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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. Shrunken Treasures

Shrunken Treasures. Scott Nash. 2016. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Love picture books? Love literature? Love the idea of loving literature? Shrunken Treasures might be just right for you. Here's why: Scott Nash has condensed nine literary works into verse 'for children.' (I'm not absolutely convinced that this one is truly for children, and that it will be appreciated by children.) Am I convinced that it can and will be appreciated by adults? It's much easier to say YES to that one.

So which books are condensed?
  • The Odyssey
  • Frankenstein
  • Moby-Dick
  • Jane Eyre
  • A Thousand and One Nights
  • Hamlet
  • Don Quixote
  • The Metamorphosis
  • Remembrance of Things Past
I believe two of these can be sung to nursery rhyme tunes. Not all were written with singing in mind. The shortest of the condensed works is Remembrance of Things Past.

How "useful" are these condensed stories? (I mean "useful" for students wanting to avoid reading the originals for their school assignments.) Not very! But I'm not complaining about that...at all. Hamlet, for example, is about a dog--a Great Dane--with a habit of digging holes. A Thousand and One Nights stars a tiger and a mouse. Don Quixote covers about one or possibly two chapters of a very, very long novel.

I enjoyed this one. I didn't love, love, love it. I think one thing that kept me from loving it was the fact that I didn't really "like" the illustrations.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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27. Singalong Saturdays (Corny Songs)

Today's prompt: A corny song.

This meme is hosted by Bookish Things & More.

So. I've been obsessively listening to Sonny James this past week. If you were like me, you might be Sonny Who?!?!?! I had never heard of Sonny James until I came across a quote of his in a Johnny Cash biography. I liked the quote so much that I wanted to find out more about the guy who said it.

Here is what I would call a NOVELTY song, but, this week's theme is corny and I'm going to go for it.

Hey Little Ducky




Now I'm also going to include one more song because I just can't help myself. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this song. Is it corny? Or is it just catchy? I don't know right now it's my again-again song.



© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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28. The Wildest Race Ever

The Wildest Race Ever. Meghan McCarthy. 2016. Simon & Schuster. 48 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: The first Olympic marathon held in America happened on August 30, 1904, in Saint Louis, Missouri.

Premise/plot: This nonfiction picture book tells the wild-but-true story of the first Olympic marathon. McCarthy introduces us to ten runners out of the thirty-two that started the race. This story has plenty of twists and turns. It's never dull!

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. It appears to be well-researched. A select bibliography is included. And a link is provided for a full bibliography. It is well-written in my opinion! The story is lively and fun. I really liked the end papers!

It is probably best suited for slightly older readers. (Elementary perhaps instead of preschool.) It might make for a slightly awkward group read-aloud because there are a lot of sidebars and such in addition to the main narrative.

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

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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29. What Are The Summer Olympics

What Are The Summer Olympics?  Gail Herman. Illustrated by Stephen Marchesi. 2016. 112 pages. [Source: Library]

I enjoyed reading Gail Herman's What Are the Summer Olympics? This short little nonfiction book for young(er) readers (think elementary school) covers all the basics. It provides a nice, little overview of the Olympics. Readers don't learn all there is to know about any one sport--or event--but readers learn a little bit about many of the most popular events. The chapters are actually arranged decade by decade. Each chapter typically covers two or three sports.

For example, the ninth chapter focuses on the 1980s. That chapter covers the U.S.A's boycott of the 1980 games, introduces readers to Mary Lou Retton (gymnastics), Carl Lewis (track), and Greg Louganis (diving).

Because over a hundred years worth of sports history is covered in this little volume, there isn't a lot of depth and substance. The book is a little over a hundred pages in length. BUT the book has a lot of illustrations.

Is it as FUN as Horrible Histories' Flame?!?! Sadly, no. But the book and song go VERY well together. The book, of course, covers A LOT more than any song parody could ever do it.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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30. Call the Midwife, series 4

Call the Midwife, series 4
1 Christmas special + 8 episodes

Trixie Franklin = Helen George
Barbara Gilbert = Charlotte Ritchie
Phyllis Crane = Linda Bassett
Patsy Mount = Emerald Fennell
Sister Mary Cynthia (Miller) = Bryony Hannah
Sister Monica Joan = Judy Parfitt
Sister Evangelina = Pam Ferris
Sister Winifred = Victoria Yeates
Shelagh Turner = Laura Main
Dr. Patrick Turner = Stephen McGann
Timothy Turner = Max Macmillan
Chummy (Camilla Fortescue-Cholmondeley-Browne) = Miranda Hart
Sister Julienne = Jenny Agutter
PC Peter Noakes = Ben Caplan
Fred Buckle = Cliff Parisi
Violet Gee = Annabelle Apsion
Tom Hereward = Jack Ashton
Delia Busby = Kate Lamb

Is this a transitional season? Yes and no. It doesn't really feel less than to me. It is dramatic, compelling, emotional, heartbreaking, wonderful.

Christmas Special -- Cynthia decides something life-changing, something that will keep her out of most of this season's episodes. She feels called to become a SISTER. Trixie and Patsy try to persuade her out of her decision, but they eventually stop trying to compete. Chummy and Patsy spend some time at a home for unmarried expectant mothers....

Episode one -- Nurse Gilbert joins Nonnatus House. And what an ENTRY she makes. Poor thing. With her clothes being scattered and the dogs running off with things. Trixie has highs and lows in this episode. At her happiest, she's just agreed to marry Tom. At her lowest, she's reliving some of the more difficult aspects of her childhood. This will be a roller coaster season for Trixie's emotions.
Chummy becomes head of the home for unmarried expectant mothers.

Episode two -- Nurse Crane joins Nonnatus House. (You'll recognize her from Lark Rise to Candleford perhaps). She clashes instantly with Sister Evangelina. She has a lot of great ideas. But she demands respect for sure!!! Barbara and Patsy work together in this episode. And it's memorable, I think--not their working together. But the mother and father and the delivery itself. Trixie becomes OBSESSED with her upcoming wedding. And Tom does not care even a little about planning the wedding.

Episode three -- This is a dramatic episode with several stories. A husband, soon to be father, is caught in a homosexual act--though it was a trap set by police--and the community comes together to shame the wife--who is just a few weeks away from delivery. Poverty is also at the forefront of this one--as is a spread of dysentery. This episode is all about standing up for what is right. Nurse Crane excels in this episode, as does Nurse Mount. (I'm not sure which episode it is when viewers learn her secret--that she's a lesbian and in love with a fellow nurse, Delia).

Episode four --  This episode is a ROUGH one. Trixie hits rock bottom, essentially, and comes to a BIG, BIG, BIG decision. Sister Winifred reaches out to prostitutes and wants to start a safe-sex education program of sorts. SISTER MONICA JOAN has a triumphant moment or two--as does Shelagh--when an emergency comes up.

Episode five -- Shelagh starts dressing as a nurse--she is a nurse though mainly acting as an administrative assistant--and becomes a true support to her husband when he has an emotional breakdown. The community comes together to show how much he is LOVED AND RESPECTED AND MISSED. Sister Mary Cynthia returns to Nonnatus House. Barbara starts proving herself in this episode.

Episode six -- Sister Mary Cynthia works closely with Irish Travellers (gypsies). And Nurse Crane works with a young diabetic who is pregnant. Her mother wants to force her daughter to have an abortion. The pregnancy would be very high risk. The young girl is in love and wants her baby. Her boyfriend ultimately has to decide what is the right thing to do--even if it's the hard thing to do.

Episode seven -- And Fred begins courting Violet!!!! Sister Evangelina feels horribly guilty when she makes a mistake concerning the identity of two babies. There is a fire in the maternity home. And she picks up two babies--newly born--and escapes the burning building. That's the good news. The bad news, she thinks she remembers which baby is which...but she doesn't. And that's where the guilt sets in.

Episode eight -- Trixie seeks help in this episode. Nurse Mount is (naturally) upset when her girlfriend is in a serious accident. She must receive permission from Delia's mother to visit her in the hospital. And also for permission to write. Her happily ever after seems even more unlikely now. Fred's other daughter visits and is HORRIBLE to Violet. Can Chummy--who makes an appearance at last--get these two back on track and heading to the altar?

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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31. The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf

The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf. Ambelin Kwaymullina. 2014. Candlewick. 383 pages. [Source: Library]

I loved The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf. I did. (I didn't expect to 'love' it. I didn't know a lot about it going into it, hadn't read a thousand gushing reviews or anything. I would rather be surprised by how good a book is than be disappointed in how bad it is. So my thinking: always try to keep expectations moderately low.)

What you should know: 1) It is YA speculative fiction. I'd say somewhere between dystopian and post-apocalyptic. Post-apocalyptic because it is set hundreds of years after 'the reckoning' that almost destroyed the planet and wiped out humanity. Dystopian because of the ordered--often cruel--society or government that has restructured the world. So if you like or love either genre, then you should pick this one up. 2) It is complex--purposefully, strategically structured to keep you always guessing and a bit unsure. Some people love this, I think; some people don't. I enjoyed it very much! 3) The premise is simple perhaps to make up for the complex storytelling and intense plot. The premise? Well, some people are born with special powers or abilities. These abilities manifest themselves over time, so, you essentially grow into your power/ability. Strength (intensity/power) and control (ability to direct, use at will) vary from person to person. These people are labeled 'illegal' and are targeted by the government. 4) The book is about the conflict between Illegals and the Powers That Be. Questioning Authority and Being True To Yourself are some of the themes explored. 5) I love the world-building. Not everything is explained upfront, and, I love that about it. I don't think everything should be revealed from page one. I like the mystery and suspense and the gradual unfolding of how things are as you orient yourself to Ashala's world. It almost is better because it is slow and gradual. 6) The characterization. Like the world-building, characters aren't nicely introduced in a telling, usual way.

Ashala Wolf is one of the leaders of the tribe, a group of Illegals living in the Firstwood, living on their own as far away from society as they can get. Firstwood is a unique, fantastical setting. I never quite pictured or imagined it fully, but, that didn't stop me from loving this one. It didn't feel "less real" because of that. It almost felt "more real." In the opening chapter, readers learn that she has been captured, perhaps even betrayed by the boy, the young man, that she can't help being drawn to. She's essentially a prisoner at a detention camp, and, because she's a leader, and a defiant leader at that, she most likely is facing torture.

Actually, The Interrogation of Ashala Wolf reminded me of first season Alias. There's intensity, action, and confusion all at the same time. I could just as easily compare it to LOST or Once Upon A Time. You may not know everything you want to know, but, you know just enough to know you want more, more, MORE.


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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32. Library Loot: First Week in August

New Loot:
  • Black Diamonds by Catherine Bailey
  • Barbie and Ruth by Robin Gerber
  • I Saw the Light by Colin Escott with George Merritt and William MacEwen
  • The Complete and Unauthorized Guide to Vintage Barbie Dolls by Hillary Shilkitus James
  • The Chicken Chronicles by Alice Walker
  • The Heart of Betrayal by Mary E. Pearson
  • The Grand Tour: The life and music of George Jones by Rich Kienzie
Leftover Loot:
  • Fudge-a-mania by Judy Blume
  • Double Fudge by Judy Blume
  • Golf Without Tears by P.G. Wodehouse
  • My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
  • Waylon: One Awesome Thing by Sara Pennypacker
  • Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus by Barbara Park
  • Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain
  • Johnny Cash: The Life by Robert Hilburn
  • Man in White by Johnny Cash
  • Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin
  •  All-Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor
  Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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33. The Cafe Mystery

The Cafe Mystery (The Whodunit Detective Agency #4) Martin Widmark. Illustrated by Helena Willis. 2003/2015. 80 pages. [Source: Library]

First Sentence: "Mmm, pastries!" said Maya. "Cakes and muffins! Yum," added Jerry. "Can you believe everything that's been happening in there?" asked Maya, gesturing toward Cafe Marzipan, Pleasant Valley's best bakery.

Premise/plot: Jerry and Maya are kid detectives with a new toy: a digital camera. And that camera will come in handy for their next case. The bakery has suffered several robberies in the past year. No one has been able to figure out who the robber is. The robber just happens to hit every time there is a large amount of cash in the cash register. (An event that isn't all that common.) Can Jerry and Maya figure out which of the employees is working with the robber...and why?

My thoughts: I like this series. I do. I am enjoying spending time in Pleasant Valley. Jerry and Maya are very good at what they do.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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34. The Circus Mystery

The Circus Mystery (The Whodunit Detective Agency #3) Martin Widmark. Illustrated by Helena Willis. 2003/2015. 80 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was summertime in the town of Pleasant Valley. The sun had been shining brightly all day, and a gentle breeze rustled through the leaves of the trees in town.

Premise/plot: Jerry and Maya are two kids with a detective agency. A circus is coming to town. This circus has a bad reputation, however. Whatever towns the circus visits, a series of robberies and thefts occur. They have every reason to believe that their town will be no different, that the thief will rob people in the crowd. The police chief and Jerry and Maya attend both performances of the circus in order to see if they can solve the case.

My thoughts: I like this series well enough. Early chapter books are key in reading development. And who doesn't like a good series? Kids need series books; they need the predictability and the formulaic structure. I would definitely recommend the series.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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35. Let Your Voice Be Heard

Let Your Voice Be Heard: The Life and Times of Pete Seeger. Anita Silvey. 2016. HMH. 112 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Pete Seeger became the most important folk singer of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. But he might have chosen a very different path. Although his grandfather made a fortune from sugar refining in Mexico, Pete became an advocate for underpaid workers. Though he came from financial privilege, he identified with those who had to make a living. He fought for the oppressed and poor all his life.

Premise/plot: Let Your Voice Be Heard is a biography of Pete Seeger written for children. (I'd say eight to twelve, if I had to put a label on it.) The biography is great at putting Pete Seeger's life into context for better understanding. Perhaps the author wanting to keep this one short and accessible for her audience, did not fully cover his life and music. It is not an exhaustive book on the subject. But a good, basic introduction.

My thoughts: I definitely found this one to be fascinating. I knew next to nothing about Pete Seeger before picking this one up. (I'm certainly no expert in folk music. My only familiarity at all coming from the music of Peter, Paul, and Mary.) I thought it was very well-written.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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36. July Reflections

Stand-Out Books Read in July 2016
  1. Night. Elie Wiesel. Translated by Stella Rodway. Foreword by Francois Mauriac. 1958/1960. 109 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  2. Time Cat. Lloyd Alexander. 1963. 206 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. War of Two. John Sedgwick. 2015. Berkley. 432 pages. [Source: Library] 
  4. Donner Dinner Party. (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #3). Nathan Hale. 2013. Harry N. Abrams. 128 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. Cyrano de Bergerac. Edmond Rostand. Translated by Lowell Blair. 1897. 240 pages. [Source: Library]  
  6.  Between Shades of Gray. Ruta Sepetys. 2011. Penguin. 352 pages. [Source: Library]
5 Decades "Visited" in July 2016:
  1. 1770s, 1780s, 1790s
  2. 1940s
  3. 1960s
  4. 1980s
  5. 1990s 
Picture books:
  1. Hello, I'm Johnny Cash. G. Neri. Illustrated by A.G. Ford. 2014. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. Duel: Burr and Hamilton's Deadly War of Words. Dennis Brindell Fradin. Illustrated by Larry Day. 2008. Walker. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History. Don Brown. 2015. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  4. The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Saved Jews During the Holocaust. Karen Gray Ruelle. Illustrated by Deborah Durland DeSaix. 2009. Holiday House. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. Worst of Friends. Suzanne Jurmain. Illustrated by Larry Day. 2011. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  6. Poems in the Attic. Nikki Grimes. Illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon. 2015. Lee & Low. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
  7. Interrupting Chicken. David Ezra Stein. 2010. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  8. Pretty Minnie in Hollywood. Danielle Steel. Illustrated by Kristi Valiant. 2016. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Early readers and early chapter books:
  1. Hill of Fire. Thomas P. Lewis. Illustrated by Joan Sandin. 1971. 64 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  2. Diamond Mystery (The Whodunit Detective Agency #1). Martin Widmark. Illustrated by Helena Willis. 2002/2014. 80 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. The Hotel Mystery. (Whodunit Detective Agency #2) Martin Widmark. Illustrated by Helena Willis. 2002/2014. 80 pages. [Source: Library]
Contemporary (general, realistic) fiction, all ages:
  1. White Fur Flying. Patricia MacLachlan. 2013. 116 pages. [Source: Library]
Speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, etc.) all ages:
  1. Time Cat. Lloyd Alexander. 1963. 206 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. The House on the Strand. Daphne du Maurier. 1968. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]
  3. Incubation. Laura DiSilverio. 2016. 348 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  4. Waiting for the Magic. Patricia MacLachlan. 2011. 143 pages. [Source: Library]  
  5. The Heir. (Selection #4) Kiera Cass. 2015. HarperCollins. 346 pages. [Source: Library]
  6. The Knife of Never Letting Go. Patrick Ness. 2008. Candlewick. 479 pages. [Source: Library]
Historical Fiction, all ages: 
  1. Between Shades of Gray. Ruta Sepetys. 2011. Penguin. 352 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. One Dead Spy (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #1) Nathan Hale. 2012. Abrams. 128 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. Big Bad Ironclad (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #2) Nathan Hale. 2012. Harry N. Abrams. 128 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. Donner Dinner Party. (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #3). Nathan Hale. 2013. Harry N. Abrams. 128 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. The Hamilton Affair. Elizabeth Cobbs. 2016. Arcade. 408 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  6. Twenty and Ten. Claire Huchet Bishop. Illustrated by William Pene du Bois. 1952/1978. 76 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  7. Cyrano. Geraldine McCaughrean. 2006. HMH. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Mysteries, all ages:
  1. Diamond Mystery (The Whodunit Detective Agency #1). Martin Widmark. Illustrated by Helena Willis. 2002/2014. 80 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. The Hotel Mystery. (Whodunit Detective Agency #2) Martin Widmark. Illustrated by Helena Willis. 2002/2014. 80 pages. [Source: Library]
Classics, all ages:
  1. Night. Elie Wiesel. Translated by Stella Rodway. Foreword by Francois Mauriac. 1958/1960. 109 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  2. Twelfth Night. William Shakespeare. 1601. 220 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. Cyrano de Bergerac. Edmond Rostand. Translated by Lowell Blair. 1897. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. BBC Radio 3's Cyrano de Bergerac by Edmond Rostand, translated by Anthony Burgess. Adapted for radio by John Tydeman. First aired 2008.
Nonfiction, all ages:
  1. The Journey That Saved Curious George. Louise Borden. 2016. HMH. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. Hello, I'm Johnny Cash. G. Neri. Illustrated by A.G. Ford. 2014. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. War of Two. John Sedgwick. 2015. Berkley. 432 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. Aaron and Alexander: The Most Famous Duel in American History. Don Brown. 2015. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. Duel: Burr and Hamilton's Deadly War of Words. Dennis Brindell Fradin. Illustrated by Larry Day. 2008. Walker. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  6. Worst of Friends. Suzanne Jurmain. Illustrated by Larry Day. 2011. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  7. The Grand Mosque of Paris: A Story of How Muslims Saved Jews During the Holocaust. Karen Gray Ruelle. Illustrated by Deborah Durland DeSaix. 2009. Holiday House. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  8. Night. Elie Wiesel. Translated by Stella Rodway. Foreword by Francois Mauriac. 1958/1960. 109 pages. [Source: Bought]
Christian fiction: 0

Christian nonfiction: 
  1. Theologians You Should Know. Michael Reeves. 2016. Crossway. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  2. One of the Few. Jason B. Ladd. 2015. 297 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  3. Judge Not. Todd Friel. 2015. 320 pages. [Source: Borrowed]
  4. Blessed My Whole Life Through. Eldon Hatch. 2009. 88 pages. [Source: Gift]
  5. Big Beliefs: Small Devotionals Introducing Your Family to Big Truths. David R. Helm. 2016. P&R. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  6. How Church Can Change Your Life. Josh Moody. 2015. Christian Focus Publications. 76 pages. [Source: Borrowed] 
  7. David Brainerd: May I Never Loiter On My Heavenly Journey. John Piper. 2012. Desiring God. 34 pages. [Source: Free Download]

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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37. This week on Now and Then

So I thought I would share what I've posted on my new-ish blog, Now and Then. I hope you'll visit and leave a comment or two.

First, on Sunday I shared two posts. The first was looking at Country Pride songs, now and then. The two songs were "Song of the South" by Alabama and "Chicken Fried" by Zac Brown Band.  Preparing for that post, I learned there were FOUR different versions of Song of the South. The song started out its life--in 1980--as a slow, soulful ballad. It haunts, trust me. But by the time Alabama recorded it in 1988, it was a happy-clappy, peppy, rallying song to get a crowd going. I ask you to decide Who Sang It Best?!

 On Monday, I turned to gymnastics. I shared Mary Lou Retton's uneven bar performance from 1984 U.S. Nationals...and also Madison Kocian's Uneven Bars from just a few weeks ago. Uneven Bars is one of the events you can CLEARLY see just how different the sport has become.

On Wednesday, I went for fashion. I shared "teen party" fashion from 1959 and 1988.

On Thursday, I created a playlist for Western Barbie. She came out in 1981, I believe. Perhaps 1980. But around there. The assumption being, that "Western Barbie" was a *real* person listening to and loving music. I also shared Western Barbie's commercial.

On Friday, I shared a GUESS WHO game with Country Music is.... I shared thirty lines from thirty different country songs. Read together, I think, you get a great glimpse of what country music is all about.

And today, I shared a picture of a DOLL you won't really see being marketed today. The "selling feature" of this one from 1964, is I CRY REAL TEARS WHEN YOU SPANK ME. And the doll's bottom, reads the word HERE.

This week's posts, show a bit more variety than last week's posts.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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38. Donner Dinner Party

Donner Dinner Party. (Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales #3). Nathan Hale. 2013. Harry N. Abrams. 128 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Hear ye! Hear ye! Hear ye!

Premise/plot: Nathan Hale returns for this third hazardous tale in this graphic novel. The story that will prolong his life and delay his hanging is the story of the DONNER PARTY. His immediate audience, of course, is the hangman and a British officer. It's very convenient that since being eaten by the large American History book he can see the future and use the future to tell super-entertaining stories. Readers first meet the Reed family led by James Reed. Other families will be introduced as they journey west and join (and quit) wagon trains. The dangers are MANY. Some dangers are unpredictable and almost unavoidable. Other dangers they walk straight into confidently, sweeping away warnings. Usually if not always, always, it's the MEN making the decisions and the women and children who can do nothing but except the judgement of husbands and fathers. The story is FASCINATING AND HORRIBLE at the same time.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. It is quite a compelling, absorbing read. You wouldn't think there would be a lot of characterization in a graphic novel, but, surprisingly there is. I had read very little if anything about the Donner Party, and, so I found it really interesting. I knew it was a grim story, but, I had not realized there were survivors too. So it wasn't quite as depressing as I first imagined it to be.

I definitely recommend this series of graphic novels. Even if you don't necessarily love reading graphic novels. The focus on history has me hooked. And I've become quite fond of Nathan Hale and his two would-be executioners.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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39. Singalong Saturdays (Summer Songs, Again)

Today's prompt: Songs that remind you of summer. I'm adapting it a bit to focus on songs that remind me of a particular summer--1997.


This meme is hosted by Bookish Things & More.

I'm choosing to focus on the Backstreet Boys. I remember going shopping for school clothes and getting a sampler of their music--maybe even on cassette--from a department store. It was love at first listen. And when their album released that August, I believe, I bought it.

Hearing any of these songs brings back that summer and COLLEGE.



Also I can't help including Sugar Ray's Fly.



© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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40. My Thoughts on Call The Midwife, series 3

 Call the Midwife, series 3
1 Christmas special + 8 episodes

Jenny Lee = Jessica Raine
Trixie Franklin = Helen George
Cynthia Miller = Bryony Hannah
Chummy (Camilla Fortescue-Cholmondeley-Browne) = Miranda Hart
Sister Julienne = Jenny Agutter
Sister Monica Joan = Judy Parfitt
Sister Evangelina = Pam Ferris
Shelagh Turner = Laura Main
Dr. Patrick Turner = Stephen McGann
Timothy Turner = Max Macmillan
PC Peter Noakes = Ben Caplan
Fred Buckle = Cliff Parisi
Alec Jesmond = Leo Staar
Tom Hereward = Jack Ashton
Patsy Mount = Emerald Fennell
Sister Winifred = Victoria Yeates

Season three is the last season with Jenny Lee. That may be one of the more notable things about this season in retrospect. (We also see a lot less Chummy after this season. I know she makes no appearance at all in series 5, and, I'm not sure how much she's around in series 4. But I think she is some at least.) 

Shelagh. Last season's finale saw Shelagh become engaged in Dr. Turner. In the Christmas Special, these two were due to be married near Christmas. But DRAMA, DRAMA, DRAMA. This episode has so much drama. Much of it being caused by the discover of an unexploded German bomb left over from the war. And then there's POLIO. This is such a heart-felt episode. How is it possible to care so much about fictional characters on a TV show?

Episode one. New Nonnatus House. New Sister midwife. I really, really like Sister Winifred although it takes a few episodes to come into her own and feel like she BELONGS. In this episode, Chummy helps deliver a baby in an emergency, and is asked to come back to work part-time as a midwife.

Episode two. Cynthia and Sister Evangelina are in conflict over "new" methods to help mothers during childbirth...Jenny gets a promotion....and viewers meet Doris a pregnant woman who is between a rock and a hard place.

Episode three. Trixie and Sister Julienne temporarily take on prison duties and serve pregnant prisoners. Sister Julienne becomes especially close to one of the young girls, and, becomes a character witness of sorts. The young woman desperately wants to keep her baby and not be forced to give it up for adoption. Trixie--well, good news, she meets Tom...and the bad news, well, she gets LICE. Shelagh and Dr. Turner learn that she cannot have children. Already several episodes this season are about adoption. So it's easy to see where this might be heading.

Episode four. The beginning of the end for Jenny's time at Nonnatus House. Alec Jesmond is in a horrible accident. PC Peter Noakes is one of the first responders, also, I believe Dr. Turner is as well. They know him as Jenny's boyfriend, making it even more difficult. They KNOW it is really bad. Bad news, the two had been fighting that day. Good news, they do get the chance to make up.

Episode five, Shelagh is back working in an administrative role at least. And sister Julianne and Jenny are both away. Nurse Patsy Mount, now a midwife, joins Nonnatus House full-time. Sister Evangelina has a jubilee party. But she has to be tricked into attending. This celebration is all the more meaningful the second time around. (If you've seen season five, you know exactly why). The pregnancy case is very troubling in this episode.

Episode six, Trixie goes on her first date with Tom. But it does not go according to plan. Shelagh and Dr. Turner begin to look into what it would take to adopt a child...and viewers get to know a little more about the newest midwife, Nurse Mount.

Episode seven, this one has DRAMA and then some. Chummy's mother comes to town. Chummy, at first, thinks this is a visit. But several things soon come to light. Her parents are separated now, her mother doesn't have much money, and she is in a LOT OF PAIN, as she has terminal cancer. Chummy has about a hundred emotions at any given moment. And it's up to Peter to know what to do. His strength in this episode and the next are AMAZING. He is such a good, good guy. Sister Julienne and Cynthia, not to be left out, deal with a VERY VERY VERY mentally troubled woman after delivery.

Episode eight, Shelagh and Dr. Turner get GREAT news during this episode. But poor Chummy spends this episode in turmoil and angst. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Sister Monica Joan in this episode. And Jenny is supportive as well. These two cluster around Chummy and her mother and it's just beautiful to watch. Painful but beautiful. Jenny--who came back in episode seven--decides to stop being a midwife and switch to what we would now call hospice care. She does help deliver a baby in this episode, I believe, and her patient's cousin, I believe, is PHILIP WORTH, her future husband. This is young Jenny's last appearance in the show.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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41. The Journey That Saved Curious George

The Journey That Saved Curious George. Louise Borden. 2016. HMH. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: For many years, I was intrigued by the story of Margret and H.A. Rey's flight from Paris on bicycles in June 1940.

Premise/plot: This children's nonfiction book is just right for elementary readers. It begins by providing background and context for young readers. Hans Augusto Reyersbach and Margarete Waldstein grew up in Germany. Both were Jewish. At some point in the 1920s, he moves to Rio de Janeiro. She follows a little while after. They meet again there, and fall in love. Paris is one of the stops on their honeymoon--they are Brazilian citizens now--and Paris is where they decide to remain. They work many happy years together in Paris. But their work--and their lives--are threatened when World War II goes from being something you read about in the papers--to something happening a few miles outside the city limits.

As Jews, they are at great risk if they remain in Paris and Paris is captured by the Nazis. But. For better or worse. They waited a little too long to leave the city...in an easy way. The last rush sees them desperate to find two bicycles. I believe the book says he had to build the bicycles himself from parts. But it isn't just a story about saving the authors' lives, it's a book celebrating the manuscript that would become Curious George. That was one of the possessions that they took with them--on their bikes. Of course what you may not know is that "George" wasn't George just yet. The monkey was originally called Fifi. And publishers had already agreed to publish the book before they made their flight...

The book focuses on H.A. and Margret Rey, their work as writers, and how the war effected their lives.

My thoughts: This is a very enjoyable read. I loved how the author was able to reconstruct their lives and give readers a behind-the-scenes look into the writing and illustrating of books. The book felt personal, but, always appropriate.

I would definitely recommend this one.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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42. Between Shades of Gray

Between Shades of Gray. Ruta Sepetys. 2011. Penguin. 352 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: They took me in my nightgown. Thinking back, the signs were there--family photos burned in the fireplace, Mother sewing her best silver and jewelry into the lining of her coat late at night, and Papa not returning from work. My younger brother, Jonas, was asking questions. I asked questions, too, but perhaps I refused to acknowledge the signs. Only later did I realize that Mother and Father intended we escape. We did not escape. We were taken. 

Premise/plot: I'm tempted to not give any premise or plot at all. To just say: READ THIS BOOK. But I'm not sure that's exactly fair. While, I do think this book should be read WIDELY, I think it's only fair to tell you a little bit about what to expect. It's set in 1941 in Lithuania. Lina, the heroine, and her family are in a difficult position. They're trapped between two worst-case-scenarios: Stalin, on one side, and Hitler on the other. No matter which "wins" control over Lithuania, Lina and her family--and so many others--are in great danger.

The book opens with Lina's family being arrested. It doesn't get any cheerier from that point. Lina, her mother, and her brother, Jonas, take the reader on quite an emotional journey. It's an incredible read, partly set in Siberia as well, which is where these 'prisoners' end up.

My thoughts: This was a reread for me. There is a companion book newly released this year starring Lina's cousin Joana. The companion book is set at much closer to the end of World War II. I read Salt to the Sea not really realizing its connection with Between Shades of Gray. It worked. So if you do read the books out of order, that is okay. But definitely I think you'll want to read both books.

I love this one. I do. I love the characterization. I really, really, really love Lina. And I love Andrius as well. Just because there is a tiny bit of romance, don't mistake this one for a proper ROMANCE. It's so much more than that. It's a fight for survival, and, a fight for DIGNITY. It is very bittersweet. But if you're looking for a book you can't put down, this one is it.


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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43. Listening to George, CONCLUSION

This will be the last post for my George Strait Project. I thought I would make a few lists, answer a few questions, etc.

One word to describe George Strait's music: TIMELESS
Some phrases to describe his music: consistently high quality;  forever true to himself, true to tradition; western swing at its best! makes you want to sing and dance!
Was the project fun? Yes, for the most part.
Did I get tired of George by the end of July? More than I thought I would be. I thought it would be impossible to have too much George in your life.
Did I only listen to George Strait? That's how I started out the month. But by the end, I was ready for a little distance and some other artists to listen to.
Would I recommend this project for someone else? Yes. But I would suggest spreading it out throughout a six month or even a year period. You could cover two to three albums per month and get it done in a year.
Would I be interested in doing another chronological project? Yes, probably. I'm not sure WHO at this point. And it will probably not be any time soon. I am also not sure if I'd ever devote that many posts to music at Becky's Book Reviews. Though if it were to be a year-long project, one post per month wouldn't be seen as quite the invasion that George became!!!
Which albums are MUSTS? If you were to only have TWO albums in your collection--say you have zero George Strait at the moment--then definitely 50 Number Ones (2004) and and 22 More Hits (2007). That would give you 72 of his best songs.
Favorite album from the 1980s? Probably Ocean Front Property. I really LOVE that one.
Favorite singles from the 1980s? Fool Hearted Memory, Amarillo by Morning, You Look So Good In Love, The Cowboy Rides Away, The Chair, Nobody In His Right Mind Would Have Left Her, Baby Blue, Ace in the Hole, Am I Blue, Famous Last Words of a Fool, Ocean Front Property, It Ain't Cool To Be Crazy About You, etc.
Favorite songs from the 1980s that were never released as singles? Friday Night Fever, 80 Proof Bottle of Tear Stopper, Dance Time in Texas, My Heart Won't Wander Very Far From You, You Can't Buy Your Way Out of the Blues...
Favorite album from the 1990s? I don't think I could ever, ever, ever choose. I might could come up with a top three albums from the 1990s...Livin' It Up (1990); Lead On (1994); One Step at A Time (1998).
Favorite singles from the 1990s? You Know Me Better Than That; Easy Come, Easy Go; The Big One; Check Yes or No; Lead On; Blue Clear Sky; One Night at a Time; I Just Want To Dance With You; We Really Shouldn't Be Doing This; Write This Down.
Favorite songs from the 1990s never released as singles?  Someone Had to Teach You; She Loves Me (She Don't Love You); Is It Already Time; You're Right, I'm Wrong; Baby Your Baby; Stay Out My Arms; I Wasn't Fooling Around; Nobody Has To Get Hurt; That's Me (Every Chance I Get); Real Good Place to Start; That's Where I Want To Take Our Love; Always Never The Same.
Favorite album from the 2000s? I'm torn between Twang (2009) and Honkytonkville (2003).
Favorite singles from the 2000s? Don't Make Me Comve Over There and Love You, Troubadour, Twang.
Favorite songs from the 2000s that were never released as singles? Honk if You Honky Tonk, I Found Jesus on the Jailhouse Floor, She Used to Say That To Me, Texas Cookin', It Was Me, Where Have I Been All My Life
Favorite album from the 2010s? Cold Beer Conversation
Favorite singles from the 2010s? I Got A Car; Drinkin' Man; Here for a Good Time.
Favorite songs from the 2010s never released as singles? Three Nails and a Cross, I'll Always Remember You, It was Love, Take Me To Texas, It Takes All Kinds.

Country Music Is....
  1. No more late nights, comin' in at daylight, and no more doin' you wrong.
  2. Nickels and dimes, memories and wines - she's on his mind once again.
  3. I ain't rich, but Lord I'm free.
  4. He must have stolen some stars from the sky, and gave them to you to wear in your eyes.
  5. We've been in and out of love and in-between.
  6. With a little mouth to mouth she was ready to go.
  7. Well, thank you, could I drink you a buy?
  8. Even my heart was smart enough to stay behind.
  9. I don't worship the ground you walk on.
  10. A devil when she held me close, an angel when she smiled.
  11. Don't put it all on the line for just one roll.
  12. All the times before she'd break down and cry.
  13. There won't be no more next time doin' me wrong.
  14. Truth be known, you're dyin', cryin', lyin' there in bed.
  15. I miss picnics and blue jeans and buckets of beer.
  16. When you hear twin fiddles and a steel guitar, you're listening to the sound of the American heart.
  17. We tried to work it out a hundred times, ninety-nine it didn't work.
  18. I'm not the hero who will always save the day.
  19. Oh they just don't make hearts like hers anymore.
  20. My heart's the only part of me that's not in love with you.
  21. She said I don't recall seeing you around here you must be new to this town.
  22. But I never felt this feeling with anybody else.
  23. I got my fingers crossed that this goes on and on.
  24. I hit my knees and told God how much I hurt.
  25. I caught you lookin' at me when I looked at you. Yes I did, ain't that true?
  26. We'd each be hurting somebody else if we don't say our good-byes real fast.
  27. That's where I wanna raise the babies that we make.
  28. My heart's been on a long vacation, but now it's beating like a cha, cha, cha
  29. Today I'm right where Mama prayed I'd be.
  30. Some peddle steel whining like a whistle of an old freight train... 
Can you identify which songs these lines are from? 

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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44. Library Loot: July

So where have I been? Despite my lack of 'library loot' posts, I've actually been averaging about three to four trips to the library per week. There is the difficulty. If you know you're going to the library "tomorrow," it's hard to get down to writing a library loot post "today." But since it's been almost a month since my last post...here I go:

New Loot:
  • Camille by Alexandre Dumas, fils
  • Fudge-a-mania by Judy Blume
  • Double Fudge by Judy Blume
  • Golf Without Tears by P.G. Wodehouse
  • My Lady Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, Jodi Meadows
  • Waylon: One Awesome Thing by Sara Pennypacker
  • Junie B. Jones and the Stupid Smelly Bus by Barbara Park
  • Testament of Youth by Vera Brittain
  • Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
  • Johnny Cash: The Life by Robert Hilburn
  • Man in White by Johnny Cash
  • Counting Thyme by Melanie Conklin
  • Another Day as Emily by Eileen Spinelli
  • The Luck Uglies by Paul Durham
  •  Fork-Tongue Charmers by Paul Durham
  • All-Rise for the Honorable Perry T. Cook by Leslie Connor
Leftover Loot:
  • Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban
  • A Royal Experiment by Janice Hadlow
  • Are You Experienced by Jordan Sonnenblick

  Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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45. Listening to George, part 10

2009
If you want to follow along with this project, all related posts are tagged George Strait Project. This post will cover the years 2009-2015.

Twang is George Strait's twenty-sixth album. It features thirteen songs. Four songs from the album were released as singles: "Living for the Night," "Twang," "I Gotta Get To You," "The Breath You Take."

The other songs on the album include: "Where Have I Been All My Life," "Easy As You Go," "Same Kind of Crazy," "Out of Sight, Out of Mind," "Arkansas Dave," "He's Got That Something Special," "Hot Grease and Zydeco," "Beautiful Day for Goodbye," and "El Rey."

George Strait has some writing credits on this album. Three of the songs he cowrote with his son: "Living for the Night," Out of Sight, Out of Mind," and "He's Got That Something Special." One song was written by his son, "Arkansas Dave."

"Where Have I Been All My Life"

First stanza:
Been down the road to work and back
Been in what I thought was love a few times
But every once in a while I stop and ask
Where have I been all my life 
Premise/plot: The singer is reflecting on his life, and questioning, perhaps, why it took him so long to realize some important, essential things in life. He's grown up, in other words, and seeing life a whole lot differently than he used to.

Favorite lines:
These days broccoli don't taste so bad
And neither does swallowing my pride
And I'm agreeing more and more with my old man
Where have I been all my life
Been learning that forgiveness is as much for myself
As it is for the other guy
And I read the good book these days and believe it
Where have I been all my life
My thoughts: I really LOVE this one. I can relate to it in many ways.

Favorite songs: I really enjoy all the songs on the album. But I really want to highlight "Beautiful Day for Goodbye," "Easy As You Go," and "Hot Grease and Zydeco."

2011
Here For A Good Time is George Strait's twenty-seventh album. It features eleven songs. George Strait and his son wrote or cowrote seven out of the eleven songs on the album. Three of the songs were released as singles: "Here For A Good Time," Love's Gonna Make It Alright," and "Drinkin' Man."

Other songs on the album include: "Shame On Me," "Poison," "House Across the Bay," "Lone Star Blues," "A Showman's Life," "Three Nails and A Cross," "Blue Marlin Blues," and "I'll Always Remember You."

"I'll Always Remember You" is co-written by George Strait, and, it is written for his fans--about his fans.

"Three Nails and A Cross" is without a doubt one of my favorites on this album.

The song I'd like to pay special attention to is "Drinkin' Man."

First two stanzas:
I woke up this mornin' and I swore to God
I'd never, ever take another drink again
I fought it like the devil, but you know that you're in trouble
When you're fourteen and drunk by ten a.m.
Tried to hide it from my mom and dad, all my friends said, straighten up
I just laughed, said, you don't understand
That's a hell of a lot to ask of a drinkin' man
Premise/plot: An honest look at the ugly truths of alcoholism. Country music often--but not always--glamorizes drinking, drinking a lot, getting drunk, being stupid while drunk. But not all country songs treat it that lightly. The song ends exactly the same way it begins, repeating: "I woke up this mornin' and I swore to God I'd never, ever take another drink again."

My thoughts: I think this song would pair well with "Where Have I Been All My Life," and "Three Nails and A Cross." I think you could imagine one person progressing from one to the other. The key perhaps being, "Three Nails and A Cross," as the middle song.

This song is the COMPLETE and TOTAL opposite of Toby Keith's Red Solo Cup.

2013
Love is Everything is George Strait's twenty-eighth album. It features thirteen songs. Four of the songs were written or cowritten by George Strait. Three of the songs from the album were released as singles, "Give It All We Got Tonight," "I Believe," and "I Got a Car."

Other songs on the album include: "Blue Melodies," "I Just Can't Go On Dying Like This," "I Thought I Heard My Heart Sing," "That's What Breaking Hearts Do," "When Love Comes Around Again," "The Night is Young," "Sitting on the Fence," "Love Is Everything," "You Don't Know What You're Missing," and "When The Credits Roll."

My favorite is probably "I Got A Car." It's a fun, little story song.

"I Believe" was written in honor of the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut.

2015
Cold Beer Conversation is George Strait's twenty-ninth album. It features thirteen songs. Three of the songs are written--or co-written by George and his son. Two singles were released from this album, "Cold Beer Conversation" and "Let It Go."

Other songs on the album include: "It Was Love," "Goin' Goin' Gone," "Something Going Down," "Take Me To Texas," "It Takes All Kinds," "Stop and Drink," "Everything I See," "Rock Paper Scissors," "Wish You Well," "Cheaper Than A Shrink," and "Even When I Can't Feel It."

I do like the two songs that were released as singles. But I am clueless as to why they didn't release IT WAS LOVE as a single. It is a GREAT song. And I just think it has HIT written all over it!

I really like Take Me To Texas. George loves to sing about Texas!
Take me to Texas, on the open range
The Rio Grande is in my veins
It’s heaven there and so my prayer
Is that you’ll take me anywhere in Texas
The only home I know
I’m a child of the Alamo and the Yellow Rose
So when I go
If you were ever curious what it would be like if Dr. Seuss wrote a country song, then give a good long listen to "It Takes All Kinds." This one is just catchy and FUN.

"Everything I See" is another must. A son is singing a song about his father who recently died. This one would also make a great single, I think.

This was the album that "inspired" the project in the first place.


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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46. The Diamond Mystery

Diamond Mystery (The Whodunit Detective Agency #1). Martin Widmark. Illustrated by Helena Willis. 2002/2014. 80 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: The streets were empty in the little town of Pleasant Valley.

Premise/plot: Jerry and Maya are classmates and friends who have opened a detective agency out of Maya's basement. They live in the small, quaint town of Pleasant Valley. The book opens with Mohammed Caret hiring these two child detectives to find out who is stealing diamonds from his shop. Their cover will be that he has hired these two children to do some light cleaning and run a few errands for him. They meet the three employees that work for him. And after a day of close observation, they are ready to solve the case.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I did. It's an early chapter book. I'd say just about right for second graders. It's the first in a mystery series for children. It has been translated into English from the Swedish.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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47. Pretty Minnie in Hollywood

Pretty Minnie in Hollywood. Danielle Steel. Illustrated by Kristi Valiant. 2016. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Minnie is a white, long-haired, teacup-size Chihuahua.

Premise/plot: Minnie and her owner live in Paris, France. Francoise (the child owner) and Minnie travel with the Mom to Hollywood to hand deliver a beautiful, glamorous dress to an actress for a movie. Most of the 'plot' of this one focuses on the trip there and back. While in Hollywood, Minnie gets her big break and stars in a movie of her own.

My thoughts: Could the cover of this book possibly have even more glitter? I didn't think so. The plot is what it is. It isn't horribly creative or clever or new or unique or compelling. More frivolous and predictable and obnoxious in a cutie-sweetie-pie way. Now, if the book had been a super-sweet story about a cat instead of a dog, would I feel differently? Maybe. But I don't see a cat dressing up and following directions. That would have been a whole different story. Several pages might have even been spent on trying to get the cat into traveling bag.

I was unimpressed with the writing of this one. But what slightly saves it are the illustrations.

Text: 2 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 6 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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48. What's On Your Nightstand (July)


The folks at 5 Minutes For Books host What’s On Your Nightstand? the fourth Tuesday of each month in which we can share about the books we have been reading and/or plan to read.

Currently reading:

Johnny Cash: The Life. Robert Hilburn. 2014. Little, Brown. 688 pages. [Source: Library]

Why the sudden interest in Johnny Cash? I have no idea really except perhaps my discovery of "Music on Murder Row," and the question what IS country music? I am finding this a very interesting read.


Testament of Youth. Vera Brittain. 1933/2015. Penguin. 672 pages. [Source: Library]

I've been wanting to read this since watching the movie. It's good, but, the chapters are LONG. 

Golf Without Tears: Stories of Golfers and Lovers. P.G. Wodehouse. 1999. 320 pages. [Source: Library]

I am reading this for the VT Reading Challenge (aka Challies) for the "sports" category. For the record, I don't like golf....but I do love Wodehouse. So it is working for me.

Man in White. Johnny Cash. 1986/2006. WestBow. 194 pages. [Source: Library]

I haven't gotten very far in this one. But it's a fiction novel about the Apostle Paul...and I'm interested in reading it in the weeks ahead.


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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49. The Hotel Mystery

The Hotel Mystery. (Whodunit Detective Agency #2) Martin Widmark. Illustrated by Helena Willis. 2002/2014. 80 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Every year, on the day before Christmas Eve, nearly everyone in the little town of Pleasant Valley does the same thing: They all head to the holiday buffet at the town's hotel, where they find turkey, ham, roasted carrots, and mashed potatoes and gravy, all served on big platters in the beautiful dining room.

Premise/plot: Jerry and Maya are friends and classmates who formed the Whodunit Detective Agency. Over Christmas vacation, these two are working at the town's hotel. (Jerry's uncle works there.) The hotel is in great excitement because the hotel's best and most expensive suite has been rented out to a family, the Braeburn family. Making the new guests HAPPY is to be their top priority. But their stay is not uneventful, and before the book ends, Jerry and Maya will need to solve a crime.

My thoughts: This is the second book in the Whodunit Detective Agency series. It is an early chapter book with a lot of colorful illustrations. These mysteries are simple and straightforward. The characters aren't exactly complex and intriguing. But. I think for the intended age group, these mysteries are fine reading material.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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50. Time Cat

Time Cat. Lloyd Alexander. 1963. 206 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: Gareth was a black cat with orange eyes.

Premise/plot: Jason is having a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day. But that begins to change when in the midst of complaining out loud to his cat, Gareth, Gareth surprises him by talking back. The cat reveals that he can visit nine different lives--any time, any country--and he can and will be happy to take Jason with him.

The times visited by Jason and Gareth: Egypt 2700 B.C., Rome and Britain 55 B.C., Ireland 411 A.D., Japan 998 A.D., Italy 1468, Peru 1555, The Isle of Man 1588, Germany 1600, America 1775.

If you're a cat lover who also enjoys time travel, this is a GREAT read.

My thoughts: I really, really, really found this to be a GREAT read. I found it entertaining and just FUN.

Here are some of my favorite quotes.
When I was a child, I always had cats. They seemed very fond of me. Then, after I became Pharaoh, they didn't seem to care for me half as much.
Jason thought for a while. "I don't know," he said at last. "Did you wear that headdress and that beard before you got to be king? That might have frightened them. And another thing," he added, "did you shout as much? Cats don't like being shouted at."
Neter-Khet brightened a little. "That might be it."
"Even so," Jason said, "when you weren't shouting, you'd think they'd have come around again."
"Oh, they did," said Neter-Khet. "But they'd never play or purr when I ordered."
"Did you expect them to?" Jason said. "No cat in the world will do that!"
"But I'm Pharaoh," Neter-Khet said. "I'm supposed to give orders."
"That doesn't mean anything to a cat," said Jason. "Didn't anybody ever tell you?"
"Nobody tells me," Neter-Khet said. "I tell them. Besides, they were my cats, weren't they?"
"In a way they were," Jason said, "and in a way they weren't. A cat can belong to you, but you can't own him. There's a difference." (19-20)
The only thing a cat worries about is what's happening right now. As we tell the kittens, you can only wash one paw at a time. (125)
Cats are good at being cats, and that's enough. (127)

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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