Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Awkward Moments With Rocco Dispirito, Part 2.

Rocco may be a talented chef and blandly attractive (the Bradley Cooper of celebrity chefs), but he's not too proud to take a goofy photograph...or a thousand!  In a follow up to my first post on Rocco, here are some more funny photos of Rocco from his Now Eat This ! cookbook. 

Ha, talk to me like that again...I'm gonna prod you with this fork.

Rocco has never hear the expression, where there's smoke, there's fire.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Awkward Moments with Gwyneth Paltrow

There has not been a lot of love for Gwyneth Paltrow in recent years.  Some people find her to be a little bit snobby and privileged. While I'm certainly not a Gwyneth superfan, I liked her in the Royal Tenenbaums and Iron Man.  I also subscribe to her GOOP newsletter, which has solid fashion advice and good recipes. I'm not a big fan of celebrity cookbooks, but between GOOP and Spain: On The Road Again TV series, Gwyneth seemed at least knowledgeable about food; so I checked out her cookbook My Father's Daughter.  Overall, I found it to be a pretty solid cookbook.  Most of the recipes are simple, organic and healthy (but not diet) takes on traditional American, Italian and Spanish dishes.  There is definitely an emphasis on cooking and dining as a family in My Father's Daughter, so this cookbook will especially appeal to parents. 

Okay, now that I've said lots of nice things about Gwyneth, it's time to take a look at some goofy photographs from My Father's Daughter.  Is Gwyneth channeling her inner Rocco DiSpirito?:

Sure, Gwyneth has a woodburing pizza oven installed in her house, gets lectured on the environment by Leonard DiCaprio, and is BFF with Jay-Z and Mario Batali...but she cooks with a wine glass in one hand and tongs in the other.  She's JUST LIKE US!

Gwyneth loves to pose while sniffing food!  Here she's taking a moment to stop and smell the tomatoes.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Charlaine Harris Q&A and book signing at the Tivoli Theatre, 5/5/11

Author Charlaine Harris appeared at an Anderson's Bookshop event at the Tivoli Theatre Thursday night in Downers Grove. She took questions from the audience for about 25 minutes and then signed copies of her newest book in the Sookie Stackhouse series, Dead Reckoning. Fans were called in groups of 20 to go out into the lobby to meet her and have their books signed. While everyone in the theatre waited for our numbers to be called, we watched season 1 episodes of True Blood. I was #150 and the waiting didn't feel long at all. Watching True Blood with a large audience made the episodes even more entertaining, especially episode 4, where Jason suffers the side effects from drinking an entire vial of vampire blood.

For the most part Harris talked about the Sookie Stackhouse series but she did briefly touch on her other book series (Aurora Teagarden, Lily Bard, and Harper Connelly) when a fan asked which series she should try next. During the Q&A many fans asked about the TV series True Blood, and Harris had nothing but good things to say about show creator Alan Ball's casting choices and vision of the Sookie universe, including the detours he makes from her novels. 
Other things I learned from the Q&A:
  • Harris picked the name Sookie because that was the name of her grandmother's best friend; the name Bill was chosen because she thought it would be a funny name for a vampire
  • She has always known how the Sookie series would end-- the final scene was written before any of the ten books. Her assistant is the only other person who knows the ending.
  • Harris confirmed that after Dead Reckoning she will write only two more books in the series.
  • Bravery and loyalty are her favorite qualities about Sookie.
  • At one point she placed both index fingers on the side of her head and shared, "That's where Bill and Eric live, by the way."
  • One audience member questioned Harris about how she got the idea to use "Dead" in each of the book titles in the series (Dead and Gone, Dead in the Family, Dead as a Doornail...). Harris shared that her publishers came up with that idea as a way to brand the series. She "got tired of it very quickly" and wishes they hadn't started that.
  • Her favorite Sookie book to write was All Together Dead, where Sookie attends a vampire summit, because of the research involved and how fun it was to write.
  • Some of the authors she's reading (or re-reading) include Laurell K. Hamilton, Lee Child, and Robert Crais. She reads four books a week! Find out what's she reading each week on her blog.
  • Whenever she receives questions about who's her favorite Sookie suitor she said it's difficult to choose, as if being asked, "Which baby is prettiest?" No matter what her answer is, someone will be unhappy with her choice.
  • Near the end of the Q&A, Harris mentioned that the next season of True Blood will start on June 26, which will include "amnesia Eric." At this point the crowd roared and broke out into applause. I might add I pumped my fist a couple times in excitement before joining in with the clapping. The plotline where Eric has amnesia is from book four, Dead to the World.
Included in the price of the event was a copy of Dead Reckoning, and Anderson's had plenty of other Sookie books available to purchase. Each person was allowed two books to personalize the first time through in line. Even though many people attended the book signing, Harris was very nice and took the time to talk to each person, even posing for photographs.
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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Romance in the Stacks: The Dewey Decimal Sytem of Love

The Dewey Decimal System of Love (2003).
By Josephine Carr.

When I came across this book in the stacks, my first thought was “My goodness!  What a terrible title!”  The cover has a red pair of glasses on it and old school card catalog entry on it.  How could a librarian resist such a promising trashy library romance?  Unfortunately, Dewey Decimal System of Love (DDSoL) is far too tame to qualify as a “trashy romance.”  So tame in fact that the main character, reference librarian Allison Sheffield has lived a chastely for 15 years.  DDSoL is actually a combination between the chick lit genre and mystery; but if you are thinking Stephanie Plum the librarian, your expectations might be a little to high!  DDSoL lacks the laugh-out humor of Janet Evanovich (it’s more crack a smile funny) and the mystery plot never really amounts too much suspense.

At the beginning of the novel, Allison Sheffield lives the quiet, monk-like existence of a forty-yearold spinster librarian.  She takes no pleasure in food or fashion (what’s wrong with her!) and has all but given up on romance.  That is until she sees the new Finnish orchestra conductor Aleksi Kullio in action and develops an obsessive crush on him.  However, there are two problems with Kullio: 1). he’s married and 2). his beautiful wife might be trying to poison him.  Allison feels she has no choice but to investigate the wife and attempt to woo Kullio by transforming herself from a librarian with glasses into a librarian without glasses and with bouncy hair!

Quibbles:  Aleksi Kullio never really appealed to me as a potential romantic lead. He was described as being middle aged and having long, white blond hair.  I pretty much pictured him as Dewey Largo (appropriate name!), Lisa’s music teacher from the Simpsons’-- not exactly Rodrigo Santoro.  Also, he came across as being pretentious and a little bit creepy.  It was hard to understand why Allison was so smitten with him.  Allison’s boss (and other potential love interest) Gordon was slightly more appealing, though Carr never really described what he looked like besides being a lady killer.  I really don’t think there are too many handsome, charming  playboy librarians running around though!

The not-so-hunky Dewey Largo!
The mystery plot also seemed a little tacked on.  There is never too much suspense, besides Kullio’s wife Michelle  walking into the library, looking up poisons (for her "novel”), and being mean to Allison.  In turn, Allison “investigates” by following Michelle around to keep tabs on her.  Not exactly the best or most subtle method.  

Praise:  I did like the fact that Allison isn’t really a typical chick lit character.  She’s skinny because she lives off Lean Cuisine meals and not all that concerned with her hygiene.  She’s also well read, Bryn Mawr-educated, and listens primarily to classical music.  It was refreshing to have a character who was a little bit pretentious, mean and socially awkward.  It also made her obsession with Kullio a little more plausible (seriously though I don’t know why anybody would be obsessed with Dewey Largo!).

Overall, I thought DDSoL was a fun, light read.  Fans of libraries, classic music, and late bloomers would probably enjoy this book, though the mystery could have been better developed.  

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Charlaine Harris appearing in Downers Grove this week

Author Charlaine Harris will appear at the Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove this Thursday at 7PM in an event run by Anderson's Bookshop. Harris is the author of the Sookie Stackhouse series, which has been adapted into the True Blood TV show on HBO. Tickets are required and can be reserved by phone or in person. The $36 cost covers the author program itself and a copy of Dead Reckoning. Visit the Anderson's Bookshop website for more information on this and other author events.

The newest installment of the Sookie books, Dead Reckoning, will be released this Tuesday, May 3. Place your hold on a copy if you haven't already!