Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

You can find the GoodReads synopsis here.

"I realize that our name, the Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, is an unusual one and could easily be subjected to ridicule. Would you assure me that you will not be tempted to do so?" Unusual isn't totally accurate. The name of this society, and this book, is a mouthful, and daunting enough to turn away an avid reader. But certainly the old adage, "never judge a book by it's cover," can also be applied to the book's name. Don't let the title fool you -- The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is one of the most interesting and engaging reads I have ever picked up.
The format, a series of letters from a journalist to members of the Guernsey...Society, can be just as daunting as the title implies. But read on! Sooner than you can imagine each characters' voice and personality assert themselves, and suddenly you are visually eavesdropping on a rich correspondence that will *almost* make you wish you had been there to experience the German Occupation of the island of Guernsey during World War II. And if this book doesn't transport you quite to that level, it will at least make you want to visit the island of Guernsey, and know the wonderful type of people that inhabit it.
I fell in love with Juliet (the journalist and main character) immediately. She is what every literary loving lady wants to be - clever, smart, fun, passionate and honest. She is also single which of course gives us the opportunity for a love story. A by-plot in the much more interesting story of the island and it's inhabitant's way of coping with a devastating war - literature.
Every character is unique and eccentric in their own way. Where else but Guernsey could you find a drunk-turned-Lord-turned-actor, a witch, an illegitimate child, a judge, and a proper lady all in one literary and potato peel pie society? Nowhere. And you will fall in love with each one as you get to know them through their letters and the books that define them. 5 stars.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

The Inexperienced Mother.

The inexperienced mother is a firm believer that one of the worst places a 2-year-old can throw up is in her toddler bed. A 4 a.m. adventure should not consist of stripping a bed of sheets, mattress covers, stuffed animals and pillows, two loads of laundry, and a bath. The inexperienced mother hees and haws about such a trial, but finally rearranges bedding with new sheets and blankets and her child in soft new jammies. She brushes and blowdries shiny curls and snuggles down on a couch to comfort her child. The inexperienced mother does not consider how much vomit a 2 year old stomach can hold, and thus the inexperienced mother is surprised to be running towards a toilet, a garbage can, ANYTHING! at 4:30 a.m., unhappy soiled 2 year old in tow. The inexperienced mother has learned 2 new things.

1. When throw-up has occurred, the chances of throw-up occurring again increase dramatically.
2. Throw-up in a toddler bed isn't so bad as throw up on the carpet, on the kitchen floor, in the trash can and on the inexperienced mother.

The inexperienced mother is flexible, she takes such challenges in tow. Soon the child (and the inexperienced mother) is in new pajamas. The child's hair is rewashed, recombed, and redried. A bucket has appeared beside the couch. The inexperienced mother soothes her child, and soon everyone is tucked safely back in bed.

Morning breaks. The 2-year-old is awake and climbing on everything. The inexperienced mother convinces herself the proceedings of the night before were a fluke. The inexperienced mother feeds her 2-year-old cereal and yogurt. The 2-year-old is crazy with delight. The inexperienced mother decides the day could turn out well! Plans ensue, errands are to be run! The family bundles into the car. The day looks bright for the inexperienced mother. She has already forgotten her lesson from the night before. She is violently reminded all over the carseat, inside slightly unzipped jackets, into the cracks of buckles and onto a recently favored book. The inexperienced mother learns a new lesson.

3. Throw up in a toddler bed, on the carpet, or on clothing isn't so bad as throw up in the car.

The inexperienced mother drives home, plans unexecuted. Back into the bath goes the 2-year-old. And the carseat.

The couch is lined with towels, a bucket is on hand, crackers and gingerale are on the menu.

The experienced mother emerges.

ETA: Brett was awake and working with us for most of the night venture. He is fantastic! Amazing! Wonderful! I don't know what I would do without him. He was however, most fortunate to be able to get out of the car and walk to class about 2 minutes after the car episode.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Jujy Standard Time

If you think you can leave her alone for five minutes . . .

You're wrong.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Surrounded by good friends.

Bensen eats an apple.

Juliet fears bugs.

A note from yon book review blogger

An apology might be more accurate! Disclaimer?
I started this blog several months after I started reading everyone's favorite books. This unfortunately means that some of my reviews are written months after I've actually read the book. This didn't particularly bother me until today, when I picked up The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows.
I am only a couple pages into the book, and already I like it. Of course, I may not like it by the end of the book (and I may like it more) but the point is, I don't remember quite how I felt at the beginning of some of these books I've read. It's just been too long. I am now realizing that makes a poor book review, for I can only write the last impression the book gave me.
I'm going to continue reviewing many of the books I've read already since many of them I will probably never read again (ie The Dogs of Babel. GAG.) and I like to update more often than I can finish books. But just know I do so feeling a little guilty that I'm not truly doing justice to the whole book. (I didn't start to hate the Dogs of Babel til near the end. But I don't remember why. and now the world may never know.)
From now on I'll warn you about how recently I've read the book. Of course the most recent books will probably prove to have more extensive reviews. So beware.
Soon to come: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows and The Once and Future King by T.H. White.

So . . . what's your favorite book?

Friday, March 19, 2010

Carlsbad Caverns

A day trip to finish off spring break!

I love that Brett totally looks asleep in this picture.
"Juliet, show me your sandwich!"

Hard to take pictures over the back of your seat.


Into the abyss...

In the abyss!

Underground restaurant!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Dogs of Babel by Carolyn Parkhurst

There are so many things I could say about this book. The thing I must say is that it is not one of my favorites, although there were many things I liked. The book's premise is interesting: a woman falls out of a tree and dies - there is one witness. The family dog. Was it an accident? Was it a suicide? Only one living soul knows, and she won't talk . . . or will she? This is widower Paul Iverson's quest, to teach his dog to communicate and unravel the mystery of his wife's last day living.
Fascinating. Until you have to wallow through Paul's recollections of his relationship with his wife. The completely unbelievable relationship between this educated, sweet, sensitive man and his off-the-rocker wife ruins every beautifully written passage in this book. Carolyn Parkhurst effectively captures this man's deep feelings for his wife, his immense grief over her death, and his struggle with making sense of it all. And yet, these feelings don't really seem to coincide with his actual relationship with his volatile wife. The author works so hard to prove that Paul Iverson is no idiot, and yet he acts idiotically time and time again.
A harrowing, haunting, annoying tale.
I was relieved when this book was over.
2 stars.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Ahab's Wife by Sena Jeter Naslund

If you want to read a story about Captain Ahab, read Moby Dick. The Role he plays in this novel is a small one. Una starts her narrative "Captain Ahab was neither my first husband nor my last," and from there goes on with the story of her life, which unsurprisingly has little of Captain Ahab in it. Often out of order, a little disjointed, but always poignant and vivid, Una's story of whaling, shipwreck, love, death and deceit does not disappoint. The writing is so rich, you want to hold it in both hands and take a delicious meaty bite. This is the double cheeseburger of literature. Yes it is 700 pages long, but not one word is wasted!
Whoosh, got a little carried away there. I loved this book. And if you are a serious reader, you will too. Be forewarned! This book cannot be taken lightly. It cannot be read in one day (maybe two, if you don't have kids!) and it cannot be plowed through. Rather than a "good read," reading Ahab's Wife is much like discovering a new friend, who then becomes a good friend, and then an old friend.

And much like an old friend, this book will leave you feeling happier, sadder and wiser.
5 stars.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Oscars anyone?

I love the Oscars. It is Denice's fault. I don't think she even watches them anymore, but I do, and this year I was pleased to actually have seen many of the movies and known who many of the nominated actors were. But every year I am more than happy to critique everything that everyone wears. And since I have no sense of style, no taste to speak of, and no expertise, it is always a lot of fun.

You had to either love or hate robert downey jr. in his giant blue bow tie. I loved it. If anyone could pull it off it was Sherlock holmes/ Tony Starke. I feel bad for his date though -- someone fed her gown through a paper shredder.

Sandra was absolutely gorgeous and elegant in her gown. Tasteful and beautiful and I pretty much would have loved her in a potato sack.

Guess who I didn't love in a potato sack? Yep. Sarah Jessica Parker.

This might have possibly been my favorite gown of the night. Absolutely stunning! Or maybe it was just Demi Moore. Who knows.

You can order an exact replica of Jennifer Lopez's dress here . Or ask Andy Samberg and Lady Gaga to design something similar for you.

Kathryn Bigelow dressed for Prom Night 2010, Tina Fey dressed for the '80s and Hillary Swank forgot to get dressed.

For once Kristen Stewart forwent dressing as a Lady of the Night (gorgeous!)
while miss Sigorney couldn't pass up dressing as Lady Liberty.

And the Best dressed at the Oscar's goes to......
Vera Farmiga, who, in my most humble opinion, chose a dress daring enough for Hollywood, yet elegant enough for the Academy Awards.

And the worst dressed? Miss Charlize Theron.

mmmm. Cinnabon.

Well, those are my best and worst of the Oscars. But really, who am I to judge? I was in my pajamas. And for some strange reason, craving cinnabon.

Sunday, March 7, 2010