Monday, April 25, 2011

The Kitchen Daughter

The Kitchen DaughterThe Kitchen Daughter by Jael McHenry

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

Ginny Selvaggio could not be more different than I am. She loves to cook and uses cooking to soothe herself. I am making myself learn to cook some basic things and would really rather my husband do all the cooking. She has Asperger's Syndrome, which means eye contact is painful for her, she has difficulty interpreting social cues, she's very literal, and loud noises and physical contact by everyone except a select few send her into a panic. I am very social, love hugs, have a sarcastic sense of humor, and prefer to speak face-to-face because of the eye contact. (OK, I'm with her on the loud noises thing--I hate that, too.) But Jael McHenry's new book The Kitchen Daughter let me experience what it is like inside Ginny's head, to see the world from her perspective.

The book begins with the funeral of Ginny's parents and tells the story of Ginny's struggle to cope with grief and with her younger sister who doesn't understand her at all. Ginny's parents have sheltered her all her life, and Amanda believes it's now her responsibility to take care of Ginny, while Ginny wants to stay where she is and live on her own. The day of the funeral, Ginny retreats to the kitchen to cook her grandmother's recipe for ribollita and inadvertently summons her grandmother's ghost, who has a message for her, "Do no let her." But the unwelcome intrusion of a little-known aunt into the kitchen dissipates Nonna before a frightened Ginny can ask what she means. The rest is a story of courage, communication, and personal growth.

For readers' advisors: character doorway, with story a secondary doorway thanks to some unexpected plot twists. I'd especially suggest this book to anyone who has a friend or family member with Asperger's, anyone who enjoys Sarah Addison Allen's books, and foodies who will appreciate the sensuous descriptions of food and cooking.

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Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Monster at the End of this Book

The Monster at the End of this Book (Big Little Golden Book)The Monster at the End of this Book by Jon Stone

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was one of my all-time favorite books when I was a kid. Especially if it's read with a dramatic "Grover voice." :) My mom used to read it to me, and then I used to take it with me in my "babysitting kit" when I was a teenager, and I read it to my babysitting charges. Over and over and over.

The premise of the book is that Grover has heard that there is a MONSTER at the end of the book, and he desperately tries to prevent you, the reader, from reaching the end of the book and the scary monster. He devises all sorts of ways to nail the pages shut, brick them up, etc., but of course that doesn't work. I won't spoil the ending for you, but it's pretty hilarious and can lead to teachable moments about fear.

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Monday, April 11, 2011

In Too Deep

In Too Deep (Looking Glass Trilogy, #1; Arcane Society, #10)In Too Deep by Jayne Ann Krentz

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

The tenth installment of the Arcane Society series focuses on Fallon Jones and his new assistant Isabella Valdez. She takes on a seemingly innocent investigation of an old mansion some think is haunted, and it turns in to a discovery of a serial killer and antique paranormal artifacts. Very exciting, fast-paced story to read.

The sex scenes/romance were pretty formulaic if you've ever read any of the rest of Krentz's books, but Fallon and Isabella are a good match. And I appreciated that the Nightshade conspiracy was more tangential for most of the novel. It was nice to learn more about Fallon and Isabella's talents and histories, as well as more about the townsfolk of Scargill Cove.

For readers' advisors: story doorway, primarily, with character secondary

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Monday, April 4, 2011

One of Our Thursdays Is Missing

One of Our Thursdays Is Missing (Thursday Next, #6)One of Our Thursdays Is Missing by Jasper Fforde

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thursday Next is back! Or no, wait, Thursday Next is missing! It's up to the written Thursday, with the assistance of her trusty butler, Sprockett, to figure out what happened to her. What was she working on when she vanished, why did a book with its ISBN number scrubbed off suddenly dissolve and scatter a long swath of debris across numerous genres, and what is up with the murderous Men in Plaid?

The latest installment in the Thursday Next series takes place almost entirely within BookWorld. Fforde keeps readers on their toes with his literary humor, complicated plot twists, and off-the-wall imagination. I can't wait for the next one--there are lots of loose ends just waiting to be tied up. Or not. It is Jasper Fforde, after all. :)

For readers' advisors: setting and story doorways

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