Thursday, July 26, 2012

Six more books, but fifty movies to go!

Hi Everyone,

I have resisted posting on the blog until now. Heather has finally convinced me that you all won't laugh at my 2012 book list but I think she means that you will be polite enough to do it behind my back. My tried and true explanation for my preferred genre is that after a full day of reading about the trials and tribulations of Civil War veterans (infected wounds, poisonous pus, "gums so rotten that chunks are falling out" etc.) I like to escape to a romance or suspense thriller. So here it is-so far.

The Secret Mistress                                        Mary Balogh
The Proposal                                                  Mary Balogh
Beginnings and Ends                                       Suzanne Brockmann
When Tony Met Adam                                   Suzanne Brockmann
Future Perfect                                                 Suzanne Brockmann
Shane’s Last Stand                                          Suzanne Brockmann
Born to Darkness                                            Suzanne Brockmann
Lethal                                                             Sandra Brown
The Bride Wore Scarlet                                  Liz Carlyle
Backfire                                                         Catherine Coulter
If the Slipper Fits                                            Olivia Drake
Explosive Eighteen                                          Janet Evanovich
Savor the Danger                                            Lori Foster
The Ideal Man                                                Julie Garwood
Prey                                                                Linda Hioward
The Duchess Diaries                                        Jillian Hunter
The Surrender of Miss Fairbourne                    Madeline Hunter
Winning the Wallflower                                     Eloisa James
Midnight Jewels                                               Jayne Ann Krentz
Scandalous Lord Dere                                     Stephanie Laurens
The Capture of the Earl of Glencrae                 Stephanie Laurens
Beautiful Sacrifice                                            Elizabeth Lowell
Big Sky Country                                              Linda Lael Miller
McKettrick’s Heart                                         Linda Lael Miller
The Bargain                                                     Mary Jo Putney
Marriage Spell                                                 Mary Jo Putney
No Longer a Gentleman                                   Mary Jo Putney
One Perfect Rose                                             Mary Jo Putney
Angel Rogue                                                     Mary Jo Putney
Shattered Rainbows                                          Mary Jo Putney
River of Fire                                                      Mary Jo Putney
Diabolical Baron                                                Mary Jo Putney
The Bartered Bride                                            Mary Jo Putney
Silk and Secrets                                                 Mary Jo Putney               
Silk and Shadows                                              Mary Jo Putney
Veils of Silk                                                        Mary Jo Putney
Petals in the Storm                                             Mary Jo Putney
Dancing on the Wind                                          Mary Jo Putney
Thunder & Roses                                               Mary Jo Putney
Crystal Gardens                                                 Amanda Quick
A Night Like This                                               Julia Quinn
Celebrity in Death                                               J D Robb
The Witness                                                        Nora Roberts
Ravishing the Heiress                                          Sherry Thomas

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Have a Little Faith, Tuck Everlasting, Brave, How to Marry a Millionaire, Addam's Family, Into the Woods

I read Have a Little Faith by Mitch Albom, which I really liked!  It's a true story about Albom who was asked by the rabbi from his childhood to do his eulogy when he dies. "Feeling unworthy, Albom insists on understanding the man better, which throws him into a world of faith he left long ago. Meanwhile...Albom becomes involved with a Detroit pastor...who preaches to the poor and homeless in a decaying church with a hole in its roof." (I got the words from the sleeve cover of the book.)  The book tells the fascinating stories of the Jewish rabbi and Christian pastor. The book is a fast read and has lots of good thoughts in it.  I really liked it.

I also read Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt.  It was interesting, but I was not a big fan of it.

I watched Brave last weekend, which I liked.  It was cute and I liked that it wasn't a love story. It was different than most Disney shows.  I saw How to Marry a Millionaire with Lauren Bacall, Marilyn Monroe, and Betty Grable.  It was cheesy, but funny!  I watched Addam's Family Values and it was highly entertaining. (On a side note, if you've never seen The Addam's Family musical (as a play), it is hilarious and worth it to go and see).  I watched Into the Woods, which is a Sondheim musical and I liked it.  It is funny but a little depressing at the same time.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

4 movies and 1 book

Sherlock Holmes: Game of Shadows, was a bit complicated but still enjoyable. I like both Robert Downey, Jr. and Jude Law. I liked when Holmes would imagine how a fight would go, which was demonstrated for the viewers in slow motion, then we would see the fight not quite work out that way when it actually happened.

I went to see The Avengers with Leslea and her family. Even though we spent the first five minutes of the ride home commenting on all the things that were wrong with it -- apparently Hawkeye had about a hundred arrows in that quiver before it finally ran out and a bunch of beautiful people would fight for 10 minutes and end up with token scratches on their faces. That being said, we all agreed that it was a fun movie.

I can understand what Leslea said about the resemblance of The Artist to Singin' in the Rain. I felt The Artist used the earlier movie as an inspiration and jumping off point. I really loved it. It was beautiful and well done. Well worth watching.

I watched Disney's John Carter last night. I was expecting it to be really terrible, so I was pleasantly surprised. It wasn't the best movie in the world, but it was pretty good. The dialogue could have been written better. But it was filmed beautifully and the special effects were great.

I read Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy From Mars by Daniel M. Pinkwater. I found it on the shelf when I was storing some old kids books. I must have considered reading it in high school, because I found a ninth-grade class schedule in it. It was an interesting book and a clever idea. Leonard Neeble moves to a new school and everybody hates him until he meets Alan Mendelsohn. Together the boys go on crazy adventures in which they learn mind control, visit other planes of existence and save the Waka Waka people from their oppressors. I like weird books where weird things happen and normal people have solve difficult problems. But I didn't love this book. It was very creative and the characters likable, but it wasn't great. I did like that by the end Leonard had grown as a person and learned how to confront all the problems he was having in school. And maybe, he'll get to visit his friend at home on Mars.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lotsa Books

In the last few weeks I've had time to read for some reason. It's been great!

Here's my list: Fame, Glory and Other Things on My To-Do List and It's a Mall World After All by Janette Rallison (who is pretty much becoming my favorite author with her hilarious YA clean-reads); Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo; Igraine the Brave by Cornelia Funke; Life Rocks! by John Bytheway; The Dreamer Volume 2 (a graphic novel that's available online too! Check out this blending of modern day high school and the Revolutionary War and a romance, yeah!) by Laura Innes; The Lady in the Lake by Raymond Chandler, which I can imagine Humphrey Bogart starring in--good noir fun.

Brave, 17 Miracles, The Amazing Spiderman

For date night we went to see The Amazing Spiderman. It is a parallel movie to the earlier series, and comic book people have told me it’s because this story is from a parallel comic book series. Instead of Mary Jane, there’s a different love interest, Gwen Stacey, a high school science girl. I really enjoyed it. Even though some elements were identical (and therefore not the surprising and satisfying plot elements they would’ve been had I not seen the earlier movies) the acting was great, I loved the casting, and the romance was fab. Best of all (to me) was Rhys Ifans, the “bad guy.” How do they always pick my favorite character actors as bad guys for the Spiderman movies? I don’t know. Good times.

My son went on a pioneer re-enactment trek last month, so this Sunday after church the kids and I watched 17 Miracles, which DVD my mom had given us the week before. Wow! It’s the story of the Mormon handcart companies, the final two, and their ill-fated journey across the plains from Iowa to Utah when they left late in the season and an early winter hit. It was both emotional and inspiring, and by the time it was over, my mascara was pretty much shot. There were 65 deaths, all told, and that is one of the greatest miracles. I loved seeing a live reenactment of this oft-told story of my forebears history, and I think anyone with an interest in the westward migration would find it engrossing.

Brave. We watched it a few weeks ago, and it was one of those stories where I found myself thinking, “You could’ve gone any direction with this story and you chose what?”

I don’t know. It was cute, and the heroine was plucky and the overall story was a good feel-good show, which is great. The animation was gorgeous. I could have followed the will o’ the wisps all day long. And I think my kids would love it. Maybe I just wasn’t in the mood for that many bears.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


I haven't posted anything in a while! Some new movies I've just seen include The Hunger Games, Avengers, The Artist, We Bought A Zoo, People Like Us, and The Vow. I would definitely recommend The Hunger Games, but only if you like the whole post-apocalyptic thing. The Avengers was good if you like explosions, and The Artist was like a current version of Singin' In the Rain, which is one of my favorite movies ever. After I got over the fact that The Artist was sort of copying that movie, I thought it was very well done. Once I remember what books I've read recently, I'll post again! 

Sunday, July 8, 2012


Our very own Jennifer Griffith has a new novel, Big in Japan, coming out this month. Cool, huh. To celebrate, I'm going to purchase a copy of Jennifer's book for one lucky winner. To choose the winner, I will be drawing names out of a hat, a bowl, or other shallow receptacle. Here are the rules.

  1. To get your name in the hat, make a comment on any of the posts. I'm sure this won't happen, but if for some reason I need to delete the comment, it will not count as a contest entry. Every comment you make gets your name in the hat. The more comments you make, the more entries you get.
  2. To my contributors, every post you make will be considered an entry.
  3. You must be willing to give me your snail mail address, so I can send you the book.
  4. The contest goes from now until August 8. I will announce the winner within a couple days of the end of the contest.
Good luck!

Here's the book press release.
Here's the book trailer.

A magic library card

Newbery Medal winner Jerry Spinelli wrote The Library Card as a challenge. He was to write several stories that had nothing in common but an enchanted library card. The result is a magic blue library card that travels through and changes the lives of Mongoose, Brenda, Sonseray, and April Mendez. These are stories that show the positive power and influence books, libraries and the people who love them can have on lives. The stories don't show us how these four kids' lives turned out, only the road down which the library card led them. A couple of the stories are sad, but all beautiful portraits of kids and their problems. Spinelli has a lot of love and empathy for his subjects. The novel has an After Words section at the end which included an interview with the author. There is also "The Book That Changed My Life" in which other authors write about books they love that influenced them. That was my favorite part of the book.

Friday, July 6, 2012


Archaeologist William Rathje, the original garbologist and the Oxford English Dictionary define garbology as, "the study of a community or culture by analyzing it's waste." (page 136 of the Nook edition) Across his or her lifetime, every American will, on average, generate 102 tons of trash. (page 11) This figure only accounts for the trash each of us throws out. It does not include all the waste and pollution generated to produce, package, or transport everything we end up throwing away. In fact, trash is America's leading export. (page 16) How is it possible that we generate so much trash?

Garbology: Our Dirty Love Affair with Trash by Pulitzer Prize winner Edward Humes seeks to answer three questions, from page 19:

1.     What is the nature and cost of all this waste?
2.     How is it possible that we create this much waste without intending to or realizing it?
3.     What next? Is there a way back and what would it do for us or to us?

I've been interested in learning about trash and what happens to it and how I can make less ever since I read Garbage Land (fabulous) by Elizabeth Royte. My coworkers have often been coerced into walking around the neighborhood picking up litter. So when, I heard about Garbology, I knew I would find it fascinating.

I wasn't disappointed. Garbology is interesting, well written and well sourced. It's full of so many interesting facts, that I decided I needed to take notes to remember them. Here are a few of those interesting facts.
  • From page 63-"By the year 2000, Americans consumed 100 billion [plastic shopping bags] a year, at an estimated cost to retailers of $4 billion - costs passed on to consumers."
  • From page 90-91-"Scripps researchers found that the [lantern] fish responsible for maintaining a significant part of the global food supply were eating potentially toxic plastic at an alarming rate - 24,000 tons a year in the North Pacific alone." Lantern fish are low on the food chain, and all this plastic is mixed in with the zooplankton the fish eat.
  • From page 109-"The United Nations estimates that a minimum of 7 million tons of trash ends up in the ocean each year, 5.6 million tons of which (80 percent) is plastic." All this plastic will never disappear.
  • From page 226: "One full day's worth of America's total oil consumption - about 18 million barrels - is spent hauling bottled water around."
The book isn't intended to be overwhelming or discouraging, and surprisingly, it isn't. It shines a light on the true cost of all that trash we hide away, because it never really disappears. Humes wants the reader to see all this trash not as worthless waste, a noun, but as waste, a verb, and recognize that all these resources we are wasting have value. He tells stories of individuals working to reduce wastefulness and how this has benefited them.

I recognize how wasteful I am, and this book inspires me to look at my habits and make changes, so I don't waste all the wonderful resources available to me.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

One for the Money, Jane Eyre 2011, Snow White,The Hiding Place, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

I am finally updating on the movies I've seen.

I watched The Accidental Husband a while ago.  It has Uma Thurman, Colin Firth and Jeffrey Dean Morgan in it. It's about this radio talk show host, Emma Lloyd, (Uma Thurman) who gives advice about love.  Emma tells a lady who calls that she should break up with her fiance. The lady does and the ex-fiance (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) seeks revenge on Emma and trouble ensues.  It's a romantic comedy. There were some funny parts, but for the most part it was okay.  I don't think I would watch it again.

I saw One For the Money with Kathryn Heigl and Jason O'Mara.  Stephanie Plum (Kathryn Heigl) is unemployed and newly divorced.  She is offered a job in the bail bond business through a family connection. One of her assignments, that she must capture and bring in to be arrested, is an old flame (Jason O'Mara).  The job ends up being much more dangerous than Stephanie originally thought and she must keep herself safe and try to put the pieces of the case together quickly before anyone else gets killed.  It was also only okay for me. It didn't do much for me. 

I love Jane Eyre. I have read the book (although it has been a long time).  I have seen a couple of versions of the movie, but I had not seen the newest version from 2011 until a couple of weeks ago.  I liked it.  It was pretty good.  I need to read the book again to remember.

I watched Snow White and the Huntsman.  It was a twist on the original fairy tale. I didn't like it all that much. The evil queen was a bit too scary to me.  The actors didn't have much chemistry in my opinion.

Since I recently read The Hiding Place, I decided to watch the movie with the same title.  First of all, in order to understand the movie you must read the book.  They don't give much background information in the movie and at some points it was a little confusing even after having just read the book. (There were some people there that had never read the book and they had no idea what was going on.)  Second of all, it was a little slow, but I thought it was a well made movie. (From the trailers I thought it would be much cheesier) Third of all it misses some important parts of the book (I do realize they can't put everything in the movie otherwise it would be forever long)  Overall, I liked the movie.  I am glad I watched it and at the end the real Corrie ten Boom comes onto screen and talks for a few minutes.

The last movie I've seen recently is The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.  Watching it really made me want to visit India.  It is such a beautiful, dirty, different, exotic place.  The movie is about a group of retirees that are enticed by a hotel in India aimed at elderly people.  The cost of living is cheaper and it is a new and exciting place to live.  It goes through the trials and adventures of the people as they get settled and get used to the culture of their new place.  I must say that there was a  bit of sexual content in there but they don't ever show anything.  The show had potential to be awesome.  I did love all of the scenes of India.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Hugo Cabret

I put off reading The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick, because I like words and most of this 500+ page book consists of illustrations. But they are wonderful illustrations drawn in pencil on watercolor paper. I shouldn't have put it off so long. Brian Selznick is an excellent artist and illustrator. This book deserved The Caldecott Medal (for children's book illustration) that it received.

This is the story of Hugo Cabret, an orphaned son of a clock maker, who finds an automaton in the burned-out remains of the museum where his father died. Hugo repairs the mechanical man, and it changes his life. Along the way, he learns a little bit about himself and the world and finds out he's not all alone.

The illustrations move the story along in a way that text cannot. During the scene when Hugo falls onto the train tracks and is in danger of being hit by an oncoming train is beautifully depicted through a series of illustrations showing the train getting nearer and larger. The illustrations are very much like stills from a movie, which is appropriate given that one of the characters is the early filmmaker Georges Melies.

Here is part of a scene From one of my favorite text parts of the book, pages 374-375:
Hugo thought about his father's description of the automaton. "Did you ever notice that all machines are made for some reason?" he asked Isabelle. "They are built to make you laugh, like the mouse here, or to tell the time, like clocks, or to fill you with wonder, like the automaton. Maybe that's why a broken machine always makes me a little sad, because it isn't able to do what it was meant to do." 
Isabelle picked up the mouse, wound it again, and set it down. 
"Maybe it's the same with people," Hugo continued. "If you lose your purpose . . . it's like you're broken."
. . . 
Hugo and Isabelle were quiet for a moment, and then Isabelle said, "So is that you're purpose? Fixing things? 
Hugo thought about it. "I don't know," he said. "Maybe." 
"Then what's my purpose?" wondered Isabelle. 
"I don't know," said Hugo.

Ultimately, this is a book about healing and finding purpose in life as well as those people who can help you fulfill your purpose.

A short review on a little blog, can't do justice to this book. It is well worth the read.

A diet book

Yes, I read a diet book, and I'm suitably embarrassed. I chose to read The Petite Advantage Diet: Achieve That Long, Lean Look. The Specialized Plan for Women 5'4" and Under (maybe if I ate the title I wouldn't be hungry for the next week!) by Jim Karas, because it is aimed at short, fat females of which I am one.

Let me just save you $15 or a trip to the library. It comes down to this: don't eat foods that are white (except cottage cheese as it is a good source of protein), do eat lots of healthy protein and fruits and vegetables and strength train using a somewhat intimidating contraption called Gravity Straps.

I suspect by the end of this post, you'll understand that I'm a short, fat female who will probably stay that way. I didn't care for the tone of the book; it was a little too unprofessional for me. But Karas has written several books and helped many women lose weight. There were two new-to-me concepts in the book. The first was calorie cycling in which the short, fat female is aided in sticking to her calorie restrictions by having two days of eating 1,100 calories followed by a day of eating 1,600 calories. The second was the work-out plan which consisted only of strength training using Gravity Straps which are hung on a door and help you use your own body weight to build muscle. Even if my doors were sturdier than those break-apart kind they have in Hollywood or if I had any doors besides the bathroom door that had enough room outside it to do the workout, I'd still be worried by my general lack of coordination and fearful of the plan. If done properly, these exercises done in 31-minute sessions, should increase the heart rate enough to improve cardiovascular health.  Maybe I can start with some of the non-strap exercises and work my way up to the straps.

I didn't like that Karas said cardio exercise is a complete and utter waste of time (I think that's a direct quote, but I didn't use the quotation marks in case I'm actually paraphrasing). I like cardio exercise, and after telling me that I need to move my body for at least 90 minutes a day, I don't want to hear that some particular type of movement is a waste of time. On the other hand, I liked that he gave me permission never to train for or run a marathon. He considers cardio a waste because mostly people (at least the short, fat females) eat too much because of their work out. They go on that two-mile run with their girlfriends then immediately head over to the cafe for grande coffee and a giant muffin. That is a no-no.

On the whole, I didn't really learn a whole lot I didn't already know. But it's good to have the reminder that I need to practice what I know. It also helped to motivate me to increase the amount of time I spend doing strength training exercises, even if I'm not anywhere near where I should be.

So, on the whole, a useful read.