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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. March Reflections

In March, I reviewed 54 books. 

Board books, picture books, early readers (fiction, nonfiction):

  1. This is The Baby. Candace Fleming. Illustrated by Maggie Smith. 2004. FSG. 40 pages. [Source: Book I Own] 
  2. Dig! Andrea Zimmerman and David Clemesha. Illustrated by Marc Rosenthal. 2004. Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Book I Own] 
  3. B is for Bulldozer: A Construction ABC. June Sobel. Illustrated by Melissa Iwai. 2003/2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. Can You Say It, Too? Woof! Woof! With BIG flaps to Lift! Sebastien Braun. 2014. Candlewick Press. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  5. Can You Say It, Too? Moo! Moo! With BIG Flaps to Lift! Sebastien Braun. 2014. Candlewick Press. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. A Birthday for Cow. Jan Thomas. 2008/2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 36 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  7. Tickle. Leslie Patricelli. 2014. Candlewick Press. 26 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  8. Toot. Leslie Patricelli. 2014. Candlewick Press. 24 pages. [Source: Review copy]    
  9. The Tree House That Jack Built. Bonnie Verburg. Illustrated by Mark Teague. 2014. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  10. Hello, Moon! Francesca Simon. Illustrated by Ben Cort. 2014. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  11. A Pet for Fly Guy. Tedd Arnold. 2014 Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  12. Zoe's Jungle. Bethanie Deeney Murguia. 2014. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  13. Naughty Kitty! Adam Stower. 2014. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]    
  14. Animal Colors. Thea Feldman. 2014. Kingfisher. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  15. Tyrannosaurus. Thea Feldman. 2014. Kingfisher. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  16. In the Rainforest by Claire Llewellyn. 2014. Kingfisher. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  17. Firefighters by Chris Oxlade and Thea Feldman. 2014. Kingfisher. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  18. Scholastic Discover More: Penguins. Penny Arlon. 2012. Scholastic. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  19. Scholastic Discover More: Penguins Stickerbook. 2014. Scholastic. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  20. Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems. J Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian. 2014. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Middle grade and Young adult (fiction, nonfiction):
  1. The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson. 2013. Simon & Schuster. 240 pages. [Source: Library]  
  2. P.S. Be Eleven. Rita Williams-Garcia. 2013. HarperCollins. 274 pages. [Source: Library 
  3. We Were Liars. E. Lockhart. 2014. Random House. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. The Giver. Lois Lowry. 1993. Houghton Mifflin. 180 pages. [Source: Library]  
  5. Afternoon of the Elves. Janet Taylor Lisle. 1989. Scholastic. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  6. Fair Weather. Richard Peck. 2001. Penguin. 160 pages. [Source: Library] 
  7. A Long Way From Chicago. Richard Peck. 1998. Penguin. 148 pages. [Source: Library book]  
  8. Independent Study. Joelle Charbonneau. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 320 pages. [Source: Library] 
  9. Fire & Flood. Victoria Scott. 2014. Scholastic. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  10. Five Children and It. E. Nesbit. 1902/2004. Puffin Classics. 240 pages. [Source: Book I bought] 
  11. Seven Wild Sisters: A Modern Fairy Tale. Charles de Lint. Illustrated by Charles Vess. 2014. Little, Brown. 272 pages. [Source: Library] 
  12. Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott. 2014. Harlequin. 256 pages. [Source: Library]  
  13. True Colors. Natalie Kinsey-Warnock. 2012. Random House. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  14. The Testing. Joelle Charbonneau. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 344 pages. [Source: Review Copy]  
  15. Scarlet. A.C. Gaughen. 2012. Walker. 292 pages. [Source: Library]
Adult fiction and nonfiction:
  1. Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen. 1813. 386 pages. [Source: Book I Bought] 
  2. In the Best Families. (Nero Wolfe). Rex Stout. 1950. 272 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
  3. A Rogue's Life. Wilkie Collins. 1856. 159 pages. [Source: Book I bought] 
  4. Death Comes to the Village. Catherine Lloyd. 2013. Kensington. 304 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. Rosie's Riveting Recipes: Cooking and Kitchen Tips from 1940s America. Daniela Turudich. 2003. Streamline Press. 288 pages. [Source: Library]
  6.  William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back. (William Shakespeare's Star Wars #2) Ian Doescher. 2014. 176 pages. [Source: Library]
Christian fiction and nonfiction:
  1. The Storytelling God: Seeing the Glory of Jesus in His Parables. Jared C. Wilson. 2014. Crossway. 192 pages.  
  2. A Loving Life. Paul E. Miller. 2014. Crossway. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  3. The Attributes of God. A.W. Tozer. 1996. Christian Publications. 176 pages. [Book I Bought]
  4. Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending The Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship. John MacArthur. 2013. Thomas Nelson. 333 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  5. 52 Words Every Christian Should Know. Kendell Easley. 2010. B&H. 124 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  6. The Rhyme Bible Storybook for Toddlers. L.J. Sattgast. Illustrated by Laurence Cleyet-Merle. 2014. Zonderkidz. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  7. Now That I'm A Christian: What It Means to Follow Jesus. C. Michael Patton. 2014. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  8. The Attributes of God, volume 2: Deeper Into the Father's Heart. A.W. Tozer. 2001/2007. Wingspread. 203 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  9. Discovering the Power of Christ's Prayer Life. Charles Spurgeon. Compiled and Edited by Lance Wubbels. 1995. Emerald Books. 204 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  10. God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-love of God Reorients Our World. David F. Wells. 2014. Crossway. 272 pages. [Source: Library] 
  11. Taking A Risk On Love. Irene Brand. 2012. Barbour (Heartsong Presents) 184 pages. [Source: Book I Bought] 
  12. Childless (Fatherless #2) James C. Dobson and Kurt Bruner. 2013. FaithWords. 448 pages. [Source: Book I Bought] 
  13. Practical Theology for Women. Wendy Horger Alsup. 2008. Crossway. 154 pages. [Source: Review copy]
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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27. Two More Kingfisher Readers

In the Rainforest by Claire Llewellyn. 2014. Kingfisher. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

In the Rainforest by Claire Llewellyn is a level two nonfiction reader published by Kingfisher. Other level two titles include: Fur and Feathers, Trucks, What Animals Eat, Where Animals Live, Where We Live, and Your Body. Level two titles feature longer sentences with familiar vocabulary, engaging pictures, a table of contents, page headings, and a simple glossary. The glossary for In The Rainforest includes these words: canopy, camouflage, equator, mine, nectar, oxygen, poison, prey, and sloth. Level two readers definitely have a different look to them compared to level one readers! They are definitely more complex and focused on sharing even more information.

I liked the page headings. I liked how the two-page spread focused on sharing specific information, and how easy it was to find exactly what you were looking for. I do believe that children need to learn how to use nonfiction books from an early age, and this one will help with that task.

The book focuses on rainforests as a whole: plants and trees, and, of course, animals. It also mentions humans and rainforests: how humans have lived in villages in-or-near rainforests, but, how some humans pose a threat to the survival of rainforests.

Firefighters by Chris Oxlade and Thea Feldman. 2014. Kingfisher. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Firefighters by Chris Oxlade and Thea Feldman is a level three nonfiction reader published by Kingfisher. Other level three titles include: Ancient Rome, Cars, Creepy-Crawlers, Dinosaur World, Record-Breakers, and Volcanoes. Level three readers feature short paragraphs with more complex sentences, introduce high-interest specialized vocabulary, include a table of contents, captions, fact boxes, glossary, and index. The glossary for Firefighters include the words: breathing apparatus, cutter, emergency, equipment, fire extinguisher, foam, hydrant, nozzle, pump, siren, smoke detector, spreader, sprinkler, wildfire, and winch. You can tell from the glossary that this will definitely be more complex and informative than any level one or two reader!

From "What is a Firefighter?"
A firefighter is someone who helps in an emergency. A firefighter's main job is to put out fires. When a fire starts, a team of firefighters rushes to the fire. The firefighters use hoses, ladders, and other equipment to put out the fire. They rescue people trapped by fire, too.
Firefighters help with other emergencies. They rescue people after accidents such as car crashes. They also help people trapped in floods or on cliffs by the sea.

I found this one to be very informative. It even includes a two page spread on firefighters in the past!

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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28. William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back (2014)

William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back. (William Shakespeare's Star Wars #2) Ian Doescher. 2014. 176 pages. [Source: Library]

I really enjoyed reading William Shakespeare's Star Wars, Verily A New Hope. It was fun seeing the original movie as a Shakespeare play. I liked seeing the dialogue transformed. I liked finding my favorite lines. It was just a fun treat.

Though I definitely enjoy The Empire Strikes Back as a movie, I can't say that this adaptation did it justice. The balance does not feel quite right, in my opinion. Perhaps it errs too much on the side of Shakespeare? Perhaps the characters have become too in touch with their emotions and feelings, perhaps they are too fond of asides and soliloquies. Perhaps there is too much talking in general? I don't know. It could be as simple as me not being in the just-right mood.

Wampa: You viewers all, whose gentle hearts do fear
The smallest womp rat creeping on the floor,
May now perchance both quake and tremble here,
When wampa through in wildest rage doth roar.
Pray know that I am a wampa simple am,
And take no pleasure in my angry mood.
Though with great force this young one's face I slam,
I prithee know I strike but for my food. (12)

AT-AT 1: My friends, we have had quite enough of talk:
The battle is upon us, let us go.
And ye who doubt, I pray remember this:
Although we are but AT-ATs gray and plain,
We have a noble task to undertake--
Our mighty Emperor's reign to protect,
The great Darth Vader to obey and aid,
And Admiral Piett to serve with pride.
So shall an AT-AT swoon before the fight,
Or should our legs be shaken ere th'assault?
Have we been made to cower? I say nay!
An AT-AT should be made of sterner stuff.

AT-AT 3 [to AT-AT2:] I pray, good walker, is he ever thus?

AT-AT 2: Aye, truly, Sir, I never yet have met
An All Terrain Armored Transport who
Is loftier of mind than this one here.
Indeed, although like us he's made of steel,
He never enters battle zones unless
He hath made some great speech to steel his nerves.
It does no harm.

AT-AT3: No harm, but to mine ears.
I'd rather fight than hear another speech. (45-46)

Exogor: Alas, another meal hath fled and gone,
And in the process I am sorely hurt.
These travelers who have escap'd my reach
Us'd me past the endurance of a block!
My stomach they did injure mightily
With jabs and pricks, as though a needle were
A'bouncing in my belly. O cruel Fate!
To be a space slug is a lonely lot,
With no one on this rock to share my life,
No true companion here to mark my days.
And now my meals do from my body fly--
Was e'er a beast by supper so abus'd?
Was e'er a creature's case so pitiful?
Was e'er an exogorth as sad as I?
Was e'er a tragedy as deep as mine?
I shall with weeping crawl back to my cave,
Which shall, sans food, belike become my grave. (86)

Yoda: Nay, nay! Try thou not.
But do thou or do thou not,
For there is no "try." (98)

Yoda: Warned thee I have--
He a reckless spirit hath.
Now matters are worse.
Obi-Wan: That boy is our first, last, and greatest hope.
Yoda: But nay, 'tis not so.
For another yet there is:
One more hope for us.

O how this plagues me!
The boy for training hath come,
But too soon is fled.

A young bird he is,
Too eager the nest to leave,
Yet trying to fly.

But young birds fly not--
Their wings still too fragile are.
Instead, they do fall.

And fall this one shall.
But how far, how fast, how long?
Time only shall tell.

Little bird, be safe.
If thou the nest seest again
I shall meet thee then. (112)
I'm not saying that there weren't enjoyable scenes in William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back. There were. There always will be when the author sticks close to the inspiration. Luke. Hans. Leia. Yoda. There are characters that you can't help enjoying. (Yoda speaks in haiku in this play). But while I enjoyed the first book cover to cover, while I read it with glee, I can't say the same with this second book. I liked a scene here and there.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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29. Newbery ABC's

A is for Adam of the Road by Elizabeth Janet Gray
B is for Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
C is for Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi
D is for The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper
E is for Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Louise Engdahl
F is for From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler
G is for The Giver by Lois Lowry
H is for Hitty, Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field
I is for Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs
J is for Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
K is for Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata
L is for Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
M is for Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien
N is for Number the Stars by Lois Lowry
O is for Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
P is for Paperboy by Vince Vawter
Q is for The Quaint and Curious Quest of Johnny Longfoot by Catherine Besterman
R is for Ramona Quimby, Age 8 by Beverly Cleary
S is for Sarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan
T is for The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
U is for Up A Road Slowly by Irene Hunt
V is for The Voice That Challenged A Nation by Russell Freedman
W is for The Watson's Go to Birmingham: 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis
X is for Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins
Y is for Year Down Yonder by Richard Peck
Z is for Zlateh The Goat and Other Stories by Isaac Bashevis Singer

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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30. Thoughts on Frozen

I don't know how to talk about Frozen without including spoilers. So if you plan on seeing the movie and don't want to know anything at all about it, then skip this post.

I love Frozen. I do. I love the music of Frozen. I love singing along with Frozen. I also love thinking about the film and how it all fits. I like seeing Frozen as part of a progression. In other words, how far has Disney come since Snow White? In terms of characterizations, in the qualities of heroes and heroines, in matters of the heart (and head). I think Frozen goes beyond even Enchanted in reacting to the extremes.

For example, early Disney films (Snow White, Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, etc.) there is a certain pattern. There is an expression of longing, waiting, wishing--all done in song of course! (Snow White's "I'm Wishing," Rapunzel's "When Will My Life Begin," Ariel's "Part Of Your World") "True Love's Kiss" from Enchanted is a great example.  Frozen has two such songs early in the film. "Do You Want To Build A Snowman?" expresses her longing for a relationship with her sister, and, "First Time In Forever" expresses her longing for romance and a chance to find "the one."

There is certainly a sameness to early Disney heroes or princes. One must be "a prince." One must be able to dance. One must be able to sing--or at least be able to sing a song in one's head. Being able to ride a horse is a plus as well. And then there is the whole stand there and look handsome bit. Disney princes spent decades being fractionally dimensional as characters. (Does Cinderella's prince ever say a word outside of echoing Cinderella in  "So This Is Love"? Snow White's Prince does have a song of his own. It's a simple song, it's true, but heartfelt.)

Prince Hans is the perfect Disney prince. From the moment he appears on screen, viewers can see the potential. He's handsome. He is gentlemanly. He can dance. He can sing. (He has a horse.) "Love Is An Open Door" sums up decades and decades worth of love and romance Disney style.

Anna, one of the heroines, is impulsive, loving, trusting, clumsy, lonely, desperate, talkative, and sweet. She has led a sheltered life, a lonely life, an in-her-own-head life. She's immature and needy, but, kind and sweet and tentatively assertive. There are times when she steps up and acts. She is NOT ready for marriage. She thinks she's ready. But she's not. Not even close. When a person is already so in love with the idea of being in love and finding true love on this oh-so-special, once-in-a-lifetime night, one can be easily persuaded that the other person feels exactly the same way. Such is the case in Frozen.

Honestly, I'm not sure there is any foreshadowing whatsoever in regards to Prince Hans. And I haven't decided how I feel about that. Prince Hans is either a) a professional con man and an incredibly gifted actor who can fool anyone and everyone b) an all too human prince who saw an opportunity and grabbed it. Disney's villains are usually so outspoken and obvious.

But Frozen isn't about Anna and Prince Hans. About "finding" or "losing" that one true love. Frozen is a film about sisters, about love, about how everyone is a bit of a "fixer upper." (I love the "Fixer Upper" song.)

Elsa is the Snow Queen. Her life is a struggle. She has wrongly been told that fear is her biggest enemy. It is Elsa's own fear that is her biggest enemy. It is fear of what she can do, fear of losing control, fear of not living up to expectations, it is fear of what she can lose, fear of what people will think and say and do. Fear has kept her from loving. Fear has kept her from living. I love Elsa. I do. It is only when she can accept and embrace love, when she can love in return without fear, that she finds peace with who she is, the power within.

Both Anna and Elsa have a LOT to learn about love, but it isn't primarily romantic love. The film asks, what is love, and gives several different answers...

I love the characters. I do. I love Sven and Kristoff. I love Olaf. I love Anna and Elsa. I love the trolls! Well, most of the trolls. (I do think that the main troll gave bad advice at the very beginning of the film.)

Do you have a favorite song? Least favorite song? Do you have a favorite scene? A favorite line?

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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31. Week in Review: March 23-29

In the Best Families. (Nero Wolfe). Rex Stout. 1950. 272 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
Five Children and It. E. Nesbit. 1902/2004. Puffin Classics. 240 pages. [Source: Book I bought]
Seven Wild Sisters: A Modern Fairy Tale. Charles de Lint. Illustrated by Charles Vess. 2014. Little, Brown. 272 pages. [Source: Library]
Death Comes to the Village. Catherine Lloyd. 2013. Kensington. 304 pages. [Source: Library]
Animal Colors. Thea Feldman. 2014. Kingfisher. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Tyrannosaurus. Thea Feldman. 2014. Kingfisher. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems. J Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian. 2014. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Taking A Risk On Love. Irene Brand. 2012. Barbour (Heartsong Presents) 184 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
Childless (Fatherless #2) James C. Dobson and Kurt Bruner. 2013. FaithWords. 448 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
Practical Theology for Women. Wendy Horger Alsup. 2008. Crossway. 154 pages. [Source: Review copy]

My favorite book:

There were two books this week that I absolutely loved, loved, loved. I have read Five Children and It a handful of times now. I just love and adore this children's classic. If you have not read E. Nesbit, this would be a great first choice! I also absolutely loved, loved, loved In the Best Families by Rex Stout. Rex Stout wrote many, many Nero Wolfe mysteries. In The Best Families is the last book in a trilogy starring Nero Wolfe and Archie Goodwin. (And Be A Villain and Second Confession are the first two. The Second Confession and In The Best Families should definitely be read in order. And Be A Villain is more of a stand alone.) Nero and Archie are two of my FAVORITE characters. I love them so much. And this is one of the best, best books in the series, that is why it is my choice for this week's favorite and best!

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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32. Reread #13 Five Children and It

Five Children and It. E. Nesbit. 1902/2004. Puffin Classics. 240 pages. [Source: Book I bought]

 The house was three miles from the station, but before the dusty hired fly had rattled along for five minutes the children began to put their heads out of the carriage window and to say, 'Aren't we nearly there?' And every time they passed a house, which was not very often, they all said, 'Oh, is this it?' But it never was, till they reached the very top of the hill, just past the chalk-quarry and before you come to the gravel-pit. And then there was a white house with a green garden and an orchard beyond, and mother said, 'Here we are!'

I have now read Five Children and It three times. It's a children's book that I love and adore. It is not the fact that it is absolutely perfect, that it is flawless. It was very much written in 1902. There will be situations and/or sentences that reflect the times in which they were written, and not our times. In Five Children and It, I'm referring to the chapter on the children "playing Indian" and warring with a "Red Indian" tribe who wants to scalp them and eat them. But. In spite of its flaws, in spite of the fact that its dated, I really do enjoy spending time with Robert, Cyril, Anthea, Jane, and Lamb.

Four children 'discover' a Sand Fairy (Psammead) one summer day. They learn that he can begrudgingly grant wishes. They have a wish per day, sometimes if they get into BIG trouble, he'll allow an extra wish or two. Do these children get into big trouble with their wishes?! Of course!!! Their wishes always have HORRIBLE consequences. They try and try to be smart and clever about their wishing, but some things can't be helped!

Favorite quotes:
Grown-up people find it very difficult to believe really wonderful things, unless they have what they call proof. But children will believe almost anything, and grown-ups know this. That is why they tell you that the earth is round like an orange, when you can see perfectly well that it is flat and lumpy; and why they say that the earth goes round the sun, when you can see for yourself any day that the sun gets up in the morning and goes to bed at night like a good sun as it is, and the earth knows its place, and lies as still as a mouse. Yet I daresay you believe all that about the earth and the sun, and if so you will find it quite easy to believe that before Anthea and Cyril and the others had been a week in the country they had found a fairy. At least they called it that, because that was what it called itself; and of course it knew best, but it was not at all like any fairy you ever saw or heard of or read about.
Each of the children carried its own spade, and took it in turns to carry the Lamb. He was the baby, and they called him that because “Baa” was the first thing he ever said. They called Anthea “Panther,” which seems silly when you read it, but when you say it it sounds a little like her name.
“You don’t know?” it said. “Well, I knew the world had changed — but — well, really — Do you mean to tell me seriously you don’t know a Psammead when you see one?” “A Sammyadd? That’s Greek to me.” “So it is to everyone,” said the creature sharply. “Well, in plain English, then, a Sand-fairy. Don’t you know a Sand-fairy when you see one?” It looked so grieved and hurt that Jane hastened to say, “Of course I see you are, now. It’s quite plain now one comes to look at you.” “You came to look at me, several sentences ago,” it said crossly, beginning to curl up again in the sand. “Oh — don’t go away again! Do talk some more,” Robert cried. “I didn’t know you were a Sand-fairy, but I knew directly I saw you that you were much the wonderfullest thing I’d ever seen.” The Sand-fairy seemed a shade less disagreeable after this.
It is wonderful how quickly you get used to things, even the most astonishing. Five minutes before, the children had had no more idea than you had that there was such a thing as a Sand-fairy in the world, and now they were talking to it as though they had known it all their lives.
We Sand-fairies used to live on the seashore, and the children used to come with their little flint-spades and flint-pails and make castles for us to live in. That’s thousands of years ago, but I hear that children still build castles on the sand. It’s difficult to break yourself of a habit.
I daresay you have often thought what you would do if you had three wishes given you, and have despised the old man and his wife in the black-pudding story, and felt certain that if you had the chance you could think of three really useful wishes without a moment’s hesitation. These children had often talked this matter over, but, now the chance had suddenly come to them, they could not make up their minds. “Quick,” said the Sand-fairy crossly. No one could think of anything, only Anthea did manage to remember a private wish of her own and Jane’s which they had never told the boys. She knew the boys would not care about it — but still it was better than nothing. “I wish we were all as beautiful as the day,” she said in a great hurry. The children looked at each other, but each could see that the others were not any better-looking than usual. The Psammead pushed out his long eyes, and seemed to be holding its breath and swelling itself out till it was twice as fat and furry as before. Suddenly it let its breath go in a long sigh. “I’m really afraid I can’t manage it,” it said apologetically; “I must be out of practice.” The children were horribly disappointed. “Oh, do try again!” they said. “Well,” said the Sand-fairy, “the fact is, I was keeping back a little strength to give the rest of you your wishes with. If you’ll be contented with one wish a day among the lot of you I daresay I can screw myself up to it. Do you agree to that?” “Yes, oh yes!” said Jane and Anthea. The boys nodded. They did not believe the Sand-fairy could do it. You can always make girls believe things much easier than you can boys.

“Humph!” said the Sand-fairy. (If you read this story aloud, please pronounce “humph” exactly as it is spelt, for that is how he said it.)
And that, my dear children, is the moral of this chapter. I did not mean it to have a moral, but morals are nasty forward beings, and will keep putting in their oars where they are not wanted. And since the moral has crept in, quite against my wishes, you might as well think of it next time you feel piggy yourself and want to get rid of any of your brothers and sisters. I hope this doesn’t often happen, but I daresay it has happened sometimes, even to you!
It was a long day, and it was not till the afternoon that all the children suddenly decided to write letters to their mother.
“Darling Mother, — I hope you are quite well, and I hope Granny is better. The other day we....” Then came a flood of ink, and at the bottom these words in pencil — “It was not me upset the ink, but it took such a time clearing up, so no more as it is post-time. — From your loving daughter “Anthea.”
Robert’s letter had not even been begun. He had been drawing a ship on the blotting paper while he was trying to think of what to say. And of course after the ink was upset he had to help Anthea to clean out her desk, and he promised to make her another secret drawer, better than the other. And she said, “Well, make it now.” So it was post-time and his letter wasn’t done. And the secret drawer wasn’t done either.
Cyril wrote a long letter, very fast, and then went to set a trap for slugs that he had read about in the Home-made Gardener, and when it was post-time the letter could not be found, and it was never found. Perhaps the slugs ate it.
Jane’s letter was the only one that went. She meant to tell her mother all about the Psammead, — in fact they had all meant to do this, — but she spent so long thinking how to spell the word that there was no time to tell the story properly, and it is useless to tell a story unless you do tell it properly, so she had to be contented with this — “My dear Mother Dear, — We are all as good as we can, like you told us to, and the Lamb has a little cold, but Martha says it is nothing, only he upset the gold-fish into himself yesterday morning. When we were up at the sand-pit the other day we went round by the safe way where carts go, and we found a” — Half an hour went by before Jane felt quite sure that they could none of them spell Psammead. And they could not find it in the dictionary either, though they looked. Then Jane hastily finished her letter — “We found a strange thing, but it is nearly post-time, so no more at present from your little girl, “Jane. “P.S. — If you could have a wish come true what would you have?”
Anthea woke at five. She had made herself wake, and I must tell you how it is done, even if it keeps you waiting for the story to go on. You get into bed at night, and lie down quite flat on your little back, with your hands straight down by your sides. Then you say “I must wake up at five” (or six, or seven, or eight, or nine, or whatever the time is that you want), and as you say it you push your chin down on your chest and then whack your head back on the pillow. And you do this as many times as there are ones in the time you want to wake up at. (It is quite an easy sum.) Of course everything depends on your really wanting to get up at five (or six, or seven, or eight, or nine); if you don’t really want to, it’s all of no use. But if you do — well, try it and see. Of course in this, as in doing Latin proses or getting into mischief, practice makes perfect. Anthea was quite perfect.
“I was always generous from a child,” said the Sand-fairy. “I’ve spent the whole of my waking hours in giving. But one thing I won’t give — that’s advice.” “Child,” said the Sand-fairy sleepily, “I can only advise you to think before you speak” — “But I thought you never gave advice.” “That piece doesn’t count,” it said. “You’ll never take it! Besides, it’s not original. It’s in all the copy-books.”

Anthea was late for breakfast. It was Robert who quietly poured a spoonful of molasses down the Lamb’s frock, so that he had to be taken away and washed thoroughly directly after breakfast. And it was of course a very naughty thing to do; yet it served two purposes — it delighted the Lamb, who loved above all things to be completely sticky, and it engaged Martha’s attention so that the others could slip away to the sand-pit without the Lamb.
First review August 2009.
Second review  August 2011
Movie review July 2011
Cover talk July 2011

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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33. Seven Wild Sisters (2014)

Seven Wild Sisters: A Modern Fairy Tale. Charles de Lint. Illustrated by Charles Vess. 2014. Little, Brown. 272 pages. [Source: Library]

Seven Wild Sisters is a charming fantasy novel set in the modern world. The novel begins by focusing on the middle daughter, Sarah Jane, but by the end of the novel, all seven sisters have played a role in this delightful fairy fantasy adventure. The story begins, well, one could choose a dozen different "real" beginnings for this one, so I'll merely say the STORY FOR SARAH JANE begins when she befriends "Aunt Lillian." Aunt Lillian lives alone, secluded, near the woods. No electricity, no running water, no "modern" conveniences. No easy life for her. She wouldn't want to really slow down. She lives off the land; she lives for the land. She has almost seen it all. And by all, I mean she has had ENCOUNTERS with faeries and such. She is definitely different and in a way extraordinary. Sarah Jane, of course, LOVES her once she gets to know her, and from the start, Sarah Jane WANTS to get to know her. Sarah Jane's sisters are more reluctant perhaps, but, enter into this big adventure they will nevertheless! The other sisters include: Adie, Laurel and Bess, Elsie, Ruth and Grace.

Sarah Jane's adventures start when despite Aunt Lillian's advice, she finds herself getting involved in "a war" between different faeries. She sees an injured 'Sang man--100 poisoned arrows piercing him--and helps him. The bee faeries are "the enemy" depending on which "side" you find yourself. Lillian KNOWS Sarah Jane put herself--and her family--at risk. But she'll do everything she can to help her out of the mess and into a big adventure she'll never forget.

I liked this one very much. I'm not sure I LOVED it.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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34. Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems

Poem-Mobiles: Crazy Car Poems. J Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian. 2014. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Silly car poems. Silly futuristic car poems. J. Patrick Lewis and Douglas Florian have teamed up to bring readers delightful, over-the-top poems about automobiles. The illustrations are by Jeremy Holmes. Poems include: "Giant Bookmobile of Tomorrow," "Mini-Mini-Car," "Fish Car," "Eel-ectric Car," "Jurassic Park(ing)", "The Dragonwagon," "The Paper Car," "The Backwards Car," "High-Heel Car," "23rd-Century Motors," "Balloon Car," "Caterpillar Cab," "Bathtub Car," "The Egg Car," "Hot Dog Car," "The Sloppy-Floppy-Nonstop Jalopy," "Grass Taxi," "The Love Car," "The Banana Split Car," "The Supersonic Ionic Car," and the "Rubber-Band Car."

Without a doubt my absolute favorite is "The Giant Bookmobile of Tomorrow." This little poem is ABSOLUTELY delightful. It is just a gem of a poem, and chances are an instant favorite with librarians everywhere! There is probably a good reason why this poem is at the start! Just open it up, read it, and it might just hook you. I think it's the kind of poem that will appeal to readers even if they "don't like" poetry. The other poems, well, I'm not sure they're equally appealing to non-poetry-readers. But this one, all you have to do is LOVE books, and it's sure to delight!

Some poems are enjoyable because they are silly and playful and use language in a fun way. Some beg to be read aloud. Other poems, however, I didn't quite get as enthusiastic about. Probably the funnest poem title to read aloud is "Sloppy-Floppy-Nonstop Jalopy." I also enjoyed "Hot Dog Car" and "The Banana Split Car."

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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35. Death Comes To the Village

Death Comes to the Village. Catherine Lloyd. 2013. Kensington. 304 pages. [Source: Library]

Death Comes To The Village was a very enjoyable--quite pleasant--mystery set in Regency England. Major Robert Kurland, our hero, is an invalid soldier. He's recovering from his injuries, but, no one can begin to predict if he'll make a complete recovery. The mystery opens with his frustration at its highest. He is unable to sleep because the curtains have not been closed. He--for better or worse--decides to try to take care of it himself. Of course, he isn't able to walk properly. And it's amazing he even makes it all the way to the window before collapsing in a heap on the floor. But before he falls oh-so-dramatically, he witnesses something through the window. A man carrying a large-bulky-heavy-something. Is he a burglar or a murderer? Is there a reasonable explanation? He's not sure. He feels something happened, and he tells the rector's daughter, our heroine, Lucy Harrington. He shares with her his notion that a crime may have happened--not mentioning murder--and he wants her to keep her ears open. Did anyone else hear anything? see anything? Were any homes robbed? Anyone gone missing? Any strange behavior? Soon these two have teamed up and are working hard to solve a mystery...

There HAVE been thefts in the area. Many homes are missing small objects, it appears there is plenty of reason to suspect a burglar...

But two maids have also vanished...and Miss Lucy Harrington fears the worst...

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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36. Two Kingfisher Nonfiction Readers

Animal Colors. Thea Feldman. 2014. Kingfisher. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Animal Colors by Thea Feldman is a level one nonfiction early reader published by Kingfisher. (Other level one readers include Baby Animals, Busy as a Bee, Butterflies, Colorful Color Reefs, Jobs People Do, Seasons, Snakes Alive!, Tadpoles and Frogs, Trains, and Tyrannosaurus.) Level one readers feature short, simple sentences with familiar vocabulary, engaging pictures, and a simple glossary. The glossary of Animal Colors, for example, includes the words: blend, camouflage, hare, mate, and poison.

First paragraph: There are many colorful animals in the world! This grasshopper is bright green. This snake is green too. These birds are pink. This crab is red. So is this ant. This sea star is blue. So is this lizard.

From the opening pages, I thought this book was a bit too simple. At first, I did not find it very informative or interesting. But, as I kept reading, it seemed to become more complex which was a good thing. It began going beyond the basics: this is blue, this is red; here are some spots, here are some stripes. Once it started sharing information--interesting facts, I didn't-know-that-facts, it became easier to recommend.

For example:
Some animals change their colors! This spider is white when it is on a white flower. It turns yellow on a yellow flower. Insects do not see the spider. The spider grabs and eats the insect!


Tyrannosaurus. Thea Feldman. 2014. Kingfisher. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Tyrannosaurus by Thea Feldman is a level one nonfiction early reader published by Kingfisher. Other level one readers include Animal Colors, Baby Animals, Busy as a Bee, Butterflies, Colorful Color Reefs, Jobs People Do, Seasons, Snakes Alive!, Tadpoles and Frogs, and Trains. Level one readers feature short, simple sentences with familiar vocabulary, engaging pictures, and a simple glossary. The glossary for Tyrannosaurus includes these words: dinosaur, extinct, fossils, prey, and scientists.

First paragraph: This is a big, fierce dinosaur! It is called Tyrannosaurus. Tyrannosaurus lived millions of years ago. That is a very long time ago. There were no people yet. Let's go back in time and take a look at Tyrannosaurus!

This early reader takes an imaginative approach to sharing information about dinosaurs. It's what-if scenario is conversational and to some extent enjoyable. "Tyrannosaurus is hungry! He is looking for food. What does he eat? Other dinosaurs! Tyrannosaurus is a hunter" and "Look! Tyrannosaurus runs after his prey. He runs on his toes. His tail sticks out behind him." It does keep the book in the present tense, inviting readers in.

Personally, dinosaur books will never prove interesting or thrilling to me. It's not a subject I care about. But for readers, particularly young readers, this book would be a good fit.


© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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37. In the Best Families (1950)

In the Best Families. (Nero Wolfe). Rex Stout. 1950. 272 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]

Wow! What a book, what a mystery! I absolutely loved, loved, loved Second Confession, but, I think I loved this one just as much. Three Nero Wolfe mysteries are closely linked together: And Be A Villain, Second Confession, and In the Best Families. Second Confession and In the Best Families especially fit together well. They introduce a character, Nero Wolfe likes to call "X" because he doesn't want to casually drop this bad guy's real name too often. X made threats in And Be A Villain and Second Confession, and in Second Confession X knew just how to make Nero suffer: by destroying his orchids. But nothing compares to the danger in In The Best Families.

It starts with a client, of course, all of his mysteries start with a client! Mrs. Rackham wants her husband investigated. She doesn't want to expose him, she's not out to publish any wrong-doings, she just wants to know herself what her husband has been up to. He used to ask her for money, now, he has his own resources, and she's doubtful that he's coming by them through honest hard work. They arrange for Archie Goodwin to come to her estate disguised as himself, he'll be "investigating" the poisoning of her cousin's dog. He'll be asking questions, lots of questions. Some are naturally suspicious. Who is paying for this investigation? The poor cousin (Leeds) or Mrs. Rackham herself? Since the dog survived and ultimately no harm was done, and since this all happened over a month ago, why pay Nero Wolfe prices for the answers?!

Goodwin was to spend the night at the cousin's small home (he's just a "quick" walk away from Mrs. Rackham's quite-large estate). But does Archie get a good night's sleep?! NO!!! When Archie calls Nero Wolfe with the details--Mrs. Rackham is dead--something unexpected happens. After much aggravation with the local police, still without any sleep, Archie returns home and discovers something shocking: NERO WOLFE IS GONE! Arrangements have been made for his orchids, for his cook, Fritz, and for Archie himself.

Archie all on his own?! Archie solving his own cases? Yes this book is quite unique!!!

I would love to tell more, because it's lovely through and through, but I won't. This book has so many great, great scenes!!!

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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38. Library Loot: Fourth Trip in March

New Loot:
  • 11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass
  • Greetings from Nowhere by Barbara O'Connor
  • Umbrella Summer by Lisa Graff
  • The Diary of A Young Girl: The Definitive Edition by Anne Frank, edited by Otto H. Frank and Mirjam Pressler; translated by Susan Massotty.
  • William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back: Star Wars Part the Fifth by Ian Doescher
Leftover Loot:
  • Greetings from Planet Earth by Barbara Kerley
  • The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan
  • In A Dark Wood Wandering by Hella S. Haasse, translated by Lewis C. Kaplan, revised and edited by Anita Miller  
 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: March 16-22

Fair Weather. Richard Peck. 2001. Penguin. 160 pages. [Source: Library]
A Long Way From Chicago. Richard Peck. 1998. Penguin. 148 pages. [Source: Library book]
Independent Study. Joelle Charbonneau. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
Fire & Flood. Victoria Scott. 2014. Scholastic. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]
A Rogue's Life. Wilkie Collins. 1856. 159 pages. [Source: Book I bought]
Scholastic Discover More: Penguins. Penny Arlon. 2012. Scholastic. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Scholastic Discover More: Penguins Stickerbook. 2014. Scholastic. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Attributes of God, volume 2: Deeper Into the Father's Heart. A.W. Tozer. 2001/2007. Wingspread. 203 pages. [Source: Bought]
Discovering the Power of Christ's Prayer Life. Charles Spurgeon. Compiled and Edited by Lance Wubbels. 1995. Emerald Books. 204 pages. [Source: Bought]
God in the Whirlwind: How the Holy-love of God Reorients Our World. David F. Wells. 2014. Crossway. 272 pages. [Source: Library]

This week's favorite:

I really loved Fair Weather by Richard Peck. 

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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40. 2014 Reading Challenges: Once Upon A Time VIII

Host: Stainless Steel Droppings
Title: Once Upon A Time; sign up post; review site
Duration: March 21-June 21, 2014
# of Books: Quest the First (5 books from any of the 4 categories: fantasy, folklore, fairy tale, mythology); OR Quest the Third (5 Books + Midsummer Night's Dream)

What I Read:

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.

What I Hope To Read
  • E. Nesbit's 5 Children and It, The Phoenix and the Carpet, The Story of the Amulet
  • Jennifer Nielsen's The False Prince, The Runaway King, The Shadow Throne
  • Ruth Chew's Magic in the Park, and, The Trouble with Magic
  • The Glass Casket by McCormick Templeman
  • Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
  • Rump by Liesl Shurtliff
  • Hero by Alethea Kontis
  • Seven Wild Sisters by Charles De Lint
  • Switched at Birthday by Natalie Standiford
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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41. Reread #12 Long Way From Chicago

A Long Way From Chicago. Richard Peck. 1998. Penguin. 148 pages. [Source: Library book]

  A Long Way From Chicago has a great premise. Joey Dowdel and his younger sister, Mary Alice, are "forced" to visit their Grandma Dowdel every summer. Each chapter in the novel tells the story of a summer visit. There is a story for 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, and 1942. The prologue says it all, "As the years went by, though, Mary Alice and I grew up, and though Grandma never changed, we'd seem to see a different woman every summer."

Through the stories, readers catch glimpses of the past. These stories capture family moments. There is plenty of humor and a good bit of heart.

For any reader who enjoys quirky small-town, long-ago, family-based stories from the heart, this one is a must.

I think I prefer Peck's more traditional novels to his stories.


I loved this one the first time I read and reviewed it in 2008

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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42. Fire & Flood (2014)

Fire & Flood. Victoria Scott. 2014. Scholastic. 320 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Did I love Fire & Flood by Victoria Scott? Not exactly. I neither loved it or hated it. I was completely indifferent to it. I would say it is more plot-driven than character-driven. I would say that it is a quick read, but, perhaps more forgettable than memorable when all is said and done. I'll also say that I never once thought of stopping while I was reading it. I wanted to stick with it and find out what happened.

Tella, our heroine, LOVES her brother, Cody. Unfortunately, Cody is dying and there is nothing to be done for him. Or so readers (who avoid blurbs) are led to believe in the opening chapters. It seems Tella, and Tella alone, can TRY to save her brother by participating in the oh-so-mysterious survival game called Brimstone Bleed. The ultimate winner of the games will receive THE CURE which will provide one person with a cure for any disease. In Tella's case, it will be for her brother, Cody. But not all participants are doing this for siblings.

The games are NOT public knowledge though they've apparently been going on every six years for several decades now. Those who survive the game are NOT allowed to speak of what occurred during the games. It also seems the game has a curse-aspect to it. Those that have been invited to participate are related to others who have endured the games. Apparently, Tella's mother has a secret!

So Tella's invitation to participate arrives suddenly. She's barely heard the message when her parents intervene oh-so-dramatically. They try to destroy the device that delivered the mysterious invitation. They fail. (It would be a short book if they'd succeeded!) Tella decides to defy her parents (not a surprise) and follow the instructions and become a contender. Tella realizes that she is one of hundreds participating in this game. There will be only one winner. She's not sure what--if anything--happens to those who fail. There is not a sense of doom like in Hunger Games. And the games do not in any way appear to be publicized.

This is the first in a series. In this book, Tella endures two challenges: the jungle and the desert. The winner of the first challenge receives 2 million dollars. The winner of the second challenge receives a portion of "The Cure" which supposedly means five additional years of life for their sick relative.

Each participant chooses an egg--a pandora. The pandoras, when hatched, reveal themselves to be various mutant animals with magical powers, of course. Without pandoras, NO contestant could hope to survive all the challenges.

Tella's pandora is probably the most interesting pandora. A shape-shifting fox that can read her mind.

What would a survivor-based game be without romance?! So of course, Tella has several guys interested in joining her during the challenges...

Some characters I liked. Some characters I didn't like. I can't say that I truly loved, loved, loved any of them.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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43. Independent Study (2014)

Independent Study. Joelle Charbonneau. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 320 pages. [Source: Library]

Independent Study was an interesting read. I had just reread The Testing, and it was nice to be able to jump right into this story without feeling lost. Cia herself still feels lost at times because her memory of the actual testing is gone. True, she was wise enough to hide clues for her future clueless self, but, having clues--even good, strong clues--aren't quite the same as vivid memories of the horrific past. Essentially, six months have passed, I believe, and the students are getting ready to be tested again, they'll be placed into special training preparing them for future careers. They do not get to pick their "majors." They will take the classes and internships chosen for them by authorities, all for the common good of the future, of course. Most of the characters from the first novel are absent from most of Independent Study. Cia and Tomas are separated by different career paths now. Will and Cia are on the same career path--government--but even Will only has a handful of scenes in the novel. A character that some might consider minor in The Testing, plays a bigger role in the second novel: Michal. He clues Cia in on her past and gives her hope for the present and the future. What if there was a way to abolish "The Testing."

Independent Study is all about Cia seeking to discover the inner-leader inside that is strong and brave and wise and true. Is Cia a great character? Are any of the characters "great"? I'm not sure. I'm not sure that 'liking' most of the characters in a novel is a requirement for it being an entertaining read. I wanted to know what happened next.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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44. Scarlet (2012)

Scarlet. A.C. Gaughen. 2012. Walker. 292 pages. [Source: Library]

"Will Scarlet" is one of Robin Hood's best friends, a thief very good at what "he" does for the band. But what if "Will Scarlet" was just Scarlet--a young woman is disguise?!

I enjoyed this retelling of Robin Hood. Rob is young, as are his friends and fellow thieves. They have not fully matured into their heroic legends. Their mission to help the poor and needy is just getting started.

It is narrated by Scarlet, or "Scar." She's got a strong narrative voice, distinctive. (The grammar of it will either sweep you away or annoy you.) It was enjoyable to see the story through her eyes, to get to know John Little and Rob or "The Hood" through her eyes. (Also Much and Tuck). The villain of this one, besides the sheriff, is Guy Gisbourne. His presence plays a very important role in the retelling, in Scarlet's past and present.

I would definitely recommend this one. What I liked about this one was the potential, the promise. The characters--beyond Scarlet--are not developed well enough for this one to be AMAZING. But it works.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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45. Reread #11 The Testing (2013)

The Testing. Joelle Charbonneau. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 344 pages. [Source: Review Copy]

I had not planned to reread The Testing in anticipation of reading Independent Study. But as I opened the pages of Independent Study, I felt it only fair to begin at the beginning, to go back and experience it in full, to refresh my memory so that I would be more likely to fall in love with this second book. I am very thankful I chose to spend the time with The Testing. It was interesting to see what I remembered and what I had forgotten. It was interesting to see if the same scenes still stood out to me.

For those that enjoy dystopia, I would definitely recommend The Testing. I liked Cia Vale, our heroine. I liked the brief introduction to the Five Lakes Colony. There was just enough mystery to hook me. Her dad and her brother prove even more interesting upon rereading. I liked the four stages of the test. I liked how the horror comes gradually--surely and inevitably, but paced well in my opinion. I liked the twists and turns. Overall, I thought the characterization was good, was interesting. The world-building was good, perhaps not great, but solid enough. Even though it was a reread, I found it hard to put down!


I first read this one in June 2013

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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46. Week in Review: March 9-15

Pride and Prejudice. Jane Austen. 1813. 386 pages. [Source: Book I Bought] 
Heartbeat by Elizabeth Scott. 2014. Harlequin. 256 pages. [Source: Library]
True Colors. Natalie Kinsey-Warnock. 2012. Random House. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]
The Testing. Joelle Charbonneau. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 344 pages. [Source: Review Copy]
Scarlet. A.C. Gaughen. 2012. Walker. 292 pages. [Source: Library]
Rosie's Riveting Recipes: Cooking and Kitchen Tips from 1940s America. Daniela Turudich. 2003. Streamline Press. 288 pages. [Source: Library]
Strange Fire: The Danger of Offending The Holy Spirit with Counterfeit Worship. John MacArthur. 2013. Thomas Nelson. 333 pages. [Source: Review copy]
52 Words Every Christian Should Know. Kendell Easley. 2010. B&H. 124 pages. [Source: Bought]
The Rhyme Bible Storybook for Toddlers. L.J. Sattgast. Illustrated by Laurence Cleyet-Merle. 2014. Zonderkidz. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

This week's favorite:

Pride and Prejudice may not be my favorite Jane Austen novel, it is still my favorite read of the week. For the record, I do like Elizabeth Scott's Heartbeat a good deal, especially Caleb. And True Colors is a very good coming-of-age novel. But there is something about Pride and Prejudice that keeps me coming back!

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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47. Library Loot: Third Trip in March

New Loot:

Shipwreck at the Bottom of the World by Jennifer Armstrong
The Girls of Atomic City by Denise Kiernan
Mary and the Mouse, The Mouse and Mary by Beverly Donofrio
Someday by Alison McGhee
The Lemonade Crime by Jacqueline Davies
God in the Whirlwind by David F. Wells

Leftover Loot:
  • Greetings from Planet Earth by Barbara Kerley
  • Rebel McKenzie by Candice Ranson
  • The Rise of the Tudors by Chris Skidmore
  • Tudor: Passion, Manipulation, Murder, the Story of England's Most Notorious Royal Family by Leanda De Lisle 
  • Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World by Alison Weir
  • The Bell Bandit by Jacqueline Davies
  • In A Dark Wood Wandering by Hella S. Haasse, translated by Lewis C. Kaplan, revised and edited by Anita Miller 
 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. A Rogue's Life (1856)

A Rogue's Life. Wilkie Collins. 1856. 159 pages. [Source: Book I bought]

I am going to try if I can't write something about myself. My life has been rather a strange one. It may not seem particularly useful or respectable; but it has been, in some respects, adventurous; and that may give it claims to be read, even in the most prejudiced circles.

 Who is the rogue in Wilkie Collins A Rogue's Life? None other than Frank Softly. He comes from a respectable (though not wealthy) family. He falls OUT of favor with his parents and INTO a good bit of trouble. Debt factoring into this rogue's story quite often. He doesn't really "fit" with any of the "respectable" professions allowed to his class. And I believe his first "profession" is as a caricaturist. He sells his work, has it published, is quite successful using a pseudonym... for a while But. When people match his real identity with his pseudonym...well, that just won't do. That is when his parents make a stand.

A Rogue's Life is a short, pleasant read. It's told in first-person narrative. And the narration is quite lively. His adventures and misadventures are a bit crazy perhaps, making the whole too complex to easily summarize for review. But. It is an easy enough story to follow when you're actually reading it.

Essentially when this 'rogue' falls madly in love--and, of course, it's love AT FIRST SIGHT, with a beautiful yet mysterious young woman, there is NOTHING he won't do to find out who she is...he will woo her no matter what it costs him...

Another 'fun' element (if 'fun' is the right word?) is the speculation involving an inheritance. Frank's sister will inherit a good deal of money from someone (I can't remember who) IF and only IF Frank can outlive the grandmother. So throughout the book, there is all this speculation about the future! The grandmother is very old and determined to live forever, and, of course, Frank's misadventures (including prison time) could lead to his dying young...

It's an odd book in a way. But overall, it was a pleasant way to spend an hour.

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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49. Two About Penguins

Scholastic Discover More: Penguins. Penny Arlon. 2012. Scholastic. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I believe this is the first book I've read in Scholastic's Discover More series, but, it won't be my last. In this short nonfiction book, young readers learn a lot about various kinds of penguins: rockhopper penguins, Fiordland penguins, snares penguins, African penguins, erect-crested penguins, chinstrap penguins, Humboldt penguins, Magellanic penguins, Adelie penguins, royal penguins, macaroni penguins, yellow-eyed penguins, gentoo penguins, king penguins, and emperor penguins. Included, of course, is much about their habitats: where they live, how they live, the dangers they face, the breeding and raising of their young, etc. This book is packed with photographs, and packed with rich I-didn't-know that facts! This book is so appealing, a good example of how nonfiction text can be appealing to readers of all ages.

I love the use of color photographs! I love the captions, fact boxes, table of contents, glossary, and index. Every two-page spread could potentially be read on its own making this one great for browsing.

Scholastic Discover More: Penguins Stickerbook. 2014. Scholastic. 16 pages. [Source: Review copy]

An interactive nonfiction sticker book focusing on penguins. Readers will, in addition to sticking stickers and reading jokes, learn basic facts about penguins: where they live, how they live, what they eat, what eats them, the penguin life cycle. There are plenty of photographs, plenty of stickers, plenty of facts, a few games, and a few jokes. For example, it includes "Top 10 Swimming Facts" in which readers learn among other things that: "penguins can hold their breath underwater for 18 minutes; penguins spend 75% of their lives in water; penguins will swim up to 185 miles round-trip in search of a good meal."
© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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50. Fair Weather (2001)

Fair Weather. Richard Peck. 2001. Penguin. 160 pages. [Source: Library]

Is Fair Weather my absolute favorite novel by Richard Peck? In all fairness, how could I really ever choose? Sure, I love, love, love some more than others. Some I've reread more than others. Some I've recommended more than others. But most that I've read (so far) have been worth it. Fair Weather is no exception.

World's Fair. Chicago. 1893. I really enjoyed so many things about Fair Weather. I liked the three Beckett siblings. I liked the narrator, Rosie. I liked the younger brother, Buster. I liked the older sister, Lottie. I liked the fact that Lottie had a big, big secret. I liked the extended family. That Grandpa. He's SOMETHING. I loved, loved, loved every scene he was in. He was FABULOUS. I wish more children's books had such wonderful grandparent-characters. I really really enjoy books that focus on the special bond between grandparents and grandchildren. My favorite, favorite chapters in this one are the two chapters that focus on his best day ever. They also happen to mention Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. I liked the aunt as well. She wasn't quite as quirky as the grandpa--but who could be?! I was glad to see how hosting her family for a week changes her--for the better. The details. I love historical fiction BECAUSE I love history. OR. Do I love history because I love historical fiction?! I love how this one is grounded in real-life details. I loved learning more about the World's Columbian Exposition. I loved the little things, the descriptions, the scenes. I love how it captured the feel of The Midway. It made me want to read more, to learn more. I also loved the Chicago setting.

A few weeks ago, I happened to watch Annie Oakley (1935). I had seen the musical, of course, but this one really impressed me. Reading Fair Weather and "experiencing" the show through fiction--through characters that I had come to really care about--was really fun for me!

I definitely recommend this one!

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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