Wednesday, July 20, 2011

gods in Alabama

Grade: B
Profanity: Yes... lots
Graphic content (sex, murder,etc.): Yes... sex, rape, and murder 

This was July's Book Club pick. (I really need to start reading more than 1 book a month if I'm going to reach my 101 in 1001 goal!!) I wasn't sure what to expect, but the teaser on the back cover had me a little worried:

There are gods in Alabama: Jack Daniel's, high school quarterbacks, trucks, big tits, and also Jesus. I left one back there myself...

I was hoping there'd be more "Jesus" than "big tits," and although that wasn't necessarily the case, I did actually enjoy the book. I will say that there was a whole lot of profanity (which I'm not a big fan of in case you couldn't tell), and a few pretty raunchy parts that made my eyes bulge and mouth say, "Well okay then..." Here's the summary printed on my copy:

When Arlene Fleet heads up north for college, she promises God that she'll stop fornicating and lying, and never, ever go back to her hometown in Alabama. All she wants from Him is one miracle: make sure the body is never found. Now, ten years later, God breaks the deal when a dark secret from her past lands on her Chicago doorstep. With the fickle finger of fate pointing her south, Arlene must return to the heart of redneck country, where a powerful truth can destroy her life... or save it.

Although the book had a few slow moments, the deeper I got into the story, the harder it was to put down... which is always a good thing. There were a few twists and turns too, particularly towards the end, so it kept me on my toes. And though a few of the characters were a little extreme at times, they were all believable.

Jackson touches some pretty heavy subjects in this novel, but she was also able to bring out many chuckles along the way. However, I think it was because as an Alabama girl myself, I was familiar with the customs and setting of the story. So if you've never been here, you may not enjoy the book as much...
Ultimately, I think gods in Alabama focused more on the power of family than the power of God (although who says they don't go hand-in-hand??). And although I would definitely caution first due to the language and graphic content, I would recommend this to read.
For August's Book Club, we are reading The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux. But I'm going to try and squeeze in Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen first. That's 700 pages in 30 days... or about 24 pages a day. I can totally do that! (Wish me luck...)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Another Lovely Mail Day

My mail's piling up on me, so I guess I'll go ahead and post this too ; )

Ok, so I'll start with my outgoing mail as usual. Here are the latest Postcrossing postcards I've sent. There aren't that many... I need to go get some more international postcard stamps!!:

And now on to my latest Swap-bot swap sends. I'll start with my 2nd attempt at an ATC. I actually wasn't that crazy about this one... I got a little crazy with the swirls:

These are two postcards I sent for an "Owl Postcard" swap. The 2nd one is a picture I drew on Paint while I was bored at work... Ha, ha!! : )

And finally, I sent a couple letters to penpals. Here's one... I mailed the other today but forgot to scan it!

Ok, and now my latest incoming goodies! : )  Here are the latest Postcrossing cards I've received, along with a few "beauty" definitions:

I loved the message side of this postcard just as much as the picture side! : )

From Julia in Russia:
"Beauty for me is... experience in the eyes and wide kind smile : )"

Stamp from Estonia

A groovy Kate Beckinsale card I got from Germany

Silvia from Indonesia:
"Well, I guess my definition of 'beauty' is the breathtaking of nature's creation. And this postcard is showing you. That left us to wonder who is the creator of this beauty."

And speaking of beauty, I love this lovely stamp she included : )

From Effi in The Netherlands:
"Beauty is important, but more important for me is the beauty of life. For me that's to be with my kids, friends, ... all the persons that I love. Just being together, being appreciated. Knowing that you and your friends will always be there for each other."

Here are the latest Swap-bot items I've received, starting with some "What the??" postcards:

Weird, right!? Here is the owl postcard I received for that swap:

This is a bookmark I received... It was painted by a "Mouth and Foot Painting Artist." Isn't that crazy?? They did a great job!

This is a beautiful ATC I received from Rachel. She does private swaps if you're interested... Just click on her name for more info : )

Check out this cool envelope Sarah sent me... It's the map from her house to mine. Such a fun idea! : )

And finally, my sweet cousin Summer sent me this after she saw a tweet I sent last week that said, "Opening an empty mailbox is 1 of the worst feelings in the world..." It made my day! : ) I love mail!! And great friends!

And the inside:

And that's it for now! I've slacked a little on my mail because of the move coming up, so hopefully once we get settled in the new house, I'll be on full blast! : )

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2

Grade: A+ 
Profanity: One or two... not bad
Graphic content (sex, murder,etc.): A little more gruesome than the previous ones... some blood and lots of dead bodies


Okay, so... wow! It was sooooo good!!! I ended up going to the midnight showing after all, and it was worth it! : ) And I've already seen it two more times. I went Saturday w/ my cousins Summer and Heather, and I went last night w/ my hubby, Matt. And it was just as good the 3rd time as it was the 1st! I also saw it in both 2D and 3D, and I actually preferred it in 2D... I didn't think the 3D effects made the extra $$ or headache from wearing those glasses for so long worth it.

Matt said he thought this was the best movie of the whole series... I'm still thinking about that one. It would be easy for me to say that right now and wholeheartedly believe it, but to be fair to the other movies, I'm going to wait a little while for the excitement of this one to wear off. ; )

I was a little worried about some of the key points in the book changing in the movie, but it stayed pretty true to it. Some things were changed a little, and a few things were added, but I thought everything flowed well for the most part. I did notice the 3rd time I watched it that the young Snape had bright blue eyes... But doesn't Snape have brown eyes??

And I wasn't that crazy about how Voldemort died. In the book, Harry has figured out that he's the master of the Elder Wand, and he tries to talk Voldemort out of doing anything stupid because he knows the wand won't work for him... but Voldemort tries to kill Harry anyway and the spell backfires, killing Voldemort. So ultimately, Voldemort kills himself. But in the movie, Harry and Voldemort cast spells at eachother, which causes those connected Ghostbuster Proton Pack-like streams, then the Elder Wand is propelled out of Voldemort's hand and lands in Harry's. For a moment, I was worried that Harry was then going to use the wand to kill Voldemort... I would not have liked that at all. Harry wasn't a murderer. But instead, Voldemort just turned to ash... I didn't think it was made clear enough what had killed him. Matt, who hasn't read the books, confirmed that when I asked him. He figured the horcruxes were Voldemort's life force, so that when Nagini was killed (the last horcrux), Voldemort automatically died too. So again, I thought that should have been made more clear.

I was also worried when Neville first pulled Gryffindor's sword out of the Sorting Hat. In the book, he kills Nagini right then and there... So in the movie when that didn't happen, I was nervous that he wouldn't be the one to kill Nagini. That wouldn't have sat well with me either, since that was one of my favorite parts of the book. But Neville did kill Nagini, so it all worked out. I also liked the part they added where Neville admits he has a crush on Luna. : ) What a great couple they would make!

I bawled in all the places I knew I would the 1st time I watched it, and I surprisingly cried just as much the 2nd time... but I was able to hold it in while watching it w/ Matt. He's not a big crier, and I didn't want him making fun of me. ; ) The biggest cry came, like I knew it would, when Snape died, along with when Harry sees all Snape's memories. That was such a touching part of the book, and I always cried while reading it, so I figured I'd do the same when seeing it on the big screen... Other parts that I knew would make me cry: when Fred, Lupin, and Tonks died and when brave little Neville stood up to Voldemort and killed Nagini. What can I say... I'm a softie.

I loved that they ended the movie the way the book ended as well. I know there was a big controversy a while back when scenes from the ending were leaked, and people thought the makeup used to make the actors look older was horrible... I can't remember if I checked out the leaked photos, but I thought they did a pretty good job in the movie. (Although I believe they reshot that scene after all the bad feedback.) Matt liked that ending too. He thought it brought a sense of closure to the Harry Potter series. And even though I hate that it's all over now, I agree. : )

So, hopefully if you've read all that, you've already seen the movie, or else I completely ruined it for you... But on the off chance you haven't seen it yet, you really need to!! And if you have seen it, what did you think? Did I get all my book vs. movie facts right? It's been a while since I've read them...

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Weigh-In Wednesday... huh?

So, it's been over a month since I've weighed in... How pathetic! I don't have any excuses. Well, I have plenty of course, but I'm not going to make them. So on to other things...

I really need to start blogging more. I miss it! Lately I've just squeezed in posts about book reviews and mail, but I'd like to start getting back to regular entries about my life. That'll mean boring posts for you though! ; )

And I miss reading all of your blogs... Well, I've actually been reading most of them, but my computer here at work won't let me leave comments. I guess it's this computer anyway... it may be Blogger. I need to try to leave one from my home computer to see if that works.

So let's see... this has been a pretty busy month. We're supposed to close on the new house in two weeks. I'm super excited!!!!!! But I'm getting a little stressed trying to decide how I want to decorate and furnish everything. I probably need to wait until we're actually in the house to get a lot of stuff though... For instance, I went to Bed, Bath & Beyond to start picking things out yesterday, but totally forgot what the guest bath looks like! That kind of makes it hard to pick out a shower curtain...

And I'm SUPER DUPER excited about Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 coming out Friday! I was supposed to go to the midnight showing tomorrow night, but I think I've talked myself out of it. I'd only get like 2 hours of sleep before having to get up for work, and I'm not as young as I used to be! But the idea of losing out on a pair of "Harry Potter" 3D glasses is making that grown-up decision a hard one...

Hmmm... what else... Oh, my cousin Summer reminded me this morning that our family reunion is next weekend. I'm really excited about that, since it's been forever since we've had one! My Dad's the youngest of 7, and I have a gajillion 1st and 2nd cousins, so hopefully we'll have a good crowd. I can't wait to see everyone... I'll be sure and do a post of it afterwards! And maybe even a Harry Potter post ; )

Hope you're having a great week so far!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister

Grade: B+
Profanity: Nothing bad that I can recall
Graphic content (sex, murder,etc.): Some violence and sex-related themes, but nothing terribly graphic

This was June's Book Club pick. I had never heard of it, but being a lover of all things fairy tale, I felt sure I would like it. : )  Here is the synopsis on the back of my copy:

     In the lives of children, pumpkins can turn into coaches, mice and rats into human beings.... When we grow up we learn that it's far more common for human beings to turn into rats.

     We all have heard the story of Cinderella, the beautiful child cast out to slave among the ashes. But what of her stepsisters, the homely pair exiled into ignominy by the fame of their lovely sibling? What fate befell those untouched by beauty... and what curses accompanied Cinderella's exquisite looks?

     Set against the rich backdrop of seventeenth-century Holland, Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister is a novel of beauty and betrayal, illusion and understanding, reminding us that deception can be unearthed - and love unveiled - in the most unexpected of places.

A lot of the girls at Book Club said they weren't that fond of the book, but I enjoyed it... I was a little worried at first, because Cinderella comes across as a total spoiled brat in the beginning, and I didn't want to end up hating her character in other versions of her story because of reading Confessions. But I warmed up to her a little throughout the story...

I felt the plot flowed pretty well, but I definitely think those already familiar with the "Cinderella" story would get more out of the book than those who weren't... It's much, much darker than the normal fairy tale, so if you're looking for a "happily ever after," you should pass this book up.

One of the main themes of the novel is beauty, and whether having it is a good thing or a bad thing. The book really makes you question that...

There's an interesting twist at the ending of Confessions as well. It doesn't really affect the story at all, but it did make me think back over the story to see if I should have caught something...

All-in-all, I would recommend reading Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister. It's not the most cheerful thing, but a little melancholy won't hurt you. ; )