19 July 2011

Firsts & Lasts

We went to our first movie without Liam over the weekend. We - I - chose to see "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt.2" because I've been waiting to see this movie since November.
It was glorious. The movie was the perfect ending to the series, which might very well be the best film franchise in recent history. I will miss Harry, Hermione, Ron and the rest of them but am comforted by the fact that my child will also be able to enjoy the books and the films, and we will enjoy them together. I hope that he asks me to read Harry Potter to him; I think it will be a really fun experience for both of us.

Many people posted this quote on Facebook over the weekend. While I enjoy both series, I have to throw my hat in with the Boy Who Lived.
Harry Potter is all about confronting fears, finding inner strength and doing what is right in the face of adversity... Twilight is about how important it is to have a boyfriend.


15 July 2011

Fun Friday: July 15th edition

First we went to Stroller Strides.
Liam (on right) and his friend Cody finally got to play at the end of class,
because both were awake and happy.

Then we went on Liam's first carousel ride. 
He was destined to enjoy it, 
since he loves the feeling of a breeze on his face.

That's pretty much it.
No major meltdowns.
Just a lovely day.
It was pretty awesome.
It's all about the small victories. 

10 July 2011

Review: The Man From Beijing

The Man From Beijing
Henning Mankell

We read this book for book group in the month of June, and the overall average score that this book received was a 3.43 out of 5. Originally I gave it a 4 star rating, but upon considering things as I prepared for this post I think I would have to knock my rating down to a 3.5, so I don't know what that would do to the above average.

Henning Mankell is a well-known author, though this was the first of his books that I had ever read. I got the free sample from Amazon and was hooked - the brutal murder all but guaranteed a great story that I would really enjoy. I love murder mysteries and intrigue.

I did enjoy the book as I was reading it. Let me say that upfront, because I would be insincere if I were to just criticize it and leave it at that.

The things I liked about the book:
1. I wanted to read it and see what happened next in the story, because I was interested in the way things played out.

2. The crime-solving narrative was interesting. As was the railroad narrative.

The problems that I had with the book:
1. There was a serious lack of tying up loose ends. I wasn't expecting everything to fit together really well like an episode of Law & Order or anything; there were just things that seemed like they were going to be important for a fair amount of time that ended up being relatively inconsequential and were never addressed, but I don't want to ruin the story so I won't say what they were here.

2. I think that it's possible that Mankell suffers from a bad translator, because a lot of the language seemed really forced and unbelievable.

3. The actual premise behind the murders was *somewhat* far-fetched. I say somewhat with a certain level of sarcasm, because it seemed really unrealistic.

4. The different parts, with the different narratives, didn't make the story hard to follow, but it seemed like they could have been separate books on their own and Mankell just didn't want to take the time to develop them very well.

5. There were many things that various characters did that seemed completely out of character, but they weren't explained in any way. It seemed like Mankell didn't have notes on the characters when he wrote the story, or that wouldn't have happened.

Okay, so would I recommend the book? Sure. But I wouldn't want you to expect it to be another Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Because it isn't. Where Stieg Larsson wrote a relatively complex story that was really well-developed, Mankell fell short on the development part and got a little too complex without explanation. Of course, I think that Mankell churns out a lot of books, so he might not have time to worry about these things.

Review: The Winter Sea

The Winter Sea
Susanna Kearsley
I admit, I bought this book on my kindle because it was on sale for $2.99 and since I was waiting for my book group to meet before I bought the book for the following month, I didn't want to spend a lot of money.

That tidbit aside, I was really glad that I bought this book and would have gladly paid the usual $9.99 that Amazon charges for a book to read it. The premise is both original and something I'm relatively familiar with: an author is working on a book and is inexplicably drawn to a castle on the coast of Scotland, where she gets more inspiration than she has on any previous works, because she essentially transcribes the memories of an ancestor who she *randomly* chooses to use as the narrator for the historical novel she's writing.

Okay, so the premise is *somewhat* reminiscent of a few other novels, because there are elements of time travel and romance and Scotsmen (all reminding me of Diana Gabaldon, another favorite author of mine). None of these elements make it any less enjoyable - it was not really a romance novel (though I get the impression that Kearsley may be more known for that based on the other recommended books I've been seeing) and much more of a historical fiction novel (even though that's only half of the novel).

One thing that I really enjoyed about the work was the jumping between the contemporary narrative of Carrie, and the 1708 narrative of Sophia. At times it would frustrate me because I'd be really involved in one story right as Kearsley would switch gears to the other one, but I learned to really appreciate the way that the one narrative fed into the other.

My only criticism of the novel was that I would have liked to have more of either story; I wanted to hear more than what Kearsley offered in the book. I felt like both narratives, but more so Sophia's, were unfinished. With Carrie's narrative, I felt like there wasn't enough backstory and I would have appreciated having more substance to her narrative, or more interaction with her family; with Sophia's story I felt like Kearsley could have (should) write another book that tells us what happens next, and I also would have appreciated a little more backstory. I suppose that with Diana Gabaldon's Outlander as a comparison I've been spoiled, because she always tells us what happens next.

All in all, it was a fun, light read. Perfect for summer. And the kindle sale price was un.beatable. I would rate the book 4 stars overall - it would have been higher if not for those MINOR things mentioned above.

08 July 2011

google+ (and -)

There has quite a bit of hullabaloo about google+ today.
So I put out a post on facebook asking for an invite and immediately got one from my friend Jack (thanks!).
And I was really excited to get into the whole google+ing of it all.
But I just don't get it.

And I don't know if it's because it's new, so there aren't very many people on it, or what, but something about it isn't adding up (or plussing up, I suppose). I'm having a hard time finding people on it more than anything. And I've also been trying to figure this out...can people who don't use gmail even use it? 

I'm still excited about it, but I think it will offer better competition to facebook if I can figure out how to fine people on it.