Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Lenten Eve

Or, as others call it, Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras. We always had pancakes at church, which was fine by me because pancakes are always good. One of the very few perks of going to CCD on Tuesday night was the Pancake dinner we always had on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. (It was always the worst homework night, though, because all of the Protestant kids went to church on Wednesday. My teachers didn't care.) 

So, I had to think about what I was going to give up for Lent this year. One year I gave up chocolate, which was impossible. I cheated. Two years I gave up Cherry Coke, which is my favorite soft drink of all time. I forgot a bunch of years.  

This year, I want to eat healthy. That means giving up things like McDonald's and other fast food items. Ice cream. I plan on keeping a food log of my healthy food. If I can do this for forty days, I think I can get back on the healthy train.  

I see good times ahead! 

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Rest in Peace, Socks

News today that the Clinton's pet cat from Bill Clinton's presidency has passed away at the advanced age of 18 due to cancer. Lest we think that the Obama search for a mythical hypo-allergenic dog (they don't really exist!) is the first instance of a presidential pet, Socks reminds us that the president has a family side as well. Pets show us a facet of the highest public official in the land that is not usually seen at press conferences or in controlled interviews. 

And who couldn't love that sweet face? He reminds me of my own cat, Gemma. 

This picture is absolutely adorable. A Presidential Cat--can't do worse than their human counterparts, I'm thinking. It's a tough job. 

So, Rest In Peace, Socks. 

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Yarn Galore!

Okay, I found out that Hobby Lobby was discontinuing more yarn. So I went and bought some. 

Truth: I bought a lot. 

The hardest part of the yarn I bought is that it is novelty yarn, which makes it more difficult to find projects to make out of it. It's a lot of that "tape" yarn which looks really good on the skein, but not so much in a finished project. 

Sigh. But it's so pretty. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dogs and Goddesses by Crusie, Stuart, and Rich

I have very few authors that I auto-buy for anymore. When I first started reading romance, there would be almost two releases a month that I would have to buy. Not so much any more. Along with Susan Elizabeth Phillips I auto-buy Jennifer Crusie's books, even her collaborations with other authors. This one includes Anne Stuart and Lani Diane Rich. 

The collaboration is a tricky thing. With three authors on the cover, the tendency to think the book is an analogy is pretty high. This book is a novel, with all three parts nearly seamlessly working together. The authors have been very open about the process on their blog, Dogs and Goddesses.  The other type of collaboration, which this is not, is the one where a well-known author puts his/her name on a book with a less well-known author to help that author get a following. This is similar to the process used by the anthology, which one or two well-known authors are tied with one or two other authors that are less well-known. 

If a collaboration must be done, I prefer the novel over the anthology. Anthologies usually have stories that would be more interesting if fleshed out into a full book, or the stories are so dull that they're not worth reading. 

Dogs and Goddesses follows three women in a small Ohio town who are drawn to a dog training class. While there, they meet the enigmatic trainer, Kammani, who hands them a tonic to drink. In a short period of time, the three women not only meet the men of their dreams, but they hear voices and swear their dogs are talking to them. Before long, they're all trying to defeat an ancient Mesopotamian goddess that's trying to regain her rightful place in the world.  

I'm no expert on anything Mesopotamian, so that helped me to suspend my disbelief well enough, and the authors' note at the beginning about how it is all made up made me feel even better. I did find the myth a little confusing and kept having to go back to parts that I re-read already in order to solidify it. Of course, after having read it, I found the entire myth on the webpage. 

This is one of my pet-peeves: if there's a mythology created for the book, the reader shouldn't have to rely on outside sources to discover it. This isn't a series, and that's a completely different kettle of fish. I shouldn't have to do research to enjoy a novel. I didn't read the blog as it was being created, and I don't feel that should be necessary in order to join a book. It feels much too clique-ish. 

Based on that, I give the book a solid B. I liked the story, and it's good for a collaboration. 

Sunday, February 01, 2009

What I Did for Love by Susan Elizabeth Phillips

I rarely buy hardcovers. If they're on the bargain table and cheaper than the paperback, I buy it. If it's a book on history and I can't wait to get it, I buy it. If it's by Susan Elizabeth Phillips, I buy it. I tried to wait for Match Me If You Can a few years back and almost couldn't do it. So, I've bought the last two of her books in hardcover, and almost wish I had waited. 

Former child star Georgie York has been dumped by her actor husband for a humanitarian actress. She and her detestable former co-star, Bram Shepard, end up running into each other in Vegas, and the inevitable happens--they run to an all-night chapel and end up married. Each of them have different reasons for wanting to stay in the marriage of appearances, but what will it turn into? 

Like all of Phillips books, the two main characters go through a transformation. They are not the same people they were at the beginning of the story. Georgie is fragile after her break-up, and the constant attention by the paps doesn't help matters. She's trying to figure out the next stage in her career and up against her stage-father who insists on running her career. Bram probably goes through the least transformation, as he gives the appearance of being dissolute at the beginning of the book, though the reader is quick to realize that Bram has grown a lot since his partying days on the set of their sitcom.  

There is also a secondary romance with Georgie's father, Paul. His story to me was more interesting, as he put his dreams on the back burner for the sake of his daughter. The relationship with his daughter also undergoes a radical transformation. 

The weakest part of the story was the setting. I'm not a Hollywood person--I find the E! network horrible, and I feel icky every time I find myself watching it. The inspiration for the story was also very obvious--the parallels between the Jennifer Aniston  and Jolie-Pitt affair slap the reader in the face. Are there differences? Sure, but Phillips makes the Jolie-Pitt characters in the book very flat. There's nothing at all to like about them, even though they're not really villains. 

The traditional Phillips hallmarks are present, but it's not my favorite venture by her. I'll return to her backlist.