Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Kitchen Daughter

I've finished reading another few books after this one, but those are nothing special to blog about. What I want to write about is this book: The Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry.
This book was a recommendation by one of my friends on Facebook. I put it on hold at the library and picked it up a few days later. I was already reading another 5 books at the same time, so I decided to have this one wait until I got at least two of the other books finished. So, I finished all 5 and picked up this book... and finished it in less than 24 hours.
Yes, this book is that good. It's the type of book where if you like to shed a few tears this one will do it. I cried a lot while reading this book... but it really did enjoy it as well.
The book starts off with a funeral - and no, this is not a comedy - and the main character, Ginny, is having a bit of trouble dealing with all of the people in her home. She has trouble when people try to give her comfort or even get too close to her. She doesn't look at faces, but becomes familiar with everyones shoes instead.
As the story progresses, we find out that Ginny has been living with her parents her entire life, even though she's in her mid twenties. She has a sister who is married and has two little girls as well. Her sister, Amanda, is set on just getting Ginny packed up and moved to her own house and have their parents house sold. She kind of just orders Ginny around without really talking to her all that much and had a realtor and potential buyers looking around less than a week after the funeral. Ginny on the other hand, doesn't want to sell the house and has trouble trying to get her point across or in really stopping Amanda from doing what she has planned.
One aspect of the story that I thought was really cool was that Ginny had this ability to call up ghosts by following their recipes. On the night of the funeral for her parents, Ginny accidentally called up her grandmother's ghost who started fading just as she was trying to tell her to not let someone do something. Okay, I know that it kind of sounds dumb the way that I have it written here, but the writer made this work. Really, the story is really cool with this stuff in it and you won't be disappointed.
One of the reason's I was interested in reading this book was because the friend that recommended it said that it was a cool in site as to what goes on in the head of a person with autism. I know that I'm going to start sounding like Ginny here, but I didn't think that was what the author intended on doing. When asked, Ginny insisted that she was normal... there are different kinds of normal. She refused to let her sister try to convince her that she may have Aspergers Syndrome because she didn't want to be labeled. I so agree with her in her specific case. She claimed that she didn't have anything wrong with her, she has a personality. Her father was a surgeon but needed help being able to see people in the eye or even talk to them sometimes. Her mother was who helped him get past those problems so he could become as successful as he was. Ginny knew that she could get past needing to hide in the closet for some alone time and be able to have someone touch her, even if it's just a brush to get past her in the grocery store, without having a total panic attack. The few people that she had in her life and the ghosts from her past helped her realize that she doesn't need to hide and that she could live a normal life.
I'm not going into any specifics on the story here (gasp! Yes, I'm not giving the whole story away this time!) but there are so many times during the story that I can just feel Ginny's confusion and anguish. I can relate with her in so many ways. What this book showed me is that there really is different kinds of normal. I know a couple kids that have been labeled as being "autistic". These kids are just kids... sure, they may have trouble looking at you in the eye, but they can think for themselves just like any other kid that I know. They can talk and have ideas. I've learned that just like with any other person or kid, if you find out what they like to talk about, you can get them talking up a storm and I wouldn't know this person is different than a person that is 'normal'. I've known people and kids that have all kinds of labels: autism, down syndrome, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis... but all I see are kids and people. Sure, some people have special needs, but then... don't we all to a certain extent? :-)
Oh, one last thing. I think I gained 5 pounds reading this book because Ginny was trying out so many recipes that I just had to keep looking for something to snack on while reading. So, just want to give you that warning... read with a full tummy. :-) :-) :-)

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fixing Freddie

I finished this book a couple of days ago - it seems like I finish all of my books at the same time... I usually start two or three books at once, then get a hankering for something different, and the next thing I know I'm reading 5 different books which all seem to finish at the same time. :-)
I only write about the ones worth writing about. I think I've mentioned before about my attraction to read trashy romance novels and those are not really worth writing about because there isn't anything original about them. :-) :-)
So, this time I want to talk about Fixing Freddie: A true story about a boy, a single mom, and a very bad beagle who saved them by Paula Munier. I have to tell you that I absolutely LOVED this book!!! You know me, there is always something that I have to say about a book - predictable story line, weak characters... yaada, yaada, yaada. But I didn't find anything wrong with this book! I think to start with, it is a true story and written from personal experiences. Sure, I'm sure there are lots of single moms that can relate to this story, but this story is told so well!!! What makes this as unique as the lives and individuals in this book is the way the stories are told. Paula has a way of using her past to help make her point in the present day of the book. I think I enjoyed the way she wrote about her past as I did when she was writing about all of the problems she was going through with Freddie.
I also fell in love with Paula's parents - the way they used dogs and fish to describe how to describe a proper man to bring into her life. Then, the way that they would use dogs and fish to compare to her friend, Joel, that they wished for her to eventually marry. It takes me back to when my own mom wished for one of my best friends to fall in love with my sister. :-) :-) She would actually encourage her to invite him over to dinner because 1) I know that she loved to feed him and 2) she hoped that Nick would eventually fall in love more than her talents in cooking. :-) Well, that never happened, so I can see where Paula's parents' hopes were for her. :-) :-)
Freddie, Freddie, Freddie... he was an absolute little bugger. 1.21 giggawatts of puppy without a way to release all of that puppy energy in the proper way. I can see where Paula's frustration with Freddie is coming from because I'm suffering the same right now with my dog, Doc. Too much energy, not having enough energy myself to help her wear down some of that energy, not enough toys in the world to keep her busy and my poor backyard!!! Doc's about 1 year and a half now and not slowing down at all. She's a really smart dog, very much like Freddie, but has just too much energy to keep me sane sometimes. She was fixed the day we brought her home from the shelter that we adopted her from, but I don't that that would have made a difference. :-) This book and the wonderful way Paula described Freddie's life has given me hope that one day Doc will eventually calm down and be a proper dog.
This book kind of reminded me of a movie I watched once called Marlie and Me. The movie was cute and had a lot of the same things that were in Fixing Freddie and my own personal life. Marlie, Freddie and Doc were all 'clearance' puppies. Marlie and Freddie were on their last days at the shops of adoption places where they were purchased, Doc was on her last day before being destroyed at the pound. And, despite all of their little bugger destruction and antics, even when they have cost thousands of dollars to fix all that they have destroyed, they were all loved for their cuddly personalities and the little things that make us smile. :-) :-) I know that I still have a few years before Doc is finally old enough to finally slow down, and believe me that I will really enjoy the day that happens!, but it is during these difficult times that I think make me realize how special that makes me, Paula, the person that owned Marley and everyone else that has owned these kind of puppies because we actually put up with them and actually keep them! :-) :-) :-)
Freddie was not the only pet in the household either. Freddie had his older buddie Shakespeare and Isis, then later Alice the kitty cat. It was so much fun to read about them and the challenges that Paula had to face not only with her pets, but the challenges of a single mom. Paula really opened up her life and memories with her readers... I really respect that because despite all of the mistakes that she felt she may have made, her kids still grew up just fine, and even Freddie finally became a regular dog. :-) :-)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

A Good Yarn

Yes, amazingly enough, I have finished another book - this time it was an audio book that I borrowed from the library. The book this time was A Good Yarn by Debbie Macomber. I've been reading this series kind of out of order so it's kind of confusing when all of the sudden a minor character in the last book I read becomes a main character a few years before. Time warp, even when reading books, is confusing and really plays with my head. :-) :-)
The only constants for me were Lydia and her sister Margaret... though even these characters are at different times in their lives. I believe the last book I read had Lydia adopting a 12 year old girl and was already married to her husband, Brad. In this book, Lydia and Brad are not married yet - so that took some getting used to.
The story was cutsie with sugar and spice and everything nice. It was fun listening to it, but this kind of story just personally gets on my nerves. I liked the other books, but this one was just not suited to my personal tastes. Please don't beat me up too badly for this, but I'm a bit of a cynic when it comes to rich people all of the sudden becoming fairy godfathers like one of the characters, Mavric the gambler, did in this book. I don't believe that anything like this could or would ever really happen to anyone I know. Yeah, it may be fun for others to dream about it, but I don't. So, the story was kind of annoying to me.
Now, I know that there are tons of knitters that swear the Debbie Macomber could do no wrong and is the perfect writer in the universe... okay, I can see where you are coming from because being a knitter and crochet myself, I love the fact that a yarn shop and knitting is the background for these stories. Her writing is really good and I've fallen in love with most of her characters. I love the fact that no one minds that the kitty lives at the yarn shop and possibly gets her fur all over the place, and I love the part of the series where two sisters that were almost enemies become best friends and work together in the shop. You are right, Debbie Macomber can do no wrong - she's written the most ideal fantasy yarn shop for all of us, but this story just didn't sit in my brain the right way. :-) You can't please everyone, right? :-)
Now, I believe that this book was the second of the series - I hope it was. So the next step is to figure out which title is the next one. I really don't like to read books out of order. So far this series is written so well that I'd really like to see everything progress in the order they were meant to be read. :-) :-)
As I go through this series, it kind of takes me back a couple years ago when I read the Friday Night Knitting Club series - which I also accidentally read out of order - but believe it or not, I really didn't make that much of a difference to me. I didn't care.... maybe because some of the characters were a little too shallow for me to care? I don't know. I can't really put my finger on why, but I know that I do want to try really hard to try to read the Blossom Street series in order. :-) :-)
Okay, feel free to comment and beat me up now. :-) :-)

Thursday, May 19, 2011

3 more books

Okay, not really three, but two really short stories and a book. :-) And no, the book was not very long - which is why I'm able to blog about it today after only giving up on that last book yesterday. :-) :-)
So lets start with the two short stories... I downloaded them from Amazon for my Kindle earlier this week and really needed something to get my mind away from that last awful book. I read "Unlucky in Death" by Dan Dillard and "101 Tips for Traveling with a Vampire" by Joleene Naylor. Both were quick, 10 minutes max reads but were funny as heck. :-) :-) I read the Unlucky story on the way to get ice cream at Sonics. :-) The end of the story had me laughing pretty hard and reminded me so much of that comedy movie, "Vampires Suck". :-) :-) I don't want to really talk about the story, because it's not very long, but I have to say again that it is funny. :-) :-) I've been reading a lot of trashy paranormal romance novels - hey, I told you that I'm easily amused - and so many of those books so cannot be taken seriously as actual novels. So this little story kind of takes some of those and totally makes fun of them. :-) *g* I'm still giggling at the ending!!! :-)
Now, 101 tips for Traveling is funny as well. This works in well with a glimpse at a chapter of the actual book. I read the chapter, but I'm not sure if I'll add it to my list of reads... yet. I'm still thinking about it. :-) I think the paranormal romance section is getting just a little too busy with vampire stories trying to become the next Twilight or Interview with a Vampire type of hits. I've read both series and they were okay... well, Twilight is not on my personal recommendations list nor is any Anne Rice stuff (she's the one that started this whole whiny vampire shit!), but if you want to read decent trash, the I'd recommend the Anita Blake series. Though the Mercy Thompson series is not all vampires (werewolves) but it does not have all of the descriptive and graphic sex scenes - so this series may actually fall under actual fantasy instead of paranormal romance - yea for Patricia Briggs! :-) :-) But I digress.... If you're familiar with Joleene Naylor's work, I'd love to hear more about it. I can't base my opinion on a short story and a chapter... but I have to admit that I loved the 101 tips! This writer has an awesome sense of humor. :-) :-)
This leaves me to my last book - which is way different than the two short stories I talked about above. It is called "The Pastor's Wife" by Jennifer Allee and I think it falls under a type of Christian romance book. See? I told you I'm easily amused - because if you knew anything about my own personal religious beliefs, you'd know that this may be the type of stuff that I'd keep away from. But the summary listed on Amazon peeked my interest. I don't always read trashy romance/sci-fi/fantasy paperbacks. :-) :-) The book was not very long because it only took me a day to read it - and no, I was not speed reading through it. I was reading at my slow pace so I could absorb the story a little better. :-) It had a couple little things that irked me - like the carrot dangling thing that drove me nuts in Dark Legacy, but the story did not revolve around this. The story starts with Maura, a former pastor's wife who ran away 6 years before the story picks up and she she finds herself in the town that she ran away from again... she finds out that she has the opportunity to renovate an old theatre and after 6 months, she inherits it to do as she pleases. Only there was a stipulation to the will... she had to move back in with her pastor husband (they never did get a divorce because each one is still in love with the other) for that 6 month period. The story isn't anything new, just the little details are different from any other kind of story like this. It's cute and kind of sweet. At times it has my eyes rolling and the ending was super cheesy and a half and three quarters - though it still brought tears to my eyes. Yeah, I guess I'm a sucker for happy endings. :-) :-) There is some scripture thrown in there, after all, one of the main characters is a pastor! but it's written well and fits into the story well. There was a series that I read a while ago - I think it was called Redemption? - where the characters would dwell on a single sentence of scripture for 5 pages!!! By the time they finally snapped out of it, I'd forgotten where the actual story was going. Anyway, if you like this kind of stuff, you may enjoy this book. It's totally predictable, but still fun to read. I like the writing style for this author - it's really smooth (unlike my own writing! :-) and flows really well. I do not have a degree in English, nor am I all that well read, but when I actually feel relaxed while reading something, like having a mental massage, then I know that the writer is doing her job. :-) And no, not everything I read helps me relax... have you ever read any of the stuff by Laurel K. Hamilton!!!!
Wow, I am so not a writer... after reading back my own blog it makes me realize how often I go off on tangents... then some of those tangents go off on others. :-) Oh well, like I keep saying, I'm not reviewing any books here, just sharing some thoughts - as scatter brained as they are. :-) :-) :-) I hope that some of these thoughts will get you to consider (or stay away from) some of the books that I've shared. I'd love to discuss some of them with you too if you want, so e me! :-) :-) :-)

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

I just couldn't finish the book....

I am the first to admit that I am easily amused. I can watch just about any kind of movie, I can listen to just about any kind of music... and I can read and enjoy just about any kind of book.
Unfortunately, I run into some books that even I can't finish. This is what happened to the latest book that I downloaded for free onto my Kindle... Dark Legacy by Anna DeStefano. Since Kindle does not have page numbers, all I can say is that I got 63% though the book - waiting for something a little more exciting to happen and I never saw it. I downloaded around 10 other books during the time that I've been trying to get through this one and my brain is just itching to get this book done and over with. So, I've decided to stop reading it and just leave it at that.
Now remember, I do like to spoil the story, so if you actually want to read this book and this bothers you, then please stop here. If you don't care, then keep reading... :-) :-)
Okay, so this book is supposed to be about what the title states - a dark legacy... but here is what really gets on my nerves. The writer does not reveal what this dark legacy is! It is only touched upon by the mother of these twins that have physic abilities. The mom is a total basket case and refuses to let the twins know what this legacy is... even after one of the twins is put into some super uber-secret experimental facility where they're doing all kinds of nasty dream-type of experiments on her. This resulted in the death of one innocent person and the other twin getting close to losing her mind.
Now, I never said or claimed to review this book, I'm just sharing my thoughts here, okay? So, my approach is not professional here... nor is it meant to be.
Okay, so the story starts off kind of interesting with the mention of a legacy that has something to do with the twins, and the one twin that was in a coma for 10 years is no longer in the coma, but is starting to control people in a dream-like state... making the person do stuff that they would normally not do. The program that she is involved in is called Dream Weaver or something like that. The doctor that is taking care of this twin is also part of another group called the Brotherhood - something else that is never explained either - and somehow he is trying to get this twin, Sarah, and her twin, Maddie (she's also a doctor) to this Brotherhood place for something that has to do with this gosh darn legacy.
It is impossible to really explain the story without sounding like a total idiot because there are too many holes. I can see what the writer is trying to do, but that 'dangle the carrot' thing does not work with me. I think this kind of story telling device is just weak... it leave too many holes in the story working up to this big reveal. I've read so many books using this same type of device before that were just a little shorter or more entertaining - but at the end, the big reveal almost always was weak and disappointing. Now now, this is just me, okay? There may be some people that love that kind of writing, but it just gets on my nerves.
So, other than the legacy, which is never defined, you don't find out about who the heck the 'Brotherhood' is or their role in this legacy. There is a recurring nightmare that the twins keep having where there is a raven... okay, this part is explained a bit, but about half way through the book, all of the sudden there is a wolf that makes it's presence in the dreams... just coming out of no where. You want to talk about annoying?
I have no idea how the book ends and probably will never find out. Unless you've read this book and can convince me to finish reading it, I think I'll just let it fall to the bottom of my list of books on the Kindle main menu.
Now remember, before you start sending me nasty emails saying that I'm being mean here, I want to say again that this is in now way meant to be a professional review. I just happen to have tried to read the book and didn't like it. I do not write professionally and I know that my own writing has so many flaws in it that any professional writer would know to not take my stuff seriously. :-) :-) But I'd love to hear your thoughts if you have read this book. Maybe you can even tell me what the heck finally happens! :-) :-)

Friday, May 13, 2011

Another Book

Okay, so I've finally broken down and read a book from one of the authors that has been haunting my "must read" list for the longest time: Anne McCaffrey. I really don't know why it's taken me so long to finally pick up one of her books and read it, but I know that it will be another while before I pick up another one of her titles again.
Now, now... I'm not trying to be mean here, there is probably a really good chance that the book I read, Dragonflight, may not have been the best book to start with. Also, there is another good chance that if I would have known that there was going to be time travel nonsense involved in the story that I wouldn't have chosen this particular title at all.
I do have a thing about including time travel in books and movies - the only exception being "Back to the Future". There are other movies that I have enjoyed that have time travel in them, but it's not the time travel part that I enjoy - I usually get really annoyed by it. There are quite a few Star Trek movies that have time travel that I've actually, almost enjoyed. :-) :-)
Okay, so going back to the book - and I'll have to warn you, if you get upset with spoilers, I'm a master of spoiling everything about a book or movie. So, if you don't want to hear any more, then just stop here. :-) :-) For those that have already read the book or don't care, please keep reading. :-) :-)
The story was going along okay with the main character, Lessa, being chosen by the golden dragon and her mental connection to not only her own dragon, but all of the dragons. It was a little slow at first, but this didn't really bother me at all. Some of the best books I've read had slow story starts. :-) The part that had me rolling my eyes was when Lessa was being taught to fly "in between" and accidentally figured out how to time travel. Now, here is where this got on my nerves... and if I'm wrong, please feel free to let me know. But how can a beginner to flying on a dragon have just figured out that the dragons can time travel, when so many generations have been traveling the same way? There must have been at least someone in the past - which seems to be hundreds of years, if not more - discover that this was possible? Then, to top that off, this beginner goes back in time 400 years and teaches the other dragon riders how to time travel to get back to her time. I just shake my head on how ridiculous this part of the story developed. This is just my opinion now, okay? I'm not trying to say that Anne McCaffrey is a bad writer or anything, just this part of the story didn't do it for me.
As for the writing itself, it was actually pretty good. I loved the uniqueness of the names of the characters. F'lar being the only unique name I can remember (sorry, the book has already gone back to the library so I can't look the rest up). But I like when writers invent or use really unique names when writing fantasy or sci-fi. That was one of the things that made me like Terry Books so much. :-) :-) I've read some really neat fantasy books that just didn't have the same flavor because the names were just a little too common to me. Yeah, it's me, not the writing itself... if I'm going to read fantasy - especially when they take place in a completely different realm with different species and such, I want the names to be as unique as the planet that they're supposed to come from. :-) I just love to nit pick, don't I? :-) :-)
So, I think it is safe for me to say that I'll probably not continue reading the "Dragonriders of Pern" series unless someone can tell me otherwise. If time travel is a regular thing in this series, then I really don't want to read anymore. If this is a regular thing with the author, then I don't think I'll read any more of her titles anymore either. So, for you McCaffrey fans out there, I am willing to give another book a chance, so if you have any suggestions, please let me know! :-) :-)
I also just finished another series that I've been listening to in audiobooks for the past few months by Patricia Briggs - The Mercy Thompson series. The person who suggested it was a really neat kid that I know, Evan, who not only has very similar taste in movies that I do, but also loves to read and knit almost as much as I do too! :-) :-) I wont write about the books now, but I did want to send out a huge THANK YOU to Evan for suggesting such a neat series. :-) :-)