Perfect Love

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Welcome to the most boring day of my life dear readers. I spent the day puppy sitting my parents' dog Oliver, watching cartoons, and reading today's book. Try to hold the jealousy in dear readers, I know you wish that you were leading as exciting of a life as I'm leading right now.

Today's book, "In the uneasy role of a young bride encountering a new stepdaughter, Prue, now married 20 years, has never gotten along with Violet - still insolent at 27. The awkward blend of Violet's new husband and son and Prue's family has explosive results. Prior to meeting Violet's husband, Jamie, meek and obedient Prue's only passion had been Joan of Arc. She is researching and writing Joan's biography. In her relationship with Jamie, she is torn between meaningful love and family loyalty. The novel alternates between Prue's narrative and her research of Joan's life. Prue takes strength from Joan and sees similarities in both of their lives."

It's been a while since I've read a fluffy sort of book (or as I like to call them, airport books, because they are precisely the kind of book you would find sandwiched between People magazine and the candy bar rack in an airport gift shop) - so I decided today would be the perfect day for it since I'm not feeling great today and I don't enjoy having to think when I feel bad. I just want to shut off my brain, crawl under the covers, and watch Brady Bunch . . . oh, I mean read a nice fluffy book. But, unfortunately today's book was not a very interesting one. I had a hard time connecting to, liking, or caring about what happened to, any of the characters. Plus, the book felt like it was weighed down with too many different story lines going on at once.

Since the book was rather dull, I've decided to save you the trouble of having to read it, and share with you the notable sentences of the book, of which there were only a few.

Notable sentences:

  • "Let me tell you a story about an adultery, a heroine, a child's anger, voices, Joan of Arc, and since it was 1992, recession." - This was the first sentence of the book, which should have been a strong indication to me that the plot of today's book was going to be overwhelming and dare I say, overloaded. But, since I'm a literary optimist, I ignore the warning sign and instead thought, Wow, Ms. Author is really laying it all out on the table there. Live and learn. Or in my case, live and don't learn.

  • "But, then, it is almost impossible for the lives of people who are bound together by deep feeling and habit, not to seep into each other." - Do you think that's the reason why some mothers go around saying things like, "We're feeling cranky today. But we're about to drink a bottle and then we'll feel better." I really want to know - because I need to understand what force it is that makes people unable to realized that we are not drinking a bottle, the baby is drinking a bottle - so that I can avoid a similar fate in the future.

  • "Whatever else she had expected, she had learned quickly that bookshops are not peaceful places." - Not peaceful places? Every feeling revolts. Even now, hours later, I'm reeling from having read that sentence. As far as I'm concerned, there is no place on earth more peaceful than a bookstore. I would rather go to a bookstore than a spa (of course I hate spas, but you get my point dear readers.) I walk into a bookstore and my immediate reaction is Ahhhhhhh. All is right with the world once again.

Love Story

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Today is the Anniversary of the day when my parents met (which they celebrate every year.) As of today, they have known one another for 39 years, a fact I am having trouble wrapping my mind around. So to commemorate that I decided to share a 70s picture, and read a book that ties in with their early dating years.

I have been told by various relatives that my Mother had a teenage crush on Bobby Sherman, and that she also thought my Dad looked a little bit like him. Coincidence? I think not.

My Father has shared that his first impression of my Mother was that he thought she was out of his league. My Mother's first impression of my Dad, she thought he was looking up her skirt. They met, at the age of 15, when they were working at the same restaurant. My Mom was sent to refill salt shakers, and unbeknownst to her my Dad had been told to tape the tablecloths to the bottom of the tables (so clearly it was a classy joint) and so he was on the floor, under the table, when they first met. My Mother began yelling at him, accusing him of being under the table with the intention of looking up her dress, and when I imagine this scenario I somehow always see her hitting him with a menu. My Mom doesn't like this story because it's not exactly a fairytale beginning - but I like to remind her that almost every romantic comedy begins with the couple disliking each other and arguing over something trivial before they eventually realize they love each other.

Today's book, "Oliver Barett IV went to Harvard, and Jenny Cavilleri to Radcliffe. He was rich, and she was poor. He was a jock; she was a serious music type. Nonetheless, they feel in love and got married. Their story is funny, touching, and infused with wonder, as all love stories should be. Unlike most contemporary fiction dealing with young people, Love Story makes no claim to showing where it's at. Rather, it simply shows how it feels."

Love thoughts:

  • I went back and forth for a few days on what book to read today, and I eventually settled on Love Story because the movie that the book inspired was what my parents watched on their very first date. Earlier today my Dad shared with me how nervous he was on that date because he was convinced he had been stood up. My Mother was late because she was too young to drive and therefore had to wait around for an adult to drive her to the movie theater, and the adults in question, her Mother and sister, were busy having a fight about whether my cousin should be wearing disposable diapers (My Grandmother being against them and my Aunt presenting the case in favor of them.) Lucky for everyone involved - and for those of us who are the result of the relationship in question - the argument was resolved in time for my Mom to get to the theater before my Dad left.

  • I am perhaps the last person left on earth who didn't know the way Love Story ends before reading it, and so when my Mother warned me that it was a downer I thought, How sad could it really be? And then I opened the book to begin reading, and this was the very first sentence, "What can you say about a twenty-five-year old girl who died?" So clearly I was laboring under some false impressions about what the book was actually going to be about. All I knew going in was that quote about how love means never having to say you're sorry.

  • Despite the sadness of the book, I really enjoyed reading it. Which is odd for me because I am generally the kind of reader who likes to be molly-coddled with pleasant diversions and a happy ending. I think what helped is that the book was unexpectedly amusing in places - and there's something about a book that makes me laugh and cry that is hard to resist (despite how emotionally dead I normally am.) So I would definitely recommend today's book - which earns the distinction of being the shortest book I have read this year at only 133 pages. Normally I like to read books that are no shorter than about 200 pages, but I just couldn't pass up the chance to read a book that was so perfect for this day. Besides, I think I've earned an easier reading day after reading a book that was over 500 pages earlier in the week.

And now dear readers, I would like to hear your How-We-Met or your How-My-Parents-Met stories.


After several hours of computer problems that involved my computer freezing up for long periods of time, I am finally now able to get today's blog entry up. Sorry for the delay dear readers.

Before I get to today's blog entry, it's page count time. Actually, it's supposed to be chapter and page count time, but I made the mistake this week of returning a few books to the library before checking to see how many chapters were in them, so I'm going to have to fill the chapter part in later.

For the week:

PAGES - 2,450

For the year:

PAGES - 91,384

Today's book, "During a summer at the Darlington Peach Orchard in Georgia, Murphy, Leeda, and Birdie discover the true meaning of friendship despite their differences. Murphy, a bright, sarcastic 16-year-old from the wrong side of town, is completing community service at the orchard. Wealthy Leeda lives in her perfect older sister's shadow. She decides to work at her uncle's orchard on a whim and then is too proud to change her mind. Birdie Darlington is trying to keep the farm running despite the fact that her mother has left and her father refuses to face the desperate straits that the business is in. As the summer progresses, the girls bond and realize that you cannot judge someone by her financial or family situation."

Shallow thoughts:

  • Last week, when I read Whislin' Dixie in a Nor'easter, my sister pointed out that it was the second week in a row when I had read a book with a peach on the cover, which was something that was not only unintentional but I hadn't even realized it until it was pointed out to me. It was at that point that Alissa and C. challenged me to come up with a third book with a peach on the cover. Naturally I had to do it (although I am firmly drawing the line here - there will NOT be a fourth book with a peach on the cover no matter who double dares me.)

  • Since I have now read three peach-related books in a row I feel it's only right to tell you which one was my favorite. The winner of the "Best Peach Themed Book" award goes to (drum roll please): Whislin' Dixie in a Nor'Easter. Today's book was my least favorite of the three. I struggled all day to connect to the characters and get into the book - but it never happened. I was on page 178 and I was still thinking, I don't even care how this book ends.

  • The book also mentions one of my biggest pet peeves, church signs that have stupid quotes on them - annoying things like, "Everyone has patience, successful people know how to use it." I truly want to know, is there anyone in the world who has ever seen one of those signs and thought, "Yes, I have found the source of wisdom. I must go inside." Whenever I see one of those signs I am often tempted to go inside, but for a vastly different reason. I want to go inside so I can plead with whoever put that sign up, and tell them, "Don't lower yourself to this. Don't toss your dignity away on the front lawn. You're better than this." But since what I have to say does not contain a catchy slogan, I'm guessing my words would fall on deaf ears.

  • Most horrifying passage of the book, "Birdie had been to Disney World, but she'd never liked it. It didn't feel like real life." - She didn't like Disney World? My brain can't even process that sentence. I have heard of these strange people who don't like Disney World, but I still find it hard to believe that they actually exist. How is it possible to not like Disney World? And how could a person not understand that Disney World isn't meant to be exactly like real life - it's supposed to be about fantasy - that's the whole point. Some people have no sense of childlike wonder.

True Compass

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Today's book, "The youngest of nine children born to Joseph P. Kennedy and Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy, he came of age among siblings from whom much was expected. In this historic memoir, Ted Kennedy takes us inside his family, re-creating life with his parents and brothers and explaining their profound impact on him."

Today was a challenging reading day, with boring work stuff to get done, Christmas preparations to be made, and a 507 page book to read. So I'm feeling a little frazzled right now (so warning, this will be a short entry), and looking forward to tomorrow when I will be reading a book that's only about 300 pages. But, I am happy that I read today's book because it was fascinating.

Fun facts:

  • Teddy Kennedy was born on February 22nd, George Washington's birthday, which prompted his older brother Jack waging a campaign for him to be named George Washington Kennedy - obviously an unsuccessful campaign, but I do admire young Jack's attempt. I mean what's the point of having younger siblings if you can't treat them like pets and come up with crazy names for them.

  • Joseph McCarthy - before he began destroying people's lives - once dated Eunice Kennedy. - I think that brings a whole new meaning to the expression "dodged a bullet." I'm guessing Eunice was the grand winner of the "Who Dated the Biggest Loser" contest amongst her siblings.

  • The Kennedy's used their cloth napkins for a week before washing them. - Perhaps I should have filed that under "Pointless Facts" but I just thought that was too gross not to share. A week? YUCK.

Favorite passage, "To say that I love the Senate does not begin to convey what that institution means to me. Let me put it this way: after nearly half a century, I still cannot be in a car, headed for the Capitol, especially in the evening, and glimpse it in the distance without the hair standing up on my arms. I've told Vicki: if ever that sight does not move me, I will know it is time to step aside."

Wishin' and Hopin'

Monday, December 7, 2009

Today's book, "LBJ and Lady Bird are in the White House, Meet the Beatles is on every one's turntable, and Felix Funicello (distant cousin of the iconic Annette!) is doing his best to navigate fifth grade - easier said than done when scary movies still give you nightmares and you bear a striking resemblance to a certain adorable cartoon boy. Back in his beloved fictional town of Three Rivers, Connecticut, with a new cast of endearing characters, Wally Lamb takes his readers straight into the halls of St. Aloysisus Gonzaga Parochial School. But grammar and arithmetic move to the back burner this holiday season with the sudden arrivals of susbstitute teacher Madame Frechette, straight from Quebec, and feisty Russian student Zhenya Kabakova."

Shallow Christmasy thoughts:

  • I spent the day Christmas shopping with my Mother - in between reading today's book, of course - and so naturally I had to read a Christmas themed book. Although I want to warn you dear readers, that when I say "Christmas themed" I am using those words extremely loosely. I made it to page 131 before Christmas was even mentioned. And even then, I didn't have that swept-up-in-the-Christmas-spirit kind of feeling that I like to have when reading a book about Christmas. I'm having a run of bad luck with Christmas books lately - but I am convinced my luck is about to turn.

  • The part of the book that actually took place during the Christmas season revolved around getting reading for a school Christmas production - which naturally made me want to watch A Charlie Brown Christmas (which takes a much more interesting look at this subject - so if I hadn't been working on the blog I would have skipped reading the end of today's book and just watched that.) Since I had no choice but to finish, I decided instead to do both. So, in between reading today's book and while waiting for my Mother to come out of a store, I watched the Charlie Brown special on the DVD player in the car. What can I say dear readers, I'm a multi-tasker. It's very difficult to balance simultaneous addictions to TV and books, but I'm giving it my best shot.

  • And now, a shout out to my Dad and his weird habits. At one point during the book, during one of the many Annette Funicello references, a picture of Annette standing in front of Cinderella's castle with the inscription, "To America's Sweetheart and her Wonderful Family! With my fondest wishes, "Uncle" Walt. My Dad - who is mildly obsessed (okay, incredibly obsessed) with all things related to Disney World, comes home from work every single day and says, "Anything from Uncle Walt," and then he expresses sincere disappointment to discover that once again he has not received any mail from Disney World. And whoever is standing there smiles and rolls their eyes, because it's just part of the Dad-ness that is Dad.

And don't worry, I have not forgotten about the childhood Christmas picture (aren't you glad that you won't have to go to bed tonight wondering "But what did Angie look like during Christmas of 1983?")

This is one of my favorite sister pictures. This picture was taken the year that we both got dolls with hair that matched our hair. But, we decided that it would be so obvious to everyone that we were meant to have the dolls with matching hair that if we switched dolls for the picture everyone would instantly see how hilarious our little joke was. As you can see from the picture, we were endlessly amused by the switch. And so began our years of being in a room full of people and being the only two who get why the joke we just made was so funny.

The No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Today's book was suggested by Sharon - so thanks for the suggestion Sharon.

Today's book, " A series of vignettes linked to the establishment and growth of Mma Ramotswe's "No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency" serve not only to entertain but to explore conditions in Botswana in a way that is both penetrating and light thanks to Smith's deft touch."

Mysterious thoughts:

  • Today's book was a good one to read in the middle of the Christmas season. I am one of those people who embraces the Christmas season - listening to Christmas music in the car as early as November, reading by the Christmas tree on a daily basis, recording every Christmas program ever made on the DVR and watching them repeatedly. But then there comes a point, every couple of days, when I start to feel all Christmased out and I need to experience something that has nothing to do with the Christmas season. Today's book did a great job of transporting me to a place far away from my present life. So, if you're feeling like you've had too strong of a dose of Christmas lately dear readers, you might want to check out today's book and take a little break for awhile.

  • Favorite passage, "She loved magazines. She loved their smell and their bright pictures. She loved interior design magazines which showed how people lived in faraway countries." - I have a bit of a magazine obsession myself - which results in an annual magazine spree, in which I buy every decorating, cooking, and health related magazine I find. It's fun while I'm buying the magazines - and then I come home and add reading the magazines to my to-do list (cause I'm the kind of person who adds stuff like "Read Magazines" and "Watch every episode of Roseanne ever made except for the last season when the show was totally ruined" onto my to-do list so that I can spent at least 20% of the day, okay 50%, goofing off and still feel a delightful sense of accomplishment.)

  • Passage I disagreed with the most, "The eyes allowed you to see right into a person, to penetrate their very essence, and that was why people with something to hide wore sunglasses indoors. They were the ones you had to watch very carefully." - Clearly the author of today's book has never discovered the joy of wearing sunglasses indoors in order to better pretend to be a movie star from the 40s. I understand, it's not his fault, some people just have no sense of drama. It's just sad is what it is. He's also never met anyone disorganized enough to misplace their glasses/contacts, while simultaneously being too lazy to go look for them, thereby leaving them no choice but to wear sunglasses indoors in order to better see what's happening on that days episode of Days of Our Lives. Not that anything like that has ever happened to me or anyone I know. Why I'm far too mature for that sort of nonsense.

  • And here's your fun fact for the day: Citizens of Botswana, when spoken of in the singular, are known as Motswana. And if you're sitting there wondering, When is information like that ever going to come in handy? - I'll tell you dear readers, it's not. Did I ever claim my blog was going to give you useful information or change your life? No I did not. I promised you a shallow, meaningless, pointless blog and that's exactly what you're going to get.

You Were Always Mom's Favorite

Saturday, December 5, 2009


Today's book was suggested by C. so thanks for the suggestion C.

Since today's book is about sisters, I feel like it's only right to write a little bit about my own sister - "it's only right" of course roughly translating to "my sister will be very, very upset if I let this opportunity to talk about her pass me by without taking full advantage of it."

Ahh, what can I say about having a sister. When trying to describe it to those who don't have sisters, I say that my childhood was like one long slumber party but without ever having to worry about my friend having to go home.

And now for my all-time favorite Alissa picture:

As anyone who lived through the 80s knows, Superman was big then. But Alissa preferred her own version, Supergirl. She would climb up on the rocking chair, stretch out and yell, "SUPERGIRL" at the top of her lungs.

As I'm sure you can imagine from looking at this picture, my childhood was never boring with her around. And so I can't help but feel a little bit sorry for girls who don't have sisters. In fact, I think of it as a disability. I call it "the sisterly impaired."

Today's book, "Conversations between sisters reveal a deep and constant tug between two dynamics–an impulse towards closeness and an impulse towards competition, as sisters are continually compared to each other. When you're with her, you laugh your head off, and can giggle and be silly like when you were kids. But she also might be the one person who can send you into a tailspin with just one wrong word. For many women, a sister is both. With a witty and wise voice, Tannen shares insights and anecdotes from well over a hundred women she interviewed, along with moving and funny recollections of her own two sisters."

Sisterly thoughts:

  • For most of the day I have had the song about sister from White Christmas stuck in my head. For those of you who don't have a sister who loves musicals and forces you to watch along, I will share this link with you (and by the way, one of my New Year's resolutions is to learn to embed videos so I can stop with this linking-to-youtube nonsense, but for now I'm too lazy to look it up.) I've had the song stuck in my head for roughly 5 hours now. A few more hours is all it's going to take to push me right over the edge into total insanity.

  • Today's book was good, but I didn't enjoy it nearly as much as another book on the subject of sisters, About My Sisters by Debra Ginsberg. And because I have no idea what else to put in this paragraph, I'm forced to fill in the blanks with things I like about Alissa (and also because I don't want to have a repeat of the "Why didn't you list things you like about me?" conversation that happened the last time I wrote a blog entry about my sister.) Here goes: 1. She has a way of coercing people into bringing her things on trays and making it seem like bringing her something on a tray is a privilege one must earn, instead of what it really is which is her treating people like servants. Some people might consider that a bad quality, but I don't (except when she tries to turn me into her personal Hazel.) 2. She has a great memory when it comes to reciting facts she learned from the books she reads. After a year long journey on the I-Can't-Remember-What-I-Read-Yesterday Train, I'm sure you can already figure out why I admire that quality dear readers. 3. She has great hair. (I believe I said that the last time I made a list of "Things I Like About Alissa" but it bear repeating.)

  • Favorite quote, "A word from a sister can send you into a tailspin because, as one woman put it, "She's part of my being, she's part of the fabric of who I am. So when there's disapproval, you feel it in a place that you don't feel it with other people." - My sister and I don't fight a lot, because neither one of us has the ability to stay mad at people when we're looking directly at them, which leads to the most ridiculous fights in which we end up having to stare at walls and walk out of room sideways in order to avoid looking at one another because there's just no other way to stay mad. And when we do stay mad, the entire world feels like it's coming to an end. Phrases like, "My life is over and nothing is ever going to be okay again," have been known to be used. Now it's true dear readers, I am a bit on the dramatic side, and yet even I don't bring that level of drama to fights with anyone but her. So I would definitely have to agree with the above quote.

There, I think I have sufficiently infused this blog entry with this Alissa-ness that is Alissa. But I suspect I will be getting a phone call sometime tomorrow to let me know for sure. Fingers crossed!

The Christmas Cookie Club

Friday, December 4, 2009

Welcome to another installment A Book a Day: Christmas Edition. Today I decided to figure out how to make wheat-free, dairy-free, egg-free Christmas cookies, and since there are no books about people making allergy-free Christmas cookies (the publishing world really needs to get on that one) I had to settle for a book about people making regular Christmas cookies (okay fine Ms. Author, if that's how you want to play it, being all normal and everything.) But, before we get to a discussion of today's book, it's time to take another trip back to my childhood.

Ahh, is there anything better than being squeaky clean, straight from your bath, wearing pajamas that color-coordinate with your brothers and posing in front of the Christmas tree? It's just a shame that my Mother couldn't have found some way to color-coordinate us to the carpet. And oh what beautiful carpet it was. As you can see from the color of the carpet in question, the Wetzel family embraced the early 80s and gave it a nice warm hug.

Today's book, "Every year on the first Monday of December, Marnie and her twelve closest girlfriends gather in the evening with batches of beautifully wrapped homemade cookies. Everyone has to bring a dish, a bottle of wine, and their stories."

Shallow Christmasy thoughts:

  • If the book description has left you undecided as to whether you would want to read today's book, I'm going to tell you the first sentence, because you can tell so much about a book by the first sentence. Here goes, "I am the head cookie bitch and this is my party." If you are still undecided then I will tell you that today's book was better than the typical Chick-lit book (and apologies for using that expression because I do know how annoying it is - I just can't think of what else to call it) but it wasn't wonderful. It was worth reading once, but not something I would read a second time.

  • If you are squeamish I would strongly advise you skip pages 37-39 when one of the characters dies a gruesome death. I don't feel I'm giving anything away since the death is mentioned in the first couple of pages of the book. I'm not sure why authors feel the need to share ever brutal detail of really unpleasant deaths, but I really wish they would stop. I don't enjoy reading what I expect to be a fairly pleasant book and then run across passages that made me shudder. But, since I like to arrogantly think of myself as your literary tour guide I just thought of it as taking one for the team.

  • In between the chapters there were sections that told the history behind some of the ingredients used in Christmas cookies (wheat, nuts, etc.) and I learned a few fun facts to share with you. 1. Wheat is believed to have been cultivated in Turkey about ten thousand years ago. - But it wasn't until 1998 that it became the bane of a certain bloggers existence, and a source of amusement to her sister who insists she have her picture taken next to signs that say "Eat more wheat." 2. Cinnamon is a natural anti-bacterial. - So the next time you're eating a cinnamon roll you can tell yourself, "I'm doing this for my health." 3. It takes 2 to 3 gallons of milk to form a pound of butter. - Okay, now we're kind of veering out of "Fun Facts" territory and headed into "Stuff I Learned in Third Grade But Have Completely Forgotten Because There Are So Many Facts About TV Lodged in My Brain That There's No Room For Anything Else" territory.

Mad Girls In Love

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Today's book, "With young Bitsy Wentworth's nose-shattering blow to her philandering husband Claude's handsome face (motive: self-defense; weapon: frozen rack of baby back ribs), West launches this warm chronicle of three generations of Southern female eccentricity and spunk. It's August 1972, and Claude is out cold, so Bitsy flees Crystal Falls, Tenn., with their baby, Jennifer, a move that will lose her custody of (though not contact with) her daughter while setting in motion her evolution from girl-wife to worldly interior decorator 20 years later."

Shallow thoughts:

  • In my continuing quest to reach my goal of 100,000 pages by the end of the year, I ended up reading a really, really long book today (528 pages to be exact) which made it hard to fit in my daily allotment of Brady Bunch episodes. But rest assured dear readers, I still managed it. Nothing stands in between me and the Bradys. At some point in the last few months I made a vow that I would never read another 500 page book in a day again, but it's crunch time now and I'm not going to make it to the goal without several really long books this month. So now the thing that I am looking forward to the most when the year is up is reading a long book and taking several days to do it. Other things on my list of things I'm looking forward to post-project: 1. the first time I wake up and realize that I don't have to read and being able to have the luxurious feeling again of reading just because I feel like it. 2. the first time I read a terrible book and I don't have to finish it and 3. the first holiday when I get to just kick back, enjoy the day, and not have to read a thing.

  • Today's book was decent, but not great. It was the kind of book that was enjoyable enough to read once, but not good enough that I would want to keep it and read it again. In an effort to keep the entire house from being overrun with books, I keep only the books which I know I will want to read again. So, after reading a book, I have to ask myself "Is this book shelve-worthy?" - and sadly, today's book is not. The characters were interesting, and the basic plot was decent, but there was too much other stuff (that was unnecessary to the main plot) thrown in that was distracting from that, and I don't believe I would want to wade through all of that again just to get to the good parts.

  • Favorite sentence, "If I'd known I was going to become a girl sleuth, I would have eaten something more soothing, like chicken salad on toast - that's what Nancy Drew preferred." - Ahh, I love a good reference to Nancy Drew, a series I now have a great deal of affection for after having read it for the blog. I continue to be a total nerd when it comes to that sort of thing, getting excited any time a book mentions another book I love. This is something that I routinely mock my Mother for - as she sits there, brimming with excitement because the people on Brothers & Sisters have the same lamp that she does.

  • Most annoying expression used in the book: "a girlie-girl" - this is one of my all time pet peeves. It's like nails on a chalkboard for me when someone uses that expression. The only expression that annoys me more is, "he's all boy." I look back with wistful nostalgia to the days when those two expressions were not commonly used. I would be the happiest woman on earth if we, as a people, could permanently strike those two expressions from our vocabulary.

A Christmas Promise

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

It's that magical time again dear readers, chapter and page count time.

For the week -


PAGES: 1,784

For the year -


PAGES: 88,934

And, to kick officially kick off the holiday season here at A Book a Day, I've decided to share a holiday picture from my childhood (with more to come as the month progresses.)

As you can see, I wasn't very animated. But I had a very good excuse for falling asleep midway through the present opening. Being a baby was hard. There were naps to take, and toys to play with, and those bottles did not drink themselves. (And by the way dear readers, I promise that the Christmas pictures I show you in future entries will be much more interesting than this one. But I just had to show you this picture - any picture with carpet in it that's that ugly is just begging to be shown to everyone in sight.)

Today's book, "Three days before Christmas, in the freezing slums of London's East End, thirteen-year-old Gracie Phipps encounters Minnie Maude Mudway, who is only eight, alone, and determined to find her friend Charlie. However Charlie is no ordinary companion: He is a donkey who belonged to Minnie Maude's Uncle Alf. Gracie is shocked to learn that only the day before, someone brutally murdered Uncle Alf and made off with his rag-and-bones cart and the beloved beast who pulled it. Now, come hell or high water, Minnie Maude means to rescue Charlie - and Gracie decides to help."

Christmasy thoughts:

  • If you actually read the description of today's book instead of skipping over it (as my sister always does) then you are probably filled with questions right now. Who would be cruel enough to name their child Minnie Maude Mudway? What does any of that stuff have to do with Christmas? What in the world would possess Angie to read a book like that? All valid questions dear readers. The answer to those questions, in order, would be: 1. Someone with really, really, really bad taste. 2. I read the whole book and I still have no idea. and 3. Because I have slipped in my resolve to never pick out a book without first reading the book description. I had resolved a few months ago to stop doing that, but this Christmas season has really thrown me. There are so many pleasant, Christmasy looking book covers and I keep getting sucked in because of it.

  • Since I had no idea what the book was about going into it, I spent the first 40 pages thinking, Really? They're still looking for that donkey? When is this boring looking-for-the-donkey part of the book going to end and the good part of the book begin? And then when I got to page 47 I decided to actually read the book description (a crazy idea if ever I heard one), which resulted in me thinking, Whaaaaat? The entire book is about them looking for that stupid donkey? CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP CRAP - I do not want to spend the entire day reading about two children looking for a donkey. But, since I'd already posted the book for the day on my twitter page, I was forced to proceed.

  • I would like to be able to tell you that the book got more interesting from there, but sadly it did not. And, to add insult to injury (and my Mother would say) or to pour salt in the wound (as my Dad would say), the book was heavy on dialect. I have a hard time reading dialect without wanting to put my fist through a wall - and that's on a day when I don't have to read the entire book in one day - but it's an even bigger challenge (read: a total pain in the butt) to have to read dialect when I'm trying to get through a book quickly.

  • And here is your fun (and totally useless) fact for the day: a snotter is a rope or tackle used in sailing. - Am I the only one in the world who had no idea what that was? The book referred to a snotter-hauler, and let's just say this resulted in me conjuring up some really disgusting images, proving once again that no matter how old I get, there will always be a part of me that firmly remains an eight year-old.

Whislin' Dixie in a Nor'easter

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Today marks 11 months of the blogging project. Although, since I technically started my blog on New Years Eve I guess it's not truly my 11 Month Blogiversary. Perhaps instead I should call it my 11 Month Projectiversary. And I spent the day reflecting on the last few months of the project - but I will be saving those thoughts for my special week-long end-of-the-project recap extravaganza (which clearly needs a much catchier title) and planning out the books I will be reading for the month ahead. Normally I am not organized enough to plan my books out a month in advance, but it's going to require some strategic planning if I'm going to make it my goal of 100,000 pages by the end of the year. I'm very excited about all of the books I have planned - Christmas books that will be scattered throughout the month, a special book in honor of the Anniversary of the day my parents met, a special Chanukah/Hanukah/Channuka book (however you want to spell it) and a few other surprises.

Today's book, "Leelee Satterfield seems to have it all: a gorgeous husband, two adorable daughters, and roots in the sunny city of Memphis, Tennessee. So when her husband gets the idea to uproot the family to run a quaint Vermont inn, Leelee is devastated . . . and her three best friends are outraged. But she's loved Baker Satterfield since the tenth grade, so how can she not indulge her dream? Plus, the glossy photos of bright autumn trees and smiling children in ski suits push her over the edge. After all, how much trouble can it really be?"

December thoughts:

  • I almost didn't read today's book because the title seemed so corny. But I liked the book cover so much that I decided to go ahead and read the book description, which sounded promising. Today's book was not without its flaws (events that were predictable, and oversimplification of some of the characters) but overall I liked the book. It was a cozy book, perfect for curling up in front of the fireplace on the first day of December and reading by the glow of the Christmas tree lights.

  • The book takes a concept that TV makes look so fun - running an Inn in Vermont - and shows us the other side of things, the unpleasantness that TV sitcoms rarely let us see. And there was that inevitable reference made Newhart, which made resulted in me having the theme song from that show stuck in my head for several painful hours. Don't get me wrong dear readers, I do enjoy that theme song in an I-was-a-child-in-the-80s-so-I'm-programmed-to-find-crappy-music-soothing kind of way. But hearing that song playing on an endless loop can really start to wear on a person's nerves after forty minutes or so.

  • And, because I'm always thinking of my dear readers who might be vegetarians, I feel the need to issue this warning: If you read this book, I would strongly advise that you skip over pages 93 and 94, in which there was a rather graphic description of the making of head cheese, which I really wish I could have skipped over. Unfortunately, that would have violated the parameters of the project, so I was forced to suffer through. I would also strongly advise that you never google "head cheese" a lesson I learned the hard way a few minutes ago when I googled those words to find out if head cheese was one word or two. Let's just say I am changed forever by the experience.

  • And finally, the most amusing part of the book was the part where the main character, Leelee, and her her two daughters, Sarah and Isabella, are complaining about how small their bedrooms are in the private quarters in the inn. - There was nothing particularly funny about that scene, only that it reminded me of when, at the age of five, my family moved into a new house and my sister and I spent weeks fighting over who got the smallest room. That's right, for some reason, which still defies all explanation, we both wanted the smallest room. In case you are on the edge of your seats wondering how that one turned out, I won (or lost, depending on how you look at it, because I quickly realized what a stupid idea it was to demand the smallest room.) It sort of became the reverse of Mike Brady's dad speech of, "Sometimes when you lose, you win." Sometimes dear readers, when you win, you lose (and you spend the next 8 years whining about it until your family moves again and you wise up and ask for a much bigger room.)

An Abundance of Katherines

Monday, November 30, 2009

I'm feeling in a contemplative mood tonight dear readers, because I am about to kick off the last month of this project (although not the last month of the blog, as I will be continuing the blog into 2010.) A month from now I will be sitting down to write my final blog entry of the year - and I'm both excited and nervous. I also spent the day contemplating how I need to step up my reading efforts if I'm going to make it to my 100,000 pages goal by the end of the year. I was planning out my books for December - and looking at the numbers - and I've come to the conclusion that December is going to have to be filled with a lot of 500 page books if I'm going to meet the goal by December 31st. Despite the 100,000 pages goal being a really bad idea, that has caused nothing but stress in my life, I have been unable to talk myself out of it no matter how hard I've tried. So it's full steam ahead with a really crappy idea - and you will have a front row seat for the whole hideous mess dear readers (are you trembling with excitement?)

Today's book, "When it comes to relationships, Colin Singleton's type is girls named Katherine, Colin is always getting dumped. Nineteen times, to be exact. On a road trip miles from home, this anagram-happy, washed-up child prodigy has ten thousand dollars in his pocket, a bloodthirsty feral hog on his trail, and an overweight, Judge Judy-loving best friend riding shotgun - but no Katherines. Colin is on a mission to prove the Theorem of Underlying Katherine Predictability, which he hopes will predict the future of any relationship, avenge Dumpees everywhere, and finally win him the girl."

Shallow thoughts:

  • Okay, first we have to deal with the most obvious thought: 19 Katherines? Really? I could believe 19 Jennifers or Ashleys or Haileys, but 19 Katherines? I've only ever met one in my life, and her name wasn't spelled the elegant way with a K (and she would never share her toys with me, no matter how many times I shared my Baby Heather doll with her - in short, she had problems.) So, in order to enjoy the book, I had to slide aside the improbability of the scenario (which I'm very good at doing because I watch really crappy TV on a regular basis) - and then I was able to enjoy most of the book. The first 1/3 was really good, the second 1/3 was good but not really good, and the last 1/3 was sketchy as can be. That was the point where the book got really odd and started to unravel a bit - kind of like that really crappy movie from the 40s with Jane Wyman in it "The Doughgirls," which unraveled so fast at the end that it took on a train wreck quality and I just couldn't turn away.

  • Favorite passage, "Colin has always preferred baths; one of his general policies in life was never to do anything standing up that could just as easily be done lying down." - That passage occurred on page 3 of the book (well technically page 1,which was labeled as page 3 - which is one of my book pet peeves. Is there some reason why all publishing companies can't try the crazy idea of starting page 1 of a book on page 1?) I knew that I was going to be able to connect to the main character. Not because he's lazy (although that does speak to me on a deep level) but because he is honest about his laziness. I can overlook so many flaws in a person or character if they are honest about those flaws - in fact, I find an ability to freely admit to ones flaws to be a very endearing quality in a person.

  • Most annoying passage, "Colin notices she looked different, but not quite how, and then he saw it. No makeup. She looked prettier than she ever had before - Colin always preferred girls without makeup." - Every time I've ever heard a man say that I have challenged them to point out all of the women in the room who aren't wearing makeup, and they always end up pointing to the women who are wearing makeup, but just very subtle makeup. I have yet to see any woman who looks drastically better without makeup - despite all of the efforts People Magazine goes to in order to try to convince us that there are people (read: celebrities) who look stunning without a drop of makeup on. Yeah right People, sell is somewhere else. I will never believe those people aren't wearing concealer when the reporter shows up. But, lest you think I'm the most shallow person on earth, I can assure you dear readers that I am not one of those people who whines about how they can't leave the house without makeup on - I often leave the house without it, but no one will ever be able to convince me that it's my best look.

The Christmas Tree Book: The History of the Christmas Tree

Saturday, November 28, 2009
I couldn't find a picture of today's book because it's out of print, so you'll just have to settle for a picture of a cartoon Christmas tree.

Today was a blogiversary of sorts for me dear readers - one that you are probably not aware of - because it was this time last year, during the annual Wetzel family trip to cut down our Christmas tree, when I wrote my very first blog entry. I confess dear readers, that I did not write last years New Years Eve post on the day I posted it. I was so nervous that I wouldn't be able to pull of writing this blog that I decided to write the welcome post ahead of time to see how it would go. I spent a lot of time today reflecting on last year, when this project loomed ahead of me, and I was filled with such excitement about it. And now I am headed into the final month of this blogging project - and yet, I still feel that same sense of excitement, but this time about what life (and my blog) will be like when this year is up.

So, between reading, blogging, reflecting on last year, and picking out a Christmas tree, it was a full day. Here I am showing my fellow Christmas tree farm customers that any time is a good time for reading!

Today's book - I can't find a description of today's book, but the title is pretty self-explanatory, so today I'm skipping over this part.

Christmas thoughts:
  • I'm on a very bad streak lately with non-fiction. I seem to have read quite a few books lately that have had interesting information in them, that was unfortunately presented in a very boring way. I was really hoping that today's book would help me break out of the non-fiction slump - but luck was not on my side today.

  • Today's book opens with this sentence, "One of the nicest things about a Christmas tree is that it looks good no matter how you decorate it." - Upon first reading that sentence I thought, The author of today's book clearly hasn't lived through the 70s. . . or seen pictures of it. . . or watched Christmas Eve on Sesame Street. But then I flipped to the front of the book and discovered that the book was written in 1976. Whaaaat? Looks good no matter what you say - well, I have two words for you Mr. Author: blue tinsel. I challenge anyone to tell me, with a straight face, that a tree decorated with blue tinsel looks good.

  • Here's your fun - and very odd - fact for the day dear readers: fruit is not the only food that was traditionally used to decorate Christmas trees. In the 1700s Berliners decorated their trees with potatoes. I think someone needs to bring that tradition back - perhaps with an advertising campaign of "Potatoes - they're not just for hash browns anymore." Why isn't the National Potato Council on top of this? (And, in case you're wondering dear readers, there really is a National Potato Council. It felt like too fictitious of a thing to actually exist, and so I looked it up. It exists.)

Confessions of a Shopaholic

Friday, November 27, 2009

Well dear readers, today's reading day began a little early than most. Alissa talked me into going to a Midnight Madness sale at an outlet mall about an hour away from here. So my reading day started at 12:01 a.m. - in between getting those good post-holiday bargains, of course. We arrived back home at 5 a.m. - and then I slept for a few hours before getting up to finish reading today's book. I've never started a book, slept for several hours in the middle of it, and then come back to finish it before - so today was a fun new reading challenge! There was a part of me that was worried that I would completely forget what happened at the beginning of the and have to start all over again when I woke up. But, my memory seems to be much better when it comes to shallow, fluffy books - so I was able to retain the memory of what I read.

And, so you can feel like you were a part of the post-Thanksgiving shopping craziness, my sister took a few mystery pictures.

Here I am getting a little reading done in J.Crew while my sister was replenishing her sweater supply. I got several strange looks for fellow shoppers who, for some crazy reason, thought that taking a picture in the middle of a clothing store with a book in front of my face was kind of odd. They just don't understand me the way you do dear readers.

Today's book, "Becky Bloomwood has a fabulous flat in London's trendiest neighborhood, a troupe of glamorous socialite friends, and a closet brimming with the season's must-haves. The only trouble is that she can't actually afford it - not any of it. Her job writing at Successful Savings not only bores her to tears, it doesn't pay much at all. And lately Becky's been chased by dismal letters from Visa and the Endwich Bank - letters with large red sums she can't bear to read - and they're getting even harder to ignore."

Materialistic thoughts:

  • I didn't have high expectations from today's book - because I'm not one of those people who picks up a shallow, fluffy book and then complains the whole time because the book isn't deep enough. Having said that, the book was so shallow, mindless and fluffy that it boggles my mind - which I could live with if the book was fun and interesting. But sadly it wasn't. The book seems like the kind that would have been more fun to write than it was to read.

  • Most shallow passage of the book, "Even better, although no one can see them, I know that underneath I'm wearing my gorgeous new matching knickers and bra with embroidered yellow rosebuds. They're the best bit of my entire outfit. In fact, I almost wish I could be run over so that the world would see them." - This passage gave me a childhood flashback to my Mother's frequent lectures about how I should always wear underwear that is color coordinated to my outfit, just in case I end up in a car accident. That makes perfect sense - after all, if the paramedics arrived and saw I was wearing underwear that didn't match my outfit they might refuse to save my life.

  • Favorite sentence, "It's a habit of mine, itemizing all the clothes I'm wearing, as though for a fashion page." - This sentence spoke to me on the most shallow level - because I spent 90% of my time in high school Freshman science class making lists of the clothes I was going to wear the next week. I would list the clothes, the shoes, the socks that coordinated with the clothes (hey don't judge me, it was the 90s - bad clothes were in), the accessories (which sadly usually involved some sort of multi-colored hair scrunchie.) Hmmm, I wonder why I had such a hard time figuring out what was going on during Sophomore science class?

Thanksgiving: An American Holiday, An American History

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving Dear Readers

I hope you have all had a wonderful holiday (or for those of you who are reading from outside the U.S., a wonderful day in general.) Thanksgiving here in Wetzel Land was fun but extremely busy - and trying to read an entire book in the middle of it was very challenging. I'm really looking forward to the end of the year when I can blog when it's convenient but not have to write a blog entry on busy days.

Despite my busy day, I did not forget to take a few pictures of the busyness to share with my dear readers.

Here I am attempting to read and cook at the same time. When I was a child I used to love the scenes from Little House where Laura was studying at the same time that she was cooking, cleaning, and feeding the chickens. Today, I got a chance to try those things out . . . except for the part about feeding the chickens, of course.

And now dear readers, I would like to introduce you to my sister, who you've heard a lot about, but never seen any pictures of (past the age of 8, of course.) I'm going to end your suspense and let you see what she looks like. Drum roll please. . . . .

So what do you think dear readers, do you see the family resemblance?

A blogger's job is never done. And neither is the sister of a blogger (who was forced to take mystery pictures, although "forced" might be a strong word because taking the pictures seems to bring out the artist in her) or of a blogger's aunt (Aunt Cindy in this case) who agreed to humor me for this latest mystery picture.

Today's book, "Thanksgiving is as lively as American life - and, indeed, the history of this holiday is in itself a vital history in America. Yet while Thanksgiving is America's oldest and most beloved holiday, it is the country's most misunderstood. Author Diana Karter Appelbaum sifts fact from fancy about this uniquely American holiday. She not only clarifies the times, places and circumstances of the earliest Thanksgivings, but she also traces the evolution of the holiday and its historical parallel to the growth of America."

Today's book was filled with very interesting facts about Thanksgiving - most of which I never knew before (although that's not a very impressive distinction considering I've forgotten everything I ever learned in school and I forget about every book I read two seconds after I'm done with it.) My one complaint is that the book didn't delve into Thanksgiving celebrations on the home front during World War II very much. There was a lot of information about the way Thanksgiving was celebrated on the front lines, and that was interesting but I'm much more fascinated by life on the home front.

Fun Facts:

  • The first Thanksgiving feast, which served 140 people (90 Native Americans and 50 settlers) was prepared by 4 women and 2 teenage girls. - I'm guessing the husbands of those 4 women were looking at the business end of a hissy fit when they found out they would be cooking for that many people. You invited 90 extra people? What is wrong with you? Do you have any idea the extra work that's going to require? Oh that does it, you are making this up to me - I want a new loom for Christmas, and don't even try to tell me that you don't have time to make me one, because if I have to take the time to cook for 90 extra people then you can just find the time to build it. Okay, so it's possible I might be basing too much of this on the fights I've witnessed between my parents over the years. So, suffice it to say dear readers, if my parents had been alive during the first Thanksgiving that's the conversation that would have been going on near the fire pit while dinner was being cooked.

  • Turkey was not always the traditional Thanksgiving main entree. From the 17th to the 19th century the main entree was chicken pie. - Do what you will with that information dear readers. I spent about ten minutes trying to think of something funny to say about chicken pie, but I've got nothing.

  • Pumpkins used to be called pompions. - So, the next time you are at a party and you want to impress someone, ask them if they enjoy Pompion Pie and when they tell you they don't know what that is, you can respond with "Uncultured swine"* - *"Uncultured swine" is a trademark of the Alissa Wetzel corporation. (My sister makes me say that whenever I use an expression she frequently uses. So I walk around saying things like, "Death. Is. Imminent. Trademark of the Alissa Wetzel Corporation," as other people stare at me in confusion.)

And now I have to go dear readers, because I have to go get ready for the Midnight Madness sale that my sister is dragging me to.

Murder on the Orient Express

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's end-of-the-week-count time.

For the week -


PAGES: 2,146


PAGES: 87,150

Today's book, "Thundering along on it's three-day journey across Europe, the famous Orient Express suddenly came to a stop in the night. Snowdrifts blocked the line. Surrounded by the silent Balkan hills, the passengers slept on unheeding. But Hercule Poirot had not slept well. He awoke in the small hours, wondering at the silence and immobility of the train. He was startled by a loud groan, which seemed to come from the next compartment. At the same moment the ping of a bell sounded sharply. Footsteps came along the corridor - there was a tap on a door. Then someone said, "It was nothing, a mistake. . . " Hercule Poirot heard no more and after a while dazed off uneasily. But in the morning the man in the next compartment lay dead; stabbed, viciously and frenziedly, over and over again - and the murderer was still on the train . . . since the snow outside was unbroken."

Mysterious thoughts:

  • I have always wanted to read an Agathie Christie novel - ever since that episode of Full House when the grandmothers showed up (not exactly a lofty reason for wanting to read something, but it's a reason that I'm sure will not shock any of you.) Back then reading an Agathie Christie novel sounded so grown-up and sophisticated. But I was too busy reading trashy novels and pretending to be Laura Ingalls Wilder back then to take time out of my hectic schedule to read one. So today I decided to cross one more thing off of my childhood "Things I'm Going to Do When I'm a Grown-Up" list and actually tackle reading one. I'm so glad that I decided to read today's book, because it definitely lived up to expectation. It's rare that anything I thought would be fun as a child actually turns out to be fun, so I'm pleasantly surprised.

  • Favorite sentences, "He produced on me an unpleasant impression." - It doesn't get right to the point quite as well as saying that someone is annoying as sin, but it still gets the job done, and in a much more elegant way. I'm always a big fan of saying something mean in a really pleasant way.

  • Favorite passage, "At a small table, sitting very upright, was one of the ugliest old ladies he had ever seen. It was an ugliness of distinction - it fascinated rather than repelled." - I see we have now dispensed with saying mean things in a pleasant way and gone straight to saying mean things in a mean way. Another important option.

I would definitely recommend today's book to anyone who loves a good mystery - or to anyone who has watched the Rugrats version of this story and wants to compare the two.

How to Pick a Peach

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Today's book, "Today we enjoy a bounty of produce greater than ever before: apples in June, tomatoes in December, peaches just about any time we have the hankering - a colorful cornucopia at our fingertips 24/7 year-round in the supermarket. Too frequently only one thing is missing, the most important reason to buy fruits and vegetables in the first place: flavor. Russ Parsons has spent a lifetime in pursuit of top-quality fruits and vegetables. Here he gives you all of the answers. With the fascinating insights and genial wit that have made him a best-selling author, he presents a provocative picture of produce from farm to table."

I was feeling overwhelmed by my to-read stacks today, so I let my sister pick a book from the 250 options available in the Angela Wetzel library. I was a different sort of person I would consider reading a book with recipes in it cheating - and one might assume I would skip over the recipes. But one would be wrong, because I read recipes like they are poetry.

I ended up being kind of bored by the book - but unfortunately I can't blame Alissa for it since I'm the one who had the bad taste to pick the book in the first place. It's so much more fun to be able to blame someone else. But, despite the book being Dullsville, U.S.A., I did learn a few fun facts, which I am going to share with you so that I can save you the trouble of having to wade through the entire book.

Fun facts:

  • Bananas have an uneven number of chromosomes, which is why the rarely have seeds. - Yes, that's right, that was one of the most interesting things that I learned from this book, which should give you some idea of why I found the book a bit boring. It was a long, long reading day of slogging through information that wasn't very interesting, when what I really wanted to do was watch the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special.

  • According to the author of today's book, Yosemite tangerines have an almost candied, Kool-Aid flavor. - I'm guessing the author has never tasted Kool-Aid the way I make it, because I guarantee no one would ever confuse it with fruit. Of course they'd have to wake up from the diabetic coma the drink put them in before they'd be able to make an effective comparison.

  • An ear of corn loses half of its sweetness within 24 hours of being picked. - Haha, finally an advantage to living in Indiana. I jest, there's more than one advantage - we also have that lovely cheese factory that you can tour. . . and we have more t-shirts with farm animals and beer cans on them per capita than anywhere else in America . . . and of course, who could forget about those horse and buggy rides you can take in Amish country. Okay fine, I admit it, we're boring. Nothing interesting ever happens here. We never do anything fun. We suck.

Girl Singer

Monday, November 23, 2009

Today was day one of a very busy blogging week. I have so many things that need to be done over the next few days that I feel overwhelmed just thinking about it. But I am choosing to look at this as a blogging challenge which will add a heightened sense of drama to the project.

Today's book - The description on the back of the book gives away the entire book, one of my literary pet peeves, but I figure an autobiography is pretty self explanatory.

After two days of letting someone else pick my blogging books, I decided that kick off Monday by reading my favorite genre: autobiography. I can only step outside of my reading box for so long before I need to retreat back to the sweet comfort of my favorites. But, I did decide to step outside of the box just a little bit by reading a book about someone that I don't know very much about. Reading an autobiography of someone I know a lot about can be interesting, and comforting, but sometimes I prefer not knowing exactly what's going to happen next.

I have mixed feelings about today's book - and I do realize I'm becoming a bit of a broken record with that expression, I seem to be torn about a lot of books that I read lately. I found the story of Rosemary Clooney's life interesting (and I learned a lot about her, for instance, I originally thought she had no kids but it turns out she has five), but I wasn't crazy about the writing style. So I would only recommend this book to someone who is a huge fan of either Rosemary Clooney or old movies.

Fun facts:

  • Frank Sinatra weight almost 13 pounds when he was born, and had to be delivered using forceps, which is why his face was scarred. - I had several thoughts after reading that: 1. That was definitely more information than I ever wanted to know about Frank and 2. I hope that Frank gave his mother really, really good Mother's Day presents, because she clearly deserved it.

  • When Rosemary appeared in White Christmas, she was paid by the week and not by the picture, as its done today. She was paid $5,000 a week. - Which naturally begs the question, What's to stop an actor in that situation from screwing up all of their lines in order to prolong the movie?

  • Rosemary hated hats. - It's really stretching things to include this in the "fun facts" category, but I am still reeling from reading about that little tidbit. Being lucky enough to live in a time period where people wore hats all the time and then hating them? It's unimaginable. It's blasphemy. It's horrifying.
Not so fun fact from the not-so-good-old-days:

  • When Rosemary and Duke Ellington recorded a duet, the country was so segregated that they weren't even allowed to be photographed on the cover together. Instead, Rosemary was photographed looking at a picture of Duke. - I'll have to remember to whip out that not-so-fun-fact the next time someone is spouting drivel about how life was so much better back in "the good old days."

The Inn at Eagle Point

Sunday, November 22, 2009

I should have called this Mom weekend, because today I'm doing another Mom themed entry. Today was her birthday party and so I let her pick the book again. Although, she wants it noted on the record that she did not actually pick out yesterday's book. She let me pick from a stack of several books and I picked the book that I thought would be the most fun to mock.

Today's book is the official pick, a semi-trashy novel. Or as my sister likes to call it, tasteful smut.

But before I get to today's blog entry, I have a few party pictures to share.

Here I am getting a little reading done while my Uncle Andy acts like the party animal that he is.

And now it's time for the Mystery pictures to get a little bit less mysterious.

Do you like my Jackie Kennedy dress dear readers? Here I am reading a little bit, before practicing my political wave and asking people to vote for my husband Jack.

Today's book, "It's been years since Abby O'Brien Winters set foot in Chesapeake Shores. The Maryland town her father built has too many sad memories and Abby too few spare moments, thanks to her demanding Wall Street career, the crumbling of her marriage and energetic twin daughters. Then one panicked phone call from her youngest sister brings her racing back home to protect Jess's dream of renovating the charming Inn at Eagle Point. But saving the inn from foreclosure means dealing not only with her own fractured family, but also with Trace Riley, the man Abby left ten years ago. Trace can be a roadblock to her plans…or proof that second chances happen in the most unexpected ways."

Shallow, semi-trashy thoughts:

  • I was very excited to finally be reading a book that my Mother picked out that didn't have a picture of half-naked throbbing people on the cover. Although, it's not nearly as fun to mock books that are only semi-trashy. I prefer the really trashy ones that allow me to say things to Mom like, "Read any good smut lately? What are Trisha and Stefan up to anyway?" Mom used to be slightly offended by this, but now she's learned to go with it and respond with, "As a matter of fact I have." This is usually followed by a complete discussion of the entire plot, including a description of how Trisha is "real independent."

  • After reading several books that my Mother has read, I am finally beginning to understand why she loves these books. Of course, in order to figure that out I had to push aside the crappy plot, the bad writing, the annoying characters, to get to the hear of why she loves these books. 1. The happy ending - Mom responds to an unhappy ending the way an eight year old would (I'm saying that with love) with absolute disbelief and extreme sadness and generally the words, "I don't like this. I don't like this at all." 2. The repetition. - Mom believes that if something is worth saying then it's worth saying at least 3 or 4 times, a hallmark of these books. In fact, there is one point in the book where the author lets us know that "this time is different" - and then, just in case we missed it the first time, she lets us know the same thing 6 sentences later. 3. The excessive, totally unnecessary details. - If I ask my Mother how her days has gone, she will respond with, "I got up, I made the bed, I took a shower, I got dressed, I fed the dog, I ate breakfast, I unloaded the dishwasher . . . and on and on. (Reminder to Mom when she reads this: Gentle mocking is a sign of love.) These kind of books are just filled with pointless details that don't relate to the story in any way.

One Night, Two Babies

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Suggestion Saturday has been suspended today so that I could do a special entry in honor of my Mom's birthday. Since today is Mom Wetzel's birthday, I decided to let her pick the book. It's also time for the "Things I Like About Mom List." I made a list for my Dad's birthday, and I certainly wouldn't want Mom to think that I'm playing favorites.

1. When I was in elementary school she would wake us up for school in the morning by reciting what we could have for breakfast. The options were the same every day and yet there was something so comforting about hearing, "Cheerios. . . Froot Loops. . . Toast. . . Waffles. . . Donuts." Yes that's right, she would let me eat donuts for breakfast because the said they had the same amount of sugar in them as cereal like Froot Loops, so if I'm going to eat the same amount of sugar either way, I might as well eat something good. And then she would stand on the front porch as I was getting onto the school bus and wave like a sitcom Mom from the 50s.

2. She left a note in my lunchbox every day of elementary school, written on a napkin, that would either have a happy face and the words "Have a Happy Day" or a stick person who was crying and above the person she would write "I Miss You." At Christmas time she would draw pictures of Christmas trees and presents with a countdown at the bottom "2 Days Until Christmas Break and 6 Days Until Christmas."

3. She walks around saying things like "If I ever stop wanting things, I want to die because there's no point in even being alive." A casual observer would think the "things" she was referring to were dreams and aspirations. But no, she's talking about material possessions. She keeps a list of things she wants, and loves to recite her list the way I used to walk around the house reciting my Christmas list when I was a child. It's just part of the Mom-ness that is Mom.

4. She's a human gift registry. A person can tell her they like something in March and it will appear under the Christmas tree in December. She also somehow manages to buy those things while the person she's buying them for is still in the room.

5. When I was 11, I desperately wanted to dress up like Laura Ingalls Wilder, but since the costume makers don't seem to understand what a great demand there is for Laura Ingalls Wilder costumes for young children, there were no costumes like that available and so one had to be made. So my Mother, with my Aunt's help, spent several weeks making a costume for me, even though she really, really hates to sew.

Today's book, "Heiress Arielle Garnier was pregnant and the father-to-be was nowhere in sight--until he barged into her office. Zach Forsythe, billionaire resort owner, was the same man she'd had a week-long affair with. How could she trust Zach when he'd lied about his name and left her without a word?He hadn't forgotten the auburn-haired siren who'd given him seven days of bliss. Though finding her again...expecting his twins...was a surprise. As was her refusal of his marriage proposal. It seemed Arielle wanted love with her wedding ring."

Trashy thoughts:

  • I let my Mother pick today's book, which naturally means a "Romance" novel since those are the only kind of books she likes to read. She narrowed it down to a stack of books, and then she let me pick from the stack. Naturally, I had to read today's book after seeing the title. How could I turn away from a book with a title as ridiculous as One Night, Two Babies - I just couldn't. And the book turned out to be just as ridiculous as the title. But there is something oddly relaxing about getting to read a book that is mindless, shallow, and devoid of all merit - which makes it the closest thing to a reading break that I will get this year. So I sat down to read, turned off my brain, and enjoyed my reading vacation.

  • I spent the day with my Mother and the rest of the family, at Shipshewana. Ahh, there's nothing like reading a trashy romance novel while surrounded by Amish people. Amish country is probably the only place on earth I can go to and be the most scandalous person for miles around, so I decided to just enjoy the irony of the moment.

  • It's always amusing to read a romance novel where someone gets pregnant by a one night stand, because the author spends most of the book jumping through hoops in order to try to convince the readers that having a one night stand with someone whose name you don't even know is wholesome, reasonable, and tasteful. So the book was filled with excuses, and desperate justifications that rival those coming from the parent of a really bratty child, but instead of He was just overtired and he didn't eat his breakfast very well, it was more like He was going through a rough time in his life, and she was taken in by his charm and got confused.

  • I discovered while reading this book, which was about the fourth or fifth trashy romance novel I've read in my life, that I imagine the characters looking exactly the same way no matter how the book describes the characters. I figure if the author is going to be too lazy to veer from the formula and actually write a new story, then I'm not going to bother to veer from the mental image I use for all of the other trashy romance novels I read.

I would only recommend today's book to people who a) really, really love romance novels or b) really, really enjoy mocking romance novels.