Saturday, March 28, 2015

Kid Konnection: Counting Crows

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you a very cute picture book by an awarding winning author who is no stranger to this blog!

Summary: Help hungry crows avoid a feline foe in this clever concept book from the author of The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp and The Underneath.

One, two, three, crows in a tree, bedecked in red scarves and hungry as can be. So they fly out of their nest with snacking in mind, and snack they do. Snack one, snack two, snack three—all the way to a dozen! But before they have time to complain about bellyaches, they have a bigger problem: a cat has been eyeing them… as potential snacks! Can these well-fed crows become well-FLED crows? Read and find out in this counting book from Newbery Finalist and two-time National Book Award Nominee Kathi Appelt, with spot-on illustrations from Rob Dunlavey. It’s the cat’s meow! -- Atheneum Books for Young Readers

Children's author Kathi Appelt, Newbery Finalist and two-timid National Book Award Nominee, has done it again. This time it's with an adorable picture book called COUNTING CROWS which has already received three starred reviews!

COUNTING CROWS is a very smart concept book and a fun way to learn to count. The book begins with three crows who are very hungry (and boy do I mean hungry.) They decide to leave their nest to find some snacks and eat just about everything in site from three roly-poly bugs, to to six salty peanuts, to a dozen slimy snails. After eating a lot and feeling rather full, these crows see a cat just waiting for them! Can they escape from the cat as easily as they devoured their snacks?

This picture book is positively adorable. I loved the fun way it teaches little ones to count, with both repetition and short phrases. The book is short enough to keep kids' attention while also providing enough silliness to keep them entertained. There's even a little suspense when the cat appears in the story. It really is a wonderful picture book for preschoolers!

As cute as the story is, the illustrations are even cuter! COUNTING CROWS is illustrated by Rob Dunlavey and I absolutely loved his black and white... and red drawings of these little crows. They are just precious and totally fit with the whimsical tone of the story. I am almost positive that little ones will adore these silly characters, especially given that they are portrayed in such a fun way.

I was pleasantly surprised to discover that there are activity sheets associated with COUNTING CROWS. These activity sheets are perfect for youngsters and will enhance their enjoyment of the story. There is a matching worksheet along with a maze, and there is even one of those "spot the differences" pictures.

COUNTING CROWS is another winner by an already accomplished children's author! Highly recommended.

Thanks to Blue Slip Media for providing a review copy of this book.

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, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Review: The Mystery Writers of America Cookbook

Summary: The Mystery Writers of America have joined forces to deliver this superb collection of more than 100 wickedly good recipes.

From Mary Higgins Clark’s Game Night Chili and Harlan Coben’s Crab Meat Dip to Scott Turow’s Innocent Frittata and Kathy Reich’s Shrimp Scampi, this cookbook offers one tasty treat after another.

Complete with a glamorous art-deco design and intriguing sidebars on the surprising—and sometimes deadly—links between food and foul play, this is the ultimate cookbook for crime aficionados. -- Quirk

As many of you know, I love mysteries! So much so that I try to feature a different one every Monday. I also love cookbooks and trying new recipes... even though I haven't exactly been writing many reviews for them lately.  THE MYSTERY WRITERS OF AMERICA COOKBOOK: WICKEDLY GOOD RECIPES FROM LEE CHILD, MARY HIGGINS CLARK, HARLAN COBEN, NELSON DEMILLE, GILLIAN FLYNN, SUE GRAFTON, CHARLAINE HARRIS, JAMES PATTERSON, LOUISE PENNY, SCOTT TUROW AND OTHER ACCLAIMED PLOT STIRRERS is a newly released cookbook that is ideal for mystery and food lovers like me. I'm sure many of you will feel the same way!

The Mystery Writers of America is the "premier organization for mystery writers, professionals allied to the crime-writing field, aspiring crime writers, and those devoted to the genre." They also have one of my favorite booths at BEA each year. Over the past few years, I've met so many incredible authors and received so many wonderful mysteries and thrillers. If you attend BEA, you have to stop by. You can meet up to four authors at any given time!

But back to the cookbook.... THE MYSTERY WRITERS OF AMERICA COOKBOOK is absolutely gorgeous. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect, but this cookbook is almost too pretty to use -- it looks like a coffee table book with the textured cover and gold text. And that's only the beginning! The inside of the book is a stunning too with full color photographs of the recipes.

I was pleasantly surprised by how many mystery authors contributed to this book. First of all, one of my favorites, Kate White, edited the book. (She has a new book coming up which I will be reviewing shortly!) In addition, there are over 100 recipes submitted by so many great writers -- all of them are listed alphabetically in the front of the book.  I don't know about you, but I always appreciate recipe compilations because each person submits their very favorite or most special recipe. It's like a "best of" cookbook! I also enjoyed reading the various mystery writers bios -- I even found a new author or two to try!

I don't want to make it sound like I wasn't expecting much of this cookbook because I was told it's a beauty; however, the recipes are amazing! The very first recipe is from Alafair Burke for Ellie Hatcher's Run-Soaked Nutella French Toast -- the very first one! As soon as I started reading this book, I knew I was in for a treat. Most of the recipes have tie-ins to the author's books or famous characters too, so it's a fun read for fans. I especially got a kick out of Sue Grafton's submission for Kinsey Millhone's Famous Peanut Butter & Pickle Sandwich.

The cookbook is divided into the following sections -- Breakfast, Appetizers, Soups and Salads, Entrees, Side Dishes, Desserts, and Drinks -- much like a regular cookbook. I wondered if THE MYSTERY WRITERS OF AMERICA COOKBOOK would be a little too gimmicky, but it's so well done -- far from gimmicky. It has some amazing recipes and I honestly think it's a great cookbook with recipes that I can make on a regular basis... that just happen to be submitted by famous mystery writers!

THE MYSTERY WRITERS OF AMERICA COOKBOOK is a great gift for mystery and/or cookbook lovers. Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher and Saichek Publicity for providing a review copy of this book.

Weekend Cooking 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. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Review: The Boston Girl

Summary: From the New York Times bestselling author of The Red Tent and Day After Night, comes an unforgettable novel about family ties and values, friendship and feminism told through the eyes of a young Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century.

Addie Baum is The Boston Girl, born in 1900 to immigrant parents who were unprepared for and suspicious of America and its effect on their three daughters. Growing up in the North End, then a teeming multicultural neighborhood, Addie’s intelligence and curiosity take her to a world her parents can’t imagine—a world of short skirts, movies, celebrity culture, and new opportunities for women. Addie wants to finish high school and dreams of going to college. She wants a career and to find true love.

Eighty-five-year-old Addie tells the story of her life to her twenty-two-year-old granddaughter, who has asked her “How did you get to be the woman you are today.” She begins in 1915, the year she found her voice and made friends who would help shape the course of her life. From the one-room tenement apartment she shared with her parents and two sisters, to the library group for girls she joins at a neighborhood settlement house, to her first, disastrous love affair, Addie recalls her adventures with compassion for the naïve girl she was and a wicked sense of humor.

Written with the same attention to historical detail and emotional resonance that made Anita Diamant’s previous novels bestsellers, The Boston Girl is a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world. -- Scribner

Ever since I read THE RED TENT, I have been interested in anything and everything Anita Diamant writes. Her latest novel THE BOSTON GIRL and it tells the story of a Jewish woman growing up in Boston in the early twentieth century.

The story begins when an 85 year old Addie Baum is asked by her 22 year old granddaughter, "How did you get to be the woman you are today?" Addie begins with describes her youth where she lived in Boston's North End, a multicultural neighborhood, with her immigrant parents and two sisters. She explains that she always wanted to be a "real" American and she was drawn to a world where women had opportunities outside of being homemakers and mothers. Addie wants to not only finish high school, but attend college; and she also wants to find the man of her dreams. Needless to say, she didn't feel as if her parents really understood her.

Addie continues her story throughout her young adult life as she joins a reading club at her local library, attends a summer camp for young women, and gets a secretarial job and then a writing gig at a newspaper. In addition, she shares with her granddaughter the special relationships she formed along the way.

I enjoyed THE BOSTON GIRL and found it interesting to follow Addie's story about growing up in the 20th century in Boston. I thought Addie was a terrific character and I truly rooted for her to find success and happiness. I also appreciated how Ms. Diamant incorporated so much of 20th century history into the book through Addie's story. There were some fascinating details about wars, the flu epidemic and more.

As I reflect on THE BOSTON GIRL, I did enjoy the novel quite a bit, but it wasn't exactly a book I couldn't put down. Addie's story was interesting, but it was almost too real... if that makes sense. As I read this novel, I often times had to remind myself that this book was fiction. Addie's story was heartwarming, but it wasn't exactly full of jaw-dropping scenes.

Having said that, I do think Addie's story is an important one. It's hard to believe how much woman and their roles have changed during that past century, and I thought Addie was a wonderful example to demonstrate this theme. I definitely appreciate how this novel gives today's reader an idea of how our grandmothers and great grandmothers (and all the women who lived before us) paved the way for us to be whatever we want to be -- whether it be career women, mothers, stay-at-home moms, etc. And Addie's story proved that it wasn't always easy to be "different" -- a valuable lesson for individuals of all ages.

THE BOSTON GIRL would make a wonderful book club selection. I think it would be interesting for everyone to share some stories about their female ancestors. In addition, there is a reading guide available with twelve questions along with some ideas to enhance your book club meeting. Some of the themes you might want to explore include parent/child relationships, friendships, art, the role of women through the ages, immigrants, grief, and guilt.

THE BOSTON GIRL is an interesting look at how the roles of women have changed throughout the 20th century through the eyes of one woman's story. Recommended to fans of Ms. Diamant and women's literature.

Thanks to the publisher who provided a review copy of this novel.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Review: The Precious One

Summary: From the New York Times bestselling author of Belong to Me, Love Walked In, and Falling Together comes a captivating novel about friendship, family, second chances, and the redemptive power of love.

In all her life, Eustacia “Taisy” Cleary has given her heart to only three men: her first love, Ben Ransom; her twin brother, Marcus; and Wilson Cleary—professor, inventor, philanderer, self-made millionaire, brilliant man, breathtaking jerk: her father. Seventeen years ago, Wilson ditched his first family for Caroline, a beautiful young sculptor. In all that time, Taisy’s family has seen Wilson, Caroline, and their daughter, Willow, only once.

Why then, is Wilson calling Taisy now, inviting her for an extended visit, encouraging her to meet her pretty sister—a teenager who views her with jealousy, mistrust, and grudging admiration? Why, now, does Wilson want Taisy to help him write his memoir?

Told in alternating voices—Taisy’s strong, unsparing observations and Willow’s naive, heartbreakingly earnest yearnings—The Precious One is an unforgettable novel of family secrets, lost love, and dangerous obsession, a captivating tale with the deep characterization, piercing emotional resonance, and heartfelt insight that are the hallmarks of Marisa de los Santos’s beloved works. -- William Morrow

I look forward to reading every book that Marisa de los Santos writes. She's definitely one of my go-to authors. Her latest novel hits stores today and is titled THE PRECIOUS ONE. It offers a special story about two sisters who are both trying to get the attention of their father while finding their own way in life.

THE PRECIOUS ONE tells the story of Taisy and Willow, both daughters of a domineering (and that's putting it mildly) father. Wilson is a self-made man and has found success as a professor and inventor at the expense of being a husband a father. Taisy, Wilson's daughter from his first marriage, doesn't have much of a relationship with her father ever since he left her, her twin brother, and her mother to start a new family with Caroline.

When Wilson becomes ill, he invites Taisy for an extended stay. He wants her to meet her teenage sister Willow and write his memoir. Taisy, who knows next to nothing about Wilson and his new family, decides to visit; and in the back of her mind, she is still hoping to gain his approval. When she arrives in her father's home, she discovers that her sister Willow doesn't want much to do with Taisy. Willow is not exactly your typical teen (she's been sheltered by Wilson... once again, an understatement), and she isn't too happy about having her older sister show up.

Naturally when Taisy arrives back home, a lot of memories from her past, both good and bad, come rushing back to her. Even as she begins her travels, she reflects back on her relationship (or lack thereof) with Wilson. She also remembers one of the loves of her life -- Ben... and how her father ruined her relationship with him.

Meanwhile, Willow has some major changes occurring in her life too. She is finally allowed to attend high school, rather than being home schooled. Willow quickly learns that she doesn't exactly fit in with the other kids; however, she does have an affinity with her English teacher.

As Taisy and Willow are brought together under these unusual conditions, they not only learn a great deal about their relationships with Wilson but also with each other. In addition, both women struggle to find their own identities and form new relationships.

THE PRECIOUS ONE is told in both Taisy and Willow's voices, and the chapters alternate between their stories. I was impressed with how Ms. de los Santos managed to give each woman a distinct voice and I found both stories to be compelling in their own right. I should probably mention that I didn't exactly love either Taisy or Willow for much of the novel -- they both had their fair share of issues. However by the end of the story, I found that both had captured my heart and I was certainly hoping they found some happiness and sense of peace.

One thing I really appreciated about this novel was how it explored family relationships. Wilson was definitely a piece of work, and while I doubt most of us have fathers like him, I do think women will relate to both Taisy and Willow. Granted they were both pretty extreme characters with extreme issues, but I do think they had some definitely personality traits that are found in every woman. In addition, I think the dynamics of the characters, especially those associated with the two marriages, were very realistic. Taisy's initial resentment of Willow and Willow's initial jealousy seemed to be quite authentic, and I was glad to see both characters were eventually willing to have an open mind about the other.

THE PRECIOUS ONE would make a great selection for a book club. There is a reading guide available with thirteen questions. Some of the themes you  might want to explore include family, loss,  second chances, relationships, forgiveness, resentment, the need for acceptance, and finding one's true identity. I do think many of the characters in this novel are well drawn and complex, so there should be a great deal to discuss about their actions and their motivations.

Overall, I enjoyed THE PRECIOUS ONE a great deal. I think fans of Ms. de los Santos and women's fiction in general will appreciate this novel.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Review: The Stranger

Summary: The Stranger appears out of nowhere, perhaps in a bar, or a parking lot, or at the grocery store. His identity is unknown. His motives are unclear. His information is undeniable. Then he whispers a few words in your ear and disappears, leaving you picking up the pieces of your shattered world.

Adam Price has a lot to lose: a comfortable marriage to a beautiful woman, two wonderful sons, and all the trappings of the American Dream: a big house, a good job, a seemingly perfect life.

Then he runs into the Stranger. When he learns a devastating secret about his wife, Corinne, he confronts her, and the mirage of perfection disappears as if it never existed at all. Soon Adam finds himself tangled in something far darker than even Corinne’s deception, and realizes that if he doesn’t make exactly the right moves, the conspiracy he’s stumbled into will not only ruin lives—it will end them. -- Dutton

One thing is for sure... when I read a novel by Harlan Coben, I can always be assured that I'm in for a treat. That was certainly the case with his latest thriller THE STRANGER. This book was, of course, a well written story (for those of you who are familiar with Mr. Coben's works, you know what I mean.) However, it was also a bit disturbing for me. THE STRANGER had its fair share of twists and some very intriguing characters. I honestly wasn't sure what was going to happen, but rest assured, everything was resolved by the end. Trust me when I say that readers are in good hands with Mr. Coben.

It probably shouldn't come as a surprise that one of the main characters in THE STRANGER is, in fact, a stranger. This stranger appears out of the blue one night at a bar where Adam Price, a man whose life is seemingly perfect, is attending a meeting for his son's lacrosse league. Adam has a beautiful wife, a good job, a nice house, and two great sons; however, the stranger turns his life upside down with just a few whispered words.

The stranger tells Adam that his wife, Corinne, faked her last pregnancy and miscarriage. He even gives him enough details that Adam begins to wonder if it's true... or even if his two sons are actually his. He confronts Corinne and she doesn't exactly deny it, nor does she give him any information. Instead, she just asks for some time and disappears from her family's life.

The stranger doesn't just rock Adam's world. He also tells devastating secrets to a wife and mother in Florida and a medical student in New York City. Needless to say, all of the stranger's whisperings wreak havoc on these victim's lives; and some lives are forever ruined.

Adam decides to look into Corinne's "secret" and he doesn't like what he's finding -- nothing makes any sense. But Adam has to shift his resources to finding the missing Corinne. His investigation actually turns even darker when he realizes that he has to track down the stranger if he wants to get to the bottom of his wife's strange behavior.

I thought THE STRANGER was a terrific story. It was fast-paced and most definitely intriguing, and the story was more than a little creepy too. The stranger, and the people involved with him, were insane; and it made for a fun read. I was extremely curious about Corinne and all of the elements of the mystery surrounding her. Overall, I was impressed with Mr. Coben's novel on many levels.

One thing I love about Mr. Coben's novels are how easy they are to read. I have found that I don't want to put down his books. They are definitely page turners, and THE STRANGER was no exception. I think Mr. Coben is just a great storyteller and the way this novel unfolded was action-packed. I just loved how everything came together at the end and ultimately made sense of all the craziness!

I think one of the reasons that THE STRANGER was so appealing to me was the character of Adam. At the beginning of the novel, he is just a normal guy with a pretty nice life -- kind of like every suburban dad I seem to know. He was a nice guy who loved his family. So when his word was forever changed because of the stranger, it was uncomfortable for me as a reader... in a good way! I loved how much he changed throughout the story as he tried to find not only his wife, but also the stranger. Some might even say that Adam became a bit of a stranger given how he was at the start of the novel.

Overall, I think fans of Coben will enjoy THE STRANGER as much as I did.

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this novel.

Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read. Mystery Mondays is a regular feature where I review all types of mystery books -- traditional mysteries, suspense/thrillers, and even cozies! Please feel free to share your thoughts on any recent mystery books that you've read.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Kid Konnection: Careers

Every Saturday, I host a feature called Kid Konnection -- a regular weekend feature about anything related to children's books. This week, I'm going to share with you informative book for kids who are ready to start thinking about their futures.

Summary: It's never too early for your teen or tween to start thinking about a career, and Careers is the perfect way to do it. Inspiring and imaginative as well as practical, Careers has charts and tables that help young people gauge interest about possible careers — it's like having a personal career advisor by your side whenever you need it!

Speech pathologist? Check. Zookeeper? Check. Jewelry designer? Check.

Nurse? Architect? Chef? Check, check, and check.

Covering more than 400 jobs, Careers is organized in an easy-to-navigate, clear structure that helps guide teen and tween readers. Check at-a-glance summary panels for chosen careers to learn about salary, working hours, training, and career paths. Cross-referenced job matrix tables offer another way to learn about all the options. Tweens and teens with no idea of what kind of job to look for can start with their favorite school subjects or hobbies and find relevant careers from there. It may not be time for your teen or tween to prepare a resume and find a job, but the advice in Careers can help young people start thinking about the future! -- DK

Booking Daughter is a sophomore in high school and she's already thinking about colleges. Of course, Penn State is in the lead (actually the only one she's really considering); however, she's not entirely sure what she wants to do with the rest of her life. I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing, but she is feeling pressure from guidance counselors to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up. As a mom, I keep telling her it's okay to keep her mind open -- I certainly didn't know what I wanted to "be" when I was 15 years old. But all the same, it's a stressful time for her.

Evidently, she's not alone. According to a study by Dr. Fritz Grupe on NBCNews, 80% of students applying to college haven't picked a career path. And that's where the new book CAREERS: THE GRAPHIC GUIDE TO FINDING THE PERFECT JOB FOR YOU can come in handy. This guide covers just about any career you can think of -- from politician, to microbiologist, to a professional athlete. Over 400 careers are featured in this handy dandy book, and it can definitely help teens to at least see what's available to them.

I love CAREERS! It's a fantastic book and so much fun to read. I'm not even looking for a new career and I enjoyed reading this book. One thing I appreciated is how this material is presented. It's so user-friendly and appealing especially for teens. Each profession is featured on a two page spread and has different graphics, charts, and panels. Here's an example:
Information that is included for each job includes industry profiles, salary figures, working hours, required training and skills guides, and career path maps. In addition, teens can learn about related professions tied to a specific area of interest by referencing a job matrix table. And for those teens who don't have a clue, they can find career paths based on their interests or favorite school subjects.

I think CAREERS is an excellent resource for today's middle school and high school teens -- this book should be in every library. Highly recommended!

Thanks to the publisher for providing a review copy of this book.

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, please leave a comment as well as a link below with your name/blog name and the title of the book! Feel free to grab the little button too!

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Review: Dirty Chick (Audio)

Summary: "One month into our stay, we'd managed to dispatch most of our charges. We executed the chickens. One of the cats disappeared, clearly disgusted with our urban ways. And Lucky [the cow] was escaping almost daily. It seemed we didn't have much of a talent for farming. And we still had eleven months to go." Antonia Murphy, you might say, is an unlikely farmer. Born and bred in San Francisco, she spent much of her life as a liberal urban cliché, and her interactions with the animal kingdom rarely extended past dinner. But then she became a mother. And when her eldest son was born with a rare, mysterious genetic condition, she and her husband, Peter, decided it was time to slow down and find a supportive community. So the Murphys moved to Purua, New Zealand - a rural area where most residents maintained private farms, complete with chickens, goats, and (this being New Zealand) sheep. The result was a comic disaster, and when one day their son had a medical crisis, it was also a little bit terrifying.

Dirty Chick chronicles Antonia's first year of life as an artisan farmer. Having bought into the myth that farming is a peaceful, fulfilling endeavor that allows one to commune with nature and live the way humans were meant to live, Antonia soon realized that the reality is far dirtier and way more disgusting than she ever imagined. Among the things she learned the hard way: Cows are prone to a number of serious bowel ailments, goat mating involves an astounding amount of urine, and roosters are complete and unredeemable assholes. But for all its traumas, Antonia quickly embraced farm life, getting drunk on homemade wine (it doesn't cause hangovers!), making cheese (except for the cat hair, it's a tremendously satisfying hobby), and raising a baby lamb (which was addictively cute until it grew into a sheep). -- Audible

DIRTY CHICK: ADVENTURES OF AN UNLIKELY FARMER by Antonia Murphy probably wouldn't be a book that I'd normally seek out. I enjoy the occasional memoir, but I am about as far from a farmer as anyone you'd ever meet. In fact, Ms. Murphy's story just seemed a bit crazy to me; however, there was something about it that appealed to me.

I am definitely glad I listened to DIRTY CHICK because it was a very entertaining story.  When I consider that the story was based on Ms. Murphy's own life, it makes it all the more interesting. Ms. Murphy was a city girl, born and bred in San Francisco, and lived the stereotypical urban life. However after she got married and gave birth to a little guy with a rare genetic condition, she and her husband's priorities changed. They decided to move to Purua, New Zealand, a rural community where most of the residents were farmers.

And boy did their life change! Ms. Murphy and her husband became artisan farmers in the hopes that a simpler life would bring them in touch with nature. Ha! Simpler is definitely not the right word for what this family experienced over the next twelve months. Crazy, insane, dirty, unbelievable, gross, scary, and more would be my descriptions!

DIRTY CHICK is an extremely entertaining story about what Ms. Murphy and her family endured during their first year as farmers in New Zealand, and I have to say I might be permanently scarred by some of the things I learned about farm animals. There were so many animal scenes that were disgusting, yet interesting in a strange way; and I couldn't help but find myself giggling as I listened to this book. Ms. Murphy's account isn't for the faint of heart and she doesn't shy away from telling it like it is... and these things make for some very funny stories.

It is Ms. Murphy's "tell it like it is" personality, though, that made this book so good. Not only does the reader (or listener) get the animal stories in all their glory, but he or she also gets an inside look into the more serious aspects of Ms. Murphy's life including the challenges she faced with her son. Ms. Murphy does offer some semblance of humor when telling the stories, but as a mother, I can only imagine how scary and difficult it would be to constantly worry about your child.

DIRTY CHICK was actually read by Ms. Murphy; and while I usually tend to avoid books read by the author, this one worked. In fact, I thought Ms. Murphy did a terrific job with her story. Not only did her adventures sound real (And why wouldn't they? They were her adventures!), but she also managed to execute quite a few different accents. I'm certainly no expert on New Zealand accents, but they sounded good to me. In addition, I loved Ms. Murphy's ability to tell the stories with a dry wit and perfect timing!

Overall, DIRTY CHICK was a fun way to get through seven hours on the treadmill! Definitely recommended for fans of memoirs and readers who appreciate humorous adventure/animal stories!

Thanks to Audible for providing me with a review copy of this audiobook.