September’s 5 Word Movie Reviews & Money for Charity

Once a month I feature the movies I’ve seen for the first time with a 5 word ‘review’.  Only it’s not really a review.  For that I need your help.  I hope that you’ll add your 5 words to my 5 words and that someone else will add their 5 words and so on until we have a a fun hodgepodge of words that make up a ‘review’.

This month you can give money to charity by contributing your 5 words (Details here).  Please join the fun :)  Past 5 Word Reviews here.  We’re up to $86.

CrazyStupidLovePoster.jpg(2011. Cast-Steve Carrell, Ryan Gosling, Julianne Moore, Emma Stone, Marisa Tomei, Kevin Bacon) Grade B

Surprisingly melancholy.  More Gosling, please.

Cute concept.  Chemistry was off. (Kathy)

Surprisingly sweet, adorable, and funny.  (Heather)

(1998. Cast-Jeff Bridges, John Goodman, Julianne Moore, Steve Buscemi, John Turturro)  Grade B-

The Dude’s life is bowling.

Dude, I’m f—— high, dude. (Heather)

The Dude abides, still loses.  (Tony)

I Love You, Man.jpg(2009. Cast-Paul Rudd, Jason Segel, Rashida Jones)   Grade C

Not as stupid as expected.

Had poster on my wall.  (Tony)

Buried Prey, by John Sandford

Buried Prey (Lucas Davenport Series #21)Finished 9-29-11, rating 4.5/5, mystery, 390 pages, pub. 2011

#21 in the Prey series

Series main character  Lucas Davenport has been in Minnesota law enforcement for all 21 novels.  He started as a detective and now works as an investigator for Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension.  He’s married to a surgeon and has three children with another on the way.

What makes him special? Lucas is a tough guy who doesn’t mind bending the rules to catch the bad guy.  He has the smarts to track down leads and the muscle and charm with the ladies to make them talk.  He’s also filthy rich and a clotheshorse.

This is what Sandford said about him in 2004, “I’ve always thought of him as a kind of sociopath who is slightly warped. Of course, Davenport changed a lot throughout the stories, he became calmer… ”

Supporting Cast His police friends Del, Jenkins, Shrake, Marcy and Sandy are all on the case.  A pregnant Weather and adopted daughter Letty try to keep him from doing something stupid.  Should I tell you that one of them won’t be in the next book?  Oops.  Forget I said anything.

The story Two young sisters disappeared in the 1980’s and were discovered buried under a house in 2011.  The sisters were the first case Lucas worked on and a good portion of the book is a flashback to that case with a young Lucas getting his first big break.  Now that the bodies have been discovered he is ready to find the murderer who got away.

How does it stack up with the rest of the series?  I fell in love with Lucas in the first half of this series, but felt that the last few have been uninspired.  This one is as good as some of the first and it feels like the series is back on track.

Can it be read as a stand-alone?  I always think it’s better to read a series from the beginning, but because of the flashback section I think this is one of the rare occurences where it would be it okay to read alone.

Who should read it? Fans of police procedurals and fans of Lee Child’s Jack Reacher series.

This was from my personal library.  I picked it up (and way too many other books from my wish list) from Border’s for practically nothing.

Dead Until Dark, by Charlaine Harris

Dead until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse / Southern Vampire Series #1) (True Blood)Finished 9-26-11, rating 4.5/5, Vampire mystery, 292 pages, pub. 2001

You can tell I don’t get out much.  And it’s not because I’m not pretty.  I am.  I’m blond and blue-eyed and twenty-five, and my legs are strong and my bosom is substantial, and I have a waspy waistline.  I look good in the warm weather waitress outfit Sam picked for us: black shorts, white socks, black Nikes.

But I have a disability.  That’s how I try to think of it.

The bar patrons just say I’m crazy.

Either way, the result is that I almost never have a date.  So little treats count a lot with me.

And he sat at one of my tables-the vampire.

Chapter 1

Sookie is a waitress in Louisiana.  Bill is a vampire trying to assimilate into the human world.  While vampires are now legal beings they are not really accepted so when dead waitresses start showing up, Bill is in trouble.

I really don’t read vampire stories.  I did read the first Twilight and was entertained, but not so overwhelmed that I wanted to read more.  So, I skimmed all the reviews on this one and thought that I would give it a try someday, but it wasn’t until I picked this first one up at Border’s and then realized it would help me on two challenges that I started to read.  The verdict is still out on vampires in general, but I totally loved this book.

What’s there to say about Sookie that has’t already been said?  Sookie knows who she is and isn’t afraid to show the world. She hadn’t really considered the upside of her ‘disability’ and it was fun to see her start to see herself in a new light.  I loved that she was brave and impulsive and looking for some excitement.

The plot had more serious twists than I was expecting and that’s a good thing.  The mystery was solid, but it was much more fun finding out more about vampire protocol.  A vampire book I loved.  Who knew?

This was so much fun to read that I know I will be continuing on with Sookie, Bill & Co.  It was light and fun and told with great humor and sass.

This was from my personal library.  I picked it up (and way too many other books from my wish list) from Border’s for practically nothing.

Head Shot Quiz – guessing closed

Have you ever laid a bestseller down and when you went back to pick it back up hours or days later a big, shiny face was staring up at you?  I admit, I hate it.  I don’t see any reason for it, but some of the biggest names in fiction disagree.  See if you can tell me who these head shots belong to.  5 points each.  Submit your answers as a comment before noon on Saturday.

Please play along with us.  For everyone who plays an extra $ goes to the winner and the everyone is entered for a special prize.  Just leave a comment with your guesses and don’t google the answers.

Rules & Leaderboard here.  Last week’s Beginnings Quiz here.

1. Jodi Picoult

2. Dean Koontz

3. Amanda Quick/Jayne Ann Krentz

4. James Patterson

5. Nora Roberts

6. Dennis Lehane

7. Tess Gerritsen

8. Vince Flynn

9. Fern Michaels

10. Daniel Silva

11. Brad Thor

12. Harlan Coben

13. Barbara Delinsky

14. Sherrilyn Kenyon

15. Richard Russo

16. Nicholas Evans

17. Sandra Brown

18. John Sandford

19. Tami Hoag

20. Nicholas Sparks


Banned Books Week

This week is ALA’s Banned Book Week Virtual Read Out.

September 24−October 1, 2011

Banned Books Week (BBW) is an annual event celebrating the freedom to read and the importance of the First Amendment.  Held during the last week of September, Banned Books Week highlights the benefits of free and open access to information while drawing attention to the harms of censorship by spotlighting actual or attempted bannings of books across the United States.

I don’t really understand banning books and am proud of all the organizations that stand up to any kind of censorship.  Here’s a link to the 100 most challenged books from 2000-2009.  Here are the 5 I understand the least.

1. The Harry Potter series – it’s fiction, people.  It’s okay to tell young girls that a Prince will come rescue them or his kiss can break a spell by an evil witch and yet we can’t appreciate a story full of magic and courage?

2. To Kill a Mockingbird – Seriously, a story that teaches kids to stand up for right against wrong, no matter public sentiment, is dangerous?

3. Fahrenheit 452 – This book isn’t a favorite of mine but it is funny that a book about society’s loss of books and free thought should end up on this list.

4. A Time to Kill – The racial storyline is here as is the courtroom scenes about standing up for what’s right even at the risk of personal harm make it controversial like TKAM?  I don’t know.  Weird.

5. Bridge to Terabithia – Kids may be upset by the death, but this is one that could bring parents into a real conversation with their kids.  Scary, right?

So, which one on the list surprises you the most?

Sundays with Gage -Walking with Grandpa

Last week I wrote a post patting myself on the back for having completed the 100 Mile Challenge. That was nothing.   Yesterday, Gage was able to participate in a Grandpa milestone.

My dad had a heart attack and bypass surgery when he was 37.  That’s two years younger than I am now.  I’m not sure he changed much about his lifestyle, still smoked and ate the same stuff, until he was 53.  Then he decided to quit smoking and his doctor said he’d have to keep himself busy.  Well, he did.  In May of 2000 he walked 34 miles and on September 24th he completed his 30,000th mile.  He only remembers about 4 days in those years where he didn’t walk at all, when he had stents put in his heart years ago. I don’t know how many tennis shoes, socks or umbrellas he’s gone through, but let’s just say a lot.

If we do the math that means he averaged over 221 miles per month for 136 months straight.

Gage ‘s Grandpa showed him that it’s never too late to take charge of your health and that completing a goal is often as easy as having a streak of stubbornness.  My dad walked the first half of the momentous mile with my cousin Bill and then drove up here so he could finish the mile with Gage.  Someday soon Gage will be able to take walks with his Grandpa where I’m sure lots of grandfatherly wisdom will be passed on.  He is lucky to have such a great grandfather.


Skinny Legs and All, by Tom Robbins

Cover ImageFinished 9-19-11, rating 3.5/5, fiction, 422 pages, pub. 1990

It was a bright, defrosted, pussy-willow day at the onset of spring, and the newlyweds were driving cross-country in a large roast turkey.

The turkey lay upon its back, as roast turkeys will; submissive, agreeable, volunteering its breast to the carving blade, its roly-poly legs cocked in a stiff but jaunty position, as if it might summon the gumption to spring forward onto its feet, but of course, it had no feet, which made the suggestion seem both empty and ridiculous, and only added to the turkey’s aura of goofy vulnerability.

Opening paragraphs

Boomer loves Ellen Cherry and he makes her a turkey RV to prove it.  She falls for it and marries him.  They escape small town Virginia and head west for a time before settling in New York City so Ellen Cherry can pursue her career as an artist.  Only it’s not Ellen Cherry that becomes the star, it’s Boomer and his turkey RV.

This sounds like a simple storyline, but it is full of crazy people, and, well, utensils, canned goods, clothing, and objects of nature.  Yes, there is secondary storyline where a stick and shell are trying to make their way back to Jerusalem after hundreds of years in American exile.  And they receive help from a spoon, sock, and can of beans.  And there’s also Uncle Buddy, who is trying to start World War III in Israel so that Jesus will return.

It is quirky and the writing is fun and smile-worthy.  As far as the story, well, I wasn’t all that interested.  It took me way too long to get through this one to recommend it.  And I really did not like the last part of the book, lots of personal views just thrown out there with zero to do with the story.  I don’t care about Robbins’ enlightened views of money, government, or religion.

I expected to enjoy it more and wonder if it’s where I am in life right now.  I don’t have huge chunks of time to read and maybe the 20-30 minutes a few times a week weren’t enough to make this one work.  Or maybe I have mommy brain 🙂  I know I need to keep reading or it will go to mush!  I might give Robbins another try in a few years.

This is from my personal library and was chosen by Carol and Mille.  Here’s what they had to say…

“Don’t expect profundity; it’s more of a play date for the mind, or a hot chocolate and blanket on a grumpy day kind of book.”  Mille

“Because I love Tom Robbins.”  Carol

Emma, by Jane Austen

Cover ImageFinished audio 9-12-11, rating 3/5, fiction, pub. 1815

Unabridged audio. 15 1/2 hours. Read by Nadia May

Emma Woodehouse is a spoiled English lady who enjoys high prominence in Highbury.  She fills her time by trying to improve people’s lives, her current victim, young, impressionable Harriet believes Emma when she tells her to set her sights high.  Emma is spurned in her attempts to help Harriet and she also faces a good deal of criticism from her old friend, Mr. Knightley.

This is my fourth Austen novel and my least favorite so far.  I just couldn’t muster any sympathy for Emma.  She thought very highly of herself even if she did seem to realize her shortcomings by the end.  The end just couldn’t come fast enough for me.  There wasn’t much a story to keep my interest either.  It all seemed like an aimless walk through the park without much to look at.  Mr. Knightley as a hero was the saving grace since he seemed to call Emma on her self-importance, but there wasn’t enough of him to save the book for me.

I know Austen fans might tell me I missed the subtle humor, the subtext.  And they would be correct.

This is from my personal library and was chosen by Candice, Jennifer, MsMazzola, Alita, Kathrin, and Wendy.  Here’s what they had to say…

“Everyone should read Austen.”  MsMazzola

“One of my favourite books and Emma Woodhouse is a brilliant character and this book is begging to be read.”  Jennifer

Beginnings Quiz – guessing closed

Border’s is finally closed and it is a good thing for my overpacked bookshelves.  It became a fun trip for Gage and I to go and browse every few days and I’m embarrassed by how many books I brought home.  All you need to do is tell me which book matches which first lines.  Oh, I added a few extra books for fun 🙂

Please play along with us.  For everyone who plays an extra $ goes to the winner and the everyone is entered for a special prize.  Just leave a comment with your guesses and don’t google the answers.

Rules & Leaderboard here.  Last week’s Pictured Title Quiz here.

1. Half my life ago, I killed a girl.  Half a Life

2. For more than two hundred years, the Owens women have been blamed for everything that has gone wrong in town.  Practical Magic

3. Alone in the evenings, when the light had drained from the slate roof of her small rural home, and when her husband was working late, Mary Gooch would perform a striptease for the stars at the open bedroom window: shifting out of rumpled bottoms, slipping off a blousy top, liberating breasts, peeling panties, her creamy flesh spilling forth until she was completely, exquisitely nude.  The Wife’s Tale

4. Tonight I’ve been thinking about the mosaic Hope gave me the night she U-hauled ass out of Pineville.  Sloppy Firsts

5. “I suppose the important thing is to make some sort of difference,” she said.  One Day

6. You know, Doc, you’re not the first shrink I’ve seen since I got back.  Still Missing

7. Once my wife asked me: if you knew this was our final day together, what would you say to me?  Adrenaline

8. She hadn’t believed in monsters since she was six years old, back when her mom would check the closet and look beneath her bed at night.  Sworn to Silence

9. Now I am here, in Krakow, where my life began.  Sonata fo Miriam

10. Gracie Lynne Calloway began her small life in Shady Grove, Alabama, fast asleep in a coal bucket on the front porch of 1854 Peachtree Lane.  Salting Roses

11. I wasn’t surprised when Mama askked me to save her life.  The Murderer’s Daughters

12. Why I feel the sudden urge to relate, in pen and ink, a relationship of the most personal nature, which I have never before acknowledged, I cannot say.  The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen

Sundays with Gage- Privacy

I remember a friend telling me when I first told her I was pregnant that I would get used to the uncomfortable doctor visits and by the time the baby arrived that I would have no shame and wouldn’t care who was looking or poking and prodding or where.  She was mostly right.  And I know that last illusion of privacy, the bathroom, is one that I will probably not get to appreciate again for many years.  But, if someone were to watch me sleep I am sure I would be appalled.  I am a light sleeper, which is great now that Gage is here.  I am never still for very long (I’m guessing) and I  know I snore occasionally (yuck).

Now that we’ve started watching Gage’s video monitor like it’s reality tv I feel a little guilty.  When he wasn’t moving around much it was great to see that he was okay, but now that he’s moving around more I see that he sleeps a lot like his mother. Poor kid. But he’s also bendy like his dad, yay 🙂   A few shots will show you just how much fun it can be to watch him from the comfort of your own bed.  These were taken over the course of one night.








Do you think he’s got the camera figured out?  The video monitor is a wonderful thing for parents but I’ve also come to rely on it and feel nervous when I can’t see him.  What did you all do before monitors?  I think sometimes that I might get a better night’s sleep!