Review: The Chicken Squad by Doreen Cronin

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Yes, this is what might technically categorized as a children’s book.  But my reasons for reviewing it on this blog are many.  First of all, I’m a second grade teacher so much of what  I read falls into this category.  Plus, the holiday gifting season is upon us and books do truly make the best gifts.  And the best reason of all, it’s really a funny book!  In fact, so funny in parts that I couldn’t get the next word out as I was reading it to my class.

So there are these chickens.  Four of them, to be exact.  And there’s the mama chick, Moosh.  Oh and there’s J.J. the dog.  He’s in charge of keeping the chickens safe.  This first book sets the stage for future stories before diving headfirst into the mystery of “the big and scary thing” that Tail the squirrel finds in the yard.  The chickens take it upon themselves to solve the mystery.

Without a doubt, it’s juvenile humor.  But any humor is good.  And I promise, any young person you read this story to or with will enjoy it.  Plus, it’s the first in a series that will appeal to all kinds of readers.  Enjoy!

~Thalia

Buy It Now: The Chicken Squad

 

Review: A Blind Guide to Normal by Beth Vrabel


I loved loved loved A Blind Guide to Stinkville, and so there was no way I was going to miss out on the sequel, which proved to be very satisfying on many levels. (Both of these books are YA, by the way, for grades 5-7 I would guesstimate.)

First, I understand why many authors use alternating narrators, but frankly it just confuses me and makes the story choppy and less engaging. Beth Vrabel is so clever that she didn’t need to use alternating narrators, because she used Alice as the narrator for book one and Richie Ryder as the narrator for this book. Presto: The benefits of alternating narrators without the abrupt shifts every chapter! 

Second, and I’ve said this about Vrabel’s other books, I just love when the book reflects the personality of the narrator/protagonist. I was so annoyed with Richie Ryder and his jokes and stupid way he had with people. He really got under my skin! I didn’t want to keep reading at one point… and THEN I realized that it was Beth Vrabel’s awesome writing talent making me feel that way. It was like she was channeling Richie across dimensions. (Beth, do you tesser?!)

My most favorite facet of A Blind Guide to Normal wasn’t the fabulous karate competition or the yard horse or even Richie Ryder’s heartfelt friendships with quilting classmates and Alice and Jocelyn and Max. The best part of the book for me was the ending, where everyone figures out that fear is pretty much the ONLY thing that’s normal, and where Beth Vrabel again writes a book within a book. 

-calliope

Buy A BLIND GUIDE TO NORMAL

Review ~ Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

Phewf! Well, that was an intense week of listening! I’m going to hold my hands up shamefully admit that I’d held off from reading anything by the super popular author Liane Moriarty, simply because her fiction was so often labeled as chic lit. I conjured up aspersions of a bodice ripper type novel, empty angst or some other unfair generalization. Well, if this novel is classed as chic lit, then sign me the hell up! 

Big Little Lies follows a group of parents in a seaside Australian town. They have their rituals, meet at the school drop-offs, and have their cliques and issues. A new parent moves to town and soon makes fast friends, and indeed enemies. 

The novel starts off in an interview type manner, and we soon learn that something has happened at a school PTA quiz night. As we hear witness accounts of may or may not have happened that night, we are taken back to when Jane first arrives on the scene. 

What makes Moriarty’s novel such a hit, is not the plot; the plot, while good, is not one so unique that you wouldn’t ever see in a novel. No. Where Moriarty excels, is in her characters and their interaction. There is such razor sharp authenticity in how these parents and friends talk and act, that you really feel like you know them, and are there living with them. 

This is a brilliant novel that will keep you glued until the very end. If you’ve yet to start reading Moriarty, then Big Little Lies is a great place to start. 

~ Pegasus 

Big Little Lies

Review: “If You Lean In, Will Men Just Look Down Your Blouse?” By Gina Barreca

  
I’ve been reading Gina Barreca’s columns in my local newspaper for years. I love her brash attitude that reminds me so much of my own, her exasperation at injustices that no one should allow – no one!, and her talent for capturing just the right facet of a social issue to make a difference. 

 The dozens of essays in this book are tied together by section headings such as “I’m not needy; I’m wanty” and “If you met my family, you’d understand,” but more importantly woven together by the exploration of feminism.  

Barreca doesn’t bash men or bash women who like men. She doesn’t tell me I can’t wear pantyhose or I have to be pro-choice or I shouldn’t read smut. What I think Barreca says is that women should do what they do for themselves. For themselves! What a concept. If cooking for your husband makes you happy, do it. But don’t do it because he tells you to, because you feel worthless to him if you don’t, or because society tells you that’s all you have to offer if you’re a housewife. Get it? Read the book. You’ll get it. 

For me, it was nice that someone put a bunch of my thoughts into rational written form and then published it for all to read. For others, Barecca might not echo your exact thinking, but she will give you some food for thought. 

-calliope

Buy ‘IF YOU LEAN IN, WILL MEN JUST LOOK DOWN YOUR BLOUSE?’

Review: Be My Valentino by Sandra D. Bricker 

  

This second book in the Jessie Stanton series finds Jessie and Danny developing their relationship, the Feebs taking liberties with Jessie’s new life, and Jack Stanton getting a little bit of what he deserves. You’ll also find yummy shopping, fancy clothes wearing,  and charming dates. 

I enjoyed this book – love the characters, the detective work and the faith aspect. I’m ambivalent about Danny. He seems too good to be true. I guess I expect that in a straight up romance, but not in a mystery series, as light as it might be. I do appreciate Danny’s love for Jessie, the entrepreneurial spirit of Ms. Stanton (Hart!) — and the wonderful support of her friends. 

The writing seemed to be a little looser than usual for a Bricker read. Overuse of the word “snickered” bothered me for some reason, and some of the chapters could have been tightened up. 

I like Bricker’s talent for continuity, and for integrating faith issues in a realistic and subtle way. 

I’m awaiting book number 3! 

-calliope

Buy BE MY VALENTINO

Review – The Little Paris Bookshop, by Nina George

23278537This isn’t my usual type of read at all. However, past experiences of dipping my toes in other genres have proven successful in finding one of my favourite reads (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), so I thought I’d give it another go! Now, I’ll tell you upfront, this book didn’t turn out to be a favourite read of mine, but a solid choice nonetheless.
Nina George is German based writer, and so I was initially concerned that this book may get lost in translation (remember my experiences with the Dutch novels?), however, it remains rather neutral.
Set in modern day Paris, The Little Paris Bookshop follows Jean Perdue, a bookseller that sells his products from a river boat. Jean is very in-tune with his customer’s feelings and knows exactly what they should read in order to make them feel better, much like a chemist, but the prescription is books!
We learn that Jean’s wive left him quite a few years ago, and one day he finds a letter that explains a lot. This sets of a trip he takes down the river Seine and throughout France.
Along the way he meets a host of characters and experiences life like he never had whilst in Paris.

George writes a good story and I will be reading further offerings from this author. The characters are realistic (to a point), and are given enough emotion so that the reader cares about them. If you’ve never been to Paris, or France in general, you will want to go after reading this, so start saving those pennies! If you’ve been before, you will want to re-visit, so again, I say to you, start saving those pennies!

This novel is a mixture of heartbreak, comedy, and passion. Passion for fellow human beings and indeed passion for books. Sometimes, an eye roll did almost occur, however, this is a nice light read and should be taken for what it is. If you’re looking for something different, but not too different, then definitely give this one a chance!

Pegasus.

The Little Paris Bookshop: A Novel

Review: The Consequence of Revenge by Rachel Van Dyken

01 cons OH MY GOSH!!!!! MAX!!!!! I love Max. I mean, if you read Consequence #1, you met Max. He was the metrosexual best friend of Milo and would do anything for her. Even pretending to be her fiance, so she could get the man she loves. He went above and beyond the call of duty. However, after all he did, he was left alone, without a best friend anymore. And his friends were sick of his moping, so they decided to get him out of his funk.

However their way of helping is not his way. But really, who wouldn’t wanna be on a deserted island with 25 other single women?? Well…..Max. So he’s stuck on an island with the girl who turned him down, a goat, a gecko, and plenty of other women who make his insane personality almost seem normal.

This book was another hilarious installation in the Consequence series. I was cracking up. I loved how the other characters found their way to creep in the story and add to the madness.

I did feel bad for Max being surrounded by all these crazy people. However love manages to sneak in and we get to see the softer and sexier side to him. He was downright swoon worthy.

If you like romance books with plenty of laughter mixed in, and a dash or two of sexiness, then this is your book. Heck, this is your series!!

~Melpomene

Be sure to grab The Consequence of Loving Colton so you can see what happens to Max and understand why his friends did this to him. You won’t be disappointed.

Then grab The Consequence of Revenge

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