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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. 2015 Challenges: Birthday Month Reading Challenge

Host: You, Me, and a Cup of Tea
Name: 2015 Birthday Month Reading Challenge (sign up here)
Dates: January - December 2015
# of Books: 12
Note to self: remember to leave links to reviews on her linkies post. 

January:
February:
March:
April:
May:
June:
July:
August:
September:
October:
November:
December:

Ideas for each month:
January
  • J.R.R. Tolkien
  • Wilkie Collins
February
  • Charles Dickens
  • Victor Hugo
  • Mo Willems
March
  • Dr. Seuss
  • Lois Lowry
April
  • Margaret Oliphant
  • Anthony Trollope
  • Beverly Cleary
  • Charlotte Bronte
  • Ngaio Marsh
May
  • Jerome K. Jerome
  • Pat Frank (Alas, Babylon)
  • Arthur Conan Doyle
June
  • Dorothy Sayers
  • Thomas Hardy
July
  • Josephine Tey
  • Erle Stanley Gardner
  • Candice F. Ransom
  • Joan Bauer
August
  •  Georgette Heyer
  • Orson Scott Card
  • E. Nesbit
  • Kenneth Oppel
  • Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
  • P.L. Travers
  • Diana Wynne Jones
September
  • Elizabeth Gaskell
  • Agatha Christie
  • Roald Dahl
  • Gail Carson Levine

October
  • Julie Andrews Edwards
  • Karen Cushman
  • Lois Lensky
  • Shel Silverstein
  • Laurie Halse Anderson
  • Elizabeth Cody Kimmel
  • Katherine Paterson
November
  • C.S. Lewis
  • Neil Gaiman
  • Astrid Lindgren
  • Frances Hodgson Burnett
  • Mark Twain
  • George Eliot
  • L.M. Montgomery
  • Louisa May Alcott
  • Neal Shusterman
December
  • Avi
  • Carol Ryrie Brink
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • Mercer Mayer
  • Rex Stout
  • George MacDonald

© 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2. 2015 Challenges: Hard Core Re-reading Challenge

Host: You, Me, and a Cup of Tea
Name: Hard Core Rereading Challenge (sign up here)
Dates: January - December 2015 (books started before January do not count)
# of Books: Level 5; 50+ Rereading Coma
Note to self: check back to see about review linkies. MUST, MUST, MUST add links to reviews to the linkies.

What I (Actually) Reread
1.
2.
3.

What I Plan On Rereading: 

Georgette Heyer Novels I Want To Reread in 2015:
  1. Devil's Cub
  2. These Old Shades
  3. Frederica
  4. Venetia
  5. Civil Contract
  6. Sprig Muslin
  7. Black Sheep
  8. Masqueraders
  9. Cousin Kate
  10. Convenient Marriage
  11. False Colors
  12. Talisman Ring
Elizabeth Gaskell Novels I Want to Reread in 2015:
  1. Ruth
  2. Wives and Daughters
  3. North and South 
Anthony Trollope Novels I Want To Reread in 2015:
  1. Lady Anna
  2. He Knew He Was Right
  3. Belton Estate
Charles Dickens Novels I Want to Reread in 2015:
  1. Our Mutual Friend
  2. Bleak House
  3. Oliver Twist
Wilkie Collins Novels I Want To Reread in 2015:
  1. Woman in White
  2. Armadale
  3. Man and Wife
Mystery Novels I Want To Reread in 2015:
  1. Death on the Nile by Agatha Christie
  2. The Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey
  3. Some Buried Caesar by Rex Stout
  4. The Golden Spiders by Rex Stout
  5. Have His Carcase by Dorothy Sayers
  6. Murder Must Advertise by Dorothy Sayers
  7. The Nine Tailors by Dorothy Sayers
  8. Gaudy Night by Dorothy Sayers
  9. Busman's Honeymoon by Dorothy Sayers
Historical Novels I Want to Reread
  1. Sunne in Splendour by Sharon Kay Penman
  2. London by Edward Rutherfurd
  3. Sarum by Edward Rutherfurd
  4. Gone with The Wind by Margaret Mitchell
    Science Fiction Novels I Want To Reread in 2015
    1. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
    2. Worthing Saga by Orson Scott Card
    3. Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
    4. Speaker for the Dead by Orson Scott Card
    5. Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
    6. Foundation by Isaac Asimov
    7. Foundation and Empire by Isaac Asimov
    8. Second Foundation by Isaac Asimov 
    9. Babylon 5: To Dream in the City of Sorrow by Kathryn M. Drennan
    10. Babylon 5: The Shadow Within by Jeanne Cavelos
    11. Bablyon 5: In the Beginning by Peter David
    12. Babylon 5: Legions of Fire: The Long Night of Centauri Prime by Peter David
    13. Babylon 5: Legions of Fire: Armies of Light and Dark by Peter David
    14. Babylon 5: Legions of Fire: Out of the Darkness by Peter David
    Fantasy Novels I Want to Reread in 2015
    1. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
    2. The Princess Bride by William Goldman
    3. The Great Hunt by Robert Jordan
    4. The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan
    5. The Shadow Rising by Robert Jordan
    6. The Fires of Heaven by Robert Jordan
    7. Lord of Chaos by Robert Jordan
    8. A Crown of Swords by Robert Jordan
    9. Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
      Children's Novels I Want to Reread in 2015 (I'm sure I'll be adding *more* to the list.)
      1. Welcome to the Grand View, Hannah by Mindy Warshaw Skolsky
      2. You're the Best, Hannah by Mindy Warshaw Skolsky
      3. Love From Your Friend, Hannah by Mindy Warshaw Skolsky
      Dr. Seuss Books I Want to Reread in 2015
      1. 1937 -- And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street
      2. 1938 -- The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins
      3. 1939 -- The King's Stilts
      4. 1940 -- Horton Hatches An Egg
      5. 1947 -- McElligot's Pool
      6. 1948 -- Thidwick the Big-Hearted Moose
      7. 1949 -- Bartholomew and the OObleck
      8. 1950 -- If I Ran The Zoo
      9. 1953 -- Scrambled Eggs Super
      10. 1954 -- Horton Hears a Who
      11. 1955 -- On Beyond a Zebra
      12. 1956 -- If I Ran the Circus
      13. 1957 -- How The Grinch Stole Christmas
      14. 1957 -- The Cat in the Hat
      15. 1958 -- The Cat In the Hat Comes Back
      16. 1958 -- Yertle the Turtle and Other Stories
      17. 1959 -- Happy Birthday to You
      18. 1960 -- One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish
      19. 1960 -- Green Eggs and Ham
      20. 1961 -- The Sneetches and Other Stories
      21. 1961 -- Ten Apples Up On Top (Theo LeSieg)
      22. 1962 -- Dr. Seuss's Sleep Book
      23. 1963 -- Dr. Seuss's ABC
      24. 1963 -- Hop On Pop
      25. 1965 -- Fox in Socks
      26. 1965 -- I Wish That I Had Duck Feet (Theo LeSieg)
      27. 1965 -- I Had Trouble Getting to Solla Sollew
      28. 1968 -- The Foot Book
      29. 1969 -- I Can Lick 30 Tigers Today and Other Stories
      30. 1970  -- Mr. Brown Can Moo! Can You?
      31. 1971 -- The Lorax
      32. 1972 -- Marvin K. Mooney Will You Please Go Now
      33. 1972 -- In A People House (Theo LeSieg)
      34. 1973 -- Did I Ever Tell You How Lucky You Are
      35. 1974 -- There's A Wocket in My Pocket
      36. 1974 -- Great Day for Up
      37. 1974 -- Wacky Wednesday (Theo LeSieg)
      38. 1975 -- Oh, The Thinks YOu Can Think!
      39. 1975 -- Because a Little Bug Went Ka-Choo (Rosetta Stone)
      40. 1975 -- Would You Rather Be A Bull Frog (Theo LeSieg)
      41. 1976 -- Hooper Humperdink…? Not Him (Theo LeSieg)
      42. 1977 -- Please Try to Remember the first of Octember (Theo LeSieg)
      43. 1978 -- I Can Read With My Eyes Shut
      44. 1979 -- Oh Say Can You Say
      45. 1980 -- Maybe You Should Fly A Jet (Theo LeSieg)
      46. 1981 -- The Tooth Book (Theo LeSieg)
      47. 1982 -- Hunches in Bunches
      48. 1984 -- The Butter Battle Book
      49. 1986 -- You're Only Old Once
      50. 1987 -- I Am Not Going To Get UP Today
      51. 1990 -- Oh, The Places You'll Go
      52. 1995 -- Daisy-Head Mayzie
      53. 1996 -- My Many Colored Days
      54. 1998 -- Hooray for Diffendoofer Day
      55. 2011 -- The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories

      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      3. What's On Your Nightstand (November)


      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.

      Reviews Coming Soon...in December...

      Brown Girl Dreaming. Jacqueline Woodson

      Jane Austen's First Love by Syrie James

      Princess in Black by Shannon Hale
      Recently finished:

      Tolkien: How An Obscure Oxford Professor Wrote the Hobbit and Became the Most Beloved Author of the Century. Devin Brown. Abingdon Press. 145 pages. [Source: Review copy]

      I'll be reviewing this one at Operation Actually Read Bible this week or next. It was WONDERFUL.

      Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell. Review will be coming in January. (Yes, I'm all booked up for December already, at least at Becky's Book Reviews.)

       Operation Bunny (Wings & Co. #1) Sally Gardner. Review will be coming in January.

      Sleep In Peace Tonight. James MacManus. Review will be in January.

      Currently Reading:

      Our Mutual Friend by Charles Dickens

      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      4. Mortal Heart (2014)

      Mortal Heart. Robin LaFevers. 2014. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 464 pages. [Source: Review copy]

      I liked it. I did. I really did. But I'm not sure I LOVED it. I do think it met my expectations, however. I expected it to focus on Annith. I expected it to uniquely tell her story, reveal more of who she is, and what makes her strong. And readers definitely get that. How did Annith come to the convict? What was it like for her to spend her entire life at the convent, to not know what life outside was like? What was it like for her to train all those years, to see others come and go? Has she had an easier time of it than Ismae and Sybella? Why is Annith never the one chosen to go on assignment, long-term or short-term assignment? Does not being chosen mean she's too weak or not trustworthy enough in the Abbess' mind? How does she cope with waiting? These questions are all answered in the third book of the trilogy. If you've dared to find Annith boring or obedient in previous books, you'll be challenged.

      I did come to like Annith, to appreciate her story. (Sybella's story, I believe, remains my favorite.) And I did like the romance. I don't think I can say one word about the romance. If you haven't read it, then that might make no sense since usually, I don't consider naming a potential love interest a spoiler. But if you have read it, you probably can guess why I'm afraid of spoiling things. I will say I thought it was well done. I wasn't disappointed by it. (I think Sybella and Beast remain my favorite couple, however.)

      I also really liked that half the book brings us back into company with Ismae and Duval and Sybella and the Beast. The first half of the book covers almost the same time period as Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph. The last half is more of a sequel, the plot progresses forward. Readers spend time with Duchess Anne and those close to her. What does Brittany's future look like? Will Anne ever have enough military support to hold onto Brittany's independence? Will the French be successful? How many will lose their lives in war to fight for the country they love?

      While all three books have teased readers with mythology, with world-building, this one I think does so even more. I solidly like it. I do. I would definitely recommend people finish the series if they've enjoyed the previous books.

      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      5. 2015 Challenges: TBR Pile

      Host: Roof Beam Reader
      Name: 2015 TBR Pile (sign up here) Note to self: actually go and share review links each month
      Dates: January - December 2015
      # of books: 12 to 14

      My list of twelve:

      Rachel Ray by Anthony Trollope. 1863. 403 pages. [Source: Bought]

      Miss Marjoribanks. Margaret Oliphant. 1865. 512 pages. [Source: Bought]

      Footsteps in the Dark. Georgette Heyer. 1932. 336 pages. [Source: Bought]

      Green for Danger. Christianna Brand. 1944. 256 pages. [Source: Bought]

      Georgette Heyer. Jennifer Kloester. 2013. 464 pages. [Source: Bought]

      Escape from Sobibor. Richard Rashke. 1982/1995. 416 pages. [Source: Bought]

      The Nazi Officer's Wife. Edith Hahn Beer. 1999. 305 pages. [Source: Bought]

      The New World (History of the English Speaking Peoples, Vol. 2) Winston Churchill. 1956. 400 pages. [Source: Bought]

      Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze. Elizabeth Foreman Lewis. 1932. SquareFish. 306 pages. [Source: Review copy]

      I, Juan de Pareja.  Elizabeth Borton de Trevino. 1965. SquareFish. 192 pages. [Source: Review copy]

      Thimble Summer. Elizabeth Enright. 1938. SquareFish. 144 pages. [Source: Review copy]

       Schindler's List. Thomas Keneally. 1982. 429 pages. [Source: Bought]

      My two alternates:

      Ayala's Angel. Anthony Trollope. 1881. 631 pages. [Source: Bought]

      The Silmarillion. J.R.R. Tolkien. 1977. 386 pages. [Source: Bought]


      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      6. The Man Who Invented Christmas (2008)

      The Man Who Invented Christmas. Les Standiford. 2008. Crown. 241 pages. [Source: Library]

      Different readers will have different expectations when they see the full title of this one: The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits.

      The focus is not so much on Christmas, as it is on Charles Dickens: his private and public life, his writing career, his inspirations, his fears and worries, his relationship with his publishers. The focus isn't solely on A Christmas Carol. Yes, this work gets discussed in detail. But the same can be said of many of Dickens' novels. The book, despite the title, focuses on Dickens' career as a writer or novelist. This book mentions and in some cases discusses most of Dickens' published works. Not just his books published BEFORE A Christmas Carol, but his whole career.

      A Christmas Carol gets special treatment in this one, perhaps, not because it has a Christmas theme, but, because it is a significant to his career. Before A Christmas Carol, he'd had a few really big bestsellers. But. He'd also experienced some failures. His last three books were disappointing to his fans. They didn't sell as well. The critics didn't like them. His publishers were discouraged and worried. Dickens needed his next book to be something wonderful, something that would sell, something that would be loved by one and all. He needed a success: a feel-good success, something to give him confidence and something to give his publishers confidence in him again, and a financial success, something to get him out of debt, something to pay his bills.

      The secondary focus of this one is not Christmas. Readers might expect it to be related to Christmas, the history of Christmas, its invention, or reinvention. But. Something gets more time and attention than Christmas. And that is the writing and/or publishing industry. The book gives readers a history lesson in publishing. How books were written, illustrated, printed, published, sold. Not just what went on BEFORE it was published, but also what typically happened next. How novels were adapted to the stage by others, by many others. How little control--if any--that the publisher and author had over their books, their stories, their characters and plots. Plays could do justice, at times, to the books they were based upon. But they could also be absolutely dreadful. The lack of copyright laws or international copyright laws. How publishers in other countries could steal entire books, republish them, not paying the author anything at all. The book even has a chapter or two on fan fiction. Not that he calls it fan fiction. But he writes of how other writers could "borrow" characters and give them further adventures and publish them.

      Does the book talk about Christmas at all? Yes. It does. It tells of two extremes: those in the past who celebrated Christmas too wildly, too wantonly, and those in the past who refused to celebrate it all, who would have it be illegal. Either extreme seems a bit hard to believe, perhaps, for modern readers. The book tells of traditions. Some traditions being somewhat established before A Christmas Carol, and other traditions becoming more established by being described in A Christmas Carol. What I probably found most interesting was his mention of how traditionally it was goose served for the Christmas feast UNTIL the publishing of A Christmas Carol. When Scrooge buys a turkey to give to Bob Cratchit and his family, it seems he inspired his readers to change their traditions. Turkeys becoming more and more popular.

      For readers interested in the life and death of Charles Dickens, his whole career, this one has some appeal. It provides plenty of details about his books and the publishing industry, how he was received by the public.

      For readers looking for a quick, feel-good holiday read, this one may prove to be a chore to get through.

      I liked it well enough. I've read a good many of his novels. I have some interest in his life. It worked for me. It was packed with plenty of information.

      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      7. Perpetual Challenge: Victorian Bingo

      Host: Becky's Book Reviews
      Name: Perpetual Victorian Bingo (sign up)
      Dates: for me--any book read from January 1, 2014 on
      # of books: minimum 8, I'd love to get multiple bingos or even fill up the whole card!!!

      My card for 2014.

      1837
      1838
      1839
      1840
      1841
      1842
      1843
      A Christmas Carol. Charles Dickens. 1843. 96 pages. [Source: Bought] (review coming late November)
      1844
      1845
      1846
      1847
      Jane Eyre. Charlotte Bronte. 1847.  300 pages. [Source: Own] (review coming late December)
      1849
      1850
      1851
      1852
      1853
      1854
      A Tale of Two Cities. Charles Dickens. 1854/2003. Bantam Classics. 382 pages. [Source: Bought]
      North and South. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1854-1855. 452 pages. [Source: Bought]
      1855
      1856
      A Rogue's Life. Wilkie Collins. 1856. 159 pages. [Source: Book I bought]
      1857
      1858
      1859
      1860
      1861
      1862
      No Name. Wilkie Collins. 1862/1998. Oxford University Press. 748 pages.
      1863
      1864
      1865
      1866
      The Belton Estate. Anthony Trollope. 1866/1993. Penguin. 432 pages. [Source: Bought]
      1867
      1868
      1869
      Stepping Heavenward. Mrs. Elizabeth Prentiss. 1869/1998. Barbour Books. 352 pages. [Source: Bought]   
      1870
      1871
      1872
      1873
      The Eustace Diamonds. Anthony Trollope. 1873. 794 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
      1874
      Phineas Redux. Anthony Trollope. 1874. 768 pages. [Source: Book I bought]
      1875
      The Law and the Lady. Wilkie Collins. 1875. 430 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
      1876
      The Prime Minister. Anthony Trollope. 1876. 864 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]   
      1877
      Black Beauty. Anna Sewell. 1877. 245 pages. [Source: Bought] 
      1878
      Is He Popenjoy? Anthony Trollope. 1878/1993. Penguin. 632 pages. [Source: Bought]
      1879
      1880
      The Duke's Children. Anthony Trollope. 1880. 560 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]
      1881
      1882
      1883
      1884
      1885
      1886
      1887
      1888
      1889
      1890
      1891
      1892
      1893
      1894
      1895
      1896
      1897
      1898
      1899
      The Story of the Treasure Seekers. E. Nesbit. 1899. Puffin. 250 pages. [Source: Bought]
      1900
      1901
      Melisande. E. Nesbit. Illustrated by P.J. Lynch. 1901/1988/1999. Candlewick. 48 pages. [Source: Book I Bought]


      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      8. Library Loot: Fourth Trip in November

      New Loot:
      • A Medal for Murder by Frances Brody
      • The Art of the English Murder by Lucy Worsley
      • Goodbye, Piccadilly: War at Home, 1914 by Cynthia Harrod-Eagles
      • Operation Bunny by Sally Gardner
      • Birds of a Feather by Jacqueline Winspear
      • Pardonable Lies by Jacqueline Winspear
      • Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell
      • What If...? by Anthony Browne

      Leftover Loot:

      • Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes
      • Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie
      • Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer
      • McElligot's Pool by Dr. Seuss
      • Horton Hatches The Egg by Dr. Seuss
      • And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss
      • The King's Stilts by Dr. Seuss
      • The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss
      • Death at Buckingham Palace by C.C. Benison
      • Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin
      • The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott
      • Train by Judi Abbot
      • Waiting is Not Easy by Mo Willems
      • The Time Traveler's Almanac ed. by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
      • Sleep in Peace Tonight by James MacManus
      • The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson
      • A Great and Glorious Adventure by Gordon Corrigan
      • Murder at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison
          Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries.  

      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      9. 2015 Challenges: Alphabet Soup

      Host: Escape With Dollycas Into A Good Book
      Name: Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge (sign-up)
      Dates: January - December 2015
      # of books: 26

      Titles
      A
      B
      C
      D
      E
      F
      G
      H
      I
      J
      K
      L
      M
      N
      O
      P
      Q
      R
      S
      T
      U
      V
      W
      X
      Y
      Z

      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      10. 2015 Challenges: Victorian Bingo

      Host: Becky's Book Reviews
      Name: Victorian Bingo (Sign-Up)
      Dates: January - December 2015 (you can start reading now)
      # of books: minimum of 5, I'm going to try to read 10 books


      First Bingo

      Category:
      Title:
      Category:
      Title: 
      Category:
      Title: 
      Category:
      Title: 
      Category:
      Title:
      Second Bingo

      Category:
      Title:
      Category:
      Title: 
      Category:
      Title: 
      Category:
      Title: 
      Category:
      Title:


      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      11. 2015 Challenges: Vintage Mystery Bingo

      Host: My Reader's Block
      Name: Vintage Mystery Bingo 2015 (sign up)
      Dates: January - December 2015
      # of Books: at least 6, preferably 12

      I'll be going for the gold edition which is mystery books published before 1960.

      Bingo #1

      Category:
      Title:
      Category:
      Title: 
      Category:
      Title: 
      Category:
      Title: 
      Category:
      Title: 
      Category:
      Title:

      Bingo #2:

      Category:
      Title:
      Category:
      Title: 
      Category:
      Title: 
      Category:
      Title: 
      Category:
      Title: 
      Category:
      Title:

       © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      12. 2015 Challenges: Newbery Reading Challenge

      Host: Smiling Shelves
      Name: Newbery Reading Challenge 2015 (sign up here)
      Dates: January - December 2015
      # of Books Points:   30 to 44 points (Spinelli) 3 points for each Newbery winner, 2 points for each Newbery Honor Book (So 30 points could be reached by 10 Newbery books, for example, or 15 Newbery Honor books)

      Newbery Winners Read in 2015:

      1)
      2)
      3)
      4)
      5)
      6)
      7)
      8)

      Newbery Honor Books Read in 2015:

      1)
      2)
      3)
      4)
      5)
      6)
      7)
      8)


      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      13. 2015 Challenges: 42 Challenge

      Host: 42 Challenge
      Name: 42 Challenge (sign up)
      Dates: Officially January 1- December 31, 2015
      # of "items": 42+

      About the challenge: Review 42 sci-fi related items: short stories, novellas, novels, radio show episodes, television show episodes, movies, graphic novels, comic books, audio books, essays about science fiction, biographies about sci-fi authors, etc.

      What I Read:

      1)
      2)
      3)
      4)
      5)
      6)
      7)
      8)
      9)
      10)
      11)
      12)
      13)
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      What I Watch:

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      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

      0 Comments on 2015 Challenges: 42 Challenge as of 11/23/2014 3:54:00 PM
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      14. Challenge Completed: Vintage Mystery Bingo

      Host: My Reader's Block (Sign-Up Post; Review Links)
      Dates: January - December 2014
      Requirements: Golden Card (mysteries published before 1960) Silver Card (mysteries published before 1989) I will be signing up for the GOLDEN CARD level.
      Required Books: At least six (one bingo); two bingos encouraged (12 books)

      First Bingo (Diagonal)

      1. Read One Book With a Color in the Title:  Red Mystery by A.A. Milne. 1922.  [August]
      2. Read One Book With A Number in the Title: Second Confession by Rex Stout. 1949. 
      3. Read One Book With An Amateur Detective: The Law and the Lady. Wilkie Collins. 1875
      4. Read One Book With A Professional Detective: In the Best Families by Rex Stout. 1950
      5. Read One Book Set in England: Franchise Affair by Josephine Tey. 1948
      6. Read One Book Set in the U.S. And Be A Villain by Rex Stout. 1948.
      Second Bingo (Bottom Row)
      1. Read One book Set in the Entertainment World: Dancers in Mourning. Margery Allingham. 1937 [October]
      2. Read One book With A Woman in the Title: Miss Pym Disposes by Josephine Tey. 1946.
      3. Read One Book That Involves a Mode of Transportation: The Singing Sands. Josephine Tey. 1953. [September]
      4. Read One Book Outside Your Comfort Zone: Brat Farrar. Josephine Tey. 1949 (because there are horses)
      5. Read One Book That You Have To Borrow Free Space: READ A BOOK BY AN AUTHOR YOU'VE READ BEFORE : The Daughter of Time. Josephine Tey. 1951 [August]
      6. Read One Another Book Set in the U.S.: Where There's A Will by Rex Stout (November)


      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      15. Where There's A Will (1940)

      Where There's A Will. Rex Stout. (Nero Wolfe #8) 1940. Bantam. 258 pages. [Source: Bought]

      I always begin Nero Wolfe mysteries wanting to love them. I do love, love, love Archie Goodwin and Nero Wolfe. And I have certainly loved plenty of them in the past. Some more than others, of course. But at the very least, the mysteries generally serve as entertainment or distraction. Where There's A Will is not one of my favorites.

      Wolfe and Goodwin are in need of clients, wealthy clients preferably. That isn't exactly unexpected. They almost always are in need of clients according to Goodwin. The book opens with the two meeting a family--dysfunctional family, don't you know?! This high-status family is in mourning. Three sisters (and their lawyers) come to Wolfe upset about their brother's will. Each had been under the assumption that they'd be left a million dollars each. They'd been left nothing, or almost nothing. They were disappointed, perhaps a bit ashamed at how angry they were. But the very fact that their brother's mistress received so very, very much is infuriating. Especially since he was married. The widow is outraged. Will Nero Wolfe go about trying to persuade this mistress woman to share the inheritance? Before that case gets a proper chance to be taken up, there comes a great shock. The brother's death was no accident. Someone murdered him. Now someone else in the family comes to Wolfe and begs him to take the case and solve the murder.

      Can Wolfe solve the murder? Will Goodwin reach the same conclusion as Wolfe--in the same amount of time?

      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      16. Week in Review: November 16-22

      Bo at Ballard Creek. Kirkpatrick Hill. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. 2013. Henry Holt. 288 pages.
      [Source: Library]
      Black Beauty. Anna Sewell. 1877. 245 pages. [Source: Bought]
      A Time to Dance. Padma Venkatraman. 2014.  Nancy Paulsen Books. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
      Ghosts of Tupelo Landing. Sheila Turnage. 2014. Penguin. 368 pages. [Source: Library]
      Stand There! She Shouted: The Invincible Photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. 2014. Candlewick. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]
      Is He Popenjoy? Anthony Trollope. 1878/1993. Penguin. 632 pages. [Source: Bought]
      Living a Prayerful Life. Andrew Murray. 160 pages. [Source: Bought]
      Praying Backwards: Transform Your Prayer Life By Beginning IN Jesus' Name. Bryan Chapell. 2005. Baker Publishing. 208 pages. [Source: Bought]
      The Christmas Quilt. Patricia Davids. 2011. Love Inspired. 215 pages. [Source: Bought]
      The Christmas Cat. Melody Carlson. 2014. Revell. 169 pages. [Source: Review copy]

      This week's favorite:

      I'm torn between two books this week. I love Black Beauty. I love Bo at Ballard Creek. Black Beauty is a reread. It's a book that completely surprised me the first time around. I don't read horse books. I don't. So falling in love with a horse book surprised me. My love for the book only grew upon rereading it. And it's so quotable.

      Bo at Ballard Creek is a great read. It is illustrated by LeUyen Pham. It's set in Alaska in the 1920s, I believe. It very much has a "Little House in the Big Woods" feel to it. I love the style it's written in. I loved many things about it. That being said, is it one I see myself rereading again and again and again? I'm not sure. I definitely would recommend it. So which book do I choose?!

      I often choose the book that is more quotable and the book I'm most likely to reread in the future. It was a hard decision though.

      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      17. Reread #47 Black Beauty

      Black Beauty. Anna Sewell. 1877. 245 pages. [Source: Bought]

      I have been wanting to reread Black Beauty since I finished it in July 2012. I loved it then. I loved it now upon rereading. In fact, I think I loved it even a tiny bit more since I knew exactly what to expect. I was able to relax a bit more, not worrying that something horrible was about to happen. Granted, plenty of horrible things do happen. If not to Black Beauty then to others. But their is a sweetness, a hopefulness to the book that keeps it from being dark and gloomy.

      What I loved best about Black Beauty is the narration. From cover to cover, I was engaged with her story, her narration. I loved the writing. The book is rich in description and observation. The worldview of the book has a just-right feel to it. It's very quotable. I loved the characterization. I cared about the horses. I cared about the humans in the story.

      If you haven't read it, you should give it a try. Even if you don't like animal stories.

      Favorite quotes:
      "I wish you to pay attention to what I am going to say to you. The colts who live here are very good colts, but they are cart-horse colts, and of course they have not learned manners. You have been well-bred and well-born; your father has a great name in these parts, and your grandfather won the cup two years at the Newmarket races; your grandmother had the sweetest temper of any horse I ever knew, and I think you have never seen me kick or bite. I hope you will grow up gentle and good, and never learn bad ways; do your work with a good will, lift your feet up well when you trot, and never bite or kick even in play." I have never forgotten my mother's advice; I knew she was a wise old horse, and our master thought a great deal of her.
      The next day I was brought up for my master. I remembered my mother's counsel and my good old master's, and I tried to do exactly what he wanted me to do. I found he was a very good rider, and thoughtful for his horse too. When he came home the lady was at the hall door as he rode up. "Well, my dear," she said, "how do you like him?" "He is exactly what John said," he replied; "a pleasanter creature I never wish to mount. What shall we call him?" "Would you like Ebony?" said she; "he is as black as ebony." "No, not Ebony." "Will you call him Blackbird, like your uncle's old horse?" "No, he is far handsomer than old Blackbird ever was." "Yes," she said, "he is really quite a beauty, and he has such a sweet, good-tempered face, and such a fine, intelligent eye--what do you say to calling him Black Beauty?"
      "I suppose it is fashion that makes them strap our heads up with those horrid bits that I was tortured with in London," said Ginger. "Of course it is," said he; "to my mind, fashion is one of the wickedest things in the world. Now look, for instance, at the way they serve dogs, cutting off their tails to make them look plucky, and shearing up their pretty little ears to a point to make them both look sharp, forsooth. I had a dear friend once, a brown terrier; 'Skye' they called her. She was so fond of me that she never would sleep out of my stall; she made her bed under the manger, and there she had a litter of five as pretty little puppies as need be; none were drowned, for they were a valuable kind, and how pleased she was with them! and when they got their eyes open and crawled about, it was a real pretty sight; but one day the man came and took them all away; I thought he might be afraid I should tread upon them. But it was not so; in the evening poor Skye brought them back again, one by one in her mouth; not the happy little things that they were, but bleeding and crying pitifully; they had all had a piece of their tails cut off, and the soft flap of their pretty little ears was cut quite off. How their mother licked them, and how troubled she was, poor thing! I never forgot it. They healed in time, and they forgot the pain, but the nice soft flap, that of course was intended to protect the delicate part of their ears from dust and injury, was gone forever. Why don't they cut their own children's ears into points to make them look sharp? Why don't they cut the end off their noses to make them look plucky? One would be just as sensible as the other. What right have they to torment and disfigure God's creatures?"
      "He had no business to make that turn; his road was straight on!" said the man roughly. "You have often driven that pony up to my place," said master; "it only shows the creature's memory and intelligence; how did he know that you were not going there again? But that has little to do with it. I must say, Mr. Sawyer, that a more unmanly, brutal treatment of a little pony it was never my painful lot to witness, and by giving way to such passion you injure your own character as much, nay more, than you injure your horse; and remember, we shall all have to be judged according to our works, whether they be toward man or toward beast."
      Master said, God had given men reason, by which they could find out things for themselves; but he had given animals knowledge which did not depend on reason, and which was much more prompt and perfect in its way, and by which they had often saved the lives of men.
      But what stuck in my mind was this, he said that cruelty was the devil's own trade-mark, and if we saw any one who took pleasure in cruelty we might know who he belonged to, for the devil was a murderer from the beginning, and a tormentor to the end. On the other hand, where we saw people who loved their neighbors, and were kind to man and beast, we might know that was God's mark." "Your master never taught you a truer thing," said John; "there is no religion without love, and people may talk as much as they like about their religion, but if it does not teach them to be good and kind to man and beast it is all a sham--all a sham, James, and it won't stand when things come to be turned inside out."
      "Only ignorance! only ignorance! how can you talk about only ignorance? Don't you know that it is the worst thing in the world, next to wickedness?--and which does the most mischief heaven only knows. If people can say, 'Oh! I did not know, I did not mean any harm,' they think it is all right.

      "Right, Joe! you did right, my boy, whether the fellow gets a summons or not. Many folks would have ridden by and said it was not their business to interfere. Now I say that with cruelty and oppression it is everybody's business to interfere when they see it; you did right, my boy."
      Every man must look after his own soul; you can't lay it down at another man's door like a foundling and expect him to take care of it.
      If a thing is right it can be done, and if it is wrong it can be done without; and a good man will find a way.
      Our friend stood still for a moment, and throwing his head a little back, "Do you know why this world is as bad as it is?" "No," said the other. "Then I'll tell you. It is because people think only about their own business, and won't trouble themselves to stand up for the oppressed, nor bring the wrongdoer to light. I never see a wicked thing like this without doing what I can, and many a master has thanked me for letting him know how his horses have been used." "I wish there were more gentlemen like you, sir," said Jerry, "for they are wanted badly enough in this city."

       "My doctrine is this, that if we see cruelty or wrong that we have the power to stop, and do nothing, we make ourselves sharers in the guilt."
      "Is it not better," she said, "to lead a good fashion than to follow a bad one? A great many gentlemen do not use check-reins now; our carriage horses have not worn them for fifteen years, and work with much less fatigue than those who have them; besides," she added in a very serious voice, "we have no right to distress any of God's creatures without a very good reason; we call them dumb animals, and so they are, for they cannot tell us how they feel, but they do not suffer less because they have no words.

      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      18. Ghosts of Tupelo Landing (2014)

      Ghosts of Tupelo Landing. Sheila Turnage. 2014. Penguin. 368 pages. [Source: Library]

      I enjoyed reading The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing. I am not sure I loved, loved, loved it as much as the first book, Three Times Lucky. But I'm not sure that matters. What I loved most about the first book is still present in the second.

      Primarily what I love about both books is the narration by Miss Moses LoBeau (Mo). I love, love, love her voice, her narration. She's a wonderful character. I love seeing things through her eyes. I love getting to spend time in her community, getting to spend time with her own, unique family, getting to spend time with her friends. This is a book that is just oh-so-easy to enjoy. The writing just has an oh-so-right feel to it.

      Mo and her best friend, Dale, have a challenge or two to face in this mystery. Miss Lana has just bought--impulsively bought--an old inn that is haunted. When she bid at the auction, she had no idea that it was haunted. (Not that Miss Lana believes in ghosts.) But Mo and Dale in their exploring before and after, know that it is in fact haunted. And, I believe, it is Dale that impulsively signs him and Mo up to interview the ghost for a history assignment. Regardless if it was Mo or Dale following an impulsive, this quick and hasty decision proves challenging from start to finish. How can they prove the ghost is real? Especially since they don't see it or feel it every time they visit the inn? And even if they happen to capture the ghost in a photo, how are they going to ask interview questions and record the answers?!

      Ghosts of Tupelo Landing is a mystery novel. There is a mystery--from the past--to be solved from the community's past.

      What I liked best about this one is the characterization, the setting, the writing itself. I also really liked meeting the new kid in town, Harm Crenshaw. I wasn't thrilled with the actual mystery in this one. The ghost story itself.

      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      19. Week in Review: November 9-15

      Persuasion. Jane Austen 1818/1992. Knopf Doubleday. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]
      A Snicker of Magic. Natalie Lloyd. 2014. Scholastic. 320 pages. [Source: Library] 
      The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia. Candace Fleming. 2014. Random House. 304 pages. [Source: Library]
      Dark Triumph (His Fair Assassin #2) Robin LaFevers. 2013. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 387 pages. [Source: Review copy]
      Tell Me. Joan Bauer. 2014. Penguin. 272 pages. [Source: Library]
      The Quilt Walk. Sandra Dallas. 2012. Sleeping Bear Press. 215 pages. [Source: Library]
      The Psalm 119 Experience: A Devotional Journey You Will Not Forget. John Kramp. 2014. B&H Publishing. 256 pages. [Source: Review copy]
      The Most Misused Verses in the Bible: Surprising Ways God's Words is Misunderstood by Eric J. Bargerhuff. 2012. Bethany House. 172 pages. [Source: Bought]
      God's Way of Peace. Horatius Bonar. 112 pages. [Source: Bought]
      Christmas at Rose Hill Farm. Suzanne Woods Fisher. 2014. Revell. 240 pages. [Source: Review copy]

      This week's favorite:

      I love, love, love Persuasion. I do. It's a great romance to reread again and again. But I also loved A Snicker of Magic. A Snicker of Magic is one of the best middle grade books I've read this year.

      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      20. Library Loot: Third Trip in November

      New Loot:
      • In the Kingdom of Ice by Hampton Sides
      • The Foundling Boy by Michel Deon Translated from the French by Julian Evans
      • The Princess Spy by Melanie Dickerson
      • Little Author in the Big Woods by Yona Zeldis McDonough
      • El Deafo by Cece Bell
      • A Great and Glorious Adventure by Gordon Corrigan
      • Murder at Honeychurch Hall by Hannah Dennison 
      Leftover Loot:
      • Death at Buckingham Palace by C.C. Benison
      • Keepers of the Covenant by Lynn Austin
      • The Daring Ladies of Lowell by Kate Alcott
      • Ten Lords A-Leaping by C.C. Benison
      • The Time Traveler's Almanac by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
      • Sleep in Peace Tonight by James MacManus
      • The Girl With All The Gifts by M.R. Carey
      •   Follow Follow by Marilyn Singer 
      • Hero on a Bicycle by Shirley Hughes
      • Hercule Poirot's Christmas by Agatha Christie
      • Horton Hatches The Egg by Dr. Seuss
      • And To Think That I Saw It On Mulberry Street by Dr. Seuss
      • The King's Stilts by Dr. Seuss
      • The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss
      • McElligoot's Pool by Dr. Seuss
      • Tumtum & Nutmeg The Rose Cottage Tales by Emily Bearn
      • Train! by Judi Abbot
      • Waiting is Not Easy by Mo Willems
              Library Loot is a weekly event co-hosted by Claire from The Captive Reader and Linda from Silly Little Mischief that encourages bloggers to share the books they’ve checked out from the library. If you’d like to participate, just write up your post-feel free to steal the button-and link it using the Mr. Linky any time during the week. And of course check out what other participants are getting from their libraries. 

      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      21. Is He Popenjoy? (1878)

      Is He Popenjoy? Anthony Trollope. 1878/1993. Penguin. 632 pages. [Source: Bought]

      Like so many of Anthony Trollope's novels, Is He Popenjoy? is a novel essentially about marriage and relationships. Just because it's about marriage and relationships doesn't mean it is about love and romance and happily ever after.

      Lord George and Mary Germain are newly married. Mary Lovelace was not exactly his first choice for a bride. (His first choice was in fact a woman named Adelaide. She too is recently married. She is Mrs. Houghton now.) The two are in the getting-to-know each other stage. Yes, they are married. But they weren't madly in love with each other before they married. Only time will tell if they will fall in love with each other afterwards. She is thoughtfully examining herself for signs of love, and she's looking closely at her husband as well. Do I love him yet? How about now?

      The couple lives with his family, with his mother, with two of his older sisters. George is content with the arrangement. After all, most of the adjustment falls to Mary as it now stands. Mary is the one who has to come into a house with three older, opinionated, slightly critical women. Mary is the one under examination, under trial, not George.

      But. One of the conditions for marrying Mary was arranged by her father. George must be willing to get a house in London and they must reside there several months each year. This puts George very much out of his comfort zone. It thrills Mary, of course, as her father knew it would. In London, Mary has the freedom to relax and be herself.

      Complications. Mary is introduced to Adelaide Houghton's cousin, Jack de Baron. Adelaide is hoping that Jack will flirt with Mary. That Mary will flirt right back. Mary and Jack do become friends, good friends. But it is friendship, nothing more, nothing less. Adelaide. What can I really say about her?! She infuriated me. She throws herself at Lord George time and time and time and time again. She is desperately in love with him now and not a bit discreet about it. She must tell him explicitly how much she NEEDS him and how he was always, always the one she wanted most of all. It's a pitiful sight when all is said and done. George. Well. George listens again and again and again and again. He's always open to hearing her declarations. Even if he's embarrassed and ashamed afterwards. As he walks away from and her and heads back to his wife, he's left feeling icky. Yet. For some reason, he sees it as his job as a gentlemen to remain friends with Mrs. Houghton, that he is being kind when he visits her at her request. He doesn't want to be RUDE to her after all.

      More complications. George's family is completely dysfunctional. His older brother is a twisted mess. He's got no manners, no heart, no conscience. He's spent almost all his adult life living abroad in Italy. After learning of his younger brother's marriage, he writes to let his family know that they have to leave HIS house, and that under no terms are they to remain in the neighborhood or community because he doesn't want to see them. He has decided to come back. He is bringing a wife. A wife and a son, an heir. Never mind that he never communicated to his family or his lawyers that he married or had a son. True, he is the heir and the house is technically his to do with as he sees fit. But who throws their own family out without at least making some assistance towards finding them another place? The family manage to stay in the neighborhood against his wishes. And their brief encounters together are super awkward and humiliating. He wants nothing to do with anybody. Not his family. Not his former friends. Not his neighbors. Not the clergy in the area. NO person is welcome in his house. Mary's father advocates that something is obviously wrong here. Perhaps his brother has some secrets he wants to keep hidden. Perhaps his brother's son is not legitimate? Perhaps his wife is not really his wife?

      Taking sides. Relationships get ugly and messy and twisted in this one. Accusations for just about everything abound. Ultimatums are given. All relationships will be tested. Can love bloom between two stressed individuals in these horrible conditions?

      I didn't love this one. I didn't hate it, mind you. I didn't even dislike it exactly. It's just that there were more characters that I hated than characters that I liked in this one.

      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      22. Armchair Cybils -- Sharing Reviews #1

      I am super-excited that Hope is The Word is hosting the Armchair Cybils Reading Challenge!!!

      Come back here on the following dates to link up your Armchair Cybils posts:
      • October 15 — your “I’m participating!” post
      •  November 15–reviews
      •  December 15–reviews
      •  January 1–shortlist thoughts
      •  January 15– reviews and thoughts
      • February 14–reviews and thoughts about the winners
      Elementary/MG Speculative Fiction

      1) A Snicker of Magic. Natalie Lloyd.
      2) Gabriel Finley and the Raven's Riddle. George Hagen.
      3) Greenglass House by Kate Milford (review coming in December)
      4) Oliver and the Seawigs. Philip Reeve
      5) Ophelia and the Marvelous Boys. Karen Foxlee.
      6) Platypus Police Squad: The Ostrich Conspiracy. Jarrett J. Krosoczka.
      7) Seven Stories Up. Laurel Snyder.
      8) Seven Wild Sisters: A Modern Fairy Tale. Charles de Lint.
      9) Tesla's Attic by Neal Shusterman (review coming in January)
      10) Boundless by Kenneth Oppel (review coming in January)
      11) The Children of the King. Sonya Hartnett.
      12) The Fourteenth Goldfish. Jennifer L. Holm.
      13) The Ghosts of Tupelo Landing by Sheila Turnage (review coming later in November)
      14) The Glass Sentence. S.E. Grove
      15) The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier.
      16) The Orphan and the Mouse. Martha Freeman.
      17) The Shadow Throne. Jennifer A. Nielsen.
      18) Thursdays with the Crown. (Castle Glower #3) Jessica Day George.
      19) Winterfrost by Michelle Houts (review coming in December)

      11/15/14: My favorite in this category so far is...Jonathan Auxier's The Night Gardener. I loved it SO MUCH, I've read it TWICE!!! My second favorite would have to be Laurel Snyder's Seven Stories Up.



      YA Speculative Fiction

      1) A Creature of Moonlight. Rebecca Hahn.
      2) Allegiant by Veronica Roth (reviewed in 2013)
      3) Dangerous by Shannon Hale (reviewed in 2013)
      4)Don't Even Think About It. Sarah Mlynowski.
      5) Free to Fall. Lauren Miller.
      6) The Glass Casket. McCormick Templeman.
      7 Kiss of Deception. (The Remnant Chronicles #1) Mary E. Pearson.
      8) The Living by Matt de La Pena
      9) Independent Study. Joelle Charbonneau.

      11/15/14: My favorite in this category so far is... Lauren Miller's Free to Fall. My second pick would be either The Glass Casket or Kiss of Deception.
       

      Middle Grade Fiction

      1) Absolutely Almost. Lisa Graff.
      2)Courage for Beginners. Karen Harrington.
      3) Half A Chance. Cynthia Lord.
      4) I Kill the Mockingbird. Paul Acampora.
      5) My Friend the Enemy by Daniel Smith (review coming in December)
      6) Tell Me. Joan Bauer.
      7) The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher. Jessica Lawson.
      8) The Madman of Piney Woods. Christopher Paul Curtis
      9) The Magic Trap. (Lemonade War #5) Jacqueline Davies.
      10) The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days. Michele Weber Hurwitz.
      11) The Swift Boys & Me. Kody Keplinger.
      12) West of the Moon. Margi Preus.
      13) What the Moon Said. Gayle Rosengren.

      11/15/14: My favorite in this category so far is... Lisa Graff's Absolutely Almost. My second pick would be either I Kill the Mockingbird or The Actual & Truthful Adventures of Becky Thatcher.


      YA Nonfiction

      1) The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin
      2) The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming
      3) Hidden Like Anne Frank by Marcel Prins
      4) Boundaries by Sally M. Walker (review coming in December)

      11/15/14: My favorite in this category so far is... Steve Sheinkin's The Port Chicago 50.


      YA Fiction

      1) A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman (review coming later in November)
      2) Lady Thief. A.C. Gaughen.
      3) Love by the Morning Star. Laura L. Sullivan.
      4) The Chapel Wars. Lindsey Leavitt.
      5) The Impossible Knife of Memory. Laurie Halse Anderson.
      6) We Were Liars. E. Lockhart.

      11/15/14: My favorite in this category so far is... A.C. Gaughen's Lady Thief. My second pick would be The Chapel Wars by Lindsey Leavitt.


      Elementary/MG Nonfiction

      1) A Home for Mr. Emerson by Barbara Kerley
      2) Angel Island by Russell Freedman
      3) Ivan the Remarkable True Story by Katherine Applegate (review coming in December)
      4) Josephine by Patricia Hruby Powell
      5) Sniffer Dogs by Nancy Castaldo
      6) Stand There by Susan Goldman Rubin (review coming later in November)
      7) The Girl from the Tar Paper School by Teri Kanefield

      11/15/14: My favorite in this category so far is... Katherine Applegate's Ivan The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla.


      Picture Books

      1) E-I-E-I-O by Judy Sierra
      2) Frances Dean Who Loved To Dance by Birgitta Sif
      3) Help! We Need A Title by Herve Tullet
      4) I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed a Dreidel by Caryn Yacowitz
      5) I'm My Own Dog by David Ezra Stein
      6) Max and the Won't Go To Bed Show
      7) Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch by Anne Isaacs
      8)  The Book With No Pictures. B.J. Novak.
      9) The Good Pie Party by Liz Garton Scanlon
      10) Weasels by Elys Dolan
      11) The Pigeon needs a bath by Mo Willems

      11/15/14: My favorite in this category so far is... Mark Sperring's Max and the Won't Go To Bed Show. My second favorite is Meanwhile, Back at the Ranch.



      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      23. Stand There! She Shouted (2014)

      Stand There! She Shouted: The Invincible Photographer Julia Margaret Cameron. 2014. Candlewick. 80 pages. [Source: Review copy]

      Stand There! She Shouted is a biography of Julia Margaret Cameron, a noted photographer of the nineteenth century. From birth to death, details of her life are highlighted for young readers. She was born in India, raised in France, recuperated from an illness in Cape Town, South Africa, where she met her future husband, Charles Hay Cameron. The book does spend some time on her personal life: daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother. But it also spends plenty of time on her hobby/career as a photographer. How she learned about photography. Her first camera. Her first photographs. Her first failures. Her first successes. Who she photographed and why. Her favorite techniques and unique style. (She liked the subject to be slightly out of focus. She liked the softness.) How many photographs she took--3,000. One thing the book did really well was focus on how her sitters or posers felt. Did they like posing for her? How did they describe the experience? I liked these accounts of her work.

      The book is illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. I love his work. I do. But. I wish there had been more photographs by Julia Margaret Cameron.

      Favorite quotes:
      She selected her sitters carefully. In a letter to a friend, she said that there were three reasons she photographed: "great beauty--great celebrity--and great friendship." (58)
      As a photographer, she was ruthless. Children, her favorite subject, feared her. Julia Margaret lurked by the door, ready to stop a passing child for hours of posing. Edith Bradley Ellison recalled that the children of Freshwater "loved" her but "fled from her." When they saw her, they'd call out, "She's coming! She'll catch one of us!" And when Julia Margaret caught them, she bribed them with candy to pose. (46)

      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      24. Bo at Ballard Creek (2013)

      Bo at Ballard Creek. Kirkpatrick Hill. Illustrated by LeUyen Pham. 2013. Henry Holt. 288 pages. [Source: Library]

      I loved Bo at Ballard Creek. Did I love, love, love it? I'm not sure. Time will tell. I certainly loved many things about it.

      I loved the setting, that it's historical fiction, set in Alaska, set in a small mining town, in the 1920s. I loved the perspective, Bo, the heroine is young adopted girl. For most of the book, she's too young to attend school. So perhaps in the four to six range throughout the book. Readers meet Bo, her two fathers Jack Jackson and Arvid Ivorsen. (One is black. One is Swedish.) Readers meet the whole community: other miners and former miners mostly men, of course, all ages and ethnicities; Eskimo families, and the dance-hall girls. I loved the narration and the amount of detail. I love that the book covers a whole year, if not a little more. So readers see the community in detail throughout the year. One gets a real sense of what was like on a day-to-day, week-to-week, month-to-month basis. On ordinary days. On special days. Special days being not just holidays, but, also days where airplanes stop and land, the days when supplies arrive. I love the vignettes of the whole town. I loved the strong sense of family and community in this one. It just felt right from cover to cover. I also loved the illustrations. I'll be honest. It was seeing LeUyen Pham's name that made me pick this one up. That being said, I may have loved her illustrations. But I also LOVED the text itself.

      If the book lacks anything, however, it may be a strong plot. Think Little House In the Big Woods. The chapters are strong in description and characterization and little happenings. I loved it. I did. I loved meeting Bo. I loved some of the relationships in the book.

      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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      25. A Time to Dance (2014)

      A Time to Dance. Padma Venkatraman. 2014.  Nancy Paulsen Books. 320 pages. [Source: Library]

      I wanted to love A Time To Dance. I wanted to love it as much as I loved Climbing the Stairs, also by Padma Venkatraman. But I didn't. I didn't love it. I'm not sure if it was because it was a verse novel. Or if it was because of the focus on dance. That being said, I liked it well enough. For readers curious about India, Hinduism, or dance, this one may have plenty of appeal, or extra appeal. I suppose this one will also appeal to those that like inspirational or feel-good stories.

      What I liked best about it was the characterization. I liked Veda, the heroine. I liked getting to know her and her family. I particularly enjoyed Veda's relationship with her grandmother. I liked getting to know Veda's friends. There is a bit of romance.

      Veda is a dancer. She loves, loves, loves to dance. She's always loved to dance. It is her EVERYTHING. So when she's in a car accident and one of her legs must be amputated below the knee, she's devastated. Who is she if she's not a dancer? Dance is what makes her, her. So giving up dancing isn't an option for her. Though plenty expect just that, for her to find a new dream. She will dance again. Someway. Somehow. An American doctor offers her a second chance. His specialty is making artificial limbs. He wants to make her a prosthetic leg that she can dance on...

      But it won't be an easy journey for Veda, to dance again, to live again. The book is just as much about finding inner peace and accepting yourself as it is about actual dance. It is a book with a lot of spirituality packed in.
      © 2014 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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