne becomes the best of friends with Gilbert Blythe
  • Anne and her friends form a club, A.V.I.S. (Avonlea Village Improvement Society); they don't always "improve" the village.
  • Anne becomes a big sister; Marilla adopts TWINS: Davy and Dora
  • Anne becomes especially close to one of her pupils, Paul Irving
  • Anne becomes quite chummy with Miss Lavendar and Charlotte the Fourth
  • Love is in the air! No, Gilbert and Anne don't say I love you. But Diana does become engaged to Fred; and Miss Lavendar marries her sweetheart after several decades apart! 

This book has several things in abundance: JOY and LAUGHTER. (Well, I guess the exception being when Thomas (Rachel's husband) dies. But still.) It is just a lively, delightful, funny read. It is also oh-so-quotable!
If we have friends we should look only for the best in them and give them the best that is in us, don’t you think? Then friendship would be the most beautiful thing in the world.
What is an imagination for if not to enable you to peep at life through other people’s eyes? 
It’s a very bad habit to put off disagreeable things, and I never mean to again, or else I can’t comfortably tell my pupils not to do it. That would be inconsistent. 
“Davy Keith, don’t you know that it is very wrong of you to be eating that jam, when you were told never to meddle with anything in THAT closet?” “Yes, I knew it was wrong,” admitted Davy uncomfortably, “but plum jam is awful nice, Anne. I just peeped in and it looked so good I thought I’d take just a weeny taste. I stuck my finger in . . .” Anne groaned . . . “and licked it clean. And it was so much gooder than I’d ever thought that I got a spoon and just SAILED IN.”
“Anyhow, there’ll be plenty of jam in heaven, that’s one comfort,” he said complacently. Anne nipped a smile in the bud. “Perhaps there will . . . if we want it,” she said, “But what makes you think so?” “Why, it’s in the catechism,” said Davy. “Oh, no, there is nothing like THAT in the catechism, Davy.” “But I tell you there is,” persisted Davy. “It was in that question Marilla taught me last Sunday. ‘Why should we love God?’ It says, ‘Because He makes preserves, and redeems us.’
Well, I’m doing my best to grow,” said Davy, “but it’s a thing you can’t hurry much. If Marilla wasn’t so stingy with her jam I believe I’d grow a lot faster.” 
“Anne,” said Davy, sitting up in bed and propping his chin on his hands, “Anne, where is sleep? People go to sleep every night, and of course I know it’s the place where I do the things I dream, but I want to know WHERE it is and how I get there and back without knowing anything about it . . . and in my nighty too. Where is it?” 
“Some are born old maids, some achieve old maidenhood, and some have old maidenhood thrust upon them,” parodied Miss Lavendar whimsically. “You are one of those who have achieved it then,” laughed Anne, “and you’ve done it so beautifully that if every old maid were like you they would come into the fashion, I think.”

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

2016 Challenges: Classic Children's Lit Event

Name: Classic Children's Lit Event
Host: Simpler Pastimes (sign up here)
Duration: All of April
# of Books: I'm hoping for 4

What I Read:

1.
2.
3.
4.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Reviving a Topic: Ask Me Questions!

Anyone remember weekly geeks?! I loved participating in weekly geeks. And though those days are gone, and they can't really be brought back, I thought I would try to revive one of my favorite 'weekly geeks' activity. The one where I ask YOU to ask me questions about books I'm currently getting ready to read and review. I'll share a list of books I'm hoping to post reviews of in April--some I'm currently reading, some I'm anticipating reading.

Ask me questions about these books, please!!! If this goes well, I might try to incorporate it more often.





I Am Malala by Malala Yousfzai


Eat Fat, Get Thin by Mark Hyman




Stuffed: An Insider's Look At Who's (really) Making America Fat and How the Food Industry Can Fix It. Hank Cardello. 

Death by Food Pyramid by Denise Minger.







Beatrix Potter and the Unfortunate Tale of a Borrowed Guinea Pig by Deborah Hopkinson


War Dogs: Churchill and Rufus by Kathryn Selbert





Counting Lions by Katie Cotton and illustrated by Stephen Walton



Persuasion by Jane Austen





Happy Little Family by Rebecca Caudill 




The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker.


Much Ado About Nothing. William Shakespeare.

If you do remember weekly geeks, what was YOUR favorite topic?! I'd love to know!



© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2016 Challenges: Once Upon a Time X

Name: Once Upon a Time X
Host: Stainless Steel Droppings (sign up here)
Dates: March 21-June 21 2016
# of Books: Signing up for Quest the First; five books from any of these categories (fantasy, folklore, fairy tales, mythology)
All reviews should be linked to the review site.

So excited to sign up for this. I've participated since 2007!

Here's what I actually read and reviewed:

1) The Silver Chair. (Chronicles of Narnia #4) C.S. Lewis. 1953. HarperCollins. 243 pages. [Source: Bought] [fantasy, children's classic]
2) The Fellowship of the Ring. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1954/1965. Houghton Mifflin. 423 pages. [Source: Bought] [YA/Adult fantasy]
3) The Two Towers. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1954/1965. Houghton Mifflin. 352 pages. [Source: Bought] [YA/Adult fantasy]
4) Return of the King. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1955. 590 pages. [Source: Bought]
5) The Girl in the Tower. Lisa Schroeder. 2016. Henry Holt. 256 pages. [Source: Library] [Middle grade fantasy]
6) The Toymaker's Apprentice. Sherri L. Smith. 2015. 400 pages. [Source: Library] [MG/YA Fantasy]
7) The Children's Homer. Padraic Colum. 1918/1982. 256 pages. [Source: Bought] [MG Fantasy, Children's Classic]
8) Mary Poppins. P.L. Travers. Illustrated by Mary Shepard. 1934/2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 224 pages. [Source: Review Copy] [J/MG Children's Fantasy; Children's Classic]
9) The World of Winnie the Pooh. A.A. Milne. Illustrated by Ernest Shepard. 1926. 353 pages. [Source: Library]
10) A Midsummer Night's Dream. William Shakespeare. 1596. 181 pages. [Source: Library]
11) James and the Giant Peach. Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. 1961. 146 pages. [Source: Library]
12) Fantastic Mr. Fox. Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. 1970. 96 pages. [Source: Library]
13)  The BFG. Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. 1982. 199 pages. [Source: Library]
14) Gudgekin, The Thistle Girl. John Gardner. 1976. 55 pages. [Source: Bought]
15)  Socks. Beverly Cleary. 1973. 160 pages. [Source: Library]


Since this is the TENTH year for the challenge. I thought I would do a top ten list for books I've read and would recommend:

From 2015: The Cottage in the Woods. Katherine Coville. 2015. Random House. 400 pages. [Source: Library]
From 2014: The False Prince. Jennifer A. Nielsen. 2012. Scholastic. 342 pages. [Source: Review copy] also the two sequels The Runaway King and The Shadow Throne.
From 2013: The Annotated Hobbit. Revised and Expanded Edition. J.R.R. Tolkien. Annotated by Douglas A. Anderson. 2002. (1937, original Hobbit pub. date). Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 416 pages.
From 2012: The Light Princess. George MacDonald. 1864. 110 pages.
From 2011: The Rise and Fall of Mount Majestic. Jennifer Trafton. With illustrations by Brett Helquist. 2010. Penguin. 352 pages.
From 2010: Mirror Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse. Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Josee Masse. 2010. Penguin. March 2010. 32 pages.
From 2009: Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. 1986. 329 pages. [Source: Library]
From 2008: Dragon Flight. Jessica Day George. Bloomsbury USA. 272 pages. [Source: Library]
From 2007: Cupid. Julius Lester. 2007. HMH. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
Best (Qualifying) Book Not Read for the Challenge: The Castle Behind Thorns. Merrie Haskell. 2014. HarperCollins. 336 pages. [Source: Library]


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, March 19, 2016

Ann Likes Red

Ann Likes Red. Dorothy Z. Seymour. Illustrated by Nancy Meyeroff. 1965. 28 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Ann likes red. Red! Red! Red! "A blue dress, Ann?" "I like red," said Ann.

Premise/plot: Ann and her mom have gone shopping. Anne likes RED, RED, RED. What will she buy? Perhaps a RED dress, a RED hat, a RED belt, RED sandals!

My thoughts: I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one as a child. I did. I think I had the book memorized I read it so much. I was quite THRILLED to find a copy recently. Though I had forgiven my mom for giving *my* copy away, I am so happy to have found a new copy.

Yes, the book is simple: just sixteen words to tell the whole story. But apparently 16 words are more than enough to tell a GOOD story when you know what you're doing.

And I will admit the book has a very VINTAGE feel. Some might say dated, but I prefer VINTAGE.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Peppa's Busy Day Magnet Book

Peppa's Busy Day Magnet Book. 2016. Scholastic. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Peppa and George love visiting the museum. But the museum is very big and they're lost somewhere inside! Can you find Peppa and her family and put them in the dinosaur room?

Premise/plot: Peppa's Busy Day is an interactive magnet book. The book comes with eight magnets. The book features several different scenes: the museum, the park, the beach, the family's living room, and Peppa and George's bedroom. The text guides/encourages participation. For example, the last page reads: "It's nighttime and Peppa and George are tucked in bed with Teddy and Mr. Dinosaur. Can you put Mummy and Daddy Pig in the room and ask them to read a bedtime story?"

My thoughts: I like it. I do. I'm not sure I love, love, love it. But for someone who loves Peppa Pig, for someone who is still young enough to PLAY, I think this one would be a good choice.

Text: 3.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3.5 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thoughts on Miss Potter

For Old Fashioned Charm's Period Drama Challenge, I watched Miss Potter. 

The first time I saw this--which would have been 2006 or 2007--I was disappointed. Probably for shallow enough reasons! Kill off Ewan McGregor's character, really?!?! Did I care that it was a film 'biography' of Beatrix Potter and that it almost had to follow the events of her life? Not then. I knew nothing about Beatrix Potter's private life, private tragedies. And since I was expecting a romance, I was angry when I didn't get one.

The second time was better for me. In part, because I knew what was coming. Also, I've matured a bit in ten years perhaps! And I've also learned a little bit more about Beatrix Potter's life, and, since I knew that she did find love and happiness and did marry...I was better able to 'cope.'

I'm not sure that the film will ever truly be one of my favorite period dramas. But there some lovely scenes in this one. The Christmas scenes, for example, were lovely. I also enjoyed the focus on the friendship between Beatrix and her would-be sister-in-law.

Have you seen this one? What did you think? Do you have a favorite Ewan McGregor movie? a favorite Renee Zellweger movie?

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, March 18, 2016

Library Loot: Mid-March Update

New Loot:
  • I am Nujood, Age 10 and Divorced by Njood Ali
  • Until We Are Free: My Fight for Human Rights in Iran by Shirin Ebadi
  • I Am Malala by Malala Yousafzai with Patricia McCormick
  • Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary
  • The Last Dragon by Silvana De Mari
  • The Choosing by Rachelle Dekker
  • Bad Religion: How We Became A Nation of Heretics by Ross Douthat
  • The Importance of Being Little: What Preschoolers Really Need From Grown-Ups
  • Stuffed: An Insider's Look at Who's Really Making America Fat by Hank Cardello
  • Superfoods: The Healthiest Foods on the Planet by Tonia Reinhard
  • Salt, Sugar, Fat: How the Food Giants Hooked Us by Michael Moss
  • Women, Food, and God by Geneen Roth
  • Concussion by Jeanne Marie Laskas
  • The Tale of Dueling Neurosurgeons by Sam Kean
Leftover Loot:
  • Blood Royal by Eric Jager
  • The Detective's Assistant by Kate Hannigan
  • The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot
  • Proof by Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones
  • The Great Influenza by John M. Berry
  • Weighed in the Balance by Anne Perry
  • Taking God At His Word by Kevin DeYoung
  • Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary
                 Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief 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


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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My Name Is Not Friday

My Name Is Not Friday. Jon Walter. 2016. Scholastic. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]

My Name is Not Friday is not a book I could say I "enjoyed." For who would want to ever admit to enjoying a book about slavery?

Could I say it was a good book? Yes, I think I could say it was solidly good. (Maybe not solidly great, but good, yes, I can see that.)

Do I think that it is a book adults will like/love more than kids? Yes, I think that's true. Some kids *do* voluntarily read historical fiction. Some kids do read "heavy" serious books. This one is decidedly heavy. It is set during the Civil War.

But this, to me, seems more like a book adults would try to coax/pressure kids into reading because it is "good for them" or "important." And if My Name Is Not Friday does eventually become assigned reading, well, I don't think kids will "like" it or admit to liking it.

Samuel is the hero of the novel. He and his brother Joshua live in an orphanage for Negroes/free blacks run by Father Mosely. Samuel is the "good" one. He's a "good" student, a "good" brother, a "good" friend. Joshua, his younger brother, is not as "good." Let's just say that learning and following rules isn't as easy and natural as breathing. To protect his brother from punishment (the crime is shocking, and the big reveal at the end even more so) Samuel confesses to something he didn't do. His punishment is that he 'disappears' from the orphanage. Samuel finds himself "kidnapped" by someone--a white man--and taken south to a slave market where he is sold into slavery with forged papers. Before he's sold, he's "stripped" of his name/identity and told that he is now FRIDAY.

Two-thirds of the book focuses on Friday's new life as a slave in the south, in Tennessee, I believe. He's bought by Gerald, the stepson of Mrs. Allen. Gerald and Samuel are about the same age. And Gerald seems more interested in having a playmate and friend than a field worker. But Friday isn't overly grateful to his young master who wants to play baseball and go swimming with him. Especially since Mrs. Allen and everyone on the place--white and black--thinks his place is to work from sunrise to sunset at whatever task he is given. (In the morning, he's in the field, in the afternoons, he's assigned to the house.) Friday does have an ally, of sorts, in Gerald. Part of that friendship is based on a lie, on flattery at that. But Gerald considers Friday to be his friend, and, is completely honest with him and somewhat vulnerable. It violates Friday's conscience to actually be friends with Gerald, but, at the same time he feels guilty for lying and pretending and doing whatever is necessary to appear "good." My impression is that Friday/Samuel has understandably mixed feelings about Gerald and Mrs. Allen both, though especially Gerald.

Readers meet the other slaves on the plantation. Men. Women. Boys. Girls. He makes friends, and, pieces together a family of sorts. Though not everyone treats him as a friend/brother/son. Almost halfway through the novel, he has a revelation of sorts. He feels that God has led him purposefully into slavery so that he can teach others how to read and write. His calling will be questioned and doubted now and then for the rest of the novel, but, he holds onto the idea that there is a purpose for his life for the most part.

I have very mixed feelings on the "Christian" aspects of this one.

Samuel himself seems VERY confused in terms of what Christianity is and what it means to be saved. From start to finish, he carries the notion that it is what he himself DOES that determines the matter. In other words, if every single day of my life, I am good and make more good choices than bad choices, then God will look down on me see my effort and reward me by delivering me from my troubles in this life and letting me into heaven in the next life. Samuel also seems to be a bargainer. Most of his prayers equating to: Lord, I know Joshua was bad today, but, count some of my goodness towards him and keep him safe. I can be good enough for the two of us if I just keep on working and trying. I just have to say emphatically THIS IS NOT the gospel; THIS IS NOT Christianity.

Samuel is not the only one who is confused. The white minister who preaches in the town and makes a once-a-month visit to the slaves to teach to them the joys of slavery and how they will still be slaves in heaven is a mess as well. I have no doubt that there were Southern ministers who did preach that slavery had God's approval. But ministers--then and now--are not infallible in their sermons, their books, or their interpretation of Scripture. The Bible has plenty to say about slavery, but, not celebrating it as wonderful and beneficial and absolutely necessary.

Mrs. Allen does seem to be a woman of faith. She may be a slave-owner, or, the wife of a slave-owner. She may erroneously believe that the slaves are like children, and will always--no matter their age--need to be taken care of. But my impression was she did care about their spiritual needs, and, wanted to do whatever she could to teach them about God. Meeting with them daily, reading to them from the Bible, leading them in songs. These are things that she didn't have to do, or make time to do--especially with the stress and uncertainty of war. There were scenes where I couldn't bring myself to hate her. Then again, some scenes, it wasn't all that hard. I think the author did a good job in depicting Mrs. Allen and Gerald as complex human beings.

Another "layer" of this is the portrayal of some slaves having no faith, or having lost the faith, because of their reckoning that if God exists and if God is good, then slavery wouldn't exist. In other words: because I am a slave, because I have been whipped and scarred, because I have endured much suffering then God doesn't exist.

But there is yet another layer that gives a fuller picture. A handful of the slaves--not all of them--gather together some nights--secretly--go to the woods, and have their own meetings. They sing. They dance. They testify about God's goodness. They talk of the day when He will deliver them from slavery. They speak of God in a vibrant, real way illustrating that their faith is core to who they are. That even though the "white minister" might preach down at them, their faith is stronger and deeper and more substantive than that. God is not defined to them as being "the white man's God." Samuel reads the Bible to them at these meetings. Before they could just look at the pictures and try to remember what they've heard from others through the years. (I don't know where the Bible comes from, or, who owns it. But it is much treasured.)

I am glad I read this one. I think it is a solidly good novel. Adults may be more amazed at it than kids are.

I don't know if I should admit that I didn't "see" the cover properly until I happened to look at it upside down at the time I was reviewing it. The reflection in the water is DIFFERENT. One sees both Friday (the slave) and Samuel (the scholar).

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, March 17, 2016

Little Cat's Luck

Little Cat's Luck. Marion Dane Bauer. Illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell. 2016. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages. [Source: Library]

Did I enjoy reading Marion Dane Bauer's Little Cat's Luck? Yes, I did! What should you know about the book? I'd recommend it to elementary-aged readers who love animals, who love cats especially. It is also a verse novel. One of those verse novels why you're not really quite sure why it's written in verse instead of prose. Personally, prose or verse doesn't really matter in this particular story because I really like cats.

Patches, our heroine, tumbles through a window screen to begin her adventure in the wider world. She's uneasy for the first few chapters, and, readers may be just as puzzled as she is as to why. I guessed a little bit ahead of the big reveal. But it's not something that I guessed from chapter one!

Essentially, Patches is a cat on a mission: find a cozy, just-right place that is out-of-the-way and dark and a bit quiet. She finds her SPECIAL PLACE, but, it isn't without risk. For her special place isn't really *hers* to have. It is a dog house. But this dog house belongs to the so-called meanest dog in town. The super-smelly dog that barks constantly--if he's awake--the one that every person seems to know as *that dog.* His name is Gus. And Gus and Patches will have a lot to say to one another....

I liked this one very much. And for those who are hesitant about animal books because they worry that the animal on the cover will die, don't worry about picking this one up and getting properly attached to the characters.
© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, March 16, 2016

The Sins of the Wolf

The Sins of the Wolf (William Monk #5). Anne Perry. 1995. 436 pages. [Source: Library]

Sins of the Wolf may just be my favorite of the series so far. It is the fifth book in this mystery series.

The novel opens with Hester Latterly, our heroine, on her way to a new job. She's been hired as a private nurse to accompany Mrs. Mary Farraline on a trip to London and back (from Edinburgh). She's never been to Scotland, and, it sounds like an interesting way to spend a week or two. She takes the night train to Edinburgh, meets the family, departs that evening on the train with Mrs. Farraline, who has a heart condition. The start of the trip proves delightful. They talk. They laugh. They share. Hester gives Mrs. Farraline her medicine for the night. Hester settles down to sleep peacefully. That's the last peaceful sleep she'll get unfortunately! The next morning when they arrive in London, Hester sees that Mrs. Farraline has died. That would be sad, of course, but hardly life-changing. Expect that later that day Hester discovers one of Mrs. Farraline's belongings--a piece of jewelry--in her own bag. Fearing the worst she goes to the men she knows best: William Monk and Oliver Rathbone. The advice they give is good, but, too late. She returns to Lady Callandra's home to discover the police are there looking for her. She's arrested, YES, ARRESTED. And William Monk and Oliver Rathbone may never be the same again!!!

Hester is accused of stealing, but, also MURDER. Can William Monk and Oliver Rathbone find the real murderer before Hester is convicted in a Scottish court and hanged?!?!

What a dysfunctional family we meet in this mystery... I hardly have to say this one is compelling from cover to cover. I loved plenty about it!
© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Top Ten "My One Weakness"

This post (meme) is inspired by my recent rewatching of Lark Rise to Candleford. I would love to see what your "one" weakness is! So please share yours!

  1. My one weakness is staying up late and reading.
  2. My one weakness is rereading books instead of reading new ones. (Again and again and again and again.)
  3. My one weakness is drinking tea. (I have many, many "favorites" now. I am on a Zinger kick at the moment. Love Black Cherry Zinger and also Wild Berry Zinger.)
  4. My one weakness is having too many books checked out from the library at a time.
  5. My one weakness is not being able to resist a book if it's a bargain. (It would be wrong to leave it, right?!?! Say I'm right!)
  6. My one weakness is chips and salsa. 
  7. My one weakness is peaches. (I do like other fruit as well. But there's something about a good, sweet, juicy peach.)
  8. My one weakness is watching period dramas...
  9. My one weakness is stuffed animals. (I have always gotten BONDED with things in stores. From a very early age, it was always DON'T TOUCH, DON'T TOUCH, DON'T TOUCH. It almost never worked. I always had to see for myself how soft and cuddly and just-right they were.)
  10. My one TRUE weakness--and some of you know this is VERY true--is math!



© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Ten (Anticipated) Books on my Spring TBR List


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish
My first thought is JUST TEN?!?!

Much Ado About Nothing. William Shakespeare. A Reread. Of course. My most favorite Shakespeare comedy. I bought this edition at my local charity shop so it will count for my Charity Reading challenge. I do have a complete works of William Shakespeare, but, it's too heavy to be of practical use.


Persuasion. Jane Austen. A Reread. Of course. Definitely my favorite Austen by far! 

Anne of the Island. L.M. Montgomery. A Reread. Of course. I'm not sure I could have "a favorite" from the Anne series. Though Anne of Ingleside is probably my least favorite. All the other Anne books could be considered favorites. Usually whatever one I'm reading at the moment.

I Am Malala. Malala Yousafzai. Not A Reread. I've got this checked out from the library and I'm finding it quite compelling.

Eat Fat, Get Thin by Mark Hyman. Not a Reread. I'm on the wait list. Two people before me. I certainly hope to get to this one this spring!!!

Eat Dirt: Why Leaky Gut May Be The Root Cause of Your Health Problems and 5 Surprising Steps to Cure It by Josh Axe. Not a Reread. I think everyone--everywhere--should be aware of Leaky Gut. I'm hoping this one is readable and not incomprehensible. You never know with food and/or body and/or science books.


Richard the Third. Paul Murray Kendall. Not a Reread. This was my birthday gift to myself last year. 

Les Miserables (The Wretched) Victor Hugo. Translated by Christine Donougher. Another birthday gift to myself. I have not read it in this translation. But I have read it in two other translations.

Fellowship of the Ring. J.R.R. Tolkien. A Reread. I was extremely tempted just to write LORD OF THE RINGS. But I'm not sure I could realistically finish all three books while it is technically "spring." But I do plan on reading the whole trilogy this year.

Pursuit of Holiness. Jerry Bridges. Not a Reread. I'd love to read all the Bridges' titles I own. But I'd like to start with this one perhaps.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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