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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!
Statistics for Becky's Book Reviews

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26. Library Loot: Second Trip in November

New Loot:
  • Death at Buckingham Palace by C.C. Benison
  • An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine
  • Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin
  • The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott
  • Ten Lords A-Leaping by C.C. Benison
  • Eleven Pipers Piping by C.C. Benison
  • The Time Traveler's Almanac by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
  • Sleep in Peace Tonight by James MacManus
  • The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey
  • Did She Kill Him? by Kate Colquhoun
  • Train! by Judi Abbot
  • Waiting is Not Easy by Mo Willems
Leftover Loot:
  • My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories, edited and with a story by Stephanie Perkins
  • Jesus Unmasked by Todd Friel
  • Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie
  • Horton Hatches The Egg by Dr. Seuss
  • And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss
  • The King's Stilts by Dr. Seuss
  • The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss
  • McElligoot's Pool by Dr. Seuss
  • Tumtum & Nutmeg The Rose Cottage Tales by Emily Bearn
  • Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes
  • The Dark Lady by Irene Adler, translated by Chris Turner
  • Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague
  • The Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cremer
  • A Little House Christmas by Laura Ingalls Wilder 
  • Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times by Emma Trevayne
  • On the Blue Comet by Rosemary Wells
  • The Mangle Street Murders by M.R.C. Kasasian
  •  Follow Follow by Marilyn Singer
  • Claude at the Circus by Alex T. Smith
  • Claude at the Beach by Alex T. Smith
      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. 

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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27. Victorian Bingo Challenge (Sign up)

The Two Sisters, 1889, Pierre-Auguste Renoir
I'm excited to host the Victorian Reading Challenge for 2015! I hope you'll join me if you love Victorian literature! This year will be a little different from previous years. I think it will be a fun change! I'm offering two options: a 2015 challenge and a perpetual challenge. Let me know which one you are signing up for in the comments. (You can sign up for both, just indicate that.)

The 2015 Challenge. The first Bingo card is for 2015.
The goal is to get a Bingo (horizontal, vertical, diagonal, four corners and center square). This will require a minimum of five books.

 One book per square. For example: Oliver Twist can count for "Book with a name as the title" or "Charles Dickens" or "Book published 1837-1940" or "Book published in serial format" or "Book over 400 pages" or "Book that has been adapted into a movie" or "Book set in England."  But obviously, it can only count once.

The categories:
  •  book published in the 1840s,
  • male author,
  • female author, 
  • book with a name as the title,
  • book published in serial (monthly) format
  • book published 1837-1840,
  • book published in the 1850s, 
  • children's book, 
  • book of your choice, 
  • Charles Dickens
  • book set in England, 
  • book that you wish had been adapted into a movie, 
  • book published in the 1860s, 
  • reread of your choice, 
  • Anthony Trollope
  • for better or worse (marriage), 
  • mystery-suspense-sensation, 
  • book over 400 pages, 
  • book published in the 1870s
  • Wilkie Collins 
  • book published in the 1890s, 
  • book that has been adapted into a movie, 
  • book published 1900-1901,
  • collection (poetry, stories, fairy tales), 
  • book published in the 1880s
If there is enough interest, I can compose a list of examples/suggestions for each category. Or if there is a particular category that puzzles you, and you want suggestions, I could answer your specific question.
  • Fiction or nonfiction.
  • Books, e-books, audio books all are fine.
  • Books and movies can be reviewed together or separately.
  • You can create a reading list if you want, but it's not a requirement
  • If you do make a list, consider adding a list of five books you'd recommend to others
  • If possible try to try a new-to-you author! I know it can be really tempting to stick with familiar favorites.
  • Children's books published during these years should not be forgotten!
  • Rereads are definitely allowed if you have favorites!
  • A blog is not required, a review is not required, but, if you don't review please consider sharing what you read in a comment with one or two sentences of 'reaction' or 'response.'
  • for the 2015 challenge, any qualifying book FINISHED January through December 2015 counts. OR any qualifying book REVIEWED January through December 2015 counts. 
  • for the perpetual challenge, it is up to you if you want to count books read/reviewed in 2014 too. You can if you like. Or you could start fresh in 2015. 
A perpetual challenge. For those that LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Victorian literature and want an ambitious challenge that could take over a year or two to complete, I offer the Victorian Bingo card.
(If you're super-ambitious, you might want to try to fill the whole card.) The goal: to get a Bingo by reading eight books. (horizontal, vertical, diagonal, four corners and four center squares). Same guidelines apply as above.


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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28. Week in Review: November 1-8

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights. Steve Sheinkin. 2014. Roaring Brook. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
Countdown by Deborah Wiles. 2010. May 2010. Scholastic. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Fourteenth Gospel. Jennifer L. Holm. 2014. Random House. 208 pages. [Source: Library]
Courage for Beginners. Karen Harrington. 2014. Little, Brown. 304 pages. [Source: Library]
Dead in the Water. (World War II #2) Chris Lynch. 2014. Scholastic. 188 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Santa Clauses: Short Poems From the North Pole by Bob Raczka. 2014. Lerner Publishing Group. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
A Little Women Christmas. Heather Vogel Frederick. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Once Upon An Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters. Oliver Jeffers. 2014. Penguin. 112 pages. [Source: Library]
Penguin in Peril. Helen Hancocks. 2014. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
The Animals' Santa. Jan Brett. 2014. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
 The Book With No Pictures. B.J. Novak. 2014. Penguin. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
The Great Thanksgiving Escape. Mark Fearing. 2014. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Gobble, Gobble, Tucker! Leslie McGuirk. 2014. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Maisy's Christmas Tree. Lucy Cousins.  2014. Candlewick. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Little Blue Truck's Christmas. Alice Schertle. Illustrated by Jill McElmurry. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]
 Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel! A Sing-along book! Illustrated by Shahar Kober. 2014. Scholastic. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Eight Jolly Reindeer. Ilanit Oliver. Illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers. 2014. Scholastic. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]    
Surprised by Love. Julie Lessman. 2014. Revell. 416 pages. [Source: Review copy]
God's Way of Holiness. Horatius Bonar. 1864. 175 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Study and Teaching of the English Bible. G. Campbell Morgan. 1910. [Source: Bought]
The Bible in Five Years. A Comprehensive Outline for Study of the Entire Sacred Volume. G. Campbell Morgan. 1922. [Source: Bought]
At Bluebonnet Lake. Amanda Cabot. 2014. Revell. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]

This week's favorite:

I loved reading Steve Sheinkin's The Port Chicago 50! It was a great read, and I definitely recommend it!!! 

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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29. Reread #45 Countdown

Countdown by Deborah Wiles. 2010. May 2010. Scholastic. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I first read and reviewed Deborah Wiles' Countdown in 2010. I loved, loved, loved this documentary novel. If you love historical fiction, or, if you love coming of age stories, you should consider reading this one. It's a great read.

1962. October 1962. The world waits. Will there be war? Can the situation in Cuba be resolved peaceably? Or is this the beginning of the end?

Franny Chapman is the heroine of Countdown. She's eleven. She feels like she's invisible. She feels persecuted. Her sister assures her these feelings are completely normal. Franny herself isn't too sure. Franny struggles with issues big and small in this novel. Of course, there is the shared experience of worrying about the Cuban Missile Crisis. (Franny knows that everyone--adults and kids alike--is worried about this.) But of a more personal nature, Franny is struggling with several things. First, her forever-best-friend, Margie, is acting strange, different. Franny wonders if the two will be able to stay friends. It's more than just drifting apart. Margie seems to suddenly hate her. Second, Franny is worried about Uncle Otts (is he her great-uncle?). He's getting older. His mind isn't always great at distinguishing between past and present. The threat of war isn't helping matters any. He has his own way of reacting to threats and dangers. And to Franny, those ways are just EMBARRASSING, extremely embarrassing. Third, Franny finds herself in love with the boy next door. (His name is Chris. Many girls find themselves in love with Chris).

Readers see Franny at home, at school, at play. I loved meeting Franny and her family. I loved how the novel was put into context through the format itself. This documentary novel is packed with images, photographs, quotes, lyrics. (Everything from photographs of JFK and other world leaders, other politicians, other leaders to Miss America, to images from the Civil Rights movement, to a cover of a Nancy Drew novel.) So while Countdown is a novel, it also serves as a scrapbook. (You can see some of what the book looks like on the author's blog.) I think this one does a good job of capturing a time, a place in American history. It is rich in detail. (For example, I loved hearing about the wonder, the novelty of McDonald's hamburgers--for Franny and her family.)

Quotes:
Jo Ellen has the world's best 45-rpm record collection. Since I can remember, I've sprawled across her big bed when she's in her room doing homework or talking on the phone to her girlfriends, and Jo Ellen has let me play her records, as long as I don't get fingerprints on them or let the needle scratch them. I'm not allowed to touch her albums, but the 45s she lets me rifle through to my heart's content.
I've memorized the geography of every one of those records. "Johnny Angel" has a yellow label, "Twistin' the Night Away" has a tiny scratch at the beginning edge, and "Runaway," which is my current favorite, by my favorite singer, Del Shannon, has a heart drawn on the label--by me. Jo Ellen doesn't know this yet. (75-76)
 My first concrete remembrance of church is going to revival with Miss Mattie in Halleluia, Mississippi. I like revival. It's entertaining. I know almost every hymn in the Methodist hymnal by heart, every verse, and I can play most of them on the piano.
Revival lasts two weeks, so we go every night to church, and every night there is tarnation preaching and seventeen verses of "Just As I Am," until someone walks up to the altar to be saved.
Trouble is, Halleluia is a small town, and most everybody in church has already been saved. So unless somebody new shows up, or an older kid is pushed into the aisle by his mother, we just sing and sing that hymn, until my grandmother stands up and ambles in her square shoes up the aisle with a half-exasperated look on her face, and gets saved once again. Mostly she is saving all of us, and she knows we know it. (130)
"Nobody's the favorite, Franny," she says. "Of course you're important. Just because they don't broadcast it--"
"You're not around enough to notice," I interrupt, standing up straight. "You're all grown up, you're in college--you have loads of friends--you even have new friends! You can do whatever you want."
"That's certainly not true," says Jo Ellen.
I sigh. "I just want to skip all these years in between and go off to college like you, only I want to live in the dorms like Lannie does."
"This, too, shall pass. You don't know how lucky you are, Franny. You go to a good school, your dad's an officer in the military, you eat, shop, play wherever you choose, you can go to any college you want when you grow up. You've got it made. You're privileged."
I toss the tissue in the trash. "I'm invisible around here. I could disappear for days and nobody would miss me."
Now it's Jo Ellen's turn to sigh. "Franny, you're eleven. That's the problem in a nutshell." She pulls an envelope out of her purse. "Everybody feels persecuted when they're eleven. It will pass." (85)

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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30. Nonfiction November, Week 1 Questions

Nonfiction November
Hosts: Sophisticated Dorkiness, Regular Rumination, I'm Lost In Books, Doing Dewey

Week 1: November 3 to 7 (Hosted by Kim)

Your Year in Nonfiction: Take a look back at your year of nonfiction and reflect on the following questions – What was your favorite nonfiction read of the year? What nonfiction book have you recommended the most? What is one topic or type of nonfiction you haven’t read enough of yet? What are you hoping to get out of participating in Nonfiction November?

My (rambling) answer (of sorts):

I intentionally read nonfiction throughout 2014. Every Monday, I reviewed a nonfiction book. By the end of the year, I will have read just over fifty nonfiction books. Probably the most nonfiction I've ever read in a year. And if you count the theology and christian living that I read, then, the number grows. I could never choose just one as being my favorite of the year.

Every Saturday, I choose a favorite book. There have been a handful of weeks where the nonfiction book WAS my favorite of the week. Here are the books that had that distinction:

The Boys in the Boat. Daniel James Brown. 2013. Viking. 416 pages. [Source: Library] 

The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson. 2013. Simon & Schuster. 240 pages. [Source: Library] 

Meet Me in St. Louis: A Trip to the 1904 World's Fair. Robert Jackson. 2004. HarperCollins. 144 pages. [Source: Bought]

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World: The Extraordinary True Story of Shackleton and the Endurance. Jennifer Armstrong. 1998. Random House. 144 pages. [Source: Library]
Frozen in Time. Mitchell Zuckoff. 2013. Harper. 391 pages. [Source: Library]  


God's Double Agent: The True Story of A Chinese Christian's Fight for Freedom. Bob Fu. Baker Books. 2013. 336 pages. [Source: Bought]

Mission at Nuremberg. Tim Townsend. 2014. HarperCollins. 400 pages. [Source: Library]



The Dog Who Could Fly: The Incredible True Story of a WWII Airman and the Four-Legged Hero Who Flew At His Side. Damien Lewis. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 304 pages. [Source: Library] 
The Hiding Place. Corrie Ten Boom. With John and Elizabeth Sherrill. 1971/1984/1995. Chosen. 228 pages. [Source: Bought] 

An Autobiography. Agatha Christie. 1977/1996. Berkley. 635 pages. [Source: Bought]

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights. Steve Sheinkin. 2014. Roaring Brook. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

Several books that almost, almost made the list:
Unbroken. Laura Hillenbrand. 2010. Random House. 473 pages. [Source: Library]
Out of the Depths. Edgar Harrell, with David Harrell. 2014. Bethany House. 192 pages. [Source: Library]


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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31. The Fourteenth Goldfish (2014)

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

Ellie gets the unique opportunity to hang out with her grandfather, Melvin, when his scientific experiments succeed. Ellie has grown up knowing--observing--that her mom and her grandfather don't get along very well. But she'll get the chance to know him much, much better when his experiment reverses the aging process and he becomes 13 again. They'll live together. They'll go to school together. It would be hard to judge who has a harder time: Ellie, Melvin, or the mom/daughter. (Though my guess would be the mom/daughter. By all appearances, he's a kid, he's living in her house! She has to make sure he's doing his homework! But he is still very much her father. He has OPINIONS on everything she does.)

Ellie is growing apart from her best, best friend. Her friend has some new interests. Ellie has new interests as well. Ellie is meeting people she likes and though she hasn't made a new best friend overnight, Ellie is learning that change can be good, that meeting new people can be a good thing. One of Ellie's new interests is science. She really enjoys it! And she loves hanging out with her grandfather and their new friends. (Yes, they have friends in common.)

I liked it. I did. I am on the fence on if I liked it or loved it. It was a quick read that I enjoyed very much.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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32. Courage for Beginners (2014)

Courage for Beginners. Karen Harrington. 2014. Little, Brown. 304 pages. [Source: Library]

I would definitely recommend Karen Harrington's Courage for Beginners. This middle grade novel is a compelling coming of age novel. It would pair well, I think, with The Swift Boys and Me by Kody Keplinger.

Mysti Murphy is a seventh grader with special challenges. Her mom is agoraphobic; for as long as Mysti can remember her mom has been that way. Her dad does it all: all the driving, all the errands. But the fall of her seventh grade year, her dad has an accident, and ends up in the hospital in a coma for several months. The guy who has been her best friend--by all appearances--decides to drop her. She won't fit in with his new "hipster" persona. He's decided that by wearing a hipster hat and being a huge jerk, he'll become more popular with people who count. Mysti definitely doesn't count. At least when there's a small chance that others are watching. Mysti struggles. No doubt. The book is about her growing pains--everything going all wrong at once. But does she have the strength and courage to face her problems and cope with them?

I enjoyed this one. I enjoyed spending time with Mysti. I was very glad that she got to make some new friends. I thought there was a nice balance of scenes between home and school.
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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33. Dead in the Water (2014)

Dead in the Water. (World War II #2) Chris Lynch. 2014. Scholastic. 188 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Dead in the Water is a companion book to the Right Fight. Both books are new 2014 releases. Both books feature baseball-loving heroes. In The Right Fight, readers meet oh-so-briefly two brothers: Hank and Theo.

The book opens with both brothers ready to join the Navy. However, only Hank ends up serving in the Navy. Their parents feel strongly that Theo should serve his country elsewhere. If both sons were stationed on the same ship, and it went down, they'd be devastated. That is their reasoning, for better or worse. So Theo enlists in the Army Air Service. This book barely mentions Theo again after the boys ship out. (We do get one letter from Theo, I believe.) This is Hank's story. (Will Theo get his own story later?)

Hank is assigned to the USS Yorktown, an aircraft carrier sailing in the Pacific. He is an airedale. The book chronicles his time on ship and off. He makes a few friends among the pilots. He makes one good friend among the mess attendants. He becomes close to a mess attendant named Bradford who played in the Negro League. He is a much better ball player than Hank, this is very hard for Hank to admit, and I'm not sure he ever does. But Bradford teaches or coaches him, and the two bond over the love of the game. Readers can also discern that life isn't easy for Bradford, that prejudice is a problem.

There is plenty of action in this one. If you know what happened to the real USS Yorktown, you can guess how this ends.

I liked this one. I think both books do a good job of balancing characterization with action. I feel Hank was fully developed. It was easy for me to care not only for Hank but for his whole family. I especially liked his sister, Susie.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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34. Port Chicago 50

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights. Steve Sheinkin. 2014. Roaring Brook. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

Wow! What a book! Port Chicago 50 is a compelling nonfiction read. It is informative and detailed, but, it never felt like it was too much, like it was too-information-heavy. It was fascinating and at times shocking. It examines HOW African-Americans were treated in the navy during the second world war. It deals with prejudice and discrimination and injustice. Specifically it focuses on a select group of soldiers stationed at Port Chicago. The soldiers moving explosives from docks to ships were all African-Americans. These soldiers received no special training or instructions. It didn't take them long to figure out that disaster could come at any time, that every day came with big, big risks. Disaster did come. It was awful. It changed the survivors--haunted the survivors. So when these men are asked weeks later to go back to work with explosives, well, some decide to say no. The book is ultimately about 50 men who decided that they did not want to obey orders to load explosives. About the consequences of their actions--or inaction as the case may be. The men were charged with mutiny and put on trial. Would justice be served? Would they have a fair hearing?

The Port Chicago 50 is emotional and fascinating. It was a beautifully written story about the fight for justice and equality. It was everything a nonfiction book should be.

Definitely recommended.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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35. Seven 2014 Picture Books

Santa Clauses: Short Poems From the North Pole by Bob Raczka. 2014. Lerner Publishing Group. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

December 1rst
Wishes blowing in
from my overfilled mailbox--
December's first storm.


I enjoyed reading Bob Raczka's Santa Clauses. The book is a poetic countdown to Christmas. Each of the twenty-five poems is written from Santa's perspective. Each poem is dated. Each poem is haiku. I found this to be a delightful read. I loved some of the poems. I liked all of them, for the most part, but there were a few I did LOVE. The book gives young readers a behind-the-scenes glimpse at Santa's life. Very cute.
Some of my favorites:
December 3rd
Mrs. Claus making
an angel, becoming a
little girl again.
December 10th
The north wind and I
whistling to "Let It Snow!"
on the radio.
I would definitely recommend it. I've read it a few times now, and I just love it more each time.

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

A Little Women Christmas. Heather Vogel Frederick. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

For people who LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Little Women by Louisa May Alcott, I think this one is well worth reading and rereading. I have read the novel once or twice, certainly enjoyed it well enough, but it's never been one that I've gushed about or LOVED passionately.

This picture book focuses on one of the Christmases written about within Little Women. The 22nd chapter of Little Women. The illustrations by Bagram Ibatoulline are wonderful. If you're a fan of his work, you'll probably want to seek this one out because they are BEAUTIFUL.

I do think it is a picture book for older readers. I think it's a beautiful book for fans of the book or movie.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

Once Upon An Alphabet: Short Stories for All the Letters. Oliver Jeffers. 2014. Penguin. 112 pages. [Source: Library]

It opens with the premise: "If words make up stories, and letters make up words, then stories are made of letters. In this menagerie we have stories, made of words, made for all the letters."

Once Upon An Alphabet is indeed a book of twenty-six "short stories," one for each letter. The stories can best be described as odd and quirky. I think you have to have a certain sense of humor to "get" the stories and how they all fit together, if they indeed do fit all together. (Some do fit together. I know. But do all twenty-six fit together? I'm not as sure of that.)

This one will definitely be for older readers, not preschoolers. This is NOT Chicka Chicka Boom Boom. But I wouldn't say that it's a book that would appeal to one and all, a book with universal appeal. I could see how some readers might LOVE it and others not so much.

I liked some stories, some letters, better than others. A few I didn't like at all. A few I really did enjoy. But I didn't LOVE this one. I do think it's an interesting premise, however.

Text: 3.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 3.5 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

Penguin in Peril. Helen Hancocks. 2014. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

One afternoon, three hungry cats ran out of food. They searched the house high and low and found three gold coins. They set off for the grocery store. On their way, the cats passed a movie theater. A movie called The Fishy Feast was playing. They handed over the three gold coins and went in. 

Three cats are inspired by a movie, The Fishy Feast, to kidnap a penguin. Why do they want a penguin? The way they see it, a penguin can catch fish for them. But will the kidnapped penguin agree to such a scheme? Or will the penguin find a way to escape? Will the cats' scheme result in a bounty of fish or in jail time?!

I liked this one. I can't say I loved it particularly. But I thought it was creative and playful. Definitely worth reading at least once.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 5

The Animals' Santa. Jan Brett. 2014. Penguin. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

"It's your first Christmas Eve, Little Snow. The animals' Santa comes tonight!" Big Snowshoe told his little brother. "Who is the animals' Santa?" Little Snow asked. "We don't know who he is," Big Snowshoe said. "Did you ever see him?" Little Snow asked. "No," the forest animals chimed in. "But we find presents from him on Christmas."

For those of all ages who love Jan Brett, who love, love, love Jan Brett, I think you'll find much to love and appreciate in her newest picture book, The Animals' Santa. The Animals' Santa is in many ways similar to her previous books. (Incredibly detailed illustrations with animals and nature as the subject.)

In The Animals' Santa readers meet Little Snow, Big Snowshoe, and their animal friends. Every animal is happy to share what he/she knows about the "animals' Santa." One by one, they recall what they've received in previous years, trying to show Little Snow, the skeptic, that the animals' Santa is real, and, that he is coming that night. Every animal seems to have an idea of *who* the animals' Santa might be. But all the talking does little to change Little Snow's mind.

Readers will discover along with Little Snow and all the other animals just who the animals' Santa is. I was a bit surprised by the twist in this one, it was not who I was expecting it to be.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

The Book With No Pictures. B.J. Novak. 2014. Penguin. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

There are no illustrations in this picture book. The book exists in order to make adults reading aloud to children say silly things in silly voices. That is the oh-so-simple premise. That words can be entertaining even if they aren't accompanied by pictures. The premise isn't a bad one necessarily. That being said, I want pictures in a picture book. The text can be as over-the-top and silly and ridiculous as can be. It can say things like "My only friend in the whole wide world is a hippo named Boo Boo Butt". It won't change my mind, I still want pictures.

I don't think it takes a picture-less book to get adults to read dramatically and make listeners giggle. I think that is just a part of reading books aloud to kids. Depending on the book, of course, some books may be funnier than others and allow for more opportunities.

The book is also "interactive" in that it addresses the reader directly. This has been done in other picture books, better picture books with actual illustrations. My favorite happens to be We Are In A Book by Mo Willems. And earlier this year there was Help! We Need a Title!

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: none
Total: 3 out of 5

The Great Thanksgiving Escape. Mark Fearing. 2014. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

It was another Thanksgiving at Grandma's. "You can play in here with the rest of the kids," Gavin's mother told him. "We'll call you when the turkey's ready." "Have fun!" Gavin's dad called. But Gavin knew it was not going to be fun. Not fun at all. "Hey," someone whispered. It was his cousin Ronda. "What do you say we break out of here and head for the swing set in the backyard?"

How much fun will Gavin have on Thanksgiving at his Grandma's house? More fun that he expected at any rate, in large part due to his cousin, Rhonda. These two sneaky kids team up. The mission: escape the house and actually have some FUN. But it won't be easy. There are obstacles on the path to freedom. And one of those obstacles is "the GREAT WALL OF BUTTS!" There are also zombies to avoid. (Who are the zombies? The teenagers in the basement that are playing video games or on their phones/tablets.) There are SO MANY people in this house: dozens of adults, dozens of kids, dozens of teens. Gavin's family must be HUGE or else Grandma invited the whole neighborhood. Either way, Gavin is going to have a memorable Thanksgiving.

I didn't love this one. I didn't hate this one. I've never really found a Thanksgiving book that I actually loved.

Text: 3 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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36. Five Holiday Board Books

Gobble, Gobble, Tucker! Leslie McGuirk. 2014. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Tucker is napping one fall day when he catches a whiff of something delicious. He knows that smell--it's turkey! And that means it must be Thanksgiving! 

I was not familiar with the character of Tucker before reading this board book. Tucker stars in several other books, mostly with a holiday theme (Halloween, Christmas, Valentine's Day, St. Patrick's Day, etc). I can't judge if this book is better or worse or about the same as the rest of the series. It is enjoyable enough for what it is: a story of a dog patiently and sometimes not so patiently waiting for a feast of his own to share with his visiting cousins.

Maisy's Christmas Tree. Lucy Cousins.  2014. Candlewick. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Maisy and her friends are decorating her Christmas tree. Cyril puts on the lights. Tallulah adds pretty ornaments.

If you have a little one who loves Maisy and her friends, this tree-shaped board book might make a good before-Christmas present. (I do not believe in giving Christmas books as presents ON Christmas day.) In this Maisy book, Maisy is celebrating Christmas with her closest friends: Cyril, Tallulah, Charley, and Eddie. The book is simple and short. By the end of the book, the tree is all decorated, and the presents are all wrapped. If you expect Maisy books to have an actual plot, you might be disappointed. But if you love her for her simplicity and familiarity, then you will enjoy this one too. It's a fine addition to a very long series.

Little Blue Truck's Christmas. Alice Schertle. Illustrated by Jill McElmurry. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]

"Beep! Beep! Beep!" 
December's here! 
Little Blue Truck is full of cheer.
Every Christmas, Little Blue has a delivery job to do. 
Five trees ready to take ride. How many trees will fit inside?

I believe this is Little Blue Truck's third book. He was first introduced to readers in Little Blue Truck and Little Blue Truck Leads The Way.

Little Blue Truck has a job to do. He is delivering Christmas trees. He has one tree for each of his friends. He delivers four trees to his friends. He keeps the last tree for himself. The last page of this book features colored twinkle lights on the tree.

It's enjoyable enough. I think the twinkle lights may appeal to some. If your little one loves Little Blue Truck already, then, this one may definitely be worth seeking out.

 Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel! A Sing-along book! Illustrated by Shahar Kober. 2014. Scholastic. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I have a little dreidel. I made it out of clay. 
And when it's dry and ready, then dreidel I shall play!
My dreidel's always playful.
It loves to dance and spin!

A dreidel-shaped board book of the classic song. Each spread introduces readers to an animal family celebrating Hanukkah. Raccoons. Beavers. Mice. Owls. Bears. Various traditions are shown in the illustrations, but the text itself is just the song.

Eight Jolly Reindeer. Ilanit Oliver. Illustrated by Jacqueline Rogers. 2014. Scholastic. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]



Eight jolly reindeer stretching up to heaven.
Up goes Dasher and then there are....
Seven jolly reindeer start their kicks.
Up goes Dancer and then there are...
Six jolly reindeer learning how to drive.
Up goes Prancer and then there are...


Another shaped-board book. This one is all about Santa's reindeer. It's a counting book. Little Blue Truck's Christmas was a counting book also focused on subtraction. (Counting down from five to one). But. This book is much more entertaining, in my opinion. The rhythm and rhyme work well to make this a fun story to share with little ones. I will admit that this one does have glitter, a bit too much glitter. But despite the glitter, I found myself liking it.


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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37. Challenge Updates

For the Victorian Reading Challenge:

  1. A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens. 1854/2003. Bantam Classics. 382 pages. [Source: Bought] 
For the British Reading Challenge:
  1. An Autobiography. Agatha Christie. 1977/1996. Berkley. 635 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  2. A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens. 1854/2003. Bantam Classics. 382 pages. [Source: Bought]
For the 2014 TBR Pile Reading Challenge:
  1. An Autobiography. Agatha Christie. 1977/1996. Berkley. 635 pages. [Source: Bought]  
For the 2014 Year of Rereading Challenge:
  1. Howl's Moving Castle. Diana Wynne Jones. 1986. 336 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  2. Grave Mercy. Robin LaFevers. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 560 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. Frankenstein. Mary Shelley. 1818/1831. Oxford World's Classics. 250 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  4. The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) Robert Jordan. 1990. Tor. 814 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  5. All Clear. Connie Willis. 2010. Random House. 645 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  6. The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Library]
  7. The Hiding Place. Corrie Ten Boom. With John and Elizabeth Sherrill. 1971/1984/1995. Chosen. 228 pages. [Source: Bought]  
For the Vintage Mystery Bingo Challenge:
  1. Dancers in Mourning. Margery Allingham. 1937. 337 pages. [Source: Bought] 
For the 2014 Chunkster Challenge:
  1. The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) Robert Jordan. 1990. Tor. 814 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. An Autobiography. Agatha Christie. 1977/1996. Berkley. 635 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  3. All Clear. Connie Willis. 2010. Random House. 645 pages. [Source: Bought]

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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38. Library Loot: First Trip in November


New Loot:
  •  100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
  • My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories, edited and with a story by Stephanie Perkins
  • Jesus Unmasked by Todd Friel
  • The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak
  • Shark Vs. Train by Chris Barton
  • Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie
  • Horton Hatches The Egg by Dr. Seuss
  • And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss
  • The King's Stilts by Dr. Seuss
  • The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss
  • McElligoot's Pool by Dr. Seuss
Leftover Loot:

  • Tumtum & Nutmeg The Rose Cottage Tales by Emily Bearn
  • Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes
  • The Dark Lady by Irene Adler, translated by Chris Turner
  • Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague
  • The Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cremer
  • A Little House Christmas by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • When Santa Fell To Earth by Cornelia Funke 
  • The Wars of the Roses by Dan Jones
  •  Penguin in Peril by Helen Hancocks  
  • The Animals' Santa by Jan Brett
  • Victoria: A Life by A.N. Wilson
  • A Quilt for Christmas by Sandra Dallas 
  • Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times by Emma Trevayne
  • On the Blue Comet by Rosemary Wells
  • The Mangle Street Murders by M.R.C. Kasasian
  • Twelve Drummers Drumming by C.c. Benison
  • Claude at the Circus by Alex T. Smith
  • Claude at the Beach by Alex T. Smith
  • The Animals' Santa by Jan Brett
  • Follow Follow by Marilyn Singer
      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.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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39. Week in Review: October 26-31

Frankenstein. Mary Shelley. 1818/1831. Oxford World's Classics. 250 pages. [Source: Bought]
Children in the Holocaust: Their Secret Diaries. Laurel Holliday, ed. 1996. 432 pages. [Source: Library] 
West of the Moon. Margi Preus. 2014. Abrams. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle. George Hagen. 2014. Random House. 384 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
The Right Fight. Chris Lynch. 2014. Scholastic. 192 pages. [Source: Library]
Dancers in Mourning. Margery Allingham. 1937. 337 pages. [Source: Bought]
Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. J.I. Packer. 1961/1991. IVP. 126 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Library]

This week's favorite:
Did you notice I reread The Night Gardener? I didn't just write a second review, I reread it in order to write a second review for Operation Actually Read Bible. If anything, I loved it MORE the second time I read it. It wouldn't be fair, perhaps, to have the same book win two weeks in a row. So. I choose Frankenstein by Mary Shelley.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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40. 2014 Completed Challenges: RIP IX

Host: Stainless Steel Droppings, (sign up) (reviews)
Title: RIP (Readers Imbibing Peril) IX
Duration: September and October
# of Books: at least 4, peril the first --

Mystery.
Suspense.
Thriller.
Dark Fantasy.
Gothic.
Horror.
Supernatural.








My favorite book read during this challenge was Jonathan Auxier's The Night Gardener. It was so good, I read it twice! Once in September, once in October.

The calendar said early March, but the smell in the air said late October. A crisp sun shone over Cellar Hollow, melting the final bits of ice from the bare trees. Steam rose from the soil like a phantom, carrying with it a whisper of autumn smoke that had been lying dormant in the frosty underground. Squinting through the trees, you could just make out the winding path that ran from the village all the way to the woods in the south. People seldom traveled in that direction, but on this March-morning-that-felt-like-October, a horse and cart rattled down the road. It was a fish cart with a broken back wheel and no fish. Riding atop the bench were two children, a girl and a boy, both with striking red hair. The girl was named Molly, and the boy, her brother, was Kip. And they were riding to their deaths. This, at least, was what Molly had been told by no fewer than a dozen people as they traveled from farm to farm in search of the Windsor estate. 
What I Read:

  1. The Attenbury Emeralds. Jill Paton Walsh. 2010/2011. St. Martin's Press. 352 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. The Late Scholar. Jill Paton Walsh. 2014. St. Martin's Press. 368 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. My Cousin Rachel. Daphne du Maurier. 1951. 374 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. Death of a Schoolgirl (Jane Eyre Chronicles #1) Joanna Campbell Slan. 2012. Berkley Trade. 340 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. The Lost. Sarah Beth Durst. 2014. Harlequin. 352 pages. [Source: Library] 
  6. The Twilight of Lake Woebegotten. Harrison Geillor. 2011. Night Shade Books. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  7. Northanger Abbey. Jane Austen. 1817/1992. Everyman's Library. 288 pages. [Source: Book I Own] 
  8. Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury. 1953/1991. Del Rey. 179 pages. [Source: Bought]
  9.  The Singing Sands. Josephine Tey. 1952. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]
  10. The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Library] 
  11. Grave Mercy. Robin LaFevers. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 560 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  12. The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) Robert Jordan. 1990. Tor. 814 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  13. A Creature of Moonlight. Rebecca Hahn. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 313 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  14. The Only Thing To Fear. Caroline Tung Richmond. 2014. Scholastic. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  15. The Case of the Stolen Sixpence. Holly Webb. Illustrated by Marion Lindsay. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  16. A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens. 1854/2003. Bantam Classics. 382 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  17. Frankenstein. Mary Shelley. 1818/1831. Oxford World's Classics. 250 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  18. Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle. George Hagen. 2014. Random House. 384 pages. [Source: Review Copy]  
  19. Dancers in Mourning. Margery Allingham. 1937. 337 pages. [Source: Bought]
  20. The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Library] *different review from above
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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41. October Reflections

In October, I read 52 books.

Board books, picture books, early readers:

  1. The Midnight Library. Kazuno Kohara. 2014. Roaring Brook. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  2. Say Hello Like This! Mary Murphy. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. The Good-Pie Party. Elizabeth Garton Scanlon. Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton. 2014.Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. My Pet Book. Bob Staake. 2014. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  5. A Bunny in the Ballet. Robert Beck. 2014. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. Frances Dean Who Loved To Dance and Dance. Birgitta Sif. 2014. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]   
  7. Druthers. Matt Phelan. 2014. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review Copy]  
  8. Alexander, Who's Trying His Best To Be The Best Boy Ever. Judith Viorst. Illustrated by Isidre Mones. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages. [Source: Library] 
  9. The Way to the Zoo. John Burningham. 2014. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  10. The Mouse Who Ate The Moon. Petr Horacek. 2014. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]    
  11. Can You Say It Too? Roar! Roar! Sebastien Braun. 2014. Candlewick. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  12. Can You Say It Too? Growl! Growl!  Sebastien Braun. 2014. Candlewick. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  13. Open Wide. Stephen Krensky. Illustrated by James Burks. 2014. Scholastic. 14 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  14. Bizzy Bear's Big Building Book. Benji Davies. 2014. Candlewick. 8 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
Middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction:
  1. The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. West of the Moon. Margi Preus. 2014. Abrams. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. The Right Fight. Chris Lynch. 2014. Scholastic. 192 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle. George Hagen. 2014. Random House. 384 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
  5. Grave Mercy. Robin LaFevers. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 560 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  6. Sky Jumpers. Peggy Eddleman. 2013. Random House. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  7. Howl's Moving Castle. Diana Wynne Jones. 1986. 336 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  8. Sniffer Dogs: How Dogs (And Their Noses) Save The World. Nancy F. Castaldo. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  9. The Case of the Stolen Sixpence. Holly Webb. Illustrated by Marion Lindsay. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  10. The Only Thing To Fear. Caroline Tung Richmond. 2014. Scholastic. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  11. The Forbidden Flats (Sky Jumpers #2) Peggy Eddleman. 2014. Random House. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  12. A Creature of Moonlight. Rebecca Hahn. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 313 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  13. The Madman of Piney Woods. Christopher Paul Curtis. 2014. Scholastic. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  14. The Magic Half. Annie Barrows. 2007. Bloomsbury. 212 pages. [Source: Library] 
  15. Magic in the Mix. Annie Barrows. 2014. Bloomsbury. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  16. The Orphan and the Mouse. Martha Freeman. Illustrated by David McPhail. 2014. Holiday House. 220 pages. [Source: Library] 
  17. Thursdays with the Crown. (Castle Glower #3) Jessica Day George. 2014. Bloomsbury. 224 pages. 
Adult fiction and nonfiction:
  1. An Autobiography. Agatha Christie. 1977/1996. Berkley. 635 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  2. Children in the Holocaust: Their Secret Diaries. Laurel Holliday, ed. 1996. 432 pages. [Source: Library]  
  3. Silver Like Dust. Kimi Cunningham Grant. 2012. Pegasus. 288 pages. [Source: Library] 
  4. Frankenstein. Mary Shelley. 1818/1831. Oxford World's Classics. 250 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  5. Lady Susan, The Watsons, Sandition. Jane Austen. 1975. Penguin. 211 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  6. A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens. 1854/2003. Bantam Classics. 382 pages. [Source: Bought]
  7. Dancers in Mourning. Margery Allingham. 1937. 337 pages. [Source: Bought]
  8. The Eye of the World (Wheel of Time #1) Robert Jordan. 1990. Tor. 814 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  9. All Clear. Connie Willis. 2010. Random House. 645 pages. [Source: Bought]
Christian fiction and nonfiction: 
  1. The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. The Hiding Place. Corrie Ten Boom. With John and Elizabeth Sherrill. 1971/1984/1995. Chosen. 228 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  3. Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God. J.I. Packer. 1961/1991. IVP. 126 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. The Wall Around Your Heart: How Jesus Heals You When Others Hurt You. Mary DeMuth. 2013. Thomas Nelson. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  5. Key Words of the Christian Life. Warren W. Wiersbe. 2002. Baker Books. 130 pages. [Source: Bought]
  6. The Adventure of Christmas: Helping Children Find Jesus in Our Holiday Traditions. Lisa Whelchel. Illustrated by Jeannie Mooney. 2004. Multnomah Books. 72 pages. [Source: Library] 
  7. When Love Calls. (The Gregory Sisters #1) Lorna Seilstad. 2013. Revell. 338 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  8. While Love Stirs. Lorna Seilstad. 2014. Revell. 341 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  9. Loving Jesus More. Philip Graham Ryken. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Crossway.]  
  10. Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven (A Devotional Biography). James Bryan Smith. 2000. B&amp;H. 272 pages. [Source: Bought]
  11. Read the Bible for Life: Your Guide to Understanding and Living God's Word. George H. Guthrie. 2011. B&H Books. 338 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  12. A Bride in Store. Melissa Jagears. 2014. Bethany House. 363 pages. [Source: Review copy]
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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42. Reread #44 Frankenstein

Frankenstein. Mary Shelley. 1818/1831. Oxford World's Classics. 250 pages. [Source: Bought]

Almost every time I read it, I focus on something new, something that I might have missed, something that I hadn't considered before. I thought I would share my observations with you instead of a traditional review.

Stories. Frankenstein is a story within a story. But it's more than that. It's a text that utilizes stories and storytelling even within that framework. The first story, of course, is the one Robert Walton is communicating to his sister, Margaret, through letters. After the first few letters, Walton stops being so introspective and focuses on telling someone else's story. Victor Frankenstein's story. This is written in the letters in first person, as if Victor himself were telling the story--sharing it. Within that big story, are dozens of little stories. The story of how his parents met. The story of his birth and childhood. The story of how Elizabeth was adopted. The story of how he became interested in science. The story of his mother's death. The story of his going away to university. The story of his madness--his obsession--and how he came to create life. The story of his sickness and recovery. The story of his learning about his brother's death/murder. The story of Justine. You get the idea. Each story is crafted and shaped. These stories are how he sees himself and the world, his place in it. Some of the stories are personal and a vital part of the plot. Other stories are more like asides. But this isn't Victor's story alone. Midway through the book, readers learn the creature's story. Even though this is written in first person though the eyes of the creature--the monster--the words are for better or worse being filtered through Victor Frankenstein's memory. He's telling what the monster said. He's telling what the monster heard. And Robert Walton is then passing along Frankenstein's story of the events and conversations. The creature is a storyteller as well. He recalls his life, his memories, his desires and needs. But he also focuses in particular on one family, one French family living in exile. This section has multiple stories. Including one focusing on a young woman. Though it may seem like an aside to readers, the stories matter very much to the narrator, the creature. The stories are providing for him a framework of the world, of how it works, of what life and love are all about. The stories resonate with the creature. He has seen love. He has seen family. He has seen fellowship and community. Because he has seen this, he feels the lack of it in his own life. But it isn't just the unfolding story that he personally witnesses. He is also shaped by the stories--the words--in the books he oh-so-conveniently is able to read. Words and stories matter. The stories we tell ourselves about ourselves, the stories we share with others, they all matter. For example, I think the story the creature told himself over and over and over again was it is all Victor's fault. He made me. He gave me life. He made me this ugly, this revolting. He made me this large and strong. He left me--he abandoned me. He didn't love me. He never loved me. He rejected me. He made it so everyone would reject me. Why does everyone reject me? It's his fault. It's all his fault. He made me have killing-hands. He made me have killing-thoughts. He didn't show me a better way. He didn't teach me. He didn't raise me. I had to learn everything all by myself. It is his fault. I'm not responsible. Why would I be? It is his fault! If it wasn't for him, I wouldn't be so miserable, so alone, so full of angst. I wouldn't feel pain or hunger or thirst. I wouldn't feel at all. The monster has his Job moments. One last thing, Victor Frankenstein speaks of the power of words, of persuasion. He warns that the creature has a way with words, that he can manipulate people by his persuasiveness. He warns Walton not to let himself be manipulated by the creature's story--his words and pleas. Is there any truth to this? Is the creature trying to masquerade himself as an angel of light? His actions say one thing: he's a killer, a murderer, he premeditates at least some of his crimes. His words say another: no one loves me, everyone runs from me, it's all HIS fault.

Questions. It's hard to read Frankenstein without questions. Who is the real monster? Who should be held responsible? Is there anyone who shouldn't be held responsible? Why is human life valued so little by ego-obsessed people? Why does Walton idolize Frankenstein?

Victor Frankenstein, Robert Walton, and the creature share a few things in common. They are introspective, moody, obsessed, and lonely. True, there are differences in their obsessions. Robert Walton is obsessed with glory, with adventure, with discovering the Northwest Passage. Walton has spent years if not decades obsessed with the North Pole, with the arctic regions. This started as a boy with books, with stories and words. His dream shifted slightly for a brief period of time when he wanted to be a poet, but, ultimately he came back to his first love. He didn't give up his poetic personality/nature however. Victor Frankenstein is first obsessed with science, with electricity, with creating life. This playing God leads to no good--it leads to madness and murder. I believe the madness started long before he was successful. I have never understood how he could piece together this creature--this eight-foot creature--and it is only when he is alive that he realizes that it is monstrous and ugly and unnatural and threatening. Why make it eight-feet? Why make it so unhuman? Regardless, having created life, he then becomes obsessed with destroying it--with murdering his demon-creation, his monster. His only reason to live is to track down and kill the monster. The monster's obsession? Well, he's driven by anger and pain. He wants to HURT Frankenstein. He is acting out, having murderous temper-tantrums all to get the attention of the one who gave him life, his father, his creator. He wants what he can't have. He wants love and acceptance. He wants to belong. He wants companionship and family. He wants to be happy. He wants to be treated fairly and humanely. He doesn't want to be judged based on appearances. He taunts and haunts his creator. He wants Frankenstein to be just as miserable and desperate as he is.

Quotes:

Robert Walton meets Victor Frankenstein:
In the morning, however, as soon as it was light, I went upon deck and found all the sailors busy on one side of the vessel, apparently talking to someone in the sea. It was, in fact, a sledge, like that we had seen before, which had drifted towards us in the night on a large fragment of ice. Only one dog remained alive; but there was a human being within it whom the sailors were persuading to enter the vessel. He was not, as the other traveller seemed to be, a savage inhabitant of some undiscovered island, but a European. When I appeared on deck the master said, "Here is our captain, and he will not allow you to perish on the open sea." On perceiving me, the stranger addressed me in English, although with a foreign accent. "Before I come on board your vessel," said he, "will you have the kindness to inform me whither you are bound?" You may conceive my astonishment on hearing such a question addressed to me from a man on the brink of destruction and to whom I should have supposed that my vessel would have been a resource which he would not have exchanged for the most precious wealth the earth can afford. I replied, however, that we were on a voyage of discovery towards the northern pole. Upon hearing this he appeared satisfied and consented to come on board. Good God! Margaret, if you had seen the man who thus capitulated for his safety, your surprise would have been boundless. His limbs were nearly frozen, and his body dreadfully emaciated by fatigue and suffering. I never saw a man in so wretched a condition. We attempted to carry him into the cabin, but as soon as he had quitted the fresh air he fainted. We accordingly brought him back to the deck and restored him to animation by rubbing him with brandy and forcing him to swallow a small quantity. As soon as he showed signs of life we wrapped him up in blankets and placed him near the chimney of the kitchen stove. By slow degrees he recovered and ate a little soup, which restored him wonderfully. Two days passed in this manner before he was able to speak, and I often feared that his sufferings had deprived him of understanding. When he had in some measure recovered, I removed him to my own cabin and attended on him as much as my duty would permit. I never saw a more interesting creature: his eyes have generally an expression of wildness, and even madness, but there are moments when, if anyone performs an act of kindness towards him or does him any the most trifling service, his whole countenance is lighted up, as it were, with a beam of benevolence and sweetness that I never saw equalled. But he is generally melancholy and despairing, and sometimes he gnashes his teeth, as if impatient of the weight of woes that oppresses him.
 Robert shares his big, big dream with Victor:
I was easily led by the sympathy which he evinced to use the language of my heart, to give utterance to the burning ardour of my soul and to say, with all the fervour that warmed me, how gladly I would sacrifice my fortune, my existence, my every hope, to the furtherance of my enterprise. One man's life or death were but a small price to pay for the acquirement of the knowledge which I sought, for the dominion I should acquire and transmit over the elemental foes of our race. At first I perceived that he tried to suppress his emotion; he placed his hands before his eyes, and my voice quivered and failed me as I beheld tears trickle fast from between his fingers; a groan burst from his heaving breast. I paused; at length he spoke, in broken accents: "Unhappy man! Do you share my madness? Have you drunk also of the intoxicating draught? Hear me; let me reveal my tale, and you will dash the cup from your lips!"

And so it begins...
Yesterday the stranger said to me, "You may easily perceive, Captain Walton, that I have suffered great and unparalleled misfortunes. I had determined at one time that the memory of these evils should die with me, but you have won me to alter my determination. You seek for knowledge and wisdom, as I once did; and I ardently hope that the gratification of your wishes may not be a serpent to sting you, as mine has been. I do not know that the relation of my disasters will be useful to you; yet, when I reflect that you are pursuing the same course, exposing yourself to the same dangers which have rendered me what I am, I imagine that you may deduce an apt moral from my tale, one that may direct you if you succeed in your undertaking and console you in case of failure. He then told me that he would commence his narrative the next day when I should be at leisure. This promise drew from me the warmest thanks. I have resolved every night, when I am not imperatively occupied by my duties, to record, as nearly as possible in his own words, what he has related during the day. If I should be engaged, I will at least make notes. This manuscript will doubtless afford you the greatest pleasure; but to me, who know him, and who hear it from his own lips—with what interest and sympathy shall I read it in some future day! Even now, as I commence my task, his full-toned voice swells in my ears; his lustrous eyes dwell on me with all their melancholy sweetness; I see his thin hand raised in animation, while the lineaments of his face are irradiated by the soul within. Strange and harrowing must be his story, frightful the storm which embraced the gallant vessel on its course and wrecked it—thus!
I've reviewed Frankenstein several times in the past. 2007. 2009. 2010. 2011

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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43. West of the Moon (2014)

West of the Moon. Margi Preus. 2014. Abrams. 224 pages. [Source: Library]

I enjoyed reading Margi Preus' West of the Moon. Astri and her younger sister, Greta, have been left in the care of their aunt and uncle. Their father has gone to America. If all goes well, he will send for them. But their aunt and uncle aren't thrilled to have two additional mouths to feed, to put it kindly. The novel opens with the aunt selling Astri to a stranger, a goat farmer. Her time as his servant is unpleasant, horrible in fact. But she's planning an escape. Not just an escape, but a rescue mission too. She is planning on escaping, rescuing her sister, and somehow, someway, making it to America to find their father. Ambitious, yes, very much so. But Astri is resilient, strong, and determined.

The novel is titled West of the Moon. Throughout the book, Astri makes comparisons between her own life--her own miserable life--and fairy tales or folk tales. The one she uses most often is East of the Sun and West of the Moon. But there are other references as well.

West of the Moon is a historical coming of age story. It is a tale of survival. Astri is many things, as I've mentioned, but she's not perfect. Throughout the entire book, Astri is put into difficult situations, and sometimes a choice is required of her. Choices that will ultimately have consequences. Astri's decisions give readers something to think about perhaps.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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44. Reread #43 Grave Mercy

Grave Mercy. Robin LaFevers. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 560 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I have now read Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers three times. (The first review; the second review.) It is a book that is a pleasure to reread. (Not every book is.) I enjoy Grave Mercy because it is intriguing and compelling.

It is set in Brittany in the late 1480s. You can read more about the time period in which this historical novel is set. One of the central characters is Anne of Brittany. Some might feel it is heavy on politics, but, I enjoyed the politics and the tension.

I wish the author had included more, at the very least more real names. For example, instead of "king of England" or "England's king" I wish she'd named him: Henry VII. There were places she could have been more specific, grounded the book more into history. I'd have LOVED an author's note. I'd have also loved an indication of which characters were historical people and which weren't. 

Grave Mercy is not your traditional historical romance. (Well, now that I think about it. If Philippa Gregory can have witches and curses in her Cousins' War series, and be considered "historical" romance, then Grave Mercy might rightly be included as well.) For those that love, love, love romance, I think there is plenty of it in Grave Mercy. I think that is one of its most satisfying features. For those that love fantasy and/or mythology, I think it has some appeal as well. The heroine, Ismae, is Death's daughter and his handmaiden. She lives in a convent, of sorts, dedicated to serving Death. She is a trained assassin. She kills those that her lord (Death) has marked for death.

One of her assignments brings her close to Duval, the half-brother of Anne of Brittany. They share a common goal: to protect Anne, to protect Brittany. But she's been taught--trained--to trust no one, to love no one. So this assignment will test her certainly!

The book has plenty of action, drama, mystery, and politics.
"Are you drunk?" I try to put as much scorn into my words as he did.
"No. Yes. Perhaps a little. Definitely not enough." The bleakness is back and he turns to stare into the flames.
I am torn between wanting to leave him to wallow in his despair and wanting to rush to his side and chase that look from his eyes. That I long to do this appalls me, sets panic fluttering against my ribs.
"I suggest you return to your room," Duval says, his gaze still fixed woodenly on the fire. "Unless you have come to practice your lessons of seduction on me?" His mouth twists in bitter amusement. "That could well entertain me till sunrise."
I jerk my head back as if I have been slapped. "No, milord. I had thought only to pray for your soul if Madame Hivern had seen fit to poison you. Nothing more." And with that, I turn and flee the room, then bolt the door against the disturbing glimpse of both his soul and mine. Whatever games are being played here, he is master at them, and I will do well to remember that. (155)
"What is my fair assassin so afraid of? I wonder."
"I'm not afraid."
Duval tilts his head to the side. "No?" He studies me a long moment, then rises out of his chair. I hold my breath as he crosses to my bed. "Are you afraid I will draw closer, perhaps?" His voice is pitched low, little more than a purr. My breath catches in my throat, trapped by something I long to call fear but that doesn't feel like fear at all. (174)
His smile flashes, quick and surprising in the darkness. "When one consorts with assassins, one must expect to dance along the edge of a knife once or twice. I bid you good night." (218)

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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45. Week in Review: October 19-25

The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Library]
A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens. 1854/2003. Bantam Classics. 382 pages. [Source: Bought]
Silver Like Dust. Kimi Cunningham Grant. 2012. Pegasus. 288 pages. [Source: Library]
Grave Mercy. Robin LaFevers. 2012. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 560 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Forbidden Flats (Sky Jumpers #2) Peggy Eddleman. 2014. Random House. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Magic in the Mix. Annie Barrows. 2014. Bloomsbury. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
While Love Stirs. Lorna Seilstad. 2014. Revell. 341 pages. [Source: Bought]
Loving Jesus More. Philip Graham Ryken. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Crossway.]
Rich Mullins: An Arrow Pointing to Heaven (A Devotional Biography). James Bryan Smith. 2000. B&amp;H. 272 pages. [Source: Bought]

This week's favorite:

I love, love, LOVE Jonathan Auxier's The Night Gardener. It may just be my favorite book published in 2014. 

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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46. Dancers in Mourning (1937)

Dancers in Mourning. Margery Allingham. 1937. 337 pages. [Source: Bought]
 When Mr. William Faraday sat down to write his memoirs after fifty-eight years of blameless inactivity he found the work of inscribing the history of his life almost as tedious as living it had been and so, possessing a natural invention coupled with a gift for locating the easier path, he began to prevaricate a little upon the second page, working up to downright lying on the sixth and subsequent folios.
The book appeared at eighteen-and-sixpence, with frontispiece, in nineteen thirty-four and would have passed into the limbo of the remainder lists with thousands of its prototypes had not the quality of one of the wilder anecdotes in the chapters dealing with an India the author had never seen earned it a place in the news columns of a Sunday paper.
This paragraph called the memoirs to the attention of a critic who had not permitted his eminence to impair his appreciation of the absurd, and in the review which he afterwards wrote he pointed out that the work was pure fiction, not to say fantasy, and was incidentally one of the funniest books of the decade.
The public agreed with the critic and at the age of sixty-one William Faraday, author of Memoirs of an Old Buffer (republished at seven-and-six, seventy-fourth thousand), found himself a literary figure.
I was disappointed with this vintage mystery. While I absolutely loved the opening pages, by the end I found the whole book to be a mess. I admit it could be a mood thing. As much as I wanted to like it, even love it, perhaps I didn't have the patience to remember the large cast of suspects. Or perhaps the problem is that the characters aren't well drawn enough, aren't unique enough, to distinguish between. There were three or four characters that I could remember. But for the others, it was who is she again? who is he again? how does he fit into the group again? where did she come from?

Albert Campion has been invited into the inner circle of Jimmy Sutane and his friends. Sutane is in show business--the theater. Uncle William is, I believe, a mutual friend? Regardless, Uncle William is one of Campion's closest friends in the book. Anyway, Sutane invites Campion to his country house. There are many, many people there. Mostly his guests are in show business too--in the same currently running production. But a few are in his employ or in his family. By the end of the day, tragedy will strike and one of the guests will be dead.

The main reason I found this book to be a complete mess is Albert Campion. He is a horrible detective in this one. Why? Because at the party, he falls madly, deeply in LOVE with Jimmy Sutane's wife. He believes that they share a meaningful moment. In fact, he gets so swept up in the moment...he finds himself almost rushing across the room and taking her in his arms. At least he doesn't do that. But. Regardless. His inappropriate interest in Linda--Jimmy's wife--keeps him from using his brain for hundreds of pages. He doesn't want the murder to be solved just in case the murderer is someone that she cares about, just in case bringing the murderer to justice would make her feel bad. It's RIDICULOUS.


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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47. Library Loot: Fourth Trip in October


New Loot:
  • Penguin in Peril by Helen Hancocks  
  • Missing Pieces of Me by Jean Van Leeuwen
  • The Animals' Santa by Jan Brett
  • Victoria: A Life by A.N. Wilson
  • Greenglass House by Kate Milford
  • A Quilt for Christmas by Sandra Dallas 
  • Flights and Chimes and Mysterious Times by Emma Trevayne
  • On the Blue Comet by Rosemary Wells
  • The Mangle Street Murders by M.R.C. Kasasian
  • Twelve Drummers Drumming by C.c. Benison
  • Claude at the Circus by Alex T. Smith
  • Claude at the Beach by Alex T. Smith
  • The Animals' Santa by Jan Brett
  • Follow Follow by Marilyn Singer
Leftover Loot:
  • Tumtum & Nutmeg The Rose Cottage Tales by Emily Bearn
  • Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes
  • The Dark Lady by Irene Adler, translated by Chris Turner
  • 4:50 From Paddington by Agatha Christie
  • Saving Lucas Biggs by Marisa de los Santos and David Teague
  • The Inventor's Secret by Andrea Cremer
  • A Little House Christmas by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • When Santa Fell To Earth by Cornelia Funke 
  • The Wars of the Roses by Dan 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.  

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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48. Children in the Holocaust and World War II

Children in the Holocaust: Their Secret Diaries. Laurel Holliday, ed. 1996. 432 pages. [Source: Library]

Children in the Holocaust and World War II: Their Secret Diaries is an almost must-read in my opinion. It is incredibly compelling and emotional. Memoirs are great. They are. I have loved many autobiographies and biographies. But diaries are a bit unique. They tend to stay in the moment; there is a rawness perhaps in the emotions. They capture specific moments in time. They record the best and worst and everything in between. These diary entries are well worth reading.
These children's diaries are testimonies to the fact that telling the truth about violence is not harmful. In fact, one wonders how much greater harm these boys and girls would have suffered had they not written about the horrific events they were experiencing. Far more dangerous than reading about atrocities, I believe, is the pretense that atrocities do not occur. To turn our eyes away and refuse to see, or to let children see, what prejudice and hatred lead to is truly to warp our collective psyche. It is important for all of us--adults and children alike--to acknowledge the depths to which humankind can sink. The children teach us, by sharing their own direct experience of oppression, that nothing is more valuable than human freedom. This lesson alone is reason enough to read and to encourage children to read, these diaries.
This book gathers together diary entries from twenty-two writers. The countries represented include: Poland, Holland, Germany, Czechoslovakia, Austria, Hungary, Lithuania, Russia, Belgium, England, Israel, and Denmark. Seven of the twenty-two writers are from Poland. Some writers survived the war. Others did not. I believe that all of these entries have been previously published in some format, in at least one language. The listed age refers to the writer's age for the first diary entry printed in the book. This book provides excerpts from diaries. None of the diaries, I believe, are reprinted in full. These excerpts represent the diaries as a whole, and provide a bigger picture for understanding the war.
  • Janine Phillips, Poland, 10 years old
  • Ephraim Shtenkler, Poland, 11 years old
  • Dirk Van der Heide, Holland, 12 years old
  • Werner Galnick, Germany, 12 years old
  • Janina Heshele, Poland, 12 years old
  • Helga Weissova-Hoskova, Czechoslovakia, 12 years old
  • Dawid Rubinowicz, Poland, 12 years old
  • Helga Kinsky-Pollack, Austria, 13 years old
  • Eva Heyman, Hungary, 13 years old
  • Tamarah Lazerson, Lithuania, 13 years old
  • Yitskhok Rudashevski, Lithuania, 14 years old
  • Macha Rolnikas, Lithuania, 14 years old
  • Charlotte Veresova, Czechoslovakia, 14 years old
  • Mary Berg (pseudonym), Poland, 15 years old
  • Ina Konstantinova, Russia, 16 years old
  • Moshe Flinker, Belgium, 16 years old
  • Joan Wyndham, England, 16 years old
  • Hannah Senesh, Hungary and Israel, 17 years old
  • Sarah Fishkin, Poland, 17 years old
  • Kim Malthe-Bruun, Denmark, 18 years old
  • Colin Perry, England, 18 years old
  • The Unknown Brother and Sister of Lodz Ghetto, Poland, Unknown Age and 12 years old
I won't lie. This book is difficult to read. Difficult in terms of subject matter. It is an emotional experience. Readers are reading private diary entries. The entries capture the terror and horror of the times. They capture the uncertainty that almost all felt: will I survive? will I survive the day? will I survive the war? will my family? will my friends? will I witness their deaths? will I have ANY food to eat today? tomorrow? how much worse can it get? when will this all be over? will I be alive to see the end of the war? what if the Nazis win? The diaries capture facts and details. But they also capture feelings and reactions.
Shootings have now become very frequent at the ghetto exits. Usually they are perpetrated by some guard who wants to amuse himself. Every day, morning and afternoon, when I go to school, I am not sure whether I will return alive. I have to go past two of the most dangerous German sentry posts..., Mary Berg, February 27, 1942, p. 233
Dr. Janusz Korczak's children's home is empty now. A few days ago we all stood at the window and watched the Germans surround the houses. Rows of children, holding each other by their little hands, began to walk out of the doorway. There were tiny tots of two or three years among them, while the oldest ones were perhaps thirteen. Each child carried a little bundle in his hand. All of them wore white aprons. They walked in ranks of two, calm, and even smiling. They had not the slightest foreboding of their fate. At the end of the procession marched Dr. Korczak, who saw to it that the children did not walk on the sidewalk. Now and then, with fatherly solicitude, he stroked a child on the head or arm, and straightened out the ranks. He wore high boots, with his trousers stuck in them, an alpaca coat, and a navy-blue cap, the so-called Maciejowka cap. He walked with a firm step, and was accompanied by one of the doctors of the children's home, who wore his white smock. This sad procession vanished at the corner of Dzielna and Smocza Streets. They went in the direction of Gesia Street, to the cemetery. At the cemetery all the children were shot. We were also told by our informants that Dr. Korczak was forced to witness the executions, and that he himself was shot afterward. Thus died one of the purest and noblest men who ever lived. He was the pride of the ghetto. His children's home gave us courage, and all of us gladly gave part of our own scanty means to support the model home organized by this great idealist. He devoted all his life, all his creative work as an educator and writer, to the poor children of Warsaw. Even at the last moment he refused to be separated from them. ~ Mary Berg, August, 1942, p. 239
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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49. The Right Fight (2014)

The Right Fight. Chris Lynch. 2014. Scholastic. 192 pages. [Source: Library]

 I enjoyed Chris Lynch's The Right Fight. Roman, the protagonist, loves, loves, LOVES baseball. But he loves his country even more. That is why he enlisted even before America entered the war--the second world war. The book chronicles his early experiences in the war as a tank driver. Readers see him through training, war games, and going overseas, his various assignments and missions. (Most of the book sees him in North Africa). Readers experience it from his point of view and from a few letters as well. One sees how his fellow soldiers--the men in his tank specifically--form a family. One also sees the many (often-ugly) sides of war.

I enjoyed this one. I thought there was a good balance of action (war) and characterization. I liked getting to know Roman, his fiancee, his war buddies.


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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50. Gabriel Finley & The Raven's Riddle (2014)

Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle. George Hagen. 2014. Random House. 384 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

I would say I enjoyed Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle, but, I'm not sure enjoyed is the right word. It kept me reading. I found it hard to put down. I wanted to know what happened next. Even if part of me didn't want to know. The book is creepy, or middle grade creepy which may or may not be satisfying enough for adult readers. There are ravens and valravens (vampire ravens), owls, robins, and perhaps a handful of other birds. Some working for good, some working for evil. There is some mythology and world-building. Gabriel Finley is the hero. This is his coming-of-age story. He's being raised by an aunt. She's strange and secretive and NEVER talks about his parents--well, in particular his father. As his birthday approaches, he begins to find out a bit about his family's past for better or worse. Turns out his father and uncle are a bit different or unique. Turns out he is different too. He can understand birds--ravens. He can hear them talking in his mind. Their is one in particular that is apparently destined to be his best friend, his other half.

Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle is part coming of age novel and part adventure-quest-fantasy. The quest is both to save his father AND to save the world. All adventure quest stories have friends who help. Gabriel has several that he lets in on the secret. Abby and Pamela. And then there is Somes, a sometimes bully that just happens to come along at the right time to fall into this adventure.

I wanted to know what happened next. But at the same time, this one irritated and annoyed me. The hero didn't always seem so bright and clever.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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