Sunday, August 24, 2008

Breaking Dawn or Breaking Down? BookLook Review

Book Look

Debbie Balzotti

“Breaking Dawn”

To read it or not to read it – that is the question. I am sorry my teenage girl friends but the answer is not. Reading fiction can be great entertainment, even enlightening but this book is neither. Despite what millions of women and young girls may think – this 754 page book has 700 boring pages and the other 54 are annoying.

The Twilight Saga by Stephenie Meyer has come to its long past due conclusion with book number four “Breaking Dawn”. I did enjoy reading most of the first book “Twilight” with its original premise that not all vampires are out to suck your blood. Meyer is a BYU graduate who dreamt about the plot one night and wrote her first very successful novel based on that dream. I skipped the second book, and read the third to review it. Once you decide that you don’t like the heroine it is really hard to read any more books in a series. I was so sick of Bella’s whining, lying and twisted thoughts and actions that instead of seeing who would kill her first, the vampire or the werewolf, I decided to kill her myself by closing the book. That is how you kill fictional characters by the way – they only exist if you read about them so just stop reading.

I must be way off here since Bella has an international fan club fueled by publishers and book sellers that love her. They have succumbed to the soap opera story of a seventeen year old girl in love with an ancient vampire. Is it really a good message to send to high school girls that they should go ahead and marry their true love at age eighteen? Bella does indeed marry Edward the vampire, get pregnant on her honeymoon and give birth to a Halfling who is then imprinted by Jacob the werewolf to become his eternal mate. Are you feeling a little nauseated?

I know these are just fantasy books and I think that sampling all types of literature is important, but I can’t recommend this one. If your teenage daughter is begging to read it, read it first and discuss the ideas that are in this work of fiction. Meyer blew her chance to send a positive message to millions of young girls but instead she fed them mind numbing romantic fiction. It is fiction. It is for entertainment. I just didn’t find it entertaining.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Not all Tarts are Apple - Book Look Review

This week when my air conditioner decided to break down, I hung out in the library for some free cool air. I had to stop going to the mall for their free cool air – it was too expensive. But a good incentive for my hubby to get the repair guys on the job quickly!

I randomly picked this book off the shelf mainly because of the title: “Not All Tarts Are Apple.” It had some other attracting features that called out to me from the shelf like the author’s name Pip Granger - now that is a great author name. And she won the Harry Bowling Prize for Fiction – I have no idea what this award is for but I’m sure it’s important. I also liked the fact that it was only 200 pages long and included a glossary at the end. A glossary is very helpful when reading a book filled with Cockney slang. I know that a blighter is a cad, a rotter, an untrustworthy type, but I was glad to know that a punter refers to someone who bets but also means a customer. Mush is your face. A set of lugs are your ears, but then shell-likes are also your ears. You can see why a glossary is very helpful.

Granger writes a fictional memoir set in the shady Soho district of London during the summer of 1953. This is a heartwarming story filled with loveable characters. Rosa is a seven-year-old abandoned by her alcoholic mother to be raised by a couple called Auntie Maggie and Uncle Bert who run a café. Remember “My Fair Lady”? These characters are even more endearing and despicable. The café neighbors include a shady lawyer, a clairvoyant, prostitutes, thieves and other assorted con artists. Using a seven-year-old as voice gives us an innocent, non-judgmental view of her unusual friends.

When a classmate announces on the school playground that her mum is a tart, Rosa gives the girl a bloody nose even though she isn’t sure what the word means. The very large, dressed in her best, Auntie Maggie “…sailed in through the school gate like royalty. “Don’t you worry, love. I’ll sort it out. You run along and play.” Of course, up until then I hadn’t been worried at all, because I hadn’t really twigged that anything was wrong, although I should have got inkling on account of the dress and Granny’s brooch.”

Auntie Maggie did sort it out and as she and a large cast of characters surround and protect Rosa, we come to love them all. At the end of their adventures which include kidnapping and blackmail, we miss them all terribly. “The Widow Ginger” is the sequel which I will pick up from the library to read and enjoy at home now that my air conditioner is fixed.

Friday, August 15, 2008

The nursery awaits

Tyfani has been busy decorating the nursery for baby boy arriving soon. I love the brown ric rack on the bumper pads and the tree painted on the wall. Now that his room is almost ready we think he is just waiting for his name to be chosen!

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Twilight Fans may becoming rabid

I know these Twilight series are popular books but a mall kiosk devoted to shirts, Bella jewelry, and more ? This is so out of control. My picture is a bit blurry since I didn't dare stand too close and I was shaking with laughter. I wonder if they will stay in business long enough to get me one of those vampire costumes? I think with our cold weather the wolf might be a better choice. I looked for white chalky face makeup but couldn't see it. It was probably one of the first items to go.
I reviewed 2 of the 1st three Twilight books and plan on finishing up with the 4th this next week.

Book Look Review "Marley & Me"

Book Look

Debbie Balzotti

“Marley & Me”

The movie based on this book is coming out in August. You may want to ruin the experience by reading the book first since the book is always better than the movie. I am trying to make your life better by suggesting good books to read but I can’t be responsible for your movie choices! I read “Marley & Me” by John Grogan a couple of years ago and laughed out loud at the grief and joy one dog can bring to a family. Your own pet dog memories will come flooding back as you read about Marley. One of our dogs, Tammy was a beautiful, intelligent collie. She looked like Lassie – but she was not Lassie. My brothers trained her to take the mail out of the mailman’s hand and burp. The first trick was disconcerting to every newly assigned mailman who thrust his trembling fingers filled with mail through the metal slot in our front door. The second trick was truly disturbing. Tammy would stand between the knees of a visitor, gaze sweetly up at the face now bending toward her, and produce a dog breath burp that could cause instant paralysis. I am surprised Mark ever came back to see me after his near death experience with Tammy.

Newlyweds John and Jenny Grogan decided to prepare for parenting by testing their skills on a Labrador retriever. There seemed to be some logic in their plan. Before taking on the care and responsibility of a human baby, wouldn’t it be best to practice on a puppy? Already you can see that this was a crazy idea. There is no prerequisite class for parenting. Marley was a very naughty puppy who grew into a psychotic adult dog. It wasn’t that the Grogans didn’t try to tame this beast; they did take Marley to obedience school from which he was expelled, they did sedate him during storms after he destroyed their drywall repeatedly, and like all true dog lovers they excused his bad behavior and gave him lots of treats.

As their family grew to include two boys, the loveable Marley continued to challenge and entertain everyone. Many times, I was telling them to get rid of this monster dog, and at other times I was cheering their decision to keep him. Grogan writes this dog tale as I imagine he wrote his newspaper column. He gives the reader brief, humorous glimpses into his world which is now canine controlled. There is exasperation and affection as he describes the escapades of that darn dog (his language is bit more colorful). It is a story of how a dog slowly but surely becomes a beloved member of a family.

Anyone considering purchasing a puppy or having a baby may want to read “Marley & Me”. It will give you the courage to do either or both because you know you are much smarter than the Grogans and would never make the same mistakes they did. You would never let your dog/child act like that!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Book Look

Debbie Balzotti

“The Moonstone”

Summer is a great time to reread a Victorian mystery novel. I love to read a British classic between a hefty biography and a light-weight spy thriller. I feel that it provides me with a better education since I am currently home schooled. I majored in Early Graduation at BYU. I was really an English major at heart due to my love of words and writing and an ability to read quickly but my degree is actually in Sociology, another less than employable major. I had the distinction of graduating Magna Cum Laude, on the Deans list, with not one extra credit and of course pregnant. It was BYU remember.

I chose this classic written in 1868 by Wilkey Collins because my daughter Alyssa is reading it and loving it as much as I did at her age. Collins wrote this first detective novel as a literary jigsaw puzzle. He planned the novel carefully, with clues cleverly placed and introduced his readers to deductive sleuthing with his Scotland Yard Inspector Cluff. Sherlock Holmes and other literary detectives were later based on his character. One measure of a classic is how often it is stolen from by other authors – and this novel has been copied by some of the greatest.

Dickens was a close friend of Collins and admired his writing. He wrote about The Moonstone: “…a very curious story – wild, and yet domestic – with excellent character in it, and great mystery…It is prepared with extraordinary care, and has every chance of being a hit.” Dickens was right – it was a hit. In fact it sold more copies than some of Dickens own novels at the time.

The moonstone is a huge diamond stolen from a sacred shrine in India and given to an innocent young Englishwoman on her birthday. It comes of course with a curse which takes effect immediately as her peaceful country home becomes a crime scene. Prior to the gift of the diamond, the servant Mr. Betterage instructs: “Gentlefolks in general have a very awkward rock ahead in life – the rock ahead of their own idleness.” After the diamond’s disappearance, the characters emerge from their complacent lives to face misery, danger and death.

Reading The Moonstone is a graduation requirement for those of us who are now home schooled. I am glad that I revisited it despite the extra effort to find it on the shelf. I highly recommended this Wilkey Collins classic detective tale for your summer reading.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Today is a very Special day - Alyssa's birthday

Happy Birthday Alyssa

My beautiful baby girl seen here on her first birthday, is turning 25 today. She is truly the perfect daughter. Lovely on the outside and on the inside. We have many things in common, and just enough differences to keep life fun. She was born with that creative spark and has used it to light up the lives of her parents, her brothers, her husband and all of her family. She is my best girl-friend. I think I should reveal a few embarrassing things though in honor of this day. Her dad's pet name for her as a baby and still often used is "lissy lou lou". Endearing but mysterious. She was dancing as soon as she could crawl. She danced many years - ballet, and modern dance. Her fashion police role started very early - at kindergarten age as we were all advised on what to wear and what for sure not to wear. She has had more car accidents than our entire family put together - counting grandparents, cousins... including the time she hit a short, red metal pole in the high school parking lot. But she couldn't see the pole because Savannah was sitting on her hood! When she organized the entire girl's softball team at about age 12 to cheer while in the dugout we new that she would be a high school cheerleader no matter how hard her brothers tried to tease her out of it. They are still disappointed that their fatalistic prediction that being a cheerleader meant she would marry a football player who worked at the steel plant, live forever in Springville and scrapbook her life away didn't come true. Since she married a competative swimmer who is now a lawyer and lives in Chicago and loves to travel - France is next month, and she never scrapbooks, once again their teasing didn't pay off. We are proud to be the parents of the creater of handmadejig (etsy shop), a wonderful young woman, a great wife to Sean, and our favorite daughter. Wish we could be there with you today!


mom and dad

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

There has to be a picture of grandchildren

This is Gabe the Babe, our grandson with our son Jonathan. As every grandmother knows you must show grandchildren pictures to as many people as possible or you may be fired! We enjoyed vacationing with him - and his parents since they insisted on being with him also. Gabriel is a happy baby, as you can see and an excellent traveller.

"Pay the Devil" Book Look Review

Since we bloggers have a shorter printed word attention span I have edited this review. To see a full review you may check the Springville Herald Newspaper. I think this blog will give you enough to decide whether you want to read the book. I liked it for a quick, clean read.
What did do on my summer vacation? I read of course. If you want to send your brain on vacation you can read "Pay the Devil" by Jack Higgins. A dashing southern gentleman Colonel Fitzgerald, inherits an Irish estate at the end of the civil war which is handy for him because he has to get out of town fast.
Immediately he puts on a black hood and becomes....dun,dun,dun - "Captain Swing". Oh come on Higgins - wouldn't Zorro or Batman be better undercover names than Captain Swing? The beautiful, saintly, brave,very young heroine Joanna is worthy of our hero's adoration. Good once again triumphs over evil, the guy gets the girl - oops I hope I didn't spoil the ending for you!