Tuesday, June 30, 2015

June Reflections

 In June, I reviewed 65 books.

Board books:

  1. Board Book: The Doghouse. Jan Thomas. 2008/2015.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 36 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Picture books:
  1. Ask Me. Bernard Waber. Illustrated by Suzy Lee. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  2. Nobody's Perfect. David Elliott. Illustrated by Sam Zuppardi. 2015. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. Inside This Book (Are Three Books) by Barney Saltzberg. 2015. Abrams. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  4. Here Comes The Tooth Fairy Cat. Deborah Underwood. Illustrated by Claudia Rueda. 2015. Penguin. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  5. A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat. Emily Jenkins. Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. 2015. Random House. 44 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. Hop On Pop. Dr. Seuss. 1963. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library] 
  7. Fox in Socks. Dr. Seuss. 1965. Random House. 72 pages. [Source: Library] 
  8. I Wish That I Had Duck Feet. Dr. Seuss (Writing as Theo LeSieg) Illustrated by B. Tobey. 1965. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
  9. I Had Trouble In Getting to Solla Sollew. Dr. Seuss. 1965. Random House. 59 pages. [Source: Library] 
  10. Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved A Mystery That Baffled All of France. Mara Rockliff. Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno. 2015. Candlewick. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  11. 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] 
  12. Under A Pig Tree: A History of the Noble Fruit. Margie Palatini. Illustrated by Chuck Groenink. 2015. Abrams. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  13. Grump. Janet Wong. Illustrated by John Wallace. 2001. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Book I Bought]
  14. Peppa's Chalk ABCs. Scholastic. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  15. The Bus Is For Us. Michael Rosen. Illustrated by Gillian Tyler. 2015. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  16. Grandma in Blue with Red Hat. Scott Menchin. Illustrated by Harry Bliss. 2015. Abrams. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  17. London Calls. Gabby Dawnay. Illustrated by Alex Barrow. 2015. Abrams (Tate). 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  18. Little Rabbit and the Meanest Mother on Earth. Kate Klise. Illustrated by M. Sarah Klise. 2010/2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  19. Maisy Learns to Swim. Lucy Cousins. 2015. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  20. Peppa Goes Swimming. 2015. Scholastic. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  21. Hippu. Oili Tanninen. 2015. Tate Publishing (Abrams) 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  22. Little Big Boubo. Beatrice Alemagna. 2015. Abrams (Tate). 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Early readers/ early chapter books
  1. The Long Dog (Scholastic Reader, Level 1) Eric Seltzer. 2015. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. I Will Take A Nap. Mo Willems. 2015. Hyperion. 64 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. I Know A Story. Miriam Blanton Huber, Frank Seely Salisbury, and Mabel O'Donnell. Illustrated by Florence and Margaret Hoopes. Wonder-Story. 1938/1953, 1962. Harper & Row. 190 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. Magic Animal Friends #1 Lucy Longwhiskers Gets Lost. Daisy Meadows. 2015. Scholastic. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. Magic Animal Friends #2 Molly Trinkletail Runs Away. Daisy Meadows. 2015. Scholastic. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  6. Magic Animal Friends #3 Ellie Featherbill. Daisy Meadows. 2015. Scholastic. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7. Magic Animal Friends #4 Bella Tabbypaw in Trouble. Daisy Meadows. 2015. Scholastic. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Middle grade:
  1. The Cottage in the Woods. Katherine Coville. 2015. Random House. 400 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. Gone Crazy in Alabama. Rita Williams-Garcia. 2015. HarperCollins. 304 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. The Summer of the Swans. Betsy Byars. 1970. Penguin. 144 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. Stella by Starlight. Sharon M. Draper. 2015. Simon & Schuster. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. The Upstairs Room. Johanna Reiss. 1972.  HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library] 
  6. The Great Gilly Hopkins. Katherine Paterson. 1978. 256 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  7. The Little Prince. Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Translated by Richard Howard. 1943/2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  8. Jack. Liesl Shurtliff. 2015. Random House. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  9. Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes. Jonathan Auxier. 2011. Abrams. 397 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  10. Return to Gone-Away. Elizabeth Enright. 1961/2000. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 224 pages. [Source: Library] 
  11. The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects. Paul B. Janeczko. Illustrated by Chris Raschka. 2015. Candlewick. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  12. Book of Three. (The Chronicles of Prydain) Lloyd Alexander. 1964. 190 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  13. The Magic Pudding. Norman Lindsay. 1918. 144 pages. [Source: Bought]
  14. Judy Blume: Are You There, Reader? It's Me Judy! (Women Who Broke the Rules). Kathleen Krull. 2015. Bloomsbury. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy] 

Young adult:
  1. Enchantress from the Stars. Sylvia Louise Engdahl. 1970/2003. Penguin. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  2. The Far Side of Evil. Sylvia Engdahl. 1971/2003. Penguin. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. Saint Anything. Sarah Dessen. 2015. Penguin. 432 pages. [Source: Library]
Adult fiction:
  1. The Silmarillion. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1977. 386 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. The Semi-Detached House. Emily Eden. 1859. 172 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  3. The Infernal Device. Michael Kurland. 1978. 255 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. Death by Gaslight. Michael Kurland. 1982. 279 pages. [Source: Library] 
Adult nonfiction:
  1. Follow Your Gut. Rob Knight with Brendan Buhler. 2015. Simon & Schuster (TED) 128 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Edited by Pamela Smith Hill. 2014. South Dakota State Historical State Society. 400 pages. [Source: Library] 
Christian fiction:
  1. A Worthy Pursuit. Karen Witemeyer. 2015. Bethany House. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. Julie. Catherine Marshall. 1984/1985. Avon. 428 pages. [Source: Bought]
Christian nonfiction:
  1. The Truth About Lies. Tim Chaddick. 2015. David C. Cook. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. The Underestimated Gospel, edited by Jonathan Leeman. 2014. B&H Publishing. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3.  Why We Pray. William Philip. 2015. Crossway. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. The Root of the Righteous: Tapping The Bedrock of True Spirituality. A.W. Tozer. 1955/2015. Moody Publishers. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  5. The Message of the General Epistles: Wisdom from James, Peter, John, and Jude. Brandon D. Crowe. 2015. P&R Publishing. 240 pages.
  6. George Whitefield: A Guided Tour of His Life and Thought. James L. Schwenk. 2015. P&R Publishing. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  7. Love Walked Among Us: Learning to Love Like Jesus. Paul E. Miller. 2001/2014. NavPress. 272 pages. [Source: Library] 
  8. Walking With Jesus Through His Word. Dennis E. Johnson. 2015. P&R. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  9. The Faith of a Mockingbird. Matt Rawle. 2015. Abingdon Press. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  10. Packer on the Christian Life. Sam Storms. 2015. Crossway. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Top Ten Books I've Read So Far

The topic this week for Top Ten Tuesday hosted at The Broke and the Bookish is Top Books I've Read So Far in 2015.


The Cottage in the Woods. Katherine Coville. 2015. Random House. 400 pages. [Source: Library]


Up A Road Slowly. Irene Hunt. 1966. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]


Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Edited by Pamela Smith Hill. 2014. South Dakota State Historical State Society. 400 pages. [Source: Library] 


The Castle Behind Thorns. Merrie Haskell. 2014. HarperCollins. 336 pages. [Source: Library]


Miss Marjoribanks. Margaret Oliphant. 1866. 512 pages. [Source: Bought] 

The Family Under the Bridge. Natalie Savage Carlson. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1958/1989. HarperCollins. 123 pages.


Dory Fantasmagory. Abby Hanlon. 2014. Penguin. 160 pages. [Source: Library]


The Silmarillion. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1977. 386 pages. [Source: Bought]


Beyond the Parallel. Robin Brande. 2015. Ryer Publishing. 348 pages. [Source: Review copy]



El Deafo. Cece Bell. 2014. Harry N. Abrams. 233 pages. [Source: Library]

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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The Silmarillion (1977)

The Silmarillion. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1977. 386 pages. [Source: Bought]
 There was Eru, the One, who in Arda is called Ilúvatar; and he made first the Ainur, the Holy Ones, that were the offspring of his thought, and they were with him before aught else was made. And he spoke to them, propounding to them themes of music; and they sang before him, and he was glad. But for a long while they sang only each alone, or but few together, while the rest hearkened; for each comprehended only that part of the mind of Ilúvatar from which he came, and in the understanding of their brethren they grew but slowly. Yet ever as they listened they came to deeper understanding, and increased in unison and harmony. And it came to pass that Ilúvatar called together all the Ainur and declared to them a mighty theme, unfolding to them things greater and more wonderful than he had yet revealed; and the glory of its beginning and the splendour of its end amazed the Ainur, so that they bowed before Ilúvatar and were silent.
I loved reading J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion. That doesn't mean I found it easy the first time I attempted it. Or even the second. I do think you have to be in the proper mood to fully enjoy it--to appreciate it. There is a beauty to it, a certain grace to the language. Something that you don't see all that often. Something that brings to my mind--at least--the beauty and grace of the Authorized Version of the Bible (KJV). But with that beauty and grace there is a certain strangeness, a foreignness. Something that puts distance between the book and the reader. It's all about the world-building.

The Silmarillion is divided into several sections:
  • AINULINDALË
  • VALAQUENTA
  • QUENTA SILMARILLION
  • AKALLABÊTH 
  • OF THE RINGS OF POWER AND THE THIRD AGE  
Each section is unique, has its own style or tone. The longest section is Quenta Silmarillion. The section probably with the most reader appeal is Of The Rings of Power and the Third Age.

So is The Silmarillion similar to his other works? Yes and no. There are orcs, dwarves, elves, eagles, dragons, balrogs, wolves, giant spiders, humans, and wizards. And certainly much of The Silmarillion concerns the battle between good and evil. The two main "bad guys" are Melkor (Morgoth) and Sauron. And the book is about greed, ambition, honor, love, and friendship. There's plenty of action, and even some romance. The book features origin or creation stories. So there's a good chance that you can learn more background for putting The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit into context. But it does require some patience perhaps. For example, people rarely have one name--they may have up to a dozen! Turin Turambar comes to mind. I wish I'd known about the family trees at the end of the book while I was actually reading it!

Yes, The Silmarillion is beautifully written. But that isn't its only strength. The world-building is incredibly detailed. Its also packed with stories and interesting characters.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Board Book: The Doghouse

Board Book: The Doghouse. Jan Thomas. 2008/2015.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 36 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:
Kick
Oh no! The ball went into THE DOGHOUSE.
Who will get it out?

Premise/Plot: A cow, a mouse, a duck, and a pig are playing ball together....when....it happens. The ball is kicked into the doghouse. Who is brave? Who is scared? Will they get their ball back? Read and see!

My thoughts: I do love Jan Thomas. And The Doghouse is a great example of just why. The Doghouse is funny, playful, and dramatic. Some drama can help keep read alouds fun and spirited. This one is just predictable enough--repetitive enough--to keep it fun.

The same characters can be found in A Birthday for Cow. (Cows feature into two other Thomas picture books: Let's Sing A Lullaby with the Brave Cowboy and my personal favorite, Is Everyone Ready for Fun?)

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Grump (2001)

Grump. Janet Wong. Illustrated by John Wallace. 2001. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Book I Bought]

Look how tired this Mommy is
Tired and frumpy
Grouchy chumpy
Oh, what a grump!


Look at Baby
Smart, good Baby
Happy Baby
Making gravy
Applesauce and ketchup gravy
Not too lumpy
Not too bumpy
Squish squish
DUMP!

Grump is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite books. I almost don't even need to make the qualification of favorite picture book. It's a book that begs to be read aloud again and again and again. The rhythm of it is almost magical--at least to me! I love the use of language, I do. I love the way it sounds, the way it feels on my tongue. It's real life. It's poetry. It just works.

The story of this one is simple. It's been a LONG, LONG, LONG day for this Mom and her Baby. And even if the Baby doesn't think he needs a nap, he needs a nap. But will this baby go down for a nap? Not without an all-too-familiar-struggle!

Baby's going to take a nap now
Baby's going to take a nap now
Baby's going to take a nap now
Take a nap now
Little lump.

She puts him in his crib and...

And oh of course that baby cries
Cries and whimpers
Cries and whimpers
Cries and whimpers
Play with me!
So Mommy sits 
And reads to Baby
Reads so pretty
Reads so softly
Reads and reads and reads until--

Can you guess what happened to the oh-so-tired, oh-so-grumpy Mommy?

This one is such a GREAT book. I loved how true-to-life it was. Not only for the baby, not only for the mommy--but it captures the ups and downs of the whole relationship.

This one has been a favorite going on ten years. Today I was looking to review some board books, hoping to find something great to share with you, when I thought again of Grump. Why isn't Grump still in print? Why hasn't it been reprinted? Why??? It's just a WONDERFUL book. And it would be a great board book!!! The combination of this story with that format would be just perfect!!!!

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Follow Your Gut

Follow Your Gut. Rob Knight with Brendan Buhler. 2015. Simon & Schuster (TED) 128 pages. [Source: Library]

Just how much microscopic life dwells inside you? If we're going by weight, the average adult is carrying about three pounds of microbes.

Follow Your Gut is reader-accessible science. The book is packed with information--what we know for sure, what we think we know, how much we just don't know quite yet, what we still need to spend time researching. The focus of the book is on microbes: the microbes living in us and on us. How every individual has their own unique combination of microbes. Our microbes can tell scientists where we live and how we live. Most of the book focuses on the microbes living in our guts. The book seeks to convey HOW VERY, VERY, VERY important it is to have good microbes in our gut. How essential gut health is to overall health, but, especially brain health.

Table of contents:
  • The body microbial
  • How we get our microbiome
  • In sickness and in health
  • The gut-brain axis
  • Hacking your microbiome
  • Antiobiotics
  • The future 
The book is packed with (basic) information. And I think it's information that should be more well known. I think knowledge is the first step, a good solid step in the right direction. I do wish the book was slightly more practical. Yes, it's good to know what microbes do or might do. But which strains of microbes are best for dealing with specific health issues? And how can one add/change one's microbes?!

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Semi-Detached House (1859)

The Semi-Detached House. Emily Eden. 1859. 172 pages. [Source: Bought]
"THE only fault of the house is that it is semi-detached." "Oh, Aunt Sarah! you don't mean that you expect me to live in a semi-detached house?" "Why not, my dear, if it suits you in other respects?" "Why, because I should hate my semi-detachment, or whatever the occupants of the other half of the house may call themselves." "They call themselves Hopkinson," continued Aunt Sarah coolly.
I very much enjoyed reading Emily Eden's The Semi-Detached House. This Victorian classic is fun, lively romantic comedy. Readers get to know Blanche, the heroine, and her neighbors well. What do we know about Blanche? Well, she's relatively newly wed--she's expecting her first child--and she's a little too imaginative for her own good. She's always worrying about a thousand things that might go wrong. Her husband will be away from her for three months or so--and she's distraught, as you can imagine. (Having her sister, Aileen, live with her will help.) She knows nothing about her neighbors, and, her neighbors know nothing about her. They will suffer through false impressions at first before becoming very close friends. What do we come to learn about their neighbors? Well, it's a mother and her two grown-daughters. (The daughters are Janet and Rose). (The father, I believe, is a sailor so he's often away at sea.) They are also raising a little boy (grandson, nephew). They still are in very close contact with the boy's father (the son-in-law/brother-in-law) who is a widower "lost" in grief. (His name is Mr. Willis). He's one of the comic figures of the book.  Readers also become acquainted with the neighborhood or community...

Quotes:
"Then the girls have won," said John, "for you are certainly going–I promised Arthur that I would bring you." "Oh, John! How could you? I can't dine out, I'm so fat." "Well, my dear, you can hardly expect to be as slim as you were at seventeen, but you are not half the size of your friend the Baroness; and this one dinner, unless you eat very voraciously, will not make you much fatter." This idea threw Mrs. Hopkinson into one of her most comfortable fits of laughter. "
The idea of Willis making the best of anything was so startling, such a very astonishing novelty, that this announcement was received much as the intimation of a great misfortune would have been from anybody else.
The Baroness wore a gown of such very bright yellow that the sun was affronted and went in.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Peppa's Chalk ABCs

Peppa's Chalk ABCs. Scholastic. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Premise/plot: Peppa's Chalk ABCs is an activity book for young children who are ready or nearly ready to learn to write their letters. This is a practice book. There is space to practice each letter of the alphabet. Two letters per page. (Four letters per spread.) The illustrations feature characters from the Peppa Pig show. For example, "D is for Dinosaur" shows George playing with his dinosaur. Also, this is for learning lowercase letters.

My thoughts: Cute novelty book. It isn't really a book with a story.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, June 27, 2015

Week in Review: June 21-27

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes. Jonathan Auxier. 2011. Abrams. 397 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Inside This Book (Are Three Books) by Barney Saltzberg. 2015. Abrams. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
I Had Trouble In Getting to Solla Sollew. Dr. Seuss. 1965. Random House. 59 pages. [Source: Library]
The Long Dog (Scholastic Reader, Level 1) Eric Seltzer. 2015. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Bus Is For Us. Michael Rosen. Illustrated by Gillian Tyler. 2015. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Grandma in Blue with Red Hat. Scott Menchin. Illustrated by Harry Bliss. 2015. Abrams. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Great Gilly Hopkins. Katherine Paterson. 1978. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Little Prince. Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Translated by Richard Howard. 1943/2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Little Rabbit and the Meanest Mother on Earth. Kate Klise. Illustrated by M. Sarah Klise. 2010/2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Hippu. Oili Tanninen. 2015. Tate Publishing (Abrams) 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Little Big Boubo. Beatrice Alemagna. 2015. Abrams (Tate). 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
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]
Peppa Goes Swimming. 2015. Scholastic. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Maisy Learns to Swim. Lucy Cousins. 2015. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Return to Gone-Away. Elizabeth Enright. 1961/2000. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects. Paul B. Janeczko. Illustrated by Chris Raschka. 2015. Candlewick. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Root of the Righteous: Tapping The Bedrock of True Spirituality. A.W. Tozer. 1955/2015. Moody Publishers. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Underestimated Gospel, edited by Jonathan Leeman. 2014. B&H Publishing. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]


This week's recommendation(s):

I really enjoyed reading many picture books this week. It was my first time reading I Had Trouble In Getting to Solla Sollew and I just loved, loved, loved it. Inside This Book was also a fun read. And Grandma in Blue with a Red Hat was just super-sweet.


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Library Loot: Fifth, Sixth, and Seventh Trips in June

New Loot:
  • Faithmapping: A Gospel Atlas for Your Spiritual Journey by Daniel Montgomery and Mike Cosper
  • Jesus > Religion: Why He is So Much Better than Trying Harder, Doing More, and Being Good Enough by Jefferson Bethke
  • Promise Me This by Cathy Gohlke
  • Snow Like Ashes by Sara Raasch
  • Children of Hurin by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Death and Mr. Pickwick by Stephen Jarvis
  • Pete the Cat's Train Trip by James Dean
  • Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt
  • Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voigt
  • The Book of Lost Tales, volume 1 by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Bachelor's Anonymous by P.G. Wodehouse
  • The Code of the Woosters by P.G. Wodehouse
  • The Monogram Murders by Sophie Hannah

Leftover Loot:
  • The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
  • Finding Serendipity by Angelica Banks
  • The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Two Towers by J.R.R. Tolkien
  • The Return of the King by J.R.R. Tolkien
  •  Conjured by Sarah Beth Durst
  • Perfidia by James Ellroy
  • The Cherry Harvest by Lucy Sanna
  • Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai
  • The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows
  • The Lorax by Dr. Seuss
  • I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss
  • Mr. Brown Can Moon! Can You? by Dr. Seuss
  • The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss
  • Miles from Nowhere by Amy Clipston
  • Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt
  • To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han
  • Three Musketeers by Alexander Dumas, translated by Richard Pevear
  • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  • The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
        Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Seuss on Saturday #26

I Had Trouble In Getting to Solla Sollew. Dr. Seuss. 1965. Random House. 59 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:
I was real happy and carefree and young
And I lived in a place called the Valley of Vung
And nothing, not anything every went wrong
Until...well, one day I was walking along
And I guess I got careless. I guess I got gawking
At daisies and not looking where I was walking...
And that's how it started.

Premise/plot: The narrator tries and tries to avoid having trouble in his life. That is one reason why he is trying to get to Solla Sollew in the first place. He's heard that in the City of Solla Sollew 'they never have troubles, at least very few.' But can he ever get there? He faces one challenge after another in his attempts to get there... If he gets there, will he truly find a trouble-free existence awaits him?

My thoughts: I don't remember ever having read I Had Trouble In Getting to Solla Sollew before. I liked it, I did. It was oh-so-easy to relate to the narrator. And the narrator makes some good observations. For example, "And I learned there are troubles of more than one kind. Some come from ahead and some come from behind." The illustration of our poor narrator trying to look out for trouble in back and in front is something. Did I like the ending? Yes and no. I agree that you do have to face the troubles that come your way, but, the narrator's solution is that all you need to face those troubles is a big bat. (I think it works in his situation especially.)

This one might pair well with Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst which was first published in 1972.   

Have you read I Had Trouble In Getting to Solla Sollew. Did you like it? love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it.

 If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is The Foot Book.
 
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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The Long Dog (2015)

The Long Dog (Scholastic Reader, Level 1) Eric Seltzer. 2015. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence:  Calling all Dogs! This is a hot dog. This is a cold dog. This is a young dog. This is an old dog. And here comes a long dog.

Premise/plot: Readers meet all kinds of dogs in Eric Seltzer's The Long Dog. But the dog that they may just remember best is a really, really super-long dog. Just how long is this dog?!

My thoughts: The book is simple and fun. This one may pair well with Go, Dog, Go.  My favorite dogs may just be the dirty dog and the clean dog. (I really love the grin on the clean dog!)

Level 1 readers include sight words, words to sound out, and simple sentences.


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, June 26, 2015

The Great Gilly Hopkins (1978)

The Great Gilly Hopkins. Katherine Paterson. 1978. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]

"Gilly," said Miss Ellis with a shake of her long blonde hair toward the passenger in the back seat. "I need to feel that you are willing to make some effort."

Galadriel Hopkins is the narrator of The Great Gilly Hopkins. What's she like? Angry, sarcastic, bitter, reluctant to make connections. Gilly is a foster kid. She's been in plenty of different foster homes for most of her life. Some slightly better than others. But none of them ever feeling like a real home. To tell the truth, Gilly wouldn't know what to do in a foster home that feels like HOME. For Gilly is clinging tightly to the dream that her mom will come back for her, that her mom loves her very much and actually misses her. When the novel opens, Gilly is getting placed in a new home...

Mrs. Trotter is her new foster mother. She also has another foster kid, William Ernest, in her home. From the very start, I thought Mrs. Trotter was a great character. And I also loved Mr. Randolph, the blind neighbor that comes to the Trotters' house for meals. These two adults were so lovable in comparison to the not-so-lovable Gilly. And the love they show to Gilly is something. I was reminded of hesed love.
"Hesed is one-way love. Love without an exit strategy. When you love with hesed love, you bind yourself to the object of your love, no matter what the response is... Hesed is a stubborn love" ~ Paul Miller, A Loving Life: In A World of Broken Relationships, 24.
Did I love The Great Gilly Hopkins? Not exactly. I liked it. I appreciated it. But I didn't love it.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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The Bus is For Us (2015)

The Bus Is For Us. Michael Rosen. Illustrated by Gillian Tyler. 2015. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I really like to ride my bike. I like going far in our car. When it starts to rain, I like the train. But the best is the bus. The bus is for us. 

Premise/plot: The Bus is For Us is a rhyming picture book about transportation. Most of the book focuses on actual types of transportation, however, by the end, things get slightly more imaginative. The book has a chorus of sorts, everything always comes back to the fact that THE BUS IS FOR US.

My thoughts: I'm not sure why this one didn't work better for me. It just didn't. Perhaps it was because for me it didn't feel like a proper story, just rhyming phrases strung loosely together.

Text: 2.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3.5 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Grandma in Blue with Red Hat (2015)

Grandma in Blue with Red Hat. Scott Menchin. Illustrated by Harry Bliss. 2015. Abrams. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Saturday is the best day. Because that's the day I go to art class at the museum. I have been coming here forever.

Premise/plot: The narrator of Grandma in Blue with Red Hat comes to an important realization about art and about his Grandma. He listens to his classmates describe art, what makes art, well, ART. He realizes that his Grandma has all the attributes of a GREAT museum-worthy piece of art. Should he donate his Grandma to the museum?! Or can he honor both his love of art and his love of his Grandma in his own special way?

My thoughts: I liked this one very much! I thought it was very sweet. It gets big and little details just right. I love his relationship with his grandma. I appreciate the focus on art. I also noticed that the narrator has two pet cats, and, that he LOVES to draw them!

Note: Not every teacher *appreciates* illustrated underwear. This one does have a LARGE pair of underwear on display at a museum...in the boy's imagination!

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Hippu (2015)

Hippu. Oili Tanninen. 2015. Tate Publishing (Abrams) 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Hippu looks out of the window and sees a dog.

Premise/plot: Hippu is a small, square picture book originally published in Finland in 1967. Hippu, a mouse, meets Heppu, a dog, and they become good friends. The book is about what the two do together. The text is very matter-of-fact. For example, "Hippu sleeps. Heppu sleeps. Good night."

My thoughts: Hippu is a strange little book, in a way, certainly different from what is currently being published. But just because it's strange doesn't mean it lacks charm. The illustrations are simple, yet bold and striking. (The only colors in the book are red, white, and black.)

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

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, June 25, 2015

Inside This Book (2015)

Inside This Book (Are Three Books) by Barney Saltzberg. 2015. Abrams. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Inside this book is a book I made called...Inside This Book by Seymour.

Premise/plot: Readers meet Seymour, Fiona, and Wilbur three siblings who have all made books. Seymour and Fiona can write--so their books have words and pictures. Wilbur is too little to know how to write, but, he can draw and tell Seymour what to write. The fun began when their mom gave them books with blank pages. The books are called, "Inside This Book," "Inside This Book, Too" and "My Book."

My thoughts: I love the creativity of this one. It is fun to make books, to read them and to share them. I love that each book within Inside This Book is written in a unique voice so that readers get to know each writer. Which book is my favorite? Well, I really loved all three books. But probably I loved "My Book" best. It is the shortest, smallest, and simplest. But it is funny! I can imagine it causing giggles whenever it's read by the family.

Text: 4.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Return to Gone-Away (1961)

Return to Gone-Away. Elizabeth Enright. 1961/2000. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 224 pages. [Source: Library]

I really enjoyed reading Elizabeth Enright's Gone-Away Lake. I didn't enjoy reading the sequel nearly as much. Was I not in the right mood? Perhaps. I hope it was just a mood thing. It felt like the magic--the energy--was gone.

The book features many of the same characters, and tells of their further adventures in the spring and summer the following year. Their adventures AFTER they have purchased the old-and-crumbling house.

Portia, the heroine, reconnects with Julian, her cousin. Foster, Portia's younger brother, reconnects with the friends he's made in the community. All the children enjoy spending time with Mrs. Cheever and Mr. Payton. Adventures are to be had in their new house that requires fixing-up in every room and then some. Adventures also to be had outside in nature. Each chapter focuses on some mini-adventure that one of the children is having.

While I found myself connecting and caring with the characters in the first book, I didn't with the second.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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The Death of The Hat (2015)

The Death of the Hat: A Brief History of Poetry in 50 Objects. Paul B. Janeczko. Illustrated by Chris Raschka. 2015. Candlewick. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]

The premise of The Death of the Hat is intriguing and challenging. Is it possible to give a brief history of poetry in 50 poems? And in 50 poems about things? What I noticed is that by limiting it to things--to objects--what you get is not 50 of the best poems ever written, but 50 poems that fit the criteria. I would have preferred 50 of the best poems ever OR 50 poems that are really good and still accessible to children. The spanning of the poems through the centuries is nice enough. And as I said, in theory, this one has potential. But in fact, I found it a challenging read. The poems varied in accessibility. Some were REALLY hard to connect to, to understand, to enjoy. Authors probably weren't hoping for a response of "so what?" Of course, there are some exceptions. Still this one would be for people who already LOVE poetry.
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Little Rabbit and the Meanest Mother on Earth

Little Rabbit and the Meanest Mother on Earth. Kate Klise. Illustrated by M. Sarah Klise. 2010/2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First Sentence: Little Rabbit heard the drums beating far away. It could mean only one thing.

Premise/plot: Little Rabbit is super-excited that the circus is in town. But because he has a MESSY room and is unwilling to clean it, he's not allowed to go to the circus. In anger, he runs away to JOIN the circus. But the circus doesn't want him, not unless he has something worth seeing. He promises THE MEANEST MOTHER ON EARTH. But can he make good on such a claim?!

My thoughts: This one was cute. I think it worked for me because of the twist. The circus may not be impressed with the boast of the meanest mother on earth...but they will be impressed with another boast of the mother's making.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Little Big Boubo (2015)

Little Big Boubo. Beatrice Alemagna. 2015. Abrams (Tate). 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

  Boubo Boubo isn't a baby. Boubo is a BIG boy now. Want to know all the reasons why he's a BIG boy? Boubo will happily tell you himself. Apparently only big boys can walk backwards without falling over (almost). Little Big Boubo celebrates growing up and small accomplishments.

Did I like it? Not really. Reading books is subjective, and, reading picture books is especially so. I didn't care for the illustrations. You might though. 


Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 2 out of 5
Total: 5 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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The Little Prince (1943)

The Little Prince. Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Translated by Richard Howard. 1943/2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Once when I was six I saw a magnificent picture in a book about the jungle, called True Stories. It showed a boa constrictor swallowing a wild beast... 

I've read Little Prince twice now. I've enjoyed it both times. The book is quirky and at times quite delightful. Its story is definitely unique!

A pilot crashes in the desert and meets a strange 'little prince.' They have many conversations together over the course of a week. These conversations make up the heart of The Little Prince. It's a quick little read.


Favorite quotes:

"It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye.”
“All grown-ups were once children... but only few of them remember it.”
“But if you tame me, then we shall need each other. To me, you will be unique in all the world. To you, I shall be unique in all the world.”
© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, June 23, 2015

What's On Your Nightstand (June)


The folks at 5 Minutes For Books host What’s On Your Nightstand? the fourth Tuesday of each month in which we can share about the books we have been reading and/or plan to read.
The Silmarillion. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1977. 386 pages. [Source: Bought]
I started this one in January, and restarted this one over the weekend. I've been watching the extended edition of Lord of the Rings, and, wanted to read some Tolkien as I watched. I'm now a little over halfway through this one. And I am loving it!!! I hope to finish this one and begin Fellowship of the Ring soon after.

My Brother's Secret. Dan Smith. 2015. Scholastic. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]

World War II fiction set in Germany from the perspective of a young German boy who has been raised to embrace Nazism, but, who is beginning to wake up to the horrors of war.

The Truth According to Us. Annie Barrows. 2015. 512 pages. [Source: Library]

Historical fiction set in a small town in America during the Depression...


Packer on the Christian Life. Sam Storms. 2015. Crossway. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

So excited to finish this one! I love J.I. Packer though most of what I've read, I read before I started blogging. I need to reread Knowing God for sure so I can blog about it!

To Capture Her Heart. Rebecca DeMarino. 2015. Revell. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Blog tour for this one in July...

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes. Jonathan Auxier. 2011. Abrams. 397 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Now, for those of you who know anything about blind children, you are aware that they make the very best thieves. As you can well imagine, blind children have incredible senses of smell, and they can tell what lies behind a locked door--be it fine cloth, gold, or peanut brittle--at fifty paces. Moreover their fingers are small enough to slip right through keyholes, and their eyes keen enough to detect the faintest clicks and clacks of every moving part inside even the most complicated lock. Of course, the age of great thievery has long since passed; today there are few child-thieves left, blind or otherwise. At one time, however, the world was simply thick with them. This is the story of the greatest thief who ever lived. His name, as you've probably guessed, is Peter Nimble.

Did I enjoy reading Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes? Yes. Definitely. Am I excited that there will be another book in the series, Sophie Quire and the Last Storyguard? Yes. I look forward to reading it. And it appears to have a heroine, and be at least partly set in a bookshop. So, I'll definitely read it when it's released. But did I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes in the same way that I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED The Night Gardener?! Not really. The Night Gardener is probably--not counting rereads--my favorite book of 2014.

Who is Peter Nimble? Who are his parents? Where did he come from? What does Peter know about his past--if anything? What do readers know about his past? Yes, he's an orphan who raised himself on the streets. Yes, he's a thief by necessity and manipulation. (Peter "being taken care of" by Mr. Seamus.) But is he destined for more than that? What does his future hold for him?

I liked Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes because it is a fantasy, a grand old-fashioned fantasy. The concept of his "fantastic eyes" is just intriguing. Pairs of magical "eyes" that he can put in and take out that do unusual, fantastic things--though not without risk and danger! And the adventure he lands in and the people he meets...it's just a compelling story, one that's easy to recommend.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, June 22, 2015

Draw What You See (2015)

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]

First sentence: Benny started to draw when he was three years old. Once he started, he never stopped. At first, he made pictures of the world around him. He drew hot suns and red clay and little wood-frame houses in the middle of cotton fields that stretched as far as he could see. He drew black people at work in the fields.

Premise/plot: Draw What You See is a picture book biography of the artist Benny Andrews. The book is illustrated by Andrews' artwork. Readers thereby get the chance to see his work for themselves and to learn his story: how he came to be an artist, what was important to him, how he saw the world, etc. The book does a great job at making art relevant to life.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed reading Draw What You See. I found the book to be simple and fascinating. This picture book biography is oh-so-easy for me to recommend.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, June 21, 2015

2015 Completed Challenges: Once Upon A Time

Host: Stainless Steel Droppings
Name: Once Upon A Time, sign up post, review site,
Dates: March 21 - June 21, 2015
# of Books:  Quest the First, 5 Books, (They might all be fantasy, or folklore, or fairy tales, or mythology…or your five books might be a combination from the four genres.)

What I Read:

1) Dragon Slippers. Jessica Day George. 2007. Bloomsbury USA. 324 pages. [Source: Library]
2) Seraphina. Rachel Hartman. 2012. Random House. 499 pages. [Source: Library]
3) Book of Earth (Bradamante Saga #1) Robin Brande. 2015. Ryer Publishing. 395 pages. [Source: Review copy]
4) Twice Upon A Time: Rapunzel The One With All The Hair. Wendy Mass. 2006. Scholastic. 205 pages. [Source: Review copy]
5) Three Tales of My Father's Dragon. Ruth Stiles Gannett. Illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett. 1987. Random House. 242 pages. [Source: Library]
6) Princess Academy. Shannon Hale. 2005. Bloomsbury. 314 pages. [Source: Library]
7) Palace of Stone. (Princess Academy #2) Shannon Hale. 2012. Bloomsbury. 323 pages. [Source: Library]
8) The Forgotten Sisters. (Princess Academy #3) Shannon Hale. 2015. Bloomsbury. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
9) The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. C.S. Lewis. 1950. HarperCollins. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
10) Prince Caspian. C.S. Lewis. 1951. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Bought]
11) Dragon Flight. Jessica Day George. Bloomsbury USA. 272 pages. [Source: Library]
12) Dragon Spear. Jessica Day George. 2009. Bloomsbury USA. 248 pages. [Source: Library]
13) Big Over Easy (Nursery Crime #1) Jasper Fforde. 2005. 383 pages. [Source: Library]
14) The Fourth Bear (Nursery Crime #2) Jasper Fforde. 2006.  382 pages. [Source: Library]
15) Shadow Scale. Rachel Hartman. 2015. Random House. 608 pages. [Source: Review copy]
16) The Turnip Princess and Other Newly Discovered Fairy Tales. Franz Xaver Von Schonwerth. Translated by Maria Tatar. 2015. Penguin. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
17) Enchantress from the Stars. Sylvia Louise Engdahl. 1970/2003. Penguin. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]
18) Jack. Liesl Shurtliff. 2015. Random House. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]
19)  The Magic Pudding. Norman Lindsay. 1918. 144 pages. [Source: Bought]
20) Book of Three. (The Chronicles of Prydain) Lloyd Alexander. 1964. 190 pages. [Source: Bought]
21) The Cottage in the Woods. Katherine Coville. 2015. Random House. 400 pages. [Source: Library]
22) I Know A Story. Miriam Blanton Huber, Frank Seely Salisbury, and Mabel O'Donnell. Illustrated by Florence and Margaret Hoopes. Wonder-Story. 1938/1953, 1962. Harper & Row. 190 pages. [Source: Bought]

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Maisy Learns to Swim (2015)


Maisy Learns to Swim. Lucy Cousins. 2015. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Maisy is going swimming today. Time to get ready! Do you have everything you need, Maisy?

Premise/plot: Maisy Learns to Swim is a Maisy First Experiences Book. The book is about her taking swim lessons with her friends. The instructor's name is Poppy. Poppy appears to be a great teacher. The book focuses on the details of a swim lesson: kicking, floating, blowing bubbles, etc.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I like Maisy and her friends. I especially love Eddie the elephant.

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

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Peppa Goes Swimming (2015)

Peppa Goes Swimming. 2015. Scholastic. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It's a beautiful, warm summer day. Peppa and her family are at the swimming pool. "Peppa, George, let Daddy put on your swimming armbands," says Mummy Pig. Today is George's first time at the pool, and he's a bit scared of getting in the water.

Premise/plot: Peppa's family is going swimming at the pool. This is George's first time in the pool. Will he like it? Will he love it? Peppa's family hangs out at the pool with Rebecca Rabbit's family. George and Richard have fun together. Rebecca and Peppa have fun together. Fun is had by one and all.

My thoughts: I do love this episode of the show. This adaptation is fun. Recommend the book series to anyone who loves the show.

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

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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48 Hour Book Challenge Wrap-Up Post

MotherReader is hosting the 10th Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge.

I read 12 books total.

Liz Garton Scanlon's The Great Good Summer.
Lisa Graff's Lost in the Sun.
Nikki Loftin's Wish Girl
Katherine Paterson's The Great Gilly Hopkins
Peter Lourie's Polar Bear Scientists
Christopher Priest's The Prestige
Jon Walter's Close to the Wind
Stephanie Barden's Cinderella Smith
Edward Hogan's The Messengers
Sarah Crossan's Apple and Rain
Tim Grove's First Flight Around the World
A.W. Tozer's The Root of the Righteous

I read some in the following books:
James Cross Giblin's The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler
The Bible: John 17-21, Philippians, Jeremiah 1-5, Psalms 107-138

# of pages: 2655 (not counting the Bible reading pages)
# of hours: 18 exactly


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, June 20, 2015

48 Hour Readathon, Day 2

MotherReader is hosting the 10th Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge. I'll have a post I update throughout day one, and I'll have a post I update throughout day two. My start time is Friday, 9AM.

7:45 Woke Up, Bible Reading: Philippians 1-4, Jeremiah 1-5
8:20-8:40 Breakfast, Still Watching The Prestige
8:40-9:10 Computer time, blogging stuff
9:10 READY TO START DAY TWO's Reading.
9:10-10:20 Read seventh book, Jon Walter's Close to the Wind. 290 pages, 70 minutes. 
10:30-11:10 Read eighth book, Stephanie Barden's Cinderella Smith. 148 pages, 40 minutes.
11:20:11-40 Lunch, Still Watching The Prestige
11:45-1:00 Read ninth book: Edward Hogan's The Messengers. 208 pages, 75 minutes.
1:10-1:40 Walk #1, Listened to Hawk Nelson, today I'll share Words.
1:40-3:30 Read tenth book: Sarah Crossan's Apple and Rain. 352 pages, 110 minutes.
3:30-4:30 Got migraine, spent time in bed, ate supper, continued watching The Prestige
4:30-5:15 Read eleventh book: Tim Grove's First Flight Around the World. 96 pages, 45 minutes. 
5:15-6:40 Admitted defeat and went back to bed, read some Charles Spurgeon's sermons
6:40-7:15 Walk #2
7:20-7:50 Showered trying to see if it would help me feel better; then computer time
8:00-10:00 Watched part two of Return of the King, extended edition
10:05-11:10 Read twelfth book: A.W. Tozer's The Root of the Righteous, 192 pages, 65 minutes.
11:10-11:40 Read some in James Cross Giblin's The Life and Death of Adolf Hitler, 38 pages, 30 minutes.
11:45 - decided to go to bed
Sunday, 7:15 AM, woke up, Bible reading: Psalm 107-138
7:55-8:10 Breakfast, still watching The Prestige
8:15-9:00 Meant to read something--anything--but didn't!

Day Two Totals:
# of Books:6
# of pages: 1324
# of minutes: 515 minutes (over 8 hours)


© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Week in Review: June 14-20

The Cottage in the Woods. Katherine Coville. 2015. Random House. 400 pages. [Source: Library]
Ask Me. Bernard Waber. Illustrated by Suzy Lee. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Nobody's Perfect. David Elliott. Illustrated by Sam Zuppardi. 2015. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Here Comes The Tooth Fairy Cat. Deborah Underwood. Illustrated by Claudia Rueda. 2015. Penguin. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]
A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat. Emily Jenkins. Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. 2015. Random House. 44 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Summer of the Swans. Betsy Byars. 1970. Penguin. 144 pages. [Source: Bought]
Gone Crazy in Alabama. Rita Williams-Garcia. 2015. HarperCollins. 304 pages. [Source: Library]
Stella by Starlight. Sharon M. Draper. 2015. Simon & Schuster. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
I Wish That I Had Duck Feet. Dr. Seuss (Writing as Theo LeSieg) Illustrated by B. Tobey. 1965. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
London Calls. Gabby Dawnay. Illustrated by Alex Barrow. 2015. Abrams (Tate). 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Mesmerized: How Ben Franklin Solved A Mystery That Baffled All of France. Mara Rockliff. Illustrated by Iacopo Bruno. 2015. Candlewick. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]
I Know A Story. Miriam Blanton Huber, Frank Seely Salisbury, and Mabel O'Donnell. Illustrated by Florence and Margaret Hoopes. Wonder-Story. 1938/1953, 1962. Harper & Row. 190 pages. [Source: Bought]
 Why We Pray. William Philip. 2015. Crossway. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]
A Worthy Pursuit. Karen Witemeyer. 2015. Bethany House. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]

This week's recommendation(s):

So many favorites this week! I loved, loved, loved several picture books this week. Including Nobody's Perfect, Here Comes The Tooth Fairy Cat, and Ask Me. I loved, loved, loved several MG books this past week. The Cottage in the Woods is probably my favorite, but, how can you really compare a fantasy novel to a historical one? Gone Crazy in Alabama and Stella By Starlight are definitely worth recommending.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Seuss on Saturday #25

I Wish That I Had Duck Feet. Dr. Seuss (Writing as Theo LeSieg) Illustrated by B. Tobey. 1965. Random House. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence:
I wish 
that I had duck feet.
And I can tell you why.
You can splash around in duck feet.
You don't have to keep them dry.

Premise/plot: A young boy imagines what it would be like to have duck feet, antlers, a whale spout, a tiger tail, and an elephant trunk. He imagines first WHY it would be GREAT. But the more he thinks it out, the more he comes to see the potential problems. Yes, duck feet and a whale spout would be great, but, would his mother like either one on her son?! NO! By the end, the boy concludes that it's great to be himself.

My thoughts: I really love this one. I have always loved this one. The storytelling is just fun. Though I didn't realize as a kid that Big Bill might just be a bully bothering the young hero.

Have you read I Wish That I Had Duck Feet? Did you like it? Did you love it? hate it? I'd love to know what you thought of it!

If you'd like to join me in reading or rereading Dr. Seuss (chronologically) I'd love to have you join me! The next book I'll be reviewing is I Had Trouble In Getting to Solla Sollew.   

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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A Fine Dessert (2015)

A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat. Emily Jenkins. Illustrated by Sophie Blackall. 2015. Random House. 44 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: A bit more than three hundred years ago, in an English town called Lyme, a girl and a her mother picked wild blackberries. Their hands turned purple with the juice. The thorns of the berry bushes pricked the fabric of their long skirts.

Premise/plot: A Fine Dessert shows four families from four different time periods making the same delicious frozen treat: blackberry fool. The first family is a mother and daughter living in Lyme in 1710. The second family is a mother and daughter--both slaves--living in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1810. The third family is a mother and daughter living in Boston, Massachusetts, in 1910. The fourth family is a father and son living in San Diego, California, in 2010. The recipe hasn't really changed, but, HOW they get the ingredients and HOW they use them has. (For example, how whipped cream is made.)

My thoughts: I liked this one very much. It was very well written. The premise is interesting, but, if it wasn't written so beautifully, I'm not sure it would work. I liked the family aspects of this one. It was a very sweet book.

Text: 4.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Gone Crazy in Alabama (2015)

Gone Crazy in Alabama. Rita Williams-Garcia. 2015. HarperCollins. 304 pages. [Source: Library]

Vonetta, Fern, and I didn't sleep well last night or the night before. There's something about preparing for a trip that draws my sisters and me closer together than we already are. Maybe it's the planning and excitement of going places or seeing who we're going to see. 

Gone Crazy in Alabama is the third novel about the Gaither sisters. The first two are One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven. I really LOVED both previous books in the series, so my expectations for the third book were HIGH.

In the third book, the three sisters travel on their own to visit relatives in Alabama: they will be visiting their grandma, Big Ma; their great-grandmother, Ma Charles; and their Uncle Varnell, the one who stole from them in P.S. Be Eleven. (Also they will be spending time with Jimmy Trotter their older cousin).

I was not disappointed with Gone Crazy in Alabama. I loved it for much of the same reasons as I loved the previous novels in the series.

I loved the characterization. All three sisters--Delphine, Vonetta, Fern--and their extended family are wonderfully, believably flawed. The tension between the family members feels genuine and not forced. The family from the first book through the third book just feels oh-so-believably-right.

I loved the writing, the storytelling. I loved the dialogue too.

I loved the setting. Gone Crazy in Alabama is set in Alabama in the summer of 1969. Among other things, the book features the family gathering around the television and watching the Apollo 11 moon mission. But the book isn't just about that memorable moment, far from it. Most of the drama in Gone Crazy in Alabama is FAMILY DRAMA. Drama between the sisters' great-aunt and great-grandmother (a family feud) and drama between the three girls themselves. Relationships will be tested...

Gone Crazy in Alabama is a great coming-of-age novel.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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48 Hour Readathon, Day 1

MotherReader is hosting the 10th Annual 48 Hour Book Challenge. I'll have a post I update throughout day one, and I'll have a post I update throughout day two. My start time is Friday, 9AM.

7:30 Woke Up, Bible Reading: John 5-16
8:15 Breakfast
8:35-9:00 Walk #1, Listened to Hawk Nelson's Made; Elevator is one of my favorite walking songs. 
9:00 BEGAN 48 HOUR BOOK CHALLENGE
9:05-10:10 Read first book: Liz Garton Scanlon's The Great Good Summer starring Ivy Green and Paul Dobbs. 216 pages, 1 hour, 5 minutes.
10:30-12:05 Read second book: Lisa Graff's Lost in the Sun starring Trent Zimmerman and Fallon Little. 289 pages, 1 hour 35 minutes.
12:05-12:30 Lunch, Watching The Prestige
12:30-12:55, Walk #2, Listened to Matt Redman
1:10-2:10 Read third book: Nikki Loftin's Wish Girl starring Peter Stone and Annie Blythe. 238 pages, 1 hour.
2:15-3:15 Read fourth book: Katherine Paterson's The Great Gilly Hopkins. 148 pages, 1 hour.
3:15-4:00 Read fifth book: Peter Lourie's Polar Bear Scientists. 80 pages, 45 minutes.
4:00-4:30 Bible Reading: John 17-21
4:30-4:50, Supper, Still Watching The Prestige
5:00-6:00 Began reading The Prestige.
6:00-6:30 Walk #3, Listened to Building 429. Love their song, Press On.
6:30-7:30 Still Reading The Prestige.
7:30-10:00 Watched part one of Return of the King, Extended Edition
10:00-11:30 Finished sixth book: Christopher Priest's The Prestige starring Alfred Borden and Rupert Angier. 360 pages, 3 hours, 30 minutes.

Day One Totals:

6 Books
1331 Pages
8 hours, 30 minutes

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, June 18, 2015

What Should I Read for the 48 Hour Readathon?!

Tomorrow is the start of the 48 Hour Readathon hosted by MotherReader.  (The rules)

 I've checked out some middle-grade fiction from the library:

Lost in the Sun by Lisa Graff
It's funny how the simplest thing, like riding your bike to the park the way you've done nearly every summer afternoon since you ditched your training wheels, can suddenly become so complicated. If you let it. 
The Great Good Summer by Liz Garton Scanlon 
God is alive and well in Loomer, Texas, so I don't know why Mama had to go all the way to The Great Good Bible Church of Panhandle Florida to find him, or to find herself, either. 
Listen, Slowly by Thanhha Lai
I whip my head toward the airplane window as soon as Dad scoots into my row. 
Finding Serendipity by Angelica Banks
"Goodbye, school shoes," said Tuesday McGillycuddy, droppoing her battered black lace-ups into a bin full of lunch wraps and orange peel. It was the end of school, for the day, for the week, for the year. 
Wish Girl by Nikki Loftin
The summer before I turned thirteen, I held so still it almost killed me. 
The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold
 That evening Amanda Shuffleup opened her wardrobe door and hung her coat up on a boy.
Other library possibilities:
  •  Dear Hank Williams by Kimberly Willis Holt
  • To All The Boys I've Loved Before by Jenny Han (a reread)
  • The Truth According to Us by Annie Barrows
  • The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox
  • Sounder by William H. Armstrong
  • The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner (a reread)
  • The Fellowship of the Ring by J.R.R. Tolkien (a reread)
  • Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (a reread) 
© 2015 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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