Book Reviews

The Dairy Queen Trilogy and Heaven Is Paved With Oreos- Catherine Gilbert Murdock


Dairy QueenMurdock


Dairy Queen

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.
Harsh words indeed, from Brian Nelson of all people. But, D. J. can’t help admitting, maybe he’s right.

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.
Stuff like why her best friend, Amber, isn’t so friendly anymore. Or why her little brother, Curtis, never opens his mouth. Why her mom has two jobs and a big secret. Why her college-football-star brothers won’t even call home. Why her dad would go ballistic if she tried out for the high school football team herself. And why Brian is so, so out of her league.

When you don’t talk, there’s a lot of stuff that ends up not getting said.
Welcome to the summer that fifteen-year-old D. J. Schwenk of Red Bend, Wisconsin, learns to talk, and ends up having an awful lot of stuff to say.

The Off Season

Life is looking up for D.J. Schwenk. She’s in eleventh grade, finally. After a rocky summer, she’s reconnecting in a big way with her best friend, Amber. She’s got kind of a thing going with Brian Nelson, who’s cute and popular and smart but seems to like her anyway. And then there’s the fact she’s starting for the Red Bend High School football team—the first girl linebacker in northern Wisconsin, probably. Which just shows you can’t predict the future. As autumn progresses, D.J. struggles to understand Amber, Schwenk Farm, her relationship with Brian, and most of all her family. As a whole herd of trouble comes her way, she discovers she’s a lot stronger than she—or anyone—ever thought.
This hilarious, heartbreaking and triumphant sequel to the critically acclaimed Dairy Queen takes D.J. and all the Schwenks from Labor Day to a Thanksgiving football game that you will never forget.

Front and Center 

After five months of sheer absolute craziness I was going back to being plain old background D.J. In photographs of course I’m always in the background . . .
But it turns out other folks have big plans for D.J. Like her coach. College scouts. All the town hoops fans. A certain Red Bend High School junior who’s keen for romance and karaoke. Not to mention Brian Nelson, who she should not be thinking about! Who she is done with, thank you very much. But who keeps showing up anyway . . .
Readers first fell in love with straight-talking D. J. Schwenk in Dairy Queen; they followed her ups and downs both on and off the court in The Off Season. Now D. J.steps out from behind the free-throw line in this final installment of the Dairy Queen trilogy.

Heaven is Paved With Oreos 

Fourteen-year-old Sarah Zorn intends to spend the Wisconsin summer with her “boyfriend” Curtis, waiting for a dead calf named Boris to decompose in time for the science fair. Her plans upend, however, when her fake-boyfriend strategy goes seriously awry just as her hippie Grandma Z invites her on a last-minute Roman holiday. As Sarah explores Italy’s ancient wonders, she can’t stop “boy-liking” Curtis . . . or puzzling over her grandmother’s odd behavior. Written as Sarah’s journal, this satisfying middle grade novel navigates the murky waters of first love, friendship, and family with heart and good humor.

My Review: 

The reason that I’ve created one post for all four novels is because I can’t imagine reading the first one and not continuing! They’re that good! (As a side note, author Catherine Gilbert Murdock’s sister is Elizabeth Gilbert, the author of Eat, Pray, Love.)

Dairy Queen has been on my to be read list for a while now (my writer friends all raved about it). This trilogy is more appropriate at the high school level than the middle school level. (As a middle school librarian, this is something I ask myself while reading). I absolutely love this novel and was thrilled to find out it’s part of a trilogy.  D. J. Schwenk is an average student but an amazing athlete. Her family owns a dairy farm in Red Bend, Wisconsin. Since her mother works as a teacher slash principal, her father is physically injured, and her older brothers are away at college, the majority of farm work falls on her shoulders. So when high school athlete Brian Nelson offers to help out she should be thrilled. Problem is he’s a football player on a rival team, a rich boy, and he’s only offered to help b/c his coach is practically forcing him. The two have to learn to work together even though they have seemingly nothing in common.

D.J. is an incredibly likable character- a nice, down-to-Earth tomboy who doesn’t realized how talented she really is. This novel is hilarious and I recommend it to everyone!

The Off Season is the second novel in The Dairy Queen trilogy. D.J. and Brian’s relationship has blossomed. In fact, they’re sort of going out.  D.J. has tried out for the Red Bend football team and is starting as a line backer and only female on the team. The only problem is Brian is the starting quarterback on the rival team. She’s always known that Brian and her came from different places but now it’s starting to feel like different worlds. This is a must read for anyone who  loved Dairy Queen.

Front and Center is the third novel in The Dairy Queen trilogy. In this third installment, D.J. and Brian are on-again-off-again, another boy has the hots for D.J., family life is still complicated, college basketball scouts are knocking down D.J.’s door; needless to say, a lot is going on.

This is a must read for anyone who loved Dairy Queen and The Off Season. I honestly think this series should become a movie, it’s that good!

Heaven is Paved with Oreos is middle school appropriate. (In fact we have this novel in my middle school library). D. J. Schwenk is in this novel but she isn’t the main character, Sarah Zorn is. Sarah Zorn is best friend’s with Curtis, D. J.’s younger brother. While I didn’t love this novel as much as The Dairy Queen trilogy, it was still enjoyable. The plot is interesting- Sarah’s grandmother, who goes by “Z” offers to take her on a trip to Rome but doesn’t invite Sarah’s older brother Paul. Z has been to Rome before but hasn’t visited the Seven Pilgrim Churches of Rome which is something she feels compelled to do. Z says the trip is to celebrate her birthday and spend time with Sarah but once they arrive in Rome, Sarah realizes there’s a more serious, secret reason for visiting. I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed The Dairy Queen trilogy.

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