Slowreaderincali's Blog
My fiftyfifty.me challenge, and other rants and raves.

Jun
04

#12: Still Missing by Chevy Stevens

        I read this one for book club, and coincidentally was also able to purchase it for $2.99 on my Nook! Not a bad book. Very gripping, and as messed up as the plot line turned out to be, it was very realistic because we have so many messed up people in this world. I would say this is a good beach read, except it is not a happy story. If you think Room by Emma Donoghue was as good beach read, then read this. Some parallels between the stories as they both center around young girls held as captive sex slaves “in their best interest” to protect them from the world outside. The creepiest parallel? Both novels were written by Canadians! Come on Canada, can you be slightly less morbid? Write some books about puppies perhaps? Technically, Emma Donoghue was born in Ireland, but she still calls Canada home now! 

While this isn’t the most intellectually stimulating book ever, I liked the element of suspense and the fact I couldn’t predict anything coming. Good tool for a conversation about human nature and what motivates us.

 

#13: Heart of the Matter by Emily Griffin

     This was a book club selection that was just selling for $2.99 for one day only on my Nook recently, while I’ve seen the hardcover for about $8 brand new at Barnes and Noble. Both are too much to pay. Heck, I wouldn’t read this book again for $8 AND a day off work! Does that tell you anything. This book was lame, predictable, overall an utter waste of my time. Thank God I read the library’s copy. Felt so good to return it, and no nasty late fees from this baby to taint my record. If you have any self respect you will read something else.

 

#14: The Digital Photography Book by Scott Kelby

     FANTASTIC book! Great reference tool for anyone new to DSLR photography like myself. I have about 30 Post-It sticky tabs marking pages I want to make notes from before I return it this week. I had to wait a few weeks for this one from the library, but it was worth the wait. Great ideas and strong tips in an easy to read format. Scott was annoying at some points with his incessant bad jokes, but the strength of the content he did include in a serious manner overrode his idiocy. 

 

#15: The Ultimate Career Guide for Nurses by Donna Will Cardillo

     Another FANTASTIC book. Obviously it is geared toward a specific career-minded individual, but fellow nurses from novice to expert can benefit from this. Even if you don’t plan on leaving your facility, this will come in great hand for preparing you for advancement within. One of the most valuable books I have bought in a long time, that I intend to keep regardless of current work-life circumstances. Every nurse or soon to be RN needs to check this out!

 

#16: The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett

     Holy moly this book sucked big time. I initially read a sample once I finished Smut by the same author, and I recall raving about the potential of this novel to a respected coworker. HA! I pray to God he never took me up on my recommendation, because color me embarrassed if he did. The Queen takes up reading, the Queen makes reading her new life, the Queen talks to other politicians about reading and they don’t care…fast forward 50 pages….the Queen is reading a different book and now recommending/giving books away…fast forward 50 more pages….the Queen is reading but doesn’t feel the need to promote reading to her country, would prefer she keep it a secret guilty pleasure….The End. The best part of the book was mention of Alice Munro, a fellow Canuck that doesn’t write extensively about abducted women. Or does she? Haven’t read everything she has written, but at least Alan Bennet was intelligent enough to mention her. He could have stuck with Actors-turned-authors to reference. Despite the cute cover, I would skip this book.

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Apr
24

This is a book club selection for a new group I am trying out. I’m hesitant about how the first meet up will go, but the person who picked this must be laid back with a great sense of humour. I really enjoyed reading this British collection of novellas, despite some of the x-rated content. As the name implies, both stories are smut. Funny how no matter what British people say, they always come across as cultured and intelligent. Smut continues this tradition in the written format. Had this book been written by an American (or any non-Brit so as not to be discriminatory) I may not have finished.

The first story ‘The Greening of Mrs. Donaldson’ is about a 55 year old widow who takes a job as a standardized patient at the hospital where her husband died a slow death, to help medical students with their assessment skills. The money she gets from acting out various ailments (fainting, gallstones, dressing as a drag queen with a knee problem) is barely enough to cover her bills, so she takes in a young couple as her lodgers. These 20 year olds fall behind on their rent, and offer a proposal that Mrs. Donaldson surprisingly accepts, and creepily enjoys and continues to obsess about.

The second story ‘The Shielding of Mrs. Forbes’ is equally as x-rated, conveying a meshwork of dysfunctional relationships between a homosexual young chap, his wife, parents, and blackmailing law-enforcing boy toy. This underlying plot caught me by surprise, as you wouldn’t guess this by reading the back cover. Not something I would intentionally read, but like the previous story becomes an eloquent tale when narrated by a Brit.

I enjoyed the narrative format of both stories as it made me feel like I was cozy in bed having a bedtime story read to me by an Englishman.  Bennett makes up for the awkward smuttiness by weaving shocking plot twists and secrets throughout. Every time I thought the story was predictable, Bennett proved me otherwise. Both stories were shocking and comical until their end.

I give Smut four stars out of five, and look forward to reading his other works. I will probably start The Uncommon Reader next.

Apr
20

I’ll blog these when I feel like it. Or maybe I won’t…

What I’ve watched in 2012:

12.) Footloose 2011 version

13.) The Descendants

Apr
20

I won this book in an on-line drawing from Warwick’s Bookstore in La Jolla, via their Facebook page. Thank you Warwick’s!

The First Husband is about a 31 year old Annie who lives in Venice Beach with Nick, her BF of 5 years. Nick decides one day that maybe things aren’t for him, that they should take a break. It immediately becomes evident that his super smart high school girlfriend Pearl is still on his mind. Annie is furious, but can’t stay at home moping, so on the advice of her best friend (who is Nick’s sister), she goes out. This is where the book becomes annoying because of its far-fetched ideas. Yes, I know Annie practically lives in Hollywood (and Nick is a wannabe movie producer who is finally getting recognition for his efforts which gets to his head), but what girl gets dressed up in her lucky dress, lays on the bed for a second, falls asleep only to wake up after midnight, and goes to a hotel bar by herself because she promised a friend she wouldn’t stay in and mope? Seriously, WTF?! So like a day after Annie becomes temporarily(?) single she meets a sous chef acting as bartender whom she ends up marrying (not a spoiler) and moving to BFN Massachusetts only to find out hubby’s brother knocked up someone who wasn’t his wife and now her new brother in law and twin sons from hell are living in her new home. Insert bitchy mother in law who is best friends with a long term ex Annie didn’t know Griffin (new hubby) had. Awkward situations abound, Annie loses her job, only to suddenly have an offer in London with pays 30% more. Really? Can Ms. Dave insult our intelligence any more? Annie can’t make a decision, someone has an asthma attack, the twins destroy (and swallow) things very dear to Annie and she doesn’t mention shedding a tear.

I would have rated this book one star out of five, but ended up giving it two stars because Griffin was the only semi-believable yet insanely adorable character. I think I may have developed a small crush on him throughout the novel :$ I also liked the fact the character was about my age and gender (I’ve always been drawn to books where I can relate to the characters on any benign level) and that I could easily picture her Southern California surroundings. Though I’d rather not open this book again, I vaguely recall a reference to Trader Joe’s 🙂

If you enjoy whittling  your life away reading mindless unrealistic chick lit, then this book is for you.

If you want to read a book and not be ashamed to tell people what you’re reading, then read something else. I see why the book store gave this book away. They stamped it on the sides so I can’t return it 😛

Mar
30

I viewed this movie last night for the first time ever! Good God, what have I been missing my whole life? I loved it!!! For whatever reason, I was never exposed to the movie growing up, though I did play ‘Footloose’ on the piano around puberty.

For those also in the dark, this movie is about a Chicago boy who moves to a small backwards town, only to find out dancing has been outlawed there for a few years since a car accident involving a few local teenagers who had been dabbling with such vices. Kevin Bacon played Ren, the city boy everyone in Beaumont blames recent town troubles on. Ren had to dance in secret to de-stress. Ren teams up with the  Preacher’s daughter to get dancing reinstated, and uses the bible to show positive use of dance in history to communicate with God.

I loved this movie, though I was most awed by people in the 80s. How nice to see neighbors gathered on porch and giving their full and undivided attention to each other. No cell phones, no texting, no Angry Birds, basically no half-assed presence. I carry my cell phone everywhere (mainly out of fear the one time I don’t, I will roll my car into a ditch unnoticed), but I don’t see the need in answering a call when I’m out with someone else. What is the point of answering to say I can’t talk? I also can not stand people’s addiction to their phones. I take solace in the fact they will all have cervical spine issues in the years to come, as a result of their narcissistic smart phone habits.

I enjoyed seeing a world without bad botox results, and both saline and silicone implants. I liked to see the high school kids meet up at a common location, and live in the present moment. Again, not engaged in activities outside their current location and company. The hairstyles were amusing, but not enviable. Interesting to see girls going to prom and not hoochied-up, though that likely had to do with the culture of Beaumont.

I requested this video a few months ago from the library, when the remake was in theaters. Where do you rent old movies from these days, now that video stores are obsolete, and RedBox is reserved for newer releases? I was hoping to see the original before the remake, and I succeeded because the night I went to see Footloose in theatre I ended up involved with the medical emergency of a friend atop the Bestseller’s table at Barnes and Noble. We went in to purchase tea to sneak into the theatre, and the stress of committing such a crime (ok, maybe some other physiological factors too) forced her body to stop functioning for a few critical seconds. I ended up drinking hot water (no tea bags) in ER the rest of the night.

So, it was meant to be I guess that I really did get to see the Kevin Bacon version first. Oh, Sarah Jessica Parker is in it too! She reminds me so much of Blossom in her youth. I thought her character was adorable in this movie 🙂

I just returned home from RedBox with the 2011 version, so stay tuned for details. I also got in line behind 20 people at 7-11 to buy some lottery tickets. About half a billion is in the jackpot!! If I win, expect my blogging to either taper off, or become incessant upon quitting my job and not having anything to do. Perhaps it will be the creation of a travel, wine, and stinky cheese blog 😀

Wish me luck!Image

Mar
25

This book was a great choice following my Scorched/Incendie combo of last weekend. The movie left me feeling so blah, and this was a good mindless read. I have never seen an episode of the office, and don’t plan on making the effort any time soon. I enjoyed Mindy’s book because she keeps things real. She writes in a down to earth, non-pretentious style about anything and everything. I relate to her well because we’re about the same age and both loathe women who obsess over their kids. This is a very quick read, and includes pictures and lists. Made me wish I still had some of my old University lists (rules of the house, red flags in guys). Mindy talks about growing up, being overweight, living in NYC, breaking into her career, and planning her funeral. Funny, I was in a room at work the other week when a coworker asked what I would say about her in her obituary. I made her promise me she wasn’t planning to check out any time soon, before I answered her. I found it humorus Mindy has a list of people banned from her funeral. Makes me want to start one of my own 😛

If you liked Tina Fey’s Bossypants, you will like this novel. It is not something I would recommend for book clubs, or any remotely intellectual conversation, but it goes great with rain, tea, and a couple hours on the couch.

 

Mar
25

I found this movie boring. Again, I’m having a hard time listening/deciphering British accents. Don’t know whats up with me these days. I never have a problem in person. I just couldn’t get into it. The second half was better than the first, but overall I didn’t enjoy watching a 50’s version of Cougarville. I’m sorry you’re insecure, I’m sorry you’re selfish, I’m sorry you like a lot of bad drugs, I’m sorry you’re 30 and have been married twice more than I ever want to be. I’m sorry I didn’t return this within the first 24hrs to Red Box.

Mar
24

While I couldn’t make the original late night premiere due to work obligations and lack of an accomplice, I was able to see the movie one day after its release. I liked it! As far as books to movies go, this is up there quality-wise with The Help. Remember how The Help accurately depicted the book (though leaving out a couple of scenes, perhaps due to time?), The Hunger Games did the book justice. Remember how Water for Elephants sucked in form, as did My Sister’s Keeper (Jodi Picoult claims she had no idea they were going to change the ending–they promised her anything but), The Hunger Games rocked! It was great to put a face to so many names, because my imagination runs out after the first four characters. The Capitol was as I pictured it, as were the people of that district. Gale was uber hot as expected, and Peeta less so as I imagined. I really enjoyed seeing the game makers’ control room, as that was hard for me to visualize with the book. I’m not that tech savvy.

My only gripes about the movie: I wanted to see the damn shower, not just hear about it. What girl doesn’t want to see a shower with so many automatic options. The Jetsons did  a good job, but come on it’s 2012: let me see it again! Gripe numero due: I kinda wish I hadn’t read the book because I suspect the movie would have impressed me that much more. It was nice knowing *exactly* what was going to happen next (come on Tracker Jackers, do your thing!), but I think I would have better experienced the movie’s effects and efforts at suspense otherwise. The soundtrack was tolerable, but not remarkable. Gale should have had more face time too. I also didn’t get a sense of the wolves specifically resembling a fallen tribute, like the book explained.

Anyone else see the movie yet? Did you find it blurry? I don’t know if it was just the theater I was at (which is one of the better ones in this area to my knowledge), but any fast movement was horribly displayed. I haven’t had alcohol in a couple of days at least, so I know it wasn’t me!

My eyes are burning now (started in the theater), so I’m signing off for tonight. I’ll have to add more comments and gripes as I think about them.

Update: Most of my gripes were mentioned in the comments of THG post at http://bibliotechnicienne.wordpress.com . One I failed to mention last night was I wish the Katniss and Peeta didn’t look so healthy and energized at the game’s end. Was I the only one who read about her going deaf in one ear, and Peeta coming home with a new prosthetic limb? Weren’t they airlifted out of there, put unconscious immediately and operated on/cleaned up? I got the sense of temporary deafness with the explosion scene at the food mound, but give me more! Make me believe!

Mar
18

This is movie #8 this year…I’ll get to blogging about the first 7 later. Or not.

I drove through frigid weather to my nearest Redbox this afternoon, upon finishing Scorched, the play Incendies is based on. Let the record indicate this is an instance where I enjoyed the movie much more than the book. Please note Scorched is in play format, so you can’t compare it to a narrative such as Water for Elephants (where the movie blowed). Play formats are not typically descriptive, and not much information is given to help the reader envision the setting.

That said, holy heck I was not prepared for the violence, blood, and cruelty of Incendies. I hesitate to recommend this movie for its lack of a feel-good ending. I always avoid action, and this had a bit of action. I do recommend it to anyone who appreciates Indie films and does not mind subtitles. I feel more cultured for having seen this.

The plot was consistent with Scorched in just about every detail (can’t think of anything missed), so read my review on that.

I realized during this movie that people have died in most books I read this year. Perhaps this is why I am depressed and afraid to leave the house? ;P The good news? While watching this movie, my digital request for ‘Is Everyone Hanging out Without Me’ by Mindy Kaling arrived 🙂 Hooray light reading!!

Mar
18

I ordered this book through the bookstore Warwick’s in La Jolla, upon hearing rave reviews of the movie Incendies from a former neighbour via Facebook. Scorched received very high ratings on Amazon and Goodreads while Incendies was nominated an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. How could I go wrong?

I have not reviewed many books since the creation of this blog, but already I could see ADD-induced parallels in plot lines between three previously blogged books. This book reminded me of 13 Blue Envelopes because it begins with a scavenger hunt directed posthumously. Certain plot twists reminded me of Jodi Picoult’s writing style, and of the content in Euegenides’ Middlesex. If I say any more this will be a spoiler. Perhaps I have already said too much? :$

Scorched is written as a play where the main plot is set during the Lebanese Civil War. Some scenes take place in Montreal, and different time periods are used. Simon and Janine are twins. Janine reminds me of Dr. Andreas in Eleanor Brown’s Weird Sisters, as she presents herself as someone unable to comprehend problems that aren’t mathematic (as Andreas could only communicate via Shakespearean quotes). I liked this about her, though I never advanced beyond Calculus. Maybe it is nice to know smart people struggle too?

The twins are summoned into a lawyer’s office upon their mother’s passing. Simon likes to drop F-bombs. The lawyer reads mother Nawal’s will, but there is a huge catch: each twin must complete an assignment before anything is awarded. Simon must find his blood brother (whom he did nott know he had), and Janine must find the father they have never met. The twist: Nawal was silent the last quarter of her life. She refused to speak to anyone, including herself as we learn from her lawyer’s hours and hours of recorded (hidden) cassette tape silence.

This book was a drag since play format does not allow fluid flow between, or even within scenes. The language was choppy, I did not relate to any of the characters, felt no sympathy for most of them, and suspect the translation (Francais to English) wasn’t the best. “The fly in the appointment” really? I expect ‘fly in the ointment’ was meant, however antiquated an expression.

One more parallel between this and previous reads on my blog: I am in the lunchroom at work when I realize the content. This time it was the cover. The cover! Why the heck is a masked female expressing breast milk into a bowl, only to be licked up by some canine? I expressed my horrification aloud; only to be comforted by a coworker ‘it looks like the dog was taped on afterward.’ Um, ok. I feel better now? This play moved too slowly for me, and was too far fetched for my liking. I did enjoy the last few pages, not because they signified the end, but the speeches were well written and contained the most depth of any other comment throughout. I don’t recall any dogs in this book. My local redbox has Incendies today, so once I finish my midday Sunday cocktail, and walk my non-breastfed dogs, I shall check it out.

Read at your own risk, but again, perhaps my opinion will change after the movie.

 

**I just had an aha! moment re: the cover. My thoughts will be a huge spoiler, so email me if you want to discuss it.