Thursday, December 27, 2007

Knocked Up

Ben and I watched Knocked Up last weekend and we both thought it was highly overrated. I guess that's what happens when you spend half a year hearing about how funny and great a movie is, you finally get around to watch it, and it just doesn't live up to the hype.

The movie concerns two main characters Ben Stone (Seth Rogan) and Alison (Katherine Heigl). Alison has just gotten a new reporter job at E! entertainment news and goes out to the club with her sister Debbie. There she is hit on by Ben Stone, a loser that lives with his four crass roommates, has no job, and seems to smoke pot all day. She doesn't know this at the time and he seems like a nice guy. They both get drunk, things happen, and Alison finds herself pregnant. Ben is the total opposite of her and they try to make things work out to be good parents. It seemed like a typical plot. Boy is stoner loser, learns that he must grow up and become man and get his own job. Girl must learn to accept man as he is. It grew old I thought. I also didn't think there was any chemistry between the actors portraying Ben and Alison.

I don't need to see this movie again.

A Matchmaker's Christmas by Donna Simpson

I've already expressed my fondness for Christmas romances - this is my last one for the 2007 season! Luckily it was also most enjoyable of the Christmas books I read this year. A Matchmaker's Christmas is a regency romance that had great character build-up, a slight mystery, and kept you wondering if the perfect couples would ever come together or not. It was a delight to read and great when you are overwhelmed with work and stressed out like I've been lately! I also liked that it stressed the ROMANCE and not the . . . let's say intimate relations that other romance novels are all about.

Lady Elizabeth Bournard is eighty years old and realizes that it will be her last Christmas on earth. She wants to celebrate by being among the young and living and by doing a bit of matchmaking. Her godson, David has not moved on since the death of his young wife twenty years before. Wouldn't be make the perfect match for Lady Bournard's companion Beatrice who hides a secret of her own? Lady Bournard's friend's nephew Rowland, is a young parson in want of a wife and Lady B. has a young fiesty relation from the "colonies" that is in need of a husband. With the addition of two other houseguests, Lady Bournard's matchmaking does not go as planned. Who will end up together? Will true love prevail? What is Beatrice's secret?

I enjoyed the novel greatly and liked how one couple (David and Beatrice) was an older couple. It was nice to read about second chances with love mixed in with the young and in love. If you are looking for a light Christmas romance that is actually romantic and not smutty, I highly recommend!

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Lets Talk About Lost . . .

I haven't been that inspired by any TV shows this fall and find myself longing for my favorite quality shows, Lost and Battlestar Gallactica. I just watched this Lost preview on and find myself extremely excited for January 31st to roll around. Now I just hope that the writers' strike comes to an end soon so that the last eight episodes of the season get written and filmed!

Who do you think is going to come to the island to "rescue" the survivors? I'm still trying to come up with a good theory of my own!

Visions of Sugar Plums by Janet Evanovich

Visions of Sugar Plums is a blatent attempt to make some extra cash by writting a sub-par holiday novel. That may seem a bit harsh, but I found this novel very boring. It was not what I expected after reading the first six novels of Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series. I didn't laugh even once through the reading of this book.

The story was strange and uneven. Stephanie Plum is looking for "Sandy Claws," a man who has jumped his bail, but may also have supernatural abilities. Diesel, another supernatural being, has showed up in her apartment to help find Sandy . . . and maybe an evil doer.

I don't recommend this novel. It wasn't a good Christmas story or good at all compared to the rest of the series. Maybe I should stick to the actual series in the future!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett

Argh. I wrote the review for this once, but it accidently got deleted. I'm sure it won't be quite as good the second time around, but here I go! I started writing this last week, so the dates are a bit off!

I just finished the nearly 1000 page opus The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett today after working at it for nearly two weeks. It was well worth the time and effort. I thought the book was excellent and another good selection by Oprah. It was rather a surprising selection though - this book is a true historical fiction novel, which is something I really like, but I haven't noticed Oprah picking very much historical fiction through the years. I had never heard of this book before and am glad Oprah picked it and put it in the spotlight so that I could learn about it and read it!

The Pillars of the Earth is a sweeping historical epic that is set in medival England and surrounds the building of a new cathedral in the fictional village of Kingsbridge. The novel also centers on the lives of the main people who have an influence on the cathedral such as Tom Builder, a master builder and architect, and his family as well as Prior Philip, the prior in charge of the monastery that commisions the building of the new cathedral after the old one burns. There are several very interesting colorful main characters that show up throughout the novel.

The novel is set during the era after King Henry I's death and the civil war that broke out between those that supported Henry's daughter Matilda and his nephew Stephen to be the next ruler of England. This civil war lasted for around two decades and is a fascinating era of history I've enjoyed reading about previously.

I was very interested in the politics in the novel that Prior Philip had to struggle with in order to get his cathedral built. With the changing tides of the civil war, the fortunes also changed at the building site. I know politics are involved with engineering and construction projects these days, but it was interesting to note that they were even more so 800 years ago!

I enjoyed the novel as it wove the stories of several peoples' lives through the uniting project of the cathedral construction. The stories were very intriguing and I especially liked how there were strong female characters. Even though this was a long novel, I found myself unable to put it down and wondering how the characters would be able to find their way through each trial!

I thought the "evil" characters were kind of cardboard characters. After awhile, I found myself wondering how evil these people could get!! There were slight additions to each evil character as you made your way through the novel that helped round them out. William Hamleigh's fear of hell for instance helped to round him out and explain some of his actions.

I also thought the last 1/3 or so of the book lost steam. It may be because I really liked the characters of Tom Builder and Prior Philip and they weren't central to the story at this point in the novel. Did anyone else feel this way?

If you are looking for a very interesting, well written book about the 12th century - I highly recommend this novel!

Monday, December 17, 2007

I am Legend

Ben and I actually went on a DATE sans Kile on Friday night. For all of you with small kids - you know how exciting it is to get away once in awhile! We went and saw I am Legend, on opening night no less. It made me feel young again, except for the fact that the entire movie theatre was over run with teenagers. I think we were the oldest people in line to get our tickets! Our actual showing of I am Legend was packed - I'm not too surprised to see it was the number one movie of the weekend.

I am Legend is a post-apocalyptic story of Robert Neville (Will Smith), the seemingly lone survivor of a virus that killed most of the population. Neville is a military scientist that has been searching for a cure for the man-made disease that killed 90% of the population, but turned 9% into light sensitive monsters that feed on human flesh for the past three years when the disease mutated and became airborne. Roughly 1% of the population was immune to the disease, but the mutant humans quickly killed them, leaving Neville to believe he may be the last non-affected human left on the planet.

The first part of the movie centers on showing Robert Neville in an empty New York City trying to survive by going through his daily routine with his faithful dog Sam. He has a daily routine, which involves checking out DVDs at a local store and talking to the mannequins, harvesting food and hunting, and trying to find a cure. Although Will Smith was by himself (except for his faithful dog) I found myself revited in watching him, especially because of the spectacular imagery of the empty New York City. The hunter/gatherer alone in an urban setting gone wrong. It was quite affecting. I think the cinematography on this film was fantastic as was Will Smith's performance.

After Neville captures an infected woman to run his latest vaccine on, he becomes stalked by the infected ones lead by one that appears to be smarter than the rest and obssessed with finding Neville. After a particularly tragic sequence (one that had me crying - hey I'm pregnant and emotional), Neville becomes a man on the edge. He is losing his grasp of sanity after being alone for three years. At this point, a woman and boy show up that heard his daily radio message looking for survivors. There is a showdown between the infected ones and Neville's group . . . and the end is something you'll need to watch to find out!

I thought the end seemed to come too soon - I think the movie could have been longer. It was a good ending though although I kind of wish parts of it could have been different (you need to watch it to discuss it with me!). This is a movie that has kept Ben and I thinking and discussing it for the past three days. You don't want to think too hard about some things (just how could the woman and boy drive to Manhatten with all of the bridges gone?), but other things pose interesting questions for debate. What would you do in an empty world with infected people out to eat you? Would living in New York City be a good plan for the infected (how do they find food) or Neville (so many infected people that could hunt him but also unlimited resources)? Why does Neville think hunting deer from a Mustang would be a good plan? Which one of our dogs would make a good 'Sam' that would be a bonding dog, but could protect us (we vote Jack)?

I didn't like the computer graphic animals in the movie - I thought they looked very fake. The scenary was very good though.

If you like sci-fi movies I recommend this movie. If you don't like post-apocalyptic thrillers, this movie probably isn't for you, although Will Smith had a fantastic performance.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

On the First Day of Christmas by Cindy Holbrook

I have a weakness for Christmas romance novels at this time of year. I read On the First Day of Christmas last week. It was a mediocre romance, but was an entertaining light read for a busy week.

This is why I should review books right away - I can't remember the lead man's name! Anyway, the lead man is a scrooge-like aristocrat of the ripe old age of 28. He is roped into boarding what he thinks is a young girl by a colleage that saved his life during the war. Rather expectantly, when Carin shows up, she is a beautiful 17-year old rather than a young child. Carin and her companion Meg also show up with Baby Partridge, a baby that they found abandoned at a posting house along the way. Through a series of mishaps, Carin continues to take in strays, which sorely tries the lead man's patience. He eventually finds his heart warmed by Carin's goodness and her good looks and the inevitable happy ending is found.

Hot Six by Janet Evanovich

I had to read Hot Six the week after Thanksgiving to find out who Stephanie ended up spending the night with at the end of High Five. Think I will tell you? I don't think so - you need to read it for yourself! Hot Six was another great Evanovich novel continuing on the tale of Stephanie's adventures. I want to just read all of the rest of the series in one shot, but I'm trying to limit myself so I can savor them.

In Hot Six, Ranger has been accused of killing a crime lords son. He jumps bail and Cousin Vinnie assigns Stephanie to the task of tracking him down. Stephanie know this will be impossible and instead finds herself helping Ranger to find the real criminal. In the meanwhile, Grandma Mazur moves in with Stephanie and Stephanie is stuck house sitting an ill-behaved dog. Joe Morelli is still in the picture - and has much frustration with Grandma Mazur living with Stephanie!

This book is another fun romp in the world of Stephanie Plum. I find these books highly entertaining - they always make me laugh out loud. If you need a light book that will make you laugh, I highly recommend this series.

High Five by Janet Evanovich

I read High Five during our trip back from Michigan over Thanksgiving and maybe perhaps that Monday. As you can probably guess from the title, this is the fifth book of the highly popular Stephanie Plum series. I found it just as entertaining and enjoyable as the rest of the series.

In this particular novel, our heroine is requested by her family to search for her old Uncle Fred who has disappeared. He was a cheapskate that had problems with the garbage company right before his mysterious disappearance. The closer Stephanie gets to solving the case, the more danger she is in and the more she realizes that Uncle Fred knew more than he should have. Stephanie is having problems making enough money so she accepts a job with her mentor Ranger that includes "housekeeping," "driving a limo," etc. None of the tasks turn out to be as easy as expected. Stephanie feels a growing attraction to Ranger, but also can not forget Joe Morelli. Who will she end up with, you have to read book 6 to find out!

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

1776 by David McCullough

I finished 1776 by David McCullough over Thanksgiving weekend. It was my Kewaunee library book club pick for November. Our November meeting isn't until tomorrow though. We are a bit off due to not being able to get last month's book until late.

I like reading history books. This wasn't one of the top ones that I've read, but it was pretty good. It told the story of America's fight for Independence against the British focusing on the year 1776. It gave gripping portrayels of both George Washington and King George as leaders in a two-dimensional light. The parts I liked best though were the stories of the common men that fought the war and the women they left behind.

I had forgotten how much of the Revolutionary War was sitting around waiting for things to happen - and how much our victories were because of good luck. Interesting things I learned included the fact that there were a large number of African and Native Americans who fought the war on the American side. You don't see or hear about that at all really. Why didn't we think about granting them the equality and freedom that they were helping to fight for? I also had never thought about the problem of Loyalists. When the British fled Boston, they had to take a vast number of Loyalists with them, some of whom were third or more generation Americans. I think they later settled in Canada or moved back to England. New York City was something like 2/3 Loyalist, which made for great difficulty holding the city in rebel hands. I also didn't realize that American soldiers only signed up for one year and then would leave at the end or when they felt like it. Poor George Washington really had his hands full trying to keep things together!

As an environmental engineer, I was interested in how the British Army largely avoided sickness by following protocols for sewage disposal and clean drinking water versus the American Army that basically went to the bathroom everywhere and was largely sick most of the time. Very interesting. The British army had great engineers that helped with such problems, but these men were large unable to advance because they were not aristocrats. On the American side however, capable men were able to advance when they were young based on abilities. Therefore the Americans were able to get some of the best leaders of the war.

Another interesting tidbit was that the German and English soldiers were confused when they got to American on why the Americans were rebelling as they had it so good. I didn't realize that even in the 1700s, the American standard of living was much higher than the rest of the worlds.

This book was very interesting and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in learning about American History or the Revolutionary War.


Jenn and I had a girl's night out movie night the day after Thanksgiving and went and watched Enchanted.

Enchanted is the story of Giselle (Amy Adams), a cartoon perfect singing heroine that captures the love of a prince with her voice. Prince Edward (James Marsden) rescues her from an ogre and they decide to marry the next day. The prince's evil stepmother will lose control of the kingdom if the prince marries and therefore sends Giselle to the "real" world of New York City. Giselle is still able to sing and bring animals to her aid and make herself clothing out of curtains. These traits find her sadly out of place. She meets up with Robert Phillip (Patrick Demsey) and his daughter Morgan who let her stay at their place for the night despite misgivings. Robert has a long time girlfriend of five years named Nancy, but he finds himself starting to believe in true love again with Giselle. Prince Edward and the evil stepmother make their way to New York and Giselle is forced to make a decision, while Prince Edward learns the true nature of his stepmother.

I thought the movie was good. It wasn't bad, but it wasn't excellent. I guess I was expecting more out of it. I did have several laugh out loud moments during it, but it didn't play as a complete farce of Disney princess movies so it wasn't as comedic as it could have been. I think my main problem with the movie was the Giselle was one-dimensional with no depth. I find it strange that Ariel from The Little Mermaid and Belle from Beauty and the Beast have more depth and seem more realistic and they are just cartoons! A lot of that might be because Giselle seemed to have the most in common with Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, which is the weakest Disney princess.

I loved James Marsden as Prince Edward. He was quite funny. But I like him in about everything he is in. I wish for once he would be the main star and not the second fiddle! I know Patrick Demsey is "McDreamy" and all, but I really wasn't rooting for him that much . . . mostly because of Nancy. I did like how all strings were tied up at the end though.

Has anyone else seen this movie yet? What are your thoughts? I love Disney cartoons and chick flicks. This was an okay combination of the two, but I think it could have been better.

I'm Back!!

I'm sorry I disappeared for so long. Hopefully there are people left that will check my blog and realize that I'm back on it again. For those of you that don't know, Ben and I are expecting our second baby on May 1st. I was really sick once again with morning sickness and super busy with work - and there just didn't seem to be enough time to work on my blog. Then I was concerned about how many books /movies I needed to catch up with and delayed signing back on. I've decided just to maybe review the things I've watched and read in the last week or two and move on from there. :-)

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Where is Laura?

Sorry, I've been SUPER busy with work and haven't had a chance to keep up my blog lately. I need to write about "The Painted Veil," Three to Get Deadly by Janet Evanovich and The Gatecrasher by Madeleine Wickham. I probably won't be able to catch up until this weekend or next week, depending on when I get my project done. Happy reading!

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


I heard about the movie Breach on NPR when it came out on DVD in June and thought it would be a good movie to check out from the library. I guess it came out sometime this past spring, but since I never seem to watch live TV and hardly get to go the movie theatre, I didn't hear about it!

Breach is the true story of the capture of the worst traitor in US history, Robert Hanssen (Chris Cooper), in 2001. Hansseen had worked for the FBI for 25 years, but was also selling secrets to the Russians during the past 20 years. The story is told through the prospective of Eric O'Neil (Ryan Phillippe), a young agent in training, who helps to bring the man down. Although we know how the story is going to end, it is still riviting and nail bitting at times. Robert Hanssen is a pillar of the community, a devout Catholic, and very strait laced at work. Eric finds himself admiring the man. The perfect facade though hids a sexual deviant and traitor to his nation, whose motivation is not money, but to prove that he can do it. In other words, he wasn't such a good Catholic after all! Eric's life starts to unravel as Hanssen brings himself more into his personal life and wants Eric's wife to become Catholic. Eric can't tell his wife about the secret investigation and she gets fed up with the secrets and his overbearing boss.

Overall, it was a very good movie. I highly recommend it. It's a good suspense movie as well as a good way to learn a bit about modern U.S. history. I seemed to have missed this case in 2001. But then again, I was still at Michigan Tech and my daily news came from the Daily Mining Gazette, so it would have been easy to miss it!

Heroes 1st Season Finale

I know - I'm a bit behind on my TV watching. Ben and I have too many shows to watch and not enough time together to watch them. That's what happens when you work part-time from home and need to work whenever your spouse is home!

Ben and I finally caught up on Heroes and have been having a marathon since we've been home the last couple of weekends. Our goal was to get it watched before Season 2 started and we were able to make our goal!

I think Heroes overall is a good and very entertaining show. I like it's comic book format, and how there are certain goals that the characters set out to achieve and they achieve them. I also like that it is a character driven show. The characters are all very interesting in their unque ways.

As for the season finale, Ben and I watched it Monday night and both agreed on Tuesday that although it was good, it wasn't quite as exciting as we expected. Yes, the exploding man was stopped as promised, but not really in a spectacular way. Anyone else out there watch Heroes and want to disagree with us?

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Me and Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter

My reading of Jane Austen spin-offs continues. I finished Me and Mr. Darcy by Alexandra Potter last night.

This novel is set in present day New York City, where Emily Albright works in a bookstore in New York City and dreams of meeting Mr. Darcy. Her only dates all are losers who do not show the common curtisies that a Mr. Darcy would extend. Forced with spending New Year's Eve alone or on a 18-30 vacation in Mexico with her best friend, Emily rashly decides to go on a literature lovers tour of Jane Austen's England. While in England she meets Mr. Darcy and Spike Hargreaves, a reporter on the trip writing an article on why Mr. Darcy has won the title of the Man Most Women Would Love to Date. Spike and Emily don't get along and have a story that parallels that of Elizabeth and Darcy in P&P.

I thought this novel was mediocre at best. The secondary characters were not well flushed out and I was very confused on Emily's meetings with Mr. Darcy. Were they real or imaginary? I never really felt it was resolved at the end. I didn't think her meetings with him were that great either. The book could have actually done without them. I much prefered Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict to this book.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding

This may have been the third or fourth time I've read Bridget Jones's Diary by Helen Fielding. It is the Kewaunee Mom's Club book club pick for September and I thought I'd read it early rather than last minute like last time. The book was my suggestion as something light hearted after reading Stephen King last month.

Bridget Jones's Diary was the first of the "chick lit" genre as we know it. It's a good book and also a good movie. Bridget is a thirty-something "singleton" that keeps a journal starting with the new year and her hilarious resolutions, which include "I will not fall for any of the following: alcoholics, workaholics, commitment phobics, people with girlfriends or wives, misogynist, megalomanics, chavinists, emotional f**kwits or freeloaders, or perverts." Bridget has a great group of friends, some crazy relations, and definitely some romance problems. She starts off the year in love with her boss, Daniel Cleaver, who is also quite the cad. She is very annoyed with Mark Darcy, whom she meats at the New Year's Turkey Curry party, as he seems quite standoffish. Will Bridget find true love? You'll have to read the book to find out.

This book parallels Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, while it's sequel, Bridget Jones and the Edge of Reason parallels Austen's Persuasion. The sequel is worth a read, but don't bother with the movie. I thought it was quite terrible and seemed to have missed the whole Persuasion theme of the book. If you want to read something truely terrible, click here for Bridget Jones Returns, postings of a column that Fielding has been writing in Great Britain. I was very annoyed by where she has taken the story with this column. SPOILERS AHEAD: Bridget has a baby (good for her!), but the father is DANIEL CLEAVER!! ARGH! I thought we got rid of him as a cad in books 1 and 2. Once again ARGH!

Overall Bridget Jones's Diary is a good book and fun to read. I must admit though, as I read it this time, I realized I've become a "smug married." When I first read the book while I was single, I related much more deeply to Bridget. Now that I'm married, it's still funny, but doesn't hit home as much. Ah!

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Two for the Dough by Janet Evanovich

Two for the Dough is the second in Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series, about a woman bounty hunter tracking down crimals in "The Burg," New Jersey. I enjoyed this book as much as I enjoyed the first one. It made me laugh out loud a lot - which made Ben give me questioning looks:-)

In this novel, Stephanie is tracking down Kenny Mancuso, Joe Morelli's cousin, who shot a high school friend in the knee, and then disappeared after Stephanie's cousin Vincent Plum posted bond. After the friend ends up dead, body parts from the neighborhood funeral home ( that happens to be run by Spiro, Kenny's other high school friend) happen to start showing up to warn people off the case. Stephanie has her car stolen once again and gets to drive Grandma Mazur's indestructable powder blue 1953 Buick. Morelli and Plum team up once again to solve the crime, sparks fly, and much hilarity ensues.

I love the supporting cast of characters, especially Grandma Mazur. She cracks me up! All of Evanovich's characters are well rounded and add well to the story.

If you are looking for a funny, sexy, mystery series - I highly recommend! I'm glad Jenn recommended them to me!

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict by Laurie Viera Rigler

I actually finished this book last Friday, but I'm a bit behind on my blog! It was a quick and easy read, and the best of the Jane Austen "fan fiction" (for lack of a better term that I've read lately.

Confessions of a Jane Austen Addict centers on Courtney Stone, a young Los Angeles "singleton" who has just found out that her fiance was cheating on her and her best friend knew and didn't tell her. She falls asleep reading Jane Austen novels to get away from it all - and awakens in 1813 England as Jane Mansfield. Much hilarity ensues as Courtney tries to convince herself that she's just dreaming and then tries to tame her modern California self into an 1813 lady of quality. There are of course balls, romance, a bossy mother, and a great best friend. My only points of annoyance were when Courtney didn't know some basic etiquette and whatnot for the time. If she were as a big of a Jane Austen fan as she says she is . .. it seems like she would have picked this up in her multiple readings.

It was a pleasant read and had a good ending. I recommend it for other fellow Jane Austen Addicts!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Different Seasons by Stephen King

This is actually the second time that I've read Different Seasons by Stephen King. It was the August pick for my Mom's Club Book Club, and luckily I finished it yesterday morning as the meeting was last night. This is the only Stephen King novel I've read. I've been told I should read The Stand, any other suggestions?

Different Seasons contains four "novellas" by Stephen King. I'm going to split my discussion up between the stories.

1. Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption. This is definitely my favorite story in the book and is the basis for the fantastic movie, The Shawshank Redemption. Andy is wrongly convicted of a murder and spends twenty something years in Shawshank Redemption. He is the victim of brutal violence, but somehow always manages to keep his dignity and hope intact. He befriends another man named Red, the man who can "get things." This story is wonderful.

2. Apt Pupil. I do not like Apt Pupil, and unfortunatly it is the longest story in the book. The story freaks me out. It tells the story of a young "All American Boy" named Todd who becomes obsessed with the holocaust. He figures out that a neighbor, "Mr. Denker," is really a commandant that was in charge of a concentration camp in hiding in the U.S. Todd blackmails him into telling all of the details of the camps. The two have a parasitic relationship and each separately begins to descend into evil. This story is very disturbing. I don't think I need to read it again!

3. The Body. The Body was made into the movie Stand By Me, which I haven't seen since I was young. It tells the tale of four boys who go off on a gruesome adventureto find the dead body of a lost boy that was killed by a train. The boys each have a tough life and the trip is a defining moment and adventure in their lives. It's an entertaining story.

4. The Breathing Method. This story is intriguing, although freaky. It is about a man who goes to a mysterious "club" with no name after invited by his boss. There are books and things there that are unheard of on the outside world. The men take turns telling stories. One of which is "The Breathing Method." A young woman in the 1930's discovers that she is pregnant and is dumped by her boyfriend. She faces the future with bravery and is determined to have her baby and use the breathing method that the doctor recommends. There is a freak accident when she is on the way to the hospital to delivery the baby. You'll have to read the story to discover the rest. The club itself intrigued me in the story - I wanted to learn more about it. The story was good too, although very disturbing.

Overall, it is a good book and worth a read!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Catch & Release

Catch & Release wasn't the worse romantic comedy I've ever seen, but it definitely wasn't the best. Ben and I both watched Catch & Release Saturday night and overall felt indiferent about the movie.

Catch & Release stars Jennifer Garner as Gray, a young woman who's fiance (Grady - Grady & Gray, seriously these are not good couple names) was killed in a skiing accident at his bachelor party shortly before their wedding. Not a happy way to start a romantic comedy. Gray discovers that her fiance actually was quite wealthy with a million dollars stashed away in an investment account. An account he mysteriously sent money to someone every month. As Gray was not married when Grady died, his mother inherits everything. Gray can't afford their new home without Grady so she moves into Grady's old place with his two best friends. Another of Grady's friends, Fritz, comes to town to California for the funeral and stays on to see things through. Gray moves on with life, learns dirty secrets from Grady's past, and finds love once again.

First of all, Jennifer Garner as Gray was way too serious all through this movie. I know it had serious tones, but most of the time it showed Gray, she just looked pouty. I was frankly underwhelmed by her performance. Secondly, I really did not like Fritz's character in the movie at all and really didn't like Gray and Fritz's romance. I was not rooting for them to get together!

The best thing about the movie was Kevin Smith's performance as Matt. He was a really likeable character and seemed more down to earth and real than most of his co-stars. Gray should have ended up with him!

I guess it was worth seeing once, but I don't plan on ever watching it again. It was okay, but there are much better romantic comedies out there that are more romantic and have more comedy!

Friday, August 24, 2007

Bridge to Terabithia

Bridge to Terabithia was an excellent movie. I have never read the book, but my sister Katie always told me it was a good one. It's on my giant list of books to read!! Since it's a children's novel, I may wait until Kile is old enough to read it!

I was mislead by the marketing for this movie. It focused on the fantasy elements and billed it as another Chronicles of Narnia. This movie was far from it. It was the story of a boy named Jess Aarons. His family has a hard time making it and doesn't have much money. He has four sisters and feels misunderstood both at home and at school. He is an artist, but is also proud of his ability to run fast. He and all of the other boys are beaten on the first day of school by a new girl, Leslie Burke. Annoyed with her at first, Jess and Leslie eventually become best friends. They love to play in the woods close to their home and together imagine an entire kingdom of Terebithia (hence some fantasty elements). Tragedy strikes and I shed some tears. It had an excellent follow through and ending on how to deal with tragedy.

I highly recommend this movie. It might be hard for young children to watch with the very sad tragedy that happens. It has a great plot and many good life lessons.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Queen of Babble by Meg Cabot

Queen of Babble is an entertaining "chick lit" read by Meg Cabot (author of the Princess Diaries). I enjoyed reading the book and look forward to the sequel, but many parts of the book reminded me of Sophie Kinsella's work, especially Can You Keep a Secret? If you like Kinsella's work, this would be a good read for you.

Queen of Babble is about Lizzie Nichols. A "History of Fashion" major a the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, Lizzie has discovered that she actually didn't graduate as she didn't turn in a senior thesis. She doesn't have much time to worry about this as she has a ticket already paid for to visit her boyfriend Andy in London. Neither her trip to London nor Andy turn out to be quite what she had expected. She joins her friend Shari in France and along the way spills her tales of woe to a cute stranger named Luke. Unfortunately, Luke turns out to be the owner of the Chateau where Lizzie is staying!

Lizzie is an engaging character, but I didn't think the secondary character build-up was as good as in other novels, such as Sophie Kinsella's. I did really like Lizzie's no-nonsense Dr. Quinn loving Grandma though! It was an entertaining read, but not the best "chick-lit" that I've read lately.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Becoming Jane

I went to a movie last night - in the theatre! I was very excited as this does not happen much now with Kile around. Dawn and I had a girls' night out and went to see Becoming Jane. Dawn and I have always enjoyed watching Jane Austen movies and other period flicks together.

I thoroughly enjoyed the movie. This movie may also have made a sad lonely tear trickle down my check at the end. I already knew Jane Austen remained a life long spinster, but I couldn't help wishing that history could change!

Becoming Jane is an imagined account of the life and love of a young Jane Austen. I have heard much online snark about how the picture is not accurate. News flash - any Jane Austen movie will not be accurate as only the bare bones are known about Jane Austen's life. She did have a short engagement that was broken in a few days with a rich man. She did have a flirtation with Tom Lefroy. Her sister Cassandra's fiance did die, and Henry and Eliza did have a romance. The movie may have added detail and changed the timing of the events, but if it makes an enjoyable film about a beloved author that we don't know much about, I don't see what the problem is!

I enjoyed the scenary and I thought Anne Hathaway did a supurb job as Jane. I thought her and James McAvoy as Tom Lefroy had great chemistry! My only personal snark was the way they tried to sex it up at times (such as with Mr. and Mrs. Austen - yuck!) and all of the times Jane was conviently alone, which I wouldn't have expected in the regency era.

If you enjoy period pictures or Jane Austen movies, I think you will enjoy this movie. I know I did!!

Miss Potter

I liked the movie Miss Potter, it had me sheding a few tears, much to Kile's dismay.

Miss Potter is an imaginative biopic of the author Beatrix Potter (The Tale of Peter Rabit, etc.). Beatrix has a strict upbringing and is expected to marry her equal in society. Instead Beatrix remains single and hones her gifted artistic skills. She decides to publish her first novel and finds love and friendship with her publisher, Norman Warne. Her mother does not approve of her publishing or of her love and friendship with Norman. Unfortunately, the ways of love do not run smooth, which caused me many shed tears.

Renee Zellweger played Beatrix Potter and Ewan McGregor was superb as Norman Warne. I thought Renee looked not quite up to par as Beatrix, older than she was supposed to be at the beginning at 32. The movie also seemed to skip through Beatrix's life very fast. I also was unsure the beginning when Beatrix was talking to her characters like they were real people. It made her seem rather daff. But overall, I thought the romance, heartbreak, and landscape made the movie a good picture. I recommend it to anyone who likes a good weepy romance set in high class England at the turn of the twentieth century.

The Fountain

Time travel. Hugh Jackman. Rachel Wiez. I thought these three ingredients would lead to a great movie, but I was wrong.

The Fountain told the story of a present day man, who is driven to succeed in his research to cure his wife's cancer. His wife is writing a novel that tells the tail of a conquestidor in South America searching for the "Tree of Life" from Genesis. There is also another strange setting with Hugh Jackman with the tree seeing visions of himself from the past. Ben and I were not sure what this was through the entire movie, but looking on Amazon, I see that it was supposed to represent a 26th century time travelor trying to ascend to the afterlife. I thought it was Hugh Jackman trying to ascend to the afterlife, and maybe the tree was the seed that he had planted on his wife's grave, but how was I suppose to know he was a space travelor in the 26th century????

I liked the acting by Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weiz. I loved the stunning visual sequences and the music. I liked the different story lines set in the present and past. I did not like how these different segments were not linked in a coehesive way, especially the bald Hugh Jackman in a bubble trying to ascend. These "future" sequences did not make sense to me at all. At the end, I found myself very confused and annoyed. I do not recommend this movie as it was not that good.

If you watched this movie and understood it and found it to be good, post a comment and enlighten me!!

Frederica by Georgette Heyer

Frederica is my favorite Georgette Heyer book so far - and I love Georgette Heyer's novels! If you are a Jane Austen fan searching for unique regency romance novels to read in the vain of Austen, Georgette Heyer is your woman. While nothing truely compares to Austen, they are very entertaining and much better than run of the mill regency novels.

Frederica is the story of the Merriville family. The oldest of the clan, Frederica, considers herself at 24 as quite on the shelf. She is in charge of the family after her parents' untimely demise. She brings the family to London to give her sister, Charis, a season on the town to attract a wealthy suitor. Charis is a great beauty and Frederica has great hope for her. Frederica also brings her young brothers Jessamy, a studious 16-year old, and Felix, a rambuctious 12-year old who is very interested in mechanics. Once in town, Frederica discovers that her Aunt who always wanted them to come to town to visit, was merely saying that to be nice in her letters and has no way to launch them into society.

Frederica then decides to meet with her distant relative, the Marquis of Alverstoke, Vernon, to convince him to help the family out. Vernon is completely bored by society and the demands by his relatives for material assistance. To annoy his sister, Vernon agrees to help out Frederica and Charis by blackmailing his sister to take them to balls and introduce them if he will foot the bill of his niece's season. Vernon finds that the rambunctious family makes him appreciate the fun of life in a way he never has before.

I can't do this novel justice in a brief description. Read it and enjoy it for yourself! Heyer's characters have depth and are very enjoyable. I especially loved Felix!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides

Middlesex is Oprah's summer book club pick and was a Pulitzer Prize winner a few years ago. I had heard of the book previously, but it didn't sound that interesting to me. Since Oprah picked it and I usually like her books, I decided I should broaden my horizons and read something I wouldn't normally read.

Middlesex tells the story of Cal Stephanides. Born Callie, Cal discovers at age 14 that she is a hermaphodite with an XY Chromosone and starts living life as a man. This the zinger that gets people talking about the book, but the book is more complex then that. It tells the story of the Stephanides family and the "gene" that traveled through time and created Cal. The story starts in Turkey in the 1920's with the burning of Smyrna and the incestous relationship that unites a brother and sister in marriage. They immigrate to the U.S. and settle in Detroit during it's glory days. They have two children. Milton is Cal's father, a WWII vet, he marries his cousin Tessie. They survive the 1960's and Detroit riots and the story tells the tale of Cal's complicated youth and more than complicated teenage years.

It's hard for me to adequately describe this novel. The first half or so was some of the best writing I have read in a while. Mr. Eugenides has beautiful description and wonderful narrative describing the history of the family. I especially loved the description of Detroit. You can tell Eugenides is from D-town and has a love for it. The secondary story of the book is the story of Detroit - from the roaring 1920's (I was imaging what it most have been like for my Grandparents there!) through the 1970's busing, it was fantastic.

I felt that the last part of the book left something to be desired. SPOILER ALERT - I really disliked Milton's death off of the Ambassador Bridge. While the slow speed chase was funny, I thought that the sudden change in Father Mike's character was rather abrupt and strange. I thought it would have been far more profound story telling to have Milton meet Callie as Cal and either accept or reject him. I didn't like Cal's California trip - it seemed like a sidebar that took away from the real character of the story. I would have rather had more details about the doctor and more about how Cal is able to make the change when he gets back to his "normal" home in Grosse Pointe.

Overall, I liked this novel a lot, but was disappointed in the ending or last 1/3 of the book.

Mr. Darcy's Diary by Amanda Grange

I actually read Mr. Darcy's Diary on the ferry this past weekend and really enjoyed it. If you are going to read any of the new Austen spin-offs, I'd recommend this book over reading Austenland (see review below).

Mr. Darcy's Diary is Pride and Prejudice retold from Mr. Darcy's perspective. The novel fills in some of the gaps of what Mr. Darcy was doing when not on center stage in Pride and Prejudice and also gives his prespective on events. Most satisfying of all, it gives a glimpse at the end of married life for the Darcys - and it was wonderful!!

While nothing can compare to the original novel, this book was very enjoyable - I recommend it for Jane Austen fans out there. I read on Austenblog that Amanda Grange has also written Mr. Knightly's Diary and Captain Wentworth's Diary. They are already published in the U.K. - I can't wait until they come to the U.S.!

Austenland by Shannon Hale

I am a bit obsessed by all things Jane Austen and felt like reading some of the spin-offs. The number one spin-off for me so far has been Bridget Jones Diary and Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason. They both follow the general plot of Pride and Prejudice and Persuasion respectively, but do it in a subtle and unique way with many memorable characters.

Austenland opens in modern day New York City. Jane Hayes is a thirty-something singleton because no man measures up to Mr. Darcy, specifically Mr. Darcy as portrayed by Colin Firth in the 1995 Pride and Prejudice mini-series. Strangely Jane hides the DVDs in her plants as she is ashamed of them. As I have mine proudly displayed, I was confused by her shame. Jane's Great-Aunt Carolyn finds the hidden DVDs and Jane tells her the problem she has with men. After Great-Aunt Carolyn dies, she leaves Jane an all expense paid trip to Austenland in England.

At Austenland, women come to dress and live in the Regency period. Actors portray different Austinian type characters for them to interact with. Jane has problems adjusting to this world, but eventually finds herself enjoying it. Will she find love?

This book is very slim and a very quick read. It was an okay love story, but not the best. Characters were not fleshed out in depth and the ending was a bit strange and hurried at points. Overall, it was okay. If I ever went to an Austenland, I would want Ben with me so we could dance the country dances and he could dress in the sexy period outfit! :-) Otherwise, it was all bizarro to me that older married women would go there without their husbands so actors could flirt with them. Strange!

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Stargate Series Finale

Ben and I watched the Stargate finale last night (we are very behind on our TV shows - that's what happens when you have a son that would rather be outside all of the time!). We were very underwhelmed by the finale. The shows leading up to the series conclusion were definitely not the best, but we held out hope that they would make the series finale spectacular. It was anything but spectacular. I think the season finales have always been better than this show.

What didn't I like? First of all, the predictable plot line of the show seemed to be ripped off from other sci-fi shows. Didn't I see this before on Star Trek Voyager? It did not have an awe inspiring plot line that would have been a great finale. Even if they would have done a funny original story for the end, that would have worked. But to use a tired story line shown better on another show was kind of sad.

I also didn't like how General Jack O'Neil didn't make an appearance. The show hasn't been the same since he got promoted and moved out of the limelight. If they were going to have a lame plot, they could have at least brought Jack back and made him and Samantha Carter end up together. I've been wanting that to happen for years - and I'm not alone!

I didn't like how Daniel Jackson and Vala (I'm not sure if I spelled that right) ended up together in the future. Their pairing is unlikely. The rip down that Daniel gave Vala seemed strange to me to happen right before a passionate encounter.

The Ori returning and chasing them around didn't make much sense to me. They already did away with the gods, it would have been a cooler show for them to anhilate the Ori followers once and for all.

What did I like? I like that the Asgard came back and we got to see the end of their civilization. I liked that we got to see them go through the gate one last time. Otherwise, I was disappointed.

What did you think of the finale? Did anyone like it or were you underwhelmed like me?

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Love, Lies, and Liquor by M.C. Beaton (Audiobook)

I am working on a pretty boring sewer calibration right now. I went down to the local library to find some interesting books on CDs to keep my mind going while I plug away on my work. I must admit, I picked this book on CD as I really liked the title, Love, Lies, and Liquor.

Loves, Lies, and Liquor is the 17th in the the Agatha Raisin mystery series. I have never read (or listened to) any of the other books in the series, but I didn't feel like I was missing out on the plot because of it. In this novel, Agatha is still enamored with her ex-husband, James Lacey. James is a travel author and invites Agatha to go on a vacation with him. Agatha thinks this will be a romantic get-away to someplace tropical, but instead they end up in a run-down seaside village with the great name of Snoth-on-Sea. James remembers it fondly from his youth, but it has been run down a lot since then. Needless to say, Agatha is a bit disappointed. While they are in town, an unpleasant fellow vacationer is found strangled with Agatha's scarve. Agatha is soon caught up in the mystery and brings in help from her detective agency.

I must admit that since I was listening and working at the same time, I did get a bit confused by all of the secondary characters. I also got annoyed at times with Agatha for doing stupid things (going on a date with a stranger when someone is out to kill her) that it would seems she wouldn't do as a detective. Overall though, the best part of the book was the romance between Agatha and James. The mistaken intentions between the two caused much comedy. It was a light "read" and kept me entertained.

Michael will be back on Lost!

There is an article on Entertainment Weekly (click here) that states that Michael will be back on Lost this next season. Will Walt also be back? The young boy is getting pretty old to be playing in their time frame. Why will Michael be back? He was last seen sailing away with Walt. Will he come back to be a hero and try to rescue his friends? Will he come back having been deluded by the "Others?" Will he come back as he can't physcially get away from the island a la Desmond? I'm intrigued. Only 4 or 5 more months left until Lost is back . . . I can't wait!

Sunday, August 5, 2007

Music & Lyrics

Jenn also recommended that I watch Music & Lyrics. We finally got it from the library this weekend. Both Ben and I enjoyed watching it.

Music & Lyrics is a funny, romantic comedy that tells the story of Alex Fletcher (Hugh Grant) a former has been from a 1980's group called Pop! that seems to be modeled after real 80's group Wham! I loved the faux 1980's music video of Pop! It was hilarious and brought back fond memories of 1980's music and videos. Alex has accepted his lot as a has-been and been playing and doing his patented hip roll as amusment parks and high school reunions. He discovers that pop sensation Cora (a great take on Britney Spears, Christina, etc.) loved his music as a child and wants him to write a new song for her. He only has a few days to do it and is competing against other writters. Alex can only write the music, but is terrible at lyrics. Sophie (Drew Barrymore) has taken over the job of watering his plants in his apartment and Alex discovers that she is actually pretty good at coming up with lyrics. They work together to craft a new song, have a misunderstanding, and perhaps find love along the way.

I really liked Kristen Johnston as Sophie's older sister Rhonda who was (an may still be) obsessed with Pop! and Alex Fletcher in the 1980's. She made me laugh in about every scene she was in.

I thought Hugh Grant seemed a bit old for Drew Barrymore in the movie. But it being Hollywood, there have been much greater age differences.

Overall, it was a fun movie that I enjoyed watching. I recommend it for anyone looking for a light romantic comedy to enjoy.

Friday, August 3, 2007

One for the Money by Janet Evanovich

My best friend Jenn Parks recommended One for the Money for me in such glowing terms that I knew that I needed to read it. When we were home in Minnesota visiting Ben's family a few weeks ago, Ben's Mom loaned me the book to read since it is always gone from the library.

One for the Money was a great read. It was a quick and funny mystery, with a dash of romance. In this first of the series, Stephanie Plum has found herself out of work and out of money. After having her car repossesed and drinking her last beer, she decides to ask her Cousin Vinnie about a filing job he has. Unfortunately the job has been filled, but he does need a Bounty Hunter. Stephanie has one week to find Joe Morelli, an accused murderer who jumped bail. Stephanie and this ex-cop have a history, he charmed his way into her pants back in high school and then wrote about it on the sub shop wall. Stephanie may have reciprocated by trying to run him over with her father's Buick - but isn't that what he deserved?

The only parts I didn't like so much were about Ramirez, a boxer who likes to brutalize women. He scared the crap out of me - I don't want to think there are men like that in the world. But then again, Evanovich writes great characters from Stephanie to her Grandma Mazur. My fear of Ramirez could be just because Evanovich wrote about him so well.

I can't wait to read more of this series and I highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a good laugh and / or mystery!

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Spock Meets Spock Interview

Click here to read an interesting "Spock Meets Spock" interview about the new Star Trek movie. I know it's over a year away - but I can't wait!

Becoming Jane Review

Click here for Entertainment Weekly's review of Becoming Jane, the new biopic about Jane Austen starring Anne Hathaway. While the movie is getting nitpicked by Jane Austen afficiandos for not being an accurate film about Jane, it looks like it will be an entertaining period piece. I can't wait to see it! I think it gets a wide release next weekend the 10th, when I'm out of town:-(

Sneak Peak of the Jane Austen Season on PBS

Click here for a sneak peek at the "Complete Jane Austen" season which will be shown on Masterpiece Theatre this Spring. Look at the upper right hand corner of the screen and click on sneak peek. It has clips from the new Jane Austen movies. I CAN'T WAIT to see them!!

The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

I reread The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd a couple of days ago to refresh my memory before my Mom's Club Book Club tonight. I picked the book out as I really enjoyed it when I read it a couple of years ago.

I really enjoyed reading the book again. The novel tells the story of Lily Owens, a 14-year old girl who lives on a peach farm in South Carolina with her abusive father, T-Ray and her African American nanny Rosaleen. When Rosaleen offends some white men on her way to register to vote and ends up in jail, Lily breaks her out and runs away with her on a quest to learn more about her dead mother, Deborah. Her journey takes her to a bright pink house full of three sisters that are bee keepers. There she learns about life, love, and forgiveness.

It's a wonderful coming of age novel, especially as it is set in the turbulent South of 1964. I think it is a modern day classic. If you haven't read this wonderful novel yet - I highly recommend it!!

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Star Trek Movie Casting Update

They've cast young Spock (read article here) It's Zachary Quinto (Sylar) from Heroes. Leonard Nimoy is also coming back to be in the movie in some capacity. William Shatner MAY be back at this point. They still have not cast young Kirk yet, but I read in some articles that Matt Damon has said he is too old to play Kirk. I am glad as I thought he was too old too! :-)

What do you think of the casting? I think Quinto looks a lot like Nimoy, and hopefully he'll be able to portray Spock as well or at least almost as well as Nimoy.

Peony in Love by Lisa See

I've been out of town for my brother's wedding so I'm a bit behind on my blog and reading list. I actually finished Peony in Love last week.

This book was set in 17th century China and told the story of Peony, a girl obsessed with the Peony Pavilion opera and with the chance to have a say in her own destiny. SPOILERS - Peony falls in love with a young man see meets in her father's garden. Her mother suspects something and locks her in her room. Peony becomes obsessed with writing commentary about the opera as well as poems, stops eating and slowly wastes away and dies. She spends the next two-thirds of the book as a ghost watching her one true love.

While it was interesting to read about the Chinese beliefs about death and the afterworld, I thought it took away from the novel to have the heroine dead. It was sad that it was the only way she could control her life, but several key plot points that I think were supposed to be surprises I had figured out right away. I liked the last chapter that explained the history in the book a lot, maybe that should have been a foreword.

Peony in Love is actually the second book I've read this year by Lisa See. The other novel was Snowflower and the Secret Fan. I vastly preferred Snowflower and the Secret Fan as reading about two best-friends and their relationship was much preferable to reading about a ghost. Alice Sebold was able to make the ghost narrator work in The Lovely Bones, but it didn't work as well as it could of in this book. I recommend reading Snowflower and the Secret Fan rather than Peony in Love.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling

It was with much excitement that I received Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in the mail on Saturday. I started reading the series back in 1999 during my senior year at Michigan Tech. It was a busy and stressful year, but Harry Potter was so enthralling that I somehow always found time to take out a book and escape into a fantastical new world. I remember Corinna finding me in the windows in the DOW reading Harry when I should have been doing homework on numerous occasions. It was fun sharing the books with friends like Corinna and Phil so we could discuss the newest adventures of Harry.

It's hard to believe that was eight years ago and that the adventures are finally coming to an end. I finished reading the book at lunch today. It would have been sooner if I could have stayed home on the couch all day Saturday to read. Too bad work, chores, and social activities get in the way! There were many tears shed throughout the reading of this book, but I must admit, it was the most enthralling book of them all. The best part of the book is how J.K. Rowling shows that she had everything planned from the beginning with numerous story lines from all of the other novels finding their penultimate conclusion in this novel.

I'm not going to post a plot summary or how I felt about the end as I don't want to have spoilers for those who haven't read it yet. I know I didn't want to know how it ended until I read it myself! All I'm going to say is that it was for me, the best book out of a truly fantastic series of books. If you want to chat with me about the book if you've read it already, send me an email!

Sunday, July 22, 2007


More than meets the eye - TRANSFORMERS! That's about all I remember of Transformers from the 1980's and that all of the boys were obsessed with them. I was happily playing with my She-Ra Princess of Power and Cabbage Patch Doll. Ben on the other hand was a boy obessed with transformers back in the day so he was biting at the bit to see the movie. We got to go on our second "date" since Kile was born a year and a half ago and we chose Transformers as our movie to see on Saturday night.

Transformers was actually a pretty good movie. It had lots of action and plenty of humor. As Ben said, it didn't take itself too seriously. The overall movie storyline was about the Autobots (good) and Decepticons (bad) transformers and the war that they have waged through the centuries. The war has now come to earth. The opening of the movie was pretty cool and scary with a rogue helicopter flying into a US airbase in the Middle East. The helicopter transforms and starts destroying a base. One team of marines is able to escape. The story mostly focused on Sam Witwicky (Shia LeBeouf), an average team in California who is buying his first car. The Camero that he buys happens to be Bumblebee, a transformer that has been sent to protect him. Sam's Great-Great Grandfather was a an explorer and made an important discover in the artic circle that has to do with the Transformers. Sam has some key items left from the exploration and the transformers want them!

The action at the end of the movie was slightly confusing to me as I didn't know who was blowing up who, there was a lot going on, perhaps too much. Ben was slightly confused too and he actually knows who all of the transformers are and their names so it wasn't just me!

I thought the product placement throughtout the movie was very amusing - all cars were GMs and Hasbro had a part of course with all of the transformers (a little girl is seen carrying a "My Little Pony" which is also a Hasbro product). The movie also seemed a good recruiting tool for the military.

Overall it was a good, enjoyable movie. I recommend to my sci-fi friends. If you can't accept the concept of robots transforming into cars, this movie is probably not for you!

Thursday, July 19, 2007

The Book of Air and Shadows by Michael Gruber

The Book of Air and Shadows is my Kewaunee Library book club book for the month of August. The best thing about this book is it's nice title.

The book started off with an intriguing enough premise - it tells the story of a "hidden treasure," which in this case is a hidden previously unknown Shakespeare manuscript written entirely in his hand. Through three different narrators we learn the tale. This book is billed as the "thinking man's" Da Vinci Code, but I found it far inferior to The Da Vinci Code.

First of all, this book started out with one of the worst opening chapters I have ever read. It was disjointed and almost incoherent at times. As the narrations started, I found myself liking Crosetti (a book store employee that dreams of becoming a director) and Bracegridle (a 17th century adventurer that was involved with a plot to spy on Shakespeare to see if he was a "Papist."). I intensely disliked Mishkin, who was also the narrator of the first chapter. For at least the first quarter of the book, Miskin talks about his sexual conquests and sadness about how he has the perfect wife, but can't be faithful. I am no prude (I love romance novels), but I really didn't care for the details, especially when they are boring. It did not advance the plot at all and made me intensely dislike the "hero." The only thing that kept me reading it was that it was a book club pick.

The action picked up after the first 100 or 150 pages, and I might have then given the book a fairly good review if it wouldn't have had a trainwreck of an ending. The ending was very unsatisfactory. It was very rushed (after being so slow and boring at the beginning, it seems like Gruber could have taken the time to write a decent ending!) and very implausible. I was very disappointed.

On a positive note, some of the 2nd tier characters were great. I especially liked Mary Peg, Crosetti's mother and also the romance between Carolyn and Crosetti. If Gruber would have based the story on Crosetti as the hero, left out Miskin, and had a better beginning and end, it could have been a good novel.

Also note to Gruber, I realize you are a writer and not a mathematician, but you should check some of your numbers. You talk about how Mishkin is millionare rich from being a lawyer, yet you say he bills out at $75/hr and works 2000 hours a year. This would make him earn $150,000 per year if he doesn't have to give any of his billing to his law firm. He pays $50,ooo if it a year for a private car and driver and $28,500 per year per kid for two kids to attend private school. This would leave him with only $43,000 / year to pay for his expensive New York City loft, let alone taxes, etc. Don't give figures if you haven't checked them - it just looks sloppy, especially in a "Thinking Man's" novel.

In short, I do not recommend this book to anyone unless they want to be bored.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Everyone Worth Knowing by Lauren Weisberger (Audiobook)

I have been traveling back and forth to Milwaukee for work every other week or so and thought it would be great to have a book on CD to listen to on my travels (as well as when I'm working). Everyone Worth Knowing was a light and enjoyable book, perfect to listen too.

Lauren Weisberger is also the author of The Devil Wears Prada. This book has a similar plotline, with the industry being exposed changed to PR. The main character in this book is Bette Robinson. One day Bette can't take her overbearing boss at her boring bank job any longer and she quits. To help her get out of a pajama soap-opera soaked depression, her columnist Uncle Will calls in a favor with an old intern of his and gets Bette a job at Kelly Co. At Kelly, Bette is bascially paid to arrange parties as well as to party herself. As time goes on, she begins to be all consumed by the job as well as discovering that her personal life and job are becoming uncomfortably intertwined. There is romance, heartbreak, and drama. It made for a good listen (except for the swear words, which were not good when you've got your young son around!). I like listening to funny books. On a side note - we listened to this on our way to Minnesota last weekend and even Ben laughed out loud a few times, although I'm sure he'd deny it!

I like the well rounded side characters such as Uncle Will and Penelope. One of my favorite sections was the description of Bette's secret passion for romance novels. And how she felt ashamed and hid it until she discovered a fantastic romance novel book club. I wanted to join the book club!

On the negative side, I wasn't keen on the ending. The whole Sammy not calling for months and then showing up seemed strange to me. Bette also annoyed me at times with her loafing around her apartment for months. For being a decisive person at times, she would then refuse to make any decisions.

This book may not be great literature, but it is entertaining and funny - two things that are great in an audiobook. I recommend if you are looking for something light hearted.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Laura's Top 10 Favorite Movies - OF ALL TIME!

I was recently asked what my favorite movie was. I was flustered, "what should I answer?" "How can I pick only one movie?" "I love too many!!" Since then I've given it a lot of thought. AFI came out with their top 100 movies, so I thought I could think of my top 10 favorite movies. I like AFI, but Citizen Kane? I watched it, thought it was good, but did not think it was better than my top 10!! I have many mini-series I love, but they are not movies so they aren't counted. I'll have to have a count-down of mini-series one day!

I chose these movies based on the fact that I can and have watched them a million times and still find myself entertained and obsessed. When I am sick or sad, these movies comfort me. I'm counting series in one spot because it's my list so I can! Give me some feedback - do you think my picks are crap or excellent? Let me know!

These movies are in no particular order - I still don't have one favorite, but I do have ten number ones!

1. Star Wars Trilogy. I have loved Star Wars since I was a kid. I love the good vs evil, adventure, and wry humor. I love how you can watch Luke grow from a winey teenager to a wise Jedi Master. I especially love Han Solo (he's what is missing from the prequels!); his romance with Leia, his every man take on the situation, his dry humor - it was all fantastic! The action, the adventure, the exciting planets. I still love it, but I still can not watch "The Empire Strikes Back" without immediately watching "The Return of the Jedi." Sadly, the prequels did not match the magic for me so I'm not counting them amongst my favorite movies.

2. The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. I love, love, love The Lord of the Rings Trilogy not so mysteriously for many of the reasons I love Star Wars. I love mythology and magic, and love the storyline of The Lord of the Rings with good vs. evil, the bond of friends, and the fantastic places. They were beautiful movies and I enjoyed them all!

3. Indiana Jones Trilogy. It's true - I like adventure. I've loved Indiana Jones since I was a kid, although I could do without the last half of the second one with all of the heart ripping out nonsense, but I think the 1st and 3rd are excellent. I am tentatively excited about Indiana Jones 4, but am afraid to get my hopes up after the Star Wars prequels.

4. It's a Wonderful Life. I have also loved this movie my entire life, but it didn't start bringing a tear to my eye until I got older (I'm turning into my mother!). I love the story of a man thinking that his life is worthless and him getting a chance to see what good he has done in the world. He goes from near suicide to thinking that "it's a wonderful life." I love it!! I also love Jimmy Stewart who is one of my favorite actors. I love his drawl and how is the "everyman" in the movies, not a flashy handsome man like Cary Grant (although I do love Cary Grant). I must admit that I actually like the colored version, which many purist hate.

5. Sense and Sensibility. I am slightly obsessed with all things Jane Austen. I love her timeless stories and have read countless biographies on her and countless fiction inspired by her books. I've also watched almost every mini-series or movie based on her novels. I CAN'T WAIT for the Jane Austen session on PBS Masterpiece theatre this spring. But back to Sense and Sensibility. The Pride and Prejudice 1995 mini-series is actually my favorite, but it doesn't count as a movie (I'll have to have a favorite mini-series count down!). Of all of the Jane Austen movies, Ang Lee's 1995 classic version of Sense and Sensibility is my favorite. The actors are excellent; Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Alan Rickman, Hugh Grant, and who can forget Greg Wise as the very handsome Mr. Willoughby. The script by Emma Thompson is also excellent; it keeps all of the main points of the novel, while getting rid of some of the more boring episodes. This is a movie for a rainy day or when I don't feel good. It may be sad in parts, but it's happy ending and Elinor breaking into tears of happiness always brightens my day!

6. Vertigo. I am also slightly obsessed with Hitchcock movies, which I have enjoyed since I was a pre-teen. Out of all of the Hitchcock movies that I love, Vertigo is my absolute favorite. I remember being 12 or 13 and seeing it for the first time. I taped it off of TV and watched it over and over again. It was fabulous! I love Jimmy Stewart as discussed above. He is brillant in this movie as is Kim Novak. I love how it is almost two different movies and about one man's obsession. I just watched it with my sister Katie who was watching it for the first time and she loved it. I also realized that I need to upgrade to the remastered DVD instead of my old VHS. I'm glad that AFI is finally recognizing this movie! It is a masterpiece.

7. Last of the Mohican. I fell in love with this movie when I first saw it in 1992. I love historical fiction and this piece of history - the French and Indian War - is particularly fascinating. There is adventure, romance, heart-pounding battles, and fantastic music. Daniel Day-Lewis with his long and flowing locks is definitely in his best role out of many good ones.

8. Star Trek IV. Star Trek is also something I have LOVED my entire life. Star Trek IV is perhaps not the best of the movies (I think II and VI probably are), but it is the first one that I saw in the theatre and therefore my favorite. Also since I am an environmental engineer, saving the whales may hold a special place in my heart. I also like the light hearted humor of this movie. I remember having an earache and going to theatre with Dad and Mom to watch this movie and being fascinated. Ever since then, I've gone to each movie in the theatre with Dad. The last few movies it's been a three generation trip with Grandma Arlt, Dad, and me. I can't wait until Kile can go too! :-) Luckily Ben also shares my passion for Star Trek - I couldn't have married someone who didn't !

9. Back to the Future Trilogy. This is another favorite from my youth. I like the action and the comedy. I also like time travel movies and books so this fits into that category. The first movie is definitely the best, but I enjoy watching the other two as well. It will be strange to get to "2015" in a few years and be in the "future." Where is my flying car?

10. Little Women. I like watching all versions of Little Women, especially the Japanese cartoon my siblings and I watched as youths. My absolute favorite version though is the 1994 version with Winona Ryder (before her shop lifting days) as Jo. Winona Ryder is my favorite Jo (sorry Katherine Hepburn) as she actually looks the right age and not quite so mannish in manners. I love the story of four sisters in their triumphs and tragedies. This movie always makes me cry too . . . but I still might be bitter that Jo ends up with Mr. Bauer instead of Laurie. No!

It seems that most of my favorite movie picks are sentimental favorites from my youth except for LOTR. Believe me, I love many movies behind these, but these are my top favorites. What do you think is missing from my list?

Monday, July 16, 2007

Stranger Than Fiction

Stranger Than Fiction is a movie that Ben has wanted to watch for a long time. It came once from the library previously, but we were too busy to watch it. We were busy again this weekend, but took it along to Minnesota to watch with the family.

Stranger Than Fiction tells the story of Harold Crick (Will Ferrell) and IRS employee that is obsessed with numbers, counting, and saving time. He has no family and is uterly alone in the world. One day he starts to hear a voice in his head (Emma Thompson) narrating his life and describing everything he is doing and thinking perfectly. Harold has to discover who this narrator is and have her stop, before it is too late. The narrator also helps him to change his life for the better.
It was an okay movie. It was different, and different is good. It was interesting to watch and got a few laughs out of me, but not as many laughs as I expected. It was good to watch one time, but I probably don't need to see it again.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Letters from Iwo Jima

Letters from Iwo Jima is the companion film to Flags of Our Fathers, both by Clint Eastwood. It was an excellent, although disturbing movie.

Letters from Iwo Jima tells the story of Iwo Jima from the Japanese prospective. Saigo is a baker that was drafted into the Japanese army. He misses his wife and has yet to see his baby daughter for the first time, but is stuck on Iwo Jima digging trenches. Lieutenant General Tadamichi Kuribayashi (Ken Watanabe) arrives to take command of the island. He decides that the beaches should not be the central defense point, and instead has the troops dig tunnels in the mountains. This choice alienates the other commanders.

The movie details the horrific circumstances that the Japanese lived in during the battle (and before with the air raids) knowing that they faced eminent death. They were willing to accept death for honor and to protect their homeland against what they thought were evil Americans for one more day.

I'm used to hearing about the greatness of the Japanese Army and how wonderful it is organized. I was surprised to see solders disobeying their commander when he wanted them to retreat to better defend their main outpost because this would be "dishonorable." The suicide "honor" deaths were also horrific and hard to understand from our cultural viewpoint. The honor suicides actually made it harder for the commander to have a great defense and probably lost the battle sooner because of this.

I liked how the two movies were linked in several key points including the beating and killing of "Iggie."

Overall I liked the movie even though watching such scenes of violence is hard to take sometimes. I think it's important to understand our history and especially to see it from other points of view besides the victors. I think more Americans should watch such movies and think about history and how going to war should not be our first priority. I'll get off my soap box now. The movie had fantasic cinematogrophy and an engrossing storyline. I'd recommend watching Flags of Our Fathers with this movie.

Sprig Muslin by Georgette Heyer

Sprig Muslin is another light and funny Regency novel by Georgette Heyer. I really enjoyed it and it made me laugh out loud several times!

This novel tells the tale of Sir Gareth Ludlow. His high spirited fiancee died in an accident many years previous to the start of the novel. Gary has decided he will never find love again and to just marry a friend, Lady Hester Theale, for convenience. Lady Hester is 29 and labeled an old maid - she also has ideas of her own about getting married!

On the way to propose to Lady Hester, Gary meets up with a young girl, Miss Amanda "Smith" in a local inn scandelously without a chaparone. Gary decides to chaparone her until he can find out who her family is. Hilarity ensues, especially with all of Amanda's tales and adventures. The scraps and misunderstandings were fantastic!

I'd recommend skipping the foreword. The author of the foreword basically tells you the whole plot before you start the novel without giving any insite. It's as if she was forced to write it and had nothing really to say!

I really like Georgette Heyer novels. She has a quick wit to her writing and it's set in the Regency period, which I love . Her novels also don't have all of the sex in the them that modern novels do - and I like that. There are only so many descriptions of "sheaths," "swords," etc. that I can take!

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Blood Diamond

Ben and I watched Blood Diamond last night. We both agreed that it was an excellent film - I highly recommend it! I didn't know much about the movie going into it, but the storyline was exciting, interesting, and very tragic. The perfomances were riveting, and the backdrop scenary of Africa was beautiful.

The story is set in the Sierre Leone War in 1999. Didn't know there was a war? Join the club. I liked how in one scene it shows Bill Clinton on the news with the Monica Lewinsky scandal and talks about America's preoccupation with fake news rather than real world events.

This story tells the tale of two very different men. Solomon Vandy (Djimon Housou) is a husband and father of three children. One day while bringing his young son home from school, the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) attacks his village, kidnapping Solomon to work in the diamond fields. At a later date, Solomon's son, Dia, is also kidnapped and forced to be a child soldier. While working in the fields, Solomon finds a large, rare pink diamond and manages to hide it as the camp is attacked by government forces, but not before Captain Poison sees him with the diamond.

While in jail after the attack, Solomon meets Danny Archer (Leonardio DiCaprio) a white mercernary from Rhodesia. Danny overhears Captain Poison shouting about Solomon's diamond find, and immediately takes an interest. Danny has no family and is in all sorts of shady deals to make himself a buck. After both are released from jail, they make an agreement. Danny will help Solomon find his family and in return, Solomon will lead Danny to the diamond.

It is an adventure of epic proportions, with many scary twists and turns including a heart pounding chase scene. The movie had great character growth as well as action. It was also eye opening as I had no idea about the problems with "blood diamonds" or diamonds that come from conflict zones. It's hard to believe that people live in such fear and poverty. It makes me realize how lucky I am to be an American.

The actors were great in this movie. After Titanic, I thought Leonardo DiCaprio was a boy faced man that ladies swooned after. The last few years of great roles have shown me that he is actually a great actor - and can even be a manly adventure actor at that.

I highy recommend this movie, except for those who can't take scense of graphic violence. It's not gratituous, but does illustrate the horrors that were going on at the time.

Meg Cabot and Star Wars

I always enjoy reading Meg Cabot's blog (author of Princess Diaries and many good chick lit adult novels). Many of her last few blogs have had a lot of Star Wars references in them including her obsession with the comics. This is an author I can identify with! Click here to read her blog.

Saturday, July 7, 2007

The Starter Wife by Gigi Levangie Grazer

The Starter Wife is the rare book that is actually better onscreen than in print. I enjoyed the book, but not nearly as much as I enjoyed the mini-series.

The Starter Wife tells the story of Gracie, a hollywood wife that is dumped weeks before her 10th anniversary (when her pre-nup would have expired) by her husband, Kenny Pollack. Suddenly finding herself single and without means in Hollywood, Gracie is able to "house-sit" for her friend Joan at her million dollar house in the Malibu Colony. Gracie searches for love and tries to find herself. After changing everything about herself to fit in with the Hollywood crowd, she is able to take a step back and think about what she really wants out of life.

The book was not nearly as riviting as the mini series. I found myself not as intrigued as I wanted to be, and frankly annoyed by some of the attempts to make the novel cool by dropping actors names. It just dates the novel. The mini series fleshed out the side characters a LOT better. I really liked Cricket, Joan, Lou, etc. a lot better on the show. They had more of a back story, more conflict, and were much more three dimensional. I really liked Lou on the show and couldn't believe what happened to him in the novel. The mini-series was much funnier and I actually wanted her to end up with Lou!

I also liked the name changes on the mini-series. Having Debra Messing play a woman named Gracie with a gay friend named Will would not have worked. Kudos on the renamed "Molly" and "Rodney." I don't really like how it is Will and Gracie in the novel. It sounds too much like the TV show. I also liked how Britney Spears (Kenny's new girlfriend) is renamed Shoshanna on the mini-series. I don't think a real person's name should have been used in the novel.

One thing I did like better about the book was the ending. Much more fairy tale and much more of an ending I was expecting on the mini-series. I didn't really like the end that much on the mini-series. Sure it's more realistic, but I like the fairy tale darn it! :-)

So overall, I say watch the mini-series over reading the book. If you are interested in the mini-series, the book isn't bad, but it's not the world's best chick lit either!

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Laura's Summer TV Picks

Now that we are firmly entrenched in summer, I thought I'd talk about my favorite summer TV shows. Ben and I are still trying to catch up on last season's TV, but I've managed to watch a few things and are looking forward to more!

1. Doctor Who. I included this on my favorite shows for the 2006-07 season, but it's also a summer show as it starts up again this Friday the 6th. Quirky leading man, check. Fun adventures in both past and present, check. Unique space ship/phone booth (I know, not quite a phone booth), check. It's a fun show - and I can't wait for season three, especially after reading Joe's comment on how good it is. How do I get hooked up with the Captain Jack spinoff series? Ben and I loved Captain Jack from Season 1!!

2. Eureka. Okay, maybe Ben and I should own shares in the Sci-Fi channel as we seem to watch it A LOT. We loved Eureka last summer. It's a quirky, fun show about a town out somewhere in the northwest full of mad scientists. It's a top secret town started by the government to produce new science ahead of other countries by bringing the world's top scientists together. Jack Carter stumbles upon the town and becomes the new Sheriff. He is the every man in the town, not the mad genius that mostly inhabits it. He solves mysteries each week and makes friends with the inhabitants, who are all well rounded characters in themselves. Even if you aren't a sci-fi fan, you might find you really like this show as the characters are great and the mysteries are fun. Season 2 starts next Tuesday July 10th.

3. The 4400. We haven't started watching this season yet that is running on USA network, but we've watched the previous seasons. Ben likes to make fun of the acting (other bad actors on other shows are called "4400esque," but somehow we find ourselves still watching. It's not the most fantastic show I've ever seen, they could have made it much better, but it's still pretty good. It tells the story of 4400 people who were kidnapped randomly over the past 60 years and have suddenly all appeared at once back in the USA. These people returned with special abilities. The series explores these new abilities, the government's reaction to them, and the mystery of where they went too. Joel Gretsch stares as Tom Baldwin. I like him better now that I know he's William Shatner's son-in-law!

4. The Starter Wife. I LOVED the mini-series The Starter Wife that ran through June on USA. I wish there were more smart and sassy series like this geared toward women. Make it a real series - I'd watch it!! The mini-series is over now, but it's getting rerun on USA so watch it if you haven't already. It tells the story of Molly, a woman who is told by her husband that he wants a divorce via cell phone. Kenny, Molly's husband, is a studio head in California and Molly must try to make it in the elite world of Hollywood as a cast off "starter wife." Her friends are priceless and fun to watch in themselves. I'm reading the book now - so I'll review that at a later date.

So it looks like I'm only watching two basic cable networks this summer. Am I missing any good shows?? Let me know!

Monday, July 2, 2007


Ben and I watched Eragon over the weekend. It should have been our kind of movie - dragics, magic, a young hero on a quest against evil, but it fell flat. The movie seemed very choppy (it's raining, it's not raining two seconds later, it's night, it's daylight two seconds later) with many plot points left unexplained. The movie wasn't terrible, but it could have been much better.

I have not read the book, but the movie got me interested enough to want to read it. I've only heard good things about the book and feel that the book probably could fill in many of the gaps that the movie left.

Overall, the movie told the tail of Eragon, a young farm boy that is swept into adventure when he finds a blue "stone" in the woods that ends up really being a dragon's egg. The dragon Saphira hatches and Eragon raises her (in the movie the dragon magically becomes full grown, but I've read this is given much more explanation in the book) with help from Brom (Jeremy Irons), a former dragon rider. The dragon riders once protected the kingdom before they were all betrayed and killed by the evil king. Brom and Eragon travel to meet the Varden, who I believe are renegades fighting against the King who need Eragon's help to defeat him. There is a battle, a damsel in distress, and a journey from headstrong youth to wise warrior. Kind of sounds like Star Wars!

The movie was worth watching, but definitely was not the best I've seen. I still want to read the book however!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

I finished A Thousand Splendid Suns last night. It was a wonderful book - and a real page-turner. I think it only took me two days to read it (and that's mostly time outside with Kile playing!). This book is by Khaled Hosseini, the author of The Kite Runner, another fabulous book that I highly recommend to anyone looking for a good book.

A Thousand Splendid Suns tells the story of two woman in Afghanistan over the last thirty years. Mariam is a "harami" or an illegimate child of a rich man, Jali, and his maid. He built them a shack outside of town to live in and Mariam looks forward to his visits once a week. When she is 15, Mariam asks to see where Jali lives with his three wives and 11 children and also to see a movie in the cinema that he owns. Jali doesn't show up that day and she goes to town in search of him. When she finds his house, no one will let her in and she sleeps outside. Tragedy ensues and Jali's wives force Mariam into a loveless marriage with Rasheed a much older man from Kabul. Rasheed beats Mariam and is angry with her after she is unable to bear him a son.

Meanwhile while Mariam is trying to survive her marriage, Laila is born in 1979 when the Soviets have taken over Afghanistan. Laila grows up in realitive happiness, goes to school, and is in love with her best friend, Tariq. Tariq stepped on a land mine as a child and only has one leg. As different tragedies play out (too many plot spoilers), Laila is forced to marry Rasheed at age 14 when Rasheed is in his 60's!!! At this time things are really bad in Afghanistan and Laila is unable to go to school anymore or even appear outside of her home without a burqa or a male escort. Mariam and Laila become unlikely friends.

Although I figured out one major plot twist WAY before the end of the book, I still enjoyed it and it was a real page turner. Laila's story particularly hit home as she would only be one year younger than me. And what a different life we lead. I can't imagine having all of my freedoms as a woman being taken away, so much so that you can't even go to a decent hospital and have anethestics during child birth! It was very disturbing. I don't know much at all about how real everyday people live in Afghanistan and Iraq, and this book (as well as The Kite Runner) are real eye openers. It really makes me feel bad for the people and hope that the U.S. does not just abandon them. People should not have to live like this!


Ben and I watched Cars last night. We enjoyed it until we realized that this is the only type of movie we'll be able to watch for the next 15 years:-) Actually I always have enjoyed animated films, I've just fallen behind on them since graduating from college.

Cars tells the story of Lightning McQueen, a race car. He is traveling to California for a tie-breaker race to win the Piston Cup. Along the way, he accidentally is left behind by his tired semi-trailer, Mac. He ends up in Radiator Springs, Arizonia where he ruins the road during a high speed chase with a cop car. He is sentenced to fix the road much to his dismay. During his week in town, he becomes friends with the local townsfolk and also falls in love. He learns that winning isn't as important as being a good person and friend. He also helps the town to revive after it was bypassed by the interstate.

I really enjoyed it - but didn't have as many laugh out loud experiences with it that I've had with other animated films. Ben and I did like how "Click and Clack" make an appearance.

Northern Lights by Nora Roberts

I received Northern Lights as a Birthday present from Jenn back in March. I've become quite obsessed with library books and keep forgetting I have quite a big stash of my own that I need to catch up on!

I enjoyed Northern Lights. It tells the story of cop Nate Burke and his move to Lunacy, Alaska. After the murder of his partner and a rocky divorce, Nate is looking for a new life in a rural area where he doesn't have to worry about murder. His spirits start to pick up after his move to Lunacy as the "Lunatics" are all very nice people, especially a bush pilot named Meg Galloway. Peace is shattered though when some young climbers find the body of Meg's lost father who has been missing for 18 years. Nate is on the case and finds that sometimes things aren't always as they appear.

I love the characters in Nora Robert's books. I wanted to live in Lunacy. I also really enjoyed the mystery that had me guessing up until the end. I also really liked the setting as I think Alaska is a cool and exciting place. Hopefully Ben and I will get to go there one day. I thought the romance in this one was a little weak. I could have used some more build-up, but then again, Meg isn't quite the shy kind of girl! :-)

Side note - I've really been enjoying the Nora Robert's movies on Lifetime. Ben, being the senstive man that he is, found one for me first last spring and taped it. I've watched Blue Smoke, Carolina Moon, and Sanctuary. I've been waiting for them to reshow the other movies this summer so I can watch them, but so far have been unlucky! I hope they show them soon!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Battlestar Interview has an interview online with Katee Sackoff (Starbuck) and Michael Hogan (Colonel Tigh) that is interesting and has a few snippets about Season 4. Also of note is that both actors will be appearing in this fall's new series The Bionic Woman on NBC.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Laura's TV Picks for the Past 2006-07 Season

Now that the 2006-07 television season is starting to fade into the past, I thought it was time to review what shows I liked to watch over the year. I've already done this once, so here is hoping that this time I can get blogger to save it and actually post it! As I started to make a list of them, I realized I watch a lot of TV shows. Back in college I only seemed to watch Star Trek Voyager and Stargate SG-1 and that was only because Dad taped them for me and sent up the tapes (all of this talk of tapes makes me feel old in the land of DVRs and TiVOs). After college I still didn't watch too much TV, but then we got our DVR. The DVR is great for a person like me (and Ben) that doesn't want to be made to watch a show at exactly 8 PM or mess with annoying video cassettes. As you can see by my list below, I know enjoy MANY shows:-)

My favorite shows for 2006-07:

1. Battlestar Galactica. I've waxed on about my love for this show on this blog before. It has fantastic acting and the most intriguing storylines on TV. Sadly, the next season does not start until January 2008 and will be ITS LAST SEASON. WHY!? I can see how it will be a good time to end it plotwise, but there are not too many shows of this quality on TV, and I will be very sad to see it go! For more news about the end of Battlestar, see the following yahoo article and interview with Edward James Olmos.

2. Lost. I was starting to lose my love for Lost during the fall "mini-season." Luckily lost got back on track this spring and ended up a winner of a finale (I'm still crying for Charlie - you didn't have to die "brutha!"). I love the mysteries and the character development in lost. I can't wait to see what happens over the next three years!

3. Desperate Housewives. Season 2 started to lose me, but Desperate Housewives got back in the groove for Season 3. The only flaw was that the Orson mystery was solved before the end of the season so there was a "finale" seemingly 3/4 of the way through the season. With Marcia Cross going on maternity leave, I can see why they had to do it. I love the campy, soap opera storylines crossed with mystery. Season 2 lost Ben, but I'm still devoted!

4. Dr. Who. Ben and I love Dr. Who. I have never seen the older versions of the doctor, but I love the new version. I wasn't sure after they replaced the doctor from "season 1" of the new version, but I like the new doctor. I really liked Rose and am sad that she'll be gone (although I seem to see her all around Masterpiece Theatre these days). We'll see how her replacement is when the new season starts on sci-fi on July 6th.

5. Survivor. Yes, I love Survivor. I remember being dubious of the show when it first started in 2000, but my little sister Katie made me watch season 1 with her and I was hooked. All these years later I still find myself loving every moment of it. I thought this year's seasons were exceptionally good. I loved Yule from the fall season and Earl this season. I love how they are mixing things up more lately and making it more exciting and different. I was once ashamed of my one reality show addiction, but have discovered that many people share my love for Survivor. I'm glad I'm not alone!

6. The Office. I love the office. It's quirky characters are hilarious and Jim and Pam's romance is sweet - I just want them to get together! After working in an "office" I can identify with many of the people/problems on this show. Ben and I started watching this during it's second season after we noticed we always laughed at the first few minutes that recorded after "My Name is Earl" on the DVR. We've since caught up and have enjoyed every show. It's a fun show.

7. My Name is Earl. Ben and I both enjoy this show. It tells the story of Earl, a former crook that won the lotto and got hit by a car losing his winning ticket. While in the hospital, he watches Carson Daley and learns about Karma. He makes a list of all of the bad things he has done and goes on his way to correct his past wrongs. He is helped by his not so bright, but sweet brother Randy, his brash ex-wife Joy, and her husband "Crab-Man." This show makes me and Ben both laugh - especially Ben. It has a sort of old-fashioned sweetness to it and it's fun to see more "normal" (as in not rich!) people being portrayed on TV even though it's not always in the most flattering light.

8. 30 Rock. 30 Rock is one of the two shows that started last fall depicting the back stage happenings on a Saturday Night Life late night variety show. This show is a half an hour comedic take on the business. It focuses on Liz Lemon (Tina Fey) the head writer of the show and her dealings with the other writers, cast, and her boss played by Alec Baldwin. Baldwin is a gem on this show and a lot more funny then I ever would have thought. It's fun seeing all of the crazy that goes on around Lemon. I wasn't sure about this show at first, but it quickly found it's groove. If you only watched the first episode or two, I highly recommend revisiting the series!

9. Robin Hood. I LOVE the new Robin Hood series that was on BBC America this spring. Although the series is more old fashioned in it's set-up (bad guys always caught by the end, ends with a touching moment, then a joke), I enjoy watching a show that harkens back to a simpler time. I like how Lady Marian kicks butt in this new take on the Robin Hood Legend. I also love Sir Guy. Although he is the "bad guy," he sure makes bad look sexy with his tortured love for Lady Marian. He wants to be good for her sake and is torn by his love. It's great!

10. Stargate. I can't believe Stargate has been on for 10 years and it's the end of the series! Ben and I still have to watch the five final shows to see how it ends. I loved the show when it started, but actually missed a couple of seasons in the middle after Daniel Jackson "ascended" and was gone. I was a bit bitter, and also got tired of Ben constantly watching it!! I've been back watching it for the last few years and still enjoy it!

11. Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip. Yes, I also watch the "other" NBC show about a late night sketch show based on Saturday Night Live. I really like this show. I'm really enjoying the new episodes this summer. I can't believe this show was cancelled, it has some of the wittiest dialogue on TV and really presses some red button issues. It's series finale is this Thursday night. I'll be sad to see it go!

12. Ugly Betty. For some silly reason, all networks seem to plan the good shows during the same times on the same night every week. I can only DVR two at at time and I'm sorry Ugly Betty, but Survivor and Office/Earl win. I watched Ugly Betty during the hiatus' of my other shows and found I enjoyed it. I like how it is a comedy with drama. I like how Betty is a good person just trying to make it. I'm not sure about some of the crazy plot twists, but I'm willing to see how this show goes in the future. If only they would show more reruns in the summer so I can catch up!

13. Heroes. Ben and I are behind on our TV viewing of Heroes. We've only watched through last November - but we like what we've seen. We just need to find time to catch up this summer!

Those were my favorite shows. As you can see, I'm not really into hospital/doctor/lawyer/cops shows. I think they are all way overdone and am always looking for something more original like a good show about a young engineer trying to make it in the world . . . :-) What shows have I left out? Am I missing something that I should be taping on my DVR?