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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. The BFG

The BFG. Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. 1982. 199 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Sophie couldn't sleep.

Premise/plot: Sophie, an orphan, is "kidnapped" one night by a giant--a Big Friendly Giant. He's not interested in eating her, though there are nine other giants who love, love, love to munch and crunch on human beans. He has taken her with him because she has seen him, and he doesn't want any human beans to know that giants are real. He disapproves of the other giants, but, wants the existence of giants to be kept secret. Will Sophie help him see things differently?

My thoughts: I really, really enjoyed this one. I also liked the dream gathering and dream giving aspect of this one. The BFG was just so much fun to spend time with. I can see how mood might play a big role in this one. If you're not in the right mood to enjoy the silly craziness, then the giant's horrible grammar might be much too much for you to tolerate. It does have a lot of made up words in it. Personally, it worked for me!

Here's a quote: "Here is the repulsant snozzcumber!" cried the BFG, waving it about. "I squoggle it! I mispise it! I dispunge it! But because I is refusing to gobble up human beans like the other giants, I must spend my life guzzling up icky-poo snozzcumbers instead. If I don't, I will be nothing but skin and groans." (45)

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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27. Library Loot: "2nd" Trip in June

New Loot:
  • Zoe's Tale by John Scalzi
  • Showtime: A History of the Broadway Musical Theater by Larry Stempel
  • Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell
  • War of Two by John Sedgwick
  • Washington by Ron Chernow
  • Worst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and the True Story of An American Feud by Suzanne Tripp Jurmain
  • Adopted Son: Washington, Lfayette, and the Friendship that Saved the Revolution by David A. Clary
  • Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History by Don Brown
  • Words with Wings by Nikki Grimes
  • Duel with the Devil: The True Story of How Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr Teamed Up To Take On America's First Sensational Murder Mystery by Paul Collins
  • Duel by Thomas Fleming
  • The Girl in the Picture by Denise Chong
  • The Lady of Misrule by Suzannah Dunn
Leftover Loot:
  • Old Man's War by John Scalzi
  • The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
  • The Last Colony by John Scalzi
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy 
  • Proof by Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones  
  • The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
  • Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
  • Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban
  • The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
   Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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28. April and May Tag Questions for Period Drama

Old Fashioned Charm
Period Drama Challenge

April & May Tag Questions: 
(Answer here in the comments or on your blog)
1. What period dramas did you view in April & May?
2. Do you prefer to watch period dramas that have a happy ending or a bittersweet ending?
3. What media forms do you prefer to use when watching period dramas (i.e. purchased DVDs, rented/borrowed DVDs, Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu)?
4. Which period drama character's wardrobe would you like to own?
5. What period dramas are you looking forward to viewing in June 2016?

What I Watched in April
11) Doctor Zhivago
12) Lark Rise to Candleford, series 2
13) Lark Rise to Candleford, series 3
14) Ever After
15) Much Ado About Nothing
16) Young Victoria

What I Watched in May
17) Amazing Grace
18) Lawrence of Arabia
19) Schindler's List
20) Victoria and Albert
21) Lark Rise to Candleford, series 4
22) Nicholas Nickleby
23) Bleak House

2. It completely depends on what it is. If it's a work of fiction, I like happy or at least optimistic endings. If it is based on a true story or a real person, I like it to stay faithful and true to events as they happened.

3. I would love it if Netflix had more period dramas! They do have a few, and, I'm not complaining. I still need to catch up on seasons of Foyle's War. Mostly I rely on my own collection AND on my public library. I've got an interlibrary loan title coming in that I hope to get to before the challenge ends.

4. Too hard! I love the costumes in Young Victoria though.

5. I'll be reviewing Testament of Youth. And hope to get to a more faithful adaptation of Nicholas Nickleby. I am also contemplating hosting a challenge of my own for July through December focused on musicals. Would anyone be interested?!?!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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29. Ten Reasons I Love My Library

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish
This week's topic is "Ten Reasons I Love X -- could be a certain book, character, author, your indie bookstore, a fandom, a tv show, reading, a hobby, a genre. Honestly anything you want to gush about."

10. Running into relatives who also love to read.
9. Self checkouts....when they work. And also printed receipts are great. Instant bookmark.
8. The convenience of placing things on hold and having a holdshelf near the checkout.
7. The fact that the three branches of my library each have (different) nights of staying open late. 9PM close times are great!
6. I love being able to browse. I love happy accidents. Something catches my attention. A cover. A Title. An Author. A book spine. 
5. Weekly postings of newly ordered and newly received items.
4. Purchase request forms and interlibrary loans!
3. "Free" books, movies, CDs, audiobooks. (Free in theory, but, not for all. I live in a county that charges $50 a year. But it's ultimately worth it.)
2. The ability to TAKE RISKS with new authors and genres.
1. My library fuels my obsessions.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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30. My Thoughts on Two Winston Churchill Movies

The Gathering Storm (2002)
Stars Albert Finney as Winston Churchill, Vanessa Redgrave as Clementine (his wife), Jim Broadbent as Desmond Morton, Linus Roache as Ralph Wigram. It also stars Hugh Bonneville, Derek Jacobi, and Tom Hiddleston.

The Gathering Storm is set in the 1930s. Winston Churchill is viewed by his contemporaries as past his prime, irrelevant, out of fashion, a bore. But Churchill sees danger coming. He fears Nazi Germany; he fears that his country is ignoring plain evidence that Germany is preparing for war. He wants to wake his country up. But what he needs are facts, facts, more facts. He needs proof of what Germany is doing. He needs a fact smuggler, someone from within the government who will share information with him. His speeches become more informed, weightier. He is now being heard. He may not be any more popular than before. But he can't be ignored or dismissed. The movie ends with Britain at war and Churchill appointed First Lord of the Admiralty.

Ralph Wigram's character is essential in the movie. He is the government worker (Foreign Office) who smuggles documents to Winston Churchill. He shared Churchill's concerns about Adolf Hitler. In fact, he may have been even more anxious and frightened. I think one of the saddest things about the movie is his end. The movie certainly hints that he committed suicide because he was so depressed and anxious about the coming war.

Viewers also see Wigram as a husband and father. His scenes with his child are particularly touching.

Is the movie accurate to history? I'm not qualified to answer that. But I think things may have been compressed quite a bit! For example, I don't remember that many minutes passing between the funeral scene for Wigram and Churchill's appointment as the First Lord of the Admiral. But according to wikipedia, Wigram died in December 1936, and Churchill was appointed in September 1939.

In addition, I think the film simplifies the politics a LOT.

Would I recommend this one? Yes and no. I'll start with the no. It has some nudity. Mainly Churchill in the bathroom. I don't think viewers ever need to see anyone--even from the back--going to the bathroom. There's also some tub scenes. But these scenes are mostly negligible in comparison to the profanity. If you're sensitive to what your eyes see and your ears hear--as the song goes--then the strong language in this one may prove too unsettling.

Now for the yes. I think this one is well-paced and has great tension and drama. Both Clementine and Winston come across as very, very, very human and quite fallible.

Into the Storm (2009) 
Stars Brendan Gleeson as Winston Churchill, Janet McTeer as Clemintine, Ian Glen as King George VI, Len Cariou as Franklin Roosevelt, Jack Shepherd as Neville Chamberlain.

This 'sequel' to The Gathering Storm suffers a bit. I think the main weakness, as I see it, is that the narrative is nonlinear. It jumps back and forth in time A LOT. Viewers first see the Churchill family on vacation AFTER the war in Europe is over. Election results have yet to be announced, and, Churchill is super-super-super cranky. Viewers have to look for visual clues to know if any given scene is "past" (any time during the war, dates are almost always on the fuzzy end) or "present" (July 1945).

So before viewers even see him become prime minister, viewers see him worry about losing the position as prime minister. I'd be curious as to why they chose this narrative format to tell the story of the war. It doesn't really add any tension or drama to the film. And, if anything, adds confusion and keeps the pace from ever getting started.

The movie surprisingly lacks intensity and drama. One would think that the story would be even more compelling than the first one. But that is so far from the truth! Churchill delivers great speeches, it is true. But most of the movie is either him dictating speeches to secretaries, editing his speeches, delivering his speeches, or in conference with others (leaders, politicians, diplomats, etc.).

My favorite scenes were those between Churchill and King George VI. 

The movie also has a lot of profanity.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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31. Big Book Summer Challenge

Big Book Summer Challenge
Host: Sue of Book by Book (sign up)
Dates: May 27-September 5
# of books: My goal is 3

What I've Read:
Return of the King. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1955. 590 pages. [Source: Bought]

What I'm Planning on Reading:

War of Two: Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, and the Duel that Stunned the Nation by John Sedgwick
Showtime A History of the Broadway Musical Theater by Larry Stempel 
Alexander Hamilton by Ron Chernow (I've got it on hold, I hope it comes in relatively soon so I can read it in time)

What I May Reread:

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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32. Best In Children's Books, Volume 6

Best In Children's Books. Volume 6. 1958. Nelson Doubleday. 160 pages. [Source: Bought]

Let's go vintage! This title is the sixth volume in a long series of books called Best in Children's Books. It was published in 1958 by Nelson Doubleday. It blends fiction and nonfiction, prose and poetry. It has many contributing authors and illustrators.

The Story of Early America by Donald Culross Peattie, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard. This is an excerpt from A Child's Story of the World (1937). Honestly, I think I enjoyed the illustrations more than the text. Readers should know two things 1) These two chapters do not hold up to the test of time. They didn't age gracefully, in other words. 2) They contain passages with the potential to offend in varying degrees.

When Columbus landed, some naked red men on the shore ran away. After a while their childish curiosity got the better of them, and they came stealing out to meet the newcomers. (10)
He saw that these people were much more simple-minded than criminals from the jails of Spain. (11)
They were so evidently savages, and not the rich, civilized people that he expected to meet in India. So he called these men Indians, and so they have been called ever since, though of course our redskins have nothing to do with the real people of India. (11)
So the Spanish, Portuguese, and English sent ships to Africa to capture the jungle Negroes. They were thrown into boats and brought to America. The Negroes had powerful bodies. They did not mind the intense heat. They were afraid of the white men, and knew that they could never escape back across the sea. So they bent their backs to the hard labor and tried to be cheerful. They made good slaves. (23)
In the northern states slavery soon died out. One reason for this was that, in the North, factories and not farming were the important way of making money. Intelligent men were needed to work in factories. The Negroes, fresh from jungle life, were not ready for such work. But in the South, where tobacco, cotton, and rice were rich crops which all the world was clamoring to buy, the Negro slave could work better than the free white man. He did not have to use his head, but only his muscles. (31-2)
The Very Little Girl (1953) is by Phyllis Krasilovsky and illustrated by Ninon. This is a charming, delightful, very unoffensive little piece about a little girl who slowly but surely finds herself growing up.

The Elephant's Child (1900) by Rudyard Kipling. Illustrated by Henry C. Pitz. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this one. This is probably one of the main reasons I bought this book. In this story, readers learn about how the elephant got his trunk. A lot of spanking is involved! And the Elephant's Child isn't only the recipient of the spanking. This one makes a GREAT read aloud. While I would never, ever, ever read aloud The Story of Early America, I would share The Elephant's Child. Kipling has a way with words. "Great, grey-green, greasy Limpopo River." I enjoy the characters. Especially the elephant, the crocodile, and the snake.

Poems of the City (1924) by Rachel Field, illustrated by Harvey Weiss. A selection of eleven poems by Rachel Field. Poems include "Skyscrapers," "Good Green Bus," "The Pretzel Man," "The Ice-Cream Man," "The Stay-Ashores," "The Animal Store," "City Rain, "Pushcart Row," "Chestnut Stands," "Taxis," and "At the Bank." My favorite was "The Ice-Cream Man."

The next story is The Shoemaker and The Elves by Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm illustrated by Fritz Kredel. This is the traditional story. The illustrations are something. And it is an illustration from this story that is on the cover of this book.

A Child's World in ABC by Mary Warner Eaton, illustrated by Charlotte Steiner. This piece was written specifically for this book. I liked this one well enough. I liked the illustrations especially. But that doesn't mean it aged well.

Your Breakfast Egg is by Benjamin C. Gruenberg and Leone Adelson. Illustrated by Leonard Kessler. This was first published in 1954. It is an excerpt from YOUR BREAKFAST AND THE PEOPLE WHO MADE IT. Essentially it is a nonfiction piece celebrating "modern" and "scientific" advances in how chickens are kept, raised, etc. Celebrate the fact that your hens no longer have to go outside and find their own food to eat! Rejoice that now--day and night--they are kept inside cages and are fed with "all kinds of grains and other foods that are good for them." This chapter made me shudder. I had read about this in The Dorito Effect, of course, as one of the many illustrations of what is wrong with food. But this is a period-piece, if you will, showing how silly we can be.

Life in the Arctic and This is Italy are short nonfiction pieces with no given author. Both include a few photographs.

The Saddler's Horse by Margery Williams Bianco, illustrated by Grace Paull, is a short story about a saddler's horse and a cigar-store wooden Indian having a runaway adventure together.

Dick Whittington and His Cat is adapted from James Baldwin and illustrated by Peter Spier. I read a picture book by Marcia Brown (1950) last year and really enjoyed it. This story is nice, nothing unexpected, but nice.

Concluding Thoughts: The book is "flawed" in some ways in that a few of the pieces in this one reveal an America with a very different value system. But it's an opportunity to celebrate how far we've come in understanding one another as well. Some pieces sit "heavy" and others are just very light delights.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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33. Sing Along Saturdays (Beach Music)

Today's prompt: Beach Music
This meme is hosted by Bookish Things & More.

I was actually hoping to get a chance to share one of my favorite songs. I even had a draft of "favorite one-hit-wonders" in the works.
It wasn't until I published the post that I realized all of these songs are from before my parents were even married!
My number one choice: BEACH BABY by First Class

And a full-length version of Beach Baby! I had not realized the live version cut off MY FAVORITE PART.

And because it's hard not to think of others that qualify....

David Cassidy (Partridge Family) Some Kind of a Summer

Beach Boys' Don't Worry Baby!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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34. 30 Days of Books: Day 18

I saw this at The Written World--a blog I've been following for most of the time I've been blogging--and I thought I'd join in the fun. I believe the most recent recurrence of this is from Jenni Elyse's blog.

Today's prompt: A book that disappointed you

Shadow Scale by Rachel Hartman

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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35. Gidget

Gidget. Frederick Kohner. 1957. 154 pages. [Source: Bought]

I must admit I was disappointed by Frederick Kohner's Gidget. Here are some things you should know: 1) It was originally published in 1957. 2) It is to some degree based on a true teen girl named Kathy, nicknamed Gidget. 3) Fredrick Kohner, the author, based the book on his own daughter and on his own daughter's coming of age story. 4) It is set in Malibu in the mid 1950s. 5) The book became popular enough that a movie was made. 6) Presumably the movie and book were doing so well, it became a TV show. There was something sweet and verging on innocent about the first movie and about the TV show. Not so the book. It may make it more realistic in some people's opinion. 7) The book is written in first person.

The heroine, Franzie, a.k.a "Gidget," is fifteen years old and in love with the beach, the ocean, all things surf, including surfers--no matter their age. She considers herself all grown up, or, at the very least, mostly grown up. I personally prefer "clean" or even "squeaky clean" books in terms of language. This one has a lot of bad language, and, in particular a lot of taking the Lord's name in vain. I was NOT expecting Gidget to have the mouth that she does, because that is certainly not depicted in the movie or the TV show!!! Her days are devoted to the beach, to surfing, to hanging out with as many surfer guys as she can. She becomes particularly close to two. One being "the love of her life" Jeff (aka Moondoggie) and the other Cass (Big Kahuna). Perhaps because her first sex-dream is of Jeff, she becomes convinced that he is the one and that they are meant to be together forever and ever and of course she must share her dream with him and tell him how much he means to her!
There is great longing and much curiosity in Gidget. She's a boy-chaser. (Also she wants to smoke and drink and be one of the guys.) She doesn't want to be thought of as a fifteen year old girl who should be at home with her parents. Her thoughts are definitely becoming more and more focused on one thing. She's scared to death of it and longing for it at the same time. When Jeff begins to show some interest in her--physical interest--she's more than okay being the "other woman." Who cares if he's got a girlfriend?! He's hers for the summer. His girlfriend isn't here at the beach. His girlfriend doesn't even surf. Surely she's not worth any consideration! Jeff's lips are HER LIPS...at least until college starts back up in the fall.

One could easily say that nothing and everything happens in this one.

Nothing if you are looking at it in terms of events alone. It's a bit repetitive. Wake up. Go to beach. Follow Moondoggie around. Surf. Get sick for a week or maybe two. Get better. Go to beach. Have awkward conversations with brother-in-law and parents. Go to beach. Sneak out to all-night beach orgy. Go surfing. Make silly reflective statements about how mature you are now as compared to then.

Everything if you are looking at it in terms of capturing very angst-y, awkward, embarrassing moments that may be common enough to one and all but more cringe-worthy than anything else.

One thing that makes it creepy, for me, is that it is a father writing about his daughter. Even if it's fifty-fifty in its origins--half fictional, half based on true events/people--it's still a bit weird for me when I think about a father writing about his daughter's lust and curiosity. There are just some scenes in this one that are uncomfortable if you keep this in mind. Other scenes are just awkward. Like when Jeff tries to explain to Gidget that dreams are dreams are dreams and not actual reality or signs from the universe that you belong together.

Reading the book did make me appreciate the movie more. The changes made between the book and the movie were for the best, I think. The romance comes across better, cuter.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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36. 30 Days of Books: Day 17

I saw this at The Written World--a blog I've been following for most of the time I've been blogging--and I thought I'd join in the fun. I believe the most recent recurrence of this is from Jenni Elyse's blog.

Today's prompt: Favorite quote(s) from your favorite book(s)

"When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?" "What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?" "I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet. Pooh nodded thoughfully. "It's the same thing," he said. (The World of Pooh, A.A. Milne, 147-48)
Chompo Bars are nice to get.
Chompo Bars taste better yet
When they're someone else's. (A Birthday for Frances by Russell Hoban)
 Ramona had had enough. She had been miserable the whole first grade, and she no longer cared what happened. She wanted to do something bad. She wanted to do something terrible that would shock her whole family, something that would make them sit up and take notice. "I'm going to say a bad word!" she shouted with a stamp of her foot. That silenced her family. Picky-picky stopped washing and left the room. Mr. Quimby looked surprised and--how could he be so disloyal--a little amused. This made Ramona even angrier. Beezus looked interested and curious. After a moment Mrs. Quimby said quietly, "Go ahead, Ramona, and say the bad word if it will make you feel any better." Ramona clenched her fists and took a deep breath. "Guts!" she yelled. "Guts! Guts! Guts!" There. That would show them. Unfortunately, Ramona's family was not shocked and horrified as Ramona had expected. (Ramona the Brave, Beverly Cleary, 137-138) 
For quite a while, Francie had been spelling out letters, sounding them and then putting the sounds together to mean a word. But one day, she looked at a page and the word “mouse” had instantaneous meaning. She looked at the word, and the picture of a gray mouse scampered through her mind. She looked further and when she saw “horse,” she heard him pawing the ground and saw the sun glint on his glossy coat. The word “running” hit her suddenly and she breathed hard as though running herself. The barrier between the individual sound of each letter and the whole meaning of the word was removed and the printed word meant a thing at one quick glance. She read a few pages rapidly and almost became ill with excitement. She wanted to shout it out. She could read! She could read! From that time on, the world was hers for the reading. She would never be lonely again, never miss the lack of intimate friends. Books became her friends and there was one for every mood. There was poetry for quiet companionship. There was adventure when she tired of quiet hours. There would be love stories when she came into adolescence and when she wanted to feel a closeness to someone she could read a biography. On that day when she first knew she could read, she made a vow to read one book a day as long as she lived.  (A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith)
For Miss Dove had no moods. Miss Dove was a certainty. She would be today what she had been yesterday and would be tomorrow. And so, within limits, would they. Single file they would enter her room. Each child would pause on the threshold as its mother and father had paused, more than likely, and would say--just as the policeman had said--in distinct, formal accents: "Good morning, Miss Dove." And Miss Dove would look directly at each of them, fixing her eyes directly upon theirs, and replay: "Good morning, Jessamine," or "Margaret," or "Samuel." (Never "Sam," never "Peggy," never "Jess." She eschewed familiarity as she wished others to eschew it.) They would go to their appointed desks. Miss Dove would ascend to hers. The lesson would begin.
There was no need to waste time in preliminary admonitions. Miss Dove's rules were as fixed as the signs of the zodiac. And they were known. (Good Morning Miss Dove by Frances Gray Patton, 8-9)

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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37. Flowers for Algernon

Flowers for Algernon. Daniel Keyes. 1966. 311 pages. [Source: Library]

First, I have to say that I am definitely glad I made time to finally read this one! It has been on my to-be-read list for way too many years. And I don't regret the time I spent with Charlie Gordon.

The book is the journal of the main character, Charlie Gordon. The journal consists of his 'progress reports.' The novel opens with him about to become the subject of a scientific experiment. If it works, his IQ will improve dramatically, radically. His IQ is high enough now for him to function living on his own. (He does janitor work.) But his IQ isn't high enough for him to really learn how to read, write, remember. What he does have in abundance: a big, big, big heart, and an ambitious spirit dedicated to learning and becoming. He doesn't know what he's missing, but, he knows he's missing something. He has no real actual memories of who he was, of his family life, of his childhood. His low IQ isn't just "robbing" him of a bright future, but, of his past as well.

Even though I don't usually love first person narratives, in this case, it works really well. Charlies growth is documented in his progress reports. And readers should make the effort to read between the lines some. It isn't that Charlie is an unreliable narrator, just, that he isn't always completely self-aware. (Who is?!?!) Readers are given enough clues to decide for themselves what Charlie Gordon is like.

Will the experiment work? What are the side effects? Is Charlie being used or taken advantage of by the scientists? Did he make the right choice?

I can't decide what is the most heartbreaking about this bittersweet coming-of-age story. I think though that I'll go with the way Charlie was treated by his mother. Those scenes when Charlie remembers his childhood, his mother, his father, his sister, that is what is heartbreaking. The way his mother mistreated him, and Charlie's straight-forward, matter-of-fact remembering. The way it's done is not manipulative at all, in my opinion. But it's very emotional.


So yes this one is worth reading!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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38. 30 Days of Books: Day 16

I saw this at The Written World--a blog I've been following for most of the time I've been blogging--and I thought I'd join in the fun. I believe the most recent recurrence of this is from Jenni Elyse's blog.

Today's prompt: Favorite female character

Just one?!?! Either Ramona Quimby--if I go with a children's book--or Anne Elliot if I go with an adult book. Ramona Quimby was created by Beverly Cleary. She stars in many books! The interesting thing about that series is that the first appearance of Ramona was in the early-to-mid 1950s, her last appearance was the late 1990s! Anne Elliot is from Jane Austen's Persuasion.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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39. Return of the King

Return of the King. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1955. 590 pages. [Source: Bought]

Pippin looked out from the shelter of Gandalf’s cloak. He wondered if he was awake or still sleeping, still in the swift-moving dream in which he had been wrapped so long since the great ride began. The dark world was rushing by and the wind sang loudly in his ears. He could see nothing but the wheeling stars, and away to his right vast shadows against the sky where the mountains of the South marched past.  
And I have finished rereading the trilogy! In May I was able to read and review The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers. I wanted to finish Return of the King in May too, but, it didn't work out that way! 

So Return of the King consists of books five and six of Lord of the Rings. In book five, narrators shift from chapter to chapter to chapter. Essentially we spend time with everyone but Sam and Frodo. We spend time in Rohan and Gondor. Scarlett O'Hara would be nothing but bored, bored, bored for this one is all about WAR, WAR, WAR. If they're not actually IN battle, they're marching towards battle, planning battle tactics, or recovering from battle. Did I personally find it boring??? Far from it, it is INTENSE and heartbreaking in places. (For example, Theoden's end.) I would actually say almost all the action happens in book five.

Book six starts out as being all about Sam and Frodo, but, it doesn't stay their book. The climax to the trilogy comes early in book six. Soon the fellowship is reunited and readers get the full cast of characters they've become so attached to. Here we have two to three romances squeezed in. If I had any advice for new readers it would be this: don't expect the book to be as focused on ROMANCE and FEELINGS as the movies are. 

So does book six drag? Is the end of the war coming so early in the novel a weakness in the book? I'm going to say perhaps and NO. I love that the book shows what happens next. I love that the book focuses on soldiers going home, on trying to settle back into life after the war. I love that we see the effect of the war. I love that we don't get a polished, rushed happy ending. It would be so easy for a movie to end in a parade and award ceremony. (Think Star Wars!) But life isn't like that. It isn't always easy for soldiers to adjust back into life, into society. I love that we see the ongoing consequences of war. We see how war has changed everyone--not just the Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin--but everyone in the Shire.

Favorite quotes:
Well, no need to brood on what tomorrow may bring. For one thing, tomorrow will be certain to bring worse than today, for many days to come. And there is nothing more that I can do to help it. The board is set, and the pieces are moving. 
‘Nine o’clock we’d call it in the Shire,’ said Pippin aloud to himself. ‘Just the time for a nice breakfast by the open window in spring sunshine. And how I should like breakfast! Do these people ever have it, or is it over? And when do they have dinner, and where?’

‘I am no warrior at all and dislike any thought of battle; but waiting on the edge of one that I can’t escape is worst of all. What a long day it seems already! I should be happier, if we were not obliged to stand and watch, making no move, striking nowhere first.
‘So we come to it in the end,’ he said: ‘the great battle of our time, in which many things shall pass away. But at least there is no longer need for hiding. We will ride the straight way and the open road and with all our speed. The muster shall begin at once, and wait for none that tarry. Have you good store in Minas Tirith? For if we must ride now in all haste, then we must ride light, with but meal and water enough to last us into battle.
‘O Sam!’ cried Frodo. ‘What have I said? What have I done? Forgive me! After all you have done. It is the horrible power of the Ring. I wish it had never, never, been found. But don’t mind me, Sam. I must carry the burden to the end. It can’t be altered. You can’t come between me and this doom.’
‘So that was the job I felt I had to do when I started,’ thought Sam: ‘to help Mr. Frodo to the last step and then die with him? Well, if that is the job then I must do it. But I would dearly like to see Bywater again, and Rosie Cotton and her brothers, and the Gaffer and Marigold and all. I can’t think somehow that Gandalf would have sent Mr. Frodo on this errand, if there hadn’t a’ been any hope of his ever coming back at all. Things all went wrong when he went down in Moria. I wish he hadn’t. He would have done something.’ But even as hope died in Sam, or seemed to die, it was turned to a new strength. Sam’s plain hobbit-face grew stern, almost grim, as the will hardened in him, and he felt through all his limbs a thrill, as if he was turning into some creature of stone and steel that neither despair nor weariness nor endless barren miles could subdue.
Sam looked at him and wept in his heart, but no tears came to his dry and stinging eyes. ‘I said I’d carry him, if it broke my back,’ he muttered, ‘and I will!’ ‘Come, Mr. Frodo!’ he cried. ‘I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well. So up you get! Come on, Mr. Frodo dear! Sam will give you a ride. Just tell him where to go, and he’ll go.’ As Frodo clung upon his back, arms loosely about his neck, legs clasped firmly under his arms, Sam staggered to his feet; and then to his amazement he felt the burden light.
Then to the wonder of many Aragorn did not put the crown upon his head, but gave it back to Faramir, and said: ‘By the labour and valour of many I have come into my inheritance. In token of this I would have the Ring-bearer bring the crown to me, and let Mithrandir set it upon my head, if he will; for he has been the mover of all that has been accomplished, and this is his victory.’ Then Frodo came forward and took the crown from Faramir and bore it to Gandalf; and Aragorn knelt, and Gandalf set the White Crown upon his head, and said:
‘Now come the days of the King, and may they be blessed while the thrones of the Valar endure!’ But when Aragorn arose all that beheld him gazed in silence, for it seemed to them that he was revealed to them now for the first time. Tall as the sea-kings of old, he stood above all that were near; ancient of days he seemed and yet in the flower of manhood; and wisdom sat upon his brow, and strength and healing were in his hands, and a light was about him. And then Faramir cried: ‘Behold the King!’
‘Are you in pain, Frodo?’ said Gandalf quietly as he rode by Frodo’s side. ‘Well, yes I am,’ said Frodo. ‘It is my shoulder. The wound aches, and the memory of darkness is heavy on me. It was a year ago today.’ ‘Alas! there are some wounds that cannot be wholly cured,’ said Gandalf. ‘I fear it may be so with mine,’ said Frodo. ‘There is no real going back. Though I may come to the Shire, it will not seem the same; for I shall not be the same. I am wounded with knife, sting, and tooth, and a long burden. Where shall I find rest?’ Gandalf did not answer. 

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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40. Days With Frog and Toad

Days with Frog and Toad. An I Can Read Book. Arnold Lobel. 1979. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Library]
Toad woke up. "Drat!" he said. "This house is a mess. I have so much wok to do." Frog looked through the window. "Toad, you are right," said Frog. "It is a mess." Toad pulled the covers over his head. "I will do it tomorrow," said Toad. "Today I will take life easy." Frog came into the house. "Toad," said Frog, "your pants and jacket are lying on the floor." "Tomorrow," said Toad from under the covers. "Your kitchen sink is filled with dirty dishes," said Frog. "Tomorrow," said Toad. "There is dust on your chairs." "Tomorrow," said Toad. "Your windows need scrubbing," said Frog. "Your plants need watering." "Tomorrow!" cried Toad. "I will do it all tomorrow!" Toad sat on the edge of his bed. "Blah," said Toad. "I feel down in the dumps." "Why?" asked Frog. "I am thinking about tomorrow," said Toad. "I am thinking about all of the many things that I will have to do." "Yes," said Frog, "tomorrow will be a very hard day for you."
This Frog and Toad book contains five stories: "Tomorrow," "The Kite," "Shivers," "The Hat," and "Alone." I really, really enjoy three of these stories.

Tomorrow is probably my favorite in this collection. (And it's useful for inspiration.) I love Toad's drat's and blah's. Toad has a choice to make--to do the work of each day on that day, to take the work with the pleasure, OR to put off all the work so he can have all the pleasure. But there is always a day of reckoning. So perhaps, it's best that Toad learns this lesson quickly!

The Hat is a delightful story. Frog gives Toad a birthday present, a hat. But the hat is much too big for his friend. He feels awful about that. How can he fix the hat without his friend realizing it?!

Alone is another wonderful story! Toad discovers a note on his friend Frog's door. A note saying that Frog wants to be alone for a while! Toad worries and panics a bit! Why oh why oh why would Frog ever want time away from him?! Does this mean that Frog doesn't want to spend any time with him? Does it mean that Frog doesn't want him as a best friend anymore?!

The Kite is a story about diligence and perseverance. The two friends are having trouble getting their kite to fly. One friend wants to give up, wants to just admit that their kite is junk and that it will never, ever fly. The other wants to keep trying. It's a playful story. And Frog and Toad do shine in it!

Shivers is about the two friends telling a ghost story and getting delicious shivers.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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41. 30 Days of Books: Day 15

I saw this at The Written World--a blog I've been following for most of the time I've been blogging--and I thought I'd join in the fun. I believe the most recent recurrence of this is from Jenni Elyse's blog.

Today's prompt: Favorite male character

So tough! Probably Samwise Gamgee. As my close friends know, I love, love, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE him very much.

Here are a few of my favorite quotes:
‘Well, sir,’ said Sam dithering a little. ‘I heard a deal that I didn’t rightly understand, about an enemy, and rings, and Mr. Bilbo, sir, and dragons, and a fiery mountain, and – and Elves, sir. I listened because I couldn’t help myself, if you know what I mean. Lor bless me, sir, but I do love tales of that sort. And I believe them too, whatever Ted may say. Elves, sir! I would dearly love to see them. Couldn’t you take me to see Elves, sir, when you go?’ ~ Fellowship of the Ring
‘I don’t like anything here at all,’ said Frodo, ‘step or stone, breath or bone. Earth, air and water all seem accursed. But so our path is laid.’ ‘Yes, that’s so,’ said Sam. ‘And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on – and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same – like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into?’ ‘I wonder,’ said Frodo. ‘But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.’ ~ The Two Towers, J.R.R. Tolkien
Still, I wonder if we shall ever be put into songs or tales. We’re in one, of course; but I mean: put into words, you know, told by the fireside, or read out of a great big book with red and black letters, years and years afterwards. And people will say: “Let’s hear about Frodo and the Ring!” And they’ll say: “Yes, that’s one of my favourite stories. Frodo was very brave, wasn’t he, dad?” “Yes, my boy, the famousest of the hobbits, and that’s saying a lot.”’ ‘It’s saying a lot too much,’ said Frodo, and he laughed, a long clear laugh from his heart. Such a sound had not been heard in those places since Sauron came to Middle-earth. To Sam suddenly it seemed as if all the stones were listening and the tall rocks leaning over them. But Frodo did not heed them; he laughed again. ‘Why, Sam,’ he said, ‘to hear you somehow makes me as merry as if the story was already written. But you’ve left out one of the chief characters: Samwise the stouthearted. “I want to hear more about Sam, dad. Why didn’t they put in more of his talk, dad? That’s what I like, it makes me laugh. And Frodo wouldn’t have got far without Sam, would he, dad?”’ ‘Now, Mr. Frodo,’ said Sam, ‘you shouldn’t make fun. I was serious.’ ‘So was I,’ said Frodo, ‘and so I am. We’re going on a bit too fast. You and I, Sam, are still stuck in the worst places of the story, and it is all too likely that some will say at this point: “Shut the book now, dad; we don’t want to read any more.”’ ~ The Two Towers, J.R.R. Tolkien
© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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42. Frog and Toad All Year

Frog and Toad All Year. An I Can Read Book. Arnold Lobel. 1976. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

Frog knocked at Toad's door. "Toad, wake up," he cried. "Come out and see how wonderful the winter is!" "I will not," said Toad. "I am in my warm bed." "Winter is beautiful," said Frog. "Come out and have fun." "Blah," said Toad. "I do not have any winter clothes." Frog came into the house. "I have brought you some things to wear," he said. Frog pushed a coat down over the top of Toad. Frog pulled snowpants up over the bottom of Toad. He put a hat and scarf on Toad's head. "Help!" cried Toad. "My best friend is trying to kill me!" "I am only getting you ready for winter," said Frog.

I love Frog and Toad. I do. Do you?! Are you more like Toad or Frog?! This collection includes five stories--all season-themed stories--"Down the Hill," "The Corner," "Ice Cream," "The Surprise," and "Christmas Eve."

"Down the Hill," the winter-story of the collection, has Frog and Toad out in the snow. Sledding may be fun, Toad admits, but he can't help feeling that BED IS MUCH BETTER!

"The Corner," the spring-story of the collection, has Frog sharing words of wisdom from his father. Something about how spring is around the corner. This made the young Frog curious because which corner is spring around?! So he sets out to find it!

"Ice Cream," the summer-story of the collection, has Toad bringing his best friend some ice cream. But the trip back to Frog, back to the pond, doesn't go according to plan! And ice cream can be a bit messy and sticky. Will these two friends be able to enjoy some delicious ice cream?!

"The Surprise" the autumn-story of the collection, has Frog and Toad 'surprising' each other. Toad rushes to Frog's house to rake his leaves. Frog rushes to Toad's house to rake his leaves. But the wind may have the last laugh! Good thing these friends will never know!

"Christmas Eve" is a holiday story of course! Frog was supposed to come to Toad's house for a big dinner. But. Frog is late. Toad begins to worry and worry and worry. Where is his friend?! Where could he be?! Did something happen to him?! Does Frog need to be saved?! Frog arrives finally with present in hand. He was late because he was wrapping Toad's present. A peaceful Christmas is theirs at last.

I enjoyed this collection. While it isn't quite as magical as Frog and Toad Together, I would still recommend it!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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43. 30 Days of Books: Day 14

 I saw this at The Written World--a blog I've been following for most of the time I've been blogging--and I thought I'd join in the fun. I believe the most recent recurrence of this is from Jenni Elyse's blog.

Today's prompt: Favorite book of your favorite writer

Venetia. Georgette Heyer. 1958/2009. Harlequin. 368 pages. [Source: Gift]

This is my third review of Venetia. (I've read the book three times and listened to the audio book once. It was narrated by Richard Armitage.)

It is my FAVORITE Georgette Heyer novel. There are many I'd place in my top five, but, really no other book comes close to being consistently in the top slot.

Venetia is our heroine. I love her. I do. She is twenty-five and managing the estate in her older brother's absence. She is also looking out for her younger brother, Aubrey, who is just seventeen. There is something very practical and matter-of-fact about Venetia. For example, she's very honest about herself, about her family, about life as she sees it. She says things that maybe would shock others in society. She has never been "in society." She's lived an extremely sheltered life in some ways. But she'll be having a grand adventure soon enough!

Venetia is out for one of her daily walks when she is surprised by the....Wicked Baron....Lord Damerel himself. Their first meeting is interesting and dramatic...

The two meet when she is trespassing on his land. He has no idea who she is. But she has a fairly good idea who he is. Especially after he kisses her! Yes, he kisses her.
"Who are you?" he demanded abruptly. "I took you for a village maiden--probably one of my tenants."
"Did you indeed? Well, if that is the way you mean to conduct yourself amongst the village maidens you won't win much liking here!"
"No, no, the danger is that I might win too much!" he retorted. "Who are you? Or should I first present myself to you? I'm Damerel, you know."
"Yes, so I supposed, at the outset of our delightful acquaintance. Later, of course, I was sure of it."
"Oh, oh--! My reputation, Iago, my reputation!" he exclaimed laughing again. "Fair Fatality, you are the most unusual female I have encountered in all my thirty-eight years!"
"You can't think how deeply flattered I am!" she assured him. "I daresay my head would be quite turned if I didn't suspect that amongst so many a dozen or so may have slipped from your memory."
"More like a hundred! Am I never to learn your name? I shall, you know, whether you tell me or no!" (33)
He intends to know her better while he's in the neighborhood. When her brother, Aubrey, has a riding accident and is saved by none other than Damerel...well, she can't help getting to know him much, much better. And soon they become great friends.

Lord Damerel isn't the only newcomer to the neighborhood. Soon Venetia and Aubrey welcome TWO very unexpected house guests. Conway has gotten married--her name is Charlotte. And Charlotte and her mother have come to stay at Undershaw. And the mother is quite the character. How long can Venetia stand to share a home with such a woman? Venetia begins to think about her options...and wishing it was more socially acceptable for her to set up her own home.

I love this one so much. I love Venetia. I love Lord Damerel. I love Aubrey. I love picking on Edward Yardley and Oswald Denny. It's such a fun and satisfying romance!!! 

Startled, she turned her head, and found that she was being observed by a tall man mounted on a handsome gray horse. He was a stranger, but his voice and his habit proclaimed his condition, and it did not take her more than a few moments to guess that she must be confronting the Wicked Baron. She regarded him with candid interest, unconsciously affording him an excellent view of her enchanting countenance. His brows rose, and he swung himself out of the saddle, and came towards her with long, easy strides. She was unacquainted with any men of mode, but although he was dressed like any country gentleman a subtle difference hung about his buckskins and his coat of dandy gray russet. No provincial tailor had fashioned them, and no country beau could have worn them with such careless elegance. He was taller than Venetia had at first supposed, rather loose-limbed, and he bore himself with a faint suggestion of swashbuckling arrogance. (30)
He laughed out at that, flinging back his head in wholehearted enjoyment, gasping, "why, oh why did I never know you until now?"
"It does seem a pity," she agreed. "I have been thinking so myself, for I always wished for a friend to laugh with."
"To laugh with!" he repeated slowly.
"Perhaps you have friends already who laugh when you do," she said diffidently. "I haven't, and it's important, I think--more important than sympathy in affliction, which you might easily find in someone you positively disliked."
"But to share a sense of the ridiculous prohibits dislike--yes, that's true. And rare! My God, how rare! Do they stare at you, our worthy neighbors, when you laugh?"
"Yes! Or ask me what I mean when I'm joking!" She glanced at the clock above the empty fireplace. "I must go." (64)
"Oh, no, nothing of that nature!" she replied, getting up.
"I allow you all the vices you choose to claim--indeed, I know you for a gamester, and a shocking rake, and a man of sadly unsteady character!--but I'm not so green that I don't recognize in you one virtue at least, and one quality."
"What is that all? How disappointing! What are they?"
"A well-informed mind, and a great deal of kindness," she said, laying her hand on his arm, and beginning to stroll with him back to the house. (99)

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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44. Library Trip: Early June

"New" Loot:
  • Matilda by Roald Dahl
  • Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator by Roald Dahl
  • James and the Giant Peach by Roald Dahl
  • Danny The Champion of the World by Roald Dahl
  • In the Likeness of God by Paul Brand and Philip Yancey
  • The Friendly Dickens by Norrie Epstein
  • Isaac's Storm by Erik Larson
  • The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson
  • Thunderstruck by Erik Larson
  • The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
  • The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness
  • Monsters of Men by Patrick Ness
  • Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban
  • The Enchanted April by Elizabeth von Arnim
  • Kim by Rudyard Kipling
  • Taken by Thomas Cook
  • Old Man's War by John Scalzi
  • The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi
  • The Last Colony by John Scalzi
  • The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Leftover Loot:
  • Camille by Alexandre Dumas fils
  • Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill by Sonia Purnell
  • Proof by Daniel Montgomery and Timothy Paul Jones
   Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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45. Sing Along Saturdays

Today's prompt: What song would you like turned into a book?
This meme is hosted by Bookish Things & More.

The Reason by Hoobastank. I love this song like crazy. I'm not sure if I loved, loved, loved it before he started getting heavy use in fan videos for various tv shows and movies. But that certainly helped me appreciate it all the more.

One of the fan videos I'm talking about is for Alias. DO NOT WATCH THIS IF YOU DON'T WANT SPOILERS. But it turns the lyrics into being about father/daughter. Syndey and Jack. (I can't begin to tell you how much I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Jack's character. I think the main reason the show resonates with me is because of him!)

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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46. 30 Days of Books: Day 12

 I saw this at The Written World--a blog I've been following for most of the time I've been blogging--and I thought I'd join in the fun. I believe the most recent recurrence of this is from Jenni Elyse's blog.

Today's prompt: A book you used to love but don’t anymore

I'll go with Gone with The Wind. When I was a teenager, I must have read this one a dozen times. But I've only been able to read it once or twice in the past decade. It's not that I hate it. I don't. I really don't. That's too strong an emotion for it. It's more I no longer love it. I can't bring myself to get all gushy about it anymore. 

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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47. 30 Days of Books: Day 11

I saw this at The Written World--a blog I've been following for most of the time I've been blogging--and I thought I'd join in the fun. I believe the most recent recurrence of this is from Jenni Elyse's blog.

Today's prompt: A book you hated

Probably Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer. That is of the books I've read and reviewed that I can still remember. From school days, I'd have to say Jude the Obscure!!!!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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48. 30 Days of Books: Day 13

 I saw this at The Written World--a blog I've been following for most of the time I've been blogging--and I thought I'd join in the fun. I believe the most recent recurrence of this is from Jenni Elyse's blog.

Today's prompt: Your favorite writer

Just one?!?!?! Seriously?! Perhaps Anthony Trollope. Perhaps Georgette Heyer. Perhaps L.M. Montgomery. Perhaps Beverly Cleary. It seems I discover a new-to-me favorite author every few months. That's good news and bad news. I keep discovering authors that I want to read EVERYTHING they ever wrote which is horrible for my tbr pile!!!

Since I chose L.M. Montgomery's Anne series for day 3 and 4, I'll go with Georgette Heyer.

She wrote mysteries and romance novels. I prefer the romance novels to the mysteries. Though both are fun in their own way!!!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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49. Frog and Toad Together

Frog and Toad Together. Arnold Lobel. 1972. HarperCollins. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

One morning Toad sat in bed. "I have many things to do," he said. "I will write them all down on a list so that I can remember them." Toad wrote on a piece of paper: A List of Things To Do Today. Then he wrote: Wake Up. "I have done that," said Toad, and he crossed out: wake up. Then Toad wrote other things on the paper.

Oh how I love Frog and Toad! I do! This book contains five stories: A List, The Garden, Cookies, Dragons and Giants, and The Dream.

In the first story, "The List," Toad panics when he loses his to-do list. The ever-supportive Frog is there by his side, but it may take a while to calm this worried Toad!

In the second story, "The Garden," Toad is envious of his friend Frog's garden. Though Frog warns him that a garden takes a lot of work, and a lot of patience, Toad isn't concerned. He wants a garden and he wants it NOW. Will Toad succeed in his gardening attempt?

The third story, "Cookies," is one of my FAVORITE FAVORITE FAVORITE stories of all time. Toad bakes some cookies. He even decides to share with his friend, Frog. But when they become unable to stop eating the oh-so-delicious cookies, then Frog insists that they have will power. Toad is less than enthused. Especially when he sees that Frog means to give his cookies to the birds. What will Toad do next?
"You know, Toad," said Frog, with his mouth full, "I think we should stop eating. We will soon be sick."
"You are right," said Toad. "Let us eat one last cookie, and then we will stop."
Frog and Toad ate one last cookie. There were many cookies left in the bowl.
"Frog," said Toad, "let us eat one very last cookie, and then we will stop."
Frog and Toad ate one very last cookie.
"We must stop eating!" cried Toad as he ate another.
"Yes," said Frog, reaching for a cookie, "we need will power."
"What is will power?" asked Toad.
"Will power is trying hard not to do something that you really want to do," said Frog.
"You mean like trying not to eat all of these cookies?" asked Toad.
"Right," said Frog. (32-35)
Of course, the scene just gets better and better and better!

The fourth story "Dragons and Giants" doesn't thrill me. But it could be because it follows "Cookies," and it would take a LOT to top that! In this one, Frog and Toad decide to see how brave they are! They find they are very brave safe at home in the closet and in the bed.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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50. Five British Children's Shows I *Love*

This isn't quite a top ten list. But a top five list instead.

5. Fireman Sam. (UK -- Wales)

Fireman Sam first made his appearance circa 1987. The 1987 Theme Song. There have been several different versions of this show over the decades. Fireman Sam is the hero and main character. (But there are other firemen.) The 'villain' of the show is a little red-haired boy named Norman. Here's Heroes of the Storm. Here's a compilation of classic episodes.

4. Horrible Histories (UK)

Premiered in 2009. A comedy, musical skit-sketch show that is incredibly FUN. Out of the five shows I'm talking about today, this one is for the oldest audience. I'd say 8-98. Be prepared to become ADDICTED. In this four minute clip, we get the theme song, Vicious Vikings, Commercial "We Sell Any Monk." Sticking with the Vikings theme, we get the SONG Literally and the end credits. Here's a Commercial for Newgate Prison and the song Dick Turpin. The prom performance of The 4 Georges, Born 2 Rule.

3. Peppa Pig (UK)

I've reviewed a LOT of Peppa Pig books. I often mention how I love and adore this series. Here is a compilation of some of the songs from the show starting with the theme song. Each episode is SHORT. Like five minutes short. Swimming. Grandpa's Toy Train. The Baby Piggy. The show premiered in 2004.

2. In the Night Garden (UK)

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE In the Night Garden. It is created by Andrew Davenport and produced by Anne Wood. Same as Teletubbies. The show premiered in 2007. It is narrated by DEREK JACOBI. Each show starts with a small child drifting off to sleep... The Night Garden is populated by a diverse set of characters. Igglepiggle. Upsy Daisy. Makka Pakka. Tomblibooo Uhn, Tombliboo Ooo, Tombliboo Eee. The Pontipines family. The Wottingers family. The Haahoos. My personal favorite are the Tombliboos. There are two main ways of getting around in The Night Garden--not counting walking, running, etc.) The Ninky-Nonk and the Pinky-Ponk.

1. Teletubbies (UK)

First I want to make a big, big distinction between old Teletubbies and the brand-new Teletubbies. Even with the classic series, there are distinctions between series that are worth considering. For example, earlier shows are GREAT, towards the end of the series, they did a lot of not-so-great stuff. I have seen three episodes of the brand-new series, and, it's not really the same. What I hate most about the new series is Tinky Winky's new voice. The original show premiered, I believe, in 1997.

Short skits that I recommend: Dirty Knees. NO PLACE TO SIT. Po's Blowy Day.
A whole episode that I find amusing: Four

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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