Friday, May 29, 2009

Cannonball Read - Book 39

I'm quite behind in my reading. There's three big reasons for this: I am ridiculously busy at work; I'm trying to read The Corrections and I can't get into it; because I can't get into it, I've been re-reading the Anne of Green Gables books to pass the time. But I did manage to finish Amy and Isabelle by Elizabeth Strout. It's a mother-daughter tale, so you know it can't be good. Wait, that came out wrong. I mean that fictional mother-daughter tales usually involve heartache and strife, not that the book itself is bad (although sometimes that's true, too). Isabelle, the mother, has some secrets, and when Amy's (the daughter) sexuality causes some havoc, Isabelle's pain resurfaces and it's all downhill from there. And, it's set in a mill town - which also can't be good. Books set in mill towns are always bleak affairs.

Overall, a pretty solid read, with one absolutely tremendous scene. Good choice for the ladies.

Amy and Isabelle - B

Thursday, May 28, 2009

It's Very Beautiful, And Very Cold...

and it's for sale!

Click here to see the listing.

buying Cameron's house - B+ (points off because it's DAMN expensive)

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Let Me Tell You About My Band

One of my favorite things in this life is to hear a funny phrase and say "That's the name of our band." I don't know why, but I've loved doing this for YEARS. Sometimes, a person will just say a couple words that you don't hear next to each other very often, and it just makes me think of a band.

My very first band, formed my freshman year of college, was Pagan Racecar (I think some of my former bandmates read this blog - shout-out, homies!). I'm currently in a band called Styrofoam Twister - but my off-shoot solo project is One-Day Dirty. There were probably others.

Also, once I'm in a fake band, if another funny phrase comes up, I say "That's the name of our album."

Is this weird?

fake bands - A-

(photo disclaimer: this is my friend Kim and her fiance Justin, and one of their gorgeous engagement photos... but it also looks like an album cover... something bluegrass-y, with fiddles)

Tuesday, May 26, 2009


I laughed so hard I cried:

The bandana slays me.

Izzy the dancing dog - A

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Good Times.

Exactly one year ago:

this happened.

Happy Anniversary to us - A+

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Cannonball Read - Book 38

I mentioned this book briefly in my last post, but this makes it official.

Sleep Toward Heaven was quite good, actually. My friend Tim the Librarian says that stories with intersecting lives are "hot right now," and Sleep Toward Heaven tells the tale of three women: a convicted serial killer awaiting execution, a doctor in Manhattan running away from her life, and a librarian (not Tim) mourning the loss of her husband. How these three women connect and how their lives are changes by their interactions with each other form the backbone of the book, but each woman lives her own story (unlike this book, where each woman lives everybody else's story, and it falls flat). Quick and interesting.

Sleep Toward Heaven - B

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

The Last Supper

The other night, I watched the "Last Supper" episode of Top Chef; about two weeks ago, I read this book called Sleep Toward Heaven, some of which takes place on Death Row and features a section on inmates' final meals (I'll review the book one of these days). Needless to say, that's a lot of last supper-ing, and I got to thinking: what would I choose as my final meal?
Today, right now, I'd choose a traditional Helga family Thanksgiving dinner: turkey, cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes with giblet gravy, green beans (although my preference is a mushroom gravy-based green bean casserole, we didn't have that on turkey day very often), and plate after plate of cornbread dressing. I would make sure to have the family favorite Styrofoam Pie (chocolate mousse filling in a meringue crust, amazing), but I'd also like a hot apple crisp and a dish of vanilla ice cream with chocolate syrup. I can't think of any meal I'd like better than this one, but in the next breath, I think I'd like to have a hamburger right off the grill, with cheese, mustard, ketchup, onion and lots of pickle, and seasoned fries and an icy cold root beer. Maybe it depends on what time of year I get to eat my final meal.
I can't believe those schlubs on Top Chef - really? A roast chicken? Shrimp scampi? Seems weak, if you ask me. But I probably shouldn't blog while I'm hungry.

So tell me - what would you choose?

Thanksgiving dinner - A- (points off for doing the dishes)

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Cannonball Read - Book 37

I love The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. I think it's beautiful. But I've tried to read Sebold's memoir Lucky a couple times, and it never really grabbed me - but since I'm on this 100-books-in-a-year quest, I figured now was a good time to give it another shot. And yet again, it didn't move me. If you don't know the story, Sebold was raped at the end of her freshman year of college, and naturally, it changed her life. It affected her relationships with her family, her friends, and with men, and how she felt about herself. And one might think that this would be a book I would like. I like memoirs very much, and I like woman-centric stories. But this one was very disjointed, bouncing from the rape scene to a scene from Sebold's childhood, then to a scene at the courthouse. And even though this is a memoir, something happens that is sort of unbelievable. I believe that it happened, for sure, but it took me out of the experience of the book and made me say "Come on. Really? No way." Not the reaction you want to have when reading a memoir. Unless it's by James Frey.

Lucky - C

Sunday, May 17, 2009


A casino down the road from me has a new game: Chick-Tac-Dough. You can play tic-tac-toe against a real live chicken. And it's not just this one casino. Apparently, chicken tic-tac-toe is the hottest gaming promotion in casinos across the land. And just think - you could be the proud owner of an "I got beat by the chicken" t-shirt!

stupid casino promotions - D-

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cannonball Read - Book 36

I think that Abigail Thomas had just finished Where The Heart Is and Diary of a Mad Housewife when she started writing An Actual Life. It just didn't have that spark of originality, that newness that makes me think "wow, I've never read anything like this before." An Actual Life tells the story of Virginia, a young married woman completely unprepared for marriage and motherhood. Her husband is still in love with his high school girlfriend and her parents are soulless and uncaring. So no, not a feel-good tale, but that would be forgivable if it were a compelling read. It's not.

An Actual Life - C-

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Cannonball Read - Book 35

Oh. My. God. What was I waiting for? My zombie-loving husband read World War Z by Max Brooks at least two years ago, and I've pooh-poohed reading it, even though he said it was OFF THE HOOK. But really, I was just saving it for this big read-a-thon. Ahem.
Well, it was so worth the wait. This book is incredible. Brooks has written a collection of first-person accounts of people who survived the decade-long war against zombies. And before you start laughing, saying, "That's preposterous!," let me tell you that this shit is real. No, I don't mean a zombie attack. I mean the telling of this story. This book makes you feel like it actually happened. There's a super-creepy section about feral children, kids who survived the attack but whose PTSD is so severe, they have to live in institutions - and by contrast, there's a section about the K-9 soldiers who went into battle on behalf of humans. Since I brought my own little pichu home, I've become quite tender-hearted toward dogs, and this section broke my heart a little. But it was followed by images of cracked skulls and frozen zombies re-animating after a long winter. Truly terrifying.

I could heap a bunch of words on it (awesome! amazing! unbelievable! not-to-be surpassed!) and it still couldn't do this book justice. By page THIRTY, I was saying "This book is really good." And ZLH only said "I told you so" once.

World War Z - A+

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cannonball Read - Book 34

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt was not what I was expecting. Originally, I thought it was some sort of fiction mystery/horror novel. Not so - turns out it's a combination travelogue/true crime story. Yep, that's a weird combo, but this book is really pretty amazing. This writer goes to Savannah, Georgia, and meets some wacky people, but then there's a murder (I can't say more, because that would be too revealing) and then things get REALLY weird.
I'm very behind in my blogging, and have read several books since I finished MITGOGAE, so it's not as fresh in my memory as I'd like as I write about it. But it's stuck with me, and I think it'd stick with you, too. Definitely one to check out.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - A-

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Cannonball Read - Book 33

I think that "beach read" is a negative term. The books I take to the beach (or my equivalent of the beach, since the sun and I don't really go well together) are not deep, complicated pieces of literature that stick with me for weeks and analyze or discuss with friends. No, my beach reads are light, simple, silly, and usually very girly.

And that's where The Dirty Girls Social Club by Alisa Valdes-Rodrgiuez comes in. It is the quintessential beach read. Even though I read most of this book on my couch, I felt like I was lying on the sand, sipping a marg. DGSC had lots of overlapping stories but very little substance, a couple sex scenes, some fashion, and lots of drinks with friends. If that's not a beach read, I don't know what is. Fun, easy, frothy.

The Dirty Girls Social Club - C+

Monday, May 04, 2009

Cannonball Read - Book 32

I picked up The Reformed Vampire Support Group at my local used bookstore because I like the premise: "a hilarious antidote to slick vampire novels, this murder mystery/comedy of errors will appeal to kids on the fringe." Take that, Bella and Edward! It's very obvious that Ms. Jenks wanted to write the anti-Twilight. These vampires are not healthy. They do not have super-human powers. They wake up every evening and have to eat guinea pigs, and it takes all their fortitude to not vomit on the way to their weekly support group meeting. Oh yeah, and their eyes bleed if they look at bright lights. None of this sparkling in the sun bullshit. These are REAL vampires. And while the story line was somewhat silly - let's find a vampire killer, but oh wait, he's actually a pretty good guy, it's the guys who are running the werewolf fight vlub that are the bad guys - it was a nice change from those other vampires we've been hearing so much about. If Twilight is for teeny boppers, RVSG is for the weirdos who write 'zines at 2 AM and wear legwarmers on their arms. You know the kind.

The Reformed Vampire Support Group - B