BookWorm

Posted in books on April 15th, 2011 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was always an avid reader, but then I took an almost decade hiatus from reading books.  Because I did (and do) my reading before bed, I think the hiatus was due to the combination of getting used to parenting and also being fresh out of college which meant that I wasn’t used to getting to read what I wanted rather than what was assigned to me.  But a few years ago, I took up the hobby once again, and I’ve been thoroughly enjoying it.  I began by reading non-fiction because I liked the idea of learning something while I was reading.  I read biographies and stories that ranged from fun to inspirational, and my favorite reading was centered on true crime.

I read In the Presence of My Enemies, the inspiring true story of the Burnham couple who, after years of missionary work in the Philippines, were taken hostage during a vacation there and held for a year.  I read My Lobotomy, the biography of a man named Howard Dully who underwent a forced frontal lobotomy at the age of 12.  I read How Many Hills to Hillsboro, an account of a family of 5 who attempted and almost made a cross country trip together in the ’60s – on their bicycles.  I delved into fiction, reading the entire Harry Potter series and loving it.  And now I call myself an avid reader with a “to read” book list a mile long – and by the way, all of the above mentioned books I enjoyed immensely, and I highly recommend them.

I think that’s how I ended up reading 3 books at the same time.  It began when I was looking for something to read that would compare to Harry Potter, so I tried C.S. Lewis’ Narnia series and began with The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe.  While enjoyable, it wasn’t quite the can’t-put-it-down book that I was looking for, so I consulted my “to read” list and decided to try a Stephen King book that had been recommended by a local newspaper columnist – Under the Dome.  With the exception of some short stories, I haven’t read Stephen King before, but I’ve enjoyed a few of his movies.  So far, Under the Dome has been exactly what I’m looking for – page-turning excitement that is hard to put down!  The novel is about a small town in Maine that is suddenly and inexplicably cut off from the rest of  the world by a mysterious,  invisible – yet very real barrier.  Between trying to draft and enforce their own laws, keeping lawless individuals under control and townspeople from going crazy – literally –  and attempting to figure out what the dome is and how to get rid of it, the little town has more than its fair share of strife.

A few weeks before my request for Under the Dome came in at the library, I had decided I wanted to read the Bible, and so I find myself switching between two 1000+ page books in bed at night – I am so grateful we found a great sale on that e-book reader, which makes switching between these two books easy on my arms and my bed partner.  I know a lot of people are intimidated by the complex language of the Bible, but the NIV version is fairly easy reading, and I really enjoy reading it and especially learning more about the chapters I’ve read when I go to church on Sunday.

As if reading two 1000+ page books at the same time weren’t enough (though on the plus side, it’s not like I can possibly get the characters in the Bible and those in Under the Dome mixed up – a complication I used to run into in my heavier reading days when I would try to read a book for pleasure and a book for school at the same time), another one of my requests came in at the library – Caril by Ninette Beaver.  Being a more obscure book, I don’t know that I will get the opportunity to get it from the library again, so I’m attempting the book-reading tri-fecta.  Caril is the unauthorized biography of Caril Fugate, the alleged accomplice to Charles Starkweather who went on an infamous murder spree centered in Lincoln Nebraska in 1958.  Although Caril was tried and convicted in a court of law, there has been much debate about her actual role in the murders because of her age at the time – 14.  The book follows the cases and Caril’s incarceration and is written from the media’s point of view in the 1970’s before Caril was released from prison.  It’s been interesting to read about other news items of the day (breaking news items in 1958 included: Liz Taylor’s husband killed in a plane crash and Elvis being drafted into the Army) and also how differently people reacted to news reporters taking interviews for the brand-new medium of the day: television.  Family members of suspects, law enforcement, and attorneys were all much more willing and able to talk to reporters and share details for the camera than they are today.  You may have seen one of a number of movies made about the Starkweather cases; the most famous is Natural  Born Killers, although that movie DOES NOT follow the cases accurately and is, in my opinion, a terrible movie.  I  guess the reason I’m so interested in these cases is because Charles Starkweather was a different type of serial killer and one who has escaped the major notoriety of say, Ted Bundy and John Wayne Gacy.  I also lived in the lovely city of Lincoln Nebraska for a year, and I’ve seen many of the places where the crimes took place for myself – including the penitentiary where Starkweather was electrocuted and the cemetery where he is buried.

I’m really enjoying all 3 of my books right now, but reaching my goal of re-reading the last installment of the Harry Potter series before the final movie comes out mid-July is going to prove to be quite challenging!!

And one more note – further encouragement to read Under the Dome is the movie being made due to come out this year – looks like a made-for-tv movie, which is difficult for me to imagine based upon the violence involved and intensity of the story.  But if Stephen King’s other tv mini-series are any indication, Under the Dome the movie version will not disappoint and is an excellent reason to  pick up this great book for some perfect summer reading!

Harry Potter – Reading Vs. Watching

Posted in books, Movies on January 20th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Now that I’ve read the first installment in the Harry Potter series, I decided to watch the movie make the story come to life.  I wasn’t disappointed, but I much prefer the book – the movie leaves out a lot of details.  It was obvious that was going to happen otherwise the movie would be about 12 hours long, but the excluded details were enough to make me prefer the book to the movie.  Here is a run-down of thoughts I had while enjoying the movie last night:

•  Did the beginning of the movie portray Professor McGonagall as a cat as she is in the book?  I didn’t notice it, but I also came into the movie a minute or two late due to an unplanned (though pleasant!) phone conversation.  I would have liked to see her as a cat.

•  I really liked seeing how the train station came to life, and especially how exactly they found platform 9¾!

•  Did the movie explain the resident ghosts of Hogwarts?  I noticed lack of explanation for other characters as well – especially Neville! – but as stated before, it’s a long movie, so maybe it was out of necessity that they had to cut some descriptions that were present in the book.

•  The movie is well cast and directed.  Everything is just like I pictured from the book, and that’s a good thing.  I had considered waiting to watch any of the Potter movies until I was finished reading the series for fear that movie would ruin my vision of Hogwarts, but I’m glad I didn’t wait; the movie was very enjoyable.  I was pleased to see  that creatures like the Gringotts bank goblins, for example, looked just like the sketches in the book which also helped to make my expectations match the movie.

•  Visually, the invading troll was cool, although its extreme smelliness was completely downplayed in the movie – one of the things I wish was not.

•  This movie would be so cool in 3D!!

•  The charcer Hagrid gained about 50 IQ points for the movie.  He was likable, but reads dumber than he acted in the movie.  I think I would have liked to see him more like he was in the book.

•  The movie is a good representation of the book brought to life, but how is it to watch it on its own if you haven’t read the book?  I will talk to my husband about this because he did just that.  And for me – the movie almost went too fast for me.  I saw events happen in minutes that in real time, took me weeks to read about!  But then again, there are over 300 pages being shown in under 3 hours.

•  The character Severus Snape stood out as being very well cast – I’m not remembering a very vivid depiction of him in the book, and the movie did not disappoint in this regard.

FOLLOWING MIGHT BE SPOILERS – YOU MIGHT NOT WANT TO READ ANY FURTHER IF YOU HAVEN’T SEEN OR READ HARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER’S STONE

•  Quirrell didn’t seem to be stuttering much in the movie, which brings me to a minor complaint that I have about both the book and the movie.   I felt that Professor’s Quirrell’s character was not elaborated upon enough to fully give the audience the big surprise ending.  Sometimes I would even get Quirrell mixed up with Filch (while reading the book anyway), but I guess that could also be a side effect of reading while falling asleep!

•  Did I miss something, or does neither the book nor the movie elaborate upon why Harry’s scar hurts when he see Snape?

Overall, a very enjoyable movie-watching experience!  Fun for everyone – the kids weren’t scared by it and enjoyed it, and my husband liked it so much that he’s been asking me when I’m going to finish the 2nd book because he wants to see the 2nd movie!

Harry Potter And The Sorcerer’s Stone

Posted in books on January 8th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I did it.  I’ve finished reading the first book in the Harry Potter series, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  And I really enjoyed it; I think I can officially call myself a Harry Potter fan!  The book was very fast-moving, and because it’s kind of a kids’ fantasy book (but don’t get the wrong idea – MANY adults like it too!), I was able to finish the entire 300 pages on my limited reading schedule without even having to renew it at the library once!

Tonight, I’m going to start the second book in the series, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, and if I can convince my husband, we’ll be watching the movie of the first book this weekend.  And now I am REALLY excited to see the new Wizarding World of Harry Potter at Universal Studios in Orlando.  They are being kinda secretive about the Harry Potter and the Forbidden Journey attraction, but it promises to use “entirely new technology” to bring the Harry Potter series to life “in a way never before experienced”!  Maybe something like The Mummy ride or The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman 3D?  How cool would that be for Harry Potter!!  And the shops and restaurants are all going to keep in the tradition of the boy wizard’s world.  Chocolate frogs, anyone?  The world doesn’t open until spring, and it doesn’t look like we’re going to get to Florida before the fall or next winter anyway, so if that becomes a reality, we will have to make sure we get to Universal – I really liked Islands of Adventure anyway, and now it’s going to be even better!  I just have to make sure I read all the Potter books by then.  And I almost don’t want to read too much about the new world on the internet for fear that it would be spoilers about things I haven’t discovered yet.

As much as I’m enjoying the Harry Potter series, I’m not usually one to stick to one type of book.  If I need a break from Hogwart’s before I get through all 7 stories, I might try The Zookeeper’s Wife, a story about a zoo in Poland in the 1930’s and how it’s destroyed during the holocaust – as long as it’s not too depressing of a read.

Nothing To Say…

Posted in Everyday Life on January 6th, 2010 and tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Another fog day, so the kids are off school.  They’re playing with each other right now, so I have a few minutes…  why bother to start cleaning when I know that they’ll be “momming” me any second?  The house is a disaster, and it needs a good few hours of attention at least.  Why bother starting laundry?  The bird will only scream at me and rile up the kids who are otherwise being good.

A fellow tangents blogger recently wrote about the grey days of winter, and I guess I’m feeling that now.  It’s too cold to bundle up the kids and take them anywhere, and we’re really trying to watch our pennies anyway – taking them out costs money, even if just the gas in the car, it’s still more expensive than staying home.  Can’t walk anywhere because it’s too cold.  So, we’re staying home, trying to keep all 5 of us out of the way of my husband, who works at home and is, of course, working all day.

No need to bring you up to speed on the current happenings in my life – just every day stuff, laced with a little bad luck.  Nothing to spread any “cheer” about.

We’ve watched a few movies recently; saw Star Wars for the first time as an adult.  Growing up in the 80’s, I saw clips of the most famous parts as a kid.  My husband and I both had the stomach flu last week, and we couldn’t sleep, so we stayed up and watched Star Wars.  It was entertaining; not my kind of movie, but perhaps eventually I will watch the other movies in the series.  Here’s a question for Star Wars fans:  I know that they re-released the movie with digital enhancements, including the scene with Jabba the Hut.  So did they film that as new footage for the re-release?  Harrison Ford did look like he could be decades older…

And speaking of series, I have begun to read the Harry Potter series.  I’m about 50 pages away from finishing the first book, and I’m really enjoying it.  I was really excited to watch the movie when I was finished with the book,  but then I started thinking that I might want to keep my own vision of Hogwarts.  Might the movie ruin the picture I have in my head?  Using imagination is fun; I don’t want to take that away from myself or lose motivation to finish reading the series.  Then again, I’ve never heard any Potter fans complain that the movies didn’t do the books justice; I hear they are very good.  I’m just wondering if I should wait until I’m done with or at least a little further in the series to watch the movies.

Then again, it’s not like we have a lot of time to watch  movies, anyway.  With my husband back on full time and us still fulfilling our youth group and other obligations, as well as caring for our 4 kids (who don’t sleep a lot!), by the time we put in a movie for “us” time, we are both dozing and can’t get through an entire one anyway.  Sigh.  Well, not to be negative, but the grey days of winter are here.  Can’t wait until spring!!!  GO CUBS!  Maybe THIS year…

Bowling For Columbine

Posted in Everyday Life on August 12th, 2009 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

While I’m on the topic of date night (see my previous post)…

This week we did not feel like mini-golfing again on date night, so we went bowling instead.  I did so well, we got a printout of the scores, much to my husband’s dismay – I’ve already mentioned how he has bad luck at physics-dependent sports like bowling and mini-golf.  And I got tons of practice at bowling as a kid – I was in a weekly bowling league for I don’t know how many years.  Later in high school, I took bowling in gym class and joined intramural bowling after school where I  was crowned, “Female Bowler of the Year” for the two years I was in it –  not a difficult feat, seeing as how there were under 10 girls involved, but still, if we had had a competitive bowling team in high school, perhaps I would have been a high school athlete, hehe!

I’ve spent about 23% of my adult years pregnant (!) and most of the rest of those years raising small children who would wreak havoc with a bowling ball, so needless to say, I have not had a chance to hone the skill I developed as a youngster.  I do enjoy the occasional bowling game,  though, and rarely do I top my previous bowling average from back-in-the-day: 132.  Well, the other date night, not only did I top my old average for the two games we played but I somehow tied my all-time high score!  Well, anyway, here are the scores, and this reminds me to make joining a weekly league a priority when the kids get a little bit older!

8-11-09 bowling scores 002

And about the title I chose for my post…  I just finished reading the book Columbine by Dave Cullen, and it was a fascinatingly detailed account of the 1999 Colorado high school massacre dissected from just about every angle.  If you like to read true crime or just want to know every detail about the massacre (it holds a special fascination for me since it was unfolding just as Hubby and I arrived at our honeymoon destination after a 24-hour road trip back in ’99), you should read this book.  It’s both sad and informative, and the author does mention that the Michael Moore movie, Bowling for Columbine, has little to do with the circumstances involving the high school massacre.  But, Bowling for Columbine is a catchy title nonetheless, which is why I borrowed it, not because I’m a Michael Moore fan.  Actually, we saw a parody of his movies the other day, and I will be sure to include the movie review in an upcoming post called “It Was A Redbox Summer”.  Stay Tuned!

Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom

Posted in books on November 24th, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

I was doing a search in the library’s database, and I came across the title Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow.  Further investigation showed it to be a science fiction book about Walt Disney World in the future.  Not usually my type of novel (and I strongly prefer to read non-fiction anyway), but since we’re Disney affectionados, I couldn’t resist the read.  It took me over a month to read it, and that’s not even soley because I’m so busy.  The book is difficult to read – author Doctorow does a nice job at placing the reader in the characters’ futuristic universe, but it’s almost too much – he neglects to provide an explanation of certain things.  For instance, the characters all have “Whuffie” and “HUDs”, and these concepts are constantly revisited throughout the story, but it’s never explained exactly what these things are!  My interpretation is that Whuffie refers to a meter in one’s body that measures a person’s positive characteristics, experiences, and emotions – and others can see your Whuffie level.  A person with low Whuffie is shunned in society, and sometimes even denied entrance to Disney World.  HUDs seem to be a person’s computer – it almost seems to be a part of their brain.  They can look up stuff and send things to each other instantly with their HUDs like directions to places.  It seems to be kind of like today’s internet, yet it’s built right into people’s brains.  So, yeah, you can see why it was slow reading as the reader had to get around all of these unfamiliar concepts.  But onto the story itself…

In the future when Down and Out…  is set – and I don’t know what year that is, he never specifically says – Disney World is now a retro-park; something that is preserved only because it’s an example of the great works of our current time.  The main character, Julius and his girlfriend Lil (who was raised in the Magic Kingdom) are on a mission to save the Magic Kingdom and keep the attractions as they are: old-fashioned rides through vintage dioramas.  There is a group of people trying to “rehab” all the rides and give them a futuristic makeover, and they do get ahold of the Hall of Presidents – they make it so that the guests can actually see what it feels like to be Abraham Lincoln and the rest of the former Presidents.  It is the goal of Julius, Lil, and their friend Dan to keep the rest of Liberty Square (a section of the Magic Kingdom), especially the Haunted Mansion, away from the “ad-hocs” as the rehabbing group is called.  Throw in Julius’ murder (don’t worry, he’s been “backed up” and can reclaim his life in a clone) and the fact that he now has to find out who killed him and keep it from happening again, and that’s how the plot thickens.

Overall, it was a very interesting read, but probably not something I’d re-read.  It was worth stepping out of my usual non-fiction genre for the experience to read a science-fiction tale, but it wasn’t anything stupendous.  The story was interesting, and the author did a great job of detailing life in the future, even if it was at times confusing to the reader.  I kept feeling like I was coming in on a sequel having missed the first part.  I thought there’d be more details about the Magic Kingdom, and in that respect, I was disappointed.  But if you like sci-fi books and you’ve been to Disney World, I recommend this book only if you read a lot and have lots of spare time.  On a grading scale, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom gets a C- from me.  Up next for me is My Lobotomy by Howard Dully- a non-fiction book about a guy who was involuntarily given an “ice-pick” lobotomy as a 12-year old.

The Kindle

Posted in books on September 16th, 2008 and tagged , , , , ,

While I’m on the subject of reading…  I came across a cool looking device on amazon.com the other day – the Kindle.  Have you heard of it?  I hadn’t, but it sounds pretty cool.  Basically you can upload books, magazines, and even blogs to this portable device so you can read them anywhere.  It appealed to me because I like to read in bed, and it seemed like a good way to get newspapers as well as stuff off the internet into a format that’s easy for me to lie down and read.  But the more I looked into it, the more I realized it’s not really for me.  The first clue was its $350 price tag.  No thanks.  Maybe for $50 or so, I’d be interested…  The other thing about the Kindle is the fact that you have to buy books to put on it.  I can’t tell you the last time I bought a full price book from a book store.  I get my books from my existing collection, friends, or most frequently, the library – all free sources.  I could not picture a scenario where I’d be buying a book, even if it was to be put on this device.  I guess the thing that appealed to me most about it was putting my town’s daily newspaper on it so I could read it in bed.  My paperboy delivers at 5pm – just in time for the chaos in the house to peak as kids are coming home and I’m starting dinner and all that stuff – so it’s tough for me to keep up with reading the daily paper.  But I’m sure the daily paper from my small town wouldn’t even be available on the Kindle anyway…

But I thought it was a cool invention and I could see there being a market for something like this for people who travel a lot and love to read.  I find it strange that I hadn’t heard about it sooner, but they really need to lower the price on it if they want it to catch on!

Defunct TV Part II

Posted in TV Shows on April 1st, 2008 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Since my first post about defunct tv was SO lengthy, I had to omit some of my favorite tv shows from yester-year which were so great they warrant a mention and another post.

The Bozo Show – If you grew up in Chicagoland, this show was an icon.  Some people in Ohio have told me it was on tv here too, but I know it just wasn’t the same as growing up with Bozo next door.  First of all, EVERYONE you knew went to see the Bozo show live.  The girl I went with was put on the waiting list when she was in utero, and we were 9 or 10 years old before her mother finally got the tickets that allowed us entry into the show.  But I’m just glad I got the experience, and I’m even more glad that I was old enough to remember seeing Bozo live – it was really neat.  I was really scared of a character named Wizzo though, and I hoped he wouldn’t be there on the day I was…  Ironically, I don’t remember if he was in that episode or not.  My husband went to a Bozo show taping of course, since he was also a Chicagoland kid, but neither of us were on the Grand Prize Game.  There were other characters on the show, mainly Bozo’s clown sidekick, Cookie, and also a puppet dog named Cuddly Duddly.  I think I’m going to have to dig out the tape of the show I was on, just for memories…  So was Bozo aired nationally?  Since it was so hugely popular in our area, it’s hard to say; it’s not like there was an internet back then or like I traveled a lot or had pen pals as a kid to ask.  I would guess so, since lots of people have heard of it, but I’m sure it was nothing like the phenomena it reached in Chicagoland.

Land of the Lost – Saturday morning tv at its finest.  This was a live show about a family who was transported back in time to contend with all kinds of prehistoric creatures like dinosaurs, etc.  While looking up the show on imdb, I learned that there were 2 versions.  One that aired from 1974-76, and one from 1991-92.  I will dismiss the 90’s remake since I wasn’t a big fan.  But as for the original, I barely remember it but I know that I LOVED it!  I must have watched it in syndication however, because I was not around to see it from ’74-’76.  But, when I saw the photos and synopsis of the episodes, I know that’s the show I watched and loved.  Interesting note – they are currently make a movie version due out next year starring Will Ferrell as the dad!  I am a big fan of Will Ferrell’s.  I think he is great in almost everything I’ve seen him in; he’s always funny and surprisingly versatile.  He stars in one of my favorite Christmas movies of all time, Elf.  So I am anxious to see what they do with this remake of a classic tv show for our generation.  I think the movie is slated to be a comedy, but with Will Ferrell as its star, that’s no surprise.  I wonder if they’ll do what they did with the Brady Bunch movies and make it a satire of the tv show?  It was very effective and funny when they did it in the Brady Bunch movies, but it would seem difficult to pull off for many tv shows without being too over the top.  With the cheesy sets and special effects and costumes of the ’70’s Land of the Lost, satire might be a good avenue to explore for the movie remake.  It’d be cool to see the movie set in the 70’s – well, the family gets sent back in time, but if the family were still from the ’70’s…  Guess we’ll just have to wait until 2009 to see!

The Littles – A catchy theme song which began, “We are the Littles…”  It was an awesome Saturday morning cartoon (which of course spawned into toys, lunchboxes, books, and even a few movies) about a family of small people with pointy ears and tails who lived within the walls of a Bigg (literally, this was the surname of the family!) family’s house.  The plots revolved around Tom and Lucy Little, a brother and sister who tried to keep their dopey aviator cousin Dinky out of trouble along with their Grandpa Little.  The Littles had rigged up their own little world within the walls of the Bigg’s home which they entered through a light socket, and it was neat to see how they used normal size objects to make things they needed.  They would often enlist the help of Henry Bigg, the human regular-size kid who lived in the house, since he was the only human to know about the Littles.  Cute show – I could probably find it on youtube or somewhere like that if I looked. 

Shirt Tales – Adorable little animal characters who began as a line of greeting cards were turned into a cartoon.  Their shirts would display different sayings to express their feelings; such as Hug Me, Cuddly, or Dig Me (worn by a mole).   A really cute cartoon which aired on the USA network as part of its Cartoon Express, of which Pac Man the cartoon was also a part; see below.

Pac Man – A cartoon based upon the popular video game.  I don’t remember much about it, but I know I liked it, and it didn’t last long.  I think if I were to see this cartoon today as an adult, it would be dumb, whereas Shirt Tales might be cute.  I haven’t checked youtube, but they both just might be there; it seems likely.