Thursday, May 1, 2014

The Chicken Squad: The First Misadventure by Doreen Cronin

by Doreen Cronin
Publisher:  Simon & Schuster
Publication Date:  April 8 2014
ISBN:  978-1442496767
Genre:  Children's Fiction
Book Synopsis:  They’re darling. They’re daring. They know their shapes! They’re chicks on a mission—and on this, their first (mis)adventure, the Chicken Squad launches a galactic backyard expedition.

Meet the Chicken Squad: Dirt, Sugar, Poppy, and Sweetie. These chicks are not your typical barnyard puffs of fluff, and they are not about to spend their days pecking chicken feed and chasing bugs. No sir, they’re too busy solving mysteries and fighting crime.

So when Squirrel comes barreling into the chicken coop, the chicks know they’re about to get a case. But with his poor knowledge of shapes (“Big” is not a shape, Squirrel!) and utter fear of whatever it is that’s out there, the panicky Squirrel is NO HELP. Good thing these chicks are professionals.

But even professionals get worried. Especially once they see that round, shiny, green, BIG thing in the yard. What if it’s a UFO full of aliens who want chickens as pets? It’s up to the Chicken Squad to crack a case that just might be out of this world.

My Thoughts:  What a fun, creative book. This is a spin-off from Cronin's J.J. Tulley Mysteries.  The chickens now have their own stories, although J.J. is still a integral part - retired, and their protector.

Doreen Cronin is very well known for her silly animal stories - many of which I have in my classroom library.  In The Chicken Squad, Cronin once again has managed to pack so much within a story.  There is humor, a familiar dog,  a "big and scary" mystery, very charismatic and personable chicks, and even a little geometry.

This book is an excellent beginning chapter book.  It is easy to follow. Readers are immediately introduced to the characters and quickly drawn into a humorous mystery.  Children will be easily attracted to the ridiculous interactions and situations.  the vocabulary is pretty simple, and there is enough repetition that will make it easy for a struggling reader to catch on.  The pattern and structure of the text lend itself for a perfect read-aloud book.  It would be a story that children would not want to put down, but continue to read or listen to.

As a third grade teacher, I see this as a book I want to have in my classroom.  I am always looking for good chapter books - especially ones that my lower readers will be able to pick up and read independently.  This will be a book that my children will read and eagerly share with others.

I see this book later becoming a children's animated cartoon.  I think the writing, the characters, as well as the cute illustrations have already allowed me to create an animated cartoon in my mind.

About the Author:  Doreen Cronin was a practicing attorney in Manhattan when her first book Click, Clack Moo: Cows That Type became a publishing success. But her book was not published overnight, in fact, she had written this barnyard tale even before attending law school but only received rejection letters from publishers. Five years after submitting the original manuscript she got a call from a publisher who wanted to turn her story into a book and the rest is history!

The busy life of a writer left no room for courtroom litigation and arbitration so Doreen made the leap to being a full-time children’s book author. She then teamed up once again with illustrator Betsy Lewin to write another hilarious barnyard tale, Giggle, Giggle, Quack, that continues the escapades of these lovable animals on a farm.

In Doreen’s latest book, Diary of a Worm, she explores the daily life of a lovable worm. Who knew that the underground dwellings and activities of worms could be so funny. Readers may even find that worm’s life is much the same as theirs except worm eats his homework and his head looks a whole lot like his rear!

Doreen was born in Queens and grew up in Long Island. She graduated from Pennsylvannia State University and St. John’s University School of Law. She currently resides in New York with her husband and dog “Ruffie.”                                                   Author Website          Goodreads            Series Website               

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Somewhere in France by Jennifer Robson

Somewhere in France

by Jennifer Robson

Publisher:  William Morrow Paperbacks
Publication date:  December 31, 2013
ISBN:  978-0062273451
Genre:  historical fiction
Book Synopsis:  Lady Elizabeth Neville-Ashford wants to travel the world, pursue a career, and marry for love. But in 1914, the stifling restrictions of aristocratic British society and her mother’s rigid expectations forbid Lily from following her heart. When war breaks out, the spirited young woman seizes her chance for independence. Defying her parents, she moves to London and eventually becomes an ambulance driver in the newly formed Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps—an exciting and treacherous job that takes her close to the Western Front.

Assigned to a field hospital in France, Lily is reunited with Robert Fraser, her dear brother Edward’s best friend. The handsome Scottish surgeon has always encouraged Lily’s dreams. She doesn’t care that Robbie grew up in poverty—she yearns for their friendly affection to become something more. Lily is the most beautiful—and forbidden—woman Robbie has ever known. Fearful for her life, he’s determined to keep her safe, even if it means breaking her heart.

In a world divided by class, filled with uncertainty and death, can their hope for love survive. . . or will it become another casualty of this tragic war?
My Thoughts:  It really surprises me that this is a debut novel.  The author is very skilled at including the historical details without allowing it to become dull and boring.  I was immediately drawn in, not wanting to put it down. I think the idea of the forbidden romance was the lure.  The blurb on the front cover claiming a similarity to Downton Abbey helped too.

I really enjoy reading about this era and the hierarchy of the society.  A high-society girl defying her parents in search of something more.  Having all the money at her fingertips was not enough. Lily wanted to taker her part and felt it her duty to do something in this time of war.  She was not satisfied staying at home being told what she was not allowed to do.  She did not want to have and arranged marriage to someone she did not love.  What a wonderful character!  She gave up the world to seek her dreams.

Although Lily holds onto and follows her desires, the author was adept at showing the changes and growth in this character.  She provided a nice cast of supporting characters that allowed Lily to be herself and be comfortable in her ever changing world - going from having everything to nothing - and back again.

I really respect the control that Robbie shows throughout the novel.  For the most part, he is the underdog - coming from the lower class - not of the same world as Lily.  The only reason the even crossed paths was because he was the best friend of her brother, Edward.  Lily's mother disapproved of the friendship between Edward and Robbie, and even more so of any relationship between Lily and Robbie.  Robbie, now a surgeon, does his best to distance himself from Lily, but finds he cannot get her off his mind.  It becomes even more difficult when she is working right under his nose, at the same hospital.  He spends his days worrying about her safety.

This book was an easy read; not too complex with al the historical information, but straightforward and casual in its approach.  If you enjoy historical fiction, you will definitely find this book worth the read.  I excitedly await the follow-up coming next year (2015).
About the Author:  Jennifer Robson first learned about the Great War from her father, acclaimed historian Stuart Robson, and later served as an official guide at the Canadian National War Memorial at Vimy Ridge, France. A former copy editor, she holds a doctorate in British economic and social history from the University of Oxford. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and young children.                                                                         Goodreads           Facebook           Twitter            Website

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Friday, March 28, 2014

It's Been a While...............

I know I have been gone from my blog for quite some time, but it has not been totally forgotten.  I am slowly going to make my way back to the blogging world & book reviewing.  I have missed it so much.  I absolutely love to read, but had gotten so busy with my job -teaching, and my change in positions that I really had no time for reading.  And .....  what was I thinking.  Me and not reading - that just does not work.  So, I have started back in with my favorite genre - historical fiction.

Tomorrow I will be posting a review for Somewhere in France:  A Novel of the Great War by Jennifer Robson.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Unlikely and Unexpected Gift

The Unlikely Gift of Treasure Blume 
by Lisa Rumsey Harris
Publisher: Sweetwater Books
Publication Date: November 13th 2012
ISBN:   1462110266
Genre:  Feel-good, romance, humor
Book Synopsis:  With her love of sweaters, goofy hair, and awkward manners—not to mention her family curse—Treasure Blume knows love is not in her future. That is, until she matches wits with Dennis Cameron, a divorced chef with a six-year-old daughter. Full of mischief, mayhem, and laugh-out-loud humor, this is an unlikely love story you’ll want to read over and over again!
My Thoughts:  What an amazing book!  This is one that everyone should read, and I mean everyone!!!

If we could all be like Treasure Blume, this world would be such a brighter place to live.  She has such a wonderful gift - one that allows her to look beyond what others see in her so that she can choose to do the right thing - even when others think she is crazy.

Treasure is the type of teacher that I so wish I could be.  She always goes that extra mile for the needs of her students!  What a breath of fresh air.    Even if the authorities are not sure she is doing what is right, and even if she is not sure it is safe, she takes that extra risk.    Students would be blessed to have her for a teacher.

Beyond that is the romance.  I don't know that I have ever read a more cleanly written romance story.  So sweet and inviting.  I found myself cheering Treasure along - she so deserved to have that special someone in her life, if ever anyone did.

And, what can I say about Grammy Blume.  She is such a fun character.  She is off the wall, so out-there.  Grammy was a wonderful addition to Treasure!

Now, everyone needs to go out there and get the book and read it.  I promise, you will not be disappointed. You will probably read it in one sitting - it is that addictive!!!

About the Author:
Lisa Rumsey Harris is from Downey, Idaho, where she grew up writing stories and riding horses. She graduated magna cum laude from BYU with a degree in English and a minor in Humanities.

She honed her writing skills while working at BYU Development Communications, where she wrote brochures, letters, and conducting notes for President Merrill J. Bateman. She received her Master’s Degree in English in August 2003.

Sparked by the experiences of her own grandmother, Lisa’s thesis explored the dissonance between real ranch women and the representations of ranch women in literature. She presented her findings at the Hawaiian International Conference on the Arts and Humanities.

Lisa’s passion for the American West is rivaled only by her passions for teaching and writing. She began teaching Honors Writing courses in Fall 2003. Her teaching inspiration is her own mother, who as Lisa’s high school Spanish teacher, taught her the importance of finding innovative approaches to encourage active learning.

As a writer, Lisa has won numerous awards for her short stories, essays, and cowboy poetry, including a Sunstone award in the Brookie and D.K Brown Memorial Fiction Contest. Lisa lives in Orem, Utah, with her multi-talented husband, her adorable sunshine daughters, and her ancient Siamese cat.                                                                                               

The Effects of a Storm

We just got electricity & cable (phone, internet, TV) back!!!  It is hard to believe that a snowstorm can be so devastating!!  In my life I have lived through many storms and blizzards, but none quite as messy as this one!!  My driveway was blocked because of fallen trees - this in addition to all the outages.  I sat and listened to snaps and pops of trees breaking for 2 days/nights.  That was extremely scary, as my home is surrounded by trees.  I am just happy that everyone is safe.

Check some of these out - this is the road I drive to go to work each day:

So anyway.  I was supposed to have 3 posts up and ready by now.  Unfortunately, this is where the effects come into play.  With no electricity, I had no way to keep my iPad charged. So, I was only able to read one of said books.  I am in the process of reading the other two.  I am getting ready to post one review today, and the others will follow in the next day or two.  

I love reading my books on my iPad, but I guess there is some good in having a hard copy of a book.  I had all the time in the world to read the past several days, but unfortunately, could not.  Had I had a hard copy, they would have been finished. 

Monday, October 29, 2012

A Touch of Christmas

Saving Savanna by Sara Fitzgerald
Publisher:  Sweetwater Books (Cedar Fort Publishing)
Publication Date: October 9th 2012
ISBN:  1462111009
Genre:  Christmas / Family

Devan can’t help but blame God for his wife’s death, so the last thing he wants to do this holiday season is celebrate. But when his daughter, Savanna, makes a special Christmas wish, their little family will never be the same. Filled with faith and tenderness, this heartwarming story is sure to remind you of the real power behind the magic of Christmas.
Short, but Oh, so sweet!!!  Don't let the short length of this book turn you off, it packs so much into its 16 pages.  So sweet and heart tugging, Sara Fitzgerald knows how to tell a family story.  If you or someone you knows needs a reminder of the true meaning of Christmas, this is a must read.  What a perfect read for those of us who are busy at this time of year.

I have put this on my must share list for the holiday season.  This is one that I will pick up and read year after year.  

Sara Fitzgerald was named the 2006 Writer of the Year for the League of Utah Writers. She lives with her husband and daughter in Salt Lake City. She loves the Christmas season. To find out more about Saving Savanna and the author Sara Fitzgerald, visit her website:

Thursday, October 18, 2012

It's Been a While!

Wow!  Has it really been since the end of July since I last posted?  All I can say is - I'm glad to be back!!

I moved to a new job - hired in mid July as a 3rd grade teacher.  I had been an inclusive special education teacher for the past 8 years.  I did not realize just what a change it would be.  It has been very time consuming!  And - I love it!!!  I love my 20 kids too!!!

Anyway, I am looking forward to posting again.  I will be taking part in some wonderful book tours from Cedar Fort.  I have fallen in love with each and every book I have read from this publisher!  They sure know how to pick their authors and books!!! 

The first title I will be reviewing is The Unlikely Gift of Treasure Blume by  Lisa Rumsey Harris.  

Click on the banner to find out more!!

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