Monday, April 21, 2008


Ben and I watched Juno over the weekend and enjoyed it. There were some lines in it that made us both laugh out loud.

Juno is an off-beat indie film about a 16-year old Minnesotan girl named Juno MacGuff that finds herself accidently pregnant after basically a one-night experiment in sex with her best friend Paulie. At first Juno thinks she should get an abortion, but after going to the clinic, she decides to have the baby and give it up for adoption. It is a difficult decision, especially with everyone at school making fun of her, but a very admirable one. I like the fact that she knows she is not ready as a teenager to raise the baby on her own. She finds a rich couple in the local "Penny Saver" ads and meets with them with her father. She really connects with Mark, the prospective dad, who has a lot in common with her. Vanessa is more of a cold woman, but Juno appreciates how she wants a baby and is good with kids. Unfortunately, she finds out that Mark and Vanessa are not the perfect couple that they seem and she has some hard decisions to make. Along the way Juno also finds true love.

It was an entertaining movie, but sometimes I found the dialogue to be a bit jaring and weird at times. I liked the films realistic settings and teen angst though. It took on a difficult subject and showed the trials of Juno as she grows up. It was a good movie overall.

House of Testosterone: One Mom's Survival in a Household of Males by Sharon O'Donnell

I saw this title on a recommended reading list at the library and since I'm expecting baby boy number two I thought it would be a good read. House of Testosterone was a funny true account tale of Sharon O'Donnell's struggles being the only female in a house full of sport loving supermen including her husband Kevin, three sons, and dog.

The book is set up basically as a series of articles/stories about the every day life in a household of males. From not being able to keep up with the laundry, to trying to understand the sport speak of the men, it was a humerous book to read. It gives me insight to what I have to look forward to as Kile and my ready-to-be-born-any-minute son grow older. The stories were almost bittersweet at times - there were exasperating moments, yet moments of sadness as your little boys grow into men.

I'd recommend this book to other moms of boys. It was pretty funny. Sharon O'Donnell has a website at that is pretty interesting to look at. Enjoy!

Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Loser's Guide to Life and Love by A.E. Cannon

This is another advance release young adult book that I received from, or Harper Collins Publishers. I throughly enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.

The Loser's Guide to Life and Love is a young adult novel set in Salt Lake City. The story revolves around a young man named Ed who works at a local movie rental place. He has the old name tag on his coat identifying him as Sergio and meets a beautiful girl who has moved to town named Ellie. He knows Ed would never have a chance with Ellie, but as Sergio, he can be sauve and cool. The story is told in first person by Ed, Ellie, Scout (Ed's best girl friend), and Quark (Ed's best guy friend). Matters get complicated when Ed starts to think that Scout could be more than a pal and Quark starts to have similar thoughts.

I really liked reading everyone's take on the situation. I also thought the four main characters were all very interesting. I actually wanted to read more about them and was sad when the book ended. I hope there is a sequel. I definitely identified with the teen angst in the novel from my own teenage years. One of my favorite parts was Scout's illicit addiction to regency romance novels and how she didn't want her guy friends to find out! I also liked how they were normal teens and not the drunken, drugged out variety that seem to populate the TV airways.

It was a really good book for anyone that is looking for a light read and likes to read young adult once in awhile like me. This book comes out in this summer in July - so be on the look out for it!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Gone Baby Gone

Ben and I watched Gone Baby Gone over the weekend and we both found it to be a riveting, really good movie. I wasn't sure what to expect, but I thought it was an excellent film. In fact, Ben and I were just going to watch half an hour of it, but found that we couldn't turn it off as we wanted to see what would happen and stayed up too late watching the entire movie through. I think that says something!

Gone Baby Gone is not a cheerful movie and it is definitely not a movie with a cut and dry ending. The overall story involves two detectives, Patrick Kenzie (Casey Affleck) and his girlfriend Angie that are hired to track down a missing girl by the girl's aunt and uncle. They discover that the girl's mother, Helene (Amy Ryan), is a crack-ho that had left the girl home alone while she went out to a bar to do drugs with her boyfriend. It also turns out that Helene and her boyfriend had double-crossed a drug dealer and had stolen some money. There is much, much more to this story, but you will have to watch to find out. Will they find the little girl?

I really liked this movie and thought it was the best movie I have seen in a long time. Why wasn't this movie nominated for the best picture oscar? Although I was skeptical going into watching this, I thought Ben Affleck did an excellent job at directing this movie and all of the actors were also excellent in their parts. I highly recommend this movie. There is a lot of swearing and violence though - so don't watch it with kids around!

The Nanny Diaries by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus

The Nanny Diaries is a satire about the experience of being a nanny to a rich Upper East Side couple in New York City. Nanny is a NYU student and takes a part-time job for Mr. and Mrs. X to watch their young son Grayer as she finishes up school. Mr. and Mrs. X are struggling in their marriage and neglect their son. They also treat Nanny not so nicely. She wants to quit, but stays for Grayer's sake. This look into the Upper East Side culture is definitely a glimpse into a whole other world. I felt really sorry for Grayer and just wanted to smack the X's. I guess it's true what they say - money doesn't buy happiness!

Compared to the movie, I liked the novel better. If you liked the movie, I definitely recommend this novel!

Two Old Women: An Alaskan Legend of Betrayal, Courage, and Survival by Velma Wallis

This is my April Kewaunee book club pick. Kathy and I liked the title and decided to pick it. It was a very short read (only takes a couple of hours) and I found it to be very interesting.

Velma Wallis wrote down this legend that had been passed down to her through oral traditions by her mother, a Athabascan Native American in the Alaskan Yukon. During hard times and starvation, two old women are left behind in the middle of winter to die as the tribe moves on. The women are inspired to remember how to survive according to the skills they had possessed as youth and decide to fight on instead of accepting death. It was a very interesting and inspiring tale. I highly recommend it!

The Secret Adventures of Charlotte Bronte by Laura Joh Rowland

I also saw a review of The Secret Adventures of Charlotte Bronte by Laura Joh Roland online and thought it sounded interesting so I checked it out from the library. It was an interesting mystery read and I really liked how it had the people and facts of Charlotte Bronte's life wrapped throughout it.

Charlotte and Anne Bronte make a trip to London to visit their publisher and reveal their identies after it is thought that they are the same author. They meet the mysterious Isabel White on the train who is later murdered outside their lodgings. Charlotte seeks to discover who murdered Isabel and stumbles across a plot that could destroy the British nation.

While it was a good mystery, I didn't like how Charlotte seemed to think every man was in love with her. At the first part of the novel, it made her seem rather silly. I also thought many of the events were highly improbable for Charlotte, but I did like her spunky spirit and the thought that she had a chance at love, but chose her art instead. If you like mysteries and the Bronte sisters, it is definitely worth a read.

Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Delors

I read an excellent review of Mistress of the Revolution by Catherine Delors and it inspired me to check it out from the library. I found that this was an excellent historical fiction novel and I would highly recommend it to fans of the genre.

Mistress of the Revolution is the story of Gabrielle de Montserrat a young aristocratic woman in eighteenth century France. Her family is aristocratic, but impoversed. She falls in love with a non-aristocrat who proposes marriage, but her brother forbids it and marries her off to an old, abusive cousin. Gabrielle ends up in Paris right before the revolution and becomes a part of Marie Antonette's court. She experiences the harsh realities of the French Revolution first hand and finds that her first true love is now a judge in the tribunal. Real life characters abound and it was a gripping novel that also brought to life the horrifying events of the French Revolution.

Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance by Barack Obama

I've gotten a bit behind on my blog again so I'm going to do a few condensed reviews of books!

It is my goal to read both of Obama's books as well as John McCain's book so I am fully informed by the time of the fall election. I tried to read Hilary's book when it came out a few years ago and found it unreadable. Fortunately a review on NPR told me that Obama and McCain had much better books.

Obama's book told the story of his youth and growing up, his college career in California and New York City, his work as a community organizer in Chicago, and about his trip back to Kenya to visit his family. Obama was born to a white American woman and a black Kenyan father. His parents got divorced when he was two and his father left. He only saw him one other time (when he was 10 or 11) before he died in a tragic car accident. The overarching theme of the book is who was Obama Sr.? What does it mean to be a half Kenyan, half white American man? I thought the book was very interesting to read as a book about a man facing identity struggles and not really a book about a politician at all. I really liked reading about his trip to Kenya and the discoveries he made there about his father as well as his work as a community organizer in Chicago. It was hard to read about his disillusioned youth, but it was a good point to see how he changed over time.

I thought the writing was fantastic and it was a very interesting book overall. I would like to read more about how he went to law school, became a lawer, state senator, etc. Is this book better than McCain's? I'll let you know after I read McCain's!