Tag Archives: summer reading

Judy Moody’s Not So Bummer Summer: A Bookymom Review

Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer (Judy Moody, #10)Judy Moody and the Not Bummer Summer by Megan McDonald
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is my first Judy Moody Book. I don’t always read the same books as my kids nor do I always read the books with my kids. But I did end up reading this one aloud with them over the summer, I am sure you can guess why based on the title.

I must say I much prefer the character of Judy Moody to that nasty little girl, Junie B. Jones. I really can’t stand Junie. Any child who acted the way she did would banned from house forever!

In this book, Judy Moody is left with her aunt Opal for the summer. She plans a summer of adventures that all seem to go sideways. At the sametime, Stink (Judy’s younger brother) is hunting for Bigfoot.

The Bigfoot subplot as well as the crazy aunt add a lot to book and certainly make it entertaining for kids.

As something for kids to read over the summer, this book hits the mark.

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The Dinner: Summer Reading Anyone?

The DinnerThe Dinner by Herman Koch

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Food and family always seem to go together, take Thanksgiving for example. This combination is played out in Herman Koch’s The Dinner. Two brothers meet for a meal to discuss the state of the children as readers are offered a glimpse of a dysfunctional family. (Reading about dysfunctional families seems to be a trend for me this summer!)

I won’t say much more about the plot, it has a few twists and turns. (Although particularly, surprising). I am sure you will want to come to the book with fresh eyes!

Personally, I disliked all the characters, from start to finish. But, I think that may be Koch’s point. The story is told from the point of view of Paul–one of the brothers. He fixates on all kinds of small details over the dinner— the price of the food, the wait staff, his brother, his sister in-law. I get the point, but after awhile I was tired of his obsession with the staff and their over explanation of all the food.

All and all, the book is a quick read and it is certainly worth a bit of summer entertainment. Friends have recommended his other books as well, but I think I might pass on them.

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The Family Fang: Easy Summer Reading…

The Family FangThe Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The Family Fang features a family of four. The parents Caleb and Camille engage in a strange type of performance art where they attempt to disrupt the world around them by acting in bizarre and unexpected ways. The “art” is based on how normal people react to their chaotic stirring up of reality. Almost from birth, the parents force the children into being a part of the strange scenes they create. They begin recording the “art” and submitting it for grants and other awards. In the “art” pieces the kids are referred to by A and B.

We join the story once A and B have grown up and both move back home after life’s normal chaos takes over their lives. Shortly after returning home, Caleb and Camille disappear. The police contact A and B because they suspect that Caleb and Camille have been killed. The kids think it’s another performance art piece.

I won’t tell you any more to avoid spoilers. But, as you can already tell the story is about issues of self and parental control.

It is a snappy quick book that thrives on the quirky and absurd. The book entertains and compels the reader forward with the desire to know if they parents are dead or crazy. A fun, light, book read perfect for summer.

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Mom Camp Day 27: Knights and Princesses

20130814-162022.jpgAfter a family vacation, its time to start good ol’ Mom Camp again.  The original plan was to have two or three days for our Knight and Princess theme.  But, with school just around the corner and so much to do before it starts, we had to squeeze things into a single day.

20130814-162110.jpgWe made three crafts. The Princess wanted wands. I found these at the Dollar Store and saved them.  She didn’t add too much decoration, but she was happy with them…

20130814-162044.jpg20130814-162038.jpgNext we made these cute little princess and knight crafts.  The idea came from Busy Bee Crafts. Although we made up the princess craft ourselves.  We used some left over fabric, glitter sticker sheets, cotton balls and buttons.  The Princess needed a little help getting started, but Cinco made his knight without any help!

20130814-162029.jpgThe next craft was a dragon!  The idea for this one was borrowed from Activity Village. It was originally supposed to be a dragon made from a wooden spoon.  Sadly, I didn’t get the chance to buy any wooden spoons so wemodified the craft and used plastic ones.  The kids still had a great time painting and designing the dragons.

For our reading, we have been listening to in the car. The audio version is abridged. But, it is read by Rob Reiner, which is kinda cool. Thank heaven it’s been keeping the kids quite in the backseat as we do our chores! As aside note, they have yet t actually watch themovie!

Cinco also spent a lot of time reading a Choose-Your-Own Adventure style book about knights.

Our movie was: The film as recently been released on DVD. I loved it as a kid and it’s a great way to talk the kids about the Magna Carta. (Have I mentioned that ever summer I plan to do a Magna Carta Day for Mom Camp and ever summer, I miss it? If I ever get to Magna Carta Day, we will be watching this again.)

Update: I did do a Magna Carta Day….

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The Dead Walk On (TWD volume 18): A Bookymom Review

The Walking Dead, Vol. 18: What Comes AfterThe Walking Dead, Vol. 18: What Comes After by Robert Kirkman

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is the 18th installment of The Walking Dead, a graphic novel series that deals with life after zombies. Like so many end-of-the-world books, this one has become less about zombies and more about people. I love that Kirkman has taken these character’s down so many paths. But, I do have to agree with other reviewers that I am suffering from the feeling I’ve been down this road before. Rick has to confront a tyrannical leader. But, this was an awesome volume for Rick’s son Carl. If you enjoy reading about Carl, this one is for you!!!! I feel in some ways this volume is filler and set up for things to come. I only hope what happens is new and not repetitive.

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Elizabeth Chadwick’s Shadows and Strongholds: A Bookymom Review

Shadows and StrongholdsShadows and Strongholds by Elizabeth Chadwick

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Shadows and Strongholds is another of Elizabeth Chadwick’s novels about life during and after The Anarchy. This time we follow a young boy, Brunin Fitzwarin as he grows to manhood.

As always, you can count on Chadwick to paint a vivid picture of the period. However, in this story I really feel as if she gave the characters a chance to shine. We are treated to story that is less tangled in history and more focused on the people. I have read Chadwick’s Marshal books (John, William and Mahelt) as well as her book about Empress Matilda. I liked them all, but they were less chapter driven. In this book, Chadwick takes more liberties with the characters and the lives and it really pays off.

Brunin and his family relationships are very well developed. We see how he interacts with his own family as well as the family of his foster father. I also loved the female characters– Sybilla, Hawise, Marion–. They really have a strong role to play in the book and move the plot. They play a role even though they are not Queens. Even Brunin’s grandmother is well developed.

If you like Chadwick, I think this is one of her better books.

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Child 44: A Bookymom Review

Child 44Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith follows the story of a simple Russian mad caught up in the times. He is a normal guy trying to make his way in Stalinist Russia where everyone is waiting to turn in the their neighbor, best friend or sister to the officials. People never come back and Leo is the reason why. Until one day, when the shoe is on the other foot. Wanted as a traitor, Leo and his wife set off to discover who is killing Russia’s children.

What I really loved about this story, is that it is more than mystery. The mystery is used to drive the plot but the life and experiences of the characters are center stage. We are drawn into Leo’s somewhat complicated marriage. We are made to see what like in Stalin’s Russia might have been like. We see Leo’s office politics and how they play out with life and death consequences. There are so many interesting things happening the story that the mystery is more of a background story.

I will say, the ending is a little over the top for me. If the ending, were a little different this would have been a 4 star read for me. Still, there are so many good things going for this book, I think you should take the time to read it!

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Dark Places by Gillian Flynn: A Bookymom Review

Having read Gone Girl, I decided to give another of Gillian Flynn’s novels a try. It is, of course, another mystery-suspense novel. Those of you who know my reading tastes, know mystery-suspense is probably my least favorite genre. Still, when I read Gone Girl with my book club I loved it so much that simply had to give Dark Places a try.

So what’s it about? A farming family that suffers from one day unexpected events that lead up to a night of unintended consequences which results in three deaths, a son in jail and a young daughter being sent from foster home to foster home. Cherry right?

As in Gone Girl, Flynn treats readers to different view points in the novel by switching from present day to the long-ago-past. By playing with both time and point of view, Flynn keeps readers guessing until the bitter end.

I listened to the audio version of this story and it presents listeners with several readers for the book, which enhances the story and the listening experience. This is one of those books that is propelled forward by the audio narrators. The added level of interest helped me finish this book quickly.

I would recommend the book in both its written and audio versions.


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Mom Camp Day 17: Baseball

20130717-163735.jpg In preparation for a trip to Dodger Stadium to see Cinco’s first major league game, we invited some friends – a brother/sister team- over for Baseball Day.

We got things rolling with awesome baseball crafts:
Decorate Your Own Ball cap

  • 4 Ball caps from The Dollar Store
  • Lots of beads
  • Glitter glue
  • Markers

The boys were not overly excited by this project. But The Princess and her BFF had a great time designing their hats. They liked arranging the beads on the glitter glue, although a few fell off and I had to hot glue them later for The Princess.

Color Your Own Ball bat and Players: 

The next craft was coloring in little mini-wooden baseball bats. I found them online when I was ordering a bunch of wooden craft supplies.20130717-164408.jpg Cinco also took some wooden peg men and paired them up with the bats!

Cinco’s guest made a baseball player out of a Round Clothespins and we glued his bat on him!IMG_2119

Who’s #1?

No cheer leading section is complete without the famous finger sign! I found these little gems at The Dollar Store and we decorated them for the game!!!IMG_2118

All the kids also got bouncing baseballs. The idea was to color them with markers and glitter paint. The boys left their’s plain and the girls went wild with glitter!!! Imagine!

The boys also had fun playing a fun game Cinco got from his grandmother for his B-day. You throw soft cloth baseballs at a target and depending in what you hit, you move small plastic men around a ball field. The boys abandoned the ball field and players and more fun throwing the balls! But having fun is the point so who cares?

Treats Please…..
20130717-165911.jpgFor treats, I tried make to Carmel corn. Out came my beloved Whirly-Pop!!!And, my attempt to make the Carmel corn. After the first batch turned into a gloppy mess, I decided to consult my ‘Internet cookbook’ and found a better recipe. We added peanuts and packed it up in a red and white striped popcorn bag!

The treats continued with baseball themed gum. 20130717-170601.jpg

I know you are thinking Big League Chew. But, no! These little baseball gum-balls had cute little saying on them such as ‘Home Run’, ‘Strike’ or ‘Single’.

We read this book. Short and cute. It’s a baseball themed version of Goodnight Moon!

And, Cinco finished:
It was a good book to read before heading over to a Dodger game because the end is full of interesting facts about the stadium. So interesting in fact, The Captain kept sharing them with his sister and her family (who went to the game with us!)

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Dan Brown’s Inferno: A Review

Inferno (Robert Langdon, #4)Inferno by Dan Brown
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Inferno we are treated to the latest installment of the Robert Langdon series. Langdon finds himself in an Italian hospital with what he thinks is a gun shoot wound and missing memories of the last few days. Over the next several hundred pages we follow Langdon and his female sidesick, Siena Brooks, on whirlwind adventure featuring the woks of Dante’s Inferno. The two are set out to figure out just what Langdon was doing in Italy and start tracking a life-altering plague.

In the “PULP FiCTION” category I give this book four stars! But, it is certainly not a book that is going to stand the test of time.

I think this my favorite of Dan Brown’s books. After all it has so many of my favorite things, Venice, Constantinople, literature and plagues, what could be better? (Maybe a vamp or two, but let’s not get CRAZY!)

All and all, it was typical Dan Brown lots of running around Europe with twists and turns–nothing is as it seems. You know the drill. I must say the twists and turns got to be a little much me around chapter 80. But, by that time I was committed to finishing it.

One thing, wouldn’t Langdon get sick of this? Or at some point wonder why its always him? Or is he just too jaded to care any more. How many top secret adventures can a mild manner professor really have???

I also have to admit I have never read Dante and now I think I really must! So thats going to be a project in and of itself.

Anyway, its a good summer read, so go for it.

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