Thursday, November 29, 2007

Free Cat

Anyone want a free cat? He's 13 years old, litter trained, all black, very cute, very cuddly, and EXTREMELY needy.

I'll even throw in the pink mouse in the back ground for free. It's a steal.

Ok, obviously I'm not really giving him away. But he is driving me nuts today. He is being a shadow - I can't go anywhere without him following. Run downstairs for a bottle of water? Follows. Go to the bedroom to get some socks? Follows. Oh yes, he's even there when I try to go to the bathroom.

Oh, Tobias Cat.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Babyville by Jane Green

Babyville by Jane Green
438 pages
Finished 11/28/07

I am having pretty mixed feelings on this book. I am not typically a fan of chick-lit, and this definitely fits into that category. The novel is about 3 women, in different stages of their lives - Julia, who desperately wants to be pregnant, Maeve, who is single and loving it and unexpectedly becomes pregnant, and Samantha, married with a new baby.

So many things about this book drove me nuts. First, the fact that it is a British novel, so there a bunch of phrases and words that I'm not familiar with. There weren't so many that I couldn't understand the story (actually, I could pretty easily figure out what they meant), but they still drive me nuts. And yeah, I knew that would happen going into the book, because I've read the author before, but still... Second, I couldn't stand (or understand) the three female characters and their relationships with the men in their lives. I seriously cannot imagine anyone being that blind, dense, and crazy - and that goes for all three of the ladies.

Reading my review and thinking about all of the things that bothered me about the book make me feel like I should be giving it less stars than I am. No idea why I feel inclined to give it the stars I am - probably because the bottom line is that this is a chick-lit book, and it was exactly what they all typically are...mindless "brain candy" that you don't read for intellectual reasons, but more to escape.

Three stars.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants by Ann Brashares
294 pages
Finished 11/26/07

This is a young-adult novel - the first in a series. It was also made into a movie awhile back (a year or two? I'm not sure). I haven't seen the movie, but I've heard good things about the book/series, and decided to pick it up.

It was really cute, and actually pretty surprising in a couple of aspects. Sure, the characters were somewhat cliche - the rebel, the jock, the shy one, the "mother" of the group, but what wasn't so cliche is that they were all friends - best friends. It's a cute story about four friends who find a pair of "magic pants" - pants that fit all of them, even though they have different body styles. The girls spend the summer apart (their first summer in years), but have the pants and their letters to keep them connected.

Like I said, I thought it was really cute. I will probably read the rest of the series eventually, and want to watch the movie now (although chances are pretty good I won't get David to watch it with me...)

I give it three stars.

Monday, November 26, 2007

On This Day by Melody Carlson

On This Day by Melody Carlson
329 pages
Finished 11/25/07

This book was a pretty quick read, even at 329 pages. I actually started it late yesterday evening and finished it in bed before 11. I'm not going to lie, I did some skimming, because it wasn't the most interesting or well written book.

The biggest issue was how it was the writing style. The book follows 5 different women during the course of the day - they are all guests at a wedding with some relation to the bride and groom. The author wrote each chapter so that it was in the "voice" of one of the women - a first person account of what they are thinking, feeling, etc. The problem is that the author really didn't have the ability to distinguish these voices - the 20-something maid of honor sounds exactly like the 80-something grandmother of the bride, who sounds exactly like the 40-something over-Botoxed drunk family friend, etc. It takes a pretty good author to pull this type of book off, and I just didn't think this one cut it.

I gave it two stars.

The Color Purple by Alice Walker

The Color Purple by Alice Walker
288 pages
Finished 11/25/07

Yet another challenged book from my bracelet that I decided to pick up. I can't believe I haven't read this book before - it seems like a pretty obvious book to read. I also realized that I never saw all of the movie. We started watching my freshman year of high school in our English class, but when we went back the next day to finish it, we were informed some parents complained and we wouldn't be watching the rest of it. Challenged indeed...

This book actually had a lot of surprises for me in it, especially because I really didn't know what it was about (I can't remember the movie to save my life, except for the fact that I knew Oprah was in it). First - the book is written in letter format. Letters to God and between the sisters. That was a little surprising, simply because I had no idea. Second - there was a lot of slave language in it that I had a hard time understanding at first. I guess this was surprising because, again, I really didn't know what the book was about. As I started getting into it, it was much easier to understand/comprehend. Third - it was evident from (literally) the first page why this book has been challenged. I really wasn't expecting the language that was on the first page, and coupled with the sexuality that continues through the book, I can see why objections were made (not that I agree with it).

Overall, it was a surprisingly good book, but I wasn't bowled over by it.

I give it three stars.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden

Annie on My Mind by Nancy Garden
234 pages
Finished 11/21/07

I'm not going to lie, I only picked this book up because it was on my banned books bracelet, which is my new favorite piece of jewelery - here's the link:

Anyway, I actually really didn't know much about this book until I started reading it. It's essentially a love story about two high school students - both female. It is a young adult novel and was written and published in the early '80s (1981 or 82, I can't remember).

In some ways, I think the story was extremely well written. The blossoming love between Annie and Liza was sweet, and I honestly think that anyone who reads it will be able to relate to the feelings they have - nervous, unsure, etc. On the other hand, there were little things about the characters and the story that drove me nuts - mainly the constant foreshadowing ("And by the time the whole thing was over with, I wished she'd known..." and "But, oh, God, neither of us had any way of knowing that I would do something..." are just two examples from the first quarter of the book).

I can definitely see why this book has been challenged, although there are no overt sexual scenes in the story (there are probably more explicit things shown on prime time television).

I give it two and a half stars.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

Geek Love by Katherine Dunn
348 pages
Finished 11/13/07

Wow. That's all I can really say. I thought this book was seriously amazing - I loved it. The plot is pretty crazy - it's basically about a family of "circus freaks" - the catch is that the circus family intended to make a family of freaks. The mother ingests a ton of things during each pregnancy - drugs, insecticides, arsenic, etc.

Geek Love was very well written, interesting, and disturbing all at once. I could barely put it down. The only downside was the sub-plot, which led to an only fair ending. It didn't seem like it really belonged in a book that was so fascinating. Still, that wasn't enough to diminish my love for this book - I would seriously recommend it to everyone. It is probably one of my top five books of all time.

Five stars.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


David and I finally did something yesterday that we had been talking about doing for the last 5 years...we went and got tattoos!

David's is pretty crazy - his is going to take another 2 or 3 sessions to complete - he is basically doing a pretty big tattoo all along his spine. David's next session is in about two weeks - long enough for most of the outlining to heal. Here is how it looks with the first round done - basically just the outline and some black shading. I know it looks like there is red, but that is just the irritation - he only has black right now.

He's so bad ass. :)

I decided to have my tattoo added to - more vines and flowers, plus a hummingbird above it. My previous tattoo was about 6 years old and really weathered and faded. I didn't so much listen when I was told to make sure to put on sunscreen to protect. Years of tanning had taken it's toll, that's for sure. Here is my tattoo before:

And here is my tattoo after:

I absolutely love it. Our artist, Billy at Blue Lotus Tattoo in Madison, did a fabulous job. The hummingbird is adorable, and I am really digging the way he touched up (ie, completely recovered) my old tattoo.

So, hopefully now that I am older and wiser (ha!) maybe I will take better care of this one.

Monday, November 12, 2007

So...God doesn't care who wins reality races?

Hey, did I mention last week how happy I am that The Amazing Race is back? I did? Oh.

Last night's episode was awesome. I love how CBS casts these things. Seriously, how surprising is it that Ronald is crazy psycho? I knew he was a weirdo last episode. People all thought he was the cute old man type, but I knew he was a few cards short of a full deck. I couldn't believe how he kept going off on Christina. Girl did not stand up for herself. I probably would have throat punched him when he made the comment about her needing to lose weight.

The BQ Wanna-be's were able to redeem themselves somewhat this episode. They weren't too annoying, they worked fairly efficiently, and the one that had to do the pole vaulting (no idea which one - I can't tell them apart to save my life) did it with minimal complaining. The same can't be said for Jennifer of Nathan & Jennifer. Holy annoying. The only reason I want to keep them around is because they create good drama (not crazy drama like Ronald).

The Goths - yeah, I'm still liking them. Their make-up looks a hot mess at the end of the runs, but they really work well together and are pretty quirky and funny. Funny how judging from the first few seconds of the first episode I thought they'd be one of the first teams to go, and now I'm rooting them on.

Yay for Jason and Lorena winning the leg! I like them for some reason. I'm really torn between them and TK and Rachel for my favorite team. Lorena's breakdown in the preview for next week look awesome - holy hot mess!

In the end, it was the Lesbian ministers that got the boot from the race. Not really all that surprising, although they did really grow on me this episode. But really, when you have two ministers state that they don't have any illusions about God wanting them to win the race, I knew they'd be all right in my book.

Next week - please go home Ronald/Christina or Sisters. Pleeease!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

October/November DNFs

I've been in a pretty big reading slump lately. I was a reading machine in September & October - I think I was reading a book every 3 days or so. I haven't finished a book since October 30th/31st (I forget the date). It seems like forever. Since then, I've actually quit reading 3 different books, which actually got me down on reading a little bit. It was really disappointing to pick up the books and not enjoy any of them. I actually ended up going to an old, familiar stand-by - The Long Walk.

Turns out I actually quit 6 books in October and early November:
The Night Journal by Elizabeth Crook
The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler
Spandeau Phoenix by Greg Iles
The Girl Who Loved Tom Gordon by Stephen King
The Liars' Club by Mary Karr
The Nicholas Effect by Reg Green

Wow! Honestly, they were all so disappointing to me. And I feel really bad about The Nicholas Effect - it is such an inspiring story, but the I just wasn't feeling it.

There are a couple that I plan on trying again eventually - most likely Spandeau Phoenix and The Night Journal. I'm not sure if I'll ever revisit The Jane Austen Book Club - that was seriously painful for me. The same is true for The Liars' Club. Holy cow, that book was annoying! It's weird - I really think it's because there are a couple of things I just can't get a grasp on - first, that there are really families out there like that (yes, I certainly understand that there are, it's just so hard to fathom), and second, and more important - I really can't see how people can "remember" things from so long ago. I think I made it maybe 40 or 50 pages into the book, and the author was still recounting things from her childhood in vivid detail. I can barely remember last year, let alone when I was 4.

So, anyway, I have been a little bummed the last week or so. I was really trying to get back into reading, but hated that I gave up on 3 books recently. I was actually feeling a tad guilty, and that's why I didn't move on to my next book. Yesterday, I decided to say screw it and just pick up a new one - why waste time on a book that I dread picking up?

The good news is that I just started reading a FABULOUS book yesterday - Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. I am loving it so much. I'm about 70 pages into it and relishing every moment that I'm reading it. I can't wait to review it - I hope it continues to be as good as it has started out to be.

Friday, November 9, 2007

21 good books that need to be great films

The A.V. Club always has interesting articles - this is no exception.

As the title suggests, it lists 21 good books that would make great movies (if done correctly). I just had to post it because the first book they list is one of my all time favorites - The Long Walk by Stephen King/Richard Bachman. I actually just finished re-reading this book last night (I probably read it once or twice a year - it's fairly short, and as I said - I LOVE it).

Seriously, why hasn't this book been into a movie yet? It would be amazing. Odd are good that I would even go see it in a theater, which rarely happens.

Of the other 20 books listed, I've read about 5 of them, and another 3 or 4 are on my wish list. It's funny how many books that are on there that I've never heard of, which is intriguing. I'll have to check those out.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Donkeys have souls too - The Amazing Race

Wow, two things that I love most in the world collided on Sunday night: donkeys and The Amazing Race.

I just started watching the Amazing Race religiously two season ago - and only because football kept running late and it was cutting into Cold Case time. I got pretty sucked in, though, and started DVRing the re-runs that are shown at 2 am on the Game Show channel. Anyway, so the point of this whole story is that I am a huge spoiler fan - every season I've watched, I've read spoilers about in the beginning (including last year's All-Stars - boy was I sad when Rob and Amber were eliminated right away, and when Dustin and Kandice didn't win!). After I watched Sunday's episode yesterday (I heart DVR), I immediately went online to look for spoilers! Yeah, I'm good like that. Fortunately, I didn't look very hard, and I didn't find any. Whoo-hoo! My name is Beth, and I have been Amazing Race spoiler free for 3 days.

Anyway, so I thought I should put my predictions/thoughts out there, so that way when the race is done, I can say "I so knew they would win." Hopefully.

The teams this year are interesting, to say the least. My thoughts on the teams and the order I'd like to see them finish (oh, and I would have never remembered anyone's name if it wasn't for the CBS website):

Ari & Staella - So glad they were eliminated. Karma in the form of donkeys is always great!
Shana & Jennifer - Dustin & Kandice wanna-be's. I'd like to see them gone next.
Marianna & Julia - Not sure why, but they bugged me. Probably because they said they would use flirting to get their way. Flirting with who? There are no all male teams!
Kate & Pat - These two are very cute, but seriously. For some reason, I hate seeing older people on this show. Bitch!
(...I just realized that I want the three all female teams gone right away...I guess David is right, I do hate girls...)
Nicolas & Donald - The grandpa is a little amusing, but he's also wicked creepy. Just because he's from WI doesn't mean he scores extra points.
Ronald & Christina - It always drives me nuts to see people start out the first leg of the race so sickeningly supportive ("You could never disappoint me, Dad") and then watch it all go down hill (as the previews for next week show). Come on - you both know you are going to drive each other nuts, stop being so unrealistically sweet at first. We all know it will change soon.
Jennifer & Nathan - I was on the fence last night as to whether or not I wanted them to be the first to go. On one hand, they were bastards to the donkey, so it would have been nice to see them get theirs. On the other hand - these two were made for my TV! Thank you CBS - I seriously love that one of the first things we see of these two was Jennifer announcing he's a cheater. And then all of the fighting! It was glorious!

And my final four (because I can't narrow it down to three) would be...
Kynt & Vyxsin - First of all - really? You had to use "Goth" names even? I'd be interesting in learning their real names, because I'd wager money those aren't it. Whatever. They annoyed me from the second they got on my screen. The make-up, the fact that I couldn't tell which one was the guy...ick. Then, a weird thing happened as I watched the show...they slowly started to grow on me. I may have even giggled when Kynt said "Oh my Goth." Granted, if this happens every episode, I'm going to get annoyed, but right now it's amusing, and I'm considering incorporating it into my daily vocab. I was really surprised at how well they did - they work together pretty well (thus far) and didn't get over-emotional when things weren't going their way. I think this will be the surprise team.
Azaria & Hendekea - I don't have a ton of opinion on these two - I think they are cute, and they both seem very level-headed and smart. I think these two will end up making good decisions.
Lorena & Jason - Hi Colin Farrell! Oh, wait, that's not Colin Farrell? Seriously, that's all I kept thinking as I watched the show. I really like this couple for some reason - I think they are going to provide a lot of drama for the season, but hopefully will let it work to their advantage. I see them like a Collin and Christie.
Rachel & TK - This is the team that I'd like see win it all! And my reasoning is ridiculous. It's pretty much because I barely remember them in the episode. No drama? No donkey issues? This could be a good sign. Working well together...what a novelty.

Of course, there has only been one episode. Perceptions will definitely be changed as the weeks go on (heck, probably even next week)! I'm excited to see who wins...

...and so far do not plan on going hunting for spoilers again...

Nothing Lasts Forever by Sidney Sheldon

Nothing Lasts Forever by Sidney Sheldon
384 pages
Finished 10/30/07

The best thing the book had going for it was that it began at the end - Paige on trial, Kat dead, and Honey...sitting there. I like this format of books, and the anticipation is builds. How did Kat die? What really happened with Paige's euthanasia case?

Unfortunately, that is about all the book had going for it. Seriously. It was so random and far-fetched (the women all meet each other on their first day at the hospital and realize that none of them have a place to live, until one girl mentions she had looked at a 3 bedroom apartment that was way out of her price range, and hey! if they roomed together they could afford it. Really? Why would you even look at an apartment like that?) that I was practically groaning and rolling my eyes every 30 seconds.

And I thought I was annoyed with the ending of Lost and Found? This ending didn't even make sense. First of all, I saw it coming a mile away, and second of all..IT DIDN'T MAKE SENSE. I won't spoil it, but come on. It would have never happened that way.

I give it one and a half stars.

Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst

Lost and Found by Carolyn Parkhurst
289 pages
Finished 10/27/07

I first heard of this book a few months ago - I was browsing some website (who knows which one!) and found a list of books that were the new phenomenon - books based on reality TV. Since I am a complete reality TV addict (ooh, just gave me an idea for another post!), I added this to my amazon wish list...and then did what I always do, which is skip over it when I'm ordering books.

Anyway, a few weeks ago I was browsing the website of Jen Lancaster (author of Bitter is the New Black and Bright Lights, Big Ass - she's hilarious) and I saw that she had posted that her favorite book of the year was Lost and Found. That moved the book to the top of my TBR pile.

The book is mainly about 4 teams that are competing in a reality TV show that is essentially like The Amazing Race. To be quite honest - I didn't really find any of the characters all that likable. I understand the part they were all supposed to play (the joking brothers, the already-famous team, the gays, etc), both in the novel and on the reality TV show, but come on - it's one thing to see it on TV, it's another for it to be put into novel form. I think it ended up translating to characters that I felt no empathy for. And don't get me started on the ending! Worst part of the book.

The funny thing is, I still ended up liking the book some. I think it was the reality TV that did me in, especially the behind the scenes bits. It had me thinking - is it really like this? Is that how they do it?

In the end, I gave the book three stars.