Book Review: Haunt Me Still by Jennifer Lee Carrell

My review of Haunt Me Still is available here. If you want a refresher, have a look back at my review of Carrell's first Kate Stanley novel Interred with Their Bones here.


Movie Review: Toy Story 3

Featuring the Voice Talents of: Tom Hanks, Tim Allen, Joan Cusack, Ned Beatty, Michael Keaton, Timothy Dalton
Directed By: Lee Unkrich
Written By: Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
Pixar Animation, 2010
G; 103 minutes
5 stars (out of 5)


No one does nostalgia quite like Pixar. The team there--writers, animators, directors, producers--all seem to understand the process of looking over one's shoulder at the past and the warm feelings that can engender. Perhaps it's part of being in the animation business, which itself has a long history and by nature builds on what came before. Pixar has looked back at "Main Street U.S.A." in Cars and it's done revisited childhood repeatedly in the first two Toy Story movies as well as Monsters, Inc. And in Toy Story 3 they do it again.

For all that, it never gets old.

Being that I have a 5-year-old son, a 2-year-old daughter, and a 10-month-old baby boy, I am perhaps primed for the emotional overdrive that Pixar serves up in the third Toy Story installment. The opening moments feature a young Andy and his little sister Molly playing with their beloved toys in home video footage. This hits so close to home in my current experiences that I could not help but tear up a bit. And then it is revealed that Andy is now 17 and going away to college. Those beloved toys--the ones we the audience have become so fond of over previous films--have been whittled down to a core few that haven't been played with in years. They sit unused in a toy chest in Andy's room, plotting ways to get Andy's attention in the hopes of being played with again, or maybe just held for a few moments.

As Andy readies himself for college, he begins to empty out his room, and the toy story really begins. Will they be consigned to the attic or (*gulp*) the trash bin? Mishaps occur and the toys end up donated to a day care center, thus setting off on new adventures.

I won't give anything else away, but while I didn't 100% understand the day care center toys' motivations for doing some of what they do in the film, I did 100% enjoy the movie. And I did cry some more at the end.

As for my 5-year-old (who saw the movie with my husband and I), he says he liked it, but he "likes the other numbers better" (meaning the first two films). This may only be because of the 3D element involved in this one, though, since my son says he didn't like things "going in his eyes." I could have done without the 3D myself, as I didn't find it necessary to the story or even particularly amazing in design. Mostly it gave me a headache.

But the movie itself was touching and fun, which is what I've come to expect from Pixar. Like Peter Pan in Never Never Land, the animation studio roots itself in a refusal to grow up (in heart, though its technique only gets better with time), and in turn the audience keeps coming back if only to feel young again themselves.


Blogcritics Book Review: The Lady in the Tower

I used to write for the Blogcritics.org site, and I've decided to take it up once again. So here is a link to my most recent article, a review of The Lady in the Tower by Alison Weir.


Peanuts on Planes

Admittedly, this is not a media review, but whatever. I just need to comment on this movement to have peanuts banned from airline flights. Apparently there are a number of people who don't fly because they or their children have acute peanut/tree nut allergies? And they're terrified that being on a plane with people eating peanuts will cause a major health crisis or emergency?

A few things come to mind here, so let's just lay them out:

  • (A) If you have a severe allergy, don't you have something (an EpiPen or some such) in case something does set you off?
  • (B) If you have this allergy, do you avoid any and all places there might be nuts? The grocery store, all restaurants, etc.?
  • (C) Only about 1% of the population has this allergy, yet they are collectively asking for preferred treatment--because they classify it as a "disability" and therefore serving nuts in their vicinity counts as some kind of "discrimination." This seems high-handed and rings false, since they surely frequent any number of places where nuts may be or may have been present.
  • (D) Even if they succeeded in having nuts banned from planes, how would they keep passengers from carrying on their own trail mix snacks and such?

Now let me be clear. I don't even like nuts much, and I wouldn't be sorry to have them replaced with pretzels or something. But I find this pushiness and overwrought concern annoying, and it makes me disinclined to want to accommodate these people. Show me a list of people who have suffered and/or died from being on an airline flight in which peanuts were present. Because I'm pretty sure there have been people with allergies on those flights. You're not special because you have an allergy. Don't try to give me the one-up line of, "But I'm SO MUCH MORE ALLERGIC than anyone in the history of the world!" Because that's how you sound when you whine about it. And nobody cares but you.

It's the burden of people with allergies like these to take care of themselves. To read labels and avoid nuts. The extent to which you opt to avoid them--including the decision not to fly for fear of peanut dust--is your concern. Not the government's and not population at large's.


Book Review: The Girl Who Chased the Moon

Sarah Addison Allen
Bantam, 2010
276 pages
hard cover


I read Allen's Garden Spells some time back and really liked it. So then I tried her second novel The Sugar Queen and couldn't get into it at all. Never finished it. With such a 50-50 history, I wasn't sure what I'd think of The Girl Who Chased the Moon, but decided to give it a shot.

In a nutshell, the story is two-fold. The A plot line is about Emily, a teenager who comes to Mullaby, North Carolina, to live with the grandfather she's never met. Emily will learn about her deceased mother's childhood and will discover "strange and wondrous things." The B plot line is about Julia, who had been a contemporary of Emily's mother, and who had left Mullaby but was dragged back by her own father's passing. Julia has a two-year plan to take care of her father's restaurant until she can sell it for a small profit and leave town. But she starts to find herself ensnared by the past.

A quick read, and a good one. Allen is now at 66% in my book.

If you like the Southern hospitality genre (think: Miss Julia books by Ann B. Ross) or the semi-magical sorts of things Alice Hoffman is known to tackle, you'll probably like Allen's work. At least some of it.