Thursday, October 27, 2016

The Dark Talent

The Dark Talent (Alcatraz #5) Brandon Sanderson. 2016. 304 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: So there I was, standing in my chambers on the day before the world ended, facing my greatest adversary to date. The royal wardrobe coordinator.

Premise/plot: The Dark Talent is the fifth book in the Alcatraz series by Brandon Sanderson. Alcatraz Smedry, the self-confessed coward, is the hero of this one. Alcatraz and his team (including his grandfather, Leavenworth, and his Uncle Kaz, not to mention his MOTHER,) are heading to the Hushlands, to the Highbrary (aka Library of Congress) for a final stand. Readers will finally come full circle: So there I was, tied to an altar made from outdated encyclopedias, about to get sacrificed to the dark powers by a cult of evil Librarians. But what makes for an amusing first sentence in the first book makes for a devastating scene in the fifth and final book.

My thoughts: I'm really torn with this one. I do not want to spoil the book in any way. But it's like pushing through the last chapters of Gone With the Wind after Bonnie's death. You don't want to leave it unfinished. You don't want to be a coward and have to put the book in the freezer. But you almost dread turning the pages because you know what's coming. Because, let's face it, you've either read the book a dozen times or seen the movie a dozen times. You know that FOG is coming closer and closer and closer. The question is not will Rhett leave Scarlett, but, will you--the reader--pull it together enough to be there with Scarlett when the end comes.

Last books in series carry a lot of weight. For better or worse. They can set in stone your thoughts about the series as a whole, about characters, even authors. (I have to admit that I lost my faith in Stephenie Meyer as a writer after reading Breaking Dawn.) I wouldn't go so far as to say I think less of the series after reading this book. That would be too melodramatic of a response. But I can easily say that this one is not my favorite of the five. There is a sadness in this one--almost cover to cover--that humor can't displace.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Duck, Duck, Porcupine

Duck, Duck, Porcupine! Salina Yoon. 2016. Bloomsbury. 64 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: This is the perfect day for a picnic, Porcupine!

Premise/plot: Duck, Duck, Porcupine is the first book in a new early reader series starring Big Duck, Little Duck, and Porcupine. There are three short adventures in this one. The first is "A Perfect Day for a Picnic." Little Duck is the first to notice that it will soon be RAINING. But will a little rain--or a lot of rain--spoil the day completely? It may not be a perfect day to EAT outside, but, it may be a perfect day to PLAY outside. The second is "I Think I Forgot Something." Big Duck is CLUELESS. Little Duck tries to help Big Duck remember what she forgot. (Holding up a present, holding up a birthday invite, bringing out a calendar, etc.) Will she remember in time that it is Porcupine's birthday?! The third is "The Campout." Little Duck may not be ready to WRITE out a list of what is needed on a camping trip. But make no mistake, Little Duck KNOWS that marshmallows are essential. (I have the idea that they'd not be item #100 on *his* list).

My thoughts: Loved this one. I definitely liked the characters. Characterization is brought about by little details. And this one has plenty both in the text and in the illustrations! Definitely worth reading more than once.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Tuesday, October 25, 2016

I Am A Story

I Am A Story. Dan Yaccarino. 2016. HarperCollins. 40 pages. [Source: Library]

First sentence: I am a story. I was told around a campfire, then painted on cave walls. I was carved onto clay tablets and told in pictures. I was written on papyrus and printed with ink and woodblocks, then woven into tapestries and copied into big books to illuminate minds.

Premise/plot: The story's autobiography. The concept of 'story' is personified and communicated in very simple, basic terms that readers of all ages can appreciate.

My thoughts: LOVED it. Loved, loved, loved, LOVED it. It's so simple yet so brilliant. Would recommend to anyone and everyone who loves stories and storytelling. It's not just for people who love books and libraries, but, for anyone who celebrates storytelling and communities.

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

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Monday, October 24, 2016

Savaged Lands

Savaged Lands. Lana Kortchik. 2016. 292 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: It was a balmy September afternoon and the streets of Kiev were crowded. Just like always, cars screeched past the famous Besarabsky Market. And just like always, a stream of pedestrians engulfed the cobbled Kreshchatyk. Yet something was different. No one smiled, no one called out greetings or paused for a leisurely conversation in the shade of the many chestnut trees that lined the renowned street. On every grim face, in every mute mouth, in the way they moved – a touch faster than usual – there was anxiety, fear and unease. And only three teenagers seemed oblivious to the oddly hushed bustle around them.

Premise/plot: Natasha Smirnova's world is turned upside down by the Nazi's invasion of her hometown of Kiev in September 1941. Savaged Lands chronicles her life during the war.

My thoughts: I almost loved this one. I did. Why the almost? The love scenes were a bit too graphic for my personal taste. (I like things on the clean side). What did I love about it? The drama and intensity of it. The ugliness of war and the messiness of family life come together in this historical novel. I also thought the author did a good job creating complex characters. Not every single character perhaps. But the main characters certainly.

What did I like about it? The romance. The romance is both the novel's biggest strength and greatest weakness. It all depends on YOU the reader. If you love ROMANCE, if you love romance with DRAMA, with OBSTACLES, then you may love, love, love this one. It wouldn't be a stretch to say this one is more about a 19 year old girl falling madly, deeply in love for the first time than it is a novel about the second world war. If you love HISTORY more than romance, you might feel that too much emphasis is placed on her weak-in-the-knees, heart-pounding romance. Her life is practically unrecognizable, she's lost immediate family members, and all her thoughts are consumed in HIM. All the time it's him, him, him, HIM. (His name is Mark, I believe)

This one has plenty of tension and conflict. Is it good drama? or too melodramatic? I think again this is up to each reader. The conflict between Lisa and Natasha--two sisters--is very real and takes up a good portion of this one. Definitely gives readers something to think about as they keep turning pages.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Anne's House of Dreams

Anne's House of Dreams. L.M. Montgomery. 1919. 227 pages. [Source: Bought]

First sentence: “Thanks be, I’m done with geometry, learning or teaching it,” said Anne Shirley, a trifle vindictively, as she thumped a somewhat battered volume of Euclid into a big chest of books, banged the lid in triumph, and sat down upon it, looking at Diana Wright across the Green Gables garret, with gray eyes that were like a morning sky.

Premise/plot: Anne Shirley marries Gilbert Blythe in this oh-so-lovely, oh-so-charming book by L.M. Montgomery. Technically, it is the sequel to Anne of the Island! Anne of Windy Poplars was written in the 1930s, decades after Anne's House of Dreams. In this Anne book, the happily married couple settle down in their first home together near Four Winds Harbor and Glen St. Mary. 

Anne's House of Dreams introduces many new characters--some of my favorites I admit--Captain Jim, Miss Cornelia, Leslie Moore, Owen Ford. Marshall Elliot. Susan Baker. Who would ever want to forget their stories? Captain Jim's life-book. Leslie Moore's tragic past but enduring spirit. Miss Cornelia. She's got to be one-of-a-kind. Just a truly spirited character with so much heart and full of gumption. Practically everything out of her mouth is quotable. She sure is great at banter!

My thoughts: I love and adore this one!!! I love how emotionally satisfying it is. The Anne books may have sweet moments, but they pack in reality as well. No one can make me cry like L.M. Montgomery.

“Stoutness and slimness seem to be matters of predestination,” said Anne.
Jane was not brilliant, and had probably never made a remark worth listening to in her life; but she never said anything that would hurt anyone’s feelings — which may be a negative talent but is likewise a rare and enviable one.
“I’ve heard you criticise ministers pretty sharply yourself,” teased Anne. “Yes, but I do it reverently,” protested Mrs. Lynde. “You never heard me NICKNAME a minister.” Anne smothered a smile.
Their happiness was in each other’s keeping and both were unafraid. 
“Miss Cornelia Bryant. She’ll likely be over to see you soon, seeing you’re Presbyterians. If you were Methodists she wouldn’t come at all. Cornelia has a holy horror of Methodists.”
“I know we are going to be friends,” said Anne, with the smile that only they of the household of faith ever saw. “Yes, we are, dearie. Thank goodness, we can choose our friends. We have to take our relatives as they are, and be thankful if there are no penitentiary birds among them. Not that I’ve many — none nearer than second cousins. I’m a kind of lonely soul, Mrs. Blythe.” There was a wistful note in Miss Cornelia’s voice.
“Were you able to eat enough pie to please her?” “I wasn’t. Gilbert won her heart by eating — I won’t tell you how much. She said she never knew a man who didn’t like pie better than his Bible. Do you know, I love Miss Cornelia.”

“Our library isn’t very extensive,” said Anne, “but every book in it is a FRIEND. We’ve picked our books up through the years, here and there, never buying one until we had first read it and knew that it belonged to the race of Joseph.”
A woman cannot ever be sure of not being married till she is buried, Mrs. Doctor, dear, and meanwhile I will make a batch of cherry pies.
“I wonder why people so commonly suppose that if two individuals are both writers they must therefore be hugely congenial,” said Anne, rather scornfully. “Nobody would expect two blacksmiths to be violently attracted toward each other merely because they were both blacksmiths.”
The p’int of good writing is to know when to stop.
There’s only the one safe compass and we’ve got to set our course by that — what it’s right to do.
Logic is a sort of hard, merciless thing, I reckon.
“Since you are determined to be married, Miss Cornelia,” said Gilbert solemnly, “I shall give you the excellent rules for the management of a husband which my grandmother gave my mother when she married my father.” “Well, I reckon I can manage Marshall Elliott,” said Miss Cornelia placidly. “But let us hear your rules.” “The first one is, catch him.” “He’s caught. Go on.” “The second one is, feed him well.” “With enough pie. What next?” “The third and fourth are — keep your eye on him.” “I believe you,” said Miss Cornelia emphatically.
Cats is cats, and take my word for it, they will never be anything else.

© 2016 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews


Unique Visitors and Google PR Rank

Free PageRank Checker

Pageloads Counter

Search Book Blogs Search Engine

The background is based on a background I found here...with some small adjustments on my part so it would work with the template.
Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

  © Blogger template Newspaper III by 2008

Back to TOP