Monthly Archives: July 2012

Gap Creek by Robert Morgan – Review

Gap Creek : a novelGap Creek by Robert Morgan
Age: Adult
Genre: Historical
Source: Publisher
Publisher: Algonquin, 1999
ISBN: 9781565122420
326 pages
Find this book at your local library

Set in the Appalachian Mountains at the turn of the century, Julie Harmon works hard and toils to support her family, often doing the work that nobody else wants to do. After her brother and father die, Julie and her family meet Hank, who proposes to Julie after only a week. Once married, Julie works hard and toils for Hank, who turns abusive after having lost his job. Under the constant threat of losing their home, the two try to make the best of their very simple life.

To say this book is dull and repetitive would be a kindness. There really wasn’t much of a plot to hold onto. While the book had some engaging moments, particularly when Morgan would describe in excruciating detail the slaughter of hogs and rendering of lard, I found most of the book to be an endless drone. Both Julie and Hank are the most stale, predictable and two-dimensional characters I have come across. There was no life, no spark, no spirit, nothing to engage me in their lives or care about their circumstances. Most of the personality went to the tertiary characters. Julie’s narration is very forced and clunky. I think Morgan had some issues trying to speak through a female character. Whether that is part of the author’s narration scheme or not, I don’t know. I would recommend Willa Cather’s My Antonia if you’re looking for a book on a similar topic and time period.

11 Political Lessons Learned From Gilmore Girls

I came across this post on Buzzfeed and felt I had to share it. It is the Gilmore Girls after all. The premise is 11 political lessons learnt from the show. The lessons aren’t really political. More like normal life lessons. I guess those are the same things?

These two are my favorites. I put my color commentary in green.

2. It’s Good To Have Friends In High Places, Especially Yale’s Secret Societies

It's Good To Have Friends In High Places, Especially Yale's Secret Societies

Rory takes a Mary Poppins-style jump with the Life and Death Brigade, a fictional version of Skull & Bones, the secret society of which George W. Bush was a member during his time at Yale. You Jump, I Jump Jack – One of my favorite episodes from the later seasons. The secret society, Rory’s blue dress, the jump!

10. Never Underestimate The Importance Of Fast-Talking And Thinking On Your Feet

Never Underestimate The Importance Of Fast-Talking And Thinking On Your Feet

Lorelai and Rory regularly employ rapid-fire speech and throw around witty references. I miss the show. I really should start watching it again, if only to feel intelligent when I catch & understand one of their pop-culture/indie-culture references.

Le Divorce – Diane Johnson (review)

Le divorceLe Divorce by Diane Johnson
Age: Adult
Genre: Chick-Lit
Publisher Dutton, 1997
ISBN – 0525942386, 309 pages
Source: My Copy
Find this book at your local library

 

Location – Paris. Cast of characters – 2 sisters & their assorted family and friends. Roxy is newly pregnant and was just left by her husband for another woman. Isabel, the younger stepsister, goes to stay in Paris to help her sister and rediscover herself along the way.

Contrary to what’s been posted on the blog, I have been reading. Albeit very slowly and without much interest in the books I’ve selected. This book in particular is very “Meh.” It was engrossing at the time, but I felt it dragged on, the plot rambled and the final resolution was haphazardly thrown together. Throughout the process of the divorce, a valuable painting came into custodial question. I found the storyline about this piece or art, who it belonged to and whether or not it would be snuck out of France back into the US more interesting than the entire rest of the novel. It has been in Isabel & Roxy’s family for generations, but is a French piece so therefore it belongs to France as a national treasure. I think the only reason I kept reading was to see how that was resolve itself.

Although Johnson has a way with words, her characters were stale and predictable. I saw the movie a few years ago, and it was a very well done production with Naomi Watts and Kate Hudson as the two sisters. Some of the supporting cast were meant to add color and humor to the novel, but I felt there were pretentious and was glad to see their sections end.

Of the two, I recommend the movie. You get to see some amazing visual shots of Paris without all the fluff that comes with the book.

Bastille Day – Cette fin de semaine

Bastille Day is this weekend, July 14th. How will you be celebrating? I, most likely, will not be. =(

Every year (except last year) Santa Barbara holds a ginormous French Festival on Bastille Day weekend. If you live in the area, make sure to go!

Last year, I had booked the hotel, gotten my mom and parents-in-law to meet me and my husband there, only to find out a week before that it was canceled “indefinitely.” Je suis tres triste.

Although I am incredibly bummed I can’t go this year, I’m glad its back, and I plan on instituting some type of annual visit to Santa Barbara on Bastille Day weekend regardless of what events are going on, just to make sure I don’t miss it. =p

 < — You could be here!

Sob story aside, the festival includes music and entertainment on 3 stages, a mini Eiffel Tower, a poodle parade (did you know poodles are actually German dogs?), all the food, arts & crafts you could ever want to browse through. Admission is FREE, and its all day affair. There will be one stage playing nothing but accordion music.

Weekend Cooking – the CaliBowl

I’m always on the lookout for local Bay Are & Eco-Friendly businesses, particularly for kitchen ware. Bay Area & Eco-Friendly, kind of go hand-in-hand, which is why coming across this article about an East Bay Company called CaliBowl was very uplifting. Calibowl is bringing manufacturing jobs back to the US, primarily to the Bay Area. This will be a great boost to the local economy, and as an added perk, the product itself is really spiffy.

I’ve recently ordered the set of bowls pictured above, so they haven’t arrived yet. What makes this bowl unique is that it’s marketed as “non-spill”, meaning there is an inner lip, so that when you scoop some salsa it falls into the spoon, rather than spilling out over the bowl. Granted, a little care and know-how with a couple of tortilla chips could solve the spill-over issue, the bowls are also designed for kids, which I’m guessing will help make mealtimes that much easier and less messy to deal with. I love using bowls as prep stations when I’m cooking and have to chop up various ingredients. Plus, I’ve been wanting to slowly convert all of my kitchen gadgets into green gadgets (both color and eco-friendliness). The cost is also considerably affordable when you look at the features specs:

Features

  • Patent pending lip around the top of the bowl is designed at an angle which pushes food onto your utensil avoiding any spillage and overflows.
  • Multi-size bowls accommodate a variety of kitchen tasks
  • Quantity 1-12oz low profile bowl, 1-28oz low profile bowl, 1-44oz low profile bowl with non slip bases
  • Nest neatly inside one another for easy storage
  • Made of Polypropylene, a plastic polymer that is exceptionally durable.
  • Manufactured using 100% recycled FDA approved materials
  • Dishwasher Safe
  • BPA Free

The Illusionist – Movie Review

The Illusionist Poster

IMDB summary:

A French illusionist finds himself out of work and travels to Scotland, where he meets a young woman. Their ensuing adventure changes both their lives forever.

In the beautifully animated French film by Sylvain Chomet, L’Illusionniste, a down and out magician befriends a young Scottish girl who followed him, believing that he is a real magician . The story that follows is one of friendship, loss of innocence, love and appreciation of life. Is not a romance, their relationship is more of a father-daughter relationship. The film is written by the same amazing mind that brought us the Triplets of Belleville.

I was crying at the end of the movie, I felt it was a bittersweet ending. The storyline and the overarching theme of loss of innocence is very subtly woven through the movie.  There is little to no dialogue in the entire film. You learn about the development of the relationship between the magician and the young girl through images, facial expressions and body language. Even the supplementary characters played powerful roles in shaping the lives of the magician and the young girl.  One thing I really loved was the animation and how the movie was actually not set in France. There is one scene in particular when they are riding a train going over a bridge. The reflection and slight waves in the water was amazing. I wanted to print each frame of the movie. If you can get your hands on this movie, I highly recommend it.

The Illusionist

The Illusionist

This really shouldn’t suprise anybody…

What you read on your various e-readers is being tracked and stored, according to this Wall Street Journal article. Meaning…Amazon & Barnes and Noble’s know which passages of Shades of Gray you’ve read over and over again, they know how long it takes you to finish a book, how long it takes you to start reading once you purchase/download a title, and more.  I highly encourage you to read the rest of the article to learn about the privacy and legal implications that this type of data-tracking can lead to.

Now, e-books are providing a glimpse into the story behind the sales figures, revealing not only how many people buy particular books, but how intensely they read them.

Barnes and Noble’s confirmed some interesting reading habits from its users:

Barnes & Noble has determined, through analyzing Nook data, that nonfiction books tend to be read in fits and starts, while novels are generally read straight through, and that nonfiction books, particularly long ones, tend to get dropped earlier. Science-fiction, romance and crime-fiction fans often read more books more quickly than readers of literary fiction do, and finish most of the books they start. Readers of literary fiction quit books more often and tend skip around between books.

I can definitely understand the appeal of e-readers, especially when going on vacation and not wanting to pack those 10 hardcover titles you’ve been meaning to read. I tried the Kindle, but it didn’t feel the same. Plus, my eyesight isn’t really in the greatest of shape, and reading that intently from an illuminated screen did not but just tire me out. If you use an e-reader, what it your take on the information that the publishers and vendors are collecting? How do you think it will effect publishing in general? The articles mentions that publishers might depart from the more creative manuscripts in favor of the mainstream crowd-pleaser. That I would hate to see. A world of Twilights everywhere you go. *shudder*

Paris in July – French Blogs to follow

Since I returned from France last year, my innate Francophilia has pretty much overloaded in all things French. As I plan my highly imaginative retirement in Europe, namely Provence, I’ve been following a number of bloggers that live in France. I thought I’d share these wonderful blogs who simultaneously make me jealous, but keep me close to France.

Do you follow any French bloggers? What are your favorites?

David Lebovitz – The Sweet Life In Paris. – A former chef of Berkeley’s famed Chez Panisse, David writes about food, Paris, and food in Paris. 2 of my favorite things. He’s a fantastic blogger, and responds to all his followers that leave comments as well as those who Tweet him on Twitter.

Amy Thomas – God I Love Paris – I read her book earlier this year and loved it. Her blog is mostly photo collections of both Paris and New York.

Invisible Paris – Highlights the secret nooks of Paris that tourists most definitely do not see when they travel there. A unique look into some of the darker sides to the city.

If Audrey Hepburn Says So…Then It Must Be True!

Bonjour tout le monde!

Cet mois est le celebration of Paris dans Juliett!

Via: Sarah Smile Design