Fun in the Sun Summer Reads and Author Interview


Summer has officially begun! Woohoo!

My family and I just got back from a vacation to California.  While I was there, I got to see one of my favorite authors, Bethany Crandell, do a YA panel at Barnes and Noble.  She is the author of Summer on the Short Bus and was gracious enough to let me ask her some questions.  Look for the interview below after a couple quick book reviews.

Since Summer is in full swing,  I thought I would share with you some of my summer reads so far that take place during SUMMER.


Mexican Whiteboy by Matt de la Pena ( 4 OUT OF 5 STARS)

This was a great book about baseball, summer, friends, and family. Danny goes to visit his Mexican relatives in San Diego. He is a bit self conscience that he is only half Mexican and can’t speak Spanish. His mom is spending the summer in San Francisco and he doesn’t know where his dad is. Danny’s cousin,Sofia, introduces Danny to her friends when they go to the park. There are a bunch of boys playing baseball. Danny loves baseball and played at his old school. The boys in the neighborhood can’t believe how good Danny is. He can hit the ball over the fence every time and pitch 95 mph fast balls. Lots of summer fun ensues with a bit of teen romance mixed in. The author does a great job of capturing the culture of Hispanics in San Diego and capturing the freedom of summer as a kid.  A fun summer read.


You Know Me Well by Nina LaCour and David Levithan

(4 out of 5 stars)

This story is told from two perspectives, Mark and Kate. They meet one night at a dance club but they are there with other people. They become fast friends because they are each dealing with relationship problems. Mark is in love with his best friend, Ryan, who just met someone at the dance club. Kate, a talented painter, is having anxiety issues about meeting Violet later that night. Through a series of lucky coincidences, Kate and Mark leave the dance club and go to a party at a well known photographer and artist. The next Monday at school, everyone is talking about Kate and how her paintings are in the paper. Kate’s anxiety increases. Mark is heartbroken that Ryan has found a boyfriend and now he feels he has lost his best friend. Kate and Mark help each other through these trials which causes Kate’s best friend to be jealous and resentful of Mark. This is a great book about how friendships change in high school and the pressures of dating, college, growing up, and staying true to yourself. So technically this book doesn’t take place during summer but it takes place during the last week of school which is close enough.


Yay! You made it to the best part of the Blog Post, the interview with Bethany Crandell!!!

I met Bethany on Twitter about two years ago where I was introduced to her book, Summer on the Short Bus. I had never read anything like it.  I loved this truthful and sometimes brutally honest book about not only kids with special needs but the attitudes of others towards those kids. The main character, Cricket, is basically a rich, spoiled brat. She is forced to help at a special needs camp for teens for 2 weeks. At first, Cricket, is mortified by what she sees and some of the disabilities some of these kids have. To be honest, I cringed at some of the things Cricket said but I also know that this is exactly how SOME, not all, people feel when they are around special needs people. I have witnessed it first hand. With that said, there are a lot of funny and cute moments especially as Cricket starts to realize that these teens, especially the girls, are a lot like her. They just want to be noticed by boys and feel beautiful and do the same things other “normal” teen age girls do.

OK without further adieu here is the Interview!

J: How did Summer on the Short Bus come about?

B: The original concept had nothing to do with exploring special needs kids. It was just the idea of the short bus follies and how could I get a bunch of kids that would be on a short bus to a talent show and it kind of evolved from there.  Going deeper than that, my own daughter is special needs I was trying to figure out how I was going to be true to myself and forge an honest relationship with her even though she has special needs. The world kind of deals with special needs people with kid gloves and you can’t joke with them or make fun of those quirks that make them unique.  It is a free for all at our house.  Everyone gets picked on equally. I wanted to be the most authentic mom I could be to her.

J: Growing up did you always want to be an author?

B: No, but I knew I would do something creative.  I used to write all the time but I didn’t have an idea where that was going. I wrote a lot of poetry in high school.  Really, really, bad poetry. I drew a lot but I am an awful artist. When my youngest was two and because she had this diagnosis now I didn’t want to be the parent who’s job becomes their special need kid.  There are parents who if they have a special needs kids that becomes what they do; they take care of the kid. God bless them but that is not me.  I thought there has got to be more than going to a job everyday and being a mom and a wife and where did Bethany go?  My best friend from high school told me after SOTSB was published that I had always talked about wanting to write and get published but I don’t remember any of that.

J: Where is your favorite place to write?

B: At my little desk in my little office which is in the garage.

J:What is your writing process? Are you a plotter or a pantser (write by the seat of your pants)?

B: I am a little bit of both.  I can’t move forward if I don’t have some kind of a plan.  I really allow myself a wide berth because my brain hamster (his name is Melvin) starts rolling and sometimes I don’t know where he is taking me but if I move too fast he will inevitably stop me dead in my tracks.  This current project I am working on I can’t tell you how many nights I was screaming and crying and punching the pillow because I didn’t know what the next step was and it was because I made a wrong choice ten pages earlier. So there is benefit at being able to write both ways.  I think if you plan too much you are going to do your story a disservice.

J: What are you currently working on?

B: I am working on a book about mental illness. It is about a girl and how she is coping with her best friend’s death.

J: Who is your favorite author?

B: I am a promiscuous reader.  I tend to fall in love with whoever I am reading at the time because I get lost in whatever world they put in front of me.  So  I don’t have a favorite author.

J: Favorite Genre?

B: I love YA. Contempory YA  for sure. Marcy Lyn Curtis wrote a book I just devoured.  It is called The One Thing.  It came out last year; that was a fantastic book.

J: What is The last book you read?

B: The last book I read was Roseblood by A.G. Howard.  It is a fabulous book that is based on the Phantom of the Opera story.

THANKS AGAIN to Bethany for taking time to meet with me.  Even though she hasn’t read the Harry Potter books (I had to throw that in), she is an amazing author and human.  You can check her and her brain hamster, Melvin, out on her webpage HERE or on twitter at @bethanycradell


Goodreads summary of Summer on the Short Bus

Spoiled, Versace-clad Cricket Montgomery has seventeen years of pampering under her belt. So when her father decides to ship her off to a summer camp for disabled teens to help her learn some accountability, Cricket resigns herself to three weeks of handicapped hell.

Her sentence takes a bearable turn as she discovers the humor and likeability of the campers and grows close to fellow counselors. Now, if she can just convince a certain Zac Efron look-alike with amazing blue eyes that she finally realizes there’s life after Gucci, this summer could turn out to be the best she’s ever had.

Summer on the Short Bus is a very non-P.C., contemporary YA with a lot of attitude, tons of laughs, and a little life lesson along the way.


15 thoughts on “Fun in the Sun Summer Reads and Author Interview

  1. La La in the Library says:

    Oh my gawd! I didn’t know Bethany hasn’t read any HP! Did she say why? Ha ha. I think we should pester her like Pili pesters Stacee about Firefly. I so agree with not treating otherly-abled people with kid gloves. Everybody was alays saying not to use sarcasm around my nephew who has Asperger’s because not “getting it” might hurt his feelings, but by me using it he has learned to identify it. He still doesn’t get it, but he knows not to react to it an says, “alright then” instead, and then he gets this little half smile like he enjoys thinking we are idiots. 😀


  2. Anderson, Cathy says:

    Did you know Matt de la Pena is going to be at the Ames Public Library several times on Thursday, June 30th?

    Thanks so much for your blog. You’re causing my non-reading 19-year-old daughter to start reading. Thank you, thank you, thank you!

    Also, are you guys Harry Potter fans? Several tournaments at APL: family competition on Aug 18/teen competition and also adult competition on Aug 20/finals on Aug 27.

    Liked by 1 person

    • jolenewilsonblog says:

      Yes! I do know Matt is going to be at APL. That is why I read Mexican Whiteboy. I have another book of his to try to read before next week. I met him in October up in Minnesota. He was so nice! I plan on going to the event. Also I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan and I know about the trivia stuff but I will most likely not participate. I am glad your daughter is reading!


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