Monday, February 27, 2006

February Books (7/5)

I made a goal this year to read 60 books by the end of the year, and at least 5 books each month. Every month, near the end, I'll put up a list of the books I've read that month and maybe a few thoughts about them. Here's my February list:

Stolen – Kelley Armstrong
Shakespeare's Landlord – Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare's Champion – Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare's Christmas – Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare's Trollop – Charlaine Harris
Shakespeare's Counselor – Charlaine Harris
The Million Dollar Divorce - R.M. Johnson

Stolen – Kelley Armstrong
This is the sequel to Bitten, which I read last month. It's got more werewolves, more rough sex, more strong female roles. Plus now the author has introduced a new angle. Werewolves aren't the only supernatural race. We've got vampires, demons, witches, etc. Joss Whedon would be proud.

Lily Bard series of Shakespeare mysteries (5) – Charlaine Harris
All right, I'm not sure if reading 5 mysteries by the same author was what I had in mind when I said 5 books/month. This feels a little like cheating, especially because the books were so short. But February is a short month! And I really liked the books. Like the werewolf books, these books have a really physically tough female main character. She works out at the gym daily, she's really good at karate, and she's hot. Lily has some interesting psychological issues to work through though, and I liked seeing her story unwrap as the books went along. They went a different way than I expected, and it was a good way. I also enjoyed seeing this solitary woman open herself up and make friends, and begin to overcome her personal demons.

The Million Dollar Divorce - R.M. Johnson
Every month I guess I have to read some trashy novel, and this was it for February. This millionaire gets married, wanting a family. His wife puts him off for 3 years and then finds out she can't have kids because of early menopause (right when they started trying). So he wants to divorce her, but doesn't want to give her half of the fortune he's made since they got married. He decides to set her up to cheat on him. The premise was okay, but I thought the sex was cheesy and garish, and I think both of them were at fault, but the book kind of made the husband into the bad guy. I probably only finished the book because I liked the voice acting.

Even though I didn't finish these, I think I deserve some credit for attempting two other books this month –
Shalimar the Clown – Salman Rushdie
Dearly Devoted Dexter – Jeff Lindsay

Shalimar might have been a good book, but I was listening to it on tape and I didn't like the reader at all. The book had some crude parts, but the reader sounded like a prude when he read dirty dialogue. He sounded like a gentleman, not a voice actor, and the distraction was too much.

The Dexter book was interesting. The idea is that the narrator is a serial killer who only kills bad guys. He's totally mental, and he narrates things from a crazy, demented point of view. He's funny though, and self-delusional about some things. But the book got too graphic when he started admiring an extremely brutal and graphically described crime scene in which another serial killer tortured someone and left them alive. Plus there was a lot of swearing. Maybe I would have finished it if I'd skimmed the offensive parts, but I don't feel like I'm missing anything by never finishing this book.

Weight Watchers

Good news! I am down 4.6 lbs in 2 weeks! That's 2 lbs the first week, and 2.6 the second. If I think about it too much, I think 4.6 doesn't seem like much. I mean, it's been 2 weeks and I haven't even lost 5 yet and I've got sooo much more to go. But then I think - hrm, if I could lose 2 lbs/week for 6 months, I'd be lookin' so good! And hopefully feeling better, and more than half-way to my goal.

I need to try to keep in perspective that it's 4.6 lbs less than I weighed 2 weeks ago. A 4.6 lbs I probably wouldn't have lost if I hadn't joined the program.

January Book List (5/5)

I made a goal this year to read 60 books by the end of the year, and at least 5 books each month. Every month, near the end, I'll put up a list of the books I've read that month and maybe a few thoughts about them. Here's my January list, a month late.

The Red Tent – Anita Diamant
The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova
Temptation – Jude Deveraux
Coldfire – Dean R. Koontz
Bitten – Kelley Armstrong

The Red Tent – Anita Diamant
What I liked most about this book was the sisterhood. I thought about my experiences in childbirth and I wouldn't have wanted even my own sister in with me while I was laboring, and she's told me she wouldn't want me there for her either. I definitely wouldn't want my mom there. Yet these women were all there for each other, including neighbors, sisters, mothers, daughters. Even though they still fought and had their feuds and disagreements, their female-ness reunited them. It makes me wonder what has changed so much that modern women don't rely on this sisterhood. Is it because we're supposed to be independent? Is it because we are too busy? I wonder how much more fulfilling my marriage would be if I had close women friends to fill roles that my husband isn't really cut out for.

I was also fascinated by the idea of the women's cycles all following the moon phases. It seemed like such a great idea to me, and I wondered how I could achieve that synchronicity myself. So I checked the calendar only to find that I *am* in synch with the moon. How amazing is that? I've always thought I had an irregular cycle, but ever since I've been paying attention to the moon (3 months now), my cycle is a regular 28 day thing, and always starts with the dark of the moon. It makes me feel tied in to something in a way I don't really understand. But a deep part of me feels a wonder when I look at the moon now, as if I can feel its pull on my own inner tides.

The Historian – Elizabeth Kostova
I read this for the book club I'm in at work. I felt the book was teasing me along into the reading, because the action unfolded very slowly at first but I felt compelled to keep turning pages. I liked the stories within stories, and I liked the history aspect of the book. I'd recommend this for anyone that likes Dracula or history, or who has aspirations to travel. The descriptions of the foreign places were one of my favorite things about the book. This wasn't a great book club book though, as it was pretty straightforward overall and didn't lend itself to much of a discussion, at least within my group.

Temptation – Jude Deveraux
This was just a cheesy (and I mean seriously cheesy) romance. I like a good romance now and then, but this wasn't a good one. It was about a woman and a highlander, and it had everything you'd expect. The guy's name was even James. This made me compare it to the Outlander series by Gabaldon, which is a great stab at a romance set in Scotland. Temptation was lacking in every way possible.

Coldfire – Dean R. Koontz
I found out my mom was reading something by Koontz and that surprised me so much that when I saw this in the library I picked it up out of curiosity. I had always avoided Koontz, because I don't really like traditional horror (I've always equated him with Stephen King). Coldfire was just okay. I liked how it started out, with the guy stepping in and saving people who would otherwise die. I like the idea of cheating fate, or being led by a higher power to change what might be. But then the book just got weird. And even though it tried to de-weird itself at the end, it was too late. Weird.

Bitten – Kelley Armstrong
Someone asked me what I was reading and I responded, "Well, it's a werewolf book, but the main character is actually a good werewolf that has to fight the bad werewolves." Although that does sum it up, I actually enjoyed the book a great deal. The lead character is a strong woman that's a werewolf. She's in great shape, she's smart, all the guy werewolves are attracted to her and she has awesome sex. What's not to like?

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Grocery Shopping Mind Games

Okay, I admit, I haven't been posting any entries. It's because every time I get an idea of something to write, it seems like it has to do with food. The name of my blog has GRAVY in it for heaven's sakes! I don't want to be the kind of person that can only talk about food, but alas, despite my best intentions to write about strollers or American Girl dolls or belly button rings today, I am about to write about food.

I have been in denial about my food obsession, even to myself. Thank goodness I'm not the woman at the grocery store that has to justify to other people in line or to the checker why she's buying so much junk food ("a party" yeah right, or "these are all for my husband" sure.) If she's overweight, I don't believe her. No matter what she might say - they're all for her.

No, instead I am the woman at the grocery store that feels lucky she finally has a wedding ring so that at least people might *think* the junk food is for someone else. My friend told me that's ridiculous, and people don't notice what other people buy, but she's wrong. I notice what's on the conveyor belt all the time with surreptitious little glances out of the corner of my eye and I size up the person buying it and speculate about their eating habits.

If it's a big person buying junk food I am not surprised.
If it's a big person buying skinny food I automatically think they are just starting a diet.
Now if it's a skinny person buying lots of healthy food, and salad fixings and tofu milk I generally feel guilty about whatever I'm buying, even if it's just batteries. As if somehow these batteries are going to be used to make me fatter.

So anyway, a couple of weeks ago I started on Weight Watchers, and now instead of obsessing about food, I obsess about how many points the food is worth. My friends went shopping with me for our new healthy food and I didn't feel self-conscious standing in front of a box of crackers with my points-finding-slider in my hand. I felt powerful. Oh Crackers - I know you for what you are: Full of Points! I will not buy you. I will buy light popcorn instead. I didn't even feel uncomfortable being the fat person in the check-out buying the healthy food. Let them think I'm just starting a new diet. I know that I'm starting a new way of life.

Eventually I'll have a friendly relationship with these strangers - these healthy foods I'm putting on the conveyor belt. They might look strange to me now - The bran granola bars instead of the candy. The tenderloin instead of the baby back ribs. The apple chips instead of the tortilla chips. But these low-point little gems are going to get me into smaller clothes and a healthier body. Once the initial awkwardness wears off I'm sure we'll have a long and happy relationship.

And someday I will be the skinny (well, at least skinnier) person in the check-out, buying mostly healthy food, and batteries and some treats and I won't fret about whether the person behind me thinks it's all for me.