My Struggle With A Favorite Author

July 29, 2010

I have been a fan of Danielle Steel for years. I'm not ashamed to say so despite how others may feel about her work. Her books have been a source of great pleasure, adventure, and joy for me. I still remember the first book of hers I read. The Ring had been loaned to me by a lady I babysat for. I took it home and started it not sure what to expect. Well, I couldn't put the book down. For years, just about every book I read from her was the same way.

Danielle Steel's earlier works were so good- especially her historical fiction ones. The plots were in depth and believable. I found myself getting angry with the characters I didn't like and pulling for the ones I did. When she wrote a historical novel I was gone. The details she used, the way she wove the plot with the timeline was amazing to me. It never failed that I would walk away from them having learned something I didn't know prior to reading that book. For example, NONE of my history books or history teachers ever mentioned that the U.S. had camps set up here during WWII. While they were no where near as bad as those in Germany, they weren't places you wanted to go to. Still, I had never heard of them until I read her book Silent Honor.

For years I devoured her books with anxious anticipation for the next one. In between releases I tried to read as many of her older ones as I could. I can count only a few that I didn't love out of the dozens and dozens she had already written.

Still, as with many authors, Danielle Steel had her heyday. It's a rare thing when an author can write one phenomenal book after another. I think it's inevitable that eventually they'll put one out that just flat out sucks. And sadly, Danielle did this. (I don't want to dsiccuss her sorry excuse for a book called The Wedding. Whoever her editor was at the time needed to be fired and Danielle needed to redo that whole piece of crap.) During the 80's and early 90's she was a guaranteed bestseller. Whatever book she put out was going to land on the New York Times list and get to #1. However, as time passed, it took her longer to get there and she didn't hit the top spot as quickly- or at all- in some cases. The most heartbreaking part of this was that it wasn't just her sales that slipped. Her book quality did as well. Gone were the days when I knew I was in for a treat. Gone were the days that it was a given that I would buy her book when it came out and love it. Her writing was no longer in depth like it once was. In fact, a lot of her novels seemed to lose the "meat". Plots weren't as well thought out, or written. I no longer felt any connection to any of the characters. Some of them came off like she had no editor at all, which I later learned she does and works very closely with.

Danielle Steel is a very dedicated writer. She does thorough research for all her books. And when she does the actual writing, she's able to hole herself up in her little office and stay there til the book is finished. Sometimes, it's a weekend and sometimes it's longer. However, these days, some of her books read like they were written in a couple days. She is no longer the guarantee author she once was for me. I no longer rush to the bookstore and buy her books when they come out. No, I borrow them from the library first to see if it'll be worth the money I'd be spending. I'm saddened about this, but realistic too. When she writes a good book, she writes a GOOD book. But when she writes a crappy one, she writes a crappy one.

When This Chick Gets Sick...

July 25, 2010

Let me start by saying this:
"I'm not sick. I just REALLY don't feel well."

So, I woke up this morning feeling like crap. My head feels like it's smashing in on itself- no matter how much I tell it not to, my throat hurts, my nose is either plugged or a faucet, I'm coughing & sneezing. Yeah.... I don't feel well. AT ALL.

My dear hubby has sent me to bed for the day hoping rest will move the healing process along. We'll see. However, I am somewhat armed with a few neccessities.

#1. A book. If I'm stuck in bed for the day I have to have a book. Everyone around me has been talking about this book, and it sounded good. So, now I can have a little adventure without leaving this bed.

The Mysterious Benedict Society
By: Trenton Lee Stewart

An ad is placed in the newspaper asking gifted children to take a series of tests if they are looking for special opportunities. From wierd tests to a mission, these children are in for an adventure. I'm hoping to tag along with my box of tissues.

#2. A Feel Good Movie

Father of the Bride 1 &2 have always been favorites of mine. Whenever I need to watch something and just relax, these are among the movies I pick. A few others I enjoy:

You've Got Mail
Under The Tuscan Sun
First Wives Club

#3. A good nibbly. AFter all, you must keep up your strength while feeling under the weather.

If I had planned this better, I would have a box of Sees candy in this bed with me. That's right, a pound of their milk patties would do my wonders. I have cleaned out my local store of them before, and would have no problem doing it now. However, since I don't have them here with me, I will just have to fantsize about them instead.
Here's to hoping I feel better soon.

July 23, 2010

Romancing Miss Bronte
By: Juliet Gael
414 Pages

During the two years that she studied in Brussels, Charlotte had a taste of life’s splendors—travel, literature, and art. Now, back home in the Yorkshire moors, duty-bound to a blind father and an alcoholic brother, an ambitious Charlotte refuses to sink into hopelessness. With her sisters, Emily and Anne, Charlotte conceives a plan to earn money and pursue a dream: The Brontës will publish... Transforming her loneliness and personal sorrow into a triumph of literary art, Charlotte pens her 1847 masterpiece, Jane Eyre.Charlotte’s novel becomes an overwhelming literary success, catapulting the shy and awkward young woman into the spotlight of London’s fashionable literary scene—and into the arms of her new publisher, George Smith... But just as life begins to hold new promise, unspeakable tragedy descends on the Brontë household, throwing London and George into the background and leaving Charlotte to fear that the only romance she will ever find is at the tip of her pen. But another man waits in the Brontës’ Haworth parsonage—the quiet but determined curate Arthur

I enjoyed this book very much. Not knowing much of anything about Charlotte Bronte proir to reading Romancing Miss Bronte, I now feel I have a better understanding of who she was. The relationship she shared with her sisters and brother was touching to read. I was heartbroken as they were when it changed as they got older. But to see the connection and closeness writing gave the sisters was a joy to read about.

The story begins after Charlotte and Branwell have returned from their positions abroad. Both had fallen in love with someone they would never be able to have. For Branwell, it left him an eternally bitter and angry man. For Charlotte, it left her with a broken heart that never fully mended. Realizing that upon their father's death they would have very little to live on Charlotte, and her sisters, agree to publish a collection of their poems. However, Emily will only agree to it if they use pseudonyms: Ellis, Acton, & Currer Bell are then born. Poems only sells 2 copies, so the sisters try again with the idea of each writing their own book.

Anne's Agnes Grey and Emily's Wuthering Heights are published together. And while Wuthering Heights becomes the subject of controversy, neither has the success that Charlotte's Jane Eyre has. Charlotte's life is forever altered with the release of Jane Eyre. However, it doesn't shelter her from the devastating losses of her siblings. Nor does is keep her from falling for men who are not able to love her back.

With her publishing life as the back drop, Charlotte navigates the heartbreak, joy, highs, and lows life holds. As she gets older, her dreams change, and she finds love in the last place she thought it would be. I enjoyed getting to know a little more about the woman who wrote some of the most well known, and beloved, books of all time. Romancing Miss Bronte left me wanting to read all of Charlotte's books again. I also want to read Elizabeth Gaskell's biography of her dear friend The Life Of Charlotte Bronte. I am so glad I read this book, it was a touching glimpse into the life of a remarkable woman.

Rating: Buy It/ Borrow From The Library

Book Memories

Wuthering Heights
By: Emily Bronte

I first read Wuthering Heights when I was a junior in high school. I had just transferred to a new school and wanted to read this book for my English class book report. The teacher looked at me funny when I asked if I could but gave me her permission. I struggled with it at first. The language used and the writing style was unlike anything I had read before. In fact, I had to rent the movie version to clear up some confusion. But this didn't stop me. I kept reading til the end, and then I went on to read it several more times in the years after.

Every time I read it it's like the first time. I always walk away having remembered something I had forgotten in previous readings. To this day it's one of my favorite classics. I have no doubt I will read it again in the near future and I can't wait. Heathcliff is a character you will not forget once the book is finished, nor is Catharine. The book itself is one of those rare gems that sticks with you long after you finish the book. The story almost haunts you in many ways.

If you ever get the chance to read it someday, I hope you enjoy it as much as I have. Happy Reading!!


July 17, 2010

By: Robert Louis Stevenson
222 Pages (my copy)

Kidnapped by a rival heir (his Scrooge-like uncle), and destined to be sold in the colonies, teenager David Balfour is shipwrecked on the coast of his homeland, Scotland.

My Father-In-Law told me I had to read this book. So I did. I should have listened to that inner voice of mine when he read the description to me. This book is dark, violent, and not at all the kind of book I would voluntarily read. However, not having another book to read on hand and this book right here, I took a chance. It didn't pay off.

David Balfour is sent to The House of Shaws after the death of his Father. His mother having already died he was now an orphan. His arrival at the house was not a welcome one. Personally, I would've left the place alone when someone puts yet another curse on the house, in front of me. His meeting of his Uncle Ebenezer is also less than welcome when the Uncle sends David to retrieve something. In doing so, David must go up uneven stairs- in the dark- while trying to avoid falling to his death.

The arrival of a cabin boy bearing a letter for Uncle Ebenenezer has things go from bad to worse. What David doesn't know is that his Uncle has plans to get David on a boat that will take him to the Carolinas where he'll be sold into slavery. Nice! And I thought some of my family members were bad.

I wasn't able to finish the book. Once David landed on the ship I had a hard time staying interested. I have no interest in violent pirate tales where boys are murdered for not doing something correctly. And while I was told it ends on a much better note, I ceased to care. If you read it and enjoy it, more power to you.

Rating: Borrow It From The Library

Charlie And The Chocolate Factory

July 15, 2010

How did I miss this book growing up?! Seriously, I just read it for the first time now??!!! This book was so much fun to read. I inhaled the thing in about a day! And I loved every minute of it! I was actually bummed when it ended, especially since I didn't have the sequel ready to start. I can completely see why this book is the timeless classic that it is. From the factory & all it's rooms to the different kinds of candy Mr. Wonka makes, Roald Dahl was so creative and imaginative. I haven't had this much fun reading a book in awhile. I can't wait to finish the book I just started so I can read the sequel!
Rating: Buy It!

A New Series Discovery...

July 13, 2010

In doing a kids book blog I have been able to discover, and read, books that I normally wouldn't have. I say it's in the name of starting my girls' library for when they're old enough- and it partly is. Partly. But, it's also because kids books can be fun as heck books to read.

Case in point: The Mystery of Biltmore House. This is the first book of almost 30 in a series written by Carole Marsh. Geared to readers at the 3-5 reading level, they are perfect for elementary aged children. This book was fun, informative, and easy to follow. Carole puts educational facts within the story and does it well. I love that she uses real children as her characters. I'm not ashamed to say that I'll be reading more from this series- though I can't quite decide which one to read next.

If you know any children (or even yourself) who likes mysteries without the blood and scary stuff, pass this series along. (The reference to blood made in the summary turns out to be grape juice from the vines, in case that strikes a chord with any children.)

Bridget Jones's Diary

July 11, 2010

Bridget Jones's Diary
By: Helen Fielding
288 Pages

I re-read this book while I was waiting for my library hold to come in. What a difference several years makes. The first time I read this book I thought it was a fun read. This time, I couldn't even finish it. This book just may be one of those rare times when the movie is better than the book. The movie moved the storyline along and at a good pace.

I was thinking of recommending it for a summer read, but that won't be happening. If you feel the need to get your Bridget Jones fix- watch the movies!

Rating: Borrow From Library/ If You Bought It, Return It

Treasure Island

July 7, 2010

Treasure Island
By: Robert Louis Stevenson
237 Pages*
(*Barnes & Noble Classic copy)

A secret treasure map becomes the key to heart-pounding thrills, danger and swashbuckling action as a boy faces the high seas and the grandest pirate of all in the adventure of a life time.

I read this book as part of a Family Reading Invitation hosted by I didn't expect to like this book, it's just not what I would normally gravitate to, but I really did. It helped that it wasn't bloody & gory. I had no idea what to expect so everything in the story was a surprise for me. Long John Silver was the bad pirate who had a soft place in his heart for the main character, Jim Hawkins. I kept comparing Long John Silver to Captain Jack Sparrow. Truthfully, I compared the whole book to that movie series since it was the only other pirate themed anything I knew of.

I can see why this pirate book probably wouldn't be as popular now as it was when it first came out. The story did drag in places. I enjoyed reading it, but I wasn't on the seat of my chair eager to find out what happened next. But, I have to say, that it found a new fan in a reader who normally wouldn't read a pirate story. I felt some connection to all the main characters. I was always trying to figure out what would happen next and which character was going to pull something.

Rating: Borrow From Library/Buy It

My Oldest's Birthday Parties...

July 5, 2010

My oldest is turning 4 & we are now recovering from her parties. Since she has a big family, we decided to have 2- 1 for family & 1 for her friends. When we started talking about having a party my husband & I asked her what theme she wanted. I was fully expecting her to tell me she wanted a Disney Princesses party, but no. Instead, she hit us with Strawberry Shortcake. And she was insistent that was what she wanted. OK. Now, I have nothing against Strawberry Shortcake, but my daughter had a slight case bad timing on this one, I have to say. The character & her friends have just gone over a new transformation, so finding things with the newest design was not the easiest thing. But, we found party supplies and she had a great time!

This is the cake my incredibly talented sister-in-law, Priscilla, made for the family party. She made the entire thing from scratch & by herself. Did I mention it's only the 4th one she's made?! We all agree that she should open her own cake shop. This woman is so freakin' talented it's ridiculous!! The whole thing was edible and yummy!

I think it's safe to say that my little family is all partied out. After 2 parties, and on back-to-back Saturdays, the hubby & I are happy it's over. Both parties were a good time had by all. She has great memories, and so do we.
Now... time to start gearing up for my baby's 1st Birthday. Priscilla!!!

The Help

July 1, 2010

The Help
By: Kathryn Stockett
464 Pages
Reviewed By: Betsey Brooks
(My Loving Mom)

Skeeter grew up in Jackson, Mississippi in a wealthy home. She returns to her parents' home after graduating from college ready to start her writing career. Unfortunately no publishing house wants to hire her because she has no actual work experience. The head editor of one publishing company encourages her to think outside the box, come up with fresh ideas to write about and send her the list. Meanwhile, Skeeter lands a job writing a column about household hints. This presents a problem because Skeeter, like most of her friends, had a maid that took care of all the family's needs. This included being a nanny to the children. Skeeter loved her nanny, but discovered she had left the family and no one would tell her why or where she was. Solving her two problems leads to her to seek the help of Aibileen, the maid of one of her girlfriends. The longer she writes the column, the more she learns about the lives of several black maids. The late 50's & 60's was full of racial tension especially in the Deep South. Slowly the women learn to trust each other and decide to write a book despite their fears of repercussions.

I recently had the opportunity to read the new best seller The Help. I would recommend this book. It grabbed me from the beginning and I couldn't put it down. The story takes you on a roller coaster of emotions, from surprise up to humor, down to tragedy and back up to humor. Through the story the author proves over and over that all people are alike. We have the same needs, wants and desires.

Happy Reading.

Family Reading Invitation

Family Reading Month!!

The entire month of July is dedicated to reading books with any family member.
I'm participating & I invite anyone who like to as well!!

My Husband, Father-in-Law, & myself are reading Treasure Island!

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