Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Kitchen Witch by Annette Blair

When I started reading Annette Blair's The Kitchen Witch I was mostly looking for a light funny tale. I was a bit surprised to find something more heavy than that. I find it somewhat difficult to review this book because I have mixed feelings about it.

The first part dragged a bit and I kept getting distracted every time the word 'cajones' got thrown into the mix [Cajones means boxes while 'cojones' means balls (Like in 'You sure got big balls to do that')] but then I got to the middle of the book and I just read right over everything and it just became a page turner, keeping me up late and getting me up early until I finished it. Let me give you a bit of a run down about the book.

Logan Kilgarven recently moved back home to Salem after a difficult marriage that left him a single father of an adorable 4 year old called Shane. He is determined to leave his past as a juvenile delinquent / troublemaker behind and create a stable future for his son, who already suffers from abandonment issues. He has taken a job as producer at the local TV station (WHCH – I love how this looks like WITCH), but management is not very keen on single fathers and so he finds himself relying on his neighbor and his mother for babysitting. When he finds himself in a bind he resorts to asking his downstairs neighbor, who is rumored to be a witch, for help.

Melody Seabright is as far from being a witch as can be. She might associate with them and might playact the role but she doesn’t look very Witchy from Logan's point of view. Melody has her own set of problems though. She suffers from indigestion from all the crap she has eaten from the silver spoon she was born with. Her father thinks she is a failure and she is starting to believe it until Logan agrees to set her up for an interview as the host of a cooking show, if she agrees to baby-sit for him. The only problem is that she doesn't really know how to cook. This does not stop her from getting the job when she pitches a fabulous idea to the station manager. The Kitchen Witch show is born and who better to host it than the sexy Melody, who appears to bewitch everyone she meets.

I find it funny that I found the first part of the book slow when in truth you had the funny instances happening in the beginning and the attraction starts to take form at this part as well. I think the problem was more the structure and layout of the story than the story itself. Like I mentioned, the 'cajones' thing really bugged me - sue me! I'm Hispanic! But also the story seemed a bit disjointed and I felt I was being pulled all over the place when it skipped a few days here and there. For example, something would happen that would take up a page of storytelling and the next paragraph would move forward a few days. This editing stops around mid book and the rest of the story just flows.

Blair has a talent to just through in certain comments when the characters are sparing that has you laughing and just shaking your head. The woman does have an undeniable wit!

I also think that when the funky jumping around stops you are allowed to connect with the characters and you actually start caring what happens to them. Melody is a sunshine and her energy just smacked you in the face. Regardless of her insecurities fostered by her issues with her father, she came through as a strong woman with so much caring and love that you have to cheer her on all the way.

Logan was the character with the issues! He's determination to become a stable care giver to his son had him all out of place and made him miss the most important part of being a good parent was to give unconditional love and check your fear of screwing up at the door. I kept wanting to slap him over the head! I think Mel's realization that she was loved was unnecessary in the book because she was not the flawed character. I never got the feel that she was doing anything to please her father, or to prove him wrong. I found her always going after something more for herself and to prove herself strong enough to succeed despite the lack of support. Yet Logan seemed to have received lots of support over the years and he yet he couldn't stop trying to prove himself worthy to his son.

So, now you know how difficult it is for me to review this book and grade it because, although I had some issues with it, I ended up really enjoying it. I guess that is the whole point of reading, to enjoy yourself. And if when you close the book you find yourself smiling, you could call it a success.

Grade: B-


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