Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Book Review: Remarkable Creatures

By Tracy Chevalier
I first stumbled onto Tracy Chevalier when I read The Girl with the Pearl Earring. I loved the way Chevalier created an entire story around a Vermeer painting of a young girl with a pearl earring. I quickly fell in love with several of Chevalier's other books. She became one of my favorite authors and landed a spot on my 30 Things Before 30 list.

Remarkable Creatures is her latest work, published in 2009. Like her other books, this one is well researched and well written. Her characters' dialects and actions feel authentic.

Remarkable Creatures gently drops its readers into the early 1800s, when women's rights were severely limited and having a mind of one's own was a cause for intense disapproval. As usual, her characters are strong women who challenge authority and buck convention. They work to make a name for themselves in a time and an industry in which women were persona non grata.

The remarkable creatures are more than just the two female narrators who chose to live life on their own terms. The early 1800s brought about many discoveries of the natural world. Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species, introducing the concepts of natural selection and survival of the fittest, would be published in 1859. While passing time, waiting to die, and reading about the natural world would have been more fitting for an upper class spinster and a poor girl should have been a dishwasher, the narrators found their passion, their lives' calling in fossil hunting on the beaches of England.

The tales of fossil hunting and the challenges of a friendship that challenges class and age fill the pages of this book and really flesh out the story. This book is a must read for historical fiction lovers. Tracy Chevalier may be one of my favorite authors, but I would recommend this book regardless.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Fall Shows on Fox

Somehow I missed adding Fox shows to my fall lineup. Oops!

I'm only looking forward to three shows: Glee (Thursdays at 8:00), New Girl (Tuesdays at 7:00) and The Mindy Project (Tuesdays at 8:30).

I've watched the first two episodes of Glee, and I'm not terribly impressed by the story line and dialogue. I know it's odd to criticize a show for teenagers, but it's definitely been better in the past. Now it seems tired and trite. If it doesn't get better, I'll remove it from the DVR.

New Girl is so cute and funny. I love Zoe, and I also love Mindy Kaling, so I have high hopes for her.

To see my reviews of fall shows, click here and here.

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Winning Looks at the 64th Annual Primetime Emmy Awards Ceremony

I find the Emmys more fascinating than the Oscars. Whereas, the Oscars are dry and feature movies I have yet to see (Seriously, my Black Swan the The King's Speech DVDs are still wrapped in cellophane),  the Emmys are slightly humorous and feature shows I actually watch (or have watched prior to the airing of the awards show). Still, my favorite part is the Red Carpet.

Some notable trends appeared on the Red Carpet. It seemed like Angelina Jolie's leg made multiple appearances on the Red Carpet this year. Everyone from Heidi Klum to Giuliana Rancic to Maria Menounos were channeling Jolie's much-talked about Oscar pose. Both nude and colored sheer dresses were popular. Elisabeth Moss and Ariel Winter rocked some gorgeous floral frocks.

Another trend I noticed that I didn't really like were odd criss-cross bodices. January Jones and Emily Vancamp wore it in different variations. After a few looks, I found January's dress quite stunning and very sculptural. As an art piece, it's amazing, but I can't imagine it's very comfortable to sit in.

Without further ado, here are my favorite looks:


Zachary Quinto

Archie Punjabi

Kate Mara

Elisabeth Moss
Giuliana Rancic
Aaron Paul
January Jones
Jeannie Mai 

Friday, September 21, 2012

What I've Watched: Summer Movie Edition

It's officially fall tomorrow, so it's a great time to tell you what I watched this summer.

Project X

I can't believe I allowed Nick to talk me into watching this...with my mom...the unrated version.

The Lorax

I loved this movie, but I'm a sucker for D. Seuss. We bought the 3D movie but watched it in 2D because 3D isn't good for developing toddler eyes. I can't wait to watch it in 3D.


Yeah, I just wrote Troy, the Brad Pitt, Orlando Bloom, Eric Bana one. Plenty of eye candy, and I love mythology but it was just OK.

The Hatfields & McCoys

I LOVED this. Of course, I really like Kevin Costner. While technically a miniseries, I'm putting it here due to length. Plus, it's nominated for an Emmy.

We bought The Hurt Locker recently. We really like this movie. It's amazing and is well directed. It's gritty and so real it felt like I was there. I'm very pleased that such a typically masculine movie was directed by a woman, the lovely Kathryn Bigelow.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Book Review: The Last Lecture

By Randy Pausch with Jeffrey Zaslow
With more than 15 million views and more than 64,000 likes on YouTube, Randy Pausch's last lecture continues to inspire people to achieve their dreams five years later.

When Randy stood on the Carnegie Mellon auditorium stage to give his lecture on achieving childhood dreams, he was trying to leave a legacy for his young children. No one, not even Randy or the audience, could have imagined just how lasting his legacy would be.
The Last Lecture was a series presented by Carnegie Mellon in which the speaker ponders his/her death. Although that wouldn't have been difficult for Randy, a computer science professor and virtual reality geek who was dying of pancreatic cancer, the university had decided to rename the series "Journeys" before offering Randy the slot.
In this small book, Randy strengthens that legacy by recounting his life, how he came to be on the stage that night, and the advice on living he gave to that lecture's overflowing audience. He wrote a little about death, dying with grace and living while dying.
Great advice and humor are sprinkled throughout the book and the lecture. Randy used the humor to grant levity and avoid pity. As he said during his lecture after proving that he was in great shape by doing push ups, if anyone wanted to pity him they could come on stage, do a push up, and then pity him. He was happy. It's all he knew how to be. He was a Tigger, not an Eeyore.
Randy with his family dressed as The Incredibles.
The book while short, is chock full of inspiration and provides many thought provoking points throughout. I highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn't read it yet.
Randy Pausch passed away July 25, 2008 at his home. He lived five months longer than the three to six months his doctor had given him. He was survived by his wife, Jai, and three children, Dylan, Logan and Chloe. Representative of his legacy, his obituary was published in the New York Times.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Movie Review: The Hunger Games

Directed by: Gary Ross
Since having Claire, Nick and I have found it more difficult to watch movies in which children are possessed or harmed. So, before watching The Hunger Games I asked Nick if he knew what it was about.
"Yeah," he said. "It's Death Race for hungry kids."
OK. He was ready to watch it.
Or, maybe not. It's one thing to know what happens, but knowledge didn't prevent us from being upset by what we saw. I suppose that's true of many things. During pivotal moments, I found myself holding back tears. On film the events I read about in the book seemed all too real.
Gritty, Appalachian District 12

At the beginning the shaky camera, while giving a realistic, gritty feel, caused a mild amount of nausea. By the time I had adjusted, the camera had steadied, and I was pulled into the characters' storylines.
Elizabeth Banks' Effie Trinkett dressed in garb typical of the
Capitol with Jennifer Lawrence's Katniss dressed as a district 12 native.

The costumes, done by Judianna Makovsky, were a highlight of the movie. The citizens of the Capitol looked amazing in their over-the-top colorful garb. The grittiness of District 12 was emphasized by a wardrobe reminscent of the dirty '30s and '40s. The contrast between the two groups really highlighted not only the differences between them, but also emphasized the Capitol's lack of concern and interest for the well being of the people of District 12, Panem's poorest district.
Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman

In my review of the book, I wrote that Collins often told rather than showed some of the thoughts and actions. I found the movie better in that respect. The addition of Stanley Tucci's character as an announcer during the games fixed that. Instead of Katniss's narration, we're treated to Tucci's colorful commentary.
Casting was well done with known actors such as Donald Sutherland, Woody Harrelson, Elizabeth Banks and Stanley Tucci with new and less well known actors such as Jennifer Lawrence, Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth.
Both Nick and I are looking forward to the second movie. According to IMDB, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire will be released in November of 2013. That gives me over a year to read and review the book before catching the movie in about December or later, because, let's face it, I'm not waiting in a long line with teeny boppers for this movie no matter how good it is.
Have you watched The Hunger Games? What did you think?

Sunday, September 16, 2012

NYC Spring 2013 Fashion Picks

As fall is just starting to hit here in Minnesota, NYC was looking to Spring 2013 with top designers presenting their upcoming lines. I honestly wasn't fully in love with any look. Maybe my mind is too firmly entrenched in fall to think about spring right now. Regardless, here are my top picks:

Rachel Zoe, via InStyle
Vera Wang, via InStyle
Rachel Roy, via InStyle
Rachel Roy, via InStyle
J. Crew, via InStyle
Tory Burch, via InStyle
Zac Posen, via InStyle
Carolina Herrera, via Instyle
DKNY, via InStyle
Global-inspired prints were huge on the runways. I'm really loving them. It seems like Spring might be an easy season for me to transition to. Did you like any other looks?

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Book Review: The Hunger Games

By Suzanne Collins

Finally, after months, maybe even years of hearing about it, I picked up The Hunger Games. This is one of the books I had to read in 2012, and it feels good to check it off the list.

Collins' book places us in a gritty dystopian world where kids pay the heaviest price for the sins of their forebearers.

The book is well written, but there are instances when Collins tells rather than shows us what's happening. This is very common when one narrator is relied upon to tell the story. There were also some predictable moments, but in all, this was an interesting and engaging story. I highly recommend this to the few people left in the world who haven't already read it yet.

Coming up I'll have a review of The Hunger Games movie and a book vs. the movie comparison.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Fall TV Shows I'm Looking Forward To

With cooler fall temperatures, fall leaves, football and pumpkins comes another thing I'm excited about: Fall TV Shows.

Here are the shows I'm looking forward to this fall:

Premier Date
The Voice
Mon, Sep 10th
Saturday Night Live
Sat, Sep 15th
Mon, Sep 17th
The Office
Thur, Sep 20th
Parks and Recreation
Thur, Sep 20th
How I Met Your Mother
Mon, Sep 24th
2 Broke Girls
Mon, Sep 24th
Modern Family
Wed, Sep 26th
Wed, Sep 26th
The Big Bang Theory
Thur, Sep 27th
The Good Wife
Sun, Sep 30th
Sun, Sep 30th
666 Park Avenue
Sun, Sep 30th
30 Rock
Thur, Oct 4th
American Horror Story
Wed, Oct 17th
Fri, Oct 19th

Seth MacFarlane will host the premier of Saturday Night Live with musical guest Frank Ocean.

I'm looking forward to watching new and new to me shows this fall. Revolution on NBC and 666 Park Avenue on ABC both look to be promising new shows this fall. I'll watch at least one episode before deciding if it's worth the time out of my life.

I didn't watch American Horror Story last year, but after all the buzz about the first season, I've decided to give it a chance.

How I Met Your Mother has turned into a big tease, but I really need to know who the mother is! Speaking of teases, I've been waiting for the season premier of The Good Wife to find out what happens to Kalinda.

What shows are you looking forward to this fall?

Friday, September 7, 2012

What I've Watched: Summer TV Edition

It's been a busy summer, but I've still been able to watch a few good shows.

Royal Pains (USA)
I love the decadence, plus Mark Feuerstein and Paulo Costanzo are adorable and Reshma Shetty's accent is to die for.

Flip Men (Spike)

House flipping shows have always fascinated me and Mike and Doug have great taste. Now, if they'd just burn down the nasty houses and start over, I'd be thrilled.

Bar Rescue (Spike)

I got to love the intensity of Jon Taffer. The newly concocted drinks also sound delicious.

Ancient Aliens (History)

What's not to love about alien conspiracy theories and a mysteriously growing man's coif? I'm a bit behind on the DVR, but I'll catch up.

Veronica Mars (SOAP)

Although I watched the complete series while on maternity leave two years ago, I can't miss it when I see this bad ass on the guide.

P.S. I think Conspiracy Theory Keanu is right.