Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2015 Challenges: Flights of Fantasy

Host: Alexa Loves Books and Hello Chelly
Title: Flights of Fantasy (sign up)
Dates: January - December
# of Books: I'm aiming for 12
Remember: End of Each Month, They'll Be A Place/Linky To Share Reviews

 1) The Castle Behind Thorns. Merrie Haskell. 2014. HarperCollins. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
2)  How To Catch A Bogle. Catherine Jinks. Illustrated by Sarah Watts. 2013. HMH. [Source: Review copy]
3) The Zoo at the Edge of the World. Eric Kahn Gale. 2014. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
4)
5)
6)
7)


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Greenglass House (2014)

Greenglass House. Kate Milford. 2014.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 384 pages. [Source: Library]

I had very high expectations for Kate Milford's Greenglass House. I loved, loved, LOVED Kate Milford's The Boneshaker. My love for that one hasn't faded a bit since I first read it. (I've reread it at least once or twice since.) Greenglass House is one that I've been looking forward to reading for most of the year. Almost a book I NEEDED to read instead of merely being one I wanted to read. And the opening paragraph was wonderful:
There is a right way to do things and a wrong way, if you're going to run a hotel in a smugglers' town. You shouldn't make it a habit to ask too many questions, for one thing. And you probably shouldn't be in it for the money. Smugglers are always going to be flush with cash as soon as they find a buyer for the eight cartons of fountain pen cartridges that write in illegal shades of green, but they never have money today. You should, if you are going to run a smugglers' hotel, get a big account book and assume that whatever you write in it, the reality is, you're going to get paid in fountain pen cartridges. If you're lucky. You could just as easily get paid with something even more useless. Milo Pine did not run a smugglers' hotel, but his parents did.Unfortunately, for me, the book proved disappointing. However, just because it was an almost for me does not mean that it would prove equally disappointing to other readers. I think it could definitely work for other readers. In fact, the very elements that annoyed me may be what another reader loves best of all about the book.
For a book set during the Christmas holidays, this is a very un-Christmas-y book. Christmas proves to be the last thing on every character's mind. So if you pick up the book thinking, A Christmas book! A Christmas mystery! How delightful! You may be disappointed.

Greenglass House is very much a mystery. It is a puzzle-solving mystery. It is a book that celebrates brainstorming. Milo, our hero, finds a map. He doesn't know anything at all about the map. Just that one of the new guests must have dropped it--either on purpose or by accident--on his/her way into the inn. Perhaps he first becomes curious out of boredom or frustration. It is the holidays. The inn never has--that he can recall--had guests over the winter holidays. So when three or four guests appear within an hour or two of each other, he's annoyed. Guests mean work. If not work for him directly, then work for his parents. And the guests range from slightly eccentric to VERY eccentric.

Greenglass Mystery is more than a mystery. I can't talk about it without spoiling it, however.

So what annoyed me most about the Greenglass House? The game-playing. The introduction of the role-playing game in order to solve the mystery at the inn. All the details--big and small--that come from the game. Including the names. Most of the book, the characters use their game-names (personas) instead of their real names.

There are also elements of a coming-of-age story within Greenglass House. Milo is adopted. He's Chinese. His parents are white. He thinks about being adopted a lot. Plus, I think he's just at that age where one questions their identity and who they are and why they are and what they want to be and where they fit and how they fit.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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December Reflections

In December, I read 68 books.

Picture books and early readers:

  1. Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla. Katherine Applegate. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. My New Friend Is So Fun! Mo Willems. 2014. Hyperion. 60 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. Waiting is Not Easy. Mo Willems. 2014. Hyperion. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. Robert Lewis May. Illustrated by Denver Gillen. 1939/1990. Applewood Books. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  5. On Christmas Eve. Margaret Wise Brown. Illustrated by Nancy Edwards Calder. 1938/1961/1996. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  6. Silver Packages: An Appalachian Christmas Story. Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Chris K. Soentpiet. 1987. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  7. The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll. Patricia C. McKissack. Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. 2007. Schwartz & Wade. 40 pages. [Source: Library] 
  8. The Bells of Christmas. Virginia Hamilton. Illustrated by Lambert Davis. 1989/1997. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 64 pages. [Source: Library] 
  9. The Gift of the Magi. O. Henry. Illustrated by Lisbeth Zwerger. 1905/2006. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  10. The Tailor of Gloucester. Beatrix Potter. 1903. 58 pages. [Source: Library] 
  11. Lucy's Christmas. Donald Hall. Illustrated by Michael McCurdy. 1998. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Library] 
  12. Baboushka and the Three Kings. Ruth Robbins. Illustrated by Nicholas Sidjakov. 1960/1986. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  13. Polar Express. Chris Van Allsburg. 1985/2009. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  14. Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree. Robert E. Barry. 1963. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  15. Uncle Vova's Tree. Patricia Polacco. 1989. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  16. Too Many Tamales. Gary Soto. Illustrated by Ed Martinez. 1993. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  17. Angelina's Christmas. Katharine Holabird. Illustrated by Helen Craig. 1986. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  18. The Trees of the Dancing Goats. Patricia Polacco. 2000. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  19. Morris' Disappearing Bag. Rosemary Wells. 1975. Penguin. 40 pages. [Source: Library] 
  20. Max's Christmas. Rosemary Wells. 1986. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  21. Wombat Divine. Mem Fox. Illustrated by Kerry Argent. 1995/1999. HMH. 32 pages. [Source: Library]     
  22. And Then Comes Christmas. Tom Brenner. Illustrated by Jana Christy. 2014. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  23. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Dr. Seuss. 1957. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  24. 'Twas the Night Before Christmas. Clement C. Moore. Illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith. 1823/1912. HMH. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  25. The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. E.T.A. Hoffmann. Adapted by Wren Maysen. Illustrated by Gail de Marcken. 2009. 56 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  26. The Velveteen Rabbit. Margery Williams. Illustrated by William Nicholson. 1922/2014. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  27. Fancy Nancy: Splendiferous Christmas. Jane O'Connor. Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser. 2009. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  28. What Cats Want for Christmas. Kandy Radzinski. 2007. Sleeping Bear Press. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  29.   It's Not About You Mr. Santa Claus. Soraya Diase Coffelt. 2014. Morgan James Publishing. 34 pages. [Source: Review copy]    
Middle grade and young adult, fiction and nonfiction:
  1. The Tale of Despereaux. Kate DiCamillo. 2003. Candlewick Press. 272 pages. [Source: Bought]   
  2. The Princess in Black. Shannon and Dean Hale. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. 2014. Candlewick. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. Tumtum and Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall. Emily Bearn. Illustrated by Nick Price. 2009. Little, Brown. 512 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. Tumtum & Nutmeg: The Rose Cottage Tales. Emily Bearn. 2010. Little Brown. 416 pages. [Source: Library] 
  5. My Friend the Enemy. Dan Smith. 2014. Scholastic. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  6. Palace of Spies. Sarah Zettel. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 368 pages. [Source: Library] 
  7. The 5th Wave. Rick Yancey. 2013. Penguin. 457 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  8. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Barbara Robinson. 1972. HarperCollins. 128 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  9. Brown Girl Dreaming. Jacqueline Woodson. 2014. Nancy Paulsen Books.  336 pages. [Source: Library]
  10. Death Coming Up The Hill. Chris Crowe. 2014. HMH. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  11. Angel Tree. Daphne Benedis-Grab. 2014. Scholastic. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  12. Winterfrost. Michelle Houts. 2014. Candlewick. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]   
  13. The Golden Dreydl. Ellen Kushner. Illustrated by Ilene Winn-Lederer. 2007. Charlesbridge. 126 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  14. When Santa Fell To Earth. Cornelia Funke. Translated by Oliver Latsch. 1994/2006. Scholastic. 167 pages. [Source: Library]
  15. Boundaries. Sally M. Walker. 2014. Candlewick. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  16. Greenglass House. Kate Milford. 2014.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 384 pages. [Source: Library]
Adult books, fiction and nonfiction: 
  1. Les Miserables. Victor Hugo. Translated by Isabel Florence Hapgood. 1862/1887. 1232 pages. 
  2. The Plantagenets. Dan Jones. 2013. Viking. 560 pages. [Source: Library]  
  3. Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte. 1847.  300 pages. [Source: Own]  
  4. The Wars of the Roses: The Fall of the Plantagenets and the Rise of the Tudors. Dan Jones. 2014. Viking Adult. 416 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. Jane Austen's First Love. Syrie James. 2014. Berkley Trade. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. Where The Heart Is. Billie Letts. 1995. 376 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  7. A Quilt for Christmas. Sandra Dallas. 2014. St. Martin's Press. 256 pages. [Source: Library] 
  8. A Darcy Christmas: A Holiday Tribute to Jane Austen. By Amanda Grange, Carolyn Eberhart, and Sharon Lathan. 2010. Sourcebooks. 304 pages. [Source: Library] 
  9. The Christmas Tree. Julie Salamon. 1996. Random House. 118 pages. [Source: Bought]
  10. Lark Rise to Candleford. Flora Thompson. 1943. 537 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  11. The Case of the Postponed Murder. Erle Stanley Gardner. 1973. 152 pages. [Source: Bought]
Christian books, fiction and nonfiction: 
  1. Love Letters From God. Glenys Nellist. Illustrated by Sophie Allsopp. 2014. Zondervan. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. A Patchwork Christmas. Judith Miller, Nancy Moser, Stephanie Grace Whitson. 2012. Barbour. 403 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  3. For Such A Time As This. Angie Smith. Illustrated by Breezy Brookshire. 2014. B&H. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. From Pearl Harbor to Calvary. Mitsuo Fuchida. 1953/2011. eChristian. 96 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  5. The Presence of God: Its Place In the Storyline of Scripture and the Story of Our Lives. J. Ryan Lister. 2014. Crossway. 368 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. Revolutionary (Anomaly #3) Krista McGee. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  7. The Christmas Bus. Melody Carlson. 2006. Revell. 176 pages. [Source: Bought]
  8. Keeping Holiday. Starr Meade. Illustrated by Justin Gerard. 2008. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  9. A Most Inconvenient Marriage. Regina Jennings. 2014. Bethany House. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  10. Love Unexpected. Jody Hedlund. 2014. Bethany House. 348 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  11. Jesus Unmasked: The Truth Will Shock You. Todd Friel. 2014. New Leaf Press. 238 pages. [Source: Library] 
  12. God Has Spoken: A History of Christian Theology. Gerald Bray. Crossway. 1264 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Two Monthly Options That Excite Me

First. I'm super-super-super excited that Hope is the Word is starting a Newbery Through the Decades Challenge. Yes, I've already joined a Newbery reading challenge this year. But the Newbery is the one award I probably care about the most. (Often, but not always, the Honor books end up wowing me more than the winner.)

Directly from her blog post about the challenge:
  • This challenge will run January-October.
  • Each month will focus on a decade’s worth of Newbery Medalists and honor books.
    • January:  1920s
    • February:  1930s
    • March:  1940s
    • April:  1950s
    • May:  1960s
    • June:  1970s
    • July:  1980s
    • August:  1990s
    • September:  2000s
    • October: 2010s
  • I will post a list of all the eligible titles for the month on the first day of the month.  I will also post which title(s) I plan to read.  I’ll provide a linky for your own “I’m in” post.
  • You may read one title or two or as many as you want.
  • I will post the wrap-up post for you to link up your thoughts and reviews on the last day of the month.
I would love to participate every month. Though January will probably be the hardest for me. (I *know* that Millions of Cats won a Newbery Honor in 1929. And I have that one. So at the very, very least I could write up something on that one!!!

Second. Though I'm a bit more hesitant to commit to actually participating. I saw the 2015 Reading to Know Classics Book Club post this morning. January is any title by L.M. Montgomery. (I have five or six short story collections that I *need* to read/reread and review.) March is a Tozer title, Pursuit of God. April is 1984. (I've been meaning to read 1984 for years now. I don't know if I'll end up 'liking' it or not. But I should at least give it a try, right?) May is one of my favorite, favorite books CHRISTY by Catherine Marshall. June is The Little Prince. I've only read that one once, I could probably reread it this year if I can find it. July is any from Narnia or C.S. Lewis. September is The Screwtape Letters. I've that on audio. October is The Hound of the Baskervilles. (I've only read one Sherlock Holmes book.) November is Grimm's Fairy Tales. (Sounds fun, right!) So most of the months have potential. If I can only REMEMBER to join in.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Death Coming Up the Hill

Death Coming Up The Hill. Chris Crowe. 2014. HMH. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

At first I was skeptical about Death Coming Up the Hill. A whole verse novel written in haiku?! I struggle with liking verse novels in general. When I do, it is more often an exception than the norm. Why haiku? Why a verse novel? But after reading the author's note, I was a bit more forgiving and appreciative. He shares why he chose to write in haiku. He says he tried writing the story in prose, he tried different things here and there. He liked the characters. He liked the story. But the words, they were stuck. When he tried writing in verse, in haiku, things became unstuck. Furthermore, the number of syllables in Death Coming Up the Hill matches precisely the number of American soldiers killed in Vietnam in 1968. So the author's note did explain the why. That being said, I haven't changed my mind about verse novels.

Death Coming Up the Hill is a coming-of-age love story set in 1968. Ashe is the protagonist. 1968 will bring him joy and sorrow. I'll start with the joy: the new girl in school, Angela Turner, will become his girl; they'll fall madly in love. She will support him. He will support her. Together they have something solid. A further joy, of sorts, is Ashe will get a baby sister, Rosa. Now for the sorrow, Rosa is not his father's child. His mom has had an affair. His parents will split up, and Ashe's family life will go from uncomfortable to unbearable. Plus, there's general angst. Angst about the war in Vietnam. Angst at home in the U.S. His father is at one extreme, his mother at the other. Ashe is growing up and deciding who he is, what he believes, what he wants and needs, what he's willing to do or not do.

As a coming of age novel, it works. As a love story, it works. So in many ways this one works. I personally don't think it's great in terms of poetry and language. But I will be the first to admit that I don't read much poetry, and, that poetry in general is subjective enough to begin with. Do I think that the novel resonates with emotion? Yes. But I don't think it resonates with emotion because of the poetry.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, December 29, 2014

Sci-Fi Experience, B5 episodes 9-12

I do love Babylon 5. I am going to enjoy rewatching it for the 42 challenge and Carl's Sci-Fi Experience.


 The third disc has four episodes:
  • Deathwalker
  • Believers
  • Survivors
  • By Any Means Necessary
One way to better appreciate the episodes on this particular disc is to use G'Kar's words as a frame of reference. In Mind War, he says:
Let me pass on to you the one thing I've learned about this place. No one here is exactly what he appears. Not Mollari, not Delenn, not Sinclair, and not me.
Each episode tends to focus on a different character. "Deathwalker" might be the exception. The 'moral' of it--if moral is the right word--seems to be that all races have a dark side. I tend to think that even "Deathwalker" focuses in on one character. And. It's a character that up until this point hasn't really gotten much attention. Kosh. "Believers" focuses on Dr. Franklin. And to a lesser degree on Commander Sinclair. "Survivors" focuses on Michael Garibaldi. Now that I think of it, "By Any Means Necessary" is another exception. A handful of characters are put into stressful, intense situations. We learn more about G'Kar and Sinclair. What viewers get in these episodes is a chance to see some layers revealed in all the characters.

 Deathwalker
Premise/Plot: First story: Kosh hires Talia (the telepath) for his 'business' deal. It's a puzzling story, not only to viewers but to Talia herself. The man Kosh is doing business with is a "walking VCR." Second story: Jha'dur--a Dilgar war criminal--stops over at Babylon 5. Everyone reacts. Some want to kill her...now. Some want to put her on trial and then kill her. Some want the trial to be on Babylon 5. Some want the trial to take place on their own planet. Some want to make a deal with her, and, are willing to "overlook" the past because they are greedy and power-hungry and too curious for their own good. So many people have an idea of what to do--what's right to do, what justice looks like--how will Sinclair please everyone?!
Pay attention to: Kosh...and also Lennier
Quotes:
Kosh: Ahh. You seek meaning.
Talia: Yes.
Kosh: Then listen to the music, not the song.
Susan Ivanova: Well, I've managed to get the ship captains engaged in a debate over who has the best claim to Jha'dur. The winner will be the first to attack.
Jeffrey Sinclair: Creative.
Jha'dur: You and the rest of your kind take blind comfort in the belief that we are monsters, that you could never do what we did. The key ingredient in the anti-agapic cannot be synthesized. It must be taken from living beings. For one to live forever, another one must die. You will fall upon one another like wolves. It will make what we did pale by comparison. The billions who live forever will be a testimony to my work. And the billions who are murdered to buy that immortality will be the continuance of my work. Not like us? You will become us.
 Believers
Premise/Plot: Perhaps with the exception of Infection, Believers is one of the episodes I like least. I'll keep to the facts. A couple brings their young son to Dr. Franklin. They're wanting him to live, of course, but are adamant that surgery is not an option. Even if surgery is the only thing in the world that will save their son. No surgery. End of story. But it isn't the end of the story, for, Dr. Franklin--for better or worse--won't let it be the end of the matter. He relentlessly works to save a life. And the boys' parents end up pleading with all the show regulars to explain their side of the story and why they need help and representation. Poor Sinclair is put in the middle of it. This is a heavy episode no doubt about it.
Pay attention to: Sinclair and Dr. Franklin
Quotes:
Jeffrey Sinclair: Who asked you to play God?
Franklin: Every damn patient who comes through that door, that's who. People come to doctors because they want us to be gods. They want us to make it better…or make it not so. They want to be healed and they come to me when their prayers aren't enough. Well, if I have to take the responsibility, then I claim the authority too. I did good. And we both know it. And no one is going to take that away.
Sinclair: Sometimes doing the right thing doesn't change anything.
Survivors
Premise/Plot: Homeguard again. Garibaldi is framed for a crime. Someone from his past has it in for him. Viewers really get a chance to know more about Garibaldi and his past. No matter how many times I watch the show, no matter how many times I rewatch season one, SEEING Garibaldi contemplating drinking the drink in front of him. I never actually remember that he does it, that he loses control.
Pay attention to: Sinclair and Garibaldi
Quotes:
G'Kar: The Universe is run by the complex interweaving of three elements: energy, matter, and enlightened self-interest.
Sinclair to Garibaldi: You're more trouble than a toilet full of snakes, but I couldn't run this station without you.
 By Any Means Necessary
Premise/Plot: First story: Laborers on strike. A guild refuses to work until negotiations go their way. Sinclair is sympathetic but powerless. Until someone invokes "the Rush Act." The powers that be think they've got it, that they've done it. But. Sinclair finds a loophole and a way to end things peacefully giving them exactly what they want and need. Second story: G'Kar has plenty of fits in this episode. He stays flustered! G'Kar desperately needs a G'Quan Eth plant for a religious ceremony. The one he'd ordered imported blew up in an accident in the docking bay. Londo, he learns, is the only person on the station who has that plant. And G'Kar is forced to beg and plead with an all-too-smug and oh-so-arrogant Londo. G'Kar does get a little tricksy in this one. But so does Sinclair. Sinclair is not particularly happy to have to be the go-between in this situation. But Sinclair proves himself yet again.
Pay attention to: Sinclair and G'Kar
Quotes:
Jeffrey Sinclair: You should never hand someone a gun unless you're sure where they'll point it.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Boundaries (2014)

Boundaries. Sally M. Walker. 2014. Candlewick. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]

While American history is not my favorite subject, I did enjoy various aspects of Boundaries: How The Mason-Dixon Line Settled A Family Feud and Divided a Nation. I can appreciate the thoroughness of the research and the organization of the narrative.

It's a broad subject. The book begins in England and follows two men who established colonies in the New World. One man, a Catholic, the second man, a Quaker. One would establish Maryland, the other would establish Pennsylvania. It follows those two families for a chapter or two pointing out the disputes and troubles regarding the border or boundary between the two colonies. It points out that there were regions that BOTH claimed and that BOTH tried to tax settlers. So one governing body could say pay taxes to me, not them. Readers could see how residents could find it frustrating and confusing. Most of the book, however, is about two men, two scientists: Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon. It goes into great detail about HOW the two men surveyed the land, walked the three lines to establish boundaries. It is very science-y, very technical. It shares details about their work, their crews, their journeys, their guides, etc. This project lasted several years. One chapter focuses on the Mason-Dixon line as symbol of free states and slave states, a division of North and South. That chapter discusses about two hundred years worth of history. The last chapter is an odd one. It brings the Mason-Dixon line into contemporary times; it speaks of the men and women who have taken an interest in it, have taken an interest in the boundary stones, who have set off on a quest to find the original markers, or, who have worked to get historical markers for the region in various locations.

I found this one to be a bit dry in places.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2015 Challenges: Nonfiction Reading Challenge

Host: Introverted Reader
Title: Nonfiction Reading Challenge (sign-up) (sharing reviews)
Dates: January - December 2015
# of Books: 16-20 (Master)

1. In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette. Hampton Sides. 2014. 454 pages. [Source: Library]
2. Don't Give Up, Don't Give In. Lessons From An Extraordinary Life. Louis Zamperini and David Rensin. 2014. 272 pages. [Source: Library]
3. The Girl With The White Flag. Tomiko Higa. Translated by Dorothy Britton. 1989. 130 pages. [Source: Bought]
4. The Art of the English Murder. Lucy Worsley. 2014. Pegusus Books. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
5. Little Author in the Big Woods. Yona Zeldis McDonough. 2014. Henry Holt. 176 pages. [Source: Library]
6. Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women. Cornelia Meigs. 1933/1995. Little, Brown. 256 pages. [Source: Library] 
7. Shadows of the Workhouse (Call the Midwife #2) Jennifer Worth. 2005/2008/2013. HarperCollins. 304 pages. [Source: Library] 
8. Jane Austen Cover to Cover: 200 Years of Classic Book Covers. Margaret C. Sullivan. Quirk Publishing. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
9. YUM: Your Ultimate Manual for Good Nutrition. Daina Kalnins. 2008. Lobster Press. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
10. Call the Midwife: A Memoir of Birth, Joy, and Hard Times. Jennifer Worth. 2002/2009. Penguin. 340 pages. [Source: Library]
11. Farewell to the East End. (Call of the Midwife #3) Jennifer Worth. 2009/2013. HarperCollins. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
12.  Devil at My Heels. Louis Zamperini and David Rensin. 1956/2004. Harper Perennial. 292 pages. [Source: Library]
13. Determined. A. Avraham Perlmutter. 2014. Mascherato Publishing. 172 pages. [Source: Review copy]
14. A Great and Glorious Adventure: The Hundred Years War and the Birth of Renaissance England. Gordon Corrigan. 2013/2014. Pegasus. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
15. The Last Jews in Berlin. Leonard Gross. 1982/2015. Open Road Media. 343 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
16. A Girl from Yamhill. Beverly Cleary. 1988/1996. HarperCollins. 352 pages. [Source: Library]
17. 17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-Up in History. Andrew Morton. 2015. 384 pages. [Source: Library]
18. Dead Wake. Erik Larson. 2015. Crown. 448 pages. [Source: Library] 
19. War Bonds: Love Stories from the Greatest Generation. Cindy Hval. 2015. Casemate. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
20. The Sound of Music Story: How A Beguiling Young Novice, A Handsome Austrian Captain and Ten Singing von Trapp Children Inspired the Most Beloved Film of All Time. Tom Santopietro. 2015. St. Martin's Press. 324 pages. [Source: Library] 
21. Draw What You See: The Life and Art of Benny Andrews. Kathleen Benson. Illustrated by Benny Andrews. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
22. Follow Your Gut. Rob Knight with Brendan Buhler. 2015. Simon & Schuster (TED) 128 pages. [Source: Library]
23. Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Edited by Pamela Smith Hill. 2014. South Dakota State Historical State Society. 400 pages. [Source: Library]
24.
25.


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, December 28, 2014

Year in Review: Adult (Fiction/Nonfiction)

In 2014, I read and reviewed 625 books. I read 109 adult books. This includes fiction and nonfiction.

My top five fiction:
  1. The Daughter of Time. Josephine Tey. 1951/1995. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  2. Bridge to Haven. Francine Rivers. 2014. Tyndale House. 468 pages. [Source: Library]  
  3. Doomsday Book. Connie Willis. 1992. Random House. 592 pages.  [Source: Book I Bought]
  4. To Say Nothing of the Dog. Connie Willis. 1998. Bantam. 493 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  5. The Second Confession (Nero Wolfe). Rex Stout. 1949. 256 pages. [Source: Book I Bought] and In the Best Families. (Nero Wolfe). Rex Stout. 1950. 272 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
My top five classics:
  1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Betty Smith. 1943/2006. HarperCollins. 496 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  2. No Name. Wilkie Collins. 1862/1998. Oxford University Press. 748 pages.
  3. The Belton Estate. Anthony Trollope. 1866/1993. Penguin. 432 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. Good Morning, Miss Dove. Frances Gray Patton. 1954. 218 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
  5. A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens. 1854/2003. Bantam Classics. 382 pages. [Source: Bought]
My top five nonfiction:
  1. Unbroken. Laura Hillenbrand. 2010. Random House. 473 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. An Autobiography. Agatha Christie. 1977/1996. Berkley. 635 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  3. Frozen in Time. Mitchell Zuckoff. 2013. Harper. 391 pages. [Source: Library]   
  4. Out of the Depths. Edgar Harrell, with David Harrell. 2014. Bethany House. 192 pages. [Source: Library] 
  5. The Boys in the Boat. Daniel James Brown. 2013. Viking. 416 pages. [Source: Library]
My top five rereads:
  1. Les Miserables. Victor Hugo. Translated by Isabel Florence Hapgood. 1862/1887. 1232 pages.
  2. Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte. 1847.  300 pages. [Source: Own]
  3. Persuasion. Jane Austen 1818/1992. Knopf Doubleday. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. North and South. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1854-1855. 452 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury. 1953/1991. Del Rey. 179 pages. [Source: Bought] 

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Year in Review: Middle Grade and Young Adult

In 2014, I read and reviewed 625 books. I read 193 books in the MG/YA category. This includes fiction and nonfiction.

Top five nonfiction:
  1. The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights. Steve Sheinkin. 2014. Roaring Brook. 208 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia. Candace Fleming. 2014. Random House. 304 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. Hidden Like Anne Frank. Marcel Prins. Peter Henk Steenhuis. Translated by Laura Watkinson. Scholastic. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]   
  4. The Girl From the Tar Paper School. Teri Kanefield. 2014. Abrams. 56 pages. [Source: Library]  
  5. Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker. Patricia Hruby Powell. 2014. Chronicle. 104 pages. [Source: Library]
Top ten MG/YA:
  1. The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. Lady Thief. A.C. Gaughen. 2014. Walker Books. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. Seven Stories Up. Laurel Snyder. 2014. Random House. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. A Snicker of Magic. Natalie Lloyd. 2014. Scholastic. 320 pages. [Source: Library]  
  5. The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson. 2013. Simon & Schuster. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
  6. Brown Girl Dreaming. Jacqueline Woodson. 2014. Nancy Paulsen Books.  336 pages. [Source: Library] 
  7. Absolutely Almost. Lisa Graff. 2014. Penguin. 304 pages [Source: Library] 
  8. The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher. Jessica Lawson. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 224 pages. [Source: Library] 
  9. Free to Fall. Lauren Miller. 2014. HarperCollins. 480 pages. [Source: Library] 
  10. The Chapel Wars. Lindsey Leavitt. 2014. Bloomsbury USA. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Top five rereads:
  1. The Book Thief. Markus Zusak. 2006. Random House. 560 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]  
  2. The Giver. Lois Lowry. 1993. Houghton Mifflin. 180 pages. [Source: Library]   
  3. To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee. 1960. 281 pages. [Source: Book I Own]
  4. The Long Winter. Laura Ingalls Wilder. 1940. 334 pages. [Source: Library]  
  5. The Teacher's Funeral. Richard Peck. 2004. Penguin. 208 pages. [Source: Library] 
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Year in Review: Board Books, Picture Books, Early Readers

In 2014, I read and reviewed 625 books.  I read 175 "picture books." For categorization purposes, I counted board books and early readers in the totals of my picture books.

My top ten picture books:
My top three early readers:
My top three board books:

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sci-Fi Experience, B5 Episode 5-8

I do love Babylon 5. I am going to enjoy rewatching it for the 42 challenge and Carl's Sci-Fi Experience.

The second disc has four episodes:
  • The Parliament of Dreams
  • Mind War
  • The War Prayer
  • And the Sky Full of Stars
Compared to the first four episodes, these four episodes are so much better, so much stronger. It was watching the fifth episode that convinced me that, yes, I need to watch the series. The "trial" period was over. What convinced me? Well, I'm not so sure it wasn't G'Kar singing "So Many Fishies"!!!

The Parliament of Dreams:
Premise/plot: There are three main stories to this episode. One, an assassin has been hired to kill G'Kar. Two, Sinclair's ex-girlfriend, Catherine, arrives on the station. Will they reunite? Three, there is a weeklong festival celebrating every alien species' "dominant" religion. So viewers learn more about various cultures on the show Centauri, Minbari, etc. Usually, the shows have multiple stories per episodes, and I end up liking some more than others. In some cases, I may hate one story, and love the other. So there's always a reason to watch. This is a strong episode. I love so many things about it. It does introduce three new characters to the show. (Na'Toth, G'Kar's aide, Lennier, Delenn's aide, and Catherine, Sinclair's true love. Of the three, I love, love, LOVE Lennier.)
Pay Attention To: Minbari "rebirth" ceremony
Favorite Quotes:
Delenn to Lennier "I can't have an aid who will not look up. You will be forever walking into things!" 
Vir: "Ah! He has become one with his inner self!"
Garibaldi: "He's passed out."
Vir: "That, too."
Delenn: "Will you follow me into fire, into storm, into darkness, into death? And the Nine said Yes. Then do this in testimony to the one who will follow, who will bring death couched in the promise of new life and renewal disguised as defeat. From birth through death and renewal, you most put aside old things, old fears, old lives. This is your death, the death of flesh, the death of pain, the death of yesterday. Taste of it, and be not afraid. For I am with you until the end of time. Taste of it. And so, it begins" 
Mind War
Premise/Plot: There are two main stories in this episode. The first involving telepaths and psi-corps. The second involving Catherine and G'Kar. I love, love, LOVE the second part. Why? G'Kar may not have come across as likeable or lovable on the first disc. But in Parliament of Dreams and Mind War, his charm is too strong to be resisted. He does seem to get the best lines!!! What I did love about the first story, however, is the introduction of Alfred Bester (played by Walter Koenig!!!). We'll be seeing him, but NOT his assistant, again!
Pay Attention To: G'Kar!
Favorite Quotes:
Bester: It was a calculated risk!
Susan Ivanova: Good old Psi Corps. You guys never cease to amaze me. All the moral fiber of Jack the Ripper! What do you do in your spare time, juggle babies over a fire pit? Oops, there goes another calculated risk!
Psi Cop Kelsey: You're not helping the situation.
Ivanova: Lady, you are the situation!
G'Kar: Let me pass on to you the one thing I've learned about this place. No one here is exactly what he appears. Not Mollari, not Delenn, not Sinclair, and not me.
Catherine Sakai: "Why?"
G'kar: "Why not."
Catherine Sakai: "Not an answer!"
G'kar: "Oh, yes it is. It simply not an answer you like, or an answer you expected. There is a difference. Narns, Humans, Centauri: We all do what we do for the same reason - because it seemed like a good idea at the time."
G'Kar: "There are things in the universe billions of years older than either of our races. They are vast, timeless, and if they are aware of us at all, it is as little more than ants, and we have as much chance of communicated with them as an ant has with us. We know, we've tried. And we've learned that you can either stay out from under the foot, or be stepped on."
Catherine Sakai: "That's it? That's all you know?"
G'Kar: "Yes, they are a mystery. And I am both terrified and reassured to know that there are still wonders in the universe, that we have not yet explained everything. Whatever they are, Ms. Sakai, they walk near sigma 957, and they must walk there alone."
The War Prayer
Premise/Plot: Two stories. First. Young Centauri couple wanting to marry, seek help and/or pemission from an unlikely source. Second. Readers are introduced to the Homeguard group--a racist, pro-Earth, anti-alien terrorist group that is ever-gaining popularity on Earth. Homeguard is attacking aliens on the Babylon 5 station.
Pay Attention To: Londo. He has some *great* quotes in this one. Also, did you notice that Danica McKellar played the young Centauri runaway?! Also, we get a hint that Susan has had bad luck in her love life.
Favorite Quotes:
Londo: "My shoes are too tight."
Vir: "Excuse me?"
Londo: "Something my father said. He was old, very old at the time. I went into his room and he was, sitting alone in the dark, crying. So I asked him what was wrong and he said, My shoes are too tight, but it doesn't matter, because I have forgotten have to dance. I never understood what that meant until now. My shoes are too tight and I have forgotten how to dance."
And The Sky Full of Stars
Premise/Plot: Sinclair is kidnapped. Why? Someone wants to find clues within his mind to explain why the Minbari surrendered when they were winning the war. Does his subconscious hold the answers? This episode really only has the one story.
Pay Attention To: Delenn and Sinclair
Favorite Quotes:
Garibaldi: "He lying, I can tell!"
Sinclair: "Everyone lies Michael. The innocent lie because they don't want to be blamed for something they did not do. The guilty lie because they don't have any other choice. Find out *why* he is lying, and the rest will take care of itself."
Ivanova: "Mister Garibaldi, there're days I'm very glad I don't have to think like you do."

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2014 Completed Challenges: TBR Pile

2014 TBR Pile
Host: Roof Beam Reader (sign up here); updates on 15th each month.
January - December 2014
# of Books 12 to 14

I read 13/14. But since only 12 were required. I completed it successfully!!!!

  1. 1066 And All That. W.C. Sellar & R.J. Yeatman. 1931/1993. Barnes & Noble. 116 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. In Search of England. H.V. Morton. 1927/2007. Da Capo Press. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  3. Dick Turpin: The Myth of the English Highwayman. James Sharpe. 2004. Profile Books. 258 pages. [Source: Book I bought]
  4. When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman. 1994. Random House. 746 pages. [Source: Bought]    
  5. The Merry Monarch's Wife by Jean Plaidy. 1991/2008. Crown. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. The Birth of Britain (History of the English Speaking People #1). Winston Churchill. 1956. 496 pages. [Source: Bought]
  7. Pastwatch The Redemption of Christopher Columbus. Orson Scott Card. 1996. Tor.  351 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]  
  8. An Autobiography. Agatha Christie. 1977/1996. Berkley. 635 pages. [Source: Bought]
  9. And Be A Villain. (Nero Wolfe). Rex Stout. 1948. 256 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]   
  10. Good Morning, Miss Dove. Frances Gray Patton. 1954. 218 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
  11. The Eustace Diamonds. Anthony Trollope. 1873. 794 pages. [Source: Book I Bought] 
  12. The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court At Kensington Palace. Lucy Worsley. 2010. Walker. 432 pages [Source: Bought]
  13. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Betty Smith. 1943. Harper Perennial. 493 pages. [Source: Bought] 


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2014 Completed Challenges: Chunkster

Chunkster Reading Challenge 
Dates: January - December 2014
# of books: each reader decides! my goal: 6 to 8

1. Lady of the English. Elizabeth Chadwick. 2011. Sourcebooks. 544 pages. [Source: Library] 
2. Doomsday Book. Connie Willis. 1992. Random House. 592 pages.  [Source: Book I Bought]
3. The Courts of Love. Jean Plaidy. 1987. Broadway Books. 576 pages. [Source: Bought]
4. Mansfield Park. Jane Austen. 1814. 464 pages. [Source: Book I Bought] 
5. When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman. 1994. Random House. 746 pages. [Source: Bought]
6. Phineas Redux. Anthony Trollope. 1874. 768 pages. [Source: Book I bought]
7.  The Prime Minister. Anthony Trollope. 1876. 864 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
8. Redeeming Love. Francine Rivers. 2005. Multnomah. 464 pages. [Source: Bought]
9.  No Name. Wilkie Collins. 1862/1998. Oxford University Press. 748 pages.
10. Bridge to Haven. Francine Rivers. 2014. Tyndale House. 468 pages. [Source: Library]
11.  North and South. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1854-1855. 452 pages. [Source: Bought]
12. To Say Nothing of the Dog. Connie Willis. 1998. Bantam. 493 pages. [Source: Bought] 
13. The Duke's Children. Anthony Trollope. 1880. 560 pages. [Source: Book I Bought] 
14.  The Auschwitz Escape. Joel C. Rosenberg. 2014. Tyndale. 468 pages. [Source: Library]
15. Blackout. Connie Willis. 2010. Random House. 495 pages. [Source: Bought]
16. All Clear. Connie Willis. 2010. Random House. 645 pages. [Source: Bought]
17.  Is He Popenjoy? Anthony Trollope. 1878/1993. Penguin. 632 pages. [Source: Bought]
18. The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) Robert Jordan. 1990. Tor. 814 pages. [Source: Bought]
19. An Autobiography. Agatha Christie. 1977/1996. Berkley. 635 pages. [Source: Bought]  
20. Les Miserables. Victor Hugo. Translated by Isabel Florence Hapgood. 1862/1887. 1232 pages.
21. Lark Rise to Candleford. Flora Thompson. 1943. 537 pages. [Source: Bought] 
22. God Has Spoken: A History of Christian Theology. Gerald Bray. Crossway. 1264 pages. [Source: Review copy]
23. The Secret of Pembrooke Park. Julie Klassen. 2014. Bethany House. 460 pages. [Source: Review copy] 


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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The Case of the Postponed Murder

The Case of the Postponed Murder. Erle Stanley Gardner. 1973. 152 pages. [Source: Bought]

I enjoyed reading The Case of the Postponed Murder. Is it the best mystery ever? OF course not. I wouldn't even say it is the best Perry Mason mystery that I've ever read. But is it worth the quick time it takes? I think so. If you love the characters Perry Mason, Paul Drake, and Della Street, then you'll most likely enjoy reading this one enough.

The mystery begins with a woman visiting Mason's office. The would-be-client is concerned about her sister whom she claims is missing. Mason doesn't trust the woman, he thinks she's lying, or telling half-truths at least. He does direct her to hire Paul Drake as a private detective. Mason's hunch is that the sister story is flawed. His best guest is that "Sylvia Farr" the oh-so-concerned sister is in fact Mae Farr the so-called missing sister. His suspicions are confirmed a few days later, but, by then he's too involved in the case. It starts out a forgery case, an alleged check-forgery case. But, of course, you may have guessed it, ends in a murder case. (Though this one doesn't have a very satisfying murder-trial element to it.) The book is predictable enough, but, I don't have a problem with predictable and Perry Mason.

The book does feel a bit dated, even for 1973. The client, Mae Farr, is determined to be independent and strong-willed. She wants to make her way through life on her own, earn her own money, pay her own way, take care of her own problems. Yet, by the conclusion, she's decided that maybe she was wrong to think she could do it all on her own in the big city, that it would be best for her to marry the rancher who's spent years of his life loving her from afar. You definitely get the sense that she's been tamed. I guess my concern with that is that she's spent the entire book saying that she didn't love him at all, that she didn't care for him, that she'd never be happy with him, that she had no desire at all to get married and settle down. And then, within two pages a complete change of heart.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2014 Completed Challenges: Year of Rereading

Host: Caffeinated Life
Name: A Year In Rereading (sign-up post; review sharing post)
Dates: January - December 2014
# of Books: 10+ my goal is 50-52 books; one each week

1. The Story of the Treasure Seekers. E. Nesbit. 1899. Puffin. 250 pages. [Source: Bought]
2. Good Morning, Miss Dove. Frances Gray Patton. 1954. 218 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
3. Pastwatch The Redemption of Christopher Columbus. Orson Scott Card. 1996. Tor.  351 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
4. The Time Machine. H.G. Wells. 1895. Penguin. 128 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
5. Doomsday Book. Connie Willis. 1992. Random House. 592 pages.  [Source: Book I Bought]
6. Sense and Sensibility. Jane Austen. 1811. 352 pages. [Source: Book I Bought] 
7. A Woman's Place. Lynn Austin. 2006. Bethany House. 450 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
8. The Merchant's Daughter. Melanie Dickerson. 2011. Zondervan. 285 pages. [Source: Library]
9. The Long Winter. Laura Ingalls Wilder. 1940. 334 pages. [Source: Library] 
10. Colonel Brandon's Diary. Amanda Grange. 2009. Penguin. 304 pages. [Source: Library] 
11. To Kill A Mockingbird. Harper Lee. 1960. 281 pages. [Source: Book I Own]
12. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society. Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows. 2008. Random House. 274 pages. [Source: Library]
13. Sword in the Storm. David Gemmell. 1998. Del Rey. 448 pages [Source: Library]
14. Knowledge of the Holy. A.W. Tozer. 1961/1978. HarperCollins. 128 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
15. The Giver. Lois Lowry. 1993. Houghton Mifflin. 180 pages. [Source: Library]  
16. A Long Way From Chicago. Richard Peck. 1998. Penguin. 148 pages. [Source: Library book] 
17. Five Children and It. E. Nesbit. 1902/2004. Puffin Classics. 240 pages. [Source: Book I bought]
18. The Testing. Joelle Charbonneau. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 344 pages. [Source: Review Copy] 
19. Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen. 1813. 386 pages. [Source: Book I Bought] 
20. Mansfield Park. Jane Austen. 1814. 464 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]  
21.Ten Cents A Dance. Christine Fletcher. 2008/2010. Bloomsbury USA. 368 pages. [Source: Review copy]
22 Meet Me in St. Louis: A Trip to the 1904 World's Fair. Robert Jackson. 2004. HarperCollins. 144 pages. [Source: Bought] 
23.A Year Down Yonder. Richard Peck. 2000. Penguin. 144 pages. [Source: Library] 
24.The False Prince. Jennifer A. Nielsen. 2012. Scholastic. 342 pages. [Source: Review copy]
25. The Runaway King. Jennifer A. Nielsen. 2013. Scholastic. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
26. The Shadow Throne. Jennifer A. Nielsen. 2014. Scholastic. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
27. The Teacher's Funeral. Richard Peck. 2004. Penguin. 208 pages. [Source: Library] 
28. The Phoenix and the Carpet. E. Nesbit. 1904. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
29.Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance. Jennifer Armstrong. 1998. Random House. 144 pages. [Source: Library]
30. Preacher's Boy. Katherine Paterson. 1999/2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
31.Greetings from Nowhere. Barbara O'Connor. 2008. FSG. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
32.Because of Winn Dixie. Kate DiCamillo. 2000. Candlewick. 182 pages. [Source: Book I bought]
33.Peter Pan. J.M. Barrie. 1911/2008. Penguin. 207 pages. [Source: Review copy]
34. The Lemonade War. Jacqueline Davies. 2007. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 192 pages. [Source: Library]
35. Doggirl. Robin Brande. 2011.  Ryer Publishing. 269 pages. [Source: Review copy]
36. Julia Gillian (And the Art of Knowing) by Alison McGhee. 2008. Scholastic. 290 pages. [Source: Review copy]
37. 11 Birthdays. Wendy Mass. 2009. Scholastic. 267 pages. [Source: Library book] 
38. The Story of the Amulet. E. Nesbit. 1906/1996. Puffin. 292 pages. [Source: Bought]
39. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Betty Smith. 1943/2006. HarperCollins. 496 pages. [Source: Bought]  
40. The Railway Children. E. Nesbit. 1906/2011. Penguin. 304 pages.  [Source: Bought]  
41. North and South. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1854-1855. 452 pages. [Source: Bought]
42.  To Say Nothing of the Dog. Connie Willis. 1998. Bantam. 493 pages. [Source: Bought]
43. Umbrella Summer. Lisa Graff. 2009. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
44. The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. Kate DiCamillo. 2006. Candlewick. 200 pages. [Source: Bought]
45. The Book Thief. Markus Zusak. 2006. Random House. 560 pages. [Source: Book I Bought] 
46. Out of the Dust. Karen Hesse. 1997. Scholastic. 240 pages. [Source: Bought]
47. The Daughter of Time. Josephine Tey. 1951/1995. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]
48. The Convenient Marriage. By Georgette Heyer. (1934) Read by Richard Armitage. 2010. August 2010. Naxos Audiobooks. 5 hrs. 6 minutes. [Source: Review copy]
49. The Hobbit. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1937. 320 pages. [Source: Bought]
50. Blue Plate Special by Michelle D. Kwasney. 2009. Chronicle Books. 366 pages. [Source: Library]
51. Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury. 1953/1991. Del Rey. 179 pages. [Source: Bought]
52. Northanger Abbey. Jane Austen. 1817/1992. Everyman's Library. 288 pages. [Source: Book I Own]
53. Blackout. Connie Willis. 2010. Random House. 495 pages. [Source: Bought]  
54. All Clear. Connie Willis. 2010. Random House. 645 pages. [Source: Bought] 
55. Howl's Moving Castle. Diana Wynne Jones. 1986. 336 pages. [Source: Bought]
56. Grave Mercy. Robin LaFevers. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 560 pages. [Source: Review copy]
57. Frankenstein. Mary Shelley. 1818/1831. Oxford World's Classics. 250 pages. [Source: Bought]
58. The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) Robert Jordan. 1990. Tor. 814 pages. [Source: Bought]
59. The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Library]
60. The Hiding Place. Corrie Ten Boom. With John and Elizabeth Sherrill. 1971/1984/1995. Chosen. 228 pages. [Source: Bought] 
61. Countdown by Deborah Wiles. 2010. May 2010. Scholastic. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]
62. Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) Robin LaFevers. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 387 pages. [Source: Review copy]
63. Black Beauty. Anna Sewell. 1877. 245 pages. [Source: Bought]
64. Persuasion. Jane Austen 1818/1992. Knopf Doubleday. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]
65.  A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens. 1843. 96 pages. [Source: Bought]  
66. The All-I'll-Ever-Want Christmas Doll. Patricia C. McKissack. Illustrated by Jerry Pinkney. 2007. Schwartz & Wade. 40 pages. [Source: Library] 
67. The Tailor of Gloucester. Beatrix Potter. 1903. 58 pages. [Source: Library]
68. Polar Express. Chris Van Allsburg. 1985/2009. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
69. How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Dr. Seuss. 1957. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Review copy]
70. The Velveteen Rabbit. Margery Williams. Illustrated by William Nicholson. 1922/2014. Random House. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]
71. Twas the Night Before Christmas. Clement C. Moore. Illustrated by Jessie Willcox Smith. 1823/1912. HMH. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
72. The Tale of Despereaux. Kate DiCamillo. 2003. Candlewick Press. 272 pages. [Source: Bought] 
73. The 5th Wave. Rick Yancey. 2013. Penguin. 457 pages. [Source: Review copy]
74. The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. Barbara Robinson. 1972. HarperCollins. 128 pages. [Source: Bought]
75. The Golden Dreydl. Ellen Kushner. Illustrated by Ilene Winn-Lederer. 2007. Charlesbridge. 126 pages. [Source: Review copy]
76. Les Miserables. Victor Hugo. Translated by Isabel Florence Hapgood. 1862/1887. 1232 pages.
77. Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte. 1847.  300 pages. [Source: Own]
78. A Darcy Christmas: A Holiday Tribute to Jane Austen. By Amanda Grange, Carolyn Eberhart, and Sharon Lathan. 2010. Sourcebooks. 304 pages. [Source: Library] 
79. The Christmas Tree. Julie Salamon. 1996. Random House. 118 pages. [Source: Bought]
80. Keeping Holiday. Starr Meade. Illustrated by Justin Gerard. 2008. Crossway. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]  


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2014 Completed Challenges: British History

Host: Impressions in Ink
Name: British History Reading Challenge
Dates: January - December 2014
# of books: my goal 9 to 12

What I read:

1. Lady of the English. Elizabeth Chadwick. 2011. Sourcebooks. 544 pages. [Source: Library] 
2. 1066 And All That. W.C. Sellar & R.J. Yeatman. 1931/1993. Barnes & Noble. 116 pages. [Source: Bought]
3. Duchess of Drury Lane. Freda Lightfoot. 2013. Severn House. 256 pages. [Source: Library]
4. Royal Affair: George III And His Scandalous Siblings. 2006. Random House. 384 pages. [Source: Library]
5. The Revolt of the Eaglets. Jean Plaidy. 1977. 320 pages. [Source: Bought] 
6. Doomsday Book. Connie Willis. 1992. Random House. 592 pages.  [Source: Book I Bought]
7. The Courts of Love. Jean Plaidy. 1987. Broadway Books. 576 pages. [Source: Bought]
8. Scarlet. A.C. Gaughen. 2012. Walker. 292 pages. [Source: Library]
9. Goodnight, Mr. Tom. Michelle Magorian. 1981. HarperCollins. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
10. In Search of England. H.V. Morton. 1927/2007. Da Capo Press. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]
11. Blackout. Connie Willis. 2010. Random House. 495 pages. [Source: Bought]
12. The Dog Who Could Fly: The Incredible True Story of a WWII Airman and the Four-Legged Hero Who Flew At His Side. Damien Lewis. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 304 pages. [Source: Library]
13. The Courtiers: Splendor and Intrigue in the Georgian Court At Kensington Palace. Lucy Worsley. 2010. Walker. 432 pages [Source: Bought]
14. The Princess of Celle. Jean Plaidy. 1967/1985. Ballantine. 400 pages. [Source: Bought]
15. The Merry Monarch's Wife. (A Queens of England Novel). Jean Plaidy. 1991/2008. Crown. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]
16. The Birth of Britain (History of the English Speaking People #1). Winston Churchill. 1956. 496 pages. [Source: Bought]
17. History of England. Jane Austen. 1977. 64 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
18. A Child's History of England. Charles Dickens. 1851-1853.  390 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
19. The Hawk That Dare Not Hunt. Scott O'Dell. 1975/1988. JourneyForth. 182 pages. [Source: Bought]
20. Tudor: The Family Story. Leanda de Lisle. 2013. Public Affairs. 576 pages. [Source: Library]
21. To Say Nothing of the Dog. Connie Willis. 1998. Bantam. 493 pages. [Source: Bought]
22. The Heir Apparent: A Life of Edward VII, The Playboy Prince. Jane Ridley. 2013. Random House. 752 pages. [Source: Library]
23. When Christ and His Saints Slept by Sharon Kay Penman. 1994. Random House. 746 pages. [Source: Bought]
24. Lady Thief. A.C. Gaughen. 2014. Walker Books. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]
25. Dick Turpin: The Myth of the English Highwayman. James Sharpe. 2004. Profile Books. 258 pages. [Source: Book I bought]
26.  Hideous Love: The Story of The Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein. Stephanie Hemphill. 2013. HarperCollins. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
27. An Autobiography. Agatha Christie. 1977/1996. Berkley. 635 pages. [Source: Bought]
28.  A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens. 1854/2003. Bantam Classics. 382 pages. [Source: Bought]
29. The Man Who Invented Christmas. Les Standiford. 2008. Crown. 241 pages. [Source: Library]


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2014 Completed Challenges: Victorian Reading Challenge

Host: Becky's Book Reviews
Title: Victorian Reading Challenge
Duration: Jan - Dec 2014
# of books: my goal is 6 to 9

What I read:

1) The Eustace Diamonds. Anthony Trollope. 1873. 794 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
2) A Rogue's Life. Wilkie Collins. 1856. 159 pages. [Source: Book I bought]
3) Phineas Redux. Anthony Trollope. 1874. 768 pages. [Source: Book I bought]
4) Melisande. E. Nesbit. Illustrated by P.J. Lynch. 1901/1988/1999. Candlewick. 48 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
5) Stepping Heavenward. Mrs. Elizabeth Prentiss. 1869/1998. Barbour Books. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]  
6) The Prime Minister. Anthony Trollope. 1876. 864 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]  
7) The Law and the Lady. Wilkie Collins. 1875. 430 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
8) The Duke's Children. Anthony Trollope. 1880. 560 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
9) The Belton Estate. Anthony Trollope. 1866/1993. Penguin. 432 pages. [Source: Bought]
10) No Name. Wilkie Collins. 1862/1998. Oxford University Press. 748 pages.
11) North and South. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1854-1855. 452 pages. [Source: Bought]
12) To Say Nothing of the Dog. Connie Willis. 1998. Bantam. 493 pages. [Source: Bought]
13) A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens. 1854/2003. Bantam Classics. 382 pages. [Source: Bought]
14) Black Beauty. Anna Sewell. 1877. 245 pages. [Source: Bought]
15) Stand There! She Shouted: The Invincible Photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. 2014. Candlewick. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]
16) Is He Popenjoy? Anthony Trollope. 1878/1993. Penguin. 632 pages. [Source: Bought]
17 A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens. 1843. 96 pages. [Source: Bought] 
18) Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte. 1847.  300 pages. [Source: Own]
19) The Story of the Treasure Seekers. E. Nesbit. 1899. Puffin. 250 pages. [Source: Bought]
20)  Lark Rise to Candleford. Flora Thompson. 1943. 537 pages. [Source: Bought]


© 2014 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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