Saturday, December 10, 2016

Countdown to Christmas, day 10, 11, 12

So Kailana (The Written Word) and I are teaming up again...this time to celebrate CHRISTMAS. 25 days of answering questions! You are definitely welcome to join in on the fun!

Favorite thing I love to do with my family during the holidays... 

watch movies

Favorite Christmas songs or albums from your growing up years...

Michael W. Smith Christmas
Bing Crosby White Christmas
Merry Christmas From the Beach Boys
Amy Grant Home For Christmas

songs: I LOVE Snoopy's Christmas!!!

Favorite movies or Christmas specials from your growing up years...
Garfield's Christmas
Charlie Brown Christmas
Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Muppet Family Christmas
Holiday Inn
Muppet Christmas Carol

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


2016 Completed Challenges: 12 Month Classics

Name: 12 Month Classics Challenge
Host: You, Me, and A Cup of Tea
Sign Up Here
Dates: January - December 2016
# of Books: 12

January Alas, Babylon. Pat Frank. 1959/2005. Harper Perennial Modern Classics. 323 pages. [Source: Bought] SCIENCE FICTION (Adult)
February Hans Brinker, Or, The Silver Skates. Mary Mapes Dodge. 1865. 244 pages. [Source: Bought]  MG ADVENTURE, COMING OF AGE
March Fahrenheit 451. Ray Bradbury. 1953/1991. Del Rey. 179 pages. [Source: Bought] [dystopia, science fiction]
April Doctor Zhivago. Boris Pasternak. Translated by John Bayley. 1957. 592 pages. [Source: Library]
May The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Mark Twain. 1884. 327 pages. [Source: Library]
June Bleak House. Charles Dickens. 1852-1853. 912 pages.  [Source: Bought]
July Cyrano de Bergerac. Edmond Rostand. Translated by Lowell Blair. 1897. 240 pages. [Source: Library]
August The Night Gardener. Jonathan Auxier. 2014. Abrams. 350 pages. [Source: Bought]
September The Borrowers. Mary Norton. Illustrated by Beth and Joe Krush. 1952/2006. HMH. 192 pages. [Source: Library]
October Anne of Windy Poplars. L.M. Montgomery. 1936. 288 pages. [Source: Bought]
November Half Magic. Edward Eager. 1954/2016. HMH. 224 pages. [Source: Review copy]
December The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Mark Twain. 1876. 225 pages. [Source: Bought]

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


The Nutcracker

The Nutcracker. Niroot Puttapipat. 2016. Candlewick. 12 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: It was Christmas Eve, and Clara and her little brother, Fritz, were bursting with excitement.

Premise/plot: A picture book retelling of The Nutcracker. This one is for older readers primarily for two reasons. First, it is text-heavy. Second, it features an intricate pop-up. I don't think it would hold the attention of preschoolers anyway, even without the pop up!

My thoughts: I liked this one. I found the illustrations to be striking. Not bright and bold. Not warm and cozy. But strikingly atmospheric. (A lot more black than what you might be expecting.) They are very beautiful, and invite you into the story.

The story itself is what you'd expect from a retelling of the Nutcracker.

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

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Friday, December 09, 2016

Rilla of Ingleside

Rilla of Ingleside. L.M. Montgomery. 1921. 277 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: It was a warm, golden-cloudy, lovable afternoon. In the big living-room at Ingleside Susan Baker sat down with a certain grim satisfaction hovering about her like an aura; it was four o’clock and Susan, who had been working incessantly since six that morning, felt that she had fairly earned an hour of repose and gossip.

Premise/plot: Rilla of Ingleside chronicles "the great war" from the perspective of Rilla Blythe, Anne and Gilbert's youngest child. When the war begins, she's fourteen or so. But she grows up fast, in part because of the war, because of the changes the war brings, how it effects her family and community. And also in part because she takes on more responsibility. She not only does junior red cross work, I believe, but she fosters a 'war baby.' She takes on essentially a newborn baby 'orphaned' by the war. The mother has died. The father is a soldier--who knows where, who may or may not come back. She is to have 'the raising' of the baby to herself. Rilla is especially fond of Walter, her favorite brother, and Ken, the man she hopes to marry one day. The novel provides a behind the scenes glimpse of what daily life was like during the war, during that time period.

My thoughts: LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this one. It's such a solid and strong--and incredibly emotional--finish to a great series.
All cats are mysterious but Dr. Jekyll-and-Mr. Hyde—”Doc” for short — was trebly so. He was a cat of double personality — or else, as Susan vowed, he was possessed by the devil. To begin with, there had been something uncanny about the very dawn of his existence. 
“The only thing I envy a cat is its purr,” remarked Dr. Blythe once, listening to Doc’s resonant melody. “It is the most contented sound in the world.”
Dog Monday was the Ingleside dog, so called because he had come into the family on a Monday when Walter had been reading Robinson Crusoe. He really belonged to Jem but was much attached to Walter also. He was lying beside Walter now with nose snuggled against his arm, thumping his tail rapturously whenever Walter gave him an absent pat. Monday was not a collie or a setter or a hound or a Newfoundland. He was just, as Jem said, “plain dog” — very plain dog, uncharitable people added. Certainly, Monday’s looks were not his strong point.
“There’s no use thinking about what you’re going to do — you are tolerably sure not to do it.”
The new day is knocking at the window. What will it bring us, I wonder.

“What does it matter if there’s going to be a war over there in Europe? I’m sure it doesn’t concern us.” Walter looked at her and had one of his odd visitations of prophecy. “Before this war is over,” he said — or something said through his lips—”every man and woman and child in Canada will feel it — you, Mary, will feel it — feel it to your heart’s core. You will weep tears of blood over it. The Piper has come — and he will pipe until every corner of the world has heard his awful and irresistible music. It will be years before the dance of death is over — years, Mary. And in those years millions of hearts will break.”

“Susan, I keep thinking today of once when he cried for me in the night. He was just a few months old. Gilbert didn’t want me to go to him — he said the child was well and warm and that it would be fostering bad habits in him. But I went — and took him up — I can feel that tight clinging of his little arms round my neck yet. Susan, if I hadn’t gone that night, twenty-one years ago, and taken my baby up when he cried for me I couldn’t face tomorrow morning.”

Nobody missed Dog Monday at first. When they did Shirley went back for him. He found Dog Monday curled up in one of the shipping-sheds near the station and tried to coax him home. Dog Monday would not move. He wagged his tail to show he had no hard feelings but no blandishments availed to budge him. “Guess Monday has made up his mind to wait there till Jem comes back,” said Shirley, trying to laugh as he rejoined the rest.
A baby by day was dreadful enough; a baby by night was unthinkable.
Even the most thoughtful and watchful of parents do not see everything that goes on under their very noses.
I wonder if those of us who have lived half our lives in the old world will ever feel wholly at home in the new.

No matter how much we value what our lessons have brought us we don’t want to go on with the bitter schooling.
“I wonder,” said Miss Oliver, “if humanity will be any happier because of aeroplanes. It seems to me that the sum of human happiness remains much the same from age to age, no matter how it may vary in distribution, and that all the ‘many inventions’ neither lessen nor increase it.”
The job isn’t finished — it isn’t really begun. The old world is destroyed and we must build up the new one. It will be the task of years. 
“Is it Rilla-my-Rilla?” he asked, meaningly. Emotion shook Rilla from head to foot. Joy — happiness — sorrow — fear — every passion that had wrung her heart in those four long years seemed to surge up in her soul for a moment as the deeps of being were stirred. She had tried to speak; at first voice would not come. Then—”Yeth,” said Rilla.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Countdown to Christmas, day 9

So Kailana (The Written Word) and I are teaming up again...this time to celebrate CHRISTMAS. 25 days of answering questions! You are definitely welcome to join in on the fun!
A treat I love to make or eat during the holidays...

Here's where I have a choice. Do I share recipes for treats that I'll never again eat myself????? OR do I tell you that man does not live by bread alone and that fresh fruit is the greatest treat ever?! OR third option: TEA, TEA, MORE, TEA, EVEN MORE TEA.

My link to the best sugar cookie recipe ever. (Also some pictures of me when I was very, very, very young!)

My recipe post for Dr. Pepper Cake. (No pictures of me, but a great recipe)

My favorite holiday teas are: Candy Cane Lane and Sweet Harvest Pumpkin.

My personal favorite thing to eat year round is something I call "turkey goo." It uses ground turkey (93% lean or 99% lean, whatever), chopped onions, chopped red peppers, chopped celery, chopped mushrooms, chopped zucchini, plus a bunch of seasonings. Saute the vegetables in olive oil in a skillet, add the ground turkey (I do 1/4 package at a time), season liberally with onion powder, celery salt, garlic salt, chili powder, and cumin. Add 1/3 (ish) cup of diced canned tomatoes, 1/3 (ish) cup of canned tri-beans (or black beans or red beans or pinto beans or whatever bean-beans). You'll add those towards the very end of the cooking process. The beans are the carbs of the meal. You could choose your carbs to be something else. Like sometimes I bake some winter squash slices instead. It should be HOT and SPICY with no---Eew I'm eating ground turkey side effects.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


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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