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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. 30 Days of Books: Day #28

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


Today's prompt:  Your favorite title(s)

Louise Loves Art. Kelly Light. 2014. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

I am choosing this one because it has a super-clever title. Louise, the heroine, loves, loves, loves art. She is always making masterpieces. But. She also has a little brother named Art. And this story is about what happens when Art destroys--with scissors--her latest masterpiece. 

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2. A Lion To Guard Us

A Lion To Guard Us. Clyde Robert Bulla. 1981. 117 pages. [Source: Library]

I really enjoyed reading Clyde Robert Bulla's A Lion To Guard Us. I saw this one on the library shelf, and, it said TAKE ME HOME. It is historical fiction and follows three siblings as they travel to America in 1609 to the first (and only) British settlement of Jamestown. The novel opens with Amanda hearing news of her father from a stranger--a sailor. Amanda is serving--in her mother's place--in a household. (Her mistress (Mistress Trippett) isn't the nicest or best.) Soon after the book begins, the mother dies leaving Amanda the sole guardian of her younger siblings: Jemmy and Meg. She wants to go to America and find their father. The problem? The family's money was taken by Mistress Trippett when the mother got sick and took to her bed. She's now claiming that the money isn't theirs but hers. And she's so insulted by their asking for the money, that she keeps all three out. Fortunately, they find a sympathetic soul in the doctor that treated the mother. This doctor, Dr. Crider, has dreams of his own. And those dreams include traveling to America. He takes the children in and promises a bright future for one and all. Their new lives will start aboard the ship The Sea Adventure. But readers learn that life is full of uncertainty...

I loved this one. It is historical fiction at its finest. I enjoyed the chacterization and the action. It's a very simple yet emotional story. Definitely recommended!

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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3. 30 Days of Books #27

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

Today's prompt:  The most surprising plot twist or ending

Cain His Brother by Anne Perry

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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4. By the Great Horn Spoon

By the Great Horn Spoon! Sid Fleischman. 1963. 224 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: A sailing ship with two great sidewheels went splashing out of Boston harbor on a voyage around the Horn to San Francisco.

Premise/plot: Jack Flagg, our young hero, runs away from home--with his butler, Praiseworthy--to seek his fortune (literally) in the 1849 California Gold Rush. While the two set out with enough money to pay for their passage aboard a ship, the two are robbed while buying their tickets. They decide to stowaway though not for the entire voyage. They turn themselves into the ship's captain. They tell their story and prove willing to work. While working, one of them comes up with a genius way to catch the thief whom they are sure is on board. This is just the first sign that this team is unstoppable and that together they are in for a lot of adventure, danger, and FUN. The book chronicles their journey on the ship, and, in California. There's more comedy than drama. Which I think is overall a good thing. It's good to be kept smiling. And while this one may lack intensity and edge-of-your-seat suspense, it has a lot of feel-good adventure.

My thoughts: I may have a soft spot for this one because I spent so many hours playing Goldrush. I liked the comedy. I liked the friendship. I loved the resolution. How the two were working so hard so they could head back East to save the family home. And well, I won't spoil it. But it's lovely!

I would definitely recommend this one.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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5. 2016 Completed Challenges: Once Upon A Time X

Name: Once Upon a Time X
Host: Stainless Steel Droppings (sign up here)
Dates: March 21-June 21 2016
# of Books: Signing up for Quest the First; five books from any of these categories (fantasy, folklore, fairy tales, mythology)
All reviews should be linked to the review site.

1) The Silver Chair. (Chronicles of Narnia #4) C.S. Lewis. 1953. HarperCollins. 243 pages. [Source: Bought] [fantasy, children's classic]
2) The Fellowship of the Ring. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1954/1965. Houghton Mifflin. 423 pages. [Source: Bought] [YA/Adult fantasy]
3) The Two Towers. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1954/1965. Houghton Mifflin. 352 pages. [Source: Bought] [YA/Adult fantasy]
4) Return of the King. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1955. 590 pages. [Source: Bought]
5) The Girl in the Tower. Lisa Schroeder. 2016. Henry Holt. 256 pages. [Source: Library] [Middle grade fantasy]
6) The Toymaker's Apprentice. Sherri L. Smith. 2015. 400 pages. [Source: Library] [MG/YA Fantasy]
7) The Children's Homer. Padraic Colum. 1918/1982. 256 pages. [Source: Bought] [MG Fantasy, Children's Classic]
8) Mary Poppins. P.L. Travers. Illustrated by Mary Shepard. 1934/2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 224 pages. [Source: Review Copy] [J/MG Children's Fantasy; Children's Classic]
9) The World of Winnie the Pooh. A.A. Milne. Illustrated by Ernest Shepard. 1926. 353 pages. [Source: Library]
10) A Midsummer Night's Dream. William Shakespeare. 1596. 181 pages. [Source: Library]
11) James and the Giant Peach. Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. 1961. 146 pages. [Source: Library]
12) Fantastic Mr. Fox. Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. 1970. 96 pages. [Source: Library]
13)  The BFG. Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. 1982. 199 pages. [Source: Library]
14) Gudgekin, The Thistle Girl. John Gardner. 1976. 55 pages. [Source: Bought]
15)  Socks. Beverly Cleary. 1973. 160 pages. [Source: Library]

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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6. 30 Days of Books #26

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

Today's prompt: A book that changed your opinion about something

Secrets from the Eating Lab by Traci Mann.  If I could send this book to myself twenty-two to twenty-five years ago, I wonder what I would have made of it?!?! How much grief I could have saved myself. Now, I am not advocating eating unhealthy and being as large as possible. Far from it. Just celebrating the fact that you can eat healthy, exercise, and still not be thin....and that is okay.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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7. Gudgekin, The Thistle Girl

Gudgekin, The Thistle Girl. John Gardner. 1976. 55 pages. [Source: Bought]

If you enjoy folk or fairy tales, you might be a potential reader of John Gardner's story collection. The book contains four stories: "Gudgekin the Thistle Girl," "The Griffin and the Wise Old Philosopher," "The Shape-Shifters of Shorm," and "The Sea Gulls."

I think my favorite story is Gudgekin the Thistle Girl. The heroine is a poor girl named Gudgekin. Every day she gathers thistles for her stepmother. The stepmother is never, never satisfied. But Gudgekin keeps going out to do her best. One day a fairy intervenes and her luck is seemingly changed forever. With the fairies help, she's able to appease her stepmother and please herself. The fairies do the work, while she's spirited away to have fun. One day--again with the fairies help--she meets a Prince who falls in love with her. You might think you know where this one is headed, and, in a way you'd be right. But it is how long it takes for these two to get to happily ever after that may surprise you.

The second story confused me greatly. After the fifth or sixth time through the first two or three pages, it finally clicked that maybe just maybe it was intentional. The griffin visits the poor villagers to distract, confuse, and frustration. No one can remember how to do anything when he is nearby. Eventually I found the rhythm of this story. I still don't like it.

The Shape Shifters of Shorm, the third story, was entertaining. I liked it. But I didn't really love it. Essentially, a kingdom is being bothered by shape-shifters, the king offers an award for anyone who rids the kingdom of all the shape-shifters. A few step forward and volunteer for the task. But none are ever heard of again. Why?!

The Sea Gulls is an odd story. It contains plenty of magic, some spells, etc. I think it is an appealing enough story for readers. Essentially in that story, a king is met one day by an ogre who wants to eat him. The king says let's play a game of chance. If you win, you eat me. If I win, you wait seven years and eat me and my children then. The king won. (He cheated.) Most of the story is set seven years later....

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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8. 30 Days of Books #25

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

Today's prompt: A character who you can relate to the most

Probably Toad from Wind in the Willows
"What are we to do with him?" asked the Mole of the Water Rat.
"Nothing at all," replied the Rat firmly. "Because there is really nothing to be done. You see, I know him from old. He is now possessed. He has got a new craze, and it always takes him that way, in its first stage. He'll continue like that for days now, like an animal walking in a happy dream, quite useless for all practical purposes. Never mind him.
OR
"What are we to do with her?"
"Nothing at all because there is really nothing to be done. You see, I know her from old. She is now possessed. She has got a new craze--this time it's Hamilton--and it always takes her that way in its first stage. She'll continue like that for days now, like an animal walking in a happy dream, quite useless for all practical purposes. Never mind her.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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9. Socks

Socks. Beverly Cleary. 1973. 160 pages. [Source: Library]

I haven't reread Socks by Beverly Cleary since I was a child. I remembered very little about it except that it was about a cat, which, I must admit is the most obvious thing to remember! The first chapter introduces readers to Socks, her litter mates, and the boy and girl who originally "owned" her and were trying to sell all the kittens. Bill and Marilyn Bricker adopt Socks and take him home. Several chapters focus on these early, happy, good years. (Actually, I'm not sure how much time passes, Socks isn't particularly great at noting months, seasons, or possible years.) A few chapters into the book, Socks is upset by a shrinking lap. Mrs. Bricker is having a baby, and, Socks doesn't particularly care one way or the other about it...until the new baby changes everything. Less attention, less food, no lap-time, a lot of noise, visitors who warn of the dangers of having a cat around the baby, etc. Will Socks make peace with Charles William?

I enjoyed this one. I didn't love, love, love it. Not like I love, love, love the Ramona books. But it was an enjoyable read. I liked the ending, it felt right to me.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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10. 30 Days of Books: #24

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

Today's prompt: A book you wish more people would read

The Light Princess by George MacDonald.

Once upon a time, so long ago that I have quite forgotten the date, there lived a king and queen who had no children. And the king said to himself, "All the queens of my acquaintance have children, some three, some seven, and some as many as twelve; and my queen has not one. I feel ill-used." So he made up his mind to be cross with his wife about it. But she bore it all like a good patient queen as she was. Then the king grew very cross indeed. But the queen pretended to take it all as a joke, and a very good one too.
"Why don't you have any daughters, at least?" said he. "I don't say sons; that might be too much to expect." 
"I am sure, dear king, I am very sorry," said the queen.
"So you ought to be," retorted the king; "you are not going to make a virtue of that, surely."
But he was not an ill-tempered king, and in any matter of less moment would have let the queen have her own way with all his heart. This, however, was an affair of state. The queen smiled. 
"You must have patience with a lady, you know, dear king," said she.
She was, indeed, a very nice queen, and heartily sorry that she could not oblige the king immediately. (1-2)

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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11. Bleak House

Bleak House. Charles Dickens. 1852-1853. 912 pages.  [Source: Bought]

It has been almost six years since I first read Charles Dickens' Bleak House. Did I enjoy it more the second time? Yes, I think so. I really, really liked it the first time I read it. Though to be honest, there were a few times I almost gave up on it until I discovered a good adaptation of it. But the second time around, I really LOVED IT.

Read Bleak House
  • If you enjoy Charles Dickens
  • If you enjoy reading classics
  • If you enjoy reading LONG books
  • If you enjoy Victorian literature
  • If you enjoy classic mysteries, Inspector Bucket is one of the first fictional detectives
  • If you enjoy stories about law and inheritance
  • If you enjoy understated romance
  • If you enjoy guardianship stories
  • If you enjoy stories with angelic heroines
  • If you enjoyed watching the miniseries
Read my first review for the particulars of the plot

One sentence summary: Bleak House is about a long, often-thought-hopeless, law case that seems to doom all involved with it, perhaps with the exception of John Jardyce and his favorite ward, Esther Summerson.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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12. Dragon, Dragon and Other Tales

Dragon, Dragon and Other Tales. John Gardner. Illustrated by Charles J. Shields. 1975. 73 pages. [Source: Bought]

Love fairy or folk tales? You should definitely seek out John Gardner's Dragon, Dragon and Other Tales. This book has four original stories with magical, fantastical elements. The four stories are "Dragon, Dragon," "The Tailor and the Giant," "The Miller's Mule," and "The Last Piece of Light."

I can honestly say that I enjoyed all four stories. I'm not sure which story is my most favorite and which is my least favorite. Probably my least favorite is The Tailor and The Giant. Don't expect it to have a lesson or moral, and you may find it intriguing. It's certainly a spin on the theme of courage. As for my favorite, that would probably be Dragon, Dragon or The Miller's Mule.

Dragon, Dragon features a kingdom being terrorized by dragons--or a dragon, I can't remember if there's more than one. The king offers a reward, of course he does, and one by one three sons attempt it. But who will kill the dragon? Perhaps the one that actually follows his father's advice. Just a guess!

The Miller's Mule grew on me as I read it. It certainly kept me guessing as I read it. A miller decides to shoot his old mule; the old mule speaks--begs for his life. The miller spares his life--for better or worse. The mule promises to make him a wealthy man IF and only IF he follows his instructions carefully. The miller agrees...and it seems the mule is out to kill him in revenge....who will best who?

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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13. Sing Along Saturdays (For Dad)

Today's prompt: songs you jam to with your dad
This meme is hosted by Bookish Things & More.


My first selection is David Bowie's Golden Years. One of Dad's favorite soundtracks is A Knight's Tale. This is my absolute favorite song from that soundtrack. And it was my first introduction to David Bowie. It is probably my favorite song of his--although I like quite a few!



My second selection is Sweet Home Alabama. I don't remember a time when I didn't know this song. It's one of my Dad's favorite songs to play on the guitar.



© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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14. 30 Days of Books #23

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


Today's prompt: A book you wanted to read for a long time but still haven’t

 I think I have owned this book [Schindler's List] for about fifteen years. I think I've read the first seventy-to-hundred pages about six times. I never do finish it. Not because I don't *want* to finish it. But because I get distracted, tempted away by lighter, easier reads. And then when I come back to the book after being away two or three weeks. I'm like....I don't remember where I'm at and who all these people are....I guess I'll have to start over again. Do I want to start over again now? Usually the answer is NO, not now. My most recent attempt was in April.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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15. My Thoughts on the Beatles Anthology

This June my Dad and I watched The Beatles Anthology. (Thank you, inter-library loan system!) I was tempted to say rewatch because we had--as a whole family essentially--watched the television broadcast in 1995. The TV broadcast was six hours--including commercials. The DVD release is about ten hours--no commercials of course. So there was SO MUCH MORE to watch.

When I first watched The Beatles Anthology, I was somewhat familiar with the blue and red albums. (The red album was 1962-1966; the blue album was 1967-1970). I didn't have any absolute definite favorites.

Within a year of watching The Beatles Anthology, I would own all the albums--even Yellow Submarine. I listened to their music--a lot. I watched their movies--some. I read a handful of biographies. I even did a research project on The Beatles in college for a history class. (Another fun 'research project' I did in college was a report on the Teletubbies for a linguistics class.)

This video has a lot to offer fans: interviews with all four Beatles (John's portions being from radio and TV interviews), interviews with others close to the Beatles Derek Taylor, Neil Aspinall, George Martin, Brian Epstein (his portions coming from radio/TV interviews), footage of the group performing, rehearsing, filming, traveling, goofing around. The TV broadcast kept more to the point perhaps in telling a narrative story. There was a beginning, middle, and end. The DVDs allow a lot more messy completeness. A lot more rehearsals. A lot more full performances. What viewers get is a very, very human side to the Beatles.

So there are eight episodes total. The first episode really just gets down to basics. When each Beatle was born. The home life of each Beatle. How each Beatle got interested in music. How each Beatle learned to play music. How they met each other--when they met each other. The early days of performing in public--and getting paid for it. The rest of the episodes really focus on THE BEATLES. Getting discovered. Recording singles and albums. Playing various clubs. Getting fans. Touring and performing, etc. There are a lot of details in this success story. And it's a fantastic, absorbing documentary.







© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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16. Matilda

Matilda. Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. 1988. 240 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It's a funny thing about mothers and fathers. Even when their own child is the most disgusting little blister you could ever imagine, they still think that he or she is wonderful.

Premise/plot: Matilda, our heroine, is an absolute genius. (She's taught herself to read and to do times tables). But her parents are terrible human beings. Mr. Wormwood is a used car salesman who is really dishonest. Mrs. Wormwood, well, maybe her greatest fault is neglecting her children? Both Mr. and Mrs. Wormwood are addicted to television and abhor the written word. Hate isn't too strong a word for how they feel about their daughter. Matilda escapes from her home most every day to visit the local public library. (She's read every book in the children's section and is now making her way through the adult section with a little guidance from Mrs. Phelps.) Another escape soon becomes school. The good news is that Miss Honey, the teacher, LOVES AND ADORES her genius pupil. The bad news is that the headmistress is evil, cruel, abusive. (Was Dahl inspired by Jane Eyre!) Matilda's reaction to injustice is naughtiness and cleverness. How can she use her brains to get revenge on those she sees as being unjust or in the wrong???

My thoughts: I like this one. I do. I more than like it actually. Perhaps because Matilda LOVES, LOVES, LOVES to read and there is a lot of dropping of book titles and authors names. Perhaps because Matilda finds the library to be such a wonderful place. Perhaps because two of the nicest people in the book are a librarian and a teacher. Regardless this one is definitely worth reading.


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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17. My Thoughts on Testament of Youth

Testament of Youth
2014
Set during World War I
link to the soundtrack

I'd heard good things about this one, and I was not disappointed. Testament of Youth is a movie to be experienced not exactly enjoyed.

It is based on Vera Brittain's autobiography. The movie opens with Vera, her brother Edward, and two houseguests--her brothers' friends--Victor and Roland all enjoying each other's company.

Vera has big, big dreams: to study at Oxford. Her immediate ambitions include university NOT marriage. So falling in love with Roland was not exactly in her plans. But the more time she spends with Roland, the more it's feeling like it could very well be love.

The good news is that Vera is accepted into Oxford. The bad news? The good news is essentially interrupted by really bad news--the WAR. Her brother, Roland, and Victor all go away to war. She tries her best to study, but, soon finds herself too distracted to continue on with her dreams since her brother is so far away from fulfilling his. She decides to become a nurse.

Most of the movie is about her experiences during the war. Her experiences as a sister fearing for her brother. Her experiences as a girlfriend and fiancee. Her anxiety and broken-heart. There's a super tragic scene that involves her in a wedding dress and a phone call. Her experiences as a daughter--how to balance doing her part for the war effort and maintaining her own sanity of sorts, and taking care of her parents. Her experiences as a nurse. All of these 'experiences' are intense. One isn't exactly more important than the others.

The movie stars Alicia Vikander as Vera. She did a WONDERFUL job. Taron Egerton stars as her brother Edward. Colin Morgan stars as the adorable Victor. And Kit Harington as Roland. Emily Watson stars as her mother, and Dominic West stars as her father.

Do expect emotion and drama. Don't expect happily ever afters.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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18. 30 Days of Books #22

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



Today's prompt: Your favorite book you own

I'm still not sure I understand the exact question. If it's a 'favorite' of mine, I almost certainly own a copy of it. But if it's about which particular copy of a book you love most...then I'll go with my first copy of Gone With The Wind. This book originally belonged to my great-grandmother and grandmother before being mine.


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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19. 30 Days of Books: Day 19

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

Today's prompt: Your favorite book turned into a movie

I'll go with Scarlet Pimpernel. I think I love the movie adaptations I've seen more than I loved the book. I have hundreds of favorite books, but, not all of my favorite books made equally wonderfully magical movies.

So which adaptation do I love best???? That's tricky. But probably the 1934 one with Leslie Howard. It is MAGICAL and swoon-worthy.


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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20. 30 Days of Books #20

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

Today's prompt: Your favorite romance book

How about several?

Much Ado About Nothing. William Shakespeare. 1599/2004. SparkNotes. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]
Persuasion. Jane Austen 1818/1992. Knopf Doubleday. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]

Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte. 1847.  300 pages. [Source: Own]


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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21. Fantastic Mr. Fox

Fantastic Mr. Fox. Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. 1970. 96 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Down in the valley there were three farms.

Premise/plot: Three farmers join together to hunt down and kill a fox that has been stealing from them. Farmer Boggis. Farmer Bunce. Farmer Bean. One raises chickens. One raises ducks and geese. One raises turkeys and apples. The story is told from the fox's perspective. Mr. Fox leaves his hole nightly to provide food for his wife, Mrs. Fox, and his four "small Foxes." Because Mr. Fox is great at what he does--fantastic even--all is well for a while until the farmers decide to camp outside his hole and WAIT FOR HIM.

My thoughts: I love this book. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it. Why didn't I ever read this one as a kid?!?! This one is short, but short in a just-right way. Each chapter is packed with delight. I would definitely recommend this one!  

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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22. 30 Days of Books: #21

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

Today's prompt: Your favorite book from your childhood

Favorite picture book that was read to me: UMBRELLA by Taro Yashima.

Favorite learning-to-read book: Ann Likes Red by Dorothy Z. Seymour

Favorite chapter book: Ramona the Pest by Beverly Cleary



© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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23. My Thoughts On And Then There Were None

And Then There Were None (based on the novel by Agatha Christie)
2015, 3 episodes
Set in 1939
Link to the score

Reasons for watching: Not because it's Agatha Christie. While I enjoy *most* of her novels. This one is near the bottom for me. I just don't like it. So why did I watch? Short answer: Aidan Turner. Long answer: LOOK AT THE CAST. If you've seen any period dramas or BBC dramas over the past few decades, you'll recognize most of the cast.

Three I recognize from Bleak House. Charles Dance. Anna Maxwell Martin. Burn Gorman. (Mr. Tulkinghorn, Esther, and Guppy)

Toby Stephens was in the 2006 Jane Eyre. Aidan Turner was in the Hobbit movies and Poldark. Miranda Richardson was in Belle, Testament of Youth, The Young Victoria, Merlin, Enchanted April).

Spoiler-Free Section. The premise is ten strangers are invited to an island for a house party. Opening scenes show the letters of invitation being typed. Viewers see them traveling to the island. Eight of the ten arriving by boat all at the same time. The host for this house party is mysteriously absent. But they continue on with dinner all the same. After dinner, a record is played. The contents of the record are shocking and scandalous....

Content Advisory?!?! I was disappointed with this one. This one had a good bit of profanity. Including the f-word. And it was all so unnecessary. You expect BLOOD AND VIOLENCE from Agatha Christie but not foul language. This one also had drug use, drinking, smoking, and sex. So all around I'd say if you're looking for a 'clean' miniseries, this one is probably one to skip.

Worth watching? It depends on what you like in a movie. If you love blood, gore, violence, creepy, thriller type movies that are dark and ultimately depressing....then yes.

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This one had me shouting at the TV. What was I yelling, you ask, DON'T TRUST MR. TULKINGHORN. Now I don't blame most of the strangers for not knowing what was going on. But two of them KNEW MR. TULKINGHORN was bad news already. There is no excuse for Guppy and Esther. 


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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24. George's Marvelous Medicine

George's Marvelous Medicine. Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. 1981. 89 pages. [Source: Library]

This was my first time to read George's Marvelous Medicine by Roald Dahl. My expectations were perhaps a little too high? I'm not sure. I do know that I didn't care for it as much as I'd hoped.

The premise. George HATES his grandmother who lives with them. Every Saturday, he's left to tend to his Grandmother while his mother goes out to do errands. He has to remember to give her her medicine. As I said, he hates, hates, hates her. And it's more mutual than not. The Grandma is depicted as being rude, snappish, unkind, mean. So the premise. One Saturday he decides to substitute a medicine of his own making for her real medicine. I'd say about 90% of his ingredients would have warning labels on them that they are not to be taken internally, that they are dangerous, poisonous. In they all go. George is reckless in his mixing to say the least.

Will Grandma still be breathing by the final page of this one? That would be a NO. Did George's medicine kill her? Essentially yes. Do all the characters rejoice at her death? Again the answer is YES. It is the celebration of recklessness, carelessness and shortsightedness that bothers me. The way George's father WANTS him to make more, more, more so that he can FEED it to all the farm animals and thereby introduce it to the POPULATION. (George's father doesn't think about that at all. That what you feed chickens and cows and pigs MATTER.) I think there are real-life cases where this kind of wacky science has been encouraged and applauded.

Dahl's silliness--wackiness--is fun in other books. This one that essentially ended up in murder with no consequences, in fact ending up with a PARTY of sorts, really unsettled me.


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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25. James and the Giant Peach

James and the Giant Peach. Roald Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. 1961. 146 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Here is James Henry Trotter when he was about four years old.

Premise/plot: James, our hero-orphan being raised by two horrid aunts (one horribly fat, one terribly skinny), finds his fortune changing quickly one day when he meets a complete stranger--an older man--who promises to show him something wonderful and then pulls something out of his pocket...a small white paper bag filled with tiny green almost-glowing things. He's given instructions on how to use these green things to have a super-wonderful life. But. On his way home, he trips and the green things are lost...on the ground....but that is not the end. The title should give away the rest.

My thoughts: This one was weird and silly and unexpected and unique. I didn't hate it certainly. It is very Dahl. But I didn't love it. I find Dahl's lack of characterization annoying in some ways because instead of characterization we don't get more action or more adventure, we just get cruelty. Cruelty seems to be one thing all Dahl books have in common.
Aunt Sponge was enormously fat and very short. She had small piggy eyes, a sunken mouth, and one of those white flabby faces that looked exactly as though it had been boiled. She was like a great white soggy overboiled cabbage. (6)
I liked this one better once James enters the giant peach and meets all the insects who have been effected by the mystery green things.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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