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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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1. Bedtime Blastoff!

Bedtime Blastoff! Luke Reynolds. Illustrated by Mike Yamada. 2016. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: A bed. A boy. His daddy. "Bedtime?" "Not yet!" A train…a conductor…His full-steam-ahead!

Premise/plot: A little boy isn't quite ready for bed yet. He and his dad have a LOT of playing to do…together.
My thoughts: I am so glad I didn't judge this book by its cover. I wasn't expecting to like it very much. But I gave it a chance and decided to go ahead and read it. The first few pages hooked me. It was GOOD. What did I like about it? The simplicity of the text. So much is communicated in just a few words. I liked the creative, imaginative play. I enjoyed the relationship between father and son. It was just sweet without being super-sticky sweet. And the illustrations may not have wowed me at first. I did appreciate the clues they provide.

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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2. Posy the Puppy

Posy the Puppy (Dr. Kitty Cat #1) Jane Clarke. 2016. Scholastic. 96 pages. [Source: Review copy]

I was most impressed with Jane Clarke's new series Dr. KittyCat. Posy the Puppy is the first title in the series. The premise is simple and fun. Dr. KittyCat is a cat who is a vet. In this first book, she and her nurse, Peanut, see several animal patients. In particular, they see Posy the puppy, who is mysteriously sick and unable to compete in a Field Day competition. Can Dr. KittyCat help Posy feel better? Will Posy be able to compete after all?

I think the book is super-sweet, super-adorable, super-fun. The illustrations use "real" pictures of animals in their mostly purple illustrations. The fact that I love, love, love cats, I like animals, and I love the color purple, well, it helps me really love this new chapter book.

Chapter books and series books are both important stages in the learning to read, learning to love to read process. Do you remember which books you read as a child that helped you learn to love reading?
© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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3. Number One Kid

Number One Kid. Patricia Reilly Giff. 2010. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]

Number One Kid is the first book in Patricia Reilly Giff's Zigzag Kids series. The books are loosely connected, I believe, by the fact that all the main characters attend the same school, Zelda A. Zigzag elementary school. But the books do not share main characters. This first book is narrated by Mitchell McCabe. Mitchell, for better or worse, tends to think of himself as a loser. He doesn't see himself at being particularly "good" at any one thing. Will participating in the after-school program help him change how he sees himself? It isn't like he has a choice in the matter--he has to attend the after-school program regardless. But the good news is, it turns out he actually likes the after school program.

If you're looking for good, strong, deep characterization, this series will probably prove disappointing. If you're looking for extremely light, but widely diverse characterization, you probably will find it satisfying enough. I have to be honest and say that I found the characterization to be very light, and, the plot very light as well. So it isn't that this is a plot-driven, action-driven read at the expense of characterization. What it does have in its favor perhaps is the fact that it is short and illustrated. Also the book does tend to focus on friendship and teamwork and getting along.  

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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4. Roller Girl

Roller Girl. Victoria Jamieson. 2015. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

Do I typically read graphic novels? Not really. I want to admit that from the very beginning of this review! I might average about two or three a year. And I usually just read the ones that are getting Newbery buzz or actually do get a Newbery or Newbery Honor. Roller Girl IS a graphic novel. It IS a Newbery Honor book for 2016.

Roller Girl is a coming-of-age graphic novel set mainly in the summer as the heroine, Astrid, goes to Roller Derby summer camp. Astrid is a bit angsty that her friend, Nicole, is no longer her best-best friend who wants to do every little thing with her. For example, Nicole does NOT want to go to roller derby camp, she wants to go to dance camp. She also wants to start hanging out with and dating boys. Astrid? Not really her thing--at least not yet. There is some jealousy mixed in with frustration. It isn't just that Nicole is interested in different hobbies. It is that Nicole is spending time--a lot of time--with other people. And one of those people she's now spending a LOT of time with is her nemesis, Rachel. Rachel and Astrid have some ancient history--way back in second grade, I believe?!

Astrid is confused and frustrated and moody and angry and DETERMINED. Roller derby is, by far, the hardest thing she's ever done--ever attempted. And it does not come easy. She is not a natural on skates--not by any stretch of the imagination. And it is physically, emotionally, mentally challenging to her. She WANTS it so bad that she pushes, pushes, pushes to improve. It is because she struggles that I believe she is so relatable.

I also liked how Astrid begins to make other friends outside of Nicole, and, that she is given the opportunity to find her own thing, to become her own person. True, part of that journey involves dyeing her hair BLUE. But having blue hair isn't the "worst" of her crimes--in the eyes of her mom. It is the fact that Astrid is less than honest. Still, I think the two are depicted as having a mostly-positive relationship. Which is nice to see in fiction. That Moms and daughters can get along and talk through their differences.

Astrid also finds a mentor--of sorts--in Rainbow Bite. Readers do learn a good bit about the sport of Roller Derby.

So overall, I enjoyed the characterization. I enjoyed the coming-of-age aspect of it. And despite the fact that it is a graphic novel, and, despite the fact that it is sports-focused, I did enjoy it. I read it quickly, in one setting.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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5. Top Ten Tuesday: Historical Settings


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish
1. Regency England. I *tend* to love books set during the Regency period in England. Georgette Heyer wrote some GREAT romances set during this period. Also Anne Perry's William Monk mystery series is set at this time.

2. Victorian England. I *tend* to love books written by Victorians. (Think Anthony Trollope, Charles Dickens, Wilkie Collins, Elizabeth Gaskell, etc.) But I also tend to enjoy historical fiction set during this period.

3. World War II. If a book is set during World War II--in any country--chances are I'm going to be curious and willing to read it. That's not to say it's a guaranteed five stars! I have read hundreds of books set during this time period.

4. 1930s-1940s--England or America. Perhaps because of my interest in World War II, I do tend to read books set prior and directly after the war. 1930s fiction set in America is often focused on the Great Depression or the Dust Bowl or the like. And 1930s fiction set in England or Europe is about the political tension of the times.

5. Middle Ages. England. Think 15th and 16th centuries. Think SUNNE IN SPLENDOUR. I have read dozens of books about the War of Roses. And a handful on the Tudors (boo, hiss, Henry VII and Henry VIII).

6. Edwardian England. And World WAR I. While not "my favorite" historical period to read about, I have read some really good books set during this time period. And I am always on the look out for more!

7. Pioneer Stories. America. I love "going west" and "living out west" stories.

8. Georgian England. Some of Georgette Heyer's romances are set during this period. Also books like The Scarlet Pimpernel.

9. Scotland. I would love to see Edward Rutherfurd write a HUGE saga set in Scotland.

10.  France. I'm not sure if I like historical fiction set in France so much as I enjoy reading French classics like The Three Musketeers and Les Miserables. But I've reviewed a good handful of books set in France at various historical periods, so make the list it does!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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6. Supertruck

Supertruck. Stephen Savage. 2015. Roaring Brook Press. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: The city is full of brave trucks.

Premise/plot: The garbage truck is the star of this book about "brave trucks" in the city. True, you won't find him among the three brave trucks shown on the first page. The three "brave" trucks are the fire truck, the bucket truck, and the tow truck. But Garbage Truck is brave all the same even if the other trucks are unaware of his secret identity. Essentially, the book shows what happens in the city when a BIG, BIG snow storm comes through. All the super-brave trucks are STUCK, STUCK, STUCK. But one truck is a SUPERTRUCK and "saves" the city. The other trucks are clueless who this HERO is...but readers know the truth.

My thoughts: I liked it. I definitely liked it. Yes, it is very, very simple. The illustrations are simple. The text is simple. The plot is simple. But it works, it all comes together and just WORKS.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 3 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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7. Death on the Riviera

Death on the Riviera. John Bude. 1952/2016. Poisoned Pen Press. 250 pages. [Source: Review copy]
 
Did I enjoy reading John Bude's Death on the Riviera?! Yes! I might even go so far as to call it a gush-worthy read? Why? Purely because I found it hard to put down, and, just overall satisfying to read. Is it the best ever mystery novel? Probably not. But was it a joy to spend time with? Yes, very much.

Inspector Meredith (C.I.D) and Acting-Sergeant Freddy Strang head to Southern France in this mystery novel. They are teaming up with the local police to stop a gang of criminals from printing counterfeit money and introducing it into the currency. The prime suspect--the leader of the gang--is English. But though it is late in coming--very, very late in coming--this one is a murder mystery as well. So there are at least two 'big' stories going on in this delightful golden-age detective novel.

Why did I find it so delightful? Probably for me, the number one reason is the characters and characterization as shown off so well in the dialogue. I really, really enjoyed Freddy Strang's presence in this one. And his attempted romance was just cute and sweet in all the right ways. It was never the focus of the book, but, it was like the chocolate bits in a trail mix. I also enjoyed the setting and the plot and the solution.

The book was originally published in 1952, and it has been republished in 2016.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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8. January Reflections

January Accomplishments
  • Came home from the hospital after a rather extended completely unexpected 12 day stay
  • Focused on rest and recuperation after major surgery
  • Celebrated being alive
  • Let go of need to blog a review every single day no matter what
  • Began reading books and reviewing them--at my own pace
  • Slowly but surely began writing 'year in review' posts for 2015
  • made my top ten Dr. Seuss post
  • Signed up for a small number of challenges
Stand-Out Books Read in January: 
  • Alas, Babylon. Pat Frank. 1959/2005. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 323 pages. [Source: Bought] SCIENCE FICTION (Adult)
  • Hana's Suitcase. Karen Levine. 2002/2016. Crown Books. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy] WORLD WAR II NONFICTION (MG, YA, Adult)
  • Anne of Green Gables. L.M. Montgomery. 1908. 448 pages. [Source: Bought] COMING OF AGE CHILDREN'S CLASSIC (MG, YA, Adult)
5 Places "Visited" in January:
  1. Prince Edward Island (Canada)
  2. Fort Repose, Florida (USA)
  3. London, England
  4. Boston (USA) and Asgard
  5. Medieval France 
Picture Books (Also a few board books now and then):
  1. Board book: Carry and Learn: Opposites. Sarah Ward. 2016. Scholastic. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy] CONCEPT BOOK
  2. All Year Round. Susan B. Katz. Illustrated by Eiko Ojala. 2016. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] CONCEPT BOOK
Early Readers (Also a few early chapter books now and then):
  1. Owl Diaries #3 A Woodland Wedding. Rebecca Elliott. 2016. Scholastic. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy] ANIMAL FANTASY
  2. Best Friends Wear Pink Tutus. Sheri Brownrigg. Illustrated by Meredith Johnson. 1993. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Bought] REALISTIC
  3. The Log Cabin Wedding. Ellen Howard. 2006. Holiday House. 64 pages. [Source: Gift] HISTORICAL
  4. Mouse Scouts. Sarah Dillard. 2016. Random House. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy] ANIMAL FANTASY
  5. Mouse Scouts: Make A Difference. Sarah Dillard. 2016. Random House. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy] ANIMAL FANTASY
Contemporary (General, Realistic) Fiction, All Ages
  • none this month
Speculative Fiction (Fantasy, Science Fiction, etc.), All Ages
  1. The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) Rick Riordan. 2015. Disney Hyperion. 528 pages. [Source: Library] FANTASY and MYTHOLOGY MG/YA
  2. Alas, Babylon. Pat Frank. 1959/2005. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 323 pages. [Source: Bought]APOCALYPTIC ADULT
Historical Fiction, All Ages
  1. The Face of a Stranger. (William Monk #1) Anne Perry. 1990. 352 pages. [Source: Library] REGENCY (Adult)
  2. The Log Cabin Wedding. Ellen Howard. 2006. Holiday House. 64 pages. [Source: Gift] PIONEER (Children)
  3. Joan of Arc. Mark Twain. 1895/1896. 452 pages. [Source: Library] MEDIEVAL FRANCE (Adult)
Mysteries, All Ages
  1. Silent Nights. Edited by Martin Edwards. 2015. Poisoned Pen Press. 298 pages. [Source: Review copy] SHORT STORIES (Adult)
  2. The Face of a Stranger. (William Monk #1) Anne Perry. 1990. 352 pages. [Source: Library] REGENCY (Adult)
Classics, All Ages
  1. Anne of Green Gables. L.M. Montgomery. 1908. 448 pages. [Source: Bought] COMING OF AGE (MG, YA, Adult)
  2. Joan of Arc. Mark Twain. 1895/1896. 452 pages. [Source: Library] HISTORICAL (Adult)
  3. Alas, Babylon. Pat Frank. 1959/2005. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 323 pages. [Source: Bought] SCIENCE FICTION (Adult)
Nonfiction, All Ages
  1. Hana's Suitcase. Karen Levine. 2002/2016. Crown Books. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy] WORLD WAR II (MG, YA, Adult)
Christian Fiction
  • none this month
Christian Nonfiction
  1. Grace Untamed: A 60 Day Devotional. Edited by Elyse Fitzpatrick. 2016. [March] David C. Cook. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy] CHRISTIAN LIVING, DEVOTIONAL
  2. Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life. Donald S. Whitney. 1991/2014. NavPress. 341 pages. [Source: Bought] CHRISTIAN LIVING
  3. 1599 Geneva Bible. Tolle Lege Press. 1366 pages. [Source: Bought] NEW TESTAMENT REVIEW
  4. True Worshipers: Seeking What Matters To God. Bob Kauflin. 2015. Crossway. 176 pages. [Source: Review copy] CHRISTIAN LIVING
  5. Today is Day One: A Devotional. Matthew West. 2015. Harvest House. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy] DEVOTIONAL
  6. Prayer. A.W. Tozer. Compiled by W.L. Seaver. 2016. Moody. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy] CHRISTIAN LIVING

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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9. Library Loot: Third Trip in January

New Loot:
  • N or M? by Agatha Christie
  • Far From the Madding Crowd by Thomas Hardy
  • The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  • The Story of My Life by Helen Keller
  • Jim Henson: The Biography by Brian Jay Jones
  • Blood Royal by Eric Jager
  • Waiting by Kevin Henkes
  • A Sudden, Fearful Death by Anne Perry
  • Voice of Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford
  • Finding Winnie by Lindsay Mattick 
Leftover Loot:
  • Freedom's Teacher: The Life of Septima Clark by Katherine Mellen Charron
  • The Natural World of Winnie the Pooh by Kathryn Aalto
  • Great Expectations: The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens by Robert Gottlieb
  • Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
  • The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick
  • The Sign of the Cat by Lynne Jonell
  • Truman by David McCullough
  • Nurse Matilda the Collected Tales by Christianna Brand
  • The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon
           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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10. Ten Authors I Want To Read More of In 2016


Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by The Broke and The Bookish
Technically, I should have posted this on TUESDAY. But better late than never! This week was a freebie week.

1.  L.M. Montgomery. I want to read all the Anne books this year. Perhaps I should say reread all the Anne books this year. This past week I reviewed Anne of Green Gables.

2. Mark Twain. In December, I read A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. In January, I read Joan of Arc. I'm definitely in the mood for Twain. I'm not sure which book I'll get to next. But I want to read more, more, more!

3. C.S. Lewis. Last year, I got the chance to reread The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, and Voyage of the Dawn Treader. I'd love to finish up with the series this year. And perhaps even reread The Screwtape Letters.

4. J.R.R. Tolkien. Last year, I discovered the joy that is the Extended Editions of the Lord of the Rings. This year, I'd like to reread the books. (I also read several of his books last year. Just not LOTR).

5. Elizabeth Gaskell. I would love to read all her novels this year. But at the very, very least I want to reread North and South. It's been years since I first read Wives and Daughters. That would be a great one to get to this year!

6. Charles Todd. I "like" both mystery series. But the Bess Crawford series is my favorite. I'd love to read more from both series in 2016.

7. Susan Wittig Albert. I'd love to finish her Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter series.

8. Anne Perry. I've just started her William Monk series. I know she has a Victorian mystery series as well.

9. Anthony Trollope. A given for me in any year since I first discovered him.

10. Jennifer A. Nielsen. I'd love to reread some!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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11. Year in Review: Adult Books

I read 94 adult books in 2015. Here are my top ten:

  1. When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II. Molly Guptill Manning. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 288 pages. [Source: Library]  
  2. Gut: The Inside Story of Our Most Underrated Organ. Giulia Enders. Illustrated by Jill Enders. 2014/2015. Greystone Books. 288 pages. [Source: Library] 
  3. The Silmarillion. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1977. 386 pages. [Source: Bought] 
  4. A Duty To The Dead. (Bess Crawford #1) Charles Todd. 2009. HarperCollins. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
  5. Murder in the Afternoon. (Kate Shackleton #3) Frances Brody. 2011/2014. Minotaur Books. 400 pages.  [Source: Library]
  6. Station Eleven. Emily St. John Mandel. 2014. Knopf Doubleday. 352 pages. [Source: Library]
  7. The Tale of Hill Top Farm. Susan Wittig Albert. 2004. 286 pages. [Source: Bought]
  8. Ross Poldark. (Poldark #1) Winston Graham. 1945/2015. Sourcebooks. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  9. The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry. Rachel Joyce. 2012. Random House. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
  10. The Daughter of Time. Josephine Tey. 1951/1995. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]  
And in addition, my top five classics read in 2015:
  1. A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Mark Twain. 1889. 258 pages. [Source: Bought]
  2. Miss Marjoribanks. Margaret Oliphant. 1866. 512 pages. [Source: Bought]  
  3. Ayala's Angel. Anthony Trollope. 1881. 631 pages. [Source: Bought]
  4. The Life of Charlotte Bronte. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1857/1975. Penguin Classics. 623 pages. [Source: Bought]
  5. Notting Hill Mystery. Charles Warren Adams. 1862/2015. Poisoned Pen Press. 284 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    © 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    12. 2016 Challenges: Mad Reviewer

    The Mad Reviewer 2016 Reading Challenge
    Host: The Mad Reviewer (sign up)
    Dates: January - December 2016
    # of books: I'm signing up for 'Mad Reviewer' 104 books in one year.

    1. The Face of a Stranger. (William Monk #1) Anne Perry. 1990. 352 pages. [Source: Library] REGENCY (Adult)
    2. Silent Nights. Edited by Martin Edwards. 2015. Poisoned Pen Press. 298 pages. [Source: Review copy] SHORT STORIES (Adult)
    3. Alas, Babylon. Pat Frank. 1959/2005. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 323 pages. [Source: Bought] SCIENCE FICTION (Adult)
    4. Joan of Arc. Mark Twain. 1895/1896. 452 pages. [Source: Library] HISTORICAL (Adult)
    5. The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) Rick Riordan. 2015. Disney Hyperion. 528 pages. [Source: Library] FANTASY and MYTHOLOGY MG/YA
    6. Anne of Green Gables. L.M. Montgomery. 1908. 448 pages. [Source: Bought] COMING OF AGE (MG, YA, Adult)
    7. Mouse Scouts. Sarah Dillard. 2016. Random House. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy] ANIMAL FANTASY
    8. Mouse Scouts: Make A Difference. Sarah Dillard. 2016. Random House. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy] ANIMAL FANTASY
    9. Hana's Suitcase. Karen Levine. 2002/2016. Crown Books. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy] WORLD WAR II NONFICTION (MG, YA, Adult)
    10.
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    © 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    13. Hana's Suitcase

    Hana's Suitcase. Karen Levine. 2002/2016. Crown Books. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    Would I recommend Hana's Suitcase by Karen Levine? Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. This would be a great introduction to the subject of the Holocaust for elementary students. (My first "Holocaust book" was The Hiding Place by Corrie ten Boom. Do you remember your first Holocaust book?) One reason why I think it would be a good fit for young readers is the way the subject is approached. It is unusual and unique. It is a story about children learning about the Holocaust for the first time. It is about the learning process--the research process as well.

    Chapters alternate between the present and the past. The "present" story begins with an empty suitcase, "Hana's" suitcase. This is an object found in a Japanese Holocaust museum. The children--and the director--are eager to know WHO IS HANA? They know her birth date, that she was Jewish, that she ended up in a Nazi concentration camp. But who was she? what did she look like? what was her family like? what was her childhood like? What happened to her? Did she survive? Did she die?

    The present chapters narrate this learning-process, this investigation. I love that it illustrates history-coming-to-life, how fun and exciting history can be, even how relevant and important it can be to ask questions, to be persistent, to follow leads, etc.

    There are also chapters set in the past that tell Hana's story, and tell it almost from her point of view. Readers ultimately learn that much of this information came from her brother who did survive the war. Because the chapters alternate, readers will get the answers to some questions before the people in the book.

    I liked how these two stories come together. This one is worth reading.

    © 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    14. Year in Review: Middle grade and Young Adult

    In 2015, I read 35 young adult books. These are my top five seven:
    1. A Little In Love. Susan Fletcher. 2015. Scholastic. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    2. Rook. Sharon Cameron. 2015. Scholastic. 464 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    3. Seraphina. Rachel Hartman. 2012. Random House. 499 pages. [Source: Library]
    4. The Hired Girl. Laura Amy Schlitz. 2015. Candlewick. 400 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
    5. Beyond the Parallel. Robin Brande. 2015. Ryer Publishing. 348 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    6. Lion Heart (Scarlet #3). A.C. Gaughen. 2015. Bloomsbury. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    7. An Ember in the Ashes. Sabaa Tahir. 2015. Penguin. 446 pages. [Source: Library]
    In 2015, I read 156 middle grade books. These are my top twenty:
    1. The Cottage in the Woods. Katherine Coville. 2015. Random House. 400 pages. [Source: Library]
    2. Gone Crazy in Alabama. Rita Williams-Garcia. 2015. HarperCollins. 304 pages. [Source: Library]
    3. Stella by Starlight. Sharon M. Draper. 2015. Simon & Schuster. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
    4. Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer. Kelly Jones. 2015. Random House. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    5. Chasing Secrets. Gennifer Choldenko. 2015. Random House. 288 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    6. Orbiting Jupiter. Gary D. Schmidt. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    7. The War That Saved My Life. Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. 2015. Penguin. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
    8. Handful of Stars. Cynthia Lord. 2015. Scholastic. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
    9. Mark of The Thief. Jennifer A. Nielsen. 2015. Scholastic. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    10. A Night Divided. Jennifer A. Nielsen. 2015. Scholastic. 384 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    11. The Red Pencil. Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illustrated by Shane Evans. 2014. Little, Brown. [Source: Library]
    12. The Case of the Cursed Dodo: A Jungle Noir (Endangered Files #1) Jake G. Panda. 2014. Wooly Family Studios. 180 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    13. Operation Bunny. Sally Gardner. Illustrated by David Roberts. 2014. Henry Holt. 192 pages. [Source: Library]
    14. The Paper Cowboy. Kristin Levine. 2014. Penguin. 352 pages. [Source: Library] 
    15. The Perfect Place. Teresa E. Harris. HMH. 272 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    16. The Castle Behind Thorns. Merrie Haskell. 2014. HarperCollins. 336 pages. [Source: Library]
    17. Debby. Siddie Joe Johnson. Illustrated by Ninon MacKnight. 1940.  Longmans, Green and Co. 214 pages. [Source: Bought]
    18. Snow Treasure. Marie McSwigan. Illustrated by Mary Reardon. 1942. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]
    19. The Cabin Faced West. Jean Fritz. Illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky. 1958. 124 pages. [Source: Bought]
    20. The Great Turkey Walk. Kathleen Karr. 1998. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

    © 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    15. Anne of Green Gables (1908)

    Anne of Green Gables. L.M. Montgomery. 1908. 448 pages. [Source: Bought]

    I plan on rereading all the Anne books this year. I definitely wanted Anne of Green Gables to be one of the first books I read--or reread this year. It is such a dear favorite of mine. I couldn't begin to give an accurate accounting of just how many times I've read it. Out of all the Anne books, I think I love the first and last best of all. I think it only right that you begin and end the series in tears.

    Anne of Green Gables introduces readers to Anne Shirley, Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert, Rachel Lynde, Diana Barry, and Gilbert Blythe. And that's just naming a few. By the time you've read and reread this one a couple of times, the whole community seems to come alive.

    The absolute basics: Anne Shirley is an eleven year old orphan who arrives in Avonlea on Prince Edward Island. Marilla and Matthew are a brother-and-sister looking to adopt...a boy. Earlier miscommunication ultimately leads our heroine, young Ann-with-an-e, to the depths of despair. But Matthew, even before he arrives back at Green Gables with Anne, has decided HE WANTS TO KEEP HER FOREVER AND EVER. Marilla is not ready to say "yes" that quickly. Though as you might predict, she does end up keeping her...and loving her dearly.

    The book relates to readers her adventures and misadventures. There is never a dull moment because our heroine never makes the same mistake twice. Here are a few additional characters you should know:
      
    Diana Barry is Anne's bosom friend. These two are inseparable from their first meeting on. The two are not all that alike, but, they get along so splendidly. Anne forgives Diana her lack of imagination as I would imagine most readers do as well.

    Gilbert Blythe is swoon-worthy. Wait, that's me talking. Gilbert is technically the cutest boy in Avonlea. When he first sees Anne, he calls her "Carrots." He desperately wants her attention. But he ends up making an enemy. Anne may forgive Diana her lack of imagination, but, she won't forgive the oh-so-cute boy who called her CARROTS. For most of the book, these two are academic rivals.

    Rachel Lynde is Marilla's best friend, for better or worse, and without a doubt the town's biggest gossip. Her first impression of Anne is quickly replaced with a much nicer one after Anne apologizes beautifully. Rachel has a 'soft spot' for Anne, and is, in fact, the one who sews up Anne's first dress with puffed sleeves.

    The book is written from multiple points of view. Readers get to know Anne, of course, but also Matthew and Marilla. (The first chapter is told from Rachel Lynde's point of view.) I didn't really pay much attention to how much Marilla we get in this first book in the series until I was an adult. But in many ways, this is Marilla's "coming of age" story just as much as it is Anne's.

    Quotes:
    The long platform was almost deserted; the only living creature in sight being a girl who was sitting on a pile of shingles at the extreme end. Matthew, barely noting that it WAS a girl, sidled past her as quickly as possible without looking at her. Had he looked he could hardly have failed to notice the tense rigidity and expectation of her attitude and expression. She was sitting there waiting for something or somebody and, since sitting and waiting was the only thing to do just then, she sat and waited with all her might and main.
    A child of about eleven, garbed in a very short, very tight, very ugly dress of yellowish-gray wincey. She wore a faded brown sailor hat and beneath the hat, extending down her back, were two braids of very thick, decidedly red hair. Her face was small, white and thin, also much freckled; her mouth was large and so were her eyes, which looked green in some lights and moods and gray in others. 
    "Would you rather I didn’t talk? If you say so I’ll stop. I can STOP when I make up my mind to it, although it’s difficult.” 
    But if you call me Anne please call me Anne spelled with an E.” “What difference does it make how it’s spelled?” asked Marilla with another rusty smile as she picked up the teapot. “Oh, it makes SUCH a difference. It LOOKS so much nicer. When you hear a name pronounced can’t you always see it in your mind, just as if it was printed out? I can; and A-n-n looks dreadful, but A-n-n-e looks so much more distinguished. 
    It’s all very well to read about sorrows and imagine yourself living through them heroically, but it’s not so nice when you really come to have them, is it?
    “Do you never imagine things different from what they really are?” asked Anne wide-eyed. “No.” “Oh!” Anne drew a long breath. “Oh, Miss — Marilla, how much you miss!”
    Somehow, things never are so good when they’re thought out a second time.
    “Saying one’s prayers isn’t exactly the same thing as praying,” said Anne meditatively. 
    Boiled pork and greens are so unromantic when one is in affliction. 
    Isn’t it good just to be alive on a day like this? I pity the people who aren’t born yet for missing it. They may have good days, of course, but they can never have this one. 
    “I think your Gilbert Blythe IS handsome,” confided Anne to Diana, “but I think he’s very bold. It isn’t good manners to wink at a strange girl.” But it was not until the afternoon that things really began to happen. 
    Gilbert Blythe wasn’t used to putting himself out to make a girl look at him and meeting with failure. She SHOULD look at him, that red-haired Shirley girl with the little pointed chin and the big eyes that weren’t like the eyes of any other girl in Avonlea school. Gilbert reached across the aisle, picked up the end of Anne’s long red braid, held it out at arm’s length and said in a piercing whisper: “Carrots! Carrots!” Then Anne looked at him with a vengeance! She did more than look. She sprang to her feet, her bright fancies fallen into cureless ruin. She flashed one indignant glance at Gilbert from eyes whose angry sparkle was swiftly quenched in equally angry tears. “You mean, hateful boy!” she exclaimed passionately. “How dare you!” 
    “I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers. It would be terrible if we just skipped from September to November, wouldn’t it? Look at these maple branches. Don’t they give you a thrill — several thrills? I’m going to decorate my room with them.” 
    I love bright red drinks, don’t you? They taste twice as good as any other color. 
    Well, I suppose I must finish up my lessons. I won’t allow myself to open that new book Jane lent me until I’m through. But it’s a terrible temptation, Matthew. Even when I turn my back on it I can see it there just as plain. Jane said she cried herself sick over it. I love a book that makes me cry. But I think I’ll carry that book into the sitting room and lock it in the jam closet and give you the key. And you must NOT give it to me, Matthew, until my lessons are done, not even if I implore you on my bended knees. It’s all very well to say resist temptation, but it’s ever so much easier to resist it if you can’t get the key. 
    You didn’t know just how I felt about it, but you see Matthew did. Matthew understands me, and it’s so nice to be understood, Marilla. 
    “It’s because you’re too heedless and impulsive, child, that’s what. You never stop to think — whatever comes into your head to say or do you say or do it without a moment’s reflection.” “Oh, but that’s the best of it,” protested Anne. “Something just flashes into your mind, so exciting, and you must out with it. If you stop to think it over you spoil it all. Haven’t you never felt that yourself, Mrs. Lynde?”
    When Miss Barry went away she said: “Remember, you Anne-girl, when you come to town you’re to visit me and I’ll put you in my very sparest spare-room bed to sleep.” “Miss Barry was a kindred spirit, after all,” Anne confided to Marilla. “You wouldn’t think so to look at her, but she is. You don’t find it right out at first, as in Matthew’s case, but after a while you come to see it. Kindred spirits are not so scarce as I used to think. It’s splendid to find out there are so many of them in the world.”
    There’s such a lot of different Annes in me. I sometimes think that is why I’m such a troublesome person. If I was just the one Anne it would be ever so much more comfortable, but then it wouldn’t be half so interesting.
    “Yes; but cakes have such a terrible habit of turning out bad just when you especially want them to be good,” sighed Anne.
    “Marilla, isn’t it nice to think that tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it yet?” “I’ll warrant you’ll make plenty in it,” said Marilla.
    Mrs. Lynde says I’m full of original sin. No matter how hard I try to be good I can never make such a success of it as those who are naturally good. It’s a good deal like geometry, I expect. But don’t you think the trying so hard ought to count for something?
    It isn’t very pleasant to be laid up; but there is a bright side to it, Marilla. You find out how many friends you have.
    Mrs. Allan says we should never make uncharitable speeches; but they do slip out so often before you think, don’t they? I simply can’t talk about Josie Pye without making an uncharitable speech, so I never mention her at all. You may have noticed that. I’m trying to be as much like Mrs. Allan as I possibly can, for I think she’s perfect.
    “Isn’t this evening just like a purple dream, Diana? It makes me so glad to be alive. In the mornings I always think the mornings are best; but when evening comes I think it’s lovelier still.”
    Mr. Allan says everybody should have a purpose in life and pursue it faithfully. Only he says we must first make sure that it is a worthy purpose. I would call it a worthy purpose to want to be a teacher like Miss Stacy, wouldn’t you, Marilla? I think it’s a very noble profession.
    Why can’t women be ministers, Marilla? I asked Mrs. Lynde that and she was shocked and said it would be a scandalous thing. She said there might be female ministers in the States and she believed there was, but thank goodness we hadn’t got to that stage in Canada yet and she hoped we never would. But I don’t see why. I think women would make splendid ministers. When there is a social to be got up or a church tea or anything else to raise money the women have to turn to and do the work. I’m sure Mrs. Lynde can pray every bit as well as Superintendent Bell and I’ve no doubt she could preach too with a little practice.” “Yes, I believe she could,” said Marilla dryly. “She does plenty of unofficial preaching as it is. Nobody has much of a chance to go wrong in Avonlea with Rachel to oversee them.”
    There are so many things to be thought over and decided when you’re beginning to grow up. It keeps me busy all the time thinking them over and deciding what is right. It’s a serious thing to grow up, isn’t it, Marilla? But when I have such good friends as you and Matthew and Mrs. Allan and Miss Stacy I ought to grow up successfully, and I’m sure it will be my own fault if I don’t.
    As Mrs. Lynde says, ‘If you can’t be cheerful, be as cheerful as you can.’
    It’s good advice, but I expect it will be hard to follow; good advice is apt to be, I think.
    “No, I wasn’t crying over your piece,” said Marilla, who would have scorned to be betrayed into such weakness by any poetry stuff. “I just couldn’t help thinking of the little girl you used to be, Anne. And I was wishing you could have stayed a little girl, even with all your queer ways. You’ve grown up now and you’re going away; and you look so tall and stylish and so — so — different altogether in that dress — as if you didn’t belong in Avonlea at all — and I just got lonesome thinking it all over.”
    It won’t make a bit of difference where I go or how much I change outwardly; at heart I shall always be your little Anne, who will love you and Matthew and dear Green Gables more and better every day of her life.
    “Wouldn’t Matthew be proud if I got to be a B.A.? Oh, it’s delightful to have ambitions. I’m so glad I have such a lot. And there never seems to be any end to them — that’s the best of it. Just as soon as you attain to one ambition you see another one glittering higher up still. It does make life so interesting.”
    “That Anne-girl improves all the time,” she said. “I get tired of other girls — there is such a provoking and eternal sameness about them. Anne has as many shades as a rainbow and every shade is the prettiest while it lasts. I don’t know that she is as amusing as she was when she was a child, but she makes me love her and I like people who make me love them. It saves me so much trouble in making myself love them.”
    For we pay a price for everything we get or take in this world; and although ambitions are well worth having, they are not to be cheaply won, but exact their dues of work and self-denial, anxiety and discouragement. 
    “Well now, I’d rather have you than a dozen boys, Anne,” said Matthew patting her hand. “Just mind you that — rather than a dozen boys. Well now, I guess it wasn’t a boy that took the Avery scholarship, was it? It was a girl — my girl — my girl that I’m proud of.” He smiled his shy smile at her as he went into the yard. Anne took the memory of it with her when she went to her room that night and sat for a long while at her open window, thinking of the past and dreaming of the future. 
    It was the last night before sorrow touched her life; and no life is ever quite the same again when once that cold, sanctifying touch has been laid upon it. 
    Marilla, I’ve almost decided to give up trying to like Josie Pye. I’ve made what I would once have called a heroic effort to like her, but Josie Pye won’t BE liked. 
    When I left Queen’s my future seemed to stretch out before me like a straight road. I thought I could see along it for many a milestone. Now there is a bend in it. I don’t know what lies around the bend, but I’m going to believe that the best does. It has a fascination of its own, that bend, Marilla. I wonder how the road beyond it goes — what there is of green glory and soft, checkered light and shadows — what new landscapes — what new beauties — what curves and hills and valleys further on. 
    “Dear old world,” she murmured, “you are very lovely, and I am glad to be alive in you.” 
    “‘God’s in his heaven, all’s right with the world,’” whispered Anne softly. softly. 

    © 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    16. Year in Review: Top Newbery and Newbery Honors Read in 2015

    I read almost fifty books in this category of Newbery Winners and Newbery Honor books.

    I am choosing to highlight six books that won the Newbery and six books that merited being an Honor Book.

    Top Six Newbery Winners I Read in 2015

    1. Up A Road Slowly. Irene Hunt. 1966. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]  
    2. The Giver. Lois Lowry. 1993. Houghton Mifflin. 180 pages. [Source: Library]  
    3. The Whipping Boy. Sid Fleischman. Illustrated by Peter Sis. 1986. 96 pages. [Source: Bought]
    4. The Crossover. Kwame Alexander. 2014. HMH. 240 pages. [Source: Library]  
    5. Sarah, Plain and Tall. Patricia MacLachlan. 1985. Houghton Mifflin. 64 pages. [Source: Library] 
    6. Thimble Summer. Elizabeth Enright. 1938/2008. SquareFish. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    Top Six Newbery Honor Books I Read in 2015
    1. El Deafo. Cece Bell. 2014. Harry N. Abrams. 233 pages. [Source: Library]
    2. The Family Under the Bridge. Natalie Savage Carlson. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1958/1989. HarperCollins. 123 pages.
    3. The Egypt Game. Zilpha Keatley Snyder. 1967/2009. Simon & Schuster. 215 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    4. The War That Saved My Life. Kimberly Brubaker Bradley. 2015. Penguin. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
    5. The Long Winter. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1940. 335 pages. [Source: Library] 
    6. Ramona Quimby, Age 8. Beverly Cleary. 1981. HarperCollins. 208 pages. [Source: Library]

    © 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    17. What's On Your Nightstand (January)


    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.
    She Is Mine: A War Orphans' Incredible Journey of Survival by Stephanie Fast. 2015. Destiny Ministries. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    A compelling nonfiction read that I *probably* should have gotten to last year, but didn't quite.

    The Innocents Abroad. Mark Twain. 1869. 560 pages. [Source: Library]

    A nonfiction-ish travel book by Mark Twain. The book is his "observations" of his travels in 1867 to Europe and the Holy Land. So far I've done the Atlantic trip, his time in France, and part of his time in Italy. Here is what he has to say about keeping a journal:
    At certain periods it becomes the dearest ambition of a man to keep a faithful record of his performances in a book; and he dashes at this work with an enthusiasm that imposes on him the notion that keeping a journal is the veriest pastime in the world, and the pleasantest. But if he only lives twenty-one days, he will find out that only those rare natures that are made up of pluck, endurance, devotion to duty for duty's sake, and invincible determination may hope to venture upon so tremendous an enterprise as the keeping of a journal and not sustain a shameful defeat.
    One of our favorite youths, Jack, a splendid young fellow with a head full of good sense, and a pair of legs that were a wonder to look upon in the way of length and straightness and slimness, used to report progress every morning in the most glowing and spirited way, and say:
    "Oh, I'm coming along bully!" (he was a little given to slang in his happier moods.) "I wrote ten pages in my journal last night—and you know I wrote nine the night before and twelve the night before that. Why, it's only fun!"
    "What do you find to put in it, Jack?"
    "Oh, everything. Latitude and longitude, noon every day; and how many miles we made last twenty-four hours; and all the domino games I beat and horse billiards; and whales and sharks and porpoises; and the text of the sermon Sundays (because that'll tell at home, you know); and the ships we saluted and what nation they were; and which way the wind was, and whether there was a heavy sea, and what sail we carried, though we don't ever carry any, principally, going against a head wind always—wonder what is the reason of that?—and how many lies Moult has told—Oh, every thing! I've got everything down. My father told me to keep that journal. Father wouldn't take a thousand dollars for it when I get it done."
    "No, Jack; it will be worth more than a thousand dollars—when you get it done."
    "Do you?—no, but do you think it will, though?
    "Yes, it will be worth at least as much as a thousand dollars—when you get it done. May be more."
    "Well, I about half think so, myself. It ain't no slouch of a journal."
    But it shortly became a most lamentable "slouch of a journal." One night in Paris, after a hard day's toil in sightseeing, I said:
    "Now I'll go and stroll around the cafes awhile, Jack, and give you a chance to write up your journal, old fellow."
    His countenance lost its fire. He said:
    "Well, no, you needn't mind. I think I won't run that journal anymore. It is awful tedious. Do you know—I reckon I'm as much as four thousand pages behind hand. I haven't got any France in it at all. First I thought I'd leave France out and start fresh. But that wouldn't do, would it? The governor would say, 'Hello, here—didn't see anything in France? That cat wouldn't fight, you know. First I thought I'd copy France out of the guide-book, like old Badger in the for'rard cabin, who's writing a book, but there's more than three hundred pages of it. Oh, I don't think a journal's any use—do you? They're only a bother, ain't they?"
    "Yes, a journal that is incomplete isn't of much use, but a journal properly kept is worth a thousand dollars—when you've got it done."
    "A thousand!—well, I should think so. I wouldn't finish it for a million."
    His experience was only the experience of the majority of that industrious night school in the cabin. If you wish to inflict a heartless and malignant punishment upon a young person, pledge him to keep a journal a year.
    Death on the Riviera. John Bude. 1952/2016. Poisoned Pen Press. 250 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    I am going to try to review as many "British Crime Classic" mystery novels as I can. This one--so far--is fabulous!!!

    The Age of Innocence. Edith Wharton. 1920. 305 pages. [Source: Library]

    I am just a few chapters into this one. I don't know yet if I'll love it, like it, or hate it. I've never read one of Wharton's novels before. Just her short stories. 

    © 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    18. Mouse Scouts 1 and 2

    Mouse Scouts. Sarah Dillard. 2016. Random House. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    What a cute start to a new series for young readers! I found Sarah Dillard's Mouse Scouts to be a delight. The book introduces us to two friends: Violet and Tigerlily. Both are in Mouse Scouts. To clarify, they are newly promoted from being Buttercups to being Acorn Scouts. The book introduces us to other mouse scouts, and their scout leader, Miss Poppy. By the end of the book, they'll have the opportunity to earn their first (presumably of many) badge. The badge they're aiming for? The "Sow It and Grow It" badge. Readers may learn along with Violet and Tigerlily a few facts about gardening.

    I enjoyed this one. I did. It was a simple, straightforward story for young readers. I like the characters. And I really liked the illustrations. This is one series book that was genuinely pleasant to read, even as an adult.
    Mouse Scouts: Make A Difference. Sarah Dillard. 2016. Random House. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    I was so glad to have the opportunity to review both books in this new series by Sarah Dillard. After reading the first book in the series, I was ready to continue on with the series. The book stars Violet and Tigerlily. These two friends don't always agree perfectly on every little thing, but, they have a way of coming together when it really, truly matters. It was just a fun treat for me to spend time with these two again, and to get another opportunity to get to know the other scouts as well.

    In this one, the mice are attempting to earn the "Make A Difference" badge. I was able to guess what one of their projects would be, but, I was pleasantly surprised by an additional way they all came together to make a difference. I wasn't expecting that at all!

    Overall, both books are super-easy to recommend. I think both books will appeal to young readers--girls especially in first and second grade. 

    © 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    19. The Sword of Summer

    The Sword of Summer (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #1) Rick Riordan. 2015. Disney Hyperion. 528 pages. [Source: Library]

    I haven't read any Rick Riordan in a year or two, so I was quite happy to pick up The Sword of Summer, the first book in his new series. I was hoping that it would be just what I needed: an exciting blend of action, drama, and humor. And it was. For the most part.

    Magnus Chase, the hero, or almost-hero, is surrounded by a wild, diverse cast of sidekicks. Slowly but surely this team comes together in an almost-ultimate showdown between good and evil. There are plenty of tests put into place throughout the book to get the team to be a TEAM, ready to work together for the good of mankind.

    Magnus Chase has just turned sixteen when the action begins. He's homeless, but, he's not friendless, and he's been warned that trouble is heading his way. Always thinking to stay a couple of steps ahead of trouble, he decides to investigate. Surely he can get close enough to trouble to see what's going on, and stay far enough away that he can slip away, right?! Wrong. But it's just what readers expect. After all, when the narrator tells you on page one that he dies, it's a sign that he actually dies...

    Most of the book features Magnus in the after-life. And the focus of this fantasy series is on Norse mythology--Asgard. So there are fire giants, frost giants, wolves, and so much more...

    Can Magnus and his friends prevent Doomsday from coming?

    © 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    20. Top Ten Nonfiction Titles I Read in 2015

    Ketzel, The Cat Who Composed. Leslea Newman. Illustrated by Amy June Bates. 2015. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    Frankie Liked To Sing. John Seven. Illustrated by Jana Christy. 2015. Harry N. Abrams. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    Gingerbread for Liberty: How A German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution. Mara Rockliff. Illustrated by Vincent X. Kirsch. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

     
    Jump Back, Paul: The Life and Poetry of Laurence Dunbar. Sally Derby. Illustrated by Sean Qualls. Candlewick Press. 128 pages. [Source: Review copy] 


    Breakthrough: How Three People Saved "Blue Babies" and Changed Medicine Forever. Jim Murphy. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    Enchanted Air. Margarita Engle. Illustrated by Edel Rodriguez. 2015. Simon & Schuster. 208 pages. [Source: Library]


    Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Edited by Pamela Smith Hill. 2014. South Dakota State Historical State Society. 400 pages. [Source: Library]
     
    When Books Went to War: The Stories That Helped Us Win World War II. Molly Guptill Manning. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 288 pages. [Source: Library]

    The Armstrong Girl: A Child for Sale: The Battle Against the Victorian Sex Trade. Cathy Le Feuvre. 2015. Lion. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    Gut: The Inside Story of Our Most Underrated Organ. Giulia Enders. Illustrated by Jill Enders. 2014/2015. Greystone Books. 288 pages. [Source: Library]

    © 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    21. A Woodland Wedding

    Owl Diaries #3 A Woodland Wedding. Rebecca Elliott. 2016. Scholastic. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    A Woodland Wedding is the third book in Rebecca Elliott's Owl Diaries series. I have found each book adorable and enjoyable. I find the main character, Eva Wingdale, to be a joy to spend time with for the most part. In this book in the series, Eva is super-super excited that her teacher is getting married, and that she has invited the entire class to help her with her wedding preparations. In addition to all the wedding talk, this one has a bit of a mystery too.

    If you or your child have enjoyed the previous books in the series, this one is well worth reading. As far as early chapter books go, it is entertaining. I like the bright, colorful illustrations. And it's a nice balance of text and illustration.

    © 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    22. Carry and Learn: Opposites

    Board book: Carry and Learn: Opposites. Sarah Ward. 2016. Scholastic. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    First sentence:
    Chicken
    UP and DOWN
    Cluck like a chicken!

    Premise/plot: Carry and Learn Opposites is a concept board book that can be used with little ones to illustrate ("teach") the concept of opposites. The opposites explored in this book are as follows:
    • up and down
    • in and out
    • big and little
    • over and under
    • full and empty
    Each page has something "interactive" for your little one to do. It may be "making" the chickens jump up and down. It might be "petting" a sheep. It might be making an animal sound. Not all pages are equally interactive and engaging.

    My thoughts: I like it well enough. I like the series well enough. I think the pages are easy enough for little ones to turn themselves. 

    © 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    23. All Year Round

    All Year Round. Susan B. Katz. Illustrated by Eiko Ojala. 2016. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    First sentence: A world of shapes, twelve months abound, from four-cornered square, to circle, round.
    Circle round, ready to roll. Add two sticks, a carrot, and coal. January.  Cut out a Heart for a special friend. Write a message, lick, stamp, send. February.

    Premise/plot: A picture book teaching TWO concepts. One concept is shapes. The other concept is the months of the year. Each shape shares something about the month. For example, triangle is November's shape. It is the shape of a slice of PIE.

    My thoughts: I liked it better than I thought I would. It is a concept book and not a story book, but, it is enjoyable enough. So don't expect it to be as memorable as Maurice Sendak's Chicken Soup with Rice.

    Text: 4 out of 5
    Illustrations: 3 out of 5
    Total: 7 out of 10

    © 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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    24. Library Loot: Second Trip in January

    New Loot:
    • Freedom's Teacher: The Life of Septima Clark by Katherine Mellen Charron
    • The Natural World of Winnie the Pooh by Kathryn Aalto
    • Great Expectations: The Sons and Daughters of Charles Dickens by Robert Gottlieb
    • Supertruck by Stephen Savage
    • Bone Gap by Laura Ruby
    • Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
    • The Ghosts of Heaven by Marcus Sedgwick
    • A Pig, A Fox, and a Box by Jonathan Fenske
    • Trombone Shorty by Troy "Trombone Shorty" Andrews
    • The Sign of the Cat by Lynne Jonell
    • Truman by David McCullough
    • Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
    Leftover Loot:
    • Nurse Matilda the Collected Tales by Christianna Brand
    • The Doldrums by Nicholas Gannon
    • Confessions of an Imaginary Friend by Michelle Cuevas
    • The Odds of Getting Even by Sheila Turnage
    • Collected Tales, Sketches, Speeches, and Essays by Mark Twain
    • Innocents Abroad (& Roughing It) by Mark Twain 
    • The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton
             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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    25. Year in Review: Board Books and Picture Books, Early Readers

    In 2015, I read 181 picture books. Here are my top twenty:
    1. Railroad Hank. Lisa Moser. Illustrated by Benji Davies. 2012. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    2. How to Read A Story. Kate Messner. Illustrated by Mark Siegel. 2015. Chronicle. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
    3. Pig Is Big On Books. Douglas Florian. 2015. Holiday House. 24 pages. [Source: Library]
    4. Inside This Book (Are Three Books) by Barney Saltzberg. 2015. Abrams. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    5. Nobody's Perfect. David Elliott. Illustrated by Sam Zuppardi. 2015. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    6. Ask Me. Bernard Waber. Illustrated by Suzy Lee. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    7. Two Mice. Sergio Ruzzier. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    8. Pepper & Poe. Frann Preston-Gannon. 2015. [July] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    9. How To Catch a Mouse. Philippa Leathers. 2015. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
    10. Friendshape. Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Tom Lichtenheld. 2015. [August] Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
    11. Mom School. Rebecca Van Slyke. Illustrated by Priscilla Burris. 2015. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    12. Ketzel, The Cat Who Composed. Leslea Newman. Illustrated by Amy June Bates. 2015. Candlewick. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    13. Winnie: The True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie the Pooh. Sally M. Walker. Illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss. 2015. Henry Holt. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
    14. The Nutcracker Comes To America: How Three Ballet-Loving Brothers Created a Holiday Tradition. Chris Barton. Illustrated by Cathy Gendron. 2015. Millbrook Press. 36 pages. [Source: Library]
    15. Frankie Liked To Sing. John Seven. Illustrated by Jana Christy. 2015. Harry N. Abrams. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    16. The Queen's Hat. Steve Antony. 2015. [August] Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    17. Click, Clack, Ho! Ho! Ho! Doreen Cronin. Illustrated by Betsy Lewin. 2015. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages.
    18. All I Want For Christmas Is You. Mariah Carey. Illustrated by Colleen Madden. 2015. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    19. Grump. Janet Wong. Illustrated by John Wallace. 2001. Simon & Schuster. 32 pages. [Book I Bought]
    20. Complete Tales by Beatrix Potter. 1986/2006. 400 pages. [Source: Library]

    In 2015, I read 35 Early Readers or Chapter Books. Here are my top four:
    1. I Really Like Slop! Mo Willems. 2015. Disney-Hyperion. 64 pages. [Source: Library]  
    2. The Story of Diva and Flea. Mo Willems. Illustrated by Tony DiTerlizzi. 2015. Disney-Hyperion. 80 pages. [Source: Library]
    3. Henry and Mudge and the Happy Cat. (Henry and Mudge #8) Cynthia Rylant. Sucie Stevenson. 1990. Simon & Schuster. 48 pages. [Source: Bought]
    4. The Bears on Hemlock Mountain. Alice Dalgliesh. Illustrated by Helen Sewell. 1952. 64 pages. [Source: Bought] 
    In 2015, I read 29 board books. Here are my top three:
    1. Board Book: Lullaby and Kisses Sweet: Poems To Love With Your Baby. Selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins. Illustrated by Alyssa Nassner. 2015. Harry N. Abrams. 44 pages. [Source: Review copy]
    2. Board books: Picture This: Shapes. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 2015. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
    3. Board Book: Oh No, George! Chris Haughton. 2015. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

    © 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

    0 Comments on Year in Review: Board Books and Picture Books, Early Readers as of 1/24/2016 5:56:00 PM
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