Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bento Post - the last one of 2011!

I'm WAY behind on my bento pictures.  Since last week my poor spoiled child has been taking Lunchables to school for lunch, since we're out of housing and all of my snazzy bento supplies are in transit to the UK.

Anyways, I thought I'd post a few photos of some of the lunches I missed posting last month when they were relevant...  Ooops!

This one's pretty old but I can't remember posting it before.

Cherries, kiwi, mini salad with cheese stars, mac and cheese and under-the-sea dogs: mini octo and crab.
This was C's lunch on a day when we were out and about running errands.  It's a mini-version of the same lunch A had that day - apples, edamame, ham and cheese wheels, grapes, and a pumpkin candy.
The A version included a cookie.
Simple onigiri, hot dogs, apples, edamame and a pumpkin spice cookie
Bunny love.  ;)
Actually really liked this one - it's an olive spider and ham and cheese sammy rolls that say EEK with carrots, apples, and edamame - in the view below you can see how cute the spider is.  Hehehe

Red-dyed spaghetti (she won't eat spaghetti sauce, but red spaghetti is cool) with grilled chicken and a heart shaped bread, carrots, kiwi-love, cherry tomato and a brownie bite.
Sunbutter and jelly jack-o-lantern on skinny buns bread, mini-weenie, grapes, cheese, kiwi, and carrots.  There is a story behind this lunch.  Ask me some day.
Boo sammy with apples, grapes, carrots and cookie
Mini-mummy pizzas, apples and carrot-o-lanterns
The laziest ghost onigiri ever.  Fortunately my kiddo is pretty indiscriminate about rice.  Plus this one came with sprinkles - which she LOVES.  Also had candy corn, edamame, carrot-o-lantern, and mini dogs.
And that's that.  I may have a few more photos but since we're operating in-transit now, those won't be uploaded at all till we are settled in at our new address.  For the moment, I'm on vacation.  ;)

Book Review: Room

Book 25/25 in the 2011 Reading Challenge.  (I DID IT!!)  Date completed: November 28, 2011.

Room.  I took an interest in this book months and months ago while it was first on the bestsellers list, but because of VERY mixed reviews, I put off reading it.  Then my friend (the same friend that recommended I listen to Crank) said it was great and that I should give it a go but only if I was doing the audiobook format again.

So, like I said, I had been looking for entertainment for my upcoming flights and I downloaded Crank, Room, and one other book right then and there on her suggestion (I believe it's Still Missing, but my iPod is like 5 feet away from me at the moment and I can't be bothered to double check the title...  Sue me!)

Like with Crank, I "spoiled my appetite" and started listening to it as soon as our move started.  I sat out in the hallway as the movers packed up our belongings with my headphones on and listened to this book.  And then I just couldn't stop and ended up subjecting my children and husband to listening to this book (and my incessant hushing) during each of our car rides together.  At first listen, this book is absolutely obnoxious.  I didn't read any reviews thoroughly before starting the book so I wasn't sure what exactly I was getting myself into.  Room is told from the perspective of a (very sheltered, to put it lightly) five-year-old, and as my husband pointed out, it sounds like a really long cheesy radio commercial, or maybe a radio show from the 50s.  It's told entirely in the voice of a small child, save for the parts where other characters are talking.  As I adjusted, though, I wasn't so bothered by Jack's voice any more, nor was I bothered by his childish grammar - actually, I found myself repeating "Jack-isms" to my husband, who I do believe got pretty involved in this book too.

As a sidenote - I don't recall if I've ever mentioned it before, but I bought my husband The Hunger Games trilogy audiobooks and he listens to them like they're going out of style.  It's pretty much the only way I can get him to share in my book obsession with me.  So for him to be cool with listening to Room at every opportunity with me is probably because of that.  He has probably listened to the full Hunger Games trilogy at least 10 times now.  And no, he's not sick of them yet.  They're that good!

Anyways once I got used to Room, I absolutely could not stop listening to it.  It's the story of a woman who is abducted at age 19 and kept isolated by her captor in a modified garden shed for seven years.  The story of her and the wonderful, charming, sweet product of her abuse - her five-year-old son, Jack.  Going into the story, none of that is entirely apparent however and it just seems like Ma and Jack are a couple of weirdos.

This is a definite good read.  I gave it four stars, one short of five because Ma's character did, on occasion, drive me crazy...  But I think that's sort of to be expected from someone so detached from the world.  This book doesn't leave anything out.  It includes all the details from Jack's perspective and it's extremely haunting.  I don't want to say too much and give the story away, just know that you really should read Room.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Book Review: Crank

Book 24/25 in the 2011 Reading Challenge.  Date completed: November 21, 2011.

This was different for me in many ways.  Crank was recommended to me by a friend who said it was really different and that she'd really enjoyed it.  I didn't know what to expect, but she suggested the audiobook as that was how she'd taken it in.  So, ok, I'm up for new stuff.  Plus, I've been wanting something to entertain me on the plane that doesn't require my eyes.  Figured an audiobook would be appropriate.

But I didn't wait till I got on the plane to start listening to Crank.  I started listening to it in the car on a drive to one of the other bases here on island to keep me company since I was going solo.  Right away I noticed how it was written much differently than anything else I've ever read.  I looked it up when I got home and found out that the book was written entirely in verse, almost as poetry.  (Which explains why the recording was only a little over four hours long total.)  It is from the perspective of a 16-going-on-17-year-old girl, Kristina, as she spirals downward into addiction.  It's very raw.  Talks about rape, talks about specific drug usage, talks about scandal of all sorts, teen pregnancy, abortion, and all those things that mothers of daughters worry about incessantly.

Anyways, at just four hours, I finished this book pretty quickly.  I put on my headphones and listened while I folded laundry and did dishes, I listened in the car on a couple of errand runs, and before I knew it, the book was over.  It scared the shit out of me, if I'm being honest.  I only gave it two stars, but not because it was bad - just because it really wasn't my thing.  I didn't relate at all to the plot - I was always pretty straight-edge - most would say my teenage years were quite boring and I'm alright with that.  But I did find it...  Well, fascinating, because of the absence of such chaos in my own life.

Apparently this book is the first in a series that continues to follow Kristina's life.  I'm not sure if I'll read the others, but this was definitely an interesting experience for me.  And makes me want to squeeze my children a little tighter.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Book Review: Divergent

Book 23/25 in the 2011 Reading Challenge.  Date completed: November 14, 2011.

I stumbled upon Divergent because I am such a fan of The Hunger Games trilogy.  Divergent is the first (and currently the only - book number two, Insurgent, is due out next May) book in Veronica Roth's new trilogy.  It is very similar in feeling to The Hunger Games.  Maybe it's biased for me to review it in comparison but I couldn't help myself all throughout from feeling like they were spun from the same thread.

Beatrice (aka Tris) is a sixteen-year-old girl in a dystopian civilization divided into five factions: Abnegation, whose people are known for their selflessness; Amity, whose people are known for being caring; Candor, whose people are known for honesty; Dauntless, whose people are known for their fearlessness; and Erudite, whose people are known for their intelligence.  Beatrice is born and raised in Abnegation, but when her turn to choose her life's path and designated faction comes about, she opts to leave behind the family and the life that she has always known.

The story details the sometimes brutal initiation process for the teenagers entering into the Dauntless faction, but more specifically, it follows Beatrice's unique case as she tries to conceal the dangerous truth (and understand what it really means) that she is, in fact, a Divergent.

This is Veronica Roth's first book and I think it's really good.  I only gave it three stars on Goodreads, because I feel like it has a lot of potential but it just felt so much like The Hunger Games to me that I want to see what else is going to happen in the trilogy before I commit to absolutely loving it.  I felt like some parts were very predictable, where I never felt that way with The Hunger Games.  It's another time where I wish I could give ratings with half-stars, because Divergent certainly would merit three and a half if I could do it.  I'll definitely be reading the next book when I get my hands on it, and the other reviewers that say if you liked The Hunger Games you'll enjoy Divergent were right.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Book Review: Love Walked In

Book 22/25 in the 2011 Reading Challenge.  Date completed: November 3, 2011.

Ok, so this was another Pinterest find because I liked the cover.  I'd probably have never heard of this book or Marisa de los Santos otherwise.  I gave it a three-star rating on Goodreads, but it was one of those times where I really wished instead of a five-star rating system, they used a ten-star.  I think this book would have merited more than six stars out of ten but probably only about seven total.  So, yeah, I suppose what I'm getting at is that I feel like about a 3.5 star rating is more honest.

The book started out really well.  I was hooked on it right away, especially from the first Clare chapter as her mother seemingly goes insane...  And Cornelia certainly was a lovable character, too.  She made a lot of classic film and book references and I like that sort of thing.  She's a hopeless romantic and a bit of an under-achiever, but content with her life in general.  The book creates a very unlikely connection between Cornelia and Clare, who we several chapters in discover is the daughter of Cornelia's super-suave boyfriend, Martin.  When Clare's mother goes off the proverbial "deep end," Martin finds himself suddenly solely responsible for the 11-year-old daughter he has essentially spent carefully avoiding her whole life.  He turns to Cornelia for help with Clare, and this was about the point where I sensed a plot-twist approaching that I wanted to dig my heels into the mud to prevent.

Without spoiling the story, I can only say that things changed about halfway through this book.  I felt it coming and I was really hoping against all hopes that it wasn't going where it was, but I was right.  Nothing terrible happens, just that it was really..  well, unbelievable.  And sappy.  And that was why it took me nearly a month to get through.  I lost interest.  It ends happy, it's just not the ending I'd have chosen.  The first half of the book, though, I really enjoyed!

Oh well.  On to the next.  It's definitely crunch-time.  I'm running out of days to complete the last three books.  I have started Divergent this weekend so hopefully I'll get through it pretty quickly and painlessly, but with the move and our vacation so quickly approaching and my husband going in for gallbladder surgery this week...  I'm slightly stressed out lately.  So we'll see.  Need to do a bento update soon, and a life-in-general update, too!
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