Saturday, July 5, 2014

Who dropped the Bombshell?: Aunt Sophia's Lessons for Bombshells by Lisa Cach Book Review

Grace Cavanaugh is off to visit her eccentric Aunt Sophia for the summer in this rollicking romp of chick lit proportions. Aunt Sophia is a former B-Movie star, whose sensuality and diva drive may send Grace ready to high-tail it to the nearest funny farm, but Sophia sees a spark of herself in the lackluster Grace and sets aside her personal time to transform this average girl into a ravishing beauty.

Grace is game for this challenge which gives her plenty of research for her upcoming Women's Studies thesis surrounding beauty. Sophia does offer Grace a little added incentive that gives her the romantic challenge of her life.

Mix in two handsome and charming men, a friend still simmering over Grace's lack of affection to her wiles and the pacific paradise of California for a lesson in "bombshell-tude".

I am still reading this book. I enjoy Aunt Sophia's feisty fire, but feel that the storyline and characters are too cliched and played out to hold my attention (which can happen with many chick lit writer's storylines). While I intend to finish this book, I am beginning to become irritated by Grace's clinical research notes and Declan's male chauvinistic bravado.

Update: I've finished reading this novel and I have to say I enjoyed the twist and turns of the final chapters of the book. I was actually surprised by demure Dr. Andrew's plan, Sophia's shocking secret and the sincerity of ever brash Declan. All in all, it was a decent book with a good ending. I feel they could have left out some of the gratuitous happenings, but all in all it turned out okay.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Searching For Her Son: Review of Philomena Staring Judy Dench and Steve Coogan

Released: 2013 
Starring: Judy Dench and Steve Coogan 

Philomena chronicles the search and depth of a mother’s love for a child she lost to adoption years ago. 

Philomena Lee was a young woman whose brief romantic encounter ended in an unplanned pregnancy which was shunned by both her religion and society in the mid-twentieth century. Desperate and in need of help, she entered a convent for “girls in trouble” run by local nuns. 

Suddenly, her world is ripped apart before her eyes, as a sedan pulls up to the steps of the convent. Out walked sweet, cherubic Anthony and a friend’s daughter. Helplessly, her heart skips a beat as she ran frantically after the sedan with the newly adopted children. That day her determined spirit is shadowed by the sadness of the profound loss of a child she barely knew. 

Fifty years later, on Anthony’s birthday, Philomena stares at a time-worn photo of her son given to her by one of the kind nuns in the convent. Her daughter, comments on the picture and find out the hidden secret. 

As a cocktail waitress for exclusive parties, her daughter meets former BBC journalist Martin Sixsmith. She asks Martin to help her mother locate the son she had lost to adoption. 

Begrudgingly, Martin takes the assignment. Through his tireless research, he finds out the “fluff” human interest journalism he despises can impact not only the life of an elderly woman, but his own. With much trial, tribulation, and travel, Martin and Philomena investigate her son’s journey and times. 

Judy Dench is superb. Her unnervingly raw and heartfelt portrayal of Philomena breathed life into this captivating film. Steve Coogan gave a remarkable, guarded and hard-edged appeal to Martin Sixsmith’s steely demeanor. 

More About the Film 

Official Website: 

(Awards page source: Internet Movie Database) 

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Let's Rock and Roll: Review of Lick by Kylie Scott (Stage Dive Book 1)

Wanna marry a rock star? Well that’s what non-glamorous, ordinary Evelyn Thomas did. 

Waking up in a drunken stupor on the bathroom floor may be a somewhat, ahem, typical college quandary, but not for this straight-as-an arrow girl celebrating her 21st birthday in Vegas.

Bleary-eyed and bewildered, Evelyn is blown away by the drop-dead handsome face of heartthrob rocker David Ferris and the dazzling ring which graces her finger as she awakens. Is it a dream, a nightmare, a hallucinogenic episode? No, it's her new reality, as wife to the dreamy musician of the band, Stage Dive. 

This sends the two into a multitude of hijinks including ducking from reporters, lascivious lawyers and avoiding their own feelings of mutual lust and inevitable compatibility. 

Scott’s catchy, tongue-in-cheek voice of her spunky and snarky heroine, Evelyn, perfectly complements David Ferris’ brooding, sentimental and gentle demeanor. 

Readers will enjoy devouring this quick-paced, rock-and roll novel that will leave them breathless and clamoring for a taste of the spotlight.

Friday, June 6, 2014

On the Beaches of Normandy: Picture Books to Commemorate the 70th Anniversary of D-Day

Today is the 70th Anniversary of D-Day. To commemorate the bravery of the Allied Forces in their fight against the Nazi occupation, I've created a list of picture books pertaining to the 1940's and wartime events. 

Please click the following link to be brought to my early childhood education blog, to view the book list.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Golden Opportunity: Everything I Need to Know I Learned From a Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow

What do you think of when you open up a Little Golden Book? Chances are you think of home cuddled up next to a favorite relative giddy to hear another story.

 Little Golden Books reflect hope, instill cheerfulness and  create a moral compass through charismatic and innately good characters which give this cold, cruel and sometimes downright rotten world a glimmer of safety and warmth.

Everything I Need to Know I Learned From A Little Golden Book by Diane Muldrow  makes even the least sentimental and rigid personalities long for a hug from their mothers or reminds them of heartfelt past remembrances.

Each page contains a lovingly rendered illustration from some of Little Golden Books most cherished tales. A chubby little elephant from The Saggy Baggy Elephant greets you with an impish smile and children swirl across the pages in bright shades of blue, red and yellow in a gleeful parade.

The words inked and message spoken through a gentle and direct voice, speak of the importance of savoring life to its fullest, worrying less, and truly living.

One of my favorite sections of the book bears an image of two children strolling on a beach with the simple statement "look up". This alerts us to the fact that we live in a big world whose actions are beyond our control, but can be contained and enjoyed by just being present.

If you are looking for bibliophile's valium, you've found it. Leafing through this story gives readers a "golden" opportunity to be wowed by the little things in life.

Source: Image 

Friday, May 30, 2014

IL-luminating Illinois: Books About Illinois

Illinois is a big state with more than corn, cows and of course, Chicago! Take a look at these books  whose plots take place in the “Prairie State” or are about the “Land of Lincoln”. They would surely make even Mr. Lincoln (himself) smile.

Young Adult 

Love, Amalia by Alma Flor Ada (2012) 
Pointe by Brandy Colbert (2014) 
Wild Cards by Simone Elkeles (2013) 
A Midsummer’s Nightmare: A Novel by Kody Keplinger 
Coal Town Jesus by Ronald Koertge (2013) 
Claim to Fame by Margaret Haddix Peterson (2010)
The Shadow Beside Me by Marie Rutkoski (2012) 
Just Your Average Princess by Kristina Springer (2011) 
Time Between Us by Tamera Ireland Stone (2012) 1st in series 
Roller Girls Falling Hard by Megan Sparks (1st in Roller Girl Series) (2013) 

Juvenile Fiction 

Let’s Go, White Sox by Aimee Aryal (2007) 
The Secret of the Painted House by Marion Dane Bauer (2007) 
Secrets of the Cicada Summer by Andrea Beaty (2010) Extra Credit by Andrew Clements Clues in the Shadows: A Molly Mystery by Kathleen Ernst (American Girl Mysteries Series) (2009)
The Summer I Saved the 65 Days by Michele Weber Hurwitz (2014) 
Deliver Us From Normal by Kate Klise (2005)
Project Mulberry: A Novel by Linda Sue Park (2005) 
A Long Way From Chicago: A Novel in Stories by Richard Peck (2004)
On the Wings of Heroes by Richard Peck (2005)

Younger Children 

Bears ABC (2012) and Chicago Cubs ABC (2013) by Brad M. Epstein 
Good Night Chicago by Adam Gamble (2006)
Little Illinois: Lot of Fun with Rhyming Riddles by Esther Hershenhorn (2011) 
Pizza Pie in the Sky: A Story About Illinois by Karen Latchana Kenney (2009)
What Am I? : Illinois by Anne Margaret Lewis (2011) 
Larry Gets Lost in Chicago by Michael Mullin (2010)
Chicago Baby by Jerome Pohlen (2013)
1 2 3 Chicago: A Cool Counting Book by Puck (2009)
L is for Lincoln: An Illinois Alphabet by Kathy-Jo Wargin (2000)
Prairie Number: An Illinois Number Book by Kathy-Jo Wargin (2006)

Saturday, July 6, 2013

One of the Best Non-fiction Social Studies Series for Preschoolers: Welcome Books by Lloyd G. Douglas

Social studies in preschool is a particularly sticky topic. Too much info, your little cutie-pies eyes glaze over, too little and an attack of ants in the pants settles in. Thankfully, during this patriotic Fourth of July week I was able to find an awesome series for preschoolers.

Welcome Books authored by Lloyd G. Douglas gives straightforward, simple facts which need little explanation for even the youngest of students. The photographs are large and stunning. Each volume offers an index and definitions of the bold words in the book. My favorites in the series include those on the American flag, Liberty Bell and the Statue of Liberty. Check out these small wonders at your local library for an extra special touch to your next civic-minded lesson plan.