Seek These Things

a blog discussing Celiac Disease, & the Gluten Free Diet, Books, Parenting, Politics, Religion, Pets, Product Reviews, and whatever else catches my interest

Disjointed August 13, 2009

It’s been so long since I added a new post I feel like I am going to explode. I’ll try not to trip over myself as I jump from item to item.

Sleep Apnea, Insomnia, and Narcolepsy, Oh-my!

First, that lack of energy I’ve been feeling for a while that makes me sleep more hours than my baby; well it turns out it might be some kind of sleep disorder. I’ve worn the Oxygen monitor and slept in the just-try-and-sleep-with-all-these-wires-glued-to-your-head bed and waited a week and called my doctor and they “just got the test results this morning and we haven’t had time to review them.” Okay, I said, call me as soon as you review them. That was days ago, and in the meantime I’m supposed to take an anti-depressant that makes me super sick just so I don’t fall asleep in the afternoon. I’m a bit frustrated.

Disaster at the Outback Steakhouse

Second, C. and I went to the Outback restaurant to celebrate a special occasion. Let me warn you that if it is not on their GF menu, it is NOT Gluten Free. Our waiter made the mistake of telling us that because the Thunder Brownie is on the GF menu, the Thunder Brownie Drink was also GF. That was a big fat LIE of ignorance. It must be cross-contaminated the way it is made because it made C. sick. Also, despite the fact that C. ordered a GF meal, without the sauce (as specified on the GF menu), and the waiter claims to have punched in GF twice when he put in our order, the gluten-sauce still came out on C.’s plate, spilling over the sides of the cup onto his meat. And the waiter, to my astonishment, just picked up the sauce cup like that made it all better. He must have admitted the mistake to his manager when we started trying to clean the sauce off C.’s plate with one of their good napkins. The manager was very nice. She had her staff prepare another entree for C. But by the time it came out, I had finished my meal, which would have been cold if C. hadn’t insisted I eat it.

Read Any Good Books Lately?

As a matter of fact, yes I have. I am just finishing the Enola Holmes series. It’s considered teen fiction. I consider it grown-up without being vulgar. It has a definite feminist undercurrent, not to the detriment of the novels. All preaching regarding a woman’s place is done in character by the characters themselves.

I’ve also read How to Write a D*** Good Mystery Novel by James N. Frey (rhymes with guy). In it he talks about writing a journal entry in the voice of your character to understand their motivations better. His workbook heroine was sentenced to hard time for a crime she didn’t commit, on the testimony of her boyfriend who got a plea deal for his testimony against her. In prison she found a higher power, and is trying to live a peaceful life. In the journal entry she tell us what she would do if she ever ran into her x-boyfriend again. She answered honestly that she didn’t know what would happen and she hopes to never find out. I was amazed by how well Frey knew his characters limitations and I plan to use many of his techniques in my own writing.

Another Personal Note

This time about living arrangements. I am still with the in-laws, but there is an end in site. Recently we took our house off the market. We are in the middle of a refinance. And once we do, we should be financially capable of paying for food again instead of spending all our money on credit card debt. I admit I have mixed feelings about this. I’m going to miss living with my Mother-in-law. Unlike the stereotype, she and my husband have very similar personalities so we get along swell. And it’s nice to have her offer to spend 10-20 minutes with the baby while I fold laundry or take a shower.

Pro Term Limits

Also, I heard someone, I’m almost positive it was Dave Ramsey, on the radio say that the only way to get the Fair Tax Passed is to get Term Limits passed first. I am so ready for tax reform. I hate April 15th. So now I’m pro Term Limits. I hope you will be too. We so badly need tax reform.

Social Poverty & My 22-cents on Nationalized Health Care

So we got a letter from the Social Security office letting us know that for every $1.00 we are contributing to Social Security, we can expect to get $0.78 back. How about I let the govm’t just take the $0.22 cents now and let me invest my $0.78 in my Savings Account at 0.5% interest and at least I’ll have made my 22 cents back in 50 years. I could use that money when I am 80.

My grandmother attended a centenarian celebration at the state capitol and I plan to attend one there, too. Hopefully without Nationalized Helath Care, because if I cannot trust the government with a $1 for 30-odd years, how can I trust them with my health?

 

Counting Stars – Book Review March 7, 2009

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Counting Stars

  • by Michele Paige Holmes
  • published by Covenant
  • 384 pages, softcover
  • $16.95 USD

If you are looking for a good cry, you need look no further than this book. I balled my eyes out the first half of the book, and for good reason. Counting Starts is a book about Jane, an almost 30 single LDS woman still looking for Mr. Right, and so desperate for children that she agrees to help a strange man with terminal cancer raise his premature twins after his wife dies in a car accident returning from her baby shower. Keep the tissues handy because you will need them for the end of the book as well.

Counting Stars is well edited and has only minor punctuation errors. The book is divided into 3 parts and over eighty chapters, and the narrative is choppy in the chapters that are less than 2 pages long, which appear with more frequency toward the end of the novel. There is a minor character that probably could have been written out of the novel completely, but it sets up a second book that is not yet published. The working title is “A Canopy of Stars.”

 

The Bracelet Series – Book Series Review March 3, 2009

The Bracelet Series

  • by Jennie Hansen
  • published by Covenant
  • 4 volumes
  • hardcover, softcover, and audio cd
  • $15.95 – $21.95 USD

This series, aptly named for the first book, follows a set of 5 jewels that are stolen, abandoned, and carried to the new world by a Mormon immigrant. Jennie Hansen is a prolific writer and weaves beautiful stories around the bracelet and each of its precious gems.  This is one series I would say truly can be read out of order. Each book relates the tale of new characters that live independent of the characters in the other novels.

While the series could easily contain two more books, both the author and publisher have announced The Ruby concluded the series, a pity. But if you like The Bracelet series, you may consider reading one or more of Hansen’s other 20+ books.

The Bracelet

  • 296 pages

This book tells the story of a girl named Georgiana, a servant in 1840’s England. Running from the antagonist of the story, her mistress’s son, to protect her life and virtue, she justifies stealing from the rich family. She sets precious gems in a worthless brass bracelet, a gift from the aforementioned villain.

Settings and descriptions are beautiful throughout the series, but especially so in this first novel. It also includes heartwarming conversion stories of characters who invite God into their lives through sincere repentance.

There were some unresolved threads in the first book that never get touched on in detail in the latter books.  

The Emerald

  • 248 pages

Picking up the story of the bracelet from when it was abandoned, a widowed Mormon immigrant and her two children protect the bracelet in hopes of returning it to the nameless woman who hid it in the baby’s possession. Running from the abusive home of her Scandinavian in-laws after her husband dies, Margarette uses everything in her power to keep her children from being reclaimed by detectives hired by her battering father-in-law to return his “property” to the old world.

Aided by a young English Mormon immigrant and a childless Scandinavian couple, Margarette’s family is finally able to make their way to Nauvoo where she finds employment as a housekeeper for a childless English widower.

When it comes time to flee the city, and she has been unable to locate the woman who abandoned the bracelet, Margarette separates the gems as she is inspired by God to part with them. The topaz is sent with a Mormon Quaker, to help a black family flee slavery. The diamond and ruby are traded to outfit her family for their journey to Zion. The sapphire is sent with the childless Scandinavian couple to help them settle in Salt Lake. And the emerald, the baby’s favorite stone, goes with the family as they march in the Mormon Battalion.

The Topaz

  • 289 pages

The Topaz tells the story of Serenity, Hannah’s daughter. Hannah was murdered and the topaz ring stolen while she was aiding fugitive slaves using the underground railroad. Serenity is desperate to learn what her father knew about the incident that brought about his own murder five years later.

Like approaching a rabid dog, Hansen is able to approach the unsavory topics of forced marriage, murder, attempted rape, abuse of spouse and offspring, and substance abuse without offending the sensibilities of her readers. This is true in all her tales, but the ability is best showcased in The Topaz.

The Ruby

  • 329 pages

This final novel details the story of Charlie Mae, who witnesses her father murder a non-mormon living in Nauvoo as a mob ransacks the city. Believing the man may not be dead, she goes to view her father’s handiwork and sees a coal that doesn’t burn out. She picks it up. Afraid her father or the other mobbers might return, she absconds with the ruby. Fleeing her abusive home with her brother, the novel describes her life as they make their way to California to find gold.

This last book is the most poorly edited. There are time sequence errors through the first 6 chapters. The sections are dated and in one part of the novel it says it has been 5 years when it has only been 2.

 

Rhea Jensen Novels – Book Series Review February 28, 2009

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Rhea Jensen Novels

  • by Sheralyn Pratt
  • self-published by Spectrum Books
  • 3 volumes, trade paperback (4th volume available only in PDF e-book format)

The Rhea Jensen novels are a series of fun mysteries with a Mormon audience in mind. Jensen is a great story teller and you will be engrossed enough in what is going on to ignore the prevalent syntax errors where two ways of saying the same thing get muddled into one sentence and were not corrected by an editor before printing. This flaw (ie: lack of sufficient editing) is most blatant in the second book where Rhea mentions that the stalker has access to the victims medical records 2 chapters before she decodes the message that reveals that the stalker has accessed the victims medical records.

Pratt weaves a great mystery and it is often difficult to tell where the case is going. Personal relationships (friendships and dating) abound in all the books. While they are easy to follow because they so closely resemble relationships in real life, it it that same true-to-life aspect that introduces suspense when the chords that bind the characters to one another are plucked.

This is a great series with great stories and great characters and I hope Pratt is able to print additional Rhea Jensen novels.

Spies, Lies & a Pair of Ties (2003)

  • 213 pages
  • $13.95 USD

Introduces our protagonist, Rhea Jensen. Trained in journalism, Rhea uses her unique talents, including a gut feeling that never leads her astray, to solve the cases no one else can touch, and she makes it all look so easy! However, this flawed female is hopelessly pining after her high school sweetheart/best guy friend. She competes withher best gal pal, the hottest reporter in the city, by tagging one another with career boosting news stories or leads that crack difficult cases wide open.

In this novel Rhea goes about finding the employee who embezzled 200K from Jock Stock. Will she forfeit her life to catch the villain?

Welcome to Stalk Lake City (2004)

  • 285 pages
  • $14.95 USD

Someone is stalking a well-known Salt Lake City anchorwoman. While on an extended vacation in Utah, recovering from her recent near-death experience, Rhea is compelled to take the case, as a favor to her friend Kay. This guy has had police detectives baffled for nearly a year, and Rhea will have to use all her skills to track him. But will she be able to overcome her new self-imposed limits on who she “should” be to save this anchorwoman’s life?

Idle Playgrounds (2005)

  • 239 pages
  • $14.95 USD

Back in Utah, Rhea is targeted by a secret society. Would they kill her and everyone she loves to keep their secret safe?

In this book Kay tells Rhea to reveal to her boyfriend how the two girls “met in college”. But Pratt doesn’t go into the details in this book. I assume that is included in book 4.

Kay’s Story

Is an online e-book (in PDF format). I haven’t read it yet. You can buy it from the author’s website for $7.50 USD (click the link above). I think the author should consider a new title for this one, it’s not nearly as catchy as the others.

 

Hit the Road – Book Review February 20, 2009

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Hit the Road

  • by Caroline B Cooney
  • published by Delacorte Press (hardcover), Laurel Leaf (paperback & ebook), website: Random House
  • 192 pages
  • US $15.95 / CAN $21, hardcover; US $6.50, paperback & ebook

Sixteen-year-old Brit is compelled by her grandmother, Nannie, to participate in a senior kidnapping so that Nannie may attend a college reunion with her college roommates. When one of “the girl’s” violent adult sons learns his mother has been removed from the Nursing Home he has bribed to drug her and make her incompetent, a suspenseful pursuit ensues across state lines.

This book discuses some great issues. Often Brit’s new freedoms, a driver’s licence, making her own decisions, are contrasted with the older ladies losing theirs. Because these freedoms are so new to Brit, she is acutely aware of the pain it causes the older women when their grown children intrude into their lives– sometimes with pure motives, and other times with covetous greed.

The story ends abruptly, like the author ran out of pages to fill. It’s hard for the reader to believe that the villian which so doggedly persuied his runaway mother would roll over in submission once she got the tiniest bit of leverage against him.

But I liked the book. I think most girls who has reached a certain level of maturity (middle school, jr. high), when they have been given some new freedoms from their parents, would be able to relate to the main characters feelings and would enjoy the book too.

 

Kevin Kirk Chronicles – Book Series Review February 19, 2009

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Kevin Kirk Chronicles

  • by Patricia Wiles
  • published by Covenant
  • 4 volumes, paperback

One thing I love about this series is that the conflict faced by the antagonist is always mirrored in the life of the protagonist, Kevin, and often in the lives of the supporting characters as well. All books are written in the first person. I think girls would enjoy this series more than boys. Although the protagonist is male, the female writer uses a feminine voice at times (ex: when describing wedding details, what kind of dress she was wearing, what color it was, what it was made of). The books should be read in order to fully appreciate the dynamics of the family. Wiles has a great sense of humor and you really feel for her characters.

My Mom’s a Mortician

  • 249 pages
  • $7.95 USA
  • out of print

Twelve- year-old Kevin Andrew Kirk is uprooted when his mortician parents buy a funeral home in another state. Faced with death for the first time in his life, Kevin searches for answers and finds them. Readers are confronted with themes of death, physical child abuse, and visions of ghosts.

Funeral Home Evenings

  • 241 pages
  • $8.95 USA
  • also available as an Audio CD Book
  • out of print

Now in eighth grade, Kevin makes new friends and learns humility by facing his trials, including death, jealousy, and racial prejudice.

Early-Morning Cemetery

  • 243 pages
  • $8.95 USA
  • out of print

In the ninth grade, Kevin is terrorized by Marcy’s birth mother, who has returned to claim her inheritance. Kevin learns the value of Character.  Some plot holes. Themes include lying, religious bigotry, and emotional child abuse.

The Final Farewell

  • 246 pages
  • $7.95 USA

Now a Senior in high school, Kevin must embrace Integrity while dealing with getting dumped at the homecoming dance, immodesty, religious intolerance, and a natural disaster.

 

Meet Your Match – Book Review February 7, 2009

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Meet Your Match

  • By Stephanie Fowers
  • Published by Covenant
  • 303 pages, softcover
  • $15.95

Characteristic of Fowers voice, the personality of the main character screams off the page of this LDS Romance, a simple love story that ends with a kiss and an engagement.

There are two absolutely great lines in this book, which is why I decided to review it. The first is a quote about Charity from a German Proverb:

  • Charity sees the need, not the cause.

Each chapter begins with a quote on Charity. It’s fun to take a moment and reflect on these quotes between being caught up in the singles ward drama. Charity is also the character name of the ward Relief Society President.

The second line I loved is “You realize of course that according to Shakespeare and every chic flick in existence, we should be going to this fireside together.” I won’t tell you who said that to whom, it might ruin the ending.

I am raising the big red flag to anyone not familiar with the lingo of the Latter-Day Saint audience. Even I had trouble with it. I appreciate that Fowers begins the novel with the “Singles Ward Dictionary” which explained to me that the squirrelly girl was the heart-breaker, not the homeliest girl in the ward.

A good message included in the book is that every person is beautiful to someone else, it just may not be the someone they had planned on.

This is an easy read, and if you can stand the obliviousness of the main character, so wrapped up in her own drama that she doesn’t see the needs and plots of others around her, you’ll like this book.