Wednesday, December 29, 2021

2021 Favorites

Favorites sorted by genre (and sometimes audience):

ANIMAL FANTASY

Favorite:  Secondhand Dogs by Carolyn Crimi. 2021. [July] 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]

BOARD BOOK

Favorite: Comparrotives. Janik Coat.  2021. [June] 36 pages. [Source: Review copy]

CLASSIC

Favorite: The Importance of Being Earnest. Oscar Wilde. 1895. 76 pages. [Source: Bought]

EARLY READERS and EARLY CHAPTER BOOKS

Favorites:
Ivy Lost and Found (Book Buddies #1) Cynthia Lord. Illustrated by Stephanie Graegin. 2021. [September] 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]
See the Dog: Three Stories About a Cat. David LaRochelle. Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka. 2021. [September] 64 pages. [Source: Review copy]
See the Cat: Three Stories About A Dog. David LaRochelle. Illustrated by Mike Wohnoutka. 2020. [September] 64 pages.  [Source: Library]
Sydney and Taylor Explore the Whole Wide World. (Sydney and Taylor #1) Jacqueline Davies. Illustrated by Deborah Hocking. 2021. [February] 80 pages. [Source: Library]
Sydney and Taylor Take A Flying Leap (Sydney and Taylor #2) Jacqueline Davies. Illustrated by Deborah Hocking. 2021. [August] 80 pages. [Source: Library]
Sydney and Taylor and the Great Friend Expedition. Jacqueline Davies. 2022. [February] 80 pages. [Source: Review copy] 

GRAPHIC NOVEL

Favorites:

Sisters. Raina Telgemeier. 2014. 199 pages. [Source: Library]
Fox and Rabbit (Fox & Rabbit #1) Beth Ferry. Illustrated by Gergely Dudas. 2020. [April] 96 pages. [Source: Library]
Fox & Rabbit Make Believe (Fox and Rabbit #2)
Beth Ferry. Illustrated by Gergely Dudas. 2020. [September] 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Fox & Rabbit Celebrate. (Fox & Rabbit #3) Beth Ferry. Illustrated by Gergely Dudas. 2021. [May] 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Pizza and Taco: Best Party Ever (Pizza and Taco #2) Stephen Shashkan. 2021. [January] 72 pages. [Source: Library]
The Dire Days of Willowweep Manor. Shaenon K. Garrity. Illustrated by Christopher J. Baldwin. 2021. [July] 224 pages. [Source: Library]

HISTORICAL FICTION (INCLUDING MYSTERY AND ROMANCE)

Favorites:
Love and Lavender (Mayfield Family #4) Josi S. Kilpack. 2021. [November] 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]
All He Knew. Helen Frost. 2020. [August] 272 pages. [Source: Library]
Barefoot Dreams of Petra Luna. Alda P. Dobbs. 2021. [September] 288 pages. [Source: Library]
Rosetown. Cynthia Rylant. 2018. 149 pages. [Source: Library]
Rosetown Summer. Cynthia Rylant. 2021. [July] 96 pages. [Source: Library]
When Zachary Beaver Came to Town. Kimberly Willis Holt. 1999/2003. 256 pages. [Source: Library]
The Ambassador of Nowhere Texas. Kimberly Willis Holt. 2021. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
How To Find What You're Not Looking For. Veera Hiranandani. 2021. [September] 384 pages. [Source: Library]
Pride and Premeditation. (Jane Austen Murder Mystery #1) Tirzah Price. 2021. [April] 368 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Pudge and Prejudice. A.K. Pittman (aka Allison Pittman). 2021. [January] 346 pages. [Source: Library]

 NONFICTION

Favorites:

Boardwalk Babies. Marissa Moss. Illustrated by April Chu. 2021. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
Sister, Brother, Family: An American Childhood in Music. Willie Nelson, Bobbie Nelson, and Chris Barton. Illustrated by Kyun Eun Han. 2021. [September] 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
While I Was Away. Waka T. Brown. 2021. [January] 310 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Meltdown: Earthquake, Tsunami, and Nuclear Disaster in Fukushima. Deidre Langeland. 2021. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
Why Longfellow Lied: The Truth about Paul Revere's Midnight Ride. Jeff Lantos. 2021. [August] 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women. Kate Moore. 2017. 479 pages. [Source: Review copy]

PICTURE BOOKS

Favorites:
A Walk in the Words. Hudson Talbott. 2021. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Interrupting Chicken: Cookies for Breakfast (Interrupting Chicken #3) David Ezra Stein. 2021. [October 26] 40 pages. [Source: Library]
Ten Beautiful Things. Molly Beth Griffin. 2021. [January] 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Swashby and the Sea. Beth Ferry. Illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal. 2020. [May] 32 pages. [Source: Library]
The Bruce Swap. (Mother Bruce #6) Ryan T. Higgins. 2021. [May] 48 pages. [Source: Library]
Henry Gets in Shape. Robert M. Quackenbush. 2021. [August] 48 pages. [Source: Library]

REALISTIC FICTION
Favorites:
In the Wild Light. Jeff Zentner. 2021. [August] 432 pages. [Source: Library]
Happily for Now. Kelly Jones. Illustrated by Kelly Murphy. 2021. [May] 288 pages. [Source: Library]
Real. Carol Cujec and Peyton Goddard. 2021. [February] 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Ways to Grow Love. (Ryan Hart #2) Renee Watson. Illustrated by Nina Mata. 2021. [April] 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Billy Miller Makes a Wish. Kevin Henkes. 2021. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Great Cookie War. Caroline Stellings. 2021. [April] 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Better with Butter. Victoria Piontek. 2021. [July] 320 pages. [Source: Library]

SPECULATIVE FICTION
Favorites:
The Bookshop of Dust and Dreams. Mindy Thompson. 2021. [October 26] 272 pages. [Source: Library]
The Lion of Mars. Jennifer L. Holm. 2021. 259 pages. [Source: Library]
In the Red. Christopher Swiedler. 2020. [March] 288 pages. [Source: Library]
Finn and the Time Traveling Pajamas. (The Finniverse #2) Michael Buckley. 2021. [March] 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Pencilvania. Stephanie Watson. 2021. [August] 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]


© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

2021 Year in Review: Some "Statistics"

I read 437 books in 2021 and 121,630 pages.

First book read at Becky's Book Reviews: Georgana's Secret. Arlem Hawks. 2021. [January] Shadow Mountain. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]
First book read at Young Readers: This Is Your Time. Ruby Bridges. 2020. [November] 64 pages. [Source: Review copy]
First book read at Operation Actually Read Bible: A Book of Comfort for Those In Sickness. Philip Bennett Power. 1876/2018. Banner of Truth. 97 pages. [Source: Bought]

Last book read at Becky's Book Reviews: A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens. 1843. 96 pages. [Source: Bought]
Last book read at Young Readers: The Nutcracker. Jan Brett. 2021. [November] 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Last book read at Operation Actually Read Bible: Zanna's Gift. Orson Scott Card. 2020. 250 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Shortest book: Board Book: Disney All Aboard! Mickey's Railway. Nichole Mara. Illustrated by Andrew Kolb. 2021. [March] 8 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Longest book: Annotated King James Bible 1611 (In Early Modern English) Historical Series. 4512 pages. [Source: Bought]

Newest book (publication): Anne's Tragical Tea Party. Kallie George. Illustrated by Abigail Halpin. 2022. [February] 72 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Oldest book (publication): Matthew's Bible 1537. William Tyndale, Myles Coverdale, John Rogers. 1537. 4304 pages. [Source: Bought]

# of 5 Star Books: 131
# of 4 Star Books: 143
# of 3 Star Books: 117
# of 2 Star Books: 36
# of 1 Star Books: 10
# of DNF: 3 books

45.5% (199 books) were review copies.
40% (175 books) were library books.
11% (48 books) were books I bought.
3.4% (15 books) were gifts or "other." 


© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

December Reflections

In December, I read thirty-three books. I will be posting lists of my favorite reads.

Books Reviewed at Becky's Book Reviews

143. The Slow March of Light. Heather B. Moore. [2021] 368 pages. [Source: Review copy]
144. Out of My Heart. (Out of My Mind #2) Sharon Draper. 2021. [November] 352 pages. [Source: Library]
145. The Legend of Auntie Po. Shing YIn Khor. 2021. 290 pages. [Source: Library]
146. Escape from Chernobyl. Andy Marino. 2021. [December] 176 pages. [Source: Library]
147. The Last Daughter of York. Nicola Cornick. 2021. [November] 368 pages. [Source: Library]
148. A Surprise for Christmas And Other Seasonal Mysteries. Martin Edwards, Editor. 2021 (US) 2020 (UK). 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]
149. Born Behind Bars. Padma Venkatraman. 2021. [September] 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]
150. Scrooge #worstgiftever. Adapted by Brett Wright. 2016. 112 pages. [Source: Library]
151. All He Knew. Helen Frost. 2020. [August] 272 pages. [Source: Library]
152. A Taste for Love. Jennifer Yen. 2021. 322 pages. [Source: Library]
153. A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens. 1843. 96 pages. [Source: Bought]


Books Reviewed at Young Readers

172. A Chair for My Mother (Rosa Books #1) Vera B. Williams. 1982. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
173. Something Special for Me. (The Rosa Books #2) Vera B. Williams. 1983. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
174. Music, Music for Everyone. (The Rosa Books #3) Vera B. Williams. 1984. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
175. Pepper & Boo: A Cat Surprise. Charise Mericle Harper. 2020. [September] 64 pages. [Source: Library]
176. Pepper & Boo: Puddle Trouble. Charise Mericle Harper. 2021. [October 19] 64 pages. [Source: Library]
177. You Are My Sparkly Mermaid. Joyce Wan. 2021. [June] 14 pages. [Source: Library]
178. The Mustache Baby Christmas. Bridget Heos. Illustrated by Joy Ang. 2019. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
179. Motor Mouse. Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Arthur Howard. 2019. 62 pages. [Source: Library]
180. Mr. Willowby's Christmas Tree. Robert E. Barry. 1963. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
181. Pilgrim Cat. Carol Antoinette Peacock. Illustrated by Doris Ettlinger. 2004. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
182. Charlotte and the Nutcracker. Charlotte Nebres.WITH SARAH WARREN. 2021. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
183. Sister, Brother, Family: An American Childhood in Music. Willie Nelson, Bobbie Nelson, and Chris Barton. Illustrated by Kyun Eun Han. 2021. [September] 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
184. Motor Mouse and Valentino. Cynthia Rylant. Illustrated by Arthur Howard. 2021. [November] 64 pages. [Source: Library]
185. The Nutcracker. Jan Brett. 2021. [November] 32 pages. [Source: Library]


Books Reviewed at Operation Actually Read Bible

79. Christina's Carol. Adapted from Christina Rossetti. Illustrated by Tomie dePaola. 2021. [September] 32 pages. [Source: Library]

80. Praying the Bible. Donald S. Whitney. 2015. Crossway. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]
81. Be Thou My Vision: A Liturgy for Daily Worship. Jonathan Gibson. 2021. [November/December] 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
82. Blue Skies Tomorrow. Sarah Sundin. 2011. Revell. 434 pages. [Source: Review copy]
83. Every Word Unsaid. Kimberly Duffy. 2021. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
84. We Will Not Be Silenced: Responding Courageously To Our Culture's Assault on Christianity. Erwin W. Lutzer. 2020. [November] 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
85. Zanna's Gift. Orson Scott Card. 2020. 250 pages. [Source: Review copy]


Bibles Reviewed at Operation Actually Read Bible

14. ESV Giant Print Bible (ISBN 13: 978-1-4335-2722-7) 2011/2001. 1984 pages. [Source: Gift]

December Totals:
December33
number of books73748
number of pages7308


Yearly Totals:
2021 Totals
Books437
Pages121630


© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

153. A Christmas Carol


A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens. 1843. 96 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: MARLEY WAS DEAD, to begin with. There is no doubt whatever about that.

Premise/plot:  Who isn't familiar with the story of Scrooge?! Still, I suppose *something* must be said. Scrooge HATES Christmas. Hate is too soft a word really for the rage he feels when he thinks about the holiday. For Scrooge hating comes as naturally as breathing. He loves no one or no thing--nothing except money and making a profit. But what is driving his obsession with money? what is driving him to live as he does--to make the choices he does? Could there be a secret or two in his past that holds the answers to these questions? Can Scrooge be saved from his own worst enemy--himself?

If Scrooge is to be saved--can he be saved?!--it will take some supernatural intervention. For Scrooge won't be saving himself. For one thing, Scrooge does not see his own need to be saved. Saved from what exactly?!?! Saved from success?! As far as Scrooge is concerned, everything in his life is just as it should be. He in need of help? he in need of saving? Don't be ridiculous.

He will be visited by four ghosts--the first ghost being Marley, his dead business partner of old. The other three ghosts being Christmas spirits past, present, and future. Can these spirits open Scrooge's eyes? Will he start to see--will he start to judge--life differently?

My thoughts: A Christmas Carol is a familiar story--much like the gospels. Is it too familiar a story to pack a punch or two? It doesn't have to be. The truth is--like it or not--we are more like Scrooge than we want to admit. We may not hate Christmas. We may not be super-obsessed with money. We may even consider ourselves good, charitable people. But the truth is that we are all sinners; perhaps I should amend that to we are sinners one and all. At best we can say our pet sins differ from his. All of us need a ghostly encounter to reconcile us with ourselves, the world, and God. I would point out, however, that we need a Holy Ghost encounter, and not one from Marley and the three ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future.

In the first stave, readers are introduced to Scrooge's world. We see him at work and at home. We are witnesses to Scrooge's interactions. Dickens does plenty of telling, but he also does plenty of showing. At the close of Christmas Eve, Scrooge is visited by the ghost of his business partner, Marley. Scrooge is warned of his future fate and promised three spiritual visitors. In the second stave, Scrooge is visited by the first spirit, that of Christmas past. In the third stave, Scrooge is visited by the second spirit, that of Christmas present. In the fourth stave, Scrooge is visited by the third spirit, that of Christmas future. In the fifth stave, it is Christmas morning. Readers are reintroduced to Scrooge; once again, we see him going about his business. Has his outlook on life changed? Is Scrooge a new man?

When I first read A Christmas Carol, I was less than impressed with this "Christ-less" Christmas story. I still loved the Muppet Christmas Carol; I still loved the idea of loving this one. But I found grace to be missing; here was Scrooge a brand new man with a brand new outlook, but no profession or confession of belief or trust in the one true God. The message was not Jesus paid it all; all to him I owe. The emphasis was not that Christ was sufficient--that Scrooge's only hope in life or death was Christ alone. The emphasis seemed to be on outward change, on works. On reflection this time around, I see A Christmas Carol more like the letter of James than any of the four gospels. In spiritual terms, what we're dealing with is not justification--how to be made right with God, how to be saved--but sanctification--how to live life rightly.

My tip for reading A Christmas Carol: try to read it as if for the first time.

 Favorite quotes:

  • Old Marley was as dead as a door-nail. Mind! I don’t mean to say that I know, of my own knowledge, what there is particularly dead about a door-nail. I might have been inclined, myself, to regard a coffin-nail as the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wisdom of our ancestors is in the simile; and my unhallowed hands shall not disturb it, or the Country’s done for.
  • There is no doubt that Marley was dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing wonderful can come of the story I am going to relate. If we were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet’s father died before the play began, there would be nothing more remarkable in his taking a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own ramparts, than there would be in any other middle-aged gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a breezy spot—say Saint Paul’s Churchyard for instance—literally to astonish his son’s weak mind.
  • Oh! but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, Scrooge! a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutching, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from which no steel had ever struck out generous fire, secret, and self-contained, and solitary as an oyster.
  • He carried his own low temperature always about with him; he iced his office in the dog-days; and didn’t thaw it one degree at Christmas.
  • No wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more intent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. Foul weather didn’t know where to have him. The heaviest rain, and snow, and hail, and sleet, could boast of the advantage over him in only one respect. They often “came down” handsomely, and Scrooge never did.
  • Even the blind men’s dogs appeared to know him; and, when they saw him coming on, would tug their owners into doorways, and up courts, and then would wag their tails as though they said, “No eye at all is better than an evil eye, dark master!”
  • Once upon a time—of all the good days in the year, on Christmas Eve—old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-house.
  • Scrooge had a very small fire, but the clerk’s fire was so very much smaller that it looked like one coal. But he couldn’t replenish it, for Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room; and so surely as the clerk came in with the shovel, the master predicted that it would be necessary for them to part.
  • “I do,” said Scrooge. “Merry Christmas! What right have you to be merry? What reason have you to be merry? You’re poor enough.” “Come, then,” returned the nephew gaily. “What right have you to be dismal? What reason have you to be morose? You’re rich enough.”
  • “Nephew!” returned the uncle sternly, “keep Christmas in your own way, and let me keep it in mine.” “Keep it!” repeated Scrooge’s nephew. “But you don’t keep it.” “Let me leave it alone, then,” said Scrooge. “Much good may it do you! Much good it has ever done you!”
  • “It’s enough for a man to understand his own business, and not to interfere with other people’s. Mine occupies me constantly. Good afternoon, gentlemen!”
  • Darkness is cheap, and Scrooge liked it.
  • “At this time of the rolling year,” the specter said, “I suffer most. Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode? Were there no poor homes to which its light would have conducted me?”
  • The more he thought, the more perplexed he was; and the more he endeavored not to think, the more he thought.
  • The curtains of his bed were drawn aside, I tell you, by a hand. Not the curtains at his feet, nor the curtains at his back, but those to which his face was addressed. The curtains of his bed were drawn aside; and Scrooge, starting up into a half-recumbent attitude, found himself face to face with the unearthly visitor who drew them: as close to it as I am now to you, and I am standing in the spirit at your elbow.
  • “I am the Ghost of Christmas Past.” “Long Past?” inquired Scrooge, observant of its dwarfish stature. “No. Your past.”
  • “The school is not quite deserted,” said the Ghost. “A solitary child, neglected by his friends, is left there still.” Scrooge said he knew it. And he sobbed.
  • Now, being prepared for almost anything, he was not by any means prepared for nothing;
  • it is always the person not in the predicament who knows what ought to have been done in it, and would unquestionably have done it too.
  • “Forgive me if I am wrong. It has been done in your name, or at least in that of your family,” said Scrooge. “There are some upon this earth of yours,” returned the Spirit, “who claim to know us, and who do their deeds of passion, pride, ill will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness in our name, who are as strange to us, and all our kith and kin, as if they had never lived. Remember that, and charge their doings on themselves, not us.”
  • It is a fair, even-handed, noble adjustment of things, that, while there is infection in disease and sorrow, there is nothing in the world so irresistibly contagious as laughter and good humor.
  • “Ghost of the Future!” he exclaimed. “I fear you more than any specter I have seen. But as I know your purpose is to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another man from what I was, I am prepared to bear you company, and do it with a thankful heart. Will you not speak to me?”
  • “I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year. I will live in the Past, Present, and the Future.
  • YES! AND THE bedpost was his own. The bed was his own, the room was his own. Best and happiest of all, the Time before him was his own, to make amends in! “I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future!” Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. “The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. O Jacob Marley! Heaven and the Christmas-time be praised for this! I say it on my knees, old Jacob, on my knees!”
  • Scrooge was better than his word. He did it all, and infinitely more; and to Tiny Tim, who did NOT die, he was a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a master, and as good a man as the good old City knew, or any other good old city, town, or borough in the good old world. 
  • May that be truly said of us, and all of us! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, God bless Us, Every One! THE END                       

 

 

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Monday, December 27, 2021

Signing Up for Chunkster Challenge


2022 Chunkster Reading Challenge
January 1, 2022 - December 31, 2022
Hosted by Becky's Book Reviews; sign up link
# of books: UP TO EACH PARTICIPANT

1. Hawaii. James A. Michener. 1959. 1136 pages. [Source: Library]
2. Exodus. Leon Uris. 1958. 610 pages. [Source: Library]
3. Our Mutual Friend. Charles Dickens. 1865. 801 pages. [Source: Bought]
4. Katherine. Anya Seton. 1954. 512 pages. [Source: Bought]
5. The Forsyte Saga. (The Forsyte Chronicles #1-3). John Galsworthy. 1922. 872 pages. [Source: Bought]
6.

 

 

© 2022 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Signing Up for Georgian and Victorian Reading Challenge


Georgian Reading Challenge
Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up here)
Dates: January 2022 - December 2022
# of books: 4 minimum

1.
2.
3.
4.


Victorian Reading Challenge
Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up here)
Dates: January - December 2022
Goal: To read 4 books (minimum)

1. Our Mutual Friend. Charles Dickens. 1865. 801 pages. [Source: Bought]
2.
3.
4.

© 2022 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Signing Up for My Own WW2 Challenge

2022 World War II Challenge
Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up here)
Dates: January - December 2022
Goals: Read, Watch, Listen, Share WWII related stuff

Books

1) Road of Bones (Billy Boyle #16) James R. Benn. 2021. [September] 312 pages. [Source: Review copy]
2) The Chilbury Ladies' Choir. Jennifer Ryan. 2017. 371 pages. [Source: Library]
3) The Kitchen Front. Jennifer Ryan. 2021. 408 pages. [Source: Review copy]
4) In Harm's Way (Young Reader's Edition): The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Story of Its Survivors. Michael J. Tougias and Doug Stanton. 2022. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
5) Yours Cheerfully. (The Emmy Lake Chronicles #2) A.J. Pearce. 2021. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]
6) The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle. Jennifer Ryan. 2022. [May] 432 pages. [Source: Review copy]
7) Alias Anna: A True Story of Outwitting the Nazis. Susan Hood. 2022. 352 pages. [Source: Library]
8) Louisa June and the Nazis in the Waves. L.M. Elliott. 2022. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
9) When the Sky Falls. Phil Earle. 2022. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
10) Front Page Murder. (A Homefront News Mystery #1) Joyce St. Anthony. 2022. [March] 304 pages. [Source: Library]
11) Death on a Deadline (Homefront News #2) Joyce St. Anthony. 2022. [November] 304 pages (guess). [Source: Review copy]
12) American Shoes: A Refugee's Story. Rosemarie Lengsfeld Turke and Garrett L. Turke. 2022. [February] 352 pages. [Source: Library]
13) Meet the Malones. (Beany Malone #1) Lenora Mattingly Weber. 1943. 282 pages. [Source: Borrowed from a friend]
14) My Own Lightning. (Wolf Hollow #2) Lauren Wolk. 2022. [March] 320 pages. [Source: Library]
15) Just a Girl: A True Story of World War II. Lia Levi. Illustrated by Jess Mason. Translated by Sylvia Notini. 2022. 144 pages. [Source: Library]
16) Long Way Home. Lynn Austin. 2022. [June] 391 pages. [Source: Review copy]
17) Magic of Ordinary Days. Ann Howard Creel. 2001. 304 pages. [Source: Library]
18) From the Shadows (Billy Boyle #17) James R. Benn. 2022. [September] 336 pages. [Source: Library]

 

© 2022 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Thursday, December 23, 2021

152. A Taste for Love


A Taste for Love. Jennifer Yen. 2021. 322 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a mother in possession of great wisdom, must be in want--nay, in need--of a daughter who will listen.

Premise/plot: A Taste for Love is a YA romance that puts a contemporary twist on Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Liza Yang, our heroine, is tired of her mother trying to set her up on dates and find her the perfect (according to her Mom's standards, not hers) Asian boyfriend. Her love life--or lack thereof--is on her. There's definitely tension between Liza and her mother. However, that's not the only relationship with some tension...

So her mom (who owns Yin and Yang bakery) has had a baking contest for five years...this year Liza is involved as the technical judge. Her mom *may* have selected the participants solely to "help" Liza find a boyfriend. Once Liza realizes that she has been set up...well...she's not pleased! But two new friends step up and apply--Ben and James. Ben and James are cousins, best friends, near brothers. Ben is dating Liza's best friend... James is...many, many, many things. But is he a baker too?

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I did. It was a light Austen retelling. (Which may just be the right way to approach it.) It is set in Texas. Most of the characters are either beginning or ending their senior year of high school. There is some talk of choosing colleges and planning for future careers. I like the focus on baking. The contest definitely reminds me of Great British Baking Show...if it was done for a local cable channel. Still, it was fun to see that as a hobby and interest. 

I liked seeing Liza with her friends. I wasn't crazy about Liza's older sister. If Jeannie--the sister--is supposed to be anything at all like Jane, it's a total failure. But I don't think that was the intention at all. I don't. I think they gave the role of Jane to one of Liza's friends--the one dating Ben. The thing that bothered me about Jeannie was her reluctance to believe Liza (and her friend whom she would have known for years) over her current "boyfriend." Still I guess the book needed a bad guy??? I don't know.

 

 

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Wednesday, December 22, 2021

151. All He Knew


All He Knew. Helen Frost. 2020. [August] 272 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Henry comes here on a Greyhound bus.
Slow, along the bumpy road, his mother
in the seat beside him, sitting straight
and tall, her nostrils pinched, her words
held deep inside. She understands by now
that Henry cannot hear them.

Premise/plot: All He Knew is Helen Frost's newest verse novel. It is inspired by her own family history. (Though the book is fictional.) Henry, our hero, has been deaf since an illness when he was a toddler. He is able to talk--though he often chooses NOT to talk--but he is unable to hear. The novel chronicles his time at a home for the "feeble-minded." Henry is NOT "feeble-minded" but he's been deemed "unteachable" by the powers that be. His family hands him over to an institution. 

All He Knew is set in the late 1930s and early 1940s. Most of the novel is set at the institution--Riverview. Over half the novel is told through Henry's perspective. (He's very observant and kind despite being treated cruelly for years.) But part of the novel is told through the perspective of Victor a new attendant who is a conscientious objector to the war. As the war progresses, more and more attendants are replaced. The residents--including Billy and his friends--are treated with more respect, dignity, and care.

Will Henry--who still thinks of his family and his home--ever get to leave Riverview?

My thoughts: I would give this one a million stars (out of five). It was an incredibly compelling read. I loved, loved, loved Henry. I loved his sister, Molly. I loved Victor. I loved the smidgen of a hint that a romance may, may, may develop between the two--when the time is right. I thought the characterization was excellent and the poetry well crafted.

I would definitely recommend this one.

 

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

2022 Georgian Reading Challenge


Georgian Reading Challenge
Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up here)
Dates: January 2022 - December 2022
# of books: 4 minimum

 What counts:

  • Novels, poems, plays, short stories, novellas, letters, diaries, essays, nonfiction published in Great Britain (or its colonies) during the Georgian era. (1714-1837) or (1714-1830)
  • Nonfiction books published about the Georgian era. Including, of course, biographies on the royal family. 
  • Historical fiction set during the Georgian era. 
  • Books, e-books, audio books.  
  • Movies and television series set during this period--if you review them--can count. But try to keep things balanced.
You may make a list if you want to plan ahead...or read according to your whimsy.

Sign up by leaving a comment. No blog is required--no review either. But if you do have a blog, I'd love a link to it. Same with GoodReads if that is where you review books. (Comment moderation is turned on.)

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

2022 Victorian Reading Challenge


Victorian Reading Challenge
Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up here)
Dates: January - December 2022
Goal: To read 4 books (minimum)

All books must fall into the "Victorian" category being either a) books originally published between 1837 and 1901 b) books originally written (but not published) between 1837 and 1901 c) general nonfiction about the Victorian era (the times, the culture, the people, the events) d) biographies of Victorians.

Once you have met your four book minimum, any book set during the Victorian period can count towards the challenge. 

Sign up by leaving a comment.  


© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

2022 World War II Challenge


J. Howard Miller 1918-2004, artwork details on wikimedia commons

 

2022 World War II Challenge
Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up here)
Dates: January - December 2022
Goals: Read, Watch, Listen, Share WWII related stuff

Books

  • Fiction published during 1939-1945
  • Fiction set during 1939-1945
  • Fiction that is about the leading up to the war
  • Fiction that is about the direct aftermath of the war
  • Nonfiction books about the War
  • Biographies or Autobiographies with sections about the war
  • Poetry or verse novels with a WWII setting OR publication date
  • Essays, Articles, Op-Ed pieces
  • historical-historical (straight up historical with no sub-genres)
  • historical romance
  • historical mysteries
  • historical coming-of-age
  • historical thrillers/suspense/spy novels

Music

Films and documentaries

  • any film made/released during 1939-1945
  • any film set during the war 
  • any documentary about the war

Sign up by leaving a comment. I will do my best to remember that blogger is totally and completely unreliable and wonky when it comes to actually notifying me when a comment is left so that I approve all legitimate comments. 

If you would like check-in posts throughout the year, please mention it in your sign up comment. If you are neutral or don't like checking-back-in mention that too, if you don't mind. I'll do what most want--or try to remember to do so. Let's be honest, intentions at the start of the year don't always stick.

 

 

 

 

 

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Monday, December 20, 2021

150. Scrooge #worstgiftever


Scrooge #worstgiftever. Adapted by Brett Wright. 2016. 112 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Jacob Marley is dead.

Premise/plot: The Christmas Carol adapted and told through text messages with plenty of emojis to spare. 

My thoughts: The book's biggest strength is that it is an absolute breeze to get through. It won't take much of your time as a reader. Of course, that could be because there isn't much substance. To be fair, there are plenty of adaptations of A Christmas Carol--on film especially. The shortest I've seen is under ten minutes. The story lends itself well to adaptation.

The book is essentially a hundred plus pages of gimmick. It is a novelty book cover to cover. If you find the idea of Scrooge and the four visiting ghosts texting hilarious to amusing, then this one might amuse you for most of the book. I personally was over the gimmick relatively early.

Because it has been adapted so many times in so many different ways, people might assume that there isn't all that much there to Dickens' characters. Some adaptations are amazing at depth of character--in particular Scrooge. But some are not--some are barely caricature. For the story to have the ability to MOVE the reader--to resonate with the reader--Scrooge must be fully fleshed out or made human. This "book" lacks ALL characterization. 

Also it is marketed as a children's book--published by Random House's children's division--yet it contains adult-ish abbreviations that aren't quite kid-appropriate (in my opinion). So I wouldn't personally recommend it for kids.

 

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

149. Born Behind Bars


Born Behind Bars. Padma Venkatraman. 2021. [September] 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Beyond the bars, framed by the high, square window, slides a small patch of sky. For months, it's been as gray as the faded paint flaking off the walls, but today it's blue and gold. Bright as a happy song. My thoughts, always eager to escape, shoot out and try to picture the whole sky--even the whole huge world. But my imagination has many missing pieces, like the jigsaw puzzle in the schoolroom. All I've learned here in nine years from my mother and my teachers is not enough to fill the gaps.

Premise/plot: Padma Venkatraman's newest middle grade novel opens in a prison (in Chennai, India). Kabir, our young hero, has spent his whole life--all nine years--in prison with his Amma (mom). He's friends with the other cellmates, his 'aunties,' and he loves, loves, loves his teacher. But though he's physically small for his age, he is past the age--technically speaking--of when he'd be allowed to stay with his mom in prison. So he's being released--without his mom--into the world. He's upset, anxious, and a tiny bit excited. What is the WORLD like? And where does he belong in it?

He looks at the world with WONDER and hope. He's heard stories, tales, even legends...but he's never lived "in the real world."

Born Behind the Bars mainly chronicles his time OUTSIDE bars. Readers join Kabir on his quest to find his paternal side of the family. (His mom was Hindu; his dad was Muslim). Can he find his dad? or his dad's family? Will he be welcomed into the family? Is there ANY way for him to 'save' his mom?

My thoughts: I would not want to read this story in the hands of any other author. But Venkatraman manages to tell this heavy story with hope and wonder. It's not that she scrubs out or erases the injustice and cruelty. It's that she's given Kabir the ability to see the world--in all its shades and colors--with hope. Yet at least to me Kabir does not come across as irritatingly naive like David Copperfield or Pinocchio.

I read this book in one sitting. I loved the short chapters. I breezed my way through this book with all the feels.

 

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Friday, December 17, 2021

148. A Surprise for Christmas


A Surprise for Christmas And Other Seasonal Mysteries. Martin Edwards, Editor. 2021 (US) 2020 (UK). 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Love mysteries and suspense? Enjoy holiday/winter themed short stories? I recommend Martin Edwards' newest collection for the British Library Crime series. The series includes novels and short story collections. (I have read several in this series, but not all by any means!)

The stories included in this collection are as follows:

The Black Bag Left On a Doorstep by Catharine Louisa Pirkis
The Hole in the Wall by G.K. Chesterton
Death on the Air by Ngaio Marsh
Persons or Things Unknown by Carter Dickson
Dead Man's Hand by E.R. Punshon
The Christmas Eve Ghost by Ernest Dudley
Dick Whittington's Cat by Victor Canning
A Surprise for Christmas by Cyril Hare
On Christmas Day in the Morning by Margery Allingham
Give Me a Ring by Gilbert Lucy Malleson
Father Christmas Comes to Orbins by Julian Symons
The Turn-Again Bell by Barry Perowne

I found the collection to be a blend of familiar authors and new-to-me authors. Most of the stories stayed within the mystery/suspense genre. A couple, however, flirted with other genres or sub-genres. For example, stories that focused on crimes from the criminal point of view. One story is definitely ALL thriller. (Give Me a Ring was a LONG thriller-esque story that kept me turning pages.)

I enjoyed almost all of the stories within this collection. (Perhaps with the exception of Father Christmas Comes to Orbins. I don't know WHERE I've read the story before. Perhaps in another Christmas-themed collection. But I didn't enjoy it the first time around. A few paragraphs in, I was THAT STORY AGAIN??? 

Still for the most part I can wholeheartedly recommend this collection for those that enjoy this genre. 

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

2022 Historical Reading Challenge


Historical Fiction Reading Challenge 2022

Host: The Adventures of an Intrepid Reader (sign up post)

Dates: January - December 2022

# of Books: I'm aiming for Ancient History -- 25 Books

What I Read for The Challenge
1) Road of Bones (Billy Boyle #16) James R. Benn. 2021. [September] 312 pages. [Source: Review copy]
2) Hawaii. James A. Michener. 1959. 1136 pages. [Source: Library]
3) The Chilbury Ladies' Choir. Jennifer Ryan. 2017. 371 pages. [Source: Library]
4) Exodus. Leon Uris. 1958. 610 pages. [Source: Library]
5) I Must Betray You. Ruta Sepetys. 2022. [February] 336 pages. [Source: Library]
6) The Kitchen Front. Jennifer Ryan. 2021. 408 pages. [Source: Review copy]
7)  The Last Kingdom. (The Last Kingdom #1) Bernard Cornwell. 2004. 351 pages. [Source: Library]
8) A Brilliant Night of Stars and Ice. Rebecca Connolly. 2022. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]
9) Yours Cheerfully. (The Emmy Lake Chronicles #2) A.J. Pearce. 2021. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]
10) The Great Passion. James Runcie. 2022. [March] 272 pages. [Source: Library]
11) The Wedding Dress Sewing Circle. Jennifer Ryan. 2022. [May] 432 pages. [Source: Review copy]
12) Alias Anna: A True Story of Outwitting the Nazis. Susan Hood. 2022. 352 pages. [Source: Library]
13) Louisa June and the Nazis in the Waves. L.M. Elliott. 2022. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
14) Katherine. Anya Seton. 1954. 512 pages. [Source: Bought]
15) When the Sky Falls. Phil Earle. 2022. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
16) Cyrano de Bergerac. Edmond Rostand. Translated by Gladys Thomas and Mary F Guillemard. 1897. 240 pages. [Source: Bought]
17) Sense and Second Degree Murder. Tirzah Price. 2022. [April] 416 pages. [Source: Library]
18) Front Page Murder. (A Homefront News Mystery #1) Joyce St. Anthony. 2022. [March] 304 pages. [Source: Library]
19) Death on a Deadline (Homefront News #2) Joyce St. Anthony. 2022. [November] 304 pages (guess). [Source: Review copy]
20) My Own Lightning. (Wolf Hollow #2) Lauren Wolk. 2022. [March] 320 pages. [Source: Library]
21) The Belle of Belgrave Square. (Belles of London #2) Mimi Matthews. 2022. 432 pages. [Source: Review copy]
22) The Peach Rebellion. Wendelin Van Draanen. 2022. 416 pages. [Source: Library]
23) The Bachelor and the Bride. (The Dread Penny Society #4) Sarah M. Eden. 2022. [September] 368 pages. [Source: Review copy]
24) Lines of Courage. Jennifer A. Nielsen. 2022. 400 pages. [Source: Library]
25) A Gambling Man. (Archer #2) David Baldacci. 2021. 432 pages. [Source: Library]
26) Laura's Shadow (Doors to the Past) Allison Pittman. 2022. [August] 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]
27) The Siren of Sussex. (Belles of London #1) Mimi Matthews. 2022. [January] 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]
28) Long Way Home. Lynn Austin. 2022. [June] 391 pages. [Source: Review copy]
29) Dream Town. (Archer #3) David Baldacci. 2022. 432 pages. [Source: Library]
30) The Star That Always Stays. Anna Rose Johnson. 2022. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
31) African Town: Inspired by the True Story of the Last American Slave Ship. Irene Latham and Charles Waters. 2022. 448 pages. [Source: Library]
32) The Lindbergh Nanny. Mariah Fredericks. 2022. [November] 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]
33) Miraculous. Caroline Starr Rose. 2022. 352 pages. [Source: Library]
34) Singing with Elephants. Margarita Engle. 2022. [May] 224 pages. [Source: Library]
35) Magic of Ordinary Days. Ann Howard Creel. 2001. 304 pages. [Source: Library]
36) A Light Beyond the Trenches. Alan Hlad. 2022. [March] 362 pages. [Source: Library]
37) From the Shadows (Billy Boyle #17) James R. Benn. 2022. [September] 336 pages. [Source: Library]

© 2021 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews