Monday, January 28, 2013

Book review: Episode 4

Don't bother clicking on the pictures to look's just the way I copy the image from Amazon.  Sorry.

Well folks, I've been reading in between episodes of Downton Abbey.  Here's this post's selections:
The Boy In the Striped Pajamas has an interesting premise.  It's the story of a high-ranking officer's family who lives next to the Auschwitz concentration camp.  The 8 year old son of the officer is the narrator of the story.  The boy befriends another little boy on the inside of the fence at Auschwitz but doesn't truly understand what is going on around him.  It was a decent, quick read from a different point of view but I feel like other books have done a better job of telling similar stories. Recommended for those who feel that they can't sit through the hard to find 90 minute screen adaptation.

 I must be on a WWII/Jewish Holocaust book reading kick lately because I also read I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree: A Memoir Of a Schindler's List Survivor.  This would be a good example of a Holocaust book I feel was better than The Boy In the Striped Pajamas.  Told from the first person point of view of a Holocaust survivor who went to numerous concentration camps.  In the process, she lost her family but found her future spouse.  She was lucky enough to be on Oskar Schindler's list and the book includes a picture of her name on it.  Strongly recommended.  The End.

We return to the Pittacus Lore series with The Rise of Nine.  I liked this much more than the last offering, The Power of Six, that I reviewed a few months ago.  Definitely better than the last offering.  I believe there was a new writer in the collaboration for this one which may have helped but it's still teens and aliens and fighting to the death.  Recommended for those looking for a light read that means nothing in the grand scheme of things.  Or just those looking for teens and aliens and fighting to the death.

Notorious Nineteen: Janet Evanovich's latest installment of the Stephanie Plum/Ranger/Morelli saga.  It's time for the love triangle to be over, Janet.  I'm begging you to put this series out of its misery.  It's been over since about book 10.  (Yes, I realize that because I still read the book it perpetuates the cycle.  It's a vicious cycle but I can't get off!).
Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith 
Not sure what to say about this one.  It gives a pretty thorough background of the Mormon faith (beyond the sensationalized polygamy and magic underwear) but I can't say it was without the occasional snarky comment about religion in general from the author.  I would've enjoyed the book better if the author had stayed true to his journalist roots and was more neutral.  Also, the author's contention that it was a book about the murder of two people with a backdrop of the Mormon religion is a fallacy--it's more like a book about the Mormon religion with a splash of information about a highly publicized murder in the early 80's.  Beyond these issues, I still enjoyed the book.  To be honest, I didn't know much about the Mormon faith going into the book so as a nerd who LOVES to learn and obtain knowledge about things, it was great.  It also tells of Joseph Smith, the golden plates, how the Mormon influence in the west shaped early policy for the United States and the 24th of July Pioneer Day significance.
What am I reading now, you ask?  The book club selection for this month, Anna and the French Kiss.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Gettin Our Girly On with Auntie Jenny!

We had our annual Girly Day with my friend Jenny right before the new year.  Ella loves it every year (cause Jenny knows how to have a good time AND because she gets to leave all the boy yuckiness that is her brother at home).  We tried to go to a nail salon to get manis.  There was an hour wait so we decided to go to a make-your-own pottery place after we found there was a wait at the nail salon.

Ella painted an owl piggy bank (no piggy, just owl)

I painted a monkey mug for Luke.

Jenny made a vase.

After the pottery, we went back to the nail salon.  Jenny and I got some sort of a gel mani that's supposed to last a long time.  It's now 2 weeks later and my nails still look great (score!).  The best part is that Ella had a blast.  That Aunt Jenny...she always knows how to show a girl a good time!

What the what? Benny turned 1??

Yeah, I'm not sure how it happened either but this little guy turned 1 on January 2nd!  Seems like just yesterday he was born.  Now that he's 1, Ella can officially start bugging Uncle Kevin and Aunt Annie to produce a female cousin for her.

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Family Date Day: COSI

We had a family date day last week.  Note to self: never, never, never go to COSI during Christmas break.  It was insanely busy!  Despite the extra people and busy-ness, it was still really great to hang out together.  The kids enjoyed the traveling Lego exhibit but were a little sad to see their favorite general exhibit (the room where you walk thru and it makes the walls look like they're spinning around you like a black hole) was not running because of the space needed for it.

The castle behind them was made of Legos.

See the stained glass behind them?  That was actually thin Legos
that were backlit to look like glass.

Lego my dragon

Ella vs some random kid while jousting.

Luke vs a different random kid while jousting.
The last time we went to COSI (I think it was last summer or spring) Ella wanted to try to ride the unicycle across the high wire but made the mistake of wearing flip flops which is a no-no to ride.  This time she was prepared with closed-toe shoes.  She was definitely tall enough (see also below photo.  She's sitting on a bicycle seat attached to the floor.  You had to be able to touch the floor with flat feet to ride.).

Tall enough?  Yup!
While Ella waited in line to ride the cycle, Luke and I kept ourselves otherwise occupied by building some molecules (that's what those black and tan circles are below)...
...And shooting some water in the Ocean section.
About 30 minutes later, she was rolling along.

She was very proud of herself (and so was I!)