#808 Making Waves by Cassandra King

Making Waves by Cassandra KingMaking Waves by Cassandra King

Donnette’s aunt up and died and left her not only her beauty parlor, but her house. She now lives there with her husband Tim. It’s a sad situation really. Tim was the star of the football team, who everyone loved, but a terrible car accident has left him disabled. He works part-time at a saw mill. Donnette does the hair.

She has to fix up Miss Maudy for her funeral, the only problem with this is that Miss Maudy is dead. She always liked to have her hair in waves though. So Donnette does it right. She decides that she needs to name her shop and she aptly names it Making Waves, which is certainly something that starts to happen around the area.

Taylor, the man who caused Tim’s car accident, and former best friend, comes back to town to help out the woman who raised him. It’s his aunt, but he just can’t let his aunt be pushed around by her brother. There’s a scandal going on with one of the young women in town. She’s going with an older man, who is divorced. People are talking. People also start talking about how Taylor is hanging around an older woman, who was friends with his mother growing up.

Then there’s the whole deal between Tim and Taylor. Was it really that bad? Why is the whole thing so weird? Meanwhile, Tim’s artistic talent is rediscovered and he gets an opportunity to go to college to teach art. Donnette isn’t so sure about the whole thing.

What I liked

I tend to like Southern sagas. This certainly fits that bill. It’s a small town. There are southern accents. Everybody knows everybody. If you’re related to someone, everyone places you by who you’re related to. Oh, you’re related to the so-and-sos out by the creek. Well, that’s how it worked where I grew up. Everyone measured everything in creeks– White Creek, Bean Creek, Town Creek, Dick’s Creek and so forth.

The house I used to have used to have a home beauty parlor in it. For a time, it was my art studio, which got flooded, and I got upset, and my ex-husband then tore apart, because that makes perfect sense. Home beauty parlors do hold a small place in my heart. It’s also like the cliché Southern woman thing. If you didn’t go to regular college, maybe you went to cosmetology school and you cut hair in a room in your house.

What I didn’t like

I’m not impressed. Everyone in this book seems like a terrible person, except maybe Tim. Everyone else sucks. Some Southern people have the tendency to put on airs, meaning they act better than they actually are, or, if you need a more down-to-Earth description–they act like their s*** doesn’t stink. They’re just about the worst kind of people sometimes. They’ll bless your heart and go to the Baptist or Methodist church on Sundays, but then treat you like utter dirt and look down their noses at you if you’re not the same religion, the same color, or your family isn’t from the town. If you’re a transplant you better forget about having these people approve of you. I feel like everyone, everyone, in this book was that kind of person.

They look down on a person for being divorced–check.

They don’t trust someone with non-local origins–check.

They don’t trust someone who doesn’t act like the other boys/girls/men/women in town–check.

Really, I could go on.

At one point, Donnette actively seeks to go against her husband. I don’t mean she wants to disagree with him or argue with him, or whatever, I mean she actively tries to inhibit his life when he gets an opportunity to go to art school, for her own darn selfish reasons. There may have also been a little something more between Taylor and Tim, big deal, whatever, but Donnette gets really awful about it. Look, if you have a spouse, loved one, or whatever you like to call your partner, it’s not a good move, on your part, to sabotage their opportunities. A happier other half probably means a happier life for you. If they want to go back to school–who are you to stand in their way? I can see saying no if this person habitually goes back to school and racks up debt and never works, but otherwise, you kind of have to allow this person to better themselves, if you love them.

Donnette also seeks to end Tim’s friendship with Taylor. Look, I don’t care if they’re secretly gay, or bi-curious, or whatever. Who freaking cares if they used to go out, or do it, or whatever? That’s the past. You can’t go around thinking about all the people your current loved one used to go out with. Obviously, there is a reason your spouse, or whoever, is not with those people anymore. They’re with you. Honestly, if it came down to it and your significant other really did want to be with someone else, you’re not doing anyone any favors by trying to keep them away. They’re going to be miserable. You’re going to be miserable. The other person is going to be miserable. Any kids involved will be miserable. It’s just one big bucket of miserable.

Donnette may initially strike readers as a sweetheart, and I’m sure she has her sweet moments, but she plays just as dirty as the dirty people and she does some not very nice things. There’s not really a hero. Tim is the best person, like I said, but I think he’s too stupid to realize how awful everyone around him is.

Overall

Come get your hair did at Making Waves Salon. The entire town will be talking about you for two weeks afterwards and it’s not because of that new perm.

Weigh In

Do you feel that Donnette is a good person?

Is it ok to act like you’re something you’re not?

#807 The Mystery at the Crooked House created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Mystery at the Crooked House created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Mystery at the Crooked House created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens are visiting another friend. This friend has a crooked house. The man who made it wasn’t a carpenter, so some things aren’t entirely straight. The family member who currently lives there, rents rooms out, like a bed and breakfast. The problem is that there is a new hotel or something in the area and people may not want to stay in the crooked house, which could mean that the family would lose the house because they couldn’t afford the upkeep. Supposedly, there is a secret to the house, complete with riddles. The secret may just save the crooked house.

What I liked

I like the idea of a crooked house. One time, I went to Blowing Rock, North Carolina. There is a crooked house there. It’s called the Mystery Vortex; it’s not that far from the Tweetsie amusement park. Anyway, there is nothing mysterious about it. It’s not ghosts that made it all wonky. Someone built it at odd angles that trick your brain. You think you see water going uphill and brooms standing on their own and all sorts of things. It’s all a trick of perspective. You know it’s all scientific when you get there, but it doesn’t stop you from being completely disoriented by it.

What I didn’t like

Just make a few substitutions in this book and you’ll have the last Boxcar Children book I read. We might lose the house. Oh no! Someone is being nefarious about the house for selfish reasons. Oh no! There’s a secret treasure to the house that just might resolve everything. Yippee! Seriously, all you need are a few substitutions and you have the other book. Whoever wrote this one got a little lazy.

Overall

They found the treasure.

Weigh In

Do you think all old houses should have a mystery?

Should the house always get saved?

#806 The Mystery at Peacock Hall created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Mystery at Peacock Hall created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerThe Mystery at Peacock Hall created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The Aldens are going to Monticello, to visit somebody grandfather knows. She lives pretty close to Monticello and actually works there. In case you didn’t know, Monticello is the house that Thomas Jefferson designed, and worked on for many years, in addition to getting in on with his special ladies there. There are plenty of quirky things about Monticello, as the Aldens soon find out. Thomas Jefferson was an inventor. He tried to invent a clock, but part of it ended up on a different floor.

The problem with the whole thing is that their host is about to lose her house. She owes some back taxes. Another relative wants to buy her out, for a fraction of what it’s worth. She has until the auction to pay the taxes. Her house is called Peacock Hall. Supposedly, there’s a treasure in the house somewhere. The Aldens set about looking for it in hopes that the tax bill can be paid. Some other strange stuff goes on as well. Someone may or may not be living in the smoke house. Is there really a treasure of Peacock Hall? Will that peacock let Benny have one of his feathers?

What I liked

Ok, so the part about Thomas Jefferson getting it on with his special ladies at Monticello was not actually in this book, but I thought I’d enlighten anyone who didn’t know. Thomas Jefferson had at least one child, that looked a lot like him, besides the obvious difference in skin colors, with one of his slaves.

What I didn’t like

Property taxes are stupid. So you buy a house and then you pay it off, but you still have to pay the government, every single year, otherwise they’ll take your house, even though it’s good and paid for. Jerks. I think if you own your house, you own your house, or you should own your house. There shouldn’t be any of this, “Oh, you forgot to pay your taxes, so we’re auctioning off your house, even though the taxes you owe are like a thousand dollars, which is a small fraction of what the house is worth and what you’ve paid on it.” This is just one example of how our government infrastructure is a bit broken. A lot of those property taxes go to schools, but you still have to pay property taxes even if you don’t make use of the schools in any manner.

I don’t find it likely that the woman in this story would be offered any kind of extension, especially since an auction was already scheduled. I think the government would just be like, “Too bad, you had your chance.” They don’t care if you’re losing a house that has been in the family for generations.

Overall

If only there was some mystery treasure in the house I live in.

Weigh In

Do you like peacocks?

What do you think about property taxes?

#805 Shut Up, You’re Welcome by Annie Choi

Shut Up, You're Welcome by Annie ChoiShut Up, You’re Welcome by Annie Choi

Annie Choi grew up as the daughter of Korean immigrants. She thought her father just might be gay; he has a suspicious love of show tunes. Her mother bought all of her underwear from Korea, because apparently, Korea was the only place that could properly make underwear. Annie took piano lessons and Korean lessons. Her family ate at the same hexagon table for decades. Her father did something with gold, but went on a gold-plating spree and started plating everything in gold. If it was metal, he probably gold-plated it. Luckily, he couldn’t gold-plate the toilet and other such household items. He did gold-plate the kitchen knives though.

Annie writes open letters to various entities. Why does the DMV take so long? What’s up with babies being such jerks? Annie ended up growing up with the same affinity for underwear that her mother has, but she didn’t have to get hers from Korea. She found a company in the United States that could make the underwear she needed. When the airport lost her luggage the thing she was most concerned about were her panties.

The family was constantly after Annie to get married and have babies, but Annie didn’t want to get married and have babies. In fact, not really any of her relatives her age wanted to get married and have babies. There are things Annie doesn’t like about her Korean family, but there’s plenty more to laugh about.

What I liked

Annie is no Margaret Cho,but she’s funny.  I liked reading about her Korean family. I think it is funny how her mother can only get underwear from Korea. I’m sure there is underwear to be had elsewhere. The whole conversation about her dad gold-plating everything was hilarious. It almost seemed like a person couldn’t sit still for two minutes or they just might get gold-plated.

What I didn’t like

I don’t have the same affinity for remaining unmarried and childless that Annie does. I don’t really get it. I like the idea of being in a committed relationship and I like the idea of having kids, some day. I do kind of feel bad for Annie’s parents because they will not have grand children, but I also kind of pity Annie and her brother, who will, in reality, just as her parents say, will have no one to be there for them in their old age. It’s Annie’s choice ultimately; it just makes me a little sad.

Overall

Hide your silverware from Annie’s dad, if you want it to stay silver.

Weigh In

Does your dad have any weird obsessive hobbies, like Annie’s dad?

Does a member of your family insist they can only get their underwear from one place?

#804 Monkey Trouble created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

Monkey Trouble created by Gertrude Chandler WarnerMonkey Trouble created by Gertrude Chandler Warner

The zoo is having a contest. The deal is that you buy a disposable camera from the zoo, take pictures, and then submit the entire camera to the zoo. he winner gets a year pass to the zoo. The Aldens only have enough money for one camera, so they decide to share the winnings, if they win. There are a couple of other friends around. There is a friend named Blake who insists that he needs two cameras. There is another friend who is a swimmer practicing for sporting events. She doesn’t really have money for a camera. The contest lasts a couple of days. One day, Blake discovers one of his cameras is missing. Who has it?

The Aldens start checking around. They have several suspects, but there are reasons each of the suspects do not have the camera. At one point a monkey escapes and it turns out the monkey has quick fingers, that do steal things. Is the camera with those things? Did someone take the spare camera or did a monkey do it?

What I liked

I like zoos. I’ve actually been a couple of times in the past couple of years. One day I went with my friend to a zoo in South Carolina where we encountered a woman, by herself, squatting down in front of a tortoise and talking to it as if it were a baby or small child. “You’re just a baby. I bet your daddy was a hundred and fifty years old.” I am not even beginning to joke about this. There were no children with the woman, nor was there even another companion with the woman. Apparently, she just liked to go to zoos, by herself, and talk to reptiles like they were babies. Maybe she did the same thing with all the snakes.

The last time I went to the zoo was with my boyfriend, stepdad, mom, and niece. My family couldn’t decide what they wanted to do, but they finally decided on the zoo, which was over an hour away. The problem with this is that it’s always going to take more than an hour to drive there and that my family takes forever to go anywhere. Several hours, I’m serious. I’m not even joking. When I want to go somewhere, I put on my clothes and go. My family does not do this. My mother takes at least an hour to get ready; I’m not even sure what all she is doing during this time. She doesn’t curl her hair. It’s not like she’s in their contouring like a Kardashian. I just have no idea. It’s like the entire family can’t get moving without first watching a movie, fiddling with random junk, and taking an excessive amount of time in the bathroom before getting out of the door. How long does it take to put on clothes? Ten minutes–that’s how long.

We finally made it to the zoo after many stops, but there were only about two hours left in which to see the zoo. So we had to speed-admire the animals. Oh, it’s a tiger, well lets move on. If you look to your left as we’re zooming by, you can see the gorillas, next stop, the pandas. We didn’t have time to go gift shopping. We didn’t have time to do much. There was this conversation with my boyfriend on whether or not I could just wear my undershirt out in public, it was hot. Turns out that it was way too thin. So we got to the zoo and then we left the zoo, about two hours later. A bunch of kids started showing up as super heroes, I’m not really sure what was going on. Needless to say, it wasn’t exactly the most relaxing experience. Do not go to the zoo with my family. If they ask you, pretend you’re busy. Go to the zoo by yourself.

What I didn’t like

This was kind of a rip off. We’re having this photography contest. Buy a camera from us, then take pictures. We’ll use your picture on promotional items and you get a zoo pass. That doesn’t sound like that great of a deal. Oh, and we’ll get children to do it.

Overall

Meerkats are fun. I think I could have a pet meerkat and it would be great.

Weigh In

Do you like to go to the zoo?

What would you want as a prize for this contest?