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Mainly reviews of children's and young adult literature. Primarily focuses on new literature, 2004-present, but may feature older titles if they are "favorites" of mine. Feel free to leave comments. I always enjoy reading what others have to say!
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26. Movie Month, day 7

So Kailana (The Written Word) and I really LOVED participating in Jenni Elyse's 30 Days of Books.  We thought it would be fun to do a movie-theme list of questions! 

Today's question: If you could live in any movie-world it would be...

Tough question! I'm going to go with the first two Anne of Green Gables movies. (Not the third one which doesn't exist or the fourth one wich really, really, really doesn't exist.) I also wouldn't mind living in a pre-war (perhaps pre-Hobbit) Shire. I don't want the DANGER and RISK of being in LOTR!!!! But there is something oh-so-wonderful about the Shire!

I'd love to know how you'd answer today's question!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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27. March: Book One

March: Book One. John Lewis, Andrew Aydin. Illustrated by Nate Powell. 2013. 128 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Can you swim? No. Well, neither can I--but we might have to.

Premise/plot: March is the graphic novel autobiography of John Lewis. So far, there are three volumes in this autobiography. Today, I am reviewing book one. Lewis gives us an incredible behind-the-scenes glimpse of the civil rights movement. This one also has a built-in framework: it is set in 2009, and he's reflecting on his life before attending the Inauguration.

My thoughts: Dare I say this one is a must read? I'm tempted, really tempted. (And if you follow me on the blog and know my tastes inside and out, then you know that I don't usually read graphic novels.)

What I like best about this one is that it is engaging, compelling, emotional, personal, and above all else cohesive. It gives you a truer sense of the 'big picture' of the civil rights movement than any other book I've read--that I can remember at least. (When you read 400+ books a year, I'll be the first to admit that you don't necessarily recall most of them with much detail.)

I also love the amount of detail. (For example, that he used to preach to his chickens!)

I've read the first two books now and I'm excited to begin the third.


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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28. Raymie Nightingale

Raymie Nightingale. Kate DiCamillo. 2016. Candlewick. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: There were three of them, three girls. They were standing side by side. They were standing at attention.

Premise/plot: Set in 1975, in Florida, Raymie Nightingale is middle grade novel about everything and nothing all at the same time.

Three girls--Raymie Clarke, Beverly Tapinski, Louisiana Elefante--become the Three Rancheros one summer. Technically, these three are brought together by a couple of 'obvious' things: they are all in a baton-twirling class, they all will be competing in a Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition. One of the questions on the application asks each girl to LIST their good deeds on a separate piece of paper. But the obvious reasons these three belong together aren't the 'real' reasons. Each girl knows something of loss, of longing, of regret, of 'the real world.'

Raymie's quest to do a good deed so she can write it down leads to the start of a not-so-wonderful, wonderful summer. Her good deed--to read to the elderly about FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE--goes horribly wrong. One patient REFUSES to listen, and her spur-of-the-moment good deed to answer the lonely cries of another patient causes her to DROP HER BOOK--HER LIBRARY BOOK--IN A PANICKED DASH.

Raymie seeks help from Louisiana and Beverly....and in return, she pledges to help them.

My thoughts: LOVED THIS ONE. I'm not sure it's BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE all kinds of magical. But that is because I loved, loved, loved, LOVED that one so very much. It's a GREAT book though. And I really enjoyed all three girls. I really found myself loving Louisiana and her grandmother most of all. I'm not sure why. I just do. Maybe it was Louisiana's duck barrettes? Maybe it was her hope? I don't know. But I love her fiercely. I think I love all three girls actually.

I was confused for the first few chapters, but, eventually everything clicked into place and it was LOVE.

I wouldn't mind a movie adaptation.


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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29. Movie Month, day 6

So Kailana (The Written Word) and I really LOVED participating in Jenni Elyse's 30 Days of Books.

Today's question: A movie you'd like to be able to see again as if for 'the very first time'...

There is just something wonderfully magical about The Princess Bride.

Beauty and the Beast would be a good choice as well. 


I'd love to know your answer to this question!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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30. Ten Favorite Musical Moments

I saw this at You, Me, and A Cup of Tea. I'm choosing ten favorite songs from musicals. Sometimes my favorite moments from musicals are songs, but, not always.

1) The Impossible Dream. Man of La Mancha. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this song.

2) I Could Have Danced All Night. My Fair Lady. Mom and I agree that this is the best song from a musical EVER. If one of us starts singing it, chances are we'll both be singing it until another song pops into our head!

3) Shall We Dance. King and I. Typically, the KING AND I makes me cry. When I saw the King and I live, I even started crying BEFORE the show started when they were playing the overture. That's how closely the music and memory are connected--at least with me! But this one song from King and I does not make me cry. It makes me GIDDY. I could easily watch this one scene twenty times in a row without even trying.

4) Some Enchanted Evening. South Pacific. This is one of the best love songs from a musical.

5) On My Own by Les Miserables. The music from this musical is hit or miss with me. This is my FAVORITE from the musical. I love it with the vocals or without.

6) The Lonely Goatherd vs. Edelweiss vs. Do Re Mi. Honestly, how could I ever choose one favorite song from the Sound of Music. My favorite scenes, however, are when Maria and the Captain are dancing the Laendler and when she's explaining why she came back and he's confessing he loves her!

7) The Black Hills of Dakata. Calamity Jane. Probably one of my first favorite songs from a musical. Mom and I also love to sing this one! She may have grown intolerant of the whole movie after me watching it 90 days in a row, but, there are two or three scenes she continued to love.

8) Wells Fargo Wagon vs. Marian the Librarian vs. Shipoopi. Music Man. I love practically every song in this musical perhaps with the exception of Sadder but Wiser Girl for Me. This is without a doubt my favorite, favorite musical over all. Shipoopi is a song that I love, love, love the tune but don't really regard the words at all. I make up new words to this tune all the time. It's one of my stand-by tunes.

9) June Bride and Spring, Spring, Spring from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I love this musical! I really love the Barn Dance and Barn Raising number too.

10) I love, love, love the Elephant Love Medley and Come What May numbers from Moulin Rouge. Give me a singing Ewan McGregor any day!!!


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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31. Movie Month: Day 5

So Kailana (The Written Word) and I really LOVED participating in Jenni Elyse's 30 Days of Books. We thought it would be fun to do a movie-theme list of questions!

Today's question: What are three movies that you consider must-see?

I have no one but myself to blame for this question. I'm going to go with three choices.

To Kill A Mockingbird

Much Ado About Nothing

Lilies of the Field

I actually thought of about ten more movies that I'd rate 'must-see.' But that would be pushing it!!!

I'd love to know how you'd answer this question!!!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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32. Because of Thursday

Because of Thursday. Patricia Polacco. 2016. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Thursdays had always been lucky for Annie Fetlock. She was born on a Thursday. She won her first cooking contest at the age of eight on a Thursday. She met the love of her life, Mario, on a Thursday. They were married on a bright Thursday afternoon, and their two children were each born on a Thursday. One in June and the other in July. It was actually on a Thursday that Annie and Mario opened their diner together. And it was on a Thursday that Annie made her signature creation. A splendid pasta salad.

Premise/plot: I'm tempted to say there are two kinds of people in the world: those who love Patricia Polacco, and those who don't. If you've read Polacco, chances are, you'll know exactly what I mean. Her picture books tend to be for older readers, have a LOT of text, and tell wonderful, heartfelt, emotionally compelling STORIES. Not every Polacco is a tear-jerker. But. More often than not, she gives readers stories and characters worth thinking about. She doesn't go for the quick laugh or the word pun.

Annie Fetlock is the heroine of Because of Thursday. The first two or three pages fly readers through the first sixty or so years of her life. And then, the story begins...

My thoughts: If you love cats, I think you HAVE to read this one. While the title could be "Because of Thursday" for a couple of reasons, I'm going to go with the CAT. I really love how Thursday (the cat) really, truly brought joy into her life again and changed all her luck, if you will.

Who else should read this one? If you love COOKING or EATING or watching the Food Network.

Note to everyone: DON'T FORGET THIS ONE FOR THE 2017 CYBILS.

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


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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33. Movie Month, Day 4

So Kailana (The Written Word) and I really LOVED participating in Jenni Elyse's 30 Days of Books.

Today's question: What is your favorite movie--outside your comfort zone--that you ended up loving?

I'm going to go with the Dark Knight Trilogy directed by Christopher Nolan! If you'd asked me if I liked action movies or super-hero movies or comic book movies or whatever...before watching...I'd have laughed. I had a zero-tolerance for all things action, really, perhaps with a Will Smith exception clause! But. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this trilogy! The third movie is my favorite and best. And the ending is one of my FAVORITES. 

I'd love to hear your answer to this question!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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34. The Seventh Wish

The Seventh Wish. Kate Messner. 2016. Bloomsbury. 228 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: I've only seen the ice flowers once.

Premise/plot: Some books are near-impossible to summarize concisely...and do the book justice. This is such a book. I want to just say READ IT. But I won't. That really won't help you make up your mind now, or refresh my memory later. Charlie, the heroine, learns a little about wishes and a lot about life in this middle grade fantasy. Why is it fantasy and not realistic fiction? A talking fish that grants Charlie wishes.

My thoughts: I LOVED this one so much. Why? Perhaps in large part because of the narrator, Charlie. I truly connected with her--despite our differences--and wanted to spend time with her. I just adored her as a character. And because I adored her, I didn't mind a bit reading about Irish dancing (she made it sound super fun!) and ice-fishing (not convinced this is super fun but still not enough of a deterrent to keep me from loving it). I really felt this one was well-layered and peopled with flesh-and-blood characters.

This one was wonderfully balanced between light and dark. On the one hand, we've got Charlie and her friends and their "problems." (A friend whose father is pressuring him to play sports when that is the absolute last thing he wants to do, for example. Charlie's own "troubles" about wanting to earn money so she can buy a dancing dress for competitions.) On the other hand, we've got grown-up problems as well. Charlie's sister experiments with drugs--with heroin--at college and life becomes MESSY very quickly.

The Seventh Wish doesn't read like your typical PROBLEM NOVEL. It doesn't feel weighed down with manipulative messages, themes, and morals. Part of me wishes that this one didn't have the fantasy elements--the fish that grants wishes. The other part realizes that maybe the fantasy elements give this one a just right balance so that it isn't heavy and serious and dramatic and IMPORTANT.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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35. Movie Month, Day 3

So Kailana (The Written Word) and I really LOVED participating in Jenni Elyse's 30 Days of Books.  We thought it would be fun to do a movie-theme list of questions! 

Today's question: What movie are you most anticipating in 2017?

Beauty and the Beast
Thor: Ragnarok
Dunkirk

You've probably heard of the first two on my list. Dunkirk is the new Christopher Nolan movie. Hans Zimmer soundtrack. World War II setting. Definitely must-see in my opinion!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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36. The Royal Nanny

The Royal Nanny. Karen Harper. 2016. 384 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Of course I'd been out on the for-hire steam launch on the Thames my father captained, but in the railway carriage, I felt like I was flying.

Premise/plot: Charlotte Bill is a young woman hired to be an under-nurse (nanny) for the royal family. The book opens in 1898, and when she first meets David and Bertie, they rename her Lala. The York family keeps growing, and growing up. Little ones don't stay little forever. And tutors and governesses take charge as they do grow up. But these are the 'children' that she cares for as the royal nanny: David, Bertie, Mary, Harry, George, and John. Johnnie, the youngest, is practically HERS from birth to death. Johnnie is the strong-willed, naughty child beset with epilepsy. The royal family wants to keep him as hidden away as possible, once the fact that he's "not normal" is apparent. (That is THEIR perspective.)

Most of the book focuses on Lala's relationship with the children, with her relationship with their parents and grandparents which gives readers a behind-the-scenes glimpse into the lives of the rich and famous. The 'action' essentially covers 1898-1918. There is a brief epilogue that has Lala meeting David in the late 1950s after he's abdicated the throne.

But readers also catch glimpses of her private life. I imagine here is where the most speculation is taken. (Charlotte Bill was a real person; she really was the royal nanny). Her romance is complicated at best. It adds a couple of more layers to the book.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. I find British history fascinating. Almost always have! And books about the royal family, draw me like few others. I would much prefer to read about this period of history than the 80th book about Henry VIII!!!


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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37. Movie Month, Day 2

So Kailana (The Written Word) and I really LOVED participating in Jenni Elyse's 30 Days of Books.  We thought it would be fun to do a movie-theme list of questions! Feel free to switch "favorite" to "least favorite" if that is more applicable to you!

Today's question: What was the last movie you saw that you really LOVED?

I'll answer with three again! Peanuts comes to mind. I was expecting to like it well enough. But I didn't expect to LOVE, LOVE, LOVE every single minute of this one. I have two dozen favorite scenes. Some of them involve Sally and her "sweet Baboo" Linus.

Eddie the Eagle is a great feel-good film!!! I wouldn't say I loved, loved, loved it. There was one scene in particular that made me squirm as far as content goes. But. Overall this is one that I LOVED.

Home is another animated movie. I had read the book it was 'loosely' based on--and even enjoyed it. I was extremely skeptical about the movie though. The trailers made it look HORRIBLE. Yet, this is a movie that I absolutely LOVE, LOVE, LOVE. One that I've seen a good half-dozen times in the past year. I especially love PIG, the cat.

I'd love to know how you'd answer this question!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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38. Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku

Won Ton. Lee Wardlaw. Illustrated by Eugene Yelchin. 2011. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Nice place they got here. Bed. Bowl. Blankie. Just like home! Or so I've been told.

Premise/plot: Won-Ton (not his *real* name) is a shelter cat who's been adopted by a young boy. The book tells--in verse--what happens next. If you love cats, then this one is a real treat. For example:
Your tummy, soft as/ warm dough. I kneed and kneed, then/ bake it with a nap.
or
I explained it loud/ and clear. What part of "meow"/ don't you understand?
or
Sorry about the/ squish in your shoe. Must've/ been something I ate.
My thoughts: I do love cats. (Even though I'm allergic.) And this picture book alternates being cute and funny. I definitely enjoyed it.

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




© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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39. Movie Month, Day 1

So Kailana (The Written Word) and I really LOVED participating in Jenni Elyse's 30 Days of Books.  We thought it would be fun to do a movie-theme list of questions! Feel free to switch "favorite" to "least favorite" if that is more applicable to you!


Today's question: What was the first movie you really remember loving?

I've got three. The Sound of Music. Robin Hood (Disney). And Calamity Jane. If you were to ask my Mom this question, she'd say CALAMITY JANE. I might have been a wee-bit obsessed with watching this one again-again-again.

Now the Sound of Music is a movie I've never outgrown, will never outgrow! Christopher Plummer was probably my first crush!

Robin Hood is one of my favorite movies. I love all the Roger Miller bits!

I'd love to hear your answer to this question!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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40. How to Be A Good Cat

How To Be A Good Cat. Gail Page. 2011. Bloomsbury. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Bobo was good. He liked to help. So when Mr. Hiccup asked Mrs. Birdhead if someone could look after his kitten, Bobo volunteered!

Premise/plot: Bonkers, the neighbor's kitten, IS very, very naughty. Bobo has quite a time trying to keep up with him. When Bobo stops treating him like a dog, and, instead seeks to learn ALL ABOUT CATS (from a cat), things improve. He learns how to sneak, how to chat, how to stretch, how to clean himself, how to climb...

My thoughts: I liked this one. Bonkers is quite adorable. A perfectly cute and sweet-looking gray and white kitten. Of course, readers learn that he's not quite as innocent as he appears. But it's fun to read about these two.

Do I love the illustrations? I can't say that I do. Oh, I definitely loved Bonkers, and how he's illustrated. Some quite expressive illustrations!!! But there is something about how Bobo is drawn--he's almost always, always on two legs instead of four. He doesn't look like a dog. He looks like a human in a dog costume. And that, for some reason, bothers me. Also, the cat who teaches Bobo how to act like a cat walks on two legs. And it's just unnatural looking.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 2 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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41. October Reflections

Stand-Out Books in October 2016
  1. I Am A Story. Dan Yaccarino. 2016. HarperCollins. 40 pages. [Source: Library
  2. Duck, Duck, Porcupine! Salina Yoon. 2016. Bloomsbury. 64 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. Full of Beans. Jennifer L. Holm. 2016. Random House. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. The Beautiful Pretender. Melanie Dickerson. 2016. Thomas Nelson. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  5. Board Book: Cityblock. Christopher Franceschelli. 2016. Harry N. Abrams. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  6. Ernie Pyle in England. Ernie Pyle. 1941. 215 pages. [Source: Bought]
5 Places "Visited" in October 2016

1) London
2) Florida
3) Prince Edward Island
4) Kiev
5) Medieval Germany

Board books and picture books:
  1. I Am A Story. Dan Yaccarino. 2016. HarperCollins. 40 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. Eat, Sleep, Poop. Alexandra Penfold. Illustrated by Jane Massey. 2016. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. Board Book: Cityblock. Christopher Franceschelli. 2016. Harry N. Abrams. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. Board Book: Mustache Baby. Bridget Heos. 2016. HMH. 36 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. Mustache Baby Meets His Match. Bridget Heos. 2015. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  6. Peppa Pig and the Little Train. 2016. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  7. Trains: A Pop-Up Railroad. Robert Crowther. 2016. Candlewick Press. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  8. Board Book: Hooray for Hat. Brian Won. 2016. HMH. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  9. Hooray for Today! Brian Won. 2016. HMH. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  10. What's An Apple? Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Greg Pizzoli. 2016. Abrams. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  11. What's A Banana? Marilyn Singer. Illustrated by Greg Pizzoli. 2016. Abrams. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  12. Board Book: You Are My Pumpkin. Joyce Wan. 2016. Scholastic. 14 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Early readers and early chapter books:
  1. Duck, Duck, Porcupine! Salina Yoon. 2016. Bloomsbury. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

Contemporary (general, realistic) fiction, all ages:
  1. Another Day as Emily. Eileen Spinelli. 2014. Random House. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. Home Sweet Motel (Welcome to Wonderland #1). Chris Granbenstein. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, etc.) all ages:
  1. The Singing Bones. Shaun Tan. 2016. 208 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. The Dark Talent (Alcatraz #5) Brandon Sanderson. 2016. 304 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. The Last One. Alexandra Oliva. 2016. 304 pages. [Source: Library]
Historical fiction, all ages:
  1. You Can Fly. Carole Boston Weatherford. 2016. 96 pages. [Source: Library] [MG/YA Poetry]
  2.   Turtle in Paradise. Jennifer L. Holm. 2010. Random House. 177 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. Full of Beans. Jennifer L. Holm. 2016. Random House. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  4. To Stay Alive. Skila Brown. 2016. Candlewick. 304 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. Savaged Lands. Lana Kortchik. 2016. 292 pages. [Source: Bought] [YA Romance]
  6. The Secrets of Wishtide. Kate Saunders. 2016. Bloomsbury. 352 pages. [Source: Library] [Adult mystery; series book] 
  7. Weighed in the Balance. Anne Perry. 1996. 373 pages. [Source: Library]
  8. The Silent Cry. Anne Perry. 1998. 368 pages. [Source: Bought] [Adult mystery, series book] 
  9. Case of the Feathered Mask. Holly Webb. 2016. HMH. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy] [J/MG Historical Mystery]
  10. The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest. Melanie Dickerson. 2015. Thomas Nelson. 306 pages. [Source: Library] 
  11. The Beautiful Pretender. Melanie Dickerson. 2016. Thomas Nelson. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
Mysteries, all ages:
  1. The Secrets of Wishtide. Kate Saunders. 2016. Bloomsbury. 352 pages. [Source: Library][Historical mystery series; adult] 
  2. Case of the Feathered Mask. Holly Webb. 2016. HMH. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy] [J/MG Historical Mystery]
  3. Weighed in the Balance. Anne Perry. 1996. 373 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. The Silent Cry. Anne Perry. 1998. 368 pages. [Source: Bought] [Historical mystery series; adult] 
  5. Mystery in White. J. Jefferson Farjeon. 1937/2014. 211 pages. [Source: Review copy] 

Classics, all ages:
  1. Anne of Windy Poplars. L.M. Montgomery. 1936. 288 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. Anne's House of Dreams. L.M. Montgomery. 1919. 227 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. Robert Louis Stevenson. 1886. 144 pages. [Source: Library]
Nonfiction, all ages:
  1. Ernie Pyle in England. Ernie Pyle. 1941. 215 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. The Singing Bones. Shaun Tan. 2016. 208 pages. [Source: Library] [Folk tales are generally classified in the nonfiction section according to Dewey, and, this is an art book as well]
  3. You Can Fly. Carole Boston Weatherford. 2016. 96 pages. [Source: Library] [MG/YA Poetry]
  4. Why'd They Wear That? Sarah Albee. 2015. National Geographic. 192 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. Fashion Rebels. Carlyn Cerniglia Beccia. 2016. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Christian fiction:
  1. The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest. Melanie Dickerson. 2015. Thomas Nelson. 306 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. The Beautiful Pretender. Melanie Dickerson. 2016. Thomas Nelson. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. The Devoted. Suzanne Woods Fisher. 2016. Revell. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. This Road We Traveled. Jane Kirkpatrick. 2016. Revell. 340 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. Flirtation Walk. Siri Mitchell. 2016. Bethany House. 384 pages. [Source: Library]
Christian nonfiction:  
  1. Why The Reformation Still Matters. Michael Reeves and Tim Chester. 2016. Crossway. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  2. Show Them Jesus: Teaching the Gospel to Kids. 2014. New Growth Press. 224 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
  3. Questioning Evangelism. Randy Newman. 2003. Kregel. 272 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. Full. Asheritah Ciuciu. 2017. Moody. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. Gleanings in Genesis. A.W. Pink. 1922. 420 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. Be Basic (Genesis 1-11) Warren W. Wiersbe. 2010. David C. Cook. 192 pages. [Source: Bought]
  7. None Like Him. Jen Wilkin. 2016. Crossway. 163 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  8. Remember and Return. John MacArthur. 2016. Baker Books. 208 pages. [Source: Free]
  9. Blessed: God's Gift of Love. Mary J. Moerbe and Christopher Mitchell. 2016. Concordia. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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42. The Silent Cry

The Silent Cry. Anne Perry. 1998. 368 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: John Evan stood shivering as the January wind whipped down the alley.

Premise/plot: The Silent Cry is the eighth book in the William Monk mystery series by Anne Perry. (Perry has two ongoing Victorian mystery series.) While some books in the series have been disturbing and violent, this one seems even more so. Think of it as historical Law and Order SVU.

My thoughts: What can I say about the crime(s)? Honestly, I hated that aspect of this one. I will just add that it's best you don't accidentally--or purposefully--sneak a peek at the ending. In the case of this book, if you do it will ruin the entire book for you (like it did for me) and you will spend the entire book SCREAMING at the characters. That is if you keep the book in hand at all. In fact, it took me months to pick this one back up. I had been obsessively reading through one or two of Perry's books a month. Until this one. And I found myself not wanting to go on. I wanted to start the next book in the series. Part of me, was, WHAT IF SOMETHING HAPPENS IN THIS BOOK TO MOVE THE HESTER/MONK STORY LINE FORWARD? WHAT IF SOMETHING IMPORTANT HAPPENS IN ONE OF THE KEY RELATIONSHIPS OF THE SERIES. Rathbone and Hester, Hester and Monk, Monk and Rathbone. What if Monk gets a few new memories back and I miss it? So I *made* myself push forward into uncomfortable territory.

I will say this. I think it probably would have been safe to skip this one after all. WITH the exception that we do get one or two lovely scenes between Hester and Rathbone!!!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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43. The Secrets of Wishtide

The Secrets of Wishtide. Kate Saunders. 2016. Bloomsbury. 352 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was a bright, windy October morning, and Mrs Bentley and I were down in the basement kitchen making a rabbit pudding.

Premise/plot: Laetitia Rodd is the heroine of Kate Saunders' newest book. Who should seek this one out? Those who love historical fiction, particularly those who enjoy books set in Victorian England. Those who love reading mysteries, particularly those who enjoy COZY mysteries. Mrs. Rodd is a widow who supplements her income by during detective work on the side, her brother helps "find" cases for her to solve. In this book, the first in a possible new series, she's hired by a very wealthy family to investigate the background of a woman, Mrs. Helen Orme. The son of her client has fallen madly, deeply in love with this woman. She'll be posing as the family's new governess....

My thoughts: I really loved this one. I'll be honest: I was in the PERFECT mood to read this one. I was craving a cozy mystery with a Victorian setting. I love historical fiction. I love mysteries. I love Charles Dickens. And the fact that the author was inspired by David Copperfield--and shares my love of Dickens--just made my day. Not every reader will have the background of loving David Copperfield. And I'm not sure you need that either.

This one might be best saved for a time when you're truly *needing* a good mystery to lose yourself in for a day or two.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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44. I Am A Story

I Am A Story. Dan Yaccarino. 2016. HarperCollins. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I am a story. I was told around a campfire, then painted on cave walls. I was carved onto clay tablets and told in pictures. I was written on papyrus and printed with ink and woodblocks, then woven into tapestries and copied into big books to illuminate minds.

Premise/plot: The story's autobiography. The concept of 'story' is personified and communicated in very simple, basic terms that readers of all ages can appreciate.

My thoughts: LOVED it. Loved, loved, loved, LOVED it. It's so simple yet so brilliant. Would recommend to anyone and everyone who loves stories and storytelling. It's not just for people who love books and libraries, but, for anyone who celebrates storytelling and communities.

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

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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45. The Dark Talent

The Dark Talent (Alcatraz #5) Brandon Sanderson. 2016. 304 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: So there I was, standing in my chambers on the day before the world ended, facing my greatest adversary to date. The royal wardrobe coordinator.

Premise/plot: The Dark Talent is the fifth book in the Alcatraz series by Brandon Sanderson. Alcatraz Smedry, the self-confessed coward, is the hero of this one. Alcatraz and his team (including his grandfather, Leavenworth, and his Uncle Kaz, not to mention his MOTHER,) are heading to the Hushlands, to the Highbrary (aka Library of Congress) for a final stand. Readers will finally come full circle: So there I was, tied to an altar made from outdated encyclopedias, about to get sacrificed to the dark powers by a cult of evil Librarians. But what makes for an amusing first sentence in the first book makes for a devastating scene in the fifth and final book.

My thoughts: I'm really torn with this one. I do not want to spoil the book in any way. But it's like pushing through the last chapters of Gone With the Wind after Bonnie's death. You don't want to leave it unfinished. You don't want to be a coward and have to put the book in the freezer. But you almost dread turning the pages because you know what's coming. Because, let's face it, you've either read the book a dozen times or seen the movie a dozen times. You know that FOG is coming closer and closer and closer. The question is not will Rhett leave Scarlett, but, will you--the reader--pull it together enough to be there with Scarlett when the end comes.

Last books in series carry a lot of weight. For better or worse. They can set in stone your thoughts about the series as a whole, about characters, even authors. (I have to admit that I lost my faith in Stephenie Meyer as a writer after reading Breaking Dawn.) I wouldn't go so far as to say I think less of the series after reading this book. That would be too melodramatic of a response. But I can easily say that this one is not my favorite of the five. There is a sadness in this one--almost cover to cover--that humor can't displace.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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46. Duck, Duck, Porcupine

Duck, Duck, Porcupine! Salina Yoon. 2016. Bloomsbury. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: This is the perfect day for a picnic, Porcupine!

Premise/plot: Duck, Duck, Porcupine is the first book in a new early reader series starring Big Duck, Little Duck, and Porcupine. There are three short adventures in this one. The first is "A Perfect Day for a Picnic." Little Duck is the first to notice that it will soon be RAINING. But will a little rain--or a lot of rain--spoil the day completely? It may not be a perfect day to EAT outside, but, it may be a perfect day to PLAY outside. The second is "I Think I Forgot Something." Big Duck is CLUELESS. Little Duck tries to help Big Duck remember what she forgot. (Holding up a present, holding up a birthday invite, bringing out a calendar, etc.) Will she remember in time that it is Porcupine's birthday?! The third is "The Campout." Little Duck may not be ready to WRITE out a list of what is needed on a camping trip. But make no mistake, Little Duck KNOWS that marshmallows are essential. (I have the idea that they'd not be item #100 on *his* list).

My thoughts: Loved this one. I definitely liked the characters. Characterization is brought about by little details. And this one has plenty both in the text and in the illustrations! Definitely worth reading more than once.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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47. Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde. Robert Louis Stevenson. 1886. 144 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Mr. Utterson, the lawyer, was a man of a rugged countenance, that was never lighted by a smile;

Premise/plot: What if the 'dark' inside you was fully released and realized?!

My thoughts: What an interesting book to read after reading John Owen's Overcoming Sin and Tempation! Dr. Jekyll has a secret 'dark' side that he struggles to keep concealed. Only a few come to learn his BIG, BIG secret: he has found a way of satisfying his dark side in the personality of MR. HYDE. But the more he gives into temptation and becomes Mr. Hyde, letting Mr. Hyde loose in the city and country, the harder the struggle is to return to being Dr. Jekyll. There is a battle going on over his body--if you will--but it isn't a battle of good versus evil, just slightly evil with totally evil.

This is a very short read that is easy to recommend.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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48. Announcing Movie Month (November)

So Kailana (The Written Word) and I really LOVED participating in Jenni Elyse's 30 Days of Books.  We thought it would be fun to do a movie-theme list of questions! Feel free to switch "favorite" to "least favorite" if that is more applicable to you!

  1. What was the first movie you really remember loving?
  2. What was the last movie you saw that you really LOVED?
  3. What movie are you most anticipating in 2017?
  4. What is your favorite movie--outside your comfort zone--that you ended up loving?
  5. What are three movies that you consider must-see?
  6. A movie you'd like to be able to see again as if for 'the very first time'...
  7. If you could live in any movie-world it would be...
  8. Favorite opening sequence or opening credits....
  9. Favorite "hidden" sequence after the credits... 
  10. A movie ending you LOVE...
  11. A movie ending you HATE...
  12. If you could change one thing about any movie, it would be....
  13. A movie that makes you think about the world differently....
  14. A movie that you can't stop quoting....
  15. A movie that disappointed you...
  16. A soundtrack that you love more than the actual movie...
  17. What is your favorite genre? What is your favorite movie in your favorite genre?
  18. What is your favorite movie series?
  19. What is your favorite stand-alone movie?
  20. What is your favorite action and/or thriller movie?
  21. What is your favorite animated movie?
  22. What is your favorite comedy or romantic comedy?
  23. What is your favorite drama? 
  24. What is your favorite holiday film?
  25. What is your favorite musical?
  26. What is your favorite period drama?
  27. What is your favorite science fiction or fantasy film? 
  28. Your top three movie characters...
  29. What is your favorite movie released from BEFORE you were born?
  30. Who is your favorite composer? What is your favorite soundtrack?


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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49. You Can Fly

You Can Fly. Carole Boston Weatherford. 2016. 96 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: No matter that there are only 130/ licensed black pilots in the whole nation. Your goal of being a pilot cannot be grounded/ by top brass claiming blacks are not fit to fly./ Your vision of planes cannot be/ blocked by clouds of doubt./ The engine of your ambition will not brake/ for walls of injustice--no matter how high.

Premise/plot: You Can Fly is a collection of poems--all written in second person, to you--about the Tuskegee Airmen. Readers can potentially learn a lot about flying and airplanes, the second world war, and race relations in the 1940s.

The perspective is unusual. But it oddly works for me.
You are in Class 42-C under all white command./ Your first lesson: to "Yes, sir!"/ and "Sir, no sir!" your officers.
The poems are still able to communicate a lot of details: names, places, dates, statistics, etc. Yet the poems are not dry and boring.
You love Hershey's bars,/ but letters from home are sweeter./ Hearing your name during mail call/ is like being lifted by a prayer.
My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. I spent several years editing interviews for the Women Airforce Service Pilots. So while there are definite differences--big differences--between the two groups, it did give me an understanding or appreciation for training and flying at that time. My love of World War II is what led me to this one, not specifically the poetry. But the poetry is lovely I have to say!

It is a short, compelling read. It made me wish that MORE history subjects were covered through poetry. (Though not just any poetry would do, I suppose!)

I love the fact that it is just eighty pages. I do. In school, when I was on the younger side, when assigned to read a "nonfiction" book to give a report, I always looked for the SHORTEST book no matter the subject.


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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50. The Singing Bones

The Singing Bones. Shaun Tan. 2016. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: There are stories, honed by the retelling, simplified by the people who recorded them and transmitted them, old stories, with the edges rubbed off them, like the pebbles on a beach, each story the perfect size and heft to send skimming over the water, or to use to strike an enemy. Folktalkes are like jokes: If they had a beginning, it is lost to us.

Premise/plot: The Singing Bones is a collection of photographs and one-page 'retellings' of Grimm fairy tales or folk tales. The photographs are of sculptures made by Shaun Tan. Gaiman, who wrote the introduction, probably says it better than I ever could: "They [the sculptures] feel primal, as if they were made in a long-ago age of the world, when the stories were first being shaped, and that perhaps the sculptures came first."

There are dozens of photographs. They do take center stage in this book. The words being almost like a brief but necessary interruption. The text does not summarize the fairy tale. The text is definitely on the literary side. The reader has to work to make connections and "see" the bigger story that both photograph and text tell.

My thoughts: I didn't actually love this one personally. But. Just because I don't love, love, love something doesn't mean that I don't recognize ART when I see it. This is a weighty 'literary' book that is definitely interesting and quirky. I think those who love it will really LOVE it.

This quote by Neil Gaiman was fabulous:
People need stories. It's one of the things that make us who we are. We crave stories, because they make us more than ourselves, they give us escape and they give us knowledge. They entertain
us and they change us, as they have changed and entertained us for thousands of years.
© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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