Tuesday, October 23, 2018

The Fourteenth Goldfish

The Fourteenth Goldfish. Jennifer L. Holm. 2014. Random House. 208 pages. [Source: Library] 

First sentence: When I was in preschool, I had a teacher named Starlily. She wore rainbow tie-dyed dresses and was always bringing in cookies that were made with granola and flax and had no taste.

Premise/plot: When the novel opens Ellie isn't all that close to her Grandpa Melvin. Her mother and grandfather just don't get along all that well. Plus her grandfather is always super-busy with his scientific experiments. But all that changes one day when Melvin's experiment is a little too successful. He was looking for the fountain of youth...

Ellie finds herself going to middle school with her grandfather by her side--as a classmate.

Ellie was having a difficult time in middle school before this family drama began to unfold. But she has a unique opportunity to learn about life--and so does her grandfather. Both have a 'coming of age' experience....

My thoughts: I enjoyed rereading this one. It was fun; it was quick. There is something to be said for fun and quick. Imagine how many books I could read in a year if all books were so well-paced and entertaining. This one reminded me of why I tend to love reading middle grade novels.

I definitely want to read the new sequel which released this year. 

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Monday, October 22, 2018

2019 Picture Book Reading Challenge

Original artwork by Charles Haigh-Wood (1856-1927)
Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up)
Duration: January - December 2019
Goal: To have adults read more picture books. To celebrate the fact that picture books are for everyone! Families are, of course, welcome to join in!
# of books: minimum of 6

Option 1: Read six picture books of your choice.
Option 2: Read at least six books from the checklist(s) below.

Feel free to copy/paste this. You can replace the _ with an X or a ✔ (copy/paste it) when you finish reading a book. If you list the books you read, that may help other people decide what to read.
Monthly Challenges (You may define "old" and "new" for yourself.)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

_ Something Old
_ Something New
_ Something Borrowed
_ Something True (nonfiction)

Seasonal Challenge

_ holiday of your choice
_ book set in winter
_ free picture book of your choice
_ free board book of your choice
_ free early reader or early chapter book of your choice

_ holiday of your choice
_ book set in spring
_ free picture book of your choice
_ free board book of your choice
_ free early reader or early chapter book of your choice

_ holiday of your choice
_ book set in summer
_ free picture book of your choice
_ free board book of your choice
_ free early reader or early chapter book of your choice

_ holiday of your choice
_ book set in fall
_ free picture book of your choice
_ free board book of your choice
_ free early reader or early chapter book of your choice
Alphabet Challenge (January - December)
  1. _ Title Beginning with A
  2. _ Author Beginning with A
  3. _ Illustrator Beginning with A
  4. _ Title Beginning with B
  5. _ Author Beginning with B
  6. _ Illustrator Beginning with B
  7. _Title Beginning with C
  8. _ Author Beginning with C
  9. _ Illustrator Beginning C
  10. _ Title Beginning with D
  11. _ Author Beginning with D
  12. _ Illustrator Beginning with D
  13. _ Title Beginning with E
  14. _ Author Beginning with E
  15. _ Illustrator Beginning with E
  16. _ Title Beginning with F
  17. _ Author Beginning with F
  18. _ Illustrator Beginning with F
  19. _ Title Beginning with G
  20. _ Author Beginning with G
  21. _ Illustrator Beginning with G
  22. _ Title Beginning with H
  23. _ Author Beginning with H
  24. _ Illustrator Beginning with H
  25. _ Title Beginning with I
  26. _ Author Beginning with I
  27. _ Illustrator Beginning with I
  28. _ Title Beginning with J
  29. _ Author Beginning with J
  30. _ Illustrator Beginning with J
  31. _ Title Beginning with K
  32. _ Author Beginning with K
  33. _ Illustrator Beginning with K
  34. _ Title beginning with L
  35. _ Author Beginning with L
  36. _ Illustrator Beginning with L
  37. _ Title Beginning with M
  38. _ Author Beginning with M
  39. _ Illustrator Beginning with M
  40. _ Title Beginning with N
  41. _ Author Beginning with N
  42. _ Illustrator Beginning with N
  43. _ Title Beginning with O
  44. _ Author Beginning with O
  45. _ Illustrator Beginning with O
  46. _ Title Beginning with P
  47. _ Author Beginning with P
  48. _ Illustrator Beginning with P
  49. _ Title beginning with Q
  50. _ Author or Illustrator beginning with Q
  51. _ Title beginning with R
  52. _ Author beginning with R
  53. _ Illustrator beginning with R
  54. _ Title beginning with S
  55. _ Author beginning with S
  56. _ Illustrator beginning with S
  57. _Title beginning with T
  58. _ Author beginning with T
  59. _ Illustrator beginning with T
  60. _ Title beginning with U
  61. _ Author or illustrator beginning with U
  62. _ Title beginning with V
  63. _ Author or illustrator beginning with V
  64. _ Title beginning with W
  65. _ Author beginning with W
  66. _ Illustrator beginning with W
  67. _ Title with an X ("ex")
  68. _ Author or illustrator -- more than one author, more than one illustrator (turning x into +)
  69. _ Title with a Z
  70. _ Author or illustrator beginning with Z
Sign up by leaving a comment. Do indicate which option you're leaning towards. And if you have a blog, please leave your blog address so I can visit you.

Reviews are not a requirement. But if you do review, you can share links to your reviews. I'm thinking of having check-in posts at the end of every month.

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Allie All Along

Allie All Along. Sarah Lynne Reul. 2018. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: SNAP! Allie's crayon broke. I blinked. She was suddenly...furious, fuming, frustrated, and so, so, sooo ANGRY. She stomped, smashed, crashed, and threw a tantrum, a fuss, and a fit.

Premise/plot: Allie's brother helps her calm down and work through her many, many feelings in Sarah Lynne Reul's picture book Allie All Along. [For the record, I am guessing that it is her brother; it could just as well be a friend. Though a friend might be more likely to run far, far away until the storm is over. This person knows Allie and her moods very well.]

My thoughts: I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this one. I haven't loved a book about fits this much since reading FINN THROWS A FIT a few years ago. I'm not sure which of the two I'll end up liking more--only time will tell.

I loved the writing. I loved the concept. I loved the shedding of emotions. I loved the coping skills.  I loved the illustrations. It's a relatable book start to finish. And the ending is oh-so-right.    

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

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Currently #42

Something Old

Dear and Glorious Physician. Taylor Caldwell. 1958. 560 pages. [Source: Bought]
Small House at Allington. Anthony Trollope. 1864. 695 pages. [Source: Bought]
Wives and Daughters. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1866. 649 pages. [Source: Bought]

Something New
The Romanov Empress. C.W. Gortner. 2018. 431 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Road to Jonestown: Jim Jones and the Peoples Temple. Jeff Guinn. 2017. 454 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Season of Grace. Lauraine Snelling. 2018. Bethany House.  320  pages. [Source: Review copy]
Something Borrowed
The Dollar Kids. Jennifer Richard Jacobson. Illustrated by Ryan Andrews. 2018. Candlewick. 416 pages. [Source: Library]

Echo's Sister. Paul Mosier. 2018. HarperCollins. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

Raymie Nightingale. Kate DiCamillo. 2016. 272 pages. [Source: Library]

Something True
KJV Single Column. 2010. Thomas Nelson. 1632 pages. [Source: Bought]

The New English Bible. Oxford University Press. 1970. 1502 pages. [Source: Bought]

Taste of Heaven: Worship in Light of Eternity. R.C. Sproul. 2006. 173 pages. [Source: Review copy]

© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Always and Forever, Lara Jean

Always and Forever, Lara Jean. (To All The Boys I've Loved Before #3) Jenny Han. 2017. 325 pages. [Source: Library]
First sentence: I like to watch Peter when he doesn't know I'm looking.

Premise/plot: This is the third and final book in the To All the Boys I've Loved Before series by Jenny Han. I reviewed the second book in September 2018. I reviewed the first book in 2015.

Some series books can be read as stand-alones. This isn't one of them. Lara Jean is the middle sister. Her older sister, Margot, is in college--far away from home. Her younger sister, Kitty, is just eleven. Lara Jean is in her senior year of high school. Lara Jean is head over heels in love with Peter. He was her first fake boyfriend and her first real boyfriend. They've been through some stuff in the past, but in this book they are mainly strong and solid. In addition to being about the last few months of school before the two go to two different colleges, the book is about her father's upcoming wedding. Lara Jean isn't the only one whose life is changing...

My thoughts: I loved the first book. (Especially the first time I read it. Perhaps not as much the second time around.) I tolerated the second book. (It just didn't work for me because it had barely any Peter and Lara Jean in it. Not really.) The third book was quite enjoyable. I really loved that Peter and Lara Jean spend so much time talking. (Not that talking is all they ever do. But. I love seeing Peter interact with Lara Jean, with her sister, Kitty, with her Dad, etc. Peter just BELONGS with Lara Jean.)

I spent the whole book worried. In fact I cheated a few times and flipped to the end of the book. Would these two still be together at the end? Would she break up with Peter before going to college? Would they fight over something stupid? The book ends as well as it can for it to be just a chapter in a person's life.

What I want to see--what I need to see--a few years from now is for Jenny Han to write a new book (or perhaps a trilogy) starring KITTY as a main character. Wait for Kitty to mature a bit--get into high school and then GIVE READERS a treat. Let us see what is going on with this family once more. I'm guessing that if Kitty at age 11 is awesome that Kitty at age 15 or 16 would be worth spending time with.

© 2018 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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