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Becky Laney has commented on (15) products.

The Love We Share Without Knowing by Christopher Barzak
The Love We Share Without Knowing

Becky Laney, April 14, 2009

Have you seen Because of Winn Dixie? Do you remember the scenes where the librarian is sharing hard candy with Opal? And Opal is then sharing this candy with others? How every single person has a different way of describing how the candy tastes? That's what this novel was like. That's what this novel was trying to do, in my humble opinion, capture the 101 different flavors of life itself.

This isn't your traditional novel. If you know that going in, I think you will appreciate it more. Think of it more as a collection of loosely woven short stories. Some stories are more 'connected' than others. The stories share a common thread or two--mainly that of theme. To sum it up in one word: Humanity. What it means to be human, to experience the ups and downs, highs and lows of being human. Love. Loss. Pain. Anger. Bitterness. Frustration. Disappointment. Heartache. Homesickness. Loneliness. Some stories are darker than others. Some seem to be without hope or redemption. Others are more uplifting. What they all have in common, however, is the Barzak touch. He, quite simply, has a way with words. Even if you don't like where the story is going, he keeps you so in love with the words on the page, that you just have to keep reading.

All of the stories are set in Japan.
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The Black Book of Secrets by F. E. Higgins
The Black Book of Secrets

Becky Laney, April 14, 2009

"When I opened my eyes I knew that nothing in my miserable life prior to that moment could possibly be as bad as what was about to happen."

And our narrator, Ludlow Fitch*, wasn't lying. What his parents had planned for him? So not good! Just thinking about it makes my jaws ache! Fortunately for both of us, he is able to make a daring dash of an escape. After a rather close call, Ludlow finds himself escaping the City and going away...where...he doesn't know. But anyplace has to be better than where he's been, right? Where Ludlow ends up is in the company of Joe Zabbidou** in his pawn shop of secrets. Both Joe and Ludlow are new to the village of Pagus Parvus. And their destinies are tied together now. Ludlow becomes an apprentice of sort. It's a good thing Ludlow knows how to read and write and has such good penmanship! For Joe has a very special job in mind for the boy. Pagus Parvus is an interesting little place with plenty of interesting people. It's a town full of secrets. And that's just what Joe is in the market for. Good and juicy secrets. You unburden your soul, tell Old Joe all while Ludlow records it all in his black book, and in leave with a nice sum of money. Enough money to make a difference. But can old Joe be trusted? What does he want with all those secrets? What is he hoping to gain out of the exchange? Was Ludlow right to trust him?

This one is just deliciously atmospheric. I loved everything about it: the setting, the characterizations, the language. (Especially the names.) I can only imagine this one would be fun to hear aloud.

*Don't you just love that name?
**Again, an awesome, awesome name!
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Zombie Queen of Newbury High by Amanda Ashby
Zombie Queen of Newbury High

Becky Laney, April 14, 2009

Fun but ever-predictable, this one is a light-hearted read that I tended to enjoy. Predictability. It isn't always a bad thing. Yes, I knew who our heroine would end up falling for by page seven--and I can guess you might as well. But did I enjoy it? Yes. Mostly. Mia is a not-so-popular girl who wants to hold onto her popular boyfriend. Despite the fact that they've been dating for several weeks--five dates and counting--she's insecure in the relationship. Feels threatened, and perhaps rightfully so since her guy is being pursued by a cheerleader who doesn't know the word no. So Mia and her best friend, Candice, seek out a spell--a love spell--to keep Rob, her boyfriend, right where he belongs: by her side. But this spell has some unintended side effects. It's not a love spell at all. And it doesn't just effect Rob--it infects the whole senior class and the teachers who were present at the senior assembly. Fortunately for Mia, someone is there, a witness to it all. Someone who will do anything and everything to keep the situation contained. His name is Chase. And for better or worse, Mia and Chase have to work together or life could get very very messy.
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Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side by Beth Fantaskey
Jessica's Guide to Dating on the Dark Side

Becky Laney, April 14, 2009

Jessica, our heroine, never set out to fall in love with a vampire. It wasn't on her to do list. It wasn't a fantasy of hers--not by a long shot--but such is the case when a strange--but strangely handsome--guy appears in her life claiming to be an 'exchange' student. The truth? The two were betrothed back when they were infants back in Romania. Before Jessica (then named Antanasia) became an orphan. Before she was adopted by an American couple and taken to the states to live. Our hero, Lucius Vladescu, is here to remind her that not only are they supposed to be engaged...she is really, truly a vampire princess. But she's not a vampire yet. Does she want to be a vampire princess? Not at first. No, her crush is the ever-adorable but oh-so-ordinary Jake Zinn. And she's more than thrilled that Jake seems to be crushing on her too. But Lucius is ever-lurking about. Watching. Protecting. Generally being creepy and in the way. But ever-so-slowly, Jessica starts liking her lurker-would-be-lover. Starts being tempted by his charms--craves his touch, his kiss, his bite. But as she starts falling for him, he begins having second thoughts. Does he really want to turn Jessica into a vampire? Isn't her American upbringing a major weakness in being a vampire? Isn't she unsuited to the task of ruling as a vampire? Why would he want to do this to her? The more he resists, the more she desires. It also helps things along that he begins dating another girl, Faith, that her desire (Jessica's desire) is magnified by jealousy. If he is going to be biting anyone's neck, it should be her neck. This is another will-he/won't-he vampire romance.
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Horrid Henry's Stinkbomb (Horrid Henry) by Francesca Simon
Horrid Henry's Stinkbomb (Horrid Henry)

Becky Laney, April 14, 2009

If you're looking for funny chapter books to share with your kids, look no further than Horrid Henry. Each book contains four stories about Horrid Henry and his friends and family. (Featuring characters like Perfect Peter, Moody Margaret, Sour Susan, and Clever Clare.)

This chapter book includes these four stories: Horrid Henry Reads A Book, Horrid Henry's Stinkbomb, Horrid Henry's School Project, and Horrid Henry's Sleepover. My favorite from these four is Horrid Henry Reads A Book. Because as horrid as Henry is, he's clever and imaginative in how he goes about it!

Henry isn't perfect, he doesn't necessarily follow the rules, and he rarely minds authority, but he's just so likable.

I highly recommend this series of chapter books. I only wish I'd known of them sooner!
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