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Review: Summer on the Short Bus

March 6, 2015

Summer on the Short Bus

Seventeen year old Cricket’s dad has decided he’s had enough after she throws a party in their stables.  Instead of spending the summer in Hawaii with her friends, her dad decides she’s going to be a counselor at Camp I Can – a camp for kids with special needs.

Cricket is not happy about being at the camp and is trying to figure out how to get out of there as quickly as possible, but, before she knows what’s happened, the campers and other counselors have gotten under her skin.

Summer on the Short Bus by Bethany Crandell is pretty predictable, but it’s got such a great message, it doesn’t matter – I thought it was just terrific.  Cricket comes from a privileged background and it shows – she acts entitled and has no focus.  When she pushes her dad to the limit, he decides it’s time to teach her a thing or two about hard work and compassion.

The story is told with humor and honesty and has a little romance and mystery thrown in so there’s something for everyone.  It gets a great message across without feeling preachy and is just snarky enough to keep teens’ attention  There is some mild language in this book so I’d recommend it to older YA readers.

kid konnection newI will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

Review copy provided by Running Press.  I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Review: What in God’s Name

March 5, 2015

What in God's Name

Heaven isn’t, well, as heavenly as you’d think.  God isn’t all that interested in what’s going on on Earth and neither are most of the angels.   Craig and Eliza are, though.  They’re both assigned to the Department of Miracles and they know their work makes a difference.

When God decides he’s had enough, he announces that he’ll retire in one month and destroy the Earth at that time.  Craig and Eliza beg God to reconsider and he agrees to spare the Earth if they can make the most impossible miracle happen.

I’m a fan of Simon Rich and his humor so decided to explore one of his earlier books, What in God’s Name.  I liked this book and found it entertaining but didn’t love it the way I have his others and I’m not really sure why.  It’s well written and was a fast, light read.  It was full of Rich’s trademark humor and social commentary.  The only difference is the other two books were short stories and this one’s a novel, so maybe it was just a little too long for me.  Still, I enjoyed it and would recommend it to fans of Rich’s humor.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.


Wondrous Words Wednesday

March 4, 2015

Wondrous Words Wednesday is a weekly meme where you can share new words that you’ve encountered or spotlight words you love.  Feel free to get creative!   If you want to play along, grab the button, write a post and come back and add your link to Mr. Linky!

I found three new words in Dataclysm by Christian Rudder.

1. auteur – “The next weekend, some other friends were going and since John Waters is a respected auteur, and hey I’m a cool guy who gets it, I figured there was at least some chance I was wrong the first time.”

An auteur is a filmmaker whose influence and artistic vision is so great the filmmaker is consider the author of the film.  A well known example is Alfred Hitchcock.


2. tautology – “You’d like more than tautologies, but sex and the data are inextricable.”

Tautology is saying the same thing twice, using different words.


3. fiat – “The boundaries of many communities were created by fiat or accident — or both.”

A fiat is an authoritative decree, sanction, or order.


What words do you want to celebrate today?

Review: The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street

March 3, 2015

The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street

Lillian Dunkle (née Malka Treynovsky) immigrated to the U. S. with her family when she was very young.  Shortly after their arrival she was crippled in an accident and abandoned by her family.  She was taken in by an Italian ice cream maker and his family and quickly learns the business.  When she marries, she helps her husband, Albert, build an ice cream empire.  There’s a problem, though – she presents herself as someone she’s not – and her past finally catches up with her.

I had high hopes for The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street by Susan Jane Gilman – I’ve enjoyed her memoirs in the past and know she can write.  For the most part, I did enjoy her first novel, but I did have a few issues with it.

I liked Lillian even though she was somewhat annoying.  She gave me a feel of what it was like to be an immigrant in the early part of the 20th century and shows just how tough it was for a woman to be successful in business at that time.  For me, though, her story was too long, and some of the details felt pointless so, after a while, I found my mind wandering.

I listened to the audio version of the book which is narrated by the author.  She has a pleasant voice but I didn’t feel she was a good choice – there wasn’t a lot of expression in her voice and I found myself zoning out from time to time.

Review copy provided by Hachette Books. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.

Mailbox Monday

March 2, 2015

Mailbox Monday March 1

Welcome to Mailbox Monday, a meme started by Marcia of To Be Continued, and now hosted on its own blog.    Last week went by in a blur.  Every single meteorologist was sure we’d be hit by a big winter storm and people scrambled to prepare for it which meant the store was busy.  Thankfully, they were wrong – we got rain and a smattering of snow instead of the 5 to 8 inches they predicted.  Even so, I’m glad to say goodbye to February and its weather.   I found these books in my mailbox last week:




What did you find in your mailbox last week?

Review: Ella

February 28, 2015


Six year old Ella is an “urban child.”  Her mom’s in the entertainment industry so Ella is generally left in the care of her nanny.  They live in an upscale hotel where Ella is “hotel-schooled” and pretty much has free rein of the hotel.

Ella by Mallory Kasdan is a parody of the popular Eloise books and, I’m sorry to say, I had mixed feelings about it.

The Good:

  • This book is full of diversity, including a male nanny.
  • Ella is clever, entertains herself well, and says she’s never bored.
  • The illustrations by Marcos Chin are fantastic.

The Not-So-Good:

  • The book is recommended for ages 4 and up but I don’t think youngsters will understand much of it.
  • Ella is given a lot of freedom and her lifestyle (including texting) is beyond most 6 year olds.

In the end, Ella was okay for me.  I think those who have fond memories of Eloise will appreciate the book more than children so it should be marketed toward adults.

kid konnection newI will link this up to Booking Mama’s Saturday feature, Kid Konnection. If you’d like to participate in Kid Konnection and share a post about anything related to children’s books (picture, middle grade, or young adult) from the past week, leave a comment as well as a link on her site.

Review copy provided by Tandem Literary.  I am an Indiebound Affliate.

At the movies: Chef

February 27, 2015
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I’d wanted to see Chef when it was in theaters but never made it.  We noticed it on Netflix a few weeks ago and decided to watch it.  Chef Carl Casper wants to be more creative when a food critic comes to the restaurant where he works but his boss insists he stick with the basic menu.  When the critic trashes his efforts, Carl tweets his displeasure and the battle lines are drawn.  The critic returns to the restaurant and Carl loses his cool and his job.

With the help of his ex-wife, Carl buys an old food truck and he, his son, and a good friend transform it, helping Carl get his passion back and reconnect with his son.

Chef is a feel-good movie and we all liked it quite a bit but I don’t think any of us loved it.  The story is cute and the acting is fine but the movie dragged in a few places for me.  The cooking/food scenes were just wonderful though.  This movie is well worth watching at home.

weekend cookingI will be linking this up to Weekend Cooking which is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend.


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