Monthly Archives: November 2010

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

I read this book over a month ago for Banned Books Week. I have tried many times–unsuccessfully–to get my thoughts about it down on paper. Here is my latest attempt.

From goodreads.com

Book Cover of Boy Meets Boy by David LevithanThis is the story of Paul, a sophomore at a high school like no other: The cheerleaders ride Harleys, the homecoming queen used to be a guy named Daryl (she now prefers Infinite Darlene and is also the star quarterback), and the gay-straight alliance was formed to help the straight kids learn how to dance.
When Paul meets Noah, he thinks he’s found the one his heart is made for. Until he blows it.
The school bookie says the odds are 12-to-1 against him getting Noah back, but Paul’s not giving up without playing his love really loud. His best friend Joni might be drifting away, his other best friend Tony might be dealing with ultra-religious parents, and his ex-boyfriend Kyle might not be going away anytime soon, but sometimes everything needs to fall apart before it can really fit together right.
This is a happy, meaningful romantic comedy about finding love, losing love, and doing what it takes to get love back in a crazy, wonderful world.

David Levithan mentioned he specifically wrote this book in a way that would make it difficult to challenge, and I think he was successful He does depicts two romantic relationships; however, neither of them engage in behavior racier than that found in a Disney cartoon. Despite this fact, the book has still been challenged by a Wisconsin mother. Her challenge is based solely on the fact that one of the couples is of the same gender. The description of two boys engaging in the simple act of kissing was enough for this person to ask for Boy Meets Boy to be removed from the library shelves. I am appalled at this.

Boy Meets Boy was an enjoyable book in many ways. Unfortunately there was one thing about this story that lessened my enjoyment. I could not find the world the main character Paul lived in believable. This world featured a drag queen as the star quarterback and the Gay-Straight Alliance as the “must join” club. It’s not that I don’t want to see this type of world exist someday; but that from what I’ve seen, that day isn’t here yet. The unaccepting world in which Paul’s friend Tony lives is much more the norm in terms of high school environments. The sharp contrast between the two worlds–accepting and not–felt too rigid. I could not conceive that these two towns could exist side by side. Perhaps the lack of believability was the author’s aim. This bit of the story just didn’t work for me.

Review: Despite the one issue I had with the plot, I still found the book very enjoyable. The author was able to successfully capture the awkwardness of different types of teenage relationships. Tony’s tense relationship with his parents reminded me of many of the fights I had with my own parents during my senior year of high school. Paul’s clumsy attempts to start a new relationship were realistic and truthful. Even the relationships Levithan depicted between best friends reflect the changes many go through during high school. This book had me thinking that a world where people are accepted despite their differences is within reach.

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Good Eats: The Early Years by Alton Brown

In a very strange departure from the usual reviews, I am reviewing a cookbook! This one caught my eye and I decided it was worth a read. Here are my thoughts on Good Eats: The Early Years by Alton Brown.

From goodreads.com

Book Cover of Good Eats: The Early Years by Alton Brown Alton Brown is a foodie phenomenon: a great cook, a very funny guy, and—underneath it all—a science geek who’s as interested in the chemistry of cooking as he is in eating. (Well, almost.) Here, finally, are the books that Brown’s legion of fans have been salivating for—two volumes that together will provide an unexpurgated record of his long-running, award-winning Food Network TV series, Good Eats.

From “Pork Fiction” (on baby back ribs), to “Citizen Cane” (on caramel sauce), to “Oat Cuisine” (on oatmeal), every hilarious episode is represented. Each book—the second will be published in fall 2010—is illustrated with behind-the-scenes photos taken on the Good Eats set. Each contains more than 140 recipes and more than 1,000 photographs and illustrations, along with explanations of techniques, lots of food-science information (of course!), and more food puns, food jokes, and food trivia than you can shake a wooden spoon at.

I had very little cooking experience before I was married. Since then I have slowly increased my skill in that area. I have been helped along the way by some great cookbooks. I find I am most successful at basic recipes that contain only a few ingredients. These simple recipes help me learn the basics of cooking while still preparing a tasty meal.

I was excited when I discovered the show Good Eats on the Food Network . This show is perfect for me. Each episode deals with the fundamentals of how to cook basic foods such as steak, shrimp, eggs, or potatoes. This show–and its host Alton Brown–explains how the science behind why something should be made certain way. To me this is the best way to learn. The show has helped me master the preparation of the basic recipes. This knowledge then allowed me to move on to more complex recipes. Preparing more complex dishes like pasta primavera was easy once I learned the proper way to cook pasta.

The discovery that this show had been translated into a book series was delightful. The three part series aims to cover the topics and recipes in each episode of the show. Each chapter is broken down into the background information, recipes and tips seen in the corresponding show. Additional information in each section includes behind the scenes tidbits and additional recipes.

Review: I am so glad I found this book! The written format enables easy reference that is not available with the TV show. The extra notes and recipes are very helpful. I found myself reading the from cover to cover. This is book enjoyable even if you already know how to cook. Even my husband picked it up to read!

Books vs Movies

If forced to choose between reading a book or watching its movie adaptation, I will always choose the book for many reasons. The first has to do with the fact that a novel can be read at any pace. It can be savored leisurely, a few pages at a time, or devoured all at once. This is not true of films, which are usually best enjoyed all at once in two hour time blocks. The fact that you can re-read a passage in a paperback several times is another thing that appeals to me. Sometimes I do this to better understand what the author is trying to convey. Again, this is not something that can be done easily with motion pictures. A final thing I enjoy about books over movies is the fact I can use the authors words to develop the characters in my head. I do not have to accept the choices of a casting director to decide what someone looks or acts like.

In the past I have watched films based on a story I had previously read. I almost always end up enjoying the book version more. It is possible that this is a result of the extra time and budget constraints placed on films. Time constraints dictate that a movie be around 90 minutes long. In order for filmmakers to make this limit, they must cut out the smaller details found in a book. I often enjoy these little tidbits that we learn about the characters or story and miss them when they are cut. Budget restrictions placed on those in the film industry may dictate casting choices. In order to meet his budget, a director may decide not to include some smaller characters who don’t have a large impact on the plot of the story. If they don’t have to hire an actor, they don’t have to pay them. While these characters are not crucial to the plot development, I often enjoy their presence and miss them when they are cut.

My least favorite thing is when a movie ends in a completely different way than the story from which it is based. There have been many times that I have read a book that did not have the typical “happy” ending. Sometimes the girl wouldn’t get the guy. Imagine my surprise when I watch the movie and it ends with the girl and guy happily together. To me this is something that does not make a faithful movie adaptation. A change like this significantly alters the story.

Book Cover of Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin With all of that being said, I find it very odd that I am eagerly anticipating the movie release of Something Borrowed next year. This movie is based on the book of the same name by Emily Giffin. I adore this book. It is one of the books that I find myself absentmindedly picking up and not being able to put down. I have talked previously about her skill at depicting relationships, and this book is an excellent display of that ability. Even though you know the relationship between the characters of Dex and Rachel is a bad idea, you just can’t help that they work it out.

If anything, I would think my extreme love for this novel would make me less likely to want to see it. I usually hate seeing books I love ruined by movie adaptions. Some early images from the set have confirmed they have majorly altered the storyline of one of the characters. This would normally drive me insane, but has yet to bother me too much.

I think my lack of cynicism towards the screenplay is due to the author’s enthusiasm for the movie. Throughout the filming processes, she has posted frequent updates on her Facebook page. To me this demonstrates that she is excited about the movie and any changes to her original story. Personally I feel if the author is OK with changes made to his or her own words, I should also be OK with it. Hopefully this is the case and I enjoy the movie!