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Book Review: The Kitchen Witch by Annette Blair (Series, #1)

November 6, 2014 2 comments

Book Review: The Kitchen Witch by Annette Blair (Series, #1)Summary:
Logan finds himself a single dad after his young son’s mother abandons him on his doorstep, so he moves back to his hometown of Salem, Massachusetts, looking to provide his young son with some stability.  He has a bad rep from his teen years in Salem to get over, though, and he hopes his new job as a television producer at the local tv station will help.  He wasn’t expecting his downstairs neighbor Melody Seabright, however.

Melody, who seems incapable of holding onto a job for any length of time, gets him to get her a meeting with the owner of the tv station and somehow convinces him to give her her own tv show, The Kitchen Witch.  The only problem is she can’t cook, and whether or not she’s really a witch is up for debate.

Can Melody learn how to cook and hold onto the job? Or are both of their jobs now in jeopardy?  And why does Logan keep thinking about such an unpredictable woman when he knows he needs to provide stability for his son?

Review:
I picked this up on a free book cart at a local library because the cover and title were cute, and I definitely am periodically in the mood for some lighthearted paranormal romance.  I was a bit disappointed to find this isn’t really a paranormal romance, but I still enjoyed the contemporary tale it told, primarily due to its featuring a good-hearted single dad.

Logan is a contemporary romance character who will make many readers’ hearts beat a bit faster.  He’s cute, young, has a high-powered job, lives in the quirky town of Salem and enjoys it, and is an awesome single dad to his young son.  Having him be a bad boy who overcame it for his son is the perfect last touch for a contemporary romance.  I can see many readers enjoying fantasizing about him.

Melody may be a bit more hit and miss with readers.  The delightfully clumsy bit has been used a lot in romance recently and may feel a bit been there done that.  Her apartment is divinely adorable, though, and she has some curves that are always looked upon as a good thing.  Her difficult relationship with her own father adds some depth to the character, but some readers might have trouble sympathizing with a poor little rich girl, although I do think that Blair handled this particular aspect well.

Blair also writes children characters beautifully.  The son sounds like a child, and yet still has the proper astuteness and vocabulary for his age.  The only negative I can say about him is that I honestly already forgot his name.  However, I enjoyed his presence every time he popped up into the story.

The plot is where things get a bit shaky.  The book is definitely marketed as a paranormal romance, and there are hints at the beginning of the book that Melody might be a witch, but that never comes to fruition.  The best I can tell is that she’s learned how to act and sound like a witch by virtue of living and working in Salem.  There’s nothing wrong with this, but it was disappointing given that I thought I was getting a paranormal story.  I also thought that if the book is going to have Logan suspicious Melody is a witch, at some point he should definitely find out once and for all whether she is one.  I think perhaps the book was trying to say she’s just a regular girl with some knowledge of Wicca (which isn’t the same thing as being a paranormal romance witch, since Wicca is a religion and doesn’t actually involve paranormal romance style magic but it’s still a reveal I would have been happier with).  However, that also is never firmly revealed.  Just what type of witch, if any, Melody is is just a plot idea that is dropped and never fully dealt with, which is a bit frustrating.

A bigger plot issue to me though is that this book falls into the romance trope of everyone can see the couple should be together but the couple makes up fake obstacles to stand in their way and they just have to come to their senses and deal with their own stupidity to get over it.  (I really wish there was a shorter way to describe that particular trope…..)  It is just a trope that really bugs me.  I don’t mind real obstacles in the way of a couple, but the couple just being idiotic and making up their own obstacles feels to me like the author stirring up fake drama to make the book longer.  Also, I am 100% a-ok with a couple meeting, working out some realistic difficulties, and then being together.  Things that are overly dramatic for the sake of drama just rub me the wrong way.  Some readers may be ok with this trope, but for those who aren’t, be aware that this is where the plot eventually goes.

Having been to Salem multiple times, I can say that the author clearly did her research, as she depicts the culture and feel of Salem quite well.  She also understands the layout of the town and even gives a realistic vague-ish location for Logan and Melody’s house.  (In the few blocks nearish the House of the Seven Gables, in case you’re wondering).

The sex scenes were good, not ridiculous.  They weren’t mind-blowingly hot, but they were fun to read and well-written.

Overall, this is a good contemporary romance featuring a lovable single dad love interest that is mismarketed as a paranormal romance.  Those looking for paranormal romance should be aware that this fits in much better with the contemporary romance crowd.  Additionally, those who are frustrated by couples keeping themselves apart for no reason should be aware that this is the romance trope found in this particular book.  Recommended to those looking for a steamy contemporary read featuring a heartthrob single dad and a realistically quirky New England town.

3 out of 5 stars

Source: Library free book cart

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Friday Fun! (Tiffany, Wii, and Websites at Work, Oh My!)

March 12, 2010 6 comments

Even though this week was spring break from grad school, I still had to work full time and of course managed to be super-busy outside of work as well.

My friend Tiffany from my days of interning with Americorps/the National Park Service has been in town for training for her job.  She lives in Virginia, so this was pretty darn exciting.  This was her last week in Boston, so she came over to my apartment so we could visit in relative quiet as opposed to the noise of a restaurant or pub.  It was so lovely to get to catch up after all this time, and I was glad to discover that in a relatively short time we were chit-chatting just like we did when we lived and worked together at the park.

This week I discovered that having the tax return money to buy a Wii and tv is one thing, finding places that have them in stock is another entirely.  I won’t even go into the debacle that was the store brand tv purchased at Best Buy (needless to say, it was returned), but I will say what the hell, Nintendo?  You have an insanely popular gaming system, and you’re not meeting demand?  That just doesn’t make sense to me.  After much searching, genius finally struck me in the form of Walmart.com, which had a few consoles in stock.  Huzzah!  It arrived on Wednesday, and I’m enjoying it just as much as I thought I would.  My tv arrived from Walmart.com yesterday, but I have yet to set it up.  Fingers crossed that we’ll be able to make Netflix stream on it!

Work has also been very busy as this is the time of year when I update our website.  Long story short, with hospital privacy concerns, one person has control of all of the websites connected to the hospital, which means we get to update our websites once a year and that we have zero to very very little control over the appearance.  This is frustrating to me as it limits what I can do.  (For instance, I’ve been having to use tables. TABLES).  Since we can only update once a year, that also means a bunch of our links are broken by the time that comes around, so I spend a lot of time hunting down the good ones.  Thankfully, this will soon be in the past as the hospital is organizing an intranet, which means I will get to be webmaster of our websites! (And the nurses’ websites, which I’m actually a bit nervous about).  So as soon as I finish this update to tide our patrons over until the intranet, I’ll commence working on the intranet.  You guys, I’m nervous, this will be the first time I’ll be using my real web programming skills for work. Eep.  *crosses fingers*

I’m excited for the weekend!  Be expecting more reviews of old and obscure books as the Audiobooks app is a good companion to web design.  Happy weekends!

Friday Fun! (Nina’s Back, Refunds, and Gardening)

March 5, 2010 4 comments

This was a busy, but overall fun week for me.  One of my closest friends, Nina, was on a two month trip to Israel, and this week she returned home!  (She kept a blog of her trip, check it out!)  She and one of my other good friends came over Wednesday night, and we all cooked together.  Well, Nina and I did. E was the cheering squad. Also, she brought the chocolate.  Nina made tehini the way they do in Israel, and we had that with whole wheat bread for an appetizer.  It’s a lot like hummus, only more bitter.  For dinner we had whole wheat crust pizza topped with vodka sauce, marinated tempeh, shredded carrots, avocado, onions, spinach, and cheese.  You guys, vodka sauce lends such a nice sweetness to a pizza.  Swoon.  Also, Nina brought me a lovely tapestry from Israel.   I believe she said it was made by the tent dwelling Arabs, but I was also tipsy when she gave it to me, so I could totally be wrong about that.  Although it is many colors, it is predominantly a vibrant shade of red with hints of black, so it will go really well with my living room.  I’m so happy Nina is back, and she and E are going to be roommates, so I’ll be seeing much more of both of them.

In tidbits of news, my state refund came in, so there’ll be a bit of shopping this weekend.  I was going to get a Wii, but I think I’ll wait for my federal refund for that.  Instead, I’ll probably get a new tv, mostly so I can finally hitch up my mac to it and stream Netflix.  Also, what’s the point of having a Wii if you’re playing on an old tv?  (Don’t worry, budgeting types, some of the money will be going into savings and some into the terrifying undergrad debt).

I’ve decided (partly spurred on by my librarian friend, Kristi, check her blog out), that come hell or high water I will get some gardening done this year in spite of the fact that I have neither yard nor balcony and a kitty who is very determined not to share windowsills.  I found a windowbox that is a bit sturdier and fits on the windowsill better, so hopefully she won’t knock it off.  I’ve also got some other ideas up my sleeve (such as the topsy/turvy planting thing).  I’m planning on growing tomatoes, herbs, peppers, and strawberries.  I’m also considering potatoes via an indoor method Nina learned about in Israel.  I am, however, known to have a brown thumb, so hopefully this pursuit won’t be in vain.

Happy weekend everyone!

On Television

January 25, 2010 8 comments

Today a conversation was on Twitter about tv.  No, I’m not talking about the Pregnancy Pact movie that came out this weekend (though I did watch it).  This particular conversation was one I’ve heard in educated circles many many times.  It goes something like:

OMG the television is evil and will destroy us all!!!!

I get where people are coming from.  I do.  The tv is full of advertising and bad ideology and unattainable goals and….well, the list could go on and on.  I used to think this so much so that I actually gave up tv for a year.  Well, I owned a tv but I got zero channels on it.  I used it to watch movies sometimes.  I thought some earth-shattering freeing feeling would happen.  But it didn’t.

On the other hand, when I was in highschool, I was completely tied down to the tv schedule.  I had my shows that I absolutely had to catch to the exclusion of everything else, and that wasn’t right.

The thing is, folks, life is largely about our relationships with other people, and tv can be a really fun way to enhance it.  I love the Lost discussions I’ve had with various folks, ranging from in-depth analysis to superficial debate over which Lost hottie is hottest.  So when people say tv keeps us from engaging with others, I say, screw you.  It can actually bring us together.

The problem comes about when you have a relationship with tv.  When I didn’t have a tv I had just as much of a relationship with it as when I was glued to it in highschool.  It’s just that my relationship was about not having it.  It’s like how they say it takes energy to hate something, so it winds up just hurting you.

The thing about tv is, it needs to not be central to your life either due to what’s on it or due to not having it.  A tv should be an accessory in the house that’s an option.  That’s it.

When I started having this healthy mind-set for tv, I didn’t suddenly revert to watching something every night.  Some nights I read.  Some nights I play videogames.  Some nights I go out to concerts or bars or what have you.  When I do watch tv, it’s just as a fun thing to do, and no I don’t believe that subliminal (or not so subliminal) messages are eating their way into my brain, because I don’t take it that seriously.  When you view something as entertainment, it really won’t maliciously, secretly attack you guys.  When you talk like that, you don’t sound educated.  You sound like a bunch of superstitious nut-cases.  So just relax and live your life.  I swear you’re not going to magically overnight transform from your counter-cultural self into a Stepford wife.