Sunday, August 31, 2008

August Reads

I managed TWELVE books in August! No coincidence that this is also the month in which I was LAID OFF and before school starts. lol

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer - 08/02/08
Good - Young Adult
RE-READ Edward leaves and Bella establishes a relationship with Jacob, but he also has a secret.
Before the last book in the series came out, I chose to re-read the first 3. New Moon is #2.

Eclipse by Stephenie Meyer - 08/05/08
Good - Young Adult
RE-READ Bella is in danger and Jacob and Edward must team up to protect her, but who will she choose?
The 3rd Twilight book.

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer - 08/07/08
Good - Horror
After Bella's wedding to Edward, will she choose to remain mortal or become a vampire, and what effect will that have on those around her?
The tone of Breaking Dawn is far different than the first 3 in the Twilight series, leaving me with mixed feelings. Meyer did a great job pulling all the threads of the story together, but more editing would have made the novel tighter and more effective.

Say Goodbye by Lisa Gardner - 08/08/08
Good - Suspense
FBI agent Kimberly Quincy is 5 months pregnant and on the trail of a killer who is killing prostitutes and who collects spiders.
Suspenseful and interesting.

The Dewey Decimal System of Love by Josephine Carr - 08/10/08
Good - Chick Lit
Ally is a middle-aged reference librarian who has never been in love; she sets her sights on a (married) symphony conductor.
I read about this book on an agent's booklist when I was searching for agents to query. It's a light-hearted read with an unusual heroine.

13 Little Blue Envelopes by Maureen Johnson - 08/12/08
Excellent - Young Adult
Ginny's eccentric aunt leaves her 13 blue envelopes with instructions to travel to England and further.
I read about this book on someone's blog - I believe it was an aspiring or newly published author. Glad I did! It was a clever and refreshingly unique coming-of-age tale. Ginny is far more independent than I'd want any daughter of mine to be - traipsing around Europe and gallivanting with boys, but it made an entertaining read as well as a sweet romance.

Darcy's Story: Pride and Prejudice told from a whole new perspective by Janet Aylmer - 08/18/08
Good - Fiction
A retelling of Pride & Prejudice from Mr. Darcy's perspective.
The idea of this intrigued me greatly! What IS Darcy thinking all that time? We get a good sense of it, although I do think that Darcy's thoughts would certainly have been far less chaste at times. He IS a man, after all. But all in all, a good read, and it fit well with Austen's original.

The Butterfly Garden: A Memoir by Chip St. Clair - 08/18/08
Good - Non-fiction
Chip survived his frightening childhood and discovered a terrible truth about his parents.
I read this in one night during our camping trip. What an awful childhood Chip experienced! He is one of those that turns evil into good, however, and he's started a foundation of some kind for abused or neglected children. What's more, the story takes place in Auburn Hills, MI - which isn't far from my home!

How Not To Look Old: Fast and Effortless Ways to Look 10 Years Younger, 10 Pounds Lighter, 10 Times Better by Charla Krupp - 08/29/08
Good - Non-fiction
I'm not sure about fast and effortless, but there are dozens of things you can do to look more Y&H (Young and Hot) instead of O.L. (Old Lady).
With a title like that, how could I not pick it up? Krupp categorizes things women over 40 can do to look younger - foundational garments, wardrobe and makeup choices, hair color, etc.... Most of the methods detailed are not effortless or fast, not to mention cheap - laser hair removal comes to mind, but there are a fair number of tips that ought to work for many! I guess you'll have to watch me and see if I look younger and better! Hah!

Spiderweb for Two: A Melendy Maze by Elizabeth Enright - 08/29/08
Excellent - Children's
A sequel to Four-Story Mistake – Mona and Rush are away from home, leaving Randy and Oliver at loose ends, but then a treasure hunt clue appears in the mail.
I read Four-Story Mistake when I was a child and also have read it to my kids. Ran across this sequel and thought A-ha! Once I started reading it, vague memories of having read it before surfaced, so evidently I did read it as well at some point. I will be reading it to my kids this school year. I'd like to find a copy of The Saturdays too, as it is another Melendy story.

Finding God in Lord of the Rings by Kurt Bruner & Jim Ware - 08/30/08
Good - Non-fiction
Inspirational book of reflections on LOTR discusses the supernatural themes present in the trilogy and how they relate to the Bible and Christianity
FINALLY - I made it through this book. And when I did, I wondered what took me so long! This book of short Christian reflections on sections of Lord of the Rings got better as it went along. The beginning seemed a little obvious, but by the end, the authors were delving into more complex and interesting morals. I do recommend it.

Tumbling Through Time by Gwyn Cready - 08/31/08
Good - Romance
Persephone Pyle finds herself sent back to 1706 via a pair of pink stiletto shoes and lands in a story half-conceived by herself.
My friend Marla told me about another book by this author (Seducing Mr. Darcy) which I looked for at my library. That one is just coming out and therefore wasn't at the library yet, but Tumbling Through Time was, so I thought I'd give it a go. Serious literature it ain't, but Cready writes an entertaining tale. This romance is approximately R-rated; although everything is hinted at rather than spelled out, there is quite a lot of dwelling on bedroom events.

What are you reading?!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Thirteen Top Movies

Saw this meme on the Pink Lemonade blog (Thursday Thirteen) and I just can't pass up a movie list challenge. lol

My Top 13 Movies (if you ask me next week, it might change though - lol)

1 – Lord of the Rings (all 3) - Saw these repeatedly in the theatre and again on DVD

2 – The Scarlet Pimpernel - Sink me! I have loved Sir Percy since I was 16!

3 – A Knight's Tale - We will, we will ROCK YOU!

4 – Pride and Prejudice (1995) - Allow me to tell you how ardently I admire and love this movie! If you're only going to watch one P&P, make it THIS one!

5 – The Incredibles - this is such a great animated movie - family friendly, full of adventure, humorous, beautifully executed!

6 – The Matrix - "Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself."

7 – Sahara - We're home free now!

8 – The Cutting Edge (1992) - A movie I can watch over and over and over.... Figure skating, an opposites-attract romance - sigh....

9 – Bridget Jones's Diary - Wait a minute... Nice boys don't kiss like that!

10 – Bird on a Wire - Mel Gibson in a dozen different roles - LOVE IT.

11 - The Importance of Being Earnest - Come down, Lady, come down....

12 – It's a Wonderful Life - A yearly tradition - now my kids love it too!

13 – Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl - Savvy?

Friday, August 15, 2008

Nim's Island (2008)

The kids wanted to see Nim's Island long before it came out and I read the book aloud to them this spring as a prerequisite for watching the movie. But the spring slipped by and the movie left theatres before we were able to carve out time to see it. When the kids' summer matinee schedule was announced for a local theatre, I was very glad to see it included Nim's Island. Today we went with a group of friends to see it and I am SO GLAD we did.

What a wonderful movie! Who wouldn't want to live on this idyllic island, especially with most the comforts of home, including apparently high-speed internet! I'll admit to being very glad that Gerard Butler played both Nim's dad Jack and the fictional adventurer Alex Rover created by the writer of the same name (played by Jodie Foster). Lots of screen time for Gerry! Lots of appreciation from the moms accompanying their kids to this sold-out show!

Nim (Abigail Breslin) is an eleven-year-old girl who lives on an uncharted island with her scientist dad, Jack. He ventures out onto the ocean in search of a new plankton, reluctantly (and unwisely) leaving Nim alone on the island. What was supposed to be a two-day journey is complicated by a storm, and Jack doesn't return on time. Nim is understandably worried.

Nim's companions every day are a sea lion, a lizard, and a frigate bird. Through the help of these creatures, Nim manages to protect her secret island from uncouth tourists and a greedy cruise ship company. When she is injured, she discloses the location of their secret island to Alex Rover, in hopes that "he" will come to rescue her. However, she expects Alex Rover to be the brave male hero described in the books rather than the agoraphobic writer she actually is.

Jodie Foster has done a number of more serious and gritty movie roles, so this broadly-played character is something different for her, but she does it well. Alexandra is a woman who rarely even ventures out of her apartment, so to go halfway around the world to rescue a child she doesn't even know is a stretch for her! Foster hits the perfect balance between over-playing the comedy and making the scenes too serious.

Nim, played by Abigail Breslin, is all long tousled hair and brave smiles. Breslin settles into this role perfectly and is completely believable - scared and alone during the storms, ecstatically happy to see her dad, worried and angry when Alex shows up as a female writer instead of the hero she expected, brave and capable when protecting her island or making repairs to her home.

A dual role allowed Gerard Butler to be on-screen for much of the movie. His Indiana-Jones type swashbuckling character appears when Nim is reading the Rover books or when Alexandra talks to him. He talks back to Alexandra too. Jack is a bespectacled marine biologist who loves both his work and his daughter. In either of these roles, Butler is engaging and, well, just plain delightful. Of course, I admit to a small bias in this situation as Butler is on my List. (Do you have to ask what The List entails? I'm sure not.)

Little kids may be afraid during some of the tense scenes in which Jack fights the storm or when Nim falls down a steep mountainside. I heard one small child behind me ask in a frightened tone, "Is he dead?" (He's not.) My own six-year-old leaned in to my side and gripped my arm during a couple upsetting scenes, but I think she was enjoying 'being scared'.

There were a number of differences from the book, but I didn't find any of them to be too distracting. My kids noticed different ones than I found, but it didn't stop them from enjoying the film. I do recommend reading the book. The first draft of the book was written when the author was only nine years old!

Other than a few instances of taking the Lord's name in vain and the tense scenes, I found this movie to be very family-friendly. We plan to own it - all my kids loved it, from the happily frightened six-year-old to the oh-so-cool thirteen-year-old boy.

If you'd like to own either the book or the movie too, here are handy links!



Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Fool's Gold (2007)

Watched Fool's Gold (Matthew McConaughey, Kate Hudson) last night. The reviews were terrible, but I liked the movie more than I thought I would. The spark McConaughey and Hudson shared in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days was missing, definitely, and the dialogue was mostly lackluster, although there were a few moments that made me giggle.

But there was more to this movie than a shirtless lead actor. Perhaps it's just that I love a treasure hunting story? But I didn't find this movie's story any less plausible than National Treasure 2, plus there was gorgeous scenery to look at. (I mean the ocean! The beaches! For shame! lol) The actress playing Gemma was pleasantly ditzy and sweet.

I can think of several movies I enjoyed a lot less than this one, so for me it wasn't quite scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Rollicking Reader Report

Rollicking readers - doesn't that sound intriguing?

Rollicking Readers Book Club was started by my friend Darlene and me after we each watched the film Jane Austen Book Club. Despite our mutual dislike of the movie, we felt motivated to start our own club.

One Austen work per month was our goal. Finished thus far? Emma, Persuasion, and Pride and Prejudice. Next up is Mansfield Park. Before this I'd only read Pride and Prejudice (which I adore). To be honest, I am finding most of Austen's other works to be a bit stultifying, but the company is great and the stories are romantic. Our meetings also include a viewing of the film version of each book and a lot of sassy conversation, as well as snacks! How can it go wrong?

Our original intent was to read all of Austen's works; there are only six. But we're having so much fun, that we've already talked about what to do once we've made it through all of those. We intend to continue with other classics.

Nine or ten women have attended each month and we are becoming fast friends. If you live nearby, I invite you to join us! If not, then I challenge you to start your own book club - you don't know how much fun you're missing!

Friday, August 08, 2008

Vote Chewbacca 2008

THIS is funny. Star Wars-themed election products (shirts, bumper stickers, etc.) I like the Wookie one best! And if the Obi-Wan bumper sticker had one of the actors on it, instead of the cartoon Obi-Wan, I probably would buy it! lol

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

July Reads

Six books for July - not an impressive number. Did you do better than me?

Cockatiels for Dummies
by Diane Grindol - 07/06/08
Good - Non-fiction
A guide to selecting and caring for a pet cockatiel
Needed some more information on cockatiels and I adore the " for Dummies" series.

Eat This, Not That! by David Zinczenko - 07/08/08
Good - Non-fiction
Thousands of simple food swaps that can save you 10, 20, 30 pounds – or more
Wow! This book is enthralling. Lovely color photos of foods draw you in and the information is excellent. Comparisons between food choices help the reader understand how to choose better foods that still taste good. Sections on fast food, chain restaurants, eating on holidays, and grocery shopping provide a well-rounded guide. Pick this one up! You won't be sorry!

Journey by Angela Elwell Hunt - 07/08/08
Good - Inspirational
The third volume in this series of the life of Joseph in Ancient Egypt – this one focuses on his sons Manassah and Ephraim.
This one didn't hold my attention as much as the other two but I was glad to read the end of the story.

Courting Trouble by Deeanne Gist - 07/13/08
Good - Inspirational
Essie realizes she is becoming an old maid and decides to find a husband.
My mom recommended Deeanne Gist and I'm glad to find a new author worth reading, especially a Christian writer. This book is unusual because Essie, the main character, doesn't always make good choices. In most Christian fiction, the protagonist has to choose "right" or it can't be a "good example" for the reader. However, I think seeing the consequences of bad choices from a realistic Christian perspective is even more valuable than seeing unrealistic good choices always portrayed.

The Broken Window by Jeffery Deaver - 07/22/08
Excellent - Suspense
Lincoln's cousin is arrested for murder, but has he been framed by an identity thief? CHILLING!
I think this is one of Deaver's best Lincoln Rhyme books. Perhaps it's because the crime is less personal than others, but far more probable in today's computer-driven world. Anyway, this is a great book!

Twilight by Stephenie Meyer - 07/28/08
Good - Young Adult
Clumsy and ordinary, Bella moves to the rainy Northwest to live with her father; there she meets extraordinary and inhumanly handsome Edward.
Re-reading in preparation for Breaking Dawn's release. I like the writing better this time around, but I like Bella even less than I did before. I still adore Jacob though! :-)

What are you reading? Come on, leave me a comment!!!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Reviews Coming Soon

Saw Wall-E over the weekend - LOVED IT! Also recently viewed P.S. I Love You. Reviews will be coming for those soon.

I also plan a review of the Twilight series by Stephenie Meyer. Just as soon as I finish reading Breaking Dawn!