Monday, June 24, 2019

Celebrating Board Games

Celebrating Board Games. Nina Chertoff and Susan Kahn. 2006. 144 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Games are a part of almost everyone's childhood. And board games in particular have a special place in most people's hearts.

Premise/plot: All the board games included in this tiny book belong to one collector. There isn't much text to it. Readers can learn the name of a board game and the year it came out. Occasionally, the author(s) elaborate. "This game is about who can make the most money..." or "the artwork of this one is racially offensive..." or "this game is like parcheesi..." or "this game is based on a tv show...." For each game mentioned, we have a photograph of the box, the game board, and the player pieces.

My thoughts: When I learned that all the games photographed (and included) belong to one person's collection it made a bit more sense as to what was included and what was not. This is not a comprehensive, thorough book that COVERS every board game from every decade. I've heard my mom talk about games she used to play--dad has a few stories as well--and sadly these were not included. Some of my own favorites from childhood were not included either. That's the way of things. (Careers is/was my personal favorite. Chutes and Ladders, Hi-Ho Cherry-O, Scrabble--these are the games off the top of my head that were not included. I never thought about how many games don't have a game board--Yahtzee, Hungry Hungry Hippo, Battleship, Scattergories, Guess Who). 

The book wasn't particularly organized. It would have perhaps to have the book organized into sections: games about making money, games about war or strategy, games based on tv shows or movies, educational games, games of chance, etc. 

I think some of the games were chosen for their rarity and novelty...not because they were super popular, beloved, and representative of their times.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Saturday, June 22, 2019

June Share-a-Tea

Hilda Fearon La fiesta del te
What are you currently reading for the challenge?
Have you finished any books for this challenge this month?
Is there a book you're looking forward to starting next month?
Want to share any favorite quotes from a past or current read?
What teas have you enjoyed this month?

Currently Reading...

several Bibles
Cecilia by Fanny Burney

Recently finished...

67. Beverly, Right Here. Kate DiCamillo. 2019. Candlewick Press. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]
68. Taking Back the Good Book: How America Forgot the Bible and Why It Matters To You. Woodrow Kroll. 2007. Crossway Books. 222 pages. [Source: Review copy]
69. The Lady of the Lakes: The True Love Story of Sir Walter Scott. Josi S. Kilpack. 2017. Shadow Mountain. [Source: Library]
70. Resistance Women. Jennifer Chiaverini. 2019. 608 pages. [Source: Library]

Looking forward...

Perhaps something Victorian...and also translated from the French?

Teas enjoyed....

  • Citrus Green
  • Perfect Peach
  • Peppermint
  • Camomile
  • White Tea
  • Candy Cane Lane
  • Constant Comment Black

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Stars Upon Thars #25

5 Stars
 From An Idea to LEGO: The Building Bricks Behind the World's Largest Toy Company. Lowey Bundy Sichol. 2019. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]

4 Stars
The Rest of the Story. Sarah Dessen. 2019. 440 pages. [Source: Library]
Resistance Women. Jennifer Chiaverini. 2019. 608 pages. [Source: Library]
Walt's Imagination: The Life of Walt Disney. Doreen Rappaport. Illustrated by John Pomeroy. 2018. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
The Berenstain Bears' New Baby. Stan & Jan Berenstain. 1974. 32 pages. [Source: Library
The Bears' Picnic. Stan and Jan Berenstain. 1966. 72 pages. [Source: Library]

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Friday, June 21, 2019

The Rest of the Story

The Rest of the Story. Sarah Dessen. 2019. 440 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: The wedding was over. But the party had just begun.

Premise/plot: While her father and new step-mother are on their honeymoon in Greece, Emma Saylor Payne goes to visit her maternal grandmother (and extended family). She has no memories of her grandmother, Mimi, or her cousins. (Though she knows that she visited there when she was four.) It's a bit of an adjustment. It's a tourist-y town by a lake. Her grandmother owns and runs a motel. Her cousins--including a very pregnant one named Trinity--do a lot of the work. At first, Mimi thinks of SAYLOR as a guest. Saylor is not to do any work whatsoever. But lines between family and guest are blurred as she becomes more at home. She's hanging out with her cousins and their friends, including ROO, and working alongside them too.

Much of this one revolves around the question Who is she really??? Is she "Emma" or is she "Saylor"? Is she more like her father? Is she more like her mother?

My thoughts: Love YA romance? Love Sarah Dessen? There is much to love in her newest book. Dessen does an excellent job of developing heroes and heroines who fall in love. In the case of The Rest of the Story that would be Emma Saylor and Roo. I also enjoyed seeing relationships develop between Emma, Bailey, Trinity, and Gordon. (There's another cousin, Jack, who isn't all that developed. Not really). Not all the characters are fully developed. (Mimi and Nana come to mind. As well as Emma's dad and stepmom.) Quite a few are flat. (I'm thinking of Blake and Colin). The characters we spend the most time with are oh-so-human.

The Rest of the Story while it isn't an issue-driven novel does handle some big issues. Emma has to deal with the good, the bad, the ugly of her mother's past. Her mom was an addict. Her life was a big, big mess. Her mom hurt a lot of people--including herself. By letting herself really get to know her mom's side of the family, she's opening up the past and getting new and different glimpses of who her mom was and what she meant to other people. Does her mom's addiction mean that she's more likely to become an addict herself? Is she fated to make the same mistakes as her mom? Could she hurt others in the same way as her mom?

I enjoyed this one. It was nice to have a heroine who was anxious and had OCD. 

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Thursday, June 20, 2019

The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe

The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe. Ally Condie. 2019. 328 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Call tells me he sees a star and that makes me laugh.

Premise/plot: The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe is a dystopian young adult novel. Poe loves Call. Call loves Poe. In a perfect, perfect world these two would find a way to run away together and get a chance at a happily ever after. But this isn't a perfect, perfect world--it's a dystopian novel. Call, Poe's true love, is killed in the prologue thus inspiring Poe's lust for revenge. This lust suits the Admiral just fine. In fact he considers Poe a great weapon against 'the enemy.' 

Gold. The Admiral wants/needs it--badly. There are ships that dredge the river in pursuit of gold. Call and Poe are on such a ship in the prologue. And Poe spends the rest of the novel as Captain of another mining ship. This ship has been armed with a weapon of her own design--one that will keep the river raiders from boarding, from slaughtering, from stealing. It was a raider who murdered Call. But is living for revenge really living? There are many secrets to be discovered--it would be a shock and disappointment if there weren't secrets galore.

My thoughts: Action-packed. The Last Voyage of Poe Blythe is packed cover to cover with action. But is it equally packed with heart and soul? Is there much substance or depth to the world Condie has created for teens? I would say no and no. Don't get me wrong. The action alone may keep you reading. (I read this one in two days.) There's nothing wrong with a book using action, violence, and suspense to keep you turning pages. A book can be a great escape.

This is definitely an action-driven novel. Dystopians can be premise-driven, action-driven, or character-driven. Perhaps the best of the best of the genre combine all three. I prefer premise-driven or character-driven dystopians. Novels that make me think or rethink the world. Novels that feature characters that I won't be forgetting any time soon. I definitely thought the character development suffered a bit in this one.

© 2019 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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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