Thursday, May 30, 2024

May Reflections

In May I read twenty-one books. 

Books reviewed at Becky's Book Reviews

44. Fifty-Four Pigs (Dr. Bannerman Vet Mystery #1) Philipp Schott. 2022. 256 pages. [Source: Library] [adult mystery]

45. South of Somewhere. Kalena Miller. 2024. 288 pages. [Source: Library] [MG Realistic fiction]  

46. Unhappy  Camper (Graphic Novel) Lily LaMotte. Illustrated by Ann Xu. 2024. 208 pages. [Source: Library] [Middle grade graphic novel] 

47. The One and Only Family. Katherine Applegate. 2024. 272 pages. [Source: Library] 

48. Olivetti. Allie Millington. 2024. 253 pages. [Source: Library] 

49. The Kill Factor. Ben Oliver. 2024. 368 pages. [Source: Library]


Books reviewed at Young Readers

66. Orris and Timble #1: Orris and Timble the Beginning. Kate DiCamillo. Illustrated by Carmen Mok. 2024. 80 pages. [Source: Library] [early chapter book, animal fantasy, friendship, storytelling] 

67. Five Stories. Ellen Weinstein. 2024. 48 pages. [Source: Library] [picture book for older readers] 

68. Fox versus Fox. Corey R Tabor. 2024. [March] 32 pages. [Source: Library] 

69. Bear and Bird: The Stars and Other Stories. Jarvis. 2023. [October 10] 64 pages. [Source: Library]

70. Duck and Moose: Duck Moves In. Kirk Reedstrom. 2024. [March] 64 pages. [Source: Library]

71. Duck and Moose: Moose Blasts Off. Kirk Reedstrom. 2024. [March] 64 pages. [Source: Library]

72. Happy Pudding. Kimberly Gee. 2023. [August] 64 pages. [Source: Library] 

73. The Story of Jim Henson. Stacia Deutsch. 2021. 70 pages. [Source: Library]

74. What is the Story of Captain Picard? David Stabler. 2023. 112 pages. [Source: Library] 

75. Bear and Bird: The Picnic and Other Stories. Jarvis. 2023. 64 pages. [Source: Library]


Books reviewed at Operation Actually Read Bible

30. The Gospel According to Daniel: A Christ-Centered Approach. Bryan Chapell. 2014. 222 pages. [Source: Library]

Bibles reviewed at Operation Actually Read Bible

8. NASB 1977 Ryrie Study Bible. 1978. Charles C. Ryrie, editor. God (author). 2059 pages. Source: Bought]

9. NKJV (New King James Version) Word Study Reference Bible. God. 2023. 1928 pages. [Source: Bought]

10. CSB Holy Land Illustrated Bible. (Christian Standard Bible) God. 2020. 2000 pages. [Source: Bought]

11. NIV 2011: The Daily Bible in Chronological Order with "narration" by F. Lagard Smith. 2020. 1730 pages. [Source: Bought]


2024 totals

Books Read in 2024166
Pages Read in 202442,949
Books read in January36
Pages read in January6,875
Books read in February 38
Pages read in February9,731
Books read in March39
Pages read in March6,730
Books read in April32
Pages read in April9,367
Books read in May21
Pages read in May10,246

© 2024 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Tuesday, May 21, 2024

49. The Kill Factor

The Kill Factor. Ben Oliver. 2024. 368 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Emerson Ness had not been scared in a very long time. Now she was terrified.

Premise/plot: YA dystopia is not as prevalent [abundant] as it used to be ten years ago. The Kill Factor IS YA dystopia with a unique premise. Fifty contestants for a brand new television game show that are facing varying sentences for crimes they've committed. They will face challenges from the Producer [the powers that be] and one another. The winner will essentially be acquitted and have the charges dropped. The losers, well, the losers will face life-time sentences. Signing the contract to participate in the game show has huge risks and low odds of success. Yet for those who feel helpless and hopeless, a little hope is better than none. Emerson Ness, the narrator, has been charged with arson and murder. (I'm not certain at all what degree for the murder charge. I don't think the judicial process had gotten far enough along for official charges to have been made.) Her social-media obsessed dad is at first pushing for her to compete. Her fame could lead to his fame. She is conflicted. But ultimately she chooses to be a contestant so the book would be longer than two chapters.

The book is action-packed with definitely more emphasis on premise and plot than characterization. But Emerson Ness definitely is developed as a character.

My thoughts: I found this a compelling read. I was a big fan of the YA dystopia trend. I'd be happy to see a few published each year. This one definitely has some similarities to The Hunger Games, but also a little darker.


© 2024 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Monday, May 20, 2024

48. Olivetti

Olivetti. Allie Millington. 2024. 253 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It's quite possible you've never spoken to a typewriter before. This is not your fault. Humans tend to think we can't understand them. But when you sit still for long enough, there is much you can learn. 

Premise/plot: Can a typewriter save a dysfunctional family? 

My thoughts: I am SO tempted to leave that description so sweet and short. Olivetti is a typewriter who sees all, hears all, and knows MUCH. The typewriter can type on its own to communicate with humans. Olivetti has lived with the Brindles [his human family] for many, many, many years. But when his owner suddenly takes him to the pawn shop and sells him...and then 'runs away' from her gets messy. 

The premise isn't really one that grabbed me. It is strange, strange, super strange. However the writing/narration is great. I would say the writing was incredible. It is dual narration. Ernest Brindle (a young boy) is the other narrator.

The premise will either grab your attention or perhaps do the opposite. It really is STRANGE, but I would say the writing more than makes up for it. I wouldn't be surprised if this one got some award attention.

© 2024 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

47. The One and Only Family


The One and Only Family. Katherine Applegate. 2024. 272 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I am Ivan. I'm about to become a dad. I'm hoping it's as easy as it looks.

Premise/plot: The One and Only Ivan is the fourth book in Katherine Applegate's series. Previous titles--as I'm sure many know--include The One and Only Ivan, The One and Only Bob, and The One and Only Ruby. Ivan and his gorilla partner, Kinyani, are going to be parents. This book--written in verse--chronicles Ivan's adventures/misadventures as a dad as "Big Daddy."

My thoughts: I LOVED this one. Is it for kids? Maybe. Maybe not. Is it for adults who read children's books? Almost definitely. Perhaps not exclusively. But The One and Only Ivan has been published for over ten years. He is such a memorable character that readers of all ages may want to read this one. The Ivan books (and sequels) have a timeless feel to them. This one gets VERY reflective and philosophical. I think adults will almost definitely connect with the narration. The writing just resonates at times. So many places I ended up highlighting. I am so glad I read this one.


Look at a gorilla infant's hand. Or a human baby's hand, if you don't happen to have access to a newborn gorilla. Which I suppose is quite likely. How could anything possibly be so small and so perfect? Now extend a finger, the way I am doing, the way every father since the beginning of time has done, and watch the way that tiny hand grabs hold as if it means the difference between life and death. Because perhaps it does. My son is holding on to me. Maybe it is not because of love, or need, or purpose. Maybe the movement is ingrained in a way we can't begin to understand. Perhaps babies hold on to fingers because they must. And perhaps that's all we need to know. 

I have my story. The twins will have theirs. Stories, it seems to me, are living things. Once you set them free, they're like offspring. They have destinies of their own. They're no longer your responsibility. They belong to the world. 


© 2024 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Tuesday, May 07, 2024

46. Unhappy Camper

Unhappy  Camper (Graphic Novel) Lily LaMotte. Illustrated by Ann Xu. 2024. 208 pages. [Source: Library] [Middle grade graphic novel]

First sentence: Claire and I had many daring adventures with our dolls.

Premise/plot: Michelle (our narrator) and Claire (her older sister) are at odds in Unhappy Camper. Michelle wants to blend in--fit in, be liked, be popular--with her friend group and peers. Claire wants to be true to herself and express her most true self--which in this case means embracing her Taiwanese culture a thousand percent. Claire has gone many years to a Taiwanese-American summer camp. Michelle has never once wanted to go. This year her parents have decided she HAS to go. They hope these two sisters will learn to get along better and become greater friends. Michelle, meanwhile, spends a good deal of time worrying about her friends back home. Her friends seem to pity her for having to go to this "weird" "awful" camp. [That's the impression I got.] What will Michelle learn about herself? her sister? her friends? 

My thoughts: Graphic novels are not my go-to choice at the library. But I always try to read a few per year. This graphic novel is a coming of age novel that deals with relationships--the relationship between two sisters, the relationship(s) with friends. Michelle is building towards an "aha" moment where she realizes that her friends may not be true friends that truly care about her.


© 2024 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

Wednesday, May 01, 2024

45. South of Somewhere

South of Somewhere. Kalena Miller. 2024. 288 pages. [Source: Library] [MG Realistic fiction] 

First sentence: "I have sand between my toes." I announce this to the entire car. Nobody replies.

Premise/plot: Mavis Callahan's vacation with her family ends memorably--and not in a good way. Was it a little odd that her mom got a separate ride home from the airport? Maybe. But that is just the teeniest top of the iceberg. Turns out the FBI is investigating her mom for embezzlement. Her mom has evaded arrest so far, but EVERYTHING has changed for the whole family. The family leaves the big city (Chicago, I believe) and seeks refuge in a small town (Somewhere, Illinois). They'll be staying with her aunt--her father's sister. Everyone is making huge adjustments--finding new jobs, making new friends, getting to know their extended family. Mavis doesn't know what to think. Is her mom guilty? innocent? Does she want to hear from her mom? Is she angry? sad? hurt? disappointed? confused? A bit of everything all at once. In this coming of age novel, two preteens start a babysitting business....but there is little cutesy about it. 

My thoughts: This isn't the first book I've read--I want to say this year, though perhaps the other was last fall???--that deals with parents committing white collar crimes. There may be a sub-sub-sub-sub-genre trend in the works. This coming of age novel was well written. The characterization was substantive, you really get to know the whole family.


© 2024 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

44. Fifty-Four Pigs

Fifty-Four Pigs (Dr. Bannerman Vet Mystery #1) Philipp Schott. 2022. 256 pages. [Source: Library] [adult mystery]

First sentence: Peter heard it before he saw it. A deep, percussive thud from somewhere ahead and to the left.

Premise/plot: Dr Peter Bannerman is a veterinarian and an amateur detective--much to his brother-in-law's dismay. (His brother-in-law is an actual cop/detective.) This one opens with a bang--literally. An explosion in a pig barn killing fifty-four pigs. Was it an accident? Was it a crime? Well, all chances of it being an accident are put to rest when a body is found in the barn. And it is only the first in a series of crimes--not all murders--in the small Canadian community. Can he follow the clues and solve the crimes? Or will he be the next victim?

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. I loved getting to know the community. Peter is a bit at odds with the community--because he is a bit neurodivergent (in my opinion) but he is great at what he does. He is a great veterinarian AND a great detective--even if he's not supposed to be putting his life at risk by following clues. I am glad to have discovered a new series. I hope to read more in it soon.


© 2024 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews