Saturday, January 18, 2014

Christmas in Apple Ridge by Cindy Woodsmall

I so wanted to like this book. I love Amish fiction and I was hoping to really get into this one around the holidays. I started it in November and was looking forward to reading it into the Christmas season. This is a three in one collection. 

I love other Amish fiction authors and have tried a few Cindy Woodsmall books and just can't get into them. It frustrates me because I can't put my finger on why I can't get into this author but I just can't. They just seem to drag and not really go anywhere. But, this is just my opinion. This will be the last one of this author's I try. In case you're interested, my favorite Amish fiction authors are Wanda Brunstetter and Beverly Lewis. 

I received a copy for free from WaterBrook Mutlnomah in exchange for an honest review. 

The Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank

The Last Original WifeThe Last Original Wife by Dorothea Benton Frank
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Where do I start with this one? I loved Frank's book, Folly Beach, and I liked Plantation. I was okay with Porch Lights, but this one was so obnoxious. Are we supposed to feel one bit of "like" for Leslie? I understand Wes is no picnic and a jerk, but Leslie's sense of entitlement is sickening. I guess it might just be me. I work for a living and don't understand when people believe that money that someone else makes is theirs. YES, I am married and my husband and I share everything, but I would be mortified if I had to ask him for money especially for trivial things.

Leslie boo hoos about what she doesn't have and that she has had to scrimp and save...please. I don't know anyone who has a housekeeper that has to "clip coupons." Then she proceeds (spoiler alert) to demand half of Wesley's money that he worked for. I understand that half is the spouse's under the law, but good Lord, Leslie has no self respect. If she wanted money to do God knows what, then she could have at the very least gotten a part time job. I know she claimed Wesley didn't "want" her to work, but if she wanted to badly enough she would have. I have no sympathy for her whatsoever.

I really do hate that entitlement attitude. Also, for her to say a few times that she didn't want a divorce but wanted to run amok was another sticking point to me. Quite honestly, ALL the characters were annoying. I can't think of one redeeming quality in any of them.

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Hotel On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet

Wow. There's nothing I like better than a book that makes me think and makes me go on the internet and learn more about the scenarios I am reading about. This book made me do both. 

This book is about thirteen year old Henry who lives in Chinatown in the Seattle area in the early 40's. Henry's father is dead set against the family's nearby Japanese neighborhood and everyone in it. Everyone becomes paranoid against ALL things Japanese after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Henry witnesses this first hand during the war when Executive Order 9066 is issued and the only friend he has, Keiko, a young, innocent, Japanese girl, who happens to be an American citizen, is rounded up with her family and taken to one of the Japanese internment camps.

And so off to Google I went, reading what I could about our dark history when we jailed our own citizens out of fear. Amazing, frightening and not that long ago, if you think about it. 

But the other thing that was real in this book is the hotel in the title. The Panama Hotel sat as a gateway between the Chinese and Japanese neighborhood near Seattle. I was stunned to find out that it does exist and looked at pictures of that as well.  

The book alternates between the 40's when Henry is young and watching his world fall apart around him and current time, when Henry is dealing with the loss of his wife and also struggling with communicating with his grown son, Marty. 

I was RIVETED to this book. And not to give too much away, while many parts gave me chills, one specific part with Henry's friend, Sheldon had me in real tears. I haven't had a book touch me like this in a long time. 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

The Beginning of Everything by Robin Schneider

I kept hearing one thing after another about this book. Then, I realized it was a young adult book and I almost passed it by. THEN, I heard that it didn't matter that it was a young adult book, it was still a great read. I then decided to read it. 

Well, this is one that I was glad I didn't buy (I got it from the library). I should have left it in the hands of the young adults. 

The premise is this: High school student Ezra Faulkner had it all, good grades, good friends, a positive looking future in tennis, massive popularity in his school, when all of a sudden one day, it all came down around him. A victim of a hit and run car crash, he loses all possibility of college scholarships and loses his place as king of his circle of the popular friends. He also loses his girlfriend, Charlotte while recuperating over the summer from the accident. 

Ezra fights to find his new place when he returns to school. He meets up with some old childhood friends that he left behind as his popularity soared and he begins sitting with them at lunch and starts building a new life in his senior year. 

Enter Cassidy Thorpe, a girl who just transferred to Ezra's school. Ezra's friend, Toby, vaguely knows Cassidy from being on the debate team and having seen her at various multi school competitions. There's something about Cassidy that is somewhat mysterious and Toby tells Ezra to leave well enough alone. However, desperate for a new identity and new life, Ezra himself joins the debate team and develops a predictable relationship with Cassidy. 

What ensues is a typical teenage love affair, and that is fine. That's what happens when you're a lucky teenager in love. I don't want to begrudge the author this part of the story.  

However, Cassidy turns on Ezra on a dime. And the reader is left wondering why. Cassidy gives some lame excuse but the reader should know even with the excuse she gives that there is going to be more to the story. And there is: SPOILER ALERT!!!! 

Cassidy's brother is dead. Okay, that is traumatic, I get it. BUT, there is another part that is too coincidental, in my opinion. The brother is the one who crashed into Ezra's car, causing the devastating injuries.  Cassidy's brother doesn't die from the car crash, but for other health reasons. 

I guess I can say that for all intents and purposes I guess the "twist" was original at the end, but I thought that "twist" was too unbelievable. But, then again, like I said, maybe I should have left this one to the young ones. 

On to other books. I just started On the Corner of Bitter and Sweet by Jamie Ford. 

Happy reading, everyone!