Book Review: Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Sourdough by Robin Sloan

Sourdough by Robin Sloan
Rating: 3.5 stars

Lois is a woman who spends most of her life at work. She recently moved to San Francisco to be a programmer at a robotics company. She and her co-workers are expected to spend about every waking minute at work, including sleeping over and spending weekends at the office. She falls into a pattern where all she does is program, doesn’t have any friends, eats a nutritional “slurry” for all her meals, and feels sluggish and ill all the time. One day she has a flyer at her door for a local delivery only restaurant that sells sandwiches, soups, and sourdough. She orders her first meal and instantly feels more alive. She starts ordering the same meal every single night and her life begins to change. One day she receives news that the restaurant owners need to close and move back to Europe, but as a gift for being their number one customer, they give her their sourdough starter. Lois has never baked a thing in her life, but she looks up directions online and is startled to realize how satisfying it is to bake a nourishing and delicious loaf of bread.

Sourdough follows Lois’ journey and she embarks on a new side business making and selling her own sourdough from the magical starter. With almost no planning, she makes her own outdoor oven, researches bread baking books, and instantly has a reputation for her talent. At the suggestion of her office chef, she auditions to work in one of the Bay area farmer’s markets. She is given a spot at a new upcoming destination called The Marrow Market. On one condition – she has to bring one of her robotic arms to help her bake.

I really enjoyed the beginning of this book. It’s so delightful to see someone discover a piece of themselves they didn’t realize they were missing. As someone who also loves to bake, I enjoyed learning more about sourdough and the bread baking process. It felt slightly unbelievable that someone could start baking and days later be offered a position in a new market, in San Francisco (sourdough central!) of all places. But I rolled with it and it was fun to watch her journey. The second half of the book, however, got a bit odd. The Marrow Market was a collection of people finding new ways to produce food. Everyone had an angle to make them more unique than what you could find at a regular farmer’s market. I didn’t really care for any of the robotics stuff. It didn’t seem to serve any purpose other than an interesting novelty to customers. Lois also starts mixing her starter with other starters to be able to produce larger quantities of bread and everything gets a bit crazy at that point. A lot of weird stuff happens and it’s so abstractly described that it kind of lost me. I really had no real idea what was happening at one point. I feel like at that point, most of the heart that the first half held, was gone.

Overall, this is a fast and easy read. I like how it encourages readers to go after their own hobbies and dreams, even if they’re not as financially adequate as a soul destroying career they might currently have. If you like to bake, you’ll probably enjoy this book. Though fair warning – it will also make you want to have a piece of bread in your hand and mouth as soon as possible!!

Book Review: Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse

Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse

Seven Days of You by Cecilia Vinesse
Rating: 3 stars

In this book, 17 year old Sophia is counting down her final days of living in Tokyo before she has to move back to the States after a four year stay. She’s upset about leaving the only friends she’s ever had, but determined to make the most of her final days. Until she finds out Jamie, a boy she knew years before, is on his way back to Tokyo. Jamie and Sophia parted on terrible terms three years ago after a missent text and haven’t spoken since. You travel along with Sophia as she spends full days and nights reliving her best memories of Tokyo and making new ones with her best friends – and Jamie.

It might have something to do with the last book I read also being a countdown to some inevitable tragedy. But I did not enjoy the premise of this book at all. I thought the misunderstanding between Sophia and Jamie that happened when they were only 13 and 14 years old, was a little bit ridiculous. And the way they suddenly jump into a relationship despite how many times Sophia says she hates Jamie, was kind of unbelievable. I liked Jamie. And it was vaguely interesting to learn about their favorite spots around Tokyo. But there were also a lot of allusions to other big topics that were not fully explained. If this book eventually has a sequel, I think I’d like it better.

Overall, Seven Days of You felt pretty mediocre to me. I was interested enough to keep going, but it was not be memorable. Nothing about any of the characters truly sparked my investment. If you’ve been to Tokyo or are interested in it, this might be a fast and fun YA for you. If you’re not, I’d say skip it. There are plenty of better ones out there.

Book Review: They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera
Rating: 3 stars

In this book, people are given calls by a company called Death Cast in the early hours on the day they will die. They’re not told how or what time that day they will die, just that it’s their last day and they should live it to the fullest. This story revolves around Mateo, an 18 year old recluse who lives with his dad, except that his dad has been in the hospital in a coma for the last couple of weeks, and Rufus, a 17 year old who watched his entire family die when their car crashed into the Hudson River four months earlier. After receiving their Death Cast calls, each boy downloads the Last Friend app and eventually find each other and spend their final hours forming a friendship. They have a variety of adventures throughout the day, trying to make it last as long as possible. Rufus helps Mateo come out of his shell of fear and Mateo helps Rufus see his life in color, despite the great loss he suffered watching his family die.

There’s no denying the title of this book. They really do die at the end. And it’s pretty depressing. I understand that the theme of the book is that you should always live each day like it’s your last. Find your people and love them well. Don’t shy away from opportunity and adventure because life is worth living and living well. But I just couldn’t get past how depressing it really was. Not only that these teenagers were about to die, but that so many people in their universe got these calls every single day. Hundreds in just NYC alone? The people that are about to die are called Deckers and the city caters to them in so many ways, because there are so many of them. It’s a little bit terrifying. It’s hard to read this book and not constantly think about what you would do in that situation. It’s supposed to give you a message of hope, but I feel like knowing I could get a call like that any day would absolutely cripple me. Rufus and Mateo definitely form a unique bond as their day goes on and I like that they eventually decide being with their friends on their last day is more important than trying to save them the pain of possibly witnessing their deaths. As one that lived, I’d be so upset not to be given the opportunity to say goodbye and they realized that as well.

Overall, I was not in love with this book. I don’t shy away from sad things, though I prefer books that make me cry tears of happiness. I enjoyed the concept and the characters were mostly interesting. Mateo really spent way too long being cautious and then does a 180 in the middle of the book that felt a little bit unbelievable. But knowing your hours are limited probably does that to a person. It’s a well written and perfectly fine book, but it wasn’t for me.

Book Review: Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer

Letters to the Lost by Brigid Kemmerer
Rating: 5 stars

Letters to the Lost epitomizes everything that I adore in a YA novel. The central plot point revolves around two teenagers writing letters (or emails or chats) to each other, without knowing the other person’s identity. While of course also simultaneously having some sort of knowledge of each other in real life. The relationship between them grows deeper on an emotional level while they get to know each other, without some of the extraneous circumstances that come along with surviving the high school life. When done well, these types of books will always bring tears as you become highly attached to the characters and root for their ultimate happy ending.

In this book, Juliet writes letters to her mom that died months earlier in a hit and run accident. A war photographer, Juliet’s mom corresponded most frequently and deeply with her daughter through written letters and Juliet can’t figure out how to give up that connection. She continues to write and leaves the letters at her gravestone. Declan, stuck doing community service for getting drunk and crashing his dad’s car, finds and reads one of her letters while mowing the cemetery. Struck by how deep her words reach his own pain, he responds to her letter. This spurs an angry letter back from Juliet, extremely upset that a stranger has intercepted her deepest thoughts. Declan and Juliet continue to write to each other and eventually set up anonymous email addresses so they can write back and forth more quickly. In the meantime, they form a confusing and hesitant friendship with each other after a couple of rough interactions in their real lives. As you watch the main characters find their way to each other in more ways than one, you become deeply immersed in the different levels of pain they’re each going through and are truly rooting for them each to overcome their pasts and search for a way to make their own paths for the rest of their lives.

Overall, I loved this book. It was definitely on the heavy side. The characters are both dealing with family deaths. Declan struggles with a terrible family life and a step-father who is determined to make him feel absolutely worthless. But there are a host of supporting characters that really show up for both teens in the sweetest ways. Rev, Declan’s best friend, is the kind of friend we all hope to have and be. I loved their friendship as much as I loved what went back and forth between Declan and Juliet. I was also really impressed with how they came to terms with it when they each discovered who the other person was. It didn’t have the crazy teen drama that so many YA books have when things like this happened. It was a great book. It made me cry. And it made me feel a lot of things. I highly recommend reading this one!

Book Review: I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll

I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll

I Am Watching You by Teresa Driscoll
Rating: 3.5 stars

This page turning mystery is about the circumstances relating to a missing 16 year old girl who traveled to London with her best friend one year in the past. We start on the train where Ella, “the witness,” sees two teenage girls flirting with two men who were just released from prison. Her mothering nature kicks in and she thinks she should try to figure out who these girls are and warn their parents that they might be up to no good. She ignores that instinct and feels haunting regret the next day when the news reports one of those girls has disappeared. Each chapter of this story is told between the varying perspectives of Ella – the witness, Henry – the father of Anna, the missing girl, Sarah – the friend, Matthew – the private investigator, and occasional interludes by the “watcher.” The bulk of the book takes place around the one year anniversary of Anna’s disappearance when everyone is hoping with renewed interest Anna will be discovered.

Every single chapter in this book ended with a mini cliffhanger. They kept me reading late into the night, even though I could barely keep my eyes open. I like the shift of perspectives and learning more about what could have happened and who might have been to blame, but I ultimately found all of the characters a little bit dull. I thought the main premise around Ella’s guilt was slightly ridiculous. Why would anyone think it was their responsibility to hunt down parents of total strangers she sees across a train car just to basically tattle on them? If they were a lot younger, then maybe…? It was interesting to see how each of the characters found blame in their own actions and thought they might be the reason Anna disappeared, even if they might have truly had nothing to do with it. While the cliffhangers definitely kept my attention, about halfway through I became frustrated with how they never really went anywhere. You’re left in suspense, but nothing is ever answered until the final pages of the book. I wish we had been given a bit more satisfaction after so much enticement earlier in the story. Maybe elaborate and eliminate a couple of the suspects along the way.

Overall, I thought this was a pretty decent mystery. There were a couple of twists and turns you’re not expecting. It’s a fast read and keeps your attention. It’s not one of my favorite books, but I recommend it if you like that genre.

Book Review: Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert

Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert
Rating: 2.5 stars

This is the story of two teenage step-siblings (although not legally) who are each dealing with their own bundle of issues. Lion, the older brother, has recently been diagnosed with bipolar disorder and is struggling with coming to terms with who he is with or without his medication. Little, the sister a year younger, sees herself as Lion’s greatest confidante which sometimes causes problems in her own world. In order to keep her away from Lion’s downward spiral, their parents send Little to a boarding school across the country where she realizes she might be in love with her roommate. The book picks up the summer after Little’s first year away when the siblings are trying to find their way back to the relationship they used to have, with a whole variety of factors and people that begin to come between them. The entire book is a very realistic portrayal of what it feels like to come of age while also struggling with mental illness and confusing sexuality.

I heard a lot of great things about this book before it was released, but I have to admit I found it rather dull and uninteresting. Little’s obsession around Lion felt uncomfortable to me. The fact that the author made their parents not legally married felt like an opening for the two kids to eventually fall in love with each other. It didn’t happen, but Little was so entirely immersed in Lion’s every move that it felt unavoidable. Throughout the book, Little is constantly referring back to vague things that happened with her roommate Iris, fighting deep attraction to her new co-worker who Lion also is attracted to, and starting a relationship with her long term buddy Emil. There was a lot of emotion going in too many different directions. Which is perhaps why it felt realistic. But maybe also why I didn’t enjoy it very much.

Overall, this book was just okay. I probably wouldn’t recommend it. It won’t have any lasting value in my mind. The subject matter was interesting, but none of the storylines really gripped me the way I had hoped.

Book Review: Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley

Lily and the Octopus by Steven Rowley
Rating: 2.5 stars

This is a book about Ted, a single gay man in his early forties whose partner in life is his 12 year old dachshund, Lily. He struggles with forming and keeping relationships without just about everybody except for Lily and his best friend. As the years went on he became so close to Lily that he would hold constant conversations with her and was fairly certain that she spoke back. He didn’t need anyone else in his life. Until the day he realized Lily had an “octopus” on her head. He knew that her days were coming to an end which sparked the downward spiral of Ted discovering how isolated and alone he truly is and how he’ll ever manage to cope without Lily in his life.

This book felt, to me, like a creative writing assignment that went too far. At the beginning I found the conversations Ted and Lily had, observing their weekly routines, to be endearing. Sweet almost. If I were living alone with a dog I’d have a fairly similar lifestyle, I bet. But after awhile, I just got so angry with Ted for insisting Lily’s tumor was an octopus to anybody and everybody he came into contact with. The octopus’s ability to talk and taunt Ted was absurdly annoying. At one point you lose sight of what’s reality and what was just fantasy in Ted’s head. I’m still not sure if their “last journey” was entirely a figment of Ted’s imagination or not. It just got to be way too over the top for me.

That being said, it was still a sweet ode to a life well lived with the companionship of a good dog. And even though you know the entire time that the octopus will eventually get the best of Lily, it still wrecked me when it happened. Overall, I liked parts of the story, simply because it was about a dog and I happen to love dogs. But all the creativity and assigning a tumor the evil identity of an octopus was beyond what I could really enjoy in a book. I will, however, never think of octopuses the same way again.

What I Read and Watched and Listened To August 2017

It was another big reading month! A little bit slower on the tv and podcast front, though I did fit in some interesting choices. But as always, I’m very excited to share it all with you! I’ve been looking forward to writing it today, specifically, because it’s the first day of school and I need something happy to distract myself from worrying about my kids!

BOOKS

flat out love

Flat-Out Love by Jessica Park
Rating: 4 stars

I had really high hopes for this series after reading Park’s 180 Seconds last month. And while I definitely liked this one, it didn’t bring the same emotional intensity and character maturity. This is the story of a girl who moves across the country for college and finds herself without a place to live. She ends up moving in with her mom’s old friend’s family, including a boy a few years older than her and a younger girl. While she’s there, she starts an email relationship with their older sibling who is off touring the world. What really bothers me about this book, and any book that does something similar, is how the family is dancing around a secret until the very end. It’s SO frustrating. I figured it out, but I couldn’t stand how many references there were to this big top secret piece of information. But I still loved the second half of this book when things got a little more heated up and interesting.

the gentleman's guide

The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee (audiobook)
Rating: 4 stars

Since my new interest in audiobooks, I really, really wanted to listen to this one because it was rated on many sites as being fantastic in audio quality. I definitely appreciated the accents and different character voices throughout the book, but I also found it distracting. I’m beginning to think that audiobooks in fiction are just not for me. I have such a hard time paying attention for some reason. I feel like I’m missing too much. I’m very tempted to actually read this book and see if I like it more. Anyway, it’s a book about a rich young man, Monty, who has a year long tour around the continent with his best friend, whom he’s secretly in love with, and his younger sister, whom he can’t stand. The plot is pretty twisted and crazy. You want to love Monty, but you also kind of hate him. But he’ll grow on you, for sure. It was a fun and interesting listen.

flat out matt

Flat-Out Matt by Jessica Park
Rating: 3 stars

Books that are re-written from a different character’s point of view feel like such a shameless way for the author to try and bring in more money. For that fact alone, I didn’t want to like this book. Most of the chapters were literally word for word almost the same as in the previous book. It did give Matt a little more depth, but it also felt very redundant. Maybe I would have liked it better if I hadn’t read it immediately after the first book.

flat out celeste

Flat-Out Celeste by Jessica Park
Rating: 4 stars

This book takes place a couple of years later and follows the very quirky and unique Celeste in her final year of high school when she finally learns the importance of friendship and doing what’s best for her in terms of her future. She forms an interesting relationship with a boy, Justin, who is equally awkward, quirky, and still so adorable. I loved Justin’s character and found his relationship with Celeste to be much more entertaining than Matt and Julie’s in the previous books.

fierce kingdom

Fierce Kingdom  by Gin Phillips
Rating: 3 stars

This is a thriller that revolves around a couple crazed gunman that are determined to shoot up everybody left at the zoo during closing hours. The main character is with her four year old son and they need to find ways to hide, keep quiet, and stay alive. While parts of this book felt highly suspenseful, it also seemed like very little happened. So much of the book were written observations of the mom about her son and it felt very personal, like the author just wanted an excuse to maybe say all that about her own child. As a whole the book was well written and easy to get into, but I didn’t feel especially attached to it. I also hated the ending. Hated it.

kindred spirits

Kindred Spirits by Rainbow Rowell
Rating: 4 stars

I bought this short novella because it supported a charity drive and I love Rainbow Rowell. It’s a quick tale of a girl who stands in line four days early to see the newest Star Wars movie. She makes intriguing friendships with the two boys in line before her. It’s a cute story with fun characters that I definitely enjoyed reading.

hillbilly elegy

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance (audiobook)
Rating: 5 stars

Now this is an audiobook I will highly recommend! It’s a bit surprising to me now that I’m realizing how much I love memoirs. They’re so intriguing! In his book, Vance tells so many stories of his childhood and particularly his relationship with his Mamaw. The entire book was fascinating and kept me captivated enough to listen to the whole thing in a single day. It will make you think a lot about your own childhood stories and how deeply they influence who you become in life.

textrovert

Textrovert  by Lindsey Summers
Rating: 4 stars

In this book the main character ends up losing her phone and going back and accidentally grabbing the phone of another boy. They begin a texting relationship while waiting for an opportunity to exchange their phones back. The entire book is very YA – light, cute, and with a happy ending. They definitely go through some struggles, but I enjoyed the book as a whole. It’s a fast read.

the anatomical shape of a heart

The Anatomical Shape of a Heart by Jenn Bennett
Rating: 5 stars

This book is about a girl who loves drawing anatomy. While trying to secretly secure a position at a college drawing cadavers against her mother’s wishes, she meets a boy who has secretly been creating amazing graffiti all over the city. They strike up a friendship which of course turns into more. I thought this book had a lot of heart (excuse the pun), and was really sweet. I genuinely adored every character in the story and didn’t want it to end. I highly recommend this one.

lucky in love

Lucky in Love by Kasie West
Rating: 3.5 stars

I was greatly anticipating this new release by Kasie West and found it to be fairly disappointing compared to her other books. In it, the main character wins the lottery and is immediately surrounded by people all over the place asking her for money and trying to guilt her into spending it in ways she doesn’t necessarily want to. In theory it’s a good concept for a book, but it ended up feeling so stressful. The love interest, Seth, did not have a lot of depth, therefore I wasn’t very attached to their “romance.” I really only truly enjoyed the last 20% of the book.

just friends

Just Friends by Tiffany Pitcock
Rating: 3 stars

In this book the shy and super smart main character is paired with the school heartthrob for a quick school assignment where they need to dialog for the class about their summer. They end up riffing out a purely fictional story about how much time they spent together because they’ve been best friends for most of their lives. Everyone believes it, and they seemed to have such good friendly chemistry that they decided to go ahead and just become best friends. What’s unbelievable to me is that all of their other friends just accept the fact they’ve always been friends even though they’ve never once even talked to each other in all the years they’ve known each person. What irritated me to no end about this book is how many times each character would say “my best friend.” Okay, we get it! It was SO annoying. Overall the book was pretty predictable, though the characters went on quite a frustrating journey to reach the conclusion that they might just be more than best friends.

why not me

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (audiobook)
Rating: 2 stars

When I started looking for audiobooks through the Libby app, I realized that wait lists for all the books I want to read are like 5-6 months away. So in the meantime I was trying to find something I might be slightly interested in reading now and ended up with this. It was…bleh. Especially after listening to Hillbilly Elegy, this felt so fluffy and unimportant. Some parts of the book were vaguely interesting, but most of it just felt pointless. I was hoping for a deeper memoir and this was not it. I’m not sure I particularly like Mindy Kaling in the first place (other than The Mindy Project, which I love!), but this book didn’t do anything to help my opinion of her.

when dimple met rishi

When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon
Rating: 4 stars

I think by this point, I’ve read way too much YA for the month. Normally I love this genre, but nothing was really doing it for me. This was the same. It was a solid story about a nerdy girl who goes to a coding camp and meets the boy her parents want to arrange for her to marry. But they fail to mention that to her and when she finds out she is vehemently against it. I love Rishi’s character and how he sticks around to still provide her with friendship and support, despite how uninviting Dimple is to him. I liked this book plenty, but I didn’t adore it the way I hope to with every YA I read. And one thing that just bugs me a little, though I’m probably being way too nitpicky this month… In the book, Dimple states many times that she wears glasses and she never wears makeup or makes an effort with what she wears. But the picture of the girl on the cover? Clearly wearing makeup, no glasses, and gorgeous!

final girls

Final Girls by Riley Sager
Rating: 4.5 stars

In this book, you learn about a very small number of women who are “final girls” – those that got away from a mass murdering psychopath. At the beginning you learn that one of the three final girls commits suicide, in a suspicious manner. Slowly you learn more about the massacres as the remaining final girls band together, even though they don’t particularly like or trust each other. Overall, it was a really good thriller with a lot of unexpected twists. It kept me interested and enthralled to the end.

when breath becomes air

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi (audiobook)
Rating: 4 stars

This is the story of Paul and his life and how he learned to deal with a terminal cancer diagnosis at the end of his residency to become a neurosurgeon. My interest in the book definitely waxed and waned. I loved the stories of his relationships, childhood, thought processes about what to do with his life. But there were also chapters that got very gory and descriptive about surgeries that I just didn’t want to hear. But it was beautifully written and ultimately had a message that every life matters and is worth living, no matter how short it may be. Knowing your life will end sooner than other’s is no reason not to live it to the fullest. Even though I knew ahead of time that Paul died before he could finish the book himself, it still was devastating to hear the final chapters written by his wife about his final days. As far as audiobooks go, this was another worthwhile listen.

TV- Alone

gbbs

I finished up the first season and watched about half of the second. I really like it, but got a little old watching so many in a row.

the crown

I only watched two episodes of this. Despite all the rave reviews it got, I don’t think it’s for me. It’s just sooooo slow. I don’t think I’ll pick it up again.

younger

Love this show! Despite the fact it’s looking like Liza and Charles will never get together, even though Charles has repeatedly said this season how much he likes her. FRUSTRATING.

broadchurch

I watched the third (and final 🙁 ) season of Broadchurch in about a day and a half. It was so good. This show is amazing. The characters and acting are so fantastic. The topics are serious, but honestly, one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. I’m so sad they won’t be making any more.

atypical

I’m to the point where I’m just randomly picking shows on netflix now, biding my time before all my favorites come back in fall. I liked Atypical a lot, though. It was sweet and funny and a little bit sad.

the goldbergs

I just started season one of The Goldbergs. It’s been on for a few years now. I really like it! There is a lot of yelling which was hard to get used to, but it’s getting so much funnier and more endearing as it goes on. I’m glad I have lots of seasons to catch up on!

TV – Together

the fall

Greg and I were running out of things to watch too, so I convinced him to watch this with me. I watched it when it came out a few years ago and loved it. I recommended it to everyone. With the re-watch I’m realizing this show is really slow. Fascinating, in my opinion, but maybe not the best show to watch when all you’re doing is sitting and watching! It made a better sewing show for me. But still – good tv!

orphan black

We made it through! We almost gave up so many times when this show had bizarre and hard to follow twists and turns. But it came back together at the end and had a very sweet resolution.

wet hot

So I hated this when it was a movie. And when they made the tv show a year or two ago, I thought it was just as ridiculously stupid. But the newest season? It was suddenly funny to me. Still pretty stupid, but I laughed quite a bit. It was a nice thing to watch in between super serious Fall episodes.

MOVIES

No theater movies this month. 🙁 No movies with Greg either. I watched all these while sewing this month when I ran out of tv options.

butter

This movie was pretty weird. I liked the part about the little girl, but everything else was pretty terrible.

the incredible jessica james

Vaguely funny, a little bit anxiety inducing, I still liked it.

man up

This movie felt like it was 20 minutes long. Very little happened! It had a nice final scene, but otherwise kind of pointless.

everything everything

I liked this, for the most part. I read the book and wasn’t crazy enthused about it either. One thing that bugged me is that it seemed like the boy – the actor – couldn’t stand the girl. Like he had to try really hard to show interest in her. It didn’t really come off as him just being shy or unsure of how to act around her. But I was probably reading way too much into it. 🙂

PODCASTS

Front Porch With the Fitzes – Still a favorite! So funny and happy.

The Popcast – Also a huge favorite. I LOVE listening to the new episode each week!

My Dad Wrote a Porno – Another funny one. I think there’s only one episode left. 🙁 🙁 🙁

Side Hustle School – I trailed off on this one. Instead of encouraging me the way it was supposed to, it was just making me feel like I wasn’t doing nearly enough with my life.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin – I probably listen to this one most often because I’m still catching up with it. It’s always positive and interesting and gives you lots of life hacks to make yourself happier.

Happier in Hollywood – A new one with Liz Craft, co-host of Happier. This time partnering with her writing partner in Hollywood. I’m not super interested in the parts of the show that actually have to do with working in Hollywood. But it’s interesting and worth listening to.

Note to Self – Tapered off on these too. I really haven’t listened to a whole lot this month since I’ve been switching over to more audiobooks. Despite my very long list of podcasts.

The Lazy Genius – I go back and forth on this. I LOVE The Lazy Genius’s instagram stories. And I loved the podcast she did with her sister, The Lazy Sisters Podcast. Which they don’t do anymore. But when she’s just talking by herself and it’s not always that interesting.

The Simple Show – And because of above, I’m now listening to this because she’s become a bit of a co-host. An unadvertised co-host of the show. I think I’ve only heard one episode so far, but it was fun.

For the Love with Jen Hatmaker – I just started this one and it’s not that far in so I’ll catch up soon. She’s doing like six episode series on different topics. The first is about friendship. Which I love hearing about and also makes me insanely jealous and sad that I don’t have friendships on that same level. But…it’s worth listening to, for sure.

Sorta Awesome – I still have lots of mixed feelings on this one. Mostly because the hosts annoy me and I feel like there’s a lot of thinly veiled hostility toward each other in passive aggressive comments that we’re supposed to think are funny. But…sometimes the show is funny. I listened to their Sorry Not Sorry episode the other day and it was hilarious.

And that’s about it for the month!! I’m not sure if my media consumption will get bigger or smaller now that the boys are back in school. Probably more tv and podcasts, less books. But we shall see. Hit me up with your recommendations too! So far I’ve only had two people recommend books to me. I haven’t read either yet, but I have them!

What I Read and Watched and Listened To July 2017

Warning! Very long post ahead! I’ve consumed a whole lot of books and media this last month. And I’m not joking when I say I look forward to writing this post all month long. I should probably start separating them into categories. Or maybe writing twice a month instead? I just love sharing what I’ve read, watched, and listened to. And I love when people give me recommendations too. This month I have a lot to say!

BOOKS

need

Need by Joelle Charbonneau
Rating: 3.5 stars

This is a book very similar to Nerve, which I read last year. High school students joined a sort of social media site where they asked for things they thought they needed. In order to get those things, they were then asked to complete tasks that helped serve other students’ needs. This book got very dark, very fast, in ways that I did not really like. The concept was good, but it was a hard book to really want to be connected with. There were also a confusing amount of characters, some of which served almost no purpose to the story.

once and for all

Once and For All by Sarah Dessen
Rating: 5 Stars

This is a book about Louna, an 18 year old who helps her mom and surrogate father figure in their wedding planning business. After having lost what she knows was the love of her life, she has a very jaded attitude about happily ever after and isn’t interested in searching for love in new places. Enter Ambrose, a new employee who is determined to win her over to feeling both love and hope in life again, without knowing why she lost it in the first place. I loved this book because Ambrose was such an endearing, funny, and sweet character. And it is ultimately a very uplifting and beautiful book about moving on without forgetting what you’ve lost.

one of us is lying

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus
Rating: 4.5 stars

This was a very interesting read about five students who end up in detention together and only four come out alive. The book is an ongoing investigation of the four remaining students to determine which one of them is lying about what happened. The characters band together and weave friendships in unexpected places as so many outside people turn against them. This book will keep you guessing and questioning what is truth and what is lie.

first and tehn

First & Then by Emma Mills
Rating: 4.5 stars

I feel like it’s important to sometimes mention how or why I read a particular book. This one was picked out at random as a library book prize. I didn’t know anything about it, but liked the cover. It ended up being another great book! It’s the story of a girl who thinks she’s in love with her best friend. Her family takes in a quirky cousin whose mom can’t take care of him anymore. And an unexpected boy enters their lives and shakes everything up. Again, very endearing characters in a very lovable story.

the love interest

The Love Interest by Cale Dietrich
Rating: 2 Stars

I really wanted to like this book. Really, really wanted to like it. And I couldn’t stand it. The storyline was so promising! A secret agency uses foster kids and trains them to be perfect love interests for people that will probably be very influential in society as they get older. When they reach the appropriate age one Good and one Bad are placed in the real world with a mission to win the girl over. The winner gets the girl and the loser is murdered (why??). In this particular trio, Caden is the good and Dylan is the bad and as time goes on they start to fall for each other instead of their targeted girl. Or so you think. Anyway, what I couldn’t stand about this book was the writing itself. It was so juvenile! It was completely unbelievable to me that the characters would think and say and act in all the ways that they constantly did in this story. I powered through to the end where things get a bit more interesting, but the writing! I couldn’t get past it. It felt like something a middle schooler might have written. Ick.

180 seconds

180 Seconds by Jessica Park
Rating: 5* stars

THIS BOOK! First of all, I should say that I give 5 star ratings to books that I truly loved and couldn’t find anything to dislike about them. But if I give an extra * that means it was amazing. I love love LOVED it. And I’d read it again in a heartbeat. This was one of those books. I bought it on a whim on Prime Day because it had good reviews and was super cheap. I’m soooo glad I did. This story is about Allison, a girl who was in foster care the first 16 years of her life and was then adopted by a single gay father, Simon. The book begins when Allison enters college. She’s not the typical angry and jaded ex-foster kid, but she does have a very hard time liking, trusting, and getting close to people. By accident while rushing through the streets one day, she is pulled into a social experiment where she needs to sit and make eye contact with Esben, a stranger, for 180 seconds. This is when her life completely changes. Everything about this book is so GOOD. It will make you cry over and over again. Happy tears, thankful tears, tears about the beauty of what can happen when people come together. I know it’s fiction, but it also feels very believable. I love what happens between Allison and Esben, but I also adore how Simon fits into the story as Allison learns to really trust and feel connected to the man that actually wanted to be her father for the rest of her life. This is such a truly fantastic book. READ IT.

words in deep blue

Words in Deep Blue by Cath Crowley
Rating: 3 stars

Another book about loss and trying to move on. I guess I had a theme in about half the books I read this month. This is the story of a girl who had a best friend that she was in love with. She moved away after a misunderstanding and her brother died. She moved back and tried with difficulty to keep a distance between herself and her former best friend. Without mentioning to anyone that her brother died, along with half of her soul. This book frustrated me, a lot. It was very vague. I didn’t understand why she didn’t tell anyone about her brother. I was bothered about the misunderstanding that kept them apart because it was never fully explained. The conversations between characters were so stilted and, well…vague.

more than this

More Than This by Jay McLean
Rating: 2.5 stars

This is the story about a girl who essentially loses everyone on the night of her prom. Her best friend, her boyfriend, her parents, her sister. And it just happens that a boy from another school happens to be a witness to this and provides her with the emotional support she needs to get past it. His family takes her in, with zero qualms, even though she’s a stranger to them all. What bothered me about this book is that she was dealing with such a terrible series of tragedies and yet she seems to get over it all very quickly. I mean, you wouldn’t want to read a book where she’s just drowning in grief. But it felt unbelievable how easily she moved on. The other reasons for the low rating are more pet peeves of mine. In one of the first chapters the two characters kiss briefly on the lips. And probably at least five more times in the book they point out that “we’ve never kissed, not a real kiss!” WHICH WASN’T TRUE. The boy also has some moments of out of control jealousy just because the girl happens to make eye contact or smile at another boy. I can’t stand when men in books show such extreme displays of jealousy for no reason at all. It’s not attractive. There is also an abhorrent amount of swearing in this book. This is a major turn off to me in any book or tv show or podcast. I don’t swear at all, ever. I totally do not think it’s necessary to thrown a swear word into every single sentence. This is the first of a series of four books, but I won’t be reading the rest.

the hush

The Hush by Skye Melki-Wegner
Rating: 2.5 stars

Have you heard of Once Upon a Book Club? It’s a subscription service where you get a surprise book each month and with each book are 3-5 wrapped gifts that you open when you get to the corresponding page number in the book. I’ve known about this subscription for about a year and it sounded so fun to me. I love books and I love getting gifts! So finally with a 4th of July discount, I ordered both the adult and the YA boxes for July. This was the YA pick. It’s dystopian fiction where everything is made of and held together with music. Normally I love YA books and I love dystopian fiction. But I just could for the life of me not get into this book. It was a little too far out there for me. And even though I paid for the box, I just found myself constantly picking up any other book I could reach before I went back to this. I actually did not finish it, I’m very sad to say. I cheated and opened the rest of the gifts. The whole thing was quite a disappointment. I’m sure many people would really like this book. But it just wasn’t for me.

i let you go

I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
Rating: 4 stars

I wasn’t sure I wanted to read this book. The premise is that a single mother witnesses her five year old boy being hit by a car right in front of her and she struggles to get on with her life. It made me constantly flash back to watching Shepard almost get hit by a car in Chicago earlier this year. I’ll never get that image out of my mind. But anyway, I read it. I like thrillers, though I don’t read them often. The first half of this book didn’t read like one, though. It was slow and I didn’t understand where it was going. And then – bam! – more plot twist halfway through. Everything really picked up and it got a lot more intriguing. If you like twisty novels, this might be a good one for you.

modern romance

Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari (audiobook)
Rating: 3.5 stars

First, a word about audiobooks. I’ve always been very against them. Or rather, against them and then saying you “read” that book. But I think I’ve recently been swayed to the benefits of them. For me mostly – I can “read” while I do any number of other things. Walking, cooking, showering, folding laundry, working, etc. I always have SO MANY books I want to read and listening to an audiobook affords me to the option to read more than I’d normally physically be able to. I think as far as attention span goes, it’s probably better for me to listen to nonfiction books and continue reading fiction. I’m listening to a fiction book at the moment, but I’m having a hard time connecting with it. Modern Romance was easier to follow.

Anyway, I didn’t know anything about this book when I finally figured out how to download it from the library app. I just figured I really like Aziz Ansari, so why not read his book? I just assumed that it would be some sort of memoir about his dating life. I didn’t expect it to be a full blown thoroughly researched book on the topic of modern romance. It was vaguely interesting to me from an anthropological standpoint. But it also didn’t pertain to me and my own experience at all. It just made me very, very glad to have found love early so I didn’t have to go through all the insanity of online dating, searching bars for partners, random hookups, etc. Anyway, Aziz’s extra commentary and enthusiasm while reading definitely made it an interesting listen. I never would have sat down and read the book, so it was a good choice for my first audiobook.

a week of mondays

A Week of Mondays by Jessica Brody
Rating: 4 stars

This is your typical Groundhog Day type of book. Ellison has an insane and terrible Monday which ends with her boyfriend breaking up with her. She falls asleep pleading for a second chance at the day. She gets a week of Mondays to try and undo the damage that is always done. It was a light, fast, and fairly predictable read. The repetition of reading about the same scenes over and over again did get to be a little much. But it was fun to watch Ellison realize what she really wanted and finally make the decisions that would benefit her, rather than everyone else.

what to say next

What to Say Next by Julie Buxbaum
Rating: 5 stars

I’ve been anxiously awaiting this book release for months because Buxbaum’s book Tell Me Three Things is one of my absolute favorites. This one didn’t disappoint! While I didn’t love it quite as much, I still found it very sweet and adorable. The main character, Kit, is struggling after the unexpected death of her father. (Wow, I really did have a theme this month!) She finds comfort in the straightforward truths she gets from David, a high functioning autistic student who has no friends. The story follows their friendship and what they can learn from each other. It’s a cute and delightful read.

TV – Alone

I didn’t watch a whole lot of tv this month. Like I’ve said before, I usually only watch while I’m working. So I must not have worked much! Actually, I chose to do a lot more audiobook and podcast listening instead of watching. If I’m not always looking up at a screen, it makes more sense than I can work faster. I hope. 🙂

girlboss

The only thing I liked about this show is that it was about an online entrepreneur. Everything else – didn’t like it. I think because the character was just so obnoxious. I couldn’t stand her personality and how she acted.

gbbs

I keep putting off watching this because the boys really liked watching the first couple of episodes with me. And then they stopped caring, so I’m watching on my own. It’s so good! It amazes me how many things they bake that I’ve never even heard of. I like how friendly and supportive all of the contestants are together, even though they’re technically competing. It’s a really happy and fun show to watch.

younger

Season four started! I love this show. Though it also really bothers me when tv shows revolve and are made around something that can’t possibly go on forever. Like Liza pretending she’s 26. Eventually everyone will find out. And then what?

friends from college

I was hoping for a winner, but this wasn’t it. I guess I’m just morally opposed to a show that ends up being about the affairs that happen between couples in a friend group. I watched the whole season, but it wasn’t that great.

TV- Together

glow

We watched this on a lot of high praised recommendations. I didn’t like it. But Greg loved it. I think maybe just the whole wrestling thing just turned me off so much. It’s not SO much about the wrestling, but it’s always present and I couldn’t bring myself to care. I didn’t find it particularly funny either. Not for me.

good behavior

I wasn’t really sure what to think about this one. The first few episodes were such a rollercoaster of ups and downs for the main character. But as it went on I really got into it. I loved the male lead! Hottie. 🙂 And this is just another pet peeve, but I couldn’t stop noticing how overly expressive Michelle Dockery’s face was. It felt so foreign after how cool and collected and annoyed she always was on Downton Abbey. I also was not liking her American accent, at all. But overall, I’d recommend this one.

orphan balck

As always, this show is so weird. I really have no idea what’s going on. I just love how awesome Tatiana Maslany does at playing so many different characters. Only a few episodes left and I think the show is over for good.

MOVIES

Three theater movies on one month! All so good! And one at home, not so good.

baby driver

I really, really liked Baby Driver. It’s pretty rare for me to see a movie and actually be interested in watching it a second time. But this was that good. I highly recommend it!

spiderman

Also a very good movie! We see all the Marvel movies, but this one was especially funny and likeable. Maybe because there wasn’t a ton of fighting. I’m not a fan of long and plentiful fight scenes.

chips

This was definitely a disappointment! I really like Dax Shepard, but this movie was pretty crappy. It wasn’t the worst I’ve ever seen, but not great, for sure.

trols

This made a comeback in the theater for a couple of days and we went to see it on a Sunday morning. It was fun to see in the theater, but I was so tired I kept falling asleep. Love this movie, though!

PODCASTS

For the last few months I’ve been in a bit of a podcast rut. There are a couple that I really love, I’m caught up on, and I look forward to listening to when they come out each week or every other week. I subscribe to around 120 podcasts on my PocketCasts app, but regularly listen to maybe 6-8 of them. It’s hard starting new ones when you’re so addicted to the ones you love. I always like to start at the beginning, but that’s not always the best idea. Most podcasts starts are rocky and awkward and not the best representation of what they become later on down the line. But I still find it nearly impossible to jump in at a later date! Anyway, this month I was finally up for trying some new ones, so my list is long!

Note to Self

This is a really interesting podcast about all things tech and how it relates to your life. The episodes are fairly short and very applicable to me and everyone I know. Topics are so varied, there are sure to be episodes that will spark your interest.

My Dad Wrote a Porno

Still love this podcast for some good laughs! Plus extra funny since Greg listens to it too, so we can always laugh about it later. I just love the three hosts so much.

Happier with Gretchen Rubin and Elizabeth Craft

I listen to this one almost every day and I’m still not caught up. It’s always positive and interesting and filled with tips to make your life happier.

The Popcast

I really love this one too! I still have a ton of back episodes to catch up on, but I love listening to the episodes as they’re released each Wednesday to keep up with current pop culture topics. Knox and Jamie are so delightful to listen to as well. If you’re into tv, movies, and books at all – this should definitely be on your list of podcasts to listen to.

WTF with Marc Maron

I decided to check this one out because Marc Maron was about the only part of the Glow tv show that I liked. Plus whenever I start perusing podcast lists this is always at the top of the charts. Maybe because it’s been around the longest with over 800 episodes. I’ve probably avoided it because of the title. We’ve already discussed my issues with unnecessary swearing! Anyway, I went through and downloaded all the episodes with celebrities I actually know and care about. The Jason Mantzoukas episode first and it was really interesting. I’ve listened to a few others since then. I’m not sure how much I like all of Marc’s ramblings at the beginning of the show, but the interviews seem really great.

Why Oh Why

I gave this one a shot because she was a special guest on Happier (so was the host of Note to Self, my reason for starting that one) and was intrigued. The podcast is about dating and it’s a little odd. Not quite sure how I feel about it yet.

What Should I Read Next?

Always a good standby when I’m in the mood to hear about books. Which is pretty much all the time. This is one I don’t listen to in order because I prefer to listen to the guests that I know. Or the topics that sound most interesting. I love getting book recommendations and Modern Mrs. Darcy (Anne Bogel) is an awesome resource for it.

Reading Glasses

I feel like I’m even more book obsessed than I used to be. Not only do I want to be reading all the time, I also want to be reading about books and listening to book related topics. This is a relatively new podcast with only a handful of episodes. So far very fun if you’re as addicted to all things literary, as I am!

Doughboys

I recommended this a long time ago as one of my favorites, and then never listened to again. Mostly – the unnecessary swearing and going off topic to smutty things. I wish they’d just stick straightly to reviewing the restaurants because that’s what I find most interesting.

Sorta Awesome

Another old favorite, that I rarely listen to. This is terrible, but I really don’t like the main host’s Oklahoma accent. The way she says so many words just grates on me. I also don’t like that she kind of seems condescending of her co-host’s opinions on so many things. BUt this podcast got me in some awesome facebook groups that are pretty much the highlight of my facebook experience these days. The topics are always relevant and intriguing. It’s just hard for me to get past her voice.

Side Hustle School

My third recommendation from Happier’s podcast. Side Hustle School is a series of short stories about real life people who have developed side hustles – unique ways to bring in extra income beyond their full time jobs. It’s supposed to be inspiring and help you think of your own side hustle ideas. But so far it’s just made me feel like such a loser! Heartstring Annie could almost be considered a side hustle for our family, but I’m not doing so well at it these days. Anyway, still really cool to hear about all the ways people found to bring in more money.

Front Porch with the Fitzes

The first podcast I ever listened to! Still love listening to Elise, Jessica, and Joel talk about various topics and their families every week. So many laughs over such ridiculous things. But this is a clean one, which is refreshing. I greatly look forward to listening to the new episodes each Tuesday.

Annnnnnnd, that’s it! Long post! If anybody actually got this far in the post, thanks for reading! Let me know what you’re consuming these days!

 

What I Read and Watched AND Listened To June 2017

It’s my favorite end of the month activity! Actually, I’m a few days early this month because we’re getting ready to head out of town on vacation and I want to make sure I get this post written. I decided to make my recommendation lists even longer each month by adding a podcast segment after my consumed books, movies, and tv shows. Might as well just let you know what I’m feeding my brain in every area of entertainment!

BOOKS

girl online

Girl Online: Going Solo by Zoe Sugg
Rating: 3 Stars

This is the third and final book in this series. I rated the first book (Girl Online) 5 stars. I gave the second book (Girl Online: On Tour) 4 stars. And this one gets a measly 3 star rating. The third book is about, you guessed it – going solo. It’s about the main character, Penny, getting back to her regular life post-famous musician boyfriend. The storyline focuses mainly around Penny’s regular friends and the drama in their lives. It’s a little bit boring and slow with a neat and tidy ending that I didn’t particularly love. It was a disappointing end to an otherwise fairly good series.

alex approximately

Alex, Approximately by Jenn Bennett
Rating: 5 Stars

Once again, a book has proven how much I absolutely adore a relationship that begins over the written word. Especially when it involves a little mystery in who is writing those words. This book is about a teenage girl, Bailey, who has a deep connection with an anonymous online friend, “Alex.” Without telling him, she decides to move cross country to live with her dad in the same town Alex lives and hopes to sleuth her way into figuring out who he is without the risk of an actual meet up. In the meantime, she gets a summer job and develops an interesting relationship with her co-worker, Porter. I’m sure you can guess who Porter ends up being. While it’s very much a given in books like these, I still completely delight in seeing two characters fall for each other not only through letters/emails/chats, but in person at the same time – without knowing who the other really is. I loved the deep character development of both Bailey and Porter and the things they had to overcome to trust each other with who they were. Read this book, seriously. I loved it.

the glittering court

The Glittering Court by Richelle Mead}
Rating: 3.5 Stars

This is the story of a very poor Countess who is desperately trying to get out of a love-less arranged marriage. She pretends to be her maid and joins the The Glittering Court, where she is trained in what it’s like to be high bred, with the end goal of a finding a well to do husband in a newly pioneered land. She has to pretend not to know anything, while also competing with fellow women to earn the highest jewel rating and therefore getting the best husband. Of course Adelaide doesn’t want to follow the rules and ends up falling for the forbidden man who recruited her and knew of her true identity from the start. This book almost feels like a combination of four or five shorter books. A lot happens. Very little of the book is actually about The Glittering Court, so petty as it may seem, the title bothers me. But overall it was a mildly intriguing read. I didn’t love it, but it did keep my interest.

present over perfect

Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
Rating: 4 Stars

It took me six months to read this book. If you look back on a post in January or February, you’ll see that it was one of my main goals to finish this book. Well, it finally happened. I’m always pretty slow with nonfiction because fiction just calls to me so much more strongly! But I LOVED Niequist’s book Bread and Wine, so I was hoping this would hold my attention in the same way. And it did – at first. The first few chapters felt SO MUCH like my life. I felt so connected and extremely eager to read this book and learn how to be more present in my life. But the middle of this book just lost all of its magic for me. The chapter topics were all over the place and felt so unimportant. But she pulled it all back together at the end, enough for me to still give it a 4 star rating overall. It didn’t change my life, but it did make me think.

dear thing

Dear Thing by Julie Cohen
Rating: 3.5 Stars

This was an interesting read about a long term married couple that was childless despite so, so many attempts. The husband Ben, had a best friend Romily, who was a huge part of his and his wife Claire’s life. Secretly in love with Ben, Romily decided to offer herself as a surrogate to Ben and Claire. With a whole lot of mixed emotions, you see how Romily and Claire build a friendship that eventually is destroyed with Claire finally realized how in love Romily is with Ben. And how much Romily loves the baby growing inside of her because it’s part her and part the man she’s loved forever. Despite her best efforts not to. There’s a lot of packed feeling and difficult decisions that are made in this book. I enjoyed how much each character grew and how the story ended.

the upside of unrequited

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli
Rating: 3 Stars

This is the story of overweight, introverted, crafty Molly and her seemingly perfect twin sister Cassie. Despite what you would assume, Molly and Cassie are best friends, even though they’re so different. Cassie ends up meeting the girl of her dreams and wants to set Molly up with her best friend, Will. A lot of this book focuses on how Molly wants to fit in, but also really struggles with finding her own identity and accepting that she likes herself, despite what other people might think. In the middle of all her friend drama, she forms an easy friendship with her new co-worker Reid. I loved watching their story unfold and really could have done without all the extra sister/friend mess.

always and forever lara jean

Always and Forever, Lara Jean by Jenny Han
Rating: 4 Stars

Another third and final book in a series. I love reading series, though I definitely prefer when they’re already out when I find them! Waiting is the worst. I thought this was a fitting end to this particular trilogy. It’s always a little less exciting when the guy and the girl are already together. But their relationship is fun and true and I enjoy reading about that too! This story focuses pretty heavily on Lara Jean’s dad and his soon-to-be wife’s upcoming wedding. I liked the book because it was like returning to an old friend. Nothing epically grand about it, but good nonetheless.

flower

Flower by Elizabeth Craft
Rating: 4 Stars

I’ve been waiting quite awhile to read this book by one of my favorite podcasters, Elizabeth Craft. Craft is a tv writer and producer and I kept thinking while I read Flower that it was really reading more like a screenplay than a well developed novel, just hitting a lot of the dialog and interactions between characters. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it was noticeable. This story is about Charlotte – smart, driven, and focused on staying away from boys and not repeating the mistakes of every other woman in her family. She meets Tate, a famous musician and is immediately attracted. She doesn’t know who he is and is pretty upset when she finds out. This book is all about the constant give and take the characters have. It’s messy and a bit frustrating. Charlotte is willing to give up everything for Tate after barely knowing him, which feels so against her character from the beginning of the book. I liked the book, it was a fast read. But it definitely had a few flaws that kept it from being a 5 star rating for me.

stillhouse lake

Stillhouse Lake by Rachel Caine
Rating: 4 Stars

I have to say that Amazon Prime’s Kindle First program is pretty awesome. I love getting that email at the beginning of each month with my list of free books to pick from. I usually wait until later in the month to read reviews before making my choice. This month’s was a winner! Stillhouse Lake is about a family of a serial killer that is constantly on the run from the victim’s families and internet trolls that are determined to destroy them because they were associated with the murderer. I did get a little sick of reading about how paranoid and on guard they had to be. I got it, I didn’t need it repeated a thousand times in the course of the book. But the story was fast paced and thrilling, with a little bit of mystery. I’m excited to see that there will eventually be a second book and better conclusion to the family’s story.

MOVIES

allied

I’m feeling pretty indifferent about Allied. It was entertaining enough, I suppose. I don’t regret watching it. But nothing special either.

captain fantastic

I knew absolutely nothing about this movie when I made Greg watch it with me. Judging from the photo above, I just assumed it was going to be some sort of hilarious comedy. Well…it wasn’t. I guess small parts of it made me laugh, but overall it was pretty serious and mildly disturbing. Like all those kids digging up their mother’s grave, mourning her open casket on the bus, and then lighting her body on fire to cremate her the way that she wanted to be… But the story was definitely original and I was pretty captivated by the characters.

wonder woman

We went as a family to see this Father’s Day weekend. I really liked Wonder Woman was a character. She was so innately good and it would be hard not to adore her. But the movie as a whole was kind of long and bland for me.

lion

Big, big WOW to this movie. Lion was amazing. They cast the most perfectly adorable and intensely sad looking little boy for the first half of the movie. What a tear jerking true story!! I really loved everything about this movie. It was so intensely good.

TV – Together

legion

We watched the first two episodes of Legion. It was a lot for my tired mind to handle. Very much a sensory overload kind of show. Which was the point. I’m not sure if the craziness eventually settles down. I’m not sure if we’ll continue watching or not. And side note, Dan Steven’s American accent feels very, very strange to me. Not loving it.

atlanta

We watched this entire season in the last few weeks. I’m still not really sure what to think about it. I think it’s kind of supposed to be a comedy? It felt a lot like Master of None, in which each episode was kind of its own entity. There wasn’t a huge overlap in what was happening from one episode to the next. But Master of None did it WAY better. Overall, though, Atlanta got some pretty big unexpected laughs from me.

orphan black

The new season started up and we only watched the first episode. Orphan Black was so incredible in the first season and just got so muddled up after that. I still watch because it fascinates me how Tatiana Maslany can play so many different characters SO perfectly. But I think Greg has basically no interest in it anymore.

good behavior

We just started this the other day. Again, not sure what to think of it! We’re clearly running very low on tv shows to watch together. I think this show will maybe be good? But maybe more the kind of show I’d watch on my own.

TV – Alone

Okay, another quick reminder before you think I watch way too much tv. I do watch too much tv, BUT I only watch while I’m sewing. And as I was trying to get back on track with work during summer school this month, I watched a lot of tv!

royal pains

I binged Royal Pains about two years ago and somehow missed that they had a final season. So I picked that up again and loved how they tied up everything so sweetly. This is such a lighthearted and happy show that was always interesting and funny to watch. I’m going to miss it.

this is us

I got pretty sick of this show near the end. I don’t know, everyone just kept talking about how amazing it was and I didn’t really feel that way. I liked it, but it wasn’t worth all the hype it was getting. But I was running out of things to watch, so finally finished up the season. Those were a couple of very emotionally packed episodes! I’m glad I went back to it and now I’m looking forward to next season.

izombie

Still love it! Such a good show. I couldn’t believe that tomorrow is already the season finale. It just started back up at the end of April! I’m sad. 🙁

scandal

I watched the entire last season in two days last week. This show is so utterly ridiculous. And yet I can’t stop watching. (Greg gave up like three seasons ago.) It’s just insane how many crazy life threatening things happen in Scandal. But…I like it.

the arrangement

Another two day one season binge. I was hoping I’d like this as much as E’s The Royals. It was good, but not amazing. I wasn’t expecting all the crazy cult stuff that most of the show focused on. I also didn’t really buy any authenticity from the male lead, Kyle. But I really loved Megan’s character!

the 100

As I run out of more exciting things to watch, I’ve been trying to catch up with things I gave up on in the last year or two. I watched three episodes of The 100 yesterday and I just can’t do it anymore. I’m giving it up for good. I loved it at the beginning and now I literally cannot stand to see another minute of it. Bleh.

Podcasts!

Okay, I’ll try and keep this segment relatively brief, mostly because I just listen to the same couple of podcasts every week. I’m mostly caught up on them, so appreciate the excitement of looking forward to a new one downloading each week. I’m not listening as much as I used to, but I still don’t go a day without at least one podcast in my ear.

Spilled Milk

Still one of my absolute favorites. The proof is that I’ve listened to almost 300 episodes of it. 🙂 Funny, food related topics are covered in each episodes. They’re pretty short, they’re entertaining. I love it.

Front Porch with the Fitzes

Another favorite. I anxiously await listening to the new one each Tuesday morning. Just a family sitting around talking every week. It’s so funny. I wish I was part of their family!

Happier with Gretchen Rubin

I listen to this one the most because I’m not yet caught up with it. Gretchen and her sister Elizabeth (Craft) talk each week about happiness hacks, try this at home tips, personality types, and more. It’s such a positive focused podcast and they always have so many fun things to talk about. I highly recommend.

That Sounds Fun

This is a new one I started recently. Actually, she had a month long Christmas special that I listened to in December. The host, Annie, just talks to a different person each week about their lives. She’s entertaining and positive.

The Popcast

Okay, this is maybe my favorite podcast of all. I LOVE Wednesdays when I get a new Popcast episode. Knox and Jamie are just so funny together! I’m not caught up on their almost 200 episodes, though I’ve been listening to recent ones for months now. It’s good. Especially if you’re highly immersed in pop culture already.

The Girl Next Door

I still try to keep up with the newest episodes of this. Just two neighbors (no longer neighbors) chatting about a topic or two every two weeks. I envy their friendship and enjoy listening about their lives.

My Dad Wrote a Porno

They’re back with season three! Oh so funny, you guys. I couldn’t care less about the erotic novel they’re reading. I just love, love, love the three people behind the podcast. I always listen to this one while I’m walking so I can focus on it more than other multi-tasking things I usually do while listening. So if you see me walking down the street laughing hysterically and looking like an idiot, I’m surely listening to the latest episode.

And that’s it for June! Nobody ever takes me up on this, but I’d love to hear what you’re reading, watching, or listening to and can recommend to me!!