Monday, October 23, 2017

The Wolf, the Duck, & The Mouse

The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse. Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Early one morning, a mouse met a wolf, and he was quickly gobbled up.

Premise/plot: Is that how you were expecting the story to open? Are you at all surprised that almost *all* of the book is set IN the wolf's stomach? The main characters are a MOUSE and a DUCK. These two meet--in the wolf's stomach--and both come to share the same opinion: THIS IS THE GOOD LIFE. Life on the INSIDE is much better than life on the OUTSIDE. On the inside, there are no worries, no fears. Just a lot of relaxing and coaxing on their parts--to get the wolf to eat what they want him to eat. But. Their good life is threatened one day....can the mouse, duck, and wolf work together?!

My thoughts: This may be my favorite Mac Barnett picture book. Maybe. I definitely loved it more than Triangle. I enjoyed the characters. I enjoyed the plot. I enjoyed the ending--how he turns this into a this-is-why-the-wolf-howls-at-the-moon story. It was fun. It was bizarre.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, October 21, 2017

2018 Good Rule Reading Challenge

Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up)
Duration: January 2018 - December 2018
Inspiration: It is a good rule, after reading a new book, never to allow yourself another new one till you have read an old one in between. If that is too much for you, you should at least read one old one to every three new ones. C.S. Lewis
# of books: readers decide

Sign up by leaving a comment! I do have comment moderation on because the amount of spam comments is overwhelming.

1. Decide if you want to set a monthly, quarterly, or a yearly goal for this challenge. You might start out with a monthly goal to see what works best, and then modify it throughout the year.
2. Set your goal of books. You might want this challenge to cover all the books you read this year. OR. You might want this challenge to cover a specific area of your reading. Either is fine.
3. Decide if you want your balance to be 50% new to 50% old OR if you want your balance to be 75% new to 25% old.
4. Set your qualifications. How will you be defining "new"? How will you be defining "old"? Do you view "new" and "old" solely in terms of publishing dates? Or do you prefer to see it as "first time reads" and "rereads." Either interpretation works for me.
5. If you read broadly--audience, genre, etc. You might want to set guidelines on how you want this challenge to work for you.
6. If you blog, you might want to write a sign-up post with your goals and perhaps a structured post or two that you can continue to update throughout the challenge. Share links if you want.
7. If you are on Goodreads, you might want to create two bookshelves. One for keeping track of old books. One for keeping track of new books. Feel free to share the links if you do.
8. I am on twitter if you want to follow me. @blbooks You may leave your twitter in the comments if you'd like.
9. Combine with other reading challenges if you like.  
10. DO ask questions, especially before the challenge begins and in the first few months. 

Some examples:

Goal: I want to read 100 picture books. I intend to read 75 new picture books. I intend to read 25 old (or classic) picture books.
Goal: I want to read 12 biographies or autobiographies. I intend to read 9 new biographies and 3 old biographies.
Goal: I want to read 4 cookbooks. I intend to read 3 new cookbooks and 1 old cookbook.
Goal: I want to use the Good Rule only when reading my favorite genre--romance. There are so many I haven't read but want to read that I want to go for 50% new and 50% old.
Goal: I want this challenge to count EVERY book I read. I don't like to set goals. But I will commit to staying with this balance no matter how many--or how few--books I read this year.


© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Week in Review: October 15-21

Wishtree. Katherine Applegate. 2017. 224 pages. [Source: Library]
Among the Impostors. Margaret Peterson Haddix. 2001. 172 pages. [Source: Library]
Castle Richmond. Anthony Trollope. 1860. 500 pages. [Source: Bought]
Hug This Book. Barney Saltzberg. Illustrated by Fred Benaglia. 2016. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Tinyville Town: Gets to Work! Brian Biggs. 2016. Abrams. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Baby Goes to Market. Atinuke. Illustrated by Angela Brooksbank. 2017. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Picture-Book Check In 

Imagine That! How Dr. Seuss wrote The Cat in the Hat. Judy Sierra. Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. 2017. Random House. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Board Book: I'm Sunny. (My First Comics) Jennifer L. Holm. 2016. 22 pages. [Source: Library]
Board book: I'm Grumpy. (My First Comics) Jennifer L. Holm. 2016. 22 pages. [Source: Library]
Found Dogs. Erica Sirotich. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Follow the Track All The Way Back. Timothy Knapman. Illustrated by Ben Mantle. 2017. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
World Pizza. Cece Meng. Illustrated by Ellen Shi. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World. Eric Metals. 2017. Viking. 416 pages. [Source: Borrowed from friend]
Sword of the Wicked. Richard Sibbes. 1577-1635. [Source: Bought]
Sing in the Morning, Cry at Night. Barbara J. Taylor. 2014. 320 pages. [Source: Library]
Creation. Cynthia Rylant. 2016. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
Nativity. Cynthia Rylant. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
Psalm 119 #6
Psalm 119 #7
Psalm 119 #8

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Hug this Book

Hug This Book. Barney Saltzberg. Illustrated by Fred Benaglia. 2016. 32 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: You can read this book to a hippo. You can read this book in the bath. If you read this book being tickled, I dare you not to laugh! You can kiss and hug and smell this book. That might sound sort of silly. You can wrap this book in a sweater, if it ever gets too chilly.

Premise/plot: The children in this book have found a book that they LOVE, LOVE, LOVE.

My thoughts: Who hasn't wanted to hug a book? Be honest. Aren't there some books that you really do love in a crazy, over-the-top way? The question isn't have I ever really, truly loved a book. The question is do I feel that way about Barney Saltzberg's Hug This Book?! I can appreciate the over-the-top nature of the book. It's very silly. But the thing is that I really do find myself loving the rhythm and rhyme of it. I think the text just works really well when read aloud. That being said, do I love the art? Not really. In fact, I really don't.

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, October 20, 2017

On Reading Challenges

Saw Christine's post on reading challenges, and thought I'd take a look at my own reading challenge.

 She writes, " I love the idea of so many of the challenges, but I struggle with the follow-through. And I'm starting to wonder if participating is actually helping improve my reading life -- which was the whole point to begin with!

So I've decided that needs to be my litmus test of whether or not to re-join a challenge for 2018: has this particular challenge helped my reading life in the past? No matter how worthwhile the goal is, or how interesting the set-up, a reading challenge that hinders my reading life is not serving a worthwhile purpose for me."

Goodreads Challenge: YES. This isn't a no-maintenance reading challenge. You do have to add the books to Goodreads and be sure to add the date you finished it. But essentially, Goodreads does ALL the work. They even tell you how many books you're ahead or behind for the year. Since it's almost a sure bet that I'm on Goodreads at least a couple times a day, this one is an obvious yes.

Alphabet Soup Reading Challenge. MAYBE. I've incorporated the alphabet into my picture book challenge and my middle grade challenge. I don't know if I'll be striving to read the alphabet in christian books in 2018. I've also done this one several years in a row, and you run out of books starting with difficult letters after a while. It may be time to take a break from this one. Maybe.

For this year, I lack the letters J, X, and Z in (Juvenile, MG, YA, Adult) and E, Q, V, and Z in (Christian Fiction and Christian NONfiction).

Back to the Classics. YES. This is one of my favorite, favorite, favorite challenges.

Birth Year Reading Challenge. No. I had good intentions. But this is a lot more challenging than it first appeared.

Blogger Shame Reading Challenge. NO. Again with the good intentions. But it turns out that shame is a HORRIBLE motivator. Or else I'm not really ashamed of anything I read or don't read at any given time!!! Let's go with that for the win.

Charity Reading Challenge. Yes. I love this one. I do. Yes, I'm the host. Yes, I could do a lot better at this one in terms of keeping up with what I've reviewed. But I love it. 

European Reading Challenge. Maybe. This one is super-challenging, and I think luck has just as much to do with whether I get five books read or not. I definitely like seeing what I accidentally read that counts toward the challenge. But I'm horrible at planning ahead for this challenge.

Historical Fiction Reading Challenge. Maybe. Probably. Historical is one of my favorite genres. I can read scores of historical novels in one year. The chances that I'll keep track of them on my post about the challenge? 50/50. The chances that I'll share my links at the host's site? NIL.

Old School Kidlit Reading Challenge. Maybe. Probably not. I love the idea of reading vintage kid books. I adore that aspect of it. I'm HORRIBLE at challenges with monthly themes. It will come down to a couple of things. Is it being offered again in 2018? Will the graphic be just as adorable? Are there monthly themes?

Paris in July. Probably Yes. If it's offered, then I'll probably join again. I rarely read a lot for this challenge. But it can include non-bookish things. 

Picture Book Checklist. Yes. I love picture books. My goal is to read 100+ picture books a year.

RIP. Maybe. If I do it's more for nostalgia than actual interest. This was one of the first reading challenges I joined. And in the first few years, there was a definite sense of community.

Russian Literature. Maybe. I'm not sure it will even be offered again. It was in celebration of an anniversary--1917. But I am thankful I joined this year. I discovered a new favorite author!

Sci-Fi Experience. Yes. Some years I do better than others. But it isn't a challenge, it's an experience.

Share-a-Tea Reading Challenge. YES. I host this one. I love it. I celebrate it each and every day.

Victorian Reading Challenge. Yes. I love, love, love my Victorians ;)

War Bingo. No. I hosted it this year. Didn't even participate in my own challenge. Won't be hosting it again.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tinyville Town: Gets to Work

Tinyville Town: Gets to Work! Brian Biggs. 2016. Abrams. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Good morning! Welcome to Tinyville Town.

Premise/plot: In the town of Tinyville, everyone has a job to do. But one day, no one can do their job. The mayor asks why. The answer: TRAFFIC JAM. The solution: a new bridge! This picture book shows everyone in town working and coming together.

My thoughts: I liked this one. I like the board book series perhaps even better. But. I liked it. I love the illustrations. I like seeing all the details. If your little one loves construction stories, this one is worth reading.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10


© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, October 19, 2017

Castle Richmond

Castle Richmond. Anthony Trollope. 1860. 500 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: I wonder whether the novel-reading world — that part of it, at least, which may honour my pages — will be offended if I lay the plot of this story in Ireland! That there is a strong feeling against things Irish it is impossible to deny. Irish servants need not apply; Irish acquaintances are treated with limited confidence; Irish cousins are regarded as being decidedly dangerous; and Irish stories are not popular with the booksellers.


Premise/plot: Castle Richmond is set in Ireland at the start of the Irish Potato Famine (1845-1849). Is it solely about the potato famine? No. Not really. Would it be better if it were? Maybe. Maybe not. You see what the plot turns around mainly are two men in love with the same young woman: Herbert Fitzgerald and Owen Fitzgerald are cousins in love with the same woman, Lady Clara Desmond. If that were all, it wouldn't be all that surprising and unusual. But that's not all.

Lady Clara's mother--also named Clara, a countess and a widow--is madly in love with Owen Fitzgerald. It is for herself that she invites this man into her home, into their lives. She doesn't suspect that Owen will be more likely to fall in love with the young daughter instead of herself. Patrick, Clara's brother, is best, best friends with Owen. So Owen is at their place a lot of time. Until...one day he declares his love for Lady Clara. Lady Clara says YES, I'll marry you. Her mother and brother say NO, NEVER. GET OUT AND STAY OUT. Why the rejection? Owen Fitzgerald is a poor man. He has no estate, no wealth, no title. And Lady Clara deserves an estate, wealth, and title.

Herbert Fitzgerald will have an estate, wealth, and title--when his father, Sir Thomas, dies. When the story opens, that is looking like it will happen soon. Sir Thomas is STRESSED. It seems that his wife's first husband is very much alive and that Herbert--and his other children--are illegitimate. Herbert will not inherit after all. And the next in line....is, of course, Owen.

You would think, Owen will win the approval of the family now! Owen and Lady Clara will live happily ever after. All will be well. But I forgot to mention one little thing. While the potato crop is failing, and Owen is sad and depressed--Herbert Fitzgerald starts wooing Lady Clara. Though she swore to be true to her love forever and ever, her mother has said that the marriage is impossible. And Lady Clara finds herself more and more okay with that. When Herbert proposes, she says YES. This happens days--maybe a couple of weeks--before the big reveal. And it isn't long after the big reveal that Sir Thomas dies.

Lady Clara has said I love you to two different men. She's accepted two proposals. Now that the poor man will be the rich man, and the rich man will be the poor man....who will she stand by? who do we want her to stand by?

Owen doesn't want the estate. Owen wants Lady Clara. Herbert does want the estate. He wants Lady Clara too. So when Owen offers to sign the estate back over to Herbert in exchange for Herbert breaking the engagement, Herbert says NO. Owen pouts. But that doesn't really change anything. Owen still doesn't want the estate. Owen still loves and wants Lady Clara.

Meanwhile, Clara (the mother, the countess) is breaking her heart over Owen. If she can't have him for herself, maybe Lady Clara can still have him. At least he'd be part of her life. Maybe that would be enough. Patrick returns (oh so briefly) but Lady Clara says she won't break her engagement with Herbert (no matter how poor) to marry Owen (no matter how rich). Patrick and Lady Clara are a bit confused. Could Lady Clara really have fallen out of love so quickly with Owen and into love so quickly with Herbert?!

Herbert runs away to London, and begins to study law. But this study is cut very short because of two letters the family lawyer receives. One is from Owen saying he has no plans whatsoever to accept the estate. The other is from the book's villain. The son of Lady Fitzgerald's first husband. He has news that will change everything....or so he claims.

Throughout the book, readers get a few sketches here and there of how the failure of the potato crop has disastrous effects on the poor. It is very here and there coverage. And it's mainly on how the gentry and clergy come together to offer "relief" to the poor. One minor plot revolves around whether Catholics and Protestants can come together to help the poor. 

My thoughts: This book reminded me of Spin Doctors' Two Princes. "I ain't got no future or a family tree. But I know what a prince and lover ought to be. I know what a prince and lover ought to be." I had a hard time connecting with Lady Clara. I feel there was a definite lack of development. I know that both men loved and adored her. But we're not shown why exactly. Other than the obvious: she's young; she's presumably beautiful.

It wasn't clear--at least to me--which direction Trollope would take with Owen and Herbert. Would this be a story of young lovers overcoming the objections of their families to be together and live happily ever after? Would Lady Clara prove loyal to her first love and not be persuaded by her family, or by the lure of money?

Trollope never clearly shows us the moment when Herbert and Lady Clara fall in actual love with one another. It's more a matter of  Lady Clara accepting an invitation to visit his estate and get all chummy with his mother, his aunt, his two sisters. The visit lasts a few days, and after that visit he proposes and she says yes. They'd never really had a relationship before that visit.

 Personally, I could see why Owen would be like WHAT'S GOING ON?!?! IS SHE SERIOUS?!

Lady Clara doesn't appear to be a gold digger; she does appear--to me--to be FICKLE. Perhaps readers are supposed to be oh-so-impressed by the fact that when Herbert loses his inheritance, she sticks like glue to her man and refuses to end the relationship. I wasn't. I wasn't sure why she was in relationship with him--so quickly--to begin with.

Both Owen and Herbert are good men. Neither is a villain necessarily. Lady Clara wouldn't be throwing away her life by marrying Owen. She wouldn't be throwing away her life by marrying Herbert. She has in many ways equal chances of happiness with either man. My question: DOES SHE LOVE EITHER MAN? I'm not sure Lady Clara is old enough, wise enough to know her own mind and her own heart. I think she was "caught up" in a moment--twice. I'm not sure she knew either man well enough to say yes.

Lady Clara's mother--pathetic as she may come across--is more developed. One of the sad, awkward moments of the novel comes when Clara pours out her heart and soul to Owen confessing that he is the love of her life. There will be no happy ending for Clara....or for Owen.

Quotes:
Young men among us seldom go quite straight in their course, unless they are, at any rate occasionally, brought under the influence of tea and small talk.
When wars come, and pestilence, and famine; when the people of a land are worse than decimated, and the living hardly able to bury the dead, I cannot coincide with those who would deprecate God’s wrath by prayers. I do not believe that our God stalks darkly along the clouds, laying thousands low with the arrows of death, and those thousands the most ignorant, because men who are not ignorant have displeased Him. Nor, if in his wisdom He did do so, can I think that men’s prayers would hinder that which his wisdom had seen to be good and right. But though I do not believe in exhibitions of God’s anger, I do believe in exhibitions of his mercy. When men by their folly and by the shortness of their vision have brought upon themselves penalties which seem to be overwhelming, to which no end can be seen, which would be overwhelming were no aid coming to us but our own, then God raises his hand, not in anger, but in mercy, and by his wisdom does for us that for which our own wisdom has been insufficient. If He be wise, would we change his wisdom? If He be merciful, would we limit his mercy?

We none of us wish to be drowned; but nevertheless there are some good qualities in water.
Men and women when they are written about are always supposed to have fixed resolves, though in life they are so seldom found to be thus armed.
It was marvellous how well Herbert Fitzgerald could lay down the law on the subject of Clara’s conduct, and on all that was due to her, and all that was not due to Owen. He was the victor; he had gained the prize; and therefore it was so easy for him to acquit his promised bride, and heap reproaches on the head of his rejected rival. Owen had been told that he was not wanted, and of course should have been satisfied with his answer. Why should he intrude himself among happy people with his absurd aspirations? For were they not absurd? Was it not monstrous on his part to suppose that he could marry Clara Desmond?
Everybody should use their own judgment in everything they do or say, more or less.
If we are to sympathise only with the good, or worse still, only with the graceful, how little will there be in our character that is better than terrestrial?
It is the first plunge into the cold water that gives the shock. We may almost say that every human misery will cease to be miserable if it be duly faced; and something is done towards conquering our miseries, when we face them in any degree, even if not with due courage. 
We generally use three times the number of words which are necessary for the purpose which we have in hand; but had he used six times the number, she would not have interrupted him.
What is in a man, let it come out and be known to those around him; if it be bad it will find correction; if it be good it will spread and be beneficent.
A lawyer has always a sort of affection for a scoundrel, — such affection as a hunting man has for a fox. He loves to watch the skill and dodges of the animal, to study the wiles by which he lives, and to circumvent them by wiles of his own, still more wily. It is his glory to run the beast down; but then he would not for worlds run him down, except in conformity with certain laws, fixed by old custom for the guidance of men in such sports. And the two-legged vermin is adapted for pursuit as is the fox with four legs. He is an unclean animal, leaving a scent upon his trail, which the nose of your acute law hound can pick up over almost any ground. And the more wily the beast is, the longer he can run, the more trouble he can give in the pursuit, the longer he can stand up before a pack of legal hounds, the better does the forensic sportsman love and value him. There are foxes of so excellent a nature, so keen in their dodges, so perfect in their cunning, so skilful in evasion, that a sportsman cannot find it in his heart to push them to their destruction unless the field be very large so that many eyes are looking on. And the feeling is I think the same with lawyers.
It is my opinion that nothing seasons the mind for endurance like hard work.



© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Baby Goes to Market

Baby Goes to Market. Atinuke. Illustrated by Angela Brooksbank. 2017. Candlewick. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Baby goes to market with Mama. Market is very crowded. Baby is very curious. Baby is so curious that Mrs. Ade, the banana seller, gives Baby six bananas. Baby is so surprised. Baby eats one banana...and puts five bananas in the basket. Mama does not notice. She is busy buying rice.

Premise/plot: Come along with Mama and Baby for a BUSY, BUSY day at the market. This one is set in Nigeria.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. The Baby is ADORABLE. It was fun to follow his story to see what gift he'd receive next. He would always eat *some* and then put the rest into his mama's basket. I enjoyed the text. I did. But I really loved, loved, loved the illustrations.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Among the Impostors

Among the Impostors. Margaret Peterson Haddix. 2001. 172 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Sometimes he whispered his real name in the dark, in the middle of the night. "Luke. My name is Luke."

Premise/plot: Among the Impostors is the second book in the Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix. The first novel, Among the Hidden, ended with Luke Garner's life in danger. The second book opens with Lee Grant preparing to enter a school for troubled boys, Hendricks School for Boys. He's been slipped a note by his rescuer, but, he's disappointed when he finally gets a chance to read it. How is a shadow child supposed to blend in seamlessly with other boys his own age? How is he supposed to look like he belongs in a school, in a classroom, in a cafeteria?! He's only ever known his own house, and mainly the attic at that. Still, Lee does his best. It turns out that he's not the only boy struggling to blend in. Could all the boys have something in common? Could they all be shadow children? Is it safe to admit to another shadow child your own real name? Lee wants more than anything to find a true friend, but, he's been taught not to trust.

My thoughts: I am not sure that I loved, loved, loved this one. It could be I'm always in a rush to get through the whole series and experience all the books. So this book is just a stepping stone in a way. Definitely worth reading to get you from one point to another. But is it special on its own? Maybe, maybe not. I did notice some similarities to MANDY. I definitely recommend the whole series. This one introduces two new characters: Nina and Jason. Nina is from a girls school nearby. Jason is one of his roommates.
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, October 16, 2017

Wishtree

Wishtree. Katherine Applegate. 2017. 224 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It's hard to talk to trees. We're not big on chitchat. That's not to say we can't do amazing things, things you'll probably never do.

Premise/plot: The narrator of Katherine Applegate's newest novel is a tree named Red. Red is a wishing tree--a raggy tree. Every year people write their wishes and tie them to the branches by May 1. Red has seen a lot of years come and go--he's over two hundred years old--but this wishing season is different. The new girl in the neighborhood, Samar, has wished for a friend. Perhaps because some bully carved the word LEAVE on Red's bark, perhaps because Samar comes to visit him each night, perhaps because Red has a feeling that his days are numbered, Red decides to get involved with the human drama unfolding before her eyes. Find a friend for Samar--that is Red's number one priority. 

My thoughts: I really enjoyed this one. I enjoyed Red more than I ever thought I could--or would. I enjoyed all the animals that made Red their home. It was a lovely read.
"We grow as we must grow, as our seeds decided long ago." (39)
"For two hundred and sixteen rings, I've sat on my roots and listened to people hope for things. And a lot of times, those wishes never happened, I'm guessing."
Bongo tucked a feather into place. "Sometimes that's for the best. Remember that kindergartner who wanted a bulldozer?"
"I'm passive. I just sit here watching the world."
"You're a tree, Red. That's kind of the job description."
"This is a good wish. And it's a wish I can make happen." I paused. "Well, we can make happen." (88)

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Sunday, October 15, 2017

Picture Book Check-In

Option 1:
  • What picture books did you read this month?
  • Which squares did you fill?
  • Which squares are you having trouble with?
  • How many until you bingo?
  • Do you have suggestions for other participants?

Option 2:
  • What picture books did you read this month?
  • Which categories did you check off your list?
  • What is your goal? How close are you to meeting that goal?
  • Which categories are you having trouble with?
  • Do you have suggestions for other participants?

Option 3:
  • What picture books did you read this month?
  • Which letters have you read?
  • How many more to go until you've read the alphabet?
  • Which letters are you having trouble with? 
  • Do you have suggestions for other participants?
Books reviewed since last time:

  1. Preaching to the Chickens. Jabari Asim. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis. 2016. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  2. The Sneetches and Other Stories. Dr. Seuss. 1961. Random House. 65 pages. [Source: Library]
  3. Not Quite Narwhal. Jessie Sima. 2017. 36 pages. [Source: Library]
  4. His Royal Highness, King Baby: A Terrible True Story. Sally Lloyd-Jones. Illustrated by David Roberts. 2017. Candlewick Press. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  5. Mitzi Tulane, Preschool Detective in What's That Smell? Lauren McLaughlin. Illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi. 2016. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  6. Mitzi Tulane, Preschool Detective in the Secret Ingredient. Lauren McLaughlin. Illustrated by Debbie Ohi. 2017. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  7. Peppa Pig and the Library Visit. Candlewick. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  8. Chugga Chugga Choo Choo. Emma Garcia. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  9. Groovy Joe: Dance Party Countdown. Eric Litwin. Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. 2017. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  10. This Beautiful Day. Richard Jackson. Illustrated by Suzy Lee. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
  11. The Worst Goes South. James Stevenson. 1995. 26 pages. [Source: Library]  
  12. Mouse and Hippo. Mike Twohy. 2017. Simon Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Library]  
  13. A Perfect Day. Lane Smith. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]  
  14. Hooray for Books. Brian Won. 2017. HMH. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  15. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. Mem Fox. Illustrated by Julie Vivas. 1984/1985. Kane/Miller. 32 pages. [Source: Library]  
  16. Choo Choo. Virginia Lee Burton. 1937/2017. HMH. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  17. Bunny's Book Club. Annie Silvestro. Illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]  
  18. This is a Good Story. Adam Lehrhaupt. 2017. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  19. Wolf in the Snow. Matthew Cordell. 2017. 48 pages. [Source: Library] 
  20. This & That. Mem Fox. Illustrated by Judy Horacek. 2017. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  21. A Band of Babies. Carole Gerber. Illustrated by Jane Dyer. 2017. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  22. Board book: I'm silly. Jennifer L. Holm. Illustrated by Matthew Holm. 2017. Random House. 22 pages. [Source: Library]
  23. Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. Mem Fox. Illustrated by Julie Vivas. 1984/1985. Kane/Miller. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  24. Egg. Kevin Henkes. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library] 
  25. Blue Ethel. Jennifer Black Reinhardt. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]  
  26.  Noisy Night. Mac Barnett. Illustrated by Brian Biggs. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library] 
  27. Tea with Oliver. Mika Song. 2017. HarperCollins. 40 pages. [Source: Library]  
  28. You Must Bring A Hat. Simon Philip. Illustrated by Kate Hindley. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library] 
  29. La La La: A Story of Hope. Kate DiCamillo. Illustrated by Jaime Kim. 2017. Candlewick. 72 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  30. Board book: Buildablock. Christopher Franceschelli. Illustrated by Peskimo. 2017. Harry N. Abrams. 90 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  31. Board book: All Aboard!: Let's Ride a Train. 2017. Harry N. Abrams. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  32. Board book: Where's the Hen? Nosy Crow. Illustrated by Ingela P. Arrhenius. 2017. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy]  
  33. Board book: Where's the Owl? Nosy Crow. Ingela P Arrhenius. 2017. Candlewick. 10 pages. [Source: Review copy] 
  34. Board book: Better Together: A Book of Family. Barbara Joose and Anneke Lisberg. Illustrated by Jared Schorr. 2017. Harry N. Abrams. 22 pages. [Source: Review copy]   
  35. Three Little Kittens. Illustrated by Lilian Obligado. 1974. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Bought]
  36. You Can Read. Helaine Becker. Illustrated by Mark Hoffmann. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  37. Imagine. John Lennon. Illustrated by Jean Jullien. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  38. Board book: This Little Trailblazer: A Girl Power Primer. Joan Holub. Illustrated by Daniel Roode. 2017. Simon & Schuster. 26 pages. [Source: Review copy]
  39. The Catawampus Cat. Jason Carter Eaton. Illustrated by Gus Gordon. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  40. I Want My Hat Back. Jon Klassen. 2011. Candlewick Press. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  41. Nighty-Night, Cooper. Laura Numeroff. 2013. HMH. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
  42.  Cats. Larry Dane Brimner. Illustrated by Tom Payne. 2001. 24 pages. [Source: Library]
  43. Board book: Baby Loves Thermodynamics. Ruth Spiro. Illustrated by Irene Chan. 2017. Charlesbridge. 22 pages. [Source: Review copy]
 


© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, October 14, 2017

2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge

Girl reading a book by Federico Zandomeneghi
Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up)
Duration: January - December 2018
# of books: minimum of 6

Option 1: Read six middle grade books of your choice.
Option 2: Choose one author to focus on. Perhaps read through an entire author's work.
Option 3: Read as few as six, or as many as you like, from the checklist below

Feel free to copy/paste this. You can replace the _ with an X or a ✔ (copy/paste it) when you finish reading a book. If you list the books you read, that may help other people decide what to read.

_1. Title beginning with A
_2. Author beginning with A
_3. Title beginning with B
_4. Author beginning with B
_5. Title beginning with C
_6. Author beginning with C
_7. Title beginning with D
_8. Author beginning with D
_9. Title beginning with E
_10. Author beginning with E
_11. Title beginning with F
_12. Author beginning with F
_13. Title beginning with G
_14. Author beginning with G
_15. Title beginning with H
_16. Author beginning with H
_17. Title beginning with I
_18. Author beginning with I
_19. Title beginning with J
_20. Author beginning with J
_21. Title beginning with K
_22. Author beginning with K
_23. Title beginning with L
_24. Author beginning with L
_25. Title beginning with M
_26. Author beginning with M
_27. Title beginning with N
_28. Author beginning with N
_29. Title beginning with O
_30. Author beginning with O
_31. Title beginning with P
_32. Author beginning with P
_33. Title or Author beginning with Q
_34. Title beginning with R
_35. Author beginning with R
_36. Title beginning with S
_37. Author beginning with S
_38. Title beginning with T
_39. Author beginning with T
_40. Title or Author beginning with U
_41. Title or Author beginning with V or W
_42. Title or Author beginning with X or “Ex”
_43. Title beginning with Y
_44. Author beginning with Y
_45. Title or Author beginning with Z
_46. 2018 Newbery Winner or Honor
_47. Newbery Winner or Honor from 2010-2017
_48. Newbery Winner or Honor from 2000-2009
_49. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1990-1999
_50. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1980-1989
_51. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1970-1979
_52. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1960-1969
_53. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1950-1959
_54. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1940-1949
_55. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1932-1939
_56. Newbery Winner or Honor from 1922-1931
_57. Notable Children's Book from 2018 or 2017
_ 58. Any book by a Wilder Award author
_ 59. verse novel
_ 60. graphic novel
_ 61. biography or memoir
_ 62. nonfiction
_ 63. poetry
_ 64. audio book
_ 65. first in a series
_ 66. any book in a series
_ 67. last book in a series
_ 68. favorite author
_ 69. new to you author
_ 70. British author
_ 71. Australian author
_ 72. Canadian author
_ 73. translated into English from another language
_ 74. American author
_ 75. set in the state you live
_ 76. set in a place you'd like to visit
_ 77. set in an imaginary place you'd like to visit
_ 78. picture book for older readers
_ 79. book about a pet
_ 80. animal fantasy
_ 81. fantasy
_ 82. alternate reality
_ 83. science fiction
_ 84. adventure
_ 85. action/suspense
_ 86. mystery/detective
_ 87. realistic fiction
_ 88. school setting
_ 89. multiple points of view
_ 90. historical fiction -- world war I
_ 91. historical fiction -- world war II
_ 92. historical fiction, your choice
_ 93. historical fiction, mystery or suspense
_ 94. oh the sads
_ 95. happy, happy ending
_ 96. laugh until you cry
_ 97. coming of age
_ 98. "diary" or "notebook"
_ 99. classic, your choice
_ 100. out of print
_ 101. library book
_ 102. impulse pick
_ 103. published in 2018
_ 104. YOUR pick for Newbery 2019

Bonus/alternate picks:
_ made into a good movie
_ made into a horrible movie
_ book from your childhood
_ free choice
_ multiple authors
_ orphan child
_ vacation setting or road trip
_ first crush
_ new book by favorite author
_ time travel or steam punk

Christine asked a good question, can a book count for more than one category. Since reading 104 middle grade books in one year seems really ambitious for most folks--those that aren't Ms. Yingling--a book can be counted in two categories, but not more than two categories. This allows for *some* overlap. But not to an insane degree.

Charlotte's Web could be counted twice, but not in all these categories:

_ Title beginning with C
_ Title or Author Beginning with V or W
_ Newbery Winner or Honor from 1950-1959
_ Any book by a Wilder Award author
_ American author
_ animal fantasy
_ oh the sads
_ book from your childhood

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Week in Review: October 8-14



Come, Let Us Adore Him. Paul David Tripp. 2017. Crossway. 160 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Preaching to the Chickens. Jabari Asim. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis. 2016. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
The Sneetches and Other Stories. Dr. Seuss. 1961. Random House. 65 pages. [Source: Library]
Refresh: Embracing a Grace-Paced Life in a World of Endless Demands. Shona and David Murray. 2017. Crossway. 208 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Operation Commentary
My Autumn with Psalm 119 #5


Not Quite Narwhal. Jessie Sima. 2017. 36 pages. [Source: Library]
His Royal Highness, King Baby: A Terrible True Story. Sally Lloyd-Jones. Illustrated by David Roberts. 2017. Candlewick Press. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Mitzi Tulane, Preschool Detective in What's That Smell? Lauren McLaughlin. Illustrated by Debbie Ridpath Ohi. 2016. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Mitzi Tulane, Preschool Detective in the Secret Ingredient. Lauren McLaughlin. Illustrated by Debbie Ohi. 2017. Random House. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Peppa Pig and the Library Visit. Candlewick. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Chugga Chugga Choo Choo. Emma Garcia. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]


2018 Picture Book Reading Challenge
2018 Middle Grade Reading Challenge
2018 Victorian Reading Challenge
2018 Charity Reading Challenge
2018 Kitty Lit Reading Challenge
2018 Share-a-Tea Reading Challenge
Groovy Joe: Dance Party Countdown. Eric Litwin. Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. 2017. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
This Beautiful Day. Richard Jackson. Illustrated by Suzy Lee. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]
The Worst Goes South. James Stevenson. 1995. 26 pages. [Source: Library]
Among the Hidden. Margaret Peterson Haddix. 1998. 153 pages. [Source: Library]
Revealed. (The Missing #7) Margaret Pterson Haddix. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 448 pages. [Source: Library]



© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2018 Victorian Reading Challenge

Victorian Reading Challenge
Host: Becky's Book Reviews
Duration: January - December 2018
Goal: Read a minimum of 4 Victorian books

Sign up in the comments (If you have a blog, please leave your blog address. If you have a goodreads profile AND if you review regularly on goodreads, then you may leave that as well.)

I'll have quarterly check-in posts. I'll be posting check-in posts March 25, June 24, September 23, and December 30. You may leave links to your reviews on any of those four posts. If you want to share your review with me BEFORE that, AND if you have twitter, feel free to tweet me a link @blbooks.

Option A.  Read alphabetically A-Z with authors OR titles OR a blend of authors/titles. I've decided that from now on X in reading challenges stands for multiple authors. I'm flipping my "x" to a "+".

Option B. Choose one author to read exclusively for this challenge; perhaps challenge yourself to read chronologically OR to read through an entire series in one year.

Option C. Do as many books from the checklist as you can.

Option D. Make the challenge completely your own and read as YOUR whimsy dictates.

IF you love Victorian literature AND you happen to love tea...consider joining my Share-a-Tea reading challenge

Feel free to copy/paste this. You can replace the _ with an X or a ✔ (copy/paste it) when you finish reading a book. If you list the books you read, that may help other people decide what to read.

This year's checklist:
  1. _ A book that was originally published serially
  2. _ book published between 1837-1840
  3. _ book published between 1841-1850
  4. _ book published between 1851-1860
  5. _ book published between 1861-1870
  6. _ book published between 1871-1880
  7. _ book published between 1881-1890
  8. _ book published between 1891-1901
  9. _ nonfiction published between 1837-1860
  10. _ nonfiction published between 1861-1901 
  11. _ A book published between 1902-1999 with a Victorian setting
  12. _ A book published between 2000-2018 with a Victorian setting
  13. _ A fiction or nonfiction book about Queen Victoria
  14. _ Biography of a Victorian
  15. _ Nonfiction book about the Victorian era
  16. _ free choice
  17. _ place name in the title
  18. _ character name in the title
  19. _ book in a series
  20. _ drama or melodrama
  21. _ gothic, suspense, mystery
  22. _ romance or historical
  23. _ comedy 
  24. _ science fiction or fantasy
  25. _ adventure, crime, western
  26. _ poetry collection OR story collection
  27. _ happily ever after
  28. _ unhappily ever after 
  29. _ children's book
  30. _ translated into English from another language
  31. _ a book under 250 pages
  32. _ book over 500 pages
  33. _ a book over 800 pages
  34. _ A book that has been filmed as movie, miniseries, or television show
  35. _ memorable heroine
  36. _ memorable hero
  37. _ British author
  38. _ Irish author OR Irish setting
  39. _ Scottish author OR Scottish setting
  40. _ American author
  41. _ reread
  42. _ book with a subtitle (the longer the better!)
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Friday, October 13, 2017

The Worst Goes South

The Worst Goes South. James Stevenson. 1995. 26 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: It was a brisk October day. The worst person in the world was taking Daisy for a walk in the woods.

Premise/plot: Readers meet a grumpy, old man "The Worst" in James Stevenson's The Worst Goes South. Why does he choose to go south? To get away from the town's Harvest Festival. His house is right next door to a big empty field. And that big empty field is about to be filled with people, stuff, and NOISE, NOISE, NOISE. The Worst goes to Florida...where he stays in a motel room that is lacking in every way. The owner of the motel thinks he recognizes the Worst?! Could these two be long, lost brothers?!

My thoughts: I enjoyed this one. Mr. Worst is a bit anti-social, a bit rude. Take out the bit, actually. He's very rude, and definitely anti-social. He doesn't want his yard and his porch being used by the people setting up the Harvest Festival. It's bad enough he has to allow people to park in his yard--for free. The book is amusing.
The worst stopped at a toll booth.
"How much?" he said.
"2.50," said the toll taker.
"That's an outrage," said the worst. He handed the man a quarter. "Take this and be glad you got it." Then he drove over the bridge.
We do eventually learn his name: Arvin. 

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

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Charity Reading Challenge 2018

Charity Reading Challenge
Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up here)
Duration: January-December 2018
# of books: You decide

Sign up by leaving a comment.

Read for a good cause! Buy books at a charity shop, or, even a friends of the library book sale, or, donate a certain percentage of money for each book you read for the challenge. You can choose your own goal of how many books to read, what charity you'll be donating money towards, how much money, etc. (For example, you might want to donate $1 for each paperback you read, or, $3 for every hardback you read. You can work out the details yourself.)

Rules:

  • Books and audio books, so long as purchased from a charity shop (or library book sale), count. E-books count if you donate a certain percentage of money to the charity of your choice. (You may read ANY book you choose if you donate your set amount.) Brand new books, old-and tattered out-of-print books. Both are welcome!
  • You do not need a blog to participate. You can comment on this post or any challenge-related post to update others on your progress. 
  • Any qualifying book finished in 2018 can count towards the challenge.
  • Books can be of any length and be written for any audience. This challenge does not exclude picture books. 
  • Qualifying books can be books you've intended to read for ages, or, impulse buys!(Who goes into a charity shop with a list?!)
  • No list is required, but, you can make one as you go if you like. The fun thing about this challenge is that everyone's list is going to be unique!
  • You may read for more than one charity if you like.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Thursday, October 12, 2017

Kitty Lit Reading Challenge 2018

Jeppe, Bruno Liljefors, 1860-1939  
Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up here)
Duration: January - December 2018
Goal: To read books with CATS
# of books: minimum of 3

Last year I found a way to bring two of my loves together: drinking tea and reading books. This year, I hope to bring together two more of the things I love: CATS and books. I do encourage you to check out Kitten Academy, where kittens learn to cat; while you watch 24/7 on YouTube. Mr. A and DJ are awesome people. (https://kitten.academy/) I especially recommend the Kitten Close-Ups.

Sign up by leaving a comment.

What books count towards the reading challenge?
  • Fiction
  • Nonfiction
  • Board books
  • Picture Books
  • Early Readers
  • Early Chapter Books
  • Chapter Books
  • Graphic Novels
  • Middle Grade Books
  • Young Adult Books
  • Adult Books
  • Poetry
  • Short Stories
  • Plays
Brand new books, old-and tattered out-of-print books. Both are welcome! 

No list is required, but, you can make one as you go if you like. The fun thing about this challenge is that everyone's list is going to be unique!

Is a blog required? Are reviews required? No. If you do blog, I'd love a link to your blog so I can read your reviews and book recommendations. If you review books on GoodReads, leave a link to your profile so I can friend you and follow your reviews!

If you're on twitter, you can contact me @blbooks and talk cats OR books!

You can comment on this post or any challenge-related post to update others on your progress.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2018 Share-a-Tea Reading Challenge

Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up here)
Duration: January - December 2018
# of books: minimum of 2

Love drinking tea? Love reading books? Love reading a book while drinking tea? Have I got a reading challenge for you! In 2018, I'll be hosting the Share-a-Tea Reading Challenge again.

Who can join? Anyone who enjoys reading. You don't need to have a blog. You don't need to have a twitter account.

Are coffee drinkers welcome? Well. You can still join in, I suppose. But you might be outnumbered by tea drinkers.

Which books count towards the challenge? Any book that you primarily read while drinking tea. Not every single page needs to have been read while drinking tea. (I'm not that strict!!!) But this challenge is all about celebrating SLOWING DOWN and SAVORING the moments.

How many books? Is there a set minimum? This challenge is about QUALITY and not quantity. It's not about reading fifty books or even twelve books. This is an anti-rush reading challenge. Enjoy where you are in a book, and, engage fully in it. Live in the book.

This challenge has a focus on SHARING. How can you share? Several ways:

1) When you sign up in a comment below, share one favorite tea and one favorite book. And if you've got one handy: a favorite quote.
2) If you write a post on your blog announcing the challenge (and making a place to keep track of what you've read), consider sharing a bit about yourself--your reading and drinking habits. You might consider a longer list of recommendations!
3) If you're on twitter, tweet me as often as you like. @blbooks OR @operationbible Tweet about favorite teas, favorite books, favorite authors, favorite quotes, what you're currently reading, what you've just finished reading, etc.
4) Consider adding me and fellow participants to your blogroll, and cheer on other participants by reading reviews and leaving comments.
5) At the end of each month, I'll publish a check-in post. You can leave comments sharing what you're reading, what you've read, tea recommendations, etc. Even if you haven't finished a book, you can share where you're at. Remember, it isn't about how many books you read per month!

Be aware that comment moderation is turned on. So if you sign up for the challenge, and don't see your comment published, it just means I haven't published it...yet. But I will.

Do ask questions if you have them. I'll do my best to answer them.


© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2018 Picture Book Reading Challenge

Original artwork by Charles Haigh-Wood (1856-1927)
Host: Becky's Book Reviews (sign up)
Duration: January - December 2018
Goal: To have adults read more picture books. To celebrate the fact that picture books are for everyone! Families are, of course, welcome to join in!
# of books: minimum of 6

Option 1: Read six picture books of your choice.
Option 2: Choose one author to focus on. Perhaps read through an entire author's work.
Option 3: Read as few as six, or as many as you like, from the checklist below

Feel free to copy/paste this. You can replace the _ with an X or a ✔ (copy/paste it) when you finish reading a book. If you list the books you read, that may help other people decide what to read.

_1. Title beginning with A
_2. Author beginning with A
_3. Title beginning with B
_4. Author beginning with B
_5. Title beginning with C
_6. Author beginning with C
_7. Title beginning with D
_8. Author beginning with D
_9. Title beginning with E
_10. Author beginning with E
_11. Title beginning with F
_12. Author beginning with F
_13. Title beginning with G
_14. Author beginning with G
_15. Title beginning with H
_16. Author beginning with H
_17. Title beginning with I
_18. Author beginning with I
_19. Title beginning with J
_20. Author beginning with J
_21. Title beginning with K
_22. Author beginning with K
_23. Title beginning with L
_24. Author beginning with L
_25. Title beginning with M
_26. Author beginning with M
_27. Title beginning with N
_28. Author beginning with N
_29. Title beginning with O
_30. Author beginning with O
_31. Title beginning with P
_32. Author beginning with P
_33. Title or Author beginning with Q
_34. Title beginning with R
_35. Author beginning with R
_36. Title beginning with S
_37. Author beginning with S
_38. Title beginning with T
_39. Author beginning with T
_40. Title or Author beginning with U
_41. Title or Author beginning with V or W
_42. Title or Author beginning with X or “Ex”
_43. Title beginning with Y
_44. Author beginning with Y
_45. Title or Author beginning with Z
_46. An alphabet book
_47. A counting book
_48. A color word in the title
_49. A number word in the title
_50. Concept book of your choice— picture book
_51. Concept book of your choice — board book
_52. bedtime book —board book
_53. bedtime book — picture book
_54. book that rhymes —picture book
_55. book that rhymes — early reader OR board book
_56. holiday of your choice — board book or early reader
_57. holiday of your choice — picture book
_58. wordless picture book
_59. new to you author
_60. new to you illustrator
_61. favorite author
_62. favorite illustrator
_63. free choice
_64. fairy or folk tale adaptation
_65. fairy or folk tale traditional
_66. a title with the word “first” in it
_67. a book set in the state you live
_68. a book set in a place you’d like to visit
_69. a book set in an imaginary place
_70. a book set in the past — fiction or nonfiction
_71. a book set in the present
_72. picture book for older readers — fiction
_73. picture book for older readers — nonfiction
_74. early reader — fiction
_75. early reader — nonfiction
_76. picture book with photographs
_77. one word title
_78. long title (four or more words)
_79. oversized book
_80. tiny book
_81. a book about playing (hide and seek, tag, or peekaboo, etc.)
_82. a book about school
_83. a book about hobbies (art, dance, music, crafts, sports)
_84. a title that is a question
_85. a title that is an exclamation
_86. an award winner or an honor book
_87. a collection (of poems OR stories)
_88. a book with animals (fiction)
_89. a book with animals (nonfiction)
_90. a book about books or reading
_91. a book celebrating family
_92. first book in a series
_93. any book in a series
_94. book with an adventure or misadventure
_95. a book about a pet
_96. A title with the word “yes” or “no” in it
_97. A title with the word “big” or “little” in it
_98. a classic published before 1968
_99. a book you think should be considered a classic
_100. Out of print
_101. Library book
_102. Impulse Pick
_ 103. Board book published in 2018
_ 104. Picture book published in 2018

Sign up by leaving a comment. Do indicate which option you're leaning towards. And if you have a blog, please leave your blog address so I can visit you.

Reviews are not a requirement. But if you do review, you can share links to your reviews. I'm thinking of having check-in posts on the 15th of every month.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Groovy Joe Dance Party Countdown

Groovy Joe: Dance Party Countdown. Eric Litwin. Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. 2017. Scholastic. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Groovy Joe is totally fun. He's a song-singing, tail-wagging party of one! And he rocks like this. Disco party bow wow! Disco party bow wow! Knock! Knock! Who's there? One! One who? One more dog is going to disco with you! How many dogs are there now?

Premise/plot: Groovy Joe is ready to DISCO. Though this starts out as a me-party, a party of one, it soon turns into a big dance party! Groovy Joe is always happy to open his door and welcome more into his home.

My thoughts: Eric Litwin's original Pete the Cat books made me giddy. Those original books are: Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes, Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, Pete the Cat: Rocking In My School Shoes, Pete the Cat Saves Christmas. I love them all. I especially love singing Four Groovy Buttons and I Love My White Shoes. There's something magical about the stories and songs--and how seamlessly the two work together. I fell in love with the character and his GOODNESS NO! philosophy of living life. That "Goodness No!" philosophy is back with Groovy Joe. And I think a lot of the things I absolutely loved about his earlier work is present in this story.

This one features math--addition. (Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons was all about subtraction.) It follows a definite pattern. "Does Joe get upset? Goodness no! He keeps rocking!" And it features a moral--as many of the Pete the Cat stories did. The moral of this one is: "There's always room for one more!"

Watch him perform part of the storyListen to the whole story.

Text: 5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10


© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Among the Hidden

Among the Hidden. Margaret Peterson Haddix. 1998. 153 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: He saw the first tree shudder and fall, far off in the distance. Then he heard his mother call out the kitchen window: "Luke! Inside. Now." He had never disobeyed the order to hide.

Premise/plot: Among the Hidden is the first book in Margaret Peterson Haddix's fast-paced futuristic middle grade series. Luke Garner is a shadow child, an illegal third child; his parents are farmers in a rural community which gave him small doses of freedom--if freedom means breathing fresh air outside--now and then. But when the woods around his house are bulldozed to make room for more houses--or apartments--even that small bit of liberty is lost. Luke "lives" his life in the attic and on the stairs. His family fears the Population Police so much that they don't even allow Luke to eat with them in the kitchen. Things seem to be getting progressively worse; so much so that his mother decides to get a job--in a factory, I believe--leaving Luke alone in the house. One day Luke notices that one of the neighbor's has his lights on when no one is supposed to be home. Then he sees a face; could Luke have found another hidden child? Could this child be his friend? Only if Luke dares to disobey his parents and go outside. Is there life outside the attic?

My thoughts: I remember discovering this series a few years after I first started blogging. It was LOVE. I remember that it was winter. While I had the first two or three checked out at the same time, I finished them all in one day and a snowstorm kept me from getting the rest of the series right when I wanted them, no, NEEDED them. Long story short, CHECK OUT ALL THE TITLES AT ONCE. That's my advice to you. I found the series to be fast-paced, compelling, thoughtful. I really loved Luke and his new friend, Jen.

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Revealed

Revealed. (The Missing #7) Margaret Pterson Haddix. 2014. Simon & Schuster. 448 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Jonah saw the man before the man saw him.

Revealed is the seventh book in the Missing series by Margaret Peterson Haddix. The books usually feature a brother-sister team of Jonah and Katherine Skidmore. These two have been time-traveling essentially since book one with various other "missing" children from history. These children, more often than not, have all grown up in the same neighborhood/community. Chip, for example, is one of Jonah's best friends and Katherine's boyfriend. Usually each book focuses on one specific period of time, the children go there, solve or resolve a problem, and return to the twenty-first century. Revealed is NOT like that at all. For better or worse.

If I were to describe the reading experience it would go something like this: The author throwing a hundred balls into the air and telling readers: catch as many as you can, good luck.

Some of the story threads:

Who is Jonah? Is he Charles Lindbergh's son? Does he want to be? What if he is? What if he isn't? If he isn't, what happened to the real son?
Why does Charles Lindbergh kidnap Katherine? Which Charles Lindbergh kidnaps Katherine? Did he kidnap her because he's on their side? Or did he kidnap her because he's on their enemies side?
Why did practically all the characters--with the exception of Jonah and Charles Lindbergh--de-age? Why did all the adults in all the surrounding area become teenagers? Why is Katherine now a baby? Was it simply that it took going to this big of an extreme to get Jonah to think and act on his own?
Why do Gary and Hodge play such a large part in this novel? Why does Jonah believe anything they say? Are Gary and Hodge lazy or stupid or both lazy and stupid?
Shouldn't time travel have some logic to it? How did time split? Did time split? How did time un-split?
Why did Katherine's age get fixed but nobody elses?

The good news is that I think the novel is still action-packed, premise-focused. I think for those readers who can't get enough time travel this one can still work. I also think it is a bit amazing that I can jump right into the seventh book without having reread books one through six. I think, however, that might be a sign that character development is simple.

This book is different from the other six books. It essentially has readers going back and forth and back and forth between these time periods: the twenty-first century, the time hollow cave, 1932, and the plane-crash-landing of thirty-six (sometimes thirty-five) mysterious babies which happened thirteen years ago. There isn't a firm date on this "thirteen years ago" because I think Jonah has been thirteen since the series began in 2008. There is a bit of a difference between 1995 and 2002. Also the same scenes keep getting revisited. Hence why it is important for Jonah to notice what clothes Lindbergh happens to be wearing every time he sees him--"which" Lindbergh is this?!

I didn't hate it. I didn't love it. I am glad I finally read it.
© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Monday, October 09, 2017

This Beautiful Day

This Beautiful Day. Richard Jackson. Illustrated by Suzy Lee. 2017. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: This beautiful day...has everyone dancing and spinning and swinging around, has all of us stamping and stomping our feet on the ground...

Premise/plot: Readers see what one family does on a rainy day. This book answers the question, "Can rainy days be beautiful?!"

My thoughts: I liked this one. I definitely liked it. But it's not a book best appreciated with a brief, quick scan. This is a book that demands your fuller attention. I noticed so much more the second time I read it. I can only imagine that a few more times will bring even more detail to my attention. For example, notice the endpapers. The opening endpapers are black, white, and gray--a stormy day indeed. The closing endpapers are a huge contrast: we see a beautiful BLUE sky with a happy-happy family running, jumping, playing.

The illustrations make this one WONDERFUL. Without a doubt the illustrations make a good book, GREAT. I love how expressive and lively the illustrations are.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 5 out of 5
Total: 9 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Saturday, October 07, 2017

Week in Review: October 1-7

Mouse and Hippo. Mike Twohy. 2017. Simon Schuster. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
A Perfect Day. Lane Smith. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Hooray for Books. Brian Won. 2017. HMH. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. Mem Fox. Illustrated by Julie Vivas. 1984/1985. Kane/Miller. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Choo Choo. Virginia Lee Burton. 1937/2017. HMH. 48 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Pop-Up Shakespeare. The Reduced Shakespeare Co. Illustrated by Jennie Maizels. 2017. Candlewick. 64 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Dollmaker of Krakow. R.M. Romero. 2017. 336 pages. [Source: Review copy]
 Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics. (Mr. Lemoncello's Library #2) Chris Grabenstein. 2016. Random House. 288 pages. [Source: Library]

Board Book Suggestions for Cybils
Picture Book Suggestions for Cybils
Bunny's Book Club. Annie Silvestro. Illustrated by Tatjana Mai-Wyss. 2017. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
This is a Good Story. Adam Lehrhaupt. 2017. Simon & Schuster. 40 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Wolf in the Snow. Matthew Cordell. 2017. 48 pages. [Source: Library]
This & That. Mem Fox. Illustrated by Judy Horacek. 2017. Scholastic. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]
A Band of Babies. Carole Gerber. Illustrated by Jane Dyer. 2017. HarperCollins. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Board book: I'm silly. Jennifer L. Holm. Illustrated by Matthew Holm. 2017. Random House. 22 pages. [Source: Library]

Irena's Children: A True Story of Courage. Tilar J. Mazzeo. Adapted by Mary Cronk Farrell. 2016. 288 pages. [Source: Library]
 Uncomfortable. Brett McCracken. 2017. Crossway. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Sing a New Song: A Woman's Guide to the Psalms. Lydia Brownback. 2017. Crossway. 352 pages. [Source: Review copy]
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge. Mem Fox. Illustrated by Julie Vivas. 1984/1985. Kane/Miller. 32 pages. [Source: Library]
Reading Between the Lines. Gene Edward Veith Jr. 1990. Crossway. 254 pages. [Source: Gift]Twenty Questions with the ESV Systematic Theology Study Bible
 My Autumn with Psalm 119 #3
My Autumn with Psalm 119 #4

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics

Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics. (Mr. Lemoncello's Library #2) Chris Grabenstein. 2016. Random House. 288 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: Just about every kid in America wished they could be Kyle Keeley.

Premise/plot: Love books? Don't mind gimmicks? Pick up a copy of Chris Grabenstein's Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics.

Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics is a premise-driven novel with little to no character development. The plot consists solely of gimmicks--or games. In the first book, four kids got the chance to win spots in commercials for Mr. Lemoncello's games. In the second book, there's a nation-wide rematch. Kids from all over the United States are given the chance to compete in a week-long "Olympic" event at Lemoncello's amazing library in Ohio. The twelve games allow for a lot of name dropping--book titles, author names, plot descriptions. But mostly silly, over-the-top, fantastic gimmicks. Will Kyle, Akimi, Sierra, and Miguell win again? Or will they meet their match in Marjory Muldauer?

My thoughts: I am not one for gimmicks. I am one for reading books. I am one for libraries. But can a book's sole strength come from name-dropping books and authors and still be a good book? Isn't a little character development ever needed? The plot comes solely from the kids--all devoid of characterization essentially--playing games and solving puzzles. That being said, it was a quick, easy read. It didn't require a bit of thought. I don't regret the time I spent reading it. 

© 2017 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

You should know several things before you contact me:

1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
3) I am not promising anyone (author or publisher) a positive review in exchange for a review copy. That's not how I work.
4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
5) I do not guarantee that I will get to your book immediately. I've got so many books I'm trying to read and review, I can't promise to get to any one book in a given time frame.
6) Emailing me every other week to see if I've read your book won't help me get to it any faster. Though if you want to email me to check and see if it arrived safely, then that's fine!

Authors, publishers. I am interested in interviewing authors and participating in blog tours. (All I ask is that I receive a review copy of the author's latest book beforehand so the interview will be productive. If the book is part of a series, I'd like to review the whole series.) Contact me if you're interested.

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