Saturday, January 31, 2009

Weekly Geeks 2009-04

This week's question/activity. Brief reminder: What are you passionate about besides reading and blogging? Get us involved.

It's hard to come up with a non-blogging, non-reading hobby. If you're me. I guess I'm not that well-rounded. Sure, I used to have hobbies. But is it fair to highlight something I haven't done in four years? Not really. So what I'm going with is an immersion experience into a certain kind of music...a certain style of music. The kind that makes me feel good and happy...and sometimes hungry :)

Like all obsessions, this one started off small enough. An album picked up here, borrowed there. Frank Sinatra's Greatest Hits, volume one. Dean Martin's All-Time Greatest Hits. The soundtrack to What Women Want. And also the soundtrack to Return to Me. (Now that I think about it, Fools Rush In had a lot of *good* music too, but that movie obviously didn't warrant a soundtrack, though if they'd had it, I'd have bought it!!!) But it wasn't enough. I needed more, and more, and more.

Some of my favorites: Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Tony Martin, Louis Armstrong, Nat King Cole, Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire, Perry Como, Tony Bennett, etc. And of course, MICHAEL BUBLE.

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My top five Frank Sinatra:

I Won't Dance
Fly Me to The Moon
I've Got You Under My Skin
Summer Wind
Something Stupid

My top five Dean Martin:

Ain't That A Kick In the Head
There's No Tomorrow
On An Evening in Roma
Return to Me
Memories Are Made Of This

The Essential Albums if you want to start your own collection:

Italian Love Songs by Dean Martin
Dino: The Essential Dean Martin
Classic Sinatra: His Greatest Performances 1953-1960

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Weekly Geeks 2009-04 part two

Several years before I started blogging, I had a hobby. Something besides reading that I spent quite a bit of time doing. It was a hobby with several layers. It involved sewing...for dolls...dressing up...for dolls....and taking photos...for dolls. I particularly loved doing weddings. Of course, I do not--cannot, in fact--sew for Ken. So if Ken is in an outfit, it is either store bought or made by mom way back in the 80s.

I love the simplicity of this one and the criss-crossing back.

I don't know if you can see that or not. But the ribbon is indeed all sparkley.

There's something about that one that I just love...I think it's the fullness of the skirt...

I love to sew...I hate to iron....ironic? maybe? But that's why I didn't include the full-length shot of the skirt.

And I was pleased with this experiment of a hat. I don't know if you can tell but both dress and hat have lace overlay.

Though I didn't sew anything for these next shots...I just loved the photos...

I could post more...but I think I've posted enough :)

I haven't sewed anything in at least four years. Though I've got patterns and fabric that taunts me sometimes.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

January in Review (First Lines, Top Five)

These are a few of my favorite 'first' lines read in January 2009.

It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.

Zeke's tree wouldn't speak to him.

Everyone's seen my mother naked.

The first time I met Mia we ended up in a hotel room by ourselves.

January's Top Five:

Nefertiti by Michelle Moran. 2007.
The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran. (2008)
The Farwalker's Quest by Joni Sensel (Pub April 2009)
Clementine's Letter by Sara Pennypacker. 2008.
Books are for eating reading. by Suzy Becker. 2009. (Jan 2009)

Number of Picture Books = 7

What is God Like by Beverly Lewis. 2008.
Froggy Green by Anna Walker. 2009.
Thank You, God! Illustrated by Sophie Allsopp. 2009.
Questions from Little Hearts by Kathleen Long Bostrom. Illustrated by Elena Kucharik. 2009 (Feb Pub)
Never Talk to Strangers. by Irma Joyce. Illustrated by George Buckett. 1967/2009.
The Adventures of a Plastic Bottle --no author listed-- 2009. Little Simon/Little Green. Simon & Schuster.
Knitty Kitty by David Elliott. 2008

Number of board books = 8

Toddler Bible by Bethan James and Yorgus Sgouros. 2008.
How Do I Love You? by Marion Dane Bauer. (Pub Jan 2009)
I'm A Happy Hugglewug by Niamh Sharkey 2009.
Books are for eating reading. by Suzy Becker. 2009. (Jan 2009)
Duck & Goose: How are you feeling? by Tad Hills. 2009. (Jan 2009)
Planet Earth: Baby Penguins by Scholastic. 2009
My First Garden. 2009. Simon & Schuster
Baby Bible: Stories About Jesus. Currie, Robin. 2004.

Number of children's books (under age 8) = 2
The House at Pooh Corner by A.A. Milne. Illustrated by Ernest H. Shepard. 1928.
Clementine's Letter by Sara Pennypacker. 2008.

Number of Christian books = 8

In the Company of Secrets by Judith Miller. 2007.
Whispers Along the Rail by Judith Miller. 2007.
Jonathan Edwards for Armchair Theologians. 2008.
An Uncertain Dream by Judith Miller. 2008.
On Church Leadership by Mark Driscoll. 2008.
Courtship of the Vicar's Daughter by Lawana Blackwell. 2007.
Red Letters edited by Timothy Beals. Crossway. 2009.
Gingham Mountain by Mary Connealy.

Number of adult books = 6

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. 2005.
Nefertiti by Michelle Moran. 2007.
Anubis Gates by Tim Powers. 1983.
The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran. (2008)
Fanny Hill by John Cleland. Wordsworth Classics. 1749.
Emma by Jane Austen. 1815.

Number of YA books = 14

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith (Pub. Jan. 2009)
Need by Carrie Jones (Pub. Dec. 2008)
Just One Wish by Janette Rallison. (Pub March 2009)
The Farwalker's Quest by Joni Sensel (Pub April 2009)
Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott. (Pub March 2009)
Veronica by Jane Claypool Miner. 1986.
Ten Things I Hate About Me by Randa Abdel-Fattah. (Pub Jan 2009)
What Would Emma Do by Eileen Cook. 2008. (Dec 2008)
Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before. David Yoo. 2008.
The ABC's of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro. 2009. (Jan 2009)
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve. 2003.
Predator's Gold by Philip Reeve. 2003.
Infernal Devices by Philp Reeve. 2005.
The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby. 2009.

Number of verse novels: 3

Keeping the Night Watch by Hope Anita Smith. Illustrations by E.B. Lewis. 2008.
Far From You by Lisa Schroeder. (Pub. Dec 2008)
Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas. 2009 (April 2009).

Number of graphic novels = 2
Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone: The Odyssey of Flight 33 by Mark Kneece.
Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone: The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street. by Mark Kneece.

Number of short story collections/anthologies = 2

Starry Rift: An Original Science Fiction Anthology. Edited by Jonathan Strahan. 2008.
Free To Be You and Me by Marlo Thomas and Friends. 2008.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

The Twilight Zone: The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street

Kneece, Mark. 2008. (December 2008). Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone: The Monsters Are Due On Maple Street. Walker. 72 pages.

This is Maple Street on a late Saturday afternoon. Maple the last calm and reflective moment...before the monsters came...

I enjoyed this story a great deal. It is one of the more powerful Twilight Zones that I remember because it so effective in capturing several key concepts: mob mentality, the power of words, the frailty of human nature when faced with the unknown, the folly of giving fear control. When the power goes out--when a neighborhood loses contact with the outside world--cars, lights, phones, etc.--the nightmare begins when the neighbors take to heart the words of a young science-fiction loving boy, Tommy, who's convinced that the aliens have landed and are coming for them. He further plants in everyone's mind the idea that one of their neighbors may not be what they seem. They might have had an alien living among them all along. And once that seed is planted, no one is safe.

The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs and explosives and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, attitudes, prejudices to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, prejudices can kill, and suspicion can destroy, and a thoughtless, frightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all of its own; for the children, and the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is that these things cannot be confined to The Twilight Zone.

You may watch the original episode online here.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Friday, January 30, 2009

The Twilight Zone: The Odyssey of Flight 33

Kneece, Mark. 2008. (December 2008) Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone: The Odyssey of Flight 33. Illustrated by Robert Grabe. Walker.

Transocean Flight 33 departs London bound for New York as scheduled. But a mysterious tailwind sends them far off course, hurtling back and forth through time. Can the crew hitch a ride in hyperspace and get the passengers back to their own time?

I liked this one. You can--if you'd like--watch the full episode on CBS's site. There are some significant changes between the classic episode and the graphic novel. Though I won't list them all by any means. I found some of these changes to be rather curious. More emphasis on the passengers, particularly on one 'crazy' passenger--who starts off harmlessly enough in my opinion asking for herbal tea and later for cashews. But by the end, we've got him rushing the cockpit--though he's stopped by one or two of the other passengers, and eventually he jumps out of the airplane with a parachute strapped to his back. That is just one of many changes introduced by Mark Kneece.

The original episode aired in February of 1961. The graphic novel is set in 1973. Both are enjoyable enough. Mysterious enough. But I prefer the TV show I must admit.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Confession time...

As much as I'm trying to deny it...I think...I think I'm sick. As in sick enough that it's interfering with my reading. I can't seem to get much all. And so I have no idea what I'll "review" tomorrow and this weekend. I'm going to look through my box for something light and quick and see if I can't read something at least. After all, I can't take my next dose of pills until after 11:30 so I've got to do something with my time, right? Anyway, it will either happen or it won't.

I've had cold/allergies congestion since Tuesday, and yesterday I had the most evil migraine imaginable. One minute fine, the next minute I had lost 70% of my vision. While the visual effects never last longer than half an hour it is pretty terrifying. That and it leaves my eyes feeling weak. So needless to say, no reading got done yesterday.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

BBYA/Quick Pick Reviews

These are the books I've read from the complete BBYA 2009 list of 86 books.

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson
Octavian Nothing volume 2 by M.T. Anderson
The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti
Audrey, Wait by Robin Benway
What I Saw and How I Lied by Judy Blundell
Kendra by Coe Booth
Shift by Jennifer Bradbury
Debbie Harry Sings In French by Meagan Brothers
The Fortunes of Indigo Skye by Deb Caletti
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
Bog Child by Siobhan Dowd
The Entertainer and the Dybbuk by Sid Fleischman.
Ten Cents A Dance by Christine Fletcher
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman
The Red Necklace by Sally Gardner
Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow by Jessica Day George
Looks by Madeleine George
Paper Towns by John Green
The Last Exit to Normal by Michael Harmon
Suite Scarlett by Maureen Johnson
The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness.
The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson
Trouble by Gary D. Schmidt
Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott
The Spectacular Now by Tim Tharp
Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman
Impossible by Nancy Werlin
After Tupac & D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson
Sweethearts by Sara Zarr

These are the books I've read from the complete Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers list.

The Compound by S.A. Bodeen
Kendra by Coe Booth
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Right Behind You by Gail Giles
Poison Ink by Christopher Golden
Planet Pregnancy by Linda Oatman High
Identical by Ellen Hopkins
Prey by Lurlene McDaniel
Wake by Lisa McMann
Dead is the New Black by Marlene Perez
I Heart You, You Haunt Me by Lisa Schroeder
Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott
The Secret Story of Sonia Rodriguez by Alan Lawrence Sitomer
Undone by Brooke Taylor

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

18th and 19th Century Women Writers Progress

1. Emma by Jane Austen
2. Silas Marner by George Eliot
3. The Morgesons by Elizabeth Stoddard
4. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Clementine's Letter

Pennypacker, Sara. 2008. Clementine's Letter. Pictures by Marla Frazee.

I love Clementine. I do. And it is my hope that you'll be inspired to seek Clementine out on your own. This is her third adventure, the previous two are Clementine (2006) and The Talented Clementine (2007). "Our young heroine, Clementine is spunky and vibrant leaving a mark wherever she goes. Easily noticed by teachers and principals but not necessarily for the right reasons. But despite some behavior problems, Clementine remains a funny, lovable character....Clementine always has good intentions, but sometimes her plans backfire or have unforeseen-to-her consequences."

In Clementine's Letter, Clementine's character is challenged--or perhaps I should say tested--when her teacher, Mr. D'Matz, has the opportunity to win a research trip to Egypt. He may win which means he would be gone for the rest of the school year. The idea that Mr. D'Matz, her teacher, the only teacher who has ever understood her, could leave is upsetting. A substitute? Really? How could her favorite teacher ever be replaced by anyone else?

To say that Clementine has difficulty with the substitute teacher is an understatement! As this week--long week through the teacher's eyes I'm sure--drags along, Clementine gets in and out and in and out of trouble. When the class is given the assignment to write letters about their teachers for the judges, Clementine takes the opportunity to let it all loose. Sure that if she writes a scathing letter about how horrible he is, he'll not win the contest and be returned to the school where he belongs.

I love Clementine. I love her narration--whether at home, at school, or at play--it's a joy reading about her life.

Here's how the book starts off, "I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of...ouch! There is a lot of poking that goes on in third grade."© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

1000 Novels Challenge (Guardian)

February 1, 2009 through February 1, 2010

1. Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (Comedy)
2. Silas Marner by George Eliot (State of the Nation)
3. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (Love)
4. Maus I by Art Spiegelman; Maus II by Art Spiegelman (War and Travel)
5. The Man in the High Castle by Philip K. Dick (Science Fiction)
6. Lady Chatterley's Lover by D.H. Lawrence (Love)

I have a little bargain I'm making with myself. If I can find at least five books in each of the categories of Guardian's 1000 Novels Everyone Must Read Before They Die list...then I will let myself join Biblio File's challenge. The books should really fall into at least two of these four categories a) books already on the tbr pile that I own b) books that I've been meaning to read, but are at the library c) books already on my Amazon wishlist d) books that would work well with other challenges (aka books I've already listed on other challenge lists.) The challenge goes from February 1, 2009 to February 1, 2010. The requirement is to read 10 books, one from each of the seven categories, and three extras.

The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett (b, d)
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes (a, d)
Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding (a)
Joseph Andrews by Henry Fielding (a, d)
Tom Jones by Henry Fielding (a, d)
The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame (a)
The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon (a, d)
A Confederacy of Dunces by John Kennedy Toole (b, d)
Barchester Towers by Anthony Trollope (a, d)

Lady Audley's Secret by Mary E Braddon (c)
The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins (c)
The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins (c)
My Cousin Rachel by Daphne du Maurier (almost a)
Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck (a, d)

Family and Self
Little Women by Louisa May Alcott (reluctant a)
Evelina by Fanny Burney (a and d)
The Awakening by Kate Chopin (a, d)
Roxana by Daniel Defoe (a, d)
Howards End by EM Forster (a)
Mary Barton by Elizabeth Gaskell (a)
My Name Is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok (b)
The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison (b)
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison (b)
East of Eden by John Steinbeck (b)
Ballet Shoes by Noel Streatfield (b)

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen (a,d)
Lorna Doone by RD Blackmore (a, d)
Vilette by Charlotte Bronte (a, d)
Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte (a, d)
Possession by AS Byatt (a, d)
Adam Bede by George Eliot (a,d)
Daniel Deronda by George Eliot (a, d)
The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot (a,d)
A Room with a View by EM Forster (a,d)
Ruth by Elizabeth Gaskell (a,d)
Tess of the D'Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy (a)
The Infamous Army by Georgette Heyer (a)
Pamela by Samuel Richardson (a,d)
Clarissa by Samuel Richardson (a,d)
Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy (a,d)

Science Fiction and Fantasy
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (b)
Kindred by Octavia Butler (b)
Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll (a,d)
Dune by Frank L Herbert (a,d)
The Turn of the Screw by Henry James (b)
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (a)
The Monk by Matthew Lewis (a,d)
Melmoth the Wanderer by Charles Maturin (c)
The Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (b)
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (a)
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain (a)
The Castle of Otranto by Horace Walpole (c)
We by Yevgeny Zamyatin (a, d)

State of the Nation
Uncle Tom's Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe (b,c)
Moll Flanders by Daniel Defoe (a, d)
A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens (a)
Middlemarch by George Eliot (a, d)
Silas Marner by George Eliot (a, d)
The Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison (a)
Cranford by Elizabeth Gaskell (a, d)
North and South by Elizabeth Gaskell (a, d)
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo (a)
The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (b,d)
Vanity Fair by William Makepeace Thackeray (a)
The Way We Live Now by Anthony Trollope (a, d)

War and Travel
She: A History of Adventure by H Rider Haggard (c)
The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini (b)
Schindler's Ark by Thomas Keneally (a)
The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emmuska Orczy (a)
Ivanhoe by Sir Walter Scott (a)
Maus by Art Spiegelman (b)
War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy (a, d)
Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne (b)

Okay, so I don't quite meet two on all the books listed. And some of the books listed I have no interest in reading. If they've been on the shelf unread this long, then it's not like I'm all that eager to read them now. But I think I can get ten books total from all these books.

Family and Self:
Science Fiction and Fantasy:
State of the Nation:
War and Travel:

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Waiting on Wednesday

Zombie Queen of Newbury High by Amanda Ashby (March)

Prom meets zombies in this hilarious romantic tale from a new YA author!

Quiet, unpopular, non-cheerleading Mia is blissfully happy. She is dating super hot football god Rob, and he actually likes her and asked her to prom! Enter Samantha—cheerleading goddess and miss popularity— who starts making a move for Rob. With prom in a few days, Mia needs to act fast. So she turns to her best friend, Candice, and decides to do a love spell on Rob. Unfortunately, she ends up inflicting a zombie virus onto her whole class, making herself their leader! At first she is flattered that everyone is treating her like a queen. But then zombie hunter hottie Chase explains they are actually fattening her up, because in a few days, Mia will be the first course in their new diet. She’s sure she and Chase can figure something out, but she suggests that no one wear white to prom, because things could getvery messy.

Snow White and Rose Red by Patricia C. Wrede (February)

The classic fairy tale—set in Edwardian England
Snow White and Rose Red live on the edge of the forest that conceals the elusive border of Faerie. They know enough about Faerie lands and mortal magic to be concerned when they find two human sorcerers setting spells near the border. And when
the kindly, intelligent black bear wanders into their cottage some months later, they realize the connection between his plight and the sorcery they saw in the forest. This romantic version of the classic fairy tale features an updated introduction by its editor, Terri Windling.

You Are So Undead To Me by Stacey Jay (March)

Megan Berry’s social life is so dead. Literally. Fifteen-year-old Megan Berry is a Zombie Settler by birth, which means she’s part-time shrink to a bunch of dead people with a whole lot of issues. All Megan wants is to be normal—and go to homecoming, of course. Unfortunately, it’s a little difficult when your dates keep getting interrupted by a bunch of slobbering Undead. Things are about to get even more complicated for Megan. Someone in school is using black magic to turn average, angsty Undead into flesh-eating Zombies, and it’s looking like homecoming will turn out to be a very different kind of party—the bloody kind. Megan must stop the Zombie apocalypse descending on Carol, Arkansas. Her life—and more importantly, homecoming—depends on it.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

NCTE Orbis Pictus Awards Announced

The Orbis Pictus Award for Outstanding Nonfiction for Children has been announced. This year's winner is Shelley Tanaka's Amelia Earhart: The Legend of the Lost Aviator. If I'd come across it, I'd have read it I'm I went through a phase of reading anything and everything Earhart. And the subject still intrigues me. Oh well. Something to look for at the library I suppose.

Honor books include: Tonya Bolden's George Washington Carver, Candance Fleming's The Lincolns: A Scrapbook Look at Abraham and Mary, Russell Freedman's Washington at Valley Forge, Kadir Nelson's We Are The Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball, and Dorothy Hinshaw Patent's When the Wolves Returned: Restoring Nature's Balance in Yellowstone.

There is also a list of recommended books.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Best Books for Young Adults (BBYA)'s Top Ten has been posted. I am just thrilled to see Ten Cents A Dance on the list. Sure, Hunger Games and Nation are there too. But you'd expect them to be there. And this is not the only title on the list that might surprise people.

I've only read three on the list. And there were four that were completely-new-to-me...never-ever-ever heard of them.

The complete list of BBYA for this year is 86 titles long. It has quite a few that I've read--and some that I've just loved. Many of the titles were Cybils nominees and some finalists as well.

The ALA Notables List (for younger readers not teens) is also available now. Read it here.
SLJ's Best of 2008.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Travel the World: England: Infernal Devices

Reeve, Philip. 2005. Infernal Devices. HarperCollins. 358 pages.

Infernal Devices is the third novel in the Hungry City Chronicles. (I reviewed Mortal Engines and Predator's Gold last week.) The novel begins roughly sixteen years after the close of Predator's Gold and eighteen years after the close of Mortal Engines. Our main character, Wren, is the daughter of Tom Natsworthy and Hester Shaw. This once-adventurous pair has been settled in Anchorage--a city who roams no more--for sixteen years. And Wren--though she's heard differently, of course--believes that her parents have always been boring. B-O-R-I-N-G. Wren wishes that she could live even half as adventurous life as her parents. Anchorage holds little interest to her really. But little does she know that her dreams are about to come true. Or that those dreams would turn nightmarish.

When the Lost Boys reappear (secretly of course) in Anchorage with a task for Caul, their former companion, then certain things are set in place. You see even though Caul refuses to steal what they've come for--The Tin Book--there is one person in town who will. Wren. She makes a bargain with the leader of the Lost Boys. She'll help them steal the book, if they'll let her join them. Of course, she doesn't know what she's asking...not really. And when the job goes wrong, really wrong, Wren ends up kidnapped by the very people she thought were on her side. And then her kidnappers get kidnapped. Poor Wren, now a slave to MAYOR Pennyroyal and his wife, Boo Boo, is living in Brighton...and things just aren't going as Wren wants.

Tom and Hester, of course, are ready to resume their adventures in order to save their daughter--their only daughter.

Of course, there are villains in Infernal Devices. The Green Storm anti-tractionist faction who are all-war, all-the-time. And there are Stalkers--some of whom we've met previously Stalker Fang and Stalker Grike--and the humans that sometimes control and manipulate them. But the good guys can create enough tension on their own.

Here is a sample of the writing style--one of my favorite aspects of the books--

It is a truth universally acknowledged that a fake explorer in possession of a good fortune must be in search of a wife, and Pennyroyal had got himself saddled with Boo-Boo Heckmondwyke. Fifteen years earlier, when Predator's Gold was topping the bestseller lists aboard every city of the Hunting Ground, she had seemed like a good idea. Her family were old Brighton aristocracy, but poor. Pennyroyal was a mere adventurer, but rich. The marriage allowed the Heckmondwykes to restore their fortunes, and gave Pennyroyal the social clout he needed to get himself elected mayor. Boo-Boo made an excellent wife for a man of ambition: She was good at small talk and flower arrangements, she planned dinner parties with military precision, and she was expert at opening fetes, galas, and small hospitals. Yet Pennyroyal had come to regret his marriage. Boo-Boo was such a large, forceful, florid woman that she tired him out just by being in the same room. A keen amateur singer, she had a passion for the operas of the Blue Metal culture, which went on for days with never a trace of a tune, and usually ended with all the characters dead in a heap. When Pennyroyal annoyed her by questioning the cost of her latest frock or flirting too openly with a councillor's wife over dinner, she would practice her scales until the windows rattled, or crank up her gramophone and treat the household to all six hundred verses of the Harpoon Aria from Diana, Princess of Whales. (183-184)
There is action, adventure, family drama and dysfunction, and humor. I just love the names of some of the flying machines in the book: The Visible Panty-Line, the Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka-Dot Machiney, Is That All There Is?, and Damn You, Gravity!

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

New poll

If you've got a few minutes....please vote in my poll to the right. The question this time is...should I keep the comments embedded--like they are now....and like they have been since Novemberish--or should I switch back to one of the other options blogger has...pop ups or full page. Regardless of the option, I will NEVER do word verification.

Personally, I like the appearance of the embedded comments. It's easy on the eyes. You have the post in front of you, and it seems quick and easy if all goes well. However, I've heard from about six or seven of you over the last seven or eight weeks that you have trouble submitting comments. During the same time I've received many comments--probably a hundred or so--so I know it works for most people. But not all. And I've posted my email address (here, there, everywhere) and posted a contact form for those folks who can't comment so they can reach me another way.

Pop-up comments. On the plus side, you can still see the post you're commenting on. But I know some people find pop-ups annoying. And some browsers block pop-ups unless you set it otherwise. So a viable option. Something to consider. But not my first choice.

Full page. Not a pop-up. But you can't really see the post you're commenting about...and it's easy to lose focus and forget what you meant to say. Although maybe it's only me that has that problem.

In an ideal world, the option I choose would please every single person....and myself...and it would be simple and straight forward. But pretty too.

So what say you????

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before

Yoo, David. 2008. Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before. Hyperion. 374 pages.

The first time I met Mia we ended up in a hotel room by ourselves.

Albert Kim is many things, but popular isn't one of them. He's more likely to be friends with the sixth graders down the street than his own classmates of either sex. More at home playing video games than interacting with real people. But the summer he gets his first job--as a janitor at a nearby inn--he begins to mature--slightly at least. One of his coworkers is Mia, a classmate who is popular and beautiful and utterly out-of-this-world amazing to poor Albert. The two have to work together every day. But that doesn't mean Albert acts like a rational human being when he's with her. Quite the opposite in fact. He's awkward. He's obnoxious. He's odd. Yet, as the summer continues on, they move past this extremely awkward phase and become comfortable with one another. True, he still has the maturity of a thirteen year old--despite the fact that he's several years older than that. (I want to say sixteen or seventeen, but I could be wrong.) But despite of it all, in spite of it all, Mia comes to like him...really like him. If only the summer would never end. But, of course, it does. And when it does, life becomes a lot more complicated for everybody. Albert has a choice: does he remain invisible and sullen and weird...or does he try to act like a 'normal' guy and actually interact with his classmates and try his best to make a friend (or two or three)? He tries...oh how he tries...but Mia and Albert are so very different. Can their summer-love make it through the year? Or will Mia's ties to the popular crowd (and her ex boyfriend) tear this young couple apart?

The novel is humorous but heartfelt. With hundreds of embarrassing scenes...Albert is flawed but many ways. Not all ways. I still see him as being immature and a bit dumb...but he's believable all the same. And it's always nice to get a guy's perspective in a romance.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Just so you know...

Natasha of Maw Books fame has interviewed me for her Reader Spotlights feature.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Monday, January 26, 2009

And these are my reviews of....

Jerk, California by Jonathan Friesen was recognized with a Schneider Family Book Award in the teen category. I couldn't think of a better book that fits this unique award's qualifications.

Before John Was a Jazz Giant by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by Sean Qualls. Recognized as a Coretta Scott King Honor Book for Illustration. I just love, love, love this book!!! The writing. The illustrations. It's oh-so-magical for me.

Keeping the Night Watch by Hope Anita Smith. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis. Recognized as a Coretta Scott King Honor Book for Writing. Hope Anita Smith's poems are powerfully authentic as they examine the ins and outs, ups and downs of family life. So I was pleased to see this one honored.

Becoming Billie Holiday by Carole Boston Weatherford. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. Recognized as a Coretta Scott King Honor Book for Writing. I thought this one was wonderful--so beautiful, so powerful.

Laurie Halse Anderson won the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement. I was THRILLED to see her win. I've rad most of her YA books. And I've reviewed a few too. Chains. Speak. Twisted. Fever, 1793. I've read Catalyst and her one about the prom. But those were pre-blogging days.

The Printz...
Octavian Nothing volume 2 by M.T. Anderson. Honor Book. Good novel, maybe not my favorite, favorite of the year. But a nice long book.
Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. E. Lockhart. Honor Book. I know some people just love this one. I don't love it. I don't out and out hate it. I don't feel that strongly about it. But I just didn't connect with this one.
Jellicoe Road. Melina Marchetta. The winner. I just LOVE AND ADORE this book. It is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite books. So complex, so beautiful, so haunting, so powerful. Lots of substance.

The Surrender Tree by Margarita Engle. Honor Book. Pura Belpre Awards. And Newbery Honor too. The Surrender Tree is well-written, powerful, and bold.

What To Do About Alice? by Barbara Kerley. is a Sibert Honor Book. I enjoyed it very much.


The Winner: The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman. I wasn't particularly surprised that Gaiman won this one. It's been getting so much buzz and mock-love. I knew it would get an honor at least--or at least I hoped so--so I was pleased overall with the choice this year. And I think this is a book with appeal. I don't think this is one that will make readers run the other way.

Honor Books:
The Underneath by Kathi Appelt. My review. My interview in two parts: day 1, day 2
I love this book. I do. And I'm happy it got an Honor. I would have loved to see it win the medal, but, I think the Graveyard Book might have more widespead appeal. Maybe? I don't know. I love The Underneath. And for it to be the author's first novel (not first book...mind you...she's done some poetry, some nonfiction, some short stories, some picture books) I think it is an amazing book.

Savvy. Ingrid Law. This was a delightful book. Funny, too. I'm glad to see it on the list.

After Tupac & D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson. This is one of those strange books that is both about nothing and about everything.

My only regret really is that Shooting the Moon didn't make it on the list. Really. It is one of the BEST BEST BEST books. And it should have been on the Newbery list somewhere--winner, honor, whatever.

How I Learned About Geography by Uri Shulevitz. A nice picture book. But not one that screams out Caldecott Honor. Then again, the books that I feel just are the most wonderful, beautiful, oh-so-magical, incredibly amazingly illustrated picture books never win the Caldecotts or get honors. I'm used to not "getting" this award.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

The Big Announcements

First I was using twitter, for the last two awards I used PW. My thoughts will be in a separate post.

Alex Awards--10 Best Adult Books
Benioff, David. City of Thieves.
Swanwick, Michael. The Dragons of Babel
Ferraris, Zoe. Finding Nouf.
Tinti, Hannah. The Good Thief.
King, Stephen. Just After Sunset: Stories.
Jordan, Hillary. Mudbound.
Tucker, Todd. Over and Under.
Bloom, Stephen G. The Oxford Project.
Barow, Toby. Sharp Teeth.
Rebeck, Theresa. Three Girls and Their Brother.

Schneider Family Book Awards
0-10: Parker, Robert Andrew. Piano Starts Here: The Young Art Tatum.
11-13. Connor, Leslie. Waiting for Normal
13-18 Friesen, Jonathan. Jerk, California

Coretta Scott King Book Awards

Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Author Award: (illustrator) Strickland, Shadra. Bird. Written by Zetta Elliott.

Illustrator Honor Books:
Nelson, Kadir. Author/Illustrator. We Are The Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball.
Qualls, Sean. Illustrator. Before John Was A Jazz Giant. Written by Carole Boston Weatherford
Pinkney, Jerry. The Moon Over Star. Written by Dianna Hutts Aston.

Illustrator Winner:
Cooper, Floyd. The Blacker the Berry. Written by Joyce Carol Thomas.

Author Honor Books
Thomas, Joyce Carol. The Blacker the Berry. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper.
Smith, Hope Anita. Keeping the Night Watch. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis.
Weatherford, Carole Boston. Becoming Billie Holiday. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper.

Author Winner:
Nelson, Kadir. We Are The Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball.

Odyssey Award for Excellence in Audiobook Production
The Absolutely True Diary of A Part Time Indian written/narrated by Sherman Alexie

Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults:
Laurie Halse Anderson

William C. Morris Award
Bunce, Elizabeth C. A Curse Dark As Gold.

Michael L. Printz Award Honors:
Anderson, M.T. Octavian Nothing, volume 2
Lockhart, E. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
Pratchett, Terry. Nation.
Lanagan, Margo. Tender Morsels.

Michael L. Printz Award Winner:
Marchetta, Melina. Jellicoe Road.

Pura Belpre Awards

Illustrator Honor Books
Gutierrez, Rudy. Papa and Me. Written by Arthur Dorros
Delacre, Lulu. The Storyteller's Candle. Written by Lucia Gonzalez
Cordova, Amy. What Can You Do With a Rebozo. Written by Carmen Tafolla.
Illustrator Award
Morales, Yuyi. Just In Case.

Author Honor Books:
Morales, Yuyi. Just In Case
Jimenez, Francisco. Reaching Out
Gonzalez, Lucia. The Storyteller's Candle.
Author Award
Engle, Margarita. The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom.

Mildred L. Batchelder Award
Uehashi, Nahoko. Morbito: Guardian of the Spirit. Translated by Cathy Hirano

Robert F. Sibert Medal
Honor Books:
Deem, James M. Bodies From the Ice: Melting Glaciers and Rediscovery of the Past.
Kerley, Barbara. What To Do About Alice: How Alice Roosevelt Broke the Rules, Charmed the World, and Drove Her Father Teddy Crazy!
Sibert Medal
Nelson, Kadir. We Are the Ship.

Geisel Award Winner:
Willems, Mo. Are You Ready to Play Outside.

Geisel Honor Books:
Grant, Judyann Ackerman. Chicken Said, Cluck.
Seeger, Laura Vaccaro. One Boy.
Davis, Eleanor. Stinky.
Campbell, Sarah C. Wolfsnail: A Backyard Predator.

Laura Ingalls Wilder Award: Ashley Bryan

Newbery Award:
Gaiman, Neil. The Graveyard Book

Newbery Honors:
Appelt, Kathi. The Underneath.
Engle, Margarita. The Surrender Tree.
Law, Ingrid. Savvy.
Woodson, Jacqueline. After Tupac & D Foster

Caldecott Medal:
Krommes, Beth, illustrator. The House In the Night. Written by Susan Marie Swanson

Caldecott Honors:
Frazee, Marla. A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever.
Shulevitz, Uri. How I Learned Geography.
Sweet, Melissa. (illustrator) A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams. Written by Jen Bryant.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Sunday Salon: Reading, Read, To Read #4

What I read in a previous week, but reviewed this week:
Clementine's Letter by Sara Pennypacker. 2008. Hyperion. 150. (Children's/Chapter Book/J Realistic Fiction)
The ABC's of Kissing Boys by Tina Ferraro. 2009. (Jan 2009) 215 pages. Random House (YA Fiction/YA Romance/YA Realistic Fiction)

What I read this past week and reviewed:
Starry Rift: An Original Science Fiction Anthology. Edited by Jonathan Strahan. 2008. Viking. 530 pages. (YA Science Fiction/Short Stories)
The Heretic Queen by Michelle Moran. (2008) Crown Publishing. 380. (Adult/Historical Fiction/Historical Romance)
Thank You, God! Illustrated by Sophie Allsopp. 2009. (Jan 2009) Simon & Schuster (Children's/Christian/Picture Book)
Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve. 2003. HarperCollins. 310. (YA Science Fiction/Dystopia)
My First Garden. 2009. Simon & Schuster (Little Simon/Little Green Books/Board Books)
Courtship of the Vicar's Daughter by Lawana Blackwell. 2007. 416 pages (Adult/Christian/Historical/Romance)
Predator's Gold by Philip Reeve. 2003. HarperCollins. 325 pages. (YA Science Fiction/Dystopia)
Because I Am Furniture by Thalia Chaltas. 2009 (April 2009). Viking. 356 pages. (YA Realistic Fiction/Verse Novel)
Emma by Jane Austen. 1815. Bantam Classics. (Adult/Classics/Romance) 446 pages.
The King's Rose by Alisa M. Libby. 2009. (March 2009). (YA Historical Fiction/YA Romance) 296 pages. Dutton.
Fanny Hill by John Cleland. Wordsworth Classics. 1749. (Adult--Extremely Adult--that's all I have to say about it) 176 pages

What I read this past week but haven't reviewed yet:
Stop Me If You've Heard This One Before by David Yoo. (2008) 374. Hyperion. (YA Realistic Fiction/YA Romance)

What I'm currently reading:
Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
Dune by Frank Herbert
Internal Devices by Philip Reeve (#3 in The Hungry City Chronicles)
Old Friends and New Fancies by Sybil G. Brinton

Completely Off Topic, today is the ONE WEEK anniversary of my obsession with Mamma Mia. 4 times and counting!!! Last Sunday, I watched it for the first time and just fell in love with it!!! Anyway, enough with the exclamation points already :)

Today is the last Sunday in January, look for my post about my favorite first sentences next Saturday. I'm looking forward to compiling them.

And tomorrow is the BIG DAY--a day that some of us patiently and sometimes impatiently anticipate for much of the year--the announcement of ALA's big awards: the Newbery, the Caldecott, the Printz, etc. There are lots of teeny awards buried in there as well. But those are the three that most have heard of....I don't have any predictions necessarily...but I'm always curious to see if it will be a book I've read...and hopefully a book I've read and loved. Or if it will be a book I've never even heard of. I'm sure to let you know all my thoughts on that after the big announcement.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Weekly Geeks 2009-03 Classics

For your assignment this week, choose two or more of the following questions:

1) How do you feel about classic literature? Are you intimidated by it? Love it? Not sure because you never actually tried it? Don't get why anyone reads anything else? Which classics, if any, have you truly loved? Which would you recommend for someone who has very little experience reading older books? Go all out, sell us on it!

2) A challenge, should you choose to accept it: Read at least one chapter of a classic novel, preferably by an author you're not familiar with. Did you know you can find lots of classics in the public domain on the web? Check out The Popular Classic Book Corner
, for example. Write a mini-review based on this chapter: what are your first impressions? Would you read further? (For a larger selection of authors, try The Complete Classic Literature Library.

3) Let's say you're vacationing with your dear cousin Myrtle, and she forgot to bring a book. The two of you venture into the hip independent bookstore around the corner, where she primly announces that she only reads classic literature. If you don't find her a book, she'll never let you get any reading done! What contemporary book/s with classic appeal would you pull off the shelf for her?

4) As you explore the other Weekly Geeks posts: Did any inspire you to want to read a book you've never read before—or reread one to give it another chance? Tell us all about it, including a link to the post or posts that sparked your interest. If you end up reading the book, be sure to include a link to your post about it in a future Weekly Geeks post!
Some classics intimidate me more than others. Some classics I've read because they were assigned--I do have a B.A. and M.A. in literature after all; other classics I've read for fun. I've sought them out on my own...just because there is something that appeals to me...intrigues me maybe.

A few classics that I've just loved--and would recommend--are Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Persuasion by Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, Frankenstein by Mary Shelley, The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas, The Time Machine by H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, Dracula by Bram Stoker, The Diaries of Adam and Eve by Mark Twain, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, Wives and Daughters by Elizabeth Gaskell, To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee, Gone With The Wind by Margaret Mitchell.

As to which one or two to recommend to reluctant-classic-readers, that's a tough call. See, it isn't always length that makes a book intimidating. A lot depends on interest. Classics are lumped together, but really they cover many genres. So for those looking for a laugh, I'd recommend The Diaries of Adam and Eve or Tom Sawyer. Both are laugh-out-loud funny. For those looking for a satisfying love story or romance, I'd recommend Bronte or Austen. You get the idea. There's a classic for every type of reader. It's just a matter of finding that one that works for you.

Personally, I love, love, love Frankenstein. To me it is one of the most important books of all time. It is one of those what-does-it-mean-to-be-human or meaning-of-life books.

The only book that is coming to mind as a contemporary novel that will likely appeal to those that only read classics is The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.

Edited to add:

For the second question--the challenge to read a new-to-you author & book--I read Fanny Hill: Memoirs of A Woman of Pleasure by John Cleland. This little book was first published in 1749. The book "is one of the most controversial texts in English literature." The book was a bestseller in its time because 'licentious literature was in popular demand.' In other words, sex sells. It's always sold. And if there is one thing that Fanny Hill guessed it. The book itself breaks stereotypes of what you would expect a "classic" to be. Fanny Hill is a teenage girl who somewhat accidentally becomes a 'fallen woman' shortly after her parents' death and her subsequent removal to London. She spends time both in brothels and in various apartments as a kept woman or mistress. Instead of Fanny Hill being a book about a woman who is distressed about just how far she's sunk...the book explores in a series of letters or confessions...just how much fun Fanny Hill has had over the several years she's been what she is. The book does give several doses of morality--Fanny Hill knows she should be ashamed of her sex-frenzied lifestyle--but she's not all that fast to repent. Life is too short and it's just so much fun to be bad. Her message--and she does have one--is for young girls to NOT follow in her cling to their virtue....that they'll be happier in the long run if they are never introduced to all of life's vices. But the book also suggests that the first step for women holding onto their virtue is education--they need to be aware of what is out there, what the world is like, what men are like, what men can say and do to seduce and lure young girls away. I think of the scene in Tess of D'Ubervilles where Tess is moaning to her mother, crying out why didn't you warn me, why didn't you tell me...and the like. Do I recommend Fanny Hill? Yes and no. NOT for every reader. If you've even got a tiny smidgen of prudishness about you, then Fanny Hill will not be to your liking. You might think to yourself, how graphic, how explicit could a book published in 1749 be? Really? You might be surprised! It is extremely adult. Not just a sly hint here or there. It's in-your-face unashamedly smut pure and simple. So adult readers who think that they'd never in a hundred million years enjoy a classic--too boring, too irrelevant, too inaccessible--might want to give this short volume a read. Here's the description from the Modern Library Edition:

Fanny Hill, shrouded in controversy for most of its more than 250-year life, and banned from publication in the United States until 1966, was once considered immoral and without literary merit, even earning its author a jail sentence for obscenity.

The tale of a naïve young prostitute in bawdy eighteenth-century London who slowly rises to respectability, the novel–and its popularity–endured many bannings and critics, and today Fanny Hill is considered an important piece of political parody and sexual philosophy on par with French libertine novels.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Winners of Nefertiti and The Heretic Queen

Noel de Vries won the paperback copy of Nefertiti by Michelle Moran. Meg89 and Katherine Huff each won a copy of The Heretic Queen. I've sent emails out to all. But if you're a winner and the email hasn't reached you, then please email me your address. (My email is laney_poATyahooDOTcom). There were 69 entries, and I used to choose the winners.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

The King's Rose

Libby, Alisa. M. 2009. (March 2009) THE KING'S ROSE. Dutton. 296.

The King's Rose is one of those books that just captured my attention (and my heart!). It is a fictionalized account of Catherine Howard, and for those not in the know, she was the fifth wife of Henry VIII. Catherine Howard was just fifteen (perhaps even fourteen) when she caught the lusty eyes of the King. (And Henry liked them young.) Catherine's tale is tragic in that while the king chose her...she quite honestly didn't have a choice in the matter. Prompted and urged by her family--she became the person they created her to be, that the king wanted or needed her to be. And thus her life of deception began. For Catherine has a secret or two that may be her undoing...

The king is in love with me. But who am I? Who is this girl that the Howards created out of their words, to whom the king has given his love? I am King Henry's sweet wife--Catherine Howard, no more. I wonder if God can see me now, see the treason in my heart. I squeeze my eyes shut, pushing these thoughts from my mind. I am a player upon a stage, even when the stage is a bed, even in an intimate moment such as this, with no costume or mask to cover my nakedness, I must play my part well, especially in an intimate moment such as this. I must become my role, and nothing else. (56)
She's haunted by a kiss shared with her distant cousin, one of the King's men, Thomas Culpepper, a perfect kiss with much promise...because it occurred before she caught the King's attention.
My life will be more than I ever could have imagined--but perhaps it will also be a little bit less. All of this must be put aside now, the words and dreams that led to his perfect kiss, near midnight in the dark garden at Westminster, and all the happiness that kiss seemed sure to promise. This was a different Catherine who received these letters, who responded to that kiss--since then I have been transformed by the king's eyes, by the royal jewels around my neck and a cloth-of-gold gown...but who is the real Catherine: the shadow or the light? The smoke or the flame? (44)
The King's Rose is engaging and richly detailed. Libby is an excellent storyteller. It's just not the story itself that is fascinating, but how the story is told that makes it so captivating.

Other reviews: Peeking Between Pages, YA or STFU, Just One More Page, The Book Bag. Stop, Drop, and Read.
Author's official site, official blog.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Friday, January 23, 2009

Because I Am Furniture

Chaltas, Thalia. 2009. (Pub April 2009) Because I Am Furniture. Viking. 356 pages.

I am always there.
But they don't care if I am
because I am furniture.

I don't get hit
I don't get fondled
I don't get love
because I am furniture

Suits me fine.

Anke has a difficult home life, though that is putting it mildly. Her father is abusive. She sees all. Hears all. Yet though a witness, she's somehow avoided being the subject of his abuse. (Though witnessing it is damaging enough as it is.) Can a teen girl break out of her silence and get help for her troubled family?

Because I Am Furniture is a verse novel about hard issues: physical, verbal, and sexual abuse. With all the negative going on in her life, Anke finds great joy in the one positive of her life: volleyball. Can what she learns on the court change her life off the court?

Here's one of the poems I enjoyed from the novel:

They call us
the "out" crowd,
we don't fit their
dog-show guidelines

We call them
they have to
all agree,
yup each other
every day on every thing.

And we say
Nope, don't
want any part
of your Yuppitude
so tight
society will burst
with any change
of thought.

But being a fractured, momentary gathering
and not an actual collective,
we say
with scrambled cadence

and their
is way


Other reviews: Teen Book Review, The Compulsive Reader, Laura's Review Bookshelf, Flamingnet, Karin's Book Nook.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Something to think about...

1000 Novels Everyone Should Read (Guardian/UK)
Choosing 1000 Novels To Read Before You Die Introduction
Jane Austen
Best Gay Fiction
Pulp Romances
Great Arabic Love Stories
Top 10 Trivia: Hollywood Changes
Love, part one
Love, part two
Love, part three
Agatha Christie
Modern Hardboiled Crime
The Best Spy Fiction
Arthur Conan Doyle
Michael Dibdin
Unusual Detectives
Top 10 Trivia: Most Frequently Stolen Books
Crime, part one
Crime, part two
Crime, part three
Best Comedies about Class
Best American Comic Novels
Georges Perec
Best Serious Comedies
Muriel Spark
PG Wodehouse
Top Ten Trivia: Rejected titles
Comedy, part One
Comedy, part Two
Comedy, part Three
Comedy, part Four
Best Existentialist Fiction
Best Stream of Consciousness Novels
Best Graphic Novels
Best Novels About Madness
Novels by Lesser Known Relatives
Family and Self, part one
Family and Self, part two
Family and Self, part three
Emile Zola
Chinua Achebe
Modern Britain
Best British New Wave Novels
Top 10 Trivia: Novel-Writing Politicians
State of the Nation
State of the Nation, part two
Station of the Nation, part three
The Best of JG Ballard
The Best Gothic Novels
Imagined Worlds
Radical Reading
The Best Dystopias
Top 10 Trivia: Novels That Predicted the Future
Science Fiction & Fantasy, part one
Science Fiction & Fantasy, part two
Science Fiction & Fantasy, part three
The Best Road Novels
The Best of Tintin
The Best Novels about warfare
The Best of WG Sebald
Top Ten Trivia: Lost Manuscripts
War and Travel, part one
War and Travel, part three
War and Travel, part two
The Definitive List

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Emma by Jane Austen. 1815.

Emma Woodhouse, handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition seemed to unite some of the best blessings of existence; and had lived nearly twenty-one years in the world with very little to distress or vex her.

I have a love-hate relationship with Emma. You see, I don't like Emma, the character. On the other hand, Emma is a fun treat because she's so very clueless. She is unaware of herself. She's unaware of the world around her. She just doesn't get it. Once the reader is aware of this, knows that Emma is the joke of the book--an inside joke shared between the reader and the author, then it's a fun book. The reader has a clue while the heroine is helplessly stuck on herself and her misconceptions about reality. Emma may think she's wise in matters of the world, of the heart, of the home. But the reader knows better!

The plot of this one is relatively simple: Emma thinks she's good at matchmaking. Pairing up single men and women. But the fact that she misreads signs of affection and devotion left and right mean that the unfortunate soul she's trying to do good by is in for a messy few months. Emma is the last person who should be giving out advice. In a way, the relationship between Emma and Harriet reminds me of that of Don Quixote and Sancho Panza. Emma is promising Harriet a fine match with a good man, a man of some means, a true gentleman, and handsome too. Just like Don Quixote keeps promising Sancho that he'll reward his service by making him a governor of some province (or the like). But in reality, the faith that their loyal friends place in them is hopelessly misguided.

Of course, the book is more than just about Emma and Harriet. It also features the much-praised Jane Fairfax and the mysterious Frank Churchill. I don't have an opinion of Jane Fairfax really. She's much more patient than I would expect any girl to be under the circumstances. But since we only see her through Emma's eyes, it's hard to know what she's really like. Frank Churchill, I definitely have an opinion of...I think he was awful...and I really have no sympathy at all for him. I think both Emma and Jane have reason to be ticked. And he wouldn't have gotten off that easy if I'd been Austen. Then there is the true hero of Emma, Mr. Knightley. If there is redemption in Emma it is found in the character of Mr. Knightley. He kept me reading.

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Library Loot: Week 2, January 21

Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Eva and Alessandra that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library.

Leftover Loot: Internal Devices by Philip Reeve (#3 in the Hungry City Chronicles); A Darkling Plain (#4 in the Hungry City Chronicles); Beneath by Mother's Feet by Amjed Qamar; Outlander by Diana Gabaldon.

For those that may have been tracking my progress in Dune, I've returned the library's copy because I picked up a cheap paperback copy used :)

New Loot: 2666 by Roberto Bolano.

As to why I picked up 2666...I haven't heard a thing about the book or the author. But a few weeks ago, I picked this one up off the shelf. I ended up not checking it out then. (It was the trip with all the Dune books.) But when I saw it today, I decided to take a chance. Rather or not the praising words within the book are valid or not, I was intrigued by a book that promised that it was "not just the great Spanish language novel of this decade, but one of the cornerstones that define an entire literature." I'm sure I'll either love it or hate it. I may abandon it. But here it is the sole object of this week's loot.

From Amazon who borrowed it from PW:

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Last year's The Savage Detectives by the late Chilean-Mexican novelist Bolaño (1953–2003) garnered extraordinary sales and critical plaudits for a complex novel in translation, and quickly became the object of a literary cult. This brilliant behemoth is grander in scope, ambition and sheer page count, and translator Wimmer has again done a masterful job. The novel is divided into five parts (Bolaño originally imagined it being published as five books) and begins with the adventures and love affairs of a small group of scholars dedicated to the work of Benno von Archimboldi, a reclusive German novelist. They trace the writer to the Mexican border town of Santa Teresa (read: Juarez), but there the trail runs dry, and it isn't until the final section that readers learn about Benno and why he went to Santa Teresa. The heart of the novel comes in the three middle parts: in The Part About Amalfitano, a professor from Spain moves to Santa Teresa with his beautiful daughter, Rosa, and begins to hear voices. The Part About Fate, the novel's weakest section, concerns Quincy Fate Williams, a black American reporter who is sent to Santa Teresa to cover a prizefight and ends up rescuing Rosa from her gun-toting ex-boyfriend. The Part About the Crimes, the longest and most haunting section, operates on a number of levels: it is a tormented catalogue of women murdered and raped in Santa Teresa; a panorama of the power system that is either covering up for the real criminals with its implausible story that the crimes were all connected to a German national, or too incompetent to find them (or maybe both); and it is a collection of the stories of journalists, cops, murderers, vengeful husbands, prisoners and tourists, among others, presided over by an old woman seer. It is safe to predict that no novel this year will have as powerful an effect on the reader as this one. (Nov.)

© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews