SMASH – A Love/Hate Relationship

I’ll say first off I love SMASH (Musical TV drama on NBC) more than I hate it, but there are a few things about the show that have been driving me nuts and I will feel better if I get them off my chest.

I’m going to start with the things about SMASH that keep me watching.

1)      Katherine McPhee as Karen – I gave up on American Idol before Katherine McPhee was on, but she has wowed me as a vocalist AND as an actress. 

2)      The character of Ivy – I love that the “competition” is a fully developed character that I don’t hate.  I don’t always like Ivy, but she’s sympathetic.

http://www.nbc.com/assets/video/widget/widget.html?vid=1383532

3)      Megan Hilty as Ivy – Again amazing vocals.  Megan Hilty has a more traditional Broadway voice, but equally fun to listen too.   She can play the diva and show vulnerability.

4)      The Songs – SMASH is a mix of original music and covers and I’ve loved all of the original music.

And all the things that drive me crazy revolve around one character – Julia Houston

1)      The character of Julia Houston/ Debra Messing as Julia Houston – I don’t know if my problem is just the character or if it’s Debra Messing portrayal of the character, but I do not like her.

2)      The affair between Julia and Michael Swift – I feel like the writer’s decided to cheat by saying the Julia and Michael had a previous affair to speed up the drama.  The result is I have NO idea what he sees in her.  Nothing they’ve shown us makes it even slightly believable that he is that hung up on her.

3)      The adoption storyline – I seriously wouldn’t care if they dropped this storyline without a word.  I don’t care.  And they seriously expect me to believe that her 16 or 17 year old son would be that devastated if they didn’t adopt.

4)      Ellis – Yes, Julia is a bitch to Ellis and I still hate him.  He’s annoying and transparent and I can’t believe Tom doesn’t see right through him.

P.S. – Sorry that video is just a link.  I’ve had this post written for over a week, but was going to research how to get the video to play from the blog and haven’t had time.   I gave up and decided to post before the topic was outdated.

Top 10 Tuesday – Top Ten Books I’d play hooky with

Each Tuesday The Broke and The Bookish provide a book related Top 10 theme.

In all honesty I’d love to play hooky with most books – including re-reads, but then I’d have no income to support my book habit. 

The first four are books I remember actually playing hooky with:

1 – 3.  Three to Get Ready, Four To Score, and High Five by Janet Evanovich. 

 I was in my second year of college and over the weekend I’d gone home and my parents had the first two Stephanie Plum books.  I read them both over the weekend.  Back at school I knew there were three more out that I hadn’t read,  so on my way to class one day I stopped at the bookstore and picked them up….and then went back to my dorm room instead of class and read all three.  I didn’t go to class at all that day.

4.  Did You Hear About Amber? by Cherie Bennett

I didn’t physically skip school for this one – just mentally.   I got caught reading it during Algebra in eighth grade.  My teachers caught me reading with some regularity in middle school, but this was the only one who told my parents (it still ticks me off because I had a very comfortable A in that class).  My parents grounded me from my books for a month.

And six books I’d currently love to play hooky with

5.  Lonesome Dove by Larry McMurtry 

I really want to read this one, but it’s a big book and I want to have time to read it without stressing.

 6.  Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell

This doesn’t get released until 2013 in theUS, but I splurged a little and order it from Amazon UK.  It will get here at the end of April, and I would definitely love to sneak out and read this one.

 7.  The Twelve by Justin Cronin

Okay so this isn’t out yet, but I cannot wait for it so if it comes out on a Tuesday, I might feel a bit of a flu coming on.

 8.  Looking for Alaska by John Green

I just read “The Fault in Our Stars” and loved it and am just waiting for the right relaxing time to sit down with this one (work has been crazy lately and I’ve been sticking to rereads).

 9.   Stay Close by Harlan Coben

One of my favorite authors and it should arrive at my house any day now!

 10.  Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris

Road trip book.  I’m not a fan of audio books in general, but David Sedaris is even funnier when you listen to him read his own stories.

Personal Reading Challenge – Non-fiction Point/Counterpoint

I’m opinionated and stubborn.  My parents would probably say stubborn is one of the first personality traits they saw in me.  Obviously what I’m opinionated and stubborn about has changed since I was a toddler (as has how I handle my stubbornness) but it’s still there.

I’m also mainly a fiction reader and sometimes I wish I read more non-fiction.  When I do read non-fiction it has a tendency to reinforce what I already believe.

So my challenge for the year is to read 2 non-fiction book on the same topic, but with opposite views.  So read one book explaining the dangers of Global Warming, followed by one with the view that Global Warming doesn’t exist.  Or a book on Veganism, followed by a book promoting a Paleo diet.

I believe these are the two I will read, but I’m still examining my options.  If anyone has suggestions I’d love to hear them.

Point

May All be Fed: Diet for a New World by John Robbins  (Summary from Amazon)

Since the 1987 publication of Diet for a New America, beef consumption in the United States has fallen a remarkable 19%. While many forces are contributing to this dramatic shift in our habits, Diet for a New America is considered to be one of the most important. Diet for a New America is a startling examination of the food we currently buy and eat in theUnited States, and the astounding moral, economic, and emotional price we pay for it.

In Section I, John Robbins takes an extraordinary look at our dependence on animals for food and the inhumane conditions under which these animals are raised. It becomes clear that the price we pay for our eating habits is measured in the suffering of animals, a suffering so extreme and needless that it disrupts our very place in the web of life.

Section II challenges the belief that consuming meat is a requirement for health by pointing out the vastly increased rate of disease caused by pesticides, hormones, additives, and other chemicals now a routine part of our food production. The author shows us that the high health risk is unnecessary, and that the production, preparation, and consumption of food can once again be a healthy process.

In Section III, Robbins looks at the global implications of a meat-based diet and concludes that the consumption of the resources necessary to produce meat is a major factor in our ecological crisis.

Diet for a New America is the single most eloquent argument for a vegetarian lifestyle ever published. Eloquently, evocatively, and entertainingly written, it is a cant put down book guaranteed to amaze, infuriate, but ultimately educate and empower the reader. A pivotal book nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Non-Fiction in 1987.

Counterpoint

The Vegetarian Myth:  Food, Justice, and Sustainability by Lierre Keither (Summary from Amazon)

Part memoir, nutritional primer, and political manifesto, this controversial examination exposes the destructive history of agriculture—causing the devastation of prairies and forests, driving countless species extinct, altering the climate, and destroying the topsoil—and asserts that, in order to save the planet, food must come from within living communities. In order for this to happen, the argument champions eating locally and sustainably and encourages those with the resources to grow their own food. Further examining the question of what to eat from the perspective of both human and environmental health, the account goes beyond health choices and discusses potential moral issues from eating—or not eating—animals. Through the deeply personal narrative of someone who practiced veganism for 20 years, this unique exploration also discusses alternatives to industrial farming, reveals the risks of a vegan diet, and explains why animals belong on ecologically sound farms.

Top 10 Tuesday – Top 10 Top Ten Books On My Spring To-Be-Read list

Each Tuesday The Broke and The Bookish provide a book related Top 10 theme.

 

I love Spring – not just because the weather is nice and it’s light outside at night – but because a lot of my favorite authors release books in the Spring.   The first five books on this list are highly anticipated arrivals and the second five are books I’ve had on my list for at least a month that I’m finally going to find time to read!

  1. Stolen Prey – John Sandford (5/15/2012) – LOVE Sandford – he’s a must buy in hardback
  2. Insurgent – Veronica Roth  (5/1/2012) – I enjoyed reading Divergent more than the Hunger Games, but do think that The Hunger Games is a better overall book.  I’m hoping the second books improves on the first book.
  3. Stay Close – Harlan Coben (Today!) – It’s not a Myron book, but still one of my fav authors
  4. More Like Her – Liza Palmer (4/17/2012) – Yay!  I haven’t read a new one by Palmer in awhile and I just LOVE her main characters.
  5. The Garden of Happy Endings – Barbara O’Neal (4/17/12) – Her books always incorporate dogs and recipes into the story.  Someday I need to try the recipes (already have a dog).
  6. Just Listen – Sarah Dessen – I have this on Kindle and just haven’t read it yet.  It’s weird, I really enjoyed the first Sarah Dessen book I read a couple years ago, but never picked up another one.  I think I was afraid they would all be really similiar it would diminish how I felt about “The Truth about Forever”, but all of her books seem to come well recommended on the blogs so “Just Listen” is next.
  7. Pure – Julianna Baggott – I’ve read several reviews of this and all of them are positive.  I bought it a month ago, but haven’t been in the mood for Dystopia. 
  8. Lonesome Dove – Larry McMurtry – I have always wanted to read this and I’m trying to stretch my reading habits a little.
  9. Blink – Malcolm Gladwell – I love looking at things from different perspectives so I’ve always wanted to read one of Gladwell’s books.
  10. Saving Francesca – Melina Marchetta – I just recently read a few reviews of Marchetta’s novels and this one sounded really good.

Top 10 Tuesday – Top Ten “Books men won’t read”

Each Tuesday The Broke and The Bookish provide a book related Top 10 theme.

This is not a list of the “best” books.  It’s a list of the books I enjoyed the most and have reread to the point of memorization.  Like comfort food, these books may not be the smartest choices, but they go down easy.

  1. Seeing Me Naked – Liza Palmer

I really identified with Elizabeth even though our backgrounds couldn’t be more different.  I grew up in a very loving, non-competitive, middle class family.  She grew up in a family that loved her but didn’t express it, very competitive, wealthy and had a famous father.  But somehow every time she scolded herself mentally for being a snob I could really identify.  I think people would like me a lot less if they knew what I was thinking. Elizabeth also feared emotional intimacy – that’s what the title is referring to – her fear of letting people see who she really is without her sarcasm as a shield and I can really relate to that.

  1. AttachmentsRainbow Rowell

I read an interview with the author, and she said that this book started with just a bunch of Beth and Jennifer’s conversations and all she was really trying to do was make her self laugh.  I assume she succeeded because Lord knows that those conversations made me laugh.  If you click the author’s name above you’ll be taken to her blog with a deleted Beth/Jennifer email scene.

  1. If You Lived Here You’d Be Home By Now – Claire Lazebnik

I loved this book.  I’ve really enjoyed all of Lazebnik’s novels, but this is my favorite.  Word of warning – Rickie, the main character, isn’t always likeable.  She snaps at her mother and frequently loses patience with her son.  But I could just understand why she reacted the way she did even if it wasn’t the best response.  I know when I’m frustrated I take it out on the people I trust to love me anyway.  The story just felt very real to me.

  1. Gone With the Wind – Margaret Mitchell

I cannot express how much I love this book.  As a teenage I was jealous of Scarlett’s easy way with men.  As an adult I’m come to appreciate that for as bratty as Scarlett behaves there’s something admirable in how she goes after what she needs/wants. You can call her selfish all you want, but she made sure her family had enough to eat.

  1. All American Girl – Meg Cabot

This book is so fun.  In a day and age of insta-celebrity because of reality shows it was fun to read a book about a girl who had the instant fame, but not on purpose. 

  1. The Last Summer (of you and me) – Ann Brashares

Beach books evoke a sense of nostalgia for me, kinda strange seeing as I grew up in theMidwestwith very little exposure to beaches.  I also love stories about couples who grew up together and then fell in love.

  1. Baby Proof – Emily Giffin

This is a book that really grew on me.  I enjoyed it the first time I read it and have like it more every time since.  I found it amazing how much I identified with the main character.  She’s married to an amazing man and when they got married they both agreed that they didn’t want kids.  Three years into the marriage he changes his mind and wants kids.  She feels really betrayed by his change of heart and reading about how they deal with it is heartbreaking.  I actually really want kids, but I can understand the difficulty in compromise especially on an issue you though was already settled.

  1. The Bean Trees / Pigs in Heaven – Barbara Kingsolver

This is kind of cheating, but they are both short books, especially for Kingsolver and Pigs in Heaven is the sequel to The Bean trees. TaylorleavesKentuckycause she doesn’t want to get pregnant and stuck there.  As she’s driving thoughOklahomaa woman essentially just gives her a small child. 

  1. How to Teach Filthy Rich Girls – Zoey Dean

This is the classic light beach read.  It’s fun, there’s a little romance, a tiny bit of intrigue and a makeover by a drag queen. 

  1. A Total Waste of Makeup – Kim Gruenenfelder

I found this book hilarious.  Throughout the book Charlize is writing a book of advice to her grandniece (she has no confidence she’ll ever meet someone and have kids of her own).   Some of the advice is really good, some is just funny, and a lot of it is both.  Charlize is the personal assistant of a really big movie star and he has a tendency to get into some really outrageous situations, which I’ll admit aren’t always believable, but are very funny.

Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver

Pandemonium

Lauren Oliver
HarperCollins
2012, 384 pgs
Purchased (Kindle)

Book Summary from Amazon

I’m pushing aside
the memory of my nightmare,
pushing aside thoughts of Alex,
pushing aside thoughts of Hana
and my old school,
push,
push,
push,
like Raven taught me to do.
The old life is dead.
But the old Lena is dead too.
I buried her.
I left her beyond a fence,
behind a wall of smoke and ?ame.

Lauren Oliver delivers an electrifying follow-up to her acclaimed New York Times bestseller, Delirium. This riveting, brilliant novel crackles with the fire of fierce defiance, forbidden romance, and the sparks of a revolution about to ignite.

My Summary

The official summary doesn’t say much so it’s difficult to summarize or review for fear of spoiling something.  If you read Delirium, loved it and are planning to read it don’t read the review.  My target audience for this review are those who, like me, enjoyed Delirium, but didn’t LOVE it.

The story is told in “Then” and “Now” chapters.  In the “Then” chapters we see Lena in the Wilds right after her escape.  She meets several new people who help her adjust to the more challenging life outside the city.  I enjoyed these flashes of Lena getting stronger and being challenged. 

In the “Now” chapters, Lena is undercover inNew York Cityvery similar to Alex being undercover inPortlandin the previous book.  She has the scars the “prove” she’s cured of “deliria nervosa”.  Part of her cover involves being involved in a group called the DFA that advocates giving the cure even earlier than 18 even though it’s dangerous.  There’s another group called the Scavengers.  The Scavengers are also uncured, but they don’t have a purpose other than destruction.  Since to the people inside the city don’t differentiate between the Invalids like Lena and the Scavengers, the Invalid’s goal of taking down the city walls and eliminating the cure much more difficult.

Okay second warning – SPOILERS coming

My opinions

I really liked Lena’s love interest in the previous book, even though I didn’t connect with them as much as many other readers did.  I really enjoyed not being subjected to a love triangle in the first book, but alas it is not possible in Young Adult novels for the female main character to only have one.  In Pandemonium, Lena believes Alex is dead, so when she meets Julian, the good looking poster boy for the DFA and hates him, anyone reading the book knows he’s going to be her new love interest.  I really didn’t find them as a romantic relationship believable or interesting. 

Pandemonium has several fight scenes and in EVERY. SINGLE. ONE of them Lena is about to die, has given up, and is saved at the last min, and someone who shows up at the perfect moment.  I found this plot device annoying the first time it happened so it just continued to get to me as the book went on.

The concept of these books has so much potential that I was really disappointed that the author resorted to such clichéd devices.

Basically I enjoyed reading Pandemonium, but it didn’t WOW me or add anything that hadn’t been explored in the first book.

6 out of 10 stars

Top 10 Tuesday – Top Ten Books Covers

Each Tuesday The Broke and The Bookish provide a book related Top 10 theme. 

My personal spin on this topic – Top 10 books I picked up because of the book cover and enjoyed.  These lead me to a few of my favorite authors.

Seeing Me Naked by Liza Palmer is one of my favorite “chick lit” books.  This is one of the many books on this list that I picked up at Target on a whim.  I just liked the cover.  And the title.  Now I really wish Liza Palmer wrote faster.

 

 

The Secret of Everything by Barbara O’Neal.  The cover was a little intriguing and there’s a dog!  Enough said.  The book its self was the right mix of intrigue and food and family.  I followed this up with 2 more books by Barbara O’Neal and now note on my calendar when her new books are coming.

 

The Boy Next Door by Meg Cabot.  I picked this book up at the Student Bookstore on campus at least 5 times before I bought it because the email formatting always threw me off.  I finally ended up buying it and really enjoyed it. 

 

 

The Smart One and the Pretty One by Claire Lazebnik.  I bought this book based on the cover and the title.  My mom grew up with two sisters and she always felt like they each were unofficially labeled.  The oldest was the smart one, the middle sister was the talented one, and the youngest was the pretty one.

 

Comeback by Claire and Mia Fontaine.  Talk about a tear jerker.  I cried most of the second half of this book – but in good way.

 

 

 

Wildflower Hill by Kimberley Freeman.  I bought this a Target based on the cover and then it sat on my TBR pile for a while.  I finally read it at the end of last year and it was really good. 

 

 

 

Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden.  It’s hard to believe, but I hadn’t heard of this before I saw it on the shelf.  I think the color contrast is really striking.

 

 

 

The Last Summer (of You & Me) by Ann Brashares.  I think what drew me to this one was the beach on the cover and the word summer in the title.  I’m always a little jealous of the people who had summer houses on the beach.  And the many books in this setting make me think my envy is justified.

 

 

American on Purpose by Craig Ferguson.  Come on Craig Ferguson in an American flag kilt!  I’m in.  It wasn’t as funny as I was expecting but Craig is more insightful then I expected.  I bought the audio book and Craig’s accent is a wonderful bonus!

 

 

Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.  Yes really.  I was living a cave and had never heard of Twilight (and this was about two months before Breaking Dawn came out).  I saw it on an endcap at Borders and thought the cover was interesting and then read the back summary and though – “I haven’t read anything vampire related since high school, why not” – not knowing that a year later I’d be so vampired out I could scream.