What is JacketFlap

  • JacketFlap connects you to the work of more than 200,000 authors, illustrators, publishers and other creators of books for Children and Young Adults. The site is updated daily with information about every book, author, illustrator, and publisher in the children's / young adult book industry. Members include published authors and illustrators, librarians, agents, editors, publicists, booksellers, publishers and fans.
    Join now (it's free).

Sort Blog Posts

Sort Posts by:

  • in
    from   

Suggest a Blog

Enter a Blog's Feed URL below and click Submit:

Most Commented Posts

In the past 7 days

Recent Posts

(from the Reviews category)

Recent Comments

JacketFlap Sponsors

Spread the word about books.
Put this Widget on your blog!
  • Powered by JacketFlap.com

Are you a book Publisher?
Learn about Widgets now!

Advertise on JacketFlap

MyJacketFlap Blogs

  • Login or Register for free to create your own customized page of blog posts from your favorite blogs. You can also add blogs by clicking the "Add to MyJacketFlap" links next to the blog name in each post.

Reviews Category Blogs

Blog Posts by Date

Click days in this calendar to see posts by day or month
new posts in all blogs
Viewing: Blog Posts from the Reviews category, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 157,931
26. Newbery/Caldecott 2017: The Summer Prediction Edition

Fickle little me. Titles appear. Titles disappear. Many of the books I placed on my Spring 2017 predictions list are gone by June, and what has changed?  Aren’t the books as wonderful now as they were when I originally propped them up?  Of course they are, but I’ve done enough book discussions in the intervening months that I feel as if I’ve a better grasp on what’s a contender.  Not that my track record is by any means perfect.  These are, as ever, just my professional opinion.  And I may have gone a little crazy with the Caldecott predictions this time around . . .

Be sure to check out the 100 Scope Notes post on books that Goodreads readers think have a real shot too.

2017 Caldecott Predictions

Thunder Boy Jr. by Sherman Alexie, ill. Yuyi Morales

ThunderBoy

I read this one a long time ago and liked it just fine.  Personally, it wasn’t hitting me in the same way as Yuyi’s previous two books had, but I certainly enjoyed the spirit and energy and sheer love coming off the pages.  Then I talked about it with a bunch of other librarians and when we sat down and looked at those images, one after another, and discussed how one leads to another and how well Yuyi is able to convey familial affection with just the simplest of movements . . . well, I’m sold.  In fact, I may have just been convinced that this is her best book yet.

Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis

DuIzTak

Unlike many of my honored colleagues, I’m pretty darn neutral on Ellis. As a person she’s sweet as peaches on the vine but her art has never left me feeling warm and snuggly.  Now those of you who know me know that I’ve a weakness for weirdness.  Dark horse medal contenders are my favorites.  All the more reason that I should incline towards this strange, silly, downright odd little tale of bugs speaking their own (very comprehensible) language and the flower that inspires them.  I’ve read this book many times to my own kids and I can honestly say that it’s a perfect combination of luscious, lovely, occasionally terrifying art and kid-friendly storylines.

This House Once by Deborah Freedman

ThisHouseOnce

Dude, I was into Freedman when Scribble came out.  When I saw that book I remember thinking to myself, “This lady’s got something to her.  By gum, she’s going places!”  And yes.  I do actually use phrases like “by gum” in my head.  I’ve also been known to substitute it for “golly”, “gee willikers”, and “well slap my face and call me Bertha.”  But I digress.  I’m still parsing my thoughts on this book, which is both like every Freedman book you’ve ever seen and is vastly different from them all.  Worth thinking about.

Miracle Man by John Hendrix

MiracleMan

I mean, I put it to you. Can a Jesus book win a Caldecott in the 21st century?  Considering that the 1938 Medal Winner, which is to say the very first Caldecott ever given out, went to Animals of the Bible, A Picture Book, I’d say there was a precedent.  This is another wild card, and I don’t envy the Caldecott committee this discussion.  It’s hard to not to be in awe of Hendrix’s typography alone.

Before Morning by Joyce Sidman, ill. Beth Krommes

BeforeMorning

Do you do that thing I do where if a person has won a Newbery or Caldecott Medal (not Honor) before then you sort of give them second billing when thinking about future award winners?  I do that all the time, but when you see a book as gorgeous as this one you put all that aside.  In this hot June month, something as lovely, cool, and refreshing as this snowbound wonder book is of infinite relief.  Krommes outdoes herself here, and the emotional beats of the book thump strong.  Is that a phrase?  I’m keeping it in.

The Uncorker of Ocean Bottles by Michelle Cuevas, ill. Erin E. Stead

Uncorker

Mmm. Deceptively simple, this one.  Like Krommes, Stead already has a nice and shiny Caldecott Medal under her belt.  I had the pleasure of hearing Cuevas and Stead discussing this book during Day of Dialog at Book Expo this year.  Here’s a fun game: Read the text without looking at the pictures.  You might get an entirely different view of the proceedings.  Stead’s mark is so strong and her images so beautiful that it may contribute heavily to the book’s potential win.  We shall see.

Ideas Are All Around by Philip Stead

IdeasAllAround

Mind you, he has another book out this year (Samson in the Snow) and it wouldn’t surprise me even a hundredth of a jot if he won the Caldecott for that instead.  This is Mr. Stead’s hoity-er toity-er offering.  Beautiful, no question.  But a touch on the esoteric side.

Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe

Radiant Child

I have been waiting for this book for approximately five years.  Little, Brown & Co. is sick to death of me asking, “This year?  How ’bout this year?  Is it coming out this year?”  To see the art in person floors you.  Steptoe painted entirely on found wood and the storytelling of Basquiat himself is sublime.  This is one of my top picks, no question at all.  You are in for such a treat when you read it!!!

The Storyteller by Evan Turk

Storyteller1

GAH!!  So good!  So very very very very good.  I’m not going to railroad you with reasons.  Just read my review if you’re curious.

Jazz Day: The Making of a Famous Photograph by Roxane Orgill, ill. Francis Vallejo

jazzday1

Winner of the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award for Picture Books, as awarded by a clearly BRILLIANT committee *cough cough*.  Vallejo is a first timer here, but you’d never know it from the art.  As I’ve mentioned before, the book doesn’t slot into any categories very easily.  Hopefully the committee will recognize the art for what it is – extraordinary and distinguished.

 They All Saw a Cat by Brendan Wenzel

TheyAllSawCat

And, the winner.  Done.  Nothing more to see here, folks.

I’m sorry . . . you’ve not seen this one?  Oh.  Well, it’s quite simple.  Wenzel has created the Caldecott winner for 2017.  Don’t know what’s confusing about that.  You’ll understand when you see it for yourself.  I don’t want to call it self-explanatory.  Let’s just say, it’s a bit of a given.

Freedom in Congo Square by Carol Boston Weatherford, ill. R. Gregory Christie

 FreedomCongo

Like Yuyi’s book, it took me a little while to come around to this one.  Christie’s art changes subtly from book to book.  Here, he appears to be channeling the ghost of Jacob Lawrence.  That’s a good thing.  An amazing solution to rendering slavery and its horrors accurately but still in a way that’s friendly to kids on the younger end of the education scale.  After you read this one, you just gotta dance.

2017 Newbery Predictions

My Newbery reads continue to lag vs. my Caldecott reads (picture books are just easier to read quickly!).  Fortunately, I’ve been lucky in what’s crossed my plate.  If the jury would be so good as to consider . . .

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown

WildRobot1

A long shot, no question.  Its potential relies entirely on the kinds of readers you’ll find on the Newbery committee this year.  This book requires one to stretch their incredulity from time to time.  If you can do so, the rewards are vast.  Such a good bedtime book.  It would be a joy to see this make the list.

Freedom Over Me: Eleven Slaves, Their Lives and Dreams Brought to Life by Ashley Bryan

FreedomOverMe

I call this one Simon & Schuster’s Secret Weapon.  But don’t take my word for it.  Read this brief plot description for yourself: “Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, Ashley Bryan offers a moving and powerful picture book that contrasts the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away.”  Only it’s even better than that.  Bryan is doing something completely new here and the writing is perfect.  Don’t count this one out.  I think it has some real legs.

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo

RaymieNightingale

It’s good.  Deeply sad (a theme in 2016) but an honest-to-goodness page turner.  I reviewed it here but I’m still parsing it in my mind.  There is a LOT to chew on in these scant little pages.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes by Julie Fogliano

WhenGreen1

Poor poetry.  I’ll be your friend.  This is a book where the poems start off sounding pretty rote (this is hardly the first poetry-for-every-season-of-the-year book in the world) but then you get sucked into Fogliano’s writing.  I like the art just fine, but the text is the true star of the show.  You may read my review here if you’re curious.

Full of Beans by Jennifer L. Holm

FullofBeans

Here’s a fun quiz question for you: Has a prequel to a Newbery Honor ever won a Newbery itself?  If this book continues Holm’s winning streak we may get our answer.  Mind you, Holm has never won herself a Newbery Award proper.  This wouldn’t be a bad book to do so.  Just saying.

Pax by Sara Pennypacker

Pax

We had our Pax push and even a Pax backlash, so at this point I think we’re ahead of the game.  Clearly this book has legs and a LOT of people discussing it.  I think it continues to be one of the strongest contenders.  A book that could only be tossed out on a technicality.

Samurai Rising: The Epic Life of Minamoto Yoshitsune by Pamela Turner, ill. Gareth Hinds

SamuraiRising

YES!  What’s that line from The Princess Bride?  “Fencing, fighting, torture, revenge, giants, monsters, chases, escapes, true love, miracles…”  Not so many giants and monsters in this and the true love . . . well, you could make a case for it.  Otherwise, I think we’re pretty close.  Bloody but upbeat, that’s for sure.  You can read my review of it here.

Wolf’s Hollow by Lauren Wolk

WolfHollow

Originally written as an adult novel, this book was turned into one for kids with very little touches and tweaks.  It’s not an easy read, but it’s a very strong one.  I could see it going head to head with all the other major contenders.  Better go out and read it when you get a chance.  My review is here.

And that’s all she copiously wrote!  What have I missed?  Spill it.  I know there’s a gap in there somewhere a mile wide.

Share

20 Comments on Newbery/Caldecott 2017: The Summer Prediction Edition, last added: 6/21/2016
Display Comments Add a Comment
27. SUMMER LEARNING PLANS

As I looked ahead and began to attempt to set goals for the upcoming school year I realized I needed a plan. What is your summer learning plan?

Add a Comment
28. 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

0 Comments on 30 Days of Books #25 as of 6/19/2016 1:50:00 PM
Add a Comment
29. Show Up and Do the Work

A lesson from Kate DiCamillo

Add a Comment
30. Just Started Rereading... Gilgamesh The King by Robert Silverberg





I do have a copy of this in paperback on my overflowing shelves, somewhere, but bought the ebook on an impulse after reading and reviewing Two Tales Of Brothers From Ancient Mesopotamia. Robert Silverberg is best known for his science fiction, but this is historical fiction lalong the lines of Mary Renault's The King Must Die, ie taking a character from mythology and asking how you can fit him into real history. And, I have read, Gilgamesh was a real person who had myths and legends wound into his life, a bit like Charlemagne, whom we know existed, rather than Arthur, whom we would like to think existed, but don't know. 

 I'm enjoying the reread so far. I'd forgotten a lot of it. This Gilgamesh starts to think of death, and how he definitely doesn't want it, when he is only six and attends his father's funeral.

 It's certainly based on the royal burial excavated by Leonard Wooolley, in which he had the theory that all those people who went with the king were there voluntarily. If you believed without question that the afterlife for most people was darkness and dust and you had the chance to go to heaven and party with the gods instead, in exchange for taking poison and lying down with the king in his grave, you might just do it, yes? Woolley gave some reasons for his theory; the layout was too neat, nobody seemed to have struggled and one handmaiden had her silver headdress in her pocket instead of on her head; maybe, he suggests, she was a bit late getting dressed for the funeral and forgot to put it on? It's a fascinating read, by the way, a book called Ur Of The Chaldees, which Penguin published many years ago; I was given it along with a number of other classics by a teacher who was clearing his shelves and knew I loved history. I used the book in my research for my book Time Travellers: Adventures In Archaeology(my one and only bestseller - still in print in the U.S., still bringing me royalties after 14 years).

At this point in my reading, Gilgamesh is not much past twelve and already a huge young man and sexually experienced. He discovered girls early and when his uncle takes him to the temple of Inanna to have his supposed first experience with a sacred prostitute, he has to pretend to be a virgin. 

I'm looking forward to rereading the rest. I always enjoy a book which has taken a myth or legend and shown me how it could work as history. 

0 Comments on Just Started Rereading... Gilgamesh The King by Robert Silverberg as of 6/17/2016 7:08:00 PM
Add a Comment
31. Happy First Day of Summer!



Today is the first day of summer which means that it is time for summer reading, ice cream, relaxing on the beach, and summer camp. How many books do you think you can read this summer? 

Don't forget to sign up for summer reading! There is a summer reading program available for Newborn-3 1/2 years old, 3 1/2 to K, as well as a program for children in grades 1-5. 

Here are some book suggestions to get you started reading.



Summer days and nights by Wong Herbert Yee.
Ages 3-6




A little girl enjoys the activities of a warm summer day and night.


Commotion in the ocean / Giles Andreae ; illustrated by David Wojtowycz.
Preschool-Grade 2

A collection of poems about the many creatures living beneath the sea, including the crab, dolphin, and angel fish.

Cam Jansen and the mystery of the Babe Ruth baseball / David A. Adler ; illustrated by Susanna Natti.


Cam uses her photographic memory to identify the person who stole a valuable autographed baseball.

Stuart Little By E.B. White
Grade 3+



The adventures of the debonair mouse, Stuart Little, as he sets out in the world to seek out his dearest friend, a little bird who stayed a few days in his family's garden.
Strider by Beverely Cleary
Grade 4+



In a series of diary entries, Leigh tells how he comes to terms with his parents' divorce, acquires joint custody of an abandoned dog, and joins the track team at school.

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 1: The Sword of Summer 

by Rick Riordan
Grade 5+

Living on the streets of Boston after the death of his mother, Magnus is told by a mysterious stranger that he is the son of a Norse god and must track down a lost ancient sword to stop a war being waged by mythical monsters, in the first book of a new series by the internationally best-selling author of Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the Kane Chronicles, and the Heroes of Olympus series. 


posted by Miss Meghan





















0 Comments on Happy First Day of Summer! as of 6/20/2016 10:50:00 AM
Add a Comment
32. Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan, 587 pp, RL 4


I missed Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan when it came out in February of 2015. Scholastic is one of the few publishers I don't get review copies from and, working in a library instead of a bookstore now, I an not as up on what's new in the world of kid's books as I once was. I even missed the March, 2015 review of Echo in the New York Times Book Reivew, which I usually scour. Echo crossed my radar in January of this year when it won a Newbery Honor, along with two other superb books, The War that Saved My Life and Roller Girl. While I hate the fact that I didn't read Echo right when it came out, I am so, so glad that I knew absolutely NOTHING about it (save that it won an award) before I began listening/reading it. Having worked with and been an avid reader of children's literature for more than 20 years, I've kind of read it all. There aren't too many plots or characters that surprise me or feel really new and original. Echo surprised me - it's as if A. S. Byatt, an author of novels for adults that are magnificently crafted and often centered around a work of art - wrote a kid's book. If you want to be surprised by a story and you trust me and the librarians who hand out the Newbery awards, stop reading my review after the next sentence and go out and get your hands on a copy of Echo. Actually, I very, very strongly suggest LISTENING to the audio of this book (as well as buying it - you WILL want to own it) because - tiny spoiler alert - music is an integral part of Echo, and you get to hear it in the audio.

Stop reading HERE if you want to be surprised
****************************************







I was definitely surprised when I started listening to Echo and there were music credits before the story began. I was especially surprised when harmonica music kicked in. Like several minor characters in the book, I, too, did not take the harmonica seriously - nor did I notice the drawing (wonderful artwork by Dinara Mirtalipova) of one on the cover and spine of Echo! Echo is a work of historical fiction wrapped in the cloak of a fairy tale that is ultimately a story about the power of music to, "pass along . . . strength and vision and knowledge," and even overcome fear, intolerance and hatred. The story visits three very different children at three different times, starting in 1933 and ending in 1942. The common thread that connects these three children is their passion for music, embodied, at that time, in the harmonicas that they own. Surrounding these stories is the tale of a boy that begins just before the start of the 20th century. From a Gypsy, who presses a mouth harp on him for free, he buys a book titled, The Thirteenth Harmonica of Otto Messenger. The book tells the story of three abandoned princesses with beautiful singing voices. Trapped in the woods under the spell of a witch, they need a messenger to take something out into the world for them, something that will break the spell. Becoming lost in the woods, Otto meets the three princesses from the book. Desperate to know the end of their story, they enchant the harmonica that the Gypsy gave him and he agrees to send it into the world where, if it can "save a soul from Death's dark door," the spell will break and the princesses can return home.

The stories of the three central children in Echo would have been a satisfying book on their own, but linking them with the fairy tale of the three sisters imbues Ryan's novel with a quality of hopefulness and beauty, much like the sound of a well played harmonica. Part one begins in 1933, in Tossingen, Germany, with young Friedrich, a gifted musician. Part two begins in Pennsylvania, 1935. The third and final part begins in 1942, just after Pearl Harbor, in California, a harmonica at the heart of each story. Friedrich has a port wine birthmark on his face and suffers from seizures. Hitler's persecution of physically disabled forces Friedrich and his family to make difficult choices and his story ends without closure, his life in danger. Part two, features orphan brothers, the eldest of whom is a gifted musician, with his only hope for survival hinging on his ability to make it into a renowned harmonica band. Mike and Frankie are adopted by a painfully grieving heiress who needs to produce an heir to keep her fortune, their story also ending in a moment of danger and uncertainty. Finally, Ryan turns to Ivy Maria Lopez, shining a light on xenophobia and racism. 

It is Fresno, 1942, and Ivy is the child of migrant farm workers. Her brother, Fernando, has just enlisted and her father has just accepted a job running a farm in Orange County. When they arrive at the farm, the Lopez's discover that it belongs to a Japanese-American family that has been sent to an interment camp. Their oldest child, a son in the Marines, is coming home on leave to sign the running of the property over to Mr. Lopez, if he approves of him. Ivy, and her parents, struggle to understand how the Yamamoto family, with a father who fought in WWI and a son fighting in WWII could be treated this way, while at the same time Ivy experiences racism and segregation when she learns that she is not allowed to attend her neighborhood school, but must go to one that will "Americanize" children like her. Living in California and working with the children of immigrants, many of whom are also the children of migrant workers, this part of the story resonated most with me.

The last two parts of the novel tie together all three stories in a marvelous, deeply satisfying way that had me weeping. Ryan returns to the fairy tale, bookending Echo with the conclusion to the story of the three princesses as well as the story of Otto, now the messenger, and the enchanted harmonica that he must send out into the world and how it gets there. Echo is a big book, but as many reviewers have said, and as was my experience, you will soar through it, drawn along by the beauty if Ryan's writing, the craft of her story and the humanity of her characters.

Source: Purchased Book & Audio Book




0 Comments on Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan, 587 pp, RL 4 as of 6/20/2016 5:04:00 AM
Add a Comment
33. 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

0 Comments on 30 Days of Books: #24 as of 6/18/2016 5:48:00 PM
Add a Comment
34. 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

0 Comments on Socks as of 6/19/2016 10:30:00 AM
Add a Comment
35. Review: To Hate Adam Connor

To Hate Adam Connor To Hate Adam Connor by Ella Maise
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Another home run for Ella Maise! Knowing that Lucy was getting her story, I couldn't wait to dive in. Although, the ending of Jason Thorn, I really questioned how her relationship with Jameson would allow her to fall for Adam Connor. But it all worked out!

Lucy, poor Lucy, thinks she's cursed.

Adam, poor Adam, is just trying to keep it together for his 5 year old son.

Talk about a meet cute. Adam has Lucy thrown in jail for trespassing, after saving his son from drowning. So, of course, now Lucy hates Adam. Although, Adam is now intrigued with the lovely Lucy.

Another fun, hot read!

View all my reviews


0 Comments on Review: To Hate Adam Connor as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
36. Author Visit Schedules

It's up to you to make sure the schedule for the day of your author visit makes sense.

http://schoolvisitexperts.com/be-in-control-of-your-author-visit-schedule/

0 Comments on Author Visit Schedules as of 6/18/2016 4:19:00 PM
Add a Comment
37. Review: To Love Jason Thorn

To Love Jason Thorn To Love Jason Thorn by Ella Maise
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Oh, I really enjoyed this one! I was pleasantly surprised. I kinda found this by accident after a friend lent me the Adam Connor book via her kindle thingy. When I realized that there was a story connected, I figured I'd read that one first. Which was Jason Thorn.

Olive. Lucy's Green Olive. Such a wonderful, dreamy character.

Jason Thorn. How can you not love a some-what bad boy with a heart of gold?

So much fun to read!

View all my reviews


0 Comments on Review: To Love Jason Thorn as of 1/1/1900
Add a Comment
38. Book Review: Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown

Title: Velvet Undercover
Author: Teri Brown
Published: 2015
Source: Edelweiss

Summary: After her father disappears, Samantha Donaldson is conscripted to spywork in Germany during WWI.

First Impressions: This felt very WWII to me, perhaps because I've read so many more WWII spy stories in the last few years, so any detail that screamed WWI tripped me up a lot. Not particularly memorable honestly.

Later On: Yep. I still don't remember it very well. Everything sort of fades into a wartime mush in my head.

More: Both Bookshelves of Doom and Ms. Yingling liked it rather more.
Bookshelves of Doom for Kirkus
Ms. Yingling Reads

0 Comments on Book Review: Velvet Undercover by Teri Brown as of 6/18/2016 3:25:00 PM
Add a Comment
39. Third-Person Point of View

There's more than one type of third-person point of view you can use in your story.

http://www.helpingwritersbecomeauthors.com/third-person-pov/

0 Comments on Third-Person Point of View as of 6/19/2016 3:38:00 PM
Add a Comment
40. 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

0 Comments on Dragon, Dragon and Other Tales as of 6/18/2016 12:48:00 PM
Add a Comment
41. Picture Book Monday with a review of Mr. Hulot at the beach

When I was growing up on the island of Cyprus, summer was all about going to the beach. Here in Oregon we have lots of beaches, but only nutters venture into the water because it is so cold. Sunbathing isn't really an option either much of the time because it is too chilly. Still, the beaches are beautiful and we all enjoy walking and tide pooling, and my husband spends hours looking for rocks.

Since summer is now officially here, I thought I would kick things off with a beach book. Enjoy!

Mr. Hulot at the BeachMr. Hulot at the beach
David Merveille
Picture Book
For ages 5 and up
NorthSouth, 2016, 978-0-7358-4254-0
It is a sunny day at the seaside and Mr. Hulot is going to spend some time on the beach. He has a deck chair, an umbrella, a tennis racket and everything else a gentleman might need for such an expedition. He buys a newspaper and then heads for the sands, where he fights with the deck chair for a while trying to get it to cooperate. Which it does. Sort of.
   As he reads his newspaper, an inflated beach ball lands on Mr. Hulot. Some people might get upset by a disturbance of this sort, but Mr. Hulot does not mind. He kicks the ball to the little boy it belongs to and, in the process, Mr. Hulot’s shoe comes flying off and lands in the water. He manages to rescue the shoe (using his shrimping net) and then puts it on top of his umbrella to dry.
   A passing seagull sees the shoe and decides that it is just what it needs. It swoops down and carries off the shoe, with Mr. Hulot in hot pursuit. Causing a great disruption at the hotel, Mr. Hulot climbs up onto the roof of the building to retrieve the shoe, only to find that the seagull has laid some eggs in it. There is nothing for it. Mr. Hulot returns to the ground shoe-less.
   One would think that this escaped would be more than enough of an adventure for one man to have during a sojourn at the seaside, but Mr. Hulot is not your average man and so more misadventures lie in wait for him after he returns to the beach.
   Inspired by the work of the French comic actor and filmmaker, Jacques Tati, David Merveille brings Tati’s wonderful Mr. Hulot character to life in this, his second, Mr. Hulot book. The story is wordless and takes readers on a wonderful series of mishaps that are sweetly funny.

0 Comments on Picture Book Monday with a review of Mr. Hulot at the beach as of 6/21/2016 1:07:00 PM
Add a Comment
42. Literacy Coaches: Three Ideas for Next Year’s Goals

Are you a literacy coach? Here are three ideas to try next year.

Add a Comment
43. 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

0 Comments on Gudgekin, The Thistle Girl as of 6/20/2016 11:34:00 AM
Add a Comment
44. 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

0 Comments on Sing Along Saturdays (For Dad) as of 6/18/2016 11:07:00 AM
Add a Comment
45. Loft Workshop in Minneapolis

If you are in or near Minneapolis, please come see my workshop on Interiority: Exploring a Character’s Inner Life. This topic is always on my mind. I find myself constantly commenting on interiority (thoughts, feelings, emotions) in client manuscripts. There isn’t a protagonist out there, in my humble opinion, that couldn’t stand to be developed more fully from the inside out.

This is an in-depth three-hour workshop where we’ll really dive into my favorite fiction craft topic. I hope to arm you with some inspiration and knowledge so that you can dive into your protagonist more confidently and deepen your own craft as a fiction writer.

The Loft is still taking registrations and you can find more information here. I’d love to see you on July 23rd.

Add a Comment
46. 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

0 Comments on Bleak House as of 6/18/2016 4:08:00 PM
Add a Comment
47. What if I just don't feel like it? Using acting skills in your writing.

I started writing  a completely different post to this but recent events have put me in a dark mental place and I suspect I'm not the only one.

First there was Orlando. There are no words for the pointless destruction wrought on the people in the night club there. I'm not going to share any more of that hate though, I'm going to share a bit of love:






And then...I won't go into politics here,  but most of you reading this will be well aware that the UK is having a referendum on whether or not to leave the EU.  I  attempted to engage in debate about this - true, informed, educated debate designed to help all involved, including myself, have a better picture of the potential impact of the referendum result.

I was polite, restrained, mildly funny and I got completely trolled on twitter for it. Nasty, aggressive, rude, sometimes moderately informed, always biased and vile team trolling. I withdrew. There was no debate to be had, I was hunted by a group of campaigners actively requesting assistance to "Take down this b*tch."

And now Jo Cox, Labour M.P. for Batley and Spen,  has been killed and I don't know if it has anything to do with the referendum but I can't help but feel the  nature of some quarters of the campaign verbally  reflect precisely the aggressive  and violent actions that brought this young woman's life to an end.

I am tearful. I am sad. I am in no mood to write - but....

I have a book to finish.

So how do you control your mood so you can effectively produce what's needed on the page?


1. Listen to music. 

Music can turn your mood around - you can pump up your heart rate or swell with emotion if you choose the right sound track. I never listen to music when I'm writing ( well, rarely, sometimes classical tracks) but I often do to get me in the mood before writing.  Guaranteed mood changers for me are:

  • Eminem's Lose Yourself is my power up track.





  • Pharrell Williams Happy  to cheer me up: 



  • Coldplay's Fix You to make me weepy:






2. Pretend:

 I used to be an actor, where pretend is your bread and butter. Here are a few simple tricks for you:

  •  If you're down and you need to not be,  force yourself to smile - this can genuinely work.
  •  If you need to write something upbeat and strong try the Wonderwoman stance. Stand up, raise both arms in a V above your head then bring your fists down to your hips, arms akimbo. Job done. You are powered up.
  • Need to write a sad scene but you're full of the joys of spring? This is hard, be prepared to dig deep - think about something really sad that happened to you. Touch all the emotion but don't let it swallow you - this is work, you are using your experience for your writing  so you need to control it.
  • Stand in front of a mirror and act out your character's part - be sincere and note how your feelings actually feel.

3. Write something else:

If you really aren't in the mood to write your  touching romance scene, don't. Work on something else. If you're angry, where can you use that emotion in your book? Write that scene instead.

4. Step away from your desk:

Sometimes, no matter what you do, you can't shake off the mood you're in and you can't put it to good use. Accept it. You're human. Walk the dog. Make a cup of tea. Eat some chocolate (dark chocolate is genuinely a mood enhancer). Put some dance music on and clean the house. And if you just need to be sad for a bit, that's OK too.


In the light of what's happened recently, I want to recommend a couple of books that make you think and might just make the world a better place.

Jeannie Waudby's One of Us  
Robin Talley's Lies We Tell Ourselves.
Lisa Williamson's The Art of Being Normal.

Please make your own recommendations in the comments section.

Play nice. Be kind. Let's be better.



Kathryn Evans is the author of More of Me: A gripping thriller with a sinister sci-fi edge, exploring family, identity and sacrifice. She has been nominated for  The Edinburgh Festival First Book award, you can vote for her book here














0 Comments on What if I just don't feel like it? Using acting skills in your writing. as of 6/20/2016 7:00:00 AM
Add a Comment
48. Forgetting Foster By Dianne Touchell. Allen and Unwin: Crows Nest, 2016




Foster Sumner is seven years old. He likes toy soldiers, tadpole hunting, going to school and the beach. Best of all, he likes listening to his dad's stories.

But then Foster's dad starts forgetting things. No one is too worried at first. Foster and Dad giggle about it. But the forgetting gets worse. And suddenly no one is laughing anymore.
 


This is Dianne Touchell's third novel. The first, Creepy And Maud, was on that year's CBCA shortlist. I admit to not having got around to reading that one, so this is my first experience with this author's writing. 

This story, about a family's having to deal with early onset Alzheimer's Disease in the father, is certainly not going to make its readers cheerful. Like the young hero, we know it's not going to go away, ever. Foster misses his funny, gentle, wise father and we miss him too, with all the flashbacks and memories of the delightful, ridiculous stories he used to tell. 

It's painful, watching the father deteriorate and the mother being frustrated and angry and constantly telling Foster to go play in his room when the adults have to discuss things. It's painful seeing how Foster tries to cope at school when word gets around. 

Clearly the author has done her research on what happens when Alzheimer's arrives, or perhaps her family has been through it; an afterword might have been interesting here. 

The story is poignant, yes, but... at whom is it aimed? The blurb says from thirteen up and it's slotted into "young adult" on the publisher's web site, but the hero is seven years old. Teenagers tend not to read books about characters that much younger than themselves. At the same time, the average seven year old is unlikely to get it. I understand that a lot of this couldn't happen if Foster had been thirteen or older; much of it depends on his not understanding quite what's going on, and the reader knowing.  But I think it might have worked better if he had been a little older, perhaps ten or eleven, and the language a little simpler, to make it more suitable for a younger age range. 

Available from June 22nd at all good bookshops and online. You can order it from Booktopia here


0 Comments on Forgetting Foster By Dianne Touchell. Allen and Unwin: Crows Nest, 2016 as of 6/18/2016 12:16:00 AM
Add a Comment
49. Crossing Niagara

Crossing Niagara: The Death-Defying Tightrope Adventures of the Great Blondin by Matt Tavares Candlewick, 2016 Grades K-5 In stunning watercolor, gouache and pencil illustrations, Tavares conveys the incredible story of the Great Blondin, a tightrope walker who set his sights on crossing Niagara Falls in 1859. Crowds packed the area to see The Great Blondin walk across the falls. Gamblers

0 Comments on Crossing Niagara as of 6/20/2016 9:58:00 AM
Add a Comment
50. Saturday book humor and Father's Day favorites

Here's a little fun for the day and two great dad books.

If you're on Twitter: In honor of Father's Day, Barnes and Noble @bnbuzz  is using the hashtag #DadBooks to solicit groan-worthy puns and corny dad jokes based on well-known books. Be sure to check it out or join in the pun. 

Here are a few (with links to their posts):
Oh, the Places You'll Mow
The Girl Who's Certainly not Getting a Dragon Tattoo
Gone Grill
 If you're on Pinterest, check out my board, "Comic strips featuring books."  I've been collecting comic strips that feature books and libraries for the last several years. If you have a good comic strip that I've missed, please feel free to send it to me and I'll pin it.

And lastly, since Father's Day is tomorrow, I'll share two of my favorite "dad" picture books.

  •  My Dad by Anthony Browne (Macmillan, 2010) is a funny, homage to the classic jack-of-all-trades kind of dad.  On each page, tribute is paid to the bathrobe-clad dad's many great qualities. The illustrations are wonderful - even as he is depicted as a fish or an owl, he retains his brown, plaid bathrobe.  You can see them here [http://us.macmillan.com/mydad/AnthonyBrowne].

  • Tell Me a Tattoo Story by Alison McGhee and illustrated by Eliza Wheeler (Chronicle, 2016) is lovingly written and illustrated.  A young tattooed dad weaves a tale for his son using his tattoos.  A sweet story that should appeal to many young families.

0 Comments on Saturday book humor and Father's Day favorites as of 6/18/2016 7:14:00 AM
Add a Comment

View Next 25 Posts