Monday, December 20, 2010

The Adventures of Rusty and Ginger Fox.

The Adventures of Rusty and Ginger Fox is the perfect purchase for nature lovers of all ages. My preschool niece would love the animal pictures and grow into discovering the facts and story. My 13 year old friend would find it a lovely addition to her animal books. I love read not only the story, but the interesting bits of information about each forest animal.

 When I received this book in the mail from Phenix and Phenix Publishers I fell in love with the book immediately. The book's cover is lovely enough to grace a coffee table, bright enough to captivate children, and elegant enough for gifting nature lovers of all ages. Then I opened the book and was not dissapointed. The book follows two fox kits as they set out to discover the world around them. Each time they encounter a new species in the forest, the authors pause the story and provide real information about the animal. As the foxes see cougars, bears, and other forest dwellers, the readers, learn great facts like, "Cougars can jump up to 18 feet high." The photographs in the book are artfully taken, and beautifully cropped. Tim Ostermeyer's photography skills are undeniably a highlight in the book. Every page is new picture of either the fox kits or another animal they encouter. And if the picture are not enough  enchantment for the young reader, the  book ends with a bit of whimsy and treasure.

The author and photographer Tim Ostermeyer currently loves in Allen Texas and had been taking wildlife pictures for the last 20 years. For more information in the book, to find coloring sheets of Rusty and Ginger, or to find out more about TIm Ostermeyere one can visit http://rustyandgingerfox.com/ or http://www.ostermeyer-photography.com/ .

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

November 3

I took the summer off from blogging and now seemed to have dissapeared from CyberSpace. Actually I took the summer off from most electronic communincation. It was amazing. I was outdoors a lot. I did read some great books. I loved The Kingdom of Ohio. Very Nabokov. Then I reread more Pern books. (Dragons who read minds, who doesn;t love that stuff.)

August arrived and school arrived with a vengeance. I was plunged into teacher mode with approximately 400 students. It has been a bit amazing. I hermited a bit much last year and so have made it my mission this year to get out of my bubble and off my computer in the evenings. However, I didn't mean to fall off the blogger truck. I certainly need to strive to find a healthy level of blogging that will also allow me time to hang out with friends and participate in more crazy adventures like my last weekend.

Speaking of last weekend. I decided to be Amy Pond for the Saturday costume concert. So my friend who was going with me to the concert decided to be the the 11th Doctor. I cannot stress just how big of Doctor Who fans the pair of us are. However, he did not own a crazy bowtie. So we took off Saturday (yes I realize we may have had more success if we'd planned ahead.) to hunt down a bowtie. We failed miserably. We looked iin all sorts of places, Random inport clothing stores, thrift stores, consignment stores, department stores, mall stores, Target, and yet all to no avail. He ended up wearing his plain black one. This will be remedied before our next attempt. I figure if he picks out material, I can handle sewing a simple bowtie.

The concert was Fantastic. Two local punk bands, followed by two Ska bands. Great times, mosh pits, skanking, and an all around good time. I was a bit sore Sunday. It was worth it.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Dragonquest and The White Dragon classic Anne McCaffrey

These two books are 2 and 3 of the Dragonriders of Pern series. They follow the first book about Pern, Dragonflight.
Dragonquest is a bit heavy on politics and lght on relationships. The issues between the Oldtimers and the Contemporary Dragon riders is mirrored by the the issues with the Older Land holders against the Dragon Riders. Life has changed in 400 turns and society has not remained static. Being accustomed to subservience, the dragon riders who came from the past demand higher percentages of tithe and crave a living that the holders aren't willing to provide. From that portentous start the story builds in intensity.

The White Dragon is my favorite of the series. As the white dragonrider, Jaxom is quite central to the storyline. I think I prefer the Pern books that revolve around a main charactor, rather than a political issue. However, as this book is written a few years after the first two, Anne McCaffrey wrote the first two books of the Harper Hall Trilogy in the interim. I would definately recommend first time readers to read Dragonsong and Dragonsinger before reading The White Dragon. Readers unfamiliar with the overall Pern Series will miss out on the charactor development of some pivital Harpers without the pair of books.Then one can followup The White Dragon with the 3rd of the Harper Hall series, Dragondrums.

Now if I can just locate the Harper Hall 1 and 2, because I already have #3.

Until next time...

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Sea by Heidi Kling

Sea had great preview reviews, and so I pre-ordered it and went to it's fabulous launch party. I quite honestly can count the number of books I have pre-ordered on one hand. I am quite particular about spending pre-order prices. However the book sounded wonderful and the author was somewhat local. I took the plunge and pre-ordered Sea. I was not disappointed. If you have not checked out this new pearl of a YA book, I encourage you to check it out. Here is why I think it is terrific.

Sea by Heidi KlingHeidi Kling has written a poignant and thought provoking novel. This story is about Sienna who, while dealing with her own tragedy, travels to  tsunami tramatized Indonesia to assist her father at an orphanage. Through her encounters at the orphanage Sienna is faced with her past and her future as they collide in her present. This storyline was genuine, believable. It had witty lines, clearly crafted scenes, and plenty of unpredictability without feeling either contrived or haphazard. I loved this novel.

One main reason is that I love Sienna. She's not static. The experiences she came into the story clearly affected who she was, and the experiences she had in Indonesia further evolved Sienna. Sometimes when I read novels, I sometimes find myself repeatedly suspending disbelief. Sienna didn't have those moments.  I imagine going down to her beachside town and running into her living.

I am told Heidi is working on additional projects. I am eager to read more by her. After I met her at the launch, I see one reason why her charactors are full of life. She is surrounded by vitality. The book was inspired by some of her and her families real experiences and as she drew on those and crafted a story, she wove a a beautiful tale.

5 stars.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Ah, Breathing the Big Sigh of Relief

School is out for the summer. Grades turned in, graduations attended, computers emptied, and supplies inventoried. So now I get to read, study, garden, and hve lots of fun. Tommorrow begins the day of fun. I start with 2nd Saturday, my artists meeting. It's such a lovely way to begin a Saturday. Poetry, music and 2D art is shared and a good time is always had. Still contemplating what I might bring to the group. Then it's off  to enjoy some sun. It's supposed to be in the 80's Saturday and I love the California Sun. My day O'fun continues with a fabulous Book launch Party. Sea came out Yesterday it is the debut book of Heidi R Kling. Books Inc in Palo Alto is hosting the party and I will be there soaking up the California/Indonesian fun. Then the day is rounded up by stopping at my friend's outdoor movie night. Now this is the way to begin a summer: Art, Books, Sunshine, and Friends.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Revolutionary Road

Revolutionary Road

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet reunite again to star in a film directed by Kate's own husband. Playing a couple in the 1950s, the pair struggle to live in the suburbian Connecticut.


My 1st cents: The story was poignant and unforgetable. There was a solemn nature to the film that was echoed in the people and their surroundings. The chemistry between Kate and Leo was profound. I found the range of emotions the pair of them exhibited vast. Kate was beautiful and heartrending. Leo was dramatic and ernest.

My 2nd Cents: I knew going in the R rating was partially due to sexual content. However, it still bothered me. I cannot say that extremity of the scenes were necessary for the mood or the progression of the film.

Final Thoughts: Although I think the acting and writing were outstanding, I did not enjoy the movie. Sometimes a movie can be quality, but not appeal to me. I believe Revolutionary Road is this group.

2.5 out of 5 stars.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

May 26th and All is Well...or at least mostly well.

Between the modem issues and the end of the school year the last few weeks have been a little light on the blog posts. I have been reading lots of books. However many were unfinished. The Gemma Doyle books had great potential and good reviews. I picked up the audio book of the first book and just could not get into the book. Sadly I returned the book unfinished. I read a book called Rebels and Redcoats. It is the story of the American Revolution written by weaving firsthand accounts, letter, and memoirs with facts collected around the events. While it was well written, it focused mostly on the actually battles and troop movement. I’d rather read biographies and political reasons for the war. I also tried to read a retelling of Rumpelstiltskin, called a Curse as Dark as Gold. I only made it 65 pages before I gave up. It may get better, but I just wasn’t enjoying the book. Okay on to some books one can look forward to reading reviews about:
Finding God in the Lord of the Rings by Kurt Bruner and Jim Ware
 Traveling Mercies by Anne Lamott

Saturday, May 22, 2010

2012 Another Epic Disaster Film

2012

2012 is one of those movies where natural disaster's affect the fate of humanity. I love them. I've seen Category 7 and The Day After Tomorrow multiple times. I enjoy more localized films too. Volcano, Twister, and even Armagedden. There is something about watching man against major natural disasters. In fact I don;t care if they are cheesy, as long as the effects are massive. 2012 did not disappoint.


My First Cent: The people were cast well. John Cusack is great to watch overcoming miracles. He has a great deal of lovabilty. I found myself rooting for his survival. His determination to save the people he cared about enabled him to exhibit. I also thought Amanda Peet portrayed her character well. Torn between the man she loved first and the man she loves now. She plays it well, not bitter, rather contemplative.

My Second Cent: The effects were phenomenal. Gigantic canyons created, towering tsunamis flooding, and massive volcanic eruptions all factor into the scenes humanity must overcome or die. In my opinion, the fact that some of the effects area bit over the top was actually play into the threat of total anniliation.  I think this one is going to have to be a purchase as soon as the price goes down.

4 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Alanna:The First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

And so I have returned again to Tortall. Tamora Pierce is skilled in crafting the story of the young and determined girl. Again, she has taken this strategy. Alanna and her twin brother were being sent off, but not where they want to go. Alanna devises a scheme to instead enter into training towards knighthood. She disguises herself as a boy and begins Page training as Alan. It was wonderful to learn about some early days of Alanna. She appears as an adult in some of the other books and so reading about her formative years is intriguing.

I would suggest reading the Alanna series before reading the Keladry series. Since they are both set in the same location but years apart, some of the young in Alanna's time are adults in Keladry's time. It might be more fun to meet them young and then revisit them as adults.

3 out 5 stars. It is a nice book, but since I had no problem setting it aside multiple times over the last month, I know I wasn't entralled with it as I was her book Trickster's Queen.



Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Revolutionary Paul Revere by Joel J Miller

The Revolutionary Paul Revere
by Joel J Miller

The Revolutionary Paul Revere was an engaging book, which has inspired me to read more American History, and become more acquainted with the current political scene. I am a fan of well written biographies, and so when asked if I would review the book, I accepted. I had been in a bit of a book slump. I had a stack of recent books not finished from lack of interest or from lack of quality. This book however continues my new trend of some excellent books.

I chose to review Joel Miller’s The Revolutionary Paul Revere, because I thought it would be a good opportunity to learn about a key figure in the American Revolution. I was blown away by chapter after chapter of fascinating particulars. Joel Miller made the life of Paul come to life again. I had no idea smiths created engravings of pictures and songs sheets for publishers. Along with his life, the life of the revolution sprang alive. Thanks to this book, I also more clearly comprehend many nuances of the war I wasn’t taught in school. Already knew things like the stamp act and the tea duty lead towards the war, but now I clearly get why these were particularly a problem to the colonists. The details of the revolution as told centering around the life of Paul Revere is brilliantly crafted, elegantly organized, and brimming with details of the day.

Here is why I recommend the book. When it comes to books, wanting to read another book by the same author is high praise. I will definitely be checking out his other two books. When it comes to non-fiction, authors who inspire the reader to continue delving into a subject are to be counted as successes. I want to read more about Paul Revere, more about the American Revolution, and more about the details of protests against governmental developments. When it comes to biographies, an eagerness to read more rather than put the book aside is a sure sign of superb authorship. Usually I read non-fiction in conjunction with a fiction book, while all my books have been set aside while I read this book. Finally, this book has changed my summer plans. I’ve read loads of books on British history, but spend surprisingly little time study the history of my own country. This book inspires me to become more informed and actively seeking out the truth behind the headlines.


The Revolutionary Paul Revere is Joel Miller’s third book. He also authored Bad Trip(2004) and Size Matters(2006). He has also worked as editor, and He currently is a VP in the non-fiction division of Thomas Nelson Publishers.


This book was given to me by Phenix & Phenix literary publicists. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

The Revolutionary Paul Revere at Borders
 
Joel J Miller's Website 
 
The Coming of the American Revolution by the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Plan B by Pete Wilson


Have you ever read a book that completely overwhelms your perspective on life encouraging you to transform you way of living? Plan B is amazing. By the time I finished the first page, I believed this book was going to be amazing, and it did not disappoint. If you have not come across a time in your life, when things did not go as you planned, then you will. This book doesn't provide band-aids, or neat bows, as Pete put it. However what it does do is echo "me too" throughout the text. By the time I had finished chapter 4 I could list a dozen friends who I want to give a copy too. By the time I finished chapter 11, I knew it was the right book for the Bible study in my church plant group to read together. The book has a resonance with our paradoxical struggle between the reality we seek to dwell within and the reality we dwell within.
Pete interweaves Biblical text, personal life, and the lives of friends and family into chapter after chapter of what people have done when their plan fell through, that is when their life was the very opposite of what they wished it was. One chapter entitled Whiplash deals with Joseph of Genesis and the Paul of Tarsus. My notes around this include, “we assume that plan b equals God’s abandonment.” And “God’s will may be a process not a destination.”



5 out of 5 stars.

Also for a free PDF copy of chapter one visit the Plan B Website.  The website also has an intro by the author. 

 
I received this book free from Thomas Nelson Publishers as part of their BookSneeze.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255

Saturday, May 1, 2010

May Day

Happy May Day!

With the coming of May, I worked for hours in the garden trying to tame wild bushes, monitor baby vegetable plants,^ and round up threatening snails. My reading amount has been minimal, and the books I have read, have been for the most part disappointing.
I did not terrible enjoy The Fairie Path. The Fairie Path had a very predictable plot. I also found the writing a bit tangled. It had mixed reviews. Yet the cover was inviting sitting prettily on the library shelf. Suffice to say I am not sure I want to spend the time trying to write up a full length review about it.

 
The Chosen One does deserve a review. Although I was not in love with it, there were many merits and so soon I shall share what I did like. Maybe I’ll write that one up this evening.


I am also hard at working helping construct props for the play she is directing. She is doing Alice and Wonderland. I have drawn doors, shelves, animals, and flowers. Now I am in the middle of creating caterpillars’ mushroom for the 12 year old who is playing the caterpillar to perch upon.* I have a round table as the base and am using my paper mache skills to craft much of the mushroom clump. It’s given me a craving for the land of Oz. I did love that series as a child.

 
I did read one amazing book in the last couple weeks called Plan B by Pete Wilson. Be sure to check out my review on May 3rd. The book comes out May 4th.

 
School is in the last five weeks and as that happens I know my time will be even more crunched. Between wrapping up the school year at three locations, ramping up for the summer program** at one location and remembering to have fun May will be a busy month. I am quite excited for it. If the books I read are good, there will also be some book reviews and hopefully next week I can continue My 2 Cents Cinema^^ reviews.

Happy May Day. Did anyone participate in May pole dances. I've always wanted to try weaving the ribbons around a pole, but alas I have only watched them on tv. I looked up maypoles and discovered what I always imagine is the British tradition, but all over Europe there are May Pole traditions. I know it has pagan roots. The lure of spring dress and spring flowers on a grassy field still call to me.


Footnotes:


^My thriving herb garden: rosemary, oregano, sage, marjoram, mint, and lavender. My vegetable garden: Radishes, which are not thriving. Zucchini, which are up to 4 leaves a plant. Tomatoes, which have the first baby green tomatoes. Peas, which are trailing nicely up the trellis. I am nearly out of room. I had marigolds in the garden but they all fell prey to the relentless snails.
*Do caterpillars perch? I know birds do, however I am not sure that caterpillars do. Maybe they lounge?
**Seriously a computer component all designed by me. This is huge! We are doing an online adventure in different ecosystems and creating an interactive journal of our adventure.
^^How does that sound for my weekly movie review I’ve tried to institute? Usually I have at least two quality things to say. I haven’t seen it anywhere. Actually I was thinking of experimenting with

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Night Flight a mini review

Night Flight was no Little Prince. Yet it was definately an intelligent book. Set in the Andean Mountains, the mail flights must continue day and night. The night flight is a tale of pilots during an incoming cyclone and the managers on the ground who arrange the mail flights. I was slightly dissapointed in the conclusion, which didn't seem like an ending.
If this book is anything like The Little Prince, I am certain I would like it more with a second read. However, for today I give it a 2.5 out 5. I finished it, but do not love it. I kept hoping for greatness, and was given a decent story about human nature moving between a series of men involved the flying of mail. It was cerebral, yet not in a classically beautiful sort of way.

2.5 out of 5

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Doctor Who

Saturday Movie Review


This last week I did not watch any new movies. So I'm switching up the review to share with my readers about my favorite television series. Doctor Who first ran from 1963-1989 on British television. It has spanned the generations and continues to endure through the conviently imagined regeneration of the doctor. 
Doctor Who on BBC America

My 1st Cents: The writing is clever, brilliant in fact. When BBC Wales revived the Doctor Who television series the 9th Docor, played by Christopher Eccleson brought the charisma of the Doctor back to life with a new instensity. I remember running across him on the Syfy channel. He was wonderful and vibrant. I fell in love with him along with his companion Rose. And then the first series ended and he regenerated. I was a bit devestated. I researched Doctor Who and found first the Doctor regenerates as a way to heal. Secondly, I found a whole world of Doctors from the earlier three decades. My favorite of the earlier Doctors is played by Tom Baker. Each Doctor is the same, yet also distinctly different.

My 2nd Cents: Series 2-4 are played by David Tennant, the 10th Doctor. He was a most wonderful Doctor. His eyes carried the depth of the Doctor's long live, while his frenetic interactions provided a youth and vitality to his portrayal. His cobbled together Tardis and Time Lord technology, brings a journey of epic proportions to the viewers. And yet somewhere in the journey we learn about the value of all sentient life. Always valuing life, always looking for the greater good, the Doctor and his companions journey throughout time and space.


Final Thoughts: Series 5 began this April on BBC America. The 11th Doctor, played by Matt Smith is adventuring on a whole new seriess of journeys. I haven't scene it yet because I don't get BBC America, but I'm told it is fresh, sassy, and downright brilliant.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Beautiful Creatures

Beautiful Creatures was written by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. It was published in December 2009. The book is set in Gatlin North Carolina.

Summary from Goodreads: "Lena Duchannes is unlike anyone the small Southern town of Gatlin has ever seen, and she’s struggling to conceal her power and a curse that has haunted her family for generations. But even within the overgrown gardens, murky swamps, and crumbling graveyards of the forgotten South, a secret cannot stay hidden forever.
Ethan Wate, who has been counting the months until he can escape from Gatlin, is haunted by dreams of a beautiful girl he has never met. When Lena moves into the town’s oldest and most infamous plantation, Ethan is inexplicably drawn to her and determined to uncover the connection between them.
In a town with no surprises, one secret could change everything." 
 
Review: I loved reading this book. The plot moved steadily forward in a lovely spiral that reminds me of the vines intertwined on the book cover. I started it in hour 22 of my readathon and after about 50 pages, set it aside. I could tell that the book was being done an injustice. I was much to tired to capture the intricate details layed out before me within the text. After being well rested, I read the first 350 pages of the book over the next few days. Once I got to page 351 I did not stop reading even though each minute stole from a good night's sleep. I absolutely loved reading the story of Ethan and Lena.

As many have said before references to To Kill a Mockingbird abound in the book. Additionally the presence literature played in the bookwas beautiful. There were parts of the book that were predictable, and parts of the book that seemed a bit stretched, yet I did not mind. Overall the story called me forward. As I finished the story, I was not disappointed.

Final Thoughts: I loved how the authors brought in so many literary references. I loved how we got glimpses into the confederacy reinactments and southern small town life. I loved that the book included family trees. I referred back to them multiple times.

4.5 out 5 stars (I'm super stingy with 5's)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Random Dozen

Enjoy. Maybe you'll learn something new about me.





1. Ever had any run-ins with the "library police?" Yeah, lots in college. I was always too loud, even in the group study rooms. (And to make it worse I worked there.) The duty librarian would tsk me extra hard.

2. Do you have a special organizational plan and place for wrapping paper, gift bags, etc., or do you just purchase whatever you need as you give gifts? I have files of home made cards, tissue paper, and wrapping paper, as well as a stack of bags. So I guess I'm stockpiled and organized.

3. Have you ever been in (first-hand witness) a natural disaster? Yes. The Earthquake in Washington State that cracked the capital building.


4. What's your favorite Barry Manilow song? Um, I'm not sure if I can even name a Barry Manilow song. OK, I googled him, and I guess then Copacobana, since that's only one I recognized from the titles.


5. What's the best costume you've ever worn? Two years ago for a Spielberg themed birthday party. I was the blue fairy as imagined in I-Robot. It was fantastic. I got to wear a medieval like dress with huge sleeves, and then gigantic fairy wings.

6. Which do you use more often, the dictionary or the thesaurus? Definately the Thesaurus. I'm always looking for a better word to express my thoughts. 

7. What's your favorite breakfast food? Really good pancakes. The fluffy kind with blackberry syrup.


8. Have you ever purchased anything from an infomercial? Nope, but I did buy the water bulbs from the store.

9. Have you ever crawled through a window? Yes. My own bedroom window. That was after I left my house key inside and before my parents added an alarm system

10. Do you believe in love at first sight? Yes, but I also believe in love as it grows from friendship.



11. How man pairs of jeans do you own? 7 pairs, but only two actually fit.



12. If someone were going to bake a cake to honor/represent you, what would it be? (Think creatively, like Duff and Crew on "Ace of Cakes.") I'd like someone to bake a gigantic Library It would have my favorite books on shelves, with a lovely chair and writing desk, and globe on a stand. And the whole library built on a set of three books. Lord of the Rings, The Giving Tree, and The Long Winter.
 
 
 
Hosted at 2nd-cup-of-coffee

Lamb Bright Saviors by Robert Vivian

Lamb Bright Saviors was sent to me for review by Phenix and Phenix literary publicists.  Published in March 2010, this is his second novel in the Tall Grass Trilogy, which is set in  Nebraska. Publisher's Weekly called him a "latter-day Faulkner" after reading the novel I see evidences of just that. In Lamb Bright Saviors, a terminally ill itinerant preacher collects an unusual congregation for his last hours.


Summary: The story is the tale of an itinerant preacher and those who end up at his deathbed. There is the assistant Mady, who has been following the Mr. Gene around for nearly as long as she can recall. Then there are four recently reaquainted comrades who bring the preacher to the house and set up listening to his final words. Finally, there is Ms. Marion, the blind lady who home the others come to with the dying preacher. All who attend the preacher in his final hours have a broken pasts and a need for giving or receiving forgiveness. As the story plays out, we get glimpses in to past, present, and futures of the people in the room.

Review: The story was called a "gritty tale that explores themes of faith and forgiveness." If that is an intriging notion, then I would suggest one checks out the book. It has essences of Faulkner with beautiful descriptive sentences like "In the meantime the joy is simmering below your sundress inside your skin and even deeper than that: it goes so far inside it's like when you peel back the layers of an onion and it makes you wanna cry (p.10)." The text was chalk full of rich descriptions of life and transcendent ponderings of trains of thought. My greatest dislike was the quantity of vulgarity peppered throughout the book. It recalled to my mind Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. It too has a lot of profanity and yet is classic. For my reading, Lamb Bright Savior's clever use of the english language sustained it beyond the profane language. Additionally, the pervasive but not overly layered message of forgiveness and strength of character development enabled my enjoyment of the novel.

The book was dense for its 185 pages. It was not a quick read as I waded through the imagery, I found myself pausing and rereading passages to gain a more thorough understanding.

About the Author: Robert Vivian grew up in Nebraska. He has a PHD in creative writing and modern American literature, with a minor in religious studies from the University of Nebraska. He currently is living with his wife in Alma Michigan. There he is writing the third book in The Tall Grass Trilogy and teaching at Alma College.

3 out of 5 Stars. It was a definate departure from the YA books I have read in the past books. It was densely packed and determinedly intense.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Julia and Julie the Movie

Saturday Movie Review
Julie and Julia


Summary: Julie upon nearing her 30th birthday sets out to cook at 574 recipies in Julia Child's book in one year while maintaining a blog about her adventure. Meanwhile the viewers also travel back in time to Julia as she moves to France and begins her adventure with French cooking. The film flows between the Julie of today and the Julia of before as the viewers what both ladies transformed through their journeys. 

My first Cent: The movie was hilarious, and not in the laugh track don't miss the punch line kind of funny. It was the kind that one has in the living room with friends over pie. I think we all know that kind. It's when no is trying to be funny, but we are all laughing at ourselves and each other.  Julia is beautiful, so passionate about food, and determined to share her knewfound knowledge of things like beef boulangaise.  Julie is finding herself through the cooking sauces, meats, and deserts the French way. I could relate to Julie and Julia as they struggled to maintain sanity in an insane world.

My Second Cent: I wonder if there was an increase in book purchases of Julia Child's cookbook following the viewing of this movie. I imagine foodies everywhere desiring to cook from Julia's cookbook. I know I nearly went out last night to find the book at my local late nighte book store. I managed to abstain.

4 out of 5 stars.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey

I listened to this audio book. I love the Pern books and this is the book that is the start of them all. When I first read the series I devoured whichever book I could locate at my local library so this time through I have decided to attempt to read them in Chronological order. I love the relationship and eternal bond between dragon and rider. I love the charactors of Pern and after one of the mini challenges during the 24hour Readathon, I've started contemplating casting of the Pern series. So far I have only deceded on F'nor being played by Michael Shanks. Any Pern lovers out there with additional casting ideas are welcome to join in my fun. So how do I describe Pern?

There are so many great things in Pern. Dragons who speak telepathically to their riders, Harpers who both perform and teach the nation, and and otherworld agrarian lifestyle that is reminenscent of medieval times. Imagine dragons flying with humans defeating dangerous threads falling from the sky with dragon flames. Imagine vast landscapes of fields and age old stone structures with mountains in the background. Admid all that there are also duels, dragon egg hatchings, and holder revolts. All this is just in the first book. Now I have in my hands DragonQuest. The second book published. It is the on my stack waiting its turn not to patiently. I think I hear the Dragons calling to me.

If you love fantasy and have not discovered Anne McCaffrey, I urge you to give her a try and this book is an excellent book to begin your adventure.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Diary of a Wimpy Kid

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney is recieving a surprising good review. Okay this book was hilariously funny. I laughed out loud so many times I lost count. It is written in comic book style. We have Greg, a middle school student progressing through the school year. He has a best mate, Rowley, who he seems to think he is better than. He is average at school and lives with his parents and younger brother.

The first time I laughed was when he explained Reading groups in school. The teachers don't tell students which level they are, but all the students knew which group was which. The give away was the book titles."Einstein as a Child" and "Bink Says Boo"  I laughed uproariously.

The book is very quick and easy for an adult and quite popular with all ages of kids. My 9 year old friend has been reading them for over a year and my 12 year old friend owns the whole series.Check it out, and have a good laugh. If you really like it, there are more books in the series.

4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Enter to Win a Mattress

We spend up to 1/4 to 1/3 of our time in bed. So why do so many of us buy cheap and uncomfortable mattresses? My mattress is mediocre. I fugure if I had an outstanding mattress, each moment of sleep would be maximized. How would it feel to be more rested? I think to the few nights I actually do get a good nights's sleep and think it would be amazing to get that every night. After watching the Doctor's Clip on Momstart's site I am at least determined to not scrimp on my next mattress. I spend more time in bed than in my car and I don't scrimp there.

The two things that impressed me about the sleep mattress system is that I can adjust the level to my preference. I am usually a stomach sleeper, but sometimes I must sleep on my back. It would be nice to change the firmness on those occasions. The second thing I like is the clean nature of the mattress. The anti-microbial treatment to kill germs and the zipper to allow vacuuming on the inside are both wonderful.

To Enter and Win visit MomStart's Blog. The contest runs until April 30th.

Happy Dreams.

Rumors Luxe #2

Readers of my blog might remember that I had mixed feelings about Luxe book 1 of the Luxe series. Now that I have finished book two I know two things for certain. First, I love Diana Holland and want to continue to reading anything about her. Second, I hate Penelope Hayes and would like to see her downfall. I am indeed blessed because there are more books in the Luxe series. I'm quite excited about the prospects Envy might hold.

This story continues to follow all the leading charactors from book 1 as they move about in New York Society. Therefore more Diana and more Penelope. I wonder if Anna intended on the readers disliking Penelope so much, or if it is just me who feels the immense distaste for her plots and schemes.

Anna like Prologues that allude to the conclusion. That was my largest gripe in book one. However in book two she beautifully creates allusion to the conclusion, while creating a mystery around the actualities. It was utterly fantastically crafted.

4 out of 5 stars.

Historical Fiction Challenge 2010

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Voices of Dragons


Voices of Dragons by Carrie Vaughn is the best piece of YA fiction I have read in a great deal of time. I was blown away by the reviews from my fellow bloggers and just had to get my hands on a copy. So in preparation for the Dewey 24 hr Read-a-Thon, I reserved a copy at my local library.This book is much more than a library find, this is one of those books that was so magnificient that I shall have to acquire my own copy to read and reread. Ms. Vaughn did a lovely job allowing the reading to sink into the world of Kay Wyatt. I began enjoying the book from the first line. However it was on page 6 that I knew writing was going to be divine. In the description of a dragon, she wrote, "It was gray like storm clouds, shimmering to ice blue or silver depending on ow the sunlight hit it."  I closed my eyes and pictured what Kay must be seeing. And that was it, I didn't want to stop reading. I read the book straight through and sighed pleased at the ending.

Okay enough gushing, how about some intelligent critique. I found the interactions with the various government agencies and the military realistic. All the powerplays and secrets I also loved the interaction between dragon and human. It's was a wonderful echo of how lack of communication amplifies misunderstandings. Thirdly, I loved the ending. I can't say much because I'm leary of spoilers. Here's what I will say, I dislike neatly wrapped up packages like the end of a sitcom after the last commercial. This book was nothing like that.

A Guest Post about Dragons on bitten by books
Short Interview of Carrie Vaughn at YA Addict
To find out more about Carrie and her Series about a werewolf girl named Kitty you can also visit her website


Speculative Fiction Challenge 2010
Fantasy Fiction Challenge 2010

5 out 5 stars

Read-a-Thon Wrap Up

24 hour readathon  It was absolutely fantastic.

1. Which hour was most daunting for you? Hour 23 was the most daunting. It was the hour I didn't finish. Hour 24 was spent peacefully sleeping.


2. Could you list a few high-interest books that you think could keep a Reader engaged for next year? Voices of Dragons was fantastic. by page 6, I was enthralled.
3. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year?Hmm. I believe there is always room for growth, yet I can't think of anything apecific to share. I plan on having pre-cut veggies next time round.

4. What do you think worked really well in this year’s Read-a-thon? I really loved the peppy videos of the last hours. They made me stop and smile, even have a laugh. Also the cheerleaders were fantastic. In the last few hours, the cheerleaders awake were very interactive on twitter. It was definately encouraging.

5. How many books did you read? I read 7 books (three from start to finish)

6. What were the names of the books you read?
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid (finished)
  • The Selfless Gene (progress Made)
  • Rumors (finished)
  • Night Flight (started and finished)
  • Voices of Dragons (started and finished)
  • Beautiful Creatures (started)
  • Magic Tree House Research Guide (started and finished)
7. Which book did you enjoy most? I would say Voices of Dragons way my favorite. I am thrilled that I picked it up for the readathon.

8. Which did you enjoy least? The Selfless Gene. I snuck it in early to try and push through as much of it as I could. I did manage 62 pages.

9. If you were a Cheerleader, do you have any advice for next year’s Cheerleaders? Did not cheerlead this year.

10. How likely are you to participate in the Read-a-thon again? What role would you be likely to take next time? I am definately going to read again next year and cheerlead for a couple hours too.
 
Total Pages Read: 1023


Total Hours of Book Reading: 12 hours 51 minutes

In Closing...

24 hours Read-a-thon

Need to add 10 pages and 15 minutes to my last post. That will be my final tally.

Yep, that is all for now.
I will sleep and write up more tommorrow.
Maybe even a review.

22 hour checkpoint

Books covered:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid (finished)
The Selfless Gene (progress Made)
Rumors (finished)
Night Flight (started and finished)
Voices of Dragons (started and finished)
Beautiful Creatures (started)
Magic Tree House Research Guide (started and finished)

Total Pages Read: 1013
Total Hours of Book Reading: 12 hours 31 minutes

Food of the Readathon

Hosted by Hungry Readers, which seems quite appropriate.

Over the course of the read-a-thon I have consumed 5 cups of coffee, 2 cups of green tea, a variety of Easter candy, . I learned that too many peeps is not a good thing.
I love peeps and they were .67 a for packages of 15 peeps. I ate about 1/2 the package in an hour and a half and boy did I feel the sugar rush. I had to eat another serving of casserole to combat it. Peeps are some crazy tradition.

Balancing out all the crazy junk is the Chili, Potato, Casserole, and Bread for nutritional sustinanI prepped yesterday.

On a side note is anyone else having difficulty with an increased number of typos. I'm loosing my ability to proof my own blog posts.

Speaking of Peeps, Have you seen what others do with their peeps.
This



and even this

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Status Update 17 hours done

Currently Reading Voices of Dragons

Finished since last update: Night Flight

Total time reading books: 7 hours 46 minutes
Total Pages read: 639

Get the Hecck out of Here mini challenge

1.What steps did you take to ensure you’d be able to read as much as possible today?
I cleaned house, started a crockpot of Chili on Friday, baked fresh bread, moved my saturday walk to Friday, gathered beverages and snacks, and stacked all my half read and TBR books in one location.


2.Of those steps, which proved to be the most beneficial to your day?
I would say the gathering of food and the clean house were the most beneficial.

3.Is there anything you might do differently next time?
Find a local friend to at least read part of the 'athon with. Maybe a series of friends.
 
Get the Heck out of Here mini challenge hosted by Literate Housewife

First Book I loved? Are You My Mother?

Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman. I never owned the book, but I checked it out of the church library probably a dozen times as a kid. The little bird had lost it's mother and begins asking all sorts of things if they are his mother. He even asked a crane. I loved the poetical repetition and the happy ending.
Mini Challenge Hosted at Literarily Speaking

As Part of the 24Readathon 

Once Upon a Reading: Sarah's Turn

One Persons Journey is hosting this mine-challenge.

It had been a long winter. She was alone and there was no going back on her promises. The Trickster's Choice had taken her grandmother quickly and with it all those whom she loved, Then Voices of Dragons began to call to her in the night. She pondered their meanings while, planting her garden that fateful early spring day.

The White Dragon dropped down quietly and fixed it whirling Dragonseye upon her until she looked up from her row of squash seedlings. She knew immediately that it was the dragon of her dream. Dragons really were Beautiful Creatures. The voice in her head spoke as clearly as if it had been audible. Sarah, it is time to leave The Island. Then the dragon explained the dire need and the urgency of stealth.

Springing into action, Sarah climbed the three flights of stairs quickly. Once In Grandma's Attic, she began searching for something, anything warm to wear on her Dragonflight. The dragon had said it would need to be a Night Flight. Humans take strangely to seeing them in the air and the night hid them. Searching through trunks, she found a Faded coat of Blue. She quickly put it one and took the stairs downward two at a time. She picked up her worn out duffle bag and began to fill it with essentials like shirts and Socks. Then she added a bit of Sea Glass, her mother's Chalice, and father's pocketwatch. It wasn't much, but it was a bit of home, in case she never returned to her home.

Quietly descending the steps on her porch and looked again into The Eyes of a Dragon, smiling a hopeful smile. Dusk was descending and Sarah a Dragonsinger by heritage climbed onto the large back of the dragon. This was where her father had Gone when she was only three into the battle against the ancient ones. Now she, the last in a line of singers would journey also to the Rainbow's End.

Read-a-thon

Mini Challenge for Hour 14

Books into Movies.

Here was the Mission and I chose to accept it: "Think of your favorite book – has it been made into a movie? If not (and maybe you’ll need to go to your 2nd favorite book and so on), tell me if you’d like to see it made into a movie and pick one character from the book and give me information on which actor you’d love to see cast in the part."

Dragonflight. It is the first book of the Pern series. There are so many great things in Pern. Dragons who speak telepathically to their riders, Harpers who both perform and teach the nation, and and otherworld agrarian lifestyle that is reminenscent of medieval times. Imagine dragons flying with humans defeating dangerous threads falling from the sky with dragon flames. Imagine vast landscapes of fields and age old stone structures with mountains in the background. Admid all that there are also duels, dragon egg hatchings, and holder revolts. Who wouldn't want to watch...


As for charactors. One of my favorite charactors is F'nor. His resides in Benden Weyr as dragonrider to Canth a brown dragon. His brother, the bronze wing leader is  determined and calculating. F'nor provides a tempering of his brother's guarded persona. He seems relaxed and personable, while clever and dependable. All the things a great leader needs in a wing man, which he is in more way than one to his brother. An actor who played F'nor would  need to be able to display fierce loyalty, compassionate sympathy, and cheerful lightheartedness.
I think Michael Shanks would make a phenomenal F'nor the brown rider. Below is a picture of him from his website that provides additional support. (He is known best for his work as Daniel Jackson in Stargate SG-1)

This mini-challenge is hosted by The Lost Entwife


Mid Way Survey

5 hr 34 minutes total
Total Pages read: 417

And here are the Questions and Answers

1. What are you reading right now?Night Flight by Antione Saint de Exupery


2. How many books have you read so far? I've read in three other books, completed two.

3. What book are you most looking forward to for the second half of the Read-a-thon? Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. I'm saving it for later to encourage myself to keep going.

4. Did you have to make any special arrangements to free up your whole day? I moved y Saturday morning walk to Friday evening and turned down several invitations for Saturday evening events. I also cleaned my kitchen really well so it wouldn't stare at me.

5. Have you had many interruptions? How did you deal with those? Only one. My monthly art meeting is 10-1. I went to it, had a blast and came back revived and ready to read more.

6. What surprises you most about the Read-a-thon, so far? The mini-challenges are a lot of fun. I didn't know what to expect, and I am loving them.

7. Do you have any suggestions for how to improve the Read-a-thon next year? Hmm.. Not yet I'll let you know if I do though.

8. What would you do differently, as a Reader or a Cheerleader, if you were to do this again next year? I think next year I will schedule in a few cheerleader hours. It seems like a fun break from reading and I enjoy the cheering I've been recieving.

9. Are you getting tired yet? Nope, but then in my time zone it is 5pm so ask me again in 5 hours and I probably will be tired.

10. Do you have any tips for other Readers or Cheerleaders, something you think is working well for you that others may not have discovered?
 
Take the idea of musical backgrounds. It has been wonderful.

If the Cover Fits Mini Challenge

Sunshine is
Disturbing






Dragon Quest is
Vibrant


First Test is Beautiful








Infected is
Scary





Ophelia is
Moving
 
 

Read-a-thon

3:24 and all is well. Just finished Rumors and read 75 more minutes. After a hiatus from 9:45-2:05 for a monthly artists meeting.
Rumors was amazing. Look for my review in the near future. Now checking what mini-challenges are going.

24hourreadathon

Five hours in...

Five hours (or nearly so) and all is well.

Books Completed: Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Books Read: The Selfless Gene: 51 pages; Rumors 170 pages

Page Read: 268
Time read 3 hours, 7 minutes

And now I am off to my second saturday art meeting. See you all in 3 hours to continue the read-a-thon fun.
(With audio book for the car)

Mini Challenge Hour 4

Hosted at Bart's Bookshelf
This was a great and somewhat active project as I darted around my bookshelves looking for good verbs.
Mine says:
Beautiful creatures in grandma's attic captivating voices of dragon out of the silent planet.

I think...
Imagine those creatures calling out, beautiful enough to captivate a dragon's voice from where silence reigns. So fun. Thanks.

It's a quarter 8 and all is well.

Time: 7:44am
pages read: 168
Time Reading: 107 minutes
Cups of Coffee 1.2

The Crazy Pile of Books



The lovely setup around my happy lime green chair.

Read-a-thon Mini Challenge #1

My coffee was prepped with push button action for the 5am go time. My first book plan was to finish the last 47 pages of Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Which would provide me with an early success. I would use that to springboard myself into The Selfless Gene. The book is not a favorite, but as it is for a review, I must finish it eventually. I have snacks piled within reach on one side and the TBR pile on the other side. I also have my Glee soundtrack on pause in case I need musical inspiration. Currenty I am rewarding myself with a mini challenge and a bowl of cereal after having completed 51 pages in The Selfless Gene.

And now back to the books.

Mini Challenge Link

Readathon Link

Read-a-thion Hour 1

Where are you reading from today?




3 facts about me …
1. I am not a morning person, but I still got up at 5am to begin the readathon with a bang. (my friends think I'm a bit crazy)
2. I love studying about islands, particularily non-tropical ones. (My favorite are Jersey, Guernsey and Sark)
3. I participates in TOM's go barefoot Day on April 8th (I made cardboard shoes to go into stores)

How many books do you have in your TBR pile for the next 24 hours? I have 17 more books on my TBR pile, but I am reasonably sure I won't finish more than 10.

Do you have any goals for the read-a-thon (i.e. number of books, number of pages, number of hours, or number of comments on blogs)? My only goal is to have lots of fun and read out the experience. I'll create goals next time based on this time


If you’re a veteran read-a-thoner, Any advice for people doing this for the first time?
This is my first time.

Link to Read-a-thon

Good Morning Read-a-Thon

It is 5am (actually as I am writing this, it is yesterday at 11:26am) and I am ready to settle in for a morning of reading. I have coffee mug number one brewed, and am starting with finishing Diary of a Wimpy Kid. I think it is a nice light book to wake up to before I charge into something a little more heavy. After Diary of a Wimpy Kid I plan on charging through a good chunk of The Selfless Gene which I must finish at some point in order to review it. After that I will reward myself with whatever book excites me on the stack. This should take me up through the first few hours. I am super excited to enbark on this adventure. I hope I knock out a few book review needs, enjoy a few books I've found through reviews, and have an all around good time.

Happy Reading to all.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Blind Side.

If I was not the last person on earth to watch the blindside, then I say to the holdouts. "It is a must watch movie." I've watched it twice this week and currently the roommate and her friend are watching it again in the living room. The story is poignant. The acting is outstanding. The message is unforgetable.

Michael Oher, now a Baltimore Raven has a story that begins in the projects of Nashville with his drug addicted mother. Leigh Anne and Sean Touhy step into his life and all lives are changed forever. If you are a crier grab some tissue, rent the movie, or better yet buy it because you will probably want to own it.


Movie Trailor:



My weekend movie review is up on Friday because Saturday will be consumed by the read-a-thon.

5 out of 5 stars.
Each time the movie gets better.

My Book Tastes


This is in response to Debbie's World of Books. I realisez I could just keep going and going so I am going to stop and post this.

List one or more books for the following categories:
1. Books you have read more than once:
  • Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle
  • The Long Winter by Laura Ingalls Wilder
  • Animal Dreams by Barbara Kingsolver
  • The Little Prince by Antione Saint de Exupery
  • Velvet Elvis by Rob Bell

2. Books you want on a deserted island (3 maximum)
  • The Bible
  • The Voyage of the DawnTreader by C.S. Lewis
  • Lord of the Rings Trilogy by Tolkien

3.Books that made you laugh
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  • Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

4. Books that made you cry
  • The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein
  • The Last two books in the Harry Potter Series
  • Nightfall by Isaac Asimov
  • Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

5. Books you wish you had written
  • Not sure about one.

6. Books you wish had never been written
  • Wow, that's a harsh question. I figure usually books I dislike, some else loves, so I guess none, though I wish I hadn't been assigned to read The Scarlet Letter twice, so maybe that book.

7. Books you are currently reading
  • Rumors by Anna Godbersen
  • Jane Austen Christian Encounters
  • City of God by Augustine
  • The Selfless Gene by Charles Foster
  • Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney
  • Alanna the First Adventure by Tamora Pierce

8. Books you have been meaning to read
  • War and Peace by Tolstoy
  • Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
  • Night Flight by Antione de Saint-Exupery
  • Beautiful Creatures
  • Sea Glass by Anita Shreve
  • Eragon
9. Books that changed your life
  • The Little Prince by Antione de Saint-Exupery
  • Romans by Paul
  • Circle of Quiet by Madeleine L'Engle
  • The Sabbath of Abraham Joshua Heschel