Sunday, June 19, 2011

CR Review #20: I'd Know You Anywhere by Laura Lippman

I remember reading a few previous reviews of this from other cannonballers...nobody was terribly excited about the book, yet nobody thought it was all that bad. It was simply ok. I decided to give it a try anyway, I saw it as an available swap on and thought the premise was worth giving it a go.

I'd Know You Anywhere is the story of Eliza (who used to be Elizabeth), a married, stay-at-home mom of two kids living in the Washington DC suburbs. Her life is pretty normal, until one day she gets a letter in the mail from a man named Walter, and everything in her life starts to change.

Walter is a man on death row who kidnapped and raped Eliza when she was 15 years old and held her captive for 6 weeks. Walter was also convicted of killing at least one other girl (but the reader knows it was actually a lot more than one), and attempting to rape several others. His death sentence is approaching and he reaches out to Eliza to finally apologize to her, but also to see if he can manipulate her into helping him get a stay of execution by bringing new details from the case out into the open.

Sadly, my fellow cannonballers were right. Although there are times when I really wanted to like this book a lot (her descriptions of what it is like to be a stay-at-home mom in DC are spot-on! -- I would have liked to read a book all about that aspect of her life), the story of her kidnapping and Walter's sudden appearance in her life simply weren't that interesting to me. Putting it back on the list for and sending it back out into the world...

Birthday Season

Yesterday we had our annual combo birthday party for the two oldest kids...I'm guessing this will probably be the last year (7 & 5) that we can get away with grouping them into one party.

We hired a bounce house from Adventures in Your Backyard. They were great, I can't say enough about how easy they made the whole process.

Start to finish, set up only took about 5 minutes.

Kids loved it. I would definitely go this route again.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

CR Review #19: Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane

Moonlight Mile by Dennis Lehane

I've always been a big fan of Dennis Lehane. Years ago, I devoured his Patrick Kenzie series of private investigator books. As a Bostonian, I enjoyed and appreciated Lehane's attention to detail and the way that he brought the city of Boston to life as its own character. One of the books in this series was Gone, Baby, Gone, which became a movie directed by Ben Affleck and starring Amy Ryan as a completely dysfunctional, trainwreck of a mother who discovers that her only child has been kidnapped. In the original novel, private detectives Patrick Kenzie and his girlfriend Angie Genarro are hired to find 4-year-old Amanda McCready and bring her home to her mother. Gripping, depressing, surprising…Gone, Baby, Gone was a great mystery.

Moonlight Mile is the sequel…Twelve years after Patrick and Angie find Amanda, they find out that she has gone missing again. But things have changed: Patrick and Angie are married and have a young child. They find that they've been out of "the game" for quite a while and may not be 100% ready (physically, mentally, and financially) to jump back in to the dangerous world that Amanda and her mother Helene live in.

I enjoyed getting back into the lives of these characters, and was happy to read about them again. I liked that the characters had aged appropriately…grey hair, aches and pains, worries about health insurance and high cholesterol, and felt that the decisions they made -- both good and bad -- reflected well on how the characters had aged and changed as a married couple and as parents.

I much prefer these Kenzie/Gennaro mysteries to some of Lehane's other work (Mystic River and Shutter Island, I'm looking at you). Plus, as a graduate of Holy Cross, I'm always happy to read any book that starts off with a few good Boston College jokes.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Cutting the cable

Today we began our life as a cable tv-free household. We decided to cut the cord for the summer as a test, and see how it goes just using our Roku box for streaming any movies and tv we want a la carte.

I can't imagine this will be a problem -- Netflix has lots of pbs shows for the kids (they love Martha Speaks, Fetch with Ruff Ruffman, and Word Girl), and lots of Doctor Who for me to still catch up on.

I actually think we won't even notice until (if) football season starts in the fall.

I will miss my daily viewings of Pardon the Interruption and the Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

CR Review #18: Stories I Only Tell My Friends by Rob Lowe

I'm not (and have never really been) a particular fan of Rob Lowe. Other than The Outsiders and Class, I don't really remember seeing any of Rob's movies in the 80s, when he was a huge star. I didn't really care about the "brat pack" and I thought he was way too pretty for my tastes. It wasn't until after his infamous video tape from the DNC that I became a bit more interested in what he was up to and the choices he was making: Bad Influence and Masquerade certainly weren't really good movies, but they were ok for a friday night rental. He was funny in Tommy Boy and Wayne's World, but only because he had really small parts. Loved him as Robert Wagner in the Austin Powers movies, simply because his role was ridiculous. I never watched the West Wing, but thought he was pretty good in the Stand (as a deaf/mute, no less). And I think he's funny on Parks & Recreation.

I recently saw him making the rounds on the cable news talk shows, talking about his new book and his political views, and had to admit I was somewhat interested by what he had to say. So I headed down to the library, picked up his new autobiography, and sat down for 4 or 5 hours to read it.

I really enjoyed reading about the process of making The Outsiders, and how devastating it was for him to find him almost completely cut from the end version of the film. I liked how he took the time to call out colleagues and friends of his who had made the biggest influences on him with their professional and pleasant behavior (nice things to say about Bill Murray, C Thomas Howell, Mike Myers, and Christopher Walken). I appreciated that he had some brutally honest things to say about the unpleasant world of Hollywood, his struggles with sobriety and monogamy, and he why he and his wife live outside of LA and have not encouraged their kids to be a part of show business. His stories about his political involvement were also interesting, especially his time on the Dukakis campaign trail.

Hands-down, the most entertaining stories in the book were his encounters with Matt Dillon throughout the years. Each time he crossed paths with Matt, the anecdote made me laugh out loud.

What was disappointing to me were the bits that simply didn't appear in the book. Little to no mention of his relationship with his brother Chad. A bit odd, I thought. Almost nothing about his teenage relationship with Melissa Gilbert, who has nothing but bad things to say in her own book about the way she was treated by him.

In a nutshell, a quick and entertaining read, especially for anyone out there who had a fold-out poster of the Outsiders cast from Dynamite magazine hanging in their junior high locker.